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“ Knowing, therefore, the justice and candor of the tribunal to which I have appealed, I wait your decision without fear-your approbation I anxiously desire, but your acquittal I confidently expect.
“ Pitied for my supposed misconduct by some of my friends, openly renounced by others, attacked and misrepresented by my enemies—to you I have recourse for refuge and protection ; and conscious that if I had shrunk from my duty, I should have merited your censure, I feel myself equally certain, that by acting in conformity to the motives which I have explained to you, I can in no degree have forfeited the esteem of the City of Westminster, which it has so long been the first pride of my life to enjoy, and which it shall be my constant endeavour to preserve.
C. J. FOX.” « SOUTH STREET,
Jan. 26, 1793.”
SPEECH OF MR. FOX
ELECTORS OF WESTMINSTER,
JUNE 11, 1796.
At the general election in 1796, three candidates offered themselves for Westminster; Mr. Fox, Sir ALAN GARDNER, and Mr. John HORNE TOOKE. The contest was warm and spirited, yet conducted with more temper and dignity than had usually marked some of the former Westminster elections. Few days passed over undistinguished by animated speeches on the part of Mr. Tooke and Mr. Fox. The following, delivered by the latter, on the day before the final close of the poll, appears to have been very fairly and forcibly reported :
6 GENTLEMEN, “ I cannot express the satisfaction I feel, that the numbers on this day's poll have, higher than at any preceding period, placed me above Admiral GARDNER. It has been observed that my speeches from the Hustings were confined to the matter at issue: they were so, because, standing unconnected with any other candidate, I thought that the principal object, to which I ought to draw the attention of the electors. I had another reason for always comparing my numbers with those of the candidate who had been for the greater part of this election, nearest to me on the poll. It was because I conceived a superiority over him to be of great advantage to the public cause.
“ I beg leave to dissect the poll in the same manner as, Mr. Tooke did yesterday, and draw this conclusionThat if you deduct those whom influence obliged to vote for Admiral GARDNER, I have a majority of near two thousand independent electors in my favor, who have thus declared their decided disapprobation of the measures of the ministry. It has been said, of the sixteen hundred and sixty-three votes that appeared both for me and the Admiral, that they were so many given to me by the Minister. If it was so, I am very ungrateful; for I do not thank him for them. Such votes appear to me to be inconsistent; but many persons vote rather inconsiderately, and without any enlarged views of policy: besides, might not the motives, which Mr. Tooke assigned to the fifteen who had voted in this manner for him, have prevailed with those who had done so in my case also ?
“ Admiral GARDNER has, indeed, said he would wish to be returned with me rather than the other candidate.
If this were taken as a proof that Ministers gave me these votes, I could not say what were their motives for the favor. Of this, however, I am certain, that none could imagine it had arisen from any servile advances on my part.
“ I know from experience the improbability of having it in my power to address you on the last day of the poll. Permit me, therefore, to take this opportunity of saying a few words on topics, of which I have hitherto forborne to speak. I cannot but animadvert with much severity on the conduct of his Majesty's Ministers.-With the words of religion in their mouths, they have wasted more treasure, destroyed more of God's creatures, and shed more Christian blood, than any Tyrant or Government of Europe. They have spread more destruction than the most devouring of those whom the world call Conquerors : and they have lost more than any of those Conquerors ever gained.
“ At home, it is true, with the exception of one of their own miserable spies in Scotland, they have not taken away any lives; but this does not arise from any want of inclination, as is sufficiently evident from their repeated attempts. One of the candidates has told you that they made a most illegal attack upon his life. They certainly did so, and upon the lives of several other innocent persons at the same time; but I call upon those persecuted
I men themselves to declare, whether even they could have expressed their detestation of those unconstitutional and wicked attempts, with more indignation than I have always avowed.
“With respect to the proceedings in Scotland, and the Court of Justiciary there, I trust my sentiments are also well known. Trials too notorious to be forgotten, have occurred, which exhibit such gross executions of arbitrary power, and such horrid perversions of justice, that it makes one shudder even to read them.-Men of brilliant VOL. 1.
talents, polished manners, and the purest virtue, are doomed to drag out a considerable portion of their existence, on the dismal shores of Botany Bay. And these sentences, in violation of all law, in violation of all principles of justice, in violation of those feelings of humanity which ought to regulate the conduct of those who administer the laws, have most cruelly been carried into execution.
“ I come now to the late acts restricting the meeting of more than fifty persons. I remind you, however, they do not absolutely prohibit such meeting; but only subject you to discretionary dispersion by the magistrates, in case of improper conduct ; and I advise you to meet conformably to those laws, and let it be seen whether they dare to abuse the power entrusted to them.
LET THE PEOPLE MEET-Meet when the public cause demands their attention. These laws were only directed against seditious assemblies. Let them, therefore, conduct themselves with propriety, and see who will dare disperse them. Unjust and unconstitutional as these acts are, it is my advice to obey them ; but even under such laws, it is still possible for the people to assemble.
“ I cannot but observe that ministers are very fond of
« charging their opponents with using inflammatory language. But if they reduce the country to such a situation, that to speak the truth is to inflame, the fault is in them, and not in those who expose them. I do not wish to inflame the public mind: but I wish the public to be informed; and it is the business of men in power to take care that truth and knowledge be not dangerous to them.
“ Never did there exist in Britain a more detestable system of government than at present. I will characterize it in a few words-More blood has been shed in foreign wars than by Louis XIV. of France, and more lives have been attempted to be destroyed at home, than under the sanguinary reign of HENRY VIII. of England.” The contest terminated the next Monday, June 13th, with the following state of the poll:
For Mr. Fox............... .........5160
Mr. TookE........................2819 To the above we shall add the last of Mr. Fox's addresses to his old and steady constituents.
SPEECH OF MR. FOX
ELECTORS OF WESTMINSTER,
FEBRUARY 13, 1806.
Mr. Fox having vacated his seat for Westminster in consequence of his acceptance of the office of one of his Majesties principal Secretaries of State, a writ was issued on the 7th of February to fill up that vacancy; and the Electors assembled at Covent Garden on the 13th to testify their approbation of the former conduct of Mr. Fox, and, by making him once more the object of their choice, to demonstrate their confidence in his future exertions. On his being proposed and seconded according to form, he thus addressed the electors:
GENTLEMEN, “ One of the most salutary laws on our statute-book has provided, that when a Member accepts an office in the administration of our Government, he vacates his seat. The object of this law I conceive to be, that such Member shall be called upon to take the sense of his Constituents upon the propriety of such an undertaking, and that his Constituents shall be afforded an opportunity of judg