moved that his Lordship be permitted to address the House sitting, in consequence of his infirmity of body.
§ Agreed to.
§ Lord Wynford
, after thanking their Lordships for this mark of considerate indulgence, proceeded: The course which he intended to pursue in the discussion would not, he said, be so entertaining as many of the speeches which had been delivered by the noble Lords who had spoken before him; for he meant to take a near view of the principles of the Bill, if, on minute examination of its details, he could make out what those principles were. Though he might have occasion to trespass for some time upon their attention, he trusted that he should not be considered as trespassing improperly upon it; for, if he did not deceive himself, he thought that he should be able to demonstrate, to the conviction of their Lordships that this was the worst of the three bad Bills which had been presented to them for the purpose of accomplishing a Reform in Parliament. Before he applied himself to a consideration of the principles, such as they were, of the Bill, it was necessary that he should notice some of the remarks which had fallen from the noble Lords in this discussion, particularly as one noble Earl had distinctly alluded to him, and made a charge against him, than which nothing could be more unfounded. The noble Earl had said, that he was proceeding on unfounded suspicions, and that upon those unfounded suspicions he was making grave charges against his Majesty's Ministers. The noble Earl had conceived it expedient to suppose that he (Lord Wynford) had been so long engaged in courts of law as to have contracted a suspiciousness of temper. Now he had no hesitation in telling the noble Earl that he looked back with no less pride than pleasure to the time which he had passed in the courts of law; for he knew that if he had not acted an honest and able part within them, he should not have had the honour of enjoying a seat among their Lordships. He had been told that the noble Earl passed much of his time in courts of justice. He meant to say nothing offensive to the noble Earl; but this he must say, that in his opinion, the country was more benefitted by the noble Earl's presence in courts of justice than it was by his presence in Parliament. He was 329 afraid that the noble Earl had himself contracted a suspicious turn of mind from his presence at judicial investigations, for otherwise the noble Earl would never have suspected him of making indirect imputations against his Majesty's Ministers. He appealed to all who heard the speech which he had made on presenting the petition from Arundel, whether he had thrown out any imputations against his Majesty's Government. He never would say anything till he had proof, and, when he had proof, he would not deal in mere imputation. The petition which he had presented from Arundel made certain allegations. Some of them he knew from his own knowledge to be true; but the most important allegations among them might be true or might be false, for anything he knew, and that he had stated to their Lordships. He had said, however, that if those allegations were allegations of fact, the Members of his Majesty's Government had been influenced by a zeal which had grossly misled them. He had likewise asserted—and he now repeated the assertion—that, though the storm had blown down the boroughs which were in the hands of the Tories, it had, by some singular fatality, always spared those which were in the hands of the Whigs. He would prove that to be the fact. Yes, before he sat down, he would prove, to the satisfaction of all who heard him, that the Bill left untouched many nomination boroughs which were in the hands of the Whigs—nay more, he would prove that it seemed to have about it (if he might borrow a phrase which had lately been much commented on in another place) "fructifying qualities," under which new nomination boroughs would grow up and flourish. He lamented that three noble Lords, for whom he entertained a very sincere respect, had not given his side of the House the advantage of their great talents on this occasion; but he could not say, that their exertions in favour of the Bill had done much harm to their former friends, for those noble Lords had unfortunately placed themselves in a situation in which no talent of theirs could do any mischief. They had stated the grounds upon which they had changed—not their opinions, for their opinions they declared to be still the same, but—their votes upon this Bill. One of those noble Lords had stated, that he considered this Bill a worse Bill than the last, and yet, though he had rejected the last Bill, 330 that noble Lord came down to the House ready to give his vote in support of the present. The noble Earl who had spoken first of these three noble Lords had said, that the last Bill was founded on population entirely, and that the present Bill was founded on property entirely. Now, he had looked through the Bill with the utmost attention, and he could not for his life discover any principle of property in it—on the contrary, it annihilated in effect the right of voting in those who had property, by bestowing it in greater numbers upon those who had none. There was one clause, to which it was true the noble Earl had objected, much worse in this than in the previous Bill; he alluded to the 10l. clause, which the noble Earl at the head of the Administration had told their Lordships he considered as a material principle of the Bill, which he could not consent on any account to abandon, as he thought that it gave its whole value to the Bill. The noble Earl had objected to the 10l. clause in the last Bill; and yet the 10l. clause in this Bill went much further. Under the old Bill the householders must be rated at 10l.: now they need not be rated at a single shilling.
§ Earl Grey
regretted to be obliged to interrupt the noble Lord for a moment, but, he certainly had mistaken the effect of the clauses. It was not necessary by the late Bill, that a person to possess a vote must be rated for a house of the value of 10l., there were four ways in which a man holding a 10l. house might be qualified. He might have a vote by being rated to that amount—by paying rent to the amount—by paying taxes to the amount—or, by proving his House to be of the value required.
§ Lord Wynford
said, that in the former Bill the 10l. householder must be rated at 10l. per year, though if he were not rated, and the value were proved to be more than 10l. a-year, he could claim to be instantly put upon the rates. But under the present Bill he need not be rated at all.
§ Lord Wynford
said, that though he had not the clause then by him, he was quite certain that he was right in the interpretation which he had put on it. Indeed he should have no objection to rest the fate of the Bill itself on the issue of his correctness as to that clause. But be that as it might, still there was in this Bill a 331 striking difference from the three Bills on the same subject which were its immediate predecessors, and from every other Bill which was to be found in the statute book. In every statute, from the reign of Henry 6th, down to that of William 4th. a precise and real value must be attached to the property giving a vote, but, under this Bill any plea might be adopted, any imaginary standard might be taken with respect to a House, and, if it satisfied the conscience of the holder, it would serve to give him a vote. Forty shillings might be converted into 40l. [Earl Grey: "No."] The noble Earl need not interrupt him, as he would hereafter have an opportunity of replying to his statements; and if the noble Earl could show either that his facts or that the conclusions which he drew from them were wrong, he (Lord Wynford) would say that he was unable to deal with this subject. Some noble Peers who were prepared to vote for the second reading, in the hope of amending in the Committee defects in the Bill which they admitted to be so monstrous as to require the rejection of the Bill on the motion for the third reading, if they could not be amended in the Committee, were acting a very foolish and dangerous part. He wished, if possible, to undeceive their Lordships. This Bill could not be amended in Committee, and this was the last night on which their Lordships could give an efficient vote against it. He knew that with the assistance of those noble Lords, and those Members of the right rev. Bench who were acting with them, they (the Opposition) might perhaps beat the Ministers on the different clauses in the Committee; but then he likewise knew that what was done in Committee might be undone on bringing up the report. Take, for instance, this very 10l. clause. Assisted by the two noble Earls, the noble Baron, and his friends of the right rev. Bench, they might modify, or even get rid of it in Committee. But then they had heard of such a thing as a creation of Peers, and if peers were created, where should they be when the Report was brought up? If what he then said was heard by his noble friends, he was sure they would see that the mischief which they would perpetrate by agreeing to the second reading never could be repaired. It might, indeed, be said, that his Majesty would not be prevailed upon to make new Peers. Now, on that point, he must agree with his right rev. friend 332 (the Bishop of Exeter), and differ from his right rev. friend the Bishop of London, who had gone out of his way to assert that his Majesty could create new Peers without infringing the privileges of the House of Lords. He should be a most undutiful subject, and utterly un forgetful of the many kindnesses which he had received from his present Majesty, and indeed from every member of his family, if he could for a moment suppose that his Majesty would condescend to trifle with the solemn compact which he had made in the presence of their Lordships and the country, and in the temple of his God. But kings were placed in more awful situations than ordinary individuals, and particularly a King of England in times so critical as the present. For there were periods when the Kings and even Queens of England might have officers of state about them, whose conduct in Parliament passed unscrutinized, but now they were deprived of all such independent officers, and all around them must wear the livery of the Ministry. He should never disapprove of a Minister depriving an individual holding a political office of his place, when that individual voted in opposition to the Minister. But when corruption was spoken of in the House of Lords, he would ask, could there be a better mode devised for corrupting that House, than the dismissal, not only of the officers of the King, but also of the Chamberlain of the Queen, for no other reason than their having given their votes conscientiously? [Cheers and laughter.] He was glad that the noble Lord, himself so sensitive to interruption, had shown his sense of the force of this last argument by endeavouring to interrupt him by his laughter, but such interruption would have little effect on one so accustomed as he was to public discussion. To return, however, from this digression. He was going to say before he was interrupted, that a king, not having any private friends with whom he could consult on public affairs, and, therefore, compelled to listen on all occasions to the advice of his Ministers, might be excused if he did that which under different circumstances he would be most reluctant to do. He, therefore, contended, that there was no security that the Bill would not be read a third time, if their Lordships unfortunately consented to read it a second time. For when a noble friend of his had asked the noble Earl opposite whether any new 333 Peers would be created or not, the House would recollect that no answer was given to the question. This was the more remarkable, as it was notorious that in another place one of the Cabinet Ministers had argued in favour of creating Peers. He could not bring himself to suppose that such an argument was merely used to the House of Commons: quite the contrary, the using of such an argument was a proof that it was in the contemplation of Ministers to persuade his Majesty to do the unconstitutional act of depriving one branch of the Legislature of that independence which it was absolutely necessary that it should enjoy, to discharge its duty faithfully to the country. He, therefore, again said, let not noble Lords suppose that they could alter this Bill in the Committee; for, if they had better founded hopes of making such alterations as they could wish in the Committee, they had no security that they would not be undone on bringing up the Report, and then, with a new House of Peers, created for the express purpose of carrying the Bill, it must inevitably be read a third time. He could not press this argument too strongly on their Lordships, when he saw so many of them eager to go into the Committee, and there amend the Bill. He told them frankly, that if they did not prevent the Bill from reaching the Committee, they would do mischief which they would never be able by any subsequent exertions to remedy. He was sorry to hear the opinion which had been expressed on this occasion by three right rev. Prelates. He was sorry that he had not the satisfaction of seeing them in their places. The case of one of them he thought desperate; the other two might, he thought, be reclaimed from the error of their ways, and brought back to vote against the second reading of the Bill. The right rev. Prelate to whom he had first alluded, and whose case he considered desperate, had expressed himself in very strong terms against this Bill, but had said that, not expecting any other Reform