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which he conceives to be contrary to the spirit and actual intention of the laws.
In the preceding remarks the case of contested elections has been particularly held in view ; as most fertile in temptations, and consequently demanding the greatest exertions of judgement and virtue. But in every election there is ample room for the exercise of conscientious deliberation ; and for the application
ģ in a greater or in a less degree of most of the hints which have been suggested.
There is indeed one species of election to
of these hints are inapplicable ; if that is to be called an election, from which every idea of free choice is excluded. I allude to the practice of purchasing a seat in Parliament at a stipulated price, from some one, who is either, in the customary phrase, the proprie.
give perhaps five hundred pounds to a certain person, and to ask no questions about the distribution of it, left he should involve himself on the score of bribery. Such, he is told, is the custom of the place. A candidate ought to convince himself by enquiry, before he begins his canvas for a particular place, that no improper conduct is expected from him.
tor of a borough ; or is enabled by peculiar circumstances to command the suffrages of its electors. These are transactions fo
repugnant to the real import and the genuine uses of popular representation, that a man who is not blinded by prevailing practice, or by motives of private interest and ambition, will probably find it difficult, on serious reflection, to fatisfy himself of the propriety of bearing a part in them. If the purchase-money be given to the leading member of a corporation, who, referving a portion to himself, divides the remainder among
some chosen associates by whose co-operation he ensures the event of the poll; the transaction, though it may not fall within the letter of the law, is in truth a flagrant act of bribery. And where is the difference in the spirit of the proceeding, if the confideration be paid to some potent individual, who, by the distribution of his burgage tenures, places the decision in the hands of a few servile agents; or by menacing tenants with expulsion from their houses and farms, publicans with the loss of their licenses, shopkeepers with the ruin of their trade, extorts compliance from the intimidated voters; while in the person of the
candidate whom he nominates, he insults them with the appellation of Freemen, and requests the favour of their independent suffrages ? If the right of voting for a Member of Parliament is undeniably a public trust; the right of returning a Member by the distribution of burgage tenures, or by any other means, cannot be considered in a different light. And if the former right ought to be exercised without any view to private emolument; reason and analogy require that the exercise of the latter should be equally and no less mani: festly disinterested and pure,
It is affirmed that an individual, who by burgage tenures or by other means can.command a feat in Parliament, sometimes finds a person who will accept it under a tacit understanding, or even, as it is rumoured, under an express and written engagement, to submit the management of his vote to his patron, or to resign his seat. If there be in truth
Member of Parliament thus circumstanced, let not his situation be compared with that of an African flave. The latter is a slave by constraint, and would be disgraced by the comparison.
I should not hitherto have suspended the mention of a topic which might have been introduced sooner with obvious propriety; had it not seemed to lead to a discussion of some length, with which I was unwilling to interrupt the tenor of the preceding pages. I allude to the information which the candidate fhould afford to the electors respecting his political principles.
This information ought on every account to be clear, accurate, and full. Not that it is incumbent on him to enter into minute explanations ; nor even to deliver his sentiments on the merits of any particular measure, unless he is expressly required by the electors, or urged by the aspect and circumstances of the times. But a statement of his general view of public affairs, and of the leading principles by which he conceives a Member of Parliament should be actuated, is alike beneficial to the candidate and the constituents.
It obliges the former previously to consider the proper grounds and springs of political conduct with precilion. It tends to diffuse similar know
ledge among the latter, and leads them to attend to opinions as well as to men. It in fome degree pledges the former not to deviate from the rules which he has thus openly prefcribed to himself, except in cases wherein he Thall be able to vindicate his deviation to the electors when he shall again solicit their suffrages on a dissolution of Parliament. And it gives the latter the satisfaction to which they are entitled, of knowing what they are to expect from the man to whom they entrust the defence of their liberties. Should the candidate be pressed to engage that he will support or oppose a specific measure ; he will do well to pause, and enter into a more copious explanation. It would be too much to affirm that in no poffible case, however palpable it may
be in itself, and however maturely he may
have considered it, is he to venture to anfwer for his future conduct respecting it. Yet, in most instances, the utmost length to which he can safely advance, is to express his present conviction ; reserving to himself the li
; berty of finally giving his vote in such a manner, as, after further reflection on the founda