§ Mr. Litton
had heard in the course of the debate of the previous evening many observations made with reference to Ireland, to which he should have felt it to be his duty not to permit the night to pass over without replying, but for the absence of certain hon. Gentlemen connected with that country, for whose presence he was most desirous during the whole course of the observations which, in the discharge of a solemn duty, he felt compelled to make to the House. He had heard the Government of the Marquess of Normanby, while that nobleman held the distinguished office of Lord-lieutenant of that country, lauded upon the previous evening. To speak of that Government otherwise than in terms of the strongest censure, after the evidence which had been laid before the Committee of the Lords appointed to inquire into the state of crime in Ireland, was utterly ridiculous. Upon the evidence and report of that Committee he would make few, if any, observations; the course which he proposed to himself to take, having relation to the conduct of that noble Lord's successor. It was true that a vote had been passed in that House by a very small majority in favour of Lord Normanby's Government—of a Government which, for his part, he considered a nuisance; but the facts which had been produced before the Lords' Committee threw upon that vote the utmost ridicule. Had not the evidence taken by that Committee established the wholesale discharge of prisoners, and the setting aside of juries in Ireland? Had it not proved, that the judges there were treated by the executive as almost wholly unnecessary, their decisions having been set aside, as of no avail? He would not, however, further allude to the Government of Lord Normanby, but would direct the attention of the House to the maladministration of the government of Ireland during the last six months. When Lord Ebrington had first come among 738 them, he confessed, that during the first three months of that noble Lord's administration he had entertained the best hopes that safety and peace would be reestablished in Ireland, that justice would be fairly administered, and that all classes of her Majesty's subjects would be protected in their rights, in life and property, in security and peace. He would not say one word against the high character in private life of the noble Lord to whom he referred. But he confessed, that when, after being some time amongst them, that noble Lord declared, that it was his intention to follow in the footsteps of Lord Normanby, the peal of alarm was rung through the country—with what justice the House and the country knew. He had said in another place, and he repeated it now, that, in his opinion, the present Government of Ireland had encouraged sedition in that country. He need scarcely say, that many topics of agitation, he should not say whether just or not, had long since ceased to exist in Ireland. The Relief Bill had passed, and the tithe question was settled. Although he objected upon principle to the taking off of the twenty-five per cent., yet he did not hesitate to say, and in this declaration he was supported by the respected members of the Establishment, that with that measure he and they were fully satisfied—not certainly as a measure of justice, but as a measure of peace, and as depriving the agitators of one of their most fruitful topics. He had therefore been led to believe, that all the materials of agitation had been exhausted, and that there now remained no subject upon which any man could deem himself justified in exciting the country to rebellion. For three months after the close of last Session a great part of Ireland, including the metropolis, was in a state of comparative peace; and he felt satisfied, that, if the agitators would but relinquish their pernicious trade, English capital and English manufactures would flow into that country. But peace and tranquillity would not suit the purposes of the agitators, and he did not hesitate to say, that the Government had encouraged their projects. Upon the motion now before the House he had nothing to do with individuals—the censure was directed against the Government. To establish his proposition he would read extracts from two speeches made within a mile of Dublin Castle, and almost within 739 hearing of the law officers of the Crown. The first speech was delivered on the 27th of December last at a public meeting, composed principally of the lower classes, and these were the words used. The hon. and learned Gentleman then read an extract nearly in the following words:—I have always declared that not one drop of blood should be shed—I hate bloodshed and violence; but I now declare that, having struggled through many contests, I am ready to die in the field rather than submit to Tory domination. I have always declared, that not a drop of blood should be shed—but I am ready to die in the field rather than submit to Tory domination. Let others do what they may, I am determined not to submit, and I am certain I will not stand alone, for I will be supported by millions in that determination.He would ask any lawyer, either in the House or out of the House, to contradict him when he stated that language like that was at least sedition. If language like that had been printed or published by the authority of him who used it, he would ask any lawyer to contradict him when he stated, that such printing and such publication would be little short of an act of treason. Besides, we were not left in the dark as to the meaning of those expressions; for after he had himself humbly and respectfully, but still boldly, called the attention of the law officers of the Crown at a meeting of his constituents to that speech, and had asked them first, if they intended to prosecute the speaker, and next, if they intended to let him remain in the commission of the peace for Ireland, the hon. and learned Gentleman, on the 11th of January last, at a public theatre, as it was called, in Dublin, which had been made of late the arena for his anathemas against everything that he (Mr. Litton) believed to be just, right, and honourable, had followed up his former by similar expressions. Talking of the House of Lords, the hon. and learned Gentleman said—If one of those aristocrats had gone to a stock broker and told him that Tipperary was in commotion, that Galway was in arms, and and that Kerry (the hon. Gentleman's native county) was up, and led on by—(here, said Mr. Litton, there was a blank, and cheers from the people)—if that had been stated, and if the same authority had asked, in case it were at tempted to put down these disturbances, and to hang the agitator, what the national debt in this country would be worth, what do you think would be the answer of the stock broker?740 If there could be any doubt, that there was in the previous remarks he had quoted treason and sedition, they received on this subsequent occasion an ear-mark from the speaker which it was impossible for any man longer to misunderstand. Again, he found in a speech, which the hon. and learned Member delivered on the same day, at a dinner which was given to him, the following language:—That the people of Ireland were to talk no more, and were no longer to show either apathy or agitation. The man who did not become as great an agitator as he (Mr. O'Connell) was, was a traitor to Ireland. He bade them send round to their million of men with their thousands of leaders, and let them know, that their country was lost, if their congregations did not rise to prevent their liberties from being wrested from them by force and fraud. The peasant was ready to sacrifice himself, and he called upon them to stand between him and the knife of the oppressor.He hoped and believed, that the speaking of these words would not be denied in that House; he hoped and believed that the printing and publication of them would not be denied in that House. If they should be denied, he for one would not believe the denial. He had taken the first paragraph which he had read from the Pilot Dublin newspaper, which was known to be the organ of the agitating party in Dublin, and which was understood to be under the influence of the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. If that newspaper was the hon. and learned Gentleman's organ, and if the publication of those expressions took place with the knowledge and privity of the hon. and learned Gentleman, then he asked his hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor-general for Ireland, to answer him and say, if he could, that those words were not treason. If, however, they were not published with the approbation of the hon. and learned Gentleman, then he asked his hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor-general, to answer him and say, if he could, that they were not sedition. No proceedings had been taken upon those words. Was the House then to understand, that the Government of Ireland approved of such language? If the Government of Ireland did not approve of it, was the House to understand, that the Government of Ireland had never heard or read of this treason? Did the Government believe, that those expressions were true or false? Did it believe, that 741 there were a million of men in Ireland with thousands of leaders ready to come forward against her Majesty and her Government in case she exercised her undoubted prerogative and dismissed the present Administration? Did it believe, that such an assertion was correct, and that there were any number of men ready for such an outbreak, aided by a class whose names had not been mentioned, but whose influence made itself felt in every hamlet in Ireland? If they believed it to be correct, what then became of the vaunted tranquillity of Ireland, of which they heard so much last night? The House had heard that tranquillity put forward last night as one of the brightest feathers in the cap of the present Government. That conditional tranquillity, that conditional and qualified allegiance, was the more dangerous, because it was put forward to lull those whose lives and property were in daily jeopardy into a state of apathy or neglect. If this tranquillity was only conditional, then, he would ask, what measures, or if any, had been taken to preserve the properties and lives of her Majesty's subjects in Ireland, which would be endangered, in case she appointed a Conservative Ministry? Had the troops been withdrawn from Ireland, that the million of men, with their thousands of leaders, should have a clearer field for their attack on the Government of Ireland? He had no doubt, that in the course of the debate the House would hear the noble Secretary for Ireland read many returns to show the decrease of crime in that country. He dared say, that the House would hear, that crime had decreased one-half during the last six months in Ireland. He dared say, that the House would hear the unusual sobriety of the people of Ireland boasted of as a bright feature in their character. No doubt the decrease of crime and the increase of sobriety were words grateful to the ear; but if that decrease of crime, and if that increase of sobriety were ordered for a purpose—if they were ordered for the purpose of throwing the loyal and well-disposed off their guard, were they not the more awful for the very stillness in which they occurred? And if so, did they not constitute an additional reason for regret? Did the Government believe this taunted tranquillity to be false? Did they believe it all a mere idle boast? If they did, then he asked even those who differed from hint in polities whether the 742 Government deserved the name of a Government which, believing that tranquillity to be false still permitted a sanguine and excitable peasantry to be drawn from the paths of peace by discussions like those to which he had alluded? Was it not to such discussions that Ireland owed the expatriation of her gentry, and the exclusion from her spacious harbours and verdant fields of British capital, manufactures, and enterprise? He asked the noble Secretary for the Colonies, with all the experience which he had derived from the late events in this country, whether such language was not calculated to excite rebellion, and to produce a lamentable loss of life among the victims of agitation? The noble Secretary for the Colonies had been called upon last night to explain why he had appointed Mr. Frost to the magistracy after the speeches he had made at different public meetings. The noble Lord replied, that at the time he had no knowledge of the nature of those speeches, but that as soon as he obtained knowledge of them he dismissed Mr. Frost from the magistracy. Had her Majesty's Government in Ireland acted upon that principle? The attention of the Government and the law officers of the Crown, had been called to the speeches of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin within a week after they were spoken. They were asked whether, after dismissing Colonel Verner from the commission of the peace for a mere toast, they could justify themselves for continuing in it an hon. and learned Gentleman who had made such speeches as be had mentioned that evening to the House? They had continued the hon. and learned Gentleman in the commission, and if the same unfortunate results should follow from his continuance in the magistracy which had resulted from the continuance of Mr. Frost, how would they answer it to the country, if only five instead of twenty-six lives were sacrificed? He would allow every one to indulge in the fair delivery of his political sentiments; but when an agitator spoke such language as he had given the House a specimen of to a benighted population, the Irish Government, if it permitted him to remain a moment longer in the commission, especially after the recent melaneholy catastrophe in South Wales, would not deserve the name of a Government. He had said, in the opening of his speech, that he would confine himself to the events 743 which bad occurred within the period of the last three or four months in Ireland? One of those events was, that within forty-eight hours after the delivery of this seditious, if not treasonable speech, the hon. and learned Member for Dublin was seated as a guest at the social table of the Lord-lieutenant, her Majesty's representative in Ireland. It might be said, that the invitations given by the Lord-lieutenant to persons of the rank and station of Members of Parliament were mere matters of course. But that he utterly denied. He asserted, that it was contrary to all usage and example, that the speaker or writer of such language as he had described, should be invited to the social table of her Majesty's representative, as it leads the population to believe, that such speeches have the support and sanction of her Majesty's Government. It leads them to suppose that the Government has formed a sort of joint-stock company with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin in the trade of agitation, and that if her Majesty does exercise her privilege in calling other statesmen to her councils, 1,000,000 men, with their thousands of leaders, would be ready to step forward at their command, and coerce the exercise of their privilege. The Gentlemen opposite had asked last night for some tangible proof of mal-administration in Ireland. He had now mentioned a fact, which bore him out in his assertion, that the Government, both in what it had done, and in what it had not done, had led the people of Ireland to believe that they encouraged not only language like this, but also what he (Mr. Litton) called sedition and treason. There were one or two other topics alluded to by the different speakers last night, to which he wished briefly to advert. It was said that there had been no complaint in Ireland respecting the system of national education now adopted in that country. Complaints there were bitter and reiterated by one class in that country—he meant the Protestants. That those complaints were not made in that House, was because the Protestant part of the Irish population had applied to it for redress for years, and had always applied for it to no purpose. Let it not for a moment be supposed that the want of complaint to that House was a proof of the absence of the cause of complaint. Quite the reverse. Those schools were now for the most part under the control of the priests, and were 744 therefore deserted by the children of Protestants. It had likewise been said, that if the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, whom he and his friends acknowledged as their leader—[Oh, oh !]—yes, whom they acknowledged as their leader, with whom they do not now differ, and with whom they never differed on any essential principle of government, should succeed in becoming the Minister of the Crown, and in directing the counsels of the nation, in Ireland he would have no other support than that of the Orange Associations. It was a gross misrepresentation of those persons who had once formed the Orange body, to speak of them as still existing; there were now no Orange institutions or societies in Ireland. As soon as his late Majesty, William 4th, had expressed an opinion unfavourable to the existence of that society, all the noblemen and gentlemen who had been the leaders of that loyal body—for so he might term it, although he never had been an Orangeman, nor ever would belong to any secret political association in his life—assembled, and though by law they might have continued their meetings, abandoned the privilege, in deference to the wishes of the Crown. A letter was immediately issued, abolishing the societies. It had been alleged that he, last summer, gave an opinion favourable to the establishment of an Orange society at Cork. That assertion was completely without foundation. A case had been sent to him in the name of an attorney who was not known to him, in order that he might give his opinion as to the establishment of a society with certain rules and regulations, without secrecy in its proceedings, without any oaths or pledges, conformable in every respect to the provisions of a late Act of Parliament. He had given an opinion that such a society was perfectly legal, and that opinion had been published in the newspapers, he need hardly say without his sanction or knowledge, though there was not a word in it which he would retract. The society, in short, was no more than a Protestant association—that he admitted it to be—for the purpose of sustaining the throne, the Established Church, and the Protestant succession; and its principles were such as no honest man need be ashamed of. He had heard a cheer of dissent when he spoke of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, as the leader of the Conservatives, He supposed the 745 ground on which hon. Gentlemen opposite built their fragile hope of a division in the Conservative camp was the difference of opinion which prevailed between the right hon. Baronet and some of his supporters on the privilege question. Now, in his judgment, that question did not involve one jot of the public principles which they upon that side of the House held in common. One party, which included the right hon. Baronet, and many of those who acted with him, were of opinion that that House had a law of its own, paramount to the law of the land, while others had wished to subject the doctrine of the privilege to the decision of the judges. Now if, upon such a difference of opinion as that, hon. Gentlemen opposite rested any hope of a division of opinion among the Conservatives, he wished them joy of the brightness of their prospects, but he could assure them it was wholly illusory. There was only one other measure on which he had ever had a difference of opinion—the Municipal Corporation Bill for Ireland last year. Against the second reading of that bill he had unquestionably voted, because the principle of municipal election, although it existed in the bill, was so swamped and discoloured, that he knew it would be impossible to have anything like a just election under it. What was the result? It was found that the bill was so unjust, and so radically defective in all its parts, that it never became law. Had there been any difference between the right hon. Baronet and his friends on the education question, the Jamaica question, the Canada question, or any other great measure of foreign or domestic policy? The policy of the Conservative party he took to be to discourage sedition, to see that the magistracy were pure and unsuspected, to prevent our flag from being dishonoured, and our trade from being crippled, to sustain our civil and religious institutions, and, above all, to maintain in its full honour and influence the Established Church of the country, which he considered to be the great bulwark of our civil and religious liberty. To every point of this policy he conceived that her Majesty's present Ministers were opposed. Upon that ground it was that he joined in the vote proposed by the hon. Member for South Devonshire, and that he expressed for himself, and he believed for the great mass of the people of this country, his total want of confidence in 746 her Majesty's Government as at present constituted.
§ Mr. Dennistoun
would leave the defence of the Irish Government to the Ministers, who were perfectly able to do it, but he was anxious to state the grounds which called upon him to give his cordial support to the amendment of the right hon. Baronet. If the question were, whether her Majesty's present Government was the best that could be, or whether there might not be formed out of the Liberal party in this country a Ministry better entitled to the confidence of the country, he should most likely be found voting in opposition to the noble Lord below him. But that was not now the question; the question now to be determined was, whether the House was disposed to place its confidence in the noble Lord or in the right hon. Gentleman opposite. That being the case, he would very briefly examine the conduct of the Gentleman opposite. If he took as a sample the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman from his first entrance into public life up to the present moment, he found that he had been, upon all occasions, behind the spirit of the times. He found him up to the last moment the most eloquent opponent of the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts; the same with regard to the Emancipation Act, and the same with regard to the important measure of Parliamentary Reform. What, on the contrary, had been the conduct of the noble Lord? He was no partisan of the noble Lord—he was as independent of the Government as he was of the right hon. Gentleman, but he found, that from the first entrance of the noble Lord into public life, and up to the present moment, he had never for one instant swerved from the principles of his youth, and on that ground alone he should be disposed to support the noble Lord. Then he found hon. Gentlemen opposite the opposers of any amendment in any abuse. True it was that they said, "Show us any real abuse, and we will provide a remedy," but he would ask whether, as a party, they had not set themselves against every amendment? Take the Reform Bill itself. Had they not done all they could to thwart the beneficial working of that measure? There was one amendment in particular which had been introduced with reference to reform. What had hon. Gentlemen opposite done with regard to the fictitious votes? The evil 747 was allowed on all sides and by all parties? it was admitted to be a gross abuse. The Lord Advocate had brought in a bill to remedy that admitted abase, yet what did the noble Lord opposite (Stanley) do? Why he said that he could not allow the bill to pass, because it would be introducing a new principle. If the noble Lord and his party were sincere in their wish to remedy every proved abuse, and objected to the proposal of the Government, ought not the noble Lord, or his Friends, to bring forward some other measure which would be unobjectionable, and equally effectual? Then, again, what was the position of the right hon. Gentleman opposite with respect to the question of the Corn-laws, and of free trade? Was it possible, but that the Cabinet of the right hon. Gentleman must be cordially united in resisting every and any alteration in those laws? If that were the case, how could the right hon. Gentleman come forward and ask the confidence of the country? The very question of religious liberty would, in the hands of hon. Gentlemen opposite, become nothing better than a farce. What had they done with regard to the working of the Emancipation Act? Did they wish it to be fairly used? If so, how was it that, when an appointment had been made of two Members of the Ministry, there had been a savage howl from one end of the country to the other? True the subject had not been mooted in that House; but why had it not? Had there been one single meeting during the recess at which this had not formed the staple article for declamation? If the Gentlemen opposite were in office, were they not likely to have a revival of religious bitterness, and an end to the operation of that great principle, that all fit persons, whatever their religious opinions might be, should be permitted to hold civil office? It was for these reasons, that he gave his decided and cordial support to the amendment of the right hon. Baronet. But at the same time he must be permitted to say, that if the noble Lord wished to give satisfaction as well out of as within that House, he must be prepared to fling more widely open the doors of that Assembly; for so long as the Members of that House were the representatives of a section only of the people, they would have only the confidence of that section; if they wished to restore the perfect confidence of the country, they must set themselves fear- 748 lessly and zealously to inquire into the condition of the people, and endeavour to raise the moral as well as the physical standard. By so doing her Majesty's Ministers would secure not only a fleeting support, but the full and hearty co-operation of the people.
