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if I had not much rather pass the remainder of my pride on the nature of the charges that are against life hidden in the recesses of the deepest obscurity, me. I do not here stand before you accused of feeding my mind even with the visions and ima- venality, or of neglect of duty. It is not said, ginations of such things, than to be placed on the that, in the long period of my service, I have in a most splendid throne of the universe, tantalized single instance sacrificed the slightest of your inwith a denial of the practice of all which can make terests to my ambition, or to my fortune. It is the greatest situation any other than the greatest not alleged, that to gratify any anger or revenge curse. Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can of my own, or of my party, I have had a share in never sufficiently express my gratitude to you for wronging or oppressing any description of men, or having set me in a place, wherein I could lend any one man in any description. No! the charges the slightest help to great and laudable designs. against me are all of one kind, that I have pushed If I have had my share, in any measure giving the principles of general justice and benevolence quiet to private property, and private conscience; too far; further than a cautious policy would warif by my vote I have aided in securing to families rant; and further than the opinions of many would the best possession, peace; if I have joined in re- go along with me.-In every accident which may conciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to happen through life, in pain, in sorrow, in deprestheir prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign sion, and distress- I will call to mind this accusaholdings of the citizen, and taught him to look tion; and be comforted. for his protection to the laws of his country, and Gentlemen, I submit the whole to your judgfor his comfort to the good-will of his countrymen; ment. Mr. Mayor, I thank you for the trouble -if I have thus taken my part with the best of you have taken on this occasion : in your state of men in the best of their actions, I can shut the health, it is particularly obliging. If this company book ;-) might wish to read a page or two more should think it advisable for me to withdraw, 1 - but this is enough for my measure.— I have not shall respectfully retire; if you think otherwise, I lived in vain.
shall go directly to the Council-house and to the And now. gentlemen, on this serious day, when Change, and, without a moment's delay, begin my I come, as it were, to make up my account with canvass. you, let me take to myself some degree of honest
BRISTOL, September 6, 1780. sented to Mr. Burke, as the fullest expression of At a great and respectable meeting of the his merits and services, public and private, to the
the respectful and grateful sense we entertain of friends of EDMUND BURKE, Esq. held at the citizens of Bristol, as a man and a representative. Guildhall this day;
Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting be The Right Worshipful the Mayor in the Chair : given to the right worshipful the Mayor, who so
ably and worthily presided in this meeting. Resolved, That Mr. Burke, as a representative Řesolved, that it is the earnest request of this for this city, has done all possible honour to him- meeting to Mr. Burke, that he should again offer self as a senator and a man, and that we do himself a candidate to represent this city in parheartily and honestly approve of his conduct, as liament; assuring him of that full and strenuous the result of an enlightened loyalty to his sove- support which is due to the merits of so excellent reign; a warm and zealous love to his country, a representative. through its widely-extended empire ; a jealous and watchful care of the liberties of his fellow-sub- This business being over, Mr. Burke went to jects; an enlarged and liberal understanding of the Exchange, and offered himself as a candidate our commercial interest; a humane attention to in the usual manner. He was accompanied to the the circumstances of even the lowest ranks of the Council-house, and from thence to the Exchange, community; and a truly wise, politick, and tole- by a large body of most respectable gentlemen, rant spirit
, in supporting the national church, with amongst whom were the following members of the a reasonable indulgence to all who dissent from corporation, viz. Mr. Mayor, Mr. Alderman Smith, it; and we wish to express the most marked ab. Mr. Alderman Deane, Mr. Alderman Gordon, horrence of the base arts which have been em- William Weare, Samuel Munckley, John Merlott, ployed, without regard to truth and reason, to John Crofts, Levy Ames, John Fisher Weare, Benmisrepresent his eminent services to his country. jamin Loscombe, Philip Protheroe, Samuel Span,
Resolved, That this resolution be copied out, Joseph Smith, Richard Bright, and John Noble, and signed by the chairman, and be by him pre- Esquires.
MR. BURKE'S SPEECH AT BRISTOL,
ON DECLINING THE POLL.
more unpleasant to be rejected after long trial, Bristol, Saturday, Sept. 9, 1780.
than not to be chosen at all. This morning the sheriff and candidates assembled But, gentlemen, I will see nothing except your
as usual at the Council-house, and from thence former kindness, and I will give way to no other proceeded to Guildhall. Proclamation being sentiments than those of gratitude. From the made for the electors to appear and give their bottom of
have votes, Mr. BURKE stood forward on the hust- done for me. You have given me a long term, ings, surrounded by a great number of the which is now expired. I have performed the corporation and other principal citizens, and conditions, and enjoyed all the profits, to the full; addressed himself to the whole assembly as fol- and I now surrender your estate into your hands, lows:
without being in a single tile or a single stone
impaired or wasted by my use. I have served the GENTLEMEN,
publick for fifteen years.
