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ind sufficient employment at home. In these circum- main an apology to be made to his navy and to his stances we might have dictated the law to Spain. There army. To the first he would say, “You were once are no terms to which she might have been compelled the terror of the world. But go back to your to submit. At the worst, a war with Spain alone carries harbors. A man, dishonored as I am, has no use for the fairest promise of advantage. One good effect, at your service." It is not probable that he would apleast, would have been immediately produced by it. pear again before his soldiers, even in the pacific The desertion of France would have irritated her ally, ceremony of a review.* But, wherever he appeared, and, in all probability, have dissolved the family the humiliating confession would be extorted from compact. The scene is now fatally changed. The him,-“ I have received a blow, and had not spirit to advantage is thrown away. The most favorable op-resent it. I demanded satisfaction, and have acportunity is lost. Hereafter we shall know the cepted a declaration, in which the right to strike me value of it. When the French king is reconciled to again is asserted and confirmed.” His countenance, his subjects-when Spain has completed her prepa at least, would speak this language, and even his rations-when the colleeted strength of the house of guards would blush for him. Bourbon attacks us at once, the king himself will be But to return to our argument. The ministry, it able to determine upon the wisdom or imprudence seems, are laboring to draw a line of distinction of his present conduct. As far as the probability of between the honor of the crown and the rights of the argumentextends, we may safely pronounce,that a con- people. This new idea has yet only been started in juncture, which threatens the very being of this coun- discourse; for, in effect, both objects have been equally try, has been wilfully prepared and forwarded by our sacrificed. I neither understand the distinction, nor own ministry. How far the people may be animated | what use the ministry propose to make of it. The to resistance, under the present administration, I king's honor is that of his people. Their real honor know not; but this I know, with certainty, that. and real interest are the same. I am not contending under the present administration, or if any thing like for a vain punctilio. A clear, unblemished character it should continue, it is of very little moment whether comprehends not only the integrity that will not we are a conquered nation or not.*
offer, but the spirit that will not submit to an injury; Having travelled thus far in the high road of mat- and, whether it belongs to an individual or to a comter of fact, I may now be permitted to wander a munity, it is the foundation of peace, of indepenlittle into the field of imagination. Let us banish dence, and of safety. Private credit is wealth: from our minds the persuasion that these events public honor is security. The feather that adorns have really happened in the reign of the best of the royal bird supports his flight. Strip him of his princes; let us consider, them as nothing more than plumage, and you fix him to the earth. the materials of a fable, in which we may conceive
JUNIUS the sovereign of some other country to be concerned I mean to violate all the laws of probability, when
LETTER XLIII. I suppose that this imaginary king, after having voluntarily disgraced himself in the eyes of his subjects,
TO THE PRINTER OF THE PUBLIC ADVERTISER might return to a sense of his dishonor; that he SIR,
February 6, 1771. inight perceive the snare laid for him by his minis I hope your correspondent, Junius, is better emters, and feel a spark of shame kindling in his breast. ployed than in answering or reading the criticism of The part he must then be obliged to act would over- a newspaper. This is a task, from which, if we were whelm him with confusion. To his parliament he inclined to submit to it, his friends ought to relieve must say, “I called you together to receive your ad- him. Upon this principle, I shall undertake to vice, and have never asked your opinion.”—To the answer Anti-Junius, more, I believe, to his conviction, merchant, "I have distressed your commerce; I have than to his satisfaction. Not daring to attack the dragged your seamen out of your ships; I have main body of Junius's last letter, he triumphs in loaded you with a grievous weight of insurances.”— having, as he thinks, surprised an out-post, and cut To the landholder, “I told you war was too probable, off a detached argument, a mere straggling proposiwhen I was determined to submit to any terms of accomtion. But even in this petty warfare he shall find modation; I extorted new taxes from you before it was himself defeated. possible they could be wanted, and am now unable Junius does not speak of the Spanish nation as the to account for the application of them.”-To the natural enemies of England: he applies that descrippublic creditor, "'I have delivered up your fortune a tion with the strictest truth and justice, to the prey to foreigners, and to the vilest of your fellow Spanish court. Form the moment when a prince of subjects.” Perhaps, this repenting prince might the house of Bourbon ascended that throne, their conclude with one general acknowledgement to them whole system of government was inverted, and beall: “I have involved every rank of my subjects came hostile to this country. Unity of possession in anxiety and distress; and have nothing to offer introduced a unity of politics; and Louis the Fouryou, in return, but the certainty of national dis-teenth had reason, when he said to his grandson, honor, an armed truce, and peace without security.” “ The Pyrenees are removed." The history of the
