HC Deb 03 May 1842 vol 63 cc25-88

In every part of the east of Fifeshire, the population are suffering from extreme poverty, more especially East Wemyss, Markinch, Kettle, and their surrounding neighbourhoods. The people are chiefly employed in linen weaving of various kinds, many of them cannot earn above 6s. per week by long hours of labour while at the piece, and for the last four months, large numbers of them have had to wait one, two, three, and some four weeks, before they get another piece or web out. Were it not that being in an agricultural district, they are enabled to plant and procure potatoes cheap, they could not live—their dwellings are generally ill-furnished, and were it not that they struggle on in their sufferings, being buoyed up with the hope that legislative changes will come to their relief, they would sink into recklessness and despondency, for how they contrive to subsist they scarcely know themselves, except from the fact not having died they must have managed to keep life in. Trade of all kinds is very dull, but of course, the labouring classes feel the pressure very much. In and around Edinburgh, there are very large numbers of men out of employment, so much so, that it is only working men or as such as I am in communication with, that can know it. In Dalkeith, there is also great distress from want of employment. In the currying trade, there is a complete stand; also some others that are afraid they will be affected by the tariff; where they formerly had large numbers of men employed, they now have only one or two.

The British Statesman

is a newspaper devoted to the interests of the people, and a short time ago, there appeared in it a statement, that in the neighbourhood of Burnley a cow which had died of disease was buried by its owner; the people were driven to such straits by famine that they actually disinterred the cow in order to convert it into food. A respectable individual of the name of Livesey, known I believe to some hon. members who hear me, wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper after he had ascertained the fact, and it was in these terms— I received a letter from Master Brown, of Burnley, March 1st, containing a statement that such was the distress of the poor in Pendle Forest, near Burnley, that a dead cow had been disinterred and eaten for food. The statement was so revoltiug to my feelings, though requested to publish it, I could not help suspecting that it was either a fabrication, or much exaggerated. I therefore wrote to Mr. Brown to get a certificate of the fact signed by six respectable persons, and I received the answer inclosing the certificate of the horrible fact given below. Jos. LIVESEY, 28, Church-street, Preston. ' Higham, March 3, 1842. ' This is to certify, that Thomas Home, of this place, had a cow died on Wednesday, the 23d day of February last, which he buried, and that it was afterwards taken up to use for food.—As witness our hands, ' THOMAS LORD 'THOS. HORNE, owner of cow ' THOMAS AUTY, weaver ' JOSEPH WOOD, grocer 'JOHN ASPDEN, farmer ' JOHN LORD, weaver.' I have also recently received a Manchester newspaper, containing a statement respecting the appeals made to the charitable on behalf of the soup-kitchens: but that I am afraid of wearying the House I would read it, but the appeal was made from the; pulpit only a few days ago, and the statement restricting it is signed "William Herbert, dean of Manchester." Does not evidence like this show the miserably distressed condition of the labouring classes? This, too, on the 26th of April last, hardly a week old! The petition I presented yesterday contains a strong statement respecting the sufferings of the people, and that condition is attributed to the defective state of the representation of the House. The subscribers say that it is impossible that a country like Great Britain should have fallen thus low, if there were not some gross defect in the manner in which the interests of the working classes are represented within those walls. After what I referred to under the name of the Dean of Manchester, I must trouble the House with a document in the form of a proclamation from the magistrates of Burnley issued within the last few days. It runs as follows:— Public Notice.—Whereas, a practice has recently prevailed in Burnley, and the neighbourhood, of large numbers of persons going together to private houses, and also of parading the street, highways, and other public places, to beg and gather alms, which conduct is illegal, and subjects such parties to the punishment provided by the Vagrant Act. And whereas such practice is also calculated to create terror and alarm to the peaceful inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood. Notice is therefore hereby given, that with a view to check such illegal practices and to preserve the peace and tranquillity of the neighbourhood, it is thought advisable to issue this public notice or proclamation, that the law will be put in force against any parties so assembling in the manner and for the purpose aforesaid. By order of the Magistrates. Burnley, 25th April, 1842. Thus we see that not individuals but a whole population in masses were compelled to go about from door to door begging alms, and what is the answer which the unhappy and starving operatives make to the preceding document? It is the following; and let me add that it is very much to their credit, and shows that, even though suffering almost the last stage of want, they are still patient, rational, and forbearing:— V. R.—.TO THE MAGISTRATES OF THIS TOWN. The unemployed and starving operatives of this town feel disposed to put a plain question or two to the above authorities, as they find themselves placed in rather a curious position.Now we wish to know how long it is possible that a town like Burnley, under the present circumstances, can be rendered peaceful and tranquil, while hundreds, yea thousands, are, by oppression and misrule, thrown upon the once lovely and pleasant, but now, alas ! miserable degraded streets and lanes of this town and neighbourhood? Under these circumstances they find themselves bound, by the nearest and dearest ties of nature, to make the inquiry. What, as human beings, are we to do, after having been deprived of every comfort, and almost every necessary of life, after having applied to our several parishes, without anything like reasonable success, and when now by starvation we are compelled to expose ourselves and families to public inspection, in order to crave a portion of bread for our miserable starving wives and children, we are even denied this right by those persons from whom we ought to have expected better things? And we say that to close the scene of misery the law is consulted, and about to be introduced, and simply for the purpose of smothering the cries of the widow and the fatherless; but even those who have the law to back their proceedings, must at the present crisis be very cautious how and to what purpose they apply its restrictions, because we, though out of work, cannot live without (at least) some of the necessaries of life, and we must have them from some where. We wish not to do injury neither to persons nor property, but at the same time we cannot lay ourselves down and die. What saith the scriptures in support of these allegations? Doth it not say that, ' He that will not provide for his family is worse than an infidel. And also, 'They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger.'—Lamentations, c. iv. v. 9. By order of the Starving and Unemployed Operatives of Burnley. Burnley, April 26th, 1842. Such being the condition of the people, let me ask you how long you mean that they should remain in it? Let me ask you whether it is possible for them to remain in it? Will you not, at least, give the parties who signed the petition an opportunity of being heard at your Bar, that they may tell you the grievances under which they labour, and the mode in which they think they may be relieved. I should like to hear from her Majesty's Ministers — from the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, by what means he proposes to remedy these evils? He surely does not mean to contend that his Income-tax and his tariff will cure them—that Income-tax which is to reduce the middling classes to a level with the lower order, and that tariff which is to throw thousands out of employ, and to drive them into the workhouses. Does the right hon. Baronet mean to resort to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act? Does he mean to put down the Chartists by force? I hope not. I hope that he means to use no weapons but those of reason and conciliation. I hope that there is no disposition in the House (I saw none yesterday) to treat the petition with slight or inattention. I know that it contains many paragraphs from which the majority of those who hear me will dissent; I do not say that I subscribe to them all myself; but I am sorry to see that a portion of the press, the organs of the party opposite, are endeavouring to throw ridicule upon the signatures attached to the petition. When, however, I rind fault with one portion of the Ministerial press, I am glad to see that by another portion the petition is treated with some degree of respect. I refer to the Morning Herald, which, in one of its leading articles of this day, speaks as follows:— The petition was signed by 3,315,752 persons described as belonging to various sections of the industrious classes of the country. Allow a vast deduction for signatures not genuine, signatures repeated even in duplicate and triplicate—and perhaps we ought still to assume that this is the petition of a vast body of the people, who are urging on their growing demand for the fatal, the destroying boon of universal suffrage—in terms; in its effect, universal anarchy! Are there in the long catalogue of political grievances and evils to which these hosts of petitioners ascribe so much of the positive suffering of enormous communities of their countrymen—are there any, the destructive tendencies of which are at once undoubted and susceptible of remedy? Are there any, to which the Legislature and the Government, without compromise of their constitutional functions and state responsibility, can apply a healing and a saving hand? If there be, we trust that nothing in the well-known characters and schemes of a few artful demagogues, who prey on the unsuspecting credulity of their deluded followers —that nothing, even in the notorious trickery and cheating which are resorted to, in order to swell the volume and multiply the subscriptions of these huge petitions—may be permitted to interfere with duties of an importance so paramount. I deny, on the part of the petitioners, that there has been any cheating or trickery to swell the volume of the petition; but I entirely agree with the writer of the article I have read, in trusting that nothing will interfere with the discharge of your duty to the petitioners by hearing what they have to say, and by applying your minds to the consideration of the remedy they propose. Let me ask if there be any hon. Member present who witnessed the peaceable, respectful, and orderly demeanour of the individuals who came down with the petition yesterday. Have not their proceedings throughout been characterised by forbearance, regularity and decorum. Have they evinced anything like a disposition to resort to physical force, or is there one word respecting it in the petition. If it be supposed that there is any such expression, let me assure hon. Members that it has been entirely misunderstood; some may object to the petition because it prays for the repeal of the union with Ireland; and upon this point I am authorised to state that the petitioners mean no more than to repeat the words of Lord Althorp, now Earl Spencer, when he observed:— If I found that the majority of the people of Ireland was in favour of repeal, I should say that no doubt they were entitled to it; but as long as the majority is the other way I shall support the union and resist the repeal of it to the death. The petitioners apprehend that the majority of the people of Ireland are in favour of repeal, and therefore they are entitled to it. I think that they are mistaken, and I think moreover that if the majority of the people of Ireland were of that opinion they would soon find their error; but that is all that the petitioners mean. In order to show the views, and to explain the conduct of the whole body, I shall venture to read the last address of the National Convention of the industrious classes, issued only a few days ago. It runs in these terms:— THE NATIONAL CONVENTION OP THE INDUSTRIOUS CLASSES, TO THE SUFFERING AND STARVING. Fellow countrymen—We have received many important communications from various districts, describing the excitement and dissatisfaction which prevail in the minds of those who have been driven into poverty and starvation by political causes, which they have no power to destroy, and scarcely any liberty to describe in Parliamentary petition. We have decided on petitioning Parliament on Monday, the 2nd of May, to be heard at the Bar of the House of Commons, to lay before the world a full and honest statement of the cause of your grievances, the extent of your sufferings, and the grand remedies to be proposed for the immediate and permanent re- moval of all natural suffering and social wrong. We wait with patience and subdued feeling the result of our mutual prayer. We are fully sensible that it is almost a mockery of justice to ask the starving to be submissive, and the injured to bow their famished bodies to the footstool of oppression; still the sacredness of our cause, and the hopelessness of all attempts at violence, are sufficient to guide us in now calling upon you to abstain from any act likely to bring our principles into dispute, and dye deeper the red banners of despotism with the blood of our brethren. We deeply sympathise with you. We have expressed our hostility to the system which has stripped you, misled you, repressed your murmurs by force, subdued your complaints by a demonstration of steel, and threatened butchery. You ask us for advice. We counsel you to watch the decisive answer of the Government. The month of May will bring the intelligence to you. You ask us how you are to act. Await the decision of the National Convention. Your delegates will carry with them the results of our deliberations; and rest assured that we are too much alive to the danger of collision with an armed Government ever to advise, and we possess too much experience ever to ecommend violence as the course to be adopted in our struggle for justice. Fellow countrymen—We have heartily, yet decidedly, adopted this course, out of regard for you as well as out of respect for those principles which have progressed by the aid of reason alone, and need no other argument, greater than present necessity, to enforce them on the Legislature. We have placed it in the power of the Government to appease the rising indignation of millions by granting their advocates a hearing. We now await the result, and all we desire from you is, to sacrifice feeling for a time, and imitate us in the practice of rational patience, at the same time that we prepare to advise you on the future course to be pursued the moment the Legislature have given their negative and affirmative to a nation's demand. (Signed) "ABRAM DUNCAN, Chairman JOHN CAMPBELL, Secretary. That is what I ask on behalf of the petitioners: listen to the earnest appeal they make for a hearing. The least they can ask, and the least you can grant, is that those who are so severely suffering should explain to you the causes and the remedies for their grievances. The hearing cannot occupy long, the number of persons who will appear at your Bar will not exceed six, and it could not occupy more than two days; but if it took ten could it be better spent than in attending to the complaints of those whose patience alone petitions for your consideration? You may think many of their arguments absurd, their schemes of redress wild and visionary, be it so; but do not decide against them without hearing them; do not shut your door against their grievances until you know what they are and the remedies they suggest. I do not know that I need trespass longer on the patience of the House. I have stated the claims of the petitioners, I have proved to you the dreadful nature of their present condition; if not, I have not done my duty, I have many other documents and details to the same effect, which, if necessary, I could produce. I have shown how the cause of radical reform, or chartism (call it what you will), has gradually advanced, and if you doubt either the distress or the advance, hear the petitioners at your Bar. If they fail to convince you, the fault will not be yours, and by hearing them you will give them a practical contradiction by showing that you are so far identified with the people. You will also obtain some portion of what I sincerely believe you stand much in need of—the confidence, affection, and gratitude of the great body of the nation. I beg leave to move— That the petitioners, whose petition I presented yesterday, be heard by themselves or their counsel at the Bar of the House.

