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near a century, the business was taken up, it pro- | are, full as capable as monarchs, of the most cruel ceeded in the most publick manner, by the ordi- oppression and injustice. It is but too true, that nary stages, and as slowly as a law so evidently the love, and even the very idea, of genuine right as to be resisted by none would naturally liberty is extremely rare. It is but too true, that advance. Had it been read three times in one day, there are many, whose whole scheme of freedom we should have shewn only a becoming readiness is made up of pride, perverseness, and insolence. to recognise, by protection, the undoubted dutiful They feel themselves in a state of thraldom, they behaviour of those whom we had but too long | imagine that their souls are cooped and cabined punished for offences of presumption or conjecture. in, unless they have some man, or some body of But for what end was that bill to linger beyond men, dependent on their mercy. The desire of the usual period of an unopposed measure? Was having some one below them descends to those it to be delayed until a rabble in Edinburgh should who are the very lowest of all,—and a Protestant dictate to the church of England what measure of cobbler, debased by his poverty, but exalted by his persecution was fitting for her safety? Was it to share of the ruling church, feels a pride in knowbe adjourned until a fanatical force could be col. ing it is by his generosity alone, that the peer, lected in London, sufficient to frighten us out of whose footman's instep he measures, is able to all our ideas of policy and justice? Were we to keep his chaplain from a jail. This disposition is wait for the profound lectures on the reason of the true source of the passion, which many men, in state, ecclesiastical and political, which the Protest- very humble life, have taken to the American war. ant Association have since condescended to read Our subjects in America; our colonies; our depento us? Or were we, seven hundred peers
dants. This lust of party-power is the liberty they moners, the only persons ignorant of the ribald hunger and thirst for; and this Syren song of invectives which occupy the place of argument in ambition has charmed ears, that one would have those remonstrances, which every man of common thought were never organized to that sort of observation had heard a thousand times over, musick. and a thousand times over had despised ? All men This way of proscribing the citizens by denomihad before heard what they have to say; and all nations and general descriptions, dignified by men at this day know what they dare to do; and the name of reason of state, and security for conI trust, all honest men are equally influenced by stitutions and commonwealths, is nothing better at and by the other.
bottom, than the miserable invention of an ungeBut they tell us, that those our fellow-citizens, nerous ambition, which would fain hold the sacred whose chains we have a little relaxed, are enemies trust of power, without any of the virtues or any to liberty and our free constitution.- Not enemies, of the energies that give a title to it: a receipt of I presume, to their own liberty. And as to the policy, made upof a detestable compound of malice, constitution, until we give them some share in it, cowardice, and sloth. They would govern men I do not know on what pretence we can examine against their will; but in that government they into their opinions about a business in which they would be discharged from the exercise of vigilance, have no interest or concern. But after all, are we providence, and fortitude; and therefore, that they equally sure, that they are adverse to our constitu- may sleep on their watch, they consent to take tion, as that our statutes are hostile and destructive some one division of the society into partnership of to them ? For my part, I have reason to believe, the tyranny over the rest. But let government, in their opinions and inclinations in that respect are what form it may be, comprehend the whole in its various, exactly like those of other men: and if justice, and restrain the suspicious by its vigilance; they lean more to the crown than I, and than many | let it keep watch and ward ; let it discover by its of you think we ought, we must remember, that sagacity, and punish by its firmness, all delinquency he who aims at another's life, is not to be surprised against its power, whenever delinquency exists in if he flies into any sanctuary that will receive him. the overt acts; and then it will be as safe as ever The tenderness of the executive power is the God and nature intended it should be. Crimes are natural asylum of those upon whom the laws have the acts of individuals, and not of denominations ; declared war: and to complain that men are and therefore arbitrarily to class men under general inclined to favour the means of their own safety, descriptions, in order to proscribe and punish them is so absurd, that one forgets the injustice in the in the lump for a presumed delinquency, of which ridicule.
