THE Delegates of the Friends of the People in and about Edinburgh, convened here this evening, conform to adjournment.
Mr. HUGH BELL in the Chair,
Received the report of their Committee of Correspondence, from which it appeared, that the measure of a General Convention was universally approved. Printed copies of the proposed Declaration having been put into the hands of the Members, the same was next read, in form, paragraph by paragraph, and the copy annexed to this minute, was unanimously adopted as the Declaration of the Friends of the People in and about Edinburgh; and thereafter it was ordered to be published in all the respectable papers in Scotland, England and Ireland. The enlarged report of the the Committee of Organization was ordered to be printed, and submitted to the General Convention, to meet on Tuesday next. Referred also the motion, on their table, for a Committee of publications to the General Convention.
Approved the Presidents and Secretaries of the several Societies to inquire into the expenses hitherto incurred; and authorised the Secretary to the Convention to convene the same.
The Convention then unanimously agreed to address the Lord Provost relative to the reports of tumult, industriously propagated. And the following Resolution, relative to the same, was ordered to be printed; and after being submitted to his Lordship, to be distributed in the form of a handbill along with the declaration.
Edinburgh, Dec. 5, 1792
Resolved unanimously, by the Convention of the Associated Friends of the People of Edinburgh, that their President, Vice President, Secretary, Capt. Johnston, Mr. Ronaldson and Mr. Reid, wait on the Lord Provost early to-morrow morning, and make a tender of the services of the Association of the Friends of the People, to co-operate with him and the Magistrates, in the suppression of all popular tumults.
Published by Order of the Convention
HUGH BELL, Chairman
It was then stated to the Convention, the the Sheriff had committed to prison two Members of the Association, upon information laid against them, that they had published or distributed some seditious papers. And a proper Committee was appointed to investigate the matter, and report the case, with the advice of council upon it, in order that, if innocent, the sufferers might receive the promised assistance of the Association at large; but, if found guilty, they might be treated according to the general Resolution.
Ordered the several Societies to convene and chuse delegates to the ensuing General Convention; and authorised their General Committee to take charge of the orderly convening of the first setting of the same.
The Friends of the People have been calumniated. It is time they should speak in their own vindication. Conscious of the purity of their intentions, and the integrity of their conduct, they have hitherto deemed it sufficient to trust to these alone for their defence. But how should their enemies feel the force of virtue, to which themselves are stangers?—They have persisted in their misrepresentations.
They insult the common sense of mankind, when they would have them believe that the Friends of the People can ever wish to disturb the happiness of Society, of which they themselves make so considerable a part. Will the father lead discord by the hand to the fire side of his family? Or the tradesman obstruct, by popular tumults, the commerce from which he derives his support?
The enemies of the People are weak, as well as false.
The Friends of the People are the Friends of the happiness of the People; and we know that to be happy we must be orderly; we must be virtuous. The baneful influence of political profligacy must be counteracted by a severe morality, and the inviolability of the Election oath*, profaned by intrigue, must again be held sacred among us.
On these our public—on these our private happiness depends—on these the necessary confidence between man and man.
No one can be ignorant of the dissatisfactions which have for some time past prevailed in the country, respecting the enormous and still increasing influence of the executive part of our Constitution—any more than of the well-grounded suspicions universally entertained as to the integrity of the Representative.
But these are alike inconsistent with effective government, and the peace of society. Their causes should be investigated. If abuses are found to prevail, they should be redressed; if not, the discontent should be removed, by shewing that it is groundless.
It is to collect the sense of the people on these important points, that their Friends have advised them to associate. And it is their solemn intention, as soon as such information can be obtained, to request a full investigation of abuses from the Legislature itself.
Immaculate purity can never shrink from candid inquiry.
There are two evils in our representation too glaring to be disguised, too obvious to need reasearch:
The Delegates of a few thousands give laws which dispose of the lives and property of unprecedented millions.
Secondly, its duration—Notoriously protracted beyond the term originally prescribed by the Constitution—giving it an interest separate from that of the People—removing it too far from their necessary controul—and exposing it to the intrigues of any Minister who may stand in need of its seduction.
Such are the evils which the Friends of the People are associated to consider. They will do it without passion; but with that rigorous perseverance which justice to an oppressed country demands.
Their object is, to reform, and not to subvert the order of Society.
To give security to property against the fraudulent pretences of those whom caprice, interest or ambition might instigate to swindle it from them—and not to violate it themselves by the public robbery of an equal division.
And, lastly, it is their object not to create unnecessary distrusts and alarms in the bosom of their country but to remove, by a candid and open investigation (the only way in which it can be removed), that want of confidence between those who govern, and those who are governed, which at present distracts it.
HUGH BELL, President
THOS. MUIR, Vice-President
W. SKIRVING, Secretary
THOS. MUIR, Vice-President
W. SKIRVING, Secretary