would be proposed, and, in point of fact, no other Reform having been proposed, he had found it necessary to make up his mind without delay. It then having struck him that a noble Duke had proposed a plan of Reform which suited all who had the welfare of the institutions of their country at heart, the right rev. Prelate said, that the plan of Reform came 334 too late. He must beg leave to deny that assertion. The noble Duke's plan of Reform had not come too late. The right rev. Prelate had already had two days to consider it, and it could not be said to come too late, if it came one instant before the second reading of the Bill. But the right rev. Prelate "had made up his mind." The right rev. Prelate, had taken, he believed, a most distinguished degree at Cambridge, but, if on his examination, he had given so foolish an explanation of any question put to him, as he had given of his vote on this occasion, he was quite certain that the right rev. Prelate would have been at the bottom, and not at the top, of the list of honours of his year. "Made up his mind!" That House was, he thought, a deliberative assembly—but with such assertions it would not continue to be so long. The shadows even of coming events, as they were "casting before," were already beginning to alter its character. When right rev. Prelates avowed that they did not come within its walls to discuss questions fairly, but with minds made up, and conclusions already formed, when they avowed that they would not be turned from their determination by any arguments, however powerful, which might be addressed to them, the deliberative character of the assembly must be destroyed. He did hope that the right rev. Prelate would have considered all the arguments urged before making up his mind, and now when he knew that a Bill to which he could not object would be brought forward to promote Reform—would facilitate its entrance into Parliament by rejecting the Bill which the right rev. Prelate disapproved of, and which stood in the way of the one he approved of. Another right rev. Prelate had said, that if he could bring himself to suppose that there was that danger to be apprehended for the Church of Ireland which had been so ably stated by another right rev. Prelate, he for one would not support this Bill. He was astonished that his right rev. friend had forgotten—for he was certain that his right rev, friend once knew it—he was astonished that any man should for one moment lose sight of the fact, that the Protestant corporations in Ireland were created to protect Protestant interests there. Their Lordships had not the Irish Reform Bill then before them, but if they could judge of that Bill from the last, it did not require the intellect of that 335 right rev. Prelate to see, that the Protestant interests in Ireland were want only destroyed; for though the freemen of corporations had the right of voting preserved to them, they would be swamped by the influx of Roman Catholic householders which this Bill would pour in upon them. Any one who recollected the state of Ireland from the reign of James 1st. down to the present day—any one who recollected the articles of union by which it was provided that these boroughs should be preserved—must see that they formed the bulwarks of the Church of Ireland, and that when they fell the Church must fall likewise. A noble Baron had said, that this Reform might touch the externals of the Bishops, but could not affect the Church itself: he was sure that the palaces of the Bishops, and the property of the church, were considered as the externals of the Bishops. These, then, would be touched. He did not want the authority of the noble Lord to show that the Church would not be affected; it was founded on the rock of ages—the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The Church itself was secure in the purity of its doctrines, and the excellence of its ministers. At the same time, as a debt of justice due to those excellent persons, its ministers, he wished to preserve for them the externals, and not only for them, but to operate as an encouragement to other men of talent and energies to enter into that profession, whose influence extended much beyond the individuals of whom it consisted. There were none of the dissenters of the country, not a single congregation in the country, who had not been improved in their morality by the doctrine and works of such men as Barrow and Taylor, and other dignitaries of our Church. A right rev. Prelate, from whom he was sorry to differ, had said, with less charity than he might have expected from him, that nobody could oppose the metropolitan clause of the Bill, who was not either factious or ignorant. He was surprised at this language, because he considered it totally unworthy of a Bishop, and scarcely creditable to a private gentleman. If, like that right rev. Prelate, he had supposed that the last Bill ought to have been read a second time, he should have felt it his duty to have come down to the House, and to have confirmed his opinion by his vote, and, he thought, that the right rev. Prelate had good reason 336 to reproach himself for not having done so; for a speech coming from so able an individual must have produced some effect upon the division. It was unfortunate, too, that the opinion of the right rev. Prelate was known to nobody at the time, for he recollected well that the congregation of St. Ann's church, Soho, lost the benefit of a sermon from the right rev. Prelate, owing to a fear entertained by the churchwardens that his anti-Reforming propensities would procure him a very bad reception. A noble Marquis (the Marquis of Lansdown) had expressed his surprise at finding his (Lord Wynford's) right rev. friend (the Bishop of Exeter) acting the part of a recruiting serjeant, and endeavouring to win over supporters to the Duke of Buckingham's plan of Reform. He was sure that his Majesty's Ministers would be right glad if they could recruit the recruiting serjeant; and, he had no doubt, that if an archbishoprick were vacant, they would gladly offer it as a bounty to his right rev. friend. To proceed, however, it had been said by the noble Marquis to whom he had just alluded, that the evils which France had suffered during the revolution, arose from the want of Representation. Now France had her States General; they were in existence in 1789; and it was not till the year 1792 that the king was deprived of his authority. In that interval how did the States General conduct themselves? Just as a Reformed Parliament would do. In fact, the States General were a Reformed Parliament; for, in an evil hour, Louis 16th was persuaded to double the powers of the tiers etat, and to make them equal with the powers of the two other orders—the clergy and the nobility. It was, he would maintain, a Reformed Parliament that sent the king of France to prison, though not (be it remarked) before they had greeted him with applauses equal to those which had been bestowed upon our own Sovereign by the advocates of the Bill. What had been the consequence to France from the proceedings of their Reformed Parliament? Rebellion—civil war—a monarch's murder—the reign of anarchy and terror—the establishment of a military despotism—and, finally, the release of the unfortunate country from its iron bonds, by what he might be allowed to term a conquest. The Rebellion of 1640 in this country had heralded the way to the ascendancy of a Reformed Parliament, by whom the king was murdered, a tyrant 337 established in his place, and the people reduced to the extremity of wretchedness. Such had been the effects produced by two Reformed Parliaments in this and the neighbouring nation; and he had adverted to the subject to show, that his right rev. friend was perfectly correct in asserting, that the noble Marquis had erred in saying that there was no Parliament in France. The noble Marquis had referred to the American government to illustrate the advantages arising to the State from the susceptibility of additions to the elective right. But where was the parallel between the United States and England? The framers of the American constitution had not to deal with an empire like ours—they had found the country divided into a number of separate colonies, which colonies they united by a federal compact. The noble Marquis said, that the Legislature of Britain did not adapt itself to the march of events; but so long as virtual Representation existed among us, so long would the Legislature possess the power of adapting itself to the altering circumstances of the country. Our position might be explained by using the similitude of wings which were greater than the body. Notwithstanding the superior magnitude of the wings, the warmth of life, and the energy of action, were equally distributed to both, and both were alike protected. The noble Marquis had also stated, that what they proposed to do was, to adapt old doctrines to new circumstances—a statement similar to that made by the noble Earl, who, in introducing the Bill, averred that it was based upon principles familiar to the Constitution, and that, in fact, they were only collecting them and applying them to a novel order of things. In answer to these professions, he must assert, that never had England witnessed, from the days of Alfred till now, such a constituency as it was proposed to create by means of this Bill. The noble Earl had argued, and referred to a book in support of his argument, that, by the common law, the right of voting in England lay in householders. He would deny the existence of this right, or that it was declared in any book whatever. He was aware that the Report of the Committee cited by the noble Earl, and which was known by the name of "Glanville's Report," set forth that the right of voting was not in freeholders solely, but in freeholders and householders; certainly not in any thing 338 like 10l. householders, nor in householders alone, but in connexion with freeholders. Now, it was an extraordinary fact, that by this Bill freeholders were got rid of, and householders at 10l. a-year, or at nothing at all, substituted for them. He would take leave to refer to a book of as great authority as the Report referred to by the noble Earl, which went decidedly against the doctrine laid down by the noble Earl. He would adduce the authority of Maddox, who stated, that the right of voting was generally in freeholders, or in burgage-tenure residents—that it was different according to the different circumstances and situation of the voters. If the agricultural interest were to be protected, the voters were freeholders; if they were inhabitants of towns, they were freemen, or, like the voters of Preston, scot-and-lot voters. It was, however, absurd, the noble Lord said, to contend that any law or any sovereign, at any time, conferred the right of voting on all householders of the country. Sovereigns had, at different times, indeed, conferred the right of voting on such persons of the various classes of the community as they had deemed worthy of it, and in the end they had formed together the constituency which sent the Representatives of the people at present into Parliament. One of the doctrines that had been laid down in the course of the arguments on this Bill was, that the same party that had conferred a trust, had a right to recall that trust. This, certainly, was a very novel proposition; and he, for one, begged to protest against it. He denied that a trust could be recalled without good and sufficient cause being shown for that recall. To deprive the existing voters of their rights, would be to destroy the most valuable interests. He (Lord Wynford) had at that moment the right to purchase an advowson, and if he purchased it, and were subsequently deprived of it, that would be stripping him of his property against the law. This title, and the title to vote, were held as trusts, and they had no right to disfranchise the parties to whom the trusts were committed, until they had proved their incompetency to exercise them. Of course when there was proper evidence of that incompetency, the right might be taken away by a legislative enactment, like any other species of property. Here he would beg to make a remark on a statement made by the noble Earl on intro- 339 ducing the Bill to their Lordships' notice. The noble Earl laid it down that the two principles of disfranchisement and enfranchisement were inseparable from any measure introducing a change into the present constitution of Parliament. This he denied. He would contend that there might be many Reform measures of which those principles did not form a portion. The noble Earl had said much on the subject of the importance of giving Representatives to the manufacturing interests of the country. Undoubtedly, those interests were important, highly important; but if he were to compare the manufacturing with the agricultural interests, he had no hesitation in saying, that the latter were the more important, and the more deserving of adequate and full Representation in the other House of Parliament. But could it be said that the manufacturing interests were, under the present system, ill represented? Undoubtedly they were not. If their Lordships would look attentively into the constitution of the House of Commons as he had, they would find that, at the present moment, there were more Members in that House in the manufacturing than there were in the agricultural interests. This fact he could prove to demonstration, but would not then enter upon it. He confessed that his anticipations as to the consequences of that part of the measure which gave an increase of Members to the manufacturing interests, should it unfortunately pass