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E believe there is no need of an apology
to the publick for offering to them any genuine Speeches 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 honourable, to find a popular candidate, at a popular election, daring to avow his dissent from 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 subserviency to their passions or their prejudices.
It may be necessary to premise, that at the opening of the poll the candidates were Lord Clare,
Mr. Brickdale, the two last members, and Mr. Cruger, a considerable merchant at Bristol. On the second 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 set 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 tells us in his first Speech, acquainted his constituents with the honourable offer that was made him; and, with their consent, he immediately set off for Bristol on the Tuesday at six in the evening; he arrived at Bristol at half past two in the afternoon on Thursday the 13th of October, being the sixth day of the poll.
He drove directly to the mayor's house, thence, the
mayor not being at home, he proceeded to the Guildhall, where he ascended the hustings, and having saluted the electors, the sheriffs, and the two candidates, he reposed himself for a few minutes, and then addressed the electors in a speech which was received with great and universal applause and approbation.
MR. BURKE'S SPEECH
HIS ARRIVAL AT BRISTOL.
AM come hither to solicit in person, that
favour which my friends have hitherto endeavoured to procure for me, by the most obliging, and to me the most honourable, exertions.
I have so high an opinion of the great trust which you have to confer on this occasion; and, by long experience, so just a diffidence in my abilities 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 respectable 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 presume.
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 assure 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
covering 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, must 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,