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The freeholders still continued to think that no other man was fit to represent them, and on the fixteenth of March elected him once more. Their resolution was now so well known, that no opponent ventured to appear.
The Commons began to find, that power without materials for operation can produce no effect. They might make the election void for ever, but if no other candidate could be found, their determination could only be negative. They, however, made yoid the last election, and ordered a new writ.
On the thirteenth of April was a new election, at which Mr. Lutterel, and others, offered themselves candidates. Every method of intimidation was used, and some acts of violence were done to hinder Mr. Lutterel from appearing. He was not deterred, and the poll was taken, which exhibited for Mr. Wilkes,
1143 Mr. Lutterel,
296 The sheriff returned Mr. Wilkes; but the House, on April the fifteenth, determined that Mr. Lutterel was lawfully elected.
From this day begun the clamour which has continued till now. Those who had undertaken to oppose the ministry, having no grievance of greater magnitude, endeavoured to swell this decision into bulk, and distort it into deformity, and then held it out to terrify the nation. ;
Every artifice of fedition has been since practised to awaken discontent and inflame indignation. The papers of every day have been filled with exhortations and menaces of faction. The madness has
spread spread through all ranks and through both fexes ; women and children have clamoured for Mr. Wilkes, honeft fimplicity has been cheated into fury, and only the wise have escaped infection.
The greater part may justly be suspected of not believing their own position, and with them it is not necessary to dispute. They cannot be convinced who are convinced already, and it is well known that they will not be ashamed.
The decision, however, by which the smaller number of votes was preferred to the greater, has perplexed the minds of some, whose opinions it were indecent to despise, and who by their integrity well deserve to have their doubts appeased.
Every diffuse and complicated question may be examined by different methods, upon different principles; and that truth, which is easily found by one investigator, may be milled by another, equally honest and equally diligent.
Those who inquire, whether a smaller number of legal votes can elect a representative in opposition to a greater, must receive from every tongue the same answer.
The question, therefore, must be, whether a smaller number of legal votes, shall not prevail against a greater number of votes not legal ?
It must be confidered, that those votes only are legal which are legally given, and that those only are legally given, which are given for a legal candidate.
It remains then to be discussed, whether a man expelled can be fo disqualified by a vote of the
Houfe, as that he shall be no longer eligible by lawful electors ?
Here we must again recur, not to positive institutions, but to the unwritten law of social nature, to the great and pregnant principle of political necessity. All government supposes subjects, all authority implies obedience. To suppose in one the right to command what another has the right to refuse, is absurd and contradictory. A state so constituted must reft for ever in motionless equipose, with equal attractions of contrary tendency, with equal weights of power balancing each other.
Laws which cannot be enforced, can neither prevent nor rectify disorders. A sentence which cannot be executed can have no power to warn or to reform. If the Commons have only the power of dismissing for a few days the man whom his constituents can immediately send back, if they can expel but cannot exclude, they have nothing more than nominal authority, to which perhaps obedience never may be paid.
The representatives of our ancestors had an opinion very different : they fined and imprisoned their members; on great provocation they disabled them for ever; and this power of pronouncing perpetual disability is maintained by Selden himself.
These claims seem to have been made and allowed, when the constitution of our government had not yet been fufficiently studied. Such powers are not legal, because they are not neceffary: and of that power which only necessity justifies, no more is to be admitted than necesity obtrudes.
The Commons cannot make laws, they can only pass resolutions, which, like all resolutions, are of force only to those that make them, and to those only while they are willing to observe them.
The vote of the House of Commons has therefore only so far the force of a law, as that force is necessary to preserve the vote from losing its efficacy, it must begin by operating upon themselves, and extends its influence to others, only by consequences arising from the first intention. He that starts game on his own manor, may pursue it into another.
They can properly make laws only for themselves : a member, while he keeps his seat, is subject to these laws; but when he is expelled, the jurisdiction ceases, for he is now no longer within their dominion.
The disability, which a vote can superinduce to expulsion, is no more than was included in expulsion itself; it is only a declaration of the Commons, that they will permit no longer him whom they thus censure to fit with them in parliament; a declaration made by that right which they necessarily possess, or regulating their own House, and of inflicting punishment on their own delinquents.
They have therefore no other way to enforce the sentence of incapacity, than that of adhering to it. They cannot otherwise punish the candidate so dilqualified for offering himself, nor the electors for accepting him. But if he has any competitor, that competitor must prevail, and if he has none, his election will be void; for the right of the House to reject, annihilates with regard to the man so rejected the right of electing
It has been urged, that the power of the House terminates with their seffion; since a prisoner committed by the Speaker's warrant cannot be detained during the recess. That power indeed ceases with the feffion, which must operate by the agency of others, because, when they do not fit, they can employ no agent, having no longer any legal existence; but that which is exercised on themselves revives at their meeting, when the subject of that power ftill subfifts. They can in the next session refuse: to re-admit him, whom in the former session they ex: pelled.
That expulsion inferred exclusion in the present case, must be, I think, easily admitted. The expulsion and the writ iffued for a new election were in the same fef, fion, and since the House is by the rule of parliament bound for the session by a vote once passed, the expelled member cannot be admitted. He that cannot be admitted, cannot be elected; and the votes given to a man ineligible being given in vain, the highest number for an eligible candidate becomes a majority.
To these conclusions, as to moft nioral, and to all political positions, many objections may be made. The perpetual subject of political difquisition is not absolute, but comparative good. Of two systems of government, or two laws relating to the same subject, neither will ever be such as theoretical nicety would desire, and therefore neither can easily force its way against prejudice and obftinacy; each will have its excellencies and defects, and every man, with a little help from pride, may think his own the best.