perhaps but a part, perhaps none at all, are guilty, I must fairly tell you, that, so far as my principles is indeed a compendious method, and saves a world are concerned, (principles that I hope will only of trouble about proof; but such a method, instead depart with my last breath,) I have no idea of of being law, is an act of unnatural rebellion a liberty unconnected with honesty and justice. against the legal dominion of reason and justice ; Nor do I believe, that any good constitutions of and this vice, in any constitution that entertains government, or of freedom, can find it necessary it, at one time or other will certainly bring on its for their security to doom any part of the people ruin. to a permanent slavery. Such a constitution of We are told that this is not a religious persecufreedom, if such can be, is in effect no more than tion; and its abettors are loud in disclaiming all another name for the tyranny of the strongest severities on account of conscience. Very fine infaction; and factions in republicks have been, and deed! Then let it be so; they are not persecutors:
they are only tyrants. With all my heart. I am there any reason, because thieves break in and steal, perfectly indifferent concerning the pretexts upon and thus bring detriment to you, and draw ruin which we torment one another; or whether it be on themselves, that I am to be sorry
you are for the constitution of the church of England, or in possession of shops, and of warehouses, and of for the constitution of the state of England, that wholesome laws to protect them? Are you to build people choose to make their fellow-creatures no houses, because desperate men may pull them wretched. When we were sent into a place of down upon their own heads ? Or, if a malignant authority, you that sent us had yourselves but one wretch will cut his own throat because he sees you commission to give. You could give us none to give alms to the necessitous and deserving, shall wrong or oppress, or even to suffer any kind of his destruction be attributed to your charity, and oppression or wrong, on any grounds whatsoever ; not to his own deplorable madness? If we repent not on political, as in the affairs of America; not of our good actions, what, I pray you, is left for on commercial, as in those of Ireland; not in our faults and follies ? It is not the beneficence of civil, as in the laws for debt; not in religious, as the laws, it is the unnatural temper which benefiin the statutes against Protestant or Catholick cence can fret and sour, that is to be lamented. It dissenters. The diversified but connected fabrick is this temper which, by all rational means, ought of universal justice is well cramped and bolted to be sweetened and corrected. If froward men together in all its parts: and depend upon it, I should refuse this cure, can they vitiate any thing never have employed, and I never shall employ, any but themselves ? Does evil so react upon good, as engine of power which may come into my hands, not only to retard its motion, but to change its to wrench it asunder. All shall stand, if I can nature ? If it can so operate, then good men will help it, and all shall stand connected. After all, always be in the power of the bad ; and virtue, by to complete this work, much remains to be done; a dreadful reverse of order, must lie under perpemuch in the East, much in the West. But, great tual subjection and bondage to vice. as the work is, if our will be ready, our powers As to the opinion of the people, which some are not deficient.
think, in such cases, is to be implicitly obeyed; Since you have suffered me to trouble you so nearly two years' tranquillity, which followed the much on this subject, permit me, gentlemen, to de-act, and its instant imitation in Ireland, proved tain you a little longer. I am indeed most solicitous abundantly, that the late horrible spirit was, in a to give you perfect satisfaction. I find there are great measure, the effect of insidious art, and some of a better and softer nature than the per- perverse industry, and gross misrepresentation. sons with whom I have supposed myself in debate, But suppose that the dislike had been much more who neither think ill of the act of relief, nor by deliberate, and much more general than I am perany means desire the repeal ; yet who, not accus- suaded it was- - When we know, that the opinions ing but lamenting what was done, on account of of even the greatest multitudes are the standard the consequences, have frequently expressed their of rectitude, I shall think myself obliged to make wish, that the late act had never been made. Some those opinions the masters of my conscience. But of this description, and persons of worth, I have if it may be doubted whether Omnipotence itself met with in this city. They conceive, that the is competent to alter the essential constitution of prejudices, whatever they might be, of a large right and wrong, sure I am, that such things, as part of the people, ought not to have been shock- they and I, are possessed of no such power. No ed; that their opinions ought to have been pre- man carries further than I do the policy of making viously taken, and much attended to; and that government pleasing to the people. But the thereby the late horrid scenes might have been widest range of this politick complaisance is conprevented.
