§ The Speaker acquainted the House that that House had been in the House of Peers, where his Majesty had delivered a most gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, and of which, to prevent mistakes, he had obtained a copy. [See p. 1.] After the Speaker had read the Speech,
§ Mr. George Bankes
rose, and spoke to the following effect:—Mr. Speaker; In proposing an Address to his Majesty, of acknowledgment for the gracious Speech which we heard some hours ago, and which you have at last had an opportunity of reading to us, I shall not trouble you with any expressions of conscious insufficiency, because I am aware they are a very poor excuse for the presumption of a voluntary undertaking, and because I do not apprehend any thing very difficult in returning a suitable acknowledgment for gracious intimations and assurances, every way calculated to inspire a dutiful and affectionate feeling. As one of his majesty's many, many loyal subjects, I propose, Sir, that we approach his Throne, to assure him of the fidelity of a nation which is sound at heart—a nation not so intoxicated by the splendor of unparalleled triumphs, nor so lulled to apathy by the security of a profound peace, as to visit with ingratitude the promoter of those triumphs and the procurer of this honourable repose. In a nation in which all are free, folly must have her freedom, and mischief will mark her for its tool; folly will discharge her debts of gratitude by denying their amount—by forgetting the danger from which she has been delivered, though ever when in peril herself the loudest to complain and the foremost to despair. The spirit of mischief can 38 have no account of gratitude to settle with the peace maker; it is a spirit obnoxious to repose; in war and tumult it can be content to hope all evil to the good order which it hates; but in peace, it must counsel and contrive it; it is then that it is seen walking restless through the dry places of the land, instigating the owner of each poor and barren plot, not to cultivate and improve, but to curse the little portion he is heir to. It was this same spirit that could heretofore with mischievous exaggeration deck out the avowed implacable enemy of its country with irresistible might, with infallible sagacity, and inexhaustible resource, and with prophetic fervor could foretel the stability of all that he should set up, and the ruin of all he should denounce; the same spirit that could boldly excuse and justify all his crimes, or more boldly could deny them. When baffled in its every hope, belied by every prophecy, this bankrupt firm of impudent invention has still new fictions ready for new credulity, new idols for folly's worship, and honourable attributes for every new disturber of the public quiet. If it be true that each several nation has a peculiar national character belonging to its inhabitants, the king who finds himself at the head of a frank, a gallant, and a generous people can wish to exchange the subjects of his government for no others on the face of the earth; in their valour he is renowned abroad—in their honourable allegiance he is secure at home; but there are circumstances that will invariably work a change in every national character, and perhaps the strongest changes are the most generous and the best. Such is the circumstance of great national success in war—this will infuse a chivalrous ardour—a zeal for enterprise—a restless desire of still finding something to oppose, and something to defend—a chivalry that will delight in the mimic circumstance of war, the polished armour and the nodding plume—a chivalry that will Gombat imaginary oppressors, that will liberate convicted culprits, and commission them to carry their chains and their innocence to the inspiring genius of its romantic history. Such drawback to national successes in the wild enthusiasm they inspire, it may be well for a prince, on his own personal account, to estimate before he voluntarily engages in a war; in defensive warfare, however, he can have no option, and where upon first assuming the reins 39 of government, he finds the kingdoms of I his rule already engaged up to the very crisis of a contest, no alternative remaining but between perseverance in much peril, or submission in lowest degradation,; he has then only to elect whether he will choose to reign over a broken-hearted humbled people, who will never infringe his prerogatives, nor question his rights, nor obstruct his functions, nor presume to insult his person, or whether, dismissing all selfish consideration, at the risk of the throne he sits on, unappalled by the fate of his neighbour kings, then captives or in exile, unintimidated by those at home whose patriotic prudence would suggest more cautious counsels—whether he will, disdaining all compromise of national dignity, rouse the ardour of his empire, and dare to rely upon it. If he shall have pursued this course, and if in doing so he shall have saved for his kingdoms every thing, and their honour, it is no small drawback that shall cancel the gratification of his bosom; and could he, at a moment when popular ardour is misled, regret the deliverance he has worked and the laurels he has planted, he might perhaps deserve that those whose deliverance he has worked should withhold from him their gratitude and affection. The partial abuses of benefits conferred will not check the further efforts of beneficent minds; if they did so, all national improvement must stand still, the illiterate must remain without instruction, because those who had hitherto abused their ignorance are now poisoning the new springs of their knowledge. Unhappily, tin's wickedness has not spared us, it is, Sir, the "unkindest cut of all;" that benevolent, christian, good will towards man, which had spared neither toil nor cost, by education, to enlighten, and, by enlightening to improve, is doomed to suffer, like, the wounded bird of the Poet, whoSaw his own feather on the fatal dart,And winged the shaft which quivered in his heart;Keen was the pang, but keener still to feel,He nursed the pinion which impelled the steel.As one who can share a pride in the intellectual improvement of his fellow subjects; who can admire the zeal which excites, and the liberality which promotes it; who can appreciate the laborious research which renovates pious endowments, long since sleeping with their founders;— 40 as one who can pay the humble tribute of his praise for all that has been done and is doing in this cause, I cannot but deeply share their mortification who deplore the base perversion of such noble purposes. It is no new thing, indeed, for slander to arraign all that is high and holy; but the tongue of slander, however venomous, can inflict no wound, can effect no puncture, in the character that is sound and whole; it is the pen of the libeller, against which innocence is no shield; and at a time when the evil eye of discontent not only envies its neighbour's goods, but covets its neighbour's character, we have, Sir, to dread and to repel one general levelling system, both of property and of good name. The barrier of the constitution will not fall down at the first giddy shout of the multitude; the high tribunals which are its bulwarks will yet stand, though treason deny their authority, and conscious guilt their justice; blasphemy may rail at the holy place, and hypocrisy defile it with her pageants, long, long before the dome will totter; but the ruin must come at last, if the remedy be not fitly interposed. When the league of what is base and false, profligate and malicious, shall unite honour and integrity to oppose it, the evil then works its own cure, and the remedy is near at hand; we know its efficacy, we have proved it scarce a twelvemonth since. In the shows and processions of the year which has just expired, who but must have called to mind the like exhibitions of the twelvemonth which preceded it? The music, the march, and the banner, the meeting, the resolution, and address; those first were the very prototypes of these last arrays; the same in their real origin, and in their real object, differing only in their method of pursuing it; the first pursued its object by denouncing the aristocracy, the second by denouncing the Crown; the aristocracy was then true to itself; the representatives of the people were then faithful; and if the highest duties of fidelity be now as well fulfilled, the country is yet safe.