new writ, than to order this scrutiny. Nothing can possibly be half so injurious, half so burthensome; half so vexatious to me, and to my friends, as this scrutiny : and it is evidently ineffectual, as it cannot be supposed that I should finally submit to the deci. sion of a tribunal from which I have so little justice to expect. There is nothing, I assure the house, to which I should not rather resort, than to the conscience of Mr. Thomas Corbett; upon whom, I do not ex. pect, that the translation of scene from Covent Garden to St. Ann's, or proceeding upon a scrutiny instead of a poll, will operate such conversions, as to give me any hope of his displaying any other character, or appearing in any other light, than that in which I have seen him upon many occasions in his official capacity. Therefore, sir, if it be only the alternative, I beg that the issuing a new writ may be the alternative you will adopt. In that case, I assure the honourable gentleman,* that I shall immediately apply to him for one of the Chiltern Hundreds to vacate my seat for Kirkwall, and instantly throw myself, as my only chance for the honour of sitting in this house, upon the good opinion of the electors of Westminster; who, in a season of phrensy and general delusion; who, when artifice, fallacy, and imposture prevailed but too successfully in other parts of the country, discovered a sagacity, a firmness, and a steadiness superiour to the effects of a vulgar and silly clamour; and who, upon the very spot, the very scene of action, manifested that they understood and despised the hypocrisy, the fraud, and falsehood which gulled and duped their fellow subjects in other places. In the event of a new election, I do anticipate future triumphs more brilliant, more splendid if possible, than those I had lately the honour of enjoying. Little fear do I feel of success with the electors of Westminster, who will not, I am sure, abandon me until I desert those principles which first recommended me to their favour!

* Mr. Pitt,

A person of great rank in this house* has thrown out a hint or threat, I know not which to call it, in a former debate, “that I should not again disturb the peace of the city of Westminster.” Good God, sir! ! did any man ever hear such aggravating, such insulting insinuations? I disturb the peace of Westminster! Is that honourable gentleman not contented with breaking every law, with violating every statute, with overturning every analogy and every precedent, to accomplish this business ; but must he, at the very moment he thus makes a deep breach in the English constitution, complete the catalogue of injury, by adding pertness and personal contumely to every species of rash and inconsiderate violence! I, I disturb the peace of this city, who have three times had the honour of representing it in this house! I, who was favoured with the free suffrages of its electors, long, long, before any of those who lately opposed me, were ever talked of, ever thought of for such a distinction ! Every man qualified to sit in parliament, has a right to offer himself wherever he thinks proper; and it is indecent, daring, and audacious in any man, to insinuate that he ought not to disturb the peace of the place. I, therefore, hope, sir, that a language so peculiarly false and unbecoming towards me, and so directly repugnant to the genius and spirit of the constitution, will meet with the disapprobation it deserves in this house, as it certainly will be received with merited odium, and execration out of this house.

Upon the generous protection of the electors of this city, I shall certainly throw myself, in case of a new writ; and, in doing so, sir, well I am aware what a series of various difficulties I have to encounter. Ex. penses at elections, in despite of every effort to reduce them, still continue most exorbitant; and how ill matched in funds and certain inexhaustible resources, I stand with my opponents, is indeed very unnecessary to explain : but, Sir, it is not in the ar. ticle of expenses that I should most dread the operation of that power that sustains my adversaries, that power which discovers itself in characters that cannot be mistaken, through every part of this transaction. I must be blind not to see, that the hand of government appears throughout this matter. When I consider the extreme care employed in preparing it for the measures which have been taken in this house, in consequence of it—when I consider the evident determination not to let it rest here—when I consider the extraordinary zeal and anxiety of particular persons in this house, to shelter and to sanctify this high bailiffwhen I consider the situation of those who take the lead, and are most active in his vindication when I consider the indifference of my adversaries to the expenses which result from this scrutiny; but which expenses must be a severe stroke upon the spirit and independence of those by whom I am supportedwhen I consider that all that artifice could dictate, and power could execute, have been exerted upon this occasion, I can have no doubt that the hand of a revengeful government pervades it all. The opposition of such a government upon an election, is a discouraging circumstance; and the likelihood of renewing again those events which I have witnessed within the last two months, is indeed a formidable and terrifick prospect.

