Sir Francis Burdett
rose and spoke to the following effect:—I have here, Sir, a Petition signed by 42,473 inhabitants of Westminster against the Corn Bill now before the House. In presenting this petition, I cannot refrain from stating 98 my own sentiments on the subject of it, with a view of correcting a great mistake, which has gone abroad of my being a friend to the measure. I am, Sir, no supporter of the Corn Bill. My wish is to leave Government to do with it as it pleases, because I believe that none of those who think themselves interested in this measure, are really interested in it. I think that Government alone are interested in the measure, as it is necessary to bolster up the system of taxation which they are resolved to continue. If they would only make a retrenchment of all improper and unnecessary expenditure, and put every thing on a suitable peace establishment, there could be no pretence for inflaming the public mind at the present moment on a topic like this, to bolster up an insupportable system; and if I differ in opinion with some of my constituents, it is not with respect to the measure itself, but with respect to the remedy which they seek. As to the late riots, I think it unworthy of any man that the public indignation should be directed to individuals of any description; and what I wished to impress on the minds of the people, when I had lately an opportunity of addressing them, was—not to waste their efforts against the crude and futile measure now under discussion, but to turn their whole attention to another evil, which included in it all other evils—the corrupt state of the representation in parliament. I have been represented out of doors, as having abandoned my former principles: it has been said that the landlord at length appears, and the patriot disappears; that I have allowed myself to be swayed by private interest, and that his has stifled every other consideration. I may on the present occasion state, that I have, individually and personally, no in-interest whatever in the result of the present measure; that, be that result what it may, it will neither add one farthing, nor take one farthing from me. With respect to my little property—my little establishment—I may, as every man's property is in some sort his kingdom, here say that my little kingdom has ever been on a peace establishment. I have always rather had a permanent state of things in view than the taking advantage of any temporary circumstances. Whether, therefore, the protecting price should be fixed at 80s. or one shilling, or no shillings at all, is a matter of indifference to me. In either case I have no interest: if the Bill 99 passes with the protecting price at 80s. the quarter, I shall not raise my rents—and if it does not pass, I shall not lower them. The country has been reduced to such a situation of difficulties, that, according to gentlemen on both sides of the question, we have only a choice of evils. Now I have a measure to propose which is a positive good, and will remedy every evil. I know that some gentlemen have said that it is improper to hash up the subject of the Corn Laws with Parliamentary Reform. Now I maintain, that the one measure necessarily arises out the other, in so far as the enormous taxation from which the Corn Bill takes its rise, is only necessary because the Government choose to keep up an establishment which will be destructive to the constitution. I am borne out in this view of the subject by what was lately delivered in another place, by a noble lord (Grenville), whose eyes were open to the true situation of the country, who said he Was astonished that any set of gentlemen in England could with patience endure the proposition of such a peace establishment; that if they pressed this establishment, it could not be disguised that their intention was to subvert the once free constitution of this country, and to establish a military despotism in its stead; and that in such a case he should no longer think it worth his while to attend mock debates on any subject in parliament. I appeal to every member in the House, if any discussion on any subject proposed by the ministry, can be viewed in any other light than a mock debate; and if any man who sits in the seat which the noble lord opposite (lord Castlereagh) occupies, cannot carry any measure he pleases, by a great majority? Whatever falls from him is received as if he were clothed with the mantle of the prophet—there he sits as an oracle, and all the people bow obedience to him. [Laugh.] I have been represented, Sir, as a friend to the Corn Bill; if I were so, I would not deny it; for my own opinion of the electors of Westminster is, that they would despise me if I were to give an opinion in this House, different from the opinion really entertained by me, by way of paying court to them. But, to cut the matter very short, I will never avail myself of the scandalous Septennial Act; and shall at all times be ready to resign my seat in this House, to whatever person they may think more worthy of it. With respect to the system now adopted of calling out the military and firing out of 100 houses, I must protest strongly against it. One cannot now walk the streets without running the risk of