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apt to be too much elated with success, and too much dejected with every misfortune. This made them wavering in their opinions about affairs of State, and never long of the same mind. He feared a too frequent renewal of the House would lead to similar wavering in Parliament, and to a change of measures every
time the people changed their minds. The minister further enlarged on the dangers of sedition and faction, and of restless and unquiet spirits among the people having too large a share in Government. Finally, he answered allegations made in the debate regarding the bribery and corruption of members of Parliament. The argument ended in the loss of the motion; for, in the words then used, “it passed in the negative by 247 to 184."
It was in this debate that Sir W. Wyndham, under the guise of a hypothetical argument, made a memorable attack on Sir Robert Walpole, picturing him as a man abandoned “to
INVECTIVE IN PARLIAMENT.
all notions of virtue or honour; ... possessed of great wealth, the plunder of the nation ; with a Parliament of his own chusing, most of their seats purchased, and their votes bought at the expense of the publick treasure ; ... pluming himself in defiances, because he finds he has got a Parliament, like a packed jury, ready to acquit him at all adventures ; . . . having no virtue of his own, ridiculing it in others, and endeavouring to destroy or corrupt it in all.”
Sir Robert's reply to such extraordinary invective pointed to Bolingbroke as the real instigator of the attack upon him, and as the interested advocate of shorter terms of Parliament. Asking to be allowed to draw a picture in his turn, he supposed “an anti-minister” not really liked by any, even of those who so blindly followed him, and hated by all the rest of mankind; taking advantage of clemency extended to him by the Crown to destroy the fountain whence that mercy flowed; "at every court
where he was, thinking himself the greatest minister, and making it his trade to betray the secrets of
every court where he had before been; void of all faith and honour, and betraying every master he had ever served.”
Bolingbroke's views on short Parliaments were published in his “Dissertation on Parties,” where he maintained the right of the people to frequent elections, declined to allow that the inconveniences of these elections could be set in the balance against the danger of weakening any one barrier of our liberty, and held the work of the Revolution to be imperfect and future security precarious unless our ancient constitution were restored.
There were striking indications of the public feeling on the subject of short Parliaments in 1741. The citizens of London, in an address to their new member in that year, express the opinion that it is their duty, and claim that it is their right, to acquaint their members with
INSTRUCTIONS TO MEMBERS.
what they desire and expect from their representatives. Conspicuous among the instructions they accordingly gave were the following :“When we reflect on the danger of entrusting power too long in the same hands; when we wonder how often, in former times, the liberty of this country has been sacrificed and sold by long-continued Parliaments, and that a frequent recourse to their constituents, the people, is a certain and necessary check to bad measures and worse intentions—we require you to prosecute in the most vigorous manner a repeal of the Septennial Act, and to restore the salutary form of triennial Parliaments, as the principal means of recovering the rights and supporting the dignity of a free nation.” When Sir R. Walpole had to resign his place, and was sent to the Upper House as Earl of Orford, there were fresh instructions sent by many constituencies to their members. Those sent by the city of London to their representatives, one of whom was Sir R. Godschall, their own Lord. Mayor, contained this passage: “As they (the constituents) have now reason to hope for a change of measures as well as of men, they desire you will strongly promote all those salutary laws as are or shall be proposed in the House of Commons, such as the Place Bill, the Pension Bill, and the repeal of the Septennial Act, in order to restore the ancient freedom of our constitution and secure it against all future attempts, either of open or secret corruption or of any undue influence whatsoever." Edinburgh's instructions also urged the repeal of the Septennial Act. Oxfordshire “expected,
' from an independent majority in this Parliament, the repeal of the Septennial Act, an innovation as dangerous as this constitution ever suffered,
. . depriving the electors of approving a worthy choice or rejecting those who, from motives destructive of freedom, deviate from the principles that alone recommended them to their