§ On the motion of Mr. Canning, the House resumed the adjourned debate upon the Amendment which was yesterday proposed to be made to the motion for an humble Address to his royal ness the Prince Regent for his gracious speech to both Houses of Parliament. The Speaker having read the original motion and the amendment,
§ Mr. Curwen
rose and said:—Sir, truly sorry am I to feel obliged to force myself on the attention of the Houses Sensible of the importance of unanimity at this awful crisis, I would willingly have made some sacrifices to have promoted it: but, Sir, an imperious sense of duty forbids me apparently to sanction the deception which I conceive the speech from the throne, and, the address in reply to it, are calculated to produce—Sir, in this House, it is perfectly understood, that the speech from the throne is that of the ministers, and that whatever observations are made on it, they intend not the slightest disrespect to the sovereign. Never were the hopes of the country excited to so high a 101 pitch. They look to our deliberations for an amelioration of their sufferings. Great as are the distresses of all ranks in society, they confide that the honest discharge of our duty may stop the farther progress of the evils they suffer, and lay the foundation of returning prosperity to the nation.
Admitting us honestly to do our utmost, I fear it may be impossible to satisfy the expectations that have been formed. To keep faith with the public creditor, burthens oppressive to agriculture and trade, I fear, must for a while at least be continued. To satisfy the people, therefore, they must be folly informed of the real situation of the country. Justice to them, justice to ourselves, require that we should deal fairly and honestly by the country. Besides the criminality in endeavouring to conceal from the public the actual situation of the finances of the country, it would be the height of folly to attempt it. The people feel too much and know too much to be duped, even were we so inclined. Great as are the dangers which threaten us, they will every day augment so long as we apply palliatives instead of efficient remedies. From the spirit and intelligence of the nation every thing may be expected, if it be dealt fairly by. I do not despond, if the House determine manfully to meet the danger; but I shall, if they subscribe in the present session, as they did in the last, to the evil of the day being sufficient thereto,—and content themselves with getting over the present moment, without looking to the infallible consequences that must ensue by thus delaying to apply a radical cure to the evil before a national bankruptcy and the ruin of the country become irresistible and irremediable.
It is on these grounds, as well as a distrust in the professions of his majesty's ministers, that I am compelled to solicit the attention of the House in my endeavours to persuade them to concur in so pledging ourselves that it shall be impossible to break faith with the country. Sir, on a former session in which the crown recommended economy—the nation hailed it; but how have these promises been kept? By increase of salaries—by creation of new places. What was wrung from the ministers was by force. To the extent of their power they opposed retrenchment, and clung to those corruptions which have degraded us in the public opinion. Even the grounds on which it is to be supposed ministers had framed their estimates, were 102 cut from under their feet; still they adhered to force the money out of the pockets of the people, by pledging the resources of the country to obtain it. We come, therefore, to the discussion of the present address with well-founded jealousies, and have a right to expect that if it be the wish of his majesty's ministers to have these removed, they should concur in so pledging the House to every species of inquiry, that their present sincerity may remove the former distrust of them.
I cannot but view the present address as calculated to raise hopes, and inspire expectations in the country, which we know cannot be realized. The eloquent speeches of the mover and seconder of the address, many topics of which I highly approve, took a very confined and erroneous view of the situation of the country. Were our deficiencies confined to a defalcation of three millions only in our taxes, though it would be a subject of regret as a proof of the distress of the moment, it would not justify serious alarm in a country possessed of the resources of Great Britain. No, Sir, this forms but an inconsiderable item in the state of our affairs. At the conclusion of the last session of parliament, it was not denied that the current expenses of the year exceeded by 17,000,000l. the amount of our revenue; admitting the same scale of expense, the next deficit will not, this year, be less than 20,000,000l. I The address congratulates the country that no new taxes will be required. Is not this a mere mockery, too shallow to dupe the most credulous? Do not all classes stagger under the difficulties of the times, so well satisfied of the utter impossibility, not of sustaining fresh burthens, but of bearing up against the pressure of those in existence? Is it not notorious that all ranks are driven to retrenchment as their only resource?
Fortunate was it for ministers, that this House had the virtue to reject the proposition for the continuance of the income tax. Do ministers themselves doubt now, that it would have been impossible to have collected it? Two quarters would have accrued, amounting to 4,000,000l. Taking the nett income of property to be 35,000,000l. seventeen millions, and a half should have been paid in rents. Let me ask gentlemen, do they believe that one half of the sum has been received? Greatly do I question it? One fourth, or eight millions is probably as much as has been paid. Had a majority of the sum paid passed 103 into the coffers of government, what must have been the distress and ruin of the moment? Great as it is, it would have been aggravated in a ten-fold degree, and completed the total ruin of the country. On what rational grounds do ministers place their hopes, that the present state of the Country will be of short duration, and that we are only undergoing those sufferings incidental to the transition from war to peace? Will the present state of the country bear any comparison with that of any former period? For instance, with the American war? Our burthens were then comparatively light, and enabled the agriculture and commerce of the country speedily to recover. Now, Sir, the government and parochial burthens are such that they swallow up a large proportion of the rents and profits of the land. In 1786 the poor-rates did not reach two millions; they are now nearly eight in ordinary years—probably ten in the present. What is the state of the farmer with capital exhausted, above a year's rent probably due to his landlord? Can this be extracted from him without the ruin of both landlord and tenant? I do put it to the House to consider, whether 35,000,000l. (no trifle), which is now due, can be likely to be paid in less than two or three years. If in this half year, rents have been so ill paid, what are the prospects for the next? It would be folly—it would be criminality to disguise these truths from ourselves or the country. What must be the effect of this state of things? Money is not to be borrowed but on usurious contracts. Nothing remains to all ranks and classes but retrenchment. Luxuries must be abandoned by the gentry of England; and I verily believe, they will consider themselves fortunate if they can obtain the things absolutely necessary for comfort. Where, then, Sir, is the prospect of any speedy improvement in the revenue? Are the assessed taxes likely to suffer no diminution? Will the excise and customs be unaffected by the gigantic scale of retrenchment which is taking place in the expenditure of both high and low? Is it dealing fairly by the country to hold out expectation of the evils we suffer being temporally?
Sir, I anticipate as much from the spirit and intelligence of all ranks of the community as any man, but I do not expect impossibilities. I by no means despair, if the House does its duty, and probes to the bottom the state of its affairs; but by weak, 104 inefficient, and delusive measures, the country may be brought into a state in which bankruptcy may be inevitable. This must continue my opinion until I hear better arguments than yet have been offered for the temporising expedient of issuing exchequer bills on the one hand, whilst to the same amount we are purchasing up the funded debt on the other; a momentary advantage of no great amount may be gained by it; but who knows when in another year, all the promises and expectations of the ministers are found fallacious, whether these exchequer bills may not arrive at such a discount as to render it absolutely necessary for us to have recourse to a loan of such an enormous magnitude as cannot be obtained without the most mischievous sacrifices. Is this a moment to regard such trifling expedients when we have it in our power to apply not palliatives, but effectual remedies. The time is come when we must take the sinking fund and apply it to our immediate necessities. Every nerve, I grant, should be strained to maintain public credit and support the funds. In happier or better times I should be glad to proceed with the liquidation of the debt, but such are the difficulties of the moment they must be provided for. Happy, indeed, should I be for one, if, with the most scrupulous and honest discharge of our duty, we shall be able to cut down our expenditure so as to bring it within our revenue. Seriously is it to be regretted a year has been lost. If again we should be persuaded to be satisfied with expedients instead of the adoption of means for a radical cure, the case of the country would be desperate. It behoves us not to confine our views to the present moment but to posterity—to consider the future and not to be gulled as the House has been with being told, sufficient to the day is the evil thereto belonging. If you wish to reanimate the exertions of the country you must have recourse to some measure that will afford relief to the landed interest. Their difficulties are hourly increasing; I foresaw it in the last year, and strongly urged the necessity of a loan to the proprietor and farmer. By aiding them you will take the most effectual means of relieving the manufacturing interest and reviving the industry of the kingdom. Sir, if we go thoroughly into the examination of the state of the empire, it will be found that we are not suffering so much from our foreign relations as from the decline of the home market. Our exports, 105 though they suffer greatly from the state of Europe, are not so much below the average of other years. The monstrous and alarming defalcation is in the home market, and, without you aid the land, and that instantaneously, the evil will increase. It is not, Sir, a gross and palpable deception to proclaim to the country that its resources are unimpaired? Is this ignorance or design? Is our landed revenue not decreased? Are the earnings of labour not fearfully and lamentably depreciated? Is the reduction of land and houses less than 15,000,000l.; and in wages to the enormous amount of 20,000,000l.; making a deficit of 35,000,000l.! These truths cannot be unknown to ministers, at least they ought not. Here then, Mr. Speaker, is the melancholy cause of the sufferings of our manufactures. We may fairly conclude that 4l. a head lost to the working people of England, which was most probably expended heretofore in various articles of our manufacture. Can it then be said, with any regard to truth, that our resources are unimpaired? Where is the likelihood of this enormous defalcation being recovered? Sir, I do not urge these things hostily to ministers, or wish to augment their difficulties; I am sensible they are great, and feel it the imperious duty of every one to give them support if their measures be such as the times and exigence of the country require. I, for one, am disposed to lay out of my recollection all causes of past difference; the magnitude of the danger that surrounds us, banishes every other consideration. We are in the state of a vessel which has sprung a leak; however the crew may have differed on the propriety of the course under which they have proceeded, it is no time for further discussion, union and action can alone save the approvers or opposers, every hand must be actively at the pump. So I feel and shall act. To induce the country to bear patiently many of the taxes which press grievously on its commerce and and agriculture, we must prove the absolute necessity of them. This alone can justify us or conciliate them. Sir, we are naturally led to consider the speech from the throne as a display of the great and leading features of the policy of the empire. The people look for wisdom and an enlightened and statesmen like view of the situation of the country. What shall we say then to the notice that is bestowed on the private contributions for the relief of the people? Is this a theme for consola- 106 tion? No, Sir, however honourable to individuals, it is a cause for deep regret and most serious alarm. Is the amount of them two hundred thousand pounds, liberal I grant and highly praise worthy to individuals, but, as a remedy, it is but as a drop of water compared with the ocean. Are you aware of the magnitude of the machine? Would the sum subscribed pay six hours labour of the people of England? No! reduced even as the price of labour unfortunately is, it still amounts to one hundred and fifty millions per annum. Is this doubted? I will prove it to the satisfaction of every member in the House. By the return in the population act, two millions and a half of persons are shown to be occupied in agriculture, and three in manufacture and commerce; now taking the average of wages to be twelve shillings a week, or thirty pounds per annum a head, and making the calculation only five millions it amounts to the sum I have stated above. I do accuse ministers of either not seeing, or not feeling the deplorable state of the country. Starving as the people were, inadequate as they ought to have known private charity was to the object it humanely aimed at consoling, they ought to have called parliament together to have deliberated on the means most likely to renovate the energies of the country. Sir, you can only stop the growing and enormous evil by inspiring the means of activity in the country. It is the most alarming feature on the whole catalogue of national grievances—it is the most dreadful as it implies such wide and extended suffering. Its causes are doubtless complicated, and, in part, not to be imputed as blame to any one A defective harvest has advanced the necessaries of life to an enormous price without enriching the grower. The crop will ill remunerate the farmer whilst it is so grievous to the people.
