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and on various titles, I made no doubt were worthy of
I shall never attempt to raise myself by depreciating the merits of my competitors. In the complexity and confusion of these cross pursuits, I wished 5 to take the authentic public sense of my friends upon a business of so much delicacy. I wished to take your opinion along with me; that if I should give up the contest at the very beginning, my surrender of my post may
not seem the effect of inconstancy, or timidity, or anger, 10 or disgust, or indolence, or any other temper unbecoming
a man who has engaged in the public service. If, on the contrary, I should undertake the election, and fail of success, I was full as anxious that it should be manifest to
the whole world that the peace of the city had not been 15 broken by my rashness, presumption, or fond conceit of my own merit.
I am not come, by a false and counterfeit show of deference to your judgment, to seduce it in my favor.
I ask it seriously and unaffectedly. If you wish that I 20 should retire, I shall not consider that advice as a censure upon my conduct, or an alteration in
sentiments; but as a rational submission to the circumstances of affairs. If, on the contrary, you should think it
proper for me to proceed on my canvass, if you will risk 25 the trouble on your part, I will risk it on mine. My
pretensions are such as you cannot be ashamed of, whether they succeed or fail. If you
call upon me, I shall solicit the favor of the city upon manly ground. I come before you with the 30 plain confidence of an honest servant in the equity of a
candid and discerning master. I come to claim your approbation, not to amuse you with vain apologies, or with professions still more vain and senseless. I have lived
too long to be served by apologies, or to stand in need of 35 them. The part I have acted has been in open day; and to hold out to a conduct which stands in that clear and steady light for all its good and all its evil, to hold out to that conduct the paltry winking tapers of excuses and promises — I never will do it. They may obscure it with their smoke; but they never can illumine sunshine by 5 such a flame as theirs.
I am sensible that no endeavors have been left untried to injure me in your opinion. But the use of character is to be a shield against calumny. I could wish, undoubtedly, if idle wishes were not the most idle of all 10 things, to make every part of my conduct agreeable to every part of my constituents. But in so great a city, and so greatly divided as this, it is weak to expect it.
In such a discordancy of sentiments, it is better to look to the nature of things than to the humors of men. The 15 very attempt towards pleasing everybody discovers a temper always flashy, and often false and insincere. There fore, as I have proceeded straight onward in my conduct, so I will proceed in my account of those parts of it which have been most excepted to. But I must first beg leave 20 just to hint to you that we may suffer very great detriment by being open to every talker. It is not to be imagined how much of service is lost from spirits full of activity and full of energy, who are pressing, who are rushing, forward to great and capital objects, when you 25 oblige them to be continually looking back. Whilst they are defending one service, they defraud you of an hundred. Applaud us when we run; console us when we fall; cheer us when we recover; but let us pass on
for God's sake, let us pass on. > Do you think, gentlemen, that every public act in the
six years since I stood in this place before you — that all the arduous things which have been done in this eventful period, which has crowded into a few years' space the revolutions of an age, can be opened to you on their fair 35 grounds in half an hour's conversation ?
- with an
But it is no reason, because there is a bad mode of inquiry, that there should be no examination at all. Most certainly it is our duty to examine — it is our interest, too; but it must be with discretion 5 attention to all the circunıstances, and to all the motives;
like sound judges, and not like cavilling pettifoggers and quibbling pleaders, prying into flaws and hunting for exceptions. Look, gentlemen, to the whole tenor of
your member's conduct. Try whether his ambition or 10 his avarice have justled him out of the straight line of
duty; or whether that grand foe of the offices of active life, that master-vice in men of business, a degenerate and inglorious sloth, has made him flag and languish in
his course ? This is the object of our inquiry. If our 15 member's conduct can bear this touch, mark it for ster- /
ling. He may have fallen into errors; he must have faults; but our error is greater, and our fault is radically ruinous to ourselves, if we do not bear, if we do not
even applaud, the whole compound and mixed mass of 20 such a character. Not to act thus is folly; I had almost
said it is impiety. He censures God who quarrels with the imperfections of man.
Gentlemen, we must not be peevish with those who serve the people. For none will serve us, whilst there is 25 a court to serve, but those who are of a nice and jealous
honor. They who think everything, in comparison of that honor, to be dust and ashes, will not bear to have it soiled and impaired by those for whose sake they make
a thousand sacrifices to preserve it immaculate and 30 whole.
We shall either drive such men from the public stage, or we shall send them to the court for protection; where, if they must sacrifice their reputation, they will at least secure their interest. Depend
upon it that the lovers of freedom will be free. None 35 will violate their conscience to please us, in order after
wards to discharge that conscience, which they have violated, by doing us faithful and affectionate service. If we degrade and deprave their minds by servility, it will be absurd to expect that they who are creeping and
? abject towards us will ever be bold and incorruptible 5 assertors of our freedom against the most seducing and the most formidable of all powers. No! human nature is not so formed; nor shall we improve the faculties or better the morals of public men by our possession of the most infallible receipt in the world for making cheats 10 and hypocrites.
Let me say with plainness, I who am no longer in a public character, that if by a fair, by an indulgent, by a gentlemanly behavior to our representatives, we do not give confidence to their minds, and a liberal scope to 15 their understandings; if we do not permit our members to act upon a very enlarged view of things; we shall at length infallibly degrade our national representation into a confused and scuffling bustle of local agency. When the popular member is narrowed in his ideas, and ren- 20 dered timid in his proceedings, the service of the Crown will be the sole nursery of statesmen. Among the frolics of the court it may at length take that of attending to its business. Then the monopoly of mental power will be added to the power of all other kinds it possesses. 25 On the side of the people there will be nothing but impotence: for ignorance is impotence; narrowness of mind is impotence; timidity is itself impotence, and makes all other qualities that go along with it impotent and useless.
At present it is the plan of the court to make its servants insignificant. If the people should fall into the same humor, and should choose their servants on the same principles of mere obsequiousness, and flexibility, and total vacancy or indifference of opinion in all public 35
matters, then no part of the state will be sound; and it will be in vain to think of saving it.
I thought it very expedient at this time to give you this candid counsel ; and with this counsel I would will5 ingly close, if the matters which at various times have
been objected to me in this city concerned only myself, and my own election. These charges, I think, are four in number: my neglect of a due attention to my con
stituents, the not paying more frequent visits here; 10 my conduct on the affairs of the first Irish Trade Acts;
my opinion and mode of proceeding on Lord Beauchamp's Debtors Bills; and my votes on the late affairs of the Roman Catholics. All of these (except perhaps the first)
relate to matters of very considerable public concern; 15 and it is not lest you should censure me improperly, but
lest you should form improper opinions on matters of some moment to you, that I trouble you at all upon the subject. My conduct is of small importance.
With regard to the first charge, my friends have spoken 20 to me of it in the style of amicable expostulation; not
so much blaming the thing, as lamenting the effects. Others, less partial to me, were less kind in assigning the motives. I admit there is a decorum and propriety
in a member of Parliament's paying a respectful court to 25 his constituents. If I were conscious to myself that
pleasure or dissipation, or low, unworthy occupations, had detained me from personal attendance on you, I would readily admit my fault, and quietly submit to
the penalty. But, gentlemen, I live at a hundred miles' 30 distance from Bristol; and at the end of a session I come
to my own house, fatigued in body and in mind, to a little repose, and to a very little attention to my family and my private concerns. A visit to Bristol is always a sort
of canvass; else it will do more harm than good. To 35 pass from the toils of a session to the toils of a canvass