Mr. John Smith
rose to present a Petition, which he considered to be one of the highest importance at the present moment. It was a petition signed by 9,690 persons —Merchants, Bankers, and Traders of the City of London; and he believed there were not twenty names appended to the petition, which did not come under one of these three denominations. This petition was agreed to at one of the most numerous and respectable meetings ever convened in the City of London; and those who attended it might be said to have been unanimous, for only two persons opposed the Resolutions, and only one held up his hand against them, for the other finding the meeting to be decidedly against him, quitted the room. He might say, therefore, with great truth that the petition expressed the sentiments of the great body of the merchants of the metropolis. It had been said, in the course of their discussions, that the Reform measure had a tendency to produce revolution. He hoped the House would allow him to remind them that those who 1495 signed the petition were men engaged in peaceable pursuits, who must be the first victims of revolution, and they, one and all, agreed with him that the Reform Bill which his Majesty's Ministers had introduced would, instead of producing revolution, be a means of protecting their property, and securing to them the fruits of their industry. They prayed, therefore, that it might pass into a law.
Mr. Alderman Wood
supported the prayer of the petition, and bore testimony to the respectability of the meeting at which it was agreed to be presented to that House. He had never seen a more numerous and respectable meeting.
§ Petition to be printed.
Mr. Philip Howard
took that opportunity of expressing to the House, that the assurance given by the noble Lord, the Paymaster of the Forces, that the rights of those claiming their freedom by birth or by servitude, should be duly considered, had given great satisfaction to the electors of Carlisle, and the freemen in towns generally. It was on no light grounds that our forefathers held out the elective franchise as the reward of those who, by seven years of patient industry, had given to the State a pledge of their fitness steadily to exercise the duties of a freeman. By preserving the rights of apprenticeship, by making industry, in a limited sense, as well as property, the basis of Representation, all the advantages arising from a mixed Representation, from that "Concordia discors" in the elective body, on which the right hon. Baronet, the member for Tamworth, on a former night enlarged, will be retained; without making that further admission, so repugnant to the spirit of the Constitution, to the privileges and standing Resolutions of the House, that nomination is a necessary part of the system. It should be his business to support the noble Lord and the Administration in their efforts to remedy imperfect, and to do away with that "ideal" Representation, which had been so long the bane of this country.
§ Mr. Hodges
presented a similar Petition from the Clergy, Gentry, and Freeholders of the county of Sussex.
§ Mr. Alderman Winchester
.—As one of the freeholders of the county of Sussex, from whom the petition just now presented by the hon. member for the county of Kent 1496 purports to be, I am desirous of ascertaining to what parts of the noble Paymaster's Bill for the Reform in Parliament its prayer particularly alludes; for, if I understood the noble Lord rightly the other night, he declared his readiness to abandon a great part of the principle of the Bill now before the House [No, no!]. Some honourable Members say No, no; but I beg to state, that such is the fact, and am not alone in that impression, both as regards the opinion in this House and out of doors. I shall now express my dissent from the prayer of the petition, for as it mentions freeholders generally, it might not, otherwise, be understood that I was not at all concerned in forwarding, or in promoting the petition.
§ Mr. Curteis
said, that the petition was agreed to at a large meeting of the county. The freeholders of Sussex were most decidedly in favour of the measure his Majesty's Ministers had brought forward. He also approved of the Reform measure, and hoped that Ministers would stand firmly by the Bill, and dissolve Parliament immediately if they could not carry it. He did not mean to say, that the meeting was attended by all the freeholders of the county of Sussex, for, from the size of the county, it was difficult to procure a meeting of that description. This fact, however, he thought, afforded an additional argument for the Reform which the Government contemplated, and he again implored them to persevere.
was bound to say, that the meeting of the county of Sussex, at which the petition was agreed to, were nearly unanimous with respect to the Reform Bill; but he must take leave to say, that the meeting could not be very well said to express the opinions of the freeholders, for he did not think there were forty freeholders present. He mentioned this, without wishing to found any argument on it, but merely as a fact worthy of notice. With respect to the Bill itself, he would merely say, that he still continued to think it would be productive of the most disastrous consequences; and he repeated his opinion, that the freeholders of the county of Sussex were not favourable to it. A person at the meeting, in reply to some comments of his on the Ministerial Budget of Blunders, had used a couplet in their defence, which he was then happy to repeat for their benefit to the House—If to their share some fiscal errors fall,Look at their Bill, and you'll forget them all.
