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to look to the nature of things than to the hu- please us, in order afterwards to discharge that mours of men. The very attempt towards pleas-conscience, which they have violated, by doing us ing every body discovers a temper always flashy, faithful and affectionate service. If we degrade and often false and insincere. Therefore, as I have and deprave their minds by servility, it will be proceeded straight onward in my conduct, so I absurd to expect, that they who are creeping and will proceed in my account of those parts of it abject towards us, will ever be bold and incorwhich have been most excepted to. But I must ruptible assertors of our freedom, against the first beg leave just to hint to you, that we may most seducing and the most formidable of all powsuffer very great detriment by being open to every No! human nature is not so formed; nor talker. It is not to be imagined, how much of shall we improve the faculties or better the morals service is lost from spirits full of activity, and of publick men, by our possession of the most full of energy, who are pressing, who are rushing infallible receipt in the world for making cheats forward, to great and capital objects, when you and hypocrites. oblige them to be continually looking back. Let me say with plainness, I who am no longer Whilst they are defending one service, they de- in a publick character, that if by a fair, by an fraud you of an hundred. Applaud us when we indulgent, by a gentlemanly behaviour to our rerun; console us when we fall; cheer us when we presentatives, we do not give confidence to their recover ; but let us pass on—for God's sake let minds, and a liberal scope to their understandings; us pass on.
if we do not permit our members to act upon a Do you think, gentlemen, that every publick very enlarged view of things; we shall at length act in the six years since I stood in this place be infallibly degrade our national representation into fore you—that all the arduous things which have a confused and scuffling bustle of local agency. been done in this eventful period, which has When the popular member is narrowed in his crowded into a few years’ space the revolutions of ideas, and rendered timid in his proceedings, the an age, can be opened to you on their fair grounds service of the crown will be the sole nursery of in half an hour's conversation.
statesmen. Among the frolicks of the court, it may But it is no reason, because there is a bad mode at length take that of attending to its business. of inquiry, that there should be no examination Then the monopoly of mental power will be added at all.
Most certainly it is our duty to examine; to the power of all other kinds it possesses. On it is our interest too - But it must be with discre- the side of the people there will be nothing but tion; with an attention to all the circumstances, impotence : for ignorance is impotence; narrowand to all the motives : like sound judges, and not ness of mind is impotence; timidity is itself impolike cavilling pettyfoggers and quibbling pleaders, tence, and makes all other qualities that go along prying into flaws and hunting for exceptions.- with it, impotent and useless. Look, gentlemen, to the whole tenour of your mem- At present it is the plan of the court to make ber's conduct. Try whether his ambition or his its servants insignificant. If the people should fall avarice have justled him out of the straight line of into the same humour, and should choose their duty; or whether that grand foe of the offices of servants on the same principles of inere obsequiactive life, that master-vice in men of business, a ousness, and flexibility, and total vacancy or indegenerate and inglorious sloth, has made him flag difference of opinion in all publick matters, then and languish in his course? This is the object of no part of the state will be sound; and it will be our enquiry. If our member's conduct can bear in vain to think of saving it. this touch, mark it for sterling. He may have I thought it very expedient at this time to give fallen into errours; he must have faults; but our you this candid counsel; and with this counsel I errour is greater, and our fault is radically ruinous would willingly close, if the matters which at to ourselves, if we do not bear, if we do not even various times have been objected to me in this applaud, the whole compound and mixed mass of city concerned only myself, and my own election. such a character. Not to act thus is folly; I had | These charges, I think, are four in number ;-my almost said it is impiety. He censures God, who neglect of a due attention to my constituents, the quarrels with the imperfections of man.