being rode over by dragoons. I was told by a gentleman, that in going along the streets the other night, some soldiers came up to him, and told him to go home. The gentleman said to them:—"I do not know that martial law is yet established;—you may go home if you please, for I will not." The noble lord may say that this military force is necessary to put down the disturbances. But I say, and will maintain that they have been guilty of murder, and that they had no power to call out the military to ride over the people. This was not the force which the constitution required to be called into action for the preservation of the peace. Surely the inhabitants of this city might safely be entrusted with the defence of their own property. No man knows whether he is safe in going along the streets, if people are to be placed in ambuscade, and allowed to fire through doors and windows. [Cries of 'No, no']. I go by the inquest of the coroner, from which it appears that there was no justification whatever for their firing through the windows—that there was no tumult whatever at the time the unfortunate man was killed. But even if there were, ought they not rather to display their force than to conceal it, to prevent the necessity of shedding blood? No man would think of placing steel traps or spring guns in his grounds to protect his property against thieves, without first putting up some notice of it. There never was such a thing heard of before in this country, as putting men in houses with arms to fire with on the people; to invite the people as it were to attack, by shewing no preparation for defence, and then to destroy them in this manner. What could be a stronger proof that the measures resorted to were not necessary, than the instance which my own case affords? I have been supposed by the people to be a friend to the Corn Bill, and have been represented as such in most of the public papers; and yet my house and person have not been attacked, though protected by no guard or military force; for I should have preferred seeing my house razed to the ground to the recurring to any such un-constitutional means, or the having it believed that I could entertain any apprehensions for my safety. The reports stated with such confidence in the newspapers were, however, very generally cre- 101 dited. The people must therefore have believed that in supporting the Bill, I acted from an honest motive. Is it very extraordinary that no respect should be paid by the public to majorities of hundreds of the House of Commons? In my opinion, it is not this or that measure which the people should take on themselves to determine against the voice of the Commons; they ought at once to Strike at the root of the evil—the cause of this difference between the sentiments of the people and the determinations of parliament. If the representation were once restored to its purity, the House would not have its table so often loaded with petitions. With respect to the present Bill, I think that there is a great mistake as to the benefits which some persons think they will derive from its being thrown out, and especially as to the advantage which will be derived from this by the labouring classes. The only persons who can be supposed to derive any profit in such a case, are the great master manufacturers, who, by the cheapness of labour, would be enabled to export their manufactures cheaper; but the labourer can gain nothing by it. The master manufacturers complain of the high price of corn, as it raises the wages of their labourers, and prevents them from selling their goods cheap abroad. But it would be quite the same in either case with the labouring classes, whose reward would continue unaltered. It is, therefore, a mistake to suppose that they are at all interested in the question. I think the land proprietors have, in this case, been very unfairly dealt with, and that they have been held up in a very false light. What! are people to tell me what rents I am to have for my estate, and what I am to do with my property? If we wish to have the country wealthy and prosperous, every man must be left to enjoy his property unmolested: and no man or set of men, no government, have a right to interfere with the concerns of any individual. I wish to have every thing free, and to have no protections of any kind. I would have no protection to trade, no protection to agriculture, no protection to any sort of people. We hear every day of the agricultural interest being hostile to the manufacturing interest, and then we hear of the monied interest, and other interests; every class of the community is thus represented as having a distinct interest from the others; we see every man trying 102 to throw off from his own shoulders to those of his neighbour, a burthen which all are unable to bear. I would wish to see an end put to this miserable system, and to see an equal protection extended to all classes of the community. I shall only make this farther observation, that I am sorry that the country gentlemen should allow themselves to be made the cat's-paw of any ministry, as they have done on this occasion. For this and numerous other evils, I defy them to point out any remedy but one—the renovation of the constitution.