fined within the limits of justice. I would not I confess, my notions are widely different; and only consult the interest of the people, but I would I never was less sorry for any action of my life. I cheerfully gratify their humours. We are all a like the bill the better, on account of the events of sort of children that must be soothed and managed. all kinds that followed it. It relieved the real I think I am not austere or formal in my nature. sufferers; it strengthened the state; and, by the I would bear, I would even myself play my part disorders that ensued, we had clear evidence that in, any innocent buffooneries, to divert them. there lurked a temper somewhere, which ought not But I never will act the tyrant for their amuseto be fostered by the laws. No ill consequences ment.
If they will mix malice in their sports, I whatever could be attributed to the act itself. We shall never consent to throw them any living, knew beforehand, or we were poorly instructed, sentient creature whatsoever, no not so much as that toleration is odious to the intolerant ; freedom a kitling, to torment. to oppressors; property to robbers; and all kinds “But if I profess all this impolitick stubbornand degrees of prosperity to the envious. We ness, I may chance never to be elected into Parknew, that all these kinds of men would gladly “ liament.” “It is certainly not pleasing to be put gratify their evil dispositions under the sanction of out of the publick service. But I wish to be a law and religion, if they could : if they could not, member of Parliament, to have my share of doing vet, to make way to their objects, they would do good and resisting evil. It would therefore be iheir utmost to subvert all religion and all law. absurd to renounce my objects, in order to obtain This we certainly knew. But knowing this, is my seat. I deceive myself indeed most grossly, if I had not much rather pass the remainder of my pride on the nature of the charges that are against life hidden in the recesses of the deepest obscurity, me. I do not here stand before you accused of feeding my mind even with the visions and ima- venality, or of neglect of duty. It is not said, ginations of such things, than to be placed on the that, in the long period of my service, I have in a most splendid throne of the universe, tantalized single instance sacrificed the slightest of your inwith a denial of the practice of all which can make terests to my ambition, or to my fortune. It is the greatest situation any other than the greatest not alleged, that to gratify any anger or revenge curse. Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can of my own, or of my party, I have had a share in never sufficiently express my gratitude to you for wronging or oppressing any description of men, or having set me in a place, wherein I could lend any one man in any description. No! the charges the slightest help to great and laudable designs. against me are all of one kind, that I have pushed If I have had my share, in any measure giving the principles of general justice and benevolence quiet to private property, and private conscience; too far; further than a cautious policy would warif by my vote I have aided in securing to families rant; and further than the opinions of many would the best possession, peace; if I have joined in re- go along with me.-In every accident which may conciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to happen through life, in pain, in sorrow, in deprestheir prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign sion, and stress—I will call to mind this accusaholdings of the citizen, and taught him to look tion; and be comforted. for his protection to the laws of his country, and Gentlemen, I submit the whole to your judgfor his comfort to the good-will of his countrymen; ment. Mr. Mayor, I thank you for the trouble -if I have thus taken my part with the best of you have taken on this occasion : in your state of men in the best of their actions, I can shut the health, it is particularly obliging. If this company book ;-I might wish to read a page or two more should think it advisable for me to withdraw, i —but this is enough for my measure.— I have not shall respectfully retire; if you think otherwise, I lived in vain.
