Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

are thus warm, I wish we may go directly ditaments, held by his majesty in right of the and with a cheerful heart to this salutary said principality, or county palatine of Cheswork.

ter, and for applying the produce thereof to the Sir, I move for leave to bring in a bill, public service."

“For the better regulation of his majesty's 3d. “ A bill for uniting to the crown he civil establishments, and of certain public duchy and county palatine of Lancaster; or offices; for the limitation of pensions, the suppression of unnecessary offices now beand the suppression of sundry useless, longing thereto; for the ascertainment and expensive, and inconvenient places ; and security of tenant and other rights; and for the for applying the monies saved thereby to sale of all rents, lands, tenements, and here. the public service."*

ditaments, and forests, within the said duchy Lord North stated, that there was a diffe- and county palatine, or either of them; and rence between this bill for regulating the esta for applying the produce thereof to the public blishments, and some of the others, as they service." —And it was ordered that Mr. Burke, affected the ancient patrimony of the crown; Mr. Fox, Lord John Cavendish, Sir George and therefore wished them to be postponed, Savile, Colonel Barrè, Mr. Thomas Towntill the king's consent could be obtained. shond, Mr. Byng, Mr Dunning, Sir Joseph This distinction was strongly controverted; Mawbey, Mr. Recorder of London, Sir Robut when it was insisted on as a point of deco- bert Clayton, Mr. Frederick Montagu, the rum only, it was agreed to postpone them to Earl of Upper Ossory, Sir William Guise, another day. Accordingly, on the Monday and Mr. Gilbert, do prepare and bring in the following, viz. February 14, leave was given, same. on the motion of Mr. Burke, without opposio At the same time, Mr. Burke moved for tion, to bring in

leave to bring in-4th. " A bill for uniting the Ist. “A bill for the sale of the forest and duchy of Cornwall to the crown; for the supother crown lands, rents, and hereditaments, pression of certain unnecessary offices now with certain exceptions ; and for applying the belonging thereto; for the ascertainment and produce thereof to the public service; and for security of tenant and other rights; and for the securing, ascertaining, and satisfying, tenant- sale of certain rents, lands, and tenements, rights, and common and other rights." within or belonging to the said duchy; and

24. “A bill for the more perfectly uniting for applying the produce thereof to the public to the crown the principality of Wales, and service." the county palatine of Chester, and for the

But some objections being made by the sur more commodious administration of justice veyor-general of the duchy concerning the within the same; as also for abolishing certain rights of the prince of Wales, now in his mi-' offices now appertaining thereto; for quieting nority, and Lord North remaining perfectig dormant claims, ascertaining and securing to silent, Mr. Burke, at length, though he strongnant-rights; and for the sale of all the forest ly contended against the principle of the oblands, and other lands, tenements, and here- jection, consented to withdraw this last motion

for the present, to be renewed upon an early * Tho motion was seconded by Mr. Fox. occasion.

MR. BURKE'S SPEECH

AT THE GUILDHALL, IN BRISTOL, PREVIOUS TO THE LATE ELEC. TION IN THAT CITY, UPON CERTAIN POINTS RELATIVE TO HIS PALIAMENTARY CONDUCT. 1780.

ment.

MR. MAYOR, AND GENTLEMEN,

it in my favour. I ask it seriously and unaf I am extremely pleased at the appearance fectedly. If you wish that I should retire, I of this large and respectable meeting. The shall not consider that advice as a censure steps I may be obliged to take will want the upon my conduct, or an alteration in your sensanction of a considerable authority; and in timents; but as a rational submission to the explaining any thing which may appear doubts circumstances of affairs. If, on the contrary, ful in my public conduct, I must naturally you should think it proper for me to proceed desire a very full audience.

on my canvass, if you will risk the trouble on I have been backward to begin my canvass. your part, I will risk it on mine. My pre-The dissolution of the parliament was un- tensions are such as you cannot be ashamed certain ; and it did not become me, by an of, whether they succeed or fail. unseasonable importunity, to appear diffident If you call upon me, I shall solicit the favour of the fact of my six years' endeavours to please of the city upon manly ground. I come before vou. I had served the city of Bristol honour- you with the plain confidence of an honest ably ; and the city of Bristol had no reason to servant in the equity of a candid and discerthink, that the means of honourable service ning master. I come to claim your approbato the public, were become indifferent to me. tion, not to amuse you with vain apologies, or

I found on my arrival here, that three gen- with professions still more vain and senseless. tlemen had been long in eager pursuit of an I have lived too long to be served by apologies, object which but two of us can obtain. I or to stand in need of them. The part I have found, that they had all met with encourage acted has been in open day; and to hold out

