§ Mr. Parnell
rose to make his promised motion on the subject of Tithes in Ireland. He desired that the petitions from the Queen's county and the county of Kerry might be read; he then read the resolutions of the counties of Tipperary, Clare, Wicklow, and Armagh, the purport of which went to point out the policy of a Commutation of Tithes, and addressed the Chair nearly as follows: I have thought it right, Mr. Speaker, to put the house in possession of the information contained in these petitions and resolutions, in order that it might be known to the house, that the motion which I shall have the honour to submit to it, is not one that arises from the wish of an individual to agitate this most important subject, but that it is one which has been called for by the public voice of a large portion of the people of Ireland. The six counties which have thus delivered an opinion upon the subject, being each of them of very considerable extent, and, as far as I am able to form an opinion, the faithful organ of the universal opinion of the people of Ireland.—I have no hesitation in saying, that it is the universal wish of the people of Ireland, that an alteration should take place in the mode by which the clergy of the established church are now paid, and amongst the people of Ireland I will go so far as to include the clergy themselves, because I know from an extensive personal acquaintance with that body, and from the grievances that they sustain under the existing system, that it is their wish, as well as their interest, that an alteration should take place. Before, Sir, I enter upon an explanation of the motion which I shall submit to the house, I wish to make a few prefatory observations. I am particularly desirous to be understood as not attri- 626 buting to the conduct of the clergy, the grievances which the people of Ireland sustain on account of Tithes; for, though particular instances of oppression have occurred, I think there is no ground for bringing a general charge of oppression against that body. On the contrary, I believe they do not levy any thing like a full tenth of the produce of the land. There are no small Tithes in Ireland, a modus having been established against them. There are no Tithes on cattle; for neither potatoes or flax in the north of Ireland are Tithes paid. The Tithe on hay in Connaught is 6d. only on any quantity; and throughout the country in general, the following statement will apply: an acre of wheat producing an average crop of 8 barrels, at an average price of 30s. would give a Tithe of 1-10th of the produce of 24s.; whereas the usual rate of charge is 12s.: an acre of barley producing an average crop of 13 barrels, at an average price of 13s., would give a Tithe of 19s.. 8d.; whereas the usual rate of charge is 9s. 8d.: an acre of oats, producing an average crop of 12 barrels, at an average price of 14s. would give a Tithe of 16s.; whereas the usual charge is 7s. an acre of meadow producing an average crop of 2½ tons, at an average price of 50s., would give a Tithe of 12s. 6d.; whereas the usual charge is 6s.: and an acre of potatoes producing an average crop of 70 barrels, at an average price of 4s., would give a Tithe of 28s.; whereas the usual charge is 8s. For these reasons, therefore, I do not conceive that any blame attaches to the clergy, as a body, for exorbitant exaction of Tithes. I am wish it to be understood by the house, that the wish that has been expressed in Ireland of an alteration in the system of Tithe, has not been the result of any party measures; that this side of the house has had nothing to say to it; and further, that it does not come particularly from the catholics of Ireland, but if from one body of men more than another, from those professing the established religion. Having said thus much, Sir, respecting the origin of these petitions and resolutions, I must now beg leave to recal to the memory or the house what took place respecting them in the last session. Conceiving that it would be most to the public advantage if his majesty's ministers would take this business into their own hands, I waited upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer in order to propose to him this mode of proceed- 627 ing. He, I am bound to say, communicated his sentiments to me upon the subject, in the most candid and explicit manner, and informed me, as afterwards he also informed the house, that the subject had been under the consideration of his majesty's ministers; that it would so continue to be, and that he hoped to be able in this session to bring forward a measure to afford relief to the people of Ireland. The measure of which he gave me an outline was that of enabling incumbents to make leases to their parishioners of their Tithes for 21 years. It appears, however, by an answer given to me early this session by the right hon. gent. to a question which I put to him on the subject, that he is not now prepared to bring forward this measure. The business has, therefore, reverted to my hands, and under these circumstances, it has been for me to decide what course to pursue. If I proposed to the house, to refer the petitions on the table to a committee of the whole house, which I believe is the customary way of proceeding, no other advantage could have been derived from it than that of the discussion of the general subject, because I am sure there was no ground to calculate upon the consent of the right hon. gent., or of a majority of this house to such a step; and without it, no measure could have been the effect of the motion. If, however, I propose, as I intend to do, to move for leave to bring in a bill to enable incumbents to make leases for 21 years, I obtain the benefit of a general discussion of the subject of Tithes, and, at the same time, I propose a step to which I have good ground to expect the support of the right hon. gent., and therefore I propose to the house what probably may lead to an effectual issue. But even if the right hon. gent. should not continue to be of the same opinion now as he was last year, as to the policy and practicability of this measure, I shall not accuse him of inconsistency, because that certainly was a qualified opinion; but I am able to say that I am free from blame for bringing forward a measure without having good authority for my proceeding, and also to say, that the cause of those who are advocates for an alteration in the system of Tithes, have gained much ground by the sanction of the right hon. gent.'s admission, that an alteration might be made, to the extent which I propose, without danger to the church.—I am relieved from the necessity of anticipating and answering all that 628 I should have had to anticipate and answer, if I had not the protecting shield of the right hon. gent. to cover me, about the doctrine of divine right, and the danger of innovation. I need not fear the clamour of certain gentlemen about our present happy and enviable condition, nor need I apprehend that my motion will call for a declaration of the necessity of making a similar stand for the purity of the church to that which to some it appeared to be wise to make for the purity of the state. I have, in fact, nothing to do but to state, as briefly as I am able, such measures as induce me to think that the house ought to support the motion which I shall have the honour to submit to it. In the first place, if a power should be given to incumbents to make leases of their Tithes for 21 years, some of those objections which are made to the present system of tithes, in consequence of its being detrimental to the agriculture of the country will be done away; for when a farmer shall have made his bargain with the clergyman of his parish, he will be able to carry on his improvements without that great drawback on his profits, which is the consequence of the clergyman's right to a tenth of the gross produce of his land. Upon this head, the following are the opinions of two very great authorities, Dr. Adam Smith and Dr. Paley.—Dr. Smith says, "The tithe as it is frequently a very unequal tax upon rent, so it is always a discouragement both to the improvements of the landlord, and to the cultivation of the farmer. The one cannot venture to make the most important, which are generally the most expensive improvements; nor the other to raise the most valuable, which are generally the most expensive crops, when the church, which lays out no part of the expence, is to share so very largely in the profit."—Dr. Paley says, "But of all institutions, which are in this way adverse to cultivation and improvement, none is so noxious as that of tithes. Tithes are a tax not only upon industry, but upon that industry which feeds mankind; upon that species of exertion which it is the aim of all wise laws to cherish and promote; and to uphold and excite which, composes the main benefit that the community receives from the whole system of trade and the success of commerce."—He further adds: "No measure of such extensive concern appears to me so practicable, nor any single alteration so beneficial, as the conversion of tithes into corn rents."—Besides these authorities, there is a state- 629 ment of the practical bad effects of tithes, in Mr. Thompson's Annals of Agriculture, which will throw considerable light upon the subject. He says, "There are 200,000 acres of land in Herefordshire, which might be brought into a proper state of cultivation, by an annual expence of 10s. per acre. This additional expence would pay the farmer 10 per cent. profit, and bring into the market 110,000l. besides employing 5,000 labourers; but the tithe owners would take 11,000l. out of the increased produce, and therefore the farmers would lose all their profit, and 1 per cent. on their capital." But, Sir, if there are these general objections to tithes, on account of their injury to agriculture, the house should consider how much more injurious they must be in a country like. Ireland, where much improvement is wanting, for in such a country, the whole improved value of the land depends upon personal labour, skill and industry, and the advance and risk of private property; whereas in England, where lands have been regularly and well cultivated for a great length of time, there is no very great hardship in occupiers paying tithes; and for this reason in particular it is very desirable, that such a measure as I now propose should be adopted. Such a measure will also contribute to remove some of the objections which are commonly urged against tithes, as a way of levying money from the people. According to the present system, the sum which each person is bound to pay is not certain, but arbitrary: the time of payment, the manner of payment, the quantity to be paid, are none of them clear or plain to the contributor, or to any other person; whereas it is an established maxim of taxation, that the tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain, and not arbitrary; and the time of payment, the manner of payment, the quantity to be paid, ought all to be clear and plain to the contributor, and to every other person.—"Where it is otherwise, (Dr. Smith very truly observes,) every person subject to the tax is put more or less in the power of the tax-gatherer, who can either aggravate the tax upon any obnoxious contributor, or extort, by the terror of such aggravation, some present or perquisite to himself. The uncertainty of taxation encourages the insolence and favours the corruption of an order of men who are naturally unpopular, even where they are neither insolent or corrupt. The certainty of what each individual ought to pay is, in 630 taxation, a matter of so great importance, that a very considerable degree of inequality, it appears, I believe, from the experience of all nations, is not near so great an evil, as a very small degree of uncertainty." Now, Sir, if the parishioner shall be able to make a contract with his clergyman for his tithes for a certain number of years, at a certain fixed annual sum, tithes, instead of being a tax subject to all these objections, will be one subject to none of them, and therefore the bill giving such a power will greatly contribute to amend the present system of tithes.