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of a more decisive nature, you are then to consider, not what they may legally and justly do, but what a Parliament, omnipotent in power, influenced with party rage and personal resentment, operating under the implicit military obedience of Court discipline, is capable of. Though they have made some successful experiments on Juries, they will hardly trust enough to them to order a prosecution for a supposed libel. They may proceed in two ways, either by an impeachment, in which the Tories may retort on the Whigs (but with better success, though' in a worse cause) the proceedings in the case of Sacheverél, or they may, without this form, proceed, as against the Bishop of Rochester, by a Bill of Pains and Penalties more or less grievous. The similarity of the cases, or the justice, is (as I said) out of the question. The mode of proceeding has several very ancient, and very recent, precedents. None of these methods is impossible. The Court may select three or four of the most distinguished among you for the victims; and there, fore nothing is more remote from the tendency of the proposed Act, than any idea of retirement or repose. On the contrary, you have all of you, as principals or auxiliaries, a much better and more desperate conflict, in all probability, to underga, than any you have been yet engaged in. The only question is, whether the risk ought to be run for the chance (and it is no more) of recalling the
people of England to their ancient principles, and to that personal interest, which formerly they took in all publick affairs ? At any rate I am sure it is right, if we take this step, to take it with a full view of the consequences; and with minds and measures in a state of preparation to meet them. It is not becoming that your boldness should arise from a want of foresight. It is more reputable, and certainly it is more safe too, that it should be grounded on the evident necessity of encountering the dangers, which you foresee.
Your Lordship will have the goodness to excuse me, if I state, in strong terms, the difficulties attending a measure, which on the whole I heartily concur in. But as, from my want of importance, I can be, personally, little subject to the most trying part of the consequences, it is as little
desire to urge others to dangers, in which I am myself to have so inconsiderable a share.
If this measure should be thought too great for our strength, or the dispositions of the times, then the point will be to consider, what is to be done in Parliament. A weak, irregular, desultory, peevish Opposition there will be as much too little as the other
may be too big. Our scheme ought to be such, as to have in it a succession of measures ; else it is impossible to secure any thing like a regular attendance; Opposition will otherwise always
carry a disreputable air; neither will it be possible, without that attendance, to persuade, the people that we are in earnest. Above all, a motion should be well digested for the first day. There is one thing in particular I wish to recommend to your Lordship’s consideration; that is, the opening of the doors of the House of Commons. Without this, I am clearly convinced, it will be in the power of Ministry to make our Opposition appear without doors just in what light they please. To obtain a gallery is the easiest thing in the world, if we are satisfied to cultivate the esteem of our adversaries, by the resolution and energy, with which we act against them : but if their satisfaction and good humour be any part of cur object, the attempt, I admit, is idle.
I had some conversation, before I left town, with the D. of M. He is of opinion, that, if you adhere to your resolution of seceding, you ought not to appear on the first day of the meeting. He thinks it can have no effect, except to break the continuity of your conduct, and thereby to weaken and fritter away the impression of it. It certainly will seem odd, to give solemn reasons for a discontinuance of your attendance in Parliament, after having two or three times returned to it, and immediately after a vigorous act of Opposition. As to trials of the temper of the House, there have been of that sort so many already, that I see no reason for making another, that would not hold equally good for another after that; particularly, as nothing has happened in the least calculated to alter the disposition of the House. If the Seces. sion were to be general, such an attendance, fol. lowed by such an act, would have force; but being, in its nature, incomplete and broken, to break it further by retreats and returns to the chase must entirely destroy its effect. I confess, I am quite of the D. of M's opinion in this point.
I send your Lordship a corrected copy of the Paper; your Lordship will be so good to communicate it, if you should approve of the alterations, to Lord J. C. and Sir G.S. I showed it to the D. of P. before his Grace left town, and at his, the D. of P's desire, I have sent it to the D. of R. The principal alteration is in the pages last but
It is made to remove a difficulty, which had been suggested to Sir G. S. and which he thought had a good deal in it. I think it much the better for that alteration. Indeed it may want still more corrections, in order to adapt it to the present or probable future state of things.
What shall I say in excuse for this long Letter, which frightens me when I look back upon it? Your Lordship will take it, and all in it, with your usual incomparable temper, which carries you