Mr. Leader

said, that he had been requested to second the motion, and he did so with great pleasure, although, after what had been so well said by his hon. Friend, little had been left for him to remark. The matter might be compressed in a very few words. The sufferings of the people were admitted; the patience of the people under their sufferings was also admitted. A vast number of the working classes now came forward and asked permission to state their grievances, and the proposed remedies, at the Bar. Would the House hear them, or would it refuse to hear them? That was the whole question. He could not possibly doubt the sincerity of the petitioners, nor could he doubt the number of the persons interested. True it was, that one of the newspapers supporting the Government, that which had the largest circulation in the country, had sneered at the proceedings of yesterday, had asserted that only 15,000 or 20,000 were present, that it was rather a May-day show, than a political demonstration, and that the signatures of 3,500,000, could not, by possibility, be genuine; but nobody pretended, that all the names were those of grown men; many were avowedly those of women, and others were the names of young men who had not yet reached the age of twenty-one. Of any one who doubted the sincerity or the numbers of the petitioners, he would beg to ask whether it were not a matter of notoriety, that at every public meeting, during the last two or three years, and especially during the last year, no topic had attracted so much the attention of the people as what was called the Charter? It was mere blindness to doubt the sincerity of the working classes, or the increasing numbers with which they came before the House, and prayed to be heard as to their grievances, and to suggest a remedy. He confessed he thought it would be a good thing, not only for hon. Gentlemen opposite, but for all men in that House who were not used to go to public meetings, to hear the petitioners at the Bar, and to be convinced of the intelligence, the ability, and the integrity of the men who were now excluded from the franchise, and who claimed to have a voice in the representation of the people. His hon. Friend had referred to numerous precedents for the course he proposed, to calm the nerves of those who had a dread of such a proceeding. The precedents were indeed numerous. Many in that House would remember, that Lord Brougham was heard against the Orders in Council, and what was the effect of that hearing throughout the country? Most would recollect, that the hon. and learned Member for Bath was heard in defence of those whom he represented—the Canadians of Lower Canada—this was precisely a case in point, for the colonists were unrepresented in that House. The present petitioners were even in a worse position than the colonists, for they were Englishmen living in this country, paying the taxes, obeying the laws, and yet having no voice in the election of those who laid on the taxes, or made the laws. He recollected, that he had been told by a late Attorney-general (Lord Campbell), after the prosecution of the Chartists for holding seditious meetings, in a tone of exultation, that "Chartism was entirely put down." He told Lord Campbell, then, as he told the House now, that the violence of Chartism had passed by, but that Chartism existed. He had heard last night all attempts at physical force, and all appeals to violence, repudiated, and that the Chartists appealed only to the moral force of millions of intelligent men, seeking their rights. He had told the late Attorney-general, and he now repeated the statement, that the real principle of Chartism would never be put down till they had redressed the grievances, and remedied the complaints of the people, or had included within the pale of the constitution, those who were now prevented from exercising the right to vote. With respect to this petition, he had no doubt, I that any hon. Member on the opposite side of the House, or on his own, would be; able to pull it to pieces, and to show that it contained some unwise paragraphs. He could imagine some clever writer in the Quarterly, or some brilliant reviewer in the Edinburgh, throwing some smart and pointed ridicule upon the petition, and calling upon the House not to listen to its prayer. That could, and, no doubt, would be done; for, talking one day, with a friend, who did not happen to agree with him in politics, on this very petition, his friend showed under what heads the paragraphs might be placed, and how the opinions might be classed. "These," said he, "go to doing away with the Monarchy; these go towards the abolition of the national debt; these go towards doing away with Church Establishments." The very fact, however, that the petition was sneered at, and ridiculed, would make many persons look more closely at it, and, in fact, made out the strongest case for what he now asked, that the petitioners should be heard to state their opinions of what they meant. Every one knew how difficult even an act of Parliament was to be understood without explanation, and how difficult it was to frame a measure clearly defining what was intended: why, then, should they ask more of the petitioners, or call upon them to clothe their views in language which would be intelligible to every body? He only asked the House to hear them state what they thought ought to be done. He believed, that their demands were to be found in a few words in the Charter; and that they required a wide extension of the suffrage to all male adults, the vote by ballot, the abolition of a property qualification, the payment of Members, and electoral districts. The House had had before them various parts of the Charter. Many able and intelligent men had advocated different portions, and yet the subject was treated as if there was something about the name of the Charter, which temperate men felt they could not entertain. Most hon. Members could not forget that his Friend, Mr. Grote, had brought forward the ballot; that his Friend, Mr. Warburton, had sought to change the property qualification; that his Friend, Sir William Molesworth, had done the same; and that other Members had brought before the Legislature the questions of an extension of the suffrage, and of electoral districts. These, however, were not questions then before the House. The simple question was, would they hear the petitioners, or would they refuse to hear them? If they wished to recover the affection and the confidence of the great body of the people, the House would not refuse their reasonable request, to be heard in their own case. He believed it was an unwise maxim of Government to rule by means of the fears rather than the affection and good feelings of the people; and believing that, he asked them to grant the request of the petitioners to be heard at the Bar.

Dr. Bowing

rose to support the motion. More than 3,000,000 of the people now asked to be heard by those who called themselves the representatives of the people. They felt themselves oppressed—they felt themselves humiliated by that Legislation which denied them the right of representation, and they knew there were no substantial grounds for their exclusion. They had in proportion to their means made greater sacrifices than the more privileged and opulent of their fellow-subjects. They could not understand why greater wealth should imply greater aptitude for political sagacity — why the rights of citizenship should be monopolized by the few and denied to the many; but they knew by experience that the privileged few did exercise their authority, not for the interest of the subject many, but for their own special and sinister interests. He did not mean to say that all the allegations in the petition could be borne out, if the petitioners should be allowed to state their case at the Bar of the House; but they believed they could substantiate them all, and that belief of the petitioning millions was entitled to respect. Look at this petition—it is not an ordinary one—it is unexampled in importance—it contains a greater number of signatures than any petition ever before presented, and he did not see how they could refuse to hear the petitioners at the Bar of that House, which was created for the purpose of protecting the rights and redressing the grievances, and of course of listening to the opinions of the people. He could see nothing but what was wise and reasonable in their desire to be represented. Those who valued political rights ought to look with some regard and affection on those who also desired to obtain them. If our fathers deemed it their duty to struggle for the attainment of their rights, into the possession of which the present generation had entered, ought they not to look with some regard upon those who were struggling for the same privileges and the same advantages? The time was, when the greater part of the population was in a state of vassalage. Little by little they were admitted into the pale of the constitution. Rights were recognised which had been denied to the many. Now there were millions of individuals who sent representatives. Was it a wonder that those who were excluded were impelled by an intense and active wish to obtain equal rights with their neighbours? Why was it that this desire was so strong, so irresistible? Why had it pervaded all classes of society? Because the Legislature had not redressed the grievances of which many had to complain —because it had not removed those evils which were within the reach of legislation —because it had not produced that sum of prosperity and happiness which ought to be the result of laws which emanated from a House charged to provide for the well* being of the whole community, in so far as that well-being could be advanced by wise and benevolent laws. There was one principle which these petitioners put forward, whic t would be advocated by all who desired hat the constitution of this country should be a really popular and national constitution. A government founded on a wide representation was, after all, nothing -but a recognition that government represented public opinion, and the most enduring government must be that which had the greatest mass of public opinion to support it. The petitioners complained, and they had a right to complain, of the length, of Parliaments. They saw gentlemen obtain a seat in the legislation, and hold their position year after year, beyond the reach of responsibility. If their votes were not in accordance with the opinion of their constituents where was the redress? They might remain unrepresented for years, and they properly asked that Parliament should be more frequently elected. They asked also for reform in the representation as regarded the electoral districts. Could any thing be more monstrous, more unjustifiable, more unreasonable, than that a certain part of the community, certain of the smallest towns, should have a representation equal in amount to the representation of the most populous cities. Was that a state of things which ought to continue? Should 100 men. in one locality be as influential in the creation of the laws as 100,000 men in another? The House had already recognised the principle of extension for which the petitioners were now contending. When in the progress of time the population of towns which were important when the rights of representation were conferred was annihilated or greatly diminished, this House interfered and took away the representation. It thus recognised the principle that not property but numbers was the groundwork of legislation. After all what was property? Was there any man, however mean, who had not his pleasures and his pains? Was a poor man to be denied the rights which were possessed by the rich? Was it because of his poverty that he was to be excluded When Providence had denied him those enjoyments which were possessed by those who supposed themselves his superiors, did it also take away from him the susceptibilities of human nature? Was he not the subject of enjoyment and suffering? Of what use were laws except as they acted on the enjoyments of the whole community? The petitioners complained of impediments in the representation by the property qualification. What did it imply? That the possession of a certain quantity of wealth was necessary to enable a man to sit in the House and make laws for his fellow-creatures. Till lately it represented neither more nor less than a sinister interest. So predominant was the power of the agricultural interest, that unless a man gave evidence that he had 600l. a year in land he could not represent a county; nor could he represent a borough unless he had 300l. a year in land. What was the object of this? It was merely to take a security that the landed interest should be the predominant interest. Scotland was so wise as to emancipate herself from this thraldom; and, as had been remarked again and again, no man ventured to contend that the representatives of Scotland were less intelligent, less active, less trustworthy, less fit for legislation, than the repre- sentatives of any other part of the kingdom. It appeared to him that the language of the petition was so respectful as to entitle it to the attention of the House. The prayer of the petition was reasonable, as it demanded of the House that the petitioners should be heard at the Bar; and let it not be forgotten that the petitioners were millions, every one of whom was a centre in his domestic and social circle. Let not the House turn a deaf ear to their prayer—let them not return to their homes unheard. If the House should agree to listen to them that would be the first step towards popular satisfaction and content. That would be something which would raise the House in the affections of the people. They would at all events be bound to say you were willing to listen to them; if their reasons were absurd they would be more easily answered; if their reasons were judicious, their claims on your hearing were the greater; and he concurred with his hon. Friends in thinking that it would be most unwise in the present state of the public mind, agitated and excited as it was from one end of the country to the other, and when with social misery was mingled so much of political discontent, — that the House would make a deplorable mistake, if they said to more than 3,000,000 of petitioners—return to your homes unheard.

Mr. Fielden

also supported the prayer of the petition. The distress of the working men was very great. He had met a friend who had received a letter from a clergyman at Burnley, wherein it was stated that many mills were closed, that one-half worked short time, and that 500l. a week Were paid for relief in the Burnley union. This statement had been confirmed by letters since received, and if they took all the manufacturing towns, they would find them in a state which all would regret. He had suggested to the right hon. Baronet that some distress would be lightened if some persons were appointed in every parish for the purpose of giving relief to poor persons, when the relieving officer should neglect his duty. If this had been done, many real and substantial complaints would have been remedied. But something beyond this was necessary. By the bad legislation in that House, all the people had been made politicians, and they had got an impression on their minds that nothing but a Radical change in the constitution of that House would ever give the people what they had a right to. He did not know what the people of his district would do. He had gone on for two years making tremendous sacrifices to maintain them, but by always taking the meal out of the tub, and never putting any in, they would soon come to the bottom. More mills were closing every day — numbers were discharged from their employ, and if they went to the guardians for relief, they would not procure it. "What are we to do," said they; and what they were to do he could not tell. He implored the right bon. Baronet, that if he regarded his fellow creatures, he would allow the present petitioners to be heard. If the right hon. Baronet would so far hold out the olive branch, and allow the petitioners to be heard at the Bar of the House, they would make a statement of what they thought necessary to be done, and they might suggest measures worthy the attention of the House. He, therefore, trusted that the Government would not refuse a hearing, when that refusal might cause severe disappointment to those who made these representations; and he thought it would be far better to spend two or three days in hearing what they bad got to say, than run any risk of producing that disappointment.

Sir John Easthope

said, hon. Members would recollect that on a recent occasion, when a motion was submitted to the House by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. S. Crawford) which, as he considered, propounded the principles of the Charter, and upon which he felt he should be compromising shown no hesitation in voting against that motion; and if he thought that by voting for the motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury, he should convey the slightest appearance of adhesion to the principles he then objected to, or approbation of all the measures propounded in the petition yesterday presented to the House, he would not hesitate for one minute in following the same course as he then pursued. But he conceived that the motion under consideration at the present moment was essentially different from that introduced by the hon. Member for Rochdale. The petition now before them came from numbers beyond comparison greater than any former petition, and it complained of distress which could not be fully described — distress of which he personally knew enough to know how impossible it was to feel any indifference to it—distress for which he did not believe that any Member in the House could show a want of sympathy, or for which, when it was fairly and fully known, they would not be anxious, if possible, to find a remedy. The petition came from those who were suffering distress, and who displayed that discontent which was the natural concomitant of distress. Much of their reasoning he strongly deprecated; they asked for remedies which, in his opinion, would aggravate their destitution; they proposed plans, and laid down schemes for practical reliefs, which, if adopted, would bring down upon themselves still greater evils than they now endured. His sincere conviction was, that if they sought to aggravate the grievous distress which now existed, they could not be more successful than they would be if they obtained a grant of all the prayers in their petition. Feeling as he did for the distress that prevailed amongst the petitioners, and fully admitting his conviction that the principles contained in the charter, and recommended in the petition, would not mitigate that distress, yet he could not refuse their demand to be heard. He could not say to three and a half millions of the people, that he would not listen to their statement of their complaints. He believed that the large majority were sincere, although many were deluded, and some had improperly misrepresented the causes of this destitution, and had pointed out unfit remedies. Still severe distress existed. It existed to an extent never before known in this country; not only was this the opinion of hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House, but had been described by hon. Members opposite in terms which harrowed up the feelings. How, then, could the House say to three millions and a half of their fellow subjects, labouring under so much suffering, "we will not hear you because you do not correctly describe the causes of your misery, nor limit your prayers to appropriate remedies?" When they had represented to the House in their own way what they conceived to be the cause of their distress; when they had dilated upon what they supposed would be the fit remedies, they themselves would probably discover that they had not made out their case. He believed that many would learn that they had become involuntarily the assistants of parties, who did not entertain the same honest feelings as themselves; that most would feel that the House had acted kindly in hearing their tale, and in showing pity for their condition; and that more good would come from this conciliatory conduct than in adopting the opposite course. He could not feel that in assenting to the present motion he was compromising his objection to some of the principles of the charter, or his dissent from the reasons by which it was advocated. To that principle he was as much opposed, from those reasons he as much dissented, as when the motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale was before the House; but acknowledging the great distress, and being anxious to show the petitioners that the House sympathised with them, he urged hon. Members to take a conciliatory step, to err, if it were an error, on that side rather than on the other; and upon that ground he would cordially concur in the vote of his hon. Friend.