My objections to the speech are not confined alone to the erroneous view of our finance; I look with the deepest regret at the attempt at creating alarm and division in the country—to renew those apprehensions which on a former occasion rendered the people of England so blind to their real dangers, that the dread of jacobinism shut the eyes of the nation on the prodigal, ruinous, and corrupt expenditure of the public treasure. With their attention rivetted to an imaginary danger, they were insensible of the ruin that infallibly was coming upon them. To the warnings which were given them they 107 closed their ears. What has occurred to sanction the belief that the country is disloyal, and the people ready and ripe for a revolution? Are the people of England to be judged by a Spa-Fields mob, composed of the scum and fifth of this metropolis? Can a grosser libel or a more unmerited insult, be offered to the people?—Sir, the country execrates those wretches: no punishment can meet their crime. They have stopped the voice of the people, and given an opportunity for artful men to affright the timorous. They have been the powerful allies of corruption. Had this not occurred, we should have had petitions from every quarter: we should have seen the people with leaders at their head, to whom no objections could have been offered. We should not have witnessed a very general endeavour to stop the exercise of that most important branch of the constitution—the right of the people petitioning this House. Where, Sir, springs our power but by our union with the people? What are we without their sanction and confidence? Light without it, should we be in the scale when opposed to the other branches of the constitution. The more we are blended with the people, the more able are we to discharge our high and important functions.—Sir, I lament to hear it held out that the constitution can be endangered by a few desperate and contemptible demagogues. Very different indeed must be the constitution of England to what I consider it, if such men can render the country insensible to the many blessings we enjoy under it. I am not insensible to the inroads that time has made on the glorious fabric; but with all its faults, it affords a degree of personal security that no other government ever possessed. The people think so, and those who are the natural leaders of the people have only to keep their stations and not to desert them, and they will look with the contempt due to those who would (if such there be), inculcate the doctrine of the people, having nothing to lose by an overthrow of the constitution. Your notice, your opposition, may give to certain individuals a momentary consequence that belongs not to them: when left to themselves they will sink into the insignificance and contempt they merit. I believe the desire of the country from one end to the other is for parliamentary reform. Have they not high authorities to justify such a wish? Mr. Pitt will, by the gentlemen opposite, 108 be considered as such. What said he at the conclusion of the American war?—"That the nation could not hope for indemnity for the past or security for the future, but through the means of parliamentary reform." Sir, is the authority of parliament itself no sanction for the people requiring a temperate rational reform, such as would not hazard overturning the constitution, but the renovating and restoring of it Sir, on a flagrant example of the scandalous traffic of seats in this House I had the honour of bringing in a bill for its correction; I adhered to that bill when every tittle of its contents, that could have effected its purpose, was extracted. And why did I do so? because the preamble declared the practice. The scandalous evasion of defeating a remedy proposed will be an eternal disgrace to that parliament, and its recognition of the practice of abuses whereon some future efficient measure may be built. What, Sir, is the conduct of the people at this moment? It has been my lot, Sir, through a pretty long life, to be closely and intimately connected with the working classes of the people of England—I have always loved and admired them. From the various and constant opportunities I have had of being acquainted with their character, I have found the bulk of the people are eminently distinguished by being moral, intelligent, and industrious. Of late years extended education has doubtless augmented these qualities. Gross must be the ignorance of those who suppose them incapable of forming a correct opinion on their own and the country's interest. Yes, Sir, one eminent proof they give of this in the exemplary patience with which they are suffering privations that have no parallel. Has riot or disturbance, turbulence or impatient complaints, been heard? No, Sir, they have, with a fortitude and Christian-like submission, submitted to those hardships which Providence had thought proper to inflict. It is impossible to view the people without feelings of the highest respect and veneration. Look to the manufactures and operative weavers: their lot is more deplorable than that of the agricultural labourer. With increased hours of work and wages diminished two thirds they smuggle manfully to combat hunger and privation. Seven shillings a week, and from that to ten shillings, is as much as thousands of families can obtain. Never did the character of the English people appear so great as 109 at this moment. Active courage bears no proportion to that which procrastinated sufferings call forth, where every feeling of affection and paternal tenderness is hourly put to the test. Such then is the conduct of the country, and yet we are told every precautionary measure of force is provided when there has scarce occurred one instance of an infraction of the public peace. There is danger, I grant, Sir, first in this House's neglecting its duty, next in drawing a line of demarcation between the one rank of society and the other. Confide in the people and do them justice, and the country is safe. The weight of property and right conduct will ever have its influence when freely left to its own operation.
Sir, I cannot sit down without expressing my execration of the base and disgraceful attack on his royal highness the Prince Regent. I hope this will be traced to its source, and found imputable only to some desperate and despicable individuals, not even sanctioned by any considerable portion of the mob. Sir, the people of England revere and love the crown—their attachment is not founded on the temporary popularity of the possessor. Every man who has the least knowledge of the constitution feels, that the exercise of the royal functions are for his advantage. Sir, I did fondly hope to have heard from his Royal Highness, an intention to share with the people of England in their sufferings, by the sacrifice of a portion of the splendour of the throne. In the prosperity of the country the splendour of their Prince was the pride of the people. In the hour of adversity so universally felt, they are consoled to see those more elevated sharing their sorrows or participating in their sufferings. Here, Sir, I cannot but impute considerable blame to ministers, that they did not point out to their royal master the gratification and solace such a measure would have produced in the nation. The amount of such a sacrifice would have done but little to relieve the nation's distress, but it would have powerfully called forth the affection and love of the people. Are not these the real splendours of the throne? and would they not have amply compensated for any paltry sacrifice of tinsel and show.
Sir, I again repeat I am not disposed to give any vexatious opposition to ministers. If their conduct will justify it, I am more ready to praise than blame them. My future duty will be scrupulously to attend 110 to the expenditure, and I will not give my consent that one shilling shall be disbursed for any object which is not immediately connected with the welfare and prosperity of the empire, and the happiness of the people.