—If we turn our eyes from the cares of domestic solicitude and look abroad, the whole world is to us a scene of calm, of tranquillity; our flag flies on every sea, our busy industry plies in every port; our merchants are the rulers of kingdoms, our character every where high, and our credit every where firm. If this honour, if this power, if this peace, have been worth winning, we might, Sir, think them 41 worth enjoying; but there is a consistency in the perverseness of those who refuse to enjoy the fruits of measures which they have so loudly and indiscriminately condemned. If the ill-humour which has for twenty long years and more, so actively despaired of the public weal, would at last confine the limit of its despondency to its own particular views and its own private ends, content might then rest at home, and in its easy seat enjoy the fire-side it has defended; but when the shout of clamour is heard from without, that well-known cry which so loudly informed our enemies of the exhaustion of our resources and the futility of our resistance; that same cry which so urgently demanded a reform, since confessed by its chiefest advocates to be impracticable or inexpedient; that same cry which so formidably opposed any protection to our agricultural interest, under which protection alone, daily labour is now eating its daily bread, as often as this cry of ill-omen is raised and is reiterated, activity must become a duty, and the supineness of loyalty is a cowardice at least. It is said that there are some, and there are some who have said it themselves, that on looking back to the popular demands which they have sanctioned with their names, and supported with their abilities, they are now convinced, that youthful ardour had led them to overstep the line of expediency and prudence. It might be well if those whose second and better thoughts lead them to this conclusion, would apply their matured judgment to the consideration of the future as well as of the past, and would view in prospect the expediency of those measures to which they may now be lending the weight of their names and of their stations and their characters. It might be well if they would remember, that the strong assertion is received into ready ears which are shut against the subsequent explanation, and that there are some evils, easily inflicted, for which retraction is no redress. The breach of that cordial confidence which ought to subsist, and which has subsisted, between the several orders of society living under this happy constitution, must be an evil beyond redress; this confidence was our strength in battle, our union in effort, our hope, and our protection. He who dissolves it, breaks our talisman, "the only witchcraft we have used" to make of a little island a great nation. Sir, as a great nation taking a chief place amongst the chiefest powers of the earth, 42 we have new functions to attend to, and a new degree of vigilance to exercise. The greatness we have so hardly earned we never shall willingly descend from; we shall bequeath it to posterity as we won it; it is a greatness which is no empty name. This greatness is the vigour of our commerce, and the credit of our mercantile good faith. We have no covetous craving to satisfy, cither of riches or of territory—the treasury of Europe was at our feet when our bayonets mounted guard at Paris: we parted the spoil amongst the rightful claimants, keeping for ourselves nothing but the satisfaction of having done so. From a nation which has so acted, no well-constituted government will fear aggression, nor will provoke it; and we have the satisfaction of knowing, that his majesty receives from foreign powers the assurance of a continuance of their friendly dispositions.—Whilst we lament that unfortunate circumstances affecting the commercial credit of Ireland have impeded the receipts of the public revenue in that part of the United Kingdom, we turn with peculiar pleasure to the consolatory balance of new encouragement to our manufactures, by the recent improvement of our trade; and it is with satisfaction we hear that his majesty has been enabled to make some further reduction in his military establishment.—Sir, in adverting to the proposed provision for the Queen, I imagine it will be sufficient that on the present occasion we express our humble acquiescence in his majesty's recommendation; and, without presuming to suggest what line of conduct may best become others, I am satisfied it will best become me to avoid the utterance of a single word which might provoke premature discussion, and unnecessarily disturb the unanimity of our this night's vote. It is in the sincere hope and expectation of an unanimous concurrence that I propose an Address consistent with the sentiments I have declared, and with the feelings I entertain of loyalty to the throne, and of ardent love for our constitution as it stands, and as it has so long stood.—The hon. gentleman then moved,
"That an humble Address be presented to his majesty, to return the thanks of this House for his most gracious Speech from the throne:—To express the satisfaction which we feel in learning that his majesty continues to receive from foreign powers the strongest assurances of their 43 friendly disposition towards this country; and gratefully to acknowledge his majesty's gracious intimation of the deep regret which he should feel if the occurrences which have taken place in Italy should eventually lead to any interruption of tranquillity in that quarter, as well as in the declaration that it would in that case be his majesty's great object to secure to his people the continuance of peace:—To thank his majesty for having directed the estimates for the current year to be laid before us, and to express our satisfaction that his majesty has been enabled to make some reduction in our military establishments:—To assure his majesty that we shall have great pleasure in finding, from the accounts of the public revenue, that notwithstanding the receipt in Ireland has proved materially deficient, in consequence of the unfortunate circumstances which have affected the commercial credit of that part of the United Kingdom, and although our foreign trade during the early part of this time was in a state of depression, the total revenue has nevertheless exceeded that of the preceding year; and that, though a considerable part of this increase must be ascribed to the new taxes, the augmentation in some of those branches which are the surest indications of internal wealth will be found to have fully realized any expectation which could reasonably have been formed of it:—To assure his majesty, that we shall not fail to apply ourselves to consider what new provisions it will, under present circumstances, be necessary to make for the Queen, the separate provision which was made for her majesty as princess of Wales, in the year 1814, having terminated with the demise of his late majesty; and to thank his majesty for informing us, that he has in the mean time directed such advances to be made as are authorized by law:—To express our concurrence in the satisfaction felt by his majesty in being able to acquaint us that a considerable improvement has taken place in several of the most important branches of our commerce and manufactures; and that, in many of the manufacturing districts, the distresses which prevailed at the commencement of the last session of parliament have greatly abated:—To thank his majesty for the assurance of his most anxious desire to concur in every measure which may be considered as calculated to advance our internal prosperity:—To convey to his majesty our strong 44 conviction, that, notwithstanding the agitation produced by temporary circumstances, and, amidst the distress which still presses upon a large portion of his majesty's subjects, the firmest reliance may be placed on that affectionate and loyal attachment to his majesty's person and government, the testimonies of which he is graciously pleased to acknowledge as having recently received from all parts of his kingdom, and to consider as the best and surest safeguard of his throne:—To assure his majesty, that, in the discharge of the important duties imposed upon us, we are fully sensible of the indispensable necessity of promoting, to the utmost of our power, a due obedience to the laws, and of instilling into all classes of our fellow subjects a respect for lawful authority, and for those established institutions, under which the country has been enabled to overcome so many difficulties, and to which, under Providence, may be ascribed our happiness and renown as a nation."
