HC Deb 11 July 1815 vol 31 cc1147-50
The Marquis of Tavistock

rose, evidently under the strongest emotion, and addressed the Speaker to the following effect:—

Sir;—I am persuaded that it must be quite unnecessary for me to say that I am at this moment labouring under feelings of the most painful and afflictng nature—[Hear, hear!] I wish, however, shortly to state to the House the reasons which induce me to depart from the usual practice in moving for a new writ, in order that I may pay a humble but sincere tribute of affection to the memory of my departed friend. Sir, it is not on any consideration of private friendship—it is not on any contemplation of his many virtues as a private individual,—it is on the reflection of the great space which he occupied in this House—it is on the recollection of his splendid abilities—it is on the conviction which we who thought with him on political subjects entertain of the advantages which the country derived for his exertions, that I found my excuse for this address—that I even claim the concurrence of all those who hear me in the feelings which agitate me at the present moment—[Hear, hear!] I am well aware, Sir, that a majority of this House thought his opinions erroneous. But—I speak it with confidence—I am sure that there is not one of his political opponents who will not lay his hand on his heart and say that he always found in him a manly antagonist—[Hear, hear!] The House of Commons will, I am persuaded ever do justice to the good intentions of those who honestly dissent from the sentiments of the majority. Accustomed to defend his opinions with earnestness and warmth, the energies of his admirable and comprehensive mind would never permit the least approach to tameness or indifference. But no particle of animosity ever found a place in his breast, and, to use his own words on another melancholy occasion, "he never carried, his political enmity beyond the threshold of this House,"—[Hear, hear!] It was his uniform practice to do justice to the motives of his political opponents; and I am happy to feel that the same justice is done to his motives by them—[Hear, hear!] To those, Sir, who were more immediately acquainted with his exalted character—who knew the directness of his mind, his zeal for truth, his unshaken love of his country, the ardour and boldness of his disposition, incapable of dismay, his unaffected humanity, and his other various and excellent qualifies, his loss is irreparable—["Hear, hear!] But most of all will it be felt by the poor in his neighbourhood. Truly might he be called "the poor man's friend." Only those who, like myself, have had the opportunity of observing his conduct nearly, can be aware of his unabating zeal in promoting the happiness of all around, him—[Hear, hear!] Thousands of individuals have benefited by the generosity of his heart; and the county, the principal town of which he represented, contains imperishable records of his active philanthropy, as well as that of the good man who went before him—[Hear, hear!] His eloquent appeals in this House in favour of the unfortunate—appeals exhibiting the frankness and honesty of the true English character—will adorn the pages of the historian although at the present moment they afford a subject of melancholy retrospect to those who have formerly dwelt with delight on the benevolence of a heart which always beat, and on the vigour of an intellect which was always employed for the benefit of his fellow-creatures—[Hear, hear!] Sir, I am conscious that I need not intreat pardon of the House at large for thus indulging in the praise of my lamented friend; but I owe an apology to those who loved him, for the feebleness with which it has been bestowed—[Hear, hear!] I move, Sir, "That the Speaker do issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, to make out a new writ for the electing of a burgess to serve in this present Parliament for the borough of Bedford, in the room of Samuel Whitbread, esq. deceased,"

Mr. Wilberforce

expressed the gratification which he felt at the pathetic speech of the noble marquis, which afforded an additional proof that the best eloquence was that of the heart. He wished to add his testimony to the excellent qualities of the lamented individual whose death had rendered the present motion necessary; and in doing so, he could with truth declare, that he was only one of many thousands, rich as well as poor, by whom his character had been most highly estimated. Well had it been termed by the noble marquis "a truly English character." Even its defects, trifling as they were, (and what character was altogether without defect?) were those which belonged to the English character. Never had there existed a more complete Englishman—[Hear, hear!] All who knew him must recollect the indefatigable earnestness and perseverance with which, during the course of his life, he directed his talents and the whole of his time to the public interest; and although he (Mr. Wilberforce) undoubtedly differed from him on many occasions, yet he always did full justice to his public spirit and love of his country—[Hear, hear!] He was capable (as had been seen at various times) of controlling the strongest feelings of personal attachment, when he thought that his duty to the public compelled him to do so. It was a melancholy satisfaction to those who loved him, to see that those who had differed from him on many political questions, nevertheless considered him as one of those public treasures, the loss of which must by all parties be deeply lamented—][Hear, hear!] For himself, he could never forget the important assistance which he derived from his zeal and ability in the great cause which he had so long advocated in that House. On every occasion, indeed, in which the condition of human beings was concerned—and the lower their state the stronger their recommendation to his favour—no one was more anxious to apply his great powers to increase the happiness of mankind—[Hear, hear!]

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

stated, that it was far from his wish to detain the House after the address, replete with feeling and propriety, which they had heard from the noble marquis, and after the excellent observations of his hon. friend—[Hear, hear!] All that he desired to say was, that it must be some consolation to the noble marquis, and to the whole House, to feel, that whatever difference of opinion might exist on political questions, there was no one who did not do justice to the virtues and talents of the object of their regret, or who for a moment supposed that he was actuated in his public conduct by any other motive than a conviction of public duty—[Hear, hear!]

The new writ for Bedford was then ordered.

Sir J. Yorke,

seeing an hon. member in his place who had lately complained of the conduct of captain Baker, of the Cumberland, in the management of a convoy which he had in charge, read a letter from captain Baker, explaining the nature of the transaction, and defending himself from the accusation.

Mr. Forbes

declared, that no man would be more rejoiced than himself if captain Baker cleared himself from the charge alleged against him, and pledged himself to take the earliest opportunity to put the Admiralty in possession of the means of prosecuting the inquiry.

Mr. M. A. Taylor

gave notice, that early in the next session he would revive the subject of the abolition of the punishment of the pillory, unless some measure of that kind should originate in another quarter; and also, that early in the next session, unless a considerable alteration should take place in the mean while, he would renew the Bill for better paving the Metropolis.