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1756. PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c.
Upon this C. Numifius ftood up and
ry VII. the power of chufing a new alderman in the room of one dead, or removed, has been lodged folely in the aldermen. But whatever was anciently the form of government in Bristol, whatever alterations it has A undergone, those alterations are, in my opinion, an argument in favour of the prefent form, because I must fuppofe, that every alteration was owing to fome inconvenience that had been felt in the old form; and as the present form has continued ever fince the revolution, without any complaint from the inhabitants, I muft fuppofe it to be the best that has ever yet been thought of; for if the citizens had ever found themfelves oppreffed by their magiftrates, or had ever experienced any inconvenience in their prefent form of government, they would certainly have petitioned either the crown or the parliament, for fome new regulation.
F the house should think fit to adopt the propofal made by the Hon. gentleman, i think it is evident, that the bill now before us must be withdrawn, and a new bill ordered to be brought in; for it would be impoffible to alter this bill in the committee, fo as to make it B correfpond with what he has propofed; and even if this were poffible, I do not think it would be right in us to do fo, becaufe a bill fo much altered would really be a new bill, which could not be faid to have gone through all the forms fo wifely re- C quired by our conftitution for the enacting of any new law, nor would the people without doors, who might justly think themselves interested, have an opportunity to explain to the houfe either their interefts or their objections.
This, Sir, is one great objection which I have to what the Hon. gentleman has been pleafed to propose; but I have a much more material objection, which is, that I think it would be of the moft pernicious confequence to the city of Bristol: It E would be fetting up an imperium in imperio, and this can never tend to the peace, quiet, or profperity of any country or city. I fhall readily admit, Sir, that the form of government in Bristol has, like that of all other cities and boroughs, undergone many alterations fince it was firft erected into a free borough: I fay a free borough, for it has been for fo many ages in that ftate, that I doubt if we have any authentick record or hiftory of its firft erection; whereas we know, that it was never erected into a city until the 34th of Henry VIII, and it is certain, that ever fince it has had any aldermen, which was not, I think, till the reign of Hen
But fo far otherwife, Sir, that we have never heard of any general complaint among the citizens of Bristol, or any general defire to alter their form of government. On the contrary, we have now before us a pctition from the most respectable body of men in that city, next to the magiftrates, approving of the powers granted to the magiftrates of that city by the act of the 11th and 12th of king William, and of the conduct of the magiftrates in the exercise of those powers; and giving it as their opinion, that the magiftrates are the most proper perfons to be invefted with power to fupport and regulate a nightly watch. From hence, I think, we have great reafon to fuppofe, that the majority of the inhabitants of Bristol approve not only of their prefent form of government, but alfo of the conduct of their prefent magiftrates; and indeed, as I have the honour to be
perionally acquainted with all, or inoft of them, I cannot wonder at their meeting with fuch a general approbation; for there is not, I be
PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c. Jan.
of infinite confufion.
lieve, a city in the kingdom, whofe
Thus, I think, Sir, it must appear, that what has been propofed by the Hon. gentleman, is a fcheme that confifts only in fpeculation, for it is impoffible to reduce it to prac tice; nor can it be any way fupported by the precedents here in Westmintter; for in the first place, there is no proper magiftracy eftablished here in Westminster; and in the next place, there was never any F general law propofed, much leis enacted, for establishing a nightly watch in the city of Weftminster. The acts that have been pafled for establishing fuch a watch in some parts of it, related only to one parish, or two at moft, and even in them F you lodged all the powers neceflary for the purpofe in those who by law had the government of the parish, that is to fay, in the veftry of each refpective parish. Confequently no argument can be drawn from thefe particular parochial acts, for our doing the fame thing now when we are to pats a general law for eftablishing a nightly watch in the city of Eriftol. At least if any fort of argument can be drawn from
From the conduct therefore, Sir, of the prefentor any former fet of p D magiftrates of Bristol, there can be no reafon drawn for altering the form of government of that city, or for refufing to lodge in the magiftracy any new powers that may be found neceflary for the good government thereof. Unquiet minds will always be finding fault with the beft form of government that ever was, or ever can be contrived by human wifdom; and however neceflary fome fort of popular elections may be for keep. ing the exercife of power within due bounds, and for preferving the liberties of the people, yet it is certain, that they are often the caufe of great disturbance and contention; there fore I fhall never be for introducing them in any cafe where experience has not fhewn that they are become neceffary. In the cale now before us, they are fo far from having appeared from experience to have become neceffary, that I am convinced, they would be the forerunner
Dreadful EFFECTS of LUXURY.
thefe acts, it is an argument for our doing with respect to that city, what we did with respect to these respective parishes, that is, to lodge all the powers neceffary for the purpose in the hands of those who have by law the government of the city.