§ Mr. H. Gally Knight
I shall not trouble the House at any length, and, painful as it is to me, at all times, to address the House, it is doubly painful to me to do so when I feel compelled to express an entire want of confidence in men with whom I have formerly acted, and for many of whom I still entertain sentiments of undiminished regard. But the same sense of duty by which I have been hitherto actuated, compels me not to give an absolutely silent vote on the present most important occasion.—It is not my intention to detain the House by touching upon the variety of topics upon which other hon. Gentlemen have enlarged; but to confine myself to my own country—I might almost say to my own neighbourhood—and in these alone, I regret to say, I find but too sufficient causes for want of confidence in our governors; I allude to the disturbed stale of the manufacturing districts. In the manufacturing parts of the county which I have the honour to represent, things have remained, for above a year, in the most unsatisfactory state. The Chartists are numerous—they have secret meetings; they are organised; extensively armed; in correspondence, through delegates, with every manufacturing part of the kingdom; and obedient to a Council, from which they receive instructions from time to time. More than once they have shewed themselves openly. Ballot and universal suffrage are their pretended objects; but spoliation and a division of property are I heir real designs. I do not pretend to say, that I have any fear of their at any time realizing such chimerical views; but of this I am persuaded, that if things are allowed to go on as they are at present, destruction of life and property will be the consequence, in repeated instances. Those who reside in the neighbourhood are harassed by continual apprehensions, and obliged to keep themselves in a constant attitude of preparation and self-defence. They feel to be living by the side of a volcano, which may, at any moment, explode, and mark the surrounding country with a black stream of devastation and blood, It was but the other day that an 749 explosion was on the point of taking place at Sheffield, which would have been of the most dreadful description. Had it not been for the information which the magistrates received only two days before, a town, containing 60,000 inhabitants, would have been given up to the flames. Fortunately the magistrates did receive information, and acted with a promptitude and energy which did them the greatest credit, and which saved the town. On this occasion, a vast quantity of arms, and destructive implements of every sort, were discovered, and it was ascertained, which I mention with horror, because it shews to what depths of demoralization some of my countrymen are already sunk—that several gentlemen of the neighbourhood, of course distinguished for their abilities and activity, were marked out for destruction. Is it of England that I am speaking, and advancing no more than the truth?—It is well known that the other manufacturing districts of England are in no less disturbed and disaffected a state; and I assert that it would never have come to this had Ministers done their duty. In whatever cause disorders may have originated, they would never have assumed the serious, and far from transient character, which they now wear, had it not been for the incessant agitation that has been permitted to go on—had it not been for that general slackening of the reins of Government, in consequence of which the people no longer feel themselves restrained by any control. and are induced to meditate what, under a firm Government, would never have entered their thoughts. It has always been found difficult enough to govern manufacturing masses. It was so in old times—it was so in Belgium—in Ghent and Lou-sain—it is now so in England; but, as this is the case, and as, in England, there are immense masses of this description, which will go on increasing from year to year, was it not the duty of Government to pay the earliest attention to the first indications of disorder amongst that very numerous and important branch of this community? It is not that I desire to keep them down by the strong arm and the presence of the military—on the contrary, I wish to see them orderly from inclination, prosperous, and happy—and wishing this, I think it was as cruel as it was wrong, to, permit them, month after month, to be deluded and inflamed, by demagogues, and, continually worked upon by the poison of 750 seditious journals. And when, in the beginning of these disorders, the noble lord, at that time Secretary of State for the Home Department, made that declaration at Liverpool, to which allusion has been made, and when her Majesty's Attorney-general boasted, at Edinburgh, that he had made no unusual exertion, am I not justified in saying, that the Government has not done its utmost to check or repress the disorders? And I must say, that another thing, which increases my want of confidence, is the extraordinary degree to which the Government appear to have remained in the dark, on a subject on which it was so desirable for them to be accurately informed. After the outrages at Birmingham, we were assured, that there was an end of Chartism. To the Magistrates it was said, "The less you do the better, for Chartism is subsiding of itself." We heard nothing more till the insurrection in South Wales took place, which was, in a short time, followed by the equally unexpected conspiracy at Sheffield—both of which took the Government by surprise. How, then, can we, at least, who live in the neighbourhood of the disturbed districts, place confidence in the vigilance of the present Government. I say that the height and continuance of these disorders is mainly attributable to the Government. And I say, further, that the present Government will never have it in their power to restore the minds of the people to a wholesome state, because, dependent as they are for political existence upon those who are opposed to all control, they are ever in dread of giving offence to their supporters by adopting a firm course. Nor does it stop here—for, seeking to ingratiate themselves with the men of the movement, they are continually making bit-by-bit concessions, which are by degrees sapping the foundation of the altar and the throne. I was myself a supporter of the Reform Bill; but I remember well that the Cabinet of that day invariably urged the concession of so large a measure, upon the ground that a large measure would not be opened again. But her Majesty's present Ministers, to curry favour with their partisans, have more than once shewn themselves disposed to tamper with the Reform Bill. Witness the rate-paying clauses', with which the noble Lord is willing to dispense—witness the ballot, which is now made an open question in the Cabinet. Equally to please their partisans, the Mi- 751 nisters seek to humiliate the Church, and reserve all their smiles for her enemies. How could it be otherwise with a Government who chiefly rely upon Dissenters for support? I do say that the plan of education proposed last Session, the mixed Normal School which Ministers wish to establish in the metropolis, and the exclusively lay and party Board to which they have entrusted the education of the country, upon the strength of a majority of two, can only be considered as a heavy blow to the Church, and a proportionate encouragement to her opponents. Let it not be said that when I oppose the Ministerial plan, I am opposed to national education; on the contrary, I am anxious to promote it, and in a liberal manner. What I should wish to see is a system of national schools, supported by a school rate, in which it should be imperative to teach the catechism; but not imperative on all children to learn it; I mean not imperative on the children of such parents as might have conscientious objections. This plan is of the nature of that which was introduced in Scotland in the time of Charles the Second, and has done so much good. But to the Ministerial plan I must ever be opposed. If it were not for the pledge I have given, I might have adverted to the frightful state of our finances, and to the unheard-of folly of giving up a million and a half of revenue, in spite of alarming deficiency, in the teeth of the recommendation of the Committee; and if this, again, was done, as was currently reported, to obtain the support of the Radicals, and catch a certain number of votes, I am at a loss for terms in which to convey my opinion of such a proceeding. From our finances I might have passed to our Colonies—I might have pointed to the prolongation of the disorders in Canada, from the want of firmness in the Government, and to the difficulties by which we should have been beset in Jamaica, had not the intentions of the Government been effectually counteracted; and when we are triumphantly desired to look to India, I might say that, admitting to the fullest extent the gallantry of our troops, I must be permitted to doubt the policy of the expedition itself. Into the vast field of foreign affairs it is not my intention to enter—further than to enter my disclaimer of any participation in those bigoted opinions with regard to Spain, which have been so liberally imputed to this side of 752 the House. I was always a Christino; I rejoice that the contest has terminated in favour of the Queen, because, having been in Spain myself, I have seen to what a degree of degradation that fine country had sunk, and I should have deeply regretted had it been again subjected to the double pressure of despotism and fanaticism. But I have already transgressed my boundaries—I revert then to my original charge—I revert to the state of this country—and I contend that a great part of this country is in an alarming state, that our institutions are in danger, and that the present Ministers have not the power of bringing us back to health. What else could be the consequence of the manner in which the present Ministers forced their way back to power? What else could be the consequence of Lichfield House?—when, disregarding the feelings of the Sovereign, disregarding the tranquillity of the country, disregarding the stability of our institutions, the Ministers placed themselves under obligations which could only have the effect of compelling them unduly to favour the advance of the democratic principle. Such was my conviction at the time; it was that conviction which placed me where I am, and from that time to this, every thing has taken the downward course I apprehended, only with a velocity greater than I had expected; and when I look to the character of the last changes in the Government—when I look to the declared opinions of its new members, I cannot but believe that the word has again been given to "go a-head." For these reasons I cannot give my confidence to the present Ministry; and when it is insinuated that the accession to power of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, would only be a return to the old Tory system, I assert that Gentlemen opposite know that such would not, and could not, be the case. They know that in the Reform Bill they have a guarantee for a liberal system—they know that neither my noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire, nor my right hon. Friend, the Member for Pembroke, would consent to form part of a Cabinet by which any other than a liberal system would be adopted. They see that the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth himself, his large and comprehensive views—and they may rest assured that, though the great party who are enlisted under his banner, may, at this mo- 753 ment permit themselves to follow their own notions on the question of privilege, yet that they would support any measure which might emanate from a Cabinet, of which he was the head, with the whole of their strength, and as one man.
said, in the present state of the country, to attempt, as this motion attempted, to deprive Ministers of the confidence of the House, and to weaken the executive Government, was a course so reckless, that he could scarcely bring himself to believe that even hon. Gentlemen opposite would adopt it. He put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite whether, at this time, there was not more at stake than the mere existence of this or any other Government—whether the temporary and uncertain triumph of party was an object worthy of attainment at such a price—whether the still more temporary and uncertain tenure of office might not be too dearly purchased? He regretted, too, that the new-born tranquillity of Ireland should still be so much in its infancy as still to require to be cherished by the Government in which it originated. He admitted that Ireland owed much to the right hon. Baronet for the great concession of civil and religious liberty, and to the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, for his exertions in support of the national system of education in Ireland, but he did dread the opinions of some of the supporters of the right hon. Baronet in the House, and still more the opinions of some of his supporters out of the House. He did not fear their numbers or their suffrages, but he dreaded the effect which the violence of their opinions might have on the measures of the right hon. Baronet if he again came into office. The fewer the numbers, the greater the violence. The course pursued by the present Government, with regard to the Church, had been often strongly animadverted on; but he maintained, that by reducing the abuses in the Church, they had done a service to the Church, by lessening the causes of dissent. Hon. Gentlemen opposite professed to be the exclusive friends of the Church. They seemed to think they were bound to receive service from the Church in return. That was the real reason of the cry that the Church was in danger. His opinion was, that the security and the danger of the Church rested with itself. Its security consisted in the purity of its doctrine, and its dangers must arise from abuses in its 754 discipline. He was at a loss to conceive what could be the real object of hon. Gentlemen opposite in bringing forward this motion at such a time as the present. Would that he could indulge in the hope that the decision of this motion would put an end to party warfare for a time. That this House should possess the respect and confidence of the people was of the utmost importance. How could the people be expected to confide in the House if their time, which was so valuable in the present state of the country, was occupied in such discussions as these? He hoped that the result of this motion would be to strengthen the hands of the Ministry who had governed the country on liberal principles, and he also hoped that if the consequence of the division on the motion was a dissolution, the consequence would be a further triumph of those principles.
§ Mr. Pakington,
as he had long been of opinion that the dismissal of the present weak and vacillating administration would benefit the country, could not consent to give a silent vote on this momentous question. The difficulty he had in grappling with the subject was the superfluity of grounds for charge against them; for there was not one branch of the great affairs of this country that did not afford fair ground for inculpating the Government. If the present resolution was carried, the result would be, to establish a Government strong in abilities, and in perfect union with its supporters, who would be prepared to follow that great statesman whom they acknowledged as their leader. He could not but regret that this motion had not been brought forward last year instead of at the present time. Had it been brought forward last year, it was notorious that it would have been carried, and the country would have been spared the evils inflicted on it since the last session. But during the recess Ministers had, in order to secure the support of the ultras of their party, made concessions to the democratic spirit which had recently been making such strides. The first concession was that which made the ballot an open question. The next was the Penny Postage system. Popular as that measure had been, he would not shrink from avowing the opinions he entertained on the subject of the concession of what was likely so seriously to affect the finances of the country. Even had the revenue been in a flourishing state, the post-horse duty 755 had paramount claims; but conceded, as the measure was, at a time of great financial difficulty, he could not look upon that concession but as a most unworthy bidding for popularity. He sincerely believed that the interests of the monarchy and of the Protestant Church were in danger as long as the present Government remained in office. Since they had taken office, they had done their utmost, at home and abroad, to discourage loyalty, while disaffection had met with promotion and reward. Amongst all classes of persons the strongest disapprobation prevails at the manner in which her Majesty's Ministers have prostituted the bench of justice to party purposes, and at the way in which they have polluted the magisterial bench by the protection of some of their partizans, with the hope that their violence would be restrained, but the result showed how much their expectations had been disappointed. His hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock last night dwelt on the treatment that the Chief Justice of Newfoundland (Judge Bolton) had experienced from the Government, as there was little doubt that it was chiefly owing to his strong loyal feelings, his anxiety to preserve the connection between the colony and the mother-country, and his attachment to our Protestant institutions, that he had been deprived of his office. There was another instance of similar treatment practised towards Mr. Hagerman, the Attorney- general of Upper Canada, who, merely for expressions that he used in the House of Assembly of that colony of strong attachment to the Protestant institutions of this country, and his determination, at any sacrifice, to preserve the connection with the mother country, was also dismissed from his office. He would now mention some instances of an opposite nature, where honours had been most unworthily bestowed in these colonies:the first was that of Mr. Reddard, in the Province of Upper Canada, who for most violent conduct on his part was placed on the bench of justice, where he indulged in the most intemperate language; and where was he now? An exile for treason. He would mention one more instance of violence of conduct leading to promotion; namely, that of Mr. Viger, in Lower Canada, who was promoted to the bench; and who, he believed, was at the present time under suspension, in consequence of his agita- 756 tion in that province. Coming nearer home, he would refer to the instance of the notorious John Frost, who was placed on the magisterial bench by the noble Lord opposite [Oh ! oh !]. He did not understand those groans. Was it true, or was it not? Did not the noble Lord receive ample warning respecting this nomination before he made it? and what was now the condition of this man? He now came to the last instance of their objectionable appointments to which he should allude, and if it did not take place it was not the fault of the Government. Of all the instances of false policy which could be adverted to, be thought what he was about to mention was the darkest stain upon the conduct of her Majesty's Ministers. It had often been repeated, and he had never heard it contradicted, that an offer of the seals, or the bench of justice, had been offered to the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. Whenever a point of policy of this kind was alluded to, he did not like the mode in which it was met by the party opposite, namely, an unmeaning laugh; but he was not to be put down by anything of the kind. He was, however, glad to see the hon. and learned Member for Dublin in his place, and he could assure him that he did not wish to say anything personally offensive to him, but looking to the political career of the hon. Gentleman, from its commencement to the present time, he must say, that he never remembered any thing mote disgraceful on the part of the Government during their present career, than the attempt to promote this individual to the bench of justice. Her Majesty's Ministers might think that they were authorised in exercising their patronage in any manner they pleased, but they might depend upon it that the country was not indifferent to their proceedings; and as long as the bench of justice was prostituted in this way by her Majesty's Ministers, their conduct could not be regarded by the people with other feelings than those of apprehension and alarm. It appeared to him that the general policy of her Majesty's Ministers was most dangerous to the Church of England, and to the Protestant institutions of the country. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey) who spoke so ably and eloquently last night endeavoured in vain to combat this charge, and he did so by alluding to the Tithe Bill and other measures which he 757 stated were calculated to give stability to the Church. But he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Church of England had any confidence in her Majesty's Ministers. God forbid that he should say anything personally offensive to any hon. Members; but he firmly and conscientiously believed that their policy was hostile to the best interests of the Church. Hon. Gentlemen might deny this if they pleased, but the members of the Church, and those most strongly attached to the Protestant institutions, when they looked to the construction of the Government, and to the measures which they had brought forward, such, for instance, as their disgraceful proceedings respecting the appropriation clause, at their attempts to deprive the bishops and other dignitaries of the Church of their property, at their education scheme, which had received the sanction of that House by probably the smallest majority that ever sanctioned any great public measure, and above all, to the presentation of the avowed infidel Mr. Owen to her Majesty by the Prime Minister of this country—it was impossible for them to believe that our Protestant institutions were safe in the hands of her Majesty's Ministers. The hon. Member for Glasgow alluded to what he was pleased to call the savage yell and outcry that had taken place at certain Conservative meetings at the appointment of these Roman Catholic Gentlemen to offices connected with the Government. He should be glad to hear in what part of the country these meetings were held and when they took place. He had never heard of anything of the kind, and he was induced to believe that the hon. Gentleman was altogether mistaken. For his own part he did not object, nor did he believe that any person connected with the Conservative party objected, to the appointment by the present Government of the hon. Member the Secretary for the Admiralty. No objections were entertained to this appointment; but the most serious objections were felt to the appointment of the right hon. Member for Tipperary as Vice-President of the Board of Trade, and of the hon. Member for Waterford to a seat at the Treasury board; he did object to these appointments because the Gentlemen were Roman Catholics; it was not because they professed a creed different from that of the majority of the people of this country, but on other grounds, 758 namely, that they formerly had behaved in a manner which on principle was most objectionable and which had made them obnoxious to large bodies of the most loyal and faithful subjects of her Majesty. The objections entertained were to the past political conduct of the right hon. Member for Tipperary, and to the opinions entertained by the hon. Member for Waterford on the subject of education; for he, with great ability, advocated, and no doubt sincerely, a system of education which they believed to be hostile to the best interests of the nation. He felt that this opinion was entertained by a large body of the people. He wished before be sat down to say a few words in answer to those hon. Members who had alluded, in a tone of triumph, to the success of the late elections. These hon. Gentlemen appeared to him to rest their triumph on a very slender ground. A few places had been selected by the Government in which they could risk contests consequent on the recent changes in office, and these had been carried in the face of a very powerful opposition, and they succeeded in gaining them by very slender majorities. Look to Newark, where there was not only a very slender majority, but, if the public were well informed, the election had been carried on in a very extraordinary manner. He saw very small matter for boasting on the part of Gentlemen opposite; but, besides the elections for these places for the seats of those Ministers who had changed their offices, other elections had taken place. He would advert to two of them. How, he would ask, had Protestant Beverley acted? When Gentlemen opposite boasted of their triumph, as they called it, at Newark and Falmouth, where Government had some influence, he did not see why he had not a similar right to boast of the success of the Conservative candidate at Beverley. But there had been another election which he could not help regarding as of the greatest importance:he meant the contest for Birmingham, which was just oven The return for that place had been made a matter of boast by hon. Gentlemen opposite; but what were the opinions entertained by the hon. Member who had been returned? He was glad to see the hon. Member in the House as he wished to make an observation on the opinions which he understood were entertained by the hon. Member. If he was not misin- 759 formed, the hon. Gentleman, on the hustings, at the late Birmingham election, declared that he was a republican in principle. Was the Government aware of this?—and, entertaining the opinions which the hon. Member professed to do, he should like to know what he saw in the proceedings of Ministers to prompt him to support them. That hon. Gentleman must see something in their acts which he thought calculated to advance the opinions which he entertained, or otherwise he would not support the Government. Was not this another proof of the backward course of the policy and the unsoundness of the principles of her Majesty's Ministers? When this Gentleman was returned to the House, and boasted that he entertained republican opinions, he did not take his seat behind her Majesty's Ministers for nothing—he must have his price.
§ Mr. Scholefield
rose to order, and appealed to the Speaker as to whether it were not most disorderly on the part of the hon. Member to make a charge of this kind, and to insinuate that any hon. Member had his price.
§ The Speaker
said, that the hon. Member was, unquestionably, out of order; and he was sure that, on reflection, he must be fully aware of it himself.
§ Mr. Pakington
regretted that he had been out of order, and he could assure the hon. Member for Birmingham that he did not say one word with the intention of hurting the feelings of the hon. Member, and, in using the word "price," he could assure him that he did not mean to do so in an offensive sense, but undoubtedly he made an unguarded use of the word. He intended to use the word in the same sense as he would apply to the support which he gave to the right hon. Member for Tamworth. He believed that the principles which he entertained would be carried out by supporting the right hon. Baronet; and so the hon. Gentleman, no doubt, believed that the principles which he entertained would be carried out or advanced by Ministers, otherwise he would not give his support to her Majesty's Government. He, in the most distinct terms, disavowed the intention of saying any thing personally offensive, but he could not help feeling, that when an hon. Member avowed republican opinions, and who took his place in that House as a supporter of the Government, it was impossi- 760 ble that the country should not view the fact with the greatest alarm, and consider that it fully justified the vote of want of confidence in the Government. The hon. Member for Lambeth, in the course of his speech last night, said, that what the country required was a steady Government, and he perfectly agreed in this opinion, and would willingly adopt the term; but the only wonder to him was, that the hon. Member should be so unfortunate, and should go so extremely out of his way, as to apply the term steady Government to the present Administration. Good heavens! was the Government steady in its policy in any respect—had it been steady in the administration of the laws—had it been steady in its measures with regard to Jamaica—had it been steady as regarded Canada—had it been steady in its educational scheme, or in any other of its measures? On the contrary, was it not notorious, that it was always shifting and shifting in its policy with the view of securing a narrow majority? He agreed with the hon. Member for Lambeth, that a steady Government was demanded by the country, and he agreed with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, that the country was tired of the constant changing and shifting from one end of the Treasury bench to the other. The noble Lord at the head of the Government was reported to have said a few nights ago, that this country must exert itself to keep its place amongst the nations of the world. Was not this sufficient to justify them in demanding a stricter and firmer course of policy than had been pursued by the present Administration, and that there could be no security for this until a sound Protestant Administration was established to conduct the affairs of the country? Complicated and extensive as the affairs of this empire were, the constitution must always be in danger as long as the management of its affairs were entrusted to a weak and vacillating Government like the present. He regretted that there was not at the present time a strong Government to manage the loyal and check the disloyal, and which would secure the respect and confidence of the people of this country; and it was on this ground that he gave his ardent support to a vote of want of confidence in her Majesty's present Ministers.
§ Mr. Muntz
had not intended to take any part in this debate, nor should he occupy 761 much of the time of the House; but as he had been so directly alluded to by the hon. Member who spoke last, he felt bound in duty to himself to make one or two observations. He had never said, as had been reported of him, and as had been asserted by the hon. Gentleman, that he had said on the hustings at the late Birmingham election, that he was a republican. The observation had been made on a previous occasion, ten years ago, and had nothing to do with the election. And even then he stated—and he was sure hon. Members would perfectly well understand the distinction—that although he was a republican in principle, he was not so in practice. He meant, that if he had a new Government model, and if new institutions were to be established, he should prefer republican ones; but he never meant to say, that with an established Government like the present, with a powerful aristocracy, and with a large church establishment, and where the people had been accustomed to these institutions, and with their feelings mixed up with them, that he should take any steps to advance republican institutions here; on the contrary, he should be the last man to do anything of the kind. He indignantly denied—as indignantly as any man could—that he was to be purchased. He had bean elected to that House by his fellow-citizens, and he had not canvassed or asked a single man for his vote; and lie had, in fact, almost been pushed into the situation which he held as the representative of the people, against his own wish. Could any Gentleman opposite say so much. He had been taunted, for sitting behind her Majesty's Ministers, of whom he had asked nothing, of whom he intended to ask nothing, and of whom he would have nothing, but when he approved their measures they should have his support, and then only. It appeared that Gentlemen opposite were dissatisfied with the seat he had taken; if he had gone over and sat and voted with them, would there be any fault found with his vote. He knew Sir Francis Burdett in former days, and had acted with him—[Cries of" Order."] He was sorry if he was out of order; but he was not aware of the rules of the House. He meant to say, that he knew the hon. Baronet, the Member for Wilts, when he entertained very different opinions from those which be now professed; and if he had adhered to his former opinions he most likely would have sat at the side of the House on which he (Mr. Muntz) sat. 762 Now he should like to know whether it were not the case, when the hon. Member for Wilts changed his principles, that he was received with open arms by the party opposite. If he now said, that her Majesty's Ministers had not the confidence of the country, and declared his intention to vote with Gentlemen opposite, no objection would be made to him; and, he dared say, that they would receive his vote quite as well as they received that of Sir Francis Burdett. As he had risen he would just make one or two observations on the subject-matter of the debate. If he were asked whether her Majesty's Ministers possessed the confidence of the country as much as lie wished, or as much as he thought that they ought to have it, he should say they had not:but why had they not? They had not, because they had too nearly followed the principles and practices of Gentlemen opposite. Few persons knew more than he did of the wishes and feelings of the people after having for ten years assisted in agitation, and he said that the Government were not so popular, and they did not enjoy the confidence of the country as much as they ought to do, and as much as he was anxious they should enjoy it, because they too nearly followed the example of former governments. He had no hesitation in saying, that whenever the Government boldly adopted a course, which they believed right and just, and followed out their principles, standing or falling by them, and not truckling to Gentlemen opposite, as they had too often done, they would receive the cordial support and obtain the confidence of the people of England.
