HC Deb 13 December 1819 vol 41 cc1028-90

Lord Castlereagh moved the order of the day for the third reading of this bill.

Lord Archibald Hamilton

said, it had not originally been his intention to address the House upon this subject, but as he was about to vote for this measure, and as he never gave a vote with so much reluctance, he was desirous of offering a few words in explanation. He was sure that it must be obvious to many honourable members, that he was not likely to entertain an opinion upon any great public question different from that of his honourable friends near him without painful sensations, and without the utmost diffidence. It gave him, indeed, sincere regeret that this difference should occur, with regard to a point affecting the general liberties of the country. His own particular impression was formed, however, upon facts and circumstances which had come within his knowledge. The principle as to the subject's right to meet and discuss public grievances, he fully admitted; but it was the notorious abuse of this right, and the exercise of it in such a manner as to invade the rights of others, that made it necessary for the legislature to interfere and to bring that right itself into question. The vote, however, which he should give in support of this measure did not incline him to view with less regard all the other rights and liberties of the people. To him, indeed, it appeared that this very right itself would be more permanently upheld by a temporary suspension. He wished that the time of suspension might be short, and he had already voted for the period of three years rather than that of five; but he was convinced, that to suspend the right at this moment, and in the present state of men's minds, was the best guarantee that could be adopted for its future security. It was more particularly necessary, perhaps, in that part of the country with which he was connected. But he did not on this account acquiesce in those measures which were brought forward, or confide in those representations as to what had occurred in other places, and upon which representations alone these measures were defended by his majesty's ministers. He was sorry that the House had refused to inquire into the lamentable occurrences at Manchester, where, his opinion was, that the rights of the subject had been seriously invaded. After all the discussion which it had undergone, the question remained precisely where it was when parliament assembled. Whether the meeting at Manchester was or was not a legal meeting, might admit of controversy; but there could be no doubt as to the illegality of its dispersion. He did not therefore assent to any of the proceedings which the House had taken relative to that transaction and with respect to the late motion for an inquiry into the distress which now prevailed in the manufacturing districts, he conceived that the House would hare done itself credit by acceding to it. For his own part he might fairly say, that he had given the motion his support without any reference to political or party questions. If he had seen more than his hon. friends to justify him in voting for some coercion, he had also, perhaps seen more of severe and grinding distress. Whilst he acted, therefore, on this occasion in opposition to the sentiments of those with whom he was accustomed to agree and to co-operate, he wished it to be understood that it arose from no general difference of opinion, nor from any approbation of the general conduct of his majesty's ministers. If the influence of his hon. friends over his mind could have induced him to sacrifice his own view of this subject, still it would have been due to the county which he had the honour to represent, to state that its opinion was widely different. His principal object in now rising was, to guard himself from being implicated by any of those suppositions to which he had alluded, and to state the peculiar ground on which he voted for the present bill. He was sensible of the various objections to which it was liable, but in the actual state of the manufacturing districts, he could see no alternative.

Mr. Hutchinson

said, he could not, with the noble lord who had just sat down, consider it to be his duty to support the bill before the House. His noble friend, no doubt, acted from the best motives; it was impossible from his high character to doubt the rectitude of his intention; but having taken quite a different view of the question, he had no hesitation in opposing the third reading of this obnoxious bill, with the intention, should he fail in preventing this, of moving the clause as to the exemption, of Ireland.—This bill he considered as forming the main pillar of that code of pains, penalties, and coercion, which the noble secretary for foreign affairs and his colleagues now introduced, in direct hostility to the whole system of the British constitution, though in direct accordance with the plan formed by ministers for a long series of years, which had in view the destruction of the liberties of mankind. It was in order to register his abhorrence of this system of tyranny, that he was urged to rise on the present occasion. The hostile disposition of the noble lord and his colleagues to the first principles of freedom had been amply demonstrated in other countries, and what they had at- tempted, and in some cases succeeded in, abroad they were now resolved to establish at home. They and those whose political principles it had been their boast implicitly to follow, had, with a very short interruption governed the empire for upwards of half a century in which period, deaf to the voice of reason, they had attempted to enslave the western hemisphere happily without success had possessed themselves of the dominions of all the sovereigns of India presuming to dictate there to 100 millions of people.— They had erased Ireland from among the nations of the earth, and wherever they had found a people anywhere struggling for liberty as in France 25 years ago, and now in the Spanish American provinces, they had invariably laboured to impede their success. With the cry of liberty perpetually in their mouths, in their hearts they felt nothing but the most deadly hatred to it.—They had carried on a twenty-five years war, as they said, in defence of rights and property, and against tyranny and oppression; but how little they had practised what they so loudly professed, their conduct every where had proved. They had betrayed several, and had consented to the spoliation of others, of the states of Europe, by which conduct they had lowered the name and tarnished the glory of England, rendering the policy of the British cabinet as much reprobated abroad, as the naval and military achievements of the empire had been generally and deservedly extolled; and now, with a shameless effrontery, and, as it were to complete their political career, they had turned upon the people of this formerly free country, after that this very people had, at their call, too, made the most extraordinary efforts and sacrifices, but whom these ministers now stigmatize as so many slaves and rebels, because, in the fifth year of peace, when suffering under a severity of taxation unknown in any other country and even not in this till lately, they had been, in some of the manufacturing districts, driven to acts of violence and every where had become clamorous in their demands, for protection from a system of extravagance and corruption, which had reduced them to the utmost misery.— But the principle of the measures before the House had been so ably argued, that he felt he could now only run the chance of weakening; what had been already urged with so much force-in every point of view; he, therefore, had said only thus much, that he might have the satisfaction of publicly declaring and registering his entire dissent, and to answer the challenge of coming to "close quarters" with the noble lord and his colleagues, which he did, by accusing them, in the face of the country of a systematic attempt, in conjunctive with the ministers of other courts to annihilate liberty every where. As to Hanger fee had no doubt the only danger really apprehended by the ministers, was, that of being unmasked, of losing their power. He was convinced they did not feel the panic which they were so anxious to create in the breasts of others; theirs was an apprehension of a different kind. He deprecated nothing so much as their continuance in office, being convinced that they would at last drive the people wild, and ruin the country. When he said this, he must add that he felt indifferent who succeeded to them, provided they did their duty. He was as averse as any man to countenance violence on the part of the people, however deeply he commiserated their sufferings, which he believed in many of the manufacturing districts, at least, to be very great indeed. This he had declared on a former night, but he would as anxiously endeavour to prevent the ministers and the crown from insulting and oppressing the people, whom they could not or would not relieve. On the subject of these bills he begged leave to add that he did not consider ministers as having made out a sufficient case. The papers produced to the House contained no evidence to justify parliament in enacting this highly penal code. They had themselves acknowledged that they had not submitted the whole of the case, and at the same time refused farther inquiry, though the speech from the throne had promised "the necessary information." The evidence too, they had furnished themselves, and, in their own cause; for they were a party accused before the public. In that speech also, they had asserted what was not correct, namely, an increasing revenue, and that the difficulties of the country, which had given rise to these meetings (and which it was the object of these bills to restrain) were owing to temporary causes and to the embarrassments of other states That other states laboured under temporary difficulties, could not be denied; but that the national miseries were solely attributable to foreign causes, he could not admit. Ministers re- minded the House, that, other nations were looking to their conduct. Let us (said Mr. H.) give them an example worthy of imitation an example of firmness! and integrity! They had talked of the French Revolution; had they themselves learned no useful lesson from that great event? They had talked of a revolutionary spirit in this country, by which they mean— opposition to their own system! and when they call for "loyalty to the throne,'' they thereby mean treason to the people! On the subject of the clause as to Ireland, which he should ask leave to bring up, should this bill be read a third time, he earnestly entreated the House to recollect the manner in which the noble lord, when he first proposed these measures, spoke of the tranquil state of Ireland; a state which he said, he "hoped she would long enjoy, and which would not only diffuse comfort: and happiness throughout the land, but would place the national character in a brighter light than that in which it had ever been contemplated."