said, that as far as he could learn the object of the hon. gentleman who had last spoken, his objection to the speech and the address, seemed to be that they contained false representations of the state of the country, and tended to spread delusion among the people. If that charge could be made out, it was indeed a gross fault; but the hon. gentleman had, he thought, failed in substantiating his assertion. Was it, he would ask, useful to represent what was calamitous in the most desponding colours? for that was the course taken by the supporters of the amendment. The address stated the facts simply as they were: it stated also-that the undeniable evils were of a temporary nature. The amendment stated the same facts, but gave no such consolation. The fault of ministers therefore was, that they hoped too well of the country. This was "the head and front of their offending," The statement of the ministers in the last year had been referred to. At the opening of the session they certainly did give a statement of the condition of the country very different from that which he conceived to be the real state of it. They had, however, supported themselves by the accounts of the exports and of the revenue at that time. Subsequent events had changed the aspect of the country. Much of this change was, in his opinion, to be attributed to the seasons. On this ground, no charge could be brought against ministers. The topics in the amendment were, he acknowledged, exceedingly proper, but the same topics were to be found in the address. The deficiency of the revenue was a main point of the amendment; but this was also to be found in the address. When this fact was alluded to, it was naturally to be expected that an inquiry should be instituted. This was accordingly agreed to on both sides; but it appeared the mover of the amendment would not be satisfied with a committee on the expenditure and revenue, but would have a committee on the state of the nation. In the consideration of the state of the nation the principal ingredients were, income and expenditure; there might be other points, but as to them the House was uninformed and un- 111 learned. The colonial establishments; were to be inquired into, it was said; but when this was sifted, it appeared that this inquiry also was to be directed to this point—what the expenses of those establishments were, and what could be saved. The amendment might have been framed before its framer was acquainted with the nature of the speech or the address, but would they cling to it now? It might be intended, by an early division, to see with which side of the House members would hereafter vote [Hear, hear! from the Opposition side], but he saw nothing in it likely to do good. As to the committee of which notice had been given on both sides of the House, whoever had the proposal or formation of it, he hoped it would be composed of men who would most assiduously attend to the business of the country. He did not wish to exclude official men, but many of them should not be admitted. He trusted also that the committee itself would not be too numerous, as he had often seen those bodies encumbered by their own numbers. He denied that the address contained any thing which reflected on the temper or loyalty of the people in general: no such reflection could have been borne; but it was not to be denied that there were disaffected spirits working abroad, who strove to convert to their own mischievous ends the calamities with which it had pleased Providence to afflict us. Were they not to be suppressed? Was there not something bad and cancerous in the community, which, if it could not otherwise be got rid of, should be cut off from the sound part? The present depression was not unprecedented or unaccountable. After the American war the same distress had taken place, but it had been matter of surprise how soon the country had risen from its difficulties. It had been now stated as a kind of discovery, that the debt had been productive of evil. Had this ever been denied? Had it not always been considered as a great and growing evil? Had it not always been increased, not from choice, but by necessity, during the long continuance of the war in which the House had been urged on by public opinion? But it was not only to the debt that we should attribute our present pressure. It was to be remembered, that in the last years of the war the debt was great and increasing, but it had not been felt, as other causes had checked it. Now the debt was the 112 same, but the counteracting causes were absent—among others the monopoly of commerce. The right hon. mover of the amendment had stated, as another novelty, there was no sinking fund, while that fund had been rapidly redeeming the debt. He had also stated, that the revenue did not meet the expenditure. This unfortunately was nothing new; they never had balanced one another during the war, nor would they be feared, for years. To cause them gradually to approximate should be the great object of the efforts of parliament, and in the mean time they should attempt to supply the deficiency by means the least oppressive to the community. It was some consolation at least that the burthens of the people were not to be increased. To take off taxes it was found was not always a relief. In the last year seventeen millions had been taken off, but our state was not at all improved. From this he thought it was clear that it was neither the debt nor the taxes under which we now laboured. He had never been disposed to undervalue the evils of profusion, and in the last session he had been willing to go as far as any one in the reduction of that part of our establishments in which he had thought economy most practicable. In attempts to reduce sinecures he had been unremitting: not that he had ever propagated the idea that the saving would be great, but the example was great, and the principle was great. On the army in the last year one million and a half or two millions might possibly have been saved, which on the general scale of our expenditure and debt was not much. In the progress to an equalization of the income and expenditure the last year had been lost, but there was no reason on that account that this good work should not now be entered upon. On this subject, as all parties were unanimous, the amendment he thought was superfluous.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that he rose to solicit the attention of the House under the influence of the very sentiment with expressing which the hon. gentleman had just concluded his speech; as feeling how absolutely necessary it was to prevent delusions from going forth to the country in the present critical emergency of its affairs: for he would venture to say, that a speech more calculated, though possibly not intended to mislead the people of England—more replete with every species of deception—more vain and illusory in the 113 hopes it held out, had never been heard to proceed even from the most sanguine occupants of the ministerial bench [Hear hear!] But coming as it did from neutral ground, from a quarter that naturally excited much curiosity, because it rarely sent forth two opinions on the same side of any question, and still more rarely sentiments and votes that tallied together [a laugh]; backed with the credit derived from the hon. gentleman's talents, and his varied political experience [a laugh]; and still more supported by his habitual and large professions of strict impartiality, exemplified by occasional opposition to government, in matters where such resistance was of no moment; it required an antidote contemporaneous with the mischief, to prevent the evil which it pretended to deprecate—the misleading of the people as to their real situation. The hon. gentleman had contended, that the existing distresses were temporary, and that they were only such as might be expected upon the termination of a long war; and in proof of this, he referred to former instances, but especially to what took place after the American war. Upon this he and they who dealt in the same delusions principally relied; and it was fit to expose the prevailing fallacy by at once going to the facts.
It was contended, that the distresses now so universally spread over the country, resembled that which followed the transition (as was the fashionable phrase), from war to peace in 1783. That considerable inconvenience had been felt then, there could be no doubt; a pretty general depreciation of property took place; and land fell below twenty years purchase, and in some places even as low as seventeen. The pressure indeed was chiefly upon the agricultural interests. But let the history of the two periods be examined a little more closely, and it would be found that they were not only perfectly different, but even in absolute contrast, as to almost every important particular. In the first place, the distress at the former period began, not after the close of the American war, but during its continuance; at its termination they had reached their height; and, far from being augmented, they were gradually relieved by the peace; so that in the third year of that peace, the period parallel to the present, Mr. Pitt deemed himself fully authorized in putting into the sovereign's mouth these consolatory expressions: "that his majesty heartily con- 114 gratulated the country upon the extension of its commerce, the flourishing state of its manufactures, and the increased and increasing amount of its revenues" [Hear, hear!]. Who could employ such language now? Even the ministers who had presumed last year to fill the speech from the throne with false representations of our commercial prosperity, dared not repeat one syllable of these vain felicitations.—On the contrary (and it was one most portentous difference between the conclusion of this and of all former contests), our calamities had almost entirely begun with the peace; each succeeding year since the war ended, only made things worse; the distress, at first confined principally to our agriculture, had spread to every branch of our trade and industry, and the national misery had reached a height wholly without precedent in our history since the Norman Conquest.
Again, he would ask the House to recollect what Mr. Pitt's financial operations were after the American war, in order to judge how little the two cases resembled each other. Instead of taking off above seventeen millions of taxes, as we had been compelled to do, he found the nation able to bear new ones; and he laid on in two years, without difficulty, more additional burthens than the country had ever been called upon to bear during the same period of the war? The new taxes exceeded two millions, the utmost amount of new taxes in any one year of the war having been little more than 800,000l. Can the right hon. gentleman find the means of laying on new taxes now? [Hear, hear! Can he raise, not millions or thousands, but one silver penny by way of new impost? We were indeed congratulated in the speech from the throne, that no new burthens would be necessary this year; a mighty topic of consolation, truly, and the more so because we had abundant security that this promise at least would be kept. No new taxes would be found necessary, it seems; there was another word more expressive of the fact, they should have said, practicable. The right hon. gentlemen opposite must now have ascertained pretty clearly the truth of this position; they must have found that to raise the taxes by a farthing was beyond their power. They might indulge in any other speculations; they might amuse themselves with all sorts of plans at home, and abroad; they might disport themselves in fancies for keeping up estab- 115 lisbments, arraying and marching troops, inventing and changing dresses; they might form what projects they pleased of foreign alliances, cessions of territory, occupation of neighbouring dominions; they might wander in imagination half the world over, from England to Europe, from Europe to the colonies: there was one spot upon which they never more could hope to tread—and that spot, henceforth sacred from the chancellor of the exchequer's foot, was taxation. The people had paid to their utmost farthing, and must be taxed no more [Hear, hear, hear!] As far back as 1809, they had perceived that we were approaching to this point; it had then become apparent that no new duties could be levied without occasioning a proportional defalcation in some of the old.—Mr. Perceval, who was abundantly anxious to raise as much as possible of the supplies within the year, after the example of Mr. Pitt (a wholesome example, a branch of Mr. Pitt's policy, to which no objection could be urged, except that it was adopted too late, for if earlier practised, it would infallibly have shortened the war), Mr. Perceval nevertheless found himself compelled to abandon all new taxation; and his financial administration was after 1808 a mere succession of shifts and expedients, like that of the right hon. gentleman opposite; sometimes exchequer bills, sometimes traffic with the bank, sometimes sinking fund, but always in one shape or another, loans—because it was discovered that the uttermost limits of taxation had been reached.—One word more as to the difference between the two wars. The whole amount of new taxes from 1775 to 1783 did not exceed 4 millions; there never was more money raised than sufficed to pay the interest of the loans contracted, the whole expense of the war being defrayed by borrowed money. In the last war, on the contrary, 35 millions of new permanent taxes had been imposed, besides war taxes, which, in the latter years of the contest, amounted to 23 or 24 millions. To such unprecedented burthens had the country been doomed at the commencement of this peace, and after such an unprecedented exhaustion during the war! What a fearful contrast, then, did the present afford to all former transitions from war to peace! And was not he guilty of propagating a gross delusion, who told the people that their burthens were nothing more than they had at former times sustained, and their dis- 116 tresses only such as they had once and again survived? The hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes) was likely to be much in favour with the committee, which no doubt the minister would propose to appoint, and against which he protested thus early, as he was convinced it would only prove a fresh instrument of delusion: they had only to select their old tried friends for the service, with the hon. gentleman in the chair; to give them masses of accounts containing little information, and send a few witnesses who gave less; and towards the end of the session a report would come, when there was no time either to debate or decide. But it was the duty of the House to proceed with dispatch; for while it was delaying, the nation was suffering. It was easy to see how the committee would be formed, if the House did not take care that individuals should be placed upon it who were not merely the tools of government, but men who were known and esteemed for their honest, uncompromising, unflinching discharge of the duties cast upon them as representatives of the people: men of upright and straight forward integrity; and not those, who, under pretences of silly delicacy, were pursuing a system of shifting policy, and, under the semblance of impartiality, were employed in throwing in the way of justice artful and advocate like objections. [Hear, hear!] In order, at all events, to prevent procrastination, and that the whole substance of the report might not be smothered in a mass of unimportant papers, he should suggest, that a peremptory order be given to the committee, that on the very day when they had come to a decision upon one point, it should be reported to the House for their consideration. A committee so constituted and acting under such instructions, might be productive of real benefit; it would be a most efficacious engine of inquiry; and for this reason he had but little hope of seeing it proposed by government, or adopted by them, unless the House forced it upon them [Hear, hear!].