rose under great agitation, and spoke nearly as follows:—The House, I hope, will easily believe me, when I say that I never rose to address them with the same feelings before. I should be destitute of every feeling of a gentleman and an honest man, if I were not deeply affected with the unfortunate accident which the hon. baronet has just alluded to. I can assure the hon. baronet that in some of the points alluded to by him, he is extremely mistaken. If the hon. baronet thinks that soldiers were placed in ambush in my house, for the purpose which he has stated, he is very much mistaken indeed. These soldiers were not placed in ambush; they were in the inside of my house, because they would otherwise have had no protection from without—the windows were all destroyed—the door had been driven in—the house had been entered three different times by the mob, and nothing but the sudden appearance of the soldiers could have prevented them from sacrificing myself, if the mob could have found me, and all my family. I do believe, in my conscience, that the lives of the people protecting my property would have been sacrificed, if they had not been protected by the soldiers. The soldiers remained in the House the first night, but they were not there when it was first attacked. I knew the artifices and misrepresentations which had been used to inflame the people against me; and I felt that I owed to those persons whom it was my duty to protect, to withdraw them from the house to a place of security. The house was broken into on the first attack; and the mob threatened to murder the servants if they did not say where I was to be found. Notwithstanding the protection of which the hon. baronet complained, the House will be so good as to recollect that nay house was attacked two or three times after it was first assailed. The 103 soldiers had withdrawn at day-light, the populace returned, broke into the house, and pursued the servants to the upper stories, who had little hope of preserving their lives. Under these circumstances I did make application to the Secretary of State to protect the house; which I beg to inform the hon. baronet is not mine, but one which I only temporarily occupy, and which it was therefore the more my duly to protect. The protection I sought was afforded, but it is not true that the troops were placed in ambush; for before a single shot was fired, the soldiers and servants had shewn themselves at the windows. They warned the people against making any attempt upon the house, which would be repelled, and that the consequences must rest with those who commenced the attack. It will be observed also, I hope, that before the Coroner the evidence of any of my servants was not taken; and although no verdict has yet been passed, yet, whatever it be, the occasion of it will ever give me the acutest pain. [From extreme feeling the hon. member was unable to proceed]. I do conjure the hon. baronet, if he values the peace of society, if he values the lives of his fellow-creatures, as he states, that he will abstain from making remarks of such a nature. They can produce no effect but to put to hazard the existence of the peaceable and well-disposed inhabitants. In my own particular situation I must necessarily be more exposed to the vengeance of the deluded populace; I know, when the anxiety which has been expressed and shewn to discover and to trace me, that that vengeance might be satisfied. If I bring a measure forward that is obnoxious, I know that I must expose myself to such hazards; but when the hon. baronet speaks of his own disinterestedness upon this question, I can, on my part, assure him that I, and those nearly and dearly connected with me, are equally disinterested; for by the success of the measure neither they nor I will gain a single sixpence. I think it is the duty of the hon. baronet to abstain from using such expressions and language, as those which he has this night employed, of the impropriety of which, in the existing state of affairs, he must be sensible, after one moment's reflection on the consequences by which they may be attended. [Hear, hear!]
said:—If, Sir, the hon. baronet had confined himself to his usual topics and to his usual invectives against 104 Government, I should have been prepared on the present occasion to have passed them over in silence. This evening, however, his address has been of a far different kind; and I think he has travelled most widely out of the course that I should have been disposed to allow to go unnoticed, when he made reflections upon the steps that either the Government or individual had adopted for the defence of their persons and property against the disgraceful outrages of a lawless rabble. If the hon. baronet had been in his place on a former night (and I am satisfied that if he were not in his heart a sincere friend to the Corn Bill, and fully convinced of its expediency, he would have been in his place), he would have heard, as we all did, that no charge was directed against Government, against those whom he contends have broken the law, for unnecessary severity in the mode in which they afforded protection to those who had solicited it. But such an accusation, I think, is a little too much from the hon. baronet, from whose mouth (on a former occasion, which the House well remembers, when lives were endangered by his improvident resistance to legal authority) we heard repeated with such vehemence, the established adage, that 'every man's house is his castle.' [Loud cheers] What! is it the hon. baronet that now maintains the illegality of self-preservation? Is it the hon. baronet that now insists that an Englishman has not a right to defend himself in his castle, to protect his life and his property against an infuriated multitude—a resistance too, not in violation and defiance of the laws of his country, as was the case