The House could not but remember the pains taken, in moving the address to the throne, to impress upon it the alarming and disturbed state of several parts of Great Britain, especially the manufacturing districts;—the general anxiety which the events in these parts during the last few months had occasioned in the country—the attempts which had been made to undermine the principles of loyalty-and good faith, and diffuse among- particular classes principles of sedition and licentiousness,—the repeated meetings for reform, accompanied by symptoms of riot, nay rebellion;—that such meetings had been held even in the capital—that there existed a notoriously regular organization;— that thousands of men, had been seen marching in military array from two or more points, bearing flags with devices and inscriptions in order to attend such meetings;—that they had even gone the length of assembling at night to practise military training and exercise, to the great terror and alarm of the loyal, peaceable, and well-disposed of his majesty's subjects;—that this system had commenced in this country as early as 1816, The House would recollect further, that the speech from the throne, in closing the last session (1819) had stated, "that attempts had been made in the manufacturing districts to take advantage of circumstances of local distress to excite a spirit of disaffection.'' That the speech, on calling the parliament together now, assigned as the reason for their assembling at so unusual a period. "The increased activity, the seditious practices so long prevalent in some of the manufacturing districts, which had led to proceedings incompatible with the public tranquillity, and which, if not effectually checked must bring confusion and ruin on the nation." The noble lord (Castlereagh) in his speech in support of the address, declared that "such was the state of the country, that had ministers longer delayed convening parliament, they would have compromised their duty to the crown, and to the country; that it was not to be concealed that a deliberate conspiracy had been formed for overturning the government and that there prevailed in many places a disposition to second' this design; and almost in the same breathy he excepted Ireland from the charge of this conspiracy by asserting the tranquillity which prevailed there: while the minister for that country bore testimony to the peaceable disposition, the virtue and loyalty of the people; and the member for the university of Oxford had explained the meaning of the "awful and dangerous situation of the country," alluded to by ministers, by adverting to the nature and constitution of society in the manufacturing districts, which he stated as "a growing evil of twenty years;" In addition to all this, many members from various parts of Great Britain had corroborated the statement of ministers, adding their own apprehensions for the safety of their families and property, and even requested the interference of government declaring; their willingness to support the noble lord's measures. But what Irish' members, asked Mr. H. have as yet come forward, to demand these measures, as necessary for the tranquillity and security; of per sons and property in Ireland? What tumultuary meetings have they stated to have been held there? What flags? what devices; exhibited? What marching and training? What meetings dispersed? What leaders arrested? how many of the people maimed or killed? What magistrates accused of having actuated ferociously? What troops assembled, and where, to resist the machinations of the rebellious, protect the habitations of the loyal, and prevent the horrors of a civil war? What part of the evidence on the table applied to Ireland? She is not once mentioned or alluded to. He had indeed in private been answered, when complaining of the extension of these bills to Ireland, "that they could add but little to the severity of her penal code, it being already so severe; and that so much of misery existed in that country, the laws could scarcely be too rigid there!" The House would recollect the weight the opinion of the member for the university of Dublin had had on a former debate, when he came forward to declare the law as to these meetings which had held in Great Britain. Mr. H. could been not conceal from the House his deep regret at the part which the right hon. member had taken, doubtless from a sense of duty; but he would be glad to hear his opinion as to the necessity of extending these bills, especially the present, to Ireland; would the right hon. gentleman state what those circumstances were which, in his opinion, could justify such extension? Would he, with the other Irish members who supported these bills, deny the correctness of the noble lord's assertion as to the "tranquillity'' of that country? But if unfortunately that right hon. gentleman, and those from Ireland, who with him had supported ministers on this occasion, should be disposed to inflict these measures on their unhappy country, he should appeal from their apathy to the justice of the members for England, Wales, and Scotland—to their impartiality and enlightened wisdom, from which, at the period of the Union, the noble lord when advocating that measure, had solemnly and repeatedly assured the people of Ireland, that they might expect the most efficient support and protection against all conflicting and local interests, in their own country, which would, he assured them, be shielded against weakness, ignorance, corruption, and little passions when found operating among Irishmen to the detriment of Ireland. Mr. H. requested that the British members, whose attention and aid he earnestly solicited, would bear in mind the nature of the question he called upon them to assist him in. He did not wish them to do any thing by which any of their own rights or interests could be compromised, or injured in the least. There was no clashing or contrariety of interest here as between Ireland and Great Britain; but as they were about to legislate for Ireland, he called upon them to look at the evidence on the table, and to recollect the speeches they had heard during these debates, and then to pronounce whether one particle of it applied to Ireland, or whether she appeared implicated in the remotest degree in the disturbances, to quell which these bills had been framed? With regard to the Manchester proceedings, Ireland had observed, altogether the most perfect neutrality; there had not been an expression of sentiment any where in Ireland as to the event of the 16th of August, and this he stated without any feeling of national pride, but for the purpose of his present argument. Instead of presenting Ireland with these insulting bills, Mr. H. would be happy to see the noble lord evince a disposition to assist and relieve the distresses and miseries of his native soil, by proposing something calculated not to inflame and disgust, but to soothe and improve. Where, asked (Mr. H.) were the noble lord's plans for cultivating the Irish mountains, and for draining some of her bogs?—for relieving the poor from the oppression of tythes, at the same time protecting the Protestant clergy?—for emancipating the population and for "planting the peasantry in the soil," by at last giving them an interest therein?—for compelling the wealthy proprietor and great landholder from draining that country of its last shilling in order to expend it any where but there? Let the noble lord prove the sincerity of his attachment for his country in some such way as this, not in mere empty words, much less by such regular system of coercion and penalty, which he now presents to her, doubtless as a reward for the state of perfect "tranquillity," in which he has reported her to this House to be! Perhaps, said Mr. Hutchinson, the most novel and singular circumstance attending the sedebates, was, the conspicuous lead the Irish gentlemen had taken on the occasion. The member for the university of Dublin, one of the first legal characters in that country, had come over to declare the law, to strengthen and to shield the minister. The president of the board of control (Mr. Canning) also an Irishman, had exhausted all the powers of his extraordinary eloquence, in a three hours' speech, in order to guide or rather beguile the House into an adoption of these measures. The noble lord, the author of this notable system, himself an Irishman, seventy other Irish members, crowding the ranks of ministers, and making their victory decisive—a noble duke, the first, the great captain of the age, one of Erin's most favoured sons, covered with honours and with glory, forming one of the cabinet where these measures were devised, and prepared no doubt to lead the armies of the empire, if necessary even against the people of Great Britain, should they in their despair and madness, unhappily "be goaded on to violence and to mischief. One felt disposed, said Mr. Hutchinson, to ask whether this be revenge?—revenge for the injuries inflicted by Great Britain on that country for so many centuries?—whether it was the hand of Providence interfering to punish, through Irish agency, the sufferings of millions, though thus tardily? He asked whether those gentlemen he had mentioned, now wished to give chains to Great Britain, in return for the misery and desolation inflicted on their- own country by the barbarous policy of British cabinets. No man in the House or in the country could be a more enthusiastic admirer of the noble duke to whom he had alluded than himself, nor was it now, when he was at the head of every tiling that he had, for the first time, declared in that House, the high opinion he entertained of his military achievements and his sense of the obligation he conceived the empire to be under to him for the ever-memorable and eminent services he had performed in war; but he confessed he would be well pleased to find that great captain prove, himself In battle a roaring storm, Mild as the setting sun in peace. He confessed that the union of his countrymen, at this moment, and, for such a purpose, appeared to him as not a little ominous and strange, it had been said by one of these gentlemen in debate, that these Irish members had hurried from their houses and their families, to ward off from this favoured land those convulsions, the misery of which had been experienced in their own. He (Mr. H.) had also hurried from his family and home, but it was for the purpose of opposing those measures which they supported, and to defend the liberties of the people which he conceived to be attacked, and to be in the most imminent danger, and also to protect Great Britain from those very calamities, from those very measures of violence and cruelty, to which the hon. member for the county of Armagh had alluded,—measures of violence and cruelty, the eternal disgrace of the rulers of that country, and which caused the desolation and ruin of the people. For himself, he was sincerely desirous to protect Great Britain from what he had seen his own country suffer. He would seriously ask these gentlemen from Ireland, and the noble lord, whether they entertained no apprehension of the effect they were about to produce there, by the extension of these bills to that country, in its present forlorn, but "tranquil'' condition, where, notwithstanding the pompous speeches, as to its "prosperity," by the noble secretary for foreign affairs, no trade flourished but contraband; and misery was no where more conspicuous. The people suffered there more privations than perhaps in any other part of Europe, but with a resignation and patience above all praise. If they cannot (continued Mr. H.) introduce trade, manufactures, and capital, at least they might refrain from inflicting this wanton and unfeeling insult upon their country. Was this meant and offered as a return for the silent contempt with which that people had received the invitation from Great Britain, to make common cause with the reformers and manufacturers? Was this the reward for that decorum and loyal conduct during the last summer, notwithstanding a state of the most abject poverty, and with but gloomy and distant prospects of an improved condition: a state of privation to which, perhaps, even the severest sufferings of the most distressed of the manufacturing districts of Great Britain is, by comparison, luxury! But does the noble lord imagine, that, because in pompous language he has represented her to be in a prosperous state, that this declaration has rendered her so? Prosperity and Ireland!! where are the proofs? A want of trade and manufactures; a greatly accumulated debt, a decreased revenue, and a bankrupt treasury; a capital deserted by rank and wealth, absentees draining the country of her very heart's blood, protecting duties, itinerant legislators; a naked, half-fed, half-clothed, wretchedly-housed, brokenhearted population,—and this the noble lord calls prosperity!! Insult and mockery! Had the noble lord seen any of the letters from the reformers in England, which had been carefully distributed through Ireland during the summer? Does he know the fact? Will any One deny it? The noble lord had reminded the House of his experience in Ireland, with what view? as a threat? or to gain confidence, as an enlightened and successful statesman? If the latter, look (said Mr. H.,) to Ireland, and then pronounce upon, the noble lord's merits. See how she "prospers" after twenty years of "union," and, with the exception of a few months during that period, managed and governed by his lordship. But if this information to the House of the noble lord's experience, be meant as a threat, he acknowledged its weight. As to the exemption of Ireland from the operation of a law about to be passed for Great Britain, or of exempting Great Britain from the operation of a law affecting Ireland, there were the precedents of 1803, when the suspension of the Habeas Corpus act, and the enactment of martial law in Ireland were passed in one night, but not extended to Great Britain. These acts were renewed in 1804, with the same exceptions. In 1816 the Habeas Corpus act was suspended in Great Britain, but not extended to Ireland, and upon the proposition of the noble lord. Let the noble lord (said Mr. H.) place confidence m his countrymen, and try the effect of a system of conciliation and kindness. He owed them much, and professed much, when, in order to prevail upon them to degrade themselves, he held out every hope of an improved condition to a persecuted, insulted, and bleeding people. But in what have these hopes ended? In a total and absolute disappointment, increased distress, and in an addition now, of new pains and penalties to their already most severe penal code; at a moment too, when the noble lord asserts that "Ireland was never" more "tranquil" or "prosperous;" and at the same instant that he presents her with these coercive measures as a reward for her "tranquillity," he ventures to talk of even-handed "justice"!! Mr. H. asked, whether he flattered himself, that the people of Ireland had become so dull and so insensible all at once, as not to feel and complain of this treatment. There had not yet been sufficient time to hear from the distant parts of that country, since the noble lord's intention has been avowed; but the accounts from Dublin, received that morning, announced the greatest astonishment and indignation. Mr. H. desired, that the bill now proposed to be read a third time, be compared with the bills when first presented to the House; and gentlemen would instantly be convinced, that it had never been the first intention to include Ireland, which was never once named in the first bill, and only introduced by amendments in the committee, after he (Mr. H.) had stirred the question in the House.

He was at a loss to comprehend what the noble lord meant by the words in his, first speech on the address, "if they persisted in dealing out justice, even handed justice, and were resolved to interfere in the internal administration of justice no more than this interference was absolutely necessary." How was he about to carry into effect this, his own principle, as to Ireland? Was there any "absolute necessity," or any necessity whatever, to interfere there, to extend there these bills? He had also stated, that, "he only desired parliament to adopt a policy suited to the present exigency, and to evince firmness calculated to meet the danger which threatened the state," adding in almost the same breath, "that he had an individual pride as connected by birth and education with that part of the empire, in stating that, as far as Ireland was concerned, she had never, with some local exceptions, experienced greater tranquillity and prosperity." Where then was the danger (asked Mr. H.) that threatened the state as coming from Ireland? All accounts agreed in stating the danger, if any (which Mr. H. repeated his conviction, that ministers did not believe to be imminent), to exist chiefly, if not entirely, in the manufacturing districts, which the noble lord had stated to contain a full third of British population, as a reason for making these bills general, not local, in Great Britain. But how did this apply to Ireland? Where were her manufacturers? Where was the connexion of any part of her population with the manufacturers of Great Britain? none whatever; whereas every county, city, and town in Great Britain, though not strictly manufacturing, had in many cases a direct and intimate, and, in all a remote connexion with the manufacturing districts; nature had also connected them. It was all the same land, and each part of it connected by innumerable common ties. It was scarcely possible that the great manufacturing portions of Great Britain could be seriously convulsed, and the other part remain quiet. Gentlemen (observed Mr. H.) would understand that he did not say this in order to injure any part of this country. The question of including all parts of Great Britain had been already decided, but he would intreat them to be cautious how they disgusted the people of Ireland with the character of British legislation. It was his duly, by his own country, to show that her situation totally differed from that of any part of Great Britain. She was, besides, sea-girt—the noble lord had indeed enacted her to be a province of this empire, though Providence seemed to have decided otherwise. Mr. Hutchinson concluded by opposing the third reading of the bill.

Mr. Leslie Foster

expressed himself anxious to offer a few observations in answer to the speech which his hon. friend had made—a speech which, from the tone he assumed, was calculated to convey very wrong impressions to Ireland. — Many persons in that country, who, from that speech would think themselves aggrieved, would not, but for such a statement, be aware of the existence of the measure. If hon. members would allow him to explain himself further, they would See no reason for their cheers; as he meant to state, that large masses in Ireland, but for the warning in that speech, would have perhaps remained ignorant of the existence of the measure, because it was probable that there would be no reason in that country for its practical operation. He had never known but one instance of a public meeting in that country which was not held within some house, and which was not therefore exempt from the provisions of this measure. The one to which he alluded was an imitation of the meeting in Spa-fields, but it led to nothing. With respect to the claims of the Catholics, though he differed from the hon. gentleman as to the propriety of conceding them, he was as anxious as he could be to allow a full and fair opportunity of petitioning the legislature on that subject. But he asked his hon. friend, whether he ever heard of any of those meetings of Roman Catholics out of doors? In Dublin, where the aggregate Roman Catholic meetings were held, they were always in large rooms, capable of holding thousands of persons; and, in other parts of Ireland, they generally took place in chapels. He wished it, then, to be understood, that the present bill would have no practical effect against meetings in Ireland. But it was asked, "Why extend this bill to Ireland? Where is its necessity?" To this he answered, that the House had already decided that it should be of general operation; and if Ireland were exempted from it on the ground of its present tranquillity, why should not the gentlemen of Wales call for the exemption of that part of the country; and if Wales were also exempted, why might not Devonshire and Kent be so likewise?—for these exemptions would undoubtedly be sought for if the first were once admitted. Ho contended that it was necessary as a measure of precaution in those places where its immediate operation would not be required. There was one subject to which he wished to allude, and which his hon. friend had not noticed. They grossly deceived themselves, who, in the event of any considerable commotion in England, would speculate on the peace of Ireland. It was well known that ambassadors had been sent from the radicals of Manchester and its neighbourhood to Ireland; and though he was happy to say that hitherto they had not produced any effect, yet it could not be denied, that if this country were thrown into a state of violent commotion, Ireland would not long continue tranquil. It was on these grounds that, as an Irish member, he should give his vote for the extension of the bill to Ireland.