§ Mr. F. H. F. Berkeley
expressed his astonishment, since the subject of the motion, according to the hon. Gentleman who spoke last in its favour, furnished such a superfluity of weapons wherewith to attack the Ministry, that all the speakers had said exactly the same, until they had become nearly tiresome. Mr. Frost was the cry, and the crime of elevating that person to the magistracy was the overdone theme of Gentlemen opposite. Hon. Gentlemen seemed to assume, also, that the noble Lord, the Member for Stroud, ought to have had an intuitive knowledge that Mr. Frost was addicted to treason; and they charitably supposed, that all the noble Lord's magistrates had similar propensities. He must say, that hon. Gentlemen opposite took very little 763 pains in ascertaining the truth of the charges which they brought. The noble Lord, the Member for Monmouthshire, for instance, had insisted upon it that the noble Lord, the Member for Stroud, had refused the nomination of magistrates of the town-council of Bristol, and had appointed those of his own selection; now he begged leave explicitly to state, that the noble Member for Monmouthshire had made a statement which was founded on fallacy; doubtlessly he had been grossly misinformed. The town-council had named twenty-four magistrates when only eighteen were requisite, and the noble Lord had selected eighteen out of those twenty-four; and those magistrates, although nominated by a town-council, the majority of whom were as Conservative as hon. Gentlemen opposite could desire, Seemed to give perfect content to that town-council; indeed, on a late occasion, when Bristol was supposed to be in danger of an insurrection of the Chartists, those magistrates received the thanks of the town-council for their vigilance, prompt attention, and excellent arrangements. He was sure the noble Lord would regret having hastily brought this charge, and he was sorry the noble Lord was not in his place to hear the present refutation of it. Another charge which the Gentlemen opposite had each of them made was, that Chartism was caused by her Majesty's Government. Now, he could not acquit her Majesty's Government on this head:he believed Chartism to be the spawn of the faults and deficiencies of the Reform Bill, but it had become instinct with vitality by Tory excitement—and in the foremost ranks of that excitement stood the hypocritical Tory agitation of the Poor-laws.
§ Lord Claud Hamilton
said, that the hon. Member for Dover had stated that he Would take the number of troops in Ireland as a barometer, whereby the peace and tranquillity of Ireland might be tested; now he would ask the hon. Member whether he intended to instance the number at this moment in. Ireland, or the number which existed there previously to the disturbances in England, which had been caused by the mal-administration of affairs in that country and which had rendered an immediate increase of military force necessary. If the hon. Member meant the former, he could tell him that the number at present in Ireland was insufficient for the usual military 764 duties, and would instance the fact by mentioning, what could not be denied by the opposite side, that at this moment the garrison duty was much too severe for the reduced numbers now in Dublin, and that the soldiers were on guard much oftener than either the practice or rules of the service even sanctioned. If, however, the hon. Member meant the latter number, then he contended that the withdrawal of so many troops from Ireland afforded no proof of the peace of that country, but rather of the increased exigencies of England; and he begged to inform the hon. Member, that whilst we heard much of the decrease of the military, we heard nothing of the increase of the constabulary force, which has of late taken place; and be it remembered, these men are not armed like our police with staves, but are provided with carbines and bayonets, and are trained and drilled like soldiers, so that in fact, an increase of that body was tantamount to an increase of the military force. He had listened with attention to the debate up to the present moment, and he had not heard any one Member get up and justify his confidence in the Government on the ground of the present state of the country. Indeed, he had yet heard nothing from hon. Members opposite which bore fully on the real question before the House, except that magnificent display of oratory which had been made in the admirable speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir G. Grey). But, however glittering that speech was, it was not, when well considered, calculated to convince the mind. He owned, that in referring back to the speeches on the other side there was in all of them a great dearth of allusion to some of the most important circumstances connected with the best interests of the country. He had heard scarcely any reference to the condition of our navy, and considering how much had been said and written on this subject, as well by persons on that side of the House as on this, he did think that some statement might have been made to calm public apprehension on that head, and to show that our navy was not in the state that has been represented, but perfectly efficient to meet any emergency that might arise. As to our foreign policy, on which so much depended, hon. Members were for the most part silent on the subject. What was there to boast of with respect to that policy, or from which the supporters of Government could claim for it the confidence of the country? Was it to be found in the course pursued 765 by her Majesty's representative at Constantinople, who first induced the late Sultan to commence a war against Mehemet Ali, although he ought to have known, in common with every one conversant with the state of the two armies, of the certain result; and has thus thrown the whole of the East into confusion and seriously injured our commerce, without there being any prospect of a satisfactory settlement. There had been no explanation as to the course adopted in India, or at least as to the policy which dictated it. He did not see what right the hon. Gentlemen op-opposite had to plume themselves on the fact that our troops out in India had behaved with their accustomed gallantry. They must all concur in admiration of the valour displayed by our countrymen, but that did not belong to one Government or to one age; the army had already raised itself to the highest pinnacle of glory, but this glory belonged to the nation at large, and cannot be appropriated by the Government; he for one gloried, as much as any one, in this new brilliant achievement, but after all, anything which could be said in praise of it would still leave the question of our Indian policy untouched. The House had yet to be informed of the probable effect of our late proceedings in India on our position in that country, on our commercial intercourse with it. On the question of China, and the late suspension of our commercial intercourse with it, there had also been little said, certainly nothing on which the Government could found any claim to the confidence of the country, for there was no doubt that if our Government had acted at once with more energy, and sent a respectable force to the spot, our affairs in that country would before now have worn a better aspect. Then as to the blockade of the ports of Rio de la Plata, there was no ground for any claim of confidence on the part of Government. We had no satisfactory accounts from that part of the world. Our commerce there was almost crippled, or, indeed, was wholly so, and our vessels excluded by a blockade made before any declaration of war. Now the noble Lord must know that such a course is contrary to the law of nations, he must know that if one state feels itself aggrieved by another, that it has a right to make reprisals to indemnify itself, without any declaration of war; for this step does not prejudice other nations; but before a blockade can be established, there must be a declaration of war 766 —how stood the fact?—for upwards of two years our ships had been excluded from the coast without war being declared, and thereby a most important branch of our commerce was destroyed, whilst it is notorious that the French are endeavouring, by this arbitrary measure, to induce the government of Buenos Ayres to form an advantageous treaty of commerce with them, and thereby exclude us from the important trade which hitherto has been entirely in our hands—and at this very moment, it has been confessed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, there are agents from Monte Video at Paris for the purpose of forming some commercial alliance with France; and yet, notwithstanding the importance to our commerce of these transactions, no satisfactory explanation has been given on these points, and they formed so many grounds which would justify the motion of a want of confidence in the Government. It was acknowledged, as, indeed, it could by no man be denied, that Mr. Feargus O'Connor was the high priest of Chartism; and it was to the full as undeniable that the same Mr. O'Connor had been the avowed partisan of, and co-operator with, the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and actually formed one of the compact, and he would call it unholy alliance, which drove the right hon. Baronet below him, from office in 1835. It was too bad, then, to charge those Members who sat on the Speaker's left hand with promoting or taking advantage of Chartism, when the source of that monstrous evil lay in the conduct of the present Government and their Friends. He conceived, that her Majesty's Government were most culpable in allowing seditious meetings to be held, and in allowing seditious publications to go forth with impunity. It was quite as much the duty of the Government to prevent the people committed to their charge from being led away by evil counsel, and their minds inflamed by seditious speeches and writings as to protect the persons and property of that people from external violence. But, of course, the House had not forgotten the manner in which the responsible advisers of the Crown had thought proper to treat the proceedings which had reduced this once happy land to its present condition—they treated the authors of seditious publications and the utterers of seditious speeches as if no possible harm could arise from the conduct which they pursued. The people were told, that they ought to make moral de- 767 monstrations; but in the same breath they were told to come armed—they were recommended to accustom themselves to the use of arms—they were induced to cultivate the art of acting together—they were marshalled, formed, organized; and publications were issued amongst them, giving instructions how best cavalry might be defeated. And it was not till a vast body of men, believing that they were acting in a lawful manner, proceeded to follow the advice which had so long been given them with impunity, that a masked battery is suddenly opened upon them which leaves twenty-five dead on the ground—far be it from him, to charge the hon. Gentlemen opposite with the deaths of those unfortunate individuals, but he must say that it was his opinion, if the Government had used the means in their power to check the growing evil, that melancholy catastrophe might have been averted. Surely, it must be considered the duty of the Government to put an end to such a state of things. Much had been said on the other side as to the want of unity on the part of those who supported the present motion. If that argument was good against the supporters of the motion, it was equally valid against its opponents. What claim had they to be called a united body? Were they agreed among themselves, on the Corn-laws? On vote by ballot on the extension of the suffrage, were these matters of trivial import? Why even the right hon. Member for Devonport said, that perhaps there was a slight inconvenience in admitting into the Cabinet the hon. Member for Edinburgh, on account of his views on the ballot question, but that any trifling inconvenience arising from his having such opinions and the necessity of making it an open question, was much more than overbalanced by the great advantage of the accession of his brilliant talents to the Government. Why, on this principle, the most important question, the repeal of the Union may be made an open question as his talents are no less, and his influence is much greater than that of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, so that if it is at any time convenient to secure his brilliant talents, we may expect to have that an open question. But on other subjects, were they agreed about Canada, did not some of their present supporters uphold the cause of the rebels, were they united then, or did this side of the House come to their assistance? Was there anything like that general concurrence which entitled them to taunt the 768 hon. Mover and his Friends with any lack of unanimity? He confessed that he saw nothing in the unity of the other side which could excite the least feeling akin to confidence in the advisers of the Crown. Let the House only reflect upon the condition in which the country now stood—great commercial cities threatened with fire and anarchy—armed bodies of men assembling in various districts—the metropolis itself in such danger that upon one occasion it had been found necessary to keep the whole garrison under arms throughout the night- Was that a state of things, he would ask, to inspire a nation with confidence in its rulers? Did not these and the other grievances to which he had alluded, and to which Government had as yet given no encouraging explanation, fully justify him in saying, that such a Government could not have and ought not to possess the confidence of the people or their representatives? It was, therefore, as he conceived, his bounden duty to give the motion before the House his most cordial support.
§ Viscount Howick
spoke nearly as follows:The hon. Member for Worcestershire, who spoke just now, said, that his difficulty in addressing the House arose, not with a lack of matter wherewith to support the motion, but, on the contrary, from the superfluity of matter of accusation which he had to bring against the Government. Yet, though I have listened most attentively to the hon. Member, and to those other hon. Members who preceded him in the debate, on his side of the House, I must say it appears to me, that there has been the most total absence of anything like reasons, of that gravity and importance, which, I imagine, could alone justify a proceeding of so remarkable, of so unusual a character as that which is now taking place. A motion for a vote of want of confidence in a ministry, is, in general, the last resource, to be adopted only under circumstances of great and unusual difficulty and necessity. And undoubtedly it appears to me, that no reasons whatever of that kind have been now assigned, and that all the very trifling arguments which have been brought forward in defence of the motion, my right hon. Friend, (the Judge Advocate), in that speech of his last night, which has been so much and so justly commended on both sides of the House, has most completely answered. In my opinion, that answer is so complete, that I should not now have ventured to offer 769 myself to the attention of the House, or have taken any part whatever in the present debate, were it not that I feel it may be thought incumbent on me to avail myself of this opportunity to explain the circumstances under which it has become necessary for me to join in opposing the motion which has been made, as an independent Member of Parliament; and that I am no longer to have that honour in the character of a Member of that Government with which I have hitherto acted. I feel, that in endeavouring to explain the circumstances which have compelled me to relinquish the office I had the honour to hold in her Majesty's service, I undertake a task of no ordinary difficulty; for, on the one hand, I have a strong opinion, that no public man is justified on light grounds, and, least of all, on any personal considerations, in withdrawing from a Government of which he is a part; and, on the other hand, though I am most anxious— [Question.] Sir, if the hon. Member for Lewes, who cries "Question!" had long sat in this House, he would have known that it is usual, in cases in which persons have quitted office, that they are permitted, without interruption, to state the circumstances which have led them to adopt that very important step. Sir, I was proceeding to say, that, on the one hand, I am necessarily anxious to show, that I have not taken this step for light or inadequate reasons; but, on the other hand, I am no less anxious to avoid saying any one word which can by possibility give offence, or inflict the most remote injury on a Government composed of Gentlemen with whom I have for four years and a half acted with so much cordiality as colleagues, and with whom I trust, I shall still continue to be connected by ties of private friendship, and of general concurrence in their public measures. I trust, therefore, the House will receive with indulgence the statement which I shall endeavour to make. I need not recal to the recollection of the House the circumstances under which the Government, of which at that time I was a Member, was induced to tender their resignations to her Majesty in May last, It was stated at the time, and has since been alluded to in this debate, that we were forced to take that step from our consciousness that we did not possess that amount of confidence and support on the part of this House and of the country, which would enable us to conduct its affairs with advantage. For my own part, I must say, 770 that I had become deeply sensible of the injury which the country, received from that state of things. I saw that it had tempted hon. Gentlemen opposite to make questions involving the very highest interests of the empire the battle field of party contention, and I saw that in these party contentions those interests received most serious damage. I felt this, Sir, so strongly, that when, most unexpectedly, we were called upon to resume the situations which we had held, it was not without the greatest difficulty that I overcame the reluctance I entertained to taking that step; nor could I have been induced to do so by any consideration of inferior weight to that of the duty which I thought we owed to her-Majesty, to support her from whom, on our parts, we had received such generous support and such indulgent kindness, against a pretension which, in my mind, was unjust and ungenerous. But though we were induced by that consideration, and I still think we were properly induced, notwithstanding the difficulties by which we were surrounded, once more to undertake the task of endeavouring to conduct the Government of this great empire, I think it was felt by every Member of the administration, and I believe it was felt by this House, and the public generally, that it was essential, that as soon as the affairs of the Session were brought to a close, an effort should be made to give increased strength, increased power, and increased stability to the Government. Such was the opinion, and the conviction of the noble Lords who represented the Government in this and the other House of Parliament. My own idea of the manner in which this strength ought to be obtained—my own notion of the object which should be aimed at in any changes which were to take place, was that of recovering, as far as possible, the confidence of a very numerous class of persons in this country, whom I believed to be sincerely anxious for the adoption of a generally liberal course of policy, but who are opposed to further changes in the constitution of Parliament. It was impossible for me to shut my eyes to the fact, that, from the year 1834 up to the time at which we then were, the autumn of last year, there had been a considerable and increasing defection from the ranks of the supporters of Government of persons of this description of opinions. I had observed, year by year—I may almost say, month by month, now one, now two of the most respectable and 771 earnest supporters of the former Whig Government falling off from its ranks, and joining the ranks of our opponents. It was my opinion, that in the new arrangements which were rendered necessary, an effort should be made to recover the confidence of these persons, and I therefore conceived, that the changes, whatever they were, which should be made, should be so contrived as to hold out to this House and to the country, an assurance that there should be the utmost possible vigour and energy in carrying on every practical reform, legislative and executive; but that with these reforms there should be a resolute maintenance of the present constitution of the House. Such was my opinion of the principles on which the recomposition of the Government ought to take place. I am not aware what may have been the views on this subject of the noble Lords at the head of the Government in the two Houses of Parliament. Of course, these were matters principally to be settled and regulated by them, and what their views may have been I am not in a condition to state. All I know is this, that the arrangement on which they determined, when they communicated it to me, did not seem to me to answer the description which I have just given. It appeared to me, on the contrary, calculated to have almost the contrary effect. The intended changes were not made known to me till within a few days of the prorogation of Parliament, I think it was on the day week preceding the prorogation. On I hat day my noble Friend, at the head of the Government desired to see me, and in a conversation stated to me what were the changes which he had in contemplation. I at once stated to him the objections which occurred to my mind to the plan which he proposed, and when I left him, being persuaded that this was a question of great importance, and that it was necessary he should know, not merely what had occurred to me at the moment, but likewise my deliberate opinion on the subject, after the fullest consideration in my power of what I had heard, I wrote to Lord Melbourne a letter, embodying the substance of the objections which I had before stated to him in conversation. I do not intend to state in detail the objections which I made to particular appointments and to particular changes. I think the House will say, that I may fairly claim indulgence in this respect; it is a topic which might be highly invidious, and one which it would 772 be impossible for me to touch without great pain to myself, and without the danger of inflicting great pain on others. It is sufficient to state, that my determination was not come to with reference to any individual change which was about to take place; no one of the intended changes if taken singly, would, probably, have presented an insurmountable obstacle to my continuing in office; but it was a consideration of the effect of the proposed arrangement taken as a whole upon the general character of the Government, it was the alteration which I felt would be made in that character, by the result of all the changes taken together, which determined me to take the course which I ultimately adopted. After I wrote the letter to my noble Friend, to whom I have just alluded, some further correspondence passed between us, to which I am anxious not more particularly to refer. It is sufficient to state that not one of these objections which I made to any part of the new scheme which was proposed was admitted to be valid; the whole scheme, without any modification whatever of the arrangements which I had considered objectionable, was determined upon, and under these circumstances, I felt it to be my duty—a most painful duty, I can assure the House—humbly to tender my resignation to her Majesty, which resignation, as the House is aware, was accepted. I have thus stated very briefly, and, I am aware, necessarily imperfectly, but still in a manner which I hope has been intelligible to the House, the grounds which determined my conduct in this particular:but I feel that this statement would be still more imperfect than it ought to be, and that I should not altogether do what I consider my duty both to myself and to the country, under the circumstances, in which I am placed, if I was not further to trouble the House with some remarks on the state of affairs which rendered it, in my mind, more necessary than it might otherwise have been, to adopt the course which I took. Even at that time, it was impossible to regard the state of the country otherwise than with deep anxiety, if not apprehension. Certainly, I did not anticipate that the discontent, which the House is aware then existed very generally amongst a large proportion of the population, was so speedily to break out into open revolt and insurrection. I bad no idea at that time that the danger was so imminent; but, at the same time, it did appear to me, that the kind of discontent 773 which was then known to prevail, could not long continue without leading to very serious and alarming consequences, and I looted upon this circumstance as rendering it especially necessary that the constitution of the Government should not be such as to encourage any expectation among the people of further changes in the constitution. Sir, I am not one of those who have ever argued, that the Reform Act is, as it has been called, a final measure. On the contrary, I have always maintained and always shall maintain, that no Parliament has the right or the power to pass any measure which is final in the sense of being conclusive, and binding on future Parliaments. The same right that the Parliament of 1831 had to remodel the then existing representation of the country, that same right we possess, and we cannot possibly divest ourselves of it. I believe, also, that no Member of Parliament has the right, by engagements contracted within this House, or out of it, to divest himself of the power to consider at some future time the necessity of any measure which may be proposed to him. I consider, therefore, that the doctrine of the finality of the Reform Bill is contrary to every principle of the constitution, and to the duties of all public men who take on themselves the task of representing their fellow-subjects in Parliament. Neither have I been weak enough to suppose, that the Reform Act, if not a final, was a perfect measure. Far from it. I am well aware that the Bill originally produced in this House on the 1st of March, 1831, by my noble Friend the Secretary of State, did not even profess to be a perfect measure; it did not attempt to remove all the anomalies which existed in Parliament; but it proceeded on the much wiser principle of carrying the change only to the limit which the necessity of the case prescribed. And, sir, I am well aware that the measure which actually passed was changed in very essential particulars from that which was actually proposed by the noble Lord; and, in my opinion, as I have no hesitation in saying, every one, or almost every one, of those changes was very greatly for the worse. I sincerely and deeply lament that the Reform Bill, as it was first submitted to the House, did not become the law of the land. But that measure having once passed, though it is confessedly imperfect, and though Parliament has undoubtedly the right, if it sees fit, to attempt to improve it, yet, in my opinion, under the present circumstances of the country, the attempt 774 to do so would be in the highest degree inexpedient. I have always been taught to believe that changes in the constitution of the country are no light matter. Any alteration in the distribution of political power, which affects the interests and position of almost all classes of society, is a thing not to be undertaken except under the pressure of great and urgent necessity. I remember it was an argument constantly used by Mr. Canning and other Gentlemen who opposed reform in Parliament, that the then existing representation of the people worked well. Could they have proved that the House as then constructed did work well for the interests of the country, I should have admitted the force of their arguments against this reform of Parliament; but being of a totally different opinion, because, looking at the state of this country—the immense load of debt—the spread of pauperism—the many evils which at that time afflicted the country, I believed that their growth could be distinctly traced to the misconduct of the House of Commons, misconduct directly attributable to the influence which a comparatively small number of persons possessed in the return of the Members of that House. I believed, that while this influence remained in the hands of individuals, it was impossible that this influence should not be used to determine the conduct both of the Parliament and of the Government, very frequently much against the interest of the nation at large; and I believed that while this state of things continued, a system of government essentially corrupt must prevail. It was this conviction that made me sincere and ardent though a very humble supporter of the great measure of reform; but I cannot admit that the state of things which justified that measure is now in existence. If you look at the conduct of the House of Commons since the passing of the Reform Act, you must admit that no such sinister interests have influenced its proceedings. I think that in the work of legislation this House has accomplished much. I think that the great measures which were triumphantly referred to by my right hon. Friend last night, are sufficient to prove at once the necessity and the advantage of the great measure of reform. I am aware that many Gentlemen, though they admit that much has been done, contend that more still is required; that the Legislature ought to have proceeded more rapidly, and that many practical improvements in our laws are still requited. I do 775 not contest that fact, but what I deny is that the fault, if fault it be, arises from the composition of the House of Commons. Let me challenge those hon. Gentlemen who hold this opinion to point out to me what good and useful measures there arc which have failed from riot receiving in this House that support from the representatives of the people which the people themselves were disposed to give them. I am convinced that both as to the conduct of Government, and as to the march of legislation, the House has, I will not say uniformly and invariably, but, on the whole and in general, acted