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MR. BURKE's SPEECH,

AT BRISTOL,

ON

DECLINING THE POLL,

1780.

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SPEECH, &c.

BRISTOL, SATURDAY, 9th Sept. 17806

This morning the fheriff and candidates assembled as usual, at

the Council-house, and from thence proceeded to Guildhall. Proclamation being made for the electors to appear and give their votes, Mr. BURKE ftood forward on the hustings, Surrounded by a great number of the corporation and other principal citizens, and addressed himself to the whole affembly as follows:

I

GENTLEMEN,
DECLINE the Election. It has ever been

my rule through life, to observe a proportion between my efforts and my objects. I have never been remarkable for a bold, active, and fanguine pursuit of advantages that are personal to myself.

I have not canvalled the whole of this city in form. But I have taken such a view of it as fatisfies my own mind, that your choice will not ul. timately fall upon me. Your city, gentlemen, is in a state of miserable distraction: and I am refolved to withdraw whatever share my pretensions may have had in its unhappy divisions. I have not been in haste; I have tried all prudent means; I have waited for the effect of all contingencies. If I were fond of a contest, by the partiality of my numerous friends (whom you know to be among the most weighty and respectable people of the city) I have the means of a sharp one in my hands. But I thought it far better with my strength unspent, and my reputation unimpaired, to do, early and from foresight, that which I might be obliged to do from necessity at last.

I am not in the least surprised, nor in the least angry at this view of things. I have read the book of life for a long time, and I have read other books a little. Nothing has happened to me, but what has happened to men much better than me, and in times and in nations full as good as the age and country that we live in. To say that I am no way concerned, would be neither decent nor true. The representation of Bristol was an object on many accounts dear to me; and I certainly should very far prefer it to any other in the kingdom. My habits are made to it; and it is in general more unpleasant to be rejected after long trial, than not to be chosen at all.

But, gentlemen, I will see nothing except your former kindness, and I will give way to no other sentiments than those of gratitude. From the bottom of

my heart I thank you for what done for me. You have given me a long term, which is now expired. I have performed the conditions, and enjoyed all the profits to the full;

and

you have

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