Mr. Plunkett

trusted the House would indulge him for a short time, while he expressed his sentiments on the measure then before them. He did not intend to have occupied their attention at this stage of the debate, nor should, he have offered himself, but for the very pointed manner in which he had been alluded to by his hon. and learned friend who had spoken last but one. He held it to be rather unusual to call particularly upon any member for his opinion upon what was passing before the House, and perhaps he might, with a full sense of duty, decline to comply with the demand; but he confessed he had so much of the Irishman in him as not to refuse the challenge. He thanked his hon. and learned friend for the compliments which he had paid, him in the course of his speech; but he conceived the allusion made to his character, as affected by the vote which he had given or might give on this subject, was wholly uncalled for. He must say that he did not think that character was likely to sustain any injury or diminution from the course of conduct, which he had felt it his duty in that House to follow. He thought that his character could never be implicated by the conscientious expression of a conscientious opinion. His hon. and learned friend in what he had expressed, was not inconsistent with his; politics; and he (Mr. Plunkett) maintained, that he, in what he had said, was; not inconsistent with those politics which he had always supported. In the course of his parliamentary experience, he had frequently been compelled to differ from his hon. and learned friend, and he had never seen occasion since to regret that difference. He had heard a great deal of the claim set up to exclusive loyalty by the gentlemen on the other side; but he considered the claim to exclusive patriotism, which was set up by some gentlemen equally as arrogant and unfounded. His hon. and learned friend had talked a great deal of liberty, and of the inroads; which had been made upon it. He should he glad to learn from him what that liberty was, and what were those attacks which were so much to be feared. That liberty would not, he was certain, be defined to mean the unlimited power of each individual to do whatever he pleased. He should rather define it to be "Protestas faciendi quicquid perleges licit." It was not the unbridled licence of disturbing the community at the caprice of all who sought only for confusion. The outcry of the present day was not in support of any enjoyment—it was not to uphold a legal and recognized right, but the uproar was shouted to secure the power of disturbance, to perpetuate an abuse with whose existence constitutional freedom was incompatible. Could such a misapplication of right be called liberty? Was that liberty which was preached up as such in so many parts of the country? No, it was a screaming harpy, an obscene bird of prey, that polluted every social and every natural enjoyment, and sought only to poison all those who allowed themselves to be brought within its influence. He had heard many assertions on the subject on that side of the House, and though he was certain that any thing which fell from his hon. and learned friend was not said with any evil intention, yet it should be recollected, that in the present state of the country the slightest assertion might be sufficient to unsheath the sword of civil discord, which unhappily was already half drawn from its scabbard. Many gentlemen talked of the introduction of military power and the substitution of a government of force for a government of law. He could not participate in such apprehensions—he read the answer to such fears in the application to parliament for the wholesome laws in the passing of which the House was then engaged. He had made those few observations, from having been so pointedly called upon by his hon. and learned friend, but he trusted the House would excuse him if he went a little farther into the subject than he originally intended; for he was anxious to state what his reasons were for giving his support to the present measures. That support was not founded on any suggestions of temporary policy—nor on the information which was disclosed in the papers before the House, but with the conviction that the proposed measures did not infringe on the constitution; while they were essential to its conservation. The state of society in this country, every man who reflected on the subject must admit, had within the last twenty or thirty years undergone a greater change than from the period of the conquest until the time of which he spoke. Within that interval the public attention had been called to the consideration of every measure connected with the administration of the government, in a degree hitherto unprecedented. There had been an intensity of light shed upon all subjects, civil, political, and religions; so that measures were now scanned with minuteness, which were scarcely looked into, or at most, but generally known before. Did he complain of that change, or of the means by which it had been produced? No; he rejoiced at it. The freedom of the public press, directing its efforts under the institutions of the constitution, was the most effectual security of public freedom. He was persuaded that where every action of every man connected with public affairs was laid before the public in the fullest manner, and most strictly canvassed and examined; where the press exercised this kind of guardianship, we had the best guarantee of all our rights. Then why did he allude to the public press Because there was under the same title, another description, a blasphemous, seditious, mischievous, press, of which the members 'of that House knew but little, but which had been unremittingly at work in destroying every honest and good feeling in the heart of man, and in loosening all those moral and social ties, without which civilization could not exist. It was not against the respectable press, but against this under current, which, setting with great force, was drifting the great mass of the humbler classes of the community into sedition, atheism, and revolution, that the House sought to guard. It was for the consummation of such atrocious objects that this battery was brought to play upon their passions and their ignorance. Did he mean to say, that the lower class of the people had no right to be informed on public transactions? Did he mean to say that the lower orders of the people had not a right to inquire into and discuss subjects of a political nature? No such thing. Did he mean to say, that they ought not to have the power of expressing their sense of any grievance under which they might think themselves to suffer? Far from it; but when he was willing to allow to them the enjoyment of every constitutional privilege, which they were entitled to possess, he never could consider that nice discussions on the very frame of the constitution—on the most essential changes in the institutions and fundamental laws of the country, were calculated for minds of such intelligence and cultivation. They ought rather to be protected from the mischiefs which such a misapplication of their minds must entail. Every capacity was capable of understanding the nature and the extent of the restrictions which government, from the purport of its institution, necessarily imposed on the natural freedom of man; but to the task of contemplating the more than usurious repayment which in long and various succession was received for that surrender, the generality of persons were not quite so adequate. The penalties of government stood at the threshold, but its benefits were to be traced through a long interval of ages—in the distribution of equal laws—in the control of public wisdom, producing, even through apparent contradiction, the grand harmony of the social system—these he conceived were subjects which could not be well discussed by men whose time was chiefly devoted to daily labour. It had been wisely said that "a little learning was a dangerous thing." It was true in literature, in religion, in politics. In literature, superficial reading too frequently formed the babbling critic. In religion the poor man, who, unsettled as to his faith, became curious upon his evidences, and who, if he possessed the capacity, and had time and means to extend his inquiries, would in the end reach the moral demonstration which religion unfolded— shaken, but not instructed, became a shallow infidel. It was equally so in po- litics; men who indulged in the perusal of every species of invective against the institutions of their country, who read on their shopboard of all the evils, and did not comprehend the blessings of the system of government under which they lived, these men, the nature of whose employment and whose education disallowed them to be statesmen, might however learn enough to become turbulent and discontented subjects. Was not this the case in France, where persons were called from their daily labour to give opinions upon the most difficult points of legislation? But he heard from his hon. and learned friend, and from other hon. members, a great deal about overturning the constitution of the country; and the wish that the practices of the good old times should be restored. He should be glad if the persons who made these observations would prove their present applicability. If it were said that the measures now introduced were against the practice of the good old times, he should only state, that before he could agree to the proposition, he must unlearn all that he had known of those good old" times, and all that he had read in history respecting them. He should be glad to know when had such meetings as it was now attempted to control been considered as the ordinary exercise of the constitution? Why, until the present reign had far advanced, there were no such meetings known, and the reason why such laws as the present were not before thought of, was, that no grounds ever before existed for their necessity. Where a spirit of disaffection existed, some restrictive measure should be passed to check its operation. The House were called upon to provide against an evil not of ancient, but of recent origin, and, in the wise spirit of the constitution, it proceeded to apply new remedies to a new mischief Let any man who read the bill contradict him. Did it in its enactments interfere with any right of the subject according to the spirit of the constitution? It was, and he said it with sincerity, a remedial measure. He appealed to the common sense of every man who heard him, whether the expression of the public voice was possible to be obtained at these screaming, howling, hallooing meetings which the measure went to suppress [Hear, hear!]? Could any discussion, any deliberation, any fair, impartial decision, result from such assemblages? Let him ask, whether, if ever there came a question of deep importance, on which it was of the greatest moment to procure the authoritative expression of the public opinion, that opinion would not be better ascertained, and its influence more powerfully felt at a hundred meetings, held in apartments, where every man would be allowed to deliver his sentiments and to hear distinctly those of others, than at a meeting of 10,000 persons assembled together in the open streets, and where what was said by one could not be heard by hundreds? Why, the spirit of the constitution was more likely to be preserved in those meetings than in the large and tumultuous ones. He would admit that it was of importance, that the public voice should be frequently expressed; but then he would not sanction meetings where, tinder the mask of expressing that opinion, the use of physical force was recommended in bringing about alterations not only of the law but the constitution. He would agree with what had fallen from an hon. baronet, that perhaps the opinions of lawyers might not be the best on these subjects, but he would ask, whether the first step from barbarism was not this—to prevent the elements of society from being Set loose against those laws which were enacted for the benefit of all; and thus throwing mankind back into a state of nature; in which the institutions of government possessed neither respect nor power. The first principle of society was, that care should be taken to prevent the exercise of physical force from bearing down those bounds which that society had placed to human action in particular cases. He would admit that there were states of society where those bounds were broken, but then they were states of revolution, and never existed without the destruction, for the time, of all order and harmony in the country where they rose. In conclusion he begged to state his opinion, that the same reason which existed for the extension of the bill to all parts of England, also existed for its extension to Ireland. His hon. and learned friend had, on this occasion, mixed up the question of the Roman Catholic claims with this bill. In his opinion there was no connexion between them. No doubt his hon. and learned friend was a warm and sincere advocate for the question in which the Roman Catholics were concerned; but he (Mr. Plunkett) should say, that any man who could mix up their question with such measures as the present, was not, in effect, acting the part of a friend to them. His hon. and learned friend must admit, that most, if not all the meetings which were held on the subject of the Roman Catholic question, were held within doors, and therefore the present bill could not affect their assembling to petition; and he knew his Catholic countrymen so well as to feel that even, if under the present circumstances they were to suffer some privations, they would freely acquiesce in them, in the hope that the time was not far distant when they might be enabled to participate in the benefits of that constitution, which they were ever ready to support and defend.

Lord Milton

declared, that after the observations which had fallen from his right hon. and learned friend, he could not avoid offering a few remarks. Some of the opinions of his right hon. and learned friend had astonished him, and he was the more surprised at hearing them from such a quarter. He understood his learned friend to argue, that because in the present day an intensity of light was thrown upon all subjects, therefore the progress of knowledge was to be stopped. If his right hon. and learned friend had not meant this, his words could convey no meaning at all. His right hon. and learned friend had contended, that because knowledge was so general, it should be restricted. Why, if that argument had always been in force, what would have become of the exertions of a Luther and a Calvin, who had contributed to take from our religion that veil of error in which it had so long been hid? He should be glad to know how knowledge was improved or increased but by slow steps. His right hon. and learned friend had advanced one proposition which; utterly astonished him. It was, that in the last 20 or 30 years, we had improved more in knowledge than in some centuries preceding. What! would his right honourable and learned friend say, that the accumulated wisdom of six or seven centuries; that the Magna Charta, the bill of rights, the Habeas Corpus, and other measures, securing the liberty of the subject, were outweighed in their importance by the increased knowledge of the last 20 or 30 years? Surely his right hon. and learned friend must have lost sight of those great bulwarks of our liberty, when he used such an argument. He would admit that there were very many, who (whether their opinion was well or ill founded he would not then inquire) were in favour of the present bill; but he would say, that that in itself was no argument in its support; for there were not wanting instances of whole nations surrendering up their liberties, and willingly embracing an absolute government; and on one occasion it was seen, that a great nation did voluntarily surrender up its liberties, into the hands of a single individual; but would such a circumstance be taken as a justification of a surrender of any portion of our liberties at the present day? He did admit, that in consequence of some things which had occurred in the country, there were some persons disposed to give up many of their invaluable rights, through fear of a supposed danger. But he maintained, that there existed no such danger as to call for this surrender. His right hon. and learned friend had said, that the present application to parliament proved in itself that a military despotism was not thought of. Why, he asked, had parliament been now assembled 3 weeks, and not one word spoken by ministers of the great increase of 12,000 men which they had made in the army of the country? He professed himself so much a friend to old laws and old customs, as to doubt the legality of such an increase. The bill of rights said that there should be no standing army without the consent of parliament, and the mutiny act regulated them in such a manner as to bring them under immediate parliamentary control. With these acts then before him, he should, until he heard some strong proof to the contrary, doubt that such an increase as had been made to our army was lawful. But, he asked, did this increase accompanied as it was, by strong coercive laws, show a disposition to respect the liberties of the people? The army so raised was, however, not considered a sufficient safeguard, and the present bill was introduced. Was that bill founded upon the ancient practice of the constitution? When a similar measure was first introduced in 1795, there were great discontents in the country— treasonable societies in England—a convention sitting at Edinburgh, arrogating to itself the powers of the legislature, actual convictions having taken place—the country at war with an enemy, whose malignity was only exceeded by its industry in disseminating its principles. Such was the state of things in 1795; and yet instead of a remedy, as his right hon. and learned friend had called it, the measure was characterized, even by its advocates, as a great, though a necessary infringement of the constitution. The same occurred in 1817. The measure was then also looked upon by all as an infringement of the constitution. It was enacted at both those periods, and suffered after each to expire; but he maintained that, by the frequent repetition of such coercive acts, the people would in time be brought to think little of their rights, and would at some future period, through some such fears for their security as were now disseminated, be brought to surrender their liberties altogether. He contended, that if the safety of the country was brought to depend on military force alone, it could not be long secured. The people would not be content to be so coerced, and if the expression of their opinions through the medium of public meetings were restricted, ministers would lay open a ground for secret associations, and conspiracies, and for a crime which he would not trust himself to name, as being so repugnant to the feelings and character of Englishmen. What was the reason why so marked a difference existed between the large assemblies, vulgarly called mobs, in this country and in those of others? Ought it not to be attributed to the free constitution, which recognized the right of a free expression of opinion? He allowed that the bill had been much amended in the House. It had no doubt been rendered more palatable to a number of persons; but it did not, therefore, seem to him to be more desirable, as, when he considered that circumstance, and the tone of his majesty's government on the subject, he was persuaded that at the end of the five years the continuation of the bill would be proposed. The popularity which the bill might acquire with some persons in the country, was, therefore, in his opinion, one of the greatest dangers attending it. The tendency of the bill was not only to produce arbitrary power, but to take away the means of resisting arbitrary power. He did not say that it was the intention of his majest3''s ministers to do this; but they could not be so blind as not to be aware that such was the tendency of the measure. It would stop the free communication of sentiment among the population of the country. It would prevent that congregation of the people, so consonant to the principles of the constitution; at which the mutual expression of opinion was fairly indulged in; and at which all the ill blood generated by political differences had the opportunity of evaporating. But the principal grounds of his opposition to the measure were, that the enactment of the bill would make it difficult, if not almost impossible, to return to a wholesome state of liberty—that state, which, if not wholly annihilated by the measures which had been introduced by his majesty's government, had at least been severely impaired.

