§ After the presentation of one or two petitions, the Speaker wished to know whether it was the pleasure of the House, that he should proceed with reading the petition list? ["No, no;" calls for "Lord Ebrington."]
§ Lord Althorp
thought it would be desirable that the Orders of the Day should give way to the motion of his noble friend, so as to admit of its receiving that fulness of discussion which its importance merited.
hoped, that in the event of the Debate's extending to a late hour, the more important motions and orders of the day would not be brought forward. In an exhausted state of the House, it was plain that they could not receive the meet amount of deliberation.
§ Lord Althorp
agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, and therefore would make the length of the debate on his noble friend's Motion the criterion of his moving or postponing the other Motions and Orders of the Day till to-morrow.
§ Lord Ebrington,
in answer to the almost unanimous call of the House, proceeded as follows:—Mr. Speaker; If, often as I have had to address this House, I never 381 could do so without experiencing a certain degree of difficulty and embarrassment, it might naturally be expected, that on an occasion like this, that difficulty and that embarrassment would be increased ten-fold. But so momentous are the circumstances under which the House is at present assembled, so awful is the crisis of public affairs under which I feel myself called upon to address you, that I must confess the sense of the importance of the occasion supersedes all that private and personal feeling which has weighed so heavily on me at other times, and gives me a degree of encouragement which I never before felt, in my humble endeavour to perform the great and solemn duty which I have this night engaged to discharge. Sir, I have, moreover, the satisfaction of knowing, that the fate of the Motion which I shall do myself the honour of submitting to the House, will not be determined by any arguments which my feeble voice may urge in its favour. I am well aware that there are sitting around me many individuals of great and acknowledged ability, who have read the signs of the times, and who are acquainted with the circumstances in which the country is placed, much better than I can pretend to be, and who are ready to support me in the course which I humbly propose to take. Their statements and their arguments will give ten-fold force and impression to any thing that I may be able to say on the subject. I have also, Sir, the satisfaction of knowing, that the course which I am about to recommend to this House is simply a confirmation of that which they have already declared to be their opinion. And I am convinced that the House of Commons, which has had the virtue and the manliness to acknowledge its own deficiencies, and to pass a bill for its own reformation, will not be at the present time disposed to recede from maintaining its own consistency, from vindicating its own rights, and from redeeming those pledges which its Members have so solemnly given to their constituents. Sir, I do not deny that I am one of those by whom such pledges have been given. I did not give those pledges for the paltry purpose of securing my seat in this House; for I believe that if such had been demanded of me, I might, from feelings of perhaps false delicacy, and false pride, have considered the demand as implying suspicion of my conduct, and might have refused both the pledge and 382 the seat. But I gave those pledges to those whom I have the honour to represent, because, although in some respects it did not go to the full extent of my own opinion, the Bill appeared to me to unite the suffrages of a larger portion of the people of England in its favour, than I had conceived it possible could have been accomplished by any measure that any set of men could have devised. Sir, before I proceed to the particular subject of my Motion, I shall take the liberty of calling the attention of the House to the circumstances under which my hon. friends near me were called to administer the affairs of this country. I will not go into the details of that appalling period—a period so appalling, that I almost despaired of the possibility of discovering any means by which society might be restored to its proper and healthy state. In saying this, I have no wish to revert to any occurrence, for the purpose of throwing unnecessary odium on the predecessors of his Majesty's present Government. But this I may at least say, that without having recourse to any extraordinary exercise of force, without proposing any new penal enactment, his Majesty's Government did succeed in restoring the tone and security of society, and in putting an end to the scenes of conflagration and disturbance which desolated the southern counties of the kingdom; and moreover, that they framed a measure, which, as I have before said, was satisfactory to a greater extent than could possibly have been anticipated, to those powerful and influential middle classes, among whom, I am sorry to say, were to be found many who were not exempt from the discontent which previously prevailed. But, Sir, has the Reform Bill, which was agreed to by this House after such long and such frequent discussions, has it prevented my hon. friends from doing any thing else for the benefit of the country during the last twelve months? Have the poor of the country derived no benefit from the taking off the tax upon coals and candles? Has the moral, and thinking, and reflecting part of the community no cause for satisfaction in the repeal of the Game Laws, which, in spite of the exertions of the humane and enlightened, aided by the support of the right hon. Baronet opposite, had continued, session after session, to defy the strenuous and repeated attempts made to procure their abolition? Has the suitor in Chancery gained nothing by the 383 gigantic measures of that great man, of whose almost super-human eloquence in another place I will not speak—has his suitor in Chancery gained nothing by the gigantic efforts to clear the Augean stable of all that accumulated load which has so long oppressed the unfortunate suitor in that Court? These, Sir, are some of the grounds on which I think my hon. friends near me have a right to claim the support and confidence of the House. I may, perhaps, be suspected of taking a partial view of their conduct. Undoubtedly, strong habits of private and public regard have grown out of that intimate knowledge which I have possessed for above a quarter of a century of the worth and integrity of my noble friend below me. But, entertaining as I do this predilection for him, I will not be of him, I will not be of any man, the flatterer, or the unqualified panegyrist. I am not, as we were told we were in former debates, I am not—addictus jurare in verba magistri.For, with all my respect for my noble friend and his colleagues, I am free to say, that I think their Administration is justly chargeable with certain errors, which, however pure and amiable their motives may be, have been highly detrimental to the public interests. I think, Sir, that in England, and still more in Ireland, there has been too much halting between two opinions; that there has been too great a disposition to conciliate those who never can be conciliated by the acts of what I should call a just and liberal Government; and that there have been some instances of their overlooking the claims of old and tried friends, who had always given them their cordial and zealous support. I think that my noble friend at the head of the Administration has in some things which he has done, and in other things which he has left undone, consulted more the unsuspicious kindness of his own generous nature than the exigency of public affairs and the necessity of supporting his own Government warranted; and if I am not mistaken, my noble friend has, during the last two or three days, received a pretty severe lesson on that score. I trust he will fall into such errors no more. I trust that, if by the vote of this night—and on that vote the fate of the Government and of the empire depends—I trust that, if by the vote of this night, and by the confidence reposed in him by this House, my noble friend should preserve, as I pray 384 to God he may, his station at the head of the affairs of this country, he will hereafter abandon that too temporizing policy which has in some instances marked the measures of his Administration. This advice I trust my noble friend will not despise; for I can assure him that it is the opinion of many other staunch friends of the present Government, and I feel the less scruple in expressing it, as there is hardly any service which I am not willing to perform for this Government, except that of taking an official situation under them. Sir, in speaking of the merits of my noble friend the Lord Chancellor, I omitted to state one or two things which redound as much to that noble and learned Lord's honour as any of those matters which I have described. I omitted to state, that with a generosity inferior only to his sense of public duty, he reduced the emoluments of his situation to 7,000l.; emoluments which, arising from fees in bankruptcy, in a former year accumulated, as I have been told, to 23.000l. And in establishing a Court of Bankruptcy he has refused, in compensation of the sacrifice which he has made, any addition to his retiring pension. Sir, if in asserting the right of my noble friend and my hon. friends, to the confidence of the House and the country, I have put other matters more forward than the great measure, the loss of which we are considering to-night, it is because their services in those particulars are less generally known; and because I wish to establish their claim to the confidence of the House, to that confidence which I am sure the whole country will echo, as well on their other measures as on that great and all important measure, without which I readily admit all the rest would be of no avail; and which, whenever it takes effect, as I trust it will after no very long delay, if the House of Commons are true and consistent, if the people are orderly and quiet, and if the Government are firm and persevering, will consolidate and confirm all the other blessings of the British Constitution. Sir, I have hitherto avoided saying anything, and in what remains I shall dwell as shortly as possible on what has passed in another place. It cannot be my interest, I am sure it is not my wish, to speak harshly of the members of the other House of Parliament. There are among them many friends of mine who I conceive have taken a most unfortunate and mistaken view of 385 this great subject, but who I am sure are as incapable of giving a dishonest or corrupt vote on any question, as I hope I am myself, and the same credit which I claim on such points I am willing, and am indeed bound, to give to all who composed the recent majority of the House of Lords. But one above all by far the most able, the most eloquent, and the most enlightened, of all the opponents of the measure—I am sure, no one will mistake the individual to whom I allude; [The noble Lord was understood to mean the Earl of Harrowby] one to whom I am attached not more by the ties of family connection than by those of the greatest respect and affection; a man distinguished by every thing most amiable in private, by every thing most honourable and disinterested in public life. He, I am sure, has on this, as on every other occasion, been swayed by the purest and most patriotic motives; by the conviction that in the course he was taking he was consulting that which has been the sole object of his political career—the best interests of his country. I say this of my noble friend; and I am sure I am not disposed to speak disrespectfully or unkindly of those who coincided with him in opinion. And I trust those of my hon. friends who may follow me will allow me respectfully to urge my earnest request that they will exercise the same forbearance. I have practised this forbearance in the Resolution with which I shall conclude, to the utmost extent that I could, consistently with what is due to my own opinion—consistently with what is due to the recorded sense of this House—consistently with what is due to the pledge which I have given to my constituents—and, what is still more important—consistently with what I conceive to be our duty to the peace and safety of the country. I will now conclude by moving this Resolution:—" That while this House deeply laments the recent fate of a Bill for reforming the Representation, in favour of which the opinion of the country stands unequivocally pronounced, and which has been matured by discussions the most, anxious and laborious, it feels called upon to re-assert its firm adherence to the principle and leading provisions of that great, measure; and to express its unabated confidence in the integrity, perseverance, and ability of those Ministers who, in introducing and conducting it, have so well consulted the best interests of the country."
§ Mr. Charles Dundas
said, he felt highly gratified in seconding the Resolution proposed by his noble friend, and in having an opportunity to express his undiminished attachment to the cause of Reform. He hoped that the House would, on the present occasion, come forward in that decided manner which would insure the tranquillity of the country, now so much endangered. He likewise hoped that Government would quiet the mind of the country by making that, night an explicit declaration, that they were determined to persevere in endeavouring to carry that measure which had been so unhappily defeated.
said, that in rising to offer some observations on what had fallen from the noble Lord on the other side of the House, and on the Motion with which the noble Lord had concluded, he felt it to be his duty, at the moment of such great and natural excitement as the present, to adopt the example of the noble Lord, so far as to avoid any topic which might lead to ill-will, or might promote irritation. However he might differ on other points with the noble Lord, he fully concurred with him in abstaining from all expressions indicative of violent feelings, as the noble Lord had done, with regard to the House of Peers; and he congratulated the House that they could discuss the existing state of affairs without denying to the House of Peers those rights which, if they were disputed, they should be most ready to vindicate for themselves. He rose to follow the noble Lord, deeply impressed with the necessity of expressing his opinions in such a manner as would avoid any irritation or ill-will. The noble Lord had told them, that in propounding this Motion he rose under a deep sense of the duty which he owed to himself and to his constituents. He could assure the House and the noble Lord, that he also rose under as deep a sense of what he owed to his own intelligent constituents, the members of the University of Cambridge, that he was discharging a conscientious duty, both to himself and to his constituents, in opposing the resolution of the noble Lord. He was quite sure, that after the proceedings which had recently taken place in that House, the noble Lord would not expect him to concur in a resolution which tended to stultify all the proceedings which Gentlemen on his side of the House had taken against this Bill. If, in opposing this Motion, he forebore to enter into the 387 arguments which justified the Opposition in opposing the views of Government, not only on the Reform Bill, but on other measures which they had brought forward—commercial, political, and financial—he was sure that the House would give him credit for so abstaining only under the idea that he was influenced by the paramount consideration of not doing any thing which could promote an angry feeling, or add to the excitement which at present prevailed. As he had already expressed an opinion on all the topics included in the speech of the noble Lord, he trusted that, the House would not deem it necessary for him to repeat the arguments which he had urged on former occasions to vindicate his sincerity on this subject. The noble Lord thought that this Resolution was necessary to vindicate the consistency of the House of Commons. Now he wished to know in what manner the consistency of the House would be vindicated by such a resolution? Had not the House already declared its opinion by pissing the Bill, and was it to be told, after the Bill was lost in the other House of Parliament, that it was necessary that the House should, to establish a principle which it had already fully vindicated, come to another resolution, declaring that it had not departed from it? It was not necessary that on occasions where the two Houses of Parliament differed, each should come to a separate conclusion afterwards. Indeed, he knew of no process which would more inevitably lead to a collision between the two branches of the Legislature. On the contrary, he thought that such a proceeding would lead to perpetual dissensions between the two Houses of Parliament. When the noble Lord called upon Members of the House of Commons to couple their opinions on the Reform Bill with a vote of unabated confidence in his Majesty's Government, a tempting opportunity was presented to him, but he would not be betrayed by it into a specification of the different arguments which induced him to resist such a motion. He would only appeal to such measures as had been introduced into Parliament since Earl Grey had come to the head of affairs, and he would ask the noble member for Devonshire himself, whether, after the manner in which the noble Earl's measures had been opposed in that House, and after the many alterations which had been made in them, in consequence of the ob- 388 jections of himself and the hon. friends around him, he (Mr. Goulburn) could be accused of any disposition to excite irritation, when he stated that he merely intended to meet this Resolution with a negative? The noble Lord had introduced into this debate the grounds on which he thought that the House ought to place confidence in his Majesty's present Government. Those grounds were limited to three distinct points—first, the financial operations of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp); secondly, to the new Game law; and, thirdly, to the disinterested conduct of the Lord Chancellor. With regard to the first—namely, the relief which had been afforded to the people by the remission of taxes on two articles—the noble Lord seemed not to be aware that the House was not in a condition to judge whether the reduction of the duty would produce a benefit to the people commensurate to the injury of the revenue: for the candle-duty, be it observed, was still in full operation; and whilst that was the case, it was a little too hard to call on the House of Commons for a vote of confidence in his Majesty's Ministers for the great efforts which they had made to reduce taxation. As to the other tax which was stated to be repealed, and which was still in full operation, it would be well if the House would recollect the condition in which that tax was still placed. The public had made a large sacrifice of revenue, little short of 1,000,000l. per annum, yet, as far as could be judged from the diminution in the price of the commodity taxed, the advantage to the people was only 250,000l. How, then, could the noble Lord be justified in calling for the confidence of the House of Commons upon two measures of finance, one of which had not come into operation, and of which the other, as far as it, had come into operation, was not much calculated to excite the admiration of the country for the taste of those who presided over the repeal of taxation. With regard to the Game laws, he should prefer seeing how that measure acted when it came into operation, before he gave any opinion upon it; and as its operation would not commence for some time to come, he did not think that the confidence of the House of Commons could be fairly claimed upon that score. But then the noble Lord assumed the conduct of the Lord Chancellor, who was only a part of the Administration, 389 was a ground for the confidence of the House in the conduct of the whole Administration. He did not intend to say any thing disrespectful of Lord Brougham. There was no man who entertained a higher opinion than he did of that noble Lord's talents; but when he looked on the conduct of so high an officer of the State, it was not enough to say that, he had disposed of all the causes in his Court, and had got rid of all the appeals left by his predecessors. The decisions of tribunals of this kind required the sanctions of age, and if, after the lapse of fifty years, the decisions of the noble Lord should meet with the same respect as those of another noble and learned Lord, who had already occupied the Woolsack for nearly that time—if, at the end of that time, the noble and learned Lord should appeal to him for his approbation, then he would be prepared to say to the noble Lord, and the country would be prepared to say with him, "We will now give you that meed of approbation which we withhold from you in this the first year of your holding office." The noble Lord had then alluded to the disinterested conduct of the Lord Chancellor in his measure for reforming the Court of Chancery. He (Mr. Goulburn) did not mean to question Lord Brougham's contempt for pecuniary consideration; but, if he was not much mistaken, he recollected that when his measure was first opened to the House of Commons, the amount of patronage and fees in bankruptcy was to be made up to the noble Lord in the amount of his retiring pension. He was well aware that since that time the noble Lord at the head of the Exchequer had told the House that the Lord Chancellor had requested that the, question of compensation should be deferred till the Bankruptcy bill was passed. For a long series of years past, he had had the honour of a personal acquaintance with the noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp). In the course of that time they had often differed politically—never, he believed, personally. He was, therefore, sure that the noble Lord (Ebrington) would excuse him when he stated, that, on grounds of personal friendship he could not consent to this vote of confidence in the Administration of his noble, friend. He saw nothing in the measures which this Administration had either proposed or carried which would justify such confidence. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Ebrington) had 390 called the attention of the House to that part of the united kingdom for whose safety he and his late colleagues in the Government had made such sacrifices. Now, if the advice of the noble Lord was, that Government should abandon that inflexible impartiality which ought to distinguish all Governments, and if his opinion were, that the Government should throw itself entirely into the hands of one party in that country, he would tell the noble Lord, that if that advice were followed it would not only deprive the Government of that confidence which it enjoyed at present, but would also involve the country in consequences most disastrous to its prosperity and glory. He would not trespass further on the attention of the House; he would only say, that as he could not concur in this Resolution, he would meet it with his most unequivocal resistance.