§ Mr. James Browne
rose to second the Address. He said, that eventful times had been lately witnessed, in which destructive principles had assumed new shapes, and menaced every thing valuable with ruin. He hoped such scenes would never be renewed. He could almost wish them obliterated from our history, if it were not that their remembrance might have a salutary influence on two sets of men—one of whom forgot their duty to their country, in the heated activity of party, and the other passively submitted to the development of principles at variance with all its interests. As to the Address which had just been offered to the House, he did not know what grounds of opposition there could be to it. The present times imposed on parliament a heavy responsibility. He was sure it was the wish of every honest man to see parliament take such steps as would tend to tranquillise the country. It was only his part to show that the Address advised such a mode of proceeding. It was peculiarly necessary in these times, when principles of rational duty and conduct had been so much laid aside, that parliament should not so descend from its high station, and be so forgetful of its dignity as to allow the session to terminate without attending to the wants, the interests and the business of the nation [hear! from all parts of the House]. He should not have indulged in those general observations, if 45 facts had not too strongly impressed on his mind the necessity of keeping such points in view. The honourable member then adverted to the actual state of Ireland. He said, that by a kind of infatuation, from which no national wisdom was at times exempt, the affairs of Ireland had been for a long time made the subject of short consultations and ill-attended debates. Yet during the progress of the events which had lately harassed and divided this country, the most furious demagogue there had not raised his voice to applaud the conduct of those who endeavoured to agitate Great Britain, and who introduced the new and odious doctrine, that the same licence should be allowed to female conduct which the established usages of society had given to men. It did not, however, require much research into history, to show, that national debauchery and national ruin went hand in hand. As to ministers, he, for one, must approve of their conduct in the most trying emergencies. He saw in them no deficiency of virtue or wisdom. They had acted in a manner worthy of themselves, and worthy of the great glories which they had achieved for the country—glories which he trusted would eventually bear them triumphant through all the aspersion and calumny which the spirit of party had endeavoured to heap upon them; but if they failed, it was his sincere opinion that they would fall in the defence of all those principles and institutions which contributed to the national safety, honour and happiness. He concluded by seconding the Address.
§ Mr. Curwen
concurred in many of the general observations expressed by the honourable mover and seconder of the Address, and agreed with them, that the Speech from the throne did not contain any topic on which there could be any material difference of opinion; but although what it contained was not likely to provoke discussion, yet he could not but remark upon what it had omitted. It was not the first time he had had to lament the ignorance which ministers showed of the real state of the country. When he looked to the state of agriculture, he would ask, could the noble lord opposite be really ignorant that the agricultural interests were in so wretched a condition, that scarcely any abatement would induce the cultivators of the land to go on with their labours? Knowing, as he did, their privations, their disappointments, 46 their sufferings, he could not but call on every man of sound and honest feeling to admire their exemplary patience. There were men, however, who arrogated to themselves the monopoly of all the loyalty in the country; but the conduct of a community which had borne unexampled hardships with an unparalleled spirit of endurance, proved that loyalty was not an exclusive possession, that it was not confined to this or that set of men, but was the great characteristic of the country. This being the case, he was sorry to find that the Crown, on the present occasion, had not expressed one solitary feeling of regret for the fallen prosperity of agriculture, and the ruin of the spirited and hardy race, whose labours had previously placed it in so flourishing a condition. He could not tell why this topic had been passed over; he did not speak of it as an irritating subject, nor did he wish to recall the events of past times. If he touched upon matters of so melancholy a character, it was because he wished that measures should be taken, while there was yet time, to conciliate the operation of all parties, in attempting the salvation of the country. He had long ago told ministers that they were leading the country to ruin; and he saw that their measures were so partial and confined, that in avoiding one evil they necessarily fell into another. Deeply did he lament, that session after session should be suffered to pass without any attempt to discover a real and effectual remedy for such a state of things; yet he still hoped that it was not too late for that remedy to be applied. He rejoiced in the temper evinced by the Speech from the throne; by that Speech he would wish to believe that the olive-branch was held out. Whatever might be the conduct of ministers, it showed something like a spirit to conciliate and heal, and he hoped in God, that such an expectation might be realised.—The hon. gentleman then adverted to the subject of reform in parliament: he stated that a temperate reform, such a reform as would make that House be respected by the people (and further he would not go), was essential to the re-establishment of internal peace, and general confidence and prosperity. As to ministers, they had fully proved their inability to govern; never was the community so universally impressed with the conviction of the incapacity of their responsible rulers as at the present moment; so ge- 47 neral was that feeling, that all ranks of men looked to their removal as their only hope. Even the loyal addressers could not approve of the conduct of administration. It was impossible that the country could go on and pay the enormous taxes with which it was burthened. How, indeed, could it be expected, that with an income so decreased, such an overgrown system of taxation could be discharged? The whole landed property of the country at 25 years purchase could not meet the demand upon us. It was time, then, to promote conciliation, and to try what could be done to save the country. It could no longer be said, "sufficient, for the day is the evil thereof." No man could look on the state of the industrious classes, and see their means consumed and themselves driven into pauperism, without raising his voice against the system from which such alarming and progressive evils flowed. The poor-rates had increased beyond all precedent; it was calculated that this tax alone was adequate to the whole rental of the country. Did ministers think this subject also unworthy their attention? It was in vain to avoid these subjects; if we passed them over to-day, to-morrow they would force themselves upon us. The only way to escape the ultimate danger with which they menaced us was, to look them now fairly in the face. He was convinced, that if the people found that their exertions were met by a respondent wish on the part of government, they would bear cheerfully whatever it was necessary for them to sustain, until an effectual remedy could be applied to the grievances which destroyed their resources, and neutralised their industry. The hon. member concluded by repeating his earnest wish, that the agricultural state of the country should be seriously taken into consideration.