—In the next place, as the occupier of land in Ireland suffers principally under the present system, from the manner in which the collection of tithes takes place, this measure will be productive of very beneficial consequences, inasmuch as it will contribute to alter this mode of collection. But, before I proceed to shew in what degree the people of Ireland are now aggrieved by this mode of collecting of tithes, it is necessary for me to state to the house, that the mass of the people of Ireland are circumstanced in respect to tithes differently from the people of any other country. The wealth of Ireland has not yet made that progress as to produce that first symptom of extensive improvement in a country, the division of labour to such a degree of perfection as to establish a distinct class of people, who live by the wages of their daily labour, and provide their subsistence by expending their wages in purchasing of it. The consequence is, that every poor Irishman is under the necessity of obtaining a piece of land, from which he may procure the means of feeding himself and his family. In Ireland, therefore, the whole mass of the common people are landholders, and accordingly chargeable with tithes. From this state of things two consequences flow, which give rise to all the grievances which belong to the collection of them. The first, that if the clergyman being unable in his own person to collect his own tithes, and, therefore being obliged to employ Proctors, or to let them to Tithe Farmers. The second, the impossibility of the lower orders to protect themselves against the illegal exactions of the proctors or farmers, in consequence of their poverty disabling them from procuring legal redress in a court of law against such illegal exactions.—And it is also in consequence of this state of things, that the people of Ireland, in respect to tithes, are in a condition 631 quite different from that of the people of England in respect of their tithes. No man in England is liable to be called upon to pay them who is not to a certain degree a person of property; if he is not, the improved condition of society in this country would deter a proctor from treating him cruelly, and even if he was so treated, he would easily find means of obtaining redress—in fact he would obtain it by compelling the clergyman to draw his tithe. But in Ireland this privilege of obliging the clergyman to draw his tithe is virtually taken away from the parishioner; for though he may have the right to do so by law, he is made liable by a modern law to an action for conspiring against the clergyman, if there should be the least appearance among the parishioners of any attempt to annoy the clergyman by calling upon him to take his tithe in kind; and so completely has this law taken away this remedy from the parishioner, that the practice of taking tithe in kind is now seldom heard of. The usual mode of proceeding is this; the proctor, with an assistant, views the crops in July, and again before or after they are saved. He notes the crop and value in his field-book. He generally estimates by the acre, but sometimes by the barrel; he usually at the second view makes a bargain for the tithe with the occupier on the spot; reducing the charge to a certain degree, and the farmer passes his note for it. If no bargain is made the proctor makes a return to the clergyman agreeable to the field-book. The payments are generally tardy, the tithe is not paid frequently for near a year and a half. Debtors for 40s. are summoned before two magistrates, who hear the proctor's proofs, and give a decree accordingly. Debtors above that sum and under 10l. are processed before the Quarter sessions. For sums above 10l. citations are served to appear before the Bishop's Court. If the proctor chooses to oppress a poor man, he may cite for a few shillings. There are no acts of the proctor deemed illegal in the ecclesiastical courts. He is the favoured person who replenishes their coffers. The only remedy which landholders have against any new and extraordinary demands of the clergy or tithe-farmers is faction and intimidation, and slight: and as the land-holder has no legal remedy against exactions of the proctors and by the farmers, the mass of the people are positive slaves to them, 632 they have it in their power always to ruin a poor man, first by giving him long credit and then by suing him for interest, costs and tithes in the Bishop's Court. The consequence is, that the proctor, and the proctor's family and friends rule with despotic sway in the parish. In corroboration of this statement, I will read, Sir, a short extract from the speech of Mr. Lid-well, at the Meeting of the County of Tipperary. "The power of the proctor over their little properties is nearly despotic. Do you find any fault (he says to the parishioner) with my valuation of your crops; you shall smart for it, if you do—I will have you instantly served with a citation or process; I will harms you by litigation; I will ruin you by costs of proceedings; I will take you from your business and employment; I will hold you up to the gentlemen of the county as a disloyal man, who refuse to pay your tithes, and raising an outcry against the church establishment."—Such a bill as would enable the clergyman and his parishioner to make a bargain for a fixed term of years, at a fixed annual rent, would relieve the clergyman from the necessity of employing a proctor to value or draw his tithe, and enable him to collect the sum stipulated to be paid in lieu of it himself; it would do away altogether the existence of that still more odious character the tithe-farmer; and it would relieve the parishioner from the tyranny and exaction of those most obnoxious instruments of the church—I will add, Sir, only one more proof of the mischievous and fatal consequences which flow from the present mode of collecting tithes in Ireland, and which arises from a circumstance which took place so late as in the month of last February, in the county of Kerry. In consequence of the disturbed stave of that county, great exertions were made by the gentlemen and particularly by the Catholic clergymen, to persuade the people to return to a state of tranquillity. These exertions proved successful, and at a place appointed multitudes attended, gave up their arms, and took the oath of allegiance. They declared, however, on their oaths, that the great suffering which goaded them to madness, sprung from proctorship, or the manner of collecting tithes. Of the cess itself, unconnected with clerical agents, they did not complain; on the contrary, they distinctly declared, they felt no evil whatever when dealing solely and immediately with the clergy- 633 man.—Now, Sir, I conceive it impossible for the house, after having heard these statements, to hesitate about the expediency of adopting some measure to reform the abuses belonging to the present system of collecting tithes in Ireland.—But, Sir, though I think these are circumstances which ought to obtain for my motion the support of the house, I am free to confess that the point of view in which I am principally induced to consider the bill which I propose to introduce as a good measure, is, that of its being a measure which will very much facilitate the carrying into effect at some future day some plan for an entire commutation of Tithes, and I beg the house will dearly understand that I propose the limited measure of granting leases for Tithes, only because I see no chance now of carrying such a plan into effect, and by no means because I think that such a plan ought not now to be adopted. This in truth, sir, is the measure which the people of Ireland desire, and this is the measure which his majesty's ministers would themselves adopt, if they could fully comprehend all the evils which flow from tithes, as affecting the public peace and security: and if they could justly appreciate all the beneficial effects which would attend a full concession to the feeling of the people of Ireland upon this subject. As a mode of levying from the people a pecuniary remuneration of the clergy, they are most objectionable; they are a tax upon the produce of land, and not upon the surplus of the produce which is left after defraying the expences of cultivation, which last is the only fund that ought to be taxed. They are a tax also completely at variance with the maxim, that each person ought to contribute as nearly as possible in proportion to his ability.—But, Sir, if Tithes are objectionable as contrary to the true principles of taxation, and as obstacles in the way of agricultural improvement, how much more objectionable are they when viewed with reference to their effects upon religion. They are the source of perpetual strife and ill will, and the cause of inveterate and incurable disagreements between the clergymen and his parishioners; and by being so, they materially affect his ecclesiastical character, and tend to defeat the sole object of ecclesiastical persons. They are a powerful cause of many quitting the church, and creating new sectaries, and are unquestionably one great source of the decrease of religion and morals. But, 634 Sir, if there are these objections to Tithes generally in whatever country they exist, how aggrieved must the people of Ireland be by them, when of the whole people 1-10th belong to the established church? I have the authority of the most recent enquiries into the population of Ireland to take it at five millions, and that the Catholics are to the Protestants as 4 to 1. And I can quote the authority of Dr. Woodward, late bishop of Cloyne, to shew, that of the Protestants, one half are Dissenters from the established church. I feel that it is not necessary to add one word more to prove how repugnant Tithes must be to the people of Ireland.—And now, Sir, after what I have said of the poverty of those who have to pay Tithes in Ireland; of the manner in which they are collected, and of the people not belonging to the church for whose support Tithes have been established, is it wonderful that a succession of outrage and insurrection should have disgraced the page of Irish history? And here, Sir, I must take the liberty of saying, that it is not to the people that the blame of these insurrections attaches, but to the law which has established the system of Tithes, and heaped regulation upon regulation to compel the payment of them. I cannot refer to more decisive proof of the influence which Tithes have always had in leading people into a resistance to the laws, than to the evidence of Dr. M'Nevin, one of the principal leaders in the rebellion of 1798:
'Speaker. Do you remember Mr. Grattan's motion about Tithes; was not that a short cut towards putting down the established church? M'Nevin. If the stability of the established church depends on the payment of Tithes, the church stands on a weaker foundation than in civility I would have said of it; but sure I am, Sir, that if Tithes had been commuted according to Mr. Grattan's plan, a very powerful engine would have been taken out of our hands.'
I have now, Sir, only to add one more argument in favour of the claims of the people of Ireland for redress of the grievances of Tithes. Mr. Pitt, Sir, when he proposed to the people of Ireland the measure of Union, in a speech which was circulated at the expence of government, did hold out to them that some mode should be adopted for relieving the lower orders from the pressure of Tithes, which, according to his expressions, "operate as against practical evil.".
635 This offer on his part was considered by the people of Ireland as a part of the Union compact; for though not made an article of the Union, under the circumstances in which Mr. Pitt stood as minister of this country, and particularly under the circumstances of the publication of his speech by the Irish government, no other construction can in justice be given to the transaction, than that it amounted to a promise to the people of Ireland, and which promise the people of this country have yet to redeem.
