« PreviousContinue »
to ask your suffrages,) and have written in their stead upon his standard no “schism," and a religious creed ! as if we were to be reduced at once to despotism and bigotry, and worse than Spanish intolerance.
It will not do. They have now outstepped themselves. They have discovered to us the point at which they aim, and it calls upon us too loudly to be resisted, to arise, and by a timely organized opposition declare, that we will no longer tolerate such insults, but use our franchises as become Englishmen and citizens.
We must do it now or our independence is gone for ever!
We will be determined but calm. We will tell those to whom we owe respect, that they may direct our services, but must not direct our minds. We will become known to each other, and enrol our names under the word independence, and when the day of nomination comes, we will declare the names of those, whose firm and upright character gives the best pledge of their continuing the friends of the people, and speaking the sentiments of their constituents.
We shall easily know which to choose. Promises are nought. We must judge of those who have been in parliament by their deeds, and those who have not may be known by the party that supports them.
The party above described, will support none but those who are or may be made like themselves, and no one fit for our representative will mingle his name with theirs.
Earnestly hoping there is enough of independence among us, to induce many to meet and enrol their names,
solicit candid attention to the contents of this letter, and for a short time take my leave. I am, to the Citizens of Exeter, a sincere well-wisher
A FREEMAN. P.S. Should sentiments be manifested generally
farorable to the contents of this letter, they will be assisted by further communications, accompanied with extracts from the parliamentary journals, affording views of the political character of any candidate that may have been in parliament; also, as opportunities may offer, memorandums of the conduct of any party who brings forward a candidate, by means of which his political creed may be defined.
Exeter, November 9, 1816.
To the Gentlemen, Clergy, Freemen, & Freeholders,
of the County and City of E.ceter. GENTLEMEN,
The determination of your most respectable representative, Mr. Buller, to retire from the duties of representing your city in parliament, induced me to offer myself as a candidate at the ensuing election, The period of that event being uncertain, probably yet distant, it is not my present intention to commence a canvass ; and it must be admitted by those gentlemen with whom I have had the honor of an interview, that I have refrained from soliciting any immediate promise of their support: but I feel it impossible to withhold the expressions of my gratitude, for the very polite and kind reception with which I have been universally honored in the city of Exeter; and I have been particularly gratified, by the general approval of the line of conduct I have adopted on the present occasion. I should not, however, do justice to my own feelings, were I to neglect this opportunity of assuring you, gentlemen, that I impatiently wait the approach of that period, when I may, personally, pay to every individual, the attention and respect which is due from me, and which I most earnestly desire to prove I sincerely entertain for them.
Upon those principles of independence, which I have before declared to you that I am actuated, I shall continue to discharge my duty in parliament; from those principles I never will depart, and I am assured, that they alone can ensure to me the high honor of being returned one of your representatives.
I have the honor to be,
ROBERT WILLIAM NEWMAN, Sandridge, November 11, 1816.
To the free, unbought, unsold, uncorrupted Electors of the
City of Exeter, and to them only; for it is not my Intention to Address any set of Men who are so insensible to their best Birth-right, as to sell their Voices to any Bidder of any Party. FELLOW CITIZENS!
The Very distinguished approbation which you have this day given of my political principles, and the confidence which you place in my inflexibility therein, have inspired me with sentiments of gratitude and esteem, which it is difficult to find words to express in terms adequate to my feelings it is impossible. Next to an approving conscience, the highest reward that any man can receive is, to find that his conduct meets the approbation of his fellow-men. And though a regard for your dignity compels me to decline, under the present cir: eumstances, your honorable invitation, yet, if three hundred free and independent electory (one-fourth only of your whole number) will hereafter express their inclination to support me, at the next general election, I shall be ready to give them the first proof of my obedience, by appearing at the hustings to receive their suffrages; at the same time I disclaim all intention of soliciting a single individual for his vote or interest, as every honest man must know that it is an expence and a burthen, and by no means a benefit, to perform the duties required by the constitų. tion in the House of Commons.