§ Mr. Macaulay
I doubt, Sir, whether any person who had merely heard the speech of the right hon. member for the University of Cambridge, would have been able to conjecture what the question is which we are discussing, and what the occasion on which we are assembled. For myself I can with perfect sincerity declare, that, never in the whole course of my life did I feel my mind oppressed by so deep and solemn a sense of responsibility as at the present moment. I firmly believe that the country is now in danger of calamities greater than ever threatened it, from domestic misgovernment or from foreign hostility. The danger is no less than this—that there may be a complete alienation of the people from their rulers. To soothe the public mind, to reconcile the people to the delay—the short delay—which must intervene before their wishes can be legitimately gratified; and, in the mean time, to avert civil discord, and to uphold the authority of law—these are, I conceive, the objects of my noble friend, the member for Devonshire—these ought, at the present, crisis, to be the objects of every honest Englishman. They are objects which will assuredly be attained, if we rise to this great occasion—if we take our stand in the place which the Constitution has assigned to us—if we employ, with becoming firmness and dignity, the powers which belong to us as trustees of the nation, and as advisers of the Throne. Sir, the Resolution of my noble friend consists of two parts. He calls upon us to declare our undiminished attachment to the prin- 391 ciples of the Reform Bill, and also our undiminished confidence in his Majesty's Ministers. I consider these two declarations as identical. The Question of Reform is, in my opinion, of such paramount importance, that, approving the principles of the Ministerial Bill, I must think the Ministers who have brought that Bill forward, although I may differ from them on some minor points, entitled to the strongest support of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman, the member for the University of Cambridge, has attempted to divert the course of the Debate to questions comparatively unimportant. He has said much about the coal-duty, about the candle-duty, about the budget of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. On most of the points to which he has referred, it would be easy for me, were I so inclined, to defend the Ministers; and where I could not defend them, I should find it easy to recriminate on those who preceded them. The right hon. member for the University of Cambridge has taunted the Ministers with the defeat which their measure respecting the timber trade sustained in the last Parliament. I might, perhaps, at a more convenient season, be tempted to inquire whether that defeat was more disgraceful to them or to their predecessors. I might, perhaps, be tempted to ask the right hon. Gentleman, whether, if he had not been treated, while in office, with more fairness than he has shown while in opposition, it would have been in his power to carry his best measure—the Beer Bill? He has accused the Ministers of bringing forward financial measures, and then withdrawing those measures. Did not he bring forward, during the Session of 1830, a plan respecting the sugar duties? and was not that plan withdrawn? But, Sir, this is mere trifling. I will not be seduced from the matter in hand by the right hon. Gentleman's example. At the present moment I can see only one question in the State—the Question of Reform; only two parties—the friends of the Bill and its enemies. It is not my intention, Sir, again to discuss the merits of the Reform Bill. The principle of that Bill received the approbation of the late House of Commons after ten nights' discussion; and the Bill, as it now stands, after a long and most laborious investigation, passed the present House of Commons by a majority which was nearly half as large again as the minority. This was 392 a little more than a fortnight ago. Nothing has since occurred to change our opinion. The justice of the case is unaltered. The public enthusiasm is undiminished. Old Sarum has grown no larger, Manchester has grown no smaller. In addressing this House, therefore, I am entitled to assume that the Bill is in itself a good Bill. If so, ought we to abandon it merely because the Lords have rejected it? We ought to respect the lawful privileges of their House; but we ought also to assert our own. We are constitutionally as independent of their Lordships, as their Lordships are of us; we have precisely as good a right to adhere to our opinion as they have to dissent from it. In speaking of their decision, I will attempt to follow that example of moderation which was so judiciously set by my noble friend, the member for Devonshire; I will only say, that I do not think them more competent to form a correct judgment on a political question than we are. It is certain that on all the most important points on which the two Houses have for a long time past differed, the Lords have at length come over to the opinion of the Commons. I am therefore entitled to say, that with respect to all those points, the Peers themselves being judges, the House of Commons was in the right and the House of Lords in the wrong. It was thus with respect to the Slave-trade—it was thus with respect to Catholic Emancipation—it was thus with several other important Questions. I, therefore, cannot think that we ought, on the present occasion, to surrender our judgment to those who have acknowledged that, on former occasions of the same kind, we have judged more correctly than they have. Then again, Sir, I cannot forget how the majority and the minority in this House were composed; I cannot forget that the majority contained almost all those Gentlemen who are returned by large bodies of electors. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say, that there were single Members of the majority who had more constituents than the whole minority put together. I speak advisedly and seriously; I believe that the number of freeholders of Yorkshire exceeds that of all the electors who return the Opposition. I cannot with propriety comment here on any reports which may have been circulated concerning the majority and minority in the House of Lords. I may, however, mention these notoriously historical facts—that during 393 the last forty years the powers of the executive Government have been, almost without intermission, exercised by a party opposed to Reform; and that a very great number of Peers have been created, and all the present Bishops raised to the bench during those years. On this Question, therefore, while I feel more than usual respect for the judgment of the House of Commons, I feel less than usual respect for the judgment of the House of Lords. Our decision is the decision of the nation; the decision of their Lordships can scarcely be considered as the decision even of that class from which the Peers are generally selected, and of which they may be considered as virtual Representatives—the great landed gentlemen of England. I think, therefore, that we ought to adhere to our opinion concerning the Reform Bill. The next question is this—ought we to make a formal declaration that we adhere to our opinion? I think that we ought to make such a declaration; and I am sure that we cannot make it in more temperate or more constitutional terms than those which my noble friend asks us to adopt. I support the Resolution which he has proposed with all my heart and soul; I support it as a friend to Reform; but I support it still more as a friend to law, to property, to social order. No observant and unprejudiced man can look forward without great alarm to the effects which the recent decision of the Lords may possibly produce. I do not predict—I do not expect—open, armed insurrection. What I apprehend is this— that the people may engage in a silent, but extensive and persevering war against the law. What I apprehend is, that England may exhibit the same spectacle which Ireland exhibited three years ago—agitators stronger than the Magistrate, associations stronger than the law, a Government powerful enough to be hated, and not powerful enough to be feared, a people bent on indemnifying themselves by illegal excesses for the want of legal privileges. I fear, that we may before long see the tribunals defied, the tax-gatherer resisted, public credit shaken, property insecure, the whole frame of society hastening to dissolution. It is easy to say—"Be bold —be firm—defy intimidation—let the law have its course—the law is strong enough to put down the seditious." Sir, we have heard this blustering before; and we know in what it ended. It is the blustering of 394 little men whose lot has fallen on a great crisis. Xerxes scourging the winds, Canute commanding the waves to recede from his footstool, were but types of the folly of those who apply the maxims of the Quarter Sessions to the great convulsions of society. The law has no eyes; the law has no hands; the law is nothing—nothing but a piece of paper printed by the King's printer, with the King's arms at the top—till public opinion breathes the breath of life into the dead letter. We found this in Ireland. The Catholic Association bearded the Government. The Government resolved to put down the Association. An indictment was brought against my hon. and learned friend, the member for Kerry. The Grand Jury threw it out. Parliament met. The Lords Commissioners came down with a speech recommending the suppression of the self-constituted legislature of Dublin. A bill was brought in; it passed both Houses by large majorities; it received the Royal assent. And what effect did it produce? Exactly as much as that old Act of Queen Elizabeth, still unrepealed, by which it is provided that every man who, without a special exemption, shall eat meat on Fridays and Saturdays, shall pay a fine of 20s. or go to prison for a mouth. Not only was the Association not destroyed; its power was not for one day suspended; it flourished and waxed strong under the law which had been made for the purpose of annihilating it. The elections of 1826 —the Clare election two years later—proved the folly of those who think that nations are governed by wax and parchment—and, at length, in the close of 1828, the Government had only one plain alternative before it—concession or civil war. Sir, I firmly believe, that if the people of England shall lose all hope of carrying the Reform Bill by constitutional means, they will forthwith begin to offer to the Government the same kind of resistance which was offered to the late Government, three years ago, by the people of Ireland—a resistance by no means amounting to rebellion—a resistance rarely amounting to any crime defined by the law—but a resistance, nevertheless which is quite sufficient to obstruct the course of justice, to disturb the pursuits of industry, and to prevent the accumulation of wealth. And is not this a danger which we ought to fear? And is not this a danger which we are bound, by all means in our power, to 395 avert? And who are those who taunt us for yielding to intimidation? Who are those who affect to speak with contempt of associations, and agitators, and public meetings? Even the very persons who, scarce two years ago, gave up to associations, and agitators, and public meetings, their boasted Protestant Constitution, proclaiming all the time that they saw the evils of Catholic Emancipation as strongly as ever. Surely—surely—the note of defiance which is now so loudly sounded in our ears, proceeds with a peculiarly bad grace from men whose highest glory it is that they abased themselves to the dust before a people whom their policy had driven to madness—from men the proudest moment of whose lives was that in which they appeared in the character of persecutors scared into toleration. Do they mean to indemnify themselves for the humiliation of quailing before the people of Ireland by trampling on the people of England? If so, they deceive themselves. The case of Ireland, though a strong one, was by no means so strong a case as that with which we have now to deal. The Government, in its struggle with the Catholics of Ireland, had Great Britain at its back. Whom will it have at its back in the struggle with the Reformers of Great Britain? I know only two ways in which societies can permanently be governed—by public opinion, and by the sword. A Government having at its command the armies, the fleets, and the revenues of Great Britain, might possibly hold Ireland by the sword. So Oliver Cromwell held Ireland; so William 3rd held it; so Mr. Pitt held it; so the Duke of Wellington might perhaps have held it. But to govern Great Britain by the sword—so wild a thought has never, I will venture to say, occurred to any public man of any party; and, if any man were frantic enough to make the attempt, he would find, before three days had expired, that there is no better sword than that which is fashioned out of a ploughshare. But, if not by the sword, how is the country to be governed? I understand how the peace is kept at New York. It is by the assent and support of the people. I understand also how the peace is kept at Milan. It is by the bayonets of the Austrian soldiers. But how the peace is to be kept when you have neither the popular assent nor the military force—how the peace is to be kept in England by a Government acting on 396 the principles of the present Opposition, I do not understand. There is in truth a great anomaly in the relation between the English people and their Government. Our institutions are either too popular or not popular enough. The people have not sufficient power in making the laws; but they have quite sufficient power to impede the execution of the laws once made. The Legislature is almost entirely aristocratical; the machinery by which the decrees of the Legislature are carried into effect, is almost entirely popular; and, therefore, we constantly see all the power which ought to execute the law, employed to counteract the law. Thus, for example, with a criminal code which carries its rigour to the length of atrocity, we have a criminal judicature which often carries its lenity to the length of perjury. Our law of libel is the most absurdly severe that ever existed—so absurdly severe that, if it were carried into full effect, it would be much more oppressive than a censorship. And yet, with this severe law of libel, we have a Press which practically is as free as the air. In 1819 the Ministers complained of the alarming increase of seditious and blasphemous publications. They proposed a law of great rigour to stop the growth of the evil; and they obtained their law. It was enacted, that the publisher of a seditious libel might, on a second conviction, be banished, and that if he should return from banishment, he might be transported. How often was this law put in force? Not once. Last year we repealed it; but it was already dead, or rather it was dead born. It was obsolete before le Roi le veut had been pronounced over it. For any effect which it produced it might as well have been in the Code Napoleon as in the English Statute-book. And why did the Government, having solicited and procured so sharp and weighty a weapon, straightway hang it up to rust? Was there less sedition, were there fewer libels, after the passing of the Act than before it? Sir, the very next year was the year 1820—the year of the Bill of Pains arid Penalties—the very year when the public mind was most excited—the very year when the public Press was most scurrilous. Why then did not the Ministers use their new law? Because they durst not; because they could not. They had obtained it with ease; for in obtaining it they had to deal with a subservient Parliament. They could not execute it; 397 for in executing it they would have had to deal with a refractory people. These are instances of the difficulty of carrying the law into effect when the people are inclined to thwart their rulers. The great anomaly, or, to speak inure properly, the threat evil which I have described, would. I believe, be removed by the Reform Bill. That Bill would establish perfect harmony between the people and the Legislature. It would give a fair share in the making of laws to those without whose co-operation laws are mere waste paper. Under a reformed system we should not see, as we now often see, the nation repealing Acts of Parliament as fast as we and the Lords can pass them. As I believe that the Reform Bill would produce this blessed and salutary concord, so I fear that the rejection of the Reform Bill, if that rejection should be considered as final, will aggravate the evil which I have been describing to an unprecedented, to a terrible extent. To all the laws which might be passed for the collection of the revenue, or for the prevention of sedition, the people would oppose the same kind of resistance by means of which they have succeeded in mitigating—I might say in abrogating—the law of libel. There would be so many offenders, that the Government would scarcely know at, whom to aim its blow. Every offender would have so many accomplices and protectors, that the blow would almost always miss the aim. The veto of the people—a veto not pronounced in set form, like that of the Unman Tribunes, but quite as effectual as that of the Roman Tribunes—for the purpose of impeding public measures, would meet the Government at every turn. The Administration would be unable to preserve order at home, or to uphold the national honour abroad: and at length men who are now moderate, who now think of revolution with horror, would begin to wish that the lingering agony of the Slate might be terminated by one fierce, sharp, decisive crisis. Is there a way of escape from these calamities? I believe, that there is. I believe that if we do our duty—if we, give the people reason to believe, that the accomplishment of their wishes is only deferred— if we declare our undiminished attachment to the Reform Bill, and our resolution to support no Minister who will not support that Bill, we shall avert the fearful disasters which impend over the country. There is danger that, at this conjuncture, 398 men of more zeal than wisdom may obtain a fatal influence over the public mind. With these men will be joined others, who have neither zeal nor wisdom—common barrators in politics—dregs of society which, in times of violent, agitation, are tossed up from the bottom to the top, and which, in quiet times, sink again from the top to then natural place at the bottom. To these men nothing is so hateful as the prospect of a reconciliation between the orders of the Slate. A crisis like that, which now makes every honest citizen sad and anxious, fills these men with joy, and with a detestable hope. And how is it that such men, formed by nature and education to be objects of mere contempt, can ever inspire terror? How is it that such men, without, talents or acquirements sufficient for the management of a vestry, sometimes become dangerous to great empires? The secret of their power lies in the indolence or faithlessness of those who ought to take the lead in the redress of public grievances. The whole history of low traders in sedition is contained in that fine old Hebrew fable, which we have all read in the Book of judges. The trees meet to choose a king. The vine, and the fig-tree, and the olive-tree, decline the office. Then it is that the sovereignty of the forest devolves upon the bramble: then it is that from a base and noxious shrub goes forth the fire which devours the cedars of Lebanon. Let us be instructed. If we are afraid of Political Unions and Reform Associations, let the House of Commons become the chief point of political union; let the House of Commons be the great Reform association. If we are afraid that the people may attempt to accomplish their wishes by unlawful means, let us give them a solemn pledge that we will use in their cause all our high and ancient privileges—so often victorious in old conflicts with tyranny—those privileges which our ancestors invoked, not in vain, on the day when a faithless King filled our House with his guards, took his seat, Sir, on your chair, and saw your predecessor kneeling on the floor before him. The Constitution of England, thank God, is not one of those Constitutions which are past, all repair, and which must, for the public welfare, be utterly destroyed. It has a decayed part; but it has also a sound and precious part. It requires purification; but it contains within itself the means by which that purification may be effected. 399 We read that in old times, when the villeins were driven to revolt by oppression, when the castles of the nobility were burned to the ground—when the warehouses of London were pillaged—when a hundred thousand insurgents appeared in arms on Black heath—when a foul murder perpetrated in their presence had raised their passions to madness—when they were looking round for some captain to succeed and avenge him whom they had lost—just then, before Hob Miller, or Tom Carter, or Jack Straw, could place himself at their head, the King rode up to them and exclaimed, "I will be your leader"—and at once the infuriated multitude laid down their arms, submitted to his guidance—dispersed at his command. Herein let us imitate him. Our countrymen are, I fear, at this moment, but too much disposed to lend a credulous ear to selfish impostors. Let us say to them, "We are your leaders—we, your own House of Commons—we, the constitutional interpreters of your wishes—the knights of forty English shires, the citizens and burgesses of all your largest towns. Our lawful power shall be firmly exerted to the utmost in your cause; and our lawful power is such, that when firmly exerted in your cause it must finally prevail." This tone it is our interest and our duty to take. The circumstances admit of no delay. Is there one among us who is not looking with breathless anxiety for the next tidings which may arrive from the remote parts of the kingdom? Even while I speak the moments are passing away—the irrevocable moments pregnant with the destiny of a great people. The country is in danger; it maybe saved; we can save it. This is the way—this is the time. In our hands are the issues of great good and great evil—the issues of the life and death of the State. May the result of our deliberations be the repose and prosperity of that noble country which is entitled to all our love; and for the safety of which we are answerable to our consciences, to the memory of future ages, to the Judge of all hearts!
