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LIVERPOOL ELECTION. SPEECH OF MR. NICHOLS, ON ENTERING UPON THK DEFENCE OF THE FRF.F.MEN ON ItJESDAY LAST, BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. Mr. NICHOLS, after some preliminary observations proceeded I come, then, to the more material parts of the case, the charges of bribery and corruption, and I will fairly confess, and I admit at the first moment, that it is not my wish or intention in any way to deny the guilt of 1830 or 1827. If, sir, the punishment could have fallen flagranti delicto upon the parties alone who were guilty, and upon all the parties that were guilty, upon those who bribed equally with those who yielded to the [temptation—if the same parties had followed up to the present time the same course and the same system of corruption —if the punishment could now distinguish between the guilty and the inuocent—if the parties who are now electors were the same-if the elective franchise were confined and limited to an exclusive body, and you could shew that the great mass of those persons were still corrupt, then I would not seek to ward off from them the penal- ties of their del inquericy- then I would be one of the foremost to call upon this committee to hold out an example to deter others by a punishment proportion- ably severe, -Rot only upon those who have bribed, but upon those who have been the far less guilty j partners in that offence; and, sir, I would for one be ready to adopt any means of remedying the evil by endeavouring to add to a constituency some new body of persons which by its extent in number, and by its respectability in station, should be the best safeguard and guarantee against any future delinqency. But, sir, now there is no occasion for this. It is impossible to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent; it is impossible to punish the guilty alone. The crime has not been continued up to the present moment, and by the reform act a large amount of new constituency has been introduced, and by adding 200 per cent, at least to the number of registered freemen, has prevented any danger of similar disorders arising in future. The evil, therefore, has not only been remedied by the repentance and reform of the consti- tuency itself, but the reform bill has done all that can be necessary to prevent the recurrence of the evil. By this large addition to their number it has pre- vented the freemen from exercising any undue or preponderating influence in'future elections, and therefore we call upon the committee not only to over- took the transa ctions of those who have repented and reformed, but not to punish those whom we shall show to be the far greater llumber-tholle who have never been attacked and have never been implicated in these transactions. Sir, I will not detain the committee one minute longer. That is the general line of our defence, and I am confident the committee will give to our case a patient and fair investigation, and we shall bow with due respect to whatever decision may be the result of that investigation. Lest some prejudice should arise against the Corporation in this .case, as if they had been in any way involved in these transactions, we have brought up the treasurer of the Corporation, and we will put him first into the box to show that the Corporation have never been implicated at any time in these or any other election transactions. "I am afraid I must now trouble the committee with some remarks, and I am afraid, at the same time, I must apologize if I run into what the committee may consider unnecessary length, because I have not seen the evidence from the time it was given to the present moment, and I am not therefore prepared to curtail my remarks as I might have been if I had a more ample opportunity of examining the evidence. I will, in the first instance, dispose of one or two pre- liminary points, so that I mav leave myself clear to consider the different elections which have been the subject of discussion and examination before this committee. In the first instance I will only just thus far allude to the charge of trafficking iu places. As 1 before said, it bears in no wav upon the freemen and nothing can induce me to say "a siugle word more upou the subject. Sir, the next charge which has been introduced is a charge which I think has been very unnecessarily in- troduced, and 1 must say,in my judgment very invidi- ously introduced. It is a charge and an investigation into the conduct of the corporation of Liverpool. The intention, it is trne, has been disavowed to make any charge against the Corporation but if the committee look at the whole scope and tendency of the evidence which has been adduced, they will that this inves- tigation has been much more directed to an attack which has been adduced, they wi1 see that this inves- tigation has been much more directed to an attack upon the Corporation itself than upon the freemen generally. "Sir, this opinion is not only derived from the ten- dency and scope of the evidence, but the committee will recollect that yesterday Mr. Myers gave in evidence, that when lie was served with the subpoena, the person that served him, Mr. Duncan, the partner of the agent in this prosecution, told him that the en- quiry was more directed against the Corporation than against the freemen of Liverpool. The other side certainly have varied the ground of their charge a little during the course of this investigation. The first day or two, and in the early part of the investi- gation, was directed chiefly to degrade and vilify the freemen. The latter part of it has been taking up the defence of the freemen, and asserting their right in contradiction to the rights of the Corporation. Now, Sir, this is really a change of system for which I was a little unprepared. At one moment they are the prosecutors of the freemen, and the other moment they are their protectors. "Sir, in this investigation they have gone into all sorts of enquiries; they have examined as to the amount of the property of the Corporation and their estates, the management of their estates and the management of the Corporation funds, and the ad- vantages that the mayor would derive from being mayor of the town. They have enquired into the constitution of the Common Council, and they have directed their charges not only against the Corpora- tion, as