Before I sit down, Sir, I must request that his majesty's ministers will seriously contemplate upon the consequences of refusing to grant redress of the grievances of Tithes, and that they will calculate upon the evils which under the present circumstances of the continent, may flow from such a refusal. If they will listen to the voice of the people of Ireland, and do that which will conciliate their feeling towards them, no danger need be apprehended of conquest by a foreign power; but if they do not conciliate them, then they will place the empire under circumstances of risk and danger, to which it ought not to be exposed, and they will be responsible even for the existence of the empire. I hope, Sir, that these observations will produce their due effect; and I shall conclude with moving, "That leave be given to bring in a bill to enable ecclesiastical persons, having a right to Tithes in Ireland, to demise the same for a term of twenty-one years."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer,
in rising to give his most decided opposition to the measure now proposed, felt himself also bound to state his reasons for that opposition, and though he owned he had felt himself in some degree waver in his opinions, in the course of the conversation he had with the hon. gent. on the subject, yet, upon the most mature consideration he could give it, he was now already of opinion, that nothing radically beneficial could be effected. He had even so strong a wish on the occasion as to go the length of preparing a bill for the purpose, although the hon. gent., in all he had said, had not stated how his plan was to be carried into excution. In the course however of his investigation, he had found such difficulties in his way, so various and so multiplied, as obliged him to abandon his intentions, as altogether impracticable. He wished to look at it as a measure likely to calm the disquietudes 636 that existed; and now he felt bound to object to the measure proposed, as seeming likely to excite an expectation of something more to follow on the back of it, and thus effecting the very mischief intended to be allayed by it. The last argument used by the hon. gent. was that nine-tenths of the people of Ireland were not protestants: this shewed that some great diversion of Tithes from the present system was intended, and therefore he conceived they were called on to pause before they proceeded, without accurately knowing how far they might be called on to proceed. They should be guarded in their expression of the existence of evil; the hon. gent. had said the people of Ireland were anxious for a commutation of tithes; is there any plan for that purpose? had the hon. gent. digested any such? had he formed any system of substitution? For his part, he believed that in the event of any such being adopted, and if the consequence was found to be that they paid more than they do at present, the people of Ireland would not be very much in love with the alteration; and yet such he firmly believed would be the probable case in such an event, inasmuch as he was satisfied, that on the whole the tithes did not, according to their present mode of collection, produce 50 percent. of their real value. Besides, what must they do in proceeding to carry the proposed measure into effect? They must in the first instance institute a commission for the purpose of ascertaining what was the real value of tithes, in order to know what was the commutation at which it was to be fixed; and did gentlemen suppose, that any plan, founded on such principles, could afford ease to the people? He thought the very reverse would turn out to be the case, and tend rather to produce than allay the discontent so much complained of.—How then could it be said that the people were in favour of an abolition of tithes? It might be true they were so now; but would they be so if they found they were to pay so much more than they do at present, upon a commutation founded upon a fair and full estimate of the value of their tithes? The landlords might indeed be favourable to the measure, as the surplus beyond the present rate would probably find its way into their pockets. But, after all, where was the hardship to be found in the payment of tithes?—What owner of land could say he was entitled to lands, either by purchase or descent, which he 637 did not hold among other terms subject to the payment of tithes? if, then, he had no right to complain, still less had the tenant who took them, knowing they were subject to the incumbrance. He particularly felt himself bound to oppose the present motion, as the hon. gent. had expressly stated that the present was to be considered as a step merely leading to other innovations, which he could not approve. He had watched the hon. gent. through the whole of his speech, and he could not find out any specific plan which he meant to propose. Was it intended by his bill to enable the clergy to make leases of their tithes, or was it intended to go further, and compel them to do so? If the former of these was intended, the act might become a mere dead letter. By the law, as it now stood, the clergyman could grant a lease of his tithes during his own incumbency; and if he did not feel any inclination to adopt such a measure, as things now stood, it was not to be expected he would be more likely to do so after passing the act. With respect to the power proposed of binding the successor, the evil was obvious in the danger of the incumbent being induced by the temptation of a present fine to make a lease, which would be highly prejudicial to the interests of those who were to come after him, or else to submit such leases to the approbation of the bishop. This would be found to be a duty impossible to be discharged conscientiously, besides being attended with considerable expence to poor tenants for the making out their leases; and even if they were willing to be, at the expence, would be found to be a mere matter of form, from the impossibility of the bishop being acquainted with the merits of each particular case. These were among the difficulties which, in his attempt to frame a measure likely to be efficient, he had found so strong as to induce him to abandon all hope of being able to remove them. There were, besides these, other difficulties in the way. To whom were the leases to be made, to the tenant or to the landlord? If to the latter, the tenant would surely not be benefited by the measure, but rather to the contrary, as in that case the landlord would put in his pocket that which now, by the lax mode of levying tithes, fell to the share of the tenant. Besides, he considered, that if the system were proper to be adopted at all, it should not be partial or confined to one part of the empire, but rather be uni- 638 versal in its operation, and as such he had intended it in case he had found it practicable. He trusted he had shewn to the satisfaction of the house, that it was upon sufficient reasons, and not caprice, he had altered his opinion on the subject; and he thought it better at once to negative the proposition, than to hold out a false hope, where no possible benefit could be expected to follow from it. In regard to the pledge stated to have been made, relative to the commutation of tithes, as an event to take place consequential to the Act of Union, he could only say he had never heard of such a thing before; but be that as it may, who ever heard of such a pledge as binding between two countries, instead rather of looking to the articles themselves of that union, in order to judge of their infraction or preservation?
§ Mr. Tighe.
Sir, as I intend to support the motion of my hon. friend, because I conceive it might be of some service in doing away part of the evil, which results from the mode of collection according to the present system, yet I cannot support it without declaring that I consider it totally inadequate to give that relief which I should wish to give to the people of Ireland, and consequently that it will be unsatisfactory to that nation. And moreover, this discussion must be attended with something more than disappointment to the people, when they know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer having, as he says, long contemplated a similar measure, and even prepared a bill for the purpose, was induced by what he calls an infinity of difficulties, to abandon even his inadequate modifications. And having contemplated in his mind what was little more than futile, to have ended his purposes in nullity. For I agree with my hon. friend that nothing but a general measure can be satisfactory to the people: a measure of complete commutation or abolition. And as the right hon. gent. intended the bill which he contemplated as a bar to future relief so I may doubt that, even if the present motion were passed, it might not be considered rather as an impediment than as an assistance to the speedy accomplishment of a general and perfect relief from the system of tithes. At any rate it would be only a slight palliative to an inveterate disorder.—Nor can I ever agree to consider the declarations of the British ministers at the time of the Union as less than pledges on the part of Britain. So were they held out to the Irish nation, and so 639 were they always received in that country. And the declarations of Mr. Pitt made in this house on the part of government, and uncontradicted, were even stronger than what were stated by ray hon. friend. In those declarations, and in the pamphlets dispersed in Ireland by the government previous to the Union, under the name of Speeches of Mr. Pitt, that minister was made to declare, not only that "some mode ought speedily to be adopted for relieving the lower orders from the pressure of tithes," which he described as "productive of great practical evil," in that country, but he made it precede the other promises he held put to the Irish nation, and which he combined with it for the purpose of deluding that nation, namely, of giving a fair consideration to claims of the Catholics, which never has yet been given, and of providing an adequate maintenance for their clergy, which has never yet been provided. But moreover, sir, Mr. Pitt declared, that "these were the grounds on which he ventured to propose a legislative Union." Observe, sir, they were the grounds on which he ventured to propose that measure. Did Mr. Pitt, then, mean to build the Union, with those base materials which he used, and then to take away the grounds and foundations on which he professed to rear that ill-compacted fabric? Or did Mr. Pitt mean only to deceive the Irish nation? Which opinion will his imitators and successors attribute to him? or which line do they intend to adopt? If Mr. Pitt spoke with sincerity, then the most omnipotent minister of England would not venture to support an Union, unless these measures were subsequently to be adopted: the first of which was the relief of the lower orders from the pressure of tithes. Mr. Pitt himself would not even venture to propose it!—that is to say in other words, that the most confident minister of England thought the attempt would be dangerous to the connection of the two countries, instead of useless, unless it was cemented by those measures of which he artfully held out the prospect.—But, sir, what power, what ability, what strength have the present discordant members of the cabinet, so superior to Mr. Pitt, that they indeed can engage to satisfy the people of Ireland, and to retain that country for Britain, upon grounds he did not venture to adopt? pocketing the independence of Ireland, and withholding the price; as soon as their draft was honoured, denying the debt.—But then we are to- 640 night informed that his majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer has year after year been contemplating upon some measure for a modification of tithes; but that year after year the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been so bewildered in his contemplations, that he has been forced to abandon them altogether; and after all his contemplations he has not been able to bring forth one single simple proposition on the subject, nor produce one atom of information. Now, sir, is this the way in which an injured and dissatisfied country is to be amused? is it the respectful mode of treating the claims, the interests, the expectations of a populous nation? a nation whose destiny hangs over your political horizon now, like a dark and silent cloud. Is it the way to fulfil the promise held out at the Union? or is this a period to hesitate at any attempt of acknowledged amelioration? to delay inevitable reform? to stand like a puny child on the margin of the sea, fearful to wet its feet, though conscious that it soon must plunge in? Is it a time to neglect the interests of a proud, injured and brave people, when every passing moment is fraught with change? when the scenes of the European drama are shifting with such great rapidity, that the actors themselves are unprepared for their exits and their entries?