according to public opinion. I do say that I believe that this House, as now constituted, faithfully reflects the sense of the majority of the educated and enlightened classes of the community. If there is any difference of opinion between the House and the country, I am prepared to maintain this position, that the House, in liberality of opinion and in enlightenment, is in advance of the constituents whom it represents; and I think this must naturally be expected:I think it the part, and the duty, of the House of Commons not only to represent, but to lead and instruct public opinion; and I am persuaded that at present such is the case, and that those Gentlemen who sit on this side of the House—such Gentlemen, for instance, as the hon. Member for Wigan who spoke last night, and expressed an opinion with which I have no fault to find, of the great importance of a more liberal commercial policy and the more general education of the people—I say, that Gentlemen who have objects of this kind in view, would find themselves, in the present state of education in the country, greatly deceived if they imagined that a House of Commons more democratically returned would be more favourable to opinions of this description. During the period of the Reform discussion, the House was often cautioned against what was termed mistaking the means for the end; we were told that, after all, the great object was not to get a perfect House of Commons, but to get good laws; and some of those very persons who profess extreme opinions, and are now urging great further changes in the representation of the people at that time, thinking that Government had, perhaps, acquired too much popularity by the measure they had proposed, were constantly holding out this caution to those who listened to their suggestions—"Wait and see what use the Government will 776 make of a reformed House of Commons when they get it." Sir, I entirely concur in the opinion which these persons then expressed, I think it would be a great error if we were to postpone useful legislation for the purpose of constantly endeavouring to get a better legislature. During the progress of constitutional reforms, every man knows that all the work of legislation is at a stand; nay, more, whereas good laws and good government themselves are only desirable because they promote the welfare and happiness of the great body of the people; these constitutional changes, while they are in progress, necessarily interfere with the welfare and happiness of the great body of the people; since both the industrious classes, and capitalists, the employers and the employed—all in their various occupations, feel the effects of the disorder by which the body politic is unavoidably agitated during the struggle by which alone constitutional changes can be accomplished. For this reason, it has always appeared to me highly inexpedient, so soon after we have made a great change in the constitution of Parliament, again to commence that work. But, Sir, if I entertained this opinion even before the recent disturbances of the country by what is called the Chartist agitation, I have entertained this opinion far more decidedly since those disturbances broke out. No person can have observed the state of mind and feeling among a large portion of the working classes without being greatly alarmed. The discontent with existing institutions, the concert and combination between the working classes in distant and remote parts of the country, are symptoms calculated to excite the most lively apprehension in the mind of any observant person. I know it has been said, and said by authority—the last I should have expected to have seen brought forward in support of such an opinion—that this wide-spread discontent proved the necessity of some measure of concession in order to remove it. I have heard similar opinions expressed this evening. The hon. Member for Glasgow says, that we shall never have quiet till we admit a larger proportion of the people within the pale of the constitution. I confess I cannot concur in that opinion. I think it is impossible that any man can have paid attention to the proceedings at the various Chartist meetings, without having perceived that the principal speakers on those occasions, in impressing on their hearers 777 the necessity of those violent changes in the constitution which they usually recommend, have not relied on any argument to show what measures for the good of the country this House has had the power to adopt and has neglected, or to prove in what respect the House of Commons, as now constituted, has betrayed its duty to the nation it represents. Such have not been the objects of their arguments. They have pursued a far more summary course, and have inferred at once from the existence of distress and suffering in some parts of the country, the bad working of the existing constitution. They have assumed that, because poverty and distress do exist in some places, there must be something wrong in the composition of the Legislature, and that if Parliament were but what it ought to be, that if the Reform Act had really succeeded, distress and poverty would have been dispelled like the morning mist, and ease and plenty have been diffused throughout the land. They have endeavoured to impress on their deluded hearers the conviction, that the result of obtaining an increase of political power would be an improvement in then condition:higher wages for less work have been what every labouring man has been taught to expect as the immediate result of a change in the constitution of this House. I know that more than one Gentleman in the course of this debate has stated, as one symptom of the present discontent, that it has prevailed amongst the highest-paid class of labourers. I am not prepared to dispute that fact, but it does not seem to me inconsistent with what I have just stated. I think the history of the many strikes among workmen which have taken place in this country—the history of the disputes which have broken out from time to time between employer and employed, prove this fact, that it is not always real distress or real poverty that has the greatest tendency to produce a desire for higher wages, or discontent with existing wages. I think the Gentlemen who represent manufacturing towns will confirm the truth of what I now allege. But I would appeal to any Gentleman who has taken the trouble to consider attentively the speeches made at the various Chartist meetings, whether the bait held out by the speakers on those occasions has not been what I have already described—whether, as one of their own speakers called it, it has not been treated as a "knife and fork question;" that is to say, whether 778 a prospect of great improvement in their physical condition has not been that which has inflamed the desire for political change, and excited the passions of a large portion of the population. But if this be true, we must all be aware how vain, how foolish, and how mischievous are the notions so inculcated upon the people. We know, that no possible change in the law can produce an immediate improvement in the condition of any society. Still less ran such improvement be brought about by changes in the constitution of the legislature, which is only the instrument by which laws are to be made. Improvements in the condition of the people can only be the slow and gradual work of themselves, encouraged and assisted by good laws and good government. For good laws can work no miracle; they cannot add one fraction to the amount of national wealth. All that the best laws and the best government can accomplish is by assuring to exertion its due reward, by providing for the security of person and property, by promoting education, and by diffusing religious instruction to encourage the formation of those habits of industry and virtue which alone can be the sources of the welfare and the property either of individuals or of communities. But, as this is the case, is it not obvious that it is impossible to deal with that description of discontent which now prevails in the manner which hon. Gentleman would recommend to us? What they call taking larger part of the people into the constitution, could have no effect of the kind which they expect, in improving their physical condition. They now tell us that there is great disappointment as to the result of the Reform Act—that is, they are disappointed because the Reform Act did not work a species of miracle. But the same disappointment must necessarily follow whatever may be the nature of any new Reform Act we might pass. If we do not go to the full extent they ask us, if we stop at anything short of the entire subversion of the existing constitution,' the failure of one measure to fulfil their visionary expectations, will be ascribed to its incompleteness, and their discontent will only be increased. But even if we grant all that is asked, if we consent to the overthrow of our balanced constitution, and the establishment of a pure democracy, when political changes can be carried no farther, would there not remain other objects for those whose game it is to play upon the passions of the people, and to mislead them to their 779 ruin? Would there not still remain other Measures to be urged by those to whom I allude, and who have already endeavoured to inculcate the belief that every capitalist and man of property ought to be regarded as the natural enemy and oppressor of the Workman? The struggle to which we should ultimately come would be against such insane measures as this belief would naturally dictate, measures which, if carried, would be ruinous to all, but perhaps more hopelessly ruinous to the working class than to any other in the community. If this be a true description of the actual position of the country—if there does exist this wide-spreading desire for changes which are impracticable without extreme danger, and leading to extreme confusion, then common prudence should teach us that we ought most carefully to avoid any measures which can encourage among the labouring population expectations of further changes in the institutions, or which can lead them to distrust the permanency of our existing institutions. Here I cannot help observing to those hon. Gentlemen who press various measures which they deem further reforms in the constitution, that, however unde-signedly, they are necessarily playing the game of other parties, who ask for changes with a different design. I say they necessarily play this game, because it is impossible to press for the objects which they have in view by any other means, except by trying to produce upon the public mind the impression that Parliament as now constituted, does not do its duty. Now, the first step towards carrying into effect the designs of the agitators to whom I have alluded is, to pull down that which now exists, to shake the credit of the present constitution of the country in the minds of men, and then prepare the way for further changes. At the time of the Reform Bill, we necessarily were to a certain extent co-operating with persons whose ultimate objects were different from ours; and so at this time those who now would disclaim and disavow, no doubt most sincerely, the objects of the Chartists, are yet, however unwillingly and unintentionally, co-operating with them. But this is not all, or the most serious consideration. Of all evils which can afflict a country, perhaps the most serious is frequent change in the form of Government and in the distribution of political power—I think it is the recurrence of such changes, far more than the extent of the changes themselves, which is attended with evil. Every roan, who 780 has at all considered this subject, must be well aware that time and prescription give the greatest strength and power to all government and all authority. Government of all kind rests ultimately on opinion, and men are so constituted, that time and prescription have the strongest hold upon that opinion. Frequent changes, therefore, in my mind, are of all things the most to be deprecated. I would ask those hon. Gentlemen, who now call on us to make great and serious changes in the Reform Act, whether any one of those changes that have been proposed, is of such a character that we might hope, when it was accomplished, to take our stand upon it for some years, and not be immediately called upon to recommence the work we had just discontinued. For instance, if we adopt the motion brought forward last session by an hon. Baronet, for giving 10l. occupiers in counties, the same right of voting which 10l. householders possess in towns—if, I say, we adopted that change, would it afford the slightest prospect or opportunity of pausing; would it not, on the contrary, be used as an argument and a reason for still further changes? If other Gentlemen proposed to go to the extent of household suffrage, might not the same argument be used, and would there not still remain the anomaly in the constitution, of small boroughs being represented by as many Members as Birmingham or Manchester? Would not these anomalies still continue, and is there any one of those changes which unites in its favour such a number of supporters, such large classes of persons prepared to adopt it as that in which they would ultimately be satisfied, that, having agreed to that, we might expect it would enable us to take our stand upon it? I am convinced that hon. Members themselves must be persuaded, that if we enter a course of changes of this description, there is no point at which we can possibly stop short of an entire and complete re-construction of the whole representative system on the basis of numbers, and numbers alone. Gentlemen, I know may tell me, and I think it was last year I first heard the phrase, that they are anxious for progressive reform. Why, Sir, for progressive reform, if properly explained, I am as anxious as any man. If progressive reform means thorough and searching reform of a practical kind—improvements in all our laws—measures for the adoption of a more liberal commercial policy—for rendering the administration of justice more prompt, 781 certain, and cheap, to all classes of the inhabitants of this country—if it means measures for the general diffusion of education—of religious instruction throughout the country—then, Sir, no man is more sincerely desirous to promote progressive reform than myself. Perhaps I carry my views on these points, and am prepared to go, to an extent beyond many Gentlemen with whom I have acted. But, if by progressive reform, you mean constant changes in the constitution of the Legislature—constant alterations in the distribution of political power — if you mean that the country is to be kept without ceasing in a state of agitation—that men's minds are never to be allowed to be directed to practical reforms, but, on the contrary, are to be absorbed by propositions having for their object the transfer of political power from one class to another—if this be the definition of progressive reform, I can conceive no greater curse to a country. I believe that among the qualities which render some forms of government better calculated than others to promote the happiness and welfare of the community, which, after all, is the great and final object which we never ought to lose from our sight, there are few of more importance than the possession of a certain degree of stability and permanence in the form of the Government. I believe that to the fact of the stability of the form of our Constitution, and to the absence of exciting contests relative to the form of government, it is owing that, during 150 years, in spite of many and great imperfections in the constitution, the country has been enabled to make a progress in civilization and prosperity almost unexampled in the history of the world. I say, therefore, that the true policy of those who wish well to the working classes of this country, is at this moment, by every means in their power, to discourage the expectation of further changes in the constitution, and to lead their minds, instead, to those practical reforms to which I have adverted. I do not mean to say that hereafter, if these reforms are carried on, and with a people become more educated and enlightened, it may not be expedient, in consequence of such changes, that corresponding changes should take place in the political constitution of the country. I am not one of those who are so rash as to say that such a time may not come. But I content myself with judging of the time which is now; and, in the present state of public opinion, I am persuaded it would be most injurious 782 to attempt an alteration in the constitution of the country. When I say this, let me not be understood to go farther than my noble Friend the Secretary of State went in the speech which he made in the House last year, or to exclude improvements in the machinery of the Reform Act, which I think it requires—for all these improvements no one is more anxious to promote than myself. Above all, some improvements in the registration, which, as it at present exists, does work most oppressively, I should be most anxious to accomplish. But I may be asked, if I admit the necessity of improvements of this description, why do I not assent to other changes and go back to the original Reform Bill, modifying the present representative system according to what was first proposed. I do not assent to such changes, simply because I regard the Reform Bill as the settlement of a disputed question, and because if I once begin to depart from what was then settled, I cannot perceive where it is possible to stop. I must again repeat, that I cannot consent to attempt the task of constitutional reform until I see a great necessity; and until, likewise, I see some prospect of accomplishing some definite change, such as that on that change we may rest. I have thought it necessary to state thus fully my views on this important subject, because I cannot deny that they materially affected my views of the arrangements which were proposed in the Government during last autumn. At the same time, let me not be mistaken as intending to imply or insinuate the slightest belief, or the slightest idea, that my noble Friend the Secretary of State in this House, or my noble Friend who leads the Government in another House, have in any respect departed from the opinions which they entertained while I had the honour to belong to the Government, or from the policy of that Government, which was that of maintaining uninjured, the settlement accomplished by the Reform Act. I believe that such is still the intention and the view of my noble Friend, and of the Government which he so ably leads in this House. But, Sir, I did not relinquish the situation which I had the honour of holding in that Administration, because I believed that there was to be any change in its policy. Far otherwise. My reason was, as I have already explained, that I differed from my noble Friend, not as to what ought to be the policy of the Government, but as to the means by which that policy could be 783 carried into effect. I trust, Sir, that I may prove to have been mistaken. I think that no public man, having been overruled in opinion on a question of such importance, is under any obligation in honour or duty to join in carrying on a Government, which he believes in his conscience there is not the means of carrying on with credit to those who compose it. If I anticipate the withdrawal of the support of the House of Commons from the Government in consequence of measures which are adopted, though I may approve of the general policy of that Government, I think I am perfectly justified in refusing to be a party to such arrangements. But I do not know that there is the slightest inconsistency in entertaining that opinion, and also entertaining the most sincere and honest desire which I now profess, that I may turn out to have been mistaken. My noble Friend may meet greater support than I anticipate, and any support that I can give never shall be withheld. I shall still be proud as an independent Member of this House to support my noble Friend, whom for four years and a half I followed as a Colleague, in the same course of policy which he then pursued. I must also say, that I cordially join in resisting the motion now before us, not only from the confidence which I place in my noble Friend and his Colleagues, but also from my apprehension as to what would be the result if the House came to a vote hostile to the existing Administration. Before I join in a measure which would lead to the overthrow of a Government, I must consider what would be the character of the Government by which it would be succeeded. I have been too often in direct opposition to hon. Gentlemen opposite to make it necessary for me to say, that I should greatly regret to see their accession to power. Honestly differing from them on many most important questions affecting the highest and deepest interests of the country, I should have considered it a great misfortune for the country if they had succeeded to the benches which my noble and right hon. Friends now occupy. That opinion has been greatly strengthened by what occured during the last recess. Even before that recess, and during the last two or three years, I think the confidence of impartial and cool-minded men in the party which sits opposite, must have been greatly shaken by the course which they have been pursuing. However reluctantly, I must express the opinion that, through their 784 party interests, the interests of the empire, as connected with the colonies, have been sacrificed in a manner which it would be very difficult to defend. When I look back, above all, to the proceedings of the House of Lords at the close of the Session of 1837, when I remember the disastrous effects which those proceedings might have produced, I might almost say did produce in Canada, I think that they form good grounds for this opinion. Then again, last year, with respect to Jamaica, I know the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Tamworth, takes great credit to himself for the beneficial results of the policy then adopted—that he has appealed with an air of triumph to the improved prospects in the island, and stated that those are the consequences of the course which we have pursued. Sir, I can only say, that in spite of the present improved prospects of Jamaica—as far as can be gathered from public reports—my firm and conscientious opinion is, that this House, by rejecting the measure which was originally proposed during the last Session by her Majesty's Government, has inflicted the death-wound on the real improvement and civilization of Jamaica. I shall be glad if this opinion should turn out to be erroneous, but I see no reason at present for believing that it will; I believe that a short time was afforded us of making permanent improvements in the constitution of the colony, before the power of representative government fell, as it must fall, into the hands of the uneducated majority of the negro race; and I believe that we lost the opportunity, never to be recalled, of making extensive and judicious improvements in the institutions and permanent laws of that country. It is impossible for me to have observed otherwise than with the highest disapprobation—I had almost used a stronger word—the conduct of many Gentlemen whom I see opposite, with reference to the Poor-law. The leader of the party, no doubt, has abstained from taking any part in that agitation. I wish I could say, that he had done more than merely abstained in the early stages of the agitation. We know that, though the leaders whom we see opposite have, in general, not been parties to that agitation, still all the newspapers which advocate the interests of the party—[Laughter.] I have yet to learn that newspapers do not in this country exercise a great and formidable power, and that they are not to a very considerable extent influenced, by what they believe to be the views and interests 785 of particular parties. But, Sir, I say that not only the newspapers, but a very large number of Gentlemen who sit on the opposite side of the House, have used the Poor-law cry as a means of carrying their elections. Even so lately as last autumn, a right hon. and gallant Officer, who formerly held the high situation of Secretary for the Colonies, and in the last Administration of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Tam worth, held the office of Master-general of the Ordnance—even that right hon. and gallant Officer no longer ago than last summer, referred to the question of the Poor-law at Manchester. [Cheers.] Then you adopt his sentiments. As my right hon. Friend stated last night, Mr. Oastler is under your protection. I say, I for one could not witness, without deep regret, a Gentleman of his station and high character condescending to employ such means. I say, I observed with the deepest regret that, at the election, Sir George Murray condescended to make use of expressions with reference to the poor-law, in my opinion, only worthy of the columns of a party newspaper. I contend that hon. Gentlemen who throw upon my noble Friends the blame and responsibility of the present dangers of the country, and of the discontent which prevails among the labouring classes, arc acting most unjustly. On the contrary, that blame rests more with themselves. Because I appeal to hon. Gentlemen, who have attended carefully to the transactions of the last few years, whether I am not correct in stating that it was the anti-poor-law agitation which began and produced the Chartist agitation? The anti-poor-law agitation was encouraged by a very large proportion indeed of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, even at the time when Mr. Oastler and Mr. Stephens were openly recommending resistance to the law by force, and inculcating opinions the most utterly subversive of all law and of all society; when they were endeavouring to persuade the people that it was the fault of Parliament and the poor-law that poverty and distress existed; and trying to make the working classes believe, that it was the poor-law that kept down their wages, and that it was in the power of Parliament to increase their prosperity. It was these opinions, inculcated at anti-poor-law meetings at that time, directly fostered and encouraged as they were by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that immediately prepared the way for the Chartist agitation. Could there be a more natural inference for the persons 786 who attended these meetings, or any conclusion more logically correct, than that if Parliament had the power of improving their condition—if a House of Commons, mainly representing property and not numbers, had the power of increasing the prosperity of the labouring classes, and refused to exercise that power—such a Parliament ought to be discarded, and the House of Commons in future ought to represent numbers, and numbers alone? This is the origin and history of the Chartist agitation. Those Gentlemen who encouraged the cry against the poor-law—those, I believe, who accused the House of Commons of wilfully oppressing the working classes, or, in the language often used, of "grinding the faces of the poor"—those who used this language created the spirit which was the origin of Chartism. During the last recess, a spirit, if possible, still worse, and still more dangerous, of exciting the people, has been employed. I allude to the attempt which has been made to get up the cry of "no Popery," and of the "Church in danger." I rejoice, indeed, that in the course of the present debate every one of the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, even including the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, have appeared to be ashamed of that cry, and have been anxious to disown it. I rejoice that I am thus spared the necessity of making many remarks upon it. I know well that the right hon. Baronet opposite must have regarded with the same disgust, and the same abhorrence as myself, the efforts made to inflame religious animosities; but I cannot help remarking that, if he were to return to power, he would of necessity be compelled to trust, in a great measure, to those persons in Ireland who for the last four or five years have not ceased to pour forth every description of contumely on the religion of three-fourths of the population. It may be very true, that the right hon. Baronet disapproves of the language which those persons have used. I am convinced that that is the case; and yet I am sure that those who fervently follow out and adopt those opinions, although they avail themselves of the talents of the right hon. Baronet, and make use of his genius, yet entertain no real respect nor veneration for him. The wounds of 1829 are not yet healed, they are but thinly skinned over, and it is obvious to all observers how hollow is that apparent union, amongst persons entertaining opinions so discordant. But be that as it may—from the want of other supporters in the sister kingdom, he would find 787 himself, upon attaining office, thrown into the hands of the parties and the individuals who have followed that line of conduct to Which I have adverted. This, then, could not take place without very serious danger. I do not believe that there would be anything in a change of Government to still the tempest of those divisions in the kingdom, or to put down at once that discontent and disaffection which all must acknowledge to exist, and that all must lament. But if it would not make things more safe, I cannot but look with apprehension on the condition of the empire, if it should add to the danger of England, and the danger of Scotland, danger also in Ireland. I have, perhaps, gone further than I intended when I originally rose, but I was anxious to take this opportunity of making an unreserved and explicit declaration of my opinion on the present aspect of public affairs, and before I conclude, I have only to express my heartfelt hope and trust, that, in the observations I have made, I may have said nothing that can wound or injure the Friends with whom I have hitherto acted, or in the slightest degree tend to any separation or alienation between us. If that should be the consequence of what I have now said, I confess I shall regret it more than any obloquy to which I should be exposed by leaving unexplained my public conduct. I hope I have avoided that danger; but I felt, that in the circumstances in which I was placed, I could scarcely avoid stating the reasons that compelled me, very unwillingly, to retire from her Majesty's service.