I have served you in
particular for six. What is passed is well stored. I DECLINE the election. It has ever been my It is safe, and out of the power of fortune. What rule through life, to observe a proportion between is to come, is in wiser hands than ours; and he, my efforts and my objects. I have never been in whose hands it is, best knows whether it is best remarkable for a bold, active, and sanguine pur- for you and me that I should be in parliament, or suit that are personal myself. even in the world.
in form. But I have taken such a view of it as reads to us an awful lesson against being too much satisfies my own mind, that your choice will not troubled about any of the objects of ordinary amultimately fall upon me. Your city, gentlemen, bition. The worthy gentleman,* who has been is in a state of miserable distraction; and I am snatched from us at the moment of the election, resolved to withdraw whatever share my preten- and in the middle of the contest, whilst his desires
have had in its unhappy divisions. I were as warm, and his hopes as eager as ours, has have not been in haste; I have tried all prudent feelingly told us, what shadows we are, and what means ; I have waited for the effect of all contin- shadows we pursue. gencies. If I were fond of a contest, by the par
It has been usual for a candidate who declines, tiality of my numerous friends, (whom you know to take his leave by a letter to the sheriffs ; but í to be among the most weighty and respectable received your trust in the face of day, and in the people of the city,) I have the means of a sharp face of day I accept your dismission. I am not,
my hands. But I thought it far better with I am not at all ashamed to look upon you ; nor my strength unspent, and my reputation unim- can my presence discompose the order of business paired, to do, early and from foresight, that which here. I humbly and respectfully take my leave I might be obliged to do from necessity at last. of the sheriffs, the candidates, and the electors ;
I am not in the least surprised, nor in the least wishing heartily that the choice may be for the angry at this view of things. I have read the book best, at a time which calls, if ever time did call, of life for a long time, and I have read other books for service that is not nominal. It is no plaything a little. Nothing has happened to me, but what you are about. I tremble when I consider the has happened to men much better than me, and trust I have presumed to ask. I confided perhaps in times and in nations full as good as the age and too much in my intentions. They were really country that we live in. To say that I am no fair and upright; and I am bold to say, that I way concerned, would be neither decent nor true. ask no ill thing for you, when on parting from this The representation of Bristol was an object on place I pray that whomever you choose to succeed many accounts dear to me; and I certainly should me, he may resemble me exactly in all things, exvery far prefer it to any other in the kingdom. cept in my abilities to serve, and my fortune to My habits are made to it; and it is in general please you.
MR. SPEAKER, I THANK you for pointing to me. I really unfitness of the plan to attain the direct object it wished much to engage your attention in an has in view. By some gentlemen it is taken up early stage of the debate. I have been long very (by way of exercise I presume) as a point of law deeply, though perhaps ineffectually, engaged in on a question of private property, and corporate the preliminary enquiries, which have continued franchise : by others it is regarded as the petty inwithout intermission for some years. Though I trigue of a faction at court, and argued merely have felt, with some degree of sensibility, the na- as it tends to set this man a little higher, or that a tural and inevitable impressions of the several mat- little lower, in situation and power. All the void ters of fact, as they have been successively dis- has been filled up with invectives against coalition; closed, I have not at any time attempted to trouble with allusions to the loss of America; with the you on the merits of the subject; and very little activity and inactivity of ministers. The total on any of the points which incidentally arose in silence of these gentlemen concerning the interest the course of our proceedings. But I should be and well-being of the people of India, and concernsorry to be found totally silent upon this day. Our ing the interest which this nation has in the comenquiries are now come to their final issue :— It is merce and revenues of that country, is a strong now to be determined whether the three years indication of the value which they set upon these of laborious parliamentary research, whether the objects. twenty years of patient Indian suffering, are to It has been a little painful to me to observe the produce a substantial reform in our eastern admi-intrusion into this important debate of such comnistration ; or whether our knowledge of the pany as quo warranto, and mandamus, and cergrievances has abated our zeal for the correction tiorari; as if we were on a trial about