There was one topic which, in the present state of our trade, he had expected to see touched upon in the Speech from the throne, and he was much disappointed at finding it wholly omitted: some matters were mentioned of great importance, in a summary way; and others of very inferior moment were treated at great length, and with no little parade; but not one word was said of any arrangements with foreign 117 powers for the promotion of our commercial interests, which were quite in as labouring a state as our agricultural concerns. It seemed as if these things were below the notice of so military and politic an administration as we now possessed. Yet at no former time was our influence abroad so great; never had we possessed higher authority, until indeed we chose to sacrifice it to paltry considerations; never had we so much direct power, not only by alliances, but by actual military force, as we now possessed. Nor were we slow to use it for other purposes. If a territory was to be occupied contrary to the wishes of its inhabitants, and to our own true interests,—if a new government was to be forced upon a people against their will, a dethroned dynasty restored in despite of those who had a right to resist it,—there was no want of our active interference: armies were sent, subsidies lavished, and fully appointed missions dispatched [Hear, hear!]. But an arrangement substantially to benefit the country; to revive its sinking commerce, to cherish its drooping manufactures, was disregarded as beneath the notice of a great nation.—Had the markets of the continent been opened by the peace? On the contrary, were they not more closely shut against us then ever? The continental system which Buonaparté had projected without the power to com-pleat it, and which our own ridiculous policy had enabled him for a season greatly to improve, had now been carried into effect by the Bourbons and our other allies—with this important addition, that their measures had the full consent of the people, which Buonaparté's never had obtained [Hear, hear!]. In the absence of the noble lord at the head of that department, he must abstain for the present from entering further on the mismanagement of our foreign affairs.
One of the hon. gentlemen who supported the address, had frequently introduced into his speech the pleasing term 'retrenchment,' but without any thing specific to show us how far and in what manner it was to be carried into effect; while another on the same side (Mr. Grant), in a speech where the common place of argument vied with the common place of rhetoric, had denied that any considerable portion of our enormous establishment could be spared. We heard of an increased empire requiring an enlarged force,—of our military resources keeping pace with our territorial aggrandisement,—of ex- 118 tended colonies demanding an augmented army,—and all the other set phrases so readily poured forth from all parts of the opposite bench as often as there was any measure to be carried alike costly and unconstitutional, any policy to be recommended, that began in expense and tended towards patronage [Hear, hear!]. The increase of our colonial empire, as it was called, far from being the justification of a standing army that exhausted our resources while it endangered our liberties, was an aggravation of the charge against it; because it was an increase of the very same evils which that standing army produced. Every new settlement that was acquired, occasioned additional expense, and bestowed fresh patronage, while, in a commercial view, the accession only injured the interests of our former planters. Yet on we went, each successive war occupying a boundless extent of sugar islands, hurtful to our old colonies, and barren, rocks of high military importance, frequently to the serious detriment of our general policy in the contest; and each successive peace saddled our finances and our constitution with the permanent burthen of some part of the dominion thus unwisely seized during hostilities. Not content with having Gibraltar before the treaty of Amiens, we must needs by that peace (which some called a truce), get Malta, in order that the truce might speedily be broken. And now we add to it the expense and the patronage of the Ionian Islands: as if all India had not sufficed with the Cape of Good Hope, we grasp for it at Ceylon, and then at the Isle of France: and after gaining by the peace of 1802 Trinidad and Tobago, to the considerable detriment of Jamaica and Barbadoes, we have by the last treaty got the permanent burthen of St. Lucia, and most of the Dutch colonies, to injure our old settlements still more systematically, and to benefit a few favoured individuals in Liverpool. So much for the reasons urged against reducing the establishment. This accession of territory was an evil in itself, even if it were not the parent of a still worse mischief, the increase of the army. It was, however, for parliament at length to teach the government, that if the new settlements could not support their own expenses, and provide for their own defence, they must be abandoned. Nor would it be difficult to find those who might be thankful to take them, and in return to grant our com- 119 merce such advantages as might far more than compensate for a much greater surrender.
After enlarging on this topic at some length, Mr. Brougham expressed his high satisfaction at the part of the speech in which the people of England had been vindicated from the foul aspersion launched so heedlessly against them, of being implicated in the acts of violence perpetrated by a few misguided individuals. But he had heard with extreme indignation the sentiments uttered by an hon. member, early in the debate (Mr. Dawson), that it was improper to assemble the people at public meetings for the discussion of subjects above their comprehension; a sentiment the more dangerous because it was applauded by the side on which the hon. gentleman sat. It was now for the first time, that such language had ever been heard within those walls; he trusted it would be the last time he should ever hear it said, that the discussion of their rights, and the statement of their grievances, were above the comprehension of a free enlightened people [Hear, hear!]. And from whom did such alarming doctrines proceed? From whom but the very wholesale dealers in popular clamour, the great artists of outcry and delusion; the men who, on every occasion, were the most ready to make appeals to the basest passions of the mob, for the worst of purposes? [Hear, hear!] From whom, but from those who in 1784 had canted to the multitude about chartered rights, and in 1807 had made them parties to a theological controversy r [Hear, hear!] Those were the}' who now dared to tell the people that their sufferings were above their comprehension, who had yet assisted Mr. Pitt in giving the constitution its first stab, and backed Mr. Perceval in following up the blow; conceiving, truly, that though the householders of England cannot understand the state of their affairs, the questions of the East India monopoly and the catholic claims are subjects quite level to the capacity of the rabble [loud cheering]. He did trust that the House would mark such attempts with becoming reprobation, unless indeed they seemed so eminently absurd as to merit only their silent contempt. For himself, he was the decided enemy of every species of delusion, both within doors and without; he was a friend of parliamentary reform, though he was far from expecting that it would prove a panacea for all our complaints. In our 120 enormous debt, the intolerable load of taxation which it rendered necessary, and the worse than useless amount of our establishment, he beheld the principal cause of the misfortunes under which the country struggled. From the honest exertions of parliament, encouraged by the quiet and firm demeanour of the people, he expected much to remedy those evils. It was our bounden duty to reduce our expenditure to the lowest farthing, and about that he trusted we should instantly set at work, always remembering that in the best view which could be taken of our affairs we had no alternative but bankruptcy or retrenchment, and at all events resolved that we should not resort to the one, until we had made the fullest trial of the other. [On sitting down the hon. and learned member was loudly and repeatedly cheered from all parts of the House.]
spoke as follows:—In addressing myself to you, Sir, and to the House, I must begin by claiming, for myself and my colleagues, to be considered as not less sensibly alive, than any of those gentlemen who have taken part in this debate, to the distresses, and I must be allowed to add, to the perils of the country. The importance of the crisis at which parliament is now assembled, has been much dwelt upon by the hon. and learned gentleman who spoke last. Sir, I concur with the hon. and learned gentleman in his estimate of that importance. That which, in many instances, has been little more than an ordinary form of speech, is now correctly and literally true. We have seen within the last few years, many important conjunctures in our national affairs: important was the crisis when parliament determined, at the commencement of the late war, to arm the nation against foreign hostility and domestic treason; important was the crisis, when, after having won our way through a struggle of unexampled exertion and perseverance, we were suddenly called upon to make a new and unparalleled effort to preserve the prize and reward of our past achievements, which was about to be wrested from our hands;—but not less important, certainly, in the present crisis of domestic difficulty and danger, is the result of this night's deliberations, by which will be decided, whether we shall or shall not carry to the foot of the throne, an unanimous expression of our determination to stand by it and by the country.
What is it, then, that so inopportune 121 interferes to prevent this most desirable unanimity? Doubtless there must be something in the proposed address, which the gentlemen on the other side of the House cannot adopt, without abandoning some principle by which their consciences are bound, or forfeiting some pledge which they have given to their constituents. Were it otherwise,—in the present distracted state of the country, when unanimity is of so much importance, and when the appearance of a division in this House may be misconstrued out of doors for so much more than is really meant by it,—gentlemen would unquestionably be most anxious to unite in a vote of unqualified affection and loyalty to the crown. But what is the sense of duty that stands in the way of this concurrence? What is the mighty difference between the address and the proposed amendment? It is this: that the address, echoing the recommendation in the speech from the throne, promises to institute an inquiry into the income and expenditure of the country, with a view to every purpose of rational economy and practicable retrenchment; while the hon. gentlemen opposite think it better that the proposed committee should be called a committee on the state of the nation! They are willing to concur with us in every other part of the address; they concur with us in the principle and expediency of a prompt inquiry; but they differ from us in the name (for it is really nothing else) of the committee to which it will be proposed to refer that inquiry: and for this trifling difference, the peace of the kingdom is to be exposed to the hazards which may arise from a misconstruction of this night's division.
The hon. and learned gentleman opposite has expressed the indignation (that, I believe, was the word) with which he heard the speech of my hon. friend (Mr. Bankes); a speech which even the most fastidious critic might surely applaud as fair and impartial. My hon. friend is well known for the independent manner in which his speeches and his votes are directed, sometimes to this, and sometimes to that side of the House; a manner the most conformable to the theory of a perfect member of parliament. But how little are those who clamour most loudly for independence, satisfied with the exercise of it when it happens to make against themselves! When my hon. friend's vote happens to be with gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, 122 then his opinions are conclusive, and his authority an infallible guide; but when his sentiments concur with those held on this side of the House, he is stigmatised as a man who does not dare to act upon his own views; as equally corrupt and servile with those who have actually enlisted themselves under the banners of the ministry. I, Sir, have frequently had the misfortune to differ from my hon. friend, but I have never felt myself at liberty to call in question the independency of his opinions.