§ Lord George Lennox
was confident that the great majority of the people of Sussex were favourable to Reform; and as an instance of the unanimity of the opinions of the freeholders on the subject, he had seen upwards of 400 assembled in the room where the meeting was held.
§ Mr. Cressett Pelham
also denied, that the freeholders of that county were unanimous in their approbation of the Reform measure. He was now a freeholder of that county; but if the Bill passed, he should become a dependant on the vile menials of the Government.
§ Petition to be printed.
§ Mr. E. S. Cooper
presented a Petition from the inhabitants of Taunagh, county of Sligo, against the Reform Bill. The petitioners complained of the injury that had been already done to the Protestant Church of Ireland, by passing the measure of Catholic Emancipation, and they implored the Members of that House to stay their hands and search their hearts before they now passed that Bill falsely called the Reform Bill; for if they did so, it would produce the final ruin of the Protestants.
Mr. O' Connell
said, that this petition was got up under the influence of one family, and was principally signed by Orangemen, and persons connected with them. He thought it a strange argument of the hon. Member and the petitioners, that the prosperity of the Protestant Church depended on corruption and the continuance of the rotten boroughs, for that was the plain construction of what they prayed. For his part, he knew that the inhabitants of the whole of the county of Sligo, particularly the Dissenters were favourable to Reform. The meeting at which the petition was agreed to was a packed and a private one, but if there was a public and an open meeting, and he challenged the hon. Member to call one, the result would be very different.
§ Sir J. Yorke
did not think that the boroughmongering system was necessary to support Protestantism in Ireland—and the petitioners did not say so; but he thought that if sixty-two Members were taken from England, and five added to Ireland, the effect would, by lessening the proportions of the Members for England, compared with Ireland, have a tendency to make the Catholic interest predominate in the latter country.
§ Mr. E. S. Cooper
said, that not being an 1498 Orangeman he did not know whether the petition was signed by Orangemen or not, but he knew it was most respectably and numerously signed, and he believed it expressed the opinions of the great majority of the inhabitants of the town it came from.
§ Mr. George Dawson
would repeat the opinion he had before given, viz., that if the Bill passed into a law, it would completely overthrow the Protestant interests in Ireland. The hon. member for Waterford (Mr. O'Connell) might delude himself with the belief that the Protestants were not adverse to the measure, but they were now roused, and before a fortnight he would have an opportunity of seeing an expression of their sentiments. The hon. member for Waterford had spoken of Sligo as being a rotten borough, because it returned as its Member a person connected with a family in its neighbourhood. He (Mr. Dawson) thought that the county of Waterford, which sent to that House a person unconnected with it by any tie of birth or property—by any tie except that agitation of which he was the supporter, must be considered much more a rotten borough than the town of Sligo. If, then, comparative claims were considered, he thought that the hon. Member who sat for Sligo was much less open to the charge of being a boroughmonger than the member for Waterford. He would repeat, that the more he considered the Bill, the stronger were his objections to it, and he was determined to oppose it in every stage.
§ Mr. Chapman, as one of the Protestant Members who had voted in favour of the Bill, was satisfied that it would support, rather than injure, the Protestant Church. The objection to the present system was not that the family of the member for Sligo influenced the return of the Member for that borough, because there was no reason why his influence should not be as good after the Bill passed as it was now. What the Bill destroyed was, the power to nominate the Member, and to sell that nomination to the highest bidder.
§ Mr. George Dawson
considered it disorderly in any hon. Member to speak of any borough as bought and sold.
