« ForrigeFortsett »
mouse, and church for chapel, I am convinced, could be collected in London, sufficient to that no power under heaven could have pre- frighten us out of all our ideas of policy and vented a general conflagration; and at this day justice ? Were we to wait for the profound London would have been a tale. But I am lectures on the reason of state, ecclesiastical well informed, and the thing speaks it, that and political, which the Protestant association their clergy exerted their whole influence to have since condescended to read to us? O: keep their people in such a state of forbearance were we, seven hundred peers and commoners, and quiet, as, when I look back, fills me with the only persons ignorant of the ribald invecastonishment; but not with astonishment only. tives, which occupy the place of argument in Their merits on that occasion ought not to be those remonstrances, which every man of comforgotten; nor will they, when Englishmen mon observation had heard a thousand times, come to recollect themselves. I am sure it over, and a thousand times over had despised ? ' were far more proper to have called them All men had before heard what they have to forth, and given them the thanks of both houses say; and all men at this day know what they of parliament, than to have suffered those wor- dare to do; and I trust, all honest men are thy clergymen, and excellent citizens, to be equally influenced by the one, and by the other. hunted into holes and corners, whilst we are But they tell us, that those our fellow-citimaking low-minded inquisitions into the num
whose chains we have a little relaxed, ber of their people ; as if a tolerating principle are enemies to liberty and our free constituwas never to prevail, unless we were very tion.—Not enemies, I presume, to their own sure that only a few could possibly take ad- liberty. And as to the constitution, until we vantage of it. But indeed we are not yet give them some share in it, I do not know on well recovered of our fright. Our reason, I what pretence we can examine into their opitrust, will return with our security; and this nions about a business in which they have no unfortunate temper will pass over like a cloud. interest or concern. But after all, are we
Gentlemen, I have now laid before you a few equally sure, that they are adverse to our conof the reasons for taking away the penalties of stitution, as that our statutes are hostile and the act of 1699, and for refusing to establish destructive to them? For my part, I have reathem on the riotous requisition of 1780. Be- son to believe, their opinions and inclinations cause I would not suffer any thing which may in that respect are various, exactly like those be for your satisfaction to escape, permit me of other men: and if they lean more to the just to touch on the objections urged against crown than I, and than many of you think we our act and our resolves, and intended as a ought, we must remember, that he who aims justification of the violence offered to both at another's life, is not to be surprised if he houses. “ Parliament,” they assert,
flies into any sanctuary that will receive him. hasty, and they ought, in so essential and The tenderness of the executive power is the alarming a change, to have proceeded with a natural asylum of those upon whom the laws far greater degree of deliberation.” The direct have declared war; and to complain that men contrary. Parliament was too slow. They are inclined to favour the means of their own took fourscore years to deliberate on the repeal safety, is so absurd, that one forgets the inof an act which ought not to have survived a justice in the ridicule. second session. When at length, after a pro- I must fairly tell you,
that so far as my princrastination of near a century, the business was ciples are concerned, (principles, that I hope taken up, it proceeded in the most public man- will only depart with any last breath,) that I her, by the ordinary stages, and as slowly as a have no idea of a liberty unconnected with kaw so cvidently right as to be resisted by none, honesty and justice. Nor do I believe, that would naturally advance. Had it been read any good constitutions of government or of three times in one day, we should have shewn freedom, can find it necessary for their secuonly a becoming readiness to recognise by pro- rity to doom any part of the people to a per. tection the undoubted dutiful behaviour of those manent slavery. Such a constitution of freewhom we had but too long punished for offences dom, if such can be, is in effect no more than of presumption or conjecture. But for what another name for the tyranny of the strongest end was that bill to linger beyond the usual faction; and factions in republics have been, period of an unopposed measure? Was it to and are, full as capable as monarchs, of the be delayed until a rabble in Edinburgh should most cruel oppression and injustice. It is but dictate to the church of England what mea- too true, that the love, and even the very idea, sure of persecution was fitting for her safety? of genuine liberty, is extremely rare. It is but Was it to be adjourned until a fanatical force too true, that there are manv, whore whole
scheme of freedom is made up of pride, per- entertains it, at one time or other will certainly verseness, and insolence. They feel them- bring on its ruin. selves in a state of thraldom, they imagine We are told that this is not a religious per that their souls are cooped and cabined in, un- secution, and its abettors are loud in disclailess they have some man, or some body of ming all severities on account of conscience men, dependent on their mercy. This desire Very fine indeed! then let it be so; they are of having some one below them, descends to not persecutors; they are only tyrants. With those who are the very lowest of all,—and a all my heart. I am perfectly indifferent conProtestant cobler, debased by his poverty, but cerning the pretexts upon which we torment oxalted by his share of the ruling church, feels one another; or whether it be for the constia pride in knowing it is by his generosity alone, tution of the church of England, or for the that the peer, whose footman's instep he mea constitution of the state of England, that peosures, is able to keep his chaplain from a jail. ple choose to make their fellow-creatures This disposition is the true source of the pas- wretched. When we were sent into a place of sion, which many men, in very humble life, authority, you that sent us had yourselves but have taken to the American war. Our subjects one commission to give. You could give us in America ; our colonies; our dependants. none to wrong or oppress, or even to suffer any This lust of party-power, is the liberty they kind of oppression or wrong, on any grounds hunger and thirst for; and this Syren song of whatsoever; not on political, as in the affairs ambition, has charmed ears, that one would of America ; not on commercial, as in those have thought were never organized to that sort of Ireland ; not in civil, as in the laws for of music.