shall go directly to the Council-house and to the And now, gentlemen, on this serious day, when Change, and, without a moment's delay, begin my I come, as it were, to make up my account with you, let me take to myself some degree of honest
Bristol, September 6, 1780. sented to Mr. Burke, as the fullest expression of At a great and respectable meeting of the his inerits and services, public and private, to the
the respectful and grateful sense we entertain of friends of EDMUND BURKE, Esq. held at the citizens of Bristol, as a man and a representative
. Guildhall this day;
Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting be The Right Worshipful the Mayor in the Chair: given to the right worshipful the Mayor, who so
ably and worthily presided in this meeting. Resolved, That Mr. Burke, as a representative Resolved, That it is the earnest request of this for this city, has done all possible honour to him- meeting to Mr. Burke, that he should again offer self as a senator and a man, and that we do himself a candidate to represent this city in parheartily and honestly approve of his conduct, as liament; assuring him of that full and strenuous the result of an enlightened loyalty to his sove- support which is due to the merits of so excellent reign; a warm and zealous love to his country, a representative. through its widely-extended empire ; a jealous and watchful care of the liberties of his fellow-sub- This business being over, Mr. Burke went to jects; an enlarged and liberal understanding of the Exchange, and offered himself as a candidate our commercial interest; a humane attention to in the usual manner. He was accompanied to the the circumstances of even the lowest ranks of the Council-house, and from thence to the Exchange, community; and a truly wise, politick, and tole- by a large body of most respectable gentlemen. rant spirit, in supporting the national church, with amongst whom were the following members of the a reasonable indulgence to all who dissent from corporation, viz. Mr. Mayor, Mr. Alderman Smith, it; and we wish to express the most marked ab. Mr. Alderman Deane, Mr. Alderman Gordon, horrence of the base arts which have been em- William Weare, Samuel Munckley, John Merloit, ployed, without regard to truth and reason, to John Crofts, Levy Ames, John Fisher Weare, Benmisrepresent his eminent services to his country. jamin Loscombe, Philip Protheroe, Samuel Span,
Resolved, That this resolution be copied out, Joseph Smith, Richard Bright, and John Noble, and signed by the chairman, and be by him pre- Esquires.
MR. BURKE'S SPEECH AT BRISTOL,
ON DECLINING THE POLL.
more unpleasant to be rejected after long trial, Bristol, Saturday, Sept. 9, 1780.
than not to be chosen at all. This morning the sheriff and candidates assembled But, gentlemen, I will see nothing except your
as usual at the Council-house, and from thence former kindness, and I will give way to no other proceeded to Guildhall. Proclamation being sentiments than those of gratitude. From the made for the electors to appear and give their bottom of my heart I thank you for what you have votes, Mr. BURKE stood forward on the hust- done for me. You have given me a long term, ings, surrounded by a great number of the which is now expired. I have performed the corporation and other principal citizens, and conditions, and enjoyed all the profits, to the full; addressed himself to the whole assembly as fol- and I now surrender your estate into your hands, lows:
without being in a single tile or a single stone
impaired or wasted by my use. I have served the GENTLEMEN,
publick for fifteen years. I have served you in
particular for six. What is passed is well stored. I DECLINE the election.- -It has ever been my It is safe, and out of the power of fortune. What rule through life, to observe a proportion between is to come, is in wiser hands than ours; and he, my efforts and my objects. I have never been in whose hands it is, best knows whether it is best remarkable for a bold, active, and sanguine pur- for you and me that I should be in parliament, or suit of advantages that are personal to myself. even in the world.