not paying more frequent visits here;-my conGentlemen, we must not be peevish with those duct on the affairs of the first Irish trade acts ;who serve the people. For none will serve us my opinion and mode of proceeding on Lord Beauwhilst there is a court to serve, but those who are champ's debtors bills; and my votes on the late of a nice and jealous honour. They who think affairs of the Roman Catholicks. All of these (exevery thing, in comparison of that honour, to be cept perhaps the first) relate to matters of very dust and ashes, will not bear to have it soiled and considerable publick concern; and it is not lest you impaired by those, for whose sake they make a should censure me improperly, but lest you should thousand sacrifices to preserve it immaculate and form improper opinions on matters of some mowhole. We shall either drive such men from the ment to you, that I trouble you at all upon
the publick stage, or we shall send them to the court subject. My conduct is of small importance. for protection : where, if they must sacrifice their With regard to the first charge, my friends have reputation, they will at least secure their interest. spoken to me of it in the style of 'amicable exDepend upon it, that the lovers of freedom will postulation ; not so much blaming the thing, as be free. None will violate their conscience to lamenting the effects.--Others, less partial to me,
were less kind in assigning the motives. I admit, sweated in the house of commons - by the most there is a decorum and propriety in a member of easy and ordinary arts of election, by dinners and parliament's paying a respectful court to his con- visits, by “ How do you do's,” and “My worthy stituents. If I were conscious to myself that plea- friends,” I was to be quietly moved out of my sure or dissipation, or low unworthy occupations, seat—and promises were made, and engagements had detained me from personal attendance on you, entered into, without any exception or reserve, as I would readily admit my fault, and quietly sub- if my laborious zeal in my duty had been a regular mit to the penalty. But, gentlemen, I live at an abdication of
my trust. hundred miles distance from Bristol; and at the To open my whole heart to you on this subject, end of a session I come to my own house, fatigued | I do confess, however, that there were other times in body and in mind, to a little repose, and to a besides the two years in which I did visit you, very little attention to my family and my private when I was not wholly without leisure for repeat
A visit to Bristol is always a sort of ing that mark of my respect. But I could not canvass; else it will do more harm than good. To bring my mind to see you. You remember, that pass from the toils of a session to the toils of a in the beginning of this American war (that æra canvass, is the furthest thing in the world from of calamity, disgrace, and downfall, an æra which repose. I could hardly serve you as I have done, no feeling mind will ever mention without a tear and court you too. Most of you have heard, that for England) you were greatly divided; and a very I do not very remarkably spare myself in publick strong body, if not the strongest, opposed itself to business; and in the private business of my con- the madness which every art and every power stituents I have done very nearly as much as those were employed to render popular in order that who have nothing else to do. My canvass of you the errours of the rulers might be lost in the was not on the 'change, nor in the county meetings, general blindness of the nation. This opposition nor in the clubs of this city : It was in the house continued until after our great, but most unfortuof commons; it was at the custom-house; it was nate, victory at Long Island. Then all the mounds at the council; it was at the treasury; it was at the and banks of our constancy were borne down at admiralty. I canvassed you through your affairs, once; and the phrensy of the American war broke and not your persons. I was not only your repre- in upon us like a deluge. This victory, which sentative as a body; I was the agent, the solicitor seemed to put an immediate end to all difficulties, of individuals ; I ran about wherever your affairs perfected us in that spirit of domination, which could call me; and in acting for you, I often ap- our unparalleled prosperity had but too long peared rather as a ship broker, than as a member nurtured. We had been so very powerful, and so of parliament. There was nothing too laborious very prosperous, that even the humblest of us were or too low for me to undertake. The meanness degraded into the vices and follies of kings. We of the business was raised by the dignity of the lost all measure between means and ends; and our object. If some lesser matters have slipped through headlong desires became our politicks and our my fingers, it was because I filled my hands too morals. All men who wished for peace, or retained fuil; and, in my eagerness to serve you, took in any sentiments of moderation, were overborne than
any hands could grasp. Several gentle- or silenced ; and this city was led by every artifice men stand round me who are my willing witnesses; (and probably with the more management, because and there are others who, if they were here, I was one of your members) to distinguish itself would be still better ; because they would be by its zeal for that fatal cause.