a body, but nearly against every individual member of that Corporation. Sir, I must say, that in every one of these respects, in my humble judgment, the attack has most entirely failed. As to the man- agement of the corporate funds, it is in evidence before you that the whole of those funds, with a very small exception of about 20001. a year, are employed in the improvement and beautifying of the town—in adding facilities to its trade, and in every way bene- fiting the intabitants of the town. It is in evidence before you, twit no part of the funds have been applied to electioneering purposes; it is in evidence before you, that the accounts of those funds are annually laid before the great body of freemen, and printed and published and circulated amongst them; it is in evi- dence, as to contracts, that the contracts for all large works are let out by sealed tenders, and, as far as I can see in this case, the whole management of the Cor- poration is clearly and distinctly proved to be as frugal as it is possible. Now I have said that this investigation is unnc- cesary; I must say further that it is peculiarly un- necessary at the present moment, when, in answer to an address f. ow the house, requiring that a commission should be appointed to enquire into Corporations, a commission has been appointed, which has been directed to proceed with the utmost possible despatch, V.o that Parliament may be able to legiglate upon the subject early in the enguiligoessioll. I must say that this investigation becomes unnecessary, that it has saddled the country with a very useless expence, and when it is particularly considered, that my two learned friends on my right hand are members of that commission, I do not think that there was any occasion to entei- into it upon the present occasion, and I will say that, :n my judgment, it has not been carried on with the greatest spirit of candour and fairness possible. Sir, I have said also that there have been attacks upon individuals. The committee will remember the sort of insinuations which were thrown out against Alderman Wright. Attempts were made, very laboured attempts, to show that Alderman Wright re- ceived a ticket, and was consentient to the bribery in 1827 that gentleman was put into the box yesterday he distinctly and positively denies that he was con- sentient to any act of bribery upon that occasion he positively declared that in no single instance in his life had he given money to any man to vote: he stated that during the whole of that election he was upon the hustings, acting ,or. Portev, who was then ill; that during that election the duty of return. ing thanks to the different freemen and of shaking hands with them for Mr. porter, fully occupied his time; that in the evening be went with them to Mr. Porter's house, and there made a speech; and that he was so exhausted with the labours of the day, that he never went to any committee-room or was in any way engaged in any part of that contest. It also ap- pears that at the close of that contest he presided at a public dinner, and that upon that occasion his health was proposed in a very laudatory speech by Mr. Ratclilf. Now, sir, whether the old maxim of laudare se vani, vituperare stulti es, applies to this case, I leave to the committee to decide. Now, sir, it is fair in justice to Mr. Wright, also to state that in the election of 1830 he was in no way engaged he was at that time ill; he was taken from a sick bed to vote for Mr. Ewart; and in no way whatever did he interfere in that election. Mr. Wright, therefore, stands omni exceptione major; and the attack that has been made upon him does not injure him so much as it does those that have made it. Equally clear does it appear in my humble judgment that the inuendos and insinuations which have been thrown out against the other magistrates of that borough reflect but little credit upon those who have made them. The evidence adduced in vin- dication of these gentlemen proves that they were the most respectable and highest merchants and gentle- men in the town of Liverpool. There is no trait in any part of their Jife that has been pointed out, or that could be pointed out, that in any way has re- flected upon them and, therefore, I do say that these general insinuations and inuendos against them re- bound back with very great force against those who make them, and that the evidence that has been brought forward upon this occasion redounds more to the credit of those who have been attacked than of those who have ventured to asperse their character. Sir, whether they have aspersed their character or not I will DOtstOP to inquire—the attempt has been made, whether it has succeeded or not: as my learned friend near me suggests, they H hint a fault and hesitate dislike." "Sir, another charge which has been made against the Corporation is, that they have exerted influence in elections. Now it 18 most clearly and distinctly proved that the Corporation in no way interfered in elections as a corporate body, and those individuls who did exercise any influence in an election merely exercised that influence which arises from an inter- change of kindly offices between the employer and the employed and I for one,and I am sure every one that admires our mixed constitution, would be the last in the world to wish that that sort of influence should be destroyed. If that influence is used with- out doing violence to the conscience, and without doing injustice to the feelings of individuals, I say that it is rather commendable and praiseworthy than in any way to be^ blamed; I am sure that is the doc- trine of our constitution, and I am sure that that was the doctrine which was held forth at all times during the discussion of the Reform Bill, and must, as long- as our constitution remains, be the doctrine of the law of England. "Sir, I have now shortly attempted to defend the Corporation from the attacks that have been made upon it. I only say that in my humble judgment they have come forth from this searchiug investigation perfectly untainted, and that this investigation, so far from doing them harm, must set them right in the eyes of the world, and convince them that the impu. tations which have bee* so lavishly scattered about for the last three years were unfounded." ( To be continued.)

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