The hon. gentlemen opposite, assume to themselves the exclusive merit of sympathizing with the sufferings of their fellow subjects,—to which the government, forsooth, are callous and insensible! But, Sir, I will tell those hon. gentlemen, that his majesty's ministers have as deep a sense of the difficulties under which the several classes of the community labour, as any set of men, who aim at popularity by encouraging the complaints of the sufferers, and by dwelling with emphasis upon the severity of their distress. Perhaps, Sir, our sense of those difficulties is deeper and more afflicting,—in proportion as a more intimate knowledge of them is pressed from all quarters upon our attention; and as it is our duty, and God knows! our wish, to find, if possible, the means of alleviating them. I do not hesitate to declare my opinion, that many of the causes of the present distresses are far beyond the reach of immediate remedy, as they are beyond the limits of human controul. Most anxiously and laboriously have ministers devoted themselves to the consideration of the agricultural part of those distresses,—the relief of which, in the first instance, would undoubtedly be the source of gradual and diffusive amelioration to other classes of the community. Plans of such relief have been suggested, have been investigated with the most patient anxiety, and have been referred to the opinion of men best able to judge practically of their possible execution. But, unhappily, those inquiries have led to no satisfactory result. 1 appeal with confidence to an hon. and learned gentleman opposite (Mr. Preston) than whom no man is better qualified to form an opinion upon this question—whether the difficulties, which impede the extension of public aid to the landed interest, have not been found, upon thorough discussion, to be altogether insuperable? I have said, found to be so;-"-because at the first view, a 123 hope was cherished,—a hope springing from the desire,—that some practicable mode of relief might be devised. Yet, though these difficulties have hitherto been found insuperable, that circumstance will not preclude the application to them of any remedies which may hereafter be suggested, and which shall be deemed, upon examination, at once unobjectionable in principle, and likely to be practically beneficial.
The poor laws have been particularly referred to, as requiring immediate consideration. Undoubtedly they do so. And I did entertain a hope, when the hon. gentleman who opened the debate (Mr. Curwen) to night addressed himself to the House, that he was about to announce his determination to propose, that the committee of last year, on that subject, should resume its labours. I trust that those labours will be resumed, and pursued with diligence. They furnish of themselves, sufficient occupation for one committee, and could not be mixed conveniently with the matters, to be referred to either of the committees proposed this night,—whether to that on income and expenditure, or to one on the state of the nation.
The hon. and learned gentleman has qualified, to a certain degree, an assertion made last night by the right hon. mover of the amendment, that taxation is the sole cause of the distresses of the country. I confess, Sir, that I did expect from that hon. and learned gentleman such a qualification; for I have very recently read an able and eloquent pamphlet*, (in this place I am not at liberty to describe it by any other name), published in the name of that hon. and learned gentleman seven or eight months ago, which enumerates no less than about thirteen distinct causes of the existing calamities, of which taxation is only one. In many of the statements and opinions of the learned and able writer I entirely concur;—particularly in the belief which he professes, that many, perhaps most, of these causes, are of a temporary nature. I agree with him also, that one of the most operative causes of the stagnation of trade and manufactures, has been the withdrawing of government, as a customer, from the market, both of labour and commodities. This undoubtedly is a correct view of the subject.*Mr. Brougham's Speech on Agricultural Distress, 9th April, 1816; see Vol. 3S p. 1036.124 And what is this, in other words, but that very "transition from war to peace," so justly asserted, and so rashly denied, to be of itself no insufficient solution of the main difficulties and derangements of the time? But I find in the same publication another passage, so singularly at variance with a declaration which I have heard from the hon. and learned gentleman this night, that I cannot forbear quoting the words of the pamphlet. The House has heard the hon. and learned gentleman declare his astonishment, as well as his regret, at the progress of our affairs "from bad to worse," since the last discussions in parliament upon the subject. But what said the pamphlet? What was said for the hon. and learned gentleman in print seven or eight months ago? "Nor should I be at all surprised," said the pamphlet, "if things should grow worse before they grow better." Although, therefore, I can easily believe in the regret of the hon. and learned gentleman at the present state of things, it is difficult to account for the expression of his astonishment. If the hon. and learned gentleman was prepared for such a deterioration in the state of affairs last summer, surely the calamity which has since fallen upon us, in the badness of the harvest could not but prepare him still farther for a result which he, nevertheless, seems disposed to represent as so extraordinarily and unexpectedly disastrous.
But, participating as we do in the regret which is felt at the distresses and sufferings of the people, and willing as we are to admit that a strict and rational economy, though it cannot immediately cure, may nevertheless contribute towards relieving them,—what steps have the government taken in pursuance of this admission?—what burthens have we lightened?—what retrenchments have we made I This, Sir, is not the fit occasion for entering into details: but thus much I will say, without anticipating the official statements which will very shortly be submitted to the House., that in the reductions which have been made in the military establishments of the country, one principle of limitation only has been kept in view,—safety. Men undoubtedly may differ in their application of this principle; and it will be for the House to decide, when the details are brought before them, whether it has been properly applied or not to the various stations and services where our military force is distri- 125 buted. With respect to our foreign possessions, the estimate is plain: colonies have their price: and when you risk their loss, by depriving them of a force sufficient for defending them, you know what you risk: the amount of that risk is capable of valuation. But the safety of the kingdom itself has no price: it is inestimable: it must be guarded against all hazards, by all exertions [Hear, hear!]. This, then, is the principle on which the government are prepared to propose the military and naval estimates, and by which they desire to be judged, when those establishments shall come into discussion. Having carried reduction as far as, consistently with this principle, they have thought practicable, it is, nevertheless, their intention to propose to vote those estimates for a limited period only, so as that they shall be liable to revision before the end of the present session of parliament. This, I flatter myself, will show both that a due and sober consideration has been given to the subject of reduction, and that the extent of confidence asked of this House, by the ministers, is not unreasonably large.
I know, Sir, that we are accused of being unwilling reformers; and it is therefore contended, that no confidence whatever should be placed in our professions of economy. Sir, for one, I am not indisposed to allow, that the reductions and dismissals to which we are under the necessity of having recourse, do, in many instances, go against my feelings. An hon. gentleman (Mr. Lamb) who never speaks without making a deep impression by his eloquence and ability, truly observed, last night, that retrenchment is not an unmixed good. Such a process necessarily throws upon the world many meritorious and helpless individuals, who are added to the numbers of the distressed, and augment the mass of discontent throughout the country. In truth, those whose duty does not immediately call them to attend to the detailed application of the principles which we are all agreed in recommending, can have but a faint notion of the scenes of sorrow and suffering, which result from those very operations by which the public pressure is ultimately to be relieved. How many among the families of that middle class, which is generally, and truly, represented as peculiarly oppressed by the difficulties of the times, and in whose behalf, the diminution of public expenditure is particu- 126 larly called for; how many of those very families find their own particular difficulties sensibly aggravated, by the sudden throwing upon their hands of a brother, or a son, who had hitherto gained his own livelihood, and perhaps contributed something to their comfort, by an employment in the military or civil establishments of the country! I state this not as an argument against reduction, but as an excuse for the frank avowal, that in cutting deep, it is impossible not to feel severely. I cannot shut my heart, any more than my eyes and ears, against the cries of individual disappointment, even though the inevitable consequence of measures directed to the general good. To this extent, I own, I am an unwilling reformer. But the necessities of the times admit of no alternative: reduction must take place. And though I allow the truth of an observation (I think of Mr. Burke's), that "envy and malice would carve closer, and make cleaner work," I cannot believe that the House will feel it necessary to take the task of retrenchment out of our hands, merely because we are not guided in the execution of it, by any harsher motives than a sense of public duty [Hear, hear!].
Having thus generally put the House in possession of the principles upon which his majesty's government profess to act, in bringing down the establishments of the country; and referring for the proof and verification of these professions, to the period when the House will have an opportunity of comparing them with what has been actually done, I shall proceed to notice one or two detached arguments which have been urged against the speech and the address, before I touch upon those more important points, which are, in my opinion, entitled to the most serious attention of the House, as affecting most deeply the interests, the happiness, and the permanent welfare of this kingdom. The hon. and learned gentleman who spoke last, has adverted to the close of the American war; and has stated, that the imposition of fresh taxes at the termination of that war, exhibits a striking contrast with the present abstinence from taxation. The statement is correct; but nothing ever surprised me more, than to hear the hon. and learned gentleman draw from that comparison, an inference to the disadvantage of our present situation. "At the end of the American war," says the hon. and learned gentleman, "taxes to a con- 127 siderable amount were imposed upon the people; now, we could not—we dared not—impose taxes." What might be done if necessary, it is happily beside our present purpose to inquire. That there exists no necessity, and that there is therefore no intention of imposing taxes, is the fact. Nor is this all. At the close of the American war the permanent revenue was not sufficient to support the permanent charge upon it. New taxes were absolutely necessary to meet that charge, independently of the expenses of our peace establishments. On the contrary, in the first year after the close of the late war, taxes to the amount of nearer one-third than one-fourth of the whole revenue of the country, have been at once remitted to the people—(no matter for this part of the argument, whether by the voluntary proposal of ministers, or from parliamentary compulsion [Hear, hear! from the opposition]—I repeat it, no matter for this part of the argument, how it was effected,—the remission has taken place)—and not only is the permanent charge still amply provided for, but even for our establishments provision is to be made in the second year of peace, without any addition of burthen to the people. There are circumstances of distress enough, God knows! in our situation; but it seems a most perverse ingenuity that can discover in the absence of any necessity for new taxes, a symptom of peculiar and aggravated distress! I admit, Sir, that the situation of the country, and the whole state of its income and expenditure, demand the most anxious investigation; but let this investigation, which has been earnestly recommended from the throne, and which it is the anxious wish of ministers to pursue, with a view to bringing our expenditure within the limits of our actual revenue, be entered upon in a spirit of sober and impartial inquiry, and with a desire to do the best, rather than to prove the worst. In the progress of this investigation, the government, as it willingly calls for the aid, so it humbly but confidently challenges the jealousy, of parliament. We claim support no farther than as we shall redeem the pledge given by the speech to the country.
