representation, I pass it over with contempt.
fathers of the Americans
did not leave their native country and subject themselves to every danger and distress, to be reduced to a state of slavery; they did not give up their rights; they looked for protection, and not for chains, from their mother country; by her, they expected to be defended in the possession of their property, and not to be deprived of it. For should the present power continue, there is nothing which they can call their own; ‘for,’ to use the words of Locke
, ‘what property have they in that which another may by right take, when he pleases, to himself?’’1
Thus did the defence of the liberties of a continent lead one of the highest judicial officers of England
, in the presence of the House of Lords, to utter a prayer for the reform of the House of Commons, by a more equal settlement of the representative authority.2
The reform was needed; for in Great Britain
, with perhaps, at that time, eight millions of inhabitants, less than ten thousand, or as some thought, less than six thousand persons, many of whom were humbled by dependence, or debauched by corruption, elected a majority of the House of Commons, and the powers of government were actually sequestered into the hands of about two hundred men. Camden
spoke deliberately, and his words were of the greater moment, as they were the fruit of a month's reflection and research; yet he mistook the true nature of representation, which he considered to be not of persons, but of property.
The speech printed in the following year, found