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2. The House of Lords is interposed as a bulwark between the Crown and the People ; and eventually defends the constitutional rights of both by withstanding the encroachments of either. To this useful line of resistance its members are led by principles inherent in the very nature of Peerage, and therefore promifing to be permanent. Their attachment to the Crown as the source of the honours which they possess, and of the further elevation to which they may aspire ; and the dread of changes, which may detract from their preeminence, but can rarely be expected to increase it, have an obvious tendency to engage them in the defence of the royal prerogatives. These principles however, when considered in a moral point of view, are not the purest ; and must be expected sometimes to operate with too strong a bias. Yet this bias will be materially checked in the minds of Peers by the consciousness, that if once the Crown were to extend its authority by trampling on the rights of the Commons, they might themselves be preserved in splendid trappings to gild the pageantry of a Court, and be convened under ancient folemnities and forms to give con
Itrained approbation to royal ediêts; but would not long retain the free enjoyment of those functions in which their true dignity is placed, the exercise of legislative and judicial power.
The House of Lords is continually led to perform its office of keeping asunder the monarchical and democratical branches of the Constitution, and preventing the innumerable and perhaps remediless evils which would refult from their collision, in a manner singularly advantageous. It usually maintains the balance, not by professedly standing forward in support of the one against the other, but by watching with a careful eye over the preservation of some of its own rights, which are clearly important to the public welfare ; and may alternately save the prerogatives of the Crown and the rights of the People from fatal inroads, while it deems itself to be occupied in mere self-defence. Thus both the Crown and the House of Commons may frequently perceive the barriers of their respective privileges strenuously defended without any exertions of their own; and without being reciprocally filled with that disgust and suspicion, or im
pelled to those animolities and attempts at reprisal, which would inevitably arise were they to find themselves engaged in an immediate contest with each other.
The institution of Peerage likewise tends eventually, by exciting a difference of fentiments and views in different classes of the community, to preclude any private individual from acquiring fuch predominant influence over his countrymen as to become dangerous to public liberty. Were a Peer to make the attempt, he would scarcely be supported by the confidence and fympathy of the People and their Representatives. And a Commoner who should undertake a similar enterprise would experience the want of personal dignity and splendour, and would be much more likely to be counteracted by the jealousy than to be aided by the co-operation of the Peers.
3. This institution enables the Crown, or, as it may with more propriety be said, the Nation by the discretional agency of its First Magistrate, to reward men who have diftinguished themselves in the public service; and
to reward them in a manner the most gratifying to their private feelings, and the least expenlive to the country. It contributes likewise, if that is to be deemed an advantage, to cherish in the minds of Peers a high sense of honour. This is a principle, which, when it proves, as on investigation it most frequently would prove, but another name for pride, can expect no praise from christian morality, even if it thould chance to produce incidental good. Nor has any man who acts on no better motives reason to feel his conscience at peace. The utmost which those who are most desirous of vindicating the principle can allege is this; that it is one which, however limited and fickle in its operation, however weak in resisting inordinate passions, may occasionally bridle the vices of those whom negligence may have left unacquainted with the restraints of reason and religion, and whom youth and dissipation might otherwise hurry into greater and worse exceffes. It tends also to kindle generous emulation, to rouse and diffuse the spirit of patriotic exertions. At the same time it must be allowed, that the good effects of this emulation are in some measure counter-balan
ced by the envy and discontent awakened in the breasts of those who conceive themfelves neglected ; and by the occasional elevation of men, whose promotion seems altogether indifferent, if not injurious, to the public welfare. The former however of these consequences might be obviated to a considerable degree, and the latter entirely prevented, by proper attention on the part of those who select the persons to be raised to the dignity of Peers.
Such are the constitutional usages of the House of Lords; and they are unquestionably great. An accurate acquaintance with them is an object of the first concern to each individual Peer, and will materially illustrate the general line of his duty.
Yet in common with every arrangement in human society, the establishment of the order of Peers has its peculiar inconveniences. It inclines the mind of each member of the order to adopt and cherish various opinions founded on prejudice; and subjects him to ‘many appropriate and powerful temptations. These prepossessions and allurements have a natural