Sir James Graham

, that if the motion then before the House involved a question whether they should listen to an account of the sufferings of the people, and to the remedies proposed for those sufferings, he might, perhaps, assent to the argument of the hon. Member for Leicester, who had just sat down. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. Leader) seemed to suppose that hon. Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House would take the different paragraphs of this petition and turn them into ridicule, or comment upon them with severity; but he assured the hon. Member that nothing was further from his intention. Unfortunately the foundation of the petition was generally admitted: the distress was great; the number of petitioners complaining of that distress was large; and their statements were, in many particulars, founded in fact. It was not, therefore, a question of fact to be investigated, it was a question of policy to be adopted; it was not a question of fact to be inquired into, but a question of political remedy to be decided on by the House; and as he could not conceive a course more likely to be disastrous than to excite hopes which were certain to be disappointed, and to hold out expectations which those who consented to the inquiry were aware would be fallacious, he must oppose the present motion. The hon. Member for Leicester, who had just sat down, had on a former evening strenuously resisted a motion which involved the points of the charter. The hon. Member said, that he still retained those opinions. Then allow him to ask what circumstances had occurred in the interval to induce the hon. Member to change his vote? No additional numbers had signed the petition. The sacrifices and distress of the people, great as they might be, had not been increased during the last eight days. There was no one circumstance changed, as far as he was aware. The hon. Member joined him the other evening in a vote to resist the motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale, yet he was about that night to vote with the hon. Member for Finsbury. He could not divine what altered circumstances had induced the hon. Member now to vote for this motion. The hon. Member now said, that this was a mere question of inquiry, and that that inquiry would act as a healing balm upon the minds of the multitude. The hon. Member, had, however, arrived at the conclusion that the remedies proposed were worthless or improper; and if it were true policy to refuse the proposition of the petitioners, he asked what healing balm would be poured upon their minds by the inquiry in which they were about to embark? On the contrary, his opinion was, that no course could be more aggravating to the feelings of the petitioners, than to call upon them to state at the Bar their case of distress, when the House had made up its mind, beforehand, that the remedy they suggested was utterly inadmissible, and to tell them that when hon. Members had heard their statements, and their remedies, the House would be prepared to resist their demands. It would be needless for him to enter into a discussion upon all the points of demand involved in the petition; upon that point he agreed with the hon. Baronet the Member for Leicester; but he thought that to entertain those demands would be inexpedient on many grounds; on account of our institutions, the happiness of the community, but above all, he was satisfied that the subversion of all our great institutions must inevitably result from the granting of the prayer of the petition — a result which he thought would in itself tend more directly to lead to the increase of the sufferings of the people than any other cause. Entertaining these opinions in common with the hon. Baronet the Member for Leicester— having expressed those opinions by his vote on a former evening—seeing nothing which had since occurred to induce him to doubt the soundness of the conclusion at which he then arrived, he should adhere to the course which he had then taken. and however reluctantly, he should firmly and decidedly resist the present motion. He was satisfied that to agree to it would be to produce the most disastrous consequences, and that the remedies which were proposed would be found to be more hurtful than the evils which were complained of.

Sir John Easthope

explained. He begged to be allowed to re-state that which he must have said very imperfectly in the first instance, but which appeared to have been misunderstood. He thought that he had sufficiently stated it was his conviction that for him to have voted with the hon. Member for Rochdale the other evening would have been to affirm the propositions of the Charter, to which he was opposed—that now he considered that he was asked to permit the petitioners to expound their own views, and endeavour to show that their distresses were connected with the prayer which they laid before the House. If he had been called upon by the motion, as the right hon. Baronet who had last spoken had assumed he was, to affirm the principles of the Charter, he should certainly have adhered to the course which he had taken on a former evening.

Mr. Macaulay:

I am particularly desirous of saying a few words upon this question, because upon a former evening, when a discussion took place upon a motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale, I was prevented from being in my place by accidental circumstances. I know that the absence of some of the Members of the late Government on that occasion was considered and spoken of as exhibiting in their minds an inattention to this subject, or a want of sympathy for the interests of the humbler classes of the people of this country. For myself, I can answer that I was compelled to absent myself on account of temporary indisposition; a noble Friend of mine, to whose absence particular allusion was made, was prevented from attending the House by purely accidental circumstances; and no one Member of the late Administration, I am persuaded, was with-held by any unworthy motives from stating his opinions upon this subject. In the observations which I shall now make to the House, I shall attempt to imitate, as far as I can, the very proper temper of the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department; but if I should be betrayed into the use of any expressions not entirely consistent with a calm view of the question, the House will attribute it to the warmth with which I view the subject generally, and no one who is acquainted with my feelings will attribute it to any want of kindness or of good will towards those who have signed the petition which has been presented to the House. With regard to the motion which has been made, I cannot conscientiously vote for it. The hon. Member for Finsbury has shaped the motion with considerable skill, so as to give me a very fair plea to vote for it, if I wished to evade the discharge of my duty, so that I might say to my Conservative constituents, "I never supported universal suffrage, or those extreme points for which these petitioners call;" or to a large assembly of Chartists, "When your case was before the House of Commons, on that occasion I voted with you." But I think that in a case so important I should not discharge my duty if I had recourse to any such evasion, and I feel myself compelled to meet the motion with a direct negative; and it seems to me that if we departed from our ordinary rule of not hearing persons at the Bar of this House under circumstances of this nature, it must be understood, by our adopting such a course, if not that we are decidedly favourable to the motion which is made, at least that we have not fully made up our minds to resist what the petitioners ask. For my own part, my mind is made up in opposition to their prayer, and, being so, I conceive that the House might complain of me, and that the petitioners also might complain of me, if I were to give an untrue impression of my views by voting in favour of this motion; and I think that if I took such a course, and in three or four years hence I gave a distinct negative to every one, or to the most important clauses of the charter, there would be much reason to complain of my disingenuousness. An accusation founded upon such grounds, I shall, if I can, prevent their bringing against me. In discussing this question I do not intend, as the hon. Member for Westminster has suggested, to deal with the contents of the petition with any degree of harshness. To the terms of it I shall scarcely allude, but to the essence of it I must refer: and I cannot but see that what the petitioners demand is, that we should immediately, without alteration, deduction, or addition, pass the charter into a law; and when the hon. Member for Finsbury calls on the House to hear persons in support of the prayer of the petition at the Bar, I say that if he can con- tend that the object of that inquiry will be to investigate the causes of public distress, by all means let the motion be carried—I will not oppose it. But when I see that the petitioners send to this House, demanding that a particular law shall be passed, without addition, deduction, or modification, and that immediately, and that they demand that persons shall be heard at the Bar of the House in favour of that law, I say that to allege that the only object of the inquiry is to ascertain the causes of public distress, is a paltering with the question, to which the House will pay no attention There are parts of the charter to which I am favourable—for which I have voted, which I would always support; and in truth of all the six points of the charter there is only one to which I entertain extreme and unmitigated hostility. I have voted for the ballot. With regard to the proposition that there be no property qualification required for Members of this House, I cordially agree, for I think that where there is a qualification of property required for the constituent body, a qualification for the representative is altogether superfluous. And it is absurd, that while the Members for Edinburgh and Glasgow are required to have no property qualification, the hon. Members for Marylebone or Finsbury must possess such a qualification. I say that if the principle is to be adopted at all, let it be of universal application; if it be not so, let it be abandoned. It is no part of the constitution of the kingdom, that such a qualification should be required; nor is it a part of the consequences of the revolution; but, after all, it was introduced by a bad Parliament, now held in no high esteem, and for the purpose of defeating the resolution, and excluding the Protestant succession to the Crown. With regard to the other points of the Charter, I cannot support the proposition for annual Parliaments; but I should be willing to meet the wishes of the petitioners by limiting their duration to a shorter period than that for which they may now endure. But I do not go the length of the Charter, because there is one point which is its essence, which is so important, that if you withhold it, nothing can produce the smallest effect in taking away the agitation which prevails, but which, if you grant, it matters not what else you grant, and that is, universal suffrage, or suffrage without any qualification of property at all. Considering that as by far the most important part of the Charter, and having a most decided opinion, that such a change would be utterly fatal to the country, I feel it my duty to say, that I cannot hold out the least hope that I shall ever, under any circumstances, support that change. The reasons for this opinion, I will state as shortly as I can. And, in the first place, I beg to say, that I entertain this view upon no ground of finality; indeed, the remarks which I have already made preclude such a supposition, but I do admit my belief, that violent and frequent changes in the Government of a country, are not desirable. Every great change, I think, should be judged by its own merits. I am bound by no tie to oppose any legislative reform which I really believe will conduce to the public benefit; but I think that that which has been brought forward as an undoubted and conclusive argument against a change of this sort, that it is perfectly inconsistent with the continuance of the Monarchy or of the House of Lords, has been much over-stated. And this I say, though I profess myself a most faithful subject to her Majesty, and by no means anxious to destroy the connection which exists between the Monarchy, the aristocracy, and the constitution, that I cannot consider either the Monarchy or the aristocracy as the end of Government, but only as its means. I know instances of governments with neither a hereditary monarchy or aristocracy, yet flourishing and successful, and, therefore, I conceive this argument to have been overstated. But I believe that universal suffrage would be fatal to all purposes for which government exists, and for which aristocracies and all other things exist, and that it is utterly incompatible with the very existence of civilisation. I conceive that civilisation rests on the security of property, but I think, that it is not necessary for me, in a discussion of this kind, to go through the arguments, and through the vast experience which necessarily leads to this result; but I will assert, that while property is insecure, it is not in the power of the finest soil, or of the moral or intellectual constitution of any country, to prevent the country sinking into barbarism, while, on the other hand, while property is secure, it is not possible to prevent a country from advancing in prosperity. Whatever progress this country has made, in spite of all the mis-government which can possibly be imputed to it, it cannot but be seen how irresistible is the power of the great principle of security of property. Whatever may have been the state of war in which we were engaged, men were still found labouring to supply the deficiencies of the State; and if it be the fact, that all classes have the deepest interest in the security of property, I conceive, that this principle follows, that we never can, without absolute danger, entrust the supreme Government of the country to any class which would, to a moral certainty, be induced to commit great and systematic inroads against the security of property. I assume, that this will be the result of this motion—and I ask, whether the Government, being placed at the head of the majority of the people of this country, without any pecuniary qualification, they would continue to maintain the principle of the security of property? I think not. And if I am called upon to give a reason for this belief—not meaning to refer to the words of the petition with any harsh view — I will look to the petition to support what I have said. The petition must be considered as a sort of declaration of the intentions of the body, who, if the Charter is to become law, is to become the sovereign body of the State—as a declaration of the intention of those who would in | that event, return the majority of the representatives of the people to this House. If I am so to consider it, it is impossible for me to look at these words without the greatest anxiety:— Your petitioners complain, that they are enormously taxed to pay the interest of what is called the national debt—a debt amounting at present to 800,000,000l.—being only a portion of the enormous amount expended in cruel and expensive wars for the suppression of all liberty, by men not authorised by the people, and who, consequently had no right to tax posterity for the outrages committed by them upon mankind. If I am really to understand that as an indication of the opinion of the petitioners, it is an expression of an opinion, that a national bankruptcy would be just and politic. If I am not so to understand it, I am utterly at a loss to know what it means. I conceive, for my own part, that it is impossible to make any distinction between the right of the fundholder to his dividends, and the right of the landholder to the rent for his land, and I say, that the author of this petition makes no such distinction, but treats all alike. The petitioners then speak of monopolies, and they say:— Your petitioners deeply deplore the existence of any kind of monopoly in this nation, and whilst they unequivocally condemn the levying of any tax upon the necessaries of life and upon those articles principally required by the labouring classes, they are also sensible, that the abolition of any one monopoly will never unshackle labour from its misery, until the people possess that power under which all monopoly and oppression must cease; and your petitioners respectfully mention the existing monopolies of the suffrage, of paper money, of machinery, of land, of the public press, of religion, of the means of travelling and transit, and a host of other evils too numerous to mention, all arising from class-legislation. Now, I ask whether this is not a declaration of the opinion of the petitioners, that landed property should cease to exist? The monopoly of machinery, however, is also alluded to, and I suppose that will not be taken to refer to the monopoly of machinery alone, but the monopoly of property in general—a view which, is confirmed when we further look to the complaint of the monopoly of the means of transit. Can it be anything but a confiscation of property—of the funds—and of land—which is contemplated? And is it not further proposed, that there shall be a confiscation of the railways, also? I verily believe, that that is the effect of the petition. What is the monopoly of machinery and land, which is to be remedied? I believe, that it is hardly necessary for me to go into any further explanation, but if I understand this petition rightly, I believe it to contain a declaration, that the remedies for the evils of which it complains, and under which this country suffers, are to be found in a great and sweeping confiscation of property, and I am firmly convinced, that the effect of any such measure would be not merely to overturn those institutions which now exist, and to ruin those who are rich, but to make the poor poorer, and the amount of the misery of the country even greater, than it is now represented to be. I am far from bringing any charge against the great body of those who have signed this petition. As far am I from approving of the conduct of those who, in. procuring the petition to be signed, have put the sentiments which it embodies into a bad and pernicious form. I ask, however, are we to go out of the ordinary course of Parliamentary proceedings, for the purpose of giving it reception. I believe, that nothing is more natural than that the feelings of the peeple should be such as they are described to be. Even we, ourselves, with all our advantages of education, when we are tried by the temporary pressure of circumstances, are too ready to catch at everything which may hold out the hope of relief—to incur a greater evil in future, which may afford the means of present indulgence; and 1 cannot but see, that a man having a wife at home to whom he is attached, growing thinner every day, children whose wants become every day more pressing, whose mind is principally employed in mechanical toil, may have been driven to entertain such views as are here expressed, partly from his own position, and partly from the culpable neglect of the Government in omitting to supply him with the means and the power of forming a better judgment. Let us grant that education would remedy these things, shall we not wait until it has done so, before we agree to such a motion as this; shall we, before such a change is wanted, give them the power and the means of ruining not only the rich, but themselves? I have no more unkind feeling towards these petitioners than I have towards the sick man, who calls for a draught of cold water, although he is satisfied that it would be death to him; nor than I have for the poor Indians, whom I have seen collected round the granaries in India at a time of scarcity, praying that the doors might be thrown open, and the grain distributed; but I would not in the one case give the draught of water, nor would I in the other give the key of the granary; because I know that by doing so 1 shall only make a scarcity a famine, and by giving such relief, enormously increase the evil. No one can say that such a spoliation of property as these petitioners point at would be a relief to the evils of which they complain, and I believe that no one will deny, that it would be a great addition to the mischief which is proposed to be removed. But if such would be the result, why should such power be conferred upon the petitioners? That they should ask for it is not blame-able, but on what principle is it that we, knowing that their views are entirely delusive, should put into their hands the irresistible power of doing all this evil to us and to themselves? The only argument which can be brought forward in favour of the proposition is, as it appears to me, that this course, which is demanded to be left open to the petitioners, will not be taken; that although the power is given, they will not, and do not intend to execute it. But surely this would be an extraordinary way of treating the prayer of the petition; and it would be somewhat singular to call upon the House to suppose that those who are seeking for a great concession put the object of their demand in a much higher manner than that which presented itself to their own minds. How is it possible that, according to the principles of human nature, if you give them this power, it would not be used to its fullest extent? There has been a constant and systematic attempt for years to represent the Government as being able to do, and as bound to attempt that which no Government ever attempted; and instead of the Government being represented, as is the truth, as being supported by the people, it has been treated as if the Government supported the people: it has been treated as if the Government possessed some mine of wealth—some extraordinary means of supplying the wants of the people; as if they could give them, bread from the clouds—water from the rocks—to increase the bread and the fishes five thousandfold. Is it possible to believe that the moment you give them absolute, supreme, irresistible power, they will forget all this? You propose to give them supreme power; in every constituent body throughout the empire capital and accumulated property is to be placed absolutely at the foot of labour. How is it possible to doubt what the result will be? Suppose such men as the hon. Members for Bath and Rochdale being returned to sit in this House, who would, I believe, oppose such measures of extreme change as would involve a national bankruptcy. What would be the effect if their first answer to their constituents should be, "Justice and the public good demand that this thirty millions a-year should be paid?" Then, with regard to land, supposing it should be determined that there should be no partition of land, and it is hardly possible to conceive that there are men to be found who would destroy all the means of creating and increasing wages, and of creating and increasing the trade and commerce of this country, which gives employment to so many ! Is it possible that the three millions of people who have petitioned this House should insist on the prayer of their petition? I do not wish to say all that forces itself on my mind with regard to what might be the result of our granting the Charter. Let us, if we can, picture to ourselves the consequences of such a spoliation as it is proposed should take place. Would it end with one spoliation? How could it? That distress which is the motive now for calling on this House to interfere would be only doubled and trebled by the act; the measure of distress would become greater after that spoliation, and the bulwarks by which fresh acts of the same character would have been removed. The Government would rest upon spoliation—all the property which any man possessed would be supported by it, and is it possible to suppose that a new state of things would exist wherein every thing that was done would be right? What must be the effect of such a sweeping confiscation of property? No experience enables us to guess at it. All I can say is, that it seems to me to be something more horrid than can be imagined. A great community of human beings—a vast people would be called into existence in a new position; there would be a depression, if not an utter stoppage, of trade, and of all those vast engagements of the country by which our people were supported, and how is it possible to doubt that famine and pestilence would come before long to wind up the effects of such a system. The best thing which I can expect, and which I think every one must see as the result, is, that in some of the desperate struggles which roust take place in such a state of things, some strong military despot must arise, and give some sort of protection—some security to the property which may remain. But if you flatter yourselves that after such an occurrence you would ever see again those institutions under which you have lived, you deceive yourselves: you would never see them again, and you would never deserve to see them. By all neighbouring nations you would be viewed with utter contempt, and that glory and prosperity which has been so envied would be sneered at, and your fate would thus be told: "England," it would be said, "had her institutions, imperfect though they were, but which contained within themselves the means of remedying all imperfections. Those institutions were wantonly thrown away for no purpose whatever, but because she was asked to do so by persons who sought her ruin; her ruin was the consequence, and she deserves it." Believing this, I will oppose with every faculty which I possess the proposition for universal suffrage. The only question is, whether this motion should be agreed to. Now, if there is any Gentleman who is disposed to grant universal suffrage, with a full view of all its consequences, I think that he acts perfectly conscientiously in voting for this motion; but I must say, that it was with some surprise I heard the hon. Baronet the Member for Leicester, agreeing with me as he does in the principles which I advocate, say, notwithstanding, that he is disposed to vote simply for the motion for permitting these petitioners to come to our Bar to speak in defence of their petition. [Sir J. East-hope: To expound their opinions.] I conceive their opinions are quite sufficiently expounded. They are of such an extent that I cannot, I must confess, pretend to speak of them with much respect. I shall give on this occasion a perfectly conscientious vote against hearing the petitioners at the Bar; and it is my firm conviction that in doing so I am not only doing that which is best with respect to the State, but that I am really giving to the petitioners themselves much less reason for complaining than those who vote for their being heard now, but who will afterwards vote against their demand.