with the hon. baronet? Now the hon. baronet changes his tone: he who defends his family and his property, against a lawless mob, if any accident occurs, is guilty of murder; and he who defies the Constitution and refuses obedience to the laws, if lives be lost, is a true patriot, and a loyal subject. I trust that my temper is able to carry me through the ordinary difficulties belonging to the situation I hold, and to the part I am under the necessity of taking in the discussions of this House; but when I hear every dictate of common sense, and every feeling of a loyal nature so grossly outraged, I confess I am unable to speak without being in danger of doing violence even to the widest limits of the freedom of debate. I am sure that the hon. baronet cannot be sincere in his declaration 105 respecting his opinion upon this Bill, and in the arguments he employed to his constituents. I say he cannot be sincere, or why did he not make his appearance in parliament to oppose it? Why did he not come down before this night, if he so thought, and say that he was not a supporter of the Bill? Is he an opposer of it? Is there any man who has heard the speech he has made, that does not perceive that he has touched all the arguments on which the support of this Bill is rested? Has he not declared that he is an enemy to affording protection to our manufactures, one of which was the manufacture of corn? Who has founded this measure upon any other principle than that you cannot protect one system of capital without affording protection to all, unless indeed it is meant to destroy that species of manufacture, or system of capital, that is not protected? Thus, while the principles and practice of the hon. baronet are so diametrically opposite, the whole comes to nothing more than an anxiety to subvert the constitution of the country. [Repeated cheers]. It is not the destruction of any particular government that he desires (for this testimony I have from the hon. baronet upon more than one occasion, that if the present system is to exist, it cannot be administered by better hands than those who are now entrusted with it), but he aims with a sweeping hand at the complete destruction of our constitution. He comes tardily from his retreat to attend his duty, not to oppose the Corn Bill, not to destroy the Government, but to subvert the Constitution. He comes from seclusion and retirement upon this favourable opportunity, to invite the opponents of this measure (who are among the steadiest and most distinguished friends of the constitution), to assist him, not in resisting the Corn Bill, but the work he has in view—far different in its means and object. I do trust that those who have resisted the progress of this measure, to such an extent as to ascertain the true sense of Parliament upon the subject, will pause before they range themselves under the banners of the hon. baronet. I do call upon them to reflect seriously before they embark in a common cause of destruction of every thing admirable and respectable with the hon. baronet ['No, no!' and cheers from all sides]. Let them hesitate before, with their eyes opened to the designs of the hon. baronet, they join with him in shak- 106 ing the government and subverting the constitution. If they are not disposed to unite their forces to his for the attainment of his loyal and patriotic purposes, I wish to know whether they are disposed practically to give countenance to sentiments like those this night avowed—calculated only to inflame the diaffected and disturb the peaceable? If such be not their intention, let them assert it and vindicate themselves. Let them, before they take the desperate plunge, survey, if they can, without trembling, the abyss on whose brink they stand, and in which they will be swallowed if they follow the hon. baronet in the most equivocal opinions he has this night delivered—opinions which, if put in practice, would shake to ruins the whole fabric of our constitution, and compel us to abandon the protection of all interests, landed as well as commercial.
§ Mr. M. A. Taylor
said, that though he had at different times wished to offer his opinion on the subject of the Bill, he had abstained from doing so, because he saw that the minds of the people were inflamed. There was no man more attached to the constitution of the country than himself; nor could any one be more ready to deprecate any departure from it: but so far from thinking that the military had been improperly employed, he thought the Government highly praiseworthy for calling them out with a view to put down a mob, which threatened destruction both to the favourers and opposers of it. Every man had a right to defend his castle, and those who attacked it must take the consequences of their temerity. Without such resistance on such occasion, no man could safely live in this country. If the worthy baronet had a fancy to have his house razed to the ground, let him indulge his propensity. The gentlemen over the way had done only what was just. Had they succeeded or had they not? Would not more blood have been shed if these measures had not been resorted to? The worthy baronet seemed to like the company of the hustings in Palace-yard better than he liked that House, or the company in it; but he could not agree with any part of the speech of the hon. baronet, because he conceived that he had a right to the protection of the Government; and without affording it as they had done, he should have conceived they had not done their duty. Those who did not like to 107 live under such a system, had better, perhaps, abandon the country altogether.
bore testimony to the provocation given when the soldiery fired from the House of Mr. Robinson. The populace were very outrageous, and were warned by the military, whom they saw loading their muskets at the windows before the attack was made.
