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9 JOURNAL of the Proceedings and DebATES
in the Political CLUB, continued from our Ap. Pendix to last Year, p. 60g.
year, if by their conduct they have I shall now give you the Substance of a rendered themselves disagreeable to Debate or too we had in our Cleb,
their fellow.citizens : Nay, even upon the Bill passed daft Siffron into a thofe magistrates that are chosen for Law, intitled, An Act for Lita life, such as the aldermen of the blishing, Maintaining, and well city of London, may be made very Governing a Nightly Watch within A uneasy, and very infignificant, by the City of Bristol. Our firf De' their fellow-citizens, if they behave bate upon this Bill was upon the
in an insolent or oppressive manner, Question, whether the Power of ejia. or become suspected of being ready blijbing, maintaining, and governing
to facrifice the liberties of their this Nightly Watch, should be ledged country, or the rights of their fel. in the Magistrates, or in the Inhabia low-citizens, to the ambitious or ar. tants, that is to faj, in Trufees ch jen B bitrary designs of a prime minister; by the inhabitants of the City of of which we have several recent exBristol *; and the firft that joke amples, especially in the city of upon this Occasion was P. Furius London. Philus, whose Speech was to this This power, Sir, which the goEffeel.
verned have over their governors,
naturally and necessarily produces a Mr. President,
c continual good correspondence beSIR,
tween them ; for it prevents any un. S Bristol is such a large, o reasonable or groundless jealoufies pulent, and flourishing city, arising in the breasts of the former,
it is highly reasonable, and and it obliges the latter to behave even necessary, that they should have not only in a juft but in a modeft a nightly watch, therefore, I believe, and complaisant manner, in the exno gentleman would think of oppo- D ercise of that power with which they fing a proper bill for this purpose. are intrusted. But by the unfortunate Indeed, 'I am surprized, that they and singular form of government have not long since had such a bill
established in the city of Bristol, the passed into a law; and, I believe, magistrates are quite independent of the chief cause of this negleét, has their fellow-citizens, either as to their been the contention that has been being chosen into office, or as to introduced by the unfortunate and e their continuance in power after besingular constitution of the govern- ing chosen. To illustrate this, I ment of that city, between the ma must beg leave to give a short acgiftrates and inhabitants ; which count of their present form of gocontention must always subsist whilit vernment ; and Thail firit observe, the constitution of their government that the chief power is lodged in a remains the same, as is evident from court, which consists of a mayor, 12 the petitions now lying upon our ta- f aldermen, and 30 other commonble. In all, I believe, or at least in council-men, in ail 4 persons. The most of the cities of this kingdom, mayor is chosen annually, not by the the inhabitants or freemen have the citizens as in other corporations, but privilege of chusing their own ma by the majority of the other members giftrates, and may change or turn of this court, all of whom, atter be.' out moit of them at the end of every ing once chosen, continue for life, or January, 1756.
dur: . See our Magazine for last year, p. 440.