Mr. Roebuck

said, that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, plainly indicated to him, that in spite of the right hon. Gentleman's declaration, he had little of kindly feeling for the persons who had petitioned that House. The general effect of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he thought, he could not help recognising, for he thought that he had seen its substance before, elaborated, too, with all the gorgeous eloquence which the right hon. Gentleman could so well employ. When he had seen it, it was in a form which left no doubt of its parentage; he thought that he had seen it in a discussion upon the subject of reform in Parliament in the Edinburgh Review. The proposition of the right hon. Gentleman was this:—" I am not willing to give the people power, till I am assured that they will not misuse it." And the right hon. Gentleman appealed to the petition itself, to prove that he sought not to grant the prayer of it. Now, he might answer this in various ways, and first, he might deny the right hon. Gentleman's premises altogether; but, mounting higher up, and asking on what principle the House of Commons was formed, he was prepared to maintain, that the same principle, if carried out, would bring together the whole body of the peo- ple to confer on public affairs in that place. There was a natural desire in every man to profit by another's labour. The object of Government was to prevent that desire from breaking out into action. In a state of nature, if he was wrong, he obtained that which he desired; as men advanced, they met together, and formed societies. In this country, the people had hit upon the principle of deputation to a few to do that which in former times was done in the market-place by the whole body of the people. The House of Commons then sat there to prevent the desire that each man has of profiting by another's labour from coming into action; they were put over the people to watch for them; but then, that being the case, who was to watch them—to watch the watchers? That could only be done with effect by making the House of Commons responsible to the people, and the charge against the House of Commons on the part of the people was, that there had been delegated to a small section of the people, the power of enforcing this responsibility, and that that small section had joined with the House of Commons to oppress the remainder of the people; and that they did oppress the remainder of the people. The right hon. Gentleman holding the petition in his hands, had said, that the petitioners made a demand for the establishment of a minimum of wages; if this were so then he asked hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House whether they did not make a demand of exactly the same principle in the Corn-laws? The right hon. Gentleman said, "I am not willing to give the people power because they demand a minimum of wages;" but he said to the House "Remember, you have given power to the landed interest, and given them that power notwithstanding they asked for a maximum of prices." In principle where was the difference? But all this was bad political economy, said some hon. Member; this was bad economy, said the Edinburgh Review. But, be it bad political economy or good, the poor man would come forward and say, "You have given me power, now I demand a minimum of wages. "How often, when the Poor-laws were before the House, had they been told that there were very many of the miseries of the people that were entirely beyond the control of the House; he agreed that at present it was so; but if the people had a voice there, would it long be so? The right hon. Gentleman said that parts of the petition contained propositions adverse to the security of property. Let him point to the great organ of the Conservative party—The Times newspaper —and ask did it not every day bring out projects and assert principles quite as extravagant, quite as fierce, quite as directly and pointedly, against the security of property as those contained in that extremely unwise, and, he would say, extremely foolish, petition? But were those who signed this petition really unfit to govern themselves? Separate the people of this country into classes, and they would see which of them were against property; the classes who had a share in education —the enlightened mechanics, were not against property. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that if any one class was dependent upon property and the security of property, that class was the labouring class, and yet he wished to make out-that this class was so blind to their real interests and to all that prudence would dictate, that it was that class of all others which would be willing to reduce the country to the condition of a desert. Now, he judged the people of England otherwise; he did not judge by the words of the foolish, malignant, cowardly demagogue who had written that petition. He knew where to put his finger on the man, and he was convinced it was not that man who was entitled to stand forward as the representative of the labouring classes. He would ask those hon. Members who had borne witness to the long-suffering of the industrious classes, amidst the privations and distresses to which they had been exposed, and which they were yet daily suffering, what was the character of his fellow-countrymen? Yes, it was from these sufferings that he judged of his fellow-countrymen, and not from the trashy doctrine contained in the petition, which would be of itself ridiculous but for the grandeur of the multitude of names appended to it. What they asked was, for the power which they saw their fellow-citizens enjoying. What they complained of was, that their fellow-citizens, whom they knew to be made by nature no better than themselves, were selected as the repositories of political power. That was a distinction which was peculiarly galling to them. But he did not believe, speaking from the knowledge which he had of his fellow-citizens, and it had been his fortune to mix much with them, that the belief was general that the great accidents which regulate the happiness of their lives were within the power of the Government. In fact, he believed that the class to which he referred was as enlightened as the present electoral body. Well then, if they were as enlightened as the present electoral body, let the House consider that this country had wealth, and had security for property under the present electoral body. Why then should the country not have the same under the labouring classes? If they were as worthy to be electors as the present body, why was he to conclude that under them the country would be involved in that anarchy which had been painted by the somewhat terrific pencil of the right hon. Gentleman. That was not his judgment of the people of England. If he were wrong, what kept them from displaying their real character? He affirmed that the Government had not physical force adequate to keep them down. If they were to rise as one man, as they might do, the Executive had nothing but what was as a rush to keep them down with. What then kept them down? They kept quiet from knowing that the advantages which they and their ancestors had derived from obedience to the law were not to be thrown away slightly and that was their only feeling in the matter. And if he were to be asked by what his countrymen were peculiarly distinguished from the other nations of Europe and from the people of all other countries that he knew of, he should say that the distinguishing feature in their character was obedience to the law. It had happened to himself and many other hon. Members to travel in other countries; he asked those hon. Members what was the case there? On the continent it was said la force was everywhere—here it was obedience to the law. The feeble constable without any question took the offender into custody solely from the moral feeling of the people. It was not physical force, but law, that bore sway here, and this it was that made him believe that if the whole body of the people ruled the country he should walk home just as quietly as he should that evening. Such was his confidence in his fellow-countrymen. He believed that if ever there had been a libel spoken,—he did not desire to say so in any sense that could be painful to the right hon. Gentleman,—'but if ever there was a libel spoken upon his patient, forbearing, his industrious fellow-countrymen, it was that idle declaiming which said that they were unable to govern themselves. Why, it was they who had done everything for this country— upon them rested the whole fabric of English prosperity and greatness; and now, the very fact of this peaceful organization for the attainment of what they believed to be their natural political rights, was a lesson which the world had never seen before. The right hon. Gentleman himself was learned in the history of the world—could he point his finger to a single event in history, that in its nature was like that which they had seen yesterday upon the floor of that House? What was that event of yesterday? It was the peaceful act of 3,500,000 people, who had all joined together throughout the length and breadth of the land—in the open markets and in the crowded towns—in the byways and in the highways — who had assembled in peace, and fully relied on the security of the law, and had signed the document which was then laid before the House, in which they asked by petition for the indulgence of a right which they in their hearts believed to belong to them. They had not risen up as an armed man; they had not banded together against the law; they had conducted themselves peacefully, calmly, prudently, forbearingly; they had come and called upon the House to hear them; and yet, with that document to point at, the right hon. Gentleman concluded that so striking an example and so extraordinary an incident in the history of man was to be thrown aside as nothing, and that he was justified in fixing his critically acrimonious eye upon the turning of sentences, his almost grammarian like sagacity in insight into language, while he altogether forgot the larger and more striking features of an act by which 3,000,000 of his fellow-countrymen who were not now admitted within the pale of the constitution, had come to that House, and in so entirely peaceable a manner petioned for that as an indulgence which they fully believed to be their own as a right. Now, let it not be supposed that he (Mr. Roebuck) agreed with a one-hundredth part of the propositions contained in that petition. What he did ask for the petitioners was, simply that they should be heard. He wanted no quibble to help him out of the difficulty. The hon. Member for Rochdale had, on a former even- ing, asked for the very same thing, and how had he been met by the hon. Baronet, the Member for Leicester, on that occasion? The hon. Member for Finsbury now asked for inquiry also, but what a strange alteration had come over the hon. Baronet, the Member for Leicester? He now saw something that he did not see before. What that something might be it was not for him to say; but now, forsooth, though the demand was precisely the same as that made by the hon. Member for Rochdale, the hon. Member for Leicester took a different course. Inquiry !" To propound their opinions; to state why they thought their evils arose from bad legislation," said the hon. Member for Leicester; why, that was exactly the proposition of the hon. Member for Rochdale on the former night, and yet, though the hon. Baronet then voted against the motion, he now came down, and, having some special light on the subject, said he should vote for the 3,000,000 of petitioners. He did not want to do that sort of thing. He wanted no excuse for the vote which he should give on the present occasion. He had voted for the hon. Member for Rochdale on the former occasion, and he should vote with the hon. Member for Finsbury now—not for the petition as a whole, not for everything contained in the petition, but for what was called the Charter, for that was the way to put it. He should vote for the Charter, because he believed that the people ought to be admitted into the pale of the Constitution, and because, from what study he had been able to give to the history of mankind, and from what consideration he had had of man's nature, he believed that the best government that could be got for any people, whether looking to the necessities of instruction, the interests of wealth, or to any of the peculiar circumstances affecting particular nations—that the best government that could be got was that which proceeded from the whole; and it did strike him, that if to-morrow they could transform, by legislative means, not by any violent revolution, that House into a complete representation of the people of England, there would not be one iota of difference as to all the interests and tendencies of property in this country—with this simple, peculiar, and advantageous exception, that every man in that case would have the proceeds of his own labour, with only so much taken from it as would form his fair share of contribution to the State. That was not the case now, and that it was not, was the evil of which the people complained. They did not assert that all the evils with which they were afflicted were attributable to the Government under which they had lived, but that a large portion of the evils they were labouring under might fairly be attributable to the mode in which that House was constituted. They declared, that being unrepresented, they paid more largely towards the expenses of the State than they ought to do with reference to their condition and numbers. The cause of this they asserted to be their want of power in that House, and, reasoning from the acts of the majority of that House as at present constituted, they felt that they had been, and were, unfairly dealt with. Therefore, they, the long-suffering, patient people, now at last asked for a share in the Government of the country. Now, compare the picture that had been drawn by the right hon. Gentleman with the events that had occurred in that House during the present year. They had been told of the necessity of placing the Government in the hands of the aristocracy only; now, what had been their experience of a few months working of that description of government? The people being in a state of distress, finding food scanty and dear, asked the governing body of the country, when they met, to lessen that distress by lowering the price of food. What was the answer? Why, the aristocracy most vehemently, most decisively, most completely, declared that they would do no such thing. Upon the arguments that had been used against the claims of the working classes by the right hon. Gentleman, he would be entitled at once to say, that a spirit of rapine prevailed with that aristocratical body. Taking this instance, not of wild language, but of determined resistance to the cry of the whole suffering population, he was entitled to say, on the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, that the aristocracy in that House were actuated by a spirit of rapine. Let him not be misunderstood. He had borne very patiently with the counterargument, and he hoped they would listen patiently to him. He maintained that he would be fairly entitled, in accordance with the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, to say that the Government which could act so was actuated by a spirit of rapine and plunder, and only kept the people down by the power they possessed by having the arms in their hands. Going a little further, however, he would say that the existing majority in that House, having the power in their hands, and not feeling the pressure of misery upon them, had no means of knowing what that distress was, and that, therefore, they would be doing not only the poor, but the rich, a benefit by sending into that House those who would be elected by the people themselves, and would be able to show them what the evils were that had been created by their class-legislation. And let them not suppose that by admitting the labouring classes to a share in the representation of the country, the power of electing representatives would not be borne still by the whole population. Were they to suppose that wealth and intelligence would cease to exercise their natural influence? Did they imagine that only the wild, the unintelligent, would govern the country in that case? No, it would be the rich and the intelligent who would still by force of their position and their education govern the country. No people were ever yet governed by the ignorant, or by any but those which might be called the thinking and leisure classes. The only effect of treating such a Government as the petitioners desired would be, that they would still have wealth exercising its due and legitimate influence with the aid of intellect, whereas the influence now exercised was a malign influence, doing mischief, and working out evil instead of good. The difference between the right hon. Gentleman and himself was, that he had great faith in the good feeling, patience, and virtue of his fellow-countrymen, which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to doubt, believing as he did that they ought not to be trusted with power, forming his opinion, as he did, from the petition that had been laid upon the Table of the House, and shutting his eyes to the experience which he ought to have had while journeying through this large country of the suffering millions, and forgetting the intimate knowledge which, while a Member of the governing power of the country, he must have had of the constant forbearance of his fellow-countrymen; — the right hon. Gentleman shutting his eyes to all this experience, and judging only by the paper on the Table, declared that the labouring classes were unworthy of the trust which it was sought to repose in them—that they would be cruel and take delight in rapine and wanton spoil and bloodshed—that when they found peace they would make war, that of this cultivated land they would make a desert, and that that great country which they themselves had almost entirely raised to its present prosperity and greatness, they, if in power, would be the first to reduce to one wide scene of bloodshed, anarchy, and confusion: for this reason it was that the right hon. Gentleman declared, that as long as he held a seat in that House he would resist the demand of the people for a share in the representation. He could not follow the right hon. Gentleman in that course. For his own part, what little ability he had should be devoted to the service of those classes upon whom the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman cast such a stigma. He believed that he should be best doing them service by speaking of them with calmness, consideration, and affection, and by endeavouring to do for them that which they had a right to expect at his hands. He would endeavour to the best of his power to render them equal in point of political privileges with any of those who now sent Members to that House, by not allowing any servile class to remain, believing as he did that property would be most secure when his labouring fellow-countrymen had their full and equal share in the power of the Legislature.