§ Sir J. Newport
was not of opinion, that the hon. member for Westmeath had been guilty of any disorder. It was but too notorious that many boroughs were bought and sold; and he could bring proof that 1499 this identical borough had been bought and sold. If his right hon. friend, the member for Harwich, thought the security of the Church rested on such grounds as those which he had stated, the security of that Church must be frail indeed.
Mr. Cutlar Ferguson
observed, that unless boroughs were bought and sold, he should like to know what that House was lately debating upon for seven successive nights. It was on that occasion argued by the opponents of the Bill, that it would shut the monied interest, or, in other words, those who could purchase boroughs, out of the House.
§ Mr. O'Connell, in answer to the remarks of the right hon. member for Harwich, on the nature of his connection with the county of Waterford said, that he had that very day received a letter, signed by twenty-one Magistrates of the county of Waterford, expressive of their opinion that his services in Parliament entitled him to be again returned the Representative of that county.
§ Mr. G. Dawson
observed, that with respect to the general assertion that boroughs were to be bought and sold, that was a fact of which he knew nothing. If, however, the hon. Baronet could prove that the borough of Sligo had been bought and sold, he had neglected his duty by not proving it at the bar of that House.
said, that as the Protestant mind in Ireland had been so much referred to, he would take the opportunity of stating, that from what he knew of it, there were none of his Protestant constituents that did not agree in the propriety of Reform. None of them had any sympathy for the rottenness of the system of boroughs in England, which by the Reform Bill were to be disfranchised; nor were they against that part of the measure which the hon. and gallant Admiral (Sir J. Yorke) had referred to, by which the number of Members from Ireland was to bear a greater proportion than they had heretofore to the whole force of the House; but their objection to the measure was to that part of it affecting Ireland, which would, they thought, give a greater number of Catholic electors than now existed in towns and cities, by giving the franchise to householders of so low a scale as occupied 10l. houses. He was warranted in stating this, because the Protestants of Cork had a public meeting on the subject, and the House would see, 1500 when the hon. Baronet, the late Secretary of State, should have the opportunity of. presenting their petition, that this was their feeling.
§ Petition to lie on the Table.
§ Mr. Pearse
presented a Petition from the Corporation of Devizes, against the Parliamentary Reform Bill.
§ Mr. Watson Taylor
supported the petition, and said, that although he was aware that he risked popularity by opposing the Bill, he had opposed it, and should continue to oppose it. There was not a more independent borough in England, and though he saw no reason to believe that he should not be returned for it under the proposed Bill that could not make him regard the Bill otherwise than as most mischievous.
§ Mr. Long Wellesley
expressed his conviction that the petition which he had presented from Devizes spoke the real sense of the Corporation. Whether the borough were independent or not; it appeared that the patronage of Lord Sid-mouth was very successfully used in it.
§ Mr. Watson Taylor
observed, that the petition which had been presented by his hon. colleague was unanimously agreed to. It was signed by every member of the Corporation.
denied that Devizes was under the patronage of any human being. It was true, that it had been formerly represented by Lord Sidmouth, whose virtues and merits would never be forgotten; but no undue influence of any description was exercised in the borough.
had no intention of addressing the House upon the petition which had been presented from Devizes, had it not been observed by one of the hon. Members that the petition had been unanimously signed and agreed to. Now he felt himself in a particular position; he had the honour of belonging to that Corporation, and although he had received no intimation of the meeting — much more, had not attended it—he had heard, and heard with satisfaction, that many of that very corporate body were friendly to the Reform Bill brought forward by his Majesty's Government; and that in the very Corporation itself, he might be borne out in stating, that a very strong feeling existed in its favour. With reference to 1501 the town, he knew that the measure was hailed with the greatest satisfaction by all its inhabitants, and as a member of that corporate body, he should be very unwilling to withhold the elective franchise from his fellow-townsmen, many of whom were of the highest respectability, though unconnected with the Corporation. The petition, therefore, could not be considered as expressing the unanimous opinion of the Corporation.