—I stand, sir, in the same predicament as several other Irish representatives, that of having been instructed by my constituents to support in parliament, not any particular or specific mode of relief, but to support any modification whatever which may be proposed with regard to tithes; and, for that reason, I shall vote for the present measure, though I think it totally inadequate to accomplish any general or perfect work of relief. But so little do the people of Ireland concur with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in finding that infinity of difficulties in the subject, that they say, and with truth, that any system whatever would be preferable to the present. And the reason of this difference of opinion is obvious; he speaks from unwillingness to grant the relief, but they from the sensible pressure of the evil. Let the right hon. gent. propose any modification whatever that may have occurred to his contemplations, and it will be received with gratitude by the people. And this is the mode in which they reason on the difficulty; that is, in spite of legal sophistry, or the arguments of the right hon. gentleman, they cannot help considering tithes to be, 641 in their nature and their origin, which really and truly considered they are, and can be nothing else, namely a mode of taxation for the maintenance of the clergy; so it does not appear that there would be great difficulty in substituting any other mode of taxation or any other appropriated fund for the present; because that any mode by which the salaries of the clergy might be collected in Ireland would be preferable to the present: and a better tax might be easily substituted for one which is the worst possible in its effects. But, says the right hon. gent., tithes are not a tax, because he purchases his estate subject to them. May he not purchase his estate subject to the land-tax? and is it therefore a less tax, from the burthen of which he may be relieved by the legislature, or which may be modified in any way or exchanged, or sold, as it actually has been, when the public service may require? And why may not tithes as easily find a substitute? If the payment must proceed from the land only, why not substitute a percentage upon rents? or if the salaries of the clergy ought to be paid by all subjects equally, why not substitute a property tax on any other fund appropriated to the purpose? And as there are now actually in Ireland not one establishment only, but three religious establishments recognized by law, such a tax would enable the state to give an adequate maintenance to all the three establishments. And according to common policy and justice, it should appear that all the ministers of religion acknowledged by law should be amply supported by the public, or at least so far as to render them respectable to and independent of, their congregations. And if a fund was established for this purpose, even in part by the sale of the ecclesiastical tithes, contrived with any other means, the surplus of such funds might be applied to redeem the lay impropriations.—Now, sir, I could wish with regard to every subject, but more particularly with regard to this, that the gentlemen of England were fully apprised of the situation of the sister island; and principally with the situation of the lower orders. With regard to tithes Ireland is peculiarly circumstanced, and in all respects differently from England. In this country they are in general paid by the members of one church to the ministers of the same church: but in Ireland they are chiefly paid by the poor, and for the support of a clergy of a different 642 persuasion. In England wherever there is a modus or a composition the payment of tithes is no grievance: it is cheerfully paid; or it ought to be so; and I doubt if I should vote for any alteration in the system of tithes in England. But will you teach the people of Ireland not to consider their grievances according to their own ideas and feelings; where the tithes are principally paid by the poorer orders of catholics; where all the pastures of the rich protestant grazier, where all the gardens, plantations and demesnes of the rich protestant proprietor, resident, or non resident, pay nothing to the support of their own church, while the cottier or labourer, who lives, or rather rots at his gate, cannot dig a meal for his children from his garden, at least in the south of Ireland, until the proctor's arbitrary demand is satisfied: and let it be what it will, it must be satisfied, or the wretch is threatened with what sounds more dreadful in his ears than the echo of French artillery would do, he is threatened with a citation to an Ecclesiastical court; that is to say, a citation to ruin. And this for a church from which he receives neither temporal comfort nor spiritual consolation: for a church whose doctrines were never promulgated in Ireland, at the time of the Reformation, by the messenger of peace nor the minister of the gospel: whose dogmas and whose articles were never preached in Ireland but by the thunder of British musketry, nor ever written on the hearts of the Irish nation but by the sharpness of British swords: an establishment which never obtained in that country much more than a name, a mere outward form, a sort of sketch of existence, under the bloody banners of Elizabeth and Cromwell. And moreover, the mode of payment by tithes was not of prescriptive right in Ireland, nor even of ancient standing; and I doubt if they were known, or levied, or ascertained by law in Ireland, previous to the Irish acts for their collection under Henry the eighth; and though the preamble to those acts may recite a supposed claim of the clergy, yet there is no evidence of their having been, unless very partially, established in the country before that period. And from that period to the present day they have been the constant subject of grievance and resistance; the pretence for every insurrection, the watch-word of every rebellion, the everlasting spring of every animosity to Britain. The Irish parliament was generally and 643 earnestly petitioned on the subject. This house would have been generally petitioned but for the peculiar circumstances of the country. Two pretty strong petitions have been read to the house this evening, and several counties have very strongly expressed their opinion on the subject in Resolutions and Declarations. All might have done so, but for the anxiety on the part of the government to suppress the voice of the nation. A right, hon. gentleman cries, no: and I will therefore mention one instance in which they shewed more than anxiety, if the information which I received is true, and what was rather extraordinary and unconstitutional, if I am informed right, for I do not speak from personal knowledge; a sheriff of a southern county, at the commencement of the present administration, was, in a very unusual manner, superceded in his office, for attempting to obey the requisition of respectable freeholders to summon a county meeting upon the subject of tithes.—Sir, were the opinion of Ireland left free, and were no inclination to appear on the part of this parliament, to redeem the pledge which England gave at the Union, for as a pledge it was received by Ireland, it is not for those measures which I mentioned, in conformity to the promissory declarations of Mr. Pitt, that your table would probably be soon covered with petitions from every county and town in that kingdom, but for that measure which would indeed at once relieve you from the pledge, and relieve Ireland from her present state of anxious and sickening expectation, namely, for a repeal of the Act of Union.
Mr. D. Browne
thought it was the most serious duty of government to attend to the evils arising out of the present system of tithes in Ireland. He was friendly to the motion of the hon. member, and to any proposition which had for its object the amelioration of the state of the Irish peasant. He feared it was too late in the session to enter with due deliberation on so important a subject? but if it was brought forward early in the next, it should have his support.
§ Mr. Grattan
observed there was no subject that pressed more upon the feelings of the Irish people than tithes. It affected them in every way. First, it came in the shape of the proctor to the door of the poor man's hovel, backed by an indefinite demand, and followed by a law-suit and a charge for agency.—The proctor was odious 644 to the Irish peasant. He was the greatest little oppressor that ever roused the indignation of a people. He was a character, who, having no connexion with religion, yet in Ireland seemed identified with it.—Indeed, with the powers that the present system of tithe-collection gave him, he must always be an oppressor. He was also a dishonest man. He not only oppressed the poor peasant, but he cheated the parson. He was also the cause of the odium incurred by the clergy. The right hon. member avowed himself a friend to commutation for tithes. In establishing that, he was for ail care being taken that the clergy should not suffer by the depreciation of the value of tithes. He thought that the plan he once had the honour to propose to the Irish parliament very practicable, and that much of the disturbances that afterwards prevailed in that country might have been avoided by its adoption. As the system now stood, it operated with peculiar hardship upon by far the greater portion of the population of Ireland. It was a hardship upon the catholic to pay two churches—one which he paid from choice, and another from necessity; from the latter of which, as it was well expressed by his hon. friend (Mr. Tighe) he received neither spiritual consolation nor political protection. He was convinced the poor in Ireland would derive great advantage from a commutation. The question itself was to be debated on two grounds, both as respecting the measure itself proposed, and as leading to a system of commutation. To the latter he professed he had been always friendly; he was always friendly to the church establishment, yet he could not but think that the nature of tithes served only to render the clergy disrespected. He would not diminish their income, although he considered it abundantly ample; but he would not have it remain uncertain. He allowed there was difficulty in applying a remedy to the evil, but he would not allow it was impossible. If gentlemen will not enquire, they cannot expect to be informed; and the only way he knew of to acquire information, was to go into a committee, and therein to learn the state of the Irish church. If the right hon. gent. had good grounds for the change in his sentiments, he thought he was equally well founded in adhering to his. It was idle and ridiculous to talk of inquiring into the real value of tithes, for if they did so, they would equally inquire into their application, and the purposes for 645 which they were originally granted; and, in that event, he apprehended the clergy-would be found to be no great gainers by this inquiry; the true object of inquiry would be, what was a fit and proper support for the clergy? and upon that inquiry he was sure they would not be left less rich; and he did not wish they should be more so.—A great hardship in tithes was, that they were not merely a tithe upon the produce of the land, but also, of necessity, upon the labour in the attainment of that produce. The uncertainty of that produce was likewise the foundation of disputes every year, unless they did that by agreement which should be done by act of parliament. He had himself at two different periods, proposed what he considered a remedy for the evil, and he thought either of them was preferable to the present system; in like manner he considered the present Bill, as proposed, at least feasible. At the period of the existence of that description of disturbers called White Boys, he had proposed, and a clergyman had adopted a system of commutation, by which he had obtained an income considerably larger, and with mutual satisfaction, than he could have obtained by the regular mode of levying tithes.—The system of leases he by no means considered as impracticable; and they would certainly have the good effect of enabling the farmer to follow and enjoy his industry without the dread of any fresh demand being made upon that industry. He considered the principle a good one, and commutation eligible, as securing to the farmer the greatest blessing he was capable of receiving—a security against uncertainty; and if the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer doubted it, the best mode of deciding the question would be to establish a commission to inquire into the subject. An acreable rate, he understood, would satisfy the parishioners, and improve the income of the clergyman.
Mr. M. Fitzgerald
supported the motion, and in doing so, represented the hardships of a million of the people of Ireland, who were exposed to greater burdens in regard to tithes than the people of England: and in Ireland no poor rates and no paupers were supported at the public expence, while those here were supported by poor rates and in workhouses. He thought the fate of the Irish peasant not superior to that of the negro. The present measure went to his amelioration, and therefore he contended it ought to be voted for.
argued against the motion. He should be glad to hear of any plan that was likely to effect a change that could add to the comforts of those paying tithes, but he had as yet heard of none that could meet with his approbation. He recommended to gentlemen not to bring forward any measure of this sort until they could prepare a proper substitute for that which they meant to remedy.