If these accounts were settled, there would still re- present century is one continued confirmation of the . The king's acceptance of the Spanish ambassador's Prophecy. declaration is drawn up in barbarous French, and signed The assertion, “That violence and oppression at by the earl of Rochford. This diplomatic lord has spent home can only be supported by treachery and subhis life in the study and practice of etiquettes, and is
mission abroad," is applied to a free people, whose supposed to be a profound master of the ceremonies. I will not insult him by any reference to grammar or com
rights are invaded, not to the government of a counmon sense: if he were even acquainted with the oommon try, where despotic or absolute power is confessedly forms of his office, I should think him as well qualified for it, as any man in his majesty's service. The reader is requested to observe Lord Rochford's method of au- / assertion is true. An absolute monarch, having no thenticating a public instrument -"En foi de quoi, moi points to carry at home, will naturally maintain the soussigne, un des principaux secretaires d'etat S. M. B. honor of his crown in all his transgctions with foreign ai signe la presente de ma signature ordinaire, et icelle fait apposer le cachet de nos armes " In three lines there powers but I we could suppose une sovereign of a are no less than seven false concords. But the man does free nation possessed with a design to make himself not even know the style of his office. If he had known it he would have said, "Nous, soussigne secretaire d'etat * A mistake : be appears before them every day, with de S. M. B. avons signe, etc.
| a mark of a blow upon his face. Proh pudor!
absolute, he would be inconsistent with himself, if he/
LETTER XLIV. suffered his projects to be interrupted or embarrassed
TO THE PRINTER OF THE PUBLIC ADVERTISER. by a foreign war, unless that war tended, as in some cases it might, to promote his principal design. Of
April 22, 1771. the three exceptions to this general rule of conduct,
To write for profit, without taxing the press; to (quoted by Anti-Junius,) that ot' Oliver Cromwell is write for fame, and to be unknown; to support the the only one in point. Harry the Eighth, by the intrigues of faction, and to be disowned as a dansubmission of his parliament, was as absolute a gerous auxiliary by every party in the kingdom, are prince as Louis the fourteenth. Queen Elizabeth's contradictions which the minister must reconcile begovernment was not oppressive to the people, and as fore I forfeit my credit with the public. I may quit to her foreign wars, it ought to be considered, that the service, but it would be absurd to suspect me of they were unavoidable. The national honor was not desertion. The reputation of these papers is an in question: she was compelled to tight in defense
e was compelled to tight in defense honorable pledge for my attachment to the people. of her own person, and of her title to the crown. In To sacrifice a respected character, and to renounce the common cause of selfish policy, Oliver Cromwell the esteem of society, requires more than Mr. Wedshould have cultivated the friendship of foreign derburne's resolution ; and though in him it was powers, or at least, have avoided disputes with them, rather a profession than a desertion of his principles, the better to establish his tyranny at home. Had he (I speak tenderly of this gentleman; for, when been only a bad man, he would have sacrificed the treachery is in question, I think we should make honor of the nation to the success of his domestic allowances for a Scotchman) yet we have seen him in policy. But, with all his crimes, he had the spirit of the house of commons overwhelmed with confusion, an Englishman. The conduct of such a man must and almost bereft of his faculties. But, in truth, sir always be an exception to vulgar rules. He had I have left no room for an accommodation with the abilities sufficient to reconcile contradictions, and to piety of St. James's. My offenses are not to be remake a great nation, at the same moment, unhappy
tion at the same moment, unhappy deemed by recantation or repentance. On one side, and formidable. If it were not for the respect I bear our warmest patriots would disclaim me as a burthen the minister, I could name a man, who, without one to their honest ambition. On the other, the vilest grain of understanding, can do half as much as prostitution, if Junius could descend to it, would Oliver Cromwell.