said, that it was very natural that a corporate body, having a monopoly of the election for their borough, should wish to keep it. It was not, however, on the petition which had just been presented that he rose to speak. But it having been stated, and generally circulated, that a large class of persons in Lancashire were opposed to the Parliamentary Reform Bill, he rose to say, that he was authorised to state, that so far from any opposition to that measure, there was a unanimous feeling throughout Lancashire in favour of the Bill, which was hailed as a great and important boon to the people. At every public dinner, even at those of which the hon. member for Preston partook, the health of his Majesty's Ministers, and success to the plan, were toasted. If there was a single individual present opposed to the measure, it was, perhaps, the hon. member for Preston. It was of the utmost consequence that that important body, the operatives of Lancashire and elsewhere, should not be supposed averse from the plan because they did not immediately participate in its provisions. They felt that their character was affected by the imputation; they were anxious that it should be known that such was their feeling, and if it were necessary to prove the fact, meetings would be held for that purpose from one end of Lancashire to the other. It was true, that attempts had been made to dissatisfy them with the measure. Questions had been asked—if the Bill contained all they wanted?—if they would not rather have Universal Suffrage? Why, let that question be put to him, and his answer would be, that he would rather have Universal Suffrage. But was he to set up his opinion on that point against the united opinions of that House and the country? That would indeed be dictation. But, although the Bill did not comprehend Universal Suffrage, it was so valuable and important a measure, that he should be most unworthy of his seat in 1502 that House if he did not support it. He believed it could be proved to demonstration, that the statement which had been made by the hon. member for Preston, and at which the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen under him were so rejoiced, of the disinclination of the working classes in Lancashire and elsewhere to the Bill, was exceedingly unfair towards them. It was his duty to state that, as far as he was informed, they had no feeling whatever of the kind.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that he also had been desired to give the flattest contradiction to the assertion that the working-classes were not, to a man, favourable to the Reform Bill. He believed that on no occasion had a greater feeling of unanimity existed among them. It was impossible that what passed there (in the House of Commons) should not find its way out of doors. With reference to the statement which had been made in the House by the hon. member for Preston, of what had taken place at Durlaston, he had received a letter from a highly respectable Magistrate and Clergyman, parts of which he would take the liberty of reading to the House. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to read to the following effect:—"I saw yesterday, by appointment, several very respectable inhabitants of Durlaston, who heard what Mr. Hunt said there. They declared that they did not hear from any one any thing like opposition to the Bill, nor did they believe that one inhabitant of Durlaston objected to the Bill. On the contrary, they stated that the members of the Political Union at Durlaston (the hon. Gentleman said he regretted to use the expression) were disgusted with Mr. Hunt's proceedings. Mr. Hunt asked some of the inhabitants, 'Do you return any Members near here?' They answered, 'At Coventry and Tamworth.' 'How far are you from Coventry?' — 'Thirty miles.' 'How far from Tamworth?'—'Twenty miles.' 'Go, then,' said Mr. Hunt, 'twenty thousand in a body, and do not let those places return the same Members that they returned at the last election, but make them return such as will second me in the House. Take hold of the Electors, and try to persuade them. If that will not do, squeeze them hard; if that will not do, apply the tourniquet to them, and see if that will have any effect'" ["No, no!" from Mr. Hunt]. He would not positively assert that the hon. member for 1503 Preston said what he had just read, but he was authorised to declare that he had said it, and he should believe the statement until he heard it flatly contradicted. The letter proceeded to say, that the writer had been at Birmingham the day before, and that he had there received a similar contradiction of the statements of the hon. member for Preston with respect to that place. He (Mr. Littleton) had received three or four other letters, all to the same effect. The fact of the feeling of the Political Union at Durlaston being the reverse of what it had been alleged to be by the hon. member for Preston, was proved by the hand-bill preparatory to their dinner. It was to the following effect:— "Full, free, and fair Representation, the birth-right of Englishmen. The members of the Durlaston Political Union will dine together at the King's Head on Monday, April 4th, to celebrate the triumph of the glorious cause of Reform in the hands of our beloved Sovereign and of his enlightened Ministers."