Lord Francis Egerton

thought, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had, in the course of his speech, manifested more of the talent of the debater than of the judgment of the statesman in dealing with this subject. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh had come forward with his usual ability and manfulness and delivered his opinion on this subject; and, if he had good grounds for his assertion, he was right in taking from the petition opinions which were broadly stated in it, and to point out the consequences which would result from adopting them. It appeared to the hon. and learned Gentleman that three millions of persons had signed this—to use his own expression—trashy and contemptible petition—and had made out their case. The hon. Member, at the same time, stated, that he was convinced that the great portion of the petitioners did not assent to the opinions put forth in it. Now he thought that the House was bound to believe, that the petitioners were sincere, and therefore he thought that not one item in the right hon. Gentlemen's speech had been overdrawn. The hon. and learned Gentleman had endeavoured to draw attention from the petition, to other matters which he said were not involved in it. He did not think, that it was necessary to speculate on the constitutional doctrines broached by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who seemed to think that the greatest benefits would arise from the adoption of the Utopian schemes which he had put forward. The hon. and learned Member for Bath seemed to expect some new Atalantis or Utopia to arise, in which everything would be conducted on the principles of the strictest justice and good faith; but he confessed he thought the solution of the right hon. Gentlemen much more likely to be the true one, and that the armed man would rise. We had never seen a Utopia in this country, but we had seen a Cromwell, and knew the evils which followed in the train of violent transfers of power. If he opposed this measure it was because he believed it was for the interest even of the three millions and a half themselves who had signed this "miserable, trashy, and contemptible petition," again to quote the hon. and learned Member for Bath—drawn, as it was, by some one whom the hon. and learned Member said he knew, and therefore considered with the disrespect and contempt which belonged to him, but whom he (Lord F. Egerton) did not know, and therefore did not regard with any such feelings. For these reasons, he thought if the Government acceded to the prayer of this petition they would be unworthy of the situations they held, and betraying the interests confided to them; and if the gentlemen who constituted the late Government were to yield to such a demand, he should say they would have to abdicate the rule and guidance and control of those intelligent gentlemen who supported them, and acknowledged the sway of their talents and abilities. Although he felt the unpopularity to which he might be thus exposing himself as contrasted with the hon. Member for Bath, he had thought it right to take this opportunity of expressing his concurrence in the sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and stating his opinions of the course which the Government ought to follow.

Mr. Hawes

as the representative of a large constituency, felt called upon to come forward to state his opinions to the House. He must say, that the able speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Bath, which was delivered with that manfulness and fervid eloquence which so strikingly characterised all his speeches, had failed to bring conviction to his mind. His hon. Friend said, that they were not called upon to vote for an inquiry into the subject matter of the propositions contained in the petition, but to give a vote for or against the charter—and it was upon this they must take their stand. Now, he (Mr. Hawes) did not believe, that at the present moment it would be prudent to concede this measure; but this opinion, on his part, did not arise from any want of trust or confidence in the people. He had, ever since he had been in that House, supported practical measures of reform; but there was a great distinction between voting for such measures and Voting for the charter. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh, had hardly been fairly dealt with by the hon. Member for Bath. He at least had not understood that right hon. Gentleman as having expressed any such distrust of the people of England as was imputed to him by the hon. Member. When he recalled to mind the language made use of at certain public meetings which had been held of late throughout the country—not of honest, enlightened, labouring mechanics, towards whom he felt every respect, and whose claims to the electoral franchise deserved all consideration—but of masses of men, blindly led by those very men for whom the hon. Member had expressed such merited contempt, he would ask whether the hon. Member could really wish them to entertain a petition emanating from masses so led, and by whom language of the most outrageous character was received with undoubting approbation. He was certainly not prepared to repeal the Reform Act; he was not prepared to say, that it had been an entire failure. When he looked back at the last ten years he saw many remarkable measures of parliamentary reform, many measures which had improved the condition of the country; and he looked to the further operation of that act for other measures tending still more to parliamentary reform and to the improvement of the people's condition. A good deal was said about the class-legislation of the few, and a good deal might justly be said about it: but, at the same time, there might be a class-legislation of the many, which might be very injurious to the welfare of the country. The present proposition, in effect, was not one for inquiry, but a vote for a definite object, and he for one, must enter his humble protest against being supposed to act by any accident for the charter; but, at the same time, he was a warm advocate for the progressive improvement of the people, and every measure practically tending to that object would find in him a steadfast friend.

Mr. Hume

said, that he regretted the violent language which had been used by some individuals at certain public meetings quite as much as the hon. Member for Lambeth could; but surely it was not just to blame the whole body of these petitioners, and the people at large, because a few rash men had made use of improper language. As well might he bring a wholesale charge against hon. Members on the opposite benches because one of their leading organs had made use of such language as this: that "England would be as great and as powerful, and Englishmen as rich as they were now, if ruin were to engulph the whole of the manufacturers of the country." [Sir R. Peel never saw such a passage.] It appeared in the Standard, and was copied into most of the other papers. Let us judge of the petitioners by the petition which they had sent to that House, and take it as it really was, the good with the objectionable parts. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay), had accused the people of England of a disposition to spoliation; but he (Mr. Hume) must remark, that there was nothing whatever in their demands for political rights which could support that accusation. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to point to any request amongst those demands which could in any way injure either public or private property. They demanded the electoral suffrage, and he would ask, was it fair, that men who are liable to be called on to defend their country by sea and by land, and also obliged by taxation to contribute their share to the support of the Government of the country, should be deprived of their constitutional rights in that and in other respects? He could not see anything wrong in giving an extension of political rights with reference to the election of representatives in Parliament to all those who thus served their country; and so far from anticipating any evil from it, he thought it would be the best and only means of obtaining good Government by preventing class-legislation. He would ask, was not the complaint of the people as to the partial character of the taxation of the country generally just? Was it not partial in the highest degree? Were not the working classes taxed infinitely more in proportion to their means than the possessors of extensive property. He recollected well that when the Reform Bill was under the attention of the country, very disastrous results were foretold by hon. Members opposite, as likely to arise from a reformed Parliament, and the right hon. Member for Edinburgh slated that ruin and anarchy would be likely to arise from an acquiescence by this House in the demands of the people for an extension of political rights. The right hon. Member when he wished to frighten the House, described the evils that he thought would follow the granting to the people that extension of political rights which they demanded. When he asked the House to entertain the petition, he wished to remind them that it did not follow that all the claims of the people demanded in the petition should be acceded to at once; a portion of them only might be granted; and, therefore, the argument against an acquiescence in all those demands to their fullest extent would not apply to them. He desired to state to the House that the surest way to prevent revolution was to listen to and redress the well-grounded complaints of the people. He could not allow the unjust interpretation given by the right hon. Member for Edinburgh of the motives of these men to go uncontradicted. He (Mr. Hume) had a right to be heard against the conclusion to which the right hon. Gentleman had come with respect to those petitioners. He repeated, that the surest way to prevent revolutions was to listen to the complaints of the people. He thought that the people had an additional claim to be heard, on account of the moderation and patience with which they had borne their privations and sufferings. That their conduct was distinguished by patience and forbearance was admitted on both sides of the House. He would call the attention of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh to one paragraph in the petition, And whilst your petitioners unequivocally condemn the levying of any tax upon the necessaries of life, and upon those articles principally required by the labouring classes, they are also sensible that the abolition of any one monopoly will never unshackle labour, and relieve them from misery until the people shall possess the power of electing their representatives under which all monopoly and oppression by class-legislation must cease." [Read on.] He would read on, "and your petitioners respectfully mention the existing monopolies, of the suffrage, of sugar, of paper money, of machinery, and of land. Did not the present system maintain a monopoly of paper money, of machinery, and of land? He contended that it did. Was not one effect of the law of entail and primogeniture to produce a monopoly of land? He did not hesitate to say, that the laws maintained in this country were the cause of great misery to the mass of the community. He wished to give a fair explanation of the motives of these petitioners and to deny those attributed by the right hon. Member. He contended that unless the just complaints of the people were listened to they could have no hope of anything like peace and contentment in the country. When he thus attempted, however feebly, to correct the misrepresentations of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, he was met by hon. Members with a laugh. Were they laughing at the miseries of the people, or at what were they laughing? If the complaints of the people were worth attending to they ought to be heard with attention and patience. He had this day received accounts from some parts of the country descriptive of the existing great misery and suffering on the part of the people. These scenes of distress were going on and increasing in the country; and was it at these that hon. Members were laughing? Perhaps he (Mr. Hume) had made an imperfect explanation of the case; but he had endeavoured to remove from large numbers of his fellow countrymen those charges of a desire to spoliate which had been made against them by the right hon. Member for Edinburgh. He contended that there was not a sentence in that petition that could warrant those charges. Could any one deny, that great suffering existed amongst millions, in this country, and there was no doubt in his (Mr. Home's) mind that the Corn and Income-tax laws passed by Parliament would aggravate these evils, if they did not create them. Injustice must be inflicted whilst they maintained by a system of class-legislation monopolies which benefitted the few at the expense of the many. He trusted, therefore, that House would not refuse to hear at the Bar the complaints of the people. Why not let them tell their tale, and state to Parliament the grievances under which they suffered? That would at any rate manifest some sympathy for their sufferings. The changes in the tariff which were now proposed by the right hon. Baronet were only a commencement of, he hoped, a liberal system of trade which would take years to work out; and what, in the meantime, was to be done to lessen the mass of misery which existed amongst the people? Bribery had taken place to a great extent at late elections, but if large classes of the people had a voice in electing representatives they might set bribery at defiance. He wished to see an equal and consequently a just distribution of the electoral power, so that one man would no longer be the representative of a constituency of many thousand electors, and another represent only one or two hundred. He was for extension of the suffrage to all males of twenty-one years of age, and not tainted with crime; and also for electoral districts with equal number of electors in each. It was a mistake to suppose that there was not sufficient worth, virtue and intelligence in the people that would secure the return of proper representatives. He was prepared to place confidence in the working classes, as they had always acted as honestly, or perhaps more so, than the richer classes. If the people generally had votes it might be expected that justice would be done to all, that unjust laws would be put an end to, and the progressive but permanent improvement of the people and of the country be obtained.