§ Sir J. Graham
felt greatly obliged to the Speaker for calling upon him, and for allowing him to follow the noble Lord who had just sat down; and he must say, at the commencement of that which he was about to address to the House, that he had heard parts of the speech of the noble Lord with sincere satisfaction, because he had served under the father of the noble Lord when the Reform Bill was carried, and because it was imagined that the noble Lord represented the opinions of that noble individual, Earl Grey. It rejoiced him, then, to find, that though the noble Lord rejected the term of the finality of the Reform Bill, still the party of the noble Lord and his more immediate connections adhered to that bill, as a satisfactory settlement of a vital question. There were parts of the speech of the noble Lord in which he entirely concurred; but still, he must say, that having listened to the noble Lord's premises, 788 he heard with astonishment the conclusion at which he had arrived. He admitted most distinctly with the noble Lord, that the motion of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Devonshire, was a motion of very great importance, to be supported by the strongest reasons, and requiring the concurrence of unusual circumstances. That he admitted most distinctly; and if he were called upon for a single reason for supporting the motion of the hon. Baronet, he would assign the secession of the noble Lord from the benches opposite on the grounds stated by himself. Taken by itself, it constituted an ample and a sufficient reason for the motion made, and the attack that proceeded from that side of the House. Let him call to the recollection of the House that which the noble Lord had stated. He should refer first to the transaction that had taken place last May, and he would say, that the very expressions used by the noble Lord, at the head of the Government in the other House, and the strong expressions of the noble Lord opposite, in announcing to the two Houses of Parliament and the public, that the loss of confidence by them in a great crisis of public affairs had induced them to quit the conduct of those affairs, fully justified and supported the scope and even the terms of the present motion. Strong as their expressions appeared to him at the time, yet they were weak as compared with the declarations of the noble Lord as to the inability of the Government, of which the noble Lord was then a Member, to conduct the affairs of a great nation in a great crisis. The noble Lord considered, that the Government was then in danger, because it had not the confidence of the other House, and it had, from the secession of powerful friends, at last dwindled down to a majority in this House of five. The noble Lord then said, that he had left the Government because he thought that they had not the means of carrying on the business of the country with credit to those who composed it. He wanted no further argument; that was the case of the Opposition; that was the whole of their case; it was all that they contended for. It was admitted, in the plainest and the most distinct terms, by the noble Lord, who was the best witness, that on the 6th of May he left the Ministry, because he felt, then, that it could not carry on the Government, ["No, no, he retired in August."] He should advert to that point presently; but the noble Lord had said, that 789 "he left the Ministry, because he thought that they had not the means of carrying on the Government with credit to themselves." That, then, was the whole of the case. The noble Lord felt, that the Government required assistance; that it was in a state of desperate weakness, and it required some fresh life and power to strengthen it. The noble Lord said, that he thought that the Government should be strengthened without seeking aid from those who required farther changes in the constitution of the country. The noble Lord's opinion was, that to strengthen the Government, assistance should be obtained from those who were not disposed to favour the democratic movement, or to introduce further changes. [Lord Howick:No, no.] He understood the noble Lord to say, that to strengthen the Government, it was necessary to seek aid from those who favoured progressive improvement, but who were opposed to any great change in the constitution of the country. He should be exceedingly sorry to misrepresent any observation made by the noble Lord, but then, as it appeared to him, the noble Lord entertained the opinion that the Government was weak before any change took place, and it was also the opinion of the noble Lord that it was rendered still weaker by the changes that had taken place. His astonishment was great, that when the hon. Baronet, the Member for South Devonshire proposed a motion that the Government, as now constituted, was not worthy of the confidence of this House, that the noble Lord avowing such opinions and acting on them, should hesitate one instant in supporting that motion. The noble Lord had said, that he felt that the responsibility of a Minister was great in quitting his colleagues in a crisis of difficulty and danger. The noble Lord said, that when he left the Ministry there was danger in the state of affairs; but the danger was now ten times greater, and this constituted a still stronger reason why the noble Lord ought to vote for the present motion. He asked the noble Lord, who, as a Minister of the Crown, was so conscious of the weakness of the Government, who disapproved and remonstrated, but without avail, against certain changes, and who thought himself justified in quitting the Administration, how he could now vote in opposition to independent Gentlemen who brought forward a motion directly embodying the sentiments which he had so eloquently expressed. The noble Lord had 790 avowed many principles in which he concurred. He had declared himself in favour of progressive reform, provided any great change in the constitution of the House was carefully avoided. That was the very doctrine entertained by Gentlemen on his own side of the House. If it were not for the unfortunate cry on the subject of the Poor-laws, he should not despair of seeing the noble Lord cross over from the Ministerial to the Opposition benches. He could not perceive that any great difference now existed between Gentlemen on his side of the House and the noble Lord, and lie could assure the noble Lord that he concurred in all he had said respecting the expediency of progressive reform, so long as that great measure, the Reform Act itself was left untouched. Nay more, he would support improvements in the Reform Act to the extent mentioned by the noble Lord. He thought the registration system as now settled, objectionable and vexatious in a high degree, and lie should be quite ready to join with the noble Lord in effecting its improvement. He understood the noble Lord to assign as his reason for giving the Government his support on the present occasion, that he hoped and believed the heads of the Government, notwithstanding the objectionable changes which had taken place, still adhered to the principles which were expressed by the noble Lord the Secretary of the Colonies in the course of last year. This brought him to the matter he was anxious to state to the House as the reason for the vote which he should deliberately give in favour of the motion. He could assure the noble Lord he would find his present position very uncomfortable. He was in this situation, that having raised his hand against every one, he would find every one's hand raised against him. He had dealt out censure on every part of the House, but the slightest portion had fallen to the lot of the Opposition; and, in the balanced state of his mind, the noble Lord would no doubt find great relief in coming over to that side of the House, to which he seemed to gravitate. The hon. Member for Carlow, who spoke last night, stated that he took his stand on two great questions, which he thought entitled the Government to the confidence of the country; the first was the Irish Tithe Act, and the second the Reform Act. Now he also toot his stand on those two questions, and he hoped the House would bear with him while he proved to the satisfaction of every impartial man, that both as regarded the 791 conduct of the Administration, as now constituted, in reference to the Tithe Act of 1835, and in reference to their tampering with the Reform Act, they were not entitled to the confidence of the British public. In the first place, he would call the attention of the House to what exactly took place with respect to the Irish Tithe Act, which was the origin of that unhappy dispute between himself and the Gentlemen opposite, and which dissolved their political connexion. On the 6th of May in the year 1834, the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), after expressing in terms only too flattering, his attachment to friends with whom he differed on the question of appropriation, stated thatConsidering himself pledged not only by his general duty as a Member of that House, but by the resolution which had been passed the other day to attend to the just complaints of the people of Ireland—he thought that if there ever were a just ground of complaint on the part of any people against any grievance, it was the complaint of the people of Ireland, against the present appropriation of tithes. He should then, deeply lamenting the decision he should feel himself bound to come to, but at the same time reflecting that he had, to the utmost of his power, resisted all projects for the Repeal of the Union, and that he had, by the support he gave to this and former bills for the maintenance of tithes, vindicated the right of property against those who wrongfully withheld them, he should, at whatever cost and sacrifice, do what he should consider his bounden duty; namely, do justice to Ireland."*From that time to the present, justice to Ireland had been the catchword of a party sitting on the opposite side of the House. In consequence of that declaration, he and his noble Friend (Lord Stanley), with two other colleagues, left Lord Grey's Government, which was subsequently broken up, and succeeded by the Government of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), who brought in a tithe bill very similar to that which had been introduced by Lord Grey's Government in 1834, but without embodying this noxious principle of appropriation. What then did the noble Lord state? He saidI am so convinced of this, that I am morally certain, that if by any chance or accident the right hon. Gentleman, instead of having been left in continual minorities since the commencement of this Parliament, had been, on the contrary, in possession of a large majority, and could have counted a majority of moreThe noble Lord in fact, then brought forward the resolution which overturned the Administration of the right hon. Gentleman near him, and the adoption of the principle of that resolution, was made the foundation of Lord Melbourne's Administration as now existing. Then, talk not to him of Government principle! If any Government were bound to a principle from which it was impossible to depart, it was the Government opposite, which was irrevocably pledged to the principle of appropriation. But did that Government adhere to it? What was the declaration of Lord Melbourne, when pressed in the House of Lords on this subject in 1836? It was suggested that it was possible for him to give way on this principle; but the noble Lord stood up and declared his adherence to this great and decided principle of the bill, which he had adopted and was determined to abide by, and from an adherence to which he could not possibly depart without a sacrifice of character and reputation, and the success of which he firmly believed would be beneficial to the country; he, therefore, and his colleagues, were determined to stand by the resolution, which heHansard, third series, vol. xxiii., p. 666.792 than one hundred on this very night, the real strength of this question is such, that it would be brought forward year after year, and neither the right hon. Gentleman, nor any other Minister, would finally be able to maintain resident ministers and appurtenances of the church in those districts and places where every reason which justifies the establishment of a church is wanting. I am quite convinced that the principle itself is of so much importance, that it contains so much within itself that concerns future peace and future good government in Ireland, that I would not delay its assertion and its proposition for one instant, even if I were told that the effect of my urging it forward, might be to destroy or relax any ministry which might exist."*Thought not rash or violent, but calculated to set the question at rest, on grounds really satisfactory to the country.Now, he particularly called on the House to listen to the words he was about to quote, and if a Government, which could depart from a pledge so solemn as that he should now read, was entitled to the confidence of the country, then he must say that no Administration could ever be convicted of a breach of engagement, or ever declared by the legislature of any country unworthy of confidence. Lord Melbourne added, thatIbid, vol, xxvii. P. 767.793Not only in point of honour, but in point of feeling, and of every regard which they could consider binding as public men, he and his colleagues felt bound to adhere to the principle and letter of this resolution."*He saw the hon. Member for Sheffield in his place. He would beg to remind the hon. Member of a recent communication made by him to his constituents. The hon. Member there referred to something which lie (Sir J. Graham) had done with respect to the Corn-laws, and the hon. Member having done so, he hoped that the hon. Member would allow him to refresh his recollection with regard to a declaration lie had made to his constituents either this year or the year before. He thought he had seen an account of a report stating, that the hon. Member had declared that the abandonment by the Ministers of the resolution affirming the principle of appropriation was the basest act of political tergiversation which he had ever met with in the course of his political experience. But, no doubt, the hon. Member would explain, if not to the House, at least to his constituents, how, after this marked declaration of his sentiments towards them, he could bring himself to give a vote of implicit confidence in this base Government. Having now discussed this part of the subject, he came to another fact bearing closely upon it, on which he founded his vote of want of confidence. He declared that the settlement which had been made of the tithe question, was quite satisfactory to his side of the House. It was quite satisfactory because, dropping as it did the appropriation principle, it gave a triumph to the Conservative party, who had always been opposed to that noxious principle. It was quite satisfactory because, he was happy to say, in its operation, it had given peace to Ireland, which had been much vexed and deeply endangered by the agitation of the tithe question. But still at the moment of the settlement of that great question, there was considerable danger. Great apprehensions were entertained respecting the practical operation of the principles embodied in the measure. It was said that it might affect rent, and give the landlords of Ireland an interest in attacking the property of the Church; and possibly weaken the security of the Protestant establishment. In this state of things how had her Majesty's Government acted? Within three months from the passing ofHansard, third series, vol. xxxv., p. 483794 the measure, a noble Lord—a Lord-lieutenant of a county, occupying a very distinguished position in Ireland as being eminently favoured by the Government, and favoured by the Crown—within three months of the passing f the act, this Lord-lieutenant of a county headed an address for convening a meeting to sign a petition to Parliament for the total extinction of tithe, and for the appropriation of the amount to secular purposes. So that the person who leads the way, in the dangerous course most calculated to injure the Protestant church, is a Lord-lieutenant of a county, occupying a place at the Court of her Majesty, and distinguished by marks of especial favour, and that noble Lord still retains his place—still retains the marked favor of the Crown, and so shows to the whole people of Ireland, that adherence to the principle of appropriation was still the most effectual method of retaining the support and sanction of the Government. It was, indeed, well known, that the noble Lord had subsequently had conferred upon him a peculiar mark of the Royal favour—that he had received a badge of distinction, thereby showing to the people of Ireland and to the country, the high degree of favour in which he was held at Court. After such conduct, therefore, he confidently asked was this a Government that could be deemed worthy of the confidence of the House of Commons? But, passing this oft-told tale of Ireland, he came to the declaration of the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland, with respect to the changes which had recently been introduced into the Administration. His right hon. Friend, the Judge-Advocate-general (Sir G. Grey), (and in passing he hoped he might be allowed, though now opposed to his right hon. Friend in politics, to use the language of compliment, and say how much his ancient feeling of friendship was gratified by the talent which his right hon. Friend had displayed in his speech last night, in which he had fully justified the opinion which he had always entertained of his right hon. Friend, that he would one day occupy the highest place in the debates and discussions in the House of Commons) had reproached hon. Members on the Conservative side, with the time at which they brought forward these charges. Now he had sat long in that House—he had been long in Opposition—he had had some practice in the proceedings of political parties there; and he must say, that he had always observed 795 that when objections were taken by a Government to the time at which charges were brought forward, and particularly when they professed to be delighted with the opportunity of meeting the attack, there was something pinching and inconvenient in the charge and the challenge itself. His right hon. Friend had asked what new circumstances had arisen? He would tell the House what new circumstances had arisen ever since the Government became the distracted and distressed Government they now were—since they came down in May last and declared their incapability, under existing circumstances, to carry on the administration of affairs any longer with credit or with honor. He would tell the House of three or four circumstances which had occurred since then. First was the appointment of the Marquess of Normanby. The nature of his conduct in Ireland, had been proved by testimony from which there was no appeal—proved and put upon record. His conduct had been censured by one branch of the Legislature. ["Hear, hear."] The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) cried "hear, hear," but the fact was so. The House of Peers had passed a severe censure on the conduct of the noble Marquess; at least it was so considered by the noble Lord opposite, in a speech he made in his place on that occasion. Why was the Marquess of Normanby so censured by one branch of the Legislature? For the manner in which he had exercised the prerogative of mercy. For his conduct to the judges of Ireland. For the general tenor of his management of Irish affairs. Well, the noble Marquess had lately been transferred from the Colonies to the Home Department, where it was his peculiar province to advise her Majesty on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy, where he was frequently called upon to confer with the judges, and where he was again, in effect, at the head of the Government of Ireland. Next he came to the subject of the colonies. The noble Lord had not been particularly successful in his measures for the management of the colonies; but he had last year given at length his reasons for preferring the Jamaica Bill, which was rejected to that which had obtained the sanction of Parliament. Now, the noble Lord was a very careful debater; he was well acquainted with the practice of the House; he seldom made a mistake, but the noble Lord, on this subject, did make a most mal-adroit admission. Having returned to the administration of affairs in May last, 796 the noble Lord threw over his Jamaica Bill, and took another and an opposite measure from the Conservative side of the House—he swallowed it whole—he took it entire, and it was passed, and so he thought that the question was set at rest, until he heard the frank but ill-advised confession of the noble Lord on a former evening. His right hon. Friend had taken credit for the complete success of his own measure, had described the peaceful state of Jamaica, and its commercial prosperity:he had represented Sir Charles Metcalf as enjoying an halcyon abode, and the House of Assembly as being greatly attached to him, and as having given the most satisfactory proofs of their attachment by voting a large increase to his salary as Governor. In fact, nothing could be more satisfactory than the results of the measure, according to his right hon. Friend. But "No," says the noble Lord, "no such thing. They are in such a position in Jamaica, that the black man has no chance for justice under this measure. My bill would have ensured it him." If such were the case, if the measure which the Government had consented to pass at the dictation of their opponents for the tranquilization of Jamaica did not supply the means of justice between man and man, he asked whether conduct such as this, could or ought to command the confidence of any portion of the British House of Commons? Having said this in passing, he now would return to more important ground, on which, with the hon. Member for Carlow, he was prepared to stand. It was that vital point, the constitution of the Commons' House of Parliament. He thought it was in 1838, when the hon. Member for the city of London made a motion in favour of ballot, which he advocated in a speech of great power and force, that the noble Lord had made in reply a most conclusive and argumentative speech against ballot. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin had said soon after, referring to that speech of the noble Lord, that he had retired to rest that night with a heavy and a wounded heart, and in his bed shed many and bitter tears. The noble Lord was so decided in his opposition to ballot, that he wrung tears from the hon. and learned Member. This sorrow he presumed endured but for a season; joy must have awaited the hon. and learned Member in the morning; because, though the opinion of the Cabinet Ministers was not favourable, the Master-general of the Ordnance, and one of the Lords of the 797 Treasury voted against them, and in favour of the measure. The noble Lord, the Member for Bury (Lord C. Fitzroy), had ventured to give an independent vote in favour of the immediate abolition of slavery when the question was first proposed to the House. That breach of discipline the Government did not overlook, and the noble Lord was removed from his place in her Majesty's household, though very soon afterwards, the House, at the instance of the same Government, reversed its former decision, and voted the immediate abolition. The Master-general of the Ordnance, however, and the Lord of the Treasury, were still allowed to retain their places, notwithstanding their refractory vote in favor of ballot. He could not understand the reason of this distinction, holding, as the noble Lord opposite did, opinions so decided on the question of ballot. He held in his hand a document from which there was no appeal. Speeches of Gentlemen in that House might be hasty and inconsiderate, and the reports of those speeches might be imperfect; but when a Secretary of State sat down in his cabinet for the purpose of addressing his constituents, in a letter which he had printed and circulated, the production must be looked upon as a document about which there could be no doubt, and from the authority of which there was no appeal. He was about to quote from the noble Lord's Address to the Electors of Stroud, dated, he believed, in April or May of lust year, and he thought he was only dealing fairly by the Government in quoting this as an authentic record of the opinions of their leader in the House of Commons. His right hon. Friend the Member for Devon-port had complained that the Government had no facts to grapple with in this debate. He wished to state the facts on which he rested his support of the motion. His right hon. Friend had appealed to him (Sir J. Graham) with regard to appeals to popular feeling at the time the Reform Act was passing through its early stages, and struggling for existence. Now he by no means denied that this appeal was made with his knowledge and concurrence. He always said, as the noble Lord had termed it, that the change then effected was a great revolution, though happily a bloodless one. He said he admitted distinctly that appeals were made on that occasion to popular support, perhaps beyond the limits of prudence. He was not there to conceal anything, and he repeated, that he thought 798 that the appeals which were then made to popular feeling, were carried to the very verge of the law, and, perhaps, beyond the strict limits of prudence. If he had made this admission frankly, he hoped he might be allowed to warn the House from the noble Lord's letter against any repetition of such appeals. The noble Lord declared, in effect, exactly what he (Sir J. Graham) now declared, that directly or indirectly, he would not again sanction, in any degree, an appeal to popular force or enthusiasm.But supposing," said the noble Lord, "a new enthusiasm could be awakened, I am not ready to stir the caldron from which so potent a charm could be extracted. The excitement of a new change—the passions again raised—the House of Commons again in the furnace to be melted in a new mould—the people again in the temper which burst out in flames at Nottingham and Bristol—On this he agreed with the noble Lord, exactly and perfectly—Would go for to shake the stability of property, and make law the servant of disorder.The noble Lord proceeded—The Reform Act was carried under the auspices of Lord Grey, assisted by statesmen long used to power, and able to weigh their proceedings. That weight of authority carried along with it a large proportion of the House of Lords and the dispassionate Reformers throughout the country. But, for a new Reform Bill opposed by a majority in the House of Commons and five-sixths of the House of Lords, no such authority could be invoked. It would be menace and the multitude; unknown leaders dictating to intelligence and property; an attempt at reform, but sure to end in confusion.This was what the noble Lord wrote in May last, and he went on—and to this part of the address, he (Sir J. Graham) begged to call the particular attention of the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland:—Surely, resistance must commence some" where, and wherever it does commence—Here was an additional recommendation to the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland to come over to the Opposition side of the House:—Those who call themselves Conservatives must vote with the party of resistance.Surely, this was a clear authority that the noble Lord, if he were really opposed to further changes, ought to come over to the Conservative side of the House. But the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was more 799 explicit on the subject of Ballot, and the noble Lord used an argument, which he (Sir J. Graham) thought quite conclusive:—Ballot is suited to an absolute government of the few, or a free Government where the suffrage is universal. But for the middle classes of this country to pretend to an irresponsible and secret power over the destinies of the country, would be, as the Morning Chronicle says, 'an unendurable anomaly.The noble Lord then asks, in reference to household suffrage:—Will the non-householders be satisfied? Will they not exclaim against the partiality? Will they not join in demanding that with vote by ballot, universal suffrage is the only tolerable scheme?''The noble Lord said