§ Mr. Croker
said, that he had often turned his attention to the subject of the tithe system of Ireland, and never had done so without coming to a conclusion that this system was a great inconvenience, if not a severe grievance to that part of the empire. No one could feel more desirous than he did to amend or alter the oppressive parts of it; it was the conviction of his mind, that some modification would be useful, and he felt it to be his public duty to take the first fair and favourable opportunity of effecting it; but it was those very feelings that obliged him to oppose the motion of the hon. gent. which he sincerely thought would render more difficult, if not altogether impossible, the effective remedy of the evils complained against. In the first place, the time at which this measure is proposed is totally unsuitable: at so late a period of the session, to enter on a subject of such vast importance, of such intricate detail, and such various interests, would be in fact to insure its defeat, and by such defeat to create a prejudice against it, when hereafter brought forward at a fitter season. He thought, too, that as a remedy of the system, it was totally inadequate, and he could not think that enabling the clergy to make tithe leases for 21 years, would in any considerable degree alleviate the pressure on the peasant and the poor. But his great objection to the motion arose out of his anxious wish to ameliorate the existing system, because the proposed bill went in fact to perpet-nate it; it went to pledge the good faith of parliament to its continuance for 21 years at least, during which time no change could be proposed; but it went farther, and extended its existence for 21 years, from the date of any future lease that might be made under it, before the actual change should be approved; so that at whatever time we should agree to a modification of the system, 21 years must elapse before it could become effectual. Under these circumstances, and from this pressing consideration, he felt himself obliged, as a friend to the principle of 647 tithe reform, to oppose the introduction of the present bill, which must inevitably delay, and would probably prevent for ever that reform which he desired.
supported the motion. He thought the tithe system in England was perfect in comparison to that of Ireland, and although the present proposition did not go to remedy the evil, yet it pledged the house, that early in next session they would turn their attention to it.
moved the Previous Question, as he saw no prospect of the house being able to discuss the measure during this session, and it was only encouraging a feeling which they could not gratify.
On the Previous Question being put from the Chair,
§ Mr. Wilberforce
rose, and stated his anxiety that some remedy should be adopted for the evils complained of, but he saw no prospect of effecting any thing effectual during the present session. The house were at present much in want of information upon the subject of Irish policy, a circumstance which was much to be regretted, but as it could not proceed to propose a remedy, he should wish this question to be disposed of by the previous question, rather than an actual negative.
Mr. Secretary Canning thought it amounted to the same thing, whether the house disposed of this question by a direct negative, or by the previous question being put, as it was evident to him, that the time, propriety, or expediency of the measure, held out no prospect of its being possible to remedy the evils complained of during this session. It was not by sudden fits nor starts that any great evil could be got rid of; but there must necessarily be many considerations of all its bearings, and much discussion upon every point, and every interest affected by a change previous to its adoption. Although the union of the two countries had identified the interests of them both, yet still there was a necessity for nice discrimination before any alteration of a particular system should take place as to, or so as to assimilate it with that of the other, as much depended upon local circumstances. He should vote for the previous question, although it was not usual to propose it upon the bringing in a bill, as he did not object to the motion upon principle. If, however, he thought, that it had been proposed with a view to infringe upon 648 the established church, he should certainly object to the measure upon its principle.
said there was no reason to apprehend that the measure for remedying the evils complained of could infringe upon the Protestant Church, as it was one of the essential) provisions of the Union that that should be maintained as the established religion of the land. He understood that the generality of the ecclesiastical bodies in Ireland were all in favour of a change in the system of collecting tithes, and it was only a few of the higher order who objected to it.
§ Mr. Parnell
said in reply that he by no means desired an abolition of tithes; that he did not wish for any alteration, but such a one as would secure the clergy a fair equivalent for what they now possessed; that the inference he drew from the relative numbers of Catholics and Protestants went merely to this, that if nine-tenths of the people were to pay the clergy of the remaining one-tenth, they ought to be permitted to pay them in the way the most easy and agreeable to themselves. He said he was extremely surprised to hear it objected to his motion that the period of the session was too late for entertaining it; because the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer would on Wednesday next propose to the house to lay new taxes upon the people of Ireland, to the amount of 2 or 400,000l. per annum. If then it was not too late to impose new burthens upon the people, how can it be too late to redress a grievance of which the people of Ireland universally complain?
§ A division then took place, when the Previous Question was carried by a majority.
|For the Previous Question||137|
after the long discussion which had already taken place, submitted whether it would not be desirable to postpone the debate upon this important subject to a future day.
§ Mr. Curwen
was at all times anxious to hear the sentiments of the house upon this question; but as he was aware that some of the clauses in the bill were dis- 649 approved of, he should not feel indisposed to postpone the discussion, because he should thereby have four or five days to reconsider these clauses.
Mr. G. Jahnstone
thought, that after a discussion which had lasted for six hours, this question could not receive a full discussion and he was therefore for the postponement.
§ On the motion of Mr. Curwen, the question having been put that the Speaker do leave the Chair,
Mr. Ridley Colburne
declared, that if this bill were to pass, four-fifths of the boroughs would be affected by it. The motion of which an honourable friend of his had given notice for a Reform in Parliament, was less objectionable than this measure, and therefore this bill should have his decided negative.
§ Sir W. W. Wynn
observed, that he was descended from those persons who had originated the acts against bribery at elections, and for the trial of controverted elections, and consequently a friend to any measure, calculated to promote the objects professed in those acts. Those who gave money for their seats, did it with a view to get it back; and, though some of those who get into parliament in that way were good members, others were bad, and consequently he should support the bill.
§ Mr. George Johnstone
rose and spoke as follows:—Mr. Speaker; I much approve of the sentiments expressed by the hon. gent. (Mr. Ridley Colburne) who first spoke in this debate. He has stated sufficient ground to satisfy the house, that if it were to adopt the remedies proposed by the author of the Bill, there would ensue evils much greater than those which it is now sought to cure. But there are reasons still more cogent, which induce me to believe, that it is the duty of the house to reject the proposition in its present stage. This is a measure of no ordinary nature; my hon. friend modestly professes to desire only to carry into effect the Resolutions which stand recorded on our Journals; but his Bill is broad and comprehensive in its enactments; and, if passed into a law in its present shape, will alter the composition of parliament in such a degree, that few, indeed, of the persons I have now the honour to address, could retain their seats, if they complied strictly with all the obligations about to be imposed.—It appears to me, that there is no sufficient ground stated for the house to adopt measures of so dangerous and so in- 650 definite a nature. The constitution, under which we enjoy so many blessings, is not the work of art; it is not the work of human wisdom alone, but has been produced by a happy combination of circumstances, during the lapse of ages; and to hazard the safety of such a fabric by measures of dangerous reform, whose consequences the house cannot calculate, seems to be the height of folly and presumption. The hon. baronet (Sir Watkin Wynn) has quoted, with great approbation, the Treating Act, the Bribery Act, and the Act for regulating Elections; I concur with him in the applause that he has bestowed upon those wise statutes; but I wish the house to regulate its conduct by the conduct pursued by our ancestors on those important occasions. It was not on any speculative principles that those acts were adopted; it was not until the evils they were meant to remedy were felt and observed, in their practical effects. Our ancestors were long aware of the consequences of excessive treating at elections; but it was not until the year 1696, when great and extensive evils were endured, by the competition among the great families to obtain returns to parliament, that any legislative remedy was judged necessary. In like manner, bribery may have been coeval with the importance attached to seats in this house; but it was not until the evil was brought before the view of our ancestors, in an aggravated form, at the election for Beverley, that the present act to prevent it was adopted. So, also, the partial decisions on controverted elections had been complained of for a length of time; but it was not until the disease assumed a more malignant character; it was not until parliament, reviewing the repeated decisions it had pronounced, under ministerial influence, on the case of Mr. Wilkes, became ashamed of its own conduct, and applied the remedy contained in Mr. Grenville's Act.—Since all legislative provisions are in themselves evils, by restraining natural liberty, it is not a sufficient ground to have recourse to them, that certain habits prevail which seem unbecoming and improper. We must trace them in their practical consequences; and before the house adopts a legal remedy some practical evil should be apparent, of a plain, distinct, and unequivocal nature.—Now, Sir, whatever may be the various means by which gentlemen attain the honour of sitting in this house, where shall we find the practical 651 evils of the present constitution? Is it in the admission of persons unworthy of so high a trust from education, from character, or from manners; or is it in the neglect and misconduct of parliament itself? I am aware, that parliament, out of doors, is charged with every degree of misconduct. I know, that we are said to be utterly unworthy of public trust; but because we are calumniated abroad, let us not calumniate ourselves. Let our proceedings be carefully examined; let our conduct be compared with the conduct of other public bodies, in other nations, intrusted with similar power, or compared with the conduct of our ancestors in the best periods of our history; and let the country decide whether we have discharged our duty. Let us be judged with reference to what has existed in any age, or in any country. From such an ordeal we shrink not; but let us not be tried on the theoretic principles of virtue, which have never had a practical existence, and are, in fact, inconsistent with the frailties of human nature.—To listen to what has been expressed out of doors, and what indeed has been hinted within these walls, it might be supposed that the Parliament of England resembled the Senate of Venice, legislating only for its own benefit and advantage; but what foundation exists for this and other charges? Have the members of this house been found to exempt themselves from the public burdens in any instance? or, on the contrary, is it not notorious that, amidst the difficulties induced by extended taxation, whenever we are at a loss for a new tax, we have immediate recourse to that class of tax, which bears more immediately upon ourselves—to the assessed taxes? Have we, in any instance, sought peculiar privileges for ourselves? Is not every one of those, which existed at his majesty's accession to the throne, now abolished? And so little effort did this seem to require, that the Bill by which the last of our privileges was extinguished, (Mr. Serjeant Best's Bill,) passed through the house almost without notice; and the process of the law is now, in every respect, the same towards members of this house as towards the lowest and meanest individual in the land. Gentlemen appear to be surprised that I should even mention such topics, so little does the idea enter into the mind of any one among us; but let it be recollected, that to obtain exemptions and privileges for their members, has 652 been the first effort of all public bodies in foreign countries, possessing powers similar to our own.