Sir John Sebright
felt it unnecessary to trouble the House at length, after the manly and constitutional speech of the noble lord. He rose principally to enter his protest against the doctrines of the hon. baronet, who had talked of his constituents as if they alone were the people of England. He thought that a member much better discharged his duty by attendance in his place, than by dealing out declamations to a mob. In this instance he felt himself bound not only to support ministers, but to express his thanks to them for their firmness and moderation. Were he to make any criticism upon their conduct, he should say, that from constitutional motives they had carried lenity too far. It should not be forgotten, that a civil magistrate was placed even at the head of the military. It appeared to him quite justifiable to place men in ambush if it were necessary for the defence of his house; and he begged to state to the hon. baronet, for the information and caution of his constituents of Westminster, that he should defend his castle to the last.
Sir Francis Burdett
said:—It is not my wish to trouble the House at any length, more particularly upon what has been said regarding myself personally. I am desirous, however, to set myself right with the right hon. gentleman-opposite (Mr. Robinson). I did not attach any blame to him individually, but to the soldiers who were employed. I do not object to any man's defending his house or his property, provided it be done legally and constitutionally. I should like to see every man in the metropolis armed and organized to preserve tranquillity; but I do object to the interference of the soldiers, by which a military despotism, instead of a constitutional defence, would be established. The hon. baronet who spoke last observed, that a police magistrate had been placed at the head of the troops; but does this render the force at all less military, or alter their character? It reminds me of a 108 story I have heard regarding one of the Westminster elections some years ago. The partizans of the different candidates were organized into small bodies, armed with half-poles, the size of a constable's staff, with which they were able to do great execution, and sometimes even, I believe, committed murders. They were under leaders who conducted them about the town, one of whom one day asked whether it would not be better to have a little law on their side? His men did not understand him, and he proceeded to explain, that what made a legal constable was a painted staff, and he asked them whether it would not be better to have their half-poles painted like them? So it is with those who defend the introduction of the soldiery, and argue that by putting a police magistrate at their head, its military character is changed. Thus it is, that all constitutional modes of defence are neglected and fall into disuse—[Cries of 'No, no!]'. Gentlemen may cry 'No, no,' if they please; but are they ignorant that, constitutionally speaking, such a thing as a standing army is unknown in this country? What, then, was the proper and effectual mode of suppressing riots before our army was employed against the people? My object is not, as the noble lord has been pleased to represent it, to overturn, but to restore the constitution. Let the House recollect who it is that ventures to make this charge against me. Why, the noble lord who was himself detected in an act for which he ought to have lost his head—[Hear, hear! and great confusion].—I say, that for that act the noble lord ought to have lost his head; and by an uncorrupt House of Commons he would have been impeached, and would have suffered. He was exposed and detected in trafficking in seats in this House. The noble lord and his friends around him laugh; he may laugh now, secure in the protection he has received from this House: but when this heinous traffick was disclosed, you yourself, Mr. Speaker, stigmatized it as a new practice, as one at which our forefathers would have started with horror and indignation; and yet the noble lord was pardoned, let it never be forgotten, because the crime was as notorious as the sun at noon-day, and he escaped in the general mass of corruption and delinquency. Yet the noble lord, admitted to be guilty of this great offence, this direct attack upon the constitution, now ventures to stand forward, amidst the 109 applauses of the House, as the upholder and supporter of that constitution which it has been proved he endeavoured to overthrow. I cannot approve of the public tumults, the breaking of windows, or of the unmanly practice of attacking defenceless individuals; but still less do I approve of the more unmanly practice of letting loose an armed force upon an unarmed populace. But I can bear with patience the charge of the noble lord, that I wish to renovate the Constitution, because it has been, I am proud to say, the whole object of my life. The hon. baronet has spoken of the electors of Westminster as if they were engaged in these disturbances: he says that he will defend his house to the last against my constituents. Does he mean to assert that the enlightened electors of the important city of Westminster are guilty of these outrages?—[Hear, hear!]—I say that no member has a right to make such an assertion, however obnoxious my constituents may be to the corrupt portion of this House. I have a right to call it so—the noble lord was detected in disgraceful practices—he was taken in the fact—and 'ex uno disce omnes;' that was only one instance of a consistent system of profligacy.
