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certainly not a desirable measure, but at that time absolutely necessary. The lawless outrages of the mob, originating in a popular association, damped associations for the retrenchment of expence:--so inimical are democratical societies in their tendency and effects to moderate reform. No man reprobated the outrageous wickedness and madness of the mob more strongly than Burke: no man was at once a more zealous friend of constitutional liberty and a more determined enemy of popular licentiousness. As none possessed more extensive knowledge of ancient and modern history, and politics, or more wisdom to compare and estimate the tendency and effects of different governments, none could better appreciate the value of the constitution of his country. This session, in which Burke had borne so conspicuous a part, was closed on the 8th of July; and soon after, this Parliament, of which he had been so active, able, and leading a member, was dissolved.
Burke finding that his support of the trade of Ireland, a support, after many difficulties, at last successful, had displeased a great part of his constituents, resolved to decline standing for Bristol. Previously to the election he made a very masterly speech, comprehending an account of the proceedings of Parliament, and the principles on which he himself had acted. I decline,' said he, : 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 sanguine pursuit of advantages that are personal to myself.
« I have not canvassed the whole of this city in form ; but I have taken such a view of it, as satisfies my own mind that your choice will not ultimately fall upon me. Your city, gentlemen, is in a state of miserable distraction; and I am resolved to withdraw, whatever share my pretensions may have had in its unhapy 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 froin 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 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 tiines 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 Reither 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 you have done for me. You have given me a long term, which is now expired. I have performed all the conditions, and enjoyed all the profits to the full; and I now surrender your estate into your hands, without being in a single tile, or a single stone, impaired or wasted by my use. I have served the public for fifteen years. I have served you in particular for six. What is past is well stored. It is safe, and out of the power of fortune. What is to come is in wiser hands than ours; and he, in whose hands it is, best knows whether it is best for you and me that I should be in Parliament, or even in the world.'
In speaking of a bill which had passed in 1779, (moved by Lord Beauchamp) to prevent imprisonment for small debts, he delivered his sentiments concerning the debtor laws in general, and the general question of
imprisonment for debt.
« There are," he says, • two capital faults in our law, with relation to civil debts. One is, that every man is presumed solvent; a presumption, in innumerable cases, directly against truth. Therefore the debtor is ordered, on a supposition of ability and fraud, to be coerced his liberty until he makes payment. By this means, in all cases of civil insolvency, without a pardon from his creditor, he is to be imprisoned for life. And thus a miserable mistaken invention of artificial science operates to change a civil into a criminal judgment, and to scourge misfortune or indiscretion with a punishment which the law does not inflict on very great crimes.
· The next fault is, that the inflicting of that punishment is not on the opinion of an equal and a public judge; but is referred to the arbitrary discretion of a pri-. vate, nay, interested and irritated individual. He who formally is, and substantially ought to be, the judge, is in reality no more than ministerial, a mere executive