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
"Sir, I cannot rise to address you, without first offering my humble tribute of applause to the eloquent and masterly speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just concluded. I am sure that all in this House will agree with me in saying, that that hon. and learned Gentleman cannot rise to ad- 400 dress you without delivering a speech that will end in producing the cheers of all around him. It is impossible for him not to extort from even those who disagree from him that sincere tribute of applause which must be expected to be drawn forth by eloquence, by flights of fancy, and by illustrations of reasoning such as have flowed from the hon. and learned Gentleman. His speech has produced such general, as well as such loud and triumphant expressions of applause, that if it were not for the political arguments he has used, both sides of the House might equally attribute to themselves the expression of them. I feel, therefore, Sir, that I am labouring under a disadvantage in rising to speak after the hon. and learned Gentleman. I must, however, do so, in order to take the earliest opportunity of expressing my opinion on this Motion. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated, that he would follow the example of moderation set him by the noble Lord; and if he had done so it would have been well; for the noble Lord allowed his principle and his precept to be so intimately mixed with his practice, that, with the exception of one or two accidental words, it did appear to me that no Gentleman on this side of the House could say he had violated his own rules. And when the noble Lord proposed to consider this question in a tone of proper moderation, he turned in a deprecatory style to those around him, and admonished his hon. friends to follow his example. I do not complain that my hon. and learned friend departed from this rule; but I think that those who heard my hon. and learned friend's speech must concur with me in the assertion, that in that powerful eulogy which he poured forth upon the Ministers, in those bursts of eloquence that were responded to by the cheers of all around him, he was forcible, he was eloquent—his speech, in short, had every merit but the merit of moderation. For of all speeches, one less conducive to the production of moderation—less conducive to the production of those conciliatory results which it is the object of all moderate men to attain—one less calculated to allay excitement—to carry the sedative conciliatory consequences that would make this side of the House say to the other, 'We do not agree with you in principles or in results, but let us employ moderation in our discussions'—one less addressed to the purposes of con- 401 ciliation, and one more addressed to the purposes of excitement, I never heard pronounced. It was a speech tending not only to produce excitement and irritation, but unnecessarily tending to produce them, because, in the Resolution of the noble Lord there was nothing to warrant it. The noble Lord said, he would not go into these subjects; but my hon. and learned friend said in fact, though not in words, my only mode is not to adhere to the principles of the Reform Bill, but to travel out of that, and out of the House of Commons, and to enter upon subjects that will not only produce excitement in the House of Commons, but will produce ten times worse excitement out of doors. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said, 'I hope the Government will preserve the peace.' I hope so too; but I must say, that his speech was little calculated to effect that, object. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, 'I hope the Government will be firm.' His language is language calculated to make them firm—firm at least in the pursuit of the object he advocated. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, 'I hope the Government will maintain the laws.' That wish, however, does not seem to be heard in the latter part of his speech, which, as far as was consistent with the forms of Parliament, was, throughout, an excitation to a breach of the laws. Then, says the hon. and learned Gentleman, we have an allegory of the plants meeting to choose a King; and he speaks of the olive and the vine being rejected at that election, and, as he says, the bramble was elected the King. If I were to reverse the parallel I should say, that the calls upon the people who are to make this election, are only calls for misrule, excitation, and peace-breaking. The hon. and learned Gentleman deprecates all this; he deprecates, he revokes, he abjures anything tending to excitement; but in abjuring the thing, he uses expressions that forcibly recall it to the mind, and he eloquently deprecates that which in his arguments he seems most to inculcate. He recommends peace-making. Do the Ministers adopt this peace-making ally? Does the noble Lord at the head of the Government? Does the Attorney General? Does the hon. Member, the Representative of the Secretary for the Home Department? Will they, I say, adopt the peace-making recommendations of the hon. and learned Gentleman on his conciliatory principles? 402 What are those principles? He has told us that there was the Catholic Association in Ireland, and that by violence the Catholics ultimately triumphed, as he says. What, I ask, is the moral of that? What, but that he pronounces a hope for peace, and at the same time gives an instance of successful violence? He tells the people, in fact, not to believe what he says, but to do what the Catholics have done before, and to make a grand fac simile of their Association. My hon. and learned friend, again pursuing the same course of moderation, in terms so as to be within the rules of this House, says, that he does not wish the people to resist the payment of taxes; but, at the same time, he who would not, of course, wish to lead them to erroneous conclusions, has told us what will happen if the Reform Bill is not passed, for he says that the tax-gatherer would be resisted. I should like to have heard from my hon. and learned friend a little correction of the recommendations to that gross misdemeanour—the resistance to the payment of taxes. He does not advise them to do this, but he does not tell them not to do it; he does not condemn it—he leaves it with an unreprehended, but indefinite recommendation. My hon. and learned friend (for such I must call him), pursuing again the same subject, refers to the Press. He says that we cannot control it. He does not, indeed, say to the Press—go on publishing your libels as you have done; but he does not condemn that Press—that seditious Press, which recently recommended to the army mutiny, which recently advised the people to resist the tax-gatherer, and which denied to those who in this, and the other House of Parliament, were opposed to its doctrines, the right to exercise their undoubted privileges as independent Members of the Legislature. He does not, indeed, say to this Press, go on, pursue the same line of conduct; but he comes to a conclusion which is very like it; for he says, 'You cannot control its publications—it has the right to publish, and it will go on publishing.' I do not say, that by this he means to excite the Press to continue these publications; I know he makes a distinction between them; but the people do not, out of doors, comprehend those nice Parliamentary distinctions to which we are accustomed; he does not, indeed, adopt the principle that the Press should go on in these attacks, but he pats the principle 403 on the back, and gives it a negative sort of encouragement. These are the principal topics introduced by my hon. and learned friend in following the noble Lord, for the purpose of proving that he adopted the recommendation of the noble Lord to employ moderation in this discussion. My lion, and learned friend has alluded to the times of violence when a certain King came to this House and extracted from it five or six Members, and he has referred to that act as most unconstitutional. I will put the converse of that proposition, and I will say, that it will be almost as unconstitutional for the King to go to the other House of Parliament, and put twenty or thirty Members into it. Was it violent, was it unconstitutional, to abstract some Members from this House for having voted in a certain way? The question is no sooner put than we receive it with acclamations, affirming that it was most unconstitutional. I follow out the principle, and I boldly assert, that if a Prince of the House of Brunswick puts thirty Members into the other House of Parliament to overrule the proceedings of that House, he will be guilty of an interference as unconstitutional as the violence for which a Prince of the House of Stuart has been so strongly condemned [no, no]. The Gentlemen opposite say, no; so that it appears I have not had the good fortune to convince them of the truth of my opinion. But as there are two sides, though I may not have convinced them, I have convinced myself, that everything I have put forward has been fair and constitutional." His hon. and learned friend, the hon. and learned Member proceeded, did not like the principle of combinations among the people—he did not like the idea of the people of Staffordshire marching to London; but, hating these insurrections, and loving peace, and wishing to keep 100 miles from the mention of Jack Cade's name, he yet could not abstain from referring to a former time, when the operatives marched up to the metropolis against a law which was not so important as the Reform Bill, and he recommended a Prince of the House of Brunswick to put himself at the head of the people. His hon. and learned friend might go back to these distant times if he pleased; but he need not go so far back, for the case of a citizen King putting himself in the hands of the operatives, and joining one of the branches of the Legislature against the other, was still in progress, 404 and still open to any conclusion. The question, he said, was not yet decided whether the citizen King of the Revolution of the year 1831, would be able to carry on the Government without demolishing all the solid, rational, and consistent parts of the French Constitution. It must be admitted, indeed, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had been eloquent, but it must also be admitted that his discretion had been in the inverse ratio of his eloquence. While these topics of the non-payment of taxes were under discussion, the hon. and learned Attorney General was present: if the law was not what the hon. and learned Gentleman had compared it to—a rusty nail, he would set himself in motion. Was it true that this non-payment of taxes had been the subject of discussion? He believed it had; and he was sorry that the doctrine had not been denied by high authority. He should have liked to have heard from the highest source of legal authority—from the highest Judge of the land—something upon this subject. He himself meant to assert, that where there was a conspiracy to refuse the payment of taxes, there was a crime of a higher kind than some of the peace-making Gentlemen opposite imagined. If Gentlemen would but look into the works of Foster, Hale, and other great legal and constitutional writers, they would find that these assemblies to rob the King of money voted by the Parliament were not a bit-by-bit question, almost amounting to a breach of the peace, as it had seemed to be considered in another place. Those men were no lawyers who, if non-payment of taxes was combined with circumstances of conspiracy, would not say, that it was an offence far advanced in the scale towards high treason. He could hardly have imagined there would have been so much said out of doors upon this subject, or he would have come armed with his authorities for this assertion. Did the House know the sort of publications that had been issued on this subject? He had had put into his hands a pamphlet, with a portrait of his noble and learned friend, the Lord Chancellor; it was a bad portrait—but it was a portrait prefixed to his speech on this question. It was right to publish his speech, and the cheaper the rate at which such speeches were circulated, and the more they were ventilated through the country, the better. He complained not that it had been so ventilated, but that a 405 note had been appended to it in such a way, that unless looked at most carefully, it might be taken for part of the speech itself. The note was this—'God grant 'that all this may be right; but, depend on it, that the watchword will now be "pay no taxes.'" He repeated, that unless the sword of the Attorney General was, in fact, the rusty iron it had been compared to (though it had ever and anon been proved a sword sharp enough), these were publications that did require the attention of his hon. and learned friend. He would not say, that the Attorney General would neglect his duty in permitting these publications to go unreprehended and unnoticed; but he would go the length of stating to the Attorney General, that if the language used in that House, bold and unlimited as it might be, by the latitudinarian nature of their forms of debate, was thus permitted to be exceeded out of doors, the law was, indeed, a dead letter. It was quite true, that the British public were not to be governed by the sword—but they were by the laws; and one of those laws was, that the recommendation of peace-breaking, of tumult, of risings against the Government, of non-payment of taxes, was an offence which, by a slight limit alone, was out of the pale of treason. He had now stated briefly the object for which he had risen, which was, to declare that he could not support the Resolution moved by the noble Lord. That Resolution involved two main principles; the first was, the House had full confidence in the present Administration; the next was, the declaration of its continued adhesion to the Reform Bill. He could support neither of these. As to the continued adhesion to the Reform Bill, it must follow that, after the discussions in which he had borne a part in opposition to that Bill, he could not possibly support it, unless he gave way to those risings, those tumults, those excitements, which had been occasioned by it. He could not, therefore, sustain that branch of the Resolution which asserted the propriety of the principle of the Reform Bill. He did not rest there—his opposition to it was strengthened and confirmed by the discussions that had taken place elsewhere; for in those discussions had spoken a "preternatural man" on one side; but he could quote the opinions of that preternatural man—that man whose intellect went out of this world to a certain extent—upon the other side of the 406 question. That preternatural man, whose intellect was not confined inter flamantia mœnia mundi, had written a composition, in which he said that the principle of disfranchisement was one which he did not agree to. The letter to which he referred had been printed in all the papers, though it was said to have been surreptitiously obtained. The noble and learned Lord, in that pamphlet, had said, that if disfranchisement went beyond a certain extent, there must be a compensation. That was, then, one of his principles. In another part he said, alluding to the impurities of the Parliament, that they must be removed bit-by-bit; but now he said, that this alterative course must not be pursued. At that time, however, he had said, "We have the machinery already, let us improve it, if we can, before we break up the machine, and try to form another on a principle, the operations of which must necessarily be unknown." In another part they were recommended not to deal too much in generals, but that course had not been followed on the present occasion, when, twenty-four hours after men had declared their sentiments in one way, they were called on to turn upon their heels and pursue a different course. To expect them to do that was to ask them to expose themselves to ridicule, and to subject to question the sincerity of their own opinions. The noble Lord had paid a most well-deserved compliment to the character, talents, and judgment of a noble Earl in another House, and were the opponents of the Bill in that House to be called on to change their opinion—not because that noble Earl had supported a different view of the question from that which they took—but because they had had the good fortune to have their opinions fully borne out by the eloquent arguments of that noble Earl? Again, the noble Earl at the head of the Government had not always supported a measure of Reform like that which he now brought forward; and yet, though his opinions had not always been the same as they were now, the House were called on to support the latter, without consideration of what were the former opinions of that noble Earl. Why, even the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack—the preternatural Lord Brougham and Vaux—had admitted that the 10l. clause was not a child of his own begetting.
§ Lord Ebrington
rose to order, observing, 407 that it was not fair to allude to the recent speeches in Parliament.
§ The Speaker
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman was out of order in the last allusion he made; and he must feel, that if the House of Commons defended their own privileges from being dealt with by the other House, they could have no right to interfere with the privileges of that House.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
admitted the correction; and, after some remarks on the subject, asserted that it was notorious the noble and learned Lord had asserted that this was not his Bill. There was now a strange unanimity among them on the Bill. The united conscience of the united Cabinet had required only six months to be submitted to the crucible, before there was a perfect amalgamation of all the various opinions composing it; though, within that time, there had existed among them as complete a discrepancy—some of them having been supporters of Mr. Canning, the most decided Anti-reformer that ever lived—as could possibly be. It was too much, however, for them to expect from their opponents the same convenient or conscientious change of opinion. The noble Lord opposite must remember in what manner the noble and learned Lord now on the Woolsack, once in that House, sarcastically eulogised a Cabinet of a tesselated nature, with one row of black and one row of white, and one of a mixed or neutral colour between. The same sort of eulogy would apply to the present united and unanimous Cabinet, composed as it was of violent Reformers, Anti-reformers, and the neutral men of no opinion at all between them. He now came to the call for the adhesion of that House to the Ministry on account of their repeal of the candle and coal duties. With respect to the coal duties, he believed that the repeal would benefit all the people concerned except the purchasers, and that, consequently, an important branch of the revenue had been taken off without an adequate advantage to the public. The noble Lord had spoken too of the candle duties; but he had avoided alluding to the Budget, for it was such a complete wreck, that not a plank was left—not a steamboat could be saved from it. One would suppose from the speech of the noble Lord, that the country had no foreign relations; for with what confidence could any one ask that House to support the Ministry; 408 with regard to their foreign relations? He would not allude to more than two things. The first was that of Belgium? While the Government here was scheduling towns and boroughs in England, there were other persons scheduling fortifications in Belgium. Much was wanted to be explained on that subject. Of Portugal not one word had been said, and as to Greece, one would think that there had been no such country since the time of Miltiades. He asserted that Portugal had been sacrificed to France, that the interests of our old ally had been sacrificed to those of our old enemy, and had been sacrificed in the most wanton manner. He had thus briefly stated his reasons for not placing confidence in his Majesty's present Ministers. He had forgotten to mention one subject, namely, that of the Game Bill, which the noble Lord had added by way of postscript to his speech. He thought it was premature in the noble Lord to give them credit for that measure, as a wise and sound part of the legislation of the Government, for there bad not yet been time to observe its operation. On the whole he thought this Resolution unnecessary. If the Government meant to renew the Bill, why did they not do it at once? [Mr. Hume, "They will"]. He was not before aware that the hon. Member knew so well the secrets of his Majesty's Government as to speak in that manner of their intentions. He had stated his own sentiments on this question, and he believed that those around him entertained sentiments of a similar nature. The noble Lord had done what he could to conciliate their favourable opinions and secure their votes, by the manner in which he had brought the question forward; but excellent as the noble Lord's manner was, it would not make him adopt the Motion.
said, that they lately inquired what the Lords would do? We have now to ask what ought the House—what ought the Minister—and (it is the most important interrogatory) what will the people do? First, then, what ought the House to do? Shall it transfer its confidence from the Government to their opponents—from those who may be well accounted the parents of Reform, to those who would affect to rock, and toss, and dandle it with the land with which they would have strangled it in its birth? Try them not by their professions—but by their proceedings; by 409 their deeds—and not by their phrases. Let us look for a moment back—the retrospect, may be traversed with a glance. Much of the mystery of Toryism may be comprised in a single word. Potent, and comprehensive name, famous in the topography of corruption, renowned and ever-memorable East Retford! with what a ready articulation it drops from the tongue; but what a train of recollections and of anticipations it lets into the mind. It recals occasions lost—opportunity madly and sinfully thrown away—the noblest game played with the falsest hand. Warning was given to pride—admonition to power—remonstrance was addressed to infatuation. Vainly did reason, justice, policy—vainly did Huskisson adjure them. Then it was, that the extremities to which we have arrived were foretold—then it was that the Sybil was the first time dismissed—then it was, that they were told to listen to the mutterings, and to mark the flashes of that cloud which had even then begun to overspread the political horizon, and which was mistaken for the vulgar smoke by which the factories of Manchester and of Birmingham were overhung—then it was, that a clue was afforded to the real feelings of those whose sincerity is so elaborate, and whose frankness is so ostentatious; and the means were afforded of plucking the masque from fraud—of uncloaking imposture—and of disrobing disingenuousness of its disguise. You that affect to be advocates of Reform now, what did you do then? In reply to all your promises, professions, and all your vehement, protestations in favour of that vague and indefinite thing which you call Reform, it is but necessary to whisper that East Retford in your ears, which remorse should sculpture in your hearts. He would pass to the second great epoch in the annals of Toryism. The great Captain—he who seemed, like the Roman Conqueror, to have set up the statue of victory in the Senate House, and to have overshadowed his Administration with the amplitude of its wings, uttered a single-minded sentence, and the whole fabric of his power, having no base in the public confidence, left not a wreck behind. England swept the Ministers away. The King called to his councils a man who had given a pledge to Reform in his youth, and was resolved to redeem it in his maturer age. Lord Grey selected as his delegate a nobleman whose whole life was in 410 conformity with the principles which are inculcated by his imperishable name. It required some of the imperturbable calm which results from a just tenacity to an honourable purpose, to have stood unmoved amidst the bursts of alternating anger and of derision, with which his un-impassioned and fearless expositions were announced. What the Treasury scoffed at, the English people hailed—with a boldness that required no ordinary intrepidity of asseveration; it was averred that the nation did not desire Reform; to this assertion the Ministers determined to give a practical refutation. The King went down, amidst the acclamations of his people, to his Parliament, and to vindicate the rights of the one he dissolved the other. There was outcry, and clamour, and vociferation, and then came the booming of the cannon, which was but the precursors of that voice of thunder that called from one extremity of the island to the other. The elections came. England, from her hustings, shouted for Reform. There we again assembled. We were then told that popular phrenzy had succeeded to public apathy, and that the people, who before were lethargic, were driven mad. We were told too, as a matter of reproach, that we were pledged. Pledged! Is it a crime in those who have covenanted to discharge their trust, to declare it? And by whom was the objection urged? By many whose political being is breathed into them by those who made them according to their own images—by men, who cannot be true to England without being false to friendship, and must elect between perfidy to their patrons and treason to their country. He should pass over the several incidents that marked the progress of the Bill. It was, at least, carried in this House with every circumstance of triumph. It went up, as a message from the people, to the Lords, and by the Lords it was contumeliously repudiated. In the Debates in that House, and in the Debates in this, it was remarkable that not one of all those who professed to be converts to Reform, of all the venerable neophytes upon whom a new light had suddenly and miraculously broken, there was not one who came forward, he would not say with a specific plan, but even with a mere outline or sketch for the correction of the abuses which they seemed to think it a sufficient act of virtue, without any effort at amendment, to deplore; and in 411 such men how could the friends of Reform repose a trust? Contrast their conduct with that of Earl Grey, who had brought forward in 1831, the very project of Reform which he had proposed in 1797 [cries of "No, no!]. He repeated it— the plan of Earl Grey in 1797, contained the disfranchisement of boroughs, the household qualification, the increase of county Members, and even the division of counties. His plan was not fortuitously conceived and abortively delivered, but had long abided in his mind, and was produced—fully and symmetrically formed. He (Mr. Sheil) rejected with bitter scorn the insinuation that Earl Grey had resorted to Reform in order to sustain the weakness and decrepitude of his Government. He had availed himself of the first opportunity which was afforded him to bring forward the measure to which he was, from his earliest political life enthusiastically devoted. In him the House should confide. The next question was—what the Minister should do? He should not leave the helm in the storm; and though the wave should wash over the ship, he should cling to the wheel. He should act with vigour and firmness. His patronage should not be bestowed where it would be requited with perfidy; the mitre should not be planted on any Iscariot brow [cries of "oh, oh"]. He knew not what recollections that phrase revived in the minds of those Gentlemen who sent out a muttering negative. He was innocent of any unpleasant reminiscences. The advice he would give to the Minister would be this—"Let him be true to the people and the people would not be false to him."Still in thy right hand carry gentle peaceTo silence envious tongues, Be just, and fear not;Let all the end? thou aim'st at be thy country's,Thy God's and truth's; then if thou fall'st, Oh! Cromwell,Thou fall'st a blessed martyr.He had thus suggested what, in his opinion, the Minister should do. The next question was—what will the people do? He, perhaps, might be allowed to have some knowledge of his own countrymen; and if he were asked, what would Ireland do? He should reply, that which she has done before!—that in spite of all incentives and temptations, she would maintain the peace, and with the olive-branch in her hand would be victorious. Ireland would give to England not only aid, but the benefit of her former example. There 412 would, in Ireland, be no violation of law—no outrage—no insurrection—but a firm, consolidated combination for the attainment of liberty. What, then, would the English people do? They would also maintain the peace, because they knew that their strength lay in legitimate and cordial union. If the people's wishes were disregarded, what would be the result? From every district of this great country a voice would come, to which an insensible ear could not long, with impunity, be turned. And from whence would this demand come? Would it come from itinerant agitators—from disseminators of discord—from traffickers in sedition? No! United, confederated, resolved—indomitable, irresistible England would demand that her Constitution should be given back. To that demand would the Lords be deaf? The first wave had broken on the ramparts that were opposed to it—it would only recede to collect its might, and the second would roll on with a more fearful shock, and a more imperious surge. The Lords would have too much regard for their interests and for their duty to oppose the unanimous will of England, or to expose the coronet and the mitre to be blown off in the hurricane of the popular passions. We should hear no more of the privileges of Dukes and Marquisses to vote by proxy in this House; and "vested rights" in Gatton and in Old Sarum would excite but little respect. He had as much respect for vested rights as any man; but if any incompatibility existed between what was called, by a misnomer the most monstrous, the vested rights of this Duke and that Marquis, and the sacred, the immemorial right of the English people to be fully, freely, and fairly represented in the Commons House of Parliament, he would not say that he would merely give a preponderance in the balance to the prerogative that belonged to the majesty of the people, but he would fling every other regard as dust out of the scales, and disdain to weigh them against the franchise which had come to us from our ancestors—which had been won in so many a field of glorious victory, and had dropped to us from so many a martyr scaffold, and which, with the blessing of God, and the aid of their own virtuous determination, would be transmitted by the English people, renovated and confirmed, to the remotest posterity.