§ Mr. Tierney
said, it was with great satisfaction that in rising to speak, on the first day of the session, on the address in answer to the Speech from the throne, he felt himself freed from the necessity of troubling the House with any amendment. He knew, from long experience, that, as a mark of respect to the Crown, the course always adopted in the House was, never to move an amendment unless the address contained something which pledged gentlemen to an opinion contrary to that which they really entertained. The gentlemen on his side of the House came, 48 however, to the consideration of the question under circumstances of considerable difficulty and disadvantage. They now, for the first time, heard the Speech, and they were immediately called on for a decision. This was a practice only of late years. Formerly it was customary to read the Speech at the Cock-pit the night before the meeting of parliament, which placed gentlemen on a perfect equality. Although he did not mean to offer any amendment, he hoped the House would forgive him if he did not pass by the Speech without remark. Taking it as a whole, there was nothing in it to provoke discussion. He never heard a Speech from the throne less likely to call forth the observations of a friend, or to provoke the animadversions of an enemy. It was as moderate and correct as a speech, placed by ministers in the mouth of his majesty, could be supposed or expected to be.—He was extremely glad to hear that the continuance of peace with foreign powers was likely to remain uninterrupted; because, notwithstanding all that was said about the improvement of the revenue, he was convinced that the stability of the finances of this country depended on the duration of peace; for though they might uphold their finances, until circumstances produced a new war, yet, taking every thing into consideration, he could not avoid looking to that period with great dismay. Therefore, it gave him pleasure to find that the friendly disposition of foreign powers was not likely to be interrupted. The next point in the Speech was, that his majesty observed with great concern the recent occurrences that had taken place in Italy. This was not the proper opportunity for entering into a discussion on the events which had taken place there. But he thought the ministers of this country would not do their duty if they stood by, in a neutral attitude, and did not prevent the great powers from exercising acts of aggression against the small ones. He felt some mortification, after the millions they had expended to secure the peace of Europe, when he found that they were to confine themselves to humble, to very humble hopes, that that peace would not be disturbed by the recent events which had been alluded to. There was a time when a different tone would have been, held; and he hoped ministers would, in a proper manner make known to those who were likely to disturb the tranquillity of Eu- 49 rope, when he found that they were to confine themselves to humble, to very humble hopes, that that peace would not be disturbed by the recent events which had been alluded to. There was a time when a different tone would have been held; and he hoped ministers would, in a proper manner, make known to those who were likely to disturb the tranquillity of Europe, that this country would not allow any unprovoked aggression. Why had not England an accredited representative at the court of Naples? But it was said that an agent had been sent, not indeed to a court, but to a meeting of sovereigns; whose employment it was, to summon other sovereigns before them, in order that they should give an account of their proceedings. These matters would, however, come under the cognizance of the House hereafter, when they had assumed a more ripened shape. In the next place his Majesty expressed his acknowledgment for the provision which had been made last session for the support of his civil government. No person was more ready to provide for the expenses of the Civil List than he was; but he could not avoid observing, that these acknowledgments came rather tardily. Recollecting that it was the commencement of a new reign—looking to the distresses of the people, and considering the liberal manner in which the Civil List was provided for, it surely was not too much to expect that at the close of the last session of parliament, some expression of thanks—some manifestation of grateful feeling, would have been directed to parliament. He was sure it would not have been unpleasant to his Majesty to express the feeling that existed in his own breast; but it would have been extremely inconvenient for ministers to meet parliament; and, therefore, by an unexampled proceeding, to prevent any discussion (not through any feeling for the honour or dignity of the throne, but to preserve their own situations), they insultingly dismissed the House.—He found that it was intended to make some reduction in the military establishment. He was glad to hear it; and, when they knew what the reduction was, they would be able to decide whether it was sufficient, or whether a further reduction ought not to be made. Until that period, he must abstain from offering any opinion on the subject.—The most important part of the Speech was that which related to the finances. He did not think, at this time of the day, any man could suppose that a 50 material improvement could be made in the revenue of the United Kingdom. The revenue, on the 5th of January last, exceeded, it was said, the amount of the revenue on the 5th of January preceding. Undoubtedly it did; but every man was aware of the cause of it, and would attribute it to the 3,000,000l. of new taxes coming into operation at that period. Ministers felt this, and went on to say, that in those branches which were the surest indications of internal wealth there was a great augmentation. He would state the case thus:—There are 3,000,000l. of new taxes, the whole of which were in operation on the 5th of January last; but they were only in operation for one quarter, on the 5th of January preceding. For three-fourths of the former year they were not available. Those new taxes were calculated to produce 3,200,000l., but they really produced only 2,200,000l.: therefore he, as a plain man, would say, that they had lost a million. With respect to the particular articles alluded to, the statement of increase was not correct. On the whole year there might be an increase; but in the corresponding quarter there appeared to be a falling off. Now, why was it necessary, in the present state of the country, to hold out such a delusion? It was not because expressions of the prosperity of the country were put into the royal mouth, that therefore a person acquainted with the real situation of things should stultify himself by believing them against the dictates of his own sense, and when he knew the reverse to be the fact.