Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/409

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

occasionally found even that House of Commons unmanageable. From the first it had contained not a few true Englishmen; others had been introduced into it as vacancies were made by death; and even the majority, courtly as it was, could not but feel some sympathy with the nation. A country party grew up and became formidable. But that party constantly found its exertions frustrated by systematic corruption. That some members of the legislature received direct bribes was with good reason suspected, but could not be proved. That the patronage of the Crown was employed on an extensive scale for the purpose of influencing votes was matter of notoriety. A large proportion of those who gave away the public money in supplies received part of that money back in salaries; and thus was formed a mercenary band on which the Court might, in almost any extremity, confidently rely.

The servility of this Parliament had left a deep impression on the public mind. It was the general opinion that England ought to be protected against all risk of being ever again represented, during a long course of years, by men who had forfeited her confidence, and who were retained by a fee to vote against her wishes and interests. The subject was mentioned in the Convention; and some members wished to deal with it while the throne was still vacant. The cry for reform had ever since been becoming more and more importunate. The people, heavily pressed by taxes, were naturally disposed to regard those who lived on the taxes with little favour. The war, it was generally acknowledged, was just and necessary; and war could not be carried on without large expenditure. But the larger the expenditure which was required for the defence of the nation, the more important it was that nothing should be squandered. The immense gains of official men moved envy and indignation. Here a gentleman was paid to do nothing. There many gentlemen were paid to do what would be better done by one. The coach, the liveries, the lace cravat and diamond buckles of the placeman were naturally seen with an evil eye by those who rose up early and lay down late in order to furnish him with the means of indulging in splendour and luxury. Such abuses