lose its natural merit and influence in the cabinet, Whether or no there be a secret system in the
and treachery be no longer a recommendation to the closet, and what may be the object of it, are questions
royal favor. which can only be determined by appearance, and
| The persons, who, till within these new years, have on which every man must decide for himself.
been most distinguished by their zeal for high-church The whole plan of Junius's letter proves, that he
and prerogative, are now, it seems, the great assertors himself makes no distinction between the real honor
of the privileges of the house of commons. This sudof the crown and the real interest of the people. In
den alteration of their sentiments or language, carthe climax to which your correspondent objects,
ries with it a suspicious appearance. When I hear Junius adopts the language of the court, and, by
the undefined privileges of the popular branch of the that conformity, gives strength to his argument.
legislature exalted by tories and jacobites, at the exHe says that “the king has not only sacrificed the
ed the pepse of those strict rights which are known to the interest of the people, but what was likely to
subject and limited by the laws, I cannot but suspect touch him more nearly) his personal reputation, and
that some mischievous scheme is in agitation, to desthe dignity of his crown."
troy both law and privilege, by opposing them to each The queries put by Anti-Junius can only be an
other. They who have uniformly denied the power swered by the ministry. Abandoned as they are, I
of the whole legislature to alter the descent of the fancy they will not confess, that they have, for so
crown, and whose ancestors, in rebellion against his many years, maintained possession of another man's majesty's family, have defended that doctrine at the property. After admitting the assertion of the min
in. hazard of their lives, now tell us, that privilege of paristry, viz. “ That the Spaniards had no rightful
fiul liament is the only rule of right, and the chief security claim," and after justifying them for saying so, it is
of the public freedom. I fear, sir, that, while torms his business, not mine, to give us some good reason
on remain, there has been some material change in the for their “suffering the pretensions of Spain to be a subs
in to be a substance of our constitution. The opinions of these subject of necrotition » He admits the facts. let men were too absurd to be so easily renounced. him reconcile them if he can.
| Liberal minds are open to conviction; liberal docThe last paragraph brings us back to the original | trines are capable of improvement. There are proquestion. Whether the Spanish declaration contains selytes from atheism, but none from superstition. such a satisfaction as the king of Great Britain onght If their present professions were sincere, I think to have accepted? This was the field upon which they could not be highly offended, at seeing a queshe ought to have encountered Junius openly and tion concerning parliamentary privilege unnecessarily fairly. But here he leaves the argument. as no started at a season so unfavorable to the house of longer defensible. I shall therefore, conclude with commons, and by so very mean and insignificant a one general admonition to my fellow subjects; that, person as the minor Onslow. They knew that the when they hear these matters debated, they should present house of commons, having commenced hosnot suffer themselves to be misled by general decla
tilities with the people, and degraded the authority mations upon the conveniences of peace, or the mis- of the laws by their own example, were likely enough eries of war. Between peace and war abstractedly,
tractedly. I to be resisted per fas et nefas. If they were really there is not, there cannot, be a question, in the mind
friends to privilege, they would have thought the of a rational being. The real questions are, “ Have
question of right too dangerous to be hazarded at we any security that the peace we have so dearly
this season, and, without the formality of a convenpurchased will last a twelvemonth?" and if not,
tion, would have left it undecided. " Have we, or have we not, sacrificed the fairest op
I have been silent hitherto, though not from that portunity of making war with advantage ?"
shameful indifference about the interests of society, which too many of us possess, and call moderation.
| I confess, sir, that I felt the prejudices of my educaPHILO JUNIUS Ition in favor of a house of commons still hanging
about me. I thought that a question between law tion, and cannot fail of success. My premises, I and privilege could never be brought to a formal know, will be denied in argument; but every nian's decision without inconvenience to the public service, conscience tells him they are true. It remains, then. or a manifest diminution of legal liberty; that it to be considered, whether it be for the interest of ought, therefore, to be carefully avoided : and when I the people, that privilege of parliament* (which saw that the violence of the house of commons had in respect to the purposes for which it has hitherto carried them too far to retreat, I determined not to been acquiesced under, is merely nominal) should be deliver a hasty opinion upon a matter of so much contracted within some certain limits; or, whether delicacy and importance.