In this temper unwilling witnesses to the same truth. It was in of your and of my mind, I should have sooner the middle of a summer residence in London, and fled to the extremities of the earth, than have in the middle of a negociation at the admiralty shewn myself here. I, who saw in every American for your trade, that I was called to Bristol; and victory (for you have had a long series of these this late visit, at this late day, has been possibly misfortunes) the germ and seed of the naval power in prejudice to your affairs.
of France and Spain, which all our heat and Since I have touched upon this matter, let me warmth against America was only hatching into say, gentlemen, that if I had a disposition or a right life, - I should not have been a welcome visitant to complain, I have some cause of complaint on with the brow and the language of such feelings. my side. With a petition of the city in my hand, When, afterwards, the other face of your calamity passed through the corporation without a dissent was turned upon you, and shewed itself in defeat ing voice, a petition in unison with almost the and distress, I shunned you full as much. I felt whole voice of the kingdom, (with whose formal sorely this variety in our wretchedness; and I did thanks I was covered over,) while I laboured on no not wish to have the least appearance of insulting less than five bills for a publick reform, and fought you with that show of superiority, which, though against the opposition of great abilities, and of the it may not be assumed, is generally suspected in a greatest power, every clause, and every word of time of calamity, from those whose previous warnthe largest of those bills, almost to the very lastings have been despised. I could not bear to shew day of a very long session ; all this time a canvass you a representative whose face did not reflect that in Bristol was as calmly carried on as if I were of his constituents; a face that could not joy in dead. I was considered as a man wholly out of your joys, and sorrow in your sorrows. But time the question. Whilst I watched, and fasted, and at length has made us all of one opinion; and we
have all opened our eyes on the true nature of the uneasiness, was, after a considerable progress American war, to the true nature of all its suc- through the house, thrown out by him. cesses and all its failures.
What was the consequence? The whole kingIn that publick storm too I had my private feel- dom of Ireland was instantly in a flame. Threatings. I had seen blown down and prostrate on ened by foreigners, and, as they thought, insulted the ground several of those houses to whom I was by England, they resolved at once to resist the chiefly indebted for the honour this city has done power of France, and to cast off yours. As for me. I confess, that, whilst the wounds of those I us, we were able neither to protect nor to restrain loved were yet green, I could not bear to shew them. Forty thousand men were raised and dismyself in pride and triumph in that place into ciplined without commission from the crown. which their partiality had brought me, and to Two illegal armies were seen with banners disappear at feasts and rejoicings, in the midst of the played at the same time and in the same country. grief and calamity of my warm friends, my zealous No executive magistrate, no judicature in Iresupporters, my generous benefactors. This is a land, would acknowledge the legality of the army true, unvarnished, undisguised state of the affair. which bore the king's commission; and no law, You will judge of it.
appearance of law, authorized the army comThis is the only one of the charges in which I missioned by itself. In this unexampled state of am personally concerned. As to the other mat- things, which the least errour, the least trespass on ters objected against me, which in their turn I the right or left, would have hurried down the shall mention to you, remember once more I do precipice into an abyss of blood and confusion, the not mean to extenuate or excuse. Why should I, people of Ireland demand a freedom of trade with when the things charged are among those upon arms in their hands. They interdict all commerce which I found all my reputation? What would be between the two nations. They deny all new supleft to me, if I myself was the man, who softened, ply in the house of commons, although in time and blended, and diluted, and weakened, all the of war. They stint the trust of the old revenue, distinguishing colours of my life, so as to leave given for two years to all the king's predecessors, nothing distinct and determinate in my whole to six months. The British parliament, in a forconduct?
mer session, frightened into a limited concession It has been said, and it is the second charge, by the menaces of Ireland, frightened out of it by that in the questions of the Irish trade, I did not the menaces of England, were now frightened consult the interest of my constituents; or, to back again, and made an universal surrender of all speak out strongly, that I rather acted as a native that had been thought the peculiar, reserved, unof Ireland, than as an English member of parlia- communicable rights of England ;—the exclusive ment.