Mr. Robinson

allowed, that if he entertained an opinion of the state of the country similar to that expressed by those who opposed the measure, if he could by any course of reasoning come to the conclusion at which the noble lord who had just sat down had arrived—if he thought the existing disaffection were of recent origin—if he thought that by some sudden and unaccountable accident, the country was exposed to an ebullition of popular feeling—if he thought that the attempts to disturb the tranquillity of the country had no defined object—if he thought that that object was not pursued with systematic and unremitting activity, he should then perhaps be of opinion that the proposed measures ought not to be adopted. Although no man was more slow than himself to see any danger in an ebullition of popular feeling and prejudice, or to interfere with it, yet he was convinced that the country was not at present in a state of mere ebullition. There were not many hon. gentlemen present who recollected the events which took place at the commencement of the French Revolution. But they were matter of history; and it was impossible for any one who was duly informed respecting them, to say, that the reception which the mischievous doctrines promulgated at that time, met in England, was fostered by distress; for there never was a time when trade was more flourishing, or the general prosperity more assured. That, however, was the period when the pestilent doctrines by which we had ever since been more or less infected, were first sown in this happy country. A noble lord opposite had contended, that that was a time of greater danger than the present. To him the fact appeared precisely the reverse.—The evil commenced at the beginning of the French Revolution. It had since made great progress. It had assumed by turns every shade and disguise; and now its gigantic form threaten- ed destruction to all the elements of civil society. It had occasionally been more or less active; but never had it been wholly extinguished. What was the sort of danger to which the country was at present exposed? He appreciated it, not so much from the representation of any individuals in that House, as from the avowed and declared objects of the parties themselves. The first of the meetings to which he should advert, was that at Birmingham, in which the most audacious attempt was made to attack the majesty, honour and constitution of parliament, that had ever entered into the mind of the most audacious Reformer. The resolutions of that meeting had been treated, forsooth, as ridiculous. For his part, he believed that at every period when revolution was contemplated, there was a mixture of the ridiculous and the terrifying. But not at that meeting alone; at the meeting at Hunslet Moor, a resolution was adopted similar in substance, manifesting the same disposition and intention to attack the privileges of parliament. In this resolution the persons assembled declared in plain terms (for to that it was now come; there was no affectation of concealment), that they wished "to form a national union, the object of which was to obtain an overwhelming majority of the male population, to present such a petition as could not fail to have the desired effect." An overwhelming majority of the male population for the purpose of presenting a petition! And then the resolutions proceeded to state, that the persons adopting them would resort to "such other constitutional measures as may be deemed most expedient to procure the redress of their manifold grievances." A tolerable notion of the constitution persons must have, who talked of giving effect to a petition by "an overwhelming majority of the male population !" Then came the proposition for a meeting at Manchester, on the abandonment of which so much stress had been laid. But why had it been abandoned? Because, as the individual announcing that abandonment asserted, "although the object was one of absolute right, the persons intending to assemble were not strong enough to resist the power that was to be opposed to them." What followed? Training by night, and all those other means which were calculated to give strength to the individuals by whom they were adopted. On these, and a thousand other considerations with which he would not trouble the House, he could not but contemplate the existing danger as infinitely greater than any that had ever yet menaced the country. But was there no danger to liberty itself in the proceedings in question? To endeavour to carry any political purpose by a vast accumulation of persons, was pronounced by well informed individuals of all parties to be wrong. No such meetings could be held without the necessary collection of all the civil and military force in the neighbourhood. Was it not dangerous to liberty thus perpetually to contemplate the parade of force, which circumstance's rendered necessarily attendant on the expression of public opinion? No man denied the right of the people to assemble for the purpose of expressing their opinion. But in all well-constituted societies, what right was there which was not liable to regulation, in order to prevent its abuse? He had said enough to show the reasons on which, in his opinion, parliament was driven to the adoption of the proposed measures. As to the asserted disposition of government to use those measures for the subversion of the constitution, it was a charge easily made. For himself, he never more sincerely and heartily regretted any thing than he did the necessity for such proceedings; but he could not shut his eyes to the danger; he could not look to the circumstances in which the evil had originated; he could not observe the course that had been pursued; he could not contemplate the systematic activity with which pernicious doctrines had been disseminated among the people, without feeling the absolute necessity of parliamentary interference. The noble lord had contended, that it was impolitic to throw any impediment in the way of public meetings, because, as he supposed, they were the safety valves of the constitution, by which all the bad spirit and feeling of the people evaporated. It was a most pestilent evaporation. Were it the pure essence of liberty, no man would observe it with more satisfaction than himself; but it spread death around. Compression might be inconvenient; but if it were not compressed, sure he was, that they would all fall under the baneful (influence of that noxious exhalation. Looking then at the circum- stances of the country, and balancing between evils, he could not but decide in favour of the present measures. The liberty now claimed by the disaffected was unknown to the constitution. It had grown up into a frightful abuse. Of this he was persuaded, in direct opposition to the noble member for the county of York, that the corruptions and dangers of the present day were much more alarming than those of any former period; and if not checked with promptitude and vigour, that they would produce still greater evils: Damnosa quid non imminuet dies? Ætas parentum, pejor avis, tulit Nos nequiores, mox daturos Progeniem vitiosiorem.

Mr. W. Smith

said, he should not address himself to those who thought that the existing evil originated in the French revolution, and had proceeded until it had arrived at its present point, because he was not aware of any argument which could effect a change in such an opinion. He acknowledged that by allowing all assemblies to take place under cover, a very considerable part of the sting had been, taken out of the bill; but on that point he wished to make one observation. He was aware that the marginal notes of a bill were not to be considered as an accurate index of the bill itself; he could not, however, help adverting to the marginal note referring to the clause of exception which he had noticed. It was as follows: —" Clause not to extend to any meeting held in a private room." He was at a loss to know on what authority that expression had been introduced, but he protested against parliament being concluded by it. Many of the clauses might be excluded; from the bill without interfering with its operations. He alluded particularly to the clause which limited its duration to five years. This was a period which he thought ought not to be insisted upon, as, if that were permitted, at the end of five years the measure would no doubt be renewed as a matter of course. His objection in general to the bill, however, was founded upon the same grounds on which he objected to the whole system of measures which had been brought in, namely, that they had been introduced to the notice of the House, without any inquiry whatever. The House had taken for granted, that all that had been stated was true, without one inquiry as to the propriety of the evidence on which those statements had been made, and without once considering whether the remedies proposed were called for by the evils which had existed. The prima facie evidence before the House was, that there had been a meeting at Manchester, the legality or illegality of which was doubtful; that that meeting was dispersed in a manner which had not been resorted to since 1780 (when it took place under very different circumstances), that two or three hundred persons were much hurt—some of them killed. If this was not true, let it be disproved. If not disproved, he had a right to assume, that at least a large proportion of the statement was true; and that the mode of dispersion was illegal. The justices acting on that occasion had, nevertheless, substantially received from his majesty's government complete indemnity; and all other justices in a similar way were, under the bill before the House, to enjoy similar indemnity. By the bill, a single justice of the peace was empowered to disperse an assembly of the people. Was that an authority which ought to be so conferred? A great deal had been said, and said with truth, of the merits of what had been called "the unpaid'' magistracy. But that was a narrow view of the question; they were not "an unpaid" magistracy. Did those hon. gentlemen who cried "hear!" think the magistracy unpaid because they received no pecuniary recompense for their services? He remembered a story, which was probably known to all the readers of French anecdote. A chevalier de Saint Louis, of distinguished military merit, observing a great French actor receive, on coming out of the theatre, the homage of a large crowd of persons, exclaimed, "who is this fellow that enjoys so much applause, while I, who have served my country so long and so faithfully, am quite neglected?" —"What, sir," replied the actor, "do you reckon for nothing the privilege of treating me in this manner?" So he would say to those who talked of the "unpaid" magistracy, Did they reckon for nothing the privileges and authority which those gentlemen enjoyed— privileges and authority, in his opinion, of much greater value than any pecuniary payment they could receive. Of that "unpaid'' magistracy, he believed the far greater portion of them would rather enjoy the privileges they now enjoyed than be turned into paid magistrates with moderate salaries. For those who discharged their duty in a proper manner, it was much to possess the power of doing good, and for those (if there were any such in the country) who sought to recommend themselves to the higher powers, they only looked forward to payment in futuro instead of in presenti. He would not intrude longer upon the House, but he had felt it his duty to state the reasons that induced him to vote against the third reading of the bill.

Mr. Long Wellesley

felt himself called upon to state the reasons which induced him to support his majesty's government in the present measure; and these were founded on a conviction, that the dangers which existed demanded the exercise of extraordinary powers. In coming to this conclusion he disclaimed any intention unnecessarily to infringe on the rights and liberties of the people; nothing was farther from his principles, or those feelings of independence which he hoped he should always maintain. If he thought the present bill went unjustly to infringe on the liberties of the people he trusted that no motive would induce him to give it his consent. He, however, could not see that it affected those constitutional liberties which the people had a right to enjoy. It did not prevent them from meeting, as they had a right to do, by law: an individual who had received the common education of a gentleman, knew that there never was a period when the people could meet to express their sentiments on public affairs without being under some restrictions. Those now to be imposed were not unjustly severe, and in his opinion they did not trench on those privileges secured to the people at the time of the Revolution.

Mr. Williams

expressed a hope, that the House would indulge him for a few moments while he explained the motive on which he founded his objection to these bills. It was because, taking the whole of the statements which had been given by the hon. gentleman on all sides of the House to be strictly true, he thought that these bills went further than the evils complained of demanded. The evils were, according to his notion, that a great number of persons assembled together with flags and with military parade, and that these persons were inflamed by the speeches of itinerant orators, who went about from place to place inculcating their pernicious doctrines. Now, allowing these evils to exist in certain quarters, surely it did not follow that the restrictions which might be considered necessary to their suppression, should be extended to places in which they were unknown? If the bill had been confined to the correction of the evils described, it would have met with his most cordial support. But why were parliament to put those under restraint who had not participated in these proceedings, and who had unquestionably a right to submit their opinions to the throne, or to the other branches of the government? One or two of the enactments of the bill would have been sufficient for the purpose. Those which forbade persons from going out of their own county to public meetings, and the display of any military parade at those meetings, would have met all the necessity of the case. But why take away that which ought to be considered as the inalienable right of Englishmen? By the proposed bill, meetings could be held only by the will of the sheriff or the magistrate. If his permission were refused, the people would be compelled to assemble in parishes. And what kind of meetings would they be? He knew several parishes in which the meeting must necessarily be composed of two persons—the landlord and the farmer! How were these persons, unless they joined with neighbouring parishes, to express their opinions, or to discuss any grievances of which they might have reason to complain? The proposition was quite idle and ridiculous. Another objection to the bill was, that cities and towns corporate, might be restricted from delivering their opinions through the intervention of a single individual—he meant the sheriff or mayor. It was true, as had been said, that sheriffs were not in England, at least, under the control of the Crown; but still these individuals might be influenced by private passions and prejudices, which would incline them to act in opposition to the wishes of the community at large. He had known such persons enter their protests even against charitable meetings; and if this were the case, how much more likely would they be to exercise the same right under the direction of those feelings which were apt to actuate men upon political subjects! Thus he conceived he had shown, that the powers given by this bill would materially infringe upon the legitimate rights of the subject. There was one of the remedies which had been proposed, to which he thought there was no objection? The bill for preventing the training which was going on in some districts, no friend of his country but must cordially support. To the prevention of the display of flags and other military demonstrations, there could be no possible objection. To the assembling of immense numbers—for how was it possible that any individual could address or be heard by thirty or forty thousand persons?—To the assembling of immense numbers, a check seemed indispensable. The congregation of such a multitude could answer no good end. Had the bill comprehended merely those considerations, it would have met with his most cordial support. But, as he had already said, it went much further, and much beyond the necessity. Adverting to the severe distresses which were experienced in the manufacturing districts, he expressed his regret that his majesty's ministers had not put into the mouth of his royal highness the Prince Regent, at the commencement of the session, an avowal of that sorrow for those distresses which he was persuaded the benevolent nature of his Royal Highness would incline him to feel on the subject. The next step ought to have been to institute such an inquiry into recent occurrences as would satisfy the people. He would then have endeavoured to get rid of a great part of the existing discontent by the appointment of a committee of inquiry into the nature of the general distress. He must say, that if ever the House of Commons was disgraced, it was by the rejection of his hon. friend's motion on that subject; a rejection founded on the assertion that the motion was dictated by party motives! For himself, he was uninfluenced by party motives. He sincerely felt that inquiry would have got rid of a great portion of the evils complained of. He sincerely believed, that if the legislature were to resort to proper measures, there would be found in the country abundant means, without any recourse to emigration, of giving beneficial employment to the whole population. After he had done all that he had described, he would have proceeded to that, which, in his opinion, would be the most important step of all—a moderate and rational reform. Advancing step by step, he would eventually have made the voice of the people as distinctly heard in that House as was consistent with the public safety. He was satisfied that the great bulk of the people would continue to respect the House, if the House would apply themselves calmly and dispassionately to inquire into and remedy the existing distresses. But, above all, he conjured them not to adopt measures injuriously operative oil the whole community, when it was confessedly only a part of that community that ought to be subject to them. They were the guardians of the people, and should be especially cautious not to oppress those who were already in a state of great dissatisfaction.