the subject shall be left at the mercy of a power, The state of things is much altered in this country arbitrary upon the face of it, and notoriously under since it was necssary to protect our representatives the direction of the crown. against the direct power of the crown. We have I do not mean to decline the question of right; on nothing to apprehend from prerogative, but every- the contrary, sir, I join issue with the advocates for thing from undue influence. Formerly, it was the privilege, and affirm, that, “excepting the cases interest of the people that the privileges of parliament wherein the house of commons are a court of judicashould be left unlimited and undefined. At present, ture (to which, from the nature of their office, a co it is not only their interest, but I hold it to be essen- ercive power must belong) and excepting such contially necessary to the preservation of the constitu- tempts as immediately interrupt their proceedings, tion, that the privileges of parliament should be they have no legal authority to imprison any man strictly ascertained, and confined within the narrow- for any supposed violation of privilege whatsoever." est bounds the nature of the institution will admit It is not pretended that privilege, as now claimed, ot. Upon the same principle on which I would have has ever been defined or confirmed by statute: neither resisted prerogative in the last century, I now resist can it be said, with any color of truth, to be a part of privilege. It is indifferent to me, whether the crown, the common law of England, which had grown into by its own immediate act, imposes new, and dispenses prescription long before we knew any thing of the with old laws, or whether the same arbitrary power existence of a house of commons. As for the law of produces the same effects through the medium of parliament, it is only another name for the privilege the house of commons. We trusted our representa- in question and since the power of creating new tives with privileges for their own defense and ours. new privileges has been formally renounced by both We cannot hinder their desertion, but we can pre- houses, since there is no code in which we can study vent their carrying over their arms to the service of the law of parliament, we have but one way left to the enemy. It will be said, that I begin with en- make ourselves acquainted with it; that is, to comdeavoring to reduce the argument concerning privi- pare the nature of the institution of a house of comlege to a mere question of convenience; that, I deny, mons with the facts upon record. To establish a at one moment, what I would allow at another; and claim of privilege in either house, and to distinguish that, to resist the power of a prostituted house of original right from usurpation, it must appear, that commons, may establish a precedent injurious to all it is indispensably necessary for the performance of future parliaments. To this I answer, generally, the duty they are employed in, and also that it has that human affairs are in no instance governed by been uniformly allowed. From the first part of this strict positive right. If change of circumstances description, it follows, clearly, that, whatever privilwere to have no weight in directing our conduct and lege does of right belong to the present house of comopinions, the mutual intercourse of mankind would mons, did equally belong to the first assembly of be nothing more than a contention between positive their predecessors, was so completely vested in them, and equitable right. Society would be a state of war, I and might have been exercised in the same extent. and law itself would be injustice. On this general | From the second we must infer, that privileges, ground, it is highly reasonable, that the degree of which for several centuries were not only never our submission to privileges which never have been allowed, but never even claimed by the house of defined by any positive law, should be considered | commons, must be founded upon usurpation. The as a question of convenience, and proportioned to the constitutional duties of a house of commons are not confidence we repose in the integrity of our repre- very complicated nor mysterious. They are to prosentatives. As to the injury we may do to any future pose or assent to wholesome laws, for the benefit of and more respectable house of commons, I own I am the nation. They are to grant the necessary aids to not now sanguine enough to expect a more plentiful the king; petition for the redress of grievances; and harvest of parliamentary virtue in one year than in prosecute treason or high crimes against the state. If another. Our political climate is severely altered; unlimited privilege be necessary to the performance and, without dwelling upon the deprivity of modern of these duties, we have reason to conclude, that, for times, I think no reasonable man will expect that, many centuries after the institution of the house of as human nature is constituted, the enormous influ-commons, they were never