§ Mr. Hunt
said, that in the first place, as to what had fallen from the hon. member for Middlesex, he could, perhaps, in some measure confirm it. But as to what had been stated by the hon. member for Staffordshire, he had no hesitation in declaring that it was mainly unfounded. The manner in which he happened to be at the Durlaston meeting was this. Being at Birmingham, on his way to Preston, he was invited to go to the Meeting of the county at Warwick; but having no property in that county he declined the invitation, and determined to stay at Birmingham. Two of the members of the Political Union of that place — Mr. Weston, a highly-respectable individual, and another —told him that they were going to Durlaston, and that if he liked, they would take him thither in their carriage, and bring him back. Accordingly, he went; and in consequence of his presence, instead of fifty, the number for which the dinner was ordered, three hundred attended. This accession of numbers certainly occasioned rather short commons. He was invited to address the party, which, after there had been a discussion of about two hours in length, on the Bill, he did. He certainly put questions to the persons present; they being principally working men, and not persons having houses of 10l. a year, qualifying them to vote under the new measure. He admitted that he put 1504 leading questions to them; and he appealed to the hon. member for Staffordshire, whether it was not usual, even in Courts of Justice, to put leading questions for the purpose of eliciting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He asked them if they were contented with the proposed system of Representation? A large proportion of them said, they were not. He asked them whether, as they were not to be allowed to choose their own Representatives, they were satisfied with delegating that power to individuals holding houses of 10l. a year? They said, certainly not. After dinner he was invited to address a great multitude, assembled partly to hear the members of the Political Union of Birmingham, and partly to hear him. He was told that they amounted to 10,000 persons. He had formerly stated to the House, that in the first instance the meetings of the people were unanimous in favour of the Bill. He had even said that they were running mad upon it. The hon. and learned member for Borough-bridge had called the Bill the Russell Purge. That might be the name for it as respected the boroughmongers, but it must have another name as it respected the people. The noble Lord had knocked off 120 Members for boroughs, had put them in an oven, and had converted them into powder, which he had administered to the people, and which should be called Boroughmongering and Love Powder. By that powder the people had been deluded. But now, as far as he had had an opportunity of ascertaining the opinions of the people of Lancashire, there were many parts of the Bill of which they did not approve. For himself, he approved of knocking off the boroughs; but he always contended for giving the right of Representation to the whole people; and he had given notice that, when the Bill went into the Committee, it was his intention to move that those who were excluded from the elective franchise should be exempted from paying taxes, and from serving in the militia. He had merely put the question to the people, if they gained any thing by the Bill? their answer was, No. On asking them what they expected to gain by it? they said, nothing whatever. It was the same at Manchester. The hon. member for Middlesex said, that wherever he (Mr. Hunt) had dined at public meetings in Lancashire, the health of his Majesty's Ministers was drunk. In no instance had 1505 he dined at any of the public meetings alluded to by the hon. Gentleman. He had been invited to an evening party, where there was nothing to eat, and there certainly the health of his Majesty's Ministers had been drunk. "Here, said he, is a petition signed by 4,000 out of the 7,000 electors of Preston in three days, and this confirms every part of my statement." He then stated that he had letters from all parts of the country, as well as the hon. member for Staffordshire, and all these letters denounced the measure. Of these he would read one, which came from Paisley, notwithstanding the assertion of the hon. member for Kircudbright, that all Scotland was in favour of the Bill. This letter came from the Chairman of a Reform Meeting held in Paisley, and stated that the feeling of the country might be appreciated from the fact of the proportion between the number of qualified and unqualified householders. Throughout Scotland the proportion of the qualified to the unqualified was as 1 to 10½ or 11; in Edinburgh it was as 1 to 3; in Glasgow as 1 to 4½; in Aberdeen as 1 to 7; in Paisley as 1 to 14; in Dundee as 1 to 6; and in Leith as 1 to 4½. Was this, he asked, the free and equal Representation which they were told the people was to have? For the hon. member for Middlesex he entertained a very great respect; but he did not consider him half so useful as he was formerly, since he had become a Ministerial Member. He was now content with recording his objection to a vote, whereas, formerly, he would have insisted upon a division. In fact, he was much better as an Opposition than as a Ministerial