—The next subject alluded to in the Speech was certainly a very delicate one—he meant the intended provision for the Queen. Upon that delicate subject the King said in his speech:—"The separate provision which was made for the Queen, as Princess of Wales, in the year 1814, terminated with the demise of his late Majesty. I have, in the mean time, directed advances, as authorized by law; and it will, under present circumstances, be for you to consider what new arrangements should be made on this subject." He owned that this mode of communicating that his majesty had continued to the Queen the 35,000l. a year voted by parliament for her majesty when princess of Wales appeared to him a little remarkable. He had always thought that it was for the Crown to recommend such grants as his majesty should deem proper for the establishments of such branches of the royal family as 51 the King should select and point out. Of course it would be for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to point out the mode of carrying the details into execution; but still the recommendation usually came from the Crown in a more distinct and specific shape than in the present instance. The manner of doing it appeared to him here to be unnecessarily cold; it would have been, in his opinion, better at once to have been explicit, and stated, fully and unequivocally, what were the whole of the intentions of his majesty's ministers towards the Queen, and by so doing putting an end to a painful and distressing subject, which had for the last nine months agitated the country from one end to another. Ministers should have avoided any thing like ambiguity on such a subject, and not have gone out of their way to use the term "new arrangements;"—a phrase which looked as if something more was intended than met the eye. It was his intention to have also expressed his surprise that nothing had been explicitly said upon the subject of agriculture; a subject upon which, however, his observations had been anticipated by his hon. friend near him (Mr. Curwen). Commerce and manufactures were in a very distressing state; and agriculture was on all sides pressed upon. The next topic in the Speech was where the King used these words:—"In the discharge of the important duties imposed on you, you will, I am confident, be sensible of the indispensable necessity of promoting and maintaining, to the utmost of your power, a due obedience to the laws, and of instilling into all classes of my subjects a respect for lawful authority, and for those established institutions under which the country has been enabled to overcome so many difficulties, and to which, under Providence, may be ascribed our happiness and renown as a nation." Now one would really have thought from events lately recorded in the gazette, that this duty of inculcating a due respect for the laws was almost unnecessary. There was another topic which the Speech did not omit to notice; it was that which spoke of the satisfaction which his majesty had received from the loyal Addresses which had been voted to the throne from different parts of the kingdom. He was glad that those things had given his majesty satisfaction; but it was very remarkable, that the loyal Addressers did not express affection or attachment to any thing in the shape of a man in this country, but 52 his majesty. It was said, indeed, that his majesty had received with satisfaction those assurances of attachment to his person and government; if by government was meant the Constitution, they would all agree upon the subject. But if by government was meant the King's ministers, he would be glad to be shewn the single address which declared any attachment to them or expressed any approbation of their conduct. He had not seen in any news-paper, or any were else, one solitary address to that effect, not one which said a word about the matter. Ministers were too modest to require any such thing. They shrunk, no doubt, from their own commendation, but certainly their ability for bearing much eulogy had not of late been put to the test (a laugh.) No, the Addressers confined themselves to general expressions of loyalty, and observations upon the existence of blasphemy and sedition, along with the old story of the licentiousness of the Press. But it was very remarkable that there was nothing in the Speech from the throne about either the press, blasphemy, or sedition, yet those subjects had been for some time agitating the country, and made the pretext for convening numerous meetings. It was evident, therefore, from the loyal Addresses themselves, that all men were heartily tired of ministers, and wished to get rid of them. These Addresses, however, were easily got up; they arose out of nothing but the failure of the measures advised by ministers in the last session. For their own convenience, and to recruit their shattered resources, ministers then had parliament prorogued, and employed two months in prevailing once rtain boroughs and corporate bodies to vote what they called Loyal Addresses, while in the mean time, in many instances, where a respectable county meeting was demanded, to animadvert upon the late measures of the government, the sheriff interposed obstacles in the way, and did all in his power to prevent it. He did not forget that in the discussion on the bills for Regulating Public Meetings during last session, the advocates of ministers had stated, that it would add a dignity to the right of petition, to put meetings for that purpose under the control of the sheriff; but now it appeared to be equivalent to obstructing the right of petition. He must say, that, in some instances, the conduct of the sheriff had been quite outrageous. But, whenever meetings had 53 been allowed to be convened, whether in whig or tory counties, as they were called, to vote addresses expressive of loyalty, they could not refrain from tacking to them amendments condemnatory of the conduct of ministers, to whom the country was aware that it was indebted for more evils than to the licentiousness of the Press. Even so late as yesterday, one of the strongest tory counties (Oxford,) was glad to adopt an amendment against them. His majesty had, however, relieved the country from any alarm which was attempted to be sounded by the cry of blasphemy and sedition, in not noticing these topics in the Speech from the throne. The expressions of loyalty had, however, given heartfelt satisfaction to his majesty, and on that account alone he was glad of them; though he believed they gave no satisfaction to any other person in the kingdom.