—But are we less careful of the public money than were our ancestors? Is parliament more disposed to lavish the resources of the state than in other times? Amidst facts innumerable, since the Revolution, it is sufficient to state, that even so late as in this reign, when, in 1709 it was proposed to pay the debts of the Civil List, parliament voted the money required; and yet ministers refused to produce the accounts, by which alone the propriety and necessity of the grant could be judged. In the present time, does there exist a minister so lost to all sense of propriety as thus to conduct himself? or, if such a minister could be found, is there a man within these walls who would not raise his voice to express his indignation?—But it is said, that there prevails the greatest abuse in the expenditure of the public resources, and that we are unwilling to make a reform.—Is there any truth, any justice, in the charge?—The knowledge obtained upon this subject is, in it-self a proof of strong desire to reform and amend; since it is the result of the labours of committees appointed by parliament, with a view to examine, and correct, whatever of evil may exist in our system. But with all our diligence, and all our researches, what is the amount of the abuses we have discovered, and what the conduct we have adopted? The abuses discovered in the naval branch of expenditure, by the laborious diligence of a most meritorious commission, must be pronounced as very considerable, compared with the extent of the service. And even the abuses that existed were chiefly carried on in the West Indies, which is beyond the reach of ordinary vigilance, and have now ceased. In the expenditure of the military department there has been found more ground for complaint, as was to have been expected from the indefinite nature of the service to be performed. But has there been shown any tardiness to restrain the evil when discovered? and are not remedies applied, such as promise to be effectual? It has been truly said, that the abuses in each gentleman's private household exceeded the abuses in the public disbursement, on a comparison of their respective amounts. Let gentlemen consider the prodigious magnitude of the services which are carried on; let them consider that they extend to every quarter of the globe; and is it astonishing that, under such cir- 653 cumstances, all the vigilance, all the attention of government, should sometimes be unable to prevent the frauds of the persons in whose hands such trusts are reposed? Do gentlemen expect that any government should be more vigilant in the discharge of its functions than is the Bank itself, whose attention, whose regularity, has ever been proverbial? and yet we find, that in the very simple functions which belong to that body, and in spite of all its care, a fraud was practised upon it a few years ago, to an extent far exceeding any which has taken place in the various and complicated duties, that belong to government. But here again, to form a just estimate of what is due to ourselves, let us compare the practices of former times; let us look to the abuses that existed in the time of the duke of Marlborough, in which he himself, as commander-in-chief of the army, was a participator. What was the conduct of Mr. Walpole, when secretary at war? so late as in the seven-years' War, similar practices prevailed to a degree which enabled our commissaries to start into rivalry with the most ancient and opulent families of the kingdom. In the American war they likewise existed, though not to so enormous an extent; but in the present times the house has the satisfaction to know, that these evils have in all cases been mitigated, and in many completely restrained. Where our commissaries are within the control of government, they have executed their duty with singular purity and honour; in Holland, in Egypt, in Hanover, in Spain: and if in the West Indies considerable frauds were practised in the year 1796, effectual means of correction have now been adopted.—Did the proceeding of the house, not many nights ago, and the countenance given to the propositions of an hon. gent. (Mr. Henry Martin), show an unwillingness to examine and amend whatever there be of evil in our institutions? Did it not appear that the pensions and sinecures amounted to only a one hundred and eightieth part of our annual expenditure? and was there not manifested, on all sides of the house, a disposition to retrench any part of this charge, which should on a fair examination appear superfluous? Is it no proof of public virtue that a revenue exceeding 60 millions is collected at no greater expence than 2,700,000l.; a less rate than is paid by many individuals in this house for the sale of their sugars, or is allowed by the Lord Chancellor to the 654 receiver of any landed estate under his authority? Far from acknowledging neglect or criminality, I confidently maintain, that the conduct of parliament, in late years, gives it a great claim to the confidence and gratitude of the country, which our ancestors never possessed.—But it is said, that, on a late memorable occasion, parliament displayed the grossest proof of misconduct, of corruption, and of contempt of the sentiments and opinions of its constituents. So little am I disposed to regard this transaction in the same light, that I do not hesitate to assert, that when the passions of the people shall be so far abated as to enable them to take a calm and dispassionate view of all the circumstances attendant on it; or were an intelligent foreigner required to pronounce upon it, it must be declared to be a case, which, beyond all others, manifests the power of the popular branch of our constitution. The son of our sovereign holding an office of the highest trust, which, by the acknowledgment of all mankind, he had discharged with eminent ability, put upon his trial by the unanimous voice of this house, on the accusation of a person very little known in parliament, and totally unsupported by any party. After a most patient and laborious investigation, where the chief evidence was a woman under the influence of jealousy and hatred, altogether destitute of character or morals, a personage so exalted in rank and dignity compelled to retire from his high situation, in spite of all the efforts of administration, aided and supported by such parts of opposition as had ever filled or entertained an expectation of filling public stations. But it is denied that this resignation was the result of the opinion expressed by the house of commons itself. It is said a very large proportion of the house decided favourably to the Duke of York, and that it was the voice of the people, alone, which compelled him to resign. In the view that I take of our constitution, considering it as a machine for practical purposes, I am satisfied when a beneficial result is attained; nor am I anxious to inquire, when our object is accomplished, by what means it is brought about; but surely it was parliament itself that compelled his royal highness to resign. No person who observed the public proceeding of the house, and knew the feelings and sentiments that pervaded it, would deny that it was prepared ultimately to hare concurred in a rote for his royal 655 highness's removal from office, had not his resignation prevented it; although it refused to record on the Journals a resolution, which, in a case of much doubt, affixed an indelible reproach on his character. But I am prepared to go still further, and to assert that this result is, in reality, the most beneficial that could be attained; and such as a moderate and politic person would hare desired, whatever had been the light in which he viewed the conduct of the Duke of York. By his removal from office, the great practical object in view was attained; and for all purposes of example, the public nature of the inquiry, and the result, would operate to deter others, quite as forcibly, as if we had proceeded to the severest punishment: at the same time, by refusing to record on our Journals the Resolutions proposed, we abstained from degrading monarchy in the person of a prince so nearly connected with the throne, and escaped from the serious embarrassments which would have ensued, had the regency, or the sovereignty of the realm, descended to a man disgraced and dishonoured by the deliberate and solemn vote of parliament. Lamentable, indeed, will be the condition of the country, when parliament shall be found insensible to the feelings of the nation; but far more calamitous will be the times, when it shall become the mere echo of the voice of the people. Individually we ought to sympathize, we ought to partake of every sentiment of those, by whom, and for whom, our authority is constituted. But in the resolves of parliament, the sentiments of the people ought ever to appear softened and refined; divested of all their grossness; and, above all, purified from that passion and violence which is inseparable from popular feeling. But it is contended, that the practices which this bill attempts to remedy are contrary to the theory of our constitution. After what has passed in parliament; after it has been said, that the practice complained of is "notorious as the sun at noon-day," (see p. 519). it would be prudery in me to deny that something of the kind may exist. But I cannot admit that it is "notorious as the sun at noon-day;" and if such abuses prevail, I believe them to have been, uniformly practised in secrecy. When gentlemen, however, appeal to the theory of our constitution, they appeal to that which I do not distinctly comprehend, to something of which I suspect they themselves have no very definite con- 656 ception. So much, however, is certain, that every theory of our constitution diners altogether from the practice. Our theory supposes the power of the constitution to be lodged in three branches, checking and controlling each other; while it is perfectly evident, that, by the change of circumstances, the whole practical power of the constitution is vested in the house of commons, which, by withholding supplies, may entirely control the other two branches of the constitution. It is sufficient for me to know, that it has produced greater practical benefits than have been found to exist in any other government, ancient or modern; and, as long as we continue to enjoy such blessings, I shall never be studious in the pursuit of theoretical amendments. But another, and a better ground, is taken, when gentlemen say, we seek to restore the constitution to its ancient purity;—this I fully comprehend; I join issue with them; and if they will point out the times in which greater purity existed than in the present times, I will gladly recur to the practices which then prevailed. But let us examine this question: gentlemen would scarcely wish to go back to the times of the Tudors, when parliament was the base instrument of the legal vengeance of our monarch. As little would they recur to the times of the Stuarts. Many useful laws were enacted in the reign of Charles the second; but will it be denied, that almost all the chief leaders in the house were actually in the pay of France? But I suppose that we are to look for an example in the reign of king William, when those self-denying ordinances, which are so much the object of admiration in the present day, (the laws against placemen and pensioners), were passed. Let us look a little at the practice of those times: is it not notorious that the monarch himself received a present of 10,000l..; that the Lord President of the Council received 5,000l.; and that a person was found, who disgraced the chair now so honourably filled, by the acceptance of a bribe of 1,000l.? Nor are these solitary cases. There is scarce a page of the history of those times, in which something of the same sort will not be found. If we proceed to the succeeding reigns, we shall find our ministers, Walpole and Stanhope, acknowledging in this very house their mutual peculations and embezzlements. In the following years, how many abuses were practised in respect of the South-Sea bubble, and the Corporation 657 for the Benefit of the Poor? and how many members of this house were expelled, in consequence of the grossest frauds? Surely then, in no part of sir Robert Walpole's administration shall we find an example of that purity to which we may refer; in fact, it was not until the administration of Mr. Pelham that ministers were free from the reproach of personal corruption, not such practices as are now stated to exist; not the exertion of influence; not arrangements, by which men