But, Sir, there is a late act which I look on as a precedent much more proper for A our direction upon the present occafion, than any of thefe Westminster acts: The at I mean is that which was paffed in the 9th of his prefent majefty, for better enlightening the streets of the city of London. Surely the inhabitants of any city are as much interested in having their Streets enlightened, as in having a nightly watch established, and, I believe, the former will always be the most expenfive; yet the inhabitants of London did not fo much as defire to have the powers neceffary for this purpose lodged in their hands,, or in the hands of trustees chosen by them, and the parliament thought proper to lodge the whole in the hands of the common-council, with an appeal to the court of aldermen, in cafe any perfon thought himself aggrieved by having too high a tax laid upon him for the purposes of that, act.
This, Sir, is a precedent in point; and: as that act has been found by experience to answer every purpose for which it was intended, without being oppreffive upon. any one of the citizens, we cannot do better than to follow this precedent, D which if we do, we muft pafs this bill as it now ftands; and if it be passed into a law as it now stands, I dare fay, we shall never hear of any complaints against it, from the citizens of Bristol in general, nor from. any inhabitant of that city in particular. [This JOURNAL to be continued in our next.]
Luxuria――viSum ulcifcitur Orbem.
IT is an obfervation founded on wif
Idom and juftified by experience, that
the more we indulge our vices and paffi.
attendant, fpreads its baneful infection fo wide, as to threaten the undermining our conftitution and the downfal of our state. I am fenfible how much publick fpirit is. difcouraged by the minions of power, and fneered at by the felfith; yet I cannot help thinking that the man who does his endeavour to keep alive this fpirit, and to awaken people to a fenfe of the duty which they owe to their country; I cannot help thinking, I fay, that fuch a man, however private his ftation or mean his talents may be, deferves commendation tho' his labours may fail of fuccefs.
As no vice is more deftructive to a state than luxury, the legislature of every nation ought to take timely and vigorous meafures to prevent its increase, and obviate the bad effects it will produce; the growth of luxury is a fure prognoftication of the decline of empire: It may indeed feem flow in its advances, but it is fure to bring terrible confequences. Tho' it does not alarm us with imminent danger, nor threaten a state with impending calamity. or immediate diffolution, yet in the end. it will inflict far greater evils than even the moft heavy and furious war can bring upon a nation. Danger and adverfity rouze us from the lethargy of pleasure, keep alive our industry and publick spirit, and confirm our virtues by obliging us to exert them; but luxury debauches our minds and weakens our bodies; we become forgetful of our country; and the state, like fome time-hook tower, moulders infenfibly away, and at length, unable to bear a blast of wind, yields to the storm and finks into ruins. Luxury will infallibly weaken and eradicate all thofe virtues upon which the preservation of a state-depends; no remedy can be found powerful enough to withstand the mighty torrent of corruption or to prevent the fatal effects of univerfal depravity; when felfintereft is preferred to the fervice of our country, it is not difficult to foresee what! must follow; lofs of liberty and power must be the inevitable confequence of vice and degeneracy, and our country will
foon become a prey either to the intriguing ambition of a domeftick tyrant, or to the fuperior power of a foreign invader : A generous few may indeed ward off the blow for a while, and perhaps facrifice their lives to their heroick patriotifm, but, alas unless all concur in a general reformation, deftruction will foon overtake us.
That certain ruin has enfued wherever luxury has prevailed, is an observation which may be exemplified in the history of all nations; when we take a furvey of the great theatre of the univerfe and examine the revolutions that have happened
NATIONS ruined by LUXURY.