performed. I am not ence of the crown should cease to prevail over the bound to prove a negative; but I appeal to the Engvirtue of individuals. The mischief lies too deep to lish history, when I affirm, that, with the exceptions be cured by any remedy less than some great con- already stated, which yet I might safely relinquish, vulsions, which may either carry back the constitu- there is no precedent, from the year 1265, to the tion to its original principles, or utterly destroy it. death of queen Elizabeth, of the house of commons I do not doubt that, in the first session after the next having imprisoned any man (not a member of their election, some popular measures may be adopted. house) for contempt or breach of privilege. In the The present house of commons have injured them- most flagrant cases, and when their acknowledged selves by a too early and public profession of their * The necessity of securing the house of commons principles; and if a strain of prostitution, which had lag
against the king's power, so that no interruption might
be given either to the attendance of the members in parmight be imprudent to hazard the experiment too liament, or to the freedom of debate, was the foundation
of parliamentary privilege ; and we may observe, in all soon. But, after all, sir, it is very immaterial
the addresses of new appointed speakers to the soverwhether a house of commons shall preserve their eign, the utmost privilege they demand, is liberty of virtue for a week, a month, or a year. The influ- speech, and freedom from arrests. The very word priti
lege means no more than immunity, or a safegard to the ence which makes a septennial parliament dependent
party who possesses it, and can never be constructed in on the pleasure of the crown, has a permanent opera-T to an active power of invading the rights of others
privileges were most grossly violated, the poor com- | To whom will our honest representatives direct their mons, as they then styled themselves, never took the writ of rebellion ? The guards, I doubt not, are power of punishment into their own hands. They willing enough to be employed; but they know either sought redress, by petition to the king, or, nothing of the doctrine of writs, and may think it what is more remarkable, applied for justice to the necessary to wait for a letter from lord Barrington. house of lords: and, when satisfaction was denied It may now be objected to me, that my arguments them or delayed, their only remedy was to refuse prove too much: for that certainly there may be inproceeding upon the king's business. So little con- stances of contempt and insult to the house of comception had our ancestors of the monstrous doctrines mons, which do not fall within my own exceptions, now maintained concerning privilege, that, in the yet, in regard to the dignity of the house, ought not reign of Elizabeth, even liberty of speech, the vital to pass unpunished. Be it so. The courts of criminal principle of a deliberate assembly, was restrained by jurisdiction are open to prosecutions, which the attorthe queen's authority to a simple ay or no; and this ney-general may commence by information or indictrestriction, though imposed upon three successive ment. A libel tending to asperse or vilify the house parliaments,* was never once disputed by the house of commons, or any of their members, may be as of commons.
severely punished in the court of king's bench, as a I know there are many precedents of arbitrary libel upon the king. M. de Grey thought so, when he commitments for contempt; but, besides that they drew up the information of my letter to his majesty, are of too modern a date to warrant a presumption or he had no meaning in charging it to be a scandathat such a power was originally vested in the house lous libel upon the house of commons. In my opinof commmons, fact alone does not constitute right. I ion, they would consult their real dignity much hetIf it does, general warrants were lawful. An ordi- ter, by appealing to the laws, when they are offended, nance of the two houses 'has a force equal to law: than by violating the first principle of natural justice, and the criminal jurisdiction assumed by the com- which forbids us to be judges, when we are parties to mons in 1421, in the case of Edward Lloyd, is a good the cause.* precedent to warrant the like proceedings againsu I do not mean to pursue them through the reany man who shall unadvisedly mention the folly of mainder of their proceedings. In their first resolua king, or the ambition of a princess. The truth is, tions, it is possible they might have been deceived by sir, that the greatest and most exceptionable part of ill-considered precedents. For the rest, there is no the privileges now contended for, were introduced color of palliation or excuse. They have advised the and asserted by a house of commons, which abolished king to resume a power of dispensing with the laws both monarchy and peerage, and whose proceedings, by royal proclamation ;I and kings, we see, are ready alihough they ended in one glorious act of substantial enough to follow such advice. By mere violence, and justice, could no way be reconciled to the forms of without the shadow of right, they have expunged the constitution. Their successors profited by their the record of a judicial proceeding. Nothing reexample, and confirmed their power by a moderate mained but to attribute to their own vote a power of or popular use of it. Thus it grew, by degrees, from stopping the whole distribution of criminal and civil a notorious innovation ot one period, to be tacitly ad- justice. mitted as the privilege of parliament at another. The public virtues of the chief magistrate hare