into a law, were most gloomy; indeed, he was convinced that it would throw the whole legislative power of this country into the hands of the journeymen and lowest class of labourers. He had not the least hesitation in saying, that he would enter into the consideration of a moderate alteration in the constitution of Parliament, for he thought the natural change of events rendered a change of that description necessary. When the proposal of the noble Duke (the Duke of Buckingham) came to be considered, he would willingly enter upon it; but he was prepared to say, that, when the Bill immediately before their Lordships passed into a law, there would be an end to the Constitution, not only of Parliament, but of the country. Having made these few remarks expressive of his general opinion on the subject of Reform, and the results which might be expected to ensue from the enactment of the measure before the House, he would, 340 with the permission of their Lordships, take up that Bill, and refer them to some of its passages, with a view of demonstrating how completly it falsified its alleged object. In the preamble of the Bill, it was stated to be introduced for the purpose of amending the several abuses which had crept into the constitution of the House of Commons. Now, he begged to ask their Lordships, did they think that the Bill in its details touched upon all the abuses attendant upon the Representation of the people? He was prepared to contend that there were many abuses, and very striking abuses, which were not touched by the Bill. For instance, could any man assert, that bribery and corruption were prevented by the proposed Bill? Nay, he would go further, could any man deny, and denying prove, that the liability to bribery and corruption was not materially increased by the very nature of the details of this Bill? Indeed, so strongly was he impressed with this opinion that, should the Bill unfortunately go into Committee, he was resolved to move that, instead of its being entitled "A Bill to alter and amend the Representation of England and Wales," it should be called "A Bill to legalize and extend the system of bribery and corruption in the Representation of the Commons' House of Parliament." The preamble spoke of the necessity "of providing Representatives for large and considerable places;" to meet which necessity it was proposed to deprive of this right "many small and inconsiderable places." Now, he (Lord Wynford) did not know what right was vested in Parliament of depriving even inconsiderable places of their Representatives. If it could be proved that those places made an improper use of that privilege, then, undoubtedly, Parliament were justified in taking it from them; but until such were the case, they undoubtedly were not justified in taking it from one place, however inconsiderable, for the purpose of transferring it to another, no matter how considerable—particularly, too, when their Lordships took upon themselves to decide what places were inconsiderable, and what places were considerable. What, he desired to know, was to decide upon a place being inconsiderable? In many instances, their Lordships were called upon to term a borough "small and inconsiderable," although possessed of at least 300 voters. Nay, more, even considering that the rights of freemen 341 were to be destroyed if their Lordships passed the present Bill, in agreeing to schedule A, they would be calling many places inconsiderable which under it would be possessed of 100 voters. He would undertake to show in Committee that there were several places so situated. Did not, he asked, the exercise of such a power as that which their Lordships were called upon to use, establish a most dangerous precedent? For his own part, he thought that it was such a power as would lead to the exercise of one which, if not more arbitrary, would be, if possible, more dangerous. The preamble of the Bill advocated the necessity of giving Representatives to large and populous places. He did not object to the right of Representation being bestowed on large and populous places, but he did object to their being represented at the expense and to the prejudice of other places which were as likely to exercise the right as purely—nay, if they were to judge from the extent of the franchise, and the increase of the constituency which the Bill would establish, he would say more purely—than those places upon which it was about to be bestowed. The Bill then proposed to increase the number of Knights of the Shire. But did it make that increase to the amount requisite to equipoise the town Representation? What was the number of Knights of the Shire? Not more than 150, and the Bill proposed to create in all upwards of 300 Representatives of towns. Such being the case, what chance of adequate Representation, he would be glad to know, would the landed interest have? How was that interest, at the present moment so much depressed and suffering, to assert its importance in a Parliament in which its Representation would be but as 157 to upwards of 300. In point of abstract numbers, independent of the change in the right of voting, and the proposed division of the counties, the agricultural interests would be in a minority; but, then, when these alterations were considered, could any man deny that the landed interests would be totally unrepresented? There were three new classes of voters established by this Bill—first, the copy-holders, persons having no estate in inheritance; secondly, leaseholders of 10l. on leases of upwards of fifty years, and thirdly, leaseholders and tenants at will of 50l. a-year. He asked their Lordships, did they consider how those three descrip- 342 tions of voters would abound in towns? And if so, what security would the agricultural interests have that they should meet with due Representation under the present Bill? Then, when they looked to the proposed division of counties, what was the prospect? Nothing could be more gloomy for the landed interests. Look to the county of Warwick. What would be the result of the dividing system in that county? Birmingham and Coventry, situated within twenty miles of each other, were in one division—the southern offering very little prospect of an equipoise to the northern, or agricultural division. When he stated to their Lordships that those two great towns were in the manufacturing district of the county, must it not be apparent that the agricultural interests would be outnumbered twice over by the Representation from the southern portion? There were many other counties showing a like preponderance of the manufacturing over the landed interests? In Somersetshire such would be the case. Bristol and Bath being in one, the eastern division, their Members combined with the district county Members, would altogether weigh down the Representation of the western, or agricultural division. Again, in the county of Kent, in the western district were Greenwich, Deptford, Woolwich, Rochester, Maidstone and Chatham, while, in the eastern division, there was nothing to counterbalance such an accumulation of town Representation. True there was one way of partially, if not completely, obviating this inequality—namely, by excluding the voters in towns from voting in the counties where such towns were situated, but until that was done he had a right to argue on the Bill as it then stood, not as it might be altered in Committee. It was said, that there was no difference in the 10l. franchise between small and large places; and upon this an argument was founded that the constituency of that class in towns would be as respectable and worthy as in counties. But could any man compare the workhouse pauper in a town, to the generally respectable tenant of a cottage in a country village? Again, looking to that same point, as it regarded the liability to bribery and corruption, was it possible to assert that the class of 10l. voters in towns would not be found more susceptible to the influence of a bribe, than the same class in counties? In a 343 county, from both the comparative respectability of the voters and their paucity in numbers, an individual taking a bribe was noted and marked out; but if in a town constituency a man took a bribe, it was thought nothing of, for almost every one he met with was in a similar situation. The Bill likewise professed to diminish the expense at elections. Diminish expense! How? he begged to ask. Certainly not by the destruction of bribery; that it materially increased. How, then, he repeated, did it diminish expense? Why, it proposed to take the poll at fifteen places. Did that diminish expense? Unquestionably not. What constituted the principal items of expenditure in taking an election? Was it not the retaining of poll clerks and agents? And if instead of one poll, there were to be fifteen, the unfortunate candidate under the proposed Bill, independently of being obliged to bear his share in the erection of fifteen polling-booths, and returning officers, would have to retain fifteen sets of agents, and fifteen sets of poll clerks. And was this the vaunted diminution of expense? He submitted that so far from diminishing, the proposed alteration would have the effect of materially increasing that expenditure which already pressed heavily on those who had to stand contested elections. He had another objection to the proposed disfranchisement of boroughs, and that was, that they were not disfranchised for the purpose of enfranchising other English towns, but in order that the Representation of Ireland and Scotland might be increased. He had great respect for those two countries, with one of which he was intimately connected, but still he could not but object to any alteration being made in the Representation of England, for such a purpose as that of disturbing what he maintained was a well-settled balance between the three divisions of the empire. England had made bargains with Scotland and Ireland respectively as to the number of Representatives; and as they had flourished under that balance (if one of them had not, it was not attributable to the want of Representation) there was no reason for its alteration. But, independently of that consideration, had not Ireland and Scotland their due share of Representation, when weighed with England, as regarded their respective wealth and contribution to the revenue? If their Lordships looked to the proportionate 344 amount of taxes which these countries paid, they would agree with him in thinking that neither Scotland nor Ireland were entitled to an increase in the number of its Representatives. He must further object to the proposed criterion of eligibility to the franchise. He maintained that taxation, and not valuation, ought to form the test of qualification to be inserted in the registry. In the latter case, the individual who was to prepare the registry had no evidence to act by, for he would be obliged, in most cases, to frame his return, not according to the amount which any indifferent person would give for the tenement, but according to whatever nominal value the claimant should choose to place on it. A right rev. Prelate had complained of appeals being made by noble Lords to the Bishops. He had never been in the habit of appealing to those right rev. Prelates, except for the purpose of putting them on their guard, or to show them in what manner their interests were likely to be affected. This course he had ever pursued, because he felt as strongly for the interests of the Church, as if he had the honour of being a Prelate connected with it. Now, when he spoke of the unequal and inefficient manner in which the landed interests were likely to be represented, he could not but feel that the interests of the Church were proportionably in danger of inadequate Representation. He did not, of course, mean that the Church itself was likely to be affected by it, but that its revenues, of which landed property was a considerable part, might be depreciated. It was unquestionable also that the Church of Ireland was likely to be much affected by the alteration proposed to be carried into effect. He would here also remark, that he thought as England, Ireland, and Scotland, were under one Government, instead of being made the subject of isolated measures, they ought to have been concentrated into one Bill, for it was impossible to judge accurately what would be the effect of one measure separately. He had said, that the Church of Ireland was likely to be much affected by the alteration in the franchise of that country, Now, he was prepared to contend, that the Church of Ireland could not fall without the Church of England and Scotland meeting with a like misfortune. From a great portion of the towns of Ireland Roman Catholics would be returned—a return the consequences of which it was easy 345 to perceive. They would never be at rest until they succeeded in subverting the Church property of that country; or, if they failed in that, which he trusted they would, the consequence would be, that the Irish Protestants, a most deserving and loyal class, would be compelled to expatriate themselves. Now, here was a subject on which he would beg to appeal to the right. rev. Prelates. He would beg and entreat them to consider it. He looked at the interests of the Protestants of Ireland, and thought them as much entitled to protection as the Protestants of England; nay, to more, for the Protestants of Ireland were more likely to be oppressed; they were set up on high as it were, and, consequently, were more objects of attention, than those of England. Such was his opinion; and he was convinced it was the opinion of the right rev. Prelates to whom he addressed himself. He had next to speak of the