Mr. Wakley

had heard with extreme surprise and regret the speech delivered that evening by the hon. Member for Lambeth, and he must say, that he was sorry to find any single Member of one of the newly-enfranchised metropolitan boroughs prepared to vote against so reasonable and just a proposition as that under consideration. When the metropolitan boroughs were enfranchised, it was feared that through their means some very troublesome Members would obtain admission into that House—Members whose principles were as objectionable to the majority opposite, as the sentiments contained in the petition on the Table. He thought, however, that the House had little reason to complain of such annoyance, and certainly they would have still less if all the Members for those boroughs were to take a political lesson from the book of reform as it was read by the hon. Member for Lambeth. That book was a large volume, but he thought he might which contained the specific principles of that hon. Gentleman. If, however, he was surprised at his speech, he was equally, if not more surprised, at the silence preserved by Members on the Ministerial benches. He had expected on a question affecting the rights and interests of the working classes, that the eloquence of hon. Gentlemen opposite, which had been so kindly exerted on the subject in other places, and which had been followed by successive rounds of Kentish fire, would have been, heard in their favour on the present occasion. He had entertained some hope that those who were so loud in their denunciations of the Whigs for neglecting the interests of the people, would not, in this instance, have forgotten their former advocacy. Though no voice on the other side had yet been raised for that purpose, he hoped that before the debate concluded they would come to the aid of the people, and never could they do so with better effect. The discussion of this question had in his opinion taken too wide a range. The proposition before the House was a simple one, and its statement might be comprised in a nutshell. It was merely this—3,300,000 of their fellow-countrymen asked permission to state their grievances at the Bar of the House, and the reply to be given to it was "yes" or "no." That was the simple question stripped of all disguise, and the answer to be given would show whether the people were still to entertain a hope of justice from that House, or whether the reply would fill with disappointment and indignation upwards of 3,000,000 of their fellow-countrymen. Even the very hesitation of the House to answer in the affirmative showed the justice of the request made by the petitioners. 3,300,000 petitioners sought an opportunity of stating, their grievances at the Bar of the House, and the House hesitated to answer their just demand. The petitioners at the outset alleged that they were unrepresented in that assembly. Then why not yield to their request, and allow them in their own way to make their candid and honest statement? Could that be considered a land of liberty or justice where so fair a request was refused? Was it not only fair, after what had fallen from an eminent Whig leader, to see these men, to hear their statements, and permit them to show that they were not the turbulent and sanguinary beings that they had been represented? For his own part, he was surprised to hear a Gentleman of such lively imagination, of such comprehensive judgment, and such extensive intellectual powers, give such an appalling description of the character of the people of England. Why, where did the right hon. Gentleman reside? How did he pass his time? With whom did he associate, or where could he find aught which would warrant or justify the description which he had given of upwards of 3,000,000 of Englishmen? Where would the right hon. Gentleman select his specimens to prove the truth of his description? Would he find them in the navy? Were the sailors of Great Britain mutinous, cowardly, or treacherous? Were the soldiery of this country [mutinous, pusillanimous, or disobedient? What was the character of our merchants, of our professions, of our trades? Was it not too bad to make such sweeping assertions, and condemn a whole people in the mass. Let the right hon. Gentleman, if he could, point out a single class to whom the description would apply. Would he say the carpenters? Would he say the smiths? Would he say the shoemakers? The circumstances were such as to demand something more tangible and specific than the right hon. Gentleman had favoured the House with. He was not so favourable to the petition as the hon. Member for Edinburgh had represented himself to be. On the contrary, there were many points in it in which he did not concur, and if any Member in the House was bound more than another to support the motion that the petitioners should be heard at the Bar, it was the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, seeing what an aptitude and readiness he exhibited in showing his progress as a scholar in the school of reform. It was only ten years since that he was opposed to such an extension of the suffrage, and he was still opposed to that point; but he had since then come round to the five other points of the charter. It was to be pre- sumed, therefore, that when the right hon. Gentleman had heard the arguments which might be urged in its favour, it would be possible to bring him to a favourable reception of the sixth. Though the right hon. Gentleman had declared his determination to resist universal suffrage, yet as he had made no finality resolution, it might be possible to induce him to make some approach to it. He hoped the House would not, by deciding against the motion, excite dissatisfaction and discontent amongst upwards of 3,000,000 people. He was aware it might be urged that the vote upon the question would be construed into saying "Aye," or "No," as to the charter, but he denied in toto that it was capable of such construction. He, for his part, was not an advocate for annual Parliaments, being of opinion that triennial Parliaments would work much better. He disclaimed the question as being one which involved the adoption or rejection of the charter. It was simply whether, as he had said before, 3,300,000 of their fellow-countrymen would or would not be permitted with their own tongues to state their grievances in their own language at the Bar of the House. Was the House, he would ask, determined, at all hazard, to stand by the present system of representation? Was the 10l. constituency so pure and incorruptible as to be the best which could be selected? Look to the disclosures made in the committees respecting the gross corruption which characterised the last election. Was that corruption practised by the working people — by those mechanics who had been so described by the right hon. Gentleman? No, it was the work of the very electors whom that House had chosen as the very best basis of a constituency. Nothing could be more dangerous to the constitution of the country than the practices which had been exposed in the late inquiry. They unhinged all reliance upon our social institutions, and created an astonishment in the public mind to think that such abuses and corruptions should be so openly practised. The working people attributed the fault to the Legislature. They demanded to be admitted within the pale of the constitution, that they might endeavour to cleanse the foul stream of corruption; and, in his opinion, their request was a reasonable one. He had seen much of the working people of this country —indeed, few had seen more. He had also seen much of the working people in other countries, and he could confidently say, that he never witnessed more honest sincerity, or more real and sterling worth, than the working men of England exhibited. [Cheers.] He was glad to hear that opinion cheered by hon. Gentlemen opposite. How then could they reconcile it to themselves to retain those people in the position of a servile class? How could they say that the inhabitant of a 10l. house was better or more trustworthy than he who inhabited a 5l. house? In what did the superiority exist? Was it in the brick and mortar— was it in the furniture or attire—or was it in feeling and intellect—in head and heart? Before the New Poor-law was enacted, there was little necessity in the country for bolt or bar; no rural police were required; but now the people felt the injustice of the enactments levelled against them; and when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh asked what would be the character of the laws if they were enacted by the people, he should remember that none could be more cruel or sanguinary than the New Poor-law. When it was considered how it pressed upon the widow and the orphan and the aged octogenarian, he would fearlessly ask what law could be more cruel in its operation, and he would add, that the working people could never enact a law against the aristocracy of a more severe nature. Under the circumstances in which this country was placed, and considering the distress which prevailed, he thought it incumbent on the House to listen to the tale of the petitioners and hear the statement of their grievances; and he should, therefore, considering that they were unrepresented in the House, give his most cordial support to the motion.

Lord J. Russell:

Considering the importance of the petition presented to the House, and the great number of signatures attached, I could not abandon my duty by not coming down to the House for the purpose of expressing my respect for the petitioners, and at the same time, declaring my abhorrence of the doctrines set forth in the petition. Let me, however, in the outset at once meet a charge which has, I think most unfairly, been imputed to those who are prepared to vote against the present motion. I deny, that I and others who are opposed to it are amenable to the charge of want of sympathy with the sufferings and privations of the working classes. We know how many thousands of our fellow countrymen are subjected to the most severe privations. We feel compassion for their sufferings, and at the same time we admire the fortitude and forbearance with which those sufferings are endured. But when we are asked to comply with the motion, it seems to be taken for granted, and assumed that we can thereby relieve the distress. This, however, must be permitted to deny. My right hon. Friend near me has met the question on that ground. The hon. Member for Bath said, that if the institutions of the country were brought under discussion, the House would be enabled to see what alterations could be made in them for the purpose of insuring good government. That may or may not be a fit subject for inquiry, but it is in the first instance the duty of the Legislature to see what would be the effect of such a course. If an inquiry is to be entered into with respect to all the existing institutions of the country, how many great questions would be thrown loosely abroad? An inquiry will be raised as to whether faith should be preserved for the public creditor. Again, questions would be put as to the right of property in land, and with respect to other institutions which are now looked upon as inviolable. Have not those, then, who are opposed to the motion, good ground to argue against the danger of throwing the ancient and venerable institutions of the country into question? The result of such a course would be to transfer the capital of Great Britain into other countries, and by diminishing the funds from which labour is supplied, to throw the working classes into a still worse condition than that in which they are at present placed. Under these circumstances, then, whether hon. Gentlemen vote for or against the motion, they should be esteemed as willing to enter into a consideration of that which was best for the good of the working classes. My right hon. Friend, the Member for Edinburgh, has pointed to that passage in the petition which declares that the debt bad been imposed upon the country by persons who had no right to impose it. He also showed, that the petitioners complain of paying taxes to meet the interest of that debt, and of the existence of property in land and machinery, which they style monopolies. It has been said, that my right hon. Friend, in taking this course, made unjust allegations against the people. I deny that he accused the people of any intent to plunder. The hon. and learned Member for Bath, usefully perhaps for his own argument, but not very fairly as regards my right hon. Friend, called this a trumpery petition, drawn up by a person whom he styled, I think, a malignant and cowardly demagogue. It was in these words, that the hon. Gentleman described the purport of the petition, and the character of its author. Has he not then himself made an accusation against the 3,300,000 persons who signed the petition, which he thus describes as a paltry one, drawn up by a cowardly and malignant demagogue? If the hon. Member denies that he has done so, how can he accuse my right hon. Friend of aspersing the petitioners? My right hon. Friend said, that the petition contained certain allegations. This the hon. Member for Bath admitted, but he said, let us throw them aside. Now, might not the persons who were misled into the appending their signatures to such a petition be equally misled in the choice of the persons whom they would return as their representatives to that House? The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that in modern times we were supposed to have made a great discovery when we hit upon the mode of enacting our laws by delegation, instead of adhering to the ancient mode of taking the vote in the market-place. I, for my part, think it an admirable contrivance; but if, in the choice of their representatives, the people can be so deceived, as to give their suffrages in favour of a person such as the hon. Member for Bath described the framer of the petition to be, it would be carrying into effect the destruction of private property and the destruction of our institutions, at the same time that the respect for the law, which the hon. Gentleman so truly praised as a characteristic of our countrymen, would, when they were in the hands of designing and plundering leaders, only induce an obedience to the measures which would enable these latter to carry more completely into effect those revolutions to which the people themselves might be opposed. It is clear that the person, whoever he may be, by whom the petition has been drawn up, would apply what had been called the sponge to the national debt. That person denied, that the debt was a national debt, but, on the contrary, so to call it was but a pretence, and that it might with justice be swept away. Now, for my part, I believe, that if you could gather together in the market-place all the adult males in the country and show to them that the obligation by which the public faith was bound to the present national creditor was a legal and a just obligation, and that a breach of it would operate with great injustice and cruelty, by sending to want and beggary people who had hitherto relied upon it as a means of comfortable subsistence, the people would repudiate the proposition as unjust and iniquitous, and would to a man refuse to participate in so cruel a spoliation. But, then, I am not quite so confident that those by whom the petition was signed might not be misled by the cry of the moment into the choice of men as their representatives who, under the pretence of the public good, would enter upon that spoliation of which the people were incapable. It is, therefore, that I prize the institution, which I look upon as the pride of modern times, which by delegation renders men more circumspect as to the hands to which power is to be intrusted. It is my opinion, that property, intelligence, and knowledge, should form the qualification of a constituency, and though I cannot undertake to say, that the present is the very best which could be had, I see in it a greater security for the continuance and preservation of our institutions, and the peaceful progress of freedom, than a resort at once to the principle of universal suffrage. I am aware, that it is a doctrine frequently urged, and I perceive dwelt upon in this petition, that every male of a certain age has a right, absolute and inalienable, to elect a representative to take his place among the Members in the Commons House of Parliament. Now, Sir, I never could understand that indefeasible and inalienable right. It appears to me, that that question, like every other in the practical application of politics, is to be settled by the institutions and the laws of the country of which the person is a native. I see no more right that a person twenty-one years of age has to elect a Member of Parliament, than he has to be a juryman. I conceive that you may just as well say that every adult male has a right to sit upon a jury to decide the most complicated and diffi- cult questions of property, or that every man has a right to exercise the judicial functions, as the people did in some of the republics of antiquity. These things, as it appears to me, are not matters of right; but if it be for the good of the people at large, if it be conducive to the right Government of the state, if it tend to the maintenance of the freedom and welfare of the people, that a certain number, defined and limited by a reference to a fixed standard of property, should have the right of electing Members of Parliament, and if it be disadvantageous to the community at large that the right of suffrage should be universal, then I say, that on such a subject, the consideration of the public good should prevail, that legislation must act upon it as on every other, and that no inalienable right can be quoted against that which the good of the whole demands. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last said, that my right hon. Friend, the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) had given a terrific representation of the people of England—had described them as sanguinary and as anxious to destroy, to commit massacre and to plunder. Now, Sir, my right hon. Friend made no such representation. For my own part, I think it is very likely that at many elections, even if universal suffrage were in operation, you would find that respect for property, respect for old habits, and general regard for the constitution of the country, would produce results not very different from those which are produced when property is one of the qualifications required for the franchise. But although that might be generally the case, I do not think that in the present state of popular education — I will not say whether a standard of education sufficiently high can ever be obtained among the labouring classes—but in the present condition of the people at large, do not think you could be sure that there might not be, in a state of popular ferment on the occasion of some general election, Members returned to this House whose votes would be favourable to the destruction of our institutions, and would shake the security of property. Sir, this constitution is, I think, too precious, and the arrangements of society are at the same time too intricate, to allow you to put them to such a hazard. I can well believe, that in the United States of America— the only country which I should at all compare with this for the enjoyment of liberty and the full fruits of civilization—I can well believe, that in that country, where there is no monarchy, where every office is elective, where there is no established church, where there are no great masses of property, universal suffrage may be exercised without injury to order, and without danger to the general security of society. But in this country, where there are so many institutions, which, while I believe them to be of the utmost value in holding society together, are at the same time the possessors of great property—I speak of such institutions as the aristocracy and the church—and which might, therefore, be held out as prizes to a people in distress, I do not think it would be safe at one moment to destroy the existing system of representation, and to establish universal suffrage in its place. Acting upon these opinions, Sir, I cannot assent to that which the right hon. Gentleman who has last spoken represents as a simple prayer, that the petitioners should be heard at the Bar. I do not so understand this question. I think the hon. and learned Member for Bath has put it more fairly, in saying that it is the Charter to which you are now called upon to say aye or no. What do I find stated by the petitioners themselves? They have set forth at full length what they consider to be their grievances. Do they ask for any further explanation? Do they ask that counsel should come to your Bar, and there detail what they feel on the subject of their wrongs? Nothing of the kind. They say, Your petitioners, therefore, exercising their just constitutional right, demand that your hon. House, to remedy so many gross and manifest evils of which your petitioners complain, do immediately, without alteration, deduction, or addition, pass into a law the document entitled ' The People's Charter,' which embraces the representation of male adults, vote by ballot, annual parliaments, no property qualification, payment of Members, and equal electoral districts. That language is very plain, it is very explicit, but it is, at the same time, I must say, very peremptory. Is it not a demand to be heard at the Bar. [Mr. T. Duncombe: Look at the previous paragraph.] The words are, If your hon. House will be pleased to grant your petitioners a hearing by representatives at the Bar, your petitioners will be enabled to unfold a tale of wrong and suffering, and so forth. Well, but they follow that up immediately afterwards with the demand I have recited. [Mr. T. Duncombe: If their first prayer is refused.] And they say, that in making this demand, they are exercising a just and constitutional right. They may ask to be allowed a further explanation of those evils of which they complain, but they ask it with a view of establishing the Charter. Sir, I cannot believe that any counselor agent standing at that Bar would persuade me to grant the six points of the Charter. I should give my vote, whatever speeches might be made at the Bar, against those proposals. I therefore think myself bound at once to put an end to the motion, and having thus explained my views, I will not endeavour to hide my vote by any pretence, that I wish merely to hear an explanation of their demands. I believe it will be far better for the people, better for their future welfare, if you do not mean to grant the prayer of these petitioners, that you should at once declare to them your belief that your compliance with the prayer of the petition will tend to shake property —will tend to increase the privations of which they complain — will unhinge that constitution of society which, complicated and intricate as it is, has produced so many blessings to this country; that to you is intrusted the great, the responsible, the arduous duty of legislating in behalf of this kingdom, and that in discharge of this common duty you are obliged to put a negative on the demand of the petitioners.