§ Sir George Murray
would not attempt 413 to pursue the hon. Gentleman in his ambitious flights of eloquence, not merely because they were not exactly to his taste, but because he confessed himself incompetent to such grandiloquent elevations, which left, poor plodding reason and sober judgment far below. He certainly, however, could not withhold his commendations from the noble Lord whose motion was now under discussion, in consequence of the calm and considerate view which he had taken of the events which had induced him to make that Motion, though, at the same time, he must say that he did not concur in its propriety. In saying this, he did not mean to deny that the country was in a state of considerable excitement, but it was by no means in a state to warrant its being said, that the present was a convulsive crisis. It had been said by an hon. Member, that the safety of the empire depended on the vote of that night; but he must express his hopes that the empire was fixed on much too solid a basis to depend on the mode in which that vote might be carried. The objects of the noble Lord's proposition were two—first, to pledge the House to the principles of the Bill which was lately sent to the Upper House; and the other was to elicit from them an expression of confidence in his Majesty's Ministers. Now it seemed to him that there was no pressing necessity for the House to comply with the first object of this proposition; for the Refrom Bill had only very lately been sent to the Upper House with a majority of 109 in its favour; and why should there be any necessity for so soon expressing their sentiments again upon that Bill? The Upper House had, with great, propriety, discussed that measure—for it had as much right, to deliberate upon it as the House of Commons had—and, from what had been said of those rights and privileges by the noble Lord in bringing forward his Motion, he certainly did not consider it, as meant, to convey a vote of censure on the Upper House for the course which had been pursued with respect to the Bill. He should, upon these grounds, object to the first part of the noble Lord's proposition; for he was of opinion that it was not called for; nor was it right to pass a vote of censure on the other House of Parliament. The noble Lord had also alluded to the rights of the House of Commons; but, as they were not culled in question, there, was no necessity for them 414 to pass any such resolution as that under consideration, in assertion of those rights. The next object which was proposed to be attained by this resolution was an expression of the confidence of the House in Ins Majesty's Ministers. The noble Lord on the other side of the House (Lord Althorp) had once done him the honour to say, that one of his faults was too great a degree of independence of constituents, and had at the same tune expressed a wish that, he had a greater body of constituents, and was somewhat more dependent upon them. He must first observe, that he had ever exercised the independence in that House which was allowed to him by his constituents according to a conscientious view of his duty; and when the last Administration was dismissed, he saw the noble Lord at the head of the Government and his colleagues installed in office. Though he felt that there was no particular reason why he should give them his confidence, yet be had no motives for mistrusting them, further than the necessity for watching their measures, and giving his support to all which he should deem beneficial to the country, whilst he opposed all which he conceived to be adverse to its welfare. That Administration came into office pledged to the reduction of the public establishments, and to economy in the expenditure of the public money. He objected to neither of those, pledges, provided nothing was done which might be injurious to the public service; and the Government adhering to this principle, and not departing from prudence in their attempts at, reduction, the consequence was, that very little saving had accrued to the public. The next point, was the consideration of their financial measures, and these, he must, say, were, of very little importance, for if the noble Lord claimed a resolution of that House on that ground, the claims of Government must, be confined to the reduction effected in the coal and candle duty, which he supposed must be considered as measures of high importance. But, he must, ask, were those two remissions measures of such magnitude as to call for a specific vole, of the House to express the confidence with which they had inspired its Members? But let them take the financial operations of the Government on a larger scale, and let it be shown that there was any measure of such importance as to entitle the Ministers to a 415 vote of confidence. Looking at the schemes of finance which they had brought forward, he must say, that his Majesty's Ministers had not even obtained the confidence of the House, for they were opposed in the most important of them by practical men of their own side of the House, who thought that the projected scheme was inconsistent with good faith to the public creditor. But although Ministers had thus found it impossible to carry through their plans, they had maintained the principle to the last, reserving it to some future period when they might have to deal with a House of Commons less scrupulous and more confiding. Their next measure materially affected trade, and nobody had imputed that it was resisted upon party grounds. Here again practical men, at other times the supporters of Ministers, came forward and showed how unjust the proposed change would be to the colonies, and how injurious to the commerce of the nation. He was at a loss, therefore, to discover on what ground such a vote of confidence was to rest, unless, indeed, upon the alteration of the Game Laws, under the special auspices of the noble Lord (Althorp)—a measure he (Sir George Murray) certainly approved—but not of that reach and magnitude to warrant a proceeding so unusual as the expression of a vote of confidence in the Ministry He had now touched upon the principal measures which the present Government had brought forward, independent of the Reform Bill, because the noble Lord had said that he did not rest his motion exclusively on that ground, but also on the other points of their principles. As to the Reform Bill, the hon. member for Calne had said there were two parties for it—one in that House, and the other out of the House; but did that hon. Member expect that those who had opposed the change in the Constitution in this House in all its stages could concur in this resolution? He (Sir George Murray) had resisted the Bill, because its principles filled him with apprehension. Since the Bill applicable to England and Wales had passed, another to regulate the Representation of Scotland had been brought forward by Ministers, and to concur in the resolution of the noble Lord would imply some kind of assent to the Scotch Reform Bill, which he (Sir George Murray) was not at all prepared to give. He considered the Scotch Reform Bill highly ob- 416 jectionable on many points. Those who had resisted, not only on the principle but the details of the Reform Bill, must be the last to concur in a vote of confidence. Some changes had been made in the Bill to which even Ministers had been opposed, and to which they were still opposed, so that they themselves did not approve of the whole of their own Bill. It had been asked whether that Bill was not brought forward by Ministers principally with a view to strengthen them in the precarious hold which they had on the Government; and he for one must certainly say, that, in his opinion, the Bill, was originally brought forward at a time when the confidence of the House in the Government was greatly shaken. They then found themselves in the predicament in which the ancient inhabitants of Britain were placed in former times, and they had recourse to the same dangerous expedient, of calling in a power stronger than themselves. In following that dangerous example they had prostrated themselves before the shrine of democracy: and on that altar they had offered up as a sacrifice the Constitution of their country to preserve to themselves the possession of power. Entertaining such sentiments, it was impossible for him to accede to the proposition of the noble Lord. He must at the same time declare, that he was not indisposed to give Ministers that share of his confidence which every Government deserved. Seeing at the head of the Government a noble Earl who had intimated that although, in the ardour and enthusiasm of youth, he had been a strong advocate for Reform, yet his views had been much sobered by age and experience, as was the case with Pitt, whose youth was characterized by strong opinions on Reform, which time had greatly modified—an effect which he had hoped to observe in the views of the noble Earl at the head of the Government—seeing also another noble Lord (the Lord Chancellor) pledged to the Bill, whose sentiments, when he had uttered them in his hearing in that House, were far short of the Reform proposed by the measure recently rejected by the other House, and whose sentiments were confirmed also by a letter of that noble Lord which he had seen, but which were far exceeded by the present Bill—seeing also another noble Lord (the President of the Council), whose moderation on those points he had ample reason to know 417 —seeing also three noble Secretaries of State, whose views hitherto had been confined to moderation on this head—he could draw no other conclusions from their conduct than those which he had already explained to the House. The threats which had been uttered, of something worse than the Bill if it was rejected were, certainly, not calculated to gain his confidence or to conciliate his opposition; nor were such speeches as those of the hon. member for Calne, and the hon. and learned member for Louth, likely to produce any other effect than that of making it infinitely more difficult to carry on the Government than up to that moment it had been; for the House was not to expect that speeches, he would not say so inflammatory, but couched in such strong language, would not be re-echoed throughout the country by persons of less respectability and of less moderation than was possessed by hon. Members of that House, and not the best effects might be anticipated from them. Allusions had been made to the Upper House, and to the course which had been adopted by that assembly with respect to this measure; he must, however, express his firm conviction of the independence and magnanimity which were displayed by the House of Lords on that occasion. To that House he still looked with confidence, and to that House, he must say, ought all its rights and independence to be preserved, for to it alone did he look as to that estate of the realm which would afford a protection to the Constitution from any delusions into which the people of England might, by momentary excitement, be led.
§ Mr. Strickland
said, the simple question was, whether the House and the country had confidence in his Majesty's Ministers; and whether there was any ground for their retiring from the helm of affairs. What reason, he would ask, was there for such a course, when ninety-nine out of every hundred of the people of England had expressed their entire approbation of the Bill, and reposed their undivided confidence in his Majesty's Government? The House of Lords, he was sorry to say, had made a lamentable mistake about public opinion, and had not evinced by their conduct any knowledge of the feeling which the question had excited in the public mind. They had placed themselves on the brink of a tremendous precipice, and were now attempting to retrace their steps. 418 The greatest public mischief, he believed, would ensue if his Majesty's Ministers should retire. The public had confidence in the Government; but a retirement from office would only increase, and, he might say set the seal, to the public excitement, and destroy that confidence in Government which now happily existed. It was of no use to allege, as some hon. Members did, that the people had been excited by Ministers. The question had been agitated, more or less, for the last seventy years, and had now assumed a shape which no Ministry could safely gainsay. He would not enter on the original principles of the Constitution—he believed no man knew exactly what they were. They had commenced in dark and remote ages, and had grown with our growth and strengthened with our strength. He was, therefore, convinced that the time was now come to make an important alteration in the Constitution, and that it was the bounden duty of the House to express their confidence in his Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. Littleton
observed, that the present was an occasion on which it was peculiarly necessary for the Representatives of large, and, above all, of manufacturing communities, to express their opinions. He considered that it would be impossible, after the rejection of a measure affecting so deeply the interests of the commonalty, and in which the hopes of the people were so extensively embarked, for the House of Commons to separate, even for the briefest interval, without taking the earliest opportunity of re-asserting the principle of the Bill, of declaring their approbation of its leading provisions, and, above all, of expressing their undiminished confidence in the Ministers who had brought the measure forward, and through whose instrumentality he hoped it would speedily be carried triumphantly through. It was important for another reason that the House of Commons should adopt this course at the present critical juncture—namely, because it was of the utmost importance that they should place themselves in front of the nation, and set an example of the conduct which the people should pursue in order to prevent exasperation of feeling and violence of action, which would tend more than any other thing to do that which argument had failed to do—give authority to the opinions of the opponents of the measure. There was another reason of paramount 419 importance which ought to induce the House to adopt the resolution which had been proposed (and he urged it from no feeling of disrespect to the hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House), namely, that if Ministers should be forced to retire, no other Administration could at this moment be formed, for by the course of conduct which the hon. Gentlemen opposite had unfortunately pursued with respect, to Reform, they had utterly forfeited all claim to the confidence of the country. What claim to the confidence of the country could those statesmen have who, last year, opposed the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds, until an opportunity of effecting that object might occur by a corresponding disfranchisement of other places, and who this year had opposed the disfranchisement of even the most insignificant boroughs? In the course of the discussion, allusion had been made to a letter reported to have been written by the Lord Chancellor, twenty years ago, on the subject of Reform. That letter contained opinions with respect to the mode of treating that question, addressed to an adverse Government. It was one thing to propose a measure to an adverse Government, and another to propose it, when the propose had become an influential member of an Administration, and had the country ranged on his side. When the Idler was written, the country was engaged in a war with France, and the public attention was directed to no other object than the prosecution of that contest. It would have been as insane to have proposed a large and comprehensive plan of Reform at that period, as it was insane to attempt to withhold one now. It was not till very recently that he (Mr. Littleton) had made up his mind to support a large and comprehensive measure of Reform. In saying this he only avowed what was a matter of notoriety to all who thought it worth their while to observe the conduct of so humble an individual as himself. He, however, was much mistaken if public opinion had not for a long time been veering round to the conclusion, that, some large and comprehensive measure of Reform must be in-introduced by Government. For these reasons he had, during the last four years, been a zealous and an ardent supporter of the schemes of Reform which had been brought forward by the noble Paymaster of the Forces. If he were to be blamed for 420 having become a convert to the necessity, the country at large must share in the censure, for his opinions had changed with those of the country. Reference had been made to the almost miraculous despatch of business by the Lord Chancellor. Whatever sneers might be employed by professional and other Gentlemen on this subject, he believed that the Lord Chancellor, by redeeming the professions which he made relative to the despatch of business, had obtained more influence in the country than any individual ever obtained by a single, act. If the brilliancy of Lord Brougham's course in Parliament, had never attracted the admiring gaze of his country—if he had never distinguished himself amongst public men by his gigantic intellect, devoted with unparalleled energy to the advancement of the best interests of society, the achievement of this victory (for such, in point of fact it was) was sufficient, to secure the admiration and gratitude of the present age, and to hand down his name to posterity. Ministers had properly availed themselves of the golden opportunity which the circumstances of the country presented for bringing forward the measure of Reform. The party-wall of the Catholic Question having been thrown down, the people united in new associations, and a general conviction of the necessity of Reform pervaded the public mind. These circumstances presented so favourable an opportunity, so rare a tide in the affairs of men, that if Ministers had neglected it they would have deserved to lose the confidence of the country. There were some persons to be found amongst the opponents of the Reform Bill, in both Houses of Parliament, who appeared to be quite ignorant of the state of public feeling. He had, during twenty years of his life, been closely connected with a large manufacturing community, and therefore had had an opportunity of witnessing the great, progress which they had made in intellectual improvement. Persons who were unacquainted with these large communities, could have but a faint idea of the ferment which was going on amongst them at the present moment. An opportunity was now presented of turning the active and energetic spirit of these communities into a channel in which it would prove beneficial to the empire. If that, opportunity should be lost activity and energy might be succeeded by turbulence 421 and fury, which would ultimately involve in destruction all the institutions of the country. In conclusion, he hoped that Ministers would soon have an opportunity of again submitting the Reform Bill to Parliament.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
was surprised to hear the hon. member for Staffordshire declare, at that hour, and when the Bill had passed both Houses of Parliament, at least been carried through the one House, and settled by the constitutional efforts of the other, that he had only within a few days made up his mind to the expediency or necessity of the measure which he had been for weeks and months supporting. This indecision on the part, of the hon. Member gave him reason to hope, that on some future occasion he would join with that side of the House, in supporting such a measure of Reform as they might think proper to adopt—a measure less hostile to the Constitution, and more in accordance with the real wishes of the people. The hon. member for Yorkshire, who had given them a very brief statement of his opinions upon this occasion, said, he would not advert to the question of Belgium, or enlarge upon the advantages derived to the country from the repeal of the duties upon coals and candles. He knew that the first was a very unpalatable subject on the other side of the House; and, therefore, his policy, and, in this instance, his prudence in remaining silent upon it deserved admiration. They had been favoured with a speech from the hon. and learned member for Calne. If he (Colonel Sibthorp) had ever doubted as to the course which he ought to take respecting the present motion, and all those motions brought forward by the present Government, that speech would have removed his doubts; for of all the speeches he ever heard, having a tendency to the subversion of good order, and the overthrow of the religion of his country, the speech of the hon. and learned member for Calne was the most so. He alluded to Scripture; but the tenour of the observations which he made was in direct contradiction of the precept which the Scriptures inculcated—namely, obedience to superiors, and a proper respect for all orders of society. The hon. and learned Member said, that he would not in any way allude to the majority in the other House, who, he thought, had shewn their true amor patria in throwing out the revolutionary 422 Bill: as he was not anxious to follow the example of the hon. and learned Member in any other respect, he would not follow it in this. He would allude to that majority, for the purpose of expressing his veneration for the Assembly to which it belonged, and his gratitude, as well as his admiration, for the honest and manly part which they had taken, in battling with the threats and intimidations with which they were assailed, and faithfully and conscientiously discharging the sacred duty with which they were intrusted. The hon. member for Staffordshire had said, that the measure must shortly be carried; but he appealed to the House to say whether the language, either of that hon. Member or of those who had spoken on the same side with him, shewed that the measure would be carried legitimately? He denied that it would be so; and he made that denial solely to contradict the language which he had heard from the supporters of the Ministers. On the present occasion, the House was called upon by the noble Lord deeply to lament the defeat of the Ministerial measure of Reform, and then to come to a vote of confidence in those who brought it forward. He frankly and fearlessly declared that he rejoiced in the destruction of the Bill; and, as to the idea of placing confidence in his Majesty's advisers, he would only observe, that ever since they had come into office as the Ministers of the Crown, no one single act of public utility had been carried—not one measure which had done any good to the people. It was true that fifty-four bills were on the Records of Parliament; but how had they been proposed? how carried?—Why, at unseasonable hours of the night—generally between two and three o'clock, when it was impossible that they could be properly discussed. He had a great respect, personally, for the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he could never think of placing confidence in a man who could bring himself to propose to Parliament such a Budget as the noble Lord submitted to the consideration of this House in the last Session. He disclaimed every thing in the shape of an unkind or a disrespectful feeling towards the noble Lord; but the Budget stuck in his throat. He could not swallow it, nor could any, even of his most voracious admirers on either side of the House. It was detestably unsavory, and so compounded, that, if swallowed, it 423 could never have been digested. As to retrenchment, much was undoubtedly promised by Ministers; but how had they kept those promises? Was it an instance of retrenchment to incur an expense for a body of Commissioners appointed to divide counties—limit boroughs—and make out districts? While upon that topic, he would ask the noble Lord in what part of the country those Commissioners now were? He had heard that they were in Yorkshire. He had also heard of some disturbances on the race-course at Lincoln, and that those disturbances were attributed to the presence of the Commissioners in that city. He desired also to know how these Commissioners were to be paid, for as yet that had not been decided? Perhaps they were volunteers. He trusted that they were so, and that the country would not be called upon to pay them for their journies. He should most decidedly oppose the motion of the noble Lord, because it was his firm conviction, that that motion was nothing more than a resource—a trick of his Majesty's disappointed Ministers—in order that they might ascertain the sense of the House of Commons. He trusted that those Ministers would soon be out of office. He did not speak this as a man connected with any party. He recognised no government which had not for its object the prosperity and happiness of the people; and on that ground he had opposed the present Government, as well as the last. It might be remembered that he voted to eject the late Administration from office, and, should an opportunity present itself, he should certainly do the same kind office for the present.