said, he did not rise an account of any thing which had fallen from the right hon. gentleman who had spoken last; on the contrary, he thought he had gone through the several topics of the Speech from the throne, with much candour, and a great deal of good temper. He might be allowed to say, however, that when, in an early part of the evening, he had seen the right hon. gentleman driving into the field of the hon. and learned member, he was led to believe that the debate would be a long and stormy one, and he did not know at what period of the morning they would be enabled to separate. Now it appeared that he had been mistaken, and for all that had happened, they might as well have proceeded at once to the ordinary business, as have consumed the early part of the evening in a very novel and useless kind of debate. But, though it could not be objected to the Speech from the throne, that it contained any topic which could excite a debate, they were, nevertheless, told, that important matters had been omitted which it should not have passed over. An hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Curwen,) had brought before the notice of the House the agricultural interests. He could assure the hon. gentleman that government did not look with indifference on them or on any of the interests in which the prosperity of the country was bound up; but he believed that the distress of which he spoke, arose more from the internal circumstances of the country, than the state of the laws as 54 they affected agriculture, and the produce of the land. Ministers would be always ready to hear from that hon. gentleman, or from any other, such plans of relief as could have a practical result. Such suggestions as could be usefully adopted, when made upon former occasions, had not been unattended to. The right hon. gentleman who spoke last, had forcibly animadverted upon the necessity of cultivating that pacific system which was so agreeably dwelt upon in the opening paragraph of the Speech. He could assure him, that he did not overrate the importance and value of a continuation of peace more than his majesty's ministers did; nor could he have a more fixed determination to maintain peace by all the means which were consistent with the honour, dignity, and safety of the country.' With reference to the continental relations of the country, he should be happy at the proper time to give the right hon. gentleman every explanation for which he might think proper to call. He would then see that the fundamental policy of this country, in its late intercourse with foreign powers, was uniformly pacific; but were they therefore to be called upon to intermeddle with the internal arrangements of other powers? Were they to be called upon on every occasion to direct and control what other states might think necessary for their own interests, or for what they thought or felt to be their own interests? Was it to be enforced as a part of the policy of this country, that England should interfere with whatever arrangements other powers should adopt for their own security? He was sure that such a spirit of intermeddling would ill accord with that pacific spirit which was so well described as being the best policy for England to inculcate in her relations with other states. If this country meant to remain at peace, she must not show too great a desire to intermeddle with the, internal affairs of other nations. England was a power eminently maritime in her character, and could only appear on the Continent under the pressure of imperative circumstances. Certainly not, without a commanding and unavoidable, necessity, for the purpose of controlling or intermeddling with arrangements which had no reference to her own interests. Whenever the proper time should arrive, his majesty's government would be prepared to shew, that the language which had been held by this country, and the 55 principles on which that language had been founded, were perfectly consistent with its character. This, however, he begged leave at once to say, that it must not be inferred that Great Britain was of necessity a party to all the deliberations and conclusions consequent on those discussions, at which a British minister might be present. We had our own interests to watch over; and in his opinion it was an additional proof of the confidence happily existing among the great powers of Europe, that they received at their meetings the ministers of powers, who were not immediately connected with the measures in progress; in order that their respective governments might, nevertheless, have the satisfaction of knowing the exact nature of those measures. He hoped he had said enough on this part of the subject, and he would therefore reserve any further observations for a future opportunity.—With respect to what had fallen from the right hon. gentleman upon the state of the revenue, the House would of course expect the fullest information from his right hon. friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but as his right hon. friend might not feel himself called upon to rise in the course of the present evening, it would perhaps be as well if he shortly stated what was meant in the Speech upon that head. What the Speech intended to convey was this: that the revenue of the year had not decreased in comparison with the former year, notwithstanding the deficiency in the Irish and in the foreign trade, at the commencement of the year, the latter had, however, considerably increased towards the close of the year; The Speech, it was true, gave credit for a part of the increase of revenue to the operation of the new taxes; but, independent of these, it gave credit for an increase in that revenue itself. The right hon. gentleman had said, that the estimate of the new taxes was 3,200,000l. and the receipts 2,200,000l. leaving a deficit of 1,000,000l. Now, that was not the fair way of putting it, for the right hon. gentleman should have born in mind, that 700,000l. of the new taxes had been received during the last year, which, if added to the 2,200,000l., or as the fact was, 2,300,000l. made an increase of 3,000,000l. in the revenue. And had it not been for the falling off of 600,000l. in Ireland from local causes, and of between 600,000l. and 700,000l. early in the year in our foreign trade, the aggregate amount 56 of revenue would have been 4,000,000l.; from which deducting the 3,000,000l. new taxes, there would have remained a surplus of about 1,000,000l. In the early part of the last year, there was certainly a marked falling off in the commerce of the country, but that depression had ceased; and looking at the last half-year, there was great reason to entertain the hope of a complete return of our commercial prosperity. Although every man must regret that there still existed much local pressure and distress, he appealed to the House, whether, in the situation of those districts which were suffering most when parliament last inquired into the subject, there was not a marked improvement. Not only were the wages of the manufacturers in general increased, but those wages were rendered more applicable to the wants of the individuals, by the reduction which had taken place in the price of the necessaries of life. There was every reason to hope that this favourable state of things would become still more satisfactory.—Now with respect to that part of his majesty's Speech which related to the provision to be made for the Queen, he did not understand the right hon. gentleman to make any complaint, but that it would have been more becoming if his majesty's ministers had advised his majesty to suggest some specific sum, as that which he would recommend for their adoption. If the right hon. gentleman thought that the word *" arrangements" in his majesty's Speech meant any thing more than that which parliament might consider a suitable provision for her majesty, he was much mistaken. It was more consistent with the uniform practice, in speeches from the throne, to call the attention of parliament generally, and not particularly, to such subjects. In messages, particular sums had, at various periods, been recommended, but not in speeches from the throne. Of course it would be the duty of his majesty's government to propose to parliament the sum which, in their view of the subject, was the most expedient; and he would therefore now give notice, that on Wednesday in the next week he would make a proposition to the House on the subject. He fixed Wednesday, because Monday and Tuesday were days over which parliament were in the habit of adjourning. On Wednesday, therefore, he should propose what his majesty's government considered would be a 57 proper provision for her majesty; and it would be the only proposition which it was his intention to make on that anxious subject;—there were other parts of the right hon. gentleman's speech to which he did not think it necessary at that time to advert; although he could not help acknowledging the temperate character of the whole of the right hon. gentleman's remarks. On one point however—the separation of parliament—he wished to make a few observations. He could assure the right hon. gentleman, that, if he imagined that his majesty's government advised the prorogation of parliament, to evade the discussion of their conduct in that or the other