the proposal of which he was speaking was:—To found a new Reform Bill on the basis of triennial Parliaments, household suffrage, and vote by ballot.Now, nothing could be more explicit than this. The noble Lord's statement was two-fold—first, that he could not agree to the Ballot; second, that the Ballot leads to universal suffrage. Next he came to the change which took place in last May, and he begged that it might be particularly noticed that immediately after the return of the Government to office, the Ballot having never before been an open question, it was, then, for the first time, made an open question. He was not going into the hacknied subject of open questions; he would rather adopt the terse expression of Lord Brougham when he said that open questions were a cunning expedient invented for the benefit of those who were more anxious to keep their places than to do their duty. But Ballot being an open question, the noble Lord had time to consider, after his return to office, what strength he could call to the aid of his Government. He saw the right hon. Secretary at War (Mr. Macaulay) in his place, and he would therefore, take the opportunity to ask the House to consider how he had handled this subject in a speech made to his constituents at Edinburgh at the time Lord Dunferm-line quitted the Chair of the House of Commons. This speech was remarkable for its talent, no less than for its plain, intelligible, frank declarations of opinion. He (Sir J. Graham) did not wish to quote the words of the speech, unless the right hon. Gentleman called upon him to quote the express words; but the right hon. 800 Gentleman, after several ingenious arguments, on the comparative merits of various kinds of political falsehood, and after balancing the whole with curious subtilty, at last declared in favour of the Ballot. The noble Lord opposite said, "That leads directly to universal suffrage." The Secretary at War was not yet quite prepared to go the full length of universal suffrage, but he was in favour of household suffrage. He said, however, he was quite prepared to abolish the rate paying clauses. But there was another point on which the noble Lord who spoke last had put his hand—the extension of the suffrage to the 10l. householders in counties. To this, the Secretary at War stood pledged. [Mr. Macaulay:Not so.] He would read what the right hon. Gentleman said:—I also believe, that the elective franchise might be extended to every 10l. householder, whether his house is within or without the limits of any burgh.''If it would be convenient to the right hon. Gentleman and to the House, he would gladly receive the right hon. Gentleman's explanation then. ["Go on."] Well, he should assume, then, that the mistake to which the right hon. Gentleman objected, consisted in his (Sir J. Graham) having said, that the right hon. Gentleman was pledged. This was a distinction, but it was almost as fine-drawn as that between the falsehood of Ballot and that of other political devices. He was sorry to have made this mistake; he found, on reference, that the right hon. Gentleman did not say he was "prepared to support" an extension of the franchise to 10l. householders, but that he believed, the franchise might be extended to every 10l. householder, whether within or without the limits of any particular borough. But the difference of expression, except to casuists, did not seem very great. It mattered, however, little as regarded the opinion of the noble Lord whether the right hon. Gentleman was pledged or not. In the opinion of the noble Lord, the Ballot would lead, not to an extension of the suffrage, but to universal suffrage; and the noble Lord had pledged himself to that opinion in a form from which there was no appeal. He might have mistaken the right hon. Gentleman—to mistake the noble Lord was impossible. It was only incidental to the discussion, but he must say, that he could not fail to express an opinion exactly coinciding with that of the noble Lord on this question. He thought, 801 that of all the vain and empty schemes, that were ever addressed to the imagination of man, the most futile was this, based as it was, on the expectation that by small additions to the elective franchise they could ever he in a condition to hope to satisfy the mass of the population. The very reverse was the case. Every man feels the value of that from which he is excluded, more than the value of that to which he is admitted. And just in proportion as you bring nearer to his eyes the object of his desires, do you render him the more impatient of refusal, the more anxious to gain the object refused, the more disgusted with delay. Therefore, of all absurdities, that appeared to him to be the greatest which gave small concessions with respect to the franchise, in the hope of satisfying the people. The Reform Act proceeded on a quite different principle; it proceeded on large concessions; once for all, he said, and the only safety was in sticking to that declarat in. But what did the noble Lord say? He imagined the noble Lord was not prepared to enter upon a course avowedly inconsistent with the permanence of that Act. Nothing that he (Sir J. Graham) had heard the noble Lord say, would warrant the understanding that the noble Lord was prepared for shortening the duration of Parliaments. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Edinburgh, was of quite a contrary opinion; he was for shortening them. The right hon. Gentleman said, "he would have the Septennial Act repealed, and not triennial but quadrennial Parliaments established.'' Now, he must ask, how was it possible upon any principle that they could give confidence to any Administration, having such difference of opinion existing upon matters of such vital importance between the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman whom he had admitted into his cabinet, or expect that they could command the confidence of that House; for there was no mistaking about this matter; the Government for five mouths had had this speech of the right hon. Gentleman before them, recording his opinion, first in favour of the ballot, next in favour of the extension of the suffrage, and thirdly in favour of quadrennial Parliaments. The noble Lord had this in his possession in October last, when he sought to re-model his Administration, in a crisis which the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland said was "most dangerous." The noble Lord made a proposition to the right hon. Member to join his cabinet, and the right hon. Gentleman 802 accepted the offer. He must say, that his respect for the ability of the right hon. Gentleman was as great as for his integrity; and how had the right hon. Gentleman announced his accession to office under the noble Lord? Why he dated his letter from Windsor Castle on the very day when he was sworn into her Majesty's Council—for, lest there should be any mistake that he had compromised any opinion, or compromised any principle announced in his speech at Edinburgh, he sent a missive from Windsor Castle with an express declaration that he had not; and he must say it was particular and explicit to the utmost. But if he. could venture to criticise anything that fell from the right hon. Gentleman, he should say it was hardly generous to the noble Lord sitting by his side, for the right hon. Gentleman disclaimed compromising any of his opinions in the position he had taken. What were the words? "The change which has taken place in my situation has produced no change in my opinions and feelings. I have accepted office because I am of opinion that in office I can most effectually promote the success of those principles which recommended me to your favour." He saw the hon. Member for Kilkenny cheered with honest joy; it was a distinct triumph to the Radical party. The Opposition might lose the votes of the Radicals on this occasion by this frank admission, but he cared nothing for that; he thought they had arrived at that period when the public should understand rightly the grounds on which they stood, and the points on which they differed. Did the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) and other Members rejoice in this victory of the Radicals. He could well understand the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh rejoicing, because he had obtained a signal triumph; the nobe Lord, as it appeared to him, had sustained a most signal defeat. But really, in passing, he must be allowed to ask—the new principles of the Government being the ballot, extension of the suffrage, and the shortening of the duration of Parliaments —what, in principle, was the difference at this moment between the Chartists and her Majesty's Ministers ! He would say, that not only was it a Radical triumph, but, as it appeared to him, it was a Chartist triumph also. In principle (he again repeated his question) where was the difference? He saw one hon. Member present (Mr. Muntz) who had addressed the House for the first time that night, and to whom, as a 803 great authority on this question, he referred. in principle where was the intelligible difference between the policy of her Majesty's present Ministers and the claims of the Chartists? What were the claims of the Chartists? They were five. First of all they claimed the ballot. As a Government, her Majesty's Ministers did not resist the ballot. Their next demand was universal suffrage. In the opinion of the noble Lord, the ballot inevitably led to that concession. But it was a false term, even as demanded; it was not universal suffrage; there were large exceptions; the female sex were excepted, minors were excepted, and persons convicted of crime; therefore it was not universal suffrage which was demanded, but a large extension of the suffrage. The right hon Member for Edinburgh was in favour of an extension to a large extent; he (Sir J. Graham) said "the noble Lord must go the whole length, though not prepared for it, according to his own argument when he consented to ballot being an open question." The third point was the shortening the duration of Parliaments. The right hon. Gentleman was quite prepared for that; and when quadrennial Parliaments were obtained they would soon descend in the scale to triennial Parliaments. Then they came to the fourth point, the abolition of the qualification of Members; and, for the satisfaction of the Chartists, he held in his hand the names of six Members of the Government who had voted with the Member for Leeds (Sir W. Molesworth) on the resolution for doing away with the property qualification. Perhaps the House would like to hear the names. [Mr. F. Maule—There is no property qualification in Scotland.] He was aware of that. The Under Secretary was anxious to throw light on the subject, and informed him that there was no property qualification in Scotland. He lived just on the borders of Scotland, and had seen the good effects of the property qualification on one side, and the bad effects from the want of it on the other side. He might perhaps have an old-fashioned prejudice in favour of property, both as to the right of qualification to vote and as to the right to sit in that House; but though the hon. Under Secretary might differ from him on that point, he did not find the hon. Member's name on the list of voters for the abolition of the property qualification. It might, however, be an additional gratification to the Chartists to be informed, that though the Under Secretary of State had not had the opportu- 804 nity of voting for the abolition of the property qualification, yet that in their sentiments he entirely agreed. But now the House would perhaps like to hear who the Members of the Government were? First of all there was the Member for Kinrosshire, (Sir C. Adam"); next came the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. W. Clay), recently admitted into the Government. He (Sir James Graham) did not know whether this was one of the changes to which the noble Lord (Howick) objected. Then came Lord Ebrington, the present Lord-lieutenant of Ireland; and then there was the hon. Member for the Jedburgh boroughs (Mr. Robert Steuart), the same Gentleman who had run riot, on the Ballot question; and, he was sure, that now the triumph of the Chartists throughout Mon-mouth would be complete when he stated the next Member. Who did the House think was the sixth Member? Her Majesty's Attorney-general. He had now gone through four of the heads of the Charter; the paying of the Members was the fifth. He dared say they would not object much to that article—it was reverting to the old practice; and if that were the only matter in dispute, they would not quarrel much. He had now gone through the heads of the Chartist doctrines, and he repeated the question—where in principle was the difference between the Ministers and the Chartists? And if there was no difference between them, he then asked the House, could they have confidence in such an Administration? He would ask, was this an Administration worthy of the confidence of the country? But this doctrine of the Ballot had not been altogether unproductive. This open question had borne some fruits. They talked of barrenness; it was not barren. The hon. Member for Bridport was quite overjoyed that those happy days were approaching when the Ballot would no longer exist in theory, but would be reduced to practice. What had happened? Why, actually a Member of the Government had been lately introduced into that House, who was so anxious to give practical effect to the theory of the Administration, that in soliciting the suffrages of his constituency, he submitted his claim—his humble claim—to tender his services to the vote by ballot. Yes, the hon. Gentleman humbly submitted to a certain portion of the electors the comparative claims of himself and the other candidate to the test of the Ballot. All this, he was aware, would be vastly 805 satisfactory to the Members of the other side of the House, who had for many years, expressed Radical and extreme opinions, but to all men on that side of the House, who were bound to prevent dangerous changes, and who were anxious to preserve to property its influence and security within these realms, it was not so. He really thought the Judge Advocate had complained without cause of the want of facts and direct statements against the Government; but he was by no means exhausted in his catalogue of such facts, though perhaps he had exhausted the attention of the House. He had another charge to make against her Majesty's Government, of both directly and indirectly giving encouragement to the Chartists. He would deal first with the indirect encouragement; and he would say, in the first place, a more dangerous admission of the correctness of Chartist doctrines was never made by a great officer of the Government than was made by the Marquess of Normanby, when Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, upon the subject of multitudinous meetings. A case was brought under discussion in the House of Lords of a meeting in the county of Waterford, where 50,000 men were assembled for the encouragement of passive resistance against tithes; and the Marquess of Normanby, in his place in Parliament, defended that meeting of 50,000 men assembled for that purpose, upon the abstract point of law, that if there was no direct intimidation or breach of the peace, such meetings were not illegal or to be discountenanced by Government. For the Marquess of Normanby the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to say that such a meeting ought not to be discountenanced by Government in the present tempestuous state of affairs, was in itself, a direct encouragement to Chartism. But the case did not stop there; he held in his hand a variety of reports of speeches of the most violent, seditious, and turbulent character, which were delivered at a variety of public meetings, immediately after the adoption of the charter, in August last, at Birmingham; and very shortly after the adoption of the Charter, the political union there, through one of their Members, who was at Paris, sent an address to the National Guard at Paris, in which they said, that "the Chartists here were quite prepared to make common cause for the extension of the franchise." Such language had been used at public meetings unchecked and uncontrolled. The noble Lord, in an 806 ill-advised moment, had made a speech at Liverpool, which the noble Lord had already said had been imperfectly reported. He held the report of it in his hand. As the noble Lord denied the accuracy of the report, he should not use it; but he should proceed to show to the House what caution a person in the noble Lord's station ought to use under such inflammatory circumstances; and he was bound to remark, that whatever the noble Lord might have said, the report had been most unfortunate, for it could not be denied, after what he was about to read to the House, that that report was treated by the Chartists as accurate, and had produced very decided effects.
§ Lord J. Russell
As the right hon. Gentleman refers to that speech of mine, I really think before he proceeds he should have a correct version of the substance of what I believe I stated on that occasion.
§ Sir J. Graham
had never seen a corrected edition of that report. The report, as he had it, was published in the Globe newspaper, and he had never seen, as yet, the version that the noble Lord gave of that report; but he had seen that which he should now proceed to read to the House, from which it appeared that that speech of the noble Lord's was most unfortunate in its effects, because it was considered by the Chartists as directly encouraging them. And he must say, considering the notoriety of the speech and its results, there was another circumstance no less unfortunate than the inaccuracy of the report—the tardiness of the correction. He found a report in the Northern Star of a meeting held near Leeds. On the 15th of October, 1839, a great meeting was held on Hunslet Moor, which was reported in the Northern Star of the 20th of October. A Mr. Joseph Crabtree addressed the meeting, and used these words:—We have had many hard tugs together, and shall we, now that my Lord John Russell has discovered that we have a right to meet, shall we give it up? No, my boys, this in Yorkshire, and you are Yorkshire lads. You will tell him that you will either have your rights, or you will die in the struggle.A Mr. Collins, in the same meeting, says:—Lord John Russell has told us, that there are some who would advise the putting down of the meetings of the people; but he would not adopt such a course, for he admitted the right of the people to meet. Thank you for nothing, my lord ! The attempt to put down one meeting, would put up two.807 The hon. Gentlemen opposite were greatly-delighted that meetings of this description should not be put down, and thought it extremely desirable for the peace and security of the state that such meetings as these should be encouraged. If this was the opinion of the House, and they had confidence in the Government, they could not object to it; if they did object to such proceedings, this night let them declare they had no confidence in the Government. But did it stop here? He was now about to read to the House what was more unfortunate, and what would excite regret in the kind heart of the noble Lord. His speech, as misreported, had been pleaded by a party recently convicted at Monmouth, of having been present at a seditious and traitorous assembly, as a defence. The person to whom he (Sir J. Graham) alluded was Llewellyn, who in his examination before the magistrates at Newport, before he was committed, made this statement to the magistrates. He said:—I did not consider that meetings of these kinds were illegal; no one ever told me that they were. Besides, not two months before Lord John Russell, the Secretary of State, said, at a public dinner at Liverpool, that public meetings were not only lawful, but commendable; for public discussion, he thought, was the best means to elicit truth. If any one had told me these meetings must be stopped or put down, I certainly would have been the first to stop them.Now, did Gentlemen intend to ride off on a general term without reference to the particular character of these meetings? These were secret assemblages. So far from being public meetings, they were meetings of delegates, with a considerable number of the population present, where political subjects were discussed, and where the most outrageous scheme for the violation of both persons and property were adopted. The party accused distinctly relied on the authority of the noble Lord as his excuse for attending these meetings, and he said,For these considerations, I, with many others, thought these meetings perfectly legal; and, under such considerations, I thought we were-perfectly right in attending such meetings.The defence of this course rested on the speech of the noble Lord. Whatever the offence of this party might have been, it must convey regret to the mind of the noble Lord, that under whatever circumstances, this speech from him has afforded 808 encouragement to the Chartists. But this was no matter of inference. He now went on to charge the noble Lord with direct encouragement of the Chartists. Considering the unhappy position in which Mr. Frost was now placed, he would not say one word of him, but he should call the attention of the House to another case much stronger than that of Mr. Frost, and for which he (Sir J. Graham) had not yet heard any apology offered. He was about to state a fact, as his right hon. Friend the Judge Advocate had called for facts, and for it he wanted an explanation. Now, had he been rightly informed? It would be in the recollection of the House, that when the Municipal Corporation Reform Bill was under consideration, a proposition had been made by the noble Lord by whom that measure was propounded, to the effect that the corporate magistrates should cease to be nominated by the Crown, but should be elected by the inhabitants of the borough; the Legislature—upon considering that proposition, held it to be dangerous, inasmuch as it was calculated to change the character of the magistrates, and altogether to deprive the Crown of the power it ought to possess. He repeated, that upon that proposition the sense of Parliament was taken, and Parliament decided against it. The circumstance to which he was about to allude, and which the noble Lord opposite could contradict, if it was stated erroneously, formed another reason or ground of want, of confidence in the Administration. The noble Lord had in point of fact said in that House,Though I am defeated in the endeavour to obtain such an enactment, still, in exercising the prerogative of the Crown I will indirectly do that, which by the act I cannot do directly;And therefore the noble Lord had said to the new corporations,Send me the names of the men you have chosen to be magistrates, and I will put them in the commission of the peace.He begged to ask the noble Lord at the head of the colonies, whether the name of Mr. Muntz, the brother of the hon. Member opposite, now the mayor of Birmingham, had not been inserted in the commission of the peace by the authority of the noble Lord, and upon the noble Lord's responsibility? Mr. Muntz, now mayor of Birmingham, and placed in the commission of the peace by the authority and upon the responsibility of the noble Lord, had been vice-president of the Political Union, had 809 been a delegate to the National Convention, and trustee of the Chartist fund. He made no comment on this fact, because it was as notorious as the sun at noon day, and he unhesitatingly charged it upon the noble Lord as furnishing a proof of the frank and open encouragement given to the Chartists by her Majesty's Government. He passed from the Chartists, and would only just glance at the encouragement Ministers had given to another class of agitators, the Repealers. He contended, that not content with the direct encouragement they had given to the Chartists in England, her Majesty's Government had given direct encouragement to the Repealers in Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin gloried in the title of Repealer—he had declared that he would be a Repealer to the last hour of his life, and, as had been stated by the hon. Member for Worcester, had declared that he would rather die in the field than submit to the imposition of a Tory Government upon Ireland, and that come what might, he was a Repealer for the rest of his life. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin, had certainly been consistent in his intentions to force the question of repeal upon this country, and he well remembered the hon. and learned Gentleman to have once said, that there was a great similarity between the position of M. Papineau in Canada and that of himself in Ireland. Now what had been the treatment of M. Papineau? Papineau without trial, without taking an active part in the attempt to dismember the empire of Great Britain, had been outlawed. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin, no less bent upon the dismemberment of the empire than had been M. Papineau, who, he repeated, had been condemned without trial, had been caressed by her Majesty's Government, and offered one of the highest judicial situations in Ireland. Perhaps this was a change in the policy of the Administration to which the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland objected. He disclaimed all objections to the hon. Member on account of religious differences. He, for one, thought that the moment the Emancipation Bill had passed, every good and loyal subject of the realm, without regard to religious opinions, was entitled to a fair and equal share in the patronage of the Crown; but he must say, that in the elevation of the right hon. and learned Member for Tipperary to the councils of her Majesty—considering that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had 810 been (for he knew not what the right hon. Gentleman was now) not only a repealer, but actually a teller on the division which followed the motion of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin for a repeal of the legislative union—was as dangerous as the direct encouragement the Government had given to the Chartists, and an appointment as directly in favour of repeal as the Government could possibly have made. He (Sir J. Graham) had already stated his opinion with regard to what were called "open questions;" he had already cited the terse dictum of Lord Brougham on that subject—a dictum which he thought would be remembered by the country. Not content with leaving the ballot an open question, the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) had admitted to his councils the right hon. Member for the city of Edinburgh, who had pledged himself in a speech he (Sir J. Graham) held in his hand, but which, after the denial of the authenticity of a reported speech of the noble Lord's, he was afraid to read, to advocate perfect freedom of trade generally, and free trade in corn in particular. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh did not advocate a fixed duty. He proposed no new regulation, but had declared himself an advocate for perfect and entire free trade in coin. He claimed the permission of the House just to read the opinion of Lord Melbourne, the head of the Administration, on that subject. On the 14th of May last Lord Melbourne thus expressed himself. The noble Lord's expressions contained no declarations against a fixed duty, but they amounted to a distinct declaration against free trade in corn on the part of her Majesty's advisers. The noble Lord on the 14th of March said,For the sake of argument I will assume the possibility of our being in a situation in which we might legislate with a tabula rasa. I will suppose that we had no interests to protect, and that we were told that this was to be a great manufacturing country—great in wealth, prosperity, and population, and I should then very much doubt whether it would be wise to establish laws which must make a large manufacturing population dependent on foreign countries for a supply of corn. But when I consider the situation in which we stand—when I consider the various and complicated interests which we have to protect—when I consider the peculiar nature of our financial position, and find my noble Friend proposing to leave the whole agricultural interest without protection, I declare before God that I think it the wildest and maddest scheme that has ever entered into the imagination of man to conceive. I entirely agree that any 811 change in the present system would be an evil; and if the effect of the agitation of this subject has been to interfere with the employment of capital, and the improvement and sale of land, I am ready to confess that I think it is better that we should make no alteration."