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veying the collective sense of the people to the throne than that by the house of commons, it ought to be fixed and defined, and its authority ought to be settled : it ought not to exist in so precarious and dependent a state as that ministers should have it in their power, at their own mere pleasure, to acknowledge it with respect, or to reject it with scorn.
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The laws of this country are for the most part constituted, and wisely so, for the general ends of government, rather than for the preservation of our particular liberties. Whatever therefore is done in support of liberty, by persons not in public trust, or not acting merely in that trust, is liable to be more or less out of the ordinary course of the law; and the law itself is sufficient to animadvert upon it with great severity. Nothing indeed can hinder that severe letter from crushing us, except the temperaments it may receive from a trial by jury. But if the habit prevails of going beyond the law, and superseding this judicature, of carrying offences, real or supposed, into the legislative bodies, who shall establish themselves into courts of criminal equity (so the star chamber has been called by Lord Bacon), all the evils of the star chamber are revived. A large and liberal construction in ascertaining offences, and a discretionary power in punishing them, is the idea of criminal equity ; which is in truth a monster in jurisprudence. It signifies nothing whether a court for this purpose be a committee of council, or a house of commons, or a house of lords; the liberty of the subject will be equally subverted by it. The true end and purpose of that house of parliament which entertains such a jurisdiction will be destroyed by it.
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In legal construction, the sense of the people of England is to be collected from the house of commons ; and, though I do not deny the possibility of an abuse of this trust as well as any other, yet I think, without the most weighty reasons, and in the most urgent exigencies, it is highly dangerous to suppose that the house speaks any thing contrary to the sense of the people, or that the representative is silent when the sense of the constituent strongly, decidedly, and upon long deliberation, speaks audibly upon any topic of moment. If there is a doubt, whether the house of commons represents perfectly the whole commons of Great Britain, (I think there is none) there can be no question but that the lords and the commons together represent the sense of the whole people to the crown, and to the world. Thus it is, when we speak legally and constitutionally. In a great measure, it is equally true, when we speak prudentially; but I do not pretend to assert, that there are no other principles to guide discretion than those which are or can be fixed by some law, or some constitution; yet before the legally presumed sense of the people should be superseded by a supposition of one more real (as in all cases, where a legal presumption is to be ascertained) some strong proofs ought to exist of a contrary disposition in the people at large, and some decisive indications of their desire upon this subject.
As long as by every art this (the democratical) party keeps alive a spirit of disaffection against the very constitution of the kingdom, and attributes, as lately it has been in the habit of doing, all the public misfortunes to that constitution, it is absolutely impossible, but that some moment must arrive, in which they will be enabled to produce a pretended reformi and a real revolution. If ever the body of this compound constitution of ours is subverted either in favour of unlimited monarchy, or of wild democracy, that ruin will most certainly be the result of this very sort of machinations against the house of commons.
HUMANITY. HUMANITY cannot be degraded by humiliation. It is its very character to submit to such things. There is a consanguinity between benevolence and humility. They are virtues of the same stock. Dignity is of as good a race; but it belongs to the family of fortitude.
HUMILITY. TRUE humility, the basis of the christian system, is the low, but deep and firm foundation of all real virtue.
IMAGINATION. BESIDES the ideas, with their annexed pains and pleasures, which are presented by the sense ; the mind of man possesses a sort of creative power of its own ; either in representing at pleasure the images of things in the order and manner in which they were received by the senses, or in combining those images in a new manner, and according to a different order. This power is called imagination; and to this belongs whatever is called wit, fancy, invention, and the like. But it must be observed, that the power of the imagination is incapable of producing any thing absolutely new; it can only vary the clisposition of those ideas which it has received from the senses. Now the imagination is the most extensive province of pleasure and pain, as it is the region of our fears and our hopes, and of all our passions that are connected with them; and whatever is calculated to affect the imagination with these commanding ideas, by force of any original natural impression, must have the same power pretty equally over all men. For since the imagination is only the representation of the senses, it can only be pleased or displeased with the images, from the same principle on which the sense is pleased or displeased with the realities; and consequently there must be just as close an agreement in the imaginations as in the senses of men. A little attention will convince us that this must of necessity be the case.
ANGRY friendship is sometimes as bad as calm enmity. For this reason the cold neutrality of abstract justice, is, to a good and clear cause, a more desirable thing than an affection liable to be any way disturbed. When the trial is by friends, if the decision should happen to be favourable, the honour of the acquittal is lessened ; if adverse, the condemnation is exceedingly embittered. It is aggravated by coming from lips professing friendship, and pronouncing judgment with sorrow and reluctance. Taking in the whole view of life, it is more safe to live under the jurisdiction of severe but steady reason,
than under the empire of indulgent, but capricious passion.
IMPRACTICABILITY. I know it is common for men to say, that such and such things are perfectly right—very desirable; but that, unfortunately, they are not practicable. Oh! no, Sir, no. Those things which are not practicable, are not desirable. There is nothing in the world
really beneficial, that does not lie within the reach of an informed understanding, and a well-directed pursuit. There is nothing that God has judged good for us, that he has not given us the means to accomplish, both in the natural and the moral world. If we cry, like children for the moon, like children we must
IMPRISONMENT FOR DEBT.
As we grow enlightened, the public will not bear, for any length of time, to pay for the maintenance of whole armies of prisoners, nor, at their own expence, submit to keep jails as a sort of garrisons, merely to fortify the absurd principle of making men judges in their own cause. For credit has little or no concern in this cruelty. I speak in a commercial assembly. You know that credit is given, because capital must be employed; that nen calculate the chances of insolvency; and they either withhold the credit or make the debtor pay the risk in the price. The counting-house has no alliance with the jail.
INHERITANCE OF ENGLISH LIBERTIES. You will observe, that from magna charta to the declaration of right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties, as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity; as an estate especially belonging to the people of this kingdom without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means our constitution preserves an unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and a house of commons and a people inherit