Member. Still, however, he thought the Ministry had gained a great deal in having so industrious, and laborious, and honest a supporter. There was a speech of his to which allusion had been made—he meant that which had given so much displeasure at one side of the House, and given such satisfaction on the other—that he understood the hon. Members on his side had had it printed. This speech, too, had been received with great disapprobation by the Press. He had got a great trouncing from the Press. And what he would call the politicians of London were very much displeased with him. It was, he was well informed, up to the last fortnight, the custom at all the public-houses, smoking-rooms, and other places of nightly meeting, frequently to drink his health; but since he made that 1506 speech, in every instance, and in every house, a vote of censure had been passed upon him. But though these votes had been recorded against him, and although the Press had attacked him, should he, as the Representative of a free people, be afraid to express his conscientious opinion? —No! As for the Press, he asserted there had been a conspiracy of the Papers in favour of the Bill. He hoped hon. Members and the Press would understand him. He said there was a conspiracy—not of the Papers with the Ministry—but of the Papers amongst themselves. Such was the popularity of the measure among the buyers of Newspapers, that they could not have been sold if they had not advocated Reform. Now he received cheers from the other side of the House. It was said, that he had sold himself—and this not to those who were in favour and place, but to those who had no longer any thing to give. He should be glad to know to whom it was said he did sell himself! And he could tell the House and all the hon. Members of it, there was but one price by which he could be bought—there was that one, and but that one way of gaining him—it was by giving Representation to the whole people. He hoped that more time would have been allowed for the presentation of petitions; as he had several to present, but as he could not present them, he begged leave to read a short extract from one in his possession. There was in this petition authority which would bear him out. He wished the House and the Press to understand, that when he spoke of the people he spoke of the whole people, and not of those merely who were to be represented; and he had no hesitation in declaring it to be his honest and decided opinion, that the unrepresented portion of the community were dissatisfied, and would be still more so when they had time for reflection. He would read an extract from The Leeds Patriot, which afforded an honourable exception to the conduct of the Press in general towards him. The hon. Member then reverted to Preston, and said, he was bound to admit that another petition had been got up in Preston, and was in the hands of his colleague; but the Meeting from which it emanated was held in a room that could not hold more than 600 persons, and not one-fifth of the electors were present. He added, that the Chairman refused to put a motion adverse to the Bill. He then read 1507 the extract from The Leeds Patriot, which stated, that the hon. member for Preston had done honour to himself and his constituents by expressing the genuine opinion of the working classes, now that they had had time to consider that the Bill was decidedly not popular amongst the producers of the country's wealth, and that it was evident the Press had combined to misrepresent or suppress the opinion of the hon. member for Preston, in the same manner as formerly complained of upon the part of Mr. O' Connell. For his part, he did not complain of the Press. Every tiling could not be printed, and he had his fair share. But it was not the first time he had had the whole Press against him. even without one bare exception, because he advocated the same principles which he did then. In conclusion, he repeated his assertions respecting the unpopularity of the Bill with the working-classes, adding at the same time, that he had no doubt it would be carried.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
said, that a deputation of the Spitalfields weavers had waited upon him, and they stated that they had read with astonishment the report of Mr. Hunt's speech in the House of Commons.
§ The Speaker
called the hon. Member to order. It was irregular to refer to the report of any hon. Member's speech.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
wished it to be understood by the House, that the Spitalfields weavers disclaimed with indignation the sentiments which had been attributed to them by the hon. member for Preston. The deputation stated, that the Spitalfields weavers, in common with the rest of the country, approved of the plan of Reform, and that they had prepared a petition, signed by 5,500 operative weavers, expressing their approval of the Bill. He had heard the hon. member for Preston called the worst enemy of Reform, but he considered the hon. Member its best friend. His manner of proceeding had opened the eyes of the public, and they were surprised to see united the advocate of Universal Suffrage and the defenders of the system under which Gatton was bought and sold. ["No, no."] Hon. Members might cry out "No," but the fact was notorious.