your concern, not mine, whom you appoint for your attorney. In such an event it would also be my fixed determination to incur no expence of any kind : - he that incurs expence upon such occasions, will generally reimburse himself some way or other; and as to the abominable practice of opening inns and ale-houses, I trust I should be the
last man in the world to deprive you of your reason, at that period when you stand most in need of it. By the ancient laws, wages were allowed to members of parliament; and perhaps the time may again arrive, when the payment of such wages will remind your representatives of their state of servitude. It is your duty, gentlemen, to choose those who will serve you honestly; and what man ever heard of a servant paying and bribing his master ? But whatever may be the event of the ensuing contest, you have a cheering consolation, of which your enemies cannot deprive you, viz. that it is the opinion of some of the wiseșt men, that corruption is at its last gasp ; and that within a very short period a reform must inevitably take place; and with a reform, every abuse, civil or municipal, will be dispersed like the clouds of darkness before the rising sun. But this is no reason why your efforts should be slackened : such a desirable event must depend upon the exertions of all.
Fellow-Citizens !-- You may possibly be called upon, within the ensuing twelve month, to exercise that right, which the impudent borough faction, with its host of pensioners and parasites, and its unconstitutional standing army, has still permitted you to enjoy, mutilated and curtailed as it is, viz. the right of choosing your own attorneys to guard your interests, and protect your properties, in what is called the wisdom of the nation. In this alarming crisis of affairs, and amidst that general distress arising from an excessive taxation, at once the cause and consequence of a long protracted war against the liberties of mankind, it is your bounden duty to call upon every candidate who solicits your vote, to give you a pledge, that in all cases which directly concern your interests, and particularly in all money bills, he will implicitly obey your instructions ; and secondly, that he will promote to the utmost of his power, such a reform in the people's house of parliament, as will give to every payer of direct taxes, a vote in the choice of Representatives; it being a fundamental principle of the constitution, ratified by law, and confirmed hy our best judges, by Bracton, Fortescue, and Coke, THAT NO LAWS ARE TO BE MADE, NOR TAXES IMPOSED IN ENGLAND, WITHOUT THE COMMON ASSENT AND GOOD WILL OF THE WHOLE REALM, and this common assent and good will cannot be given but by a House of Commons, which is truly, and not nominally, the voice of the nation.*
Bracton, Lib. 1. cap. ii. Fortescue de laud, chap. 36. Coke, 2 Instit. 529, 530. 4 Instit. 32. Biblioth, Polit. 370. Reeve's Hist. of Eng. Law, ch. ix. See stat, conf. chart, and De tallagio.
* Taxation and representation (said the late Lord Camden) are inseparable; they are co-eval with, and essential to this constitution.” If your property can be taken from you without your own consent, it is no longer to be called property, and you are reduced to the condition of slaves holding at the will of a master, Now when you consider, that out of the present 658 members of the House of Commons, no less than 487 are shewn, in a late publication,* to be returned by private nomination and influence, it seems evident that you are taxed without your own consent; and it is as well your duty, as it is your interest, to demand your just right of controul over your own property. To those gentlemen who may be unacquainted with the existent condition of the boroughs, it may be sufficient to state, that Old Sarum is without a house, Haslemere without a voter, and Blechingly without a returning officer. The owners of the boroughs have incurred what is called the national debt; they have imposed the taxes to discharge the interest of it; and to their unjust acquisitions, and those of their supporters, the people naturally look for large contributions towards the alleviation of the one, and the liquidation of the other.
It has been mentioned to me, by some respectable individuals, that I expect too much virtue in
fellow-citizens—it may be 80: I allow that Exeter has been purposely kept in political darkness; but the fault is venal; and of this I am certain, that I expect no more virtue from them, than has been, and will be, shewn by the citizens of Westminster and Rochester; by a large body of the livery of London; by the burgesses of Southwark and Reading; and by thousands of sterling patriots in Berkshire and in Kent. I admit, however, and with sorrow do I make the admission, that there is a considerable body among us of those mixed, indeterminate characters, who are virtuous only by halves ; who, without “ firmness enough” to come to a decision upon their constitutional duties, have yet "feeling enough” to be ashamed of their desertion. But such characters should recollect, that while they thus balance between their duty and their interest, they will fall an easy prey to that deadly foe, that borough-mongering faction, which has sapped the vitals of their freedom, and is eating up the profits of their industry, When the hated leaves of the Red Book are crowded with * Oldfield's Hist. of Boroughs, vol. vi p. 300. f Oldfield, iv. 612. See Cobbetl's Register, Nov. 2, 1816.