I have not canvassed the whole of this city in Gentlemen, the melancholy event of yesterday form. But I have taken such a view of it as reads to us an awful lesson against being too much satisfies my own mind, that your choice will not troubled about any of the objects of ordinary amultimately fall upon me. Your city, gentlemen, bition. The worthy gentleman,* who has been is in a state of miserable distraction ; and I am snatched from us at the moment of the election,
l resolved to withdraw whatever share my preten- and in the middle of the contest, whilst his desires sions
may have had in its unhappy divisions. I were as warm, and his hopes as eager as ours, has have not been in haste ; I have tried all prudent feelingly told us, what shadows we are, and what means; I have waited for the effect of all contin- shadows we pursue. gencies. If I were fond of a contest, par
It has been usual for a candidate who declines, tiality of my numerous friends, (whom you know to take his leave by a letter to the sheriffs ; but I to be among the most weighty and respectable received your trust in the face of day, and in the people of the city,) I have the means of a sharp face of day I accept your dismission. I am not,one in hands. But I thought it far better with I am not at all ashamed to look upon you ; nor my strength unspent, and my reputation unim- can my presence discompose the order of business paired, to do, early and from foresight, that which here. I humbly and respectfully take my leave I might be obliged to do from necessity at last. of the sheriffs, the candidates, and the electors;
I am not in the least surprised, nor in the least wishing heartily that the choice may be for the angry at this view of things. I have read the book best, at a time which calls, if ever time did call, of life for a long time, and I have read other books for service that is not nominal. It is no plaything a little. Nothing has happened to me, but what you are about. I tremble when I consider the has happened to men much better than me, and trust I have presumed to ask. I confided perhaps in times and in nations full as good as the age and too much in my intentions. They were really country that we live in. To say that I am no fair and upright; and I am bold to say, that I way concerned, would be neither decent nor true. ask no ill thing for you, when on parting from this The representation of Bristol was an object on place I pray that whomever you choose to succeed many accounts dear to me; and I certainly should me, he may resemble me exactly in all things, exvery far prefer it to any other in the kingdom. cept in my abilities to serve, and my fortune to My habits are made to it; and it is in general please you.
Mr. SPEAKER, I THANK you for pointing to me. I really unfitness of the plan to attain the direct object it wished much to engage your attention in an has in view. By some gentlemen it is taken up early stage of the debate. I have been long very (by way of exercise I presume) as a point of law deeply, though perhaps ineffectually, engaged in on a question of private property, and corporate the preliminary enquiries, which have continued franchise : by others it is regarded as the petty inwithout intermission for some years. Though I trigue of a faction at court, and argued merely have felt, with some degree of sensibility, the na- as it tends to set this man a little higher, or that a tural and inevitable impressions of the several mat- little lower, in situation and power. All the void ters of fact, as they have been successively dis- has been filled up with invectives against coalition; closed, I have not at any time attempted to trouble with allusions to the loss of America; with the you on the merits of the subject; and very little activity and inactivity of ministers. The total on any of the points which incidentally arose in silence of these gentlemen concerning the interest the course of our proceedings. But I should be and well-being of the people of India, and concernsorry to be found totally silent upon this day. Our ing the interest which this nation has in the comenquiries are now come to their final issue :— It is merce and revenues of that country, is a strong now to be determined whether the three years indication of the value which they set upon these of laborious parliamentary research, whether the objects. twenty years of patient Indian suffering, are to It has been a little painful to me to observe the produce a substantial reform in our eastern admi- intrusion into this important debate of such comnistration ; or whether our knowledge of the pany as quo warranto, and mandamus, and cergrievances has abated our zeal for the correction tiorari; as if we were on a trial about mayors and of them, and our very enquiry into the evil was aldermen, and capital burgesses; or engaged in a only a pretext to elude the remedy, which is de- suit concerning the borough of Penryn, or Saltash, manded from us by humanity, by justice, and by or St. Ives, or St. Mawes. Gentlemen have argued every principle of true policy. Depend upon it, with as much heat and passion, as if the first things this business cannot be indifferent to our fame. It in the world were at stake; and their topicks are will turn out a matter of great disgrace, or great such as belong only to matter of the lowest and glory, to the whole British nation. We are on a meanest litigation. It is not right, it is not worthy conspicuous stage, and the world marks our de- of us, in this manner to depreciate the value, to
degrade the majesty, of this grave deliberation of I am therefore a little concerned to perceive the policy and empire. spirit and temper in which the debate has been For my part, I have thought myself bound, all along pursued upon one side of the house. The when a matter of this extraordinary weight came declamation of the gentlemen who oppose the bill before me, not to consider (as some gentlemen are has been abundant and vehement; but they have so fond of doing) whether the bill originated from been reserved and even silent about the fitness or a secretary of state for the home department, or