A contested election in such a city as to a conduct, which stands in that clear and this, is no light thing. I paused on the brink steady light for all its good and all its evil, to of the precipice. These three gentlemen, by hold out to that conduct the paltry winking various merits, and on various titles, I made tapers of excuses and promises-I never will no doubt were worthy of your favour. I shall do it.— They may obscure it with their smoke; never attempt to raise myself by depreciating but they never can illumine sunshine by such lhe merits of my competitors. In the com- a flame as theirs. plexity and confusion of these cross pursuits, I am sensible that no endeavours have been I wished to take the authentic public sense of left untried to injure me in your opinion. But my friends upon a business of so much deli- the use of character is to be a shield against cacy. I wished to take your opinion along with calumny. I could wish, undoubtedly (if idle me; that if I should give up the contest at the wishes were not the most idle of all things) to very beginning, my surrender of my post may make every part of my conduct agreeable to not seem the effeci of inconstancy, or timidity, every one of my constituents. But in so great or anger, or disgust, or indolence, or any other a city, and so greatly divided as this, it is weak temper unbecoming a man who has engaged to expect it. in the public service. If, on the contrary, I In such a discordancy of sentiments, it is should undertake the election, and fail of suc- better to look to the nature of things than to cess, I was full as anxious, that it should be the humours of men. The very attempt manifest to the whole world, that the peace of towards pleasing every body, discovers a temthe city had not been broken by my rashness, per always flashy, and often false and insinpresumption, or fond conceit of my own merit. cere. Therefore, as I have proceeded strait

I am root come, by a false and counterfeit onward in my conduct, so I will proceed in my sbow of deference to your judgment, to seduce account of those parts of it which have been

[ocr errors][merged small]

most excepted to. But I must first beg leave for protection: where, if they must sacritice just to hint to you, that we may suffer very their reputation, they will at least secure their great detriment by being open to every talker. interest. Depend upon it, that the lovers of It is not to be imagined, how much of service freedom will be free. None will violate thei: is lost from spirits full of activity, and full of conscience to please vis, in order afterwards to energy, who are pressing, who are rushing discharge that conscience, which they have forward, to great and capital objects, when you violated, by doing us faithful and affectionate oblige them to be continually looking back. service. If we degrade and deprave their Whilst they are defending one service, they minds by servility, it will be absurd to expect, defraud you of an hundred. Applaud us when that they who are creeping and abject towards we run; console us when we fall; cheer us us, will ever be bold and incorruptible asserwhen we recover; but let us pass on-for tors of our freedom, against the most seducing God's sake, let us pass on.

and the most formidable of all powers. No! Do you think, gentlemen, that every public human nature is not so forned; nor shall we act in ihe six years since I stood in this place improve the faculties or better the morals of before you—ihat all the arduous things which public men, by our possession of the most have been done in this eventful period, which infallible receipt in the world for making cheats has crowded into a few years' space the revo- and hypocrites. lutions of an age, can be opened to you on Let me say with pla inness, I who am r their fair grounds in half an hour's conver- longer in a public character, that is by a sation ?

by an indulgent, by a gentlemanly behaviour But it is no reason, because there is a bad to our representatives, we do not give mode of inquiry, that there should be no exa- dence to their minds, and a liberal scope mination at all. Most certainiy it is our duty their understandings; if we do not permit ou to examine; it is our interest too.—But it members to act upon a very enlarged view of must be with discretion ; with an attention to things; we shall at length infallibly degrad" all the circumsiances, and to all the motives; our national representation into a confused and ike sound judges, and not like cavilling petti- scuffling bustle of local agency. When the soggers and quibbling pleaders, prying into popular member is narrowed in his ideas, and flaws and hunting for exceptions.-Look, gen- rendered timid in his proceedings, the service tlemen, to the whole tenour of your member's of the crown will be the sole nursery of statesconduct. Try whether his ambition or his men. Among the frolics of the court, it may avarice have justled him out of the strait line at length take that of attending to its business. of duty; or whether that grand foe of the of- Then the monopoly of mental power will be fices of active life, that master-vicc in men of added to the power of all other kinds it posbusiness, a degenerate and inglorious sloth,