said: Sir, I shall stand but a very short time in the way of other Gentlemen who are desirous of addressing the House before the decision of this question. I am too much fatigued with the exertions which I have been already called upon to make this day, to occupy the attention of the House at this hour for any considerable time. But I am anxious to state, that I entirely concur in one sentence which fell from the hon. Member near me (Colonel Sibthorp), that these Resolutions have been proposed for the purpose of pacifying a disappointed people. But the same hon. Member says, that the people do not want Reform. Now, Sir, observe the inconsistency. He says, that the people do not want Reform, and yet that they are disappointed, and that their 424 irritated feelings required to be pacified, because Reform has been refused. The hon. Member must have forgotten himself. He could not mean to make the two assertions. When the measure to which the whole of the people looked up with hope, and which they would have received with gratitude, has been frustrated for a time, it is just and necessary that something should be done to satisfy their disappointed feelings, and to encourage them to hope. An hon. and learned Gentleman below me says, that the Ministers called upon the people, and excited them to clamour for Reform. But, Sir, the fact is, that the people called upon the Ministry, and in a manner which it was impossible not to attend to. The people did not want excitement. They were and they are too much alive to their own interests—they understand too well the measures which are from time to time in progress in this House, to have any occasion to be roused or excited on the question of Reform. So far from there having been any necessity that his Majesty's Ministers or others should excite the people, if I may state honestly my own opinions and my own experience, I will declare, that even my efforts have been much more exerted to control than to excite them. The Gentlemen who opposed the Bill in its passage through this House are ignorant of the real state of the feelings of the people, and they are, therefore, neither prepared to do the people justice, nor competent to devise a measure which would fully meet their wishes. In all societies there are some unreasonable men; and I know that there are many persons who think me an unreasonable man, as all epithets are given by comparison. But I should be glad to be told who are the unreasonable men in this case? They who wish to maintain the influence of Peers in this House, or we who wish to turn that influence out of the House, and restore in it the just influence of the people, and to open the way for their Representatives who would know and support their interests? The people are kept out of their own House of Parliament to make room for the minions of a few Lords. In another place there has been much talk of this House becoming a House of Delegates. But let me ask, what are the hon. Gentlemen around me who sit for the close boroughs but delegates? All the Gentlemen who are sent here from the boroughs in schedule A are nothing more than 425 delegates; and yet the persons whose delegates they are, talk about, what the House of Commons would be if the people were allowed to send their delegates into it. I think, Sir, that a more indefensible measure than the rejection of the Reform Bill, on such grounds, never was adopted by a House of Lords, [order] The hon. Gentleman near me, who cries order, has said, that he took pleasure in the rejection of the Bill; and in alluding to the conduct of the House of Lords, he spoke in raptures of the manner in which the Bill had been received there. Now, does he think that he ought to have been allowed to express his approbation of that conduct, and that I shall not be at liberty to say that I greatly disapprove and regret it. But, Sir, my regret is not occasioned by any apprehension that the recent proceeding of that House will stop Reform, but because it will force this House to pass a measure of more extensive Reform, and more objectionable to the opposers of Reform than the Bill which has been rejected. It is not because I suppose that the cause of Reform will suffer ultimately any injury from not being supported by the Peers that I regret the ignorance which they have shown of the feelings of the people. It is altogether for their own sakes; and I hope that the universal manifestation of the opinions of the people will open their eyes, nor can I hesitate to say, that before long many of them will be made sensible of the real state of those opinions. I trust that this House and the country may be assured that the zeal of his Majesty's Ministers is not to be damped, and that their exertions for the good of the people will not be checked; and I am quite certain, Sir, that if this Motion be carried—and I hope it will be carried triumphantly—it will have the effect alluded to by the hon. member for Lincoln, and give satisfaction to a disappointed and indignant people, who will have confidence in the Ministers, and will not be satisfied till their efforts for the good of the country, being supported by a patriotic king, shall be crowned with success. For it cannot be supposed, Sir, that a paltry division of the country can stand up successfully against the millions. It seems to me the most unreasonable thing that, ever was contended for, that three or four hundred men should stand up against the just claims and the rights of 20,000,000, and that so small a majority should refuse to 426 the people their just Representation. It has been the great boast of the Constitution, that it secured to the people a full and fair Representation. But the fact is, that they are scarcely represented at all, and that, consequently, a small number of persons who have the nomination of Members to this House enjoy all that can be gathered from the people in the shape of taxes. Sir, I should consider it no longer an honour to be a Briton, if my countrymen did not manifest their indignation at such a system, and resolve that it should be put an end to. I trust, therefore, that his Majesty's Ministers and the House will show, by the decision of this night, that they are determined to stand by the Reform Bill until it is carried. I implore every man who hears me to support the resolutions of the noble Lord; for many weeks cannot pass away until this question must be finally settled to the satisfaction of the country. It has not been taken up by a small number, or by a party, but it has taken root in the minds of the people, whom you never can satisfy until you shall have restored to them the rights of which they have been so long deprived. The question must, before long, be settled, by surrendering the unhallowed usurpation of that power which is the right of the people, and which has been so long withheld from them. I have heard some persons talk of being afraid of the influence of the people. But who are afraid of that influence, except those who keep from the people what is theirs? Who ever knew a man who withheld unjustly what belonged to another, that was not afraid to meet that person face to face? No wonder, then, that they who have done so by the people are unwilling to meet their Representatives in the same assembly; and, at the same time, I have no doubt that the people will act as becomes the dignity of an enlightened and high-minded nation; that they will hail the Resolutions of the House this night with pleasure. As to the Amendment, I wish it had been proposed by any other Gentleman than a member for one of the Universities; for I do not wish the respect of the country for these learned and venerable institutions to be too much lowered, although I know that on many occasions their Representatives in this House have stood in the way of measures calculated to promote the welfare of the people, I did not expect that the right 427 hon. Gentleman, or any of his party, would repose confidence in the present Ministry, for they have always shown that they did not wish the House or the country to be satisfied with any part of their conduct. But I can tell the right hon. Gentleman, that if the Ministers have not his confidence, they have the confidence of the country. I saw this day a meeting of many thousands of people, and I never saw so much unanimity at any meeting as prevailed there on this subject. I shall not longer occupy the House, nor would I have trespassed so much upon its attention this evening, but that I was anxious to implore any hon. Member who may be in doubt to support the Resolutions, and thereby (to use the language of the hon. Member for Lincoln), to satisfy a disappointed people.
§ Mr. Thomas Duncombe
expressed his surprise at the manner in which the Gentlemen opposite endeavoured to escape from this Question. It was not a Question about a Game-bill, nor about a Bankruptcy-Court bill, nor about one of Mr. Brougham's Letters, written in 1810. No, it was a Question which involved this great consideration—whether the people were to expect a real Reform, or any Reform at all, and if ever a declaratory Resolution was necessary, the Resolution now before the House appeared to him to be emphatically so. It was necessary, in consequence of the situation in which the country and the House were placed by the abrupt and hasty rejection of their Bill. Did not his Majesty in the judicious exercise of his prerogative, dissolve the last and call the present Parliament, in order that he might correctly ascertain the sense of the people on the vital Question of Reform? Had not that sense been made clear and manifest, both within those walls and without those walls? And what had been the result? Why, the rejection by the House of Lords of a measure which the House of Commons, in accordance with the sense of the people, had agreed to. The sense of the whole country was anxiously sought, and was correctly ascertained in April last, and now it appeared that the struggle was between that strongly expressed sense and the opinion of a small number of Peers. The question for that House now was—and the question in every man's mouth throughout the country was—"What will the Commons do?" He would not attempt to tell them what they would do—he would not endeavour to describe what they 428 would not do—but he would at least tell them what they ought not to do. They ought not to allow the sense of the country, they ought not to allow the voice of their constituents, to pass unnoticed and unheeded. They ought not to let the measure of Reform now fall to the ground—they ought not to suffer it to be treated as if it were a mere Turnpike bill; without expressing any wish for its reconsideration, or any desire for its ultimate adoption. It appeared to him that this was the question which they now had to decide. But he did not think that they could or that they ought to stop there. Not only ought they to agree to this Resolution, but they ought to adopt some measures—first, to tranquillize the public mind, and next, to assure the people that a measure, having for its basis a full, efficient, and effectual Reform, must be ultimately successful. The hon. and learned member for Borough-bridge naturally expressed his disapprobation, and that of his friends, at any additional creation of Peers, and particularly by a Whig Minister, and he declared his feeling most strongly against any measure being carried by such means as these. So did he (Mr. Thomas Duncombe.) He agreed in the propriety of the sentiment, that no measure ought to be carried by means such as these [hear, hear.] Gentlemen cried "hear, hear," but if they approved of that principle, they must meet him half-way, and shew him some other means by which the just desires of the people might be fairly granted. If they could not meet him half-way—if they could not show him some different means of effecting this object, then it was clear no other mode—no other alternative remained, but that to which the hon. and learned member for Boroughbridge objected, and to which, perhaps, Gentlemen would become more reconciled when they looked to the majority by which the Bill was rejected. If that majority were analysed—he did not mean to say, that he would analyse it—but if it were analysed, he was sure it would be found that most of those Peers who voted against the Bill received their honours in consequence of their known influence in, and connexion with, borough property [order]. It appeared that he could not, or that he ought not, to express his opinion with reference to the minority or majority of the other House; and yet he heard the majority of the House of Commons alluded to, 429 spoken of, and questioned in the House of Lords in the debate on this very Bill. If, however, he were not permitted to allude to the manner in which Peers were now made, he would refer to the subject as matter of history. Old Daniel De Foe, that entertaining, liberal, and enlightened writer, speaking of the Peerage of his time, about a century and a half ago, said,Wealth, however got in England, makesLords of mechanics, gentlemen of rakes,Antiquity and birth are needless here,'Tis impudence and money make a Peer.Well, he could prove that such were pretty nearly the qualifications of that majority which rejected a measure on which the hearts of the people were unalterably and inviolably fixed. And therefore he most strenuously contended, that the people, the country, the House, had a right, to advise, had a right to petition for, the creation of new Peers. Not a creation of Peers boasting no other claims but those to which De Foe alluded, but a body of Peers, created on constitutional grounds, and who were likely to infuse a feeling of liberality and public spirit, into the whole mass. He admitted that such a remedy would be desperate. Ay, ay, but not half so desperate as the disease—not half so desperate as the danger which threatened the country, and which it would be the means of averting. He, therefore, for his own part, was willing of two evils to select the least. But he wished to know what, that House had done, or what the people had done, that they should have been treated with such contumely by their Lordships? He had asked several noble Lords the question. He had asked them, "Why did you not allow our Bill to be read a second time, and to go into Committee for alteration and improvement? If you had done this you might afterwards have been justified in rejecting the mea sure." The answer of one and all was, "What yon have said is most true; but we were told, that if we took such a deliberative course, we could not have kept our majority together." "What, not keep their majority together, to defeat a Bill so revolutionary as this—a Bill so utterly democratic—a Bill which threatened to overthrow all the venerable institutions of the country?" "Oh!" answered they, "what we say is very true. The majority would not attend. They had more important duties to perform. Many of them had 430 to go into the country; some had partridges and pheasants to shoot; while others were occupied in looking after their tenants, especially in discharging those who happened to have attended Reform meetings, or who had perhaps, unwittingly, expressed themselves in favour of Reform measures. All these things you know must be attended to." By such considerations it appeared that theseMost potent, grave, and reverend Seignors,These very noble and approved good masterswere induced, with very little ceremony, to reject the Bill. But then several of them declared that they had anxiously done their duty, and that they had ascertained the exact feelings of the people. One of their Lordships said, "I have visited two or three shops, I have been in Bond-street and St. James's-street, and from my inquiries I am convinced that the measure is against the wishes of the country. Besides, the feeling is all artificial. It has been raised by a set of demagogues; revolutionary language has been used, disloyal expressions have been uttered, appeals have been made to the passions, and not to the reason of the people." [hear, hear.] Hon. Members opposite cheered. Now he wished to know where these things had occurred;—he wanted to learn where they had taken place. Let the House look at the language made use of at the last elections: was there anything revolutionary there? No; the people understood their rights too well to wish, or desire to express anything illegal. They were anxious to see the wisdom of that House and of the House of Lords uniting with the wisdom of the King in the formation of a measure that would secure to them their rights and liberties—that would, in fact, give back to them the Constitution; for they might be assured of this, that the people would never admit the present borough legislation and taxation to be a part of the Constitution. Restore to them but their rights—let them really appear in that House by their true Representatives—and they would show that they were grateful as well as loyal. Let him fell the House that they were loyal because they were still brave—that they were wealthy, because they were still industrious. But neither that bravery, that wealth, nor that industry, would be devoted to the service of the Legislature, if that Legislature remained deaf to the just claims of the people. What, then, was their situation? Might they not find 431 themselves in a deplorable state if the people withheld confidence from them? What were they in such a case to do? Why, in the name of expedience, which used to have charms for some of those hon. Gentlemen opposite when Catholic Emancipation was carried, let us grant to the people, with cheerful alacrity, that which they are fairly entitled to. Let us take the course which the right hon. Baronet opposite took, when he declared that he had not changed his opinions on the subject of Catholic Emancipation, but that he was willing, nevertheless, to offer up those opinions on the altar of political expediency. Was it, he would ask, expedient to continue to exasperate, when they could so easily conciliate? Why not abandon that at once which they must ultimately relinquish? The hour was fast approaching, when that which would now be received as an act of grace would be coldly viewed as an act of extorted and tardy justice. In the name of common sense he would ask of that House, and of the Peers of England, to prop up and support the power which they now enjoyed, and to secure it for those who came after them, by enlisting in their favour the affection and loyalty of their fellow-citizens. He had, he regretted to say, heard speeches made in another place which quite astonished him. He had heard a speech delivered by a noble Duke, the late Premier of this country, who attributed the feeling which was manifested here to the revolutions which had occurred in France and Belgium. It was not difficult to prove the absurdity of such a reason. What was the cause of those revolutions? Did they not arise from hatred to tyranny—from a wish to resist unconstitutional encroachments on the rights and liberties of the people? Then he would ask that noble Duke, with all his vast experience (and here he would say, that no man had a greater respect for the talents and integrity of that noble person—no man admired him more when he stood forward as the advocate of religious liberty—and no man lamented more to see him now the uncompromising foe to civil rights)—he would ask that noble Duke, in what situation this country would be placed, if that feeling of anarchy and disappointment which he had described as prevailing on the continent were wafted to our shores, and found us discontented and disunited? Could he, in such a case, 432 guarantee our security—could he maintain our safety? If he could not, great responsibility would rest upon his head, and upon the heads of those who supported him in his opposition to a measure of which the whole people of England approved, and in return for the success of which they would have given their lasting gratitude and affection. Such, then, was the democratic and revolutionary measure which some individuals seemed to be so much afraid of. In a fatal moment—for such he esteemed it—the Lords had shut the door against that measure. Not after mature deliberation in Committee—not after due and elaborate consideration,—no, but with a degree of scorn and contempt by which they had added insult to disappointment. As to the ultimate success of this great measure he had no doubt. This Bill of Reform was too well known to be thrown aside and forgotten. The spirit of the people was much too strong to be kept under—it was far too ardent to be got rid of by any subterfuge. The great mass of the people had now too much sense, too much penetration, too much discernment, to be cheated and deceived by the sophistry of the rotten borough advocates. They proceeded on the immutable principles of justice and truth; and unless England were the only place where public opinion was to pass unheeded, they must succeed. The public voice had declared, in tones not to be mistaken, what was the public feeling; and, do what they might, public opinion would prevail. One point more, and he would not trespass further on their attention. As to the resignation of Ministers, he left that point completely out of the question. To retire from public affairs at a moment like this, when supported by the people, and addressed by the country to remain and finish the great work which they had begun, would be a species of treason. It would be meanly to betray the trust reposed in them by a great, a good and a confiding people. No, a very different course must be pursued. Ministers must take every means the Constitution afforded them to obtain for the people an efficient Representation. They must persevere. Believing, as he did, that on this measure the peace, and tranquillity, and prosperity of the country depended, he would say to them—"Go on as you have done; this is not the time to falter. Look neither to the right nor to the left: seek not to pro- 433 cure favour from any quarter, except that of your Sovereign and his people." Let them proceed thus, and their labours would be shared and assisted by many. They might, in carrying this measure, be assured of such a support as would overwhelm their opponents; and in the time to come, their names would be blessed and consecrated with the eternal gratitude of their country. For the reasons which he had stated, he would give his warmest support to the motion of the noble Lord. It was due to the Ministers, it was due to the dignity of the House, it was due to the people, with whose wishes and desires it was in the most perfect accordance.
said, that in the whole course of these proceedings much stress had been laid on the propriety of concession. Yet concession had in many instances produced effects very different from those which were expected from it. Charles 1st and Louis 16th had both granted extensive concessions, and their fate was well known, whilst George 3rd and his Minister William Pitt withstood concession, and weathered the storm safely. It appeared to him that those who most strenuously argued in support of the necessity of this measure, had listened to the clamour of faction, and had mistaken it for the voice of the people. Gentlemen might be displeased with the vote which had been given elsewhere, but it could not be denied that those who had given that vote acted like courageous and independent men. They had, in the honest discharge of their duty, dared to resist what was said to be the will of the King—they had dared to resist the voice of clamour, but, above all, they had dared to resist a majority of that House. With respect to the Resolution now before them, he certainly should oppose it. He could not, in any respect, give his confidence to the Ministers. Look at their foreign policy. They showed hostility to the allies of England while they were friendly towards her enemies. Of their colonial policy, those best acquainted with the colonies and most interested in their welfare, loudly complained. And as to their domestic policy, it was open to severe animadversion. Ministers affected to carry on the Government without patronage. But he would say, that since the time of Walpole such an accumulation of influence and patronage had never been in the hands of any Administration. He did not think that the present Resolu- 434 tion could be carried, because many of those who voted for the Bill had complained of various defects in it, and they would not now be in haste to pledge themselves anew to the whole measure. If a just bill were laid on the Table—a bill preserving to both Houses of Parliament and to the Crown their proper rights—a bill that would not at one stroke destroy very extensive rights of property—he would be one, of the first to support it. He had no personal feeling in the part which he had taken. He was only anxious for the peace and happiness of his country.
Sir James B. Johnstone
said, that as one of the Representatives of a county containing 1,500,000 inhabitants, he felt it right to record his opinion. He greatly regretted the loss of the Bill. He knew not yet how his constituents had received the tidings, but he hoped they had on the occasion shown that, good sense which he had always known them to manifest. He should vote for the Resolution. The proceedings in the House that night were, he conceived, intimately connected with the tranquillity of the country; and he hoped, after the assurances of support which Ministers had received, that they would not think of abandoning their situations.
said, he had received certain resolutions, agreed to by his constituents, in which they stated their conviction, that the resignation of his Majesty's Ministers at the present crisis would be a great national calamity; and he took that opportunity of expressing his full, cordial, and heartfelt concurrence in the sentiments of his constituents. He, agreed entirely in all that had fallen from hon. Members who had spoken in favour of the Resolution: and he felt perfectly convinced, that, if the people were disappointed, with respect to the great measure on which they had set their hearts and souls, it would be for a moment, and but for a moment only. At the same time, the people looked forward with stronger determination than ever to the triumph of the measure, and with the fullest confidence that the present Ministry would achieve that triumph for them. He hoped, therefore, that the Ministers would not allow themselves to be swayed by any of those ceremonies and punctilios of resignation by which some Ministers had thought themselves bound to act after a defeat upon any great question. He expressed this hope because this 435 Ministry had suffered a defeat from the enemies of the people, whereas other Ministers had been defeated by the people. This was no moment for indulging in punctilios and notions of etiquette. The people were looking to the Ministers, and to the Ministers only; and the Gentlemen opposite deluded themselves with the falsest hopes if they imagined that they could again come into power. The people looked to the present Ministry, and the Gentlemen opposite might depend upon it that the people would neither recognise nor submit to any other Government. The subject before the House admitted of many arguments, but he would not trouble hon. Members by going into them. There was one point, however, upon which he desired to say a few words. In the Debates upon the general principle of the Reform Bill, there was no argument so strongly insisted upon, so constantly reiterated by the Gentlemen opposite, as the argument that the present system worked well, and that it was worse than folly to desire to change a system which had raised the country to so great a pitch of prosperity. He would not then enter into a discussion as to whether things were going, and had gone, on so remarkably well as the Gentlemen opposite described; but he would assert, that when it was said that the prosperity of the people was attributable to this system, a greater piece of injustice, and a grosser insult, had never been passed upon any people upon the face of the earth than was contained in that assertion. It was at once a cruel mockery and a degrading untruth to say that the prosperity of the country was attributable to a vicious and unjust system, which impoverished and ruined those whose prosperity was in fact the national prosperity. The prosperity of the country had been attained, not in consequence, but in defiance of that system: it had been attained by the good sense, the industry, and the courage of the British people; who, by the exercise of those virtues and good qualities, had been able to prevail against a system which would have debased the morals of any other people, and provoked a less long-suffering and enduring nation to acts of open violence. And what was the reward which the people now received for their exemplary conduct? Why, now that the burthens they had so long endured with patience had become intolerable—now that they sank be- 436 neath those burthens which they had borne with cheerfulness while their strength lasted—now that the people were in this condition, instead of receiving the praise which was so justly due to them, they were told that the praise was not theirs, but that it belonged to the system which it had required all their virtue and all their courage to bear up against so long. He would tell the Gentlemen opposite, that the people felt this to be an insult to them as subjects and as men; and that the people would never again recognise, or submit to, an Administration which should be formed of men who had so treated them. The King and his Ministers had acted nobly by the people. They had, by acting firmly but safely—boldly, but not rashly—got into a position in which they were certain of the support of the nation; and he did hope that being so placed—placed as, perhaps, no King and no Administration had ever been placed before—they would not allow any person on earth to provoke them to interrupt those sympathies which linked them to a generous and a grateful people.