debt; not in religious, as in the statutes againsi This way of proscribing the citizens by deno- Protestant or Catholic dissenters. The diverminations and general descriptions, dignified by sified but connected fabric of universal justice, the name of reason of state, and security for is well cramped and bolted together in all its constitutions and commonwealths, is nothing parts; and depend upon it, I have never embetter at bottom, than the miserable invention ployed, and I never shall employ, any engine of an ungenerous ambition, which would fain of power which may come into my hands, to hold the sacred trust of power, without any of
wrench it asunder. All shall stand, if I can the virtues or any of the energies, that give help it, and all shall stand connected. After l.itle to it; a receipt of policy, made up of a all, to complete this work, much remains to be detestable compound of malice, cowardice, and done; much in the East, much in the West. sloth. They would govern men against their But
grcat as the work is, if our will be ready, will; but in that government they would be our powers are not deficient. discharged from the exercise of vigilance, pro- Since you have suffered me to trouble you so vidence, and fortitude; and therefore, that they much on this subject, permit me, gentlemen, to may sleep on their watch, they consent to take detain you a little longer. I am indeed most some one division of the society into partner- solicitous to give you perfect satisfaction. I ship of the tyranny over the rest. "But let find there are some of a better and softer nature government, in what form it may be, compre- than the persons with whom I have supposed hend the whole in its justice, and restrain the myself in debate, who neither think ill of the act suspicious by its vigilance ; let it keep watch of relief, nor by any meuns desire the repeal, and ward; let it discover by its sagacity, and yet who, not accusing but lamenting what was punish by its firmness, all delinquency against done, on account of the consequences, have its power, whenever delinquency exists in the frequently expressed their wish, that the late overt acts; and then it will be as safe as ever act had never been made. Some of this de God and nature intended it should be. Crimes scription, and persons of worth, I have met are the acts of individuals, and not of deno with in this city. They conceive, that the minations; and therefore arbitrarily to class prejudices, whatever they might be, of a large men under general descriptions, in order to part of the people, ought not to have been proscribe and punish them in the lump for a shocked; that their opinions ought to have presumed delinquency, of which perhaps but a been previously taken, and much attended to; part, perhaps none ni all, are guilty, is indeed and that thereby the late horrid scenes might a compendious method, and saves a world of have been prevented. trouble about proof; but such a method instead I confess, my notions are widely different ; of being law, is an act of unnatural rebellion and I never was less sorry for any action of against the legal dominion of reason and jus- my life. I like the bill the better, on account tice; and this vice, in any constitution that of the events of all kinds that followed it. I
relieved the real sufferers; it strengthened the self is competent to alter the essential constistate ; and, by the disorders that ensued, we tution of right and wrong, sure I am, that such had clear evidence that there lurked a temper things, as they and I, are possessed of no such somewhere, which ought not to be fostered by power. No man carries further than I do the the laws. Noill consequences whatever could policy of making government pleasing to the be attributed to the act itself. We knew people. But the widest range of this politic beforehand, or we were poorly instructed, that complaisance is confined wiihin the limits of toleration is odious to the intolerant; freedom justice. I would not only consult the interest to oppressors ; property to robbers; and all of the people, but I would cheerfully gratify kinds and degrees of prosperity to the envious. their humours. We are all a sort of children We knew, that all these kinds of men would that must be soothed and managed. I think I gladly gratify their evil dispositions under the am not austere or formal in my nature. I sanction of law and religion, if they could: if would bear, I would even myself play my part they could not, yet, to make way to their ob- in, any innocent buffooneries, to divert them. jocts, they would do their utmost to subvert But I never will act the tyrant for their amuseal religion and all law. This we certainly ment. If they will mix malice in their sports, knew. But knowing this, is there any reason, I shall never consent to throw them any living, because thieves break in and steal, and thus sentient, creature whatsoever, no, not so much bring detriment to you, and draw ruin on them- as a kitling, to torment. selves, that I am to be sorry that you are in “But if I profess all this impolitic stubbornpossession of shops, and of ware-houses, and of ness, I may chance never to be elected into wholesome laws to protect theni? Are you to Parliament.” It is certainly not pleasing to build no houses, because desperate men may be put out of the public service. But I wish pull them down upon their own heads ? Or, to be a member of Parliament, to have my