§ Mr. Methuen
spoke to order. The hon. baronet was not warranted in asserting that the House pursued a consistent system of profligacy.
§ The Speaker
. The hon. baronet has been long enough a member of this House to know that it is a breach of its orders to use such language.
Sir F. Burdett
. I do know it, and I wish that my assertion was not only a breach of order, but a breach of truth—[Order, order!].
§ Mr. Sumner
thought, that as the hon. baronet had allowed that he knew he was transgressing the orders of the House, his words should be taken down.—[Cries of No. no!]
Sir F. Burdett
. It is a matter of perfect indifference to me—the hon. member may do just as he pleases.
Sir John Sebright
explained, that he did not mean to cast any reflection upon the electors of Westminster: he only alluded to certain persons, whom the hon. baronet was in the habit of addressing in Palace-yard.
Sir F. Burdett
. The hon. baronet should be informed that the householders of Westminster are the electors. The noble lord has termed my arguments with re- 110 spect to the Corn Bill, equivocal; now I do not care one straw whether the measure is or is not carried. I am only sorry that gentlemen of the country have interfered, and that the people have been deluded by it.
§ The hon. baronet then brought up the petition which was read, as follows:
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled:
The Humble Petition of the Inhabitant Householders of the City and Liberties of Westminster, whose names are hereunto subscribed,
That your petitioners, fully sensible of the value of our excellent constitution of government, though always lamenting the limitation and abridgment of its blessings by a corrupt system of administration, and the want of an equal representation of the people, have patiently endured the unexampled burthen of taxation, occasioned by the late protracted, calamitous, and, in their judgment, unnecessary war, although they could not but feel that it fell with very unequal severity on the inhabitants of towns, while the owners and occupiers of lands were in general much more than compensated, by the enormous increase of rents, and by the high price of the produce of the earth.
That on the unexpected and fortunate return of peace, it was reasonable to hope, that this forced and unnatural state of things, would be, in a great degree, corrected; that the rent of land and the prices of provisions would be reduced; that some of the more grievous and burthensome taxes would cease; that commerce would flow into its accustomed channels; that a stimulus would be given to our manufacturing and trading interests, by the freedom of intercourse with foreign nations; and that all classes of our fellow-subjects would participate in those blessings and advantages to which they had formerly been accustomed in times of tranquillity.
That your petitioners have, however, noticed with extreme concern and anxiety the introduction into your honourable House of a Bill relative to the importation of Corn, which, if passed into a law, must necessarily and directly produce, and in the judgment of your petitioners is intended to produce, a great permanent increase in the price of one of the first necessaries
of life, for the sake of enabling the proprietors and cultivators of land to maintain undiminished a splendid and luxurious style of living, unknown to their fathers, in which they were tempted to indulge during the late war, so highly profitable to them, and so calamitous to most of their fellow-subjects.
That it appears to your petitioners, that the measure which is the object of this Bill neither has been, nor can be proved to be called for by any necessity; that, on the contrary, the system of prohibition is injudicious; and that whenever the produce of all the land which can be cultivated at a moderate expense, is found insufficient for the support of a greatly increased manufacturing population, it is wiser to import, from countries where it can be grown at a low price, the additional quantity of corn required, which the spirit and industry of our merchants would at all times obtain in exchange for manufactures exported, than to diminish the national capital and increase the price of bread, in attempting to force it from barren spots at home, by an enormously expensive mode of cultivation.