The hon. and learned gentleman is of opinion, that our distresses might have been much alleviated, if care had been taken, in the negociation of the peace, to procure stipulations favourable to British commerce;—if our military preponder- 128 ance had been made subservient to the advantage of our trade. I confess, Sir, I was surprised to hear this opinion stated by a gentleman who looks at subjects of this nature with a statesman's eye. I should rather have expected to hear him disavow and condemn the policy of sacrificing to commercial objects, either national glory in war, or national security in peace. The object of the war was a secure peace. Peace is the parent of commerce. The positive stipulations of the peace were, therefore, wisely directed rather to its permanency than its profits. If the peace be, as I trust it will be, permanent, the prosperity of Europe will revive; and in the revival of general prosperity, can there be a doubt of the revival of that of Great Britain? Is it likely that, with our commanding mercantile navy, with our practised industry, our active enterprise, and accumulated capital, we shall be long behind other nations in reaping the fruits of the peace which we have secured to Europe? There may, naturally enough, have been differences of opinion, such as the hon. and learned gentleman intimates, as to the political settlement at the conclusion of the late triumphant war. It was a matter of great complication, difficulty, and delicacy. We, it must always be borne in mind, were not the sole arbiters of the questions to be decided, and the arrangements to be made. Of one thing, however, I think no doubt can be entertained,—that it would have been most unwise to have hazarded disunion in the great confederacy, for the sake of any exclusive commercial advantage to this county. But the peace, and all its arrangements, have already been fully discussed and solemnly sanctioned by parliament. If our policy has been wise and generous, I have no fear, I confess, for any ultimate danger to our commerce. Already there are indications, faint indeed as yet and unassured, of reviving credit and demand. A little longer suffering,—a little more of endurance, and all may yet be well.
And this, Sir, leads me to those parts of the Speech and of the Address which speak of the noble patience of the great body of the people: a point on which I think it the more necessary to touch, because, from a misapprehension (so I am confident it must be) to me wholly unaccountable, the hon. gentleman who opened the debate to-night, has found great fault with those very parts of the 129 Speech and the Address, as accusing the people of disloyalty! If ever pains were taken to define any meaning explicitly, to draw distinctions accurately, and to preclude the possibility of misconception, it is in those passages, where the deluders and the deluded are distinguished from each other; where the artifices and instigations of the incendiary are contrasted with the quietness, the resignation, the good sense, and the loyalty of the people. The people at large are warmly praised, but not more warmly than justly, for the fortitude with which they have borne all their privations. But is it not notorious, that of their privations advantage has been taken, to endeavour (happily in vain) to excite throughout the country a general spirit of insurrection? The hon. and learned gentleman has asked, whether those persons who assembled to petition the legislature, are to be considered as guilty of insurrection?—Certainly not;—but for the purpose of petitioning, is a waggon laden with ammunition a necessary basis? Are fire-arms and tricoloured flags the indispensable accompaniments of a resolution in favour of parliamentary reform?—For myself, I can truly say, that I feel as much of compassion for those innocent, but misguided persons, whom their distresses expose to be the dupes and tools of every leader that addresses himself to their wants, their prejudices, and their passions, as I do of indignation against the perverted heads and hard hearts of those demagogues, who, far from sharing or relieving the sufferings in which they pretend to sympathize, retire to their own comfortable homes, from a drenched and starving auditory, after having irritated them to madness, and stimulated them to outrage, by inculcating rebellion as a duty, and proscribing charity as a crime [Hear, hear!]. These, Sir, are the deluders, against whom the Speech denounces a just indignation. These are the proceedings of which the Address calls upon us to express to the throne our detestation and abhorrence;—expressing at the same time our readiness to concur in every necessary measure of redress and retrenchment, that can afford relief to a patient and suffering people.
And for what object are these deluded persons instigated to insurrection, and what is the relief which they are taught to expect from its success? Why, truly, that panacea for all grievances—which is to feed the hungry, to reform the vicious, 130 to instruct the unenlightened, to diffuse general ease, affluence, and contentment throughout all classes in the community—a "Reform in the Commons House of Parliament!" An hon. baronet has given, notice of a motion on this subject, which will of course afford the opportunity for an ample and detailed discussion of it. But as the hon. gentleman who opened this debate, and the hon. and learned gentleman who spoke last, have expressed their opinions in favour of a reform—though with reservations and qualifications which make those opinions more plausible, and therefore more dangerous,—as there is an inquietude in the public mind upon this subject, agitating and painful in the extreme,—and as I think it the duty of every man, standing in such a situation as I have the honour to fill, to be open and explicit with the country upon a matter so nearly touching its tranquillity and welfare,—I seize this opportunity of saying, that whenever the hon. baronet brings forward his project of parliamentary reform, whatever it may be, I shall be ready to meet it—not with any temporizing opposition, not with any reasons of qualified objection or temporary expediency,—I shall be ready to meet the proposal of the remedy with a direct denial of the grievance [Hear, hear!].
I deny the assumption, that the House of Commons, as it stands, is not, to all practical purposes, an adequate representative of the people. I deny that it requires any amendment or alteration, to enable it fitly to discharge the functions which are legitimately its province. I deny that there is any model, either in the theory or in the practice of the constitution, to be traced in any period of our history, or to be found in our customs or our laws, from which model the House of Commons has degenerated, and according to which it requires to be reformed.—I do not deny that theories more splendidly popular may be devised by speculative philosophers, or held up by designing men to inflame the imaginations of the multitude. I admit that, in erecting for the first time in other countries, a system of representative government, other bases might be found more adapted to their wants, habits, and feelings. But I contend, that our system, such as it is, has grown up with our freedom and with our power, and that it satisfies the wants, the opinions, and the feelings of the great bulk and body of the nation.
131 When I am told that the House of Commons is not sufficiently identified with the people, to catch their every nascent wish and to act upon their every transient impression,—that it is not the immediate, passive, unreasoning organ of popular volition,—I answer, thank God that it is not! I answer, that according to no principle of our constitution, was it ever meant to be so;—and that it never pretended to be so, nor ever can pretend to be so, without bringing ruin and misery upon the kingdom. Against all such theories at once I take my stand.—It is not as the mere organ of the people's will, but as the deliberative guardian of their rights and interests, that the House of Commons takes its rank co-ordinate with the other powers of the constitution. Whenever it shall attempt to exchange tin's its sober and legitimate character, for the wide and wild prerogative which modern politicians claim for it, some new system of government,—some strange variety of untried being—some monstrous growth, planted in inauspicious hour, watered with blood, and thriving amidst desolation, may take the place of the British constitution: but the British constitution will be no more! The name of England may remain:—but it will no longer be that England—the model of rational liberty, the protectress of national independence, venerable in her domestic institutions, powerful in foreign exertion beyond the natural proportions of her physical force,—whose "pigmy body," animated and o'er-informed by the spirit of her free constitution, was strong enough to deliver Europe from the grasp of the oppressor; and whose greatness and happiness, whose freedom and power, the destruction of that constitution can alone destroy [Hear, hear!].
I know, Sir, that we are told, that within the walls of this House no such preposterous plans are entertained, as those of annual parliaments and universal suffrage. Those obvious and acknowledged means of self destruction, are disclaimed by the reformers in this House. They do not mean to go so far. They mean, and much their meaning signifies! Do they not know, that when they have once set the stone a-rolling, they can no longer control its impetus and direct its course—that it will go on in its career, crushing every thing before it, and in the very earliest stage of its progress, crushing the reformers themselves? Do they hope 132 that they can guide the whirlwind which they may raise? Or, are they not aware that mightier spirits are abroad, who will take that task out of their hands? Why indeed do we now first hear this anxious disclaimer of the extravagant doctrines of those whom the hon. and learned gentleman has so mildly characterized as "visionary and fanciful theorists?" Why, but because the moderate reformers already feel, that the "visionary and fanciful" are their masters [Hear, hear]. They have found that their own milk-and-water schemes will be rejected with scorn by those "visionary and fanciful theorists;" and that when they have toiled for their masters to the point at which their own projects of amelioration end, they will be dismissed with contumely from the service.
Can any man believe that the only wish of these persons is, that the House of Commons should do its duty better, remaining in the sphere assigned to it by the constitution? No such thing. Is it not notorious, that there has not been one of the acts of the House of Commons which they have ever been known to approve? that they have never ceased to describe the last twenty years as a period of calamity and disgrace, and the support given by the House of Commons to the war, as in defiance of the sense of the nation? And yet who does not know and feel this charge to be a falsehood and a calumny? Grant even, for the argument's sake, that the war was unnecessarily begun, or that it might have been more ably conducted; still is it not clear, certain and recorded, that the nation was united beyond all former example in the support of the war, from its beginning to its end? that if the House of Commons erred in this respect, it erred with the nation? and that the select few who saw nothing of necessity in the outset of the war, and nothing of glory in its termination; who alone among their countrymen have doubted the justness of our cause, and shut their eyes to the blaze of our victories, cannot impute the war to the House of Commons as a crime, without imputing it also as a crime to the people?
But these men it seems are "visionary and fanciful theorists!" Why, Sir, let us hope that they are no more: let us hope that their whole object is to mould and square the constitution to some ideal model of perfectibility; and that, though (as is the nature of theorists) they would not, 133 perhaps, suffer any consideration for established institutions, for property, or for life, to stand in the way of their experiments; such hazards are merely incidental to their plan; that their only aim is theoretical perfection. But I confess I have my apprehensions that there is something much more substantial in these theories; that not only this House and the government furnish matter for their fanciful speculation, but that in some of their waking visions, even the solid land presents itself as an object of desire.