interests of a set of men who were unrepresented in that, and the other House of Parliament. He meant the interests of the colonists in the East and West Indies. From the spirit that had already been manifested in some of the manufacturing districts respecting the abolition of slavery, a spirit excited by sectarians and fanatics, there was every reason to apprehend the introduction of such measures into a reformed Parliament as would cause the loss of those settlements, upon which, in consequence of the market they afforded for British manufactures, in a great measure depended the payment of the interest of the National Debt. When he considered the strong feeling which had already manifested itself, and combined with it the alteration in the constituency, he could not avoid entertaining a fear that a set of fanatical persons would be introduced into Parliament, pledged to the support of a measure, the inevitable result of which would be, the separation of the colonies from England—a result which must be fraught with the most momentous evils. The next topic on which he would remark was, the system of intimidation employed by a certain portion of the Press; and he must express his surprise and regret that his Majesty's Government had not taken means for the punishment of the would be intimidators. He alluded particularly to a statement which had appeared in one of the leading Radical Journals, to the effect that if their Lordships evinced any 346 intention of rejecting the Bill before the House, 100,000 men were to march up and compel their assent to it. Were such statements as these, he asked, to be suffered to pass unpunished? He was sorry that the members of his Majesty's Government, for their own sakes, had not thought proper to bring to punishment those who dared to circulate such a libel on the people of England. He, however, knew that their Lordships entertained but one fear—the fear of being suspected of being afraid. He was convinced that, laying aside all notions of self-interest and personal apprehension, their object in the decision they would give would be to look to the interests of the country, which were solemnly committed to their charge. He was still of opinion that a bit-by-bit Reform was the only safe means of introducing an alteration into the Constitution of Parliament. He had been long of that opinion, and in pursuance of it would have some time since introduced a measure of that description to their Lordships' notice, but that he thought such a measure ought to proceed from another place. He regretted much that the noble Duke (the Duke of Buckingham) had so long delayed the proposition of which he had given notice, for it would have afforded many of their Lordships an opportunity of referring to a specific measure on the subject of Reform, and a reasonable excuse for rejecting the measure of his Majesty's Ministers. The Constitution of the country ought not to be left in the most extraordinary and most unsatisfactory situation to which it would be reduced, were their Lordships to suffer the Bill to pass. This was a law which was recommended to the favour of their Lordships, under the delusion that it was meant to increase the liberty of the subject; but he would say, that it abridged the liberties of 320,000 persons, of whom 132,000 would be deprived of their rights of voting. Notwithstanding this, the Bill proceeded upon the principles of freedom; it proffered liberty to all, whilst it actually went to disfranchise one-half of those who now possessed the constitutional right or qualification of voting. He would put it to their Lordships to say, what part of the empire would the Bill satisfy. Would it satisfy the large towns? Those who imagined anything of the sort, those who flattered themselves that the measure would quiet the public mind, and induce the people 347 to acquiesce and rejoice in it as a final adjustment, would in the end find themselves most grievously mistaken. He only wished that noble Lords who thought that the Bill was likely to be the last arrangement upon the subject would watch attentively what had already been the proceedings upon the Bill amongst the societies of large and populous towns. He held in his hand the Resolutions which had been passed at a meeting of what was called a Political Union, and he would leave it to their Lordships to Judge by this sample how far the Bill was likely to satisfy the people. The Resolutions first inculcated that the working classes ought to avail themselves of all just means and of every fair opportunity to get rid of the tyranny of their masters and the manufacturers. This was a means by which it was hoped that journeymen would become masters, and masters and manufacturers be reduced to the condition of journeymen. From this, which was called getting rid of the tyranny of masters, the transition was to Parliamentary Reform. The Unionists accordingly set forth that, to obtain an effectual Reform in the Commons' House of Parliament, it was essential and indispensable that the people should insist upon annual elections, the extension of the Suffrage, the Vote by Ballot, and an essentially new qualification. The Unionists then set forth that they were thoroughly convinced that, until their Lordships acknowledged that the useful and productive classes ought to have the right of possessing seats in the House of Commons, it would be impossible to promote unanimity and concord among all classes, and to guide and direct the public, instead of leaving it in a state of discord. This was one of the documents which would enable their Lordships to see what sort of Parliamentary Reform would answer the expectations which the Bill had already given rise to among the people. The 10l. household franchise in large towns would give the right of voting to paupers, and extend pretty nearly to Universal Suffrage; but this would not do for the Political Unionists; they wanted annual Parliaments, the Vote by Ballot and Universal Suffrage throughout the Kingdom. Was this all they wanted? Would this satisfy the Reformers? No. They already told their Lordships that they wanted more, and would not be content until what they termed the working, useful, and pro- 348 ductive classes, which in other terms meant the common people, were converted into law-makers and politicians in the Commons' House of Parliament. He must beg leave to observe that that was pretty nearly the sort of Representation which already existed in another quarter of the world, and it would be well if their Lordships knew how it worked. The description of the people to whom he had alluded would not be satisfied till they obtained the system of Representation which existed in North America. Such, he believed, was the state of Representation throughout the provinces of the Union, that, even where the state of society was extremely good the Representatives in Congress were made up of Attornies and the lower order of traders while men of a respectable rank could not succeed in their election. Would not this be the case in England were the Bill to pass? And he fervently hoped that it never would pass. There would not be in the House of Commons any gentlemen of fortune, any gentlemen having interest in the country, any gentlemen of an education which enabled them to discharge their duties in Parliament—no, there would be nothing in the Legislature of great Britain but the lower orders of society, such as the Political Union recommended in the Resolutions he had just taken the liberty of reading to the House. He had little pecuniary interest at stake in this question. He had but little property, nor at the age at which he had arrived could he expect to live to see the ruin which the Bill would produce; but though he might personally be less interested than others, though individually he might not have to dread the impending evil, he could not but feel deeply anxious for the institutions of his country, for the safety of persons, and the security of property; and he implored the House to consider what would be the fate of every sacred right and useful institution if they were placed under the guardianship and submitted to the direction of Representatives such as he had just described. If their Lordships were not convinced, if they wanted any further evidence upon the subject, he begged to refer them to a late number of the North American Review which would plainly show their Lordships what they had to expect from the spirit of innovation which was now so prevalent, and to which he was sorry to say that his Majesty's Ministers were giving all the 349 efficacy in their power. They would be driven from one concession to another, until at last they would be obliged to establish republican institutions. He saw the spirit working, indeed, that man must be blind who could not see it. If the Bill were to pass into a law it would become a detailed curse upon the country—nothing would then be left of a House of Commons, whilst in its place would be substituted a democratic division of the kingdom into districts represented by delegates. He wished his voice to be heard beyond the walls of that House. One idea prevalent was, that the poor laws of England demanded Reform, or, in other words, annihilation. Yes, the spirit of Reform already cried for the suppression of those humane laws which rescued the poor from the support of casual and unwilling charity, and gave them a right to demand support by the Constitution of England. The pressure of the poor laws was to be destroyed by depriving the agriculturists of the fund out of which they arose. If the poor wanted food, if the destitution of age were to be unheeded, and the misery of sickness unrelieved, what to the poor would be the benefit of Parliamentary Reform, and what would be its effect upon the country? Such a visionary alteration was not called for by any necessity. Let the people look at France and Belgium, and learn what had been the effects of the sudden changes in the form of the Governments of those countries. Let them contemplate what had ensued even from the overturning of a Prince, who, perhaps, deserved to be overturned, because he violated every duty. Even in that case it would be found that it was thought better to preserve the ancient forms of Government, and yet what had been the result? From France let them travel to Belgium, and then ask the poor man if he could wish for Reform when Reform was followed by such disastrous changes? Let the poor next look at that country in which a system of Universal Suffrage already existed. In the town of Boston there were 2,000 paupers who got their daily bread by begging, and in this country there was not a single town of equal size which had yet fallen to such a condition, nor did he believe that such ever would be the case in England until the spirit of innovation should destroy all the rights and securities of property. If their Lordships were to pass the Bill, and 350 which he implored them not to pass, they would not only sacrifice their own interests but those of their children, whilst the benefits of the Bill were professedly to fall on some unknown, some distant generation—a generation so distant that their Lordships could not be supposed to feel for their interests; and yet for this generation they were expected to sacrifice all that was immediately and dearly connected with them, and to whose protection they were bound by every moral and sacred obligation. He feared that he had trespassed by far too long upon their Lordships' attention, and yet he was apprehensive that he had omitted many things which he ought to have stated. Upon such a subject he was anxious to make no omissions. He felt the importance of the case most deeply, most earnestly. That the Bill never should pass into a law was his devout and fervent wish; and yet, should it pass, happy should he be if he found that it did not ruin all the best and dearest interests of the country—if it did not destroy the Government, the Church, and every thing valuable and conducive to the happiness of man. He was persuaded that the Bill was the step, the first step, that led to destruction; it placed every person in a position from which he must eventually fall. He felt that he had less interest in the State than most whom he now had the honour to address; he had little of life remaining, his course was nearly run, and perhaps this was the last time he should address the House; but in his last effort he felt a warmer anxiety for his country. If he could induce himself to think that the evils which the Bill professed to correct would be corrected, he would gladly vote for its going into Committee; but he was satisfied, thoroughly satisfied, that the very principle of the Bill was radically wrong. It began with gross and palpable injustice, and it attempted to do what was impossible. If he were right, the Bill would involve the country in destruction, and, would put an end to the happiness and the prosperity with which the people of England had been blessed under equal laws and a liberal Government. In opposing the Bill he felt that he had done his duty. He had examined its principles and had carefully investigated all its details, and he was bound, upon sincere conviction, to raise his firmest voice against its passing into a law, Perhaps that was the last time he 351 should ever raise his voice within the walls of that House. He hoped that he had prevailed upon the Bench of right reverend Prelates. He had warned them, not upon their personal danger, for that they would disregard, but upon their duties to those whom they were placed in that House to protect and defend, and he trusted that they would be firm in resisting a measure fraught with such inevitable danger.