10 PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c. Jan. during their good behaviour. When common-council seems to be conany one of the aldermen dies, or is firined. renoved, a new alderman is chosen
From this account of the form of from among the common-council
government established in the city of men, not by the citizens of any A Bristol, it is evident, Sir, that the ward or precinet, but by the majority citizens have nothing to do with the of the other aldermen ; and when government of their city, nor have any one of the 30 common-council their magistrates the least depenmen dies, a new common council
dance upon them, either for their man is chosen, not by the citizens acquisition of power, or for their of any ward or precinot, but by the continuance in power. On the conmajority of the laid court, that is to B trary, the government of that city Lay, by the majority of the mayor, muft always neceffarily continue to aldermen, and common-council-men. be a sort of oligarchy ; for when two In this court is lodged the power to or three men have once got the leadmake by-laws for the good govern- ing of the court of common-counment of the city, and to inforce cil, they may easily, and they certhose laws by pains, punishments, tainly will take care, that no new penalties, fines, and amerciaments ;C man shall be brought into it, who is and the mayor and aldermen are not not slavishly attached to them ; and only justices of the peace, but of if they should ever find themselves oyer and terminer and general goal mistaken as to any such new memdelivery, within the said city. Then ber, they will take methods to get with regard to their officers, the re him removed, or to make him so corder is always to be an alderman, uneasy, that he hall be glad to resign. is chosen by the majority of the faid d How this oligarchical form of gocourt of common.council, and con vernment came to be introduced into tinues during life, or good behaviour; the city of Bristol, does not appear and their two coroners, their town from any history of that city ; for clerk, and the fteward of their the from their old' charters it is plain, riffs-court, are all chofen in the same that this was not originally their form manner, and for the same time : of government. In a charter grantTheir two sheriff's indeed are chosen E ed by Henry III. the burgeries of annually, but in the choice of them Bristol and their heirs, burgefies of the citizens have nothing to do, for the same town, are impowered to they are chosen by the court of com chuse a coroner : In a charter grantmon-council only ; so that this court ed by Edward I. it is said, that as has not only the power of chusing often as the burgefles (meaning the all their magistrates and officers, but citizens) shall chuse a mayor, they by some of their old charters it seems f fall present him for admission before likewife to have a power of remov the constable of the castle of Bristol, ing any one of them, for what the inftead of presenting him as formerly majority of it may think proper to at the Exchequer : And in the facall a misbehaviour in office ; for mous charter granted by Edward III. with respect to the aldermen, the the burgesses and commonalty were power of removing or depofing an every year to chuse three persons, alderman is expressly granted to the Gone of whom the crown was to apmayor and aldermen by some of their point as Meriff for the year ensuing; old charters; and as all their old ju- and the mayor and sheriff, with the risdictions, powers, and privileges, consent of the commonalty, were to are confirmed by queen Anne's char chule 40 of the better sort of men ter, this power, and likewise the in the town, who with the mayor and exclusive juriddiction of che court of leruf, were to have the chief
1756. PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c.
ni In short, Sir, from all the old thereof to exclude their fellow-citicharters of this city it appears, that zens from any share in the governall the magistrates and chief officers ment of the said city. But in that were originally chosen by the citi- year, I suppose, they were threatened zens in general ; for tho their al with some sort of prosecution for dermen from their first institution in having acted thus illegally, therefore the reign of Henry VII. were to be A they applied for a new charter, and chosen
by the mayor and common by that charter they took care to get council, yet by the same charter it is all the powers granted them by king directed, that the members of the Charles the Second's charter confirm common-council fall be chosen with ed, together with a release of the the affent of the commonalty of the B power of interposicion reserved by faid town, and consequently every the former charter to the crown, and free citizen had originally a share, a pardon to the magistrates and othby means of those I may call their cers for having executed their rerepresentatives, in the choice even spective offices contrary to that charof their aldermen ; therefore I must ter, as also some new additional conclude, that if ever the mayor, powers never before granted. aldermen, and common-council of C Nay, what is still more, Sir, even the city of Bristol, assumed such a during the time that they were acting fole and absolute power as they now in a manner for which they afterexercise over their fellow.citizens, wards thought it neceffary to have a before the 36th year of the reign of pardon, they applied to parliament, Charles II. when that famous new and obtained a very great increase of charter was granted to them, upon their power ; for in the 11th and their having resigned their former. D'i 2th of king William, they applied I say, if they ever affumed such a to parliament, and obtained an act, power before that time, it was an intitled, An Aa for the better preusurpation upon the rights and pri- serving the Navigation of the Rivers vileges of their fellow-citizens, with Avon and Frome, and for cleansing, out any colour of law, or the autho- paving, and enlightning the Streets of rity of any charter.