Sir R. Peel:

Sir, I hope I should have been exposed to no misconstruction if I had remained silent, yet, from the course which this debate has taken, I am unwilling to expose myself to the hazard of a misconstruction, or to shrink from the duty of declaring boldly and decidedly my opinions on the subject of this petition. Until I heard the construction put upon its prayer by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. Duncombe), I thought there had been two propositions to be considered by the House,—.not quite consistent or compatible it is true,—but still on the face of the document there appeared to be two proposals. The one, that I should admit the petitioners to be heard, in order that they might state their grievances by their counsel or agents, while the other appeared to be an imperative demand that I should immediately, and without consideration, pass into a law every demand that is contained in the charter. Sir, I do not want to take any advantage of the charter for the purpose of vindicating my vote. If the question of the charter be not before us, I am ready to give my vote against hearing the petitioners at the Bar of the House of Commons in support of their allegations. I shall give this vote on various grounds. First, I am satisfied that 1 cannot be convinced of the policy of acceding to the prayer of this petition. I come to the conclusion to which the hon. Member for Leicester has already come—the foregone conclusion, that those demands, if complied with, would be mischievous to the petitioners themselves, and having come to that conclusion, I think it more just and more respectful to tell them that I do not intend to accede to their petition, than to give them a delusive hearing, which I know can have no useful result. Why, Sir, what does the hon. Member for Finsbury, the Colleague of the hon. Gentleman, tell me? That on the result of my decision with respect to the hearing of the petitioners will depend either awakened hope or fearful despondency. Well, I will not awaken hope by countenancing expectations which I know must end in disappointment. The hon. Gentleman says he wishes to pledge me to nothing, he only wishes me to hear the grievances detailed. But he asks me to hear the allegations of the petitioners, and those allegations are neither more nor less than an impeachment of the whole Constitution of this country, and the whole frame of society. The petition tells me that it is wrong to maintain an Established Church—it says that 9,000,000l. of money are annually abstracted from the people for the purpose of maintaining the church. The petition tells me that the people of Ireland are entitled to the repeal of the union. The petition draws a most invidious comparison between the expenses of the Sovereign and those of a labourer. I say the petition is altogether an impeachment of the Constitution of this country, and of the whole frame of society. And how am I to gratify the demands of the petitioners? Hear them at the Bar! Why, if I hear them, let me hear them effectually. But is it an effectual hearing to permit four or five persons on their behalf to make speeches at the Bar of the House? Are those speeches to be relied upon? Suppose the speeches at the Bar failed of producing an effect, and a demand were then made for an inquiry, should I refuse it, or suspend the whole public business of the country, in order that the bulk of these allegations might be ascertained as to the policy of an Established Church, and a repeal of the union? Is not that the only effectual way in which the petitioners would have an opportunity of explaining their grievances? and is it for the advantage of the petitioners themselves that I should suspend the public business of the country for the purpose of inquiring into this subject? What is the petition? If I had a doubt, which I have not, upon this subject, strange as it should seem, the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Bath would have convinced me that the greatest absurdity ever committed would be to enter into an inquiry with respect to the allegations in this petition—a petition which does not represent the sentiments of those who signed it—a petition that is utterly at variance with the judgment and good sense of the 3,000,000 of petitioners, bur which has been imposed upon them by a cowardly demagogue whom the hon. Gentleman knows, and whose personal knowledge of his character entitles him to speak of him with disrespect and contempt. I take the description of the petition from the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, and could I admit the framer of this petition, a person so described by the hon. and learned Gentleman—a man who has perverted to his own evil purposes the minds of the respectable, intelligent, industrious, honest labouring classes of this country, to the Bar of this House, for he no doubt will be the person selected to defend the allegations of this trashy petition which he has drawn up, without being a party to the continuance of that delusion under which they labour? It is into the allegations of the petition that the hon. Member for Finsbury asked me to go; and the allegations of the petition have been described by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bath. When I refer to the prayer of the petition, when I refer to the character of him who is said to be its author, when I refer to the certain consequences of raising expectations which I know I must disappoint. I must say I think I am acting more respectfully and more justly towards the petitioners in refusing at once to accede to their demands, than by giving them a delusive hearing at the Bar and afterwards telling them they have made no impression whatever on my mind. The hon. and learned Member for Bath has described the character of the people of England. He said, that in other countries of Europe the appeal was to force, while in this country the appeal was to law. He said, the labouring classes possessed the physical force, which if they were inclined to enforce it would overpower every opposition; but they were controlled by their good sense and by their willing obedience to the law, for which they entertained respect. The hon. and learned Gentleman pointed to the decrepit constable going into the midst of a crowd and seizing a powerful man; the officer of the law was unresisted: and although his prisoner was a person of much superior strength, he evinced a willing submission to authority, and the people by whom he was surrounded offered no opposition; but what nerved the arms of the constable? why it was the tacit influence of the law, that stood behind him. And what had given that influence to the law? What but the conviction that it is just? Do you believe that if the people of this country were in the condition described in this memorial, which declares that This House has by unconstitutional means created an unbearable despotism on the one hand, and a degrading slavery on the other, If that was a just representation of the people and the constitution of England, would that law which backs the decrepit constable possess the authority and influence it now exercises? Do you think the people, of whom the hon. and learned Member has given such a description, would have that respect for the law they now entertain, if they did not feel that that law which guarantees property, which secures liberty, is a law equally for the poor and the rich? What description was given of the people of England by the other hon. Member for Finsbury? He said, I have travelled through various parts of Europe; I have had opportunities of observing the condition of the labouring classes abroad, and comparing it with our home population, and I defy you to find a more intelligent, a more prudent, a more independent, or a more high-spirited race than the people of England. I grant it; but I ask him what has formed their character? Is it to the bricks and stones of their houses that we must attribute their character? No, it is to the laws and institutions of a free country. The high-minded independent character of which the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke has been formed under those laws and institutions of which this petition contains the impeachment. And if it were true that we lived in a state of despotism on the one hand, or degrading slavery on the other, the people of this country would never have that respect for authority, nor would they deserve the character which the hon. and learned Gentleman has given them. I did not understand the right hon. Member for Edinburgh to state^ that the people of this country were of a sanguinary disposition; and that if we admitted them to power, spoliation of property would be the result, but that there would be great danger if they consented to the prayer of this petition, so prepared by a designing and cowardly demagogue, adopting the description of the hon, and learned Gentleman; or, if this be a libel upon the petitioners, how can the hon. and learned Gentleman maintain that those who have been parties to a petition so full of trash and delusion, might not in other instances fall victims to other designing demagogues, who may say to them, "Now you are possessed of power, now you have the means of exercising it, and you are a degraded and cowardly race if you do not enforce your own terms?" I do not believe they would at once yield to such delusions; but what security can the hon. and learned Gentleman give, that having been deluded once, the petitioners would not be deluded again? I understood the right hon. Member for Edinburgh to argue, that, if you make an alteration in your constitution upon principles like those laid down in this petition—which states that public faith ought not to be maintained, and that the public creditor should not be paid, because debts were incurred by Parliament without due authority for the support of wars which were unjust—which affirms that the possession of the land is a monopoly—that machinery is a monopoly, if you allow the petitioners to come to your Bar, to advocate an alteration of the constitution on those principles, you will be exciting hopes and expectations which you cannot realize without leading to confusion, and which you cannot disappoint without danger. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to argue that anarchy and confusion must arise from that state of things, because there would be no security for property; and that, in fact, uncertainty and spoliation of property must necessarily arise. But I did not understand him to affirm of the people of England that they were of a sanguinary and barbarous disposition, and inclined to possess themselves of the property of others. On account then, of the delusion which must arise from granting the prayer of the petition, I cannot accede to this motion. If I am told that the charter is involved — if I am now deciding the question of universal suffrage, annual Parliaments, and vote by ballot, I am content to rest the issue upon that ground also. I believe that universal suffrage will be incompatible with the maintenance of the mixed monarchy under which we live—I believe that mixed monarchy is important in respect to the end which is to be achieved rather than in respect to the means by which it is gained—that end I understand to be the promotion of the happiness of the people; but in a country circumstanced like this, I will not consent to substitute mere democracy for that mixed form of Government under which we live, and which, imperfect as it may be, has secured for us during 150 years more of practical happiness and of true liberty than has been enjoyed in any other country that ever existed, not excepting the United States of America, not excepting any other country whatever. We may be suffering severe privation. I deeply regret it, I sympathise with the sufferers, I admire their fortitude, I respect their patience, but I will not consent to make these momentous changes in the constitution, with the certainty that I shall afford no relief to the present privation and suffering, with the certainty only that I shall incur the risk of destroying that constitution, which, I believe, if you will permit it to remain untouched, will secure to your descendants as it has secured to you and your ancestors, those blessings which you will never find in any rash or precipitate changes, however plausible in speculation they may appear to be.

Mr. Macaulay

desired to say two words of explanation in reference to the matter just adverted to by the right hon. Baronet. He denied most distinctly that any expressions imputing cruelty or a sanguinary disposition to the people of England, or anything whatever of that nature, had ever passed his lips. His argument had not led to anything of that sort, and he appealed to the memory of every Gentle- man present, whether he had drawn any parallel with the cruelty of the French revolution, or had given utterance to any expression of that nature? He made no such allusion whatever.

Mr. Muntz

said, that as the debate had taken such a peculiar turn, in consequence of the construction put upon the motives of those who might vote for the present motion, he felt called upon to explain the reason why he should vote in its favour. It was the same reason that induced him to vote for the motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale the other evening. He should vote for the motion, simply on the ground of inquiry. When he looked around him, and saw thousands of his fellow-countrymen starving from the want of the necessaries of life, and from the want of labour to procure those necessaries, and when he found 3,000,000 of the people appealing to that House to be heard on the subject, he could not make up his mind to reject the prayer of the petition; 3,000,000 of his starving fellow-countrymen was a vast number; and though he believed with the right hon. Baronet opposite that there were many desires expressed in the petition which would never realise the hopes of the petitioners, or conduce to the good of the nation, yet he could not make up his mind to reject the prayer that the petitioners might be heard.

Mr. Oswald

opposed the motion, on the ground, that if carried, it would delude the people, and 'buoy them up with false hopes.

Mr. Villiers

said, that he thought there was something quite as shabby as voting for this motion, as the hon. Member who had just preceded him had described it, which was, that Members should, after encouraging the people, by every means, to mistrust this House; and after doing everything to bring this House into discredit, and encouraging the people to believe, that the remedy for their wrongs was to be alone found in its reform, to turn round upon the people when they prayed to be heard to this effect, and denounce their projects as wild, dangerous, and visionary. This it was that Gentlemen who are now assuming to themselves great credit for being prudent and practical, are eternally doing in the House and out of the House. They, in fact, tell the people, that they are oppressed by laws made by interested men, and that while the House was so composed, they would have no other laws, and when the people at last believed them, and came here to seek redress, then it seemed, that they could only do so, but with the wildest and most dangerous objects. He was not in the habit of encouraging the people to believe, that there was much to be gained by changing the constitution; but he was constantly met by some of these practical people who told him, that nothing could be so idle as to agitate the Corn-laws, while the House was composed as it was; and that to expect the abolition of any monopoly in which the majority was interested, without reducing that majority, was placing the cart before the horse. Well, the people believed this—many hon. Members had said it so often, that the people believed it. They could not doubt the truth of what hon. Members said of each other. The two great parties were constantly abusing each other, imputing to each other every bad motive, and to each other's acts every evil which befel the country; was it wonderful that the people out of doors, suffering, seeking for a cause for the evil, should believe Members when they spoke thus of their own conduct? What was the substance and effect of the petition? Why, to express the belief of the petitioners, that they were suffering from this kind of sinister legislation, and they prayed to be heard in proof of the facts, with a view to its correction. He said, then, that those hon. Gentleman were not in the position, after having by various ways encouraged the opinions, and raised the hopes of the people, that they would be benefitted by this means, to turn round upon them and say, that they would not hear their case. He did not dispute the truth of much that he had heard against the petition, or much that had been said of the delusion under which the petitioners laboured; still, he thought that was no reason why, under the peculiar circumstances of the country, they should not be heard. He would not be bound by the intolerance which was attempted to be practised by different Members, who put their own construction on the particular motion, and then condemn every man who did not subscribe to their views. He should exercise his own judgment on the matter; and if he had any doubt he should be guided by what the Mover had said himself; namely, that the petitioners simply sought to be heard by their counsel or agent at the Bar, and he should vote for nothing else. People were going to vote against this on account of the dangerous consequences of extending the suffrage suddenly, but who said, that they were for its gradual extension. Why, if the petitioners were heard and treated fairly, they might see the importance of not claiming anything beyond the gradual extension, and many evils now complained of might be cured by thus giving the subject a patient consideration. He had proposed, that counsel should be heard against the Corn-law as affecting manufactures, and he remembered it was objected to by many, because they said they would not be convinced, that the Corn-laws were an evil, or that they ought to be changed. But how much misery and evil might have been saved, had they heard counsel and evidence on that matter at that time; for what was offered to be proved then is generally admitted now; but three years have been allowed to elapse, and what is the state of the country now? Who knows, then, but that much evil might be averted now, by hearing these petitioners on this subject? He objected to hon. Members who voted for this motion being identified with all the projects of the petitioners; it would have been as fair to have identified the hon. Baronet with the projects of the Orange lodges, because he did not allow any injustice to be done them. They composed a great body of his party, and were said to have had in view objects as dangerous as anything intended by the Chartists. They were charged with wanting to change the succession and tampers with the army. But though the right hon. Member had persons in his Government connected with them, did anybody think the worse of his Government on that account, or identify him with their wild schemes? Why was not the same charity, then, to be extended to other people? He thought it right, under all the circumstances, in the present state of the country, to vote that the petitioners be allowed to plead their case by counsel at the Bar and on that ground should give his vote.

