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FEW questions, perhaps, have been more agitated by the higher classes of politicians, than the possibility of a Member of Parliament maintaining so complete a state of independence, as to support or oppose no measure, but from principles the most impartial and conscientious but, though this be one of those questions which can never be finally set at rest, until one uniform opinion shall prevail, respecting the nature and spirit of our constitution (the best, with all its defects, that was ever formed by human wisdom); yet, it may not be uninteresting to enquire, what good consequences are likely to result from a representative of the people in parliament standing aloof from all political connexions.

We must, however, presuppose, in the first place, that the member who chalks out for himself this rare line of conduct, and invariably pursues it, is gifted

with those intellectual qualities, which at once inspire confidence, and command admiration; or else his influence can be but little felt, in the hoarse din of factions, however deservedly his private virtues may be the theme of general panegyric. To be irresistibly impelled, by a love of justice and a regard for worth, into a contest against those, with whom we have lived in habits of intimacy and friendship, may be regarded perhaps, as one of the greatest efforts of patriotism. Such generous devotion to the public service, is, indeed, so seldom witnessed, that, when an orator seizes every opportunity to proclaim his resolution of upholding the liberties of the people, and of acquiescing in no measure, directly or indirectly, but such as is essentially connected with the well-being of the state, much less to enter, from party principles, into a systematic opposition to the measures of government,—we are apt to hear those protestations with a sneer of derision, and to suspect, that he has no other aim in promulging them, than the selfish, but very natural one, of obtaining a place and emolument.

He must give, then, proofs the most undeniable, that he is sincere and steadfast in his great undertaking, before we can be persuaded, that no motive, but a firm conviction of the moral benefit and

commendable example he shall impart to others, could have pricked him on to stand forth as a candidate for the illustrious title of a real patriot; and, even when we are thoroughly satisfied, that he will not betray the hopes reposed in him, what dangers has he to encounter, what passions to subdue, what intrigues to baffle, what temptations to withstand, what factions to crush, and what scurrility, private as well as public, to endure, in his political capacity, before the extent of his herculean toil can be properly appreciated, and his reputation be commensurate to it! No wonder, then, that men possessing birth, fortune, talents of various kinds, and the most spirited dispositions, should yet prefer the shackles of party, to such a perilous and discouraging post of duty, as that unquestionably is, of equally opposing the court and the people, whenever the views of either are marked by injustice. The difficulties of sustaining the character of a true patriot for any continuance of time, being of such a complexion as to be considered almost unsurmountable*, let us proceed to form some estimate of the ge

* Some desponding spirits are inclined to think, that we have entered into a sort of confederacy against all public virtue, and that in this age, it is as rare to meet with a real patriot, as it was formerly to meet with a poet in Plato's commonwealth. There are doubtless too many who assume the external appearance of the patriot, without having any of

neral good likely to be communicated, from a man pursuing a line of conduct so worthy of the most lasting veneration and gratitude.

If we could concur in opinion with those, whose indiscriminate zeal for a reform in parliament has led them to go the unwarrantable length of asserting, that the House of Commons is almost composed of placemen, pensioners, and purchasers of boroughs, it must be obvious, that a single voice, however eloquent and independent, could not possess the smallest weight in an assembly filled with persons of such a servile character: but the fact, fortunately for us, is far from being so. There are many, doubtless, in the House of Commons, who suffer their interests to lead them from their duty; yet it is equally indisputable, that no act of public rapacity, despotism, or infringement upon the constitution, can be committed, but some will be found in that assembly*, to avow their indignation, and call aloud for vengeance.

its constituent qualities. But the names of Whitbread, Romilly, and Wilberforce, awaken recollections highly favorable to the belief, that there are men still to be found who entertain an invincible and instinctive hatred of oppression, and an unshaken love of liberty both civil and religious.

* "Like Noah's ark," says an old writer, "clean and unclean animals enter into the House of Commons."

When a member of parliament has succeeded in acquiring for himself the rare fame of forming the most impartial judgment concerning the real character and tendency of public measures, and, consequently, of disdaining to be enlisted under the banners of any faction, occasions may arise, where such integrity and public spiritedness will produce effects the most important to the national peace, prosperity, and happiness: for though it may not be safe to lay it down as a position, without much reserve and limitation, that an assembly like that of the House of Commons, is often governed by the impulse of one mind, unless the possessor of it has, at the same time, the office of prime minister, yet the memorable decision passed upon the slave trade, clearly demonstrates to us, that one who was never called upon to dispense the favours of the crown, was yet able, from the firmly-established opinion, that, in his long public career, he did every thing according to principle, and nothing according to party, to stop the progress of corruption in its worst of forms, and to retrieve the character of the nation, by exalting the hitherto persecuted and enslaved Africans, into the scale of free and rational beings*.

* In offering these sentiments, I would not wish to be thought blind to the good intentions of some ministers, or less ready than others, to

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