Lord Morpeth

said, that hon. gentle men must feel that party attachments would be allowed on some occasions to influence the discussion of state questions; but he deprecated their influence in this instance, not merely with reference to the awful situation of the country, but also with reference to these particular measures, which were proposed by his majesty's ministers, for the purpose of averting the dangers by which it was threatened, and of opposing the progress of revolutionary doctrines. Without further preface, he must for his own part fairly confess, that from all the information he had been able to glean from the papers on the table, and from all he had been able to gather from persons the best informed upon the subject, the constitution, in his opinion (however reluctantly he came to that conclusion), would be seriously endangered, unless the spirit of these seditious meetings were speedily put down by the strong arm of the law, aided by military interference. Under all these circumstances of the case, he must give this bill his support; but with regard to the character of the measure, it had been already so amply discussed, that he did not deem it necessary to detain the House upon the subject. He would here ask, what was the evil complained of by the country? What was it, but the existing state of the country? What remedy then must be applied? What, but the aid of physical, but authorized, force? They would be told by some of those who advocated the cause of reform, that such a system of measures was incompatible with their wishes. These gentlemen would assert, that their object was, in one word, the constitution, the whole constitution, and nothing but the constitution; and they would then proceed to say what their views of that constitution were. Why, they would assert that annual parliaments and Universal suffrage formed a most essential part of it; and they would say, that they should consider their wrongs unredressed, their evils unremedied, and their rights unrestored, if such annual parliaments and such universal suffrage were not conceded to them They would go on to declare, that these remedies they possessed the most ample means of obtaining; and in favour of these doctrines, the House had heard by one hon. baronet already, the great and respectable authority of the learned Selden cited. He had not been able to refer to the particular passages which were said to contain such opinions; but if they were the opinions of Selden, indeed hon. gentlemen must acknowledge, that no man ever put a greater restraint upon his feelings than that learned person; because, as the House must know, he was himself a member of a parliament the very reverse of annual; and one which deprived the people of the exercise of any authority as to the establishment either of general suffrage, or a different mode of representation. But, however, that might be, he would ask the House, whether there was no difference between a man's suggesting a theory, and propounding a fact?—No difference between the circumstances of the times, or none in the application of such opinions? But they were told, that this was a system of coercion and restraint: he must confess that he thought it was, generally and particularly. He must allow that these regulations of meetings, were in themselves a limitation of the right of meeting, as in individuals; but the question for their consideration was, whether the limitation and the coercion were necessary to the safety of the state? Besides, it was further necessary to impress upon the members of these seditious meetings the consideration, that this measure was not intended as one of coercion, but as one of penalty. As to the propriety of preventing such meetings as that of Manchester, let it be remembered, that the objects of that meeting were not those of; the people of Manchester only; but that it was thought necessary to infuse into that people the genuine and unadulterated spirit of disaffection which prevailed in all the manufacturing districts. It was urged again, that this bill was an infringement on the privileges and the liberties of the subject; and that assertion he must also allow. They, however, were to inquire, whether it did not go to | | prevent more daring and extensive encroachments, which, if not so prevented, would involve all the liberties dearest to the country in one vast and undistinguished ruin? When the nature of those liberties was talked of, he was strongly reminded of a memorable passage in Burke, written, by the way, not at a time when the general disgust and horror occasioned by the atrocities of the French revolution might have been naturally supposed to have elicited such observations from him, as the result of experience, but nearly fifteen years before their occurrence—in the year 1774— The distinguishing part of our constitution is its libarty. To preserve that liberty inviolate, seems to be the particular duty and proper trust of a member of the House of Commons. But the liberty, the only liberty I mean, is a liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with order and virtue, but cannot exist without them. It inheres in good and steady, government, as in its substance and vital principle." But this "order," which Mr. Burke had thus imaged to his auditors (the passage was from his speech at Bristol), hon. gentlemen could hardly deem to be synonimous with the rigid and awful silence which prevailed at the meetings of these reformers; that "virtue" was not to be found either in the opinions or the assemblies of those men (ho hardly knew how to describe them), those insidious exhorters to infidelity, who, not contented with insulting religion, would contaminate the loyalty of the people. He held measures of coercion to be absolutely necessary; but he had yet to learn, why, if they were adopted, and these districts tranquillized, the genius of the country should not be allowed a fair and patient trial of exertion? Ho had yet to learn why she should not be competent to that trial; or why it should not be the duty of those engaged in commerce, to extend and to improve her commercial interests? or why, in the pursuit of that object, they should not sedulously cultivate a promising and profitable intercourse with South America? He had also yet to learn, why it should be found impossible to employ the surplus and industrious population of this kingdom upon works of public utility, or upon monuments of national genius? Lastly, he would ask, why they should not be applied to that most important of all purposes, the improvement of uncultivated lands? The advantages, in short, of their employment and exertions, had been already most ably described in the eloquent speech of the hon. member for Taunton; and had not been more highly estimated than their real value warranted. It was of ail things, however, the duty of the Mouse to extend protection to the loyal, the peaceable, the industrious, the unbiassed part of the population—a duty which they owed to the unrepining, and, equally so, to the misguided portion of the community, whom they were bound to protect from those treacherous and designing men, who, professing sympathy for their misfortunes, exaggerated their distresses: and while they strove to subvert the altar by assailing it with blasphemy, endeavoured to undermine the throne by the diffusion of revolutionary principles.

Mr. Scarlett

acknowledged that he was far from considering that in the present state of the country, some measure was not necessary, calculated to produce a salutary impression upon the, disturbed districts of the country, and to lay the spirit by which they had been agitated. For his own part, no man thought some such proceeding more needful than himself; and if he considered that the one before them was a measure of that description, no man would more cordially support it. But it was because he had a serious and solemn conviction, that a directly contrary effect would be produced by it, that he should think it his duty to oppose it, and to lay before the House his reasons for doing so. It appeared to many, that the state of the country was such as imperatively to call for measures which might be effectual to put down the large meetings which had recently been so frequent. No one would more readily concur in the general impolicy and impropriety of such large assemblies. He was by no means disposed to think that a meeting of the whole people of England upon Salisbury plain would be either advisable or convenient for the discussion of grievances. He was very ready to admit, that a public meeting, convened under a state of circumstances, such as affected the manufacturing districts of the country, might call for a measure of restriction; but they had been told that it was not there alone that the measure was necessary; and indeed those districts did not seem to be in particular affected by the bill before the House, or by any of the measures proposed by his majesty's ministers. He should have been dis- posed to support the measure, even had its provisions been more severe, had he not thought they were inimical to the liberties of the country. The noble lord and several hon. gentlemen had admitted that the measure was a restriction on the liberties of the people; but how did that admission agree with the declaration of his right hon. and learned friend, that so far from restricting the liberties of the people, it was framed in the very spirit of the constitution; and that it went to support those rights which he (Mr. Scarlett) and the noble lord thought it went to abridge? This bill did not merely confine itself to interference with meetings, at which 30or 40,000 persons were assembled, but it made all meetings, in any part of the country, to depend on the will of a single magistrate, and was this, he would ask, no restraint on the liberty of the people? Was it nothing to put under restraint these meetings which it affected not to attack, in a manner in which they had never been dealt with before? If he should be able to prove that the bill went a great deal further than the right honourable and learned gentleman had said it did, he trusted that he might hope from his candour a retraction of the opinion that it contained no sort of restraint upon the rights of the people. He hoped to show that it was a bill founded on panic and alarm. Danger might exist, indeed; but he denied that it arose from public meetings. They were but warning voices which admonished the government of the country of what it was prudent to foretell. What had been called a noxious exhalation, government, instead of preventing, wished to confine: they sought a pretext by which, instead of its exhaling, it might stagnate, and become so rank, as eventually to explode with a force too powerful to be easily restrained. The magistrates, by this bill, were empowered to disperse and dismiss any meetings which had been heretofore frequently held in large and populous places; and here he could not help observing, that as hon. gentlemen were more removed from the immediate scene of danger, in proportion were their fears increased. He did not find that gentleman coming from the very districts in question were the most anxious to support these measures; but on the contrary, those who came from the north, were not half so much alarmed as those who came from the west, while the greatest alarm of all was felt among the gentlemen from the sister country.—The friends of the noble lord seemed to have come over in the utmost trepidation and with the greatest personal inconvenience, and though perfectly satisfied with the state of their own country, were sufficiently anxious to tranquillize this.—But did this bill prevent any large meetings in the neighbourhood of populous places—Birmingham or Smithfield? No such thing; to the amount of 10,000 at least, they might still meet. But did his right hon. and learned friend consider that it did this, that it annulled a course of proceeding which had been persevered in for these twenty years past? that a meeting held in however accustomed a manner was liable to be dismissed and dispersed, and all attending it liable to be put to death, for aught he knew to the contrary, at the will of a single magistrate? He would not say of a magistrate appointed by the Crown, but of an ordinary magistrate. If he, again, had party feelings to indulge, and magistrates possessed feelings similar to those of other men; they had their prejudices and party views; and any one of them imagining that the meeting had been called to pass resolutions, incompatible with his own sentiments might directly proclaim it to be illegal, and pursue those who attended it with the pains and penalties of felony! He begged pardon of the framers of this bill, but he must say, that a greater blunder in legislation was never committed, than to make men guilty of felony, not for any breach of the peace committed by them—not for any outrage or violence on their part, but at the will and on the discretion of a single magistrate. He would suppose the case of a meeting summoned by the sheriff or by five magistrates: who should regularly convene it. It might be imagined that such an assembly would be secure from any disturbance; yet a single magistrate, not friendly to the meeting, and intending to destroy it. might contrive to invalidate the whole proceeding. He would put to them a strong case. He might, for instance, send; to the meeting a copyholder, who held lands to the value "of 3,000l. or 4,000l. a year in. the county; but who not being a freeholder or inhabitant householder, could not legally attend the meeting. In the case of a borough, a freehold of 50l. a year qualified a freeholder; yet none but a freeholder or inhabitant householder, or a heritor in Scotland, was to be so qualified as to attend these meetings. Well, in this case, the magistrate might send either a copyholder or his own clerk. If any resolution were proposed which the magistrate did not like, he might make his proclamation, and strangers would be ordered to withdraw, He would then perhaps say, that he knew there was an individual who had no right to attend the meeting; but he would not name the party; for by this bill he was not bound to do so. He might even be called on to name at the time of so ordering strangers to withdraw; and would only reply, that he was not under the necessity of doing so; that he knew there were intruders, and that was sufficient. In a quarter of an hour, the magistrate might make another proclamation, and half an hour after that, every person remaining, if more than 12 in all, was declared a felon. What! was this the way to support the rights of the people of England? Was this no restriction upon their liberties? was this a measure framed in the spirit of the constitution? He would suppose, that at a county meeting—such a one, for instance, as that held in the castle-yard at York, there might be half a dozen strangers present. The magistrate makes his proclamation, takes his measures properly; in a quarter of an hour makes his second, in half an hour the half dozen are guilty of felony; and on what ground? Or he might disperse such a meeting on speculation, and if a few disqualified persons afterwards showed themselves who either had or had not been present, the magistrate might say, "I find I am right; my proclamation was a proper step, here are 6 persons neither freeholders nor inhabitant householders; you must all of you be transported for seven years. And these were the rights, the unrestricted rights of the people of England! So well were they protected, that those who met to exercise them inevitably subjected themselves to the risk and penalty of being transported! It had been said that private rooms were excepted. He did not mean to quarrel with the exception; but he meant to say, that the views of the framers of this measure in making that exception were most inconsistent. It was said that great discontents existed in the country; that great dissatisfactions among the people (it was but too true) were increasing. If so, could any thing be more improper than to allow these troubles, discontents, and dissatisfactions to rankle and fester in private, where government could know nothing about them? While the public expression of complaint was not to be permitted, this bill was to allow its utterance in private. This appeared to him to be the way to increase and not to diminish the danger. Although he did not himself at all approve of any proceeding of the kind, yet, if the country was agitated, if that agitation arose from the meeting of vast bodies of persons, whose discontents were too liable to excite disturbance, he would much rather see a measure aiming altogether at public meetings, or suppressing them entirely for a time, than one which protected the disaffected, merely because they met in private where they could not be got at. He wished also to say a few words on another clause, not merely as it now stood, but also as it existed before the bill had been revised by the committee. It was originally intended that the clause should only extend to meetings holden for the purpose of deliberating upon public grievances, or of considering or agreeing to petitions, addresses, and remonstrances; but it now extended to all meetings which had relation to trade, manufacture, business, or profession; so that if any number of individuals residing in different parts of the country wished to deliberate on a matter relating to their trade or business, they could only do it by calling meetings in their respective parishes. For instance, if any gentleman wished to express his opinions upon the policy or impolicy of an increased tax on wool, he could not go out of his parish to do it unless, indeed, a county meeting should be called for the subject; to which, in his opinion, a county meeting would not be inclined to pay any considerable attention. Lord Sheffield, who was so much interested in the wool trade, and had done so much to promote it, might wish to have a meeting of the wool growers, to petition parliament against the tax on wool; but the bill now before the House, if passed into a law, would prevent him from going to such a meeting if it was out of his parish, and would prevent others from coming to it if it was holden within it. This circumstance alone would go far to prove, that this bill, was what ft had been originally called, a bill exclusively to establish parish meetings; and being so, he would ask, whether the rights of the people were not violated by it? Was it to be argued that their meetings would be more deliberative and respectable, because overseers of parishes were to act as presidents at them; or that meetings over the parish vestry-table, to discuss public grievances, would be of greater utility than meetings assembled on the principles of our ancestors? If it was not the intention of ministers so to argue, then their division of the country into parishes and townships was perfectly absurd and ridiculous. A right hon. and learned gentleman in the course of the debate had said, that all government was founded upon a compromise of individual rights, and had argued from this principle, that, even if some of the rights of the people were sacrificed by this bill, which that right hon. and learned gentleman would by no means allow, the interest of the state demanded that they should be so sacrificed, in order to put down the discontents which existed, and to promote the general security of the country. But in what manner could this bill tend to soothe the irritated feelings of the people, or remove the dissatisfaction which a system of misrule had excited among them? In what manner could it tend to the security of the country that public meetings should be abolished, when it was well known that they were the channels through which government most easily became apprised of the feelings of the governed, and when according to the acknowledgment of the right honourable and learned gentleman himself, it was from what occurred at the meeting at Manchester that his majesty's ministers were apprised of the disaff on which prevailed there? He did not object to this bill as putting down large meetings in populous manufacturing towns, but as putting down all meetings of every kind and in every place, at the will and discussion of a single magistrate. He also objected to it as furnishing a bad precedent to future times, and as forming a part of that novel system, which ministers were introducing to coerce the country. Its tendency was to produce any thing but conciliation, as it robbed the people of those rights which they had enjoyed ever since they were a people, and to which more than any other they felt themselves attached. He would not enter into the question how far the exigencies of the times required a measure like the present, now that it was conceded by a right hon. gentleman opposite, to be an infraction on the liberties of Englishmen; he would only put it to the House to consider, whether, after the manner in which it had defended its liberties against a foreign foe, and resisted, during five and twenty years, all the attacks which he could make upon them it was prepared to see them fall at once before such beings as Hunt and Cobbett? It was paying too high a compliment to those individuals to suppose such a sacrifice to be necessary; but it really appeared as if ministers paid them that compliment by the measures which were taken to preserve the country from their machinations. For these reasons he should vote against the bill.