Lord Clements

said, that as no person connected with Ireland had addressed the House, and as the subject of the repeal of the union was mixed up with other topics in the petition, he begged to say a few words in reference to that point. The Irish were not very much accustomed to meet with the sympathy of the people of England, and he confessed, for one, be was not prepared to be made a cat's paw on the present occasion. The repeal of the union might be a subject worthy of discussion in itself. He did not pretend to say, that he was himself an advocate for that measure. But, however that subject might be brought forward, this was not the manner in which it ought to come before the House. If the poorer classes of this country felt themselves aggrieved, let them bring their grievances before Parliament; but what could their grievances have to do with the legislative union. He wished not to be coupled up with any petition of this kind. [Loud cries of "Divide, divide."] The House might be impatient, but he wished to state his opinions on the subject. The people of Ireland required much improvement and much alteration in their representative system, and in the mode of sending their Members to that House, and the sooner that subject was taken into consideration the better, for Ireland and the community at large. He trusted that some measure with regard to the registration of voters would be shortly brought under the consideration of the House, and that the Irish representative system would be cleansed from all the impurities to which it was now subject. He would not detain the House, but he begged most distinctly to reprobate the idea of Ireland being brought forward in this manner to serve the purposes of certain individuals, and when the people of that country had not the slightest chance of being admitted to those privileges to which they were justly entitled.

Mr. O'Connell:

As I do not wish my vote to be misunderstood, I hope I shall be allowed to state in a word or two why I support the present motion. And first, let me say that I do not vote for it, because the petition asserts, that the repeal of the union is one of the objects of those who have signed it. That is a subject on which my opinion is fixed; but its insertion in this petition forms no inducement with me to maintain its prayer. In short, I do not wish to identify my views with all the doctrines promulgated by this document. The ground on which my vote shall be given is, that I am—though I may be mistaken—a decided advocate of universal suffrage. And I rest that opinion on the total failure of every man I ever heard discuss this question, and on that particularly of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay), to say where the line should be drawn, which determines that servitude should end, and liberty commence. I do not think, that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was more successful in resisting the claims of the working men, by instituting a comparison between the demand of every man of twenty-one years of age to be a juryman as well as to vote for a Member of Parliament. There was no analogy between the two cases, because the juryman is called on to decide on the property or personal liberty of others, a voter to defend his own. For my part I repeat, until some rational line can be proved for stamping certain classes of Englishmen as of a degraded nature, I shall never consent to their degradation by law. The condition of this kingdom is one that inspires awe. I do not wish to draw any declaration from the Secretary for Ireland on the state of things there, but if I am not greatly misinformed, she is in a perilous state. There certainly is no security for the continuance of the present orderly and peaceful habits of the working classes of this country; and if you did nothing more by consenting to this motion than to gratify the wishes of a large mass of your countrymen, you would not go too far by admitting them to your Bar, and hearing their grievances under any restrictions you may think fit to adopt.

Mr. Duncombe

replied: If the industrious classes should ever again condescend to approach this House by way of petition, I will be no party to their degradation, after the manner in which I see them treated. If the interpretation which the opponents of the motion have thought fit to put upon it is correct: if these petitioners propose a confiscation—a "sweeping confiscation" of property, as the right hon. Member for Edinburgh called it: if they wish to destroy the monarchy, the church, and the national debt, do not let your indignation at, or abhorrence of these proposals fall on the petitioners, but on the head of him who brought their petition to the Table of your House. I am the individual who is responsible. I say no Member ought to bring such a petition to your Table; and if I thought that such were the views of these petitioners, I should not be the individual to support them in this House. You have read extracts taken here and there from this petition. I do not say, if I had been consulted in the drawing of it, that I should have used the language which has been employed. There are many parts of it from which I dissent; but few of the hon. Members opposite came down to hear the real substance of that petition, though they have now arrived in shoals to deny a hearing to the people at the Bar. It is a gross misrepresentation to say that the people ask for a sweeping confiscation of property. I should not advocate the extension of the suffrage if they did. But if you allow them to be heard at your Bar, I think they will be able to establish, first, their dire distress, and next that their misery is traceable to class-legislation, aad to a neglect of all interests but their own by Members of this House. They will prove these positions either by documentary or oral evidence, in a way which, I think, will bring a blush into the cheek of the right hon. Member for having libelled them as he has. I venture to say that if you hear these men, now deprived of the right of voting, the impression their evidence will leave on your minds after they have quitted that Bar is, that many of them are not only entitled to the franchise, but that this House would not be dishonoured nor disgraced by seeing them on these benches. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) read the last and concluding sentence of the petition—which I admit is worded rather ambiguously. I do not complain of the use made of this petition by the other (the Ministerial) side, so much as the way it has been treated on this. These men say distinctly, if you will not hear them, you ought, in their opinion, to pass the Charter. But they use these words: — Your petitioners, desiring to promote the peace of the kingdom, to secure property, and to promote the prosperity of commerce, impress on your honourable House, &c. Now, where is the confiscation of properly in this sentence? "Where the destruction of monarchy, or of the Church, or the demand for the application of the sponge to the national debt? The right hon. Member for Tamworth made a very adroit use of the character given by the hon. and learned Member for Bath, of the person who, he supposed, drew up this petition. "A malignant and cowardly demagogue "were, I believe, the words which the hon. and learned Gentleman used; who proceeded to say that he should name the individual, if the reptile were not beneath his contempt. Now, I have got a sort of hint of the person whom the hon. and learned Member for Bath alluded to; and if he means the man whom I have heard named, he is grossly misled and imposed upon. And here let me say a word for those individuals who did actually draw up the petition. There was a difference of opinion between the Chartists, which led to a meeting at Glasgow in the course of last winter. The Scotch Chartists were in favour of excluding all mention of the repeal of the union and of the English Poor-law from this petition. The English body sent a deputation to Glasgow to explain that their object, was merely to direct public attention to the misery of their condition, and to pray that they may be allowed to show that it was traceable to corrupt and class-legislation. "Let union, peace, and energy," said they, "characterise our united exertions, and they will be inseparable in the great cause of England, Scotland and Ireland." This was signed by M'Dougal, Williams, and John Campbell, and these are the men who drew up this petition, and it has been universally signed and agreed to by the industrious classes of both countries. All the great body of the working classes want is to be heard at your Bar. After you have heard them, it will be for me or some other Member to propose a remedy for the evils they depose to. Three millions of men are entitled to a hearing, and so far from the communication of political rights to the working classes endangering your constitution, it would, in my opinion, strengthen its stability.

The House divided:—Ayes 49; Noes 287:—Majority 236.

List of the AYES.
Blake, Sir V. Hume, J.
Blewitt, R. J. Jervis, J.
Bodkin, J. J. Johnston, A.
Bowring, Dr. Muntz, G. F.
Brotherton, J. Murphy, F. S.
Browne, R. D. O'Brien, J.
Cobden, R. O'Connell, D.
Collins, W. O'Connell, M.
Crawford, W. S. O'Connell, M. J.
Dalrymple, Capt. O'Connell, J.
Dashwood, G. H. Pechell, Capt.
Duncan, Visct. Plumridge, Capt.
Duncan, G. Powell, C.
Easthope, Sir J. Ricardo, J. L.
Ellis, W. Roche, E. B.
Elphinstone, H. Roebuck, J. A.
Fielden, J. Rundle, J.
Hall, Sir B. Scholefield, J.
Hollond, R. Seale, Sir J. H.
Somers, J. P. Ward, H. G.
Strickland, Sir G. Williams, W.
Tancred, H. W. Wood, B.
Thorneley, T. Yorke, H. R.
Villiers, hon. C. TELLERS.
Wakley, T. Duncombe, T.
Wallace, R. Leader, J. T.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Cochrane, A.
Acland, T.D. Cockburn,rt.hn. Sir G.
A'Court, Capt. Colborne,hn. W.N.R.
Acton, Col. Colvile, C. R.
Adare, Visct. Compton, H. C.
Adderley, C. B. Conolly, Col.
Aldam, W. Coote, Sir C. H.
Allix, J. P. Copeland, Mr. Ald.
Antrobus, E. Corry, rt. hon. H.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Courtenay, Lord
Archdall, Capt. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Arundel, Lord Cripps, W.
Bagot, hon. W. Damer, hon. Col.
Bailey, J., jun. Darby, G.
Baillie, Col. Dawnay, hon. W. H.
Baillie, H. J. Denison, E. B.
Baird, W. Dick, Q.
Bankes, G. Dickinson, F. H.
Baring, hon. W. B. Divett, E.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Douglas, Sir C.E.
Barnard, E. G. Douglas, J. D. S.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Dowdeswell, W.
Beckett, W. Drummond, H.H.
Beresford, Capt. Dugdale, W. S.
Beresford, Major Du Pre, C. G.
Bernard, Visct. East, J. B.
Blackburne J. I. Eaton, R. J.
Bodkin, W. H. Ebrington, Visct.
Boldero, H. G. Egerton, W. T.
Borthwick, P. Egerton, Sir P.
Botfield, B. Eliot, Lord
Bradshaw, J. Emlyn, Visct.
Bramston, T. W. Escott, B.
Broadley, H. Evans, W.
Brodie, W. B. Farnham, E. B.
Browne, hon. W. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Bruce, Lord E. Ferrand, W. B.
Bruce, C. L. C. Filmer, Sir E.
Buckley, E. Fitzroy, Capt.
Buller, C. Ffolliott, J.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Forbes, W.
Bunbury, T. Forester, hon. G.C.W.
Busfield, W. French, F.
Campbell, A. Fuller, A. E.
Cardwell, E. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Carew, hon. R. S. Gill, T.
Carnegie,hon.Capt. Gladstone,rt.hn.W. E.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Charteris, hon. F. Gordon, Lord F.
Chelsea, Vict. Gore, M.
Chetwode, Sir J. Gore, W. R. O.
Cholmondeley, hn.H. Goring, C.
Christmas, W. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Christopher, R. A. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Clay, Sir W. Granby, Marquess of
Clayton, R. R. Greenall, P.
Clements, Visct. Greenaway, C.
Clerk, Sir G. Greene, T.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Manners, Lord C. S.
Grimston, Visct. Marshall, W.
Grogan, E. Marsham, Visct.
Halford, H. Martyn, C. C.
Hamilton, J. Marton, G.
Hamilton, W, J. Master, T. W. C.
Hamilton, Lord C. Masterman, J.
Hampden, R. Meynell, Capt.
Hanmer, Sir J. Miles, W.
Harcourt, G. G. Mitcalfe, H.
Hardy, J. Mitchell, T. A.
Hawes, B. Morgan, O.
Hay, Sir A. L. Morgan, C.
Hayes, Sir E. Morison, Gen.
Heathcote, G. J. Munday, E. M.
Heneage, E. Murray, C. R. S.
Henley, J. W. Napier, Sir C.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Neville, R.
Herbert, hon. S. Newry, Visct.
Hill, Sir R. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Hillsborough, Earl of Norreys, Lord
Hinde, J. H. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Hobhouse, rt.hn. Sir J. O'Brien, A. S.
Hodgson, F. O'Brien, W. S.
Hodgson, R. Ossulston, Lord
Holmes, hon.W.A'Ct. Oswald, J.
Hope, hon.C. Owen, Sir J.
Hornby, J. Packe, C. W.
Howard, hon. C.W.G. Pakington, J. S.
Howard, Lord Palmer, R.
Howard, P. H. Palmerston, Visct.
Howick, Visct. Parker, J.
Jackson, J. D. Patten, J. W.
James, W. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Jocelyn, Visct. Plumptre, J. P.
Johnson, W. G. Polhill, F.
Johnstone, Sir J. Pollock, Sir F.
Johnstone, H. Praed, W. T.
Jolliffe, Sir. W. G. H. Pringle, A.
Jones, Capt. Protheroe, E.
Kelburne, Visct. Pusey, P.
Kerrison, Sir E. Rashleigh, W.
Kirk, P. Reade, W. M.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E. Reid, Sir J. R.
Knight, H. G. Repton, G. W. J.
Knight, F. W. Rice, E. R.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Richards, R.
Langston, J. H. Rolleston, Col.
Lascelles. hon. W. S. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Lawson, A. Round, C. G.
Lefroy, A. Round, J.
Legh, G. C. Rous, hon. Capt.
Leicester, Earl of Rushbrooke, Col.
Lindsay, H. H. Russell, Lord J.
Lockhart, W. Sandon, Visct.
Lowther, J. H. Scott, hon. F.
Lowther, hon. Col. Seymour, Lord
Lyall, G. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Lygon, hon. General Shirley, E. J.
Macaulay, rt. hn.T. B. Shirley, E. P.
Mackenzie, T. Sibthorp, Col.
Mackenzie, W. F. Smith, A.
M'Geachy, F. A. Smith, J. A.
Maher, V. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Mahon, Visct. Smyth, Sir H.
Mainwaring, T. Somerset, Lord G
Mangles, R, D. Somerton, Visct.
Stanley, Lord Verner, Col.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Vernon, G. H.
Stanton, W. H. Vesey, hon. T.
Stewart, J. Vivian, J. E.
Stuart, W. V. Vivian, hon. Capt.
Stuart, H. Waddington, H. S.
Strut), E. Wawn,J.T.
Sturt, H. C. Welby, G. E.
Sutton, hon. H. Wemyss, Capt.
Tennent, J. E. Wilshere, W.
Thesiger, F. Winnington, SirT. E.
Thornhill, G. Wood, C.
Tollemache, J. Wood, Col. T.
Towneley, J. Worsley, Lord
Trench, Sir F. W. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Trevor, hon. G. R. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Trotter, J. Young, J.
Turner, E. TELLERS.
Vane, Lord H. Baring, H. B.
Vere, Sir C. B. Fremantle, Sir T. F.
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