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E believe there is no need of an apology to
the publick for offering to them any genuine fpeeches of Mr. Burke: the two contained in this publication undoubtedly are so. The general approbation they met with (as we hear) from all parties at Bristol, persuades us that a good edition of them will not be unacceptable in London ; which we own to be the inducement, and we hope is a justification, of our offering it.
We do not presume to descant on the merit of these Speeches; but as it is no less new, than ho. nourable, to find a popular candidate, at a popu. lar election, daring to avow his difsent to certain points that have been considered as very popular objects, and maintaining himself on the manly confidence of his own opinion ; so, we must say, that it does great credit to the people of England, as it proves to the world, that, to insure their confidence, it is not necessary to flatter them, or to affect a fubferviency to their passions or their prejudices.
It may be necessary to premise, that at the open. ing of the poll the candidates were Lord Clare, Mr. Brickdale, the two last members ; and Mr. Cruger, a considerable merchant at Bristol. On the fecond day of the poll Lord Clare declined; and a considerable body of gentlemen, who had wished that the city of Bristol should, at this critical season, be represented by some gentleman of tried abilities and known commercial knowledge, immediately put Mr. Burke in nomination. Some of them fet off express for London to apprise that gentleman of this event; but he was gone to Malton in Yorkshire. The spirit and active zeal of these gentlemen followed him to Malton. They arrived there just after Mr. Burke's election for that place, and invited him to Bristol.
Mr. Burke, as he tell us in his first Speech, acquainted his conftituents with the honourable offer that was made him; and, with their consent, he immediately set off for Bristol on the Tuesday at fix in the evening; he arrived at Bristol at half past two in the afternoon on Thursday the 13th of October, being the fixth day of the poll.
He drove directly to the mayor's house, who not being at home, he proceeded to the Guildhall, where he ascended the huftings, and having faluted the electors, the sheriffs, and the two candidates, he reposed himself for a few minutes, and then addressed the electors in a fpeech which was received with great and universal applause and approbation.
AM come hither to folicit in person, that fa
vour which my friends have hitherto endeavoured to procure for me, by the most obliging, and to me the most honourable, exertions.
I have fo high an opinion of the great truft which you have to confer on this occasion; and, by long experience, so just a diffidence in my
abi. lities, to fill it in a manner adequate even to my own ideas, that I should never have ventured of myself to intrude into that awful situation. But since I am called upon by the desire of several refpectable fellow-subjects, as I have done at other times, I give up my fears to their wishes. Whatever my other deficiencies may be, I do not know what it is to be wanting to my friends.
I am not fond of attempting to raise publick expectations by great promises. At this time, there is much cause to consider, and very little to pre
fume. We seem to be approaching to a great crisis in our affairs, which calls for the whole wisdom of the wisest among us, without being able to afsure ourselves, that any wisdom can preserve us from many and great inconveniencies. You know I speak of our unhappy contest with America. I confess, it is a matter on which I look down as from a precipice. It is difficult in itself, and it is rendered more intricate by a great variety of plans of conduct. I do not mean to enter into them. I will not suspect a want of good intention in framing them. But however pure the intentions of their authors may have been, we all know that the event has been unfortunate. The means of recovering our affairs are not obvious. So many great questions of commerce, of finance, of constitution, and of policy, are involved in this American deliberation, that I dare engage for nothing, but that I shall give it, without any predilection to former opinions, or any sinister bias whatsoever, the most honest and impartial consideration of which I am capable. The publick has a full right to it; and this great city, a main pillar in the commercial interest of Great Britain, muft totter on its base by the slightest mistake with regard to our American measures.
Thus much, however, I think it not amiss to lay before you ; That I am not, I hope, apt to take up or lay down my opinions lightly. I have held,
and ever shall maintain, to the best of my power, unimpaired and undiminished, the juft, wise, and necessary constitutional fuperiority of Great Britain. This is necessary for America, as well as for us. I never mean to depart from it. Whatever may be loft by it, I avow it. The forfeiture even of your favour, if by such a declaration I could forfeit it, though the first object of my ambition, never will make me disguise my sentiments on this fubject.
But, I have ever had a clear opinion, and have ever held a constant correspondent conduct, that this fuperiority is consistent with all the liberties a sober and spirited American ought to desire. I never mean to put any colonist, or any human creature, in a situation, not becoming a free-man. To reconcile British fuperiority with American liberty shall be my great object, as far as my little faculties extend. I am far from thinking that both, even yet, may not be preserved.
When I first devoted myself to the publick fervice, I considered how I should render myself fit for it, and this I did by endeavouring to discover what it was, that gave this country the rank it holds in the world. I found that our prosperity and dignity arose principally, if not solely, from two fources; our constitution and commerce. Both these I have spared no study to understand, and no endeavour to support.