She Attorney General

supposed that his hon. and learned friend had not read the bill before the House with the attention which he generally conferred upon subjects of this nature, from the vague and incorrect ideas which he had formed regarding it. For his own part ha should not have arisen at so late an hour in the evening, and after all that had been previously said upon this subject, had he not felt it necessary to say a few words in reply to his hon. and learned friend who had just sat down. His hon. and learned friend had asserted, that public meetings were not dangerous in themselves, but only indicative of the existence of danger; and had deduced as a corollary from that proposition, that, as far as public meetings were concerned, no legitimate measures were necessary. He did not wish to misrepresent his hon. and learned friend, but he certainly, understood that to be the sum of his observation. His hon. and learned friend had said that public meetings were not dangerous. If that were the case, parliament had been wasting their time during all their late legislation, as that legislation went principally to prevent the recurrence of meetings accompanied with danger, such as had been seen at Manchester and elsewhere. For that purpose this bill with all its various details had been formed; and to that bill and its details his hon. and learned friend had made many objections. In his objections to the details, his hon. and learned friend had been particularly unfortunate; his first objection was, that "all meetings were made to depend upon the will of a single magistrate, who might arrest at them any individual whom he found expressing sentiments hostile to his own," Where, however, did his hon. and learned friend find any tiling in this bill which Warranted such an objection? He would tell him, that he would find there nothing like it. He would indeed find that the magistrate was entitled to arrest any stranger who might attend without being entitled to do so, and to disperse the meeting if resistance were made to such an arrest. He would also find that the bill, so far from enabling a magistrate to arrest any individual who addressed a public meeting, only enabled him to arrest such as were propounding seditious and treasonable resolutions, and were not entitled to attend, much less address the meeting. This was all that his hon. and learned friend would find, and did this, he would ask, bear out his objection? The next objection made to the bill was, that a magistrate might dissolve a meeting upon speculation; that is, he might send into it some man not entitled to attend it, who, by staying beyond the limited time after proclamation made to depart, would give him the opportunity of dispersing it. To this objection he should, in the first place, reply, that a magistrate by this bill, had no absolute power to disperse a public meeting, but acted on his own responsibility. He was left to use the same discretion which magistrates at present possessed under the Riot act, and could no more use his discretionary powers on every occasion, than they could employ theirs where there was no riot. His hon. and learned friend put the astonishing case of a magistrate coming to a meeting accompanied by a person, whom he might have hired to come forward in order to render the meeting illegal. But to what did that tend? Would not that, hired person by attending a meeting, at which he had not a right to be present, leave himself liable to a prosecution for a felony as well as any other stranger? Surely his hon. and learned friend had not read the bill before he made those observations; at least he had not read it with his usual attention. The last objection to the bill made by his hon. and learned friend was, that words relative to trades and manufactures were now inserted in it which it did not contain as it originally stood; and that those words, contrary as they were to its spirit, did not give those facilities to the discussion of trade questions, which were absolutely necessary. His hon. and learned friend had endeavoured to illustrate this objection by a reference to the wool-trade; now he would ask his hon. and learned friend what there was to prevent the wool-combers, at Leeds for instance, from meeting on any subject connected with their manufactures, in their town-hall? Was not that mode of meeting left open to them? and therefore did the bill take from them any right which was beneficial to their interests? Did not the measure leave all meetings held within doors unshackled? It was not necessary for any trade to meet in the open air, to the number of 10,000. They might discuss their interests as well, if not better within rooms, where the provisions of the bill allowed them to assemble when they chose, and as freely and numerously as they pleased. He had now answered all the objections, plausible objections he would allow them to be, of his hon. and learned friend; and he therefore trusted that the House would think that he had not trespassed needlessly on its indulgent attention

Mr. Scarlett

explained, and maintained that he was fully borne out in the assertion, that a single magistrate had it in his power to disperse any meeting by the words of the clause, which enable a justice to take any person into custody "who shall wilfully and advisedly make any proposition, or hold any discourse for the purpose of inciting or stirring up the people to hatred or contempt of the person of his majesty, his heirs or successors, or the government and constitution of this realm as by law established." Now the words "inciting or stirring up to contempt of the person of his majesty" were none of the clearest: he had in the course of his professional practice known a man of the name of Lloyd to have been convicted of inciting the people to hatred of his majesty, who had merely written on the walls of the town in which he lived, and with whose corporation he had quarrelled, the words, "Damn all corporations." Now our lord the king being a corporation of himself, was included in this sweeping execration; and it was argued, that these words "Damn all corporations," were against his peace and dignity. The result of the conviction was, that the man was imprisoned for two years in Lancaster-castle. On similar grounds it was to be feared that magistrates would act in the execution before the House.

The Attorney General

maintained, that he had replied to the arguments of his hon. and learned friend, as originally put, and that the objection now urged was equally fallacious.

Mr. Denman

begged leave to remind his hon. and learned friend, that he had stated the same objection in the committee, and that no satisfactory answer had been given to it up to that moment. The strong objection to the bill in his mind was, that it authorized a single magistrate to disperse any county meeting at his own discretion, whether it had been called by the lieutenant, the sheriff or any other legal authority. Such was the principle that pervaded all the enactments of the Bill. The answer attempted by his hon. and learned friend (the Solicitor-general) was, that the magistrate had not the power to dissolve the meeting immediately, but after an intermediate process. But had not the magistrate the power to order any person into custody who had used expressions which would justify him, in his own opinion; and who was the judge as to the propriety of his interference? not the sheriff, but the single magistrate himself. The functions of the sheriff were therefore destroyed by the bill. He also strongly opposed the clause indemnifying magistrates for any deaths which might ensue from the dispersion of meetings. The clause to which he alluded authorized magistrates to disperse meetings, and to hurt, maim, and kill those who remained after the proclamation, and this was done, not by a direct enactment, but by implication. It had been said that the same was done in the Riot act. It was no such thing. The power of dispersing a crowd in the Riot act was not given to the magistrate by implication, but in so many express words and sentences: nor was the power of inflicting the other penalties allowed to them till after opposition was made to the attempt to disperse. The clause in question was nothing better than a fraud upon the House, and was introduced to legalize acts of violence. There was no such law at present in existence; for if there had been any such law, there would have been no occasion for any magistrates to have complained (as the papers on the table showed that some magistrates had complained) of a want of power wherewith to put down the evils which surrounded them. "But they had the power of dispersing a meeting in their commission of peace.'' This was not the fact; the commission gave them power to apprehend and commit to custody, but not to disperse a meeting of their countrymen. "But they had it by the statute of Henry 7th." There was no statute of Henry 7th referring to this point, and therefore he conceived his hon. and learned friend had made a mistake, and intended the statute of Henry 4th, c. 13. Even this statute gave a magistrate no such power as he contended for. That clause, therefore, which gave them the power of dispersal by implication, also conferred upon them the right to commit manslaughter by implication. These, however, were objections in detail: he would now state why he was hostile to the bill itself. He was hostile to it because it was inefficient for all the purposes for which it was provided: for the protection of the loyal it was not sufficient, and the leaders of the seditious meetings were so well aware of its impotency, that even now they were laughing it to scorn: they knew that itinerant orators could still be, heard in private rooms, and were therefore, aware that they themselves were untouched by it. Though inefficient, however, to protect the loyal and repress the ill-disposed, it would operate as a bar and as an exclusion to all discussion among those who had really grievances requiring redress: It would shut up against them the outlet of complaint and leave them without any hopes of being heard. Bedsides, he could not forget that it came before them accompanied by others of a suspicious nature; that it proceeded from a cabinet that had discussed the question, whether a censorship ought to be established in England; and that it was one of six bills which went to overthrow all that was valuable in the constitution, and to produce a greater alarm than that which they were nominally intended to suppress.

Mr. R. Martin

stated, that the Irish members had come over to defend the constitution of the country. He acknowledged that he was in some degree an alarmist, and conceived that great danger would ensue to the constitution of England and Ireland if the present measures did not pass. It night be taken as a proof of his sincerity, that he was ready to bear any share of unpopularity which the course he took might excite, and he knew that in England it would be attended with no popularity—but he was convinced that he should earn great popularity in the county which he had the honour to represent, for having contributed to save the constitution of England and Ireland by the passing of such acts. Had he been a lawyer, like some of the worthy gentlemen opposite, he would have written a note to the attorney and solicitor general, telling them, "I approve of much of what your bill contains, and I request a conference, that we may see whether we may not so arrange the rest as to come to an agreement." He complained, that as it was now sure the bill would pass into a law, it was acting improperly towards the people to teach them to believe that the system under which they would have to live was unconstitutional.

The Solicitor General

expressed his surprise at some observations that had fallen from his hon. and learned friend who had spoken last but one. He would ask, upon what ground his hon. and learned friend had asserted that his majesty's government had held a consultation on the subject of instituting a censorship of the press? This was a charge which ought surely not to have been made upon light grounds. He had charged him with misquoting the act of Henry 7th, and had suggested the act of Henry 4th as the only one applicable to the power of magistrates. But the act of Henry 7th gave the magistrates the same power over unlawful assemblies as over riots. There was a statute of Henry 4th, he would admit, upon the same subject, which was confirmed by that of Henry 7th, so that he maintained his quotation was correct. As to the power of dispersion, it was given in the present bill precisely in the same terms as in the Riot act. His hon. and learned friend had said, that until the clause indemnifying justices in cases of killing and maiming, occurred, there was nothing in the bill that could lead them to suspect it of containing the power of dispersion—but did his hon. and learned friend forget the proclamation, which was copied to the very words from the Riot act, and which called upon the people to disperse on pain of being subjected to the penalties of the bill? "Our sovereign lord the king chargeth and commandeth all persons here assembled immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business.'' Yet, with this proclamation before him, his hon. and learned friend said, that there was not a word about dispersing till he came to this clause. A si- milar clause was introduced in 1796, and in 1817 a proclamation similar to the present was provided, followed by a power of dispersion expressed word for word in the same language with that which was now objected to. His hon. and learned friend had also said that the bill might easily be defeated—that he denied. The object of the bill was, to prevent assemblies of thirty or forty thousand persons from meeting to display the physical force of the country, to the terror of the peaceable inhabitants and the encouragement of the disaffected. It was not proposed to prevent itinerant orators from speaking in rooms or apartments; they might speak there still, though, if they inculcated doctrines subversive of the government they were answerable to the law.—For these reasons, he did not hesitate to express his confidence that none of the arguments offered that night would be successful in persuading the House that the bill was inadequate to the object for which it was introduced.

Mr. Denman

repeated his assertion, that none of the authorities referred to by his hon. and learned friend, allowed the magistrate to use direct force for the dispersion of meetings.

Lord Folkestone

begged leave to recall the attention of the House to the consideration of the general principle of the bill. At the same time it could not be a matter of wonder, that the House, in discussing the principle of this measure, should have deviated into the consideration of particular clauses, when it was recollected that the bill in its progress through the several stages had undergone so many changes; when it was recollected that it had been twice recommitted; that its details had occupied the House two whole nights; and that it had been altered from what it was originally intended to be. In the course of the debate, he had been surprised to find that it was not intended by all the advocates of the bill to support it on the principle originally laid down by the noble lord, that it was net an infraction of the constitution; for the right hon. the president of the board of trade, seemed to think that it was an infraction of the constitution. The right hon. gentleman, sitting there as one of his majesty's ministers, had told the House that the bill was an infraction of the constitution, and that it was a necessary measure to protect the country against the baneful effect of those reforming princi- ples that had been growing up ever since; the French revolution. This statement was made in the place by a cabinet minister, and yet ministers had allowed the evil to go on so long without making any attempt to arrest its progress till now, when they came down to the House with six or seven bills at once; of which the present was not perhaps the most alarming. A right hon. and learned gentleman had adopted a course of argument somewhat different: he had contended that the bill not only was no infraction of the liberties of the people, but that it was perfectly congenial to the constitution of the country. Astonishing as this doctrine was, he (lord Folkstone) had been still more astonished at the right hon. and learned gentleman's definition of liberty, as applied to the argument which he had endeavoured to maintain. He had defined liberty to be potestas faciendi quicquid per leges licet; by which it was admitted that a man had a right to do whatever was lawful (a pretty narrow definition of liberty, by-the-bye.) By this bill, however; a man might be prevented from doing what was perfectly legal by the intrusion of one stranger, or by the interference of a single magistrate; and how then could it be said that that man was at liberty to do quicquid per leges licet? But the subsequent part of the right hon. and learned gentleman's speech was not less surprising He had talked of new lights, and informed the House, in the language of the poet, that "a little learning was a dangerous thing;'' After all the right hon. and learned gentleman had himself said upon the Catholic question, he was now prepared to recommend a different course of policy in the present instance. In arguing the Catholic question he had often stated to the House, "You have done so much, that you cannot go back again." Was it not the same with regard to the discontented part of the community now? By informing their minds, the country had enabled them to see the blots and flaws of the constitution, and the question now was, whether they should proceed to stop them from seeing, by penal enactments, or taking out those blots and flaws of the constitution, the existence of which the right hon. and learned gentleman himself did not deny? His hon. and learned friend below him had justly observed, that this measure, objectionable as it was in itself, was rendered still more dangerous by the other bills by which it was accom- panied. One of those bills (the search for arms bill) enabled any magistrate or justice of the peace, in any of those counties in England or Scotland to which the measure was intended to be applicable, to give a warrant to a constable to break into a man's house at any hour of the night. By another of the bills now on the table, such restrictions were to be laid on the press as sufficiently indicated the spirit in which all the present measures originated. The hon. and learned gentleman had denied that there had been any discussion in the cabinet on the subject of establishing a censorship; but had the hon. and learned gentleman been a member of that cabinet which he had defended; he would have known that (as had been stated in another place by a person who must have known the fact) there had been a discussion on that subject, and that, though the measure was not decided on, still the question had been entertained. This measure relating to the press, as well as the others now in progress, seemed to be a part of that continental system which was opposed to all representative governments. He believed, indeed it had been stated by the noble lord, that the assent of this country had been given in words, though not in substance, because in substance it was not in the power of the Crown, without the concurrence of the executive government, to assent to all the propositions of the Holy Alliance; and connected as the noble lord was known to be by negotiation, perhaps also in forms and manners with foreign courts, it was not impossible that measures originating with the noble lord might partake of that policy which prevailed in those courts. He begged the House to consider, while they were passing these bills that they were intended to meet an evil, into the origin and circumstances of which ministers had twice this season refused to grant an inquiry. Some persons referred that evil to the distresses of the times, while others maintained that it proceeded from a bad principle that had been growing up in this country since the French revolution; but, whichever of those opinions might be correct, he trusted the House would not consent to pass these restrictive measures without knowing more of the cause that required them.