I know how easy it is to despise, or to affect to despise, daring and extravagant projects, announced and supported by comparative impotence and imbecility; but I know also, how dangerous it is to do so. France is the standing example of perils too lightly estimated in their beginning, and not resisted until they had grown to a strength which at once alarmed and overpowered resistance. The projects of innovation do not stop with parliaments and governments; the projectors would, in the end, shear property to the quick. This is no conjecture of mine; nor is it merely the day-dream of ignorant and illiterate men. The purpose is avowed: it is detailed and reasoned upon, in a pamphlet which I hold in my hand, with no contemptible degree of intelligence and dexterity. There is nothing in the style which betrays an absence of literary acquirements. This pamphlet, as I have been informed, has been circulated with astonishing industry through the country. It contains the dogmas of a considerable sect; considerable, I mean, from those circumstances which make sects formidable—its numbers and its enthusiasm. Hear, then, the ingenuous creed of these patriots of the soil! The great and crying evil of the time is, the "usurpation of the land, the gift of God, from the people." "Landlords," it is stated, "are the only oppressors of the people." "All the land, the waters, the houses, the mines, &c. &c. must return to the people, the whole people; without the restoration of this property, reforms and revolutions are unavailing." Such is the substance: the matter is treated much at large, and, as I have said, with no inconsiderable ability; and the doctrine is disseminated with*"Christian Policy the Salvation of the Empire. Published by Thomas Evans, Librarian to the Society of Spencean Philanthropists.134 proselytizing zeal. Let then the property of the country be aware of the danger of countenancing the first breach in our civil institutions. It is not only against us, the corrupt House of Commons; it is not only against us, corrupter ministers, that the wrath of heaven is kindled, and the vengeance of the people denounced. The corruption of parliaments and ministers may be cured. Reform will dispose of the one, and revolution of the other: but all in vain; all to no beneficial purpose; while the land continues in "usurpation," and the "property of the people," is undivided and unrestored [Hear, hear!].
I have said that such projects are not to be despised: but let me not be supposed to represent them as too formidable. They will grow to be formidable only if unchecked. We must oppose the premises, if we would avoid the conclusions. Stand firm against the approach of innovation, and it will pause and falter in its career: and the earliest check is not only the most decisive, but the most humane. Seasons of great national distress have ever afforded scope for the agency of doctrines tending to national confusion. These doctrines lie dormant during a period of prosperity; they come forth when calamity has prepared the public mind for the reception of the poison. God forbid that the distresses which produce this susceptibility, should be considered as permanent, or that the temper itself should be thought likely to survive them. I have no fear of either. Now is the critical moment of our fate: pass we but unhurt through the complicated difficulties of this moment, and a new course of happiness and prosperity may presently open before us.
The present circumstances; the present temper of the country, are not the result of positive difficulties only. They arise in some degree from lassitude and prostration of strength, and from the cessation of that excitement by which we have been continually quickened and agitated during the last twenty years: a lassitude, occasioned by exertions necessary, God knows, in their origin, strenuous beyond all example in their progress, and glorious beyond all expectation in their result; an excitement, in comparison of which the even tenor of contented enjoyment would have been tame; but in contrast with which privation and suffering naturally create, and might almost justify, a momentary despondency. But we have not 135 leisure to despond: we cannot indulge, without danger, a gloomy and reckless repose. The festal blazes of the war are at an end, the sun of peace is scarcely yet above the horizon: we must take care that during this cold and cheerless twilight, the spoiler and the assassin do not break in and destroy [Hear, hear!].
I cannot, I will not, join with those who despair of the fortunes of their country. Great, I admit, is the exhaustion, and severe, I lament it, is the distress. In this moment of exhaustion and distress, the enemies of England again send forth their terrible prophesyings, and pronounce her to be lost to herself and to the world. False prophets may they prove; false prophets they will prove. The stamina of the nation, I am persuaded, are unbroken; the heart, I am confident, is sound. It is not surely at the eve of dissolution, and as in the moment of lightning before death, that I see visions of future glory! But I cannot, I will not believe that the brilliant destinies of England are closed for ever—Think you yon sanguine cloud,Rais'd by war's breath, has quench'd the orb of day?To-morrow he repairs the golden flood,And warms the nations with redoubled ray.To wait with patience for the turn of these unprosperous times; to bear and to forbear; to endeavour to restore what lord Clarendon, I think, somewhere calls, "the ancient good temper and good humour of the British nation;" to abstain from hazardous innovations and experiments; to probe with a tender hand real grievances, with a view to practical remedy; to cherish the institutions and to foster the resources of the country; this is the course which parliament has to pursue; and which, pursued through this session, painful and laborious as it may be will, I have no doubt, enable us to look back with self-congratulation at the gloomy phantoms by which we are now discouraged and appalled [Hear, hear!].
And now, Sir, as to the vote of this night. Let me remind the House, that the committee proposed by the address is specifically pointed to its object; so much so, that if the address had suggested a committee on the state of the nation, the gentlemen who now propose that amendment would probably have accused the government of endeavouring to keep the true point of difficulty out of sight; and 136 would themselves have called for the more precise designation of a committee on expenditure. There may, indeed, be another motive (a fair parliamentary motive, I am ready to allow) for moving an amendment, and pressing it to a division. The hon. gentlemen may be desirous of ascertaining by a vote, the degree of confidence which the House of Commons may be pleased to repose in his majesty's ministers. If that be the object, I do not deprecate the division. Were it possible that the hon. gentlemen should succeed in getting the government into their own hands, I confess I should not envy them the inheritance. But so long as the present ministers remain in office, they will endeavour to do their duty to the country. And that which I have most at heart, and which I venture humbly to implore of the House of Commons is, that whatever it may be their pleasure to decide as to the merits of individuals, or as to the fate of administrations, they will be careful to preserve sacred and uninjured, the constitution which is entrusted to their charge.
§ Mr. Tierney
observed, that the right hon. gentleman who had just sat down had talked a good deal of sudden transitions, and his speech certainly abounded in examples of them. The whole of his eloquence had been thrown away upon a subject which was not before the House; and to which there was no reference either in the original address or the amendment. He regretted lord Castlereagh's absence, as that noble lord was once a prominent advocate for parliamentary reform, agreeing with Mr. Pitt and others, as to the necessity of the measure, and if he bad not changed his opinions, might have opposed the right hon. gentleman's anathemas against reformers. Mr. Tierney avowed himself a friend to parliamentary reform, but not to annual parliaments or to universal suffrage. He admitted, however, that it was a question which required mature and serious consideration and one which ought not to be entered upon from any clamours out of doors. This was a principle which he had maintained through life, and, unless he heard something against it more substantial than the eloquence of the right hon. gentleman, it was one in which he should die. But let not the attention of the House be drawn away from the nature of the amendment. The whole country was in jeopardy and danger, and, if we were to believe the right hon. gentleman, from temporary 137 causes. He protested against the doctrine of the right hon. gentleman that it was the duty of the House to re-echo the royal speech. The right hon. gentleman himself when out of office, once moved an amendment to an address, leaving out all after the word "That." The right hon. gentleman had quoted lord Clarendon. He would quote lord Somers as the seconder of an amendment to an address, and calling for a committee on the state of the national affairs. He wished to show the public that the House were alive to their distress. Ministers only threw out their plan of a committee in order to get a few more votes. The right hon. gentleman had been on his travels, employed under the noble secretary for foreign affairs; and therefore, he now thought it was monstrous not to confide in ministers. How long had the right hon. gentleman confided in them? They would be very shy of saying why they now confided in each other. Mr. Tierney contended that the House would not do its duty, unless the amendment was adopted; and he had no hesitation in solemnly declaring, that the country was in a state of the greatest, the most unexampled, and the most alarming danger. With that view of the question, how was it possible they could agree to an address which passed over that danger as lightly as the speech delivered from the throne? It was not true, that a mere committee upon the income and expenditure of the country, which was now promised by the ministers, would meet every consideration which the present crisis demanded. That committee would inquire into nothing but accounts; and so far as the income of the country was concerned, he had no doubt but the chancellor of the exchequer could lay upon the table at that moment the intended report of that committee. But there were other things to be considered. There was our commerce, our agriculture, our poor laws, to investigate; and where was the committee in which those subjects could be entered into? The right hon. gentleman's new ally, the noble lord, had been much engaged in adjusting the affairs of Europe; but he never heard from any commercial man that he had done one single thing that was beneficial to the commercial interests of this country. Our arrangements with regard to France led to any thing rather than to an amicable intercourse. Let the House look at M. Corvetto's report, which stated that there was too much asperity for a commercial 138 treaty. That was an official answer to the right hon. gentleman' sexpectations. Trade might revive; but he did not think it would do so to its former extent: for in the American war, trade had fallen off. The recovery to be looked for was extremely limited. Almost all he had formerly told the chancellor of the exchequer had been unfortunately realized. The right hon. gentleman's calculations had been uniformily falsified. His own opinions stood on the