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If the virtue be wanting to abolish the
abuse, it is also wanting to act as the means, and the nation must, from
necessity, proceed by some other plan.

Having thus endeavoured to shew what the abject condition of Parliament
is, and the impropriety of going a second time over the same ground that
has before miscarried, I come to the remaining part of the subject.

There ought to be, in the constitution of every country, a mode of
referring back, on any extraordinary occasion, to the sovereign and
original constituent power, which is the nation itself. The right of
altering any part of a Government, cannot, as already observed, reside
in the Government, or that Government might make itself what it pleased.

It ought also to be taken for granted, that though a nation may feel
inconveniences, either in the excess of taxation, or in the mode of
expenditure, or in any thing else, it may not at first be sufficiently
assured in what part of its government the defect lies, or where the
evil originates. It may be supposed to be in one part, and on enquiry
be found to be in another; or partly in all. This obscurity is naturally
interwoven with what are called mixed Governments.

Be, however, the reform to be accomplished whatever it may, it can only
follow in consequence of obtaining a full knowledge of all the causes
that have rendered such reform necessary, and every thing short of this
is guess-work or frivolous cunning. In this case, it cannot be supposed
that any application to Parliament can bring forward this knowledge.
That body is itself the supposed cause, or one of the supposed causes,
of the abuses in question; and cannot be expected, and ought not to be
asked, to give evidence against itself. The enquiry, therefore, which
is of necessity the first step in the business, cannot be trusted to
Parliament, but must be undertaken by a distinct body of men, separated
from every suspicion of corruption or influence.

Instead, then, of referring to rotten Boroughs and absurd Corporations
for Addresses, or hawking them about the country to be signed by a few
dependant tenants, the real and effectual mode would be to come at once
to the point, and to ascertain the sense of the nation by electing a
National Convention. By this method, as already observed, the general
WILL, whether to reform or not, or what the reform shall be, or how
far it shall extend, will be known, and it cannot be known by any other
means. Such a body, empowered and supported by the nation, will have
authority to demand information upon all matters necessary to be
en-quired into; and no Minister, nor any person, will dare to refuse it.
It will then be seen whether seventeen millions of taxes are necessary,
and for what purposes they are expended. The concealed Pensioners will
then be obliged to unmask; and the source of influence and corruption,
if any such there be, will be laid open to the nation, not for the
purpose of revenge, but of redress.

By taking this public and national ground, all objections against
partial Addresses on the one side, or private associations on the other,
will be done away; THE NATION WILL DECLARE ITS OWN REFORMS; and the
clamour about Party and Faction, or Ins or Outs, will become ridiculous.

The plan and organization of a convention is easy in practice.

In the first place, the number of inhabitants in every county can be
sufficiently ascertained from the number of houses assessed to the
House and Window-light tax in each county. This will give the rule
for apportioning the number of Members to be elected to the National
Convention in each of the counties.

If the total number of inhabitants in England be seven millions, and the
total number of Members to be elected to the Convention be one thousand,
the number of members to be elected in a county containing one hundred
and fifty thousand inhabitants will be _twenty-one_, and in like
proportion for any other county.

As the election of a Convention must, in order to ascertain the general
sense of the nation, go on grounds different from that of Parliamentary
elections, the mode that best promises this end will have no
difficulties to combat with from absurd customs and pretended rights.
The right of every man will be the same, whether he lives in a city,
a town, or a village. The custom of attaching Rights to _place_, or
in other words, to inanimate matter, instead of to the _person_,
independently of place, is too absurd to make any part of a rational
argument.

As every man in the nation, of the age of twenty-one years, pays taxes,
either out of the property he possesses, or out of the product of his
labor, which is property to him; and is amenable in his own person to
every law of the land; so has every one the same equal right to vote,
and no one part of the nation, nor any individual, has a right to
dispute the right of another. The man who should do this ought to
forfeit the exercise of his _own_ right, for a term of years. This would
render the punishment consistent with the crime.