may come into parliament here to exercise a free agency, all which prevailed to the same degree as at present; but the absolute receipt of monies, of bribes in their own persons, for the vilest and most unworthy purposes. Perhaps it is impossible better to illustrate the difference between those times and the present, than by a reference to what took place concerning the very piece of ground at Chelsea, which has been a matter of so much discussion. Sir Robert Walpole, the minister, without a pretence, scrupled not to obtain from the crown a grant of the land of a national charity, for his own individual benefit; and the transaction passed entirely without notice, whilst the grant of a part of that very ground, for a valuable consideration, proceeding through all the forms required by the law, has set the nation in a ferment. In saying this, however, I desire not to be understood as approving, in any degree, of the latter transaction; it is not for the credit of government, and ought to have been avoided. But let us look at times somewhat more within our own memories; let us look at the administration of lord North. It were needless to weary the attention of the house, by tracing the various instances of ministerial influence, and of parliamentary servility, exhibited in the proceedings on the Middlesex Election; it is sufficient to state, that towards the close of the American war, when most of the counties in England had petitioned for a careful review of our expenditure, the motion of sir George Saville, for laying before parliament the Pension-list, was rejected, and ministers condescended to inform the house of such pensions only as were payable at the exchequer. Does any minister now exist so hardy as to propose to parliament such a vote? or if, lost to shame and prudence, he suggested such a proposition, how many of this corrupt and degraded parliament would support him? These facts are sufficient to prove how much more pure and honest is the pre- 658 sent practise of parliament, when compared with any former period of our history; and, indeed, gentlemen, when they talk of restoring the constitution to its ancient purity, are themselves compelled to acknowledge, that our constitution is in a progressive state of amendment. An hon. gent., (Mr. Whitbread) himself the chief supporter of reform, distinctly stated the fact; he told us, that parliament was reforming itself; that since the Grenville act the franchise of three boroughs had been extended; and that every borough in the kingdom was attempting to free itself from the controul of the patron by whom it had hitherto been ruled. The fact is undeniable; and if 275 members were returned to parliament by individual interest, as was stated in the Petition for Reform in 1797, the proportion is now greatly diminished. No one can deny the sentiment that now pervades every town and city in the empire; nor is it to be doubted, that in a very few years their independence will be exerted to such a degree, that no returns will be made by individuals, but those who are possessed of burgage tenure. Is it nothing, likewise, that, by the operation of the wise laws alluded to early in the debate, all the disorder, all the riot, all the confusion formerly incident to elections, is at an end? In former times these were great and serious evils; they were not the pretences on which the septennial act was justified; but they were felt by grave and well-disposed persons to be of such a nature, as greatly to serve in justifing parliament, when it extended its own power and duration. Even Mr. Burke, in our own times, in arguing this question, speaks of the disorders, attendant on elections as an important consideration, why the duration of parliaments should not be shortened. Every one has read of the disorders that ensued in the metropolis, on the election of Trentham and Vandeput; we ourselves witnessed the evils incident to the elections of Mr. Fox and lord John Townshend. Is it no benefit, that such scenes of violence and disorder are now entirely at an end; and that the elections in 1806 and 1807 were conducted with as little confusion as occurs in the annual choice of our magistrates?—Another great and important change stands recorded, by the most incontrovertible of all evidence—our own proceedings. The house had occasion to scrutinize the mode of election in no less than eighty cases, in the short 659 space of a twelvemonth; and in no one instance was bribery proved to have been practised; and in very few was it even alleged. When there exists such manifest proof of the amended state of our representation, when our laws have been so far effective, it is a little too much for the hon. mover of this Bill to propose to us to enact new and severe laws for the purpose of correcting bribery. This part of his bill is, at least, unnecessary; it is in absolute contradiction to the evidence before us, and seeks to remedy an evil, which is proved to be sufficiently restrained by the laws now actually in being.—But the hon. gent. complains, that the landed interest has lost its preponderance, and that the influence of the monied interest is now too great; an evil which he hopes to cure by the present bill. I would, remind the hon. gent., that this complaint is not new; that it has existed in all times; and was never more loudly urged, than in those times of purity to which we are referred,?—the times of king William; then also was it attempted to set up a distinction between the monied and the landed interest, with as little success as, I hope, will attend the present effort. The hon. gent. deems this mischief to have prevailed chiefly since the year 1784; and even the right hon. gent., (Mr. Windham), whose opinions I much admire on all other points, seems to think, that, by the transactions which then occurred, a great change was produced in our constitution. I agree with that right hon. gent., that a great change did then take place; but it was a change not injurious to the popular branch of the constitution; it was the triumph of the popular part of the constitution over the house itself. In adopting Mr. Fox's East India bill, and by the measures it afterwards pursued, to restore Mr. Fox and lord North to his majesty's councils, parliament acted in direct opposition to the feelings and sentiments of the people; and we need not be astonished, that in the result of the conflict it was defeated. The alteration resulting from that transaction, and the change of representatives in so many places, which ensued upon the general election, consisted, not in any preference for the monied interest, as contrasted with the landed interest, but in moderating the strong spirit of party which before prevailed in the house and the nation. And here I must permit myself a very short observation, on the anxiety gentlemen manifest to profess themselves party- 660 men, and to contend that it is the best and most honourable conduct that can be pursued in parliament. It is not, however, to discuss the question, but to profess my own conviction, that public duty is far better discharged by an imitation of the member for Yorkshire, (Mr. Wilberforce), who, keeping his mind entirely free from all party bias, is ever ready to throw the great weight resulting from his talent and integrity into that scale, which is in danger of being forced from its proper balance.—Waving, however, further observation on this point, it cannot be denied, that, if party must exist, it is highly desirable it should exist in the most mild and moderated form. This I consider to have been the fact in a remarkable degree since the year 1784, and the reason is evident: If, on the one hand, difference of principle among parties would seldom lead to danger or violence, were it not united with a difference of interest among the individuals of which parties are composed; so, on the other, party, when proceeding solely from individual motives of interest, cannot lead men long to depart from truth and justice, in a cultivated age such as the present. In the times of the Stuarts a great difference of principle existed, even among good men, as to the relative power of the crown and of the people. It was not altogether settled at the revolution, since king William ventured to set the will of the crown in opposition to the feeling of the people, in respect to some of our best and most wholesome laws, particularly the law for regulating Trials for Treason, which he rejected during several sessions, and to which his assent was not obtained until the latter period of his reign. The throne was secured to the house of Brunswick by the efforts of the Whigs; and they continued to govern the kingdom until the accession of his present majesty. From that date no difference has existed in this country, founded on any difference of political principle; all classes of party-men have sought only to preserve the constitution such as it is; but the contest that arose respecting the line of policy to be pursued towards America, and the opposite opinions maintained in parliament for so long a time upon that subject, had, in a manner, enlisted parliament under separate leaders. By an union, they at once endeavoured to control their sovereign, and endeavoured to disregard the opinions of the people. Since the failure of that attempt, the party-feeling that has prevailed in the house has 661 been nothing more than preference for one or other of the great leaders, now unfortunately no more, whose talents guided its debates. In point of practical conduct, it is probable that, which ever had been the minister, nearly the same measures as have been pursued, would actually have been adopted. Under such circumstances, it is not possible that the spirit of party should pervert, in any very great degree, men's fair and honest judgments. By this abatement of party-spirit; by the great influence of public opinion on our proceedings; and sometimes by the direct part, which the people have taken in public affairs, expressed in the resolutions of public bodies; the increase of the influence of the crown, arising from its enlarged revenue and expenditure, has been counteracted. Since that time, the warmest friends and the most zealous supporters of administration, have always reserved to themselves a freedom to withhold their support, and even to oppose measures of which they did not approve; and parliament will be found to have displayed a degree of independence, which, on no former occasion, was manifested. Symptoms of this spirit were first shewn in respect of taxation. In former times, a minister, who failed in persuading parliament to adopt a tax, seldom retained his power any long period of time. The fall of sir Robert Walpole soon followed the rejection of his propositions for the Excise; but Mr. Pitt was compelled to give up the Shop-Tax, the Maid-Servants' Tax, and the tax on Succession to real property, without any abatement of his general power or influence. When the Declaratory Bill for India was introduced, many of his best friends asserted their free agency, professing still the same warm desire to support his administration. The same spirit was more distinctly shewn in respect of the general plan of fortification; and, notwithstanding the brilliant success which had attended his measures in Holland, and the recent submission of Spain, when he proposed to involve this country in a war with Russia, the attempt was resisted, and parliament asserted its right of judgment—a circumstance the more remarkable, when it is considered that this was a question depending on details, known only to the cabinet, and on which parliament had always been used to vote on confidence. But the case, which, beyond all others, proved the independence and virtue of parliament, was the proceeding adopted concerning lord Melville. We saw 662 a minister, who had been in office for 20 years, who had displayed great talents and ability, who possessed the favour of his sovereign, and enjoyed the confidence of his country in a high degree, at once driven into disgrace, for neglecting to restrain the conduct of a dependant in the misuse of the public money. Neither the influence of administration, the power of the crown, nor the tears of Mr. Pitt, were found availing to induce the house to abstain from requiring his removal from the privy council, on an occasion where he had failed in his duty to his country. All these are proofs of a degree of independence, of public spirit, and of public virtue, which will not be found in the history of any nation, or in the proceedings of parliament during the times of our ancestors. They abundantly prove, that we have discharged our duty with honour and integrity; and should induce the house to disregard the present clamour, which must soon subside; being founded in an exaggerated and impassioned view of a late transaction, and in no degree justified by our conduct, which, in every stage, has been wise, moderate, and just. Influenced by these sentiments, I maintain that no change is necessary; but, even if a change were necessary, is the bill of the hon. gentleman calculated to amend