the City of Bristol ; by which act the But, Sir, when men have once E power of the magistrates of Bristol, got posession of power, however il- especially the mayor and aldermen, legally obtained, from the example who are the only justices of peace of Bristol we may see how loth they within the city, was very confiderare to part with it, how apt they are ably increased in many respects, as to endeavour to increase it'; for the
every gentleman who considers what magiftrates of Bristol having, by this power the justices of peace have in anti-conftitutional charter granted f their respective precincts, may easily them by Charles II. obtained the imagine ; and every such gentleman pretence of a right to continue must see, how dangerous it would be themselves and posterity for ever in to the people of any county, to give the inagiftracy of that city, unless the justices of peace the sole power prevented by the interposition of the of chusing and removing one another, crown, for which a power was in which is now really the case with rethat charter reserved to the crown, G gard to the city and county of Britand being well assured that this tol ; therefore in that city it may be power would never be exercised by supposed, that no man can expect the crown after the revolution, they much relief by appealing from any continued to act in pursuance of this two of the justices of peace to the charter, until the 11th year of the
next quarter sessions. reign of queen Anne, and in virtue
12 PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c. Jan.
Having thus, Sir, explained the several former bills of the same na. present form of government in the ture, that they may be more procity of Bristol, and the means by perly and more conveniently trulted which it was established, I think my in the hands of the inhabitants, or felf obliged to iake notice, that I trustees chosen by them, than in any do not do so with any intention to other hands whatsoever. The inreflect upon the conduct of the pre- A habitants are certainly most intereste fent or any late magistrates of that ed in the preservation of theniselves city; for I must say, that consider and those that come to sojourn in ing the extraordinary powers they their city, and it is they who must are invested with, and their absolute support the expence : Their own independency for their continuance security will oblige them to appoint in that power, not only upon their a sufficient number of watchmen, fellow-citizens, bu: even upon the Band to chuse the most proper persons crown itself, they have hitherto ex for the purpose, and their own inercised that power with great justice terest will prevent their appointing a and moderation. My objection there greater number of watchmen than fore to the bill now before us, does may be neceflary, or allowing them not arise from any misconduct in the higher wages than the service may present or late magiftrates of Bristol, deserve ; therefore from the nature nor from my thinking that a nightly C of things the inhabitants are the watch is not necessary for that city, only proper persons in whose hands or that any poivers are intended by the powers intended to be granted this bill but what must be lodged by this bill hould be ultimately fome where or other. But, Sir, the lodged ; and that they have always general nature of mankind makes
been thought to by this house apme think it dangerous to trust too pears from the several acts that have moch uncontroulable power in the D been passed for establishing and rehands of any man, or any set of gulating a nightly watch in several men whatever. Infolence in
power of the parishes of Westminster, in too often follows close upon the heels every one of which the powers ne. of an increase of power : A man cefiary for the purpose are all'ulti, may be inoderate in the exercise of a mately lodged in the inhabitants of little power, and yet may become the respective parides. tyrannical if you make but a very E Therefore, I hope, Sir, that the small acdition. For this reason, present magiftrates of Bristol, will whilst the form of government in either content to the restoring the Bristol continues to be the saine it is ancient form of government in that at present ; whilit the magistrates city, and bringing it as near as pofi. and chief officers continue to be lo ble to the model now established in independent of their fellow.citizens
the city of London, which would as they now are, I hall always be F greatly add to their own characters, against invefting them with any new and very much, I am sure, to the powers, or extending any of those future peace and quiet of their city; they are already pofTefled of.
or otherwise, I hope, they will exThis, Sir, shall with me be a ge. cuse ine for propofing, that this bill neral rule with respect to every should be so altered as to lodge the pew poser that may hereafter be power of establishing, maintaining, thought necessary for the good go-G and well governing a nightly watch vernment of thai city ; but with re within that city, in a certain nunspect to the powers to be granted by ber of trustees to be annually chofen this bill, I must conclude not only by the veítries, or by the inhabitants from the nature of things, but from of each respective Farish,