Mr. Honeywood

said, he represented a very populous and a very loyal county, and he should ill justify the confidence; * which his constituents reposed in him, if he did not express his sentiments on this bill. Many arguments had been used to show, that the population of this country did not entertain loyal sentiments; but for his own part, he considered it a libel on the people of England to say that they were disloyal, or disaffected to the constitution. That they were disaffected he would admit; but to whom were they disaffected? Not to their king; not to their country; but to his majesty's ministers. If that was a crime, he was also guilty; for he was equally disaffected to them. To his majesty's person he would pay the most loyal allegiance, but to his majesty's ministers he would pay no allegiance. When he saw them making innovations on the constitution of the country, he conceived it his duty, as a loyal subject, and a member of parliament, to oppose their proceedings; and, accordingly, he now felt himself called upon to raise his voice against the present measure, which was not only an innovation on the constitution, but was subversive of the liberties of the country.

Mr. G. Bankes

supported the bill. He thought the discontent which was at present so prevalent, arose in a great measure from distress; but to prove that it was not the less dangerous on that account, he quoted the following passage from Bacon:—" Lucan noteth well the state of Rome before the civil war— 'Hinc usura vorax, rapidumque in tempore fœnus. 'Hinc concussa fides et multis utile bellum.' "This same multis utile bellum is an assured and infallible sign of a state disposed to sedition and troubles; and if this poverty and broken estate in the better sort be joined with a want and necessity in the mean people, the danger is imminent and great; for the rebellions of the belly are the worst." As to the question of religion, there was and could be but one opinion on the subject. The House should come to some decided vote. The best interests of humanity were engaged in the contest, and if gentlemen did not choose to legislate on so important a subject, the dissolution of all law would be the consequence. Those who did not protect religion must partake in the consequences of its fall. Those who did not rise in its defence must share in the misfortunes and the danger necessarily consequent upon its ruin. He honestly and fairly stated his opinion. He believed the measures proposed to be calculated for the public good, and should support them.

Lord Morpeth

said, that in the last stage of this important measure he wished to be allowed to offer a few words to the House. He was the more anxious to obtain that permission, because he was under the painful necessity of differing from many of those for whom he felt the most sincere respect and esteem. But occasions might occur, when the feelings of personal friendship and of party attachment might be allowed to bend to a strong and imperious sense of public duty. Such an occasion was the present, whether viewed with regard to the awful and critical state of the country, or considered with reference to the nature of those measures which were proposed to counteract the evils and avert the dangers of our situation: for that gentleman must have viewed the measure that was now proposed through a very different medium from that in which he had been constrained to see it, if he considered either its adoption or its rejection as an unmixed or unbalanced good. But called upon to form his opinion from the information submitted to the House, from the intelligence that he had obtained from other sources, from the general notoriety that prevailed, he was led irresistibly, however reluctantly, to the conclusion that the meetings which had lately disgraced and distracted the manufacturing districts in the northern parts of the country, if not suppressed by the strong arm of new legislative enactments, must be put down by the much more to be dreaded alternative, the interposition and exercise of military force. With this conviction upon his mind, though disapproving of some of the clauses of the bill, and wishing that its duration had been confined to a shorter period he must give his support to the present measure.—Into the nature, character, and complexion of the meetings that had lately occurred he would not now inquire, as that part of the subject had been completely analyzed by preceding speakers; but he might inquire into the grievance that was the general object of complaint; what was it but the existing constitution of this country? and what are the means by which this grievance is proposed to be removed? terror and intimidation resulting from the display of physical and organized force. For what are the words inserted in reso- lutions agreed upon some time previous to the meeting at Manchester? "They (meaning the reformers) will be satisfied with nothing short of the constitution, the whole constitution, and nothing but the constitution: that annual parliaments, and universal suffrage constitute an essential part of the constitution, and are their rightful inheritance, that they shall consider their wrongs unredressed, and their rights withheld until they are possessed of such annual parliaments, and such universal suffrage." They then proceed to say, that they look for redress only from themselves, and that they are possessed of ample means. No petition to parliament, no address to the Prince Regent. What is it but to declare that the reformation of the constitution is to be effected by the introduction of a principle calculated to lead to confusion and anarchy, through the medium and agency of physical force? But he is told that these doctrines of annual parliaments, and universal suffrage have met with the sanction of many great and distinguished authorities, among the chief Mr. Selden has been named, the most learned as he has been termed in a learned age. He had not been able to refer to the particular passage, but if Mr. Selden supported these doctrines no man ever placed a greater constraint upon his feelings and principles; for he was, as is well known, an able and distinguished member of a parliament the most reverse of annual, of one which debarred the people of this country for a longer period than ever before or since occurred, from exercising their right of suffrage either universal or particular. There is also the authority of the duke of Richmond, and the very respectable name of Mr. Granville Sharp; but if there be a parallel between the theories, is there any parallel between the times, and the circumstances with which they are attended? is there no difference between propounding a theory, and asserting a right? is there no difference between discussing a point in a treatise, or submitting it as a proposition to either House of parliament, and claiming it as an integral part of the constitution before an assembled multitude, suffering under privation and want, and exposed to all the artifices of disaffection and malignity? But this is a system of coercion and restraint. That may be true both in its general and particular acceptation; all regulation, all law, all duty, allegiance itself is the diminution of some right, is the limitation of some power inherent in every individual; but the question is, whether such restrictions are not generally necessary, and whom and what they restrain? If the effect be to coerce those who are gaining a flagitious livelihood by preying upon the credulity and inflaming the passions of the suffering classes of the community: if it check their career, and arrest their progress, it is a measure not of rigour but of prevention. If it also have the effect of suppressing such meetings as that which occurred at Manchester, (for it must be remembered that the leaders upon that occasion did not convene merely the inhabitants of that town. The good sense and moderation of some might have checked the turbulence and disaffection of others. It was necessary to collect the scattered and diverging rays of disaffection into one focus; it was necessary to infuse into the mixture of Manchester the pure and unadulterated spirit of neighbouring reform,)—if it suppress meetings of this character, it is a measure not of coercion, but of protection. But it infringes in some degree the liberty of the subject. He admitted it; and it was with reluctance that he gave his consent to some of the provisions of the bill; but does it not guard against greater infringements, against more daring encroachments, encroachments which if not sturdily resisted must involve all the liberties of this country in one undistinguished mass of ruin and desolation?—But he had heard much general declamation about liberty; he wished it to be more accurately defined. He remembered Mr. Burke, not writing at the time that he might be supposed to be led away by his horror and disgust at the excesses of revolutionary France, but in the year 1774, in his address to the electors of Bristol, thus describing liberty: "Liberty is the distinguishing part of our constitution: to preserve it inviolate is the peculiar duty, the proper trust of every member of the House of Commons. But it is that liberty, and only that liberty I mean which is connected with order, and that not only exists with order and with virtue, but cannot at all exist without them." Mr. Burke could not have intended that species of order which proceeds from the regular procession, the marshalled files, and organized battalions of the Manchester reformers; nor that species of virtue: which is to be collected from the inflammatory harangues of the demagogues of the day, much less that virtue which is to be extracted from those publications, the noxious exhalations of the press, which, not content with simple infidelity, insult and revile the God whom they renounce and abjure.—But it is a system of conciliation that is required. He confessed that he did not see that a system of conciliation was incompatible with measures of promptitude and vigour. He had yet to learn why parliament and the government might not lend a patient ear to the distresses of the people, and endeavour by all attainable means to alleviate and diminish them. Why they might not upon the basis of reciprocal advantage, establish a more close commercial intercourse with neighbouring nations; why they might not avail themselves of the bright prospect that was opening to the people of South America, or carry the spirit of commercial enterprise into those almost untraversed seas which wash the numerous and scattered islands in the Eastern Ocean: why they might not employ the superabundant population of some districts in this country in works of practical and durable utility.—But the urgent and immediate duty was that of protection, not merely with the view of defending that manufacturing and commercial capita), the nature of which had been so well illustrated in the very able speech lately made by the member for Taunton, in order to tranquillize its alarm, to ensure its confidence, to perpetuate its stay; but it assumes a wider range, the House is called upon to extend the shield of its protection over the quiet, the loyal, the industrious, the uncomplaining part of the community, and not them alone, but to extend it over the unthinking, the deluded and the infatuated, to endeavour to reclaim and rescue them from the grasp and ascendancy of men, their professed and pretended instructors and teachers, but in fact their bitterest and deadliest enemies —men, to whom if free scope were allowed for their pious and patriotic exertions, would purify religion by blasphemy, and renovate the constitution by revolution.

The gallery was cleared for a division, but the House did not divide. During the exclusion of strangers Mr. Scarlett and some other members rose to address the House. Mr. Lambton perceiving this, observed, that if the House attempted to debate with closed doors, he should move that it do adjourn. On our re-admission to the gallery,

Mr. Scarlett

was speaking. He said, that if the present measures were calculated to produce the effect proposed, there was not a man in the House who would support them more readily than himself. But, upon the most serious consideration, he was convinced they would have a contrary effect, and therefore it was that he felt bound to oppose them. He did not pretend to deny that the state of the country was such as to call for the enactment of some legislative measures—that the state of the manufacturing districts did not call for the interposition of government. But he felt convinced that the measures proposed by ministers were not calculated to remedy the existing evils. Many hon. members had expressed their reluctance to support these measures; and he was glad to hear them say so, as it was an admission that they were a restraint upon the liberties of the people. Buthow did this admission agree with the statements of a right hon. gentleman (Mr. Plunkett), that these bills were brought forward in the spirit of the constitution [Hear, hear!]? Where did the constitution say that meetings were to be limited to 10,000 or to 30,000 persons? Did the operation of the present measures go to prevent large meetings in counties? No: the present measures went to suppress meetings not contemplated by the proposers of them. If, then, they were unnecessarily trenching on the people's rights, it was not yet too late to retread their steps; it was not too late to arouse themselves from the unfounded panic and alarm which had been spread abroad. It was urged, that the meetings themselves were not so much to be dreaded, but that they were an indication of public feeling. If these meetings were to be put down, then one indication of public feeling was put an end to. The hon. and learned member, after some farther observations, asked, what was to prevent any magistrate from coming in and dispersing one of these meetings tolerated under the act? If such meeting were to remain beyond the quarter of an hour allowed to strangers to withdraw, or if the parishioners were to remain half an hour beyond the order to disperse, then the whole of those who remain were to be accused of felony. Suppose, for instance, that a magistrate were to send a volunteer, he would not use the harsh term a spy; suppose such a person were to be sent into a meeting, would not this at once destroy the liberty of meeting in this way? The hon. and learned member concluded by imploring the House not to adopt measures subversive of the liberties of the people, merely for the purpose of putting down such persons as Hunt and Cobbett, and other orators and writers equally contemptible.

The Attorney General

observed, that his hon. and learned friend had argued that public meetings were dangerous, but yet that they ought not to be suppressed by legislative measures [No, no!]. This was what he understood his hon. and learned friend to have said. The hon. and learned member went on to defend the measure. The magistrates were vested with the power of dispersing the meeting if strangers refused to withdraw. The magistrates were, however, responsible for the exercise of this power. They could not disperse the meeting unless, as under the provisions of the Riot act where there was a riot [Hear! from the Opposition]. Gentlemen might cheer, but he maintained that the proposed measure provided as fully against abuse as the Riot act did, or could do. He believed that this was not an irreligious age, and that if religion was attacked by the disaffected, it was because they conceived it a main pillar of government.

The House then divided: For the third reading, 313; Against it, 95: Majority, 218.

List of the Minority.
Allen, J. H. Ebrington, viscount
Aubrey, sir John Ellice, E.
Anson, hon. G. Euston, earl of
Baring, A. Ferguson, sir R. C.
Barnett, James Fitzgerald, lord W.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Fitzroy, lord C.
Benett, John Foley, Thomas
Benyon, Benjamin Folkestone, visc.
Bernal, Ralph Gaskell, Ben.
Birch, Joseph Graham, Sandford
Brougham, Henry Graham, J. R. C.
Burdett, sir F. Griffiths, John W.
Byng, George, Guise, sir W.
Calcraft, John Gurney, R. H.
Calvert, C. Heron; sir R.
Cavendish, lord G. Harvey, D. W.
Cavendish, Henry Hill, lord A.
Clifton, viscount Howorth, H.
Colborne, N. R. Honywood, W. P.
Coke, T. W. Hume, J.
Compton, Sam. Hurst, Robert
De Crespigny, sir W. Hutchinson, hon. C.
Denman, Thos. Kinnaird, hon. D.
Denison, W. J. Lamb, hon. W.
Duncannon, viscount Lamb, hon. G.
Dundas, hon. L. Lambton, John G.
Dundas, Thos. Langton, W. G.
Latouche, John Robarts, W. T.
Latouche, R. Robarts, A.
Lemon, sir W. Russell, R. G.
Maberly, John Scarlett, James
Maberly, W. L. Scudamore, R.
Macdonald, James Smith, W.
Martin, John Stewart, W.
Mildmay, P. St. John Tavistock, marquis
Milton, viscount Taylor, M. A.
Moore, Peter Thorp, alderman
Nugent, lord Tierney, rt. hon. G.
Osborne, lord F. Waithman, alderman
Pringle, J. Webbe, Ed.
Perceval, Spencer Wharton, John
Palmer, C. F. Whitbread, W. H.
Parnell, Wm. Wilkins Waller.
Pares, Thos. Williams, W.
Peirse, Henry Wilson, sir Robert
Price, Robt. Wood, alderman
Rick ford, W. TELLERS
Ricardo, David Althorp, viscount
Rancliffe, lord Grant, J. P.