in it, we find examples and experience to
Luxury occafioned the ruin of those
don. Thus it is, as my lord Bolingbroke D
Rome affords us an eminent example of the furprising degree of power to which E publick virtue may raise a nation, and how low luxury may fink the moft powerful. The hiftorian Salluft has with great Atrength of thought and elegance of language difplayed the caufes of the rife and declenfion of this republick; ke tells us that the first was owing to the excellent virtues of the primitive Romans; they were remarkable for temperance, a ftriét F regard for religion, and an inviolable love for their country; fimplicity of manners, contempt of luxury, and the love of virtue, were the qualifications that added fresh luftre to the bravery of their confuls and generals; behold Cincinnatus ploughing his little farm with thofe hands that had fo often fought with fuccefs his coun- G try's battles! But the Romans as well as the Greeks foon degenerated, and in Cæfar's time we find them by their vices made quite ripe for that flavery which Odavianus compleated,
It has been justly remarked that a very near comparison might be drawn between the antient Romans and our British anceftors. The fame virtues that dignified the Roman name once glowed in the breafts of Englishmen Plain, frugal, honest and brave, they withstood the tyranny of papal oppreffion, and the ambition of their own princes; their valour and their piety founded our liberties, defended our country, and established our religion. Britain has produced heroes and patriots equal to any that Rome itself can boaft: But, alas! I fear the comparison will prove equally juft between the degenerated Romans and the Britons of later
times. Our riches may perhaps be greater than formerly, but I am fure our virtue is lefs Luxury by increafing our pleafures, has increafed our wants, and left us lefs time, or lefs inclination, to promote the welfare of the publick: We do not emulate one another in ferving our country, but in amaffing riches, or refining plea fures, and difplaying prodigality. One would imagine that the edict of Xerxes was revived, who promifed a great reward for the man who could find out a new pleasure; I believe to do this at prefent would require a good deal of study, but at the fame time I am confident he would be more careffed and applauded than the man who fhould propose fome falutary law for the benefit of his country. We are become an effeminate people ripe for flavery, into which we should probably very foon fall, were we not bleffed with a king who feems more defrous to rouze us from our lethargy, and animate us against the common enemy, than to take advantage of our degeneracy, and fubject us to his will. Wanton with wealth, and difcontented with liberty, we know not how to enjoy the one or value the other. Such is our fituation and worfe will it become, uniefs the prefent alarming crifis revives our publick fpirit, unites our endeavours, and animates our courage.
As the fame caufes will always produce the fame effects, we must expect to lofe
our liberty when we have loft our virtue : Now is the important time to determine whether we have loft the one or are likely to lose the other. Our enemies, more perhaps by our own mifconduct and neglect than their power or their valour, are attacking us in the most dangerous part, and putting it to the trial whether or no we are to continue an independent nation. We must exert our virtue to the utmoft, we mult not be dismayed by threatrings, terrified by dangers, nor discouraged by defeats. A zeal for the conftitution, in
SUPERIORITY of MANKIND.
and make the vegetable, mineral, and animal creation obedient to his commands. He dreffes the ground, plants woods and gardens, erects buildings and monuments of perpetuity: He breaketh the wild horfe, he tameth the lion, and draggeth from the fea the huge leviathan.
Several defects have been inconfiderately objected to the human structure, as if it were left imperfect by its Creator. Some have fancied that, inftead of arms, wings fhould have been given to man, to transfer his body quicker from one place to another. But what a diminution would it be to the human dignity, were our arms exchanged for wings? Would wings fupply the infinite uses of hands and fingers, by which we exert our power and dominion? If man had been a winged race, who must have ploughed the ground, dreffed the vine, or felled the timber? The arm of man fathoms the ocean, extends to the entrails of the earth, and fetches up numerous productiCons from places where wings could never reach. Could wings enable us to weave our fail-cloth, and build our fhips, which carry us farther than eagles fly? Let the fublimeft human genius make what imaginary alterations it pleafes in the human ftructure, they will all be for the worse; and we be forced to acknowledge that the body of man is contrived by an architect infinitely wife.
tereft and glory of Great-Britain will
Birminghamenfis, Dec. 1, 1755.
From MAN, N° 50.
Superiority of Man over the Brute Creation.
N the very countenance of man are feated majesty and dignity, power and F expreffion. He need not always exert his voice to declare his mind; the look of his eye, the varied colour of his countenance, and the fenfible alterations of his features, fufficiently denote his thoughts and intentions on many occafions: An advantage to which no brute can pretend. His erect ftature, and the G configuration of all his parts, fuited to the powers of his foul, enable him to use his limbs to the nobleft purposes; to rule, fubdue, and govern the earth; ornament it with the various works of art; January, 1756.
The human arm is a mark of regal dig nity. Every creature hath its limbs deftined to its particular ufes, and as it were, its peculiar handicraft, to which alone it is formed and built; without being able to extend its power of working beyond its peculiar destination: But the arm of man is an univerfal inftrument, by means whereof he extends his dominion through all the regions of nature. When he ftretches out his arm it ferves as a bar of defence, which, when he revolves it, acts as a fling. His doubled fift strikes like a hammer; and, when opened and hollowed, ferves as a vetiel. His fingers do the office of hooks and claws: The fituation
of his arms makes out his balance; and by their means he can draw to him, thruft from him, or climb on high. The arm of man is an emblem of the powers of his foul, and animates all other inftruments and tools, which enable him to hew rocks, fell trees, and transport them to great distances for the building of houfes, towns, and cities. The human arm works wonders: It cuts channels, pierces rocks, conducts rivers, renders them navigable, digs metais and minerals, and brings them to what shape or figure we pleafe. By means of his arm man C