§ Mr. Croker
should have wished to have deferred the few observations he had to make until the House had been favoured by the Ministers with information respecting the course they meant to pursue; but he supposed that the Ministers thought themselves so much in the light of parties in the question, that it would become them to endeavour, before they took any course, to ascertain the sense of the House, and that they had made up their minds to bow to whatever sentence it should pronounce. He did not, therefore, complain of the silence of the Ministers, but he must beg that no one would accuse him of presumption for speaking on the subject in ignorance of the intentions of Ministers. Some hon. Members had told them, that they would not answer for the peace of the country, if, unfortunately, there should occur in that House any thing to aggravate the excitement which at present unhappily prevailed. Now this was his objection to the motion of the noble Lord, for the object of that Motion was useless, and the tendency of it was full of danger to the quiet of the country. Why, too, was it mooted on such a day as this of all others, and under such circumstances? He would do the Ministers the justice to believe, that they were not responsible for the motion of the noble Lord, and he could not believe, 437 though he confessed appearances were the other way, that they had prompted, or even encouraged it, because they were answerable for the peace of the country, and, being so answerable, he could not suppose they would have thrown this additional ingredient into the cauldron of excitement, which was already boiling over. The Motion, if agreed to, would be a mere repetition of former votes of the House. How, then, could it tranquillize the country? The Motion stated that the Bill had been received with unequivocal satisfaction by the country; but so far as he had been able to observe, nothing could be more equivocal than the expression of public satisfaction with the Bill. He believed that the hon. member for Preston had spoken the truth with regard to the state of public feeling towards the Bill, when that hon. Member said, that he had found nobody in favour of the Bill except those who were to get something by it—a very small proportion, he believed, of the people of England. But the noble Lord (Ebrington), in a speech of great moderation, had told them, that this Motion would tranquillize the country. He was of a contrary opinion: in the first place, he did not think that the country could be much dissatisfied at the rejection of a Bill of which nobody cordially and entirely approved. In the next place, he did not see how, even if the Bill were universally popular, this Motion could have such a tranquillizing effect. The Bill had been passed by a majority of 109—a majority so large that, the supporters of the Bill thought it would secure its triumph in another place. Did the noble Lord expect to get a larger majority? The noble Lord, however, would take nothing by his Motion, because it was so worded, as if of set purpose, that a division on it must be equivalent, and no more, to the late divisions on the Bill. It was impossible that any man of honour, any man of sense, any man who had conducted himself with the spirit of patriotism, and who had opposed the Bill in any one of its stages, could vote for the Motion. Therefore, the noble Lord's proposition was at best mere tautology. Telling them that the country was alarmed and excited, the noble Lord forced them into new discords, and made them enter once more into angry debates, the object of which he could not for his life discover. He could, however, perceive a mode in which what he believed the object of the noble Lord to be, could 438 have been readily attained without subjecting the House and the country to the inconvenience that might result from this Motion. All that could have been necessary would have been, for one of his Majesty's Ministers to have risen in his place, to have gone into the history of the progress of the Bill, to have stated the majority by which it had passed that House, and then to have, declared that the Ministers meant to persevere in their intentions, and to bring in another Bill. This would have satisfied the friends of the Bill, and have saved the country from the danger to which it must be exposed by every renewal of angry discussions. He said angry discussions, because on such topics angry discussions were unavoidable, though he hoped that nothing would fall from him to encourage heat, and irritation, or aggravate the inconveniences and dangers which must ensue from now bringing forward such a Motion. On the contrary, he should be careful to treat the subject before them with all the temper, and calmness and deliberation which so important a matter deserved. In his opinion the motion of the noble Lord was of a dangerous nature. The noble Lord, he was sure, did not mean to do anything dangerous, but what he meant by the word dangerous was, that this Motion excited feelings which ought to be allayed, and therefore he considered it dangerous. If, then, the Motion were a dangerous one, as tending to excite feelings which ought rather to be allayed, what, should he say of the means by which it had been supported—of the speech of the hon. and learned member for Calne? That hon. and learned Gentleman had told them, that the danger arose from the fact that the law, he feared, was not strong enough. And in what mode had the hon. and learned Gentleman, himself a lawyer, endeavoured to strengthen the law—to render the law more venerable and more effective? Why, by making a thousand allusions to our legal system, every one of which allusions was in a tone of depreciation and censure. Montesquieu had said, in his "Esprit des Lois," "celui qui assemble le peuple l'émeut;"—whoever assembles the people disturbs them. Did not the hon. Gentleman's speech tend to rouse such assemblies? And what were the arguments by which he inculcated on those assemblies that laws were to be respected and obeyed? He told them in 439 as many words, that the laws were worthless, of no force or value, unless they chose to obey them, and, consequently, confided to the mob itself the decision of whether there should be any law or not. What would they say of a Magistrate who, when called upon, in consequence of the conduct of an infuriated mob, to read the Riot Act, should say, "Oh! the Riot Act! that is the law, to be sure, but then first I will give you a disquisition in which I shall prove that you are great fools if you pay any attention to it?" The hon. Gentleman had said that there were but two ways of governing a people—namely, by public opinion or the sword. Now, he (Mr. Croker) would say, that there was but one way of governing a people—by the law! The pretended government by the sword was no government at all—and a government by mere public opinion could not last a month. The law was made to protect us from the sword. "Inter arma silunt leges" was a maxim amongst the Legislators and Jurists of almost every civilized State. The law and the sword, in our happy country, were considered to be incompatible with each other, and the alternative which the hon. Gentleman had chosen to put was one which he hoped no English understanding would ever acknowledge. The hon. Gentleman had said much about the legislative authority of public opinion. Now he (Mr. Croker) was ready to admit that public opinion had a good deal to do with the making of laws, but, in his judgment, it should have nothing to do with the execution of the laws. If the laws were made to protect us from the sword, they were also made to protect us, in certain cases, from public opinion. He would instance a case. Public opinion was much averse to the use of threshing-machines, and to the introduction and use of foreign manufactures into this country. Now he would suppose that the threshing-machines were wilfully broken, or foreign manufactures destroyed by the act of an incendiary; would the Secretary of State say that public opinion should control the operation of the law? On the contrary, would not a large reward be offered for the detection of the perpetrator of such offences? He might also instance the use of spring-guns and steel-traps, with reference to which the public opinion had been long since expressed so strongly; indeed, with reference to this subject, the bill which the Government had brought in, legal- 440 izing the use of spring-guns, &c., was the only measure which the present Government had proposed during this Session for securing the public safety. It was strange that the Government should have reenacted a measure which had been formerly hooted out of the Statute-book. He did not think the public opinion had changed upon that subject; he believed it was as strong as ever. What, then, could the hon. Gentleman say for his friends, whose only legislative measure was a direct contradiction to his doctrine, that laws should be subservient to public opinion? And what was public opinion? Shakespeare had said—and he was a good judge of human nature—'a plague upon this opinion; it is like a leather jerkin, you can wear it on both sides.' The hon. Gentleman thinks public opinion is with him, and if clamour be opinion he is right—we say that public opinion is with us, and if opinion be the result of reflection and judgment, we are right. But if the will of the multitude be public opinion, and if they were to be governed by it, public opinion might say, "We will resist the payment of taxes." The hon. Gentleman himself had said that the tax-gatherer would be resisted. Did he mean to encourage and defend that resistance on the ground of public opinion? He thought the hon. Gentleman, in his disquisition on public opinion, was really only punning upon the words. There were two kinds of public opinion—one was that to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded—the clamour of an excited people; the other was that which resulted from the intelligence, the habits, the reflection, and the experience of settled society. To the former, it seemed, the hon. Gentleman gave omnipotent power—the latter he did not seem to notice at all. The hon. Gentleman had thought proper to ridicule an Act of Elizabeth, but the allusion was singularly unlucky; he should have recollected that that very Act, the absurdity of which he ridiculed, was passed by the force of public opinion.
That a British House of Commons could have heard the hon. Gentleman say, that there were only two ways of governing a people—either by public opinion—(as contradistinguished from law)—or the sword—without feeling indignation, was, he thought, something new in our history, and something which excited his astonishment. The hon. Gentleman, besides this general dis- 441 on the validity, of laws, had descended also to particulars. He, in his speech, taught the people both why and how they might best resist the laws. He first began by telling the Press, that the Seditious Libel Act, which had some years ago passed the Legislature for the purpose of restraining the licentiousness of that Press, was like every act which did not rest on public opinion—that it was a dead letter, and that it hung like a rusty sword against the wall, hurtful to no one, and a reproach only to those who kept it there. That act he (Mr. Croker) was not called upon to defend in this place; it sufficed to him that it was the law, and that an hon. Gentleman, who was himself a lawyer, should have put forth such an opinion, and should thus publicly teach the people the mode of evading, and when evasion was not enough, of defying the laws, greatly surprised him. The hon. Gentleman next told the people how they might defeat the law, by Associations and Unions, and in effect was so superfluously instructive, as to inform the people how such anti-legal Associations might be got up. The learned Gentleman reminded them of the Catholic Association in Ireland—he thought they might have been spared the remembrance of that Association, as it excited recollections which had better have been forgotten: he had spoken of the law which had been enacted to put down that Association, and he had asked if it had effected its object, to which he himself replied by telling those whom he advised to emulate that Association, that it was a useless and an impotent law, over which that Association had triumphed, and he attributed that great measure of Catholic relief, which he so much eulogized, to the resistance of the Catholics to the law, thereby holding out an example and an excitement to the people of this country, to obtain their wishes—whatever the popular wishes of the moment might happen to be—by a systematic invasion and studied defiance of that power, which, up to this day, had been considered the palladium of all our civil and religious liberties, our individual security, and our national greatness—the law of the land! He could not but admire the great talents and distinguished eloquence of the learned Member; but, at the same time, he must say, that he could not call his speech of that night any thing but a piece of splendid mischief. He felt—who indeed could be blind to the fact—that these were times of 442 danger, but he believed, with the hon. member for Middlesex, that the tranquillity of the country would be preserved, and that the people would be peaceable, and submit to the law without the intervention either of the sword, or of violent legislative measures; but then he could not conceal from himself, that with the best disposition in the world, one unhappy spark might create an explosion; and he must own, that he had seldom heard a speech more likely—if it should reach the populace—to produce that lamentable effect, than the fervid declamation of the learned member for Calne.
He trusted that he had not said a word that was calculated to create excitement, and he must implore the House to recollect that this Debate, and the division which must ensue, had been forced upon his side the House. He had been most anxious to avoid a hostile discussion at such a moment; and Gentlemen on his side the House had striven to discover if, by any possible means, a division could be prevented; but they had found, that as men of honour and as statesmen, they could not acquiesce in the Motion. He could not conscientiously vote for the Motion, although he was ready to make any sacrifice that was consistent with his duty to prevent disturbance; for he well knew that a riot, however slight at first, might proceed to the greatest height, if encouraged or exasperated. Under these difficult circumstances he hoped that nothing had fallen from him which was in the slightest degree calculated to endanger that public tranquillity, for the maintenance of which the Government was responsible, but which he thought the friends and advocates of the Government had done all in their power to endanger.
§ Mr. Sanford
wished to make an observation upon one point of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The right hon. Gentleman had laboured much to show that the Ministerial side of the House and his noble friend (Lord Ebrington) were responsible for this Debate. Let him tell the right hon. Gentleman, that this was labour quite thrown away. Far from having a disposition to evade, he and his hon. friends were proud to share with his noble friend any responsibility which might have been incurred by bringing forward the Motion now under discussion. For his own part, he gave his most cordial support to the Motion, because he believed that the effect of it 443 would be to tranquillize the country, and to allay the excitement that prevailed out of doors. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that it would have been quite enough for the noble Lord (Althorp) to have recapitulated what had passed upon the subject of the Bill, and to have declared that Ministers would persevere with the Bill. Let him tell the right hon. Gentleman, that this would not have been enough for the people, however satisfactory it might have been to the right hon. Gentleman's friends. The people had a right to be assured publicly, that the Members whom they had sent there to support the Reform Bill were determined to carry that measure, let who would oppose them, and that the flimsy arguments and the artful devices by which it had been attempted to get rid of the Bill, so far from having altered their minds, had only had the effect of strengthening their determination to make this Bill, what the people desired it to be, the law of the land. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman, that there was one thing which, if he had been undecided, would have convinced him that this Motion was a good one, and that one thing was, that the right hon. Gentleman had opposed it. He well recollected—as who could forget?—the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had opposed the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends had, in the course of the discussion on the Bill, affected to be surprised that none of their suggestions had been adopted, and they had even complained that no symptom of conciliating them had been manifested by the supporters of the Bill. Conciliation! conciliation to opponents who had openly declared that they would hamper the Ministers as far as they could in Committee, and that, whatever amendments of theirs might be agreed to in Committee, yet, objecting to the Bill totally, they would vote against it when it came out of Committee! Such opponents were only to be met by the most uncompromising, unconciliating, and determined opposition, and if this had been the opposition with which the Gentlemen on the other side had been met, they had only themselves to thank for it.
said, that a right hon. Gentleman who had recently addressed the House had told them, that the Question then under discussion had been forced upon them. He agreed with the sentiment of the right hon. Gentleman. The 444 question had been forced upon them; it was intended that it should be forced upon them, for, backed as it was by the unanimous voice of the British nation, it was forced upon the consideration of a British Parliament, and it should be carried into effect; ay, and if need were, forced into effect against whatever opposition might be arrayed against it, notwithstanding the decision in another place—the weak and foolish, he would not call it wicked, decision. It was the business of that House to see that the interests of the people were not neglected, were not injuriously postponed: such was the business of that majority of Members who had combined to insure the passing of the measure of Reform. He could not see that any dissent could reasonably be offered to the Motion before them: that Motion did not affect the details of the Bill—it only dealt with its principle; and regarding that, there could be but little disagreement, since everybody was ashamed of not being a Reformer now, the only point of distinction being the quantity of Reform it was expedient to bestow. The other proposition included in the Motion was, whether the confidence of that House should be reposed in his Majesty's Ministers. He was for imparting to them their full confidence: and his reason for so doing was, that they had brought in the Bill, and defended it, and carried it through the most tiresome, if not the most vexatious opposition that ever attempted to stay the progress of a beneficial measure through that House. In stating this, he begged to say, that by an accident he had had the misfortune to lose the speech made that night by the hon. member for Boroughbridge. Yet he did not know that the privation was a misfortune. He was not quite sure that he was justified in regretting the loss of the hon. Gentleman's eloquence, seeing that he had had the fortune to hear him address himself to the Question of Reform no fewer than seventy-five times; and he doubted whether even the fertile imagination of the hon. and learned Member could at that hour enrich his oratory with any new flowers of argument or any new turns of expression. An hon. Member near him (Mr. Fane) had brought forward the fruits of his historical research, and told them that the concessions granted to their subjects by Charles 1st of England, and Louis 16th of France, had been the cause of their ruin. Now he (Mr. O'Connell) 445 would inform the hon. Gentleman, that this mode of illustrating his argument proved that he had been reading history to little purpose. He would give him a different reading of the events to which he had referred. It was because Charles and Louis had conceded too late that they were ruined. The hon. Member had informed the House that these monarchs perished by concession, while George 3rd was saved by refusing to concede. He would also set the hon. Gentleman right on that point:—George 3rd had nothing to concede to England, but he had concessions—equitable concessions—to grant to America, and there, in the sole case in which they were wanted and demanded, he lost his sovereignty over the country whose appeal was disregarded. None of these instances presented any parallel to the present. The Sovereign of these realms had attended to the prayer of his subjects—our gracious King had no concession to make—that which barred the strong and general wish of the nation was a rapacious, a sordid oligarchy, standing between the Throne and the people. An interested faction, which usurped the privileges of the one and the rights of the other. For the first time the people of England, Ireland, and Scotland, had banded themselves firmly together to cry for the restoration of their rights from the boroughmongers, and who or what should gainsay their demands? It was, he admitted, rather unreasonable to ask Tories to read history, but he would not require them to travel very far back—he would ask them what they understood by the transactions of that House concerning another measure, happily now passed into a law. That House had three times passed the charter of his country's liberties, three times, he repeated, had the bill for Catholic Emancipation been forwarded to the House of Lords, and as many times was it rejected, in opposition to the liberty of conscience and to the freedom of the country. But he would ask the opponents of Reform, did that rejection succeed in putting down the feelings of the people? Did it succeed in restoring tranquillity among those who called for their rights? No—it only served to prolong for some additional years the continuance of agitation and strife, and it ended—how? By the enemies of the measure being at last obliged to yield to the pressure of justice and public opinion. He could not 446 precisely say whether the same strong feeling were extant in England on the subject of Reform, but he did think that the people of England were not less resolute than his countrymen. He knew the spirit that prevailed in Scotland, and he could tell the inhabitants of those two great sections of the empire, that the people of Ireland were equally determined as they were, to see that justice should be done. They had been told, that if the Members of that House only acted discreetly—only preserved a laudable moderation—only affected to believe that the public mind had relapsed into quiescence—that the people would be lulled into a forgetfulness of all that had passed. But the people were not so blind as some persons chose to pronounce them, and they would not submit to be deceived by that or by any other House. What would the people of England say to an Administration formed on Anti-reform principles? What, would be the fate of such an Administration had been already seen, for at the moment after a late Minister had made his celebrated declaration, from that moment the persons of him and his colleagues ceased to be safe. Was it not true that they were afraid to enter the city of London unguarded? Could hon. Gentlemen have forgotten the fears of the late Premier of being attacked in the city of London, from the time he uttered the declaration against Reform until he tendered his wise and proper resignation, and appeased the popular discontent? Suppose a new Administration were formed, taking away from Scotland all hope of regeneration, what would be the consequences of driving to despair her brave and determined people? What would be the consequence of restoring to long abused power a party inflamed to frenzy by the curbing of their malevolent passions—a party to whose spleen and selfishness the interests of the people had been sacrificed for years? What would be the consequences of allowing faction again to reign triumphant in Ireland—of permitting the orange flag to float over that island, and the black flag over Scotland? What would be the result of turning a deaf ear to the multitudes in the manufacturing towns who had been basely deprived of their proper privileges? He would call him a bold man—he would also call him a bad man—who should advise that House wantonly to sacrifice its sole remaining chance of becoming in 447 tranquillity and concord the real organ of public opinion. They had been interrogated as to what good would result from acquiescence in the present Motion. The good was palpable enough. It would prevent the people from sinking under apprehension or becoming outrageous from disappointment—it would cause hope to take the place of despair—it would throw overboard that body of discontent which distressed and impeded the majestic course of England's destinies, and which had been generated by a long night of oppression, and was nursed and fostered by the decision of the House of Lords; all this would it do if they spoke their minds emphatically that night. They were bound to support Ministers, and they might support them without fear. It was the act of his Majesty's Ministers which had brought them there—by that act Ministers were pledged to abide; they could not shrink from the trust, and the House had a right to call upon them to proceed in their purpose by all the paths and ways recognised by the Constitution. The powers of a right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Croker) had failed him when he attacked the speech of the hon. member for Calne—a speech distinguished by genuine eloquence, the brilliancy of which met the mental eye with greater lustre because it was set off by the light of profound judgment. And how had the right hon. Gentleman assailed this speech? By selecting portions of insulated opinions, and animadverting upon them, to the exclusion of other and essential considerations. He had endeavoured to ridicule the hon. Member's ideas of the force and dignity of public opinion, by bringing forward the breaking of machinery as an example of the absurd and mischievous effects it had produced. He had not given his example fairly. Why did he confine it to the act of poverty and ignorance? To meet the scope of his argument he should have had the Judges and the Counsel indicted for the same crime. Opinion, when once awakened, would soon make itself heard. He was declaring no secret when he said that it was but for the purpose of avoiding danger that the bill for emancipating the Catholics had been introduced to Parliament by the previous Administration. He understood that the state of the country was awful. He was not himself acquainted with the state of England, but he had heard that there had been a re-action on the question 448 of Reform in the public mind, and he found that, in reply to this assertion, the people had assembled in multitudes, in the tranquil determination to seek and obtain their rights. He might be told that he was mistaken—he might be told so by some poor Radical, who made a trade and profession of his politics [Mr. Hunt cried "hear."] He begged pardon of the hon. member for Preston, the late Secretary for the Admiralty had quoted him in his absence. That right hon. Gentleman relied much on his opinions respecting the people of England. How were those who threw a doubt upon the popular feeling answered?—Why, that very day there had been a meeting of 40,000 persons in the parish of Marylebone, to consider the course it became them to adopt on the vital question. He was happy to see the Holy Alliance that had been formed between the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. member for Preston; but notwithstanding their united efforts, he ventured to predict that peace and liberty would survive to bless the nation. The stand made against the Bill by the Tories left him one consolation, for if it were postponed much longer, more would be demanded; and if the prayer of the people did not go the length of Universal Suffrage, it would most probably call for the excellent measure of the Ballot; and if the Aristocracy could but see their own interests they would have attended early to the popular voice. If no concession were made to the just demands of the people, might they not eventually protest against any aristocratical rights whatever? Were their Lordships wise in telling the people that the Representation must not be amended? Might not some one start up and talk of the absurdity of hereditary legislation? Might not some person next week—a man who had spoken in glowing and generous anticipation of the harmonious blending of King, Lords, and Commons, devoted in unity to the whole Constitution—might not such a person, in the bitterness of baffled expectation, question the right and sense of voting by proxy—of deciding without having heard? Might not men be stirred to speak of the absurdity of a legislative power which descended from father to son—from wisdom to idiocy—from him who had rendered splendid services to his country to him who had done nothing but mischief to his country? If such topics were raised, with whom would they origin-? 449 ate? All at that hour was peace—not a turbulent hand had been raised; but who would answer for the occurrences of another month—a week—a moment, after the absurd rejection of the conciliatory measure in another place—a proceeding which, whatever sanctity the House that authorized it claimed, left no impression of that sanctity clinging to him. He would now put it to the House what they were to do for the people. His counsel would be, that they should rally round Ministers. During five years of Mr. Pitt's Administration 100 Peers had been created to second his views: that was their only service. The country expected that the King's Ministers would imitate the example, and come forward with manliness and apply a remedy adequate to the existing emergency. If there were a majority of forty-one in the Lords, why not create eighty-two? The people had sent to that House a sweeping majority in favour of the Bill—why should not Ministers introduce eighty-two Reformers into the other House? Then would the Peerage be safe. Did hon. Members hold the House of Peers to be so good that it would be tainted by a sprinkling of Reform? Was it so good a thing that the Tories wanted to monopolize it? He believed they would as long as they could keep the property of the boroughs in their clutches. He had heard only a few days before, that one of them had given 80,000l. for Gatton which his Lordship might naturally desire to keep by his vote. He would forbear to trespass longer on the time of the House. The Bill for readjusting the constitutional interests of the empire had been brought in by Ministers, and he anxiously and earnestly hoped, that hon. Members would come to a division that night guided by their conscience and the interest of their country, such as might lead, by doing justice, to the speedy settlement of the question, allaying those angry passions that shook the frame of the community, rendering England contented—Scotland satisfied—and Ireland delighted.