When a qualification to vote is regulated by years, it is placed on the
firmest possible ground; because the qualification is such, as nothing
but dying before the time can take away; and the equality of Rights, as
a principle, is recognized in the act of regulating the exercise. But
when Rights are placed upon, or made dependant upon property, they are
on the most precarious of all tenures. "Riches make themselves wings,
and fly away," and the rights fly with them; and thus they become lost
to the man when they would be of most value.

It is from a strange mixture of tyranny and cowardice, that exclusions
have been set up and continued. The boldness to do wrong at first,
changes afterwards into cowardly craft, and at last into fear. The
Representatives in England appear now to act as if they were afraid to
do right, even in part, lest it should awaken the nation to a sense of
all the wrongs it has endured. This case serves to shew, that the same
conduct that best constitutes the safety of an individual, namely,
a strict adherence to principle, constitutes also the safety of a
Government, and that without it safety is but an empty name. When the
rich plunder the poor of his rights, it becomes an example to the poor
to plunder the rich of his property; for the rights of the one are
as much property to him, as wealth is property to the other, and the
_little all_ is as dear as the _much_. It is only by setting out on just
principles that men are trained to be just to each other; and it will
always be found, that when the rich protect the rights of the poor, the
poor will protect the property of the rich. But the guarantee, to be
effectual, must be parliamentarily reciprocal.

Exclusions are not only unjust, but they frequently operate as
injuriously to the party who monopolizes, as to those who are excluded.
When men seek to exclude others from participating in the exercise of
any right, they should, at least, be assured, that they can effectually
perform the whole of the business they undertake; for, unless they do
this, themselves will be losers by the monopoly. This has been the case
with respect to the monopolized right of Election. The monopolizing
party has not been able to keep the Parliamentary Representation, to
whom the power of taxation was entrusted, in the state it ought to have
been, and have thereby multiplied taxes upon themselves equally with
those who were excluded.

A great deal has been, and will continue to be said, about
disqualifications, arising from the commission of offences; but were
this subject urged to its full extent, it would disqualify a great
number of the present Electors, together with their Representatives;
for, of all offences, none are more destructive to the morals of Society
than Bribery and Corruption. It is, therefore, civility to such persons
to pass this subject over, and to give them a fair opportunity of
recovering, or rather of creating character.

Every thing, in the present mode of electioneering in England, is the
reverse of what it ought to be, and the vulgarity that attends elections
is no other than the natural consequence of inverting the order of the
system.

In the first place, the Candidate seeks the Elector, instead of the
Elector seeking for a Representative; and the Electors are advertised as
being in the interest of the Candidate, instead of the Candidate being
in the interest of the Electors. The Candidate pays the Elector for his
vote, instead of the Nation paying the Representative for his time and
attendance on public business. The complaint for an undue election is
brought by the Candidate, as if he, and not the Electors, were the party
aggrieved; and he takes on himself, at any period of the election, to
break it up, by declining, as if the election was in his right and not
in theirs.

The compact that was entered into at the last Westminster election
between two of the candidates (Mr. Fox and Lord Hood,) was an indecent
violation of the principles of election. The Candidates assumed, in
their own persons, the rights of the Electors; for, it was only in the
body of the Electors, and not at all in the Candidates, that the
right of making any such compact, or compromise, could exist. But the
principle of Election and Representation is so completely done away,
in every stage thereof, that inconsistency has no longer the power of
surprising.

Neither from elections thus conducted, nor from rotten Borough
Addressers, nor from County-meetings, promoted by Placemen and
Pensioners, can the sense of the nation be known. It is still corruption
appealing to itself. But a Convention of a thousand persons, fairly
elected, would bring every matter to a decided issue.

As to County-meetings, it is only persons of leisure, or those who live
near to the place of meeting, that can attend, and the number on such
occasions is but like a drop in the bucket compared with the whole. The
only consistent service which such meetings could render, would be that
of apportioning the county into convenient districts, and when this is
done, each district might, according to its number of inhabitants, elect
its quota of County Members to the National Convention; and the vote of
each Elector might be taken in the parish where he resided, either by
ballot or by voice, as he should chuse to give it.

A National Convention thus formed, would bring together the sense and
opinions of every part of the nation, fairly taken.



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