House, he was much deceived. He could assure the right hon. gentleman, that nothing was more gratifying to him, than that the moment had arrived in which the whole of their conduct might be investigated, and considered with that gravity and deliberation which, it was the interest of the country, should attend all their proceedings. For himself, he could justly say, that he had never felt any difficulty, in the situation of the country, which had not been considerably relieved by the application of the wisdom of parliament to the subject. In recommending to his majesty, therefore, to prorogue parliament, in November last, his majesty's ministers had not been influenced by any wish to elude inquiry. They had no disposition to conceal any thing from the House on the subject. But the fact was, that at various adjournments of that House which had taken place prior to the prorogation, it had been distinctly understood, and on one occasion, he had endeavoured distinctly to convey that understanding to the noble lord on the third bench on the other side of the House, that the vote of adjournment was proposed, in order that, if the bill then in progress in the House of Lords should pass, the House of Commons should meet in pursuance of the call; but that if the Bill of Pains and Penalties did not come to that House, then the call would not be enforced, as it was not intended to bring forward any other business. That was his view of the transaction; and what he had just stated was simply laying the ground on which he should be hereafter prepared to meet the question.—With respect to what the right hon. gentleman had said of the loyalty of the country, he could assure the right hon. gentleman that he was as 58 confident as the right hon. gentleman himself could be, that that loyalty would always manifest itself, whenever circumstances imperatively called for it. He had always been persuaded, whatever might be the occasion, that when the best interests of the country were involved, the good sense and good feeling of the country would assert themselves, and make their voices heard in support of the constitution. He had always maintained, that it was only necessary for the country to see its danger, to make its voice heard, and heard most loudly. Undoubtedly he did not lament, that at the moment when the infatuation of the country was at its highest pitch, that language had not been spoken which the right hon. gentleman said was now so intelligible. The right hon. gentleman, however, knew well what was the real feeling of the country;—he knew well that no minister had ever dared to show his face in that House, and he (Lord C.) trusted that no minister would ever dare to show his face in that House, who had lost the confidence of the country. The minister who had really lost the confidence of the country, could not possess the confidence of that House; for the people of the country, he meant the rational part of the community—that part which alone ought to possess any influence over the legislature—always made its sentiments as distinctly and intelligibly felt in that House, as if the wildest plan of reform that was ever proposed had been adopted. He could assure the right hon. gentleman, that, if he supposed that either himself or his colleagues wished to remain in the service of their sovereign a moment longer than they possessed the confidence of the House and the country, he had mistaken the men he had to deal with. As long, however, as they possessed the confidence of their sovereign, of the House, and of the country, no difficulty with which they had to contend, no taunts from the right hon. gentleman or his friends, no apprehension of consequences personal to themselves, should induce them to shrink from the discharge of their public duty. He would say in reply to the right hon. gentleman, that he felt it no reproach to have the conduct of ministers not specifically introduced in the late Addresses, although he thought it a little too much to say, that the government had influenced the sheriffs in the mode of discharging the duties of their office; that was to pay but a poor compliment to the 59 gentry of the country. It would indeed have been a reproach to his majesty's ministers, if, at a moment when the most valuable interests of the constitution were at stake, through the supineness of the good—and the activity of the bad, they had not called upon the rational part of the country to come forward to vindicate its character—and maintain its institutions. They were not surely open to reproach that, when the principal classes of the community were engaged in testifying their loyalty, they did not press upon them any particular approbation of the measures of ministers. Their conduct in that respect furnished a striking contrast to that of some of their opponents, who never could afford a declaration of their loyalty to the throne and attachment to the constitution, when both were threat-trued by the schemes of the disaffected, without covenanting for a change of the government.—Whether or not parliament considered such a change desirable, was not the subject of the present discussion. An early day would probably set that question in a clear light. The right hon. gentleman (whom, although he disclaimed being the head of a party, or that he possessed any influence beyond that of an individual member of parliament he had certainly heard on more than one occasion marshalling his forces with the authority of a leader) might bring that subject under discussion, than which no one could be more expedient or more constitutional, whenever it appeared that the servants of the Crown had lost the confidence of the House. The short question would then be, whether a change of his majesty's government should take place, with a view of substituting the right hon. gentleman and his friends for his majesty's present ministers? That question he should be most happy to meet at the proper time. He trusted he did not look to its agitation with unbecoming presumption; but he felt himself perfectly prepared to state to the House the grounds on which his majesty's present ministers hoped they should continue to receive the sanction and support of parliament. If that sanction and support were withdrawn, that step would, of course, determine the fate of his majesty's present government. He was sure that the House would decide in wisdom. If their decision should prove unfavourable to him, he would bow to it with that sentiment of respect which would become hint. He confessed, how- 60 ever, that he entertained no mistrust whatever of tile issue of the contest: and he was therefore fully prepared and anxious to meet the right hon. gentleman, whenever he might think proper to make such a proposition as would allow of the determination of the question between them.
observed, that however much provoked to do so by some of the topics which the noble lord had introduced in his speech, he would not detain the House for any length of time. He certainly did not entertain much hope that the country would get rid of the noble lord, if it depended on that House. So long as the influence of government was exercised in that House—that was, so long as the House was constituted as it was, so long he had no doubt the noble lord would enjoy the confidence and support of that House, in spite of the opinion of the country. He dared to say, the noble lord, or his right hon. friends, could shew them in black and white how well their trust in the confidence of the House was founded. He dared to say that the gentlemen of the Treasury, if they exhibited the correspondence which usually took place before the meeting of parliament, could afford a very satisfactory reason for the expectation of ministers on the subject. But, if the noble lord relied on the confidence of the country—if he thought, that because, he possessed the confidence of the sovereign and of that House, he therefore possessed the confidence of the country, he would find that he was very much mistaken. The events of the last three months ought to convince the noble lord of his error, if he supposed that he and his friends possessed the confidence of the country. At no period of our history had half, or even a tithe of the number of public meetings taken place, that had been held within the period he had mentioned; and at every one of those meetings, held in such a manner as to admit of public discussion, the conduct of the noble lord and his colleagues had experienced the most unequivocal reprobation. That a number of what were called Loyal Addresses had been sent up to the Crown, he knew perfectly well; but they had been voted in secret, among gentlemen who were professed supporters of the present administration, although not one of them had ventured to express any opinion of the measures of the noble lord and his colleagues. Expressions of loyalty coming 61 in such a way were not of much value. In his conscience he believed that his majesty knew nothing of the way in which these Addresses were got up; and of this he was persuaded, that some of them contained expressions, which, if repeated to his majesty, would incur his reprehension. And here he must say, that he could not conceive any thing more extraordinary than that the Secretary of State for the Home Department should take upon himself to make