Page images
PDF
EPUB

meeting. He adverted to the disgraceful scene which they had that morning witnessed, during which that justice had been denied to him and to his right hon. friend Mr. Sheridan, which he had always been anxious to procure for others--a fair and impartial hearing. He was sorry for the part which sir Francis Burdett seemed to have had in these scenes,---a man whom he had long loved and esteemed. He then adverted to the principles which had been attempted to be imposed upon the people with respect to men in office. What had the Electors of Westminster been for 26 years labouring for so eagerly ? not the mere returning of a member to parliament. Mr. Fox might, at a comparatively small expence, have been returned to that assembly. Their object had always been to have Mr. Fox in office. The safety of the British constitution consisted in having men of tried talent and integrity in office, and with this view the Electors of Westminster had supported Mr. Fox. His exertions, as well as his purse, had been always ready to support the constitution ; and

any support unconnected with that, Mr. Fox would have scorned to accept as much as they to give. He had spent the greater part of his life in studying public characters, and there was none, in looking round, whom he considered as so worthy of the support of the Electors of Westminster as his right hon. friend. It was well known that he might at any time have had offices, if that had been his object: but he had scorned that, when it interfered with his principles. The great point therefore was, to have, not a man whom office commanded, but a man who commanded office. The place of Mr. Fox could never be supplied, but he was persuaded that if the ashes of the dead could be sensible of what was passing here, Mfr. Fox would be rejoiced to find that Mr. Sheridan had succeeded him. He concluded by recommending the most active exertions in favour of his right hon, friend, and by proposing the health of Mr. Sheridan. This was received with the most rapturous applause.

Mr. SHERIDAN then addressed the meeting in a speech distinguished by that uncommon eloquence for which he has so long been celebrated. Two toasts had been given, he said, which had come home to his heart, “The immortal memory of Mr. Fox,” and the favourite toast of his deceased friend, “The cause of Liberty all over the world.” That immortal memory no one revered more than he did. He wished certainly to be returned to parliament for Westminster: but he would speak plainly; be neither sought nor desired to have any support distinct from that with which his deceased friend had been favoured. He would make no fulsome professions. He only desired the Electors to look at what he had done. He had maintained the proper rights of the crown, the aristocracy, and the people. He had always been the sincere friend of rational freedom. He always resisted oppression among the higher orders, and licentiousness among the lower; because he thought that by freedom alone could man be made that for which his Creator intended him. He was forced

to

to allude to that indecent and highly disgraceful con. duct by which he had that day been prevented from being heard. Sir F. Burdett had made it an objection to hiin, that he was in office. He had asked sir F. Burdett two plain questions. He had asked him whether he could say that this cir. cumstance had or would bias his vote? No an$wer. He had asked him, who had stood by him when he exposed the abuses in the prison of Cold Bath Fields? Still no answer. But the observation of sir Francis was, that though he (Mr. S.) had beeh some time in office, governor Aris had not been removed, nor any satisfaction procured for the miserable victims who had suffered in the prison under that man's management.

But sir Francis knew well, and so did others, that he was not a minister. If he had been a minister, and if the thing had rested with him, there were none of those who had been oppressed during the period in which he had opposed oppressive measures, but would have been relieved. His great object had been, and always would be, to support the true and rational freedom of the subject on constitutional principles. There was in this country, at this moment, he believed, more general worth, more freedom, more honesty and honourable feelings, and more of those dispositions that constituted the real dignity and nobility of human nature, than in any

other part of the world. This was owing to the admirable nature of our constitution. This was what made our situation still so much worth defending, and what might make us exclaim with the poet, “England, with

all

all thy faults, I love thee still, because thou’rt free!" If there were any who wished, under the colour of patriotism and love of freedom, to overturn that constitution,-he did not say that there were any such, -he hoped there were not;- but if there were any such, he would much rather lay the first stone for a bridge to enable Buonaparté to come to this country, than support such principles. It had been said, that he had entered into a compromise with the Duke of Northumberland respecting the representation of the City of Westminster. He certainly had never entered into any such compromise;-he was almost ashamed to liave to repel such an insinuation. But the fact was, that he believed that he should not have a single vote that could be influenced by that nobleman. The motives were best known to that nobleman himself. But he had still to boast the support of the old and tried friends of Mr. Fox and the constitution, --the house of Russell and the house of Cavendish. He then again adverted to the disgraceful scenes in the morning, and observed that he would always endeavour to maintain and beseech peace; but that his Electors must not be disturbed in coming to give their votes; and as far as sir Francis Burdett or Mr. Paull were concerned in these outrages, they must answer to him.— The speech was received with the most enthusiastic applauses. He concluded by proposing as a toast, “The Independent Electors of Westminster.”

Mr. Barry (Lord Barrymore's brother) pressed upon the minds of the Electors, the necessity

of

of an early attendance at the Hustings next morna, ing, and of using every effort to secure the return of his right hon. friend.

Mr. James PERRY (one of the proprietors of the Morning Chronicle) enforced the necessity of exertion, from the unparalleled species of tumult with which Mr. Sheridan, as well as sir Samuel Hood, had been assailed in the outset of the contest this day. In the professions of the other Candidate, they were told, that there was to be no parade, no colours, no expence; and yet upon no former occasion was there ever exhibited such a tumultuous display of extravagance and dissipation. It seemed as if a Nabob, or at least the agent of a Nabob, had come among them ;-and the principles which he professed were as extraordinary as the pomp

which he exhibited. They were principles such as they had never heard in Westminster, and such as were incompatible with every thing like order and government. They went to the exclusion of every man from the service of his country whom the people approved, and thus went to the total overthrow of the well-beloved system of our constitution; since, if the voice, approbation, and support of the people were not to be titles to public employment, we were to have only for Ministers, the creatures of a despot, in the character either of a king or a demagogue. These were not doctrines that would suit the intelligent Electors of Westminster. They would not accept of a Marat nor of a Marattah. They had cherished the sound British principles of Mr. Fox, and were not to be

drawn

« PreviousContinue »