commerce of America, of Africa, of the West I certainly have very warm, good wishes for the Indies—all the enumerations of the acts of naviplace of my birth. But the sphere of my duties gation—all the manufactures--iron, glass, even the is my true country: It was, as a man attached to | last pledge of jealousy and pride, the interest hid your interests, and zealous for the conservation of in the secret of our hearts, the inveterate prejuyour power and dignity, that I acted on that dice moulded into the constitution of our frame, occasion, and on all occasions. You were in- even the sacred fleece itself, all went together. No volved in the American war. A new world of reserve; no exception; no debate; no discussion, policy was opened, to which it was necessary we A sudden light broke in upon us all. It broke in, should conform, whether we would or not; and not through well-contrived and well-disposed winmy only thought was how to conform to our situa-dows, but through flaws and breaches; through tion in such a manner as to unite to this kingdom, the yawning chasms of our ruin. We were taught in prosperity and in affection, whatever remained wisdom by humiliation. No town in England of the empire. I was true to my old, standing, presumed to have a prejudice; or dared to mutter invariable principle, that all things, which came a petition. What was worse, the whole parliafrom Great Britain, should issue as a gift of her ment of England, which retained authority for bounty and beneficence, rather than as claims re- nothing but surrenders, was despoiled of every covered against a struggling litigant; or at least, shadow of its superintendence. It was, without that if your beneficence obtained no credit in your any qualification, denied in theory, as it had been concessions, yet that they should appear the salu-trampled upon in practice. This scene of shame tary provisions of your wisdom and foresight; not and disgrace has, in a manner whilst I am speakas things wrung from you with your blood by the ing, ended by the perpetual establishment of a cruel gripe of a rigid necessity. The first con- military power in the dominions of this crown, cessions, by being (much against my will) mangled without consent of the British legislature,* conand stripped of the parts which were necessary to trary to the policy of the constitution, contrary make out their just correspondence and connexion to the declaration of right: and by this your in trade, were of no use. The next year a feeble liberties are swept away along with your supreme attempt was made to bring the thing into better authority--and both, linked together from the beshape. This attempt (countenanced by the minis-ginning, have, I am afraid, both together perished, ter) on the very first appearance of some popular for ever.
* Irish perpetual mutiny act.
What! gentlemen, was I not to foresee, or fore- behind them. Their promises and their offers, seeing, was I not to endeavour to save you from their flatteries and their menaces, were all despisall these multiplied mischiefs and disgraces? | ed; and we were saved from the disgrace of their Would the little, silly, canvass prattle of obeying formal reception, only because the congress scorned instructions, and having no opinions but yours, to receive them ; whilst the state-house of indeand such idle senseless tales, which amuse the pendent Philadelphia opened her doors to the vacant ears of unthinking men, have saved you publick entry of the ambassador of France. From from “ the pelting of that pitiless storm,” to which war and blood we went to submission; and from the loose improvidence, the cowardly rashness, of submission plunged back again to war and blood; those who dare not look danger in the face, so as to desolate and be desolated, without measure, to provide against it in time, and therefore throw hope, or end. I am a Royalist, I blushed for this themselves headlong into the midst of it, have ex- degradation of the crown. I am a Whig, I blushposed this degraded nation, beaten down and ed for the dishonour of parliament. I am a true prostrate on the earth, unsheltered, unarmed, un- Englishman, I felt to the quick for the disgrace of resisting? Was I an Irishman on that day, that I | England. I am a man, I felt for the melancholy boldly withstood our pride? or on the day that I reverse of human affairs, in the fall of the first hung down my head, and wept in shame and silence power in the world. over the humiliation of Great Britain ? I became To read what was approaching in Ireland, in unpopular in England for the one, and in Ireland the black and bloody characters of the American for the other. What then? What obligation lay war, was a painful, but it was a necessary, part of on me to be popular ? I was bound to serve both my publick duty. For, gentlemen, it is not your kingdoms. To be pleased with my service, was fond desires or mine that can alter the nature of their affair, not mine.