If, however, it could be proved, from considera- long since ceased to be in question. But, it is said, tions of necessity or convenience, that an unlimited that he has private good qualities; and I myself power of commitment ought to be entrusted to the have been ready to acknowledge them. They are house of commons, and that, in fact, they have exer- now brought to the test. If he loves his people, he cised it without opposition, still, in contemplation of will dissolve the parliament, which they can never law, the presumption is strongly against them. It is confide in or respect. If he has any regard for his a leading maxim of the laws of England (and with own honor, he will disdain to be any longer conout it all laws are nugatory) that there is no right nected with such abandoned prostitution. But, if it without a remedy, nor any legal power without a were conceivable, that a king of this country had legal course to carry it into effect. Let the power, lost all sense of personal honor, and all concern for now in question, he tried by this rule. The speaker the welfare of his subjects, I confess, sir, I should be issues his warrant of attachment. The party attached either resists force with force, or appeals to ated Mr. Wilkes, who had been guilty of a greater offense inagistrate, who declares the warrant illegal, and than even the lord mayor or alderman Oliver. But, after discharges the prisoner. Does the law provide co | repeatedly ordering him to attend, they at last adjourned legal means for enforcing a legal warrant? Is there
beyond the day appointed for his attendance, and, by this
mean, pitiful evasion, gave up the point. no regular proceeding pointed out in our law books, * If it be demanded, in case a subject should be comto assert and vindicate the authority of so high a mitted by either house for a matter manifestly out of court as the house of commons ? The question is
their jurisdiction, What remedy can be have? I answer,
that it cannot well be imagined that the law, which favors answered directly by the fact; their unlawful com
nothing more than the liberty of the subject, should give mands are resisted, and they have no remedy. The us a remedy against commitments by the king himself, imprisonment of their own members is revenge in
appearing to be illegal, and yet give us no manner of re
dress against a commitment by our fellow subjects, deed; but it is no assertion of the privilege they
equally appearing to be unwarranted. But, as this is a contend for.† Their whole proceeding stops; and case which I am persuaded, will never hapren, it seems there they stand. ashamed to retreat, and unable to | needless over-nicely to examine it. Hawkins, 1) 110.
N. B. He was a good lawyer, but no prophet. advance. Sir, these ignorant men should be in
#That their practice might be every way conformable formed, that the execution of the laws of England is to their principles, the house proceeded to advise the not
crown to publish a proclamation, universally acknowle
edged to be illegal. Mr. Moreton publicly protested the process of the courts of Westminster - hall be re
against it before it was issued; and lord Mansfield. sisted, they have a direct course to enforce submission. | though not scrupulous to an extreme, speaks of it with The court of king's bench commands the sheriff to borror. It is remarkable enough, that the very men who raise the posse comitatus ; the courts of chancery and
advised tbe proclamation and who hear it arraigned
every day, both within doors and without, are not daring exchequer issue a writ of rebellion ; which must also enough to utter one word in its defense: nor have they be supported, if necessary, by the power of the county. ventured to take the least notice of Mr. Wilkes, for the
discharging the persons apprehended under it. • In the years 1593, 1597, and 1601.
+ Lord Chatbam very pioperly called this the act of a + Upon their own principles, they should have commit-'mob, not of a senate.
contented to renounce the forms of the constitution, the power of the house of commons to commit for once more, if there were no other way to obtain sub- contempt, is not so new as it appeared to many postantial justice for the people.*
JUNIUS. ple; who dazzled with the name of privilege, had
never suffered themselves to examine the question
fairly. In the course of my reading this morning. I LETTER XLV.
