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[40] of Newport, in the Isle of Wight, in like manner
chap. III.} 1763.
named two members, while Bristol elected no more; the populous capital of Scotland but one; and Manchester none. Two hundred and fifty-four members had such small constituencies, that about five thousand seven hundred and twenty-three votes sufficed to choose them. Fifty-six were elected by so few that, had the districts been equally divided, six and a half votes would have sufficed for each member. In an island counting more than seven and a half millions of people, and at least a million and a half of mature men, no one could pretend that it required more than ten thousand voters to elect the majority of the House of Commons. But, in fact, it required the consent of a far less number. London, and Bristol, and perhaps a few more of the larger places, made independent selections; but they were so few, independence seemed to belong to London alone. The boroughs were nearly all dependent on some great proprietor, or on the crown. The burgage tenures belonged to men of fortune; and as the elective power attached to borough houses, the owner of those houses could compel their inhabitants to elect whom he pleased. The majority of the members were able to command their own election, sat in parliament for life as undisturbed as the peers, and bequeathed to their children the property and influence which secured their seats. The same names occur in the rolls of parliament, at the same places, from one generation to another. The exclusive character of the representative body was completed by the prohibition of the publication of the debates, and by the rule of conducting all important negotiations with closed doors. Power was

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