On the side of the people there has made him flag and languish in his course? will be nothing but impotence: for ignorancs This is the object of our inquiry. If our mem- is impotence; narrowness of mind is impober's conduct can bear this touch, mark it for tence; timidity is itself impotence, and mckes sterling. He may have fallen into errours; all other qualities that go along with it, impo he must have faults; but our errour is greater tent and useless. and our fault is radically ruinous to ourselves, At present it is the plan of the court to make if we do not bear, if we do not even applaud, its servants insignificant. If the people should the whole compound and mixed mass of such a fall into the same humour, and should choose character. Not to act thus is folly; I had their servants on the same principles of mere almost said it is impiety. He censures God, obsequiousness, and flexibility, and total va.. who quarrels with the imperfections of man. cancy or indifference of opinion in all pubiic

Gentlemen, we must not be peevish with matters, then no part of the state will be sound; those who serve the people. For none will and it will be in vain to think of saving it. serve us whilst there is a court to serve, but I thought it very expedient at this time to those who are of a nice and jealous honour. give you this candid counsel ; and with this They who think every thing, in comparison counsel I would willingly close, if the matters of that honour, to be dust and ashes, will not which at various times have been objected to bear to have it soiled and impaired by those, me in this city concerned only mysell, and my for whose sake they make a thousand sacri- own election. These charges, I think, are fices to preserve it immaculate and whole. four in number ;--my neglect of a due attention We shall either drive such men from the pub- 10 my constituents, the not paying more frelic stage, or we shall send them to the court quont visits here ;-—my conduct on the affairs

the the FO

sesses.

of the first Irish trade acts ;-my opinion and round me who are my willing witnesses; and modo of proceeding on Lord Beauchamp's there are others who, if they were here, would debtors' bills ;-and my votes on the late affairs be still better ; because they would be unwilof the Roman Catholics. All of these (except ling witnesses to the same ruth. It was in perhaps the first) relate to matters of very con- the middle of a summer residence in London, siderable public concern; and it is not lest you and in the middle of a negotiation at the admishould censure me improperly, but lest you rally for your trade, that I was called to Brisshould form improper opinions on matters of tol; and this late visit, at this late day, has some moment to you, that I trouble you at all been possibly in prejudice to your affairs. upon the subject. My conduct is of small Since I have touched upon this matter, el importance.

me say, gentlemen, that if I had a disposition, With regard to the first charge, my friends or a right to complain, I have some cause of have spoken to me of it in the style of amicable complaint on my side. With a petition of expostulation ; not so much blaming the thing, this city in my hand, passed through the coras lamenting the effects. Others, less partial poration without a dissenting voice, a petition to mo, were less kind in assigning the motives. in unison with almost the whole voice of the I admit, there is a decorum and propriety in a kingdom, (with whose formal thanks I was member of parliament's paying a respectful covered over,) while I laboured on no less than court to his constituents. If I were conscious five bills for a public reform, and fought against to myself that pleasure or dissipation, or low the opposition of great abilities, and of the unworthy occupations, had detained me from greatest power, every clause, and every word

sonal attendance on you, I would readily of the largest of those bills, almost to the very wwinit my fault, and quietly submit to the last day of a very long session; all this time a penalty. But, gentlemen, I live at an hundred canvass in Bristol was as calmly carried on as miles distance from Bristol; and at the end of if I were dead. I was considered as a man v session I come to my own house, fatigued in wholly out of the question. Whilst I watched body and in mind, to a little repose, and to a and fasted, and sweated in the house of comvery little attention to my family and my pri- mons-by the most easy and ordinary arts of vate concerns. A visit to Bristol is always a election, by dinners and visits, by “How do sort of canvass ; else it will do more harm than you do's," and " My worthy friends," I was good. To pass from the toils of a session to to be quietly moved out of my seat-and proThe toils of a canvass, is the furthest thing in mises were made, and engagements entered the world from repose. I could hardly serve into, without any exception or reserve, as if you as I have done, and court you too. Most my laborious zeal in my duty had been a reguof you have heard, that I do not very remark- lar abdication of my trust. ably spare myself in public business; and in To open my whole heart to you on this subthe private business of my constituents I have ject, I do confess, however, that there were done very near as much as those who have other times besides the two years in which I nothing else to do. My canvass of you was did visit you, when I was not wholly without not on the change, nor in the county meetings, leisure for repeating that mark of my respect. oor in the clubs of this city: It was in the But I could not bring my mind to see you. house of commons; it was at the custom- You remember, that in the beginning of this house ; it was at the council; it was at the American war (that æra of calamity, disgrace treasury; it was at the admiralty. I can- and downfall, an æra which no feeling mind vassed you through your affairs, and not your will ever mention without a tear for England) parsons. I was not only your representative you were greatly divided ; and a very strong as'a body; I was the agent, the solicitor of body, if not the strongest, opposed itself to the individuals ; I ran about wherever your affairs madness which every art and every power could call me; and in acting for you I often were employed to render popular, in order that appeared rather as a ship-broker, than as a the errours of the rulers might be lost in the member of parliament. There was nothing general blindness of the nation. This oppositoo laborious, or too low for me to undertake. tion continued until after our great, but most The meannesd of the business was raised by unfortunate victory at Long Island. Then alı the dignity of the object. If some lesser mai- the mounds and banks of our constancy were ters have slipped through my fingers, it was borne down at once; and the phrensy of the because I filled my hands too full; and in my American war broko in upon us like a deluge. eagerness to serve you, took in more than any This victory, which seemed to put an immehands could graso. Several gentlemen stand diate end to all difficulties, perfecied us in that