mayors of them, and our very enquiry into the evil was aldermen, and capital burgesses ; or engaged in a only a pretext to elude the remedy, which is de- suit concerning the borough of Penryn, or Saltash, manded from us by humanity, by justice, and by or St. Ives, or St. Mawes. Gentlemen have argued every principle of true policy. Depend upon it, with as much heat and passion, as if the first things this business cannot be indifferent to our fame. It in the world were at stake; and their topicks are will turn out a matter of great disgrace, or great such as belong only to matter of the lowest and glory, to the whole British nation. We are on a meanest litigation. It is not right, it is not worthy conspicuous stage, and the world marks our de- of us, in this manner to depreciate the value, to
degrade the majesty, of this grave deliberation of I am therefore a little concerned to perceive the policy and empire. spirit and temper in which the debate has been For my part, I have thought myself bound, all along pursued upon one side of the house. The when a matter of this extraordinary weight came declamation of the gentlemen who oppose the bill before me, not to consider (as some gentlemen are has been abundant and vehement; but they have so fond of doing) whether the bill originated from been reserved and even silent about the fitness or a secretary of state for the home department, or
from a secretary for the foreign, from a minister Ist. That the bill is an attack on the chartered of influence, or a minister of the people; from rights of men. Jacob, or from Esau.* I asked myself, and I asked 2dly. That it encreases the influence of the myself nothing else, what part of it was fit for a member of parliament, who has supplied a medio- 3dly. That it does not encrease, but diminishes, crity of talents by the extreme of diligence, and
the influence of the crown, in order to prowho has thought himself obliged, by the research mote the interests of certain ministers and of years, to wind himself into the inmost recesses and labyrinths of the Indian detail, what part, I 4thly. That it deeply affects the national credit. say, it became such a member of parliament to As to the first of these objections; I must obtake, when a minister of state, in conformity to a serve that the phrase of “ the chartered rights of recommendation from the throne, has brought men,” is full of affectation; and very unusual before us a system for the better government of in the discussion of privileges conferred by charters the territory and commerce of the East. In this of the present description. But it is not difficult light, and in this only, I will trouble you
to discover what end that ambiguous mode of exsentiments.
pression, so often reiterated, is meant to answer. It is not only agreed, but demanded, by the The rights of men, that is to say, the natural right honourable gentleman,t and by those who rights of mankind, are indeed sacred things; and act with him, that a whole system ought to be if any publick measure is proved mischievously to produced ; that it ought not to be an half measure ; affect them, the objection ought to be fatal to that that it ought to be no palliative; but a legislative measure, even if no charter at all could be set up provision, vigorous, substantial, and effective.- against it. If these natural rights are further afI believe that no man who understands the sub-firmed and declared by express covenants, if they ject can doubt for a moment, that those must be are clearly defined and secured against chicane, the conditions of any thing deserving the name against power, and authority, by written instruof a reform in the Indian government; that any ments and positive engagements, they are in a still thing short of them would not only be delusive, better condition : they partake not only of the but, in this matter which admits no medium, sanctity of the object so secured, but of that sonoxious in the extreme.
lemn publick faith itself, which secures an object To all the conditions proposed by his adversaries of such importance. Indeed this formal recognithe mover of the bill perfectly agrees; and on his tion, by the sovereign power, of an original right performance of them- he rests his cause. On the in the subject, can never be subverted, but by other hand, not the least objection has been taken, rooting up the holding, radical principles of gowith regard to the efficiency, the vigour, or the vernment, and even of society itself. The charcompleteness of the scheme. I am therefore war- ters, which we call by distinction great, are pubranted to assume, as a thing admitted, that the lick instruments of this nature; I mean the charbills accomplish what both sides of the house de- ters of King John and King Henry the third. The mand as essential. The end is completely answer things secured by these instruments may, without ed, so far as the direct and immediate object is any deceitful ambiguity, be very fitly called the concerned.
chartered rights of men. But though there are no direct, yet there are These charters have made the very name of a various collateral, objections made; objections from charter dear to the heart of every Englishman.the effects which this plan of reform for Indian ad- But, Sir, there may be, and there are charters, not ministration may have on the privileges of great only different in nature, but formed on principles publick bodies in England; from its probable in- the very reverse of those of the great charter. Of fluence on the constitutional rights, or on the free- this kind is the charter of the East-India company. dom and integrity, of the several branches of the Magna charta is a charter to restrain power, and legislature.