said, he rose to remark, that the hon. member for Preston had returned no answer to the question put by the hon. member for Staffordshire. He 1508 had himself asked the question in private to-day, whether Mr. Hunt had, at Manchester, used the language attributed to him respecting the Wigan election; and he was told that Mr. Hunt had not used exactly the words printed in the papers, but something very like them. The words attributed to the hon. Member, about the Wigan election, were as follows: —"The first day of the Wigan election, let every man in Manchester, between the ages of fifteen and forty-five, march over to Wigan, to accompany Mr. Potter, to the number of 20,000 or 30,000 men, and he would have them go and exercise what he called a constitutional influence over the electors of Wigan. 'If you meet a voter (said Mr. Hunt), say to some ten or twelve of you, take care of him, and see if you can't persuade him to vote for Potter. Use kind entreaties; and if these fail, I would advise you to take him by the arm, and give him a gentle squeeze, and let one take hold of his other arm (and I know you Lancashire men give something like a feeling squeeze when you like), and if he still refuses, I would not say I would pull his arms off, but I would very near do it. That is what you are called upon to do, and my opinion is, that if you don't do it, you will never get this Reform or any other.'" — He asked if this, or anything like it, was fit language to be used by a Member of that House? Again, about the expected election at Manchester, the hon. Member had been reported to say—"He had been asked, supposing the Reform Bill should pass, who were the people of Manchester going to send? [A voice from the crowd: 'Hugh Birley,' accompanied by groans and cries of 'No, no.'] He had been told of him before, hut on his expressing a desire to know who he was, 'don't you know,' said some one, 'that's Captain Birley, who came up to the hustings in August, 1819.'—'What!' exclaimed Mr. Hunt, will the people of Manchester send a master butcher of Peterloo to represent them in Parliament [no, never]? Those who were not ten-pounders would, he thought, take care of that. If they could be guilty of such an atrocity, he would retire from public life, and never enter Lancashire again; and he would tell them that, were he a Manchester man, rather than submit to it, he would lay half Manchester in ruins. Instead of having fourteen lives lost, he would have half 1509 the blood in Manchester spilt before he would submit to such a degradation." He had asked the hon. Member if he had used this language, and he replied, that, generally speaking, it was much exaggerated; but, in answer to a particular question, respecting the portion of his speech which referred to Manchester, he acknowledged that he had said something very like it. He declared that if the hon. Member had said anything like it, he had disgraced himself and his country. He begged pardon for wasting the time of the House with reference to a speech delivered out of doors, but he felt it his duty to do so. The noble Lord then proceeded to allude to a Turnpike Bill, upon the conduct of which Mr. Hunt had commented in one of his speeches, and affirmed, that upon a small foundation of truth, the hon. Member had raised a huge structure of misrepresentation, which he could not attribute either to mistake or misunderstanding. He farther stated, that he was informed, that when a person asked in the crowd where was Wood, Mr. Hunt, shrugging his shoulders, replied, "Ay, indeed, where was Wood when he ought to be attending to your interests?" when the hon. Member well knew that Mr. Wood had attended on the Committee.
§ Mr. Hunt
stated, that he had told the noble Lord the expressions in the paper from which he had quoted were much exaggerated, but that he might see something very like what he had said in The Manchester Times. He had omitted to answer the hon. member for Staffordshire's question. He had now to say, that the statement in the Clergyman's Letter was a gross exaggeration. He did ask the people if they would not go in great bodies and exercise a constitutional influence, by endeavouring to prevail on the electors to vote for the friend of the people, and he had spoken of a gentle squeeze, but all that about the tourniquet and taking off their arms, was gross exaggeration. He denied that he had ever spoken of Mr. Wood except in terms of the utmost respect.
§ Mr. Littleton
affirmed, that he was authorized by the gentleman who wrote to him to state, that a number of respectable tradesmen were willing to verify the statement on oath.
§ Petition laid on the Table.