met with the following passage in the journals of the
house of commons, (Vol. i. p. 603.) Upon occasion of TO THE PRINTER OF THE PUBLIC ADVERTISER. ajurisdiction unlawfully assumed by the house in the SIR,
May 1, 1770. year 1621, Mr. attorney-general Noye gave his opinion They who object to detached parts of Junius's as follows: “No doubt but in some cases, this house last letter, either do not mean him fairly, or have may give judgment, in matters of returns, and connot considered the general scope and course of his cerning members of our house, or falling out in our argument. There are degrees in all the private vices;
view in parliament; but, for foreign matters, knowwhy not in public prostitution? The influence of
eth not how we can judge it; knoweth not that we the crown naturally makes a septennial parliament
have been used to give judgment in any case, but dependent. Does it follow, that every house of com-th
those before mentioned." mons will plunge at once into the lowest depths of Sir Edward Coke, upon the same subject, says prostitution ? Junius supposes, that the present page 604,) "No question but this is a house of house of commons, in going such enormous lengths,
record, and that it hath power of judicature in some have been imprudent to themselves, as well as
well as cases, have power to judge of returns and members wicked to the public: that their example is not of our house. Once, no member, offending out of the within the reach of emulation; and that, in the first parliament, when he came hither, and justified it, was session after the next election, some popular meas
censured for it.” ures may probably be adopted. He does not expect
Now, sir, if you will compare the opinion of these that a dissolution of parliament will destroy corrup- great sages of the law with Junius's doctrine, you tion, but that, at least, it will be a check and terror will find they tally exactly. He allows the power of to their successors, who will have seen, that, in fla- the house to commit their own members, which, howgrant cases, their constituents can and will interpose ever, they may grossly abuse; he allows their power with effect. After all, sir, you will not endeavor to in cases where they are acting as a court of judicaremove or alleviate the most dangerous symptoms. I ture, viz., elections, returns, etc., and he allows it in because you cannot eradicate the disease? Will you such contempts as immediately interrupt their pronot punish treason or parricide, because the sight of ceedings; or, as Mr. Noye expresses it, falling out in a gibbet does not prevent highway robberies? their view in parliament. When the main argument of Junius is admitted to They who would carry the privileges of parliament be unanswerable, I think it would become the minor farther then Junius, either do not mean well to the critic, who hunts for blemishes, to be little more dis
public, or know not what they are doing. The govtrustful of his own sagacity. The other objection is
ernment of England is a government of law. We hardly worth an answer. When Junius observes,
betray ourselves, we contradict the spirit of our laws. that kings are ready enough to follow such advice,
and we shake the whole system of English jurispruhe does not mean to insinuate, that, if the advice of dence, whenever we entrust a discretionary power parliament were good, the king would be so ready over the life, liberty, or fortune of the subject, to any to follow it.
PHILO JUNIUS. man, or set of men, whatsoever, upon a presumption
that it will not be abused. PHILO JUNIUS.
May 25, 1771. TO THE PRINTER OF THE PUBLIC ADVERTISER. I confess my partiality to Junius, and feel al SIR,
May 28, 1771. considerable pleasure in being able to communicate Any man who takes the trouble of perusing the any thing to the public in support of his opinions. journals of the house of commons, will soon be conThe doctrine laid down in his last letter, concerning vinced, that very little, if any regard at all, ought to
be paid to the resolutions of one branch of the legis* When Mr. Wilkes was to be punisbed, they made no lature, declaratory of the law of the land, or even of scruple about the privileges of parliament; and although it was as well known as any matter of public record and
what they call the law of parliament. It will appear uninterrupted custom could be, " That the members of that these resolutions have no one of the properties either house are privileged, except in case of treason, felony, or breach of peace," they declared, without hesi
tinguished from mere will and pleasure; but that, on tation, "That privilege of parliament did not extend to the case of a seditious libel:" and undoubtedly they the contrary, they bear every mark of a power arbiwould have done the same if Mr. Wilkes had been prose- trarily assumed and capriciously applied : that they cuted for any other misdemeanor whatsover. The minis
are usually made in time of contest, and to serve try, are, of a sudden, grown wonderfully careful of privileges which their predecessors were as ready to in- some unworthy purpose of passion or party; that the vade. The known laws of the land, the rights of the law is seldom declared until after the fact by which subject, the sanctity of charters, and the reverence due to our magistrates, must all give way, without question or resistance, to a privilege of which no man knows / jurisdiction are united in the same persons, and exereither the origin or the extent. The house of commons cised at the same moment; and that a court from judge of their own privileges without appeal: they may which there is no appeal, assumes an original juris take offense at the most innocent action, and imprison the person who offends them during their arbitrary will
diction in a criminal case. In short, sir, to collect a and pleasure. The party has no remedy: he cannot ap- thousand absurdities into one mass, “we have a law peal from their jurisdiction; and if he questions the
he questions the which cannot be known, because it is ex post facto: privilege which he is supposed to have violated, it becomes an aggravation of his offenses. Surely this doce the party is both legislator and judge, and the inristrine is not to be found in Magna Charta. If it be admitted without limitation, I affirm, that there is neither law nor liberty in this kingdom. We are the slaves of the
| You will not wonder, sir, that with these qualifhouse of commons; and, through them, we are the slaves of the king and his ministers. Anonymous,
cations, the declaratory resolutions of the house of