* Mr. Fox was supposed to allude to Mr. Pitt.

When I look back, sir, to all the shameful and shocking scenes of the Westminster election-when I consider that my enemies practised all that was possible of injustice, indecency and irreverence in their efforts to overwhelm me—when I consider the gross, the frontless prostitution of names too sacred to be mentioned when I consider that all the inAuence of all the various branches of government was employed against me, in contempt of propriety and defiance of law-when I consider that a body of men was brought in the appearance of constables to the place of election, under the command of a magistrate, and against the express opinion of all the other magistrates of Westminster-that these constables broke that peace they were bound to preserve, and created a riot, which proved fatal to one of their own bodywhen I consider that this was made the pretence of a wanton, and indecent, and unconstitutional introduction of the military, in violation of all that has been done by our ancestors, to keep sacred the freedom of election when I consider that the lives of innocent men were deemed light and trivial impediments to the gratification of that implacable spirit of revenge, which appears through the whole of this business when I consider that several men of the lower order of life, whose only crime was appearing in my in. terest, were confined for many weeks in a prison, and obliged to stand trial, and that others, of the higher rank, ingenious and amiable men, valuable for their qualities, respectable for their characters, distinguished for their abilities, and every way meriting the esteem of mankind, were also at. tacked without the show of a pretence, and obliged to undergo the ceremony of a publick acquittal from the foul crime of murder-when I consider that palpable perjury, and subornation of perjury were employed to accomplish the sanguinary object of this base conspiracy-when I consider that the malignity of my enemies has stopt at nothing, however gross and wicked, to ruin me and all that appeared in my interest—when I consider all this, sir, I cannot indeed but look with some anxiety to the circumstance of a new election.

I am not, it is well known, sir, of a melancholy complexion, or of a desponding turn of mind, yet the idea of again combating this host of oppressions might, in other situations, deter me from the risk. But I owe too much to the electors of Westminster, ever to abandon them from any dread of any consequences; and I do assure you, that I should conceive a new writ, with the hazard of all these hardships, as a great indulgence and favour, compared to that mockery, that insult upon judicature, a scrutiny under Mr. Thomas Corbett.

Sir, I have nothing more to say upon this subject. Whatever may be the fate of the question, it will be a pleasing reflection to me, that I have delivered

my opinions at full, upon a point so important to that great and respectable body of men, to whom I am so much indebted ; and I sincerely thank the house for the honour of their patience and attention through so long a speech.

To the honourable gentleman over against me, * I will beg leave to offer a little advice. If he condemns this measure, let him not stoop to be the instrument of its success. Let him well weigh the consequences of what he is about, and look to the future effect of it upon the nation at large. Let him take care, that when they see all the powers of his administration employed to overwhelm an individual, men's eyes may not open sooner than they would if he conducted himself within some bounds of decent discretion, and not thus openly violate the sacred principles of the constitution. 'A moderate use of his power might the longer keep people from reflecting upon the extraordinary means by which he acquired it. But if the honourable gentleman neglects his duty, I shall not forget mine. Though he may exert all the influence of his situation to harass and persecute, he shall find that we are incapable of unbecoming submissions. There is a principle of resistence in mankind, which will not brook such injuries, and a good cause and a good heart will animate men to struggle in proportion to the size of their wrongs, and the grossness of their oppressors. If the house rejects this motion, and establishes the fatal precedent that follows that rejection, I confess I shall begin to think there is little to be expected from such a house of commons. But let the question terminate as it may, I feel myself bound to maintain an unbroken spirit through such complicated difficulties; and I have this reflection to solace me, that this unexampled injustice could never have succeeded, but by the most dangerous and desperate exertions of a government, which, rather than not wound the object of their en

* Mr. Pitt.



« ForrigeFortsett »