a selection from the various Addresses; and to determine that he would present one, because it contained what he considered dutiful, loyal, and affectionate expressions; and withhold another, because it charged ministers with wanting the confidence of the country. He highly disapproved of this selection, both because it was unconstitutional, and because it was unfair towards his majesty, as it afforded him only one view of the question. The noble Secretary of State for the Home Department, in the course of his selections, had selected one address, which had lately been published in the gazette, and which, if it had appeared in any other paper, would unquestionably have called down the punishment of that House. This address professed to proceed from a set of clergymen. It stated that the Addressers "had witnessed with much regret the spirit of disaffection so prevalent in the country, and especially the violent and unconstitutional speeches of the Opposition in both Houses of parliament; and that they could not refrain from expressing their indignation at the insolence of certain members of the Opposition on the prorogation of parliament; persuaded as they were that if such conduct were to pass unnoticed in the representatives of the people, that nothing less than general sedition could be expected in the country." Such were the style and language of the Addresses which the noble Secretary of State for the Home Department took upon himself to select for publication in the gazette. Such was the respect which those Addressers exhibited for the constituted authorities. And then the country were told of the licentiousness of the Press! With respect to the Speech from the throne, there was not much in it to cavil at. Ministers had purposely made it express as little as possible. This was the necessary consequence of what he could not but consider a great innovation; namely, that of returning an 62 Address, immediately after the delivery of the Speech. Up to the reign of Queen Anne, another course was pursued, more consonant to common sense—and to the respect due to the Crown. When parliament was opened with a Speech from the throne, instead of instantly replying to all the topics of the Speech, time was taken for consideration, and the answer to the Speech was always postponed for several days. He believed that this practice was first departed from on the occasion of one of the duke of Marlborough's great victories. But even up to a period within his own memory, it was usual to promulgate the contents of the Speech the day before, so that any hon. gentleman might come down to the House prepared to speak to the Address. That was a practice much more consonant to common sense, and to the respect due to his majesty, than the present one of requiring an immediate Address, which was of course an echo of the Speech, and of framing the Speech, in consequence, in such a manner as to make it mean little or nothing. Adverting to the sudden prorogation of parliament in November, he contended that the mode in which that prorogation took place was wholly unprecedented. After a more liberal supply than had ever before been granted to the Crown, that House had been dismissed without a single word of acknowledgment. He denied that the understanding on the subject was such as the noble lord had represented it to be; but even if it had been so, the prorogation ought to have taken place in a different manner. In his opinion, it was the duty of ministers to have advised his majesty on that occasion to make a Speech by his commissioners, declaratory of his sentiments on the state of public affairs. That state was certainly one of extraordinary danger; for the country had been in unparalleled agitation for several months. Some statement might have been made on the part of his majesty to quiet that agitation, and to prevent all the turmoil which had since taken place. He denied, however, that there was a general understanding that the prorogation would take place under the circumstances described by the noble lord; and he appealed to all who heard him, whether the prorogation did not come upon them as a kind of surprise? The prorogation itself, and the manner of the prorogation, were both improper.—There were a great many omissions in the present 63 Speech. One was, that of any allusion to the agricultural distress, pervading, as it did, every part of the country, from one end of it to the other. To his great astonishment, the noble lord had declared, that there had been a great improvement in our commerce and manufactures during the last three or four months, and that that improvement was going on. As no other person had heard of that improvement, the fact appeared to him to be incredible. He remembered that at the opening of the last session similar congratulations had been offered to the House on the state of our domestic affairs. A few years ago the flourishing condition of our commerce was vaunted in a Speech from the throne, within nine months from the delivery of which, the country was overwhelmed with commercial distress, which the noble lord attributed to the sudden transition from war to peace. He would ask the noble lord, or the right hon. gentleman near him, what were his grounds for his present expectation of increasing commercial prosperity? So far was he from thinking that our trade and commerce would prosper, that he was persuaded they would go on from bad to worse, while the present taxation continued. Much as he respected the opinions of his right hon. friend near him, he must say, that he still adhered to all the principles which he had laid down two years ago, on the discussion of the Bill for the Resumption of Cash Payments. Every minute of his subsequent experience had confirmed him in the opinion which he on that occasion maintained, namely, that it was impossible the country could bear a return to cash payments without a previous alteration in the gold standard. A great part of our debt having been contracted when the pound was much depreciated, it was clearly impossible, and would be manifestly unjust, to pay the interest in pounds at the existing gold standard. There were many other calamities under which the country was labouring, of which no notice was taken in the Speech from the throne. One, which was by no means the least, which had been taken in hand by that House three or four years ago, and which all persons agreed, required the most serious and immediate consideration, was the state of our Poor Laws. If his majesty's government had in contemplation any proposition to remedy this, or the other evils inflicted on the country, it ought to have 64 been noticed in his majesty's Speech. Something might also have been said in it of the agitation into which the country had been thrown by the conduct of ministers with respect to the Queen. For five months the country had been kept in a state of inquietude on this subject unparalleled, and pregnant with the greatest evils. Nothing of the kind was, however, adverted to; and he firmly believed that ministers would persevere in their iniquitous course until they absolutely drove the people to distraction. That the noble lord would carry his measures he had not the slightest doubt. That he would obtain large majorities there was not the slightest doubt; and as little, that the unhappy people would continue to be harrassed and distracted. In every point of view the prospect before us was distressing and melancholy.
protested against the assumption, that whoever supported the measures of administration, and especially with reference to her majesty, must necessarily be a most servile dependant on a most wicked government. From whom came the objection to the loyal Addresses, which some characterised as abetting tyranny, others as fomenting sedition?—From those who considered it a feather in their caps, that they were the advocates of freedom of opinion. If, however, he, or those who thought with him, expressed their opinion, they were instantly called "dogs," "dunghill dogs," "hole and cornermen."—Hole and corner men!—Why, there was no hole or corner, however obscure, into which he would not retire, if he conceived it necessary to the free and uncontrolled expression of his sentiments. It was the power of expressing an unbiassed opinion, that made the privilege valuable.
explained, that he had never objected to the expression of any opinion, but merely to the manner in which it was expressed. He wondered how the King could derive any satisfaction from addresses got up in the secret manner he had pointed out.
rose to vindicate his noble relative, lord Sidmouth, from the imputation which had been cast upon him by the noble lord. He contended, that the selections of the Addresses for presentation to the King were founded in the strictest policy, and denied that in this selection any improper preference had been given.
§ Mr. Warre
contended, that the expla- 65 nation of the right hon. gentleman was wholly insufficient. Adverting to the address which had been cited by the noble lord, he characterised it as foully scandalous; and commented with much severity on the bad grace with which the selection of it proceeded from a noble lord who had issued a celebrated circular to the magistrates of the country on the subject of libel.
§ The Address was then put and agreed to.