ܪ

spirit of domination, which our unparalleled turn I shall mention to you, remember once prosperity had but too long nurtured. We more I do not mean to extenuate or excuso. had been so very powerful, and so very pros. Why should I, when the things charged are perous, that even the humblest of us were de- among those upon which I found all my repugraded into the vices and follies of kings. We tation? What would be left to me, if I my lost all measure between means and ends; self was the man, who softened, and blended, and our headlong desires became our politics and diluted, and weakened, all the distinguishand ow morals. All men who wished for ing colours of my life, so as to leave nothing peace, or retained any sentiments of modera- distinct and determinate in my whole conduct ? tion, were overborne or silenced; and this city It has been said, and it is the second charge, was led by every artifice (and probably with that in the questions of the Irish trade, I did the more management, because I was one of not consult the interest of my constituents; or, your members) to distinguish itself by its zeal to speak out strongly, that I rather acted as a for that fatal cause. In this temper of yours native of Ireland, than as an English member and of my mind, I should have sooner fled to of parliament. the extremities of the earth, than have shewn I certainly have very warm good wishes for myself here. I, who saw in every American the place of my birth. But the sphere of my victory (for you have had a long series of these duties is my true country. It was, as a man misfortunes) the germs and seed of the naval attached to your interests, and zealous for the power of France and Spain, which all our heat conservation of your power and dignity, that I and warmth against America was only hatch- acted on that occasion, and on all occasions. ing into life,- I should not have been a welcome you were involved in the American war. A visitant with the brow and the language of such new world of policy was opened, to which it feelings. When afterwards, the other face of was necessary we should conform, whether we your calamity was turned upon you, and shewed would or not; and my only thought was how 10 itself in defeat and distress, I shunned you conform to our situation in such a manner as to full as much. I felt sorely this variety in our unite to this kingdom, in prosperity and in af wretchedness; and I did not wish to have the fection, whatever remained of the empire. I least appearance of insulting you with that was true to my old, standing, invariable prinshew of superiority, which, though it may not ciple, that all things, which came from Great be assumed, is generally suspected in a time Britain, should issue as a gift of her bounty of calamity, from those whose previous war- and beneficence, rather than as claims recom nings have been despised. I could not bear to vered against a struggling litigant; or at least, shew you a representative whose face did not that if your beneficence obtained no credit in reflect that of his constituents; a face that your concessions, yet that they should appear could not joy in your joys, and sorrow in your the salutary provisions of your wisdom and

But time at length has made us all foresight: not as things wrung from you with of one opinion; and we have all opened our your blood, by the cruel gripe of a rigid neceseyes on the true nature of the American war, sity. The first concessions, by being (much to the true nature of all its successes and all against my will) mangled and stripped of the its failures.

parts which were necessary to make out their In that public storm too I had my private just correspondence and connection in trade feelings. I had seen blown down and pros- were of no use. The next year a feeble attrate on the ground several of those houses to tempt was made to bring the thing into better whom I was chiefly indebted for the honour shape. This attempt (countenanced by the this city has done me. I confess, that whilst minister) on the very first appearance of soms the wounds of those I loved were yet green, I popular uneasiness, was, after a considerable could not bear to shew myself in pride and progress through the house, thrown out by him triumph in that place into which their par- What was the consequence ? The whole tiality had brought me, and to appear at feasts kingdom of Ireland was instantly in a flame. and rejoicings, in the midst of the grief and Threatened by foreigners, and, as they thought, calamity of my warm friends, my zealous sup- insulted by England, they resolved at once to porters, my generous benefactors. This is a resist the power of France, and to cast off true, unvarnished, undisguised state of the yours. As for us, we were able neither to affair. You will judge of it.

protect nor to restrain them. Forty thousand This is the only one of the charges in which men were raised and disciplined without com am personally concerned. As to the other mission from the crown. Two illegal armies matters objected against me, which in t'jeir were seen with banners displayed at the same

sorrows.

« ZurückWeiter »