things; by contending against which, what have I was an Irishman in the Irish business, just as we got, or shall ever get, but defeat and shame? much as I was an American, when, on the same I did not obey your instructions: No. I conprinciples, I wished you to concede to America, at formed to the instructions of truth and nature, and a time when she prayed concession at our feet. maintained your interest, against your opinions, Just as much was I an American, when I wished with a constancy that became me. A representaparliament to offer terms in victory, and not to tive worthy of you ought to be a person of stabiwait the well chosen hour of defeat, for making lity. I am to look, indeed, to your opinions; good by weakness, and by supplication, a claim of but to such opinions as you and I must have five prerogative, pre-eminence, and authority.
vears hence. I was not to look to the flash of Instead of requiring it from me, as a point of the day. I knew that you chose me, in my place, duty, to kindle with your passions, had you all along with others, to be a pillar of the state, and been as cool as I was, you would have been saved not a weathercock on the top of the edifice, exfrom disgraces and distresses that are unutterable. alted for my levity and versatility, and of no use Do you remember our commission ? We sent out but to indicate the shiftings of every fashionable a solemn embassy across the Atlantick ocean, to lay gale. Would to God the value of my sentiments the crown, the peerage, the commons of Great on Ireland and on America had been at this day a Britain, at the feet of the American congress. subject of doubt and discussion ! No matter what That our disgrace might want no sort of brighten- my sufferings had been, so that this kingdom had ing and burnishing, observe who they were that kept the authority I wished it to maintain, by a composed this famous embassy! My Lord Carlisle grave foresight, and by an equitable temperance is among the first ranks of our nobility. He is in the use of its power. the identical man who, but two years before, liad The next article of charge on my publiek conbeen put forward, at the opening of a session in duct, and that which I find rather the most prethe house of lords, as the mover of a haughty and valent of all, is, Lord Beauchamp's bill. I mean rigorous address against America. He was put in his bill of last session, for reforming the lawthe front of the embassy of submission. Mr. Eden process concerning imprisonment. It is said, to was taken from the office of Lord Suffolk, to whom aggravate the offence, that I treated the petition he was then under secretary of state ; from the of this city with contempt even in presenting it to office of that Lord Suffolk, who but a few weeks the house, and expressed myself in terms of marked before, in his place in parliament, did not deign to disrespect. Had this latter part of the charge been inquire where a congress of vagrants was to be true, no merits on the side of the question which found. This Lord Suffolk sent Mr. Eden to find I took could possibly excuse me." But I am inthese vagrants, without knowing where this king's capable of treating this city with disrespect. Very generals were to be found, who were joined in fortunately, at this minute (if my bad eyesight the same commission of supplicating those whom does not deceive me) the worthy* gentleman dethey were sent to subdue. They enter the capital puted on this business stands directly before me. of America only to abandon it; and these assertors To him I appeal, whether I did not, though it and representatives of the dignity of England, militated with my oldest and my most recent pubat the tail of a Aying army, let fly their Parthian lick opinions, deliver the petition with a strong shafts of memorials and remonstrances at random and more than usual recommendation to the con
sideration of the house, on account of the charac- ought to be, the judge, is in reality no more than ter and consequence of those who signed it. I ministerial, a mere executive instrument of a pribelieve the worthy gentleman will tell you, that the vate man, who is at once judge and party. Every very day I received it, I applied to the solicitor, idea of judicial order is subverted by this procenow the attorney general, to give it an immediate dure. If the insolvency be no crime, why is it consideration ; and he most obligingly and in- punished with arbitrary imprisonment? If it be a stantly consented to employ a great deal of his very crime, why is it delivered into private hands to valuable time to write an explanation of the bill. pardon without discretion, or to punish without I attended the committee with all possible care and mercy and without measure ? diligence, in order that every objection of yours To these faults, gross and cruel facts in our might meet with a solution; or produce an altera- law, the excellent principle of Lord Beauchamp's tion. I entreated your learned recorder (always bill applied some sort of remedy. I know that ready in business in which you take a concern) to credit must be preserved; but equity must be preattend. But what will you say to those who served too; and it is impossible that any thing blame me for supporting Lord Beauchamp's bill, should be necessary to commerce, which is inconas a disrespectful treatment of your petition, when sistent with justice. The principle of credit was you hear, that out of respect to you, I myself was not weakened by that bill. God forbid! The the cause of the loss of that very bill ? For the enforcement of that credit was only put into the noble lord who brought it in, and who, I must same publick judicial hands on which we depend say, has much merit for this and some other mea- for our lives, and all that makes life dear to sures, at my request consented to put it off for a But, indeed, this business was taken up too week, which the speaker's illness lengthened to a warmly both here and elsewhere.