the character or composition of parliament? What is the conduct of the persons whom he seeks to exclude from this house? If I ask out of doors, or even if I ask some within these walls, they will answer like the hon. baronet, (Sir Watkin Wynn.) that they are peculators and jobbers, who having bought their seats seek only to obtain a remuneration for the expenditure they have thus incurred, who are at all times ready to say to their constituents (in the words of the story), "I have bought you, and now I will sell you." But is this the fact? and are they found to discharge their duty less conscientiously than other members? What is the class of persons supposed to purchase seats in this house? Merchants of extended connexion, and of great wealth; men who have served their country abroad in the naval and military profession; lawyers of great eminence; or persons who by any other means have arrived at considerable affluence or distinction. Having provided for all the necessaries and luxuries of life, and a surplus still remaining, instead of wasting it in maintaining an increased retinue, or more splendid equipage, they dispose of it in 663 obtaining an introduction to this assembly, anxious to become known to all who are great and eminent among their countrymen; and often honestly hoping, that when questions come under discussion, in which, from the habits of their life, they are conversant, they may be useful to their country. They are men who have a disposition to preserve, if not always endowed with a capacity to amend, the constitution of their country. The powers of the legislature are at least safe in their hands. And what is the course they are found to pursue? They generally support the ministers to whom his majesty has intrusted the administration of public affairs; and such generally is the first duty of every good citizen, in dangerous and critical times like the present. But whenever measures of a doubtful nature are proposed, are they the persons who most readily sacrifice their feelings and opinions at the shrine of power? Are they the men who adopt the measures and opinions of government by wholesale? Consider the case [of Mr. Dick] so lately brought under our review: here we find a gentleman connected with government by long habits, and bound by the ties of relation to the chief minister of Ireland, his guardian and his friend, retiring from the honourable situation which he possessed, rather than give a vote contrary to his feelings. Or, if the test of virtue be the conduct pursued by members of parliament in respect of the Duke of York, it will be found that there is among the famed 125 a larger proportion of gentlemen, such as the present bill would exclude from parliament, than of persons connected with the landed interest; and an infinitely greater proportion, than of persons who are supposed to be connected with the aristocratic branch of our constitution. I call upon gentlemen on both sides of the house, who have filled official situations, to declare whether it is amongst this class of persons that the most importunate suitors at the treasury are to be found. For themselves, they are precluded by their situations from seeking any thing; for their families, it general, they have little to desire; for their constituents, no provision can be necessary from the nature of the circumstances. Some may require facilities for their commerce; others may occasionally possess an ambition to be raised to the honour of the baronetage; but, upon the whole, I am confident that they are the persons, who least frequently are found to 664 solicit favours, and who, in the votes they give, discharge their duty most conscientiously. Now what ground can there be, either from experience or from speculative earning, to suppose that, if the law proposed could be rendered effective, and persons possessing parliamentary patronage were precluded from disposing of it in the way asserted, and compelled to fill their seats with candidates who made them no return, such men would better discharge their parliamentary duties? Were persons possessing parliamentary influence so to dispose of it, are we to expect that they would seek no reward, or have no personal objects to gratify? Is this consistent with human nature, or with experience? They would equally seek some selfish gratification; but, instead of obtaining it in the manner they now do, hey most obtain it from government. On this point we are not without experience, and I wish the house calmly to weigh the practical results. Let us suppose a gentleman, possessed of considerable parliamentary influence, acquired, as some will say, by the basest arts of management, but, as may probably be the case, by exercising kindness and protection to all around him,—suppose him to seek return, for the pains and labour he has exercised in the acquirement of so great an influence, by introducing to parliament persons connected with the monied interest,—suppose even that he adopts only such as are recommended by the treasury; at least the tie by which they are bound is loose in its nature, and will be found to serve only on ordinary occasions. While the machine of state proceeds in its ordinary course they may be found to lend a willing aid; but whenever doubts occur, whenever points arise, on which men of honourable minds may fairly differ, they will be found divided in opinion, each asserting his own conception of the case. Suppose the same power and influence exerted gratuitously to return to parliament friends of the minister; even if that minister were as great, and as powerful, and as virtuous as Mr. Pitt, could he withhold from one to whom he owed so great an obligation successive degrees of advancement in the peerage, even if two steps were required in the course of one year? If, on the death of such a minister, he transferred his powerful aid to his successor, would a minister, as stern and rigid in the discharge of his duty as lord Grenville, refuse to such a person those honours 665 of the peerage, which are mostly confined to characters who have upheld the glory of their country by the most brilliant achievements in its military service, or directed its councils in the Cabinet. Or suppose another course adopted; that, instead of an alliance with government, he should adopt the party of opposition; not only support them by his friends, but at a time, when no hope of returning to power remained, when their case seemed utterly hopeless, actually bring into parliament several who had once been members of administration. If by any change of fortune those ministers were again called to power, what bounds can be set to his claims, and to their honest gratitude? what honours, what distinctions, would not be heaped upon him? or to what office in the church, in the revenue, or in the military or naval service, would not his recommendation be considered to afford a most incontrovertible claim? And are these imaginary cases; or will not every one recognize their existence within his own remembrance? However unfitting, however unseemly, the practice alledged, I do not hesitate to assert, that, in its practical effects, it is far more benefical, than if the possessor of parliamentary influence be compelled to seek a return in the way described. In the one case, a remuneration is obtained, sometimes from the innocent vanity, often from the laudable ambition, of him who enters this house. In the other, it will be sought by the pursuit of those honours, which ought only to be the reward of eminent service, or by promoting to all the offices of the state the dependents and connections of the possessors of parliamentary influence. In the one instance men come into parliament by means which we may not approve; but, when here, are generally found to exercise their duty with a fair portion of independence and impartiality. In the other, they may enter the house in a manner to which no reproach belongs; but, when here, they will be found to be no more than the mere organs of their patron, who, having made his arrangements with one or other party, announces his will by these his instruments. Can any man hesitate to say by which of these courses the public service will be best promoted? But it is not only on public occasions that such an influence will be found to be mischievous; even on questions which are more of a judical than of a public nature, in all questions that regard private rights, we 666 shall find that, as often as private bills are under discussion, the same baneful and predominating influence will assert its power; nor is this mere speculative reasoning: every gentleman must already have felt and witnessed its operation. But the hon. gent. has conceived, that by his bill a larger portion of the landed interest will be introduced to the house. If the landed interest are to exercise the same arts in boroughs which are now supposed to be practised by the monied interest, I really do not see in what respect we shall be gainers; and if he supposes that persons possessed of parliamentary influence will use it only in favour of their neighbours in the country, he indulges the most groundless hope. Do the present possessors of influence, who are supposed to disdain all pecuniary advantage, seek for representatives among that class of persons? Do they not prefer their relations, or persons over whom they can preserve a direct control? or gentlemen bred to the law, who, by their talents and elocution, may advance the interests of the party they espouse? Or, do they not sometimes appear in parliament, as in a court of justice, by their attorney? There is, however, another class of boroughs, in which the hon. gent. may suppose his landed friends will be received with favour. He may indulge the expectation, that many of those, who now court merchants and bankers from London, will select in their stead the landed gentlemen in the neighbourhood: but this is no less a visionary hope; they must either make themselves acceptable by the same means as are now found efficacious; or the person, who is now content to perform the subordinate duty of agent and manager, will himself be the member. He is the person immediately known and connected with the electors in small boroughs; he manages all their affairs; he assists them amidst all their wants and necessities; and, if they exercise a pure and unbiassed choice, to him will it be directed. Then indeed would our constitution be destroyed; then would the representatives of the nation no longer represent its property; and the experience of a great and powerful kingdom has sufficiently demonstrated, that, if ever power and property are disunited, the possessors of power will very soon wrest the property from the inert and nerveless hands in which it is vested. Deeply impressed with a conviction of the danger of the mea- 667 sure, in its present form, I implore the house to pause before it gives countenance to innovations, whose operation human wisdom cannot foresee. We possess a judicial system so perfect, that no improvement of it has been suggested, even by those who indulge in speculations on all other subjects. The first object of every political association, security of person and property, is enjoyed in a degree to which no other nation ever attained, even at a moment when the ambition and violence of our enemy compels us to maintain a standing army of 200,000 men. A revenue of sixty millions is brought into the exchequer at a cheaper rate than any individual can collect his own rents. And if, in so vast an expenditure, some abuses and some frauds have been discovered, let it be remembered, that, even in our own domestic management, some portion of waste is ever united with great wealth: than an anxious desire prevails to correct whatever is faulty; that our government is conducted on more honourable principles than at any antecedent period; and that parliament, whatever may be the seeming imperfections attendant on the various modes of election, unites within its walls "every thing illustrious in rank or descent, in hereditary and acquired opulence, in cultivated talents, in military, civil, naval, and political distinction, that the country affords*." If, enjoying such blessings, the people are discontented: if, in such hands, they are no longer willing to repose the management of their affairs, I despair of my country; and must prepare for scenes such as have been exhibited among other nations. Let us not, however, be accessaries to these calamities, by legislating in order to satisfy the people, as it has been termed; or, more plainly speaking, by legislating under the impulse of fear. Let us discharge our duty with firmness and courage. If, upon an impartial examination of our own conduct, we are conscious that there exists among ourselves a taint so foul as to require a radical and fundamental change, let us adopt it; but let us not indulge the vain hope of appeasing popular clamour by countenancing measures at this period, which, at no other, would be deemed wise or expedient.
then moved that the debate be adjourned, and it was accordingly adjourned to Thursday next.