*Now, what had been the declaration of the right hon. the Secretary at War? That right hon. Gentleman had said, "I have always been adverse to any restrictions upon trade, and above all to those restrictions upon trade which affect the necessaries of life." The declaration had been made some months before the missive sent to his constituents by the right hon. Gentleman from Windsor Castle, and yet Lord Melbourne was content to select the right hon. Gentleman as the favoured candidate for admission into his cabinet. Nay more, the question of the corn laws was the question, if ever there was one, upon which it was the imperative duty of the cabinet to take a decided and a bold line of conduct; it was the very particular question that was vital to the peace of the community—a question upon which they ought not to be kept in suspense; and the only use of a Government in such a case was, that amidst conflicting parties it should hold with a steady hand the balance, and declare what should be done. Now he asked, what were the opinions of the Members of her Majesty's Government on that subject. He believed that the new Vice-President of the Board of Trade had voted with him against any change in the corn laws, whilst the new President of the Board of Trade, had declared, he believed, for he spoke without certain knowledge, at Manchester, that he was willing to adopt a system of free trade in corn. Now, was there any doubt existing as to the opinions held on the question of the corn laws on his side of the House. He was in favour of protection to native agriculture, and of protection in this way, viz., that there should be a duty on a graduated scale, rising as prices fell, and falling as prices rose. To those two principles he was pledged, and he believed his Friends on the benches near him avowed the same principles. He had now passed through a vast variety of topics, and he feared he had wearied the House. He would only deal with one other branch of this immense subject, and upon it he would touch very shortly—that subject was the question of patronage. He was no prude on that subject* Hansard, vol. xlvi, p. 610–611.812 —nay, he admitted generally the doctrine laid down by his right hon. Friend the Judge-Advocate, that every Government was justified in giving a preference to its friends and supporters, but he contended that there were some vast and mighty exceptions to that rule, and those great exceptions were the two great services of arms in this country, and he said distinctly, with respect to the navy, that the root of its efficiency was struck at—the mainspring of that service on which the greatness of this country rested was broken, if officers were led to understand that services performed on the quarter-deck were secondary to services performed on the hustings. The right hon. and learned Judge-Advocate delighted in facts. He would make no comments on these he was about to mention, but simply detail them to the House. No less than eight naval officers above the rank of lieutenants had stood contests at the last general election and had been defeated. Every one of those officers having stood election contests, most of them while on half-pay, had since the election of 1837, been placed in command. Admiral Ommanney, who had contested Hampshire, had been put in command at Lisbon;—Lord John Churchill, who had stood a contest for Woodstock, now commanded the Druid; Captain Plumridge, who contested Falmouth, had been appointed to the Astrea; Lord Clarence Paget, who contested Southampton, was appointed to the command of the Howe; Captain Napier, who stood for Greenwich, now commanded the Powerful; Captain Townshend, who contested Tamworth, had been appointed to the command of the Tyne; Captain Pelham, who stood a contest for the Isle of Wight, was now in command of the Wasp; and Captain Houston Stewart, who stood for Renfrewshire, had been appointed to the command of the Benbow. An hon. and learned Member under the gallery had intimated that Captain Plumridge had been appointed to the Astrea before the election at Falmouth. Now, he would give the House a narrative of that transaction. He would take it as a general sample of all the rest and leave the House and the country to judge of it. When he had the honour of a seat at the Board of Admiralty, he had the high satisfaction of placing in the command of the dock yard at Chatham, Sir James Gordon, a distinguished ornament of his profession, and an officer who had lost his leg in a celebrated action in the Adriatic, and who, though unable for active service 813 afloat, felt himself unwilling to submit to a life of idleness. That officer delighted in an appointment in which he still could render service to his country, and had commanded the dock-yard at Chatham in a manner which challenged inquiry. Sir James Gordon was most anxious not to retire on the pension list, but to remain in the discharge of those active duties on shore, for which he felt he was well qualified. Lord Auckland, while at the Admiralty Board, had appointed to a lucrative situation at Falmouth, in a manner highly creditable to him, an officer of great distinction, but without any influence—of humble means, but great worth—Captain Clavell, who bad been lieutenant to the illustrious Collingwood. This was an arrangement made before the general election of 1837, and what had been the conduct of the present Board of Admiralty? They had compelled Sir. J. Gordon to vacate his appointment at Chatham, and then put him on half-pay—they removed Captain Clavell from Falmouth to Chatham; and Captain Plumridge, an excellent officer, and a relation of the First Lord of the Admiralty, was appointed in his place. He did not know the precise date of the Falmouth election, but he believed it was about August, and that Captain Plumridge had been sent there in the month of May previous. The House and the country bad heard a good deal lately about officers, on full pay having taken part in politics. If a rule was to be applied to the army, he contended the same rule ought to be extended to the navy. Here, however, was Captain Plumridge sent into command at Falmouth a few months before the election, and at the election he stood as a candidate for the representation of the borough. Ever since that time, he bad taken good care of the interests of the Government there; he had been of great assistance to them at the recent election, and, in point of fact, it could not be denied, that Captain Plumridge had been appointed to that lucrative situation, and that he had stood a contested election for the borough, where lie was in command. There was still another circumstance, almost as amusing. In the same month of August, he believed, the good people of Southampton, who had not seen a ship of war for a long period of time, were rejoiced by one of her Majesty's frigates sailing up the Southampton water, and being brought to an anchor opposite the town. The inhabit- 814 ants were overjoyed at this appearance, but very soon the secret transpired. The frigate was the Pearl, commanded by Lord Clarence Paget, who was a candidate for Southampton, and of whose hospitalities, on board, the independent electors partook largely, rejoicing much. He would just touch upon one other point, and it should be the last. He had already shown the conduct of the Government in respect of the Jamaica question, and upon that alone, he thought he had good grounds for supporting a vote of want of confidence. He thought he could establish an equally good ground for want of confidence in the conduct of her Majesty's Government with regard to the Canadas. On the 9th of August, 1838, a bill, rescinding the ordinances of the Earl of Durham, and conveying a direct censure upon that noble Lord, came to be read a second time. On the 9th of August, 1838, Lord Melbourne declared, that to pass that bill involved—Nothing less than the continuance of the connexion of one part of the empire with the other—that it involved nothing short of the integrity of the empire, and he would add, nothing short of the peace of the world. When he considered the moral effect which such a law must have in Canada—when he saw that it amounted, in point of fact, to nothing more nor less than a strong and direct condemnation of the policy pursued in that country, he could not, either in his conscience, or from a regard to the interests and welfare of the empire, consent to the second reading of the bill."*The noble Lord, at the head of the Government, further declared that the measure was the height of injustice to Lord Durham, of whose conduct he approved, and that to pass the bill would be to sever the colony from the mother country, and thus to mutilate the empire. Such were the declarations of the noble Lord, on the 9th of August; he took a division upon the bill in the House of Lords, on that division he was defeated, and on the following day, the noble Lord adopted the bill, and it was passed through the House of Commons, as it was passed through the House of Lords, at the instance of the noble Lord himself. Was it, then, possible to place confidence in such a Government? Where were governors of colonies to be found who would act under such an Administration? Conduct, such as that be had described, threw the whole empire into* Hansard, Vol xliv., p, 1096.815 confusion; and, so far from thinking that the present question was one of secondary importance, because it only assailed the character of men, he concurred in the observation of Lord Bacon:—That it was in vain that princes should consult about matters unless they also consult about persons, for matters after all, are but dead images—the life of the execution of affairs consists in the choice of persons.He charged upon the noble Lord and his colleagues, that conduct such as he had depicted was enough to shake all confidence in them; he asserted that a change in her Majesty's advisers was indispensable, if peace and order, and good Government were to be preserved; and he called upon the House by the vote of that night, to give security to property, which was endangered, and stability to the Empire, whose best interests were at stake.
§ Mr. Macaulay
said, it is possible, Sir, that the House may imagine I rise under some little feeling of irritation, to reply to the personalities and accusations of the right hon. Baronet. I shall indulge in neither. It would be easy to reply to them—to recriminate would be still easier. Were I alone personally considered, I should think either course unworthy of me. I know that egotism in this House is always unpopular; on this occasion it would be singularly unseasonable. If ever I am under the necessity of addressing this House on matters which concern myself, I hope it shall be on some occasion when the dearest interests of the empire are not staked on the event of our debate. I do rise, Sir, to address you under feelings of deep anxiety, but in that anxiety there is not, if I know my own heart, any mixture of selfish feeling. I do feel, indeed, with the most intense conviction, that in pleading for the Government to which I belong, I am pleading for the dearest interests of the Commonwealth—for the reformation of abuses, and for the preservation of august and venerable institutions. I trust, Mr. Speaker, that the first Cabinet Minister who, when the question is, whether the Government be or be not worthy of confidence, offers himself in debate, will find some portion of that generosity and good feeling which once distinguished English gentlemen. But be this as it may, my voice shall be heard. I was saying that I am pleading, not only for the preservation of our institutions, but for liberty and order, for justice ad- 816 ministered in mercy, for equal laws, for the rights of conscience, and for the real union of Great Britain and Ireland. Sir, I wish first to address myself, not to any matter relating to myself alone, but to those parts of the subject with which my name is bound up in some degree with the character of the Government to which I belong. My opinions are favourable to secret voting. The opinions of my noble Friend (Lord John Russell) are in favour of open voting. Notwithstanding, we meet as Members of one Government. This has been made a topic of charge against the Government by every Gentleman who has addressed the House, from the hon. Baronet who opened the debate, down to the right hon. Baronet who spoke last. Now, Sir, I say in the first place, that if on account of this difference of opinion we shall be considered by the House unworthy of its confidence, then no Government for many years has been worthy, is worthy, of the House of Commons:for the Government of Mr. Pitt, the Government of Mr. Fox, the Government of Lord Liverpool, the Government of Mr. Canning, the Government of the Duke of Wellington, have all had open questions on subjects of the greatest moment. I say that the question of Parliamentary Reform was an open question with the Government of Mr. Pitt. Mr. Pitt, holding opinions in favour of that question, brought into the Cabinet Lord Grenville, who did not. Mr. Pitt was opposed to the slave trade. Mr. Dundas, a defender of it, was a Member of his Government. I say Mr. Fox, in the same manner, in his Cabinets of 1782 and 1806, had open questions of similar importance; and I say that the Governments of Lord Liverpool, Mr. Canning, and the Duke of Wellington, left, as an open question, Catholic Emancipation; which, closely connected as it was with the executive Administration, was, perhaps, one of the last questions which should ever have been left an open one by any Government. But to take still more important ground, and to come to a question which more nearly interests us—suppose you dismiss the present Government, on what principle do you mean to constitute an Administration composed of hon. Gentlemen opposite? Is it proposed by you to leave the privileges of this House an open question. Is it intended that your proposed Government should consist of those 817 amongst you who declare themselves favourable to our privileges? Will it be said, that the question of privilege is of less importance than the question of the ballot? It is from the question of privilege that the question of the ballot, and all similar questions derive their importance. And of what consequence is the mode in which you are elected, if, when you meet, you do not possess the privileges necessary for your efficiency as a branch of the Legislature. Is anything more clear than that, if an address (which is likely) were presented to the Crown on the subject of our privileges, you could never agree as to the answer to be given to it? Why, can any question be more important than that which should determine in what relation we stand to our constituents in the Courts of Judicature, and to the other branches of the Legislature? And, on the other hand, what is more monstrous (if we take the view of those opposed to our privileges) than that we should assert our privileges by attacking the liberty of the subject, by infringing on the functions of the courts where her Majesty dispenses the law, and committing to prison persons guilty only of the crime of appealing to the laws of their country? Can you conceive anything more absurd than the Prime Minister, over night, sending men to prison, to whom his law officers and supporters pay complimentary visits in the morning? I seriously believe that the differences of opinion on the other side on the question of privilege would, if a Ministry were formed from that quarter, produce, practically, more inconvenience in a week, than leaving the ballot an open question is likely to produce in ten years. The right hon. Baronet asks in what does the present Government differ from the Chartists? One Member of the present Government has, it is true, declared himself favourable to the ballot. I objected to the use of the word pledged; for I never gave any constituent body a pledge. It is alleged too, that because I maintained that a 10l. house being considered a sufficient proof of a man's stake in the country to fit him to be a voter, it was not desirable his locality should decide upon his right of voting— for this reason, I stand exactly in the same position as those who would abolish all pecuniary qualification. I cannot see, however, in what way I admit, in the least, the doctrine of those who would abolish all qualification whatever, by ex- 818 pressing a desire to see the present 10l. franchise extended. In my opinion, a pecuniary qualification is indispensably necessary to the safety of the empire. In my opinion the 10l. qualification has never proved too high; and supposing society to continue in its progress—supposing education to continue, and the distribution of property, and the value of money to remain as they are, if I can foresee anything in my public conduct, I shall abide by the opinion which I have just expressed as to the question of the franchise. This is my answer to the right hon. Baronet, and if it does not convey to him a proof that my opinions are different from those of the Chartists on this subject, his conception of their doctrines differs very widely from mine. I come to that which, through the whole debate, has formed the principal subject of observation; for it must be clear, that it is not on the conduct of Commissioner Lin, or of Captain Elliot, or on the hostilities on the river La Plata, or on any circumstance of this kind, that the result of this debate must turn. The main argument of the hon. Gentleman opposite, used by the hon. Baronet who opened the debate, repeated by his seconder, and constituting the substance of every speech which has been delivered, amounts to this:—"The country is in an unsatisfactory state—there is great turbulence—there is great disposition to extensive political change—and at the bottom of all lies the agitating policy of those Whigs. They raised themselves to power by means of agitation—they strengthened themselves in favour by means of agitation—they carried the Reform Bill by means of agitation — and we are now paying the fruits of their acts. All this Chartism is but the effect of their conduct; and it is evident that from those who have caused the evil you cannot expect the remedy. We ought to dismiss them, and seek others who, never having excited the people to turbulence, will command the confidence of the country." I don't know whether I have stated it correctly, but this as nearly as I could collect is the substance of what has been urged by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Now, I might follow the example set by my right hon. Friend (the Judge Advocate) in his most noble and eloquent speech, and content myself with stating that this agitation belonged principally to the Government of Lord Grey, Of that Go- 819 vernment, the noble Lord the Member for Lancashire, and the right hon. Member for Pembroke were Members. I might say—"They were then distinguished Members of this House. To them I leave the task of exculpation—to them I leave it to defend agitation—to them I leave it to decide on what principle, and to what extent they shared in such means of carrying public questions." In spite of that challenge which my right hon. Friend gave the right hon. Baronet, he gives no explanation, but contents himself with the simple confession—"I liked the Reform Bill—I agitated for it. I was carried I admit far beyond prudence, and just on the verge of the law." Is it possible that any gentleman possessing only a very small part of the foresight of the right hon. Gentleman should not perceive, that as soon as this defence is admitted, this consequence must of necessity follow—that the only question is, whether the measures to be agitated for are good in themselves, and not whether agitation itself be good or bad. The right hon. Baronet, admits, then, that agitation itself is a proper and legitimate mode of carrying any measure that is good. When the right hon. Baronet comes forward to charge the present Government with agitation, and directs his reproaches against no member of that Government more than myself, I confess I feel some inclination to remonstrate with the right hon. Gentleman for want of generosity; for my interest in this question is small, indeed compared with that of the right hon. Gentleman himself. I, Sir, was not a member of the Cabinet that brought in the Reform Bill—I was not one of those Ministers who told their Sovereign they would serve him no longer unless he would create a sufficient number of Peers to carry their measures. I, Sir, at that time was merely one of those hundreds within these walls, and of millions throughout the country, who were firmly and deeply impressed with the conviction that the Reform Bill was a great and salutary measure—who reposed the greatest confidence in the abilities, the integrity, and the patriotism of the Ministers; and I must add, that in no Member of that administration did I place greater confidence for the possession of those high qualities than in the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, and in the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Ad- 820 miralty. In none did I place greater confidence that they would take measures to guard against the evils inseparable from all great changes, and take heed that they lid not produce consequences injurious to the community. Is it not extraordinary that we should be reproached with what was, in fact, confidence in the noble Lord and right hon. Gentleman, by the very men who are seeking to raise that noble Lord and right hon. Gentleman to power? If the provisions of the Reform Bill point to Chartism—if the doctrines of Chartism are to be traced to the spirit of that enactment, then, Sir, I am bound to say that none more than the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman are answerable for it. If men are to be deemed disqualified for places in the councils of their Sovereign, because they exerted themselves to carry that bill, because they appealed to the people to support that bill, because they employed means, certainly lying within the verge of the law, but certainly also, as has been observed, just within the confines of prudence, then. Sir, I do say that no men in this empire lie under a disqualification for office more complete, more entire, than the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet. Sir, I leave to them the task of defending themselves; well are they qualified by their talents to do so; but if the noble Lord does not answer, then it will remain for the right hon. Baronet, who twice offered both of them places in his Cabinet to do so. If the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet (or, as I trust he will permit me, in spite of some few asperities this evening, to call him my right hon. Friend) will forgive me, I would offer some consideration in extenuation of their conduct. I would say, "You condemn agitation. Do you mean to say that abuses shall never be removed? If they are to be removed, then I ask, is it possible that any great abuse can, in a country like this, be removed till the public feeling is against it, or that the public feeling can be raised and kept up without arguments, without exertions, both by speech and writing, the holding of public meetings, and other means of a like nature?" Sir, I altogether deny that assertion or insinuation, which I heard over and over again, both yesterday and this night, in this House, that a Government which countenances, or does not discountenance, agitation will not punish rebellion. There may be a 821 similarity in the simple act between the man who bleeds and the man who stabs; but is there no difference in the nature of the action—in its intent and in its effects? I do not believe there has been one instance of justifiable insurrection in this country for a century and a-half. On the Other hand, I hold agitation to be essential, not only to the obtaining of good and just measures, but to the existence of a free Government itself. If you choose to adopt the principle of Bishop Horsley, that the people have nothing to do with the laws but to obey them, then, indeed, you may deprecate agitation; but, while we live in a free country, and under a free Government, your deprecation is vain and untenable. If a man lives in Russia and can obtain an audience of the Emperor Nicholas or of Count Nesselrode, and can produce proof that certain views he entertains are sound, certain plans he proposes would be attended with practical benefit, then, indeed, without agitation, without public discussion, with a single stroke of the pen, a great and important change is at once effected. Not so Sir, in this country. Here the people must be appealed to—the public voice must be consulted. In saying this have I defended one party alone—have I not defended alike both the great parties in this House? Have we not heard of agitation against the Catholic claims? Has there been no agitation against the Poor-law? Has there been no agitation Education? Has there been no agitation against the Catholic Privy Councillors? But to pass, Sir, from questions about which there may fairly exist a difference of opinion, to measures upon which we must all agree—to pass to a measure of the proudest, grandest, nature that ever received the sanction of a legislature; I say that the Slave-trade would never have been abolished without agitation. I say that slavery would never have been abolished without agitation. Would your prison discipline, or the severities of your penal code have been ameliorated without agitation? I am far, very far, Sir, from denying that agitation may be much abused—that it may be carried to a most unjustifiable length. But, Sir, so also may freedom of speech in this House, so also may the liberty of the press. What is agitation when it is examined, but the mode in which the people in the great outer assembly debate? Is it not as ne- 822 cessary that they should have their discussion without the walls of this House, as we who sit within them? There may, indeed, be occasional asperities in popular meetings, as experience has shewn that there frequently are in debates in this House, but, that is no reason why freedom of debate should be abridged in either. I know well that agitation is frequently used to excite the people to resist the law, but that that is a proper subject for animadversion upon the Magistrates, I deny—that the agitation of the present time is evidence of the agitation of the Government of Lord Grey, I deny. It is perfectly true that what is said in this House, or any other public assembly, though it may be moderate, reasonable, and may point only to the legal remedy for an abuse, may yet be taken up by the disingenuous man, and be so twisted, distorted, and perverted, that it may excite the populace to acts of crime. I have heard within the walls of this House, the right hon. Gentleman opposite—not, I am sure, with any improper motive—apply to secret meetings of men for lawless purposes, expressions which the noble Lord used only with respect to public and open meetings. The right hon. Gentleman ought to remember, that his own words have been applied by bad men for the delusion of the multitude. One of the speeches which has been used by the Chartists as a handle for their excesses, was a speech of the right hon. Baronet. Do I blame him for that? No. He said nothing which was not within the just line of his duty as a Member of this House. I allude to a speech which the right hon. Baronet made upon the subject of the emoluments divided among the Privy Councillors. I fully acquit the right hon. Gentleman of saying anything that was not in strict conformity with his duty, but it is impossible for any man so to guard his expressions that bad men shall not misconstrue, and ignorant men misunderstand them. I therefore throw no censure upon the right hon. Baronet, but I do say, that the very circumstance of his own speech having been perverted should make him pause, before bringing charges against men not less attached than himself to the peace and well-being of society—charges having no better foundation than bad reports of their speeches, and