while the rest of the Freemen were deprived of every legal benefit from their votes."
The Members of this Society were bound to secrecy and to each other by oaths, by writings, by bonds with large penalties, and by all the ties which could strengthen their compact; and they carried on this traffic by means of a Select Committee, who, under the pretence of scruples of conscience, never appeared or voted at any election themselves ; but having notwithstanding sold the Borough and received the stipulated price, they gave directions to the rest how to vote, and by this complicated evasion the employers and their agents having fully satisfied their conscience, shared the money without any scruple as soon as the election was over.
The Beturning Officer had belonged to this Society, and having taken some disgust to his associates, quitted the party. The majority of legal votes which he objected to, was, he said, in part owing to his experimental knowledge of their corruption, and partly founded upon some improper acts which had come within his knowledge as a Magistrate upon the late Election; particularly an affidavit of a very considerable sum of money, which had been distributed among them. Upon these grounds, though they had the hardiness to take the oath against bribery and corruption, he looked upon them as disqualified; and having besides taken the opinion of Counsel, which it seems coincided with his own, he returned the Candidate who had the smaller number of votes, as they were free from these objections.
Upon these principles ho rested his plea for the justification of the illegality of his conduct ; but the House thinking that by tolerating such an act of power they would be setting a very bad precedent, the Beturning Officer was placed on his knees and reprimanded at the Bar of the House. A further inquiry was afterwards