would vote for the Motion, because he felt assured that no Government could preside over this country but a Government of Reform. If an Administration were formed to coerce British feeling and govern the country by the sword, he would be one of the first men to draw a sword against it.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
rose to call the 450 hon. Member to order. He moved that the hon. Member's expressions should be taken down.
was not at all surprised at his expressions being taken up as they had been by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had distinguished himself by that course of extracting explanations. The words he had used were—that if the government of the sword were established in this country—a circumstance which he did not think possible—he would be one of the first men to raise a sword against it.
Sir Robert Peel
could but regret that the hon. and gallant Member should think it necessary to put a hypothetical case of establishing a government of the sword. Such hypothetical assumptions of governments established by the sword was like the pouring of oil, of which the learned Member had just spoken—it was pouring the oil of the sword on the stormy waves of our present discontent, when hon. Members said, that they wished that the angry passions might be soothed, and that the excited feelings of the people might be calmed. He had meant to take no other part in this discussion than was necessary to vindicate his own consistency in the vole he should give, and he should not have departed from that determination had not the speeches lately made formed such a signal contrast to the speeches of the noble Lord who opened the Debate, and the hon. Member who seconded the Motion. The noble Lord meant, by proposing his Resolution to pledge the majority who had passed the Bill to adhere to its principles. The noble Lord naturally expected that the Members who voted in that majority would vote for his Resolution; and naturally perceived, that those who voted against the Bill were precluded by that from acceding to his Resolution. When the hon. and learned Gentleman who had spoken some time before (Mr. Macaulay), said nothing had been uttered on the principle of the Resolution—did he expect—did the House expect, after the long discussion of what the hon. and learned Gentleman called disgusting and weary details of the Bill; did the hon. and learned Member expect that on that occasion they were to renew the whole Debate on the question of Parliamentary Reform? Those who would now vote for the Resolution had already proved their 451 approbation of the principle of Reform; and he must consider it quite unnecessary that those should again agitate the subject who had expressed their opinions by voting against the second reading of the Bill. The object should rather be, to place the subject at rest; and he did not think the agitation was likely to be calmed by again renewing the discussion. It would be more meet, under the present circumstances, to use the language of wise moderation. The great majority of the House had no occasion to prove by the present Resolution their attachment to Reform; and they would best support the Constitution, and best secure their own view of being very moderate, and calming the excited feelings of the people on this important subject, by voting against the Motion. Nothing certainly which had happened should make him not adhere to that moderation he recommended. He could not forget, that on the last time he had addressed the House, he had expressed his satisfaction that no personal differences had taken place during the Debate, and the noble Lord's (Lord Althorp) reply had expressed a hope that all animosity would be buried. He knew not what necessity there was now to revive animosity. It was not justified by the occasion on either side, either in defending the Administration, or in assigning the reasons in detail for with holding confidence from the Government. In stating some of the grounds for withholding that confidence, he should avoid all acrimonious discussion. If the majority thought it advisable to agree to a Resolution to support the Bill, in order to place it upon the Records of the House, that was not the time for him to enter into verbal criticism of the Resolution, for which he certainly did not mean to vote. He, however, doubted, under the circumstances, if it were wise in the noble Lord to call on the majority to agree to such a Resolution. He thought the divisions on the Bill a sufficient proof of the determination of the House to support the Bill, without entering into any such Resolution. That Resolution called upon the House to affirm two propositions, not necessarily connected. They were called upon to declare in favour of the Reform Bill, and to declare, at the same time, that his Majesty's Government was deserving of their confidence. He thought it unwise to call on the House to assent to the two propositions in one Resolution, and it would be more compli- 452 mentary to his Majesty's Government, as well as more customary, to give expression to the confidence of the House in a distinct Resolution. Allow him to say to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Thomas Duncombe), that he had heard his speech with great pleasure, and was only prevented from giving it great praise by the compliment the hon. Member had thought proper to pay to him; but that speech was distinguished by a tone of moderation which the majority would do well to adopt. The hon. Gentleman thought it would be most unfortunate if his Majesty had no other alternative to pass the Bill but to create a number of Peers. He said, that every other measure ought to be adopted in preference to that, and that such an alternative should be only had recourse to if all other means failed; he was anxious that the House should not despair, and thought that there was yet time to avoid the difficulty by meeting the Peers half-way. But if the hon. Member entertained any hope of that, was his course wise? Why, the Resolution he supported, cut off all hope for ever of moving one step towards reconciliation. The hon. Gentleman had a stange policy, for while he recommended the House to go half-way, he recommended it steadily to adhere to the Bill. He hoped to meet the other House half-way, and he counselled the House of Commons not to move one step. The tone of the hon. Gentleman's speech was that of moderation, but he supported a Resolution which cut off all hopes of a compromise. Was it not evident that there was a contradiction between the hon. Gentleman's speech and the Resolution he supported? Hon. Members must see, that the Resolution was a compulsory proposition. Another hon. Gentleman had said, that the provisions of the Bill might have been modified had it not been for the obstinacy of the Opposition. According to that, it was the troublesome Opposition which prevented the Bill from being made perfect; but the vote the House was called on to come to, implied that it had been made perfect by their obstinacy. It was urged, as one ground for the Resolution, that the Bill had been matured by discussions the most anxious and laborious. And the fault he had to find with the Resolution was, that it implied that this Bill ought to be adhered to, when an equally efficient measure might be introduced, which this Resolution would pre- 453 clude them from accepting. Why pledge the House to the Bill as it stood, and why exclude themselves from accepting another measure equivalent to that? The Resolution pledged the House to all the provisions of the Bill—it pledged the House to the 10l. clause. One of the many provisions, which was much insisted upon, and which was much objected to, was the uniform right of voting given to the 10l. householders. Now he had heard it stated, he would not say where, nor by whom, but he had heard it stated by a person of high consideration, that the arguments on the uniform right of voting had gone far to shake his mind, and he should be prepared to listen to extensive modifications. Great improvements, therefore, might be made in this part of the Bill, though he did not say those improvements would be restrictions; on the contrary, in some cases there might be a considerable extension of the right of voting. That was a most important part of the Bill. Perhaps some plan might be acceptable which would give that right to small towns at a lower rate, and restrict it to a higher rent in the larger towns: at any rate, the right might be advantageously modified; but if the House agreed to the Resolution, they would pledge themselves against any modification of that or any other of the provisions of the Bill. They might pledge themselves, if they pleased, to adhere to the principle of the Bill, but by pledging themselves to adhere to the provisions, they would prevent all improvement. On these grounds he objected to the Resolution. He doubted the policy of the majority who had supported the Bill pledging itself to adhere to the Bill, but being a member of the minority which had done all in its power to oppose the Bill, he must give his decided opposition to a Resolution which pledged him and the House to that Bill. He had heard the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) complain of the weariness and tediousness of discussions; he taunted the Opposition with being the authors of those tedious debates, but the Resolution of which the hon. and learned Gentleman was one of the most strenuous supporters, said, that the Bill had been matured by discussions the most anxious and laborious. The noble Lord's Resolution vindicated the pertinacious opposition, and on these grounds called on the House to support the Bill. The Resolution embraced two subjects—that of Reform, and confidence in the Govern- 454 ment. The House was called upon to express its confidence in the integrity of the Ministers, their perseverance, and their ability in introducing the Reform Bill, and in conducting it through the House. He did not wish by any means to lower the character and weaken the power of the executive Government; and in expressing a difference of opinion from the Resolution, he begged to be understood as not implying any doubt of the personal integrity or perseverance of the Ministers; neither did he express any doubt of their ability in debates; but without doubting their personal integrity, their perseverance, or their skill in debate, he might still be far from placing confidence in them as a Government. He could not, for example, extend his approbation to the manner in which they had introduced the Reform Bill, nor the time of introducing it, both of which were, in his opinion, inconsistent with the interest of the country. The Resolution praised their conduct on these points, and against that part of it he could give a most conscientious vote. There were several other parts of their conduct which he did not approve of. The repeal of the Coal-duties had his approbation, supposing it practicable so far to reduce taxation; but their foreign policy, which he would not enter into, was anything but favourable to the interests of the country; but without stating all his objections to their policy, it was sufficient for him to say, that the Government was not entitled to his confidence on account of the manner in which they had introduced and supported the Reform Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Macaulay) said, that refusing to acknowledge the principles of this Bill would expose them to a greater domestic danger than this country had ever before been exposed to. The hon. and learned, member for Calne had told the House to look on the precipice on the brink of which they were standing, and he referred this danger to the conduct of those who had opposed the Reform Bill. The Opposition, however, considered that his Majesty's Ministers were mainly responsible for the crisis, from the extent of the Bill they had introduced, from the time when it was brought forward, and from the manner in which its temporary success had been ensured. He would undertake to say, that, in the excitement which had been produced throughout the country, if the Ministers were to propose a bill for the 455 abolition of the hereditary Peerage, which the hon. and learned member for Kerry said might speedily become a question, it would not be difficult to persuade the people that the abolition was consonant to their interests, and that the peerage was full of anomalies, and at variance with their rights. He could not help complaining of the tone of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Macauley) He lamented the expressions adopted by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and his observations on the present state of domestic danger. Why did the hon. and learned Gentleman seek, by stating strange principles, and exaggerating difficulties, to increase that danger? Why did he seek to augment dangerous passions on dangerous topics? Why did he not follow the example of the noble Lord? Admitting they stood on the brink of a precipice, why did he endeavour to increase their danger, and embarrass the course of Government, by inflaming passions which it was so desirable to lull? He must say, that the eloquence of the hon. and learned Gentleman not unfrequently got the better of his judgment; and now and then, though there was some semblance of argument in its declamation, when it was examined it was found to make rather against than for his side of the question. Then the hon. Gentleman had stated, that the House of Commons was generally, in relation to the House of Lords, in the right, and the bills it had sent up to the Lords, though at first refused, were afterwards assented to; but if the House of Commons had this general means of persuading or compelling the House of Lords to adopt its views, what became of that part of the hon. Member's argument which went to state, that the House of Commons was dependent on the House of Lords? Did not that prove that the two Houses were independent, co-ordinate powers, and that the opinion of the House of Commons generally prevailed? He was sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman, in talking of danger, had again introduced menaces into his speech—that he thought it right to menace the House of Lords. The hon. and learned Gentleman's whole argument turned upon the principle of intolerance—I am right, and you are wrong. That was the whole of the hon. and learned Gentleman's assumption. He thought, however, that he was supported by physical power, and then he said, "You must give way." Could he not think that he was addressing 456 high and honourable men, who were capable of being influenced by reason and argument? and would it not have been more wise to expect to influence the decision of the other House by reasoning than by threats—threats that if they did not pass the Bill, they should be proscribed and exiled like the nobility of France? The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that it was important to produce tranquillity; and, therefore, he voted for the Resolution of the noble Lord: but, if he wished for tranquillity, would he call upon the House to enter into a pledge which excited hopes, perhaps encouraged discontent, and kept alive agitation? The hon. Member indulged in prophecies; and he never heard prophecies more likely to realise themselves than those of the hon. and learned Member. Instead of calling on the people to demand the Bill, why not enjoin them to rest satisfied and contented? Why encourage discontent and dissatisfaction? Why tell the people how they might resist the law, as the hon. and learned Gentleman did? The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) had alluded to the state of the metropolis, when an infamous attack had been made upon the life of the Prime Minister, and that Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington; an act of the basest ingratitude and the greatest wickedness. The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to the intended attack on the Duke of Wellington. [Mr. Macaulay intimated that he had not alluded to any such thing.] No, it was the hon. member for Kerry he was alluding to; who had considered the attack on a Prime Minister of England, and that Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington, as the result of bitter excitement on this question; but while that hon. Member had spoken of the base attack on the life of the Duke of Wellington, not indeed by the middle classes, but by the lowest classes, the hon. and learned member for Calne had explained how they might avoid the penalties of the law, and avoid paying the taxes. Was not that exciting the passions of the people? The hon. and learned Gentleman deplored the excesses of the people, and their readiness to resist the law, and said it was hardly necessary to make a speech directing them low to show their hostility. He would also say a few words to the other hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Sheil), who had imitated he hon. and learned Gentleman, but had fallen below him. He would not follow 457 the hon. and learned Gentleman, being warned by his example, that the ambition to make a great attempt does not ensure success. The sentences of the hon. and learned Gentleman bore the marks of much labour, and were a credit to his industry. He had given the House several old stories, and among others that of the Sybil, and on her he thought the House had already drawn often enough during these Debates, and he hoped the rules of the House concerning females would, in future, be extended to her, and that she would not be suffered again to be present at the Debates. There was another female mentioned by Burke of whom the hon. and learned Member reminded him. Mr. Burke said, that persons who could imitate the contortions of the Pythian Goddess thought they had caught her inspiration. The hon. and learned Gentleman thought the whole essence of Toryism might be condensed into one short word, and that short word was East Retford. He wished his hon. friend, the member for Hertford, were present, for he could tell the hon. and learned Member, that he proposed extending the franchise of East Retford to Bassetlaw, and it was rather singular that the hon. and learned Member should have selected the act of a good old Whig to designate the party of the Tories. He hoped he had not said one word to add to the excitement which existed on the subject to which the Resolution referred, which it was his wish to calm. He understood that his Majesty's Government were to retain office; that they still enjoyed the confidence of their Sovereign, and still hoped to carry the Bill. There was one thing he thought certain—that they were the truest friends to their country who proclaimed, not that a majority had a fixed determination to support the Bill, but a determination to support the law; and that all language which tended to influence the passions of the people—all measures which tended to excite their hopes, would only end in greater disappointment to all. They ought not to refer to the possibility—they ought not to teach the people that it was easy to refuse the payment of taxes—they ought not to exaggerate the amount of persons assembled at public meetings, and encourage the people to form others. It was easy enough to say that 150,000 men assembled here and 40,000 men there, but before such assertions were made, individuals ought to be correct as to 458 the facts, for such statements led men to meet in other places; and such meetings could not take place, though for a legal object, without exciting apprehensions in the well-disposed, and without exposing the public peace to danger. Great masses of men could not meet without exciting apprehension. He wished that hon. Members would warn the people of the consequences of disobeying the law, particularly of refusing to pay the taxes. The whole community was deeply interested in preserving obedience to the law. It was not for the advantage of the few, but for the benefit of them all; and those mad proceedings now talked of would paralyse industry, suspend commerce, and inflict the most grievous injury on the lowest classes. Again he would say, that the people should be informed that the privileges of the Peers, which were now so lightly brought into discussion, were not conferred on the Peers for the gratification of their personal vanity—they were not so much personal privileges, as privileges conferred for the benefit of the whole community, and which had, on several occasions, been useful to the people themselves. The independence of the Peers was a guarantee and security to the liberties of the people, and tranquillity would be best preserved by respecting their rights. He did not like to trust himself on this subject of the popular excitement; but when he considered the influence of the Government, he was persuaded that if the same means were employed to excite an opinion against the Peerage which had been employed on the subject of Reform, it would not be difficult to produce a very strong dislike to it. In conclusion, the right hon. Gentleman declared, that all who had voted for the Reform Bill would probably vote for the Resolution, while all who had opposed the Bill were bound in consistency to vote against the Resolution.