to destroy monopoly. The East-India charter is a Before I answer these objections, I must beg leave charter to establish monopoly, and to create power. to observe, that if we are not able to contrive Political power and commercial monopoly are not some method of governing India well, which will the rights of men ; and the rights of them derived not of necessity become the means of governing from charters, it is fallacious and sophistical to call Great Britain ill, a ground is laid for their eternal “ the chartered rights of men.” These chartered separation ; but none for sacrificing the people of rights (to speak of such charters and of their efthat country to our constitution. I am however fects in terms of the greatest possible moderation) far from being persuaded that any such incompa- do at least suspend the natural rights of mankind tibility of interest does at all exist. On the con- at large; and in the very frame and constitution trary, I am certain that every means, effectual to are liable to fall into a direct violation of them. preserve India from oppression, is a guard to pre- It is a charter of this latter description (that is serve the British constitution from its worst cor- to say a charter of power and monopoly) which is ruption. To shew this, I will consider the objec- affected by the bill before you. The bill, Sir, does, tions, which I think are four :
without question, affect it; it does affect it essentially and substantially. But having stated to you | purposes, and become instruments of wrong and of what description the chartered rights are which violence. this bill touches, I feel no difficulty at all in ac- If parliament, Sir, had nothing to do with this knowledging the existence of those chartered charter, we might have some sort of Epicurean rights, in their fullest extent. They belong to excuse to stand aloof, indifferent spectators of what the company in the surest manner; and they are passes in the company's name in India and in Lonsecured to that body by every sort of publick sanc- don. But if we are the very cause of the evil, tion. They are stamped by the faith of the king; we are in a special manner engaged to the redress ; they are stamped by the faith of parliament; they and for us passively to bear with oppressions comhave been bought for money, for money honestly mitted under the sanction of our own authority, and fairly paid ; they have been bought for va- is in truth and reason for this house to be an luable consideration, over and over again. active accomplice in the abuse.
† Mr. Pitt.
* An allusion made by Mr. Powis.
I therefore freely admit to the East-India com- That the power, notoriously, grossly abused, has pany their claim to exclude their fellow-subjects been bought from us is very certain. But this from the commerce of half the globe. I admit circumstance, which is urged against the bill, betheir claim to administer an annual territorial re- comes an additional motive for our interference; venue of seven millions sterling; to command an lest we should be thought to have sold the blood army of sixty thousand men; and to dispose of millions of men, for the base consideration of (under the controul of a sovereign, imperial dis- money. We sold, I admit, all that we had to cretion, and with the due observance of the na- sell; that is, our authority, not our controul. tural and local law) of the lives and fortunes of We had not a right to make a market of our thirty millions of their fellow-creatures. All this duties. they possess by charter, and by acts of parliament, I ground myself therefore on this principle(in my opinion,) without a shadow of contro- that if the abuse is proved, the contract is broken; versy.
and we re-enter into all our rights; that is, into Those who carry the rights and claims of the the exercise of all our duties. Our own authority company the furthest, do not contend for more is indeed as much a trust originally, as the comthan this; and all this I freely grant. But grant- pany's authority is a trust derivatively; and it is ing all this, they must grant to me in my turn, the use we make of the resumed power that must that all political power which is set over men, and justify or condemn us in the resumption of it. that all privilege claimed or exercised in exclusion When we have perfected the plan laid before us of them, being wholly artificial, and for so much by the right honourable mover, the world will a derogation from the natural quality of mankind then see what it is we destroy, and what it is we at large, ought to be some way or other exercised create. By that test we stand or fall; and by ultimately for their benefit.
that test I trust that it will be found in the issue, If this is true with regard to every species of that we are going to supersede a charter abused political dominion, and every description of com- to the full extent of all the powers which it could mercial privilege, none of which can be original, abuse, and exercised in the plenitude of despotism, self-derived rights, or grants for the mere private tyranny, and corruption; and that in one and the benefit of the holders, then such rights, or privi- same plan, we provide a real chartered security leges, or whatever else you choose to call them, for the rights of men, cruelly violated under that are all in the strictest sense a trust; and it is of the charter. very essence of every trust to be rendered account- This bill, and those connected with it, are inable ; and even totally to cease, when it substan- tended to form the magna charta of Hindostan. tially varies from the purposes for which alone it Whatever the treaty of Westphalia is to the liberty could have a lawful existence.
of the princes and free cities of the empire, and This I conceive, Sir, to be true of trusts of to the three religions there professed—Whatever power vested in the highest hands, and of such as the great charter, the statute of tallege, the petiseem to hold of no human creature. But about tion of right, and the declaration of right, are to the application of this principle to subordinate, Great Britain, these bills are to the people of Inderivative trusts, I do not see how a controversy dia. Of this benefit, I am certain, their condition can be maintained. To whom then would I make is capable; and when I know that they are capathe East-India company accountable? Why, to ble of more, my vote shall most assuredly be for parliament, to be sure; to parliament, from which our giving to the full extent of their capacity of their trust was derived ; to parliament, which alone receiving; and no charter of dominion shall stand is capable of comprehending the magnitude of its as a bar in my way to their charter of safety and object, and its abuse; and alone capable of an protection. effectual legislative remedy. The very charter, The strong admission I have made of the comwhich is held out to exclude parliament from cor- pany's rights (I am conscious of it) binds me to recting malversation with regard to the high tìust do a great deal. I do not presume to condemn vested in the company, is the very thing which at those who argue a priori, against the propriety of once gives a title and imposes on ns a duty to in- leaving such extensive political powers in the hands terfere with effect, wherever power and authority of a company of merchants. I know much is, and originating from ourselves are perverted from their much more may be, said against such a system.