if a malignant wretch will cut his own throat share of doing good and resisting evil. It because he sees you give alms to the necessitous would therefore be absurd to renounce my oband deserving ; shall his destruction be attri- jects, in order to obtain my seat. I deceive buted to your charity, and not to his own de- myself indeed most grossly, if I had not much plorable madness? If we repent of our good rather pass the remainder of my life hidden in actions, what, I pray you, is left for our faults the recesses of the deepest obscurity, feeding and follies? It is not the beneficence of the my mind even with the visions and imaginalaws, it is the unnatural temper which bene- tions of such things, than to be placed on the ficence can fret and sour, that is to be lamented. most splendid throne of the universe, tantalized It is this temper which, by all rational means, with a denial of the practice of all which can ought to be sweetened and corrected. If fro- make the greatest situation any other than the ward men should refuse this cure, can they greatest curse. Gentlemen, I have had my vitiate any thing but themselves ? Does evil so day. I can never sufficiently express my re-act upon good, as not only to retard its mo- gratitude to you for having set me in a place, tion, but to change its nature? If it can so wherein I could lend the slightest help to great operate, then good men will always be in the and laudable designs. If I have had my share, power of the bad; and virtue, by a dreadful in any measure giving quiet to private proreverse of order, must lie under perpetual sub- perty, and private conscience ; if by my vote I jection and bondage to vice.
have aided in securing to families the best As to the opinion of the people, which some possession, peace; if I have joined in reconthink, in such cases, is to be implicitly obeyed; ciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to near two years' tranquillity, which followed their prince; if I have assisted to loosen the the act, and its instant imitation in Ireland, foreign holdings of the citizens, and taught him proved abundantly, that the late horrible spirit to look for his protection to the laws of his was, in a great measure, the effect of insidious country, and for his comfort to the good will of art, and perverse industry, and gross misrepre- his countrymen ;--if I have thus taken my sentation. But suppose that the dislike had part with the best of men in the best of their been much more deliberate, and much more actions, I can shut the book ;-I might wish to general than I am persuaded it was—When read a page or two more-but this is enough we know, that the opinions of even the greatest for my measure. I have not lived in vain. multitudes, are the standard of rectitude, I And now, Gentlemen, on this serious day, shall think myself obliged to make those when I come, as it were, to make up my acopinigns the masters of my conscience. But count with you, lot me take to myself some if it may be doubled whether Omnipotence ite degree of honest pride on the nature of the
charges that are against me. I do not here Resolved, That this resolution be copied stand before you accused of venality, or of neg- out, and signed by the chairman, and be by lect of duty. It is not said, that, in the long him presented to Mr. Burke, as the fullest period of my service, I have, in a single in- expression of the respectful and grateful sense stance, sacrificed the slightest of your interests we entertain of his merits and services, public to my ambition, or to my fortune. It is not and private, to the citizens of Bristol, as a man alleged, that to gratify any anger, or revenge of and a representative. my own, or of my party, I have had a share Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting in wronging or oppressing any description of be given to the right worshipful the Mayor, men, or any one man in any description. No! who so ably and worthily presided in this the charges against me, are all of one kind, that meeting. I have pushed the principles of general justice Resolved, That it is the earnest request of and benevolence too far; further than a cauti- this meeting to Mr. Burke, that he should ous policy would warrant; and further than the again offer himself a candidate to represent opinions of many would go along with me.- this city in parliament; assuring him of thai In every accident which may happen through full and strenuous support which is due to the life, ip pain, in sorrow, in depression, and merits of so excellent a representative. distress--I 'will call to mind this accusation; This business being over, Mr. Burke went and be comforted.
to the Exchange, and offered himself as a cur Gentlemen, I submit the whole to your judg. didate in the usual manner. He was acconiment. Mr. Mayor, I thank you for the trou- panied to the Council-house, and from thence ble you have taken on this occasion. In
your to the Exchange, by a large body of most state of health, it is particularly obliging. If respectable gentlemen, among whom were this company should think it adviseable for me the following members of the corporation, viz. to withdraw, I shall respectfully retire; if you Mr. Mayor, Mr. Alderman Smith, Mr. Althink otherwise, I shall go directly to the derman Deane, Mr. Alderman Gordon, Wil. Council-house and to the Change, and without liam Weare, Samuel Munckley, John Merlot, a moment's delay, begin my canvass.