§ Lord Althorp
said, I feel all the difficulties of my situation—I feel that this Motion involves the conduct and character of the Government, and I therefore waited till the other Members had delivered their opinions, wishing to learn the feeling and opinions of the House before I stated my own views, or before I undertook the defence of any of our measures. I have now heard the opinions of Gentlemen, and will take the opportunity of saying a few words. From the opinions I have heard, it is stated that the conduct of the Government has not been such as to de- 459 serve the confidence of the House. The right hon. Baronet has adverted to the financial measures, and to the foreign policy, and to that still more important subject—the present state of the public feeling, for which he holds his Majesty's Government responsible. As to our financial measures, I will not now enter into any detail respecting them. Certainly, what I proposed on that subject did not meet with the approbation of the House; but I have the satisfaction, nevertheless, to know, that several of my propositions were attended with beneficial consequences. It has been said, that the remission of the tax on coals has not been productive of any good effect. In the immediate neighbourhood of town I allow that it has not; but in the remoter districts prices have fallen. Then, with respect to the remission of the tax on printed cottons, I have the satisfaction of knowing, that in the manufacturing districts it has had a great and beneficial effect. So that, admitting that the larger portion of the measures which I proposed did not experience the concurrence of the House, yet others have given much relief. On our foreign policy I will also abstain from entering into details. But we have the satisfaction to say, that we have preserved peace. One of the first pledges that we gave on entering upon office was, that we would endeavour to do so. We have redeemed that pledge, and there is no danger whatever that the present peace will be broken. As to the other and most important point to which the right hon. Baronet alluded, namely, the present state of the public feeling, I maintain that for that state the present Government are not accountable. When we came into orifice, we found a strong and universal desire existing for Parliamentary Reform. That desire had been increasing for many years. The right hon. Baronet and his friends were obliged to acknowledge its existence; and so strongly had it operated on the right hon. Baronet's mind, that he allowed it had induced him on one occasion (before the introduction of the late Bill) to abstain from voting in that House on the question of Reform. Such was the state of feeling when we came into office, and when my noble friend at the head of Administration gave that pledge on the subject of Reform which was consistent with all the principles of his public life. It has been insinuated by a right hon. and gallant 460 Officer, that his Majesty's Government increased the extent of their measure of Reform, because they found that they had lost the confidence of the late House of Commons. Now, I will ask, who that knew the composition and character of the late House of Commons would, in his senses, have proposed to them an extended measure of Reform in consequence of our having lost their confidence? Does the right hon. and gallant Member recollect the sort of impression which the measure made on its introduction into the late House? An impression so strong, that I am convinced if the House had divided on the first night, the Bill would have been thrown out by an immense majority. It was only after consideration, and after the sense of the country had declared itself in favour of the Bill, that we obtained the small majority that we did obtain. It was not we who excited the feeling in favour of Reform; but, that feeling existing, it would have been very dangerous to have brought in a delusive measure which would have disappointed the people. Undoubtedly, having passed the measure for the Reform of the Representation, by a great majority in this House, and having sent it to the other House of Parliament, we did expect that at least it would have been taken into consideration. In that expectation we have been disappointed. The right hon. Baronet says, that this Motion is unnecessary. I do not mean to say, that my noble friend did not previously tell me of his intention to propose such a motion; but the step was taken entirely without our suggestion. The object of the Motion—whether right or wrong it is not for me to say—is, that if the House thinks that the removal of the present Ministers from his Majesty's Councils would have a disastrous effect on public affairs, it was desirable that the House should express strong confidence in those Ministers. It may be necessary that I should speak frankly and freely on the subject. For myself, I declare that unless I felt a reasonable hope that a measure as efficient as that recently passed in this House might be secured by our continuance in office, I would not continue in office an hour. Whenever that hope ceases, I will cease to hold office. Both my colleagues and myself owe too much to our Sovereign—we are too deeply indebted for the kindness, the candour, the frank sincerity which we have uniformly experienced 461 from him to desert the service of the King while his Majesty thinks our services valuable, and we ourselves think we can advantageously serve his Majesty. But we can no longer serve his Majesty advantageously if we sacrifice our character. Whatever may be the consequences of our retirement, it is our duty not to sacrifice our character. We owe also a great deal to the people. We have been supported by the people in the most handsome manner. The people have a right to demand that we should not desert them while our stay in office can conduce to their benefit. Sir, I will further state, that I will not be a party to the proposal of any measure less efficient than that lately passed in this House. I do not mean to say, that after the discussion and consideration which the measure underwent, some modification may not be made in it which, without diminishing its efficiency, may render it more complete. But what I mean to say is, that I will be no party to any measure which I do not conscientiously believe will give the people a full, free, and fair Representation in Parliament, and secure all the objects which we hoped to effect for them by the late Bill. It is impossible that his Majesty's present Government can make any other proposition to the House. I admit that the opponents of the Bill have had a great triumph; although, in the present Debate, with the exception of one hon. Gentleman, no great triumph has been expressed. But I am confident that the measure is only postponed. I am satisfied that if the people of England will be firm and determined, but at the same time peaceable and quiet, there can be no doubt of their ultimate and even speedy success. There is one, and only one, chance of failure and disappointment; I mean any occurrence that may lead the people to break out into acts of violence, or into any unconstitutional conduct. If I have any influence with the people, if they put any trust in my sincerity, I implore them, for the sake of the great cause in which we are engaged, to be patient and peaceable, and to do nothing illegal and unconstitutional. I would say to them, "Be as firm, be as determined, be as persevering as you please; but never break through legal and constitutional restraints; never place yourselves in a situation in which the law must be put in operation against you whoever are Ministers." By temperance, steadiness, and perseverance 462 the cause of Parliamentary Reform must ultimately triumph. Whether my colleagues and myself are destined to have the honour of success upon that question as Ministers, or whether, as in the Catholic Question, after having fought the battle, others are to enjoy the glory of the victory, I know not; but as long as I have any voice in the direction of public affairs, I will use my utmost exertions in the cause of Parliamentary Reform.
§ Mr. Hunt
said, he felt very much delighted at hearing the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, recommending peace and obedience to the laws, the more especially as the public Press was inciting the people to acts of violence. He was persuaded, however, that the noble Lord need not be alarmed. Notwithstanding the instigations of the press, in his opinion the people would not commit any acts of violence. When the House of Lords threw out the Bill, the people had been recommended to preserve peace. There was no reason for such a recommendation. Where had there been any violence? Where had any multitudes of the people assembled? Had hon. Members seen the people in great numbers in their way to the House? When the Catholic Question was under discussion, the assemblage of people in the neighbourhood of the House was twenty to one as compared with the assemblage of that day; when the Corn bill was under discussion, they were as a hundred to one. The newspapers of that morning had said that all the shops were to be closed, and that papers with the words "no taxes," were to be posted on the shutters. He had put his horse to, and had driven through Westminster, and the City, and over London Bridge, and so to Blackfriar's Road, and in the whole of that distance he had not observed a single act of violence, and had seen only one shop with a single shutter up, on which was exhibited the word "Reform," in mourning. He had been asked why he was not in the Regent's Park that morning. His answer was, that, he had no business there, and that he had not been invited. He had, however, been at a meeting that night elsewhere, and, being asked, had taken the chair. The meeting consisted of between two and three thousand persons. He thought he could not do better than submit to that meeting the proposition which the noble Lord had submitted to the House; 463 and the result was, that when the question was put, seven hands were held up in favour of the proposition, and above 2,000 against it. He had told the meeting that he had no confidence in his Majesty's Ministers. And why? Because they came in on pledges of Economy, Retrenchment, and Reform, which pledges they had violated. The kind of Reform which they proposed, he had never advocated in his life; and he was sure it would give no satisfaction to the people at large, [much noise and coughing, and calls of "Question."]
§ Mr. Croker
rose to order. He hoped the House would listen to the hon. member for Preston, as he seldom troubled them at any great length.
§ Mr. Hunt
proceeded. His Majesty's Ministers had come in on a pledge of Economy and Retrenchment. How had they redeemed it? When they were in opposition they opposed the grant of 16,000l. for the Propagation of the Gospel, and proposed that it should be reduced to 8,000l., and the next year totally withdrawn. When they came into power, they obtained the whole 16,000l. Who were so loud as the present Ministers when in opposition against the extravagancies of Windsor Castle? And yet they who complained so loudly of the expense of the furnishing of Windsor Castle, obtained an additional grant of 10,000l. for furnishing two rooms. They had increased the army and the navy—they had called out the yeomanry and the militia. Was that economy? When the Committee on the Civil List—a Committee appointed by the present Ministers, brought in their Report, recommending a reduction of 12,000l., that recommendation was rejected. Was that retrenchment? They then proposed an annuity of 100,000l. to the Queen, in the event of the King's death. If a Tory Administration had made such a proposition, what a clamour would have been raised against them! [coughing.] If the noise continued he would move an adjournment. The present Ministers had instituted no inquiries into subjects respecting which the people complained. They had proposed no investigation into the case of the Deacles, or into the occurrences at Newtownbarry, or Castlepollard. How could he have any confidence in men who had so conducted themselves? He understood that the Lord Chancellor had allowed himself to be drawn in his carriage by the 464 people, a thing of which he (Mr. Hunt) should have been ashamed at any time within the last ten years. Did any policemen interfere on the occasion? It would have been very foolish if they had. But coming over Blackfriar's Bridge that evening, a number of people had surrounded his (Mr. Hunt's) carriage, and had requested to be allowed to draw him, but he declined it. The police nevertheless interfered, and drove the people away with sticks. There never was a measure respecting which the people had been so grossly imposed upon as they were by the Reform Bill. It was not so much by Ministers as by their agents of the Press that the people had been so deceived. The Press endeavoured to make the people believe that they were to have everything they ought to have; and yet seven-eighths of the people were excluded from the elective franchise. He (Mr. Hunt) had all his life contended that every man in the community should have a share in the Representation. Nothing would, and nothing ought, to satisfy the people of England but householders' suffrage, and Triennial Parliaments. The line limiting the franchise to 10l. householders was most absurd and unjust.
§ Lord Ebrington
said, he thanked the right hon. Gentleman, the member for Tamworth, for reminding him of an omission he had made, and that was the foreign policy of the present Government. He thought the gratitude of the country was due to them, and to the noble Lord especially at the head of the Foreign Department, for the skill, discretion, and ability with which he conducted a most arduous negotiation, and had brought the country safely through all difficulties, which had been aggravated, both in this and the other House of Parliament, by the party of the hon. Gentleman opposite. The Ministers wished to preserve the country from foreign war, and establish peace between two neighbouring countries. No one at the other side, except the hon. member for Preston, had attempted to say there was any re-action in public opinion; and if silence gave consent, their silence admitted this—[cries of "No, no."] Hon. Gentlemen said no; but there had been proof given within the last twenty-four hours which must convince every reasonable man, that there was no alteration in public opinion upon Parliamentary Reform, or that, if there were alteration, it was in an 465 increased intensity of the public feeling in its favour. He trusted that opinion would continue to be manifested in a quiet and peaceable manner, and that would secure the consummation of the wishes of the people, in the only way in which they could be acceded to with safety to the Constitution.
§ The House divided on the Resolution:—Ayes 329; Noes 198—Majority 131.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adeane, Henry J.||Currie, John|
|Althorp, Viscount||Curteis, H. B.|
|Anson, Sir G.||Denison, W. J.|
|Astley, Sir J. D.||Denison, J. E.|
|Atherley, A.||Denman, Sir T.|
|Baillie, James Evan||Duncombe, T. S.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||Dundas, Sir R. L.|
|Barham, J.||Dundas, Hon. J. C.|
|Baring, Sir T.||Dundas, Hon. T.|
|Baring, F. T.||Dundas, C.|
|Barnett, C. J.||Easthope, J.|
|Bayntun, S. A.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Benett, John||Ellice, E.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Ellis, W.|
|Berkeley, Captain||Etwall, R.|
|Bernal, R.||Evans, W.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Evans, W. B.|
|Blake, Sir F.||Evans, Col. De Lacy|
|Blamire, W.||Ewart, W.|
|Blount, E.||Fazakerley, J. N.|
|Blunt, Sir R. C.||Fellowes, H. A. W.|
|Bouverie, Hon. D. P.||Fergusson, Sir R.|
|Bouverie, Hon. P. P.||Fitzroy, Lord J.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Fitzroy, C. A.|
|Brougham, J.||Foley, Hon. T. H.|
|Brougham, W.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Buller, J. W.||Folkes, Sir W. J. H.|
|Bulwer, H. L.||Fordwich, Viscount|
|Bulwer, E. L.||Foster, James|
|Bunbury, Sir E. H.||Fox, Lieut.-Colonel|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Gisborne, T.|
|Byng, G.||Glynne, H.|
|Byng, G. S.||Godson, R.|
|Byng, Sir J.||Graham, Sir J. R. G.|
|Calcraft, G. H.||Graham, Sir S.|
|Calley, Thomas||Grant, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Calvert, C.||Greene, T. G.|
|Calvert, N.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Campbell, John||Guise, Sir E. B.|
|Canning, Sir S.||Harcourt, G. G. V.|
|Carter, J. B.||Harvey, D. W.|
|Cavendish, Lord||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Cavendish, H. F. C.||Heathcote, Sir G.|
|Cavendish, C. C.||Heron, Sir R.|
|Chaytor, W. R. C.||Heywood, B.|
|Chichester, J. P. B.||Hobhouse, Sir J. C.|
|Clive, E. B.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Coke, T. W.||Hodgson, J.|
|Cockerell, Sir C.||Horne, Sir W.|
|Colborne, N. W. R.||Hoskins, K.|
|Cradock, Sheldon||Howard, P. H.|
|Crampton, P. C.||Howard, Hon. W.|
|Howick, Lord||Philipps, Sir R. B.|
|Hudson, T.||Phillipps, C. M.|
|Hughes, W. H.||Philips, G. R.|
|Hughes, Colonel||Portman, E. B.|
|Hume, J.||Poyntz, W. S.|
|Ingilby, Sir W. A.||Price, Sir R.|
|James, W.||Protheroe, E.|
|Jerningham, Hon. H.||Pryse, P.|
|Johnstone, Sir J. V.||Ramsbottom, J.|
|Kemp, T. R.||Rickford, W.|
|King, E. B.||Rider, T.|
|Knight, R.||Robarts, W. A.|
|Knight, H. G.||Robinson, Sir G.|
|Labouchere, H.||Robinson, G. H.|
|Langston, J. H.||Rooper, J. B.|
|Langton, W. Gore||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Lawley, F.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Lee, J. L.||Russell, C.|
|Lefevre, C. S.||Russell, Lord W.|
|Leigh, T. C.||Russell, Sir R. G.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Sanford, E. A.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Scott, Sir E. D.|
|Lennox, Lord A.||Sebright, Sir J.|
|Lennox, Lord J. G.||Skipwith, Sir G.|
|Lennox, Lord W.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Lester, B. L.||Smith, J.|
|Lumley, J. S.||Smith, J. A.|
|Lushington, Dr.||Smith, V.|
|Maberly, John||Smith, G. R.|
|Maberly, Colonel||Smith, M. T.|
|Macaulay, T. B.||Spencer, Hon. F. R.|
|Macdonald, Sir J.||Stanhope, Captain|
|Mackintosh, Sir J.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Mangles, J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. E. G.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Stephenson, H. F.|
|Marshall, W.||Stewart, P. M.|
|Martin, J.||Strickland, G.|
|Mayhew, W.||Strutt, E.|
|Milbank, M.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Mildmay, P. St. J.||Surrey, Earl of|
|Mills, J.||Stuart, Lord D. C.|
|Moreton, Hon. H.||Tavistock, Marquis|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Morrison, J.||Tennyson, C.|
|Mostyn, E. M. L.||Thicknesse, R.|
|Newark, Lord||Thompson, Ald.|
|Noel, Sir G. N.||Thompson, P. B.|
|North, F.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. C.|
|Norton, Hon. C. F.||Throckmorton, R. G.|
|Nowell, A.||Tomes, J.|
|Nugent, Lord||Torrens, Colonel|
|Offley, F. C.||Townshend, Lord C.|
|Ord, W.||Tynte, C. K. K.|
|Osborne, Lord F. G.||Tyrell, C.|
|Paget, Sir C.||Uxbridge, Earl of|
|Paget, T.||Venables, Alderman|
|Palmer, C.||Vere, J. J. H.|
|Palmer, C. F.||Vernon, Hon. G. J.|
|Palmerston, Viscount||Vernon, Hon. G. H.|
|Payne, Sir P.||Villiers, F.|
|Pelham, Hon. C. A.||Villiers, T. H.|
|Pendarvis, E. W. W.||Vincent, Sir F.|
|Penlease, J. S.||Waithman, Alderman|
|Penrhyn, E.||Walrond, B.|
|Pepys, C. C.||Warburton, H.|
|Petit, L. H.||Warre, J. A.|
|Petre, Hon. E.||Wason, R.|
|Waterpark, Lord||Browne, D.|
|Watson, Hon. R.||Brownlow, C.|
|Webb, Colonel||Burke, Sir J.|
|Wellesley, Hon. W. L.||Callaghan, D.|
|Weyland, Major||Carew, R. S.|
|Whitbread, W. H.||Chapman, M. L.|
|Whitmore, W. W.||Chichester, Sir A.|
|Wilbraham, G.||Clifford, Sir A.|
|Wilde, T.||Copeland, Alderman|
|Wilks, J.||Doyle, Sir J. M.|
|Williams, W. A.||Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.|
|Williams, J.||French, A.|
|Williams, Sir J. H.||Grattan, J.|
|Williamson, Sir H.||Grattan, H.|
|Willoughby, Sir H.||Hill, Lord G. A.|
|Winnington, Sir T. E.||Hill, Lord A.|
|Wood, Ald.||Host, Sir J. W.|
|Wood, J.||Howard, R.|
|Wood, C.||Hutchinson, J. H.|
|Wrightson, W. B.||Jephson, C.|
|Wrottesley, Sir J.||King, Hon. R.|
|Adam, C.||Knox, Colonel|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Lamb, Hon. G.|
|Campbell, W. F.||Lambert, J. S.|
|Ferguson, R.||Lambert, H.|
|Fergusson, R. C.||Leader, N. P.|
|Gillon, W. D.||Macnamara, W.|
|Grant, Right Hon. C.||Mullins, F. W.|
|Johnston, A.||Musgrave, Sir R.|
|Johnston, J.||O'Connell, D.|
|Johnstone, J. J. H.||O'Connell, M.|
|Kennedy, T.||O'Connor, Don|
|Loch, J.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Mackenzie, J. A. S.||O'Grady, Hon. S.|
|Macleod, R.||Ossory, Earl of|
|Ross, H.||Parnell, Sir H.|
|Sinclair, G.||Ponsonby, Hon. G.|
|Stuart, E.||Power, R.|
|Stewart, Sir M. S.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Traill, G.||Russell, J.|
|Acheson, Lord||Walker, C. A.|
|Belfast, Earl of||Westenra, Hon. H.|
|Blackney, W.||White, H.|
|Boyle, Lord||White, S.|
|Boyle, Hon. J.||Wyse, T.|
|Bellew, Sir P.||Littleton, E. J.|
|Browne, J.||Rice, Hon. T. S.|