his own misapprehension of them. Now, Sir, to pass by many topics which, but for the lateness of the 823 hour, I would willingly advert to, I come to that which is really the point. This is not less a comparative than a positive question. The meaning of the vote is not, clearly, whether this House approves in all respects of the conduct of the Government—it is whether this House conceives that a better one can at present be formed. All government is imperfect, but some government there must be; and if the present Government were far worse than any hon. Gentleman on the other side would represent it to be, still it would be every man's duty to support it if he did not see that a better one would supply its place. Now, Sir, I take it to be perfectly clear that in the event of the resignation of the present Administration one must be formed, the first place of which must be filled by the right hon. Baronet opposite. Towards that right hon. Baronet, and towards many of those Noblemen and Gentlemen who, in such an event, would be associated with him, I entertain nothing but kindly and respectful feelings. I am far—very far I hope—from that narrowness of mind which can see merit in no party but his own. If I may venture to parody the old Venetian proverb, I would say, "Be first an Englishman, and then a Whig." Sir, I feel proud for my country when I think how much of integrity—how many virtues and talents which would adorn any station, are to be found among the ranks of my political opponents. Among them, conspicuous for his high character and ability, stands the right hon. Baronet. When I have said this, I have said enough to prove that nothing is further from me than to treat him with the smallest discourtesy in the remarks which, in the discharge of my public duty, I shall feel it necessary to make upon his policy and that of his party. But, Sir, it has been his misfortune, it has been his fate, to belong to a party with whom he has had less sympathy than any head ever had with any party. I speak of that which is a matter of history. I speak now of times long ago. He declared himself decidedly in favour of those principles of free trade which made Mr. Huskisson odious to a great portion of the community. The right hon. Baronet gave every facility for the removal of the disabilities of Protestant Dissenters. The right hon. Baronet brought in a Bill for the relief of Catholic disabilities; yet what we are charged with if bringing that enactment into practical 824 operation. The right hon. Baronet declared himself in favour of the Poor-law; yet if a voice is raised against the "Whig bastiles," or "the tyrants of Somerset House," that cry is sure to proceed from some person who wishes to vote the right hon. Baronet into power. Even upon this great question of privilege, upon which right hon. Baronet has taken a part which ought to render his name to the end of time honourable in the opinion of this House, and of all who value its privileges, I cannot but conceive that the right hon. Gentleman is at variance with the great body of his supporters. Sir, I have also observed that where the right hon. Baronet does agree with the great body of his supporters in conclusions, he seldom arrives at those conclusions by the same process of reasoning by which their minds are led. Many great questions which they consider as of stern and unbending morality, and of strict principle, have been viewed by him as mere points of expediency, of place, and of time. I have not heard one allegation against the Government of Lord Melbourne which would not enable a Government formed by the right hon. Baronet to bring in, with some little variation, the same measures. I listened to the right hon. Baronet—I always listen to him with pleasure—upon the subject of education, and I could not but be amused at the skill with which he endeavoured to give the reasons of a statesman for the course of a bigot; and my conclusions, as I listened, was that he thought as I did with respect to the Douay version and the Normal schools. Sir, I am irresistibly brought to this conclusion, that in a conjuncture like the present, the right hon. Baronet can conduct the administration of affairs with neither honour to himself, nor with satisfaction to that party who seek to force him into office. I will not affect to feel apprehensions from which I am entirely free. I will not say that I think the right hon. Baronet will act the part of a tyrant. I do not think he will give up this country to the tender mercies of the bigoted part—and which form so large a part—of his followers. I do not believe he would strike out the names of all Catholics from office and from the Privy Council. Nor, Sir, do I believe that the right hon. Baronet will come down to the House with a Bill for a repeal of his own great measure. But, Sir, what I think he will attempt to do is this—he 825 will attempt to keep terms with that party which raises him to power by a course which would soon excite the gravest discontents in all parts of the empire. And at the same time I think, Sir, that he will not carry the course of his administration far enough to keep their steady support. The result, I think, will be this—that the right hon. Baronet will lose the support of a great portion of his own party, and, at the same time, he will not gain the support of the other, till at last his Government will fail from causes purely internal. Sir, we have not to act in this merely upon conjecture. We have beheld the same piece performed on the same scene, and by the same actors, at no distant period. In 1827, the right hon. Baronet was, as now, at the head of a powerful opposition. He had a strong minority in this House, and a majority in the House of Lords; he was the idol of the Church and of the Universities; and all those who dreaded change—all those who were hostile to the principles of liberty and the rights of conscience, considered him their leader; he was opposed to those Members who were sometimes called Papists, and sometimes idolaters; he was opposed to a Government which was said to have obtained power by personal intrigue and Court favour. At last, the right hon. Baronet rises to the principal place in this House. Free from those difficulties which had embarrassed him, he was in opposition when Tory bigotry had found for the greatest orator, and the most accomplished of Tory statesmen in the nineteenth century, a resting place in Westminster Abbey, and the right hon. Baronet appeared at the head of Government upon this bench, and those who had raised him to power with the loudest acclamations, and deemed that their expectations must necessarily be accomplished. Is it necessary to say in what disappointment—in what sorrow—in what fury all those expectations ended? The right hon. Baronet had been raised to power by prejudices and by passions in which he had no share. His followers were bigots; he was a statesman. He was calmly balancing conveniences and inconveniences, whilst they were ready to prefer confiscation, proscription, civil war, to the smallest concession to public feeling. The right hon. Baronet attempted to stand well with his party, and at the same time to per- 826 form some part of his duty to his country. Vain effort! His elevation, as it had excited the hopes and expectations of his own party, awakened gloomy apprehensions in other quarters. Agitation in Ireland, which for a time had slumbered, awakened with renewed vigour, and became more formidable than ever. The Roman Catholic Association rose to a height of power such as the Irish Parliament in the days of its independence never possessed. Violence engendered violence; scenes such as the country for long years had not witnessed, announced that the time of evasion and delay was passed. A crisis was arrived, in which it was absolutely necessary for the Government of the day to take one part or the other. A plain and simple issue was proposed to the right hon. Baronet—either to disgust his party or ruin his country. He chose the good path; he performed a painful, in some sense a humiliating, but in point of fact a most truly honourable part. He came down himself to propose to this House the great measure of Roman Catholic Emancipation. Amongst the followers of the right hon. Baronet, there were some who, like himself, had considered opposition to the Catholic claims purely as a matter of expediency. These readily changed about, and consented lo support his altered policy. But not so the great body of those who had previously followed the right hon. Baronet. With them, opposition to the Roman Catholics was a passion, which a mistaken sense of duty bound them lo cherish. They had been deceived, and it would have been more agreeable to them to think, that they had been deceived by others than by one of their own sect—one whom they themselves had been the means of raising to a permanent place in the Administration of the country. How profound was their indignation ! With what an explosion did their rage break forth ! None who saw that time can ever forget the frantic fury with which the former associates of the right hon. Baronet assailed their quondam chief. Never was such a torrent of invective and calumny directed against one single head. All history and all fiction were ransacked by his own followers to furnish terms of abuse and obloquy. The right hon. Gentleman, whom I am sorry not now to see in his place on the bench opposite, unable to express his feelings in the language of English prose, 827 pursued his late chief with reproaches borrowed from the ravings of the deserted Dido. Another, wresting to his use the page of holy writ, likened him to Judas Iscariot. The great University, which heretofore had been proud to confer upon him the highest marks of its favour, was now foremost to fix upon him the brand of disgrace and infamy. Men came up in crowds from Oxford to vote against him, whose presence a few days before would have set the bells of all their churches jingling. The whole hatred of the high Church party towards those to whom they had previously been opposed, was sunk and absorbed in this new aversion; and thence it happened that the Ministry, which in the beginning of 1828 was one of the strongest that the country ever saw, was at the end of 1829 one of the weakest that a political opponent could desire to combat. It lingered on another year, struggling between two parties, leaning now on the Whigs, now on the Tories—reeling sometimes beneath a blow from the right, sometimes from a blow on the left—certain to fall as soon as the two parties should unite in their efforts to defeat it. At last it fell, attacked by the whole body of the Church, and of the Tory gentry in England. Now, what I wish to know is this:What reason have we to believe, that from an Administration now formed by the right hon. Baronet we could anticipate any different result. The right hon. Baronet is still the same—he is still a statesmen. Yes—still a statesmen, high in intellect, moderate in opinions, calm in temper, free from the fanaticism which is found in so large a measure among his followers. I will not say, that the party which follows him is still the same, for in my opinion it has undergone a change, and that change is this—it has become fiercer and more intolerant even than in days gone by. I judge by the language and doctrines of of its press; I judge by the proceedings of its public meetings; I judge by its pulpits—pulpits which are every week teeming with invective and slander that would disgrace the hustings. A change has of late come over the spirit of a part, I hope not the most considerable part, of the Tory party. It was once the boast of that party, that through all changes of fortune they cherished feelings of loyalty, which rendered their very errors respected, and gave to servitude something of the dignity 828 and worthiness of freedom. A great Tory poet, who, in his lifetime, was largely requited for his loyalty said—Our loyalty is still the same,Whether it win or lose the game,True as the dial to the sun,Although it be not shone upon.We see now a very different race of Tories. We have lived to see a new party rear its head—a monster of a party, made up of the worst points of the Cavalier and the worst points of the Roundhead. We have lived to see a race of disloyal Tories. We have lived to see Toryism giving itself the airs of those insolent pipemen who puffed out smoke in the face of Charles the First. We have lived to see Toryism, which, because it is not suffered to grind the people after the fashion of Strafford, turns round and abuses the Sovereign after the fashion of—(the remainder of the sentence was lost in the cheers of the House.) It is my firm belief that the party by which the present motion is supported throughout the country desire the repeal of the Catholic Emancipation Act. For what I say, I will give my reasons, which I think are unanswerable. In what other way, am I to explain the outcry which has been raised throughout the whole of the country about the three Papist Privy Councillors? Is the Catholic Emancipation Act to be maintained? If it is to be maintained, execute it. Is it to be abandoned? If so, openly and candidly avow it. If it is not to be executed, can anything be more absurd than to retain it upon the statute book? The Tory party resent as a monstrous calumny the imputation that they wish to get rid of the Emancipation Act; but the moment that an attempt is made to execute it, even to a small extent, they set up a cry as if Church and State were going to ruin. For the repeal of the Emancipation Act, I can see a reason—in the desire to repeal it, I see a meaning—a baneful meaning—a pernicious meaning, but still a meaning; but I cannot see a particle of reason nor a glimpse of meaning, in the conduct of those who say, ''We will retain the Emancipation Act; those who say we desire to repeal it are calumniators and slanderers; we are as sensible of the importance of that Act as any party in the country," but who, the moment that an attempt is made to execute one jot or tittle of it, exclaim, "No, if you attempt to put the Act in 829 force, we will agitate against you, for we, too, have our agitation; we will denounce you in our associations, for we, too, have our associations; our oracles shall be sent forth to talk of civil war, of rebellion, of resistance to the laws, and to give hints about the fate of James 2nd—to give hints that a Sovereign who has merely executed the law may be treated like a Sovereign who has most grossly violated the law." I could understand a person who told me. that he had a strong objection to admit Roman Catholics to power or office in England; but how any man who professes not to think, that an invidious distinction should be made between Catholic and Protestant, can bring himself to the persuasion that the Roman Catholics in this country enjoy more than a fair share of; official power and emolument, I own passes my comprehension. What is the proportion of Roman Catholics to the whole population of the kingdom? About one fourth. What is the proportion of Ro- man Catholic Privy Councillors? Perhaps, three to two hundred. And what, after all, is the dignity of a Privy Councillor?—what power does the seat of a Privy Councillor, merely as such, confer? Are not the hon. Gentlemen opposite Privy Councillors? If a change of administration were effected to-morrow, and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite were to come into office, would not those whom they displaced, be still Privy Councillors? In point of fact, the seat of a Privy Councillor absolutely confers no power whatever. Yet, we are seriously called upon to believe, that men, who think it monstrous that this mere futile honorary distinction should be given to three Roman Catholics, do still in their hearts desire to maintain a law by which a Roman Catholic may become Commander-in-chief, with all the promotion of the army in his hands; First Lord of the Admiralty, with all the patronage of the navy—Secretary of State for the Foreign Department, entrusted with all the interests of the country, as connected with foreign states—Secretary for the Colonies, with the whole conduct of our remoter dependencies—or First Lord of the Treasury, possessing the chief influence in every department of the state. I say, therefore, that unless I suppose, that a great portion of the Opposition who have raised throughout England, the cry against the three Roman Catholic Privy Councillors—unless I suppose them more child- 830 ish, more imbecile than I would willingly suppose any number of my fellow-countrymen to be, I must suspect that the abolition of the Catholic Emancipation Act, is the chief object of a great proportion of that party which now ranges itself in direct hostility to the Government. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) is, in ray opinion, the same that he was in 1829; but his party, instead of being the same is worse than it was at that period. The difficulty of governing Ireland, in opposition to the feelings of the great body of the people, is, I apprehend, now as great as ever it was. The right hon. Baronet, last year, was deeply impressed with that difficulty. The impossibility of governing Ireland in conformity with the sense of the great body of the people, and, at the same time in conformity with the views and opinions of his own followers, is now, I apprehend, as great as ever. What then, is to be the end of an Administration of which the right hon. Baronet, should be head? Supposing the right hon. Baronet to come into office by the vote to-night, should I be wrong if I were to prophecy that, three years hence, he would be more vilified by the Tory party, than the present Government has ever been? Should I be very wrong, if I were to prophecy, that all the literary organs of his party now forward to sound his praise, would be amongst the foremost, the boldest, and the loudest to denounce him? Should I be very wrong if I were to prophecy that he would be burnt in effigy by the very people who are now clamorous to toast his health? Should I be very wrong if I were to prophecy that the very party who now crowd the House to vote him into power, would then crowd the lobby to bring Lord Melbourne back? Yes, already have I seen the representatives of the Church, and of the Universities of England crowding the lobby of the House, for the purpose of driving the right hon. Baronet from the place to which they had previously raised him. I went out with them myself, when the whole body of the Tory Gentlemen—all the Representatives of the Church and of the Universities united to force the right hon. Baronet from the position which he occupied in the councils of his Sovereign. I went out into the lobby, as the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Pembroke (Sir James Graham), will bear me witness, when those Gentlemen went out 831 for the purpose of bringing into power Lord Grey, Lord Althorp, Lord Brougham and Lord Durham. You may say, that they reasoned ill—perhaps they were weak—perhaps they did not see all that would happen. But so it was; and what has been once may be again. As far as I can see my way, it is absurd to suppose, that the party of which the right hon. Baronet is the head, would be content with less from him than they would take from Lord Melbourne. I believe just the contrary. I believe, that of all men in the would, the right hon. Baronet is most the object of distrust to I he party opposite. They suffer him to remain at their head, because his great abilities, his eloquence, his influence are necessary to them; but they distrust him, because they never can forget that in the greatest crisis of his public life, he chose rather to be the victim of their injustice than to be its instiument. It is absurd to say, that that, j party will never be propitiated by any; partition amongst their chiefs of the power or fruits of office. They can truly adopts the maxim, "measures not men." They care not who has the sword of state borne before him at Dublin—they list not who wears the badge of Saint Patrick on his breast—what they dislike, what they are invincibly opposed to, are the two great principles which had governed the administrations of Lord Normanby and Lord Ebrington—justice and mercy. What they want is not Lord Haddington, or any other nobleman of their own party whom the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) might appoint the Viceroyalty of Ireland; but the tyranny of race over race, and creed over creed. Give them this power, and you convulse the empire; withhold it, and you break up the Tory party. Supposing the vote of to-night to be carried in the affirmative, the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) would not be a month in office before:the dilemma of 1829 would be again before him. With every respect for his intentions, with the highest opinion of his ability, I believe that at this moment it would be utterly impossible for him to head the Administration of this country without producing the most dreadful calamities to Ireland. Of this I believe he was himself sensible when he was last year called upon to form an Administration. The state of the empire was not at that time very cheering. The Chartists were abroad in England—the aspect of 832 Canadian affairs was not pleasing—an expedition was pending in the East which had not then ended in success—discontent prevailed in the West Indies. Yet, in the midst of all these troubles, the discerning eye of the right hon. Baronet left him in no doubt as to the quarter in which his real danger lay—he knew 'twas Ireland. The right hon. Baronet admitted that his great difficulty would be in the government of Ireland. I believe that the present Ministry possesses the confidence of the great body of the people of Ireland; and I believe that what it does for the people of Ireland, it can do with less irritation from the opposite party in England, than the right hon. Baronet would find it possible to do. I believe that if, with the best and purest intentions, the right hon. Baronet were to undertake the Government of this country, he would find that it was very easy indeed to lose the confidence of the party which raised him to power; but very difficult indeed to gain that which the present Government happily possessed—the confidence of the people of Ireland. It is upon these grounds, and principally upon the question of Ireland, that I should be inclined to rest the case of the present Ministry. I know well, how little chance there is of finding here or anywhere an unprejudiced audience upon this subject. Would to God that I were speaking to an audience that would judge this great controversy fairly and with an unbiassed mind, and as it will be judged by future ages. The passions which inflame us—the sophistries which delude us, will not lust for ever. The paroxysms of faction have their appointed season, even the madness of fanaticism is but for a day. The time is coming when our conflicts will be to others as the conflicts of our forefathers are to us; when our priests who convulse the State—our politicians who make a stalking horse of the Church, will be no more than the Harleys and Sache-verells of a by-gone day; and when will be told, in a language very different from that which now draws forth applause at Exeter Hall, the story of these troubled years. Then it will be said that there was a portion of the empire which presented a striking contrast to a portion of the rest. Not that it was doomed to sterility, for the soil was fruitful and well watered—not that it wanted facilities for commerce and trade, for its coasts abounded in havens marked by nature to 833 be the marts of the whole world—not that the people were too proud to improve these advantages or too pusillanimous to defend them, for in endurance of toil and gallantry of spirit they were conspicuous amongst the nations—but the bounty of nature was rendered unavailable from the tyranny of man. In the twelfth century this fair country was a conquered province, the nineteenth found it a conquered province still. During the interval many great changes took place in other parts of the empire, conducing in the highest degree to the happiness and welfare of mankind; but to Ireland they brought only aggravation and misery. The Reformation came, bringing with it the blessings of Divine truth and intellectual liberty. To Ireland it brought only religious animosity, to add flame and fuel to the heats of national animosity, and to give, in the name of "Papist," another war-cry to animate the struggle between England and Ireland. The Revolution came, bringing to England and Scotland civil and religious liberty—to Ireland it brought only persecution and degradation. In 1829 came Catholic Emancipation, but it came too late, and came too ungraciously—it came as a concession made to fear; it was not followed nor accompanied by a suitable line of policy. It had excited many hopes—it was followed by disappointment. Then came irritation and a host of perils on both sides. If agitation produced coercion, coercion gave, rise to fresh agitation:the difficulties and danger of the country thickened on every hand, until at length arose a Government which, all other means having failed, determined to try the only means that have never yet been fairly and fully applied to Ireland—humanity and justice. The Slate, so long the step-mother of the many, and the mother only of the few, became now the common parent of all the great family. The great body of the people began to look upon the Government as a kind and beneficent parent. Battalion after battalion—squadron after squadron—was withdrawn from the shores of Ireland; yet every day property became more secure, and order more manifest. Such symptoms as cannot be counterfeited—such as cannot be disguised—began to appear; and those who once despaired of that great portion of the commonwealth, began to entertain a confident hope that it would at length take 834 its place among the nations of Europe, and assume that position to which it is entitled by its own natural resources, and by the wit and talent of its children. This, I feel, the history of the present Government of Ireland will one day prove. Let it thus go on; and then, as far as I am concerned, I care not what the end of this debate may be, or whether we stand or fall. That question it remains with the House to decide. Whether the result will be victory or defeat I know not; but I know that there are defeats not less glorious than even victory itself; and yet I have seen and I have shared in some glorious victories. Those were proud and happy days—even my right hon. Friend who last addressed you will remember them,—those were proud and happy days when, amidst the praises and blessings of millions, my noble Friend led us on in the great struggle for the Reform Bill—when hundreds waited around our doors till sun-rise to hear the tidings of our success—and when the great cities of the empire poured forth their populations on the highways to meet the mails that were bringing from the capital the tidings whether the battle of the people was lost or won. Those days were such days as my noble Friend cannot hope to see again. Two such triumphs would be too much for one life. But, perhaps, there still awaits him a less pleasing, a less exhilarating, but not a less honourable task, the task of contending against superior numbers, through years of discomfiture, to maintain those civil liberties—those rights of conscience winch are inseparably associated with the name of his illustrious house. At his side will not be wanting men who, against all odds, and through all the turns of fortune, amidst evil days and evil tongues, will defend to the last, with unabated spirit, the noble principles of Milton and Locke. He may be driven from office— he may be doomed to a life of opposition—he may be made the mark for all the rancour of sects which may hate each other with a deadly hate, yet hate his toleration more—he may be exposed to the fury of a Laud on one side, and to the fanaticism of a Praise-God-Bire-bones—but a portion of the praise which we bestow on the old martyrs and champions of freedom will not be refused by posterity to those who have, in these our days, endeavoured to bind together in real union, sects and races, too long hostile to 835 each other, and to efface, by the mild in fluence of a parental Government, the fearful traces which have been felt by the misrule of ages.
§ Debate again adjourned.