When we were re-admitted into the gallery, we found

Mr. J. Wharton

on his legs, proposing a clause relative to the admission of reporters to public meetings. It went to authorize the attendance of reporters to newspapers at public meetings, although strangers to the place, on their sending in their name to the magistrate twenty-four hours before the meeting.

Lord Castlereagh

objected to the introduction of reporters as a distinct body recognized by the legislature and invested with particular privileges. If strangers to the county, parish, or district, the inhabitants of which respectively composed the meeting, he saw no reason for considering them in any other light than strangers by any clause in the bill. The magistrates might grant them facilities of admission if they saw no objection. It was true, as had been stated by an hon. member, that the reports of the proceedings of public meetings in the public journals had sometimes warned the country of its danger; but it was at the same time not to be denied, that the danger had often been increased by alarming and fallacious reports. He was unwilling to allow this class of persons any rights by this act which they did not previously possess; and thus to give a pretence for the admission of strangers.

Mr. Tierney

said, that the number might be limited to three or four, and thus a part of the noble lord's objections might be obviated; but the noble lord objected to the principle of admitting reporters altogether [No, no!].

Lord Castlereagh

said, he merely ob- jected to the claim of a right. A magistrate, who saw no reason for excluding them, might grant them facilities of admission.

Mr. Tierney

did not see how a magistrate, without some authority in the act, could authorize the attendance of strangers.

Lord Castlereagh

said, the magistrates could introduce their own officers and assistants, though strangers, and if they chose they might bring in the reporters among them.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

said, the reason which the noble lord had given for the exclusion of reporters was, in his opinion, the strongest ground for their admission. The noble lord had stated, that fallacious reports had been propagated, and produced danger. Now, as some reports must always go abroad, would it not be better to admit reporters from respectable newspapers, who were men of education, who had characters at stake, and would be careful to avoid misrepresentation, than allow statements to get into circulation through the medium of individuals less qualified?

Mr. J. P. Grant

said, that the magistrate could not connive at reporters when strangers were ordered to withdraw.

Mr. Hume

contended, that by the bill, the reporter by attending a meeting would incur the penalties of a stranger, which was fine and imprisonment, nor could the magistrate protect him against the informer who would share the fine. He would propose a clause obviating the objection to the clause under discussion, which gave a right to attend, while it at the same time protected the reporters from the penalties attaching on other strangers. He would propose to give the magistrates a power to refuse or grant admission to reporters at their discretion. The noble lord had not brought forward the clause which he had given hopes to expect on a former night; and therefore he (Mr. H.) felt it his duty to propose one. The hon. member was proceeding, when

The motion of Mr. Wharton was and negatived.

Mr. Hume

then moved that the following clause be brought up:—" Provided also, and be it enacted, that it shall be lawful for the lord-lieutenant, governor, or custos rotulorum, sheriff, Stewart depute, convener, justice of the peace, or other officer, convening any meeting, or presiding at any meeting, called agreeably to the provisions of this bill, on application from the editors of newspapers, in writing, stating their names and places of abode, to grant authority under their hands to a reporter for each editor so applying, to attend any such meeting, provided always that such reporters shall conduct themselves at such meetings in an orderly and quiet manner."—The House divided: For the bringing up the clause, 88; Against it, 262: Majority, 174.

Mr. Hutchinson

said, that he did not wish at so late an hour, and after so protracted a debate, to detain the House by going at any length into argument in support of the clause to exempt Ireland from the operation of the bill. He had already troubled them at the opening of the debate on that night with some of the many observations which might be adduced to prove how entirely unnecessary, and totally inapplicable this particular bill, and the whole of the noblelord's measures of coercion and penalty, were to that country, in reference to its present avowed state of tranquillity and submission to the law. He had already shown that there was a total and absolute difference in the relative situation of the two countries (Great Britain and Ireland) at this moment. That not one of the causes assigned by the noble lord for introducing these bills, nor by any member who supported them, had been, or could be, stated as existing in Ireland, for whose peaceable state the noble lord and the secretary for Ireland had themselves voluntarily vouched. He had repeatedly challenged ministers and the members for Ireland who supported them, to contradict him if in error, and to state boldly why they were disposed to inflict these bills on that unoffending and much-sinned-against country. They had not answered that challenge, they could not. The right hon. gentleman, member for the university of Dublin, had, indeed, replied to that appeal, by stating some doctrines better calculated for the divan of Constantinople, or for the kingdom of Morocco, than for the enlightened wisdom of the parliament of this empire. He reminded the House of the temperate manner in which he had made his appeal to that gentleman, and he desired them to contrast it with the heat and peevishness with which he had been answered, with a want of patience, he must say, but little creditable to a gentleman whose talents and learning pointed him out as likely to become one of the most distinguished judges of the country. He assured the House that he had been perfectly serious in that appeal, which he understood the right hon. member to have answered by stating "that the members for Ireland had agreed to the extension of these bills to their country, because they felt that there existed a system of violence and intimidation." Where? in Ireland! would the right hon. gentleman assert any such thing? he had indeed, and doubtless to the great satisfaction of ministers, given his opinion as to the illegality of the Manchester meetings, when the question really interesting to the public and to the constitution was, how that meeting had been dispersed, whether the manner of dispersing it by the magistrates had been illegal, and attended by circumstances of the utmost brutality committed against the people, by which lives were lost, and men, women, and children, most inhumanly treated; but the right hon. gentleman resisted any such inquiry, and gave the weight of his talents to support ministers in stifling all investigation, and in their deep laid plans against the liberties and constitution of the people, of England; but above all, had willingly joined with the minister without the shadow of an excuse to extend these claims to his unfortunate and unoffending country, where, Mr. Hutchinson said, he hoped, he and the rest of the Irish members who agreed with the right hon. gentleman, would be called to account for their extraordinary conduct with regard to this bill and the whole of the system of the noble lord. The right hon. gentleman had talked of exclusive loyalty and exclusive patriotism. Mr. H. said he believed there was such a thing as fashion in loyalty, such a thing as occasional loyalty, that for himself he did not lay claim to the credit of exclusive patriotism, but he confessed he should be rejoiced to have had it in his power to induce the right hon. member to give with him a patriot's vote on the present question. The right hon. gentleman had made use of the very hackneyed observation of a "little learning is a dangerous thing;" in his (Mr. H.'s) opinion, extensive information and super-eminent talents misapplied, were not more dangerous than reprehensible. The right hon. gentleman had stated, that the present was not the first occasion in which they had differed in opinion. He was not aware to what he alluded. They had, indeed, differed in opinion as to the noble lord's bills against the liberty of the press, and the sacred right of petitioning, but above all, as to extending these hateful measures to Ireland, where there had not been even one solitary instance of a tumultuary meeting on parliamentary reform, or on commercial and manufacturing difficulties, nor one in consequence of the proceedings, at Manchester on the 16th of August, which had created such a flame, and had given rise, to so many meetings in Great Britain, and which meetings were stated as the main foundation for all these measures. He certainly considered it an unnecessary insult and cruelty, practised against Ireland, to extend the training bill, and that against seditious and blasphemous publications there, where there had not been a single instance of training, nor a single trial for any such publication; yet the right hon. gentleman approved of the extension of these bills to Ireland, which Mr. Hutchinson was happy to oppose with all his might, There was, indeed, another occasion, a very signal one too, on which he was proud to have differed from the right hon. gentleman, it was on the investigation into the conduct of an Irish county member which occupied the attention of the House; during, a, part of last session. The right hon. gentleman was absent during the whole of that investigation, but he afterwards at tended in his place, and, after as able a display as perhaps he had ever made in parliament, or on any occasion, he supported that speech with as objectionable a vote as had ever been given in the House of Commons. On these occasions, Mr. H. said, he had on his part too, no reason to regret having most decidedly differed both in opinion and conduct with the right hon. gentleman—a difference of opinion which he hoped would be recorded, and on measures which he flattered himself would never be forgotten by the people, not with standing the able attempt of the right hon. gentleman to palliate and defend them. With regard to the hint from the right hon. gentleman, not to mix up the Catholics with this question; perhaps he did not know, that, as the bill originally stood, there could have been no Catholic meeting to petition the legislature and that, since the first presentation of it, to the House, a clause had been introduced to remedy this defect.—After some other observations, Mr. Hutchinson con- cluded by asking leave to bring up his clause.

Mr. Plunkett

assured the hon. and gallant general, for so he believed, without meaning to deny his learning, he must call him [a laugh], that he did not feel his temper at all ruffled. The hon. and gallant member quarrelled with the observations he had made to the House; but the hon. and gallant member should recollect, that he had been reluctantly compelled to address the House in consequence of an appeal from the hon. and gallant member. But the hon. and gallant member complained, that his argument was bad. If it was so, he assured the hon. and gallant member it was not intentionally so. He was called upon to say, why the Bill should extend to Ireland, when Ireland was not disturbed? Why, many English members for counties perfectly tranquil, voted for the extension of the Bill to the whole kingdom,—and with reason. A system of violence and intimidation was now pursued, which, though his country was not deemed particularly timid, would have its effect there also. It was like the stone thrown into the water—circle succeeded circle; every new proselyte added to its power, every one who was terrified became the instrument of intimidation; if it went on, he knew not where it would end. He regretted the less the extension of the bill to Ireland, because all legitimate meetings there, being generally held in rooms, would not be affected by the bill

Mr. R. Martin

contended for the necessity of including Ireland in the operation of this bill, for the purpose of more effectually ensuring the stability of both countries.

Mr. Tierney

wished to know on what principle it was, that if, in 1817, when the danger was greater than it was now, Ireland was excluded, while now, with no other difference than that she was more tranquil, the bill was to be extended thither? She was then open to all the mischiefs which were now held forth, and the additional danger of Spenceanism, which was no longer talked of.

Lord Castlereagh

denied that the danger was greater in 1817 than it now was. It was now more systematic and dangerous. The measures were of a description to show that vigilance and permanent measures were necessary to suppress it. The extension to Ireland served to show the measures to be permanent and general. The House would, therefore, extend its protection to Ireland against an evil by which, though not now visited, she might be afflicted at no distant period.

Mr. Brougham

said, it was a somewhat whimsical mode of arguing in the noble lord, when the necessity for strong measures was questioned, to hold up their severity as a proof of their necessity. In 1817, according to him, they had only the suspension of the Habeas Corpus—a common rod; now, said he, we have a whip of scorpions. The noble lord had forgotten that at the former period of alarm, the danger was deemed to be as great as at the present moment; so it was nearly in 1812; so it was in two or three cases during the war. If any gentleman would look into the reports of 1817, and measure the danger by the assertions to be found there, he would rest his claim to his vote in his declaration, whether the dangers were not greater then than now? There was then a central committee in London, directing an organized system of disaffection throughout the country; the Tower was summoned; magazines were collected; bullets provided, though as it afterwards turned out, in the foot of an old stocking. The bridges were to be blown up, and the soldiers to be smoked in their barracks. He was mixing up, perhaps, the detection with the assertions; but on the comparison of the present dangers with those described in three reports, he would rest his case. As to Ireland, he could not do better than borrow from his right hon. friend the remarks he had on former occasions applied to that country It was a most ungracious act to that country to declare her suspected before there was a ground for suspicion; to hasten to declare her guilty, or about to become guilty, though there was not the shadow of a charge against her. As in private life there was no more certain way to make a man unworthy of trust, than to distrust him when there was no need, so he feared it would be found with Ireland. This was not the way to regain those who were lost, or to retain those who were; well affected.

The House divided—For the amendment, 69; Against it, 265: Majority, 196.

List of the Minority.
Althorp, lord Bennet, H. G.
Anson, hon. G. Benyon, B.
Baring, sir T. Bernal, R.
Barnett, James Brougham, B.
Browne, Dom. Maberly, John
Burdett, sir Francis Maberly, W. L.
Calcraft, John Moore, Peter
Calvert, C. Nugent, lord
Clifton, viscount Palmer, C. F.
Denman, Thomas Parnell, sir H
Denison, W. J. Parnell, W.
Dundas, hon. L. Powlett, hon. W.
Dundas, Thomas Pringle, J.
Ellice, Edward Perceval, S.
Ferguson, sir R. Ricardo, D.
Fitzgerald, lord W. Robarts, W.
Fitzroy, lord C. Robarts, A.
Foley, Thomas Russell, lord W.
Folkestone, lord Rancliff, lord
Grant, J. P. Scarlett, J.
Graham, Sanford Scudamore, R. P.
Graham, J. R. G. Stewart, W.
Griffiths, J. W. Stuart, lord J.
Harvey, D.W. Tierney, rt. hon. G.
Hill, lord A. Thorp, alderman
Honeywood, W. P. Tavistock, marquis
Hume, Joseph Waithman, alderman
Heron, sir Robert Webb, E.
Kingsborough, lord Walpole, H. G.
Kinnaird, hon. D. Whitbread, W. H.
Kennedy, J. T. Wilson, sir R.
Lamb, W. Wood alderman
Lamb, G. Wharton, J.
Lambton TELLERS.
Latouche, R. Duncannon, viscount
Latouche J. Hutchinson, hon. C.

The Bill was then passed.