That the certain consequences of this prohibitory measure, if persevered in, will be, as your petitioners conceive, considerable inconvenience to the middle orders of society; great distress to the poorer and more numerous classes; a most serious injury to the manufactures and commerce of the country; a great loss of national properly; a powerful inducement to emigration; and eventually, though not immediately, a bar to the prosperity of the landed interest itself. For these reasons, they are firmly persuaded that it is both impolitic and unjust.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the said Bill may not pass into law, and that the degree of freedom which the corn trade at present enjoys may not be diminished.
And your petitioners shall ever pray.
§ The Petition was ordered to lie on the table.
§ General Gascoyne
presented a Petition from Liverpool against the Corn laws, signed by 48,000 persons. He stated that this petition had been drawn up and signed without any meeting having been held—from the spontaneous feeling of the inhabitants. The opinion of the people of Liverpool had become decidedly hostile to any alteration in the Corn laws, although formerly they had merely op- 112 posed some particular measures on the subject. He hoped the sense of his constituents, expressed in a constitutional manner, would be attended to.
rose to present three Petitions against the Corn Bill, from Mary-le-bonne parish, from Plymouth Dock, and from his constituents at Taunton; the last of which had come just in lime to be thrown on the table and totally disregarded with the many others which had been presented. He hoped it was not necessary for any member of the House to disavow an intention of exciting tumult, as the noble lord (Castlereagh) had called on the opposers of the Corn Bill to do. He admitted that the Government was justified in using all fair exertions to suppress the disturbances, and he therein differed from the hon. baronet (sir F. Burdett), who, whatever he might do with his vote, had thrown the weight of his argument into the scale with the supporters of the Bill. He thought the hon. baronet wrong also as to the relation which he conceived to exist between the ministers and the country gentlemen. The ministers had been made a cat's-paw by the country gentlemen, rather than the country gentlemen by the ministers; who would eat the chesnuts, he could not decide. As to the unfortunate accident in Burlington-street, there was no one, he believed, that would blame the right hon. mover for taking the most effectual means to defend his house; nor would any imputation be cast on him, even if any of the persons employed to defend his property had misbehaved themselves. Although he did not agree with the hon. baronet in his notions of reform, he thought the measure, if carried, would be more efficacious towards producing a reform in that House, than any speech which that hon. baronet had made or could make.
§ Mr. Brand
said, that though a friend to a reform of the representation, he thought that question had been most improperly mixed up with the consideration of the manner in which this country might best be supplied with provisions, both by the hon. baronet, and by the hon. gentleman who spoke last. The hon. gentleman, indeed, had mixed up with his speeches all that was inconsistent, heterogeneous, and contradictory—every thing that could excite the public mind, by imputing the most improper motives to the supporters of the Bill; and he must be conscious, however 113 he lamented it, that the state of disturbance in which the metropolis was had arisen from such statements.
§ Mr. Tierney
rose to order. He was convinced, from the well-known benevolent disposition of his hon. friend, that he had not any deliberate intention to cast improper imputations on individuals; but he would perceive that it went to make a member answerable for the consequence which a conscientious support of his opinions in the House might produce out of doors.
§ Mr. Brand
continued, that he thought it most improper that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Baring) should have attributed improper motives to any individuals or class of individuals. The consequence had been, that members, that he himself was not able, without personal inconvenience and danger, to attend his duty in that House. It was impossible for him to speak of the statements which he supposed to have produced this, without irritation. He concurred with the hon. baronet in what he had said respecting the representation, except as to the language which the hon. baronet had used on the occasion; but he thought the subject quite irrelevant to a question concerning the mode of promoting the agriculture of the country.
contended, that he was strictly in order, as to what he had said respecting parliamentary reform; and he repeated that the measure then before the House would injure the reputation of that House with the people. They would lose more by persevering in that measure than by any act that had ever taken place since he had sat within those walls. He had never said, that there were persons who had not voted conscientiously; but he maintained that this was a question between landed proprietors and the great body of the people. [No! no!] Gentlemen might say "No! no!" but he was persuaded he was right, without following the supporters of the measure in all their agricultural trumpery.
The petitions were ordered to lie on the table.