The bill was fortnight; and then the frantick tumult about extremely mistaken. It was supposed to enact popery drove that and every rational business from what it never enacted ; and complaints were made the house. So that if I choose to make a defence of clauses in it as novelties, which existed before of myself, on the little principles of a culprit, plead- the noble lord that brought in the bill was born. ing in his exculpation, I might not only secure my There was a fallacy that ran through the whole acquittal, but make merit with the opposers of the of the objections. The gentlemen who opposed bill
. But I shall do no such thing. The truth is, the bill always argued, as if the option lay bethat I did occasion the loss of the bill, and by a tween that bill and the ancient law.-But this is delay caused by my respect to you. But such an
But such an a grand mistake. For, practically, the option is event was never in my contemplation. And I am between, not that bill and the old law, but between so far from taking credit for the defeat of that that bill and those occasional laws, called acts of measure, that I cannot sufficiently lament my grace. For the operation of the old law is so misfortune, if but one man, who ought to be at savage, and so inconvenient to society, that for a large, has passed a year in prison by my means. long time past, once in every parliament, and lateI am a debtor to the debtors. I confess judg- ly twice, the legislature has been obliged to make
I owe what, if ever it be in my power, I a general arbitrary jail-delivery, and at once to set shall most certainly pay,—ample atonement and open, by its sovereign authority, all the prisons in usurious amends to liberty and humanity for my England. unhappy lapse. For, gentlemen, Lord Beau- Gentlemen, I never relished acts of
grace; nor champ's bill was a law of justice and policy, as ever submitted to them but from despair of better. far as it went; I say as far as it went, for its They are a dishonourable invention, by which, fault was its being, in the remedial part, miserably not from humanity, not from policy, but merely defective.
because we have not room enough to hold these There are two capital faults in our law with re- victims of the absurdity of our laws, we turn lation to civil debts. One is, that every man is loose upon the publick three or four thousand presumed solvent. A presumption, in innumer- naked wretches, corrupted by the habits, debased able cases, directly against truth. Therefore the by the ignominy, of a prison. If the creditor had debtor is ordered, on a supposition of ability and a right to those carcases as a natural security for fraud, to be coerced his liberty until he makes his property, I am sure we have no right to depayment. By this means, in all cases of civil in- prive him of that security. But if the few pounds solvency, without a pardon from his creditor, he of flesh were not necessary to his security, we had is to be imprisoned for life :-and thus a miserable not a right to detain the unfortunate debtor, withmistaken invention of artificial science operates out any benefit at all to the person who confined to change a civil into a criminal judgment, and him.-Take it as you will, we commit injustice. to scourge misfortune or indiscretion with a pu- Now Lord Beauchamp’s bill intended to do delinishment which the law does not inflict on the berately, and with great caution and circumspecgreatest crimes.
tion, upon each several case, and with all attention The next fault is, that the inflicting of that to the just claimant, what acts of grace do in a punishment is not on the opinion of an equal and much greater measure, and with very little care, publick judge; but is referred to the arbitrary dis- caution, or deliberation. cretion of a private, nay interested, and irritated, I suspect that here too, if we contrive to oppose individual. He, who formally is, and substantially this bill, we shall be found in a struggle against the