John Crofts, Levy Ames, John Fisher Weare, Benjamin Loscombe, Philip Protheroe, Samuel Span, Joseph Smith, Richard Bright,
and John Noble, Esquires. BRISTOL, September 6, 1780. At a great and respectable meeting of the friends of EDMUND BURKE, Esq. held at the Guildhall this day;
MR. BURKE'S SPEECH, AT BRISThe Right Worshipful the Mayer in the TOL, ON DECLINING THE POLL. Chair
1780. Resolved, That Mr. Burke, as a represen
BRISTOL, Saturday, 9th Sept. 1780. tative for this city, has done all possible ho- This morning the sheriff and candidates asnour to himself as a senator and a man, and that sembled as usual, at the Council-house, and we do heartily and honestly approve of his con- from thence proceeded to Guildhall. Product, as the result of an enlightened loyalty to clamation being made for the electors to nis sovereign; a warm and zealous love to his appear and give their votes, Mr. BURKE country, through its widely-extended empire ; stood forward on the hustings, surrounded a jealous and watchful care of the libarties of by a great number of the corporation aux his fellow-subjects; an enlarged and liberal other principal citizens, and addressed him understanding of our commercial interest; a self lo the whole assembly as follows: humane attention to the circumstances of even GENTLEMEN, the lowest ranks of the community; and a truly I DECLINE the Election. It has erer been wise, politic, and tolerant spirit, in supporting my rule through life, to observe a proportion the national church, with a reasonable indul- between my efforts and my objects. I have gence to all who dissent from it; and we wish never been remarkable for a bold, active, and to express the most marked abhorrence of the sanguine pursuit of advantages that are perbase arts which have been employed, without sonal to myself. regard to truth and reason, to misrepresent his I have not canvassed the whole of this city ominent services to his country.
in form. But I have taken such a view of it 29 satishes my own mind, that your choice wasted by my use. I have served the public for will not ultimately fall upon me. Your city, fifteen years. I have served you in particular gentlemen, is in a state of miserable distrac- for six. What is passed is well stored. It is tion: and I am resolved to withdraw whatever safe, and out of the power of fortune. What share my pretensions may have had in its is to come, is in wiser hands than ours; and unhappy divisions. I have not been in haste, he, in whose hands it is, best knows whether I have tried all prudent means; I have waited it is best for you and me that I should be in for the effect of all contingencies. If I were parliament, or even in the world. fond of a contest, by the partiality of my Gentlemen, the melancholy event of yester. numerous friends (whom you know to be day reads to us an awful lesson against being among the most weighty and respectable peo- too much troubled about any of the objects of ple of the city) I have the means of a sharp ordinary ambition. The worthy gentleman, * one in my hands. But I thought it far better who has been snatched from us at the moment with my strength unspent, and my reputation of the election, and in the middle of the conunimpaired, to do, early and from foresight, test, whilst his desires were as warm, and his that which I might be obliged to do from hopes as eager as ours, has feelingly told us, necessity at last.
what shadows we are, and what shadows we I am not in the least surprised, nor in the pursue. least angry at this view of things. I have read It has been usual for a candidate who the book of life for a long time, and I have declines, to take his leave by a letter to the read other books a little. Nothing has hap- sheriffs ; but I received your trust in the face pened to me, but what has happened to men of day; and the face of day I accept your much better than me, and in times and in dismission. I am not,- I am not at ali nations full as good as the age and country ashamed to look upon you; nor can my prethat we live in. To say that I am no way sence discompose the order of business here. concerned, would be neither decent nor true. I humbly and respectfully take my leave of the The representation of Bristol was an object on sheriffs, the candidates, and the electors ; many accounts dear to me; and I certainly wishing heartily that the choice may be for should very far prefer it to any other in the the best, at a time which calls, if ever time kingdom. My habits are made to it; and it did call, for service that is not nominal. It is is in general more unpleasant to be rejected no plaything you are about. I tremble when I after long trial, than not to be chosen at all. consider the trust I have presumed to ask. I
But, gentlemtli, I will see nothing except confided perhaps too much in my intentions. your former kindness, and I will give way to They were really fair and upright; and I am no other sentiments than those of gratitude. bold to say, that I ask no ill thing for you, From the bottom of my heart I thank you for when on parting from this place I pray that what you have done for me. You have given whomever you choose to succeed me, he may me a long term, which is now expired. I resemble me exactly in all things, except in have performed the conditions, and enjoyed my abilities to serve, and my fortune to all the profits to the full; and I now surren- please you. der your estate into your hands without being in a single tile or a single stone impaired or