journals. The present prospect was a most melancholy one. Would the right hon. gentleman say that he believed the revenue would soon improve? When had gentlemen seen more reductions of expenditure in their neighbourhoods than they had lately done? A diminution of the stamp duties must inevitably take place. There was a general falling off. This year's income could not exceed 45,000,000l. The interest of debt, annuities, imperial loan, would, though we take away all the sinking fund, make 26,000,000l. The interest of the unfunded debt he would take at 1,500,000l. Charges on consolidated fund, 1,600,000/.; Russian loan, 130,000l. In all 29,230,000l. There remained applicable to the service of the country, about 15,800,000l. If, therefore, we reduced our peace establishment to nineteen millions, there would be a deficiency of three millions, after giving up every particle of the sinking fund. Was it not then a mockery to say that it was the duty of the House merely to echo back the speech from the throne? Would the House lend itself to such a delusion as to say that there could be any excess? Could the deficiency be supplied by legerdemain and hocus pocus? There must be some dealing with the bank. Supposing the chancellor of the exchequer to discover an arrear of taxes to the amount of two millions, fourteen millions must at least be made good by exchequer bills. An intention of granting a renewal of the bank charter has been whispered; but to such a rumour he could scarcely lend credit, seeing that the charter of the company had fourteen years to run. The finances of Ireland were not mentioned in the Speech. Was there the least probability that any thing could be got from that country? Thus would there be the enormous sum of seventeen millions to be provided for. A frightful picture this of a great country, reduced by extravagance to the brink of ruin? With regard to the consolidated fund, he doubted not whe- 139 ther there would be any surplus in the quarter ending the 5th of July next. A committee therefore, on a broad scale was absolutely necessary. The grievance existed in the conduct of that House. If that House had done its duty, he believed, in his conscience, that one half the expenditure we had been at might have been saved. Let the House, then, show a disposition to lighten the burthens of the people. We had concluded the war with success, beyond the expectation of the most sanguine; and yet the people were undergoing sufferings hitherto unparalleled. Was it matter of surprise then, if they should be guilty of using intemperate language? The right hon. gentleman might talk of a man, after great exertions, feeling lassitude, and being desirous of going home to his fire-side; but what must the poor men do who had no fire-side to go to? The public subcriptions must be continued, or general confusion would ensue. In most of the parishes in London the subscriptions would not hold out more than two months. What was then to be done? In St. James's workhouse, he was given to understand, there were, 1,000 poor within, and 2,000 without, who were willing to work, and supported by the mere charity of the day. If churchwardens were obliged to go round with the begging box, what was meant by saying that there would be no necessity for any new taxes. The House had heard a great deal about reductions. But amidst all your reductions (said Mr. Tierney) show me one great man that has been dismissed. Had the right hon. gentleman's own salary been cut down? It was a comfort to have partnersin distress. Had any example been set in the highest quarter? He saw no sacrifices made by the great officers. Some officers had been removed; but how? He did not mean to speak unpleasantly of any gentleman. He mentioned last year a grant of 10,000l. in the treasury department. From clerks of 100l. a year, 30l. or 40l. had been taken away, and 70l. left to keep soul and body together. But a careful visitation on all was the best and only way to prevent discontent. A gentleman had been removed from the commissariat, and had retired upon 1,300l. a year, half his salary. But was this all? No. Ministers had cut out a new office in the civil list bill—an office which he asserted last year, and did now assert, was altogether useless. The half salary, together with the new office, was, however, 140 given to this gentleman. Ministers had last year proposed a vice-treasurer for Ireland with a salary of 3,000l. a year: and we were told that that salary was necessary in order that a person of character and responsibility should be put in the office. This salary was cut down to 2,000l. a year by the House; but sir George Hill, who had been recently appointed to the office, had been a lord of the Irish treasury, with a salary of only 1,000l. a year.—Mr. Tierney next alluded to the circumstance of Mr. Croker having claimed about 250l. under pretence of his being entitled to his war salary, in consequence of the expedition against Algiers. All this, he said, showed the principle upon which ministers acted. It showed that they could not be trusted out of sight. If the House had granted him the committee he last year called for, he would have examined the examiners. The noble lord now absent (lord Castlereagh) had indecently and disgracefully opposed his motion for a committee, and had immediately after appointed a committee of three gentlemen, members of parliament. God forbid that any excesses should take place. The only security against such excesses was to convince the people that we were ready to share their distresses. When any thing was to be done that was of a pleasant nature, ministers took the merit of it to themselves; but when any thing was to be done of a contrary nature, the odium of it was to be thrown upon that House; and all this, in order that ministers might keep their places. How dared they, when they knew the begging box was going round, defer the meeting of parliament? At such a period, how could gentlemen be better employed than in attending to their parliamentary duties? It would now be seen how those gentlemen would act, who said last year that they would not support ministers, unless they strictly practised economy. What proofs were there that they were sincere in their professions. With respect to the committee of inquiry, he proposed that it should report from day to day. Let them make a report on the office of third secretary of state—an office which was perfectly useless. He would also propose, that not one placeman should be a member of this committee. As constituted at present, the committee was all a delusion. He should not enter on the topic of our future expenditure till he knew what line of foreign policy was intended. The 141 House must come to a resolution on the point, whether we had done enough, in point of blood and treasure, for the tranquillity of Europe; if so, Europe must at length be left to shift for herself. It was indeed highly necessary that the House should take into its consideration the whole posture of our affairs, and not vote away the public money on a superficial view of things. The object of the amendment was, to show the country that some confidence might be reposed in parliament. The right hon. gentleman had said, that he would have adopted the amendment if it had not been proposed hostily; but if the amendment were deserving of notice, what imported the motives with which it was proposed?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
made a brief reply to Mr. Tierney, which the impatience manifested for the question rendered inaudible.
said a few words in favour of the amendment, and proposed a committee with open doors, as in the case of the duke of York.
§ Mr. Preston
attempted to be heard, but the House at length divided:
For the Amendment 112 Against it 264 Majority against the Amendment 152
|List of the Minority.|
|Abercrombie, hon. J.||Elliot hon. W.|
|Althorp, vise.||Fazakerley, J.|
|Anson, sir G.||Fergusson, sir R. C.|
|Aubrey, sir Jobn||Fitzroy, lord J.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Fellowes, hon. N.|
|Baillie, J. E.||Folkestone, vise.|
|Baring, sir Thos.||Frankland, Robt.|
|Barnett, James||Fremantle, W.|
|Barnard, visc.||Geary, sir Wm.|
|Birch, Jos.||Grenfell, P.|
|Brand, hon. T.||Gordon, R.|
|Browne, Dom.||Guise, sir Wm.|
|Burdett, sir F.||Halsey, Jos.|
|Burrell, hon. P. D.||Hamilton, sir H. D.|
|Calley, Thos.||Heathcote, sir G.|
|Calvert, C.||Heron, sir Robt.|
|Carter, John||Howard, hon. W.|
|Caulfield, hon. H.||Howorth, H.|
|Cavendish, hon. H.||Hughes, W. L.|
|Cochrane, lord||Hurst, Robt.|
|Coke, Thos.||Jervoise, G. P.|
|Curwen, J. C.||Lambton, J. G.|
|Duncannon, vise.||Langton, W. Gore|
|Dundas, hon. L.||Latouche, Robt. jun.|
|Dundas, Charles||Lemon, sir W.|
|Douglas, hon. F. S.||Lewis, T. F.|
|Ebrington, vise.||Lloyd, J. M.|
|Lyttelton, hon. W. H||Romilly, sir S.|
|Macdonald, James||Rowley, sir W.|
|Mackintosh, sir J.||Russell, lord G. W.|
|Madocks, W. A.||Russell, lord Wm.|
|Markham, adm.||Russell, Robt. G.|
|Martin, John||Saville, Albany.|
|Martin, H.||Scudamore, R.|
|Milton, vise.||Sharp, Richard|
|Molyneux, H. H.||Sefton, earl of|
|Monck, sir C.||Smith, John|
|Morland, S. B.||Smith, Abel|
|Morpeth, viscount||Smith, Wm.|
|Mostyn, sir T.||Smith George|
|Moore, Peter||Stanley, lord|
|Neville, hon. R.||Tavistock, marquis|
|North, D.||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Ord, Wm.||Townshend, lord C|
|Ossulston, lord||Townshend, lord J.|
|Pierse, H.||Waldegrave, hon. cap|
|Pelham, hon. C. A.||Wane, J. A.|
|Pelham, hon. G. A.||Webb, E.|
|Philips, G.||Wilkins, Walter|
|Piggott, sir A.||Wynn, sir W. W.|
|Ponsonby, rt. hon. G.||Wynn, C. W.|
|Ponsonby, hon. F. C.||TELLERS.|
|Powlett, hon. W.||Calcraft, John|
|Preston, R.||Hamilton, lord A.|
|Prittie, hon. F. A.||PAIRED OFF.|
|Proby, hon. capt.||Lamb, hon. W.|
|Pym, Francis||Knox, Thos.|
|Rancliffe, lord||Dickenson, Wm.|
|Ridley, sir M. W.|
§ When the division was over,
§ Lord Cochrane moved the following Amendment to the address: "That this House has taken a view of the public proceedings throughout the country, of those persons who have met to petition for a: reform of this House, and that in justice' to those persons, as well as to the public at large, and for the purpose of convincing the people that this House wishes to entertain and encourage no misrepresentation of their honest intentions, this House, with great humility, beg leave to assure his royal highness, that they have not been able to discover one single instance, in which meetings to petition for parliamentary reform have been accompanied with any attempt to disturb the public tranquillity; and this House farther beg leave to assure his royal highness, that, in order to prevent the necessity of those rigorous measures which are contemplated in the latter part of the Speech of his royal highness, this House will take into their early consideration the propriety of abolishing sinecures and unmerited pensions and grants, the reduction of the civil list, and of all salaries which are now disproportionate to the services, and, especially that they will take into their consideration 143 the reform of this House, agreeably to the laws and constitution of the land, this House being decidedly of opinion, that justice and humanity, as well as policy, call, at this time of universal distress, for measures of conciliation and not of rigor, towards a people who have made so many and such great sacrifices, and who are now suffering in consequence of those sacrifices, all the calamities with which a nation can be afflicted."
§ The above amendment not being seconded, fell, of course, to the ground. The address was then agreed to; and the House adjourned at half past three on Friday morning.