« PreviousContinue »
There is no terror in your
For Tam armd so strong in honesty,
That they pass by
For JULY 1768.
F the noble lord, who is fo anxious to have the doors of the house constantly shut against strangers, had contented himself with infifting, that there is a standing order to this effect, and that a ftanding order fhould be ftrictly obferved, I fhould have thought it my duty to fubmit to his lordship's motion, though I confefs with fome: reluctance. But when the noble lord, not satisfied with an authority paramount to all argument, thinks it necessary to give reafons for his opinion, he feems to admit that the point is at leaft difputable; therefore I hope he will permit me to offer fome reafons to the house, why I differ from him entirely.
The only tolerable pretence for refufing admittance to ftrangers of decent appearance and behaviour, is, left there. fhould not be room for the members to attend to business with ease and convenience to themselves. Whenever this happens, and we all know how feldom it does happen, every member has a right (and I dare fay his lordship will feldom fail to make use of it) to move that the houfe may be cleared. In. every other light, I think that, fo far from being offended at: the prefence of ftrangers, we fhould wish to have as many
witneffes as poffible of all our proceedings. What his lordship's motives may be, I cannot pretend to determine but, for my own part, as I am neither afhamed nor afraid of what I fay in this house, I care not how foon, or how univerfally it is reported abroad. We are not a council of ftate, nor is it our business to deliberate upon or direct the secret operations of government, though it be our duty fometimes to enquire into them. We are the reprefentatives of the people, and in effect a popular affembly. To aim at fecrecy in our debates, would not only be a vain and ridiculous attempt, but, I apprehend, abfolutely contrary to the priuciples upon which this houfe is conftituted. It would be turning a democratical affembly into the form of an ariflocracy. The nobility of Venice wifely bar the doors of their fenate-house, becaufe they are not the reprefentatives, but the tyrants of the people. Such a policy may be prudent and neceflary, where the interefts of a few who govern, are different from thofe of the many, who are governed. But I flatter myself, the noble lord will not infinuate, that the house of and the people of Great Britain have different or feparate interefts from each other, or that we can have any views, which it may import us to conceal from our conftituents. Such a cafe may poffibly happen hereafter, but I am fure it cannot be faid with any appearance of truth of the prefent house of. His lordship tells us, that by admitting ftrangers to hear our debates, the fpeeches of the members are foon carried abroad and generally mifreprefented. Perhaps it may be fo; but will barring our doors prevent that inconverience? does he think that in an affembly of above five hundred perfons, the difcourfes held here will not be carried abroad, will not be mifreprefented? the members of this houfe are neither bound to fecrecy, nor is our memory or judgment infallible. But if his anxiety turns chiefly upon this point, I would wish him to confider that a ftranger, who fits quietly in the gallery, is much more likely to retain, with exactnefs, what he comes on purpose to hear, than a member who perhaps is interested in the debate, and who probably hears the arguments on one fide with prejudice, while he liftens with partiality to thofe of the other. Shall we then, fir, without any reasonable motive whatfoever, give this house the appearance of a foreign inquifition? fhall it be faid that a British houfe of makes laws for the people, as fome flavish courts of judicature abroad try ftate criminals, januis claufis? To the honour of our courts of juftice, they are open to all mankind to make them refpectable in the eyes of the people. We are not indeed a court of judicature, but every