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out delay, very well persuaded that I never could forget my obligations to them, or to my friends, for the choice they had made of me.
From that time to this instant I have not slept ; and if I should have the honour of being freely chosen by you, I hope I shall be as far from slumbering or sleeping when your service requires me to be awake, as I have been in coming to offer myself a candidate for your favour.
MR. BURKE'S SPEECH
ELECTORS OF BRISTOL,
On his being declared by the Sheriffs, duly elected one of the
Representatives in Parliament for that City.
On Thursday the third of November, 1774.
I CANNOT avoid sympathizing strongly , with the feelings of the gentleman who has received the same honour that you have conferred on me. If he, who was bred and passed his whole life amongst you ; if he, who through the easy gradations of acquaintance, friendship, and esteem, has obtained the honour, which seems of itself, naturally and almost insensibly, to meet with those, who, by the even tenour of pleasing manners and social virtues, slide into the love and confidence of their fellow-citizens ;-if he cannot speak but with great emotion on this subject, surrounded as he is on all sides with his old friends ; you will have the goodness to excuse me, if my real, unaffected embarrassment prevents me from expressing my gratitude to you as I ought.
I was brought hither under the disadvantage of being unknown, even by sight, to any of you. No previous canvass was made for me. I was put in nomination after the poll was opened. I did not appear until it was far advanced. If, under all these accumulated disadvantages, your good opinion has carried me to this happy point of success ; you will pardon me, if I can only say to you collectively, as I said to you individually, simply and plainly, I thank youI am obliged to you---I am not insensible of your kindness.
This is all that I am able to say for the inestimable favour you have conferred upon me. But I cannot be satisfied, without saying a little more in defence of the right you have to confer such a favour. The person that appeared here as counsel for the candidate, who so long and so earnestly solicite your votes, thinks proper to deny, that a very great part of you have any votes to give. He fixes a standard period of time in his own imagination, not what the law defines, but merely what the convenience of his client suggests, by which he would cut off, at one stroke, all those freedoms, which are the dearest privileges of your corporation ; which the common law authorizes ; which your magistrates are compelled to grant ; which come duly authenticated into this court; and are saved in the clearest words, and with the most religious care and tenderness, in that very act of parliament, which was made to regulate the elections by freemen, and to prevent all possible abuses in making them.
I do not intend to argue the matter here. My learned counsel has supported your cause with his usual ability ; the worthy sheriffs have acted with their usual equity, and I have no doubt, that the same equity, which dictates the return, will guide the final determination. I had the honour, in conjunction with many far wiser men, to contribute a very small assistance, but however some assistance, to the forining the judicature which is to try such questions. It would be unnatural in me, to doubt the justice of that court, in the trial of my own cause, to which I have been so active to give jurisdiction over every other.
I assure the worthy freemen, and this corporation, that, if the gentleman perseveres in the intentions, which his present warmth dictates to him, I will attend their cause with diligence, and I hope with effect. For, if I know any thing of msyelf, it is not my own interest in it, but my full conviction, that induces me to tell you—-1 think there is not a shadow of doubt in the case.
I do not imagine that you find me rash in declaring myself, or very forward in troubling you. From the beginning to the end of the election, I have kept silence in all matters of discussion. I have never asked a question of a voter on the other side, or supported a doubtful vote on my own. I respected the abilities of my managers ; I relied on the candour of the court. I think the worthy sheriffs will bear me witness, that I have never once made an attempt to impose upon their reason, to surprise their justice, or to ruffle their temper. I stood on the hustings (except when I gave my thanks to those who favoured me with their votes) less like a candidate, than an unconcerned spectator of a publick proceeding. But here the face of things is altered. Here is an attempt for a general massacre of suffrages ; an attempt, by a promiscuous carnage of friends and foes, to exterminate above two thousand votes, including seven hundred polled for the gentleman himself, who now complains, and who would destroy the friends whom he has obtained, only because he cannot obtain as many of them as he wishes.
How he will be permitted, in another place, to stultify and disable himself, and to plead against his own acts, is another question. The law will decide it. I shall only speak of it as it concerns the propriety of publick conduct in this city. I do not pretend to lay down rules of decorum for other gentlemen. They are best judges of the mode of proceeding that will recommend them to the favour of their fellowcitizens. But I confess, I should look rather awkward, if I had been the very first to produce the new copies of freedom, if I had persisted in producing them to the last ; if I had ransacked, with the most unremitting industry, and the most penetrating research, the remotest corners of the kingdom to discover them ; if I were then, all at once, to turn short, and declare, that I had been sporting all this while with the right of election ; and that I had been drawing out a poll, upon no sort of rational grounds, which disturbed the peace of my
fellow-citizens for a month together-I really, for my part, should appear awkward under such circumstances.
It would be still more awkward in me, if I were gravely to look the sheriffs in the face, and to tell them, they were not to determine my cause on my own principles ; nor to make the return upon those votes, upon which I had rested my election. Such would be my appearance to the court and magistrates.
But how should I appear to the voters themselves ? if I had gone round to the citizens intitled to freedom, and squeezed them by the hand—“ Sir, I humbly beg your vote- I shall be eternally thankful-may I hope for the honour of your support ?-Well !-come--we shall see you at the council-house.”-If I were then to deliver them to my managers, pack them into tallies, vote them off in court, and when I heard from the bar—" Such a one only ! and such a one forever !-he's my man !”—“ Thank you, good Sir-Hah! my worthy friend ! thank you kindly—that's an honest fellow-how is your good family ?"—Whilst these words were hardly out of my mouth, if I should have wheeled round at once, and told them—« Get you gone, you pack of worthless fellows ! you have no votes—you are usurpers ! you are intruders on the rights of real freemen ! I will have nothing to do with you ! you ought never to have been produced at this election, and the sheriffs ought not to have admitted you to poll.”
Gentlemen, I should make a strange figure, if my conduct had been of this sort. I am not so old an acquaintance of yours as the worthy gentleman. Indeed I could not have ventured on such kind of freedoms with you.
But I am bound, and I will endeavour, to have justice done to the rights of freemen; even though I should, at the same time, be obliged to vindicate the former* part of my antagonist's conduct against his own present inclinations.
I owe myself, in all things, to all the freemen of this city. My particular friends have a demand on me, that I should not deceive their expectations. Never was cause or man supported with more constancy, more activity, more spirit. I have been supported with a zeal indeed and heartiness in my friends, which, (if their object had been at all proportioned to their endeavours) could never be sufficiently commended. They supported me upon the most liberal principles. They wished that the members for Bristol should be chosen for the city, and for their country at large, and not for themselves.
So far they are not disappointed. If I possess nothing else, I am sure I possess the temper that is fit for your ser
• Mr. Brickdale opened his poll, it seems, with a tally of those very kind of freemen, and voted many hundreds of them.