§ Lord Durham
spoke to the following effect:*—My Lords not having had an opportunity, either of declaring my sentiments, or even giving a personal vote on this most important question, when it was before the House last, I naturally feel anxious to take advantage of the present moment, and trespass on your attention for a short space of time. I am the more desirous of doing so now, because, from the severe and painful indisposition under which I have lately laboured, and from which I am in fact still suffering, I fear that if I delay addressing your Lordships till a later period of this night's debate, I shall not have strength sufficient to enable me to avail myself of the indulgence of the House. I have listened with the greatest attention to the long, and may I be permitted to add, desultory speech of the noble and learned Lord (Wynford), who has just sat down; and I can assure him, that if any interruption came, during a part of that speech, from this side of the House, it was not with the view of impeding the course of the noble Lord's arguments, but merely for the purpose of setting him right as to the grounds on which those arguments were founded. As for the speech of the noble and learned Lord, it has embraced many topics and related to many subjects; but of these some are entirely unconnected with the question itself, and others with its present stage. In one portion, he alluded to the household of their Majesties; in another, to the inconsistency of the reverend Bench; in a third, to the state of the Irish Church; and in a fourth, to the state of the manufactures of India. The noble and learned Lord also entered into a long examination of the details of the Bill, into which I cannot follow him, because the principle of the Measure is alone under discussion at the present moment. Of this, indeed, the noble and learned Lord seemed to be fully aware himself,* Printed from the corrected edition, published by Ridgway.352 when he apologized for detaining your Lordships so long in discussing the clauses of the Bill, on the ground that, as we were not likely to go into a Committee, he should never have an opportunity of examining them. Now, as I feel certain that this Bill will go into a Committee, I must decline following a course so inconsistent with the rules and regulations of the House. My Lords, I must say, however, that the close and laborious attention which I paid to the noble and learned Lord's speech has been, in some degree, repaid by the pleasure of finding that he, at least, has not adopted that tone of party rancour and personal animosity towards his Majesty's Ministers which has, in so marked a manner, distinguished the debates of the two last nights. Very different, indeed, was the tone and temper of his speech from that which proceeded from the reverend Bench on the last night. Of that exhibition on the part of a rev. Bishop (Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter), I shall only say, that, if coarse and virulent invective—malignant and false insinuations—the grossest perversion of historical facts—decked out with all the choicest flowers of his well-known pamphleteering slang—
The Earl of Winchilsea
rose to order.—He said he was extremely sorry to address their Lordships; but did it become that House—did it become any such august assembly, to deal in such violent personalities, to tolerate such personal invectives? Did it become their Lordships to sit patiently and hear such personalities, especially when they were addressed against an individual who, from his profession and situation, could not personally notice them?
said, the noble Earl had spoken to order.—He wished, therefore, to know what was the Motion he had made. The question before the House was a question of order, and he had yet to learn what that question was. If the noble Earl meant to speak to order in an orderly manner, there was a mode, according to the usages of the House, by which he could proceed in his intentions; and he trusted that the noble Earl would attend to the rule of the House, which was, in such a case, to move that the objectionable words be taken down.
The Earl of Winchilsea
The words I rose to order upon are, "pamphleteering slang and false insinuations." I move that these words be taken down.
§ Earl Grey
said, that although the word, 353 "pamphleteering, slang and false insinuations" were harsh in sound, their precise meaning must depend very much on the context, and the manner in which they were placed in the sentence. Suppose the noble Earl had himself made use of the word false insinuation, he might have meant only that a speech had been full of false deductions, from mistaken, or even correct premises. If his (Earl Grey's) recollection did not fail him, the words which had been said were, pamphleteering slang—he spoke in the usual flowers of pamphleteering slang. He did not know that there was any thing out of order in words bearing such a meaning. If the noble Earl really were serious in his wish to have the words taken down, he must not confine himself to only the words, but he must move that the whole sentence be taken down, and after it was taken down, he might then call upon the Speaker to explain the objectionable words, and proceed with any motion upon the subject, according to his discretion.
conceived that the real, and, in fact, the only, parliamentary proceeding in this case was, to have the sentence taken down. The words objected to must then be put to the noble Lord who used them, and he must be then asked how he meant to apply them.
The Duke of Buckingham
felt convinced that the noble Lord would not have used the words deliberately to any noble Peer, much less to a person not in a situation to take notice of them. In the spirit of peace and good will, in a wish that their Lordships' discussions should be carried on without offence to any body, he did personally request the noble Lord to reconsider what he had said, without the words being taken down. He was sure that the noble Lord, in his calmer moments, would not persevere in such an imputation against the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter).
§ Lord Durham
continued as follows:—My Lords, I was interrupted by the noble Earl in the course of a sentence I was addressing to your Lordships, and it now seems to be his intention that the words which I uttered should be taken down. I have not the slightest objection to that course being adopted—but the contrary—and I now state to your Lordships the reasons which induced me to use those words. I shall not stop to inquire whether the words "pamphleteering slang" were the most elegant which I could have used. 354 They do not, perhaps, suit the noble Earl's taste; but they are the only words which I consider can correctly describe the speech of the rev. Bishop (Phillpotts). Now, as to the words "malignant and false insinuations" The noble Duke (Buckingham), who wishes me to retract them, must, I am sure, well recollect that that rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter), in the course of his harangue, insinuated that some of his Majesty's Ministers were unbecomingly connected with the Press. From the terms in which that insinuation was couched, I could have no doubt that he alluded to me. It would be gross affectation in me to deny it—the more especially as I had been previously told by those who had read those papers, that the same charge had been made against me, by name, in those weekly publications which are so notorious for their scurrility and indecency. When, therefore, I found that charge repeated in this House, in terms which neither I, nor any man living could misunderstand, I determined to take the earliest opportunity of stating to your Lordships that it was as false as scandalous. I now repeat that declaration, and pause for the purpose of giving any noble Lord an opportunity of taking down my words. Lord Durham then resumed his seat for a moment, but as no noble Lord rose, he proceeded to say—
My Lords,—As it seems no further interruption is to be offered me, I shall dismiss the subject by saying, that I never will shrink from the opportunity of meeting before this House, or my country, any charges or insinuations which may be directed against me, from whatever quarter they may proceed. If I have expressed myself somewhat earnestly and warmly, your Lordships will, I am sure, deem me justified, when you reflect that, to all the tortures of an afflicted mind, have been of late superadded calumnies of the basest description, calculated to wound not only my own feelings, but those of all who are dearest to me:—but I now return to the Question, from which I have been diverted by the interruption of the noble Earl. My Lords, we have been charged by a noble and gallant Duke (the Duke of Wellington), and a noble Earl who sits on the third bench (the Earl of Mansfield), with having created that excitement in the public mind which led to that general demand for Reform, which is now admitted to prevail by many of those who formerly 355 denied its existence. On what facts those noble Lords found their assertion, I cannot comprehend. If there is any one subject which more than another has been discussed, both in and out of Parliament, especially within the last fifty years, it has been that of a Reform in the Representation of the people. From the Revolution, it has been advocated by the most eminent men of which this country can boast. From the year 1783, when the celebrated Yorkshire petition was presented, it has never been lost sight of by the people; taken up, it is true, with more or less energy, according to the circumstances of the times—but always holding a high place in their estimation, and connected by them with the most vital interests of the country. It was brought under the notice of Parliament by the Duke of Richmond, in 1780;—Mr. Pitt, in 1782,1783, and 1784;—and subsequently by Mr. Flood, my noble relation at the head of the Government, Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Brand, Lord Archibald Hamilton, Lord John Russell, and many others. The noble and gallant Duke, therefore, is not supported by facts, when he says, the feeling is one of late growth; and still less when he says, that it is owing to the examples of the French and Belgian Revolutions of 1830. That it has assumed a much more formidable appearance within these last four or five years is true; but not owing to the causes alleged by the noble and gallant Duke. In my opinion, it has been owing, in a great measure, to the repeated refusals of your Lordships to grant Representation to the great towns of Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham, when the fitting opportunities were afforded you; it has also arisen from the exposures which took place in the parliamentary inquiries relative to Grampound, Penryn, and East Retford, laying bare scenes of the grossest political profligacy and corruption; but above all, my Lords, it has been in consequence of the great mass of the middle classes having at length identified themselves with this question. To this part of the subject I particularly wish to call your Lordships' attention, not only because I think its full consideration involves one of the great and leading principles of the Bill—I mean the emancipation of those classes—but because it will account, in the only satisfactory mode for the intensity of feeling with which this measure has been received; 356 and will demonstrate the improbability of the country being satisfied with any less degree of Reform than that which is afforded them by this Bill. Your Lordships are, no doubt, too well read in the history of your country not to be aware, that, up to the Revolution of 1688, the object of each successive struggle was, to prevent the Sovereign from obtaining despotic power. At that period the Crown was defeated, and has ever since been dependent on, and at the mercy of, two parties of the higher orders—between whom the contest for political power has been bitter and incessant—whilst the people were well or ill governed, according to the principles of the party which was predominant. For a long time, the people acquiesced in the supremacy of the higher orders, and their exclusive possession of political privileges. Conscious of their own incompetency, from want of education, to enjoy those privileges, they felt no jealousy, and offered no opposition to the monopoly vested in their superiors. But, my Lords, a great change has taken place within the last fifty years in the state of society. The two extremes have been gradually meeting—the one standing still, whilst the other has been gradually improving. It cannot be concealed, that the middle classes have increased, of late, in skill, talent, political intelligence, and wealth, to such an extent, that they are, and feel that they are, competent to the performance of higher duties. They thus, naturally enough, feel ambitious to be no longer excluded from their fair share of political power: and the result of their continued exclusion must be a political convulsion—and necessarily a destructive one—for the unnatural compression of great power by insufficient means, always ends not only in the annihilation of the feeble bonds which restrain it, but in the destruction of all that is within the range of its explosion.
That the middle classes have a right to indulge in these feelings, no accurate observer of the state of society can deny. The noble Duke opposite, the proprietor of St. Mawe's, (the Duke of Buckingham) has thought proper to describe them as paupers—as beggars. So far from this being the fact, their wealth more than doubles, nearly trebles that of the higher orders.* As for their intelligence*In 1814, Colquhoun estimated the income of the productive classes at 292,555,147l.—that of the unproductive, at 137,966,225l.357 —look at all the great towns of the emp re—this metropolis, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and many others—and by whom will you find the scientific institutions, the literary societies, the charities—in short, all associations tending to the advancement of arts, literature, and of science, and to the amelioration of the human kind—by whom will you find them supported?—by whose example and whose purse maintained? By the middle classes.
The gentry, living apart in the country, enjoy the luxuries and amusements peculiar to their class, but mix neither in the pursuits or relaxations of their neighbours in the towns. Whenever they are brought together in public meetings, on political occasions, their superiority in learning or intellect is no longer manifest—the reverse is the fact; and I can assure the noble Baron (Ellenborough), that whether he is right or wrong in the opinion he entertains, with regard to the inferiority of intellect displayed by the newly-returned Members, if he were to attend any of the meetings of the middle classes, and enter into a discussion with them on political or scientific subjects, he would have no reason to plume himself on his fancied superiority. This being the case, then, the question is naturally asked, is that a fit and proper state of the Constitution, which excludes from the enjoyment of political power and privileges a large body of men, possessed of talents, skill, and wealth, merely because they do not happen to be included in a particular class, endowed with privileges bestowed upon them in different times, and different circumstances? I contend, therefore, my Lords, that these feelings alone would be sufficient to induce the people to desire that the advantages, as well as the burthens, of the Constitution should be extended to them. But were there no other reasons? Did the working of the Constitution, in its present exclusive state, produce no other mischievous effects than their exclusion? Did those who virtually represented them—as the noble and learned Lord (Wynford) says—did they perform the duties of their trust advantageously to the country? The answer, my Lords, which the people give to these quesions is, and always has been, in the negative. I can accumulate proofs upon proofs of the correctness of this assertion—a few will suffice. It appears, 358 that when this corrupt parliamentary system first came into operation—I mean shortly after the Revolution—the National Debt amounted to 16,000,000l.; at the end of the last war, in 1814, it had risen very nearly to 800,000,000l. The national expenditure had increased, during that time, from 5,600,000l. to more than 94,000,000l.; the poor rates from 1,000,000l. to 7,000,000l. In one reign alone, that of George 3rd, 27,000,000l. were lavished in subsidies to all the great powers of the continent.* In the same period, the naval and military expenditure amounted to 928,000,000l.—that is to say, the luxury of indulging in war cost this country a sum little less than one thousand millions. All these proofs of an unlimited and unchecked expenditure, and many others,† which I need not now detail, became known to the people at the conclusion of the war. Great distress followed—much discontent and loud complaints prevailed—and how were they met? by conciliation or concession? No—by every species of repressive and coercive enactment. Measures for preventing the exercise of public meetings and petitioning—for fettering the Press—for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act—for granting indemnity bills—were successively proposed to the House of Commons, and immediately adopted by that assembly. These proceedings seem, if I may judge
*Austria £7,070,000 Prussia 1,683,000 Russia 1,952,000 Sicily 2,300,000 Sweden 2,706,673 Spain 2,637,831 Ditto 673,441 Portugal 8,380,000 £27,402,945exclusive of 4,000,000l. granted to French, Corsican, and Toulouse emigrants—French clergy—St. Domingo, Russian, Portuguese sufferers, &c. &c.†Sir James Graham subsequently brought before Parliament another instance of the working of the present system—the sums annually paid to Privy Councillors. He proved that of these 169 persons, 113 received 650,164l. per annum; of which 86,103l. were for sinecures—121,650l. for pensions—and 442,333l. for active services. Of these—thirty were pluralists, receiving 221,133l. per annum; forty-seven were Peers, receiving 378,300l. per annum;—and twenty-two were Members of the House of Commons, receiving 90,849l. per annum.359 from their cheers, to be approved of by the noble Lords opposite;—they were not grateful to the people, I can assure them—who, seeing their liberties attacked, and their resources squandered, through the instrumentality of a House of Commons, theoretically the guardian of both, naturally directed their attention to the mode in which that House was chosen, which neither represented their feelings nor protected their interests. The picture which was then presented to them was no less startling and disgusting than that of the state of their finances, to which I have just alluded. They found one portion nominated by Peers—a second by Commoners—a third by trafficking attornies, selling seats to the highest bidder—a fourth owing its return to the most unblushing bribery and corruption—in one part of the empire a Park, with no population at all, or at least of the smallest kind, returning two Members—in another, a large and important town, with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, with no representation at all—and even that small part of the House still dependent on the public voice, so fettered and circumscribed by the immense expenditure required, as to be virtually placed in the hands of a very small class. My Lords, all this led to that state of things which has been so prophetically and so accurately described by a celebrated, writer, whose name is so familiar to noble Lords opposite, and whose opinions are generally so pleasing to them, that I make no apology for substituting his glowing words for my feeble expressions. Mr. Burke says:—
'An addressing House of Commons, and a petitioning nation—a House of Commons full of confidence, when the nation is plunged in despair—in the utmost harmony with Ministers, whom the people regard with the utmost abhorrence—who vote thanks, when the public opinion calls upon them for impeachments—who are eager to grant, when the general voice demands account—who, in all disputes between the people and the Administration presume against the people—who punish their disorders, but refuse even to inquire into the provocations to them—this is an unnatural, a monstrous state of things in this Constitution.
'Such an assembly may be a great, wise, awful Senate—but it is not, to any popular purpose, a House of Commons.' 360 My Lords, I think that I have now stated sufficient reasons to account for the general prevalence of that desire for Reform which now exists, and to show that it did not owe its origin, either to our instigation, or to the French and Belgian Revolutions, as stated by the noble and gallant Duke opposite (Wellington)—at all events, of this I am quite confident—that to whatever causes it is to be ascribed, it can never be allayed or removed by any other mode than that of a full and generous compliance with the wishes of the people. Here, however, I am met by the noble Lords opposite, who talk so loudly of the dangers of concession, and the safety of resistance—and by the reverend Bishop (Phillpotts), who preaches to us the necessity of leaving the consequences to God. My Lords, I say nothing of the impropriety of those constant appeals to that sacred name, in this place—especially from such a quarter—but I ask, is history to be for ever a sealed book to those noble Lords? Are its pages to be for ever perverted by the reverend Bishop (Phillpotts)? Do they not teem with instances of the folly and inutility of resistance to the determined wishes of the people, intent on the acquirement or restoration of their rights? When the consequences have been left to Providence, has that resistance ever produced any thing but a postponement of those claims always to be renewed with increased vigour, and ultimately attended with complete success? My Lords, I assert that the Revolution of 1641, the French Revolution of 1785, and the separation of the North American Colonies—as was truly observed by the noble Baron on the cross benches (Wharncliffe), might all have been averted by timely and wise concession. Can any man, with the slightest knowledge of our history, attempt to persuade me, that if Charles 1st after conceding the Petition of Rights, had kept his faith with his people, he would not have saved his crown and his life? The noble Duke (Buckingham), who alluded on the last night to the fate of this king, argued on what occurred at a subsequent time, when all concessions were rendered useless by Charles's repeated acts of treachery—and his unconstitutional and illegal violations of the rights and liberties of his subjects. I refer to the first stage of these unhappy proceedings, when, by wise and honest measures, the 361 monarchy might have been strengthened and consolidated. Again, with reference to the French Revolution, I say, that if Louis 16th had adopted the advice given him by his Ministers, the people would have been satisfied—the ancient institutions of the country ameliorated—the altar, the throne, and the aristocracy, preserved from the horrible fate which afterwards befel them. Twice had Louis 16th opportunities—first, under Turgot's ministry; secondly, under Necker's—of conciliating the country, and averting that fatal catastrophe, by limited concessions. The nobility resisted—and the Revolution followed. The noble Baron (Wharncliffe) has so ably detailed you the impolicy of our resistance to the claims of the North American Colonies, that I need only add to his powerful argument my own conviction, that if, after the Repeal of the Stamp Act, England had not destroyed all the benefit of that concession, by the Declaratory Act, and the re-imposition of the Tea Duties, North America would at this hour have been a portion of the British empire. My Lords, I repeat, therefore, fortified by these examples, that when the consequences have been left to Providence, according to the suggestion of the reverend Bishop (Phillpotts), the course of events has always been uniform—in the first instance, bigotted resistance to the claims of the people—in the second, bloody and protracted struggles—and finally, but invariably, unlimited, disgraceful, but then useless concession.
But, My Lords, have those of you who talk of resistance, calculated the comparative amount of forces which are arranged on each side? On the one hand, are arrayed the Crown, the House of Commons, and the People—on the other, not 200 Peers—if a majority, at least a bare one of this House. Now, my Lords, supposing that you reject this Bill a second time—and supposing that the people acquiesce quietly in your decision, and that their feelings of disappointment do not break out in open tumult and violence; will there be no punishment to you in the utter separation, which must take place, between you and your fellow country-men? In the sentence of excommunication which they will pass upon you—are you prepared to live in solitude in the midst of multitudes—your mansions fortified with cannon, (as was lately that of the noble Duke of Newcastle)—and protected by 362 troops of faithful, perhaps, but if the hour of danger come, useless retainers? Surely there must be something in this state of things most revolting to the habits and feelings of a British Peer—and yet these are the most favourable circumstances which can follow the second rejection of this Bill. I see before me many noble Lords, who pride themselves on the cordiality of their intercourse with all around them, in the country, both rich and poor; whose presence there is generally welcomed by the congratulations of their neighbours, of all ranks—will those noble Lords receive with equal complacency the greetings they will have to encounter after having destroyed the long cherished hopes of their fellow countrymen? No, my Lords, I fear the change between confidence and distrust, affection and hatred, will be so great, that the satisfaction of having preserved nomination boroughs for a time—and for a time only—will but ill console them for the annoyances and expressions of dislike and aversion which will be heaped on them on all sides. I contend, therefore, that resistance must produce the very worst consequences, tending to destroy that harmony and goodwill among all classes of society, which are so essential in every well-governed state—and especially in this country where all should beNot equal—yet free, Equally free—for orders and degrees Jar not with Liberty, but well consist.My Lords, it was under this conviction, and believing as I did, and still do, that the claims of the people of this country were not to be trifled or tampered with by any Ministers—it was under this persuasion, that I for one, and I believe all my colleagues, came to the consideration of this measure—and were anxious to frame such a Bill, as, by its large and comprehensive provisions, might not only give general satisfaction, but, at the same time, set this question finally at rest. Into a detailed examination of those provisions, this, as I have already said, is not the fit opportunity for entering. They have, moreover, together with the alterations which have taken place, been so ably and fully detailed by my noble relation, who moved the second reading of this Bill, that I need not say more than that its leading principles are, as in the former Bill—the disfranchisement of all nomination boroughs—the purification of the 363 lesser boroughs—the enfranchisement of the great and populous towns—the emancipation of the middle classes—and the diminution of the expense of elections.
There is, however, one portion of the details to which a noble Marquis (the Marquis of Londonderry) alluded on a former night, with which I am personally connected, and therefore your Lordships must permit me shortly to refer to them. The noble Marquis was pleased to accuse me, for whom he professed private respect and esteem, of having been a party to a gross job. How the noble Lord can entertain any respect or esteem for a person whom he supposes to have been guilty of such improper conduct, I certainly am at a loss to conceive. I can assure him, and your Lordships, that I never could respect myself, if I felt for a moment that I had been guilty of, or accessory to, any such proceeding. My Lords, I will not retaliate—I will not make use of any such harsh expressions, in return, towards the noble Marquis, with whom formerly I lived on terms of personal friendship; but I must beg leave to tell him, that when the provisions of this Bill are closely and fairly investigated, it will be found that the privileges which are extended to the county of Durham can be justified to their fullest extent, on those principles of wealth and population which have been taken as the tests for enfranchisement in this Bill—nay, more, I pledge myself to prove, that they do not even border on the limits within which other towns and counties have derived the benefit of Representation—and that if you were to strike them out, you would also have to disfranchise many others now included, but inferior to them in population and wealth. I solemnly disclaim any wish or intention to procure for myself any personal advantage or influence whatever. I should be ashamed of myself if I had entertained any such desire—and if I had—the attempt would have been futile, for the constituency to be created is so numerous, intelligent, and independent, as to be above all influence, either of mine or any other person.
Here I shall take the opportunity of briefly noticing the statement made the other night by the noble and gallant Duke (the Duke of Wellington), with respect to Christ Church and Tavistock. My Lords, the observations made by the noble Duke, would lead to the impression, that Tavistock had received an unfair preference. 364 Such, perhaps, was not the object of the noble Duke, when he made those remarks; but it undoubtedly was that of the person from whom he received the statement. That calculation, unexplained, would lead your Lordships to imagine that the return of population, assessed taxes, and houses, quoted by the noble Duke related to the two boroughs at the time when the question of their disfranchisement had to be determined. That is not the fact—those returns related to the enlarged boundaries made subsequently by the Commissioners. At the time of disfranchisement, Tavistock had a population of 4,388, 626 houses, 1,124l. 15s. 9d. assessed taxes, 269 10l. houses; Christchurch had a population of 2,262, 516 houses, 733l. 12. 3d. assessed taxes, 191 10l. houses. The comparison, therefore, of the enlarged borough of Tavistock, with the enlarged borough of Christchurch, has nothing to do with the question of disfranchisement, which could not have been decided in any other way without violating every principle of fairness and justice.
Before I conclude, my Lords, I must notice an objection to this Bill, made by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Wynford), who preceded me this night. He says, that the expense of contested elections will be greatly increased by this Bill, because all who know anything of the nature of that expense must be aware that it chiefly arises from the charges made on account of agents and Poll Clerks; and, therefore, as the polling places are greatly multiplied, a greater expenditure will be proportionably required. My Lords, I differ with the noble and learned Lord entirely. I have had the honour—and certainly a very expensive one—to stand a severe contest for the Representation of the county of Durham. It cost me, as I once told your Lordships before, no less a sum than 30,000l.—and I believe, a noble friend behind me, a noble Marquis (the Marquis of Cleveland), could give your Lordships some further information, as to the sums of money lavished at that election, it having cost him also, I fear, rather more than the sum I have mentioned. I have, therefore, had some experience on this point—and I can assure the noble and learned Lord that the main and great expense arises in bringing up voters from a distance, and in paying for their legal subsistence at the county town, until they have polled. During the whole 365 time that the election lasted, the legal entertainment of the voters cost me 1,000l. a-day. I, therefore, must contend, that, by appointing polling places in different parts of the county, we shall take away the necessity for incurring these heavy charges for travelling and subsistence, and therefore materially, if not entirely, diminish the great expenditure now required. My Lords, there are many other topics to which the noble and learned Lord has alluded, but which cannot, I repeat, be properly debated except in the Committee. I must therefore postpone any notice of them until that period—with this declaration merely—that there are no persons more anxious than his Majesty's Ministers that the provisions of the Bill should undergo the severest scrutiny—or more desirous to remove any well-grounded objections which may be fairly urged against them.
For all these reasons, my Lords, which I have ventured to submit to your consideration, I implore you to consent to the second reading of a Bill—the object of which is—to give security to the Throne—contentment to the people—and permanence to all the best institutions of the country—and shall now conclude, by saying in the words of that illustrious Statesman, whose principles I venerate, and whose example I have endeavoured to follow, although at a humble distance, throughout the whole course of my political life—I mean Mr. Fox—'We risk our all upon the excellence of this Bill. We risk upon it whatever is most dear to us, whatever men most value—the character of integrity, of honour, of present reputation and future fame—these and whatever else is precious to us, we stake on the constitutional safety—the enlarged policy—the equity—and wisdom of this measure.'
The Bishop of Exeter
I have been charged, my Lords, by the noble Baron, with having made a malignant and false insinuation; I must, therefore, beg permission of your Lordships to explain a part of what I said on a former night. As well as I can remember, speaking of The Times newspaper, I said that I supposed it was in some way or other connected with Government. The exact words I used are not present to my mind, but they were something about certain articles, breathing the inspiration—not of the Treasury, because I acquitted the noble Lord at the head of it 366 of any connexion with The Times [Laughter from the Ministerial benches]. What I say seems sport to noble Lords near me, and I hope it will not be thought a very serious matter to myself. When I gave utterance to what has been the subject of remark, I by no means meant to fix upon any individual in particular; but in my own mind I did think that the rumours respecting the noble Baron were not unlikely to be in some degree true. [Some noble Lords required the Bishop to speak out.] I will endeavour to speak up so as to be heard, but it is my misfortune not to have many friends near me, excepting the right rev. friends by whom I am surrounded. The noble Marquis (we believe Clanricarde), if he has anything to say, ought to speak so that I may answer him. I assure the noble Baron that I was not anxious to press upon the notice of the House the particular part of my speech which he refers to. I spoke generally, because, I fairly own, I had not evidence beyond apparent probability. But, while I did not wish directly to charge the noble Baron, give me leave to say, that what I alluded to was not the only occasion on which there has been an apparent connexion between the Government and the newspapers. One instance weighs with me more strongly than it may with the noble Marquis. About five or six weeks ago—["order, order!"] A charge has been made against me, and, if not irregular, I wish to advert to it—there was a statement in The Times newspaper regarding a correspondence with the noble Duke whom I see opposite (the duke of Buckingham)—I hope he will forgive my speaking of it in this way in his presence; and it is my earnest hope that he will contradict me if I state what is untrue, and correct me if I state what is improper. About the 23rd of January, or some such period, there was a direct allusion in The Times to a supposed correspondence between that noble Duke and his Majesty, as well as between a noble Duke and his Majesty's Secretary. The nature of the correspondence appeared to be stated with such particularity, that, if it were at all true, it seemed to me that the information must have gone to the newspaper from some person who had had access to the correspondence. It seemed to me also more probable that it should have found its way to the public from some Member of his Majesty's Government than from the noble Duke. Most cer- 367 tainly I have no hesitation in saying, that it does appear to me that it must have gone to the newspapers through some person who had access to the Government papers.
The Duke of Buckingham
My Lords, all I have to say is, that, in my capacity as a Peer of the realm, I did write the letter alluded to by the right rev. Prelate; and, in the exercise of my constitutional right, I transmitted it to his Majesty, through his Majesty's Secretary, in the usual and regular way. That letter I gave no copy of, and I read it only to two members of my own family, to the Illustrious Duke near me (Wellington), and to one other person. Certainly part of my letter—part of that letter which I placed in the hands of the King's Minister, was inserted verbatim in The Times newspaper.
§ Earl Grey
I am very sorry that a debate of this nature should be interrupted by such a discussion; but, after what has been said by the noble Duke—more particularly after the manner in which his statement has been received on the opposite side—I think the House will admit, that it is impossible for me to remain altogether silent. The fact, as stated by the noble Duke, is perfectly true. He did address a letter to the King, which was conveyed through one of his Majesty's Secretaries, offering advice on a political question then pending. That, says the noble Duke, was the proper and constitutional course: whether it was or was not, I will not now inquire; but I must say, that the conduct of his Majesty on the occasion was that of a Constitutional Sovereign. He immediately transmitted it to his Minister: it was sent to me. The noble Duke says that he kept no copy of it.
§ Earl Grey
The noble Duke gave no copy of it, and I can say, upon my honour as a Peer, that I gave none. I certainly did communicate it to my colleagues: it was my duty to do it; and I think I can say for them, as I assert for myself, that it was not from them, nor from any person connected with them, that any part of the letter, any allusion to it, or abstract of it, found its way into the public papers. No person was more astonished than I was when I saw an allusion to it. I do not know whether it is necessary for me to say more upon this subject; but I can safely 368 say, that what was printed did not proceed from his Majesty's advisers. This, my Lords, is the sole ground of the insinuation; and, with respect to the insinuated charge that Ministers have influenced the newspapers, all I can say is, that I should have been sorry to have thrown out such an insinuation upon such grounds, and still more to have defended it afterwards—I will not say in a Jesuitical way, for the right rev. Prelate abhors the Jesuits—but in a manner rather aggravating the original insinuation. As a person standing in an ostensible situation in the Government, I disclaim any connection with any one publication, and I most distinctly deny that I have done anything to influence a single newspaper. This I must add, as regards myself personally; and as to the particular paper in question, those who have seen it during the last month, and who have read its attacks upon me, will not think that I need enter into any disclaimer of the remotest concern with it. But the right rev. Prelate said, on the former night, that he had heard these things, and he believed them. I understood him to say that he believed them; but, if I am mistaken, I beg his pardon.
§ Earl Grey
That they have been believed! I certainly understood the right rev. Prelate to express the impression on his own mind that there was truth in the charge. He has undoubtedly said that there were insinuations against other Members of the King's Government, and he added, that he had heard a story of my noble friend near me (Lord Durham). Now, mark the charity of the right rev. Prelate—I say, mark his charity—mark what he does not think improbable!—that my noble friend near me, connected with me not only by the bonds of office, but by the nearest, dearest, and closest ties of relationship, has been guilty not merely of fraud, but falsehood, and has secretly and insidiously furnished newspapers with the means of attack upon the very Government of which he is a Member. That this he was ready to do, and actually did, at the expense of tearing asunder the tenderest and dearest ties of affection. If this be charity—if this be the charity of a Christian Bishop, I am much deceived in the true nature of that virtue. On this subject I have trespassed on the patience of 369 the House not willingly. I have been driven to it; my feelings have been strongly excited, and I could not refrain from repelling an insinuation which I will not characterize further than by saying, that I little expected it from any noble Lord, but least of all from one who sits upon that Bench.
The Bishop of Exeter
I rise only to explain. I never meant to charge the noble Baron with communicating any particulars to The Times; but I said that there was an apparent general connection between that paper and the Ministry. If a declaration of what was passing in the inner mind be extorted from it, it is a little too much to say that I meant it for an insinuation. I declared from the first that I did not mean to charge the noble Baron with any particulars, although I seem to have been mistaken by the noble Marquis near me. Some of my right rev. friends did not even think that I alluded at all to the noble Baron.
The Marquis of Londonderry
implored, that, if order were to be enforced, it might be observed fairly on both sides of the House. He begged leave to explain what he had said regarding the manner in which Durham had been dealt with in the Reform Bill. He did not mean to accuse the noble Baron (Durham), but to complain of a preponderating desire, on the part of the Government, to promote the interests of that fortunate county. His remark entirely had reference to political grounds: he had neither made, nor intended to make, any charge against an individual.
§ The Duke of Wellington
also begged leave to say, that his complaint, of Tavistock having been more favoured by the Bill than Christchurch, was not meant in a personally offensive sense.
§ Lord Durham
was willing to give both the noble Lords credit for not being actuated by feelings of personal hostility, but still found it difficult to reconcile their language with their professions. If the noble Duke was wholly uninfluenced by personal considerations, he might easily have selected a town mentioned in the Bill, approaching more closely to Christchurch, in comparison to wealth and population, than Tavistock: Thetford, for example.
The Earl of Carnarvon
said, he must concur with the noble Lord who had just sat down, that it was most desirable to conduct this important discussion in a tone, and with a temper, better adapted to the 370 candid and conciliatory mode in which it was opened by the noble Earl; and in the little with which he proposed to trouble their Lordships, he should think it his duty to follow the advice which the noble Lord had given in the most vehement manner he ever remembered to have heard. All that had subsequently occurred, had only tended to confirm and strengthen his conviction, that no advantage could be derived from indulging in personal recriminations. He was peculiarly gratified in having an opportunity of rising after a noble Lord who had so decided an opinion, and had always been a most zealous and consistent supporter of Reform; for many of those noble Lords who had addressed the House earlier in the debate divided their efforts so equally between the two sides of the question, that one-half of their speeches furnished the best possible answer to the other. Among these speeches, he must take the liberty to include that of a noble Viscount, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who, addressing their Lordships with his usual ability, had given them an eloquent declamation in favour of the Bill, and a powerful argument against it. That noble Viscount had informed them, that he had always been a decided opponent of Parliamentary Reform; and even now, when he had been induced to support it, he would be no party to the public delusion, or feed the people with the hope that a better management of affairs would follow the adoption of this measure, because he did not himself entertain such an opinion. In this he differed entirely from the noble Lord who last addressed the House, for he imputed all our difficulties—our great expenditure and overwhelming debt, to the want of Parliamentary Reform. The noble Viscount, with that gallantry which he possessed, had declared that he would yield nothing to clamour, but that he gave way to the well-understood opinion of the people. That it might be the opinion of the people that the Bill should pass, he could comprehend, and, to a great extent, he believed it was so; but that the noble Viscount could assert that he would never yield to clamour, and yet propose to vote for the second reading, perfectly surprised him. The Lord Privy Seal had contended, that this desire for Reform was not new, but was of old date. He admitted that it was an old feeling resuscitated; but when the noble Lord asked them, whether they ever 371 remembered a time when the people thought otherwise, he must answer, that he was unfortunately an older man than the noble Lord, and he could well remember a period—and that in the midst of war and profuse expenditure—when, if such language as the noble Lord and the friends of the Bill had uttered in this debate, had been used at any public meeting, the speaker would have been exposed to the same insult and outrage which the opponents of Reform had recently experienced. He had always observed that, when, from whatever cause, the people were distressed, they always imputed their sufferings to the misconduct of the Government; and, for the truth of this remark, he appealed, as the noble Lord had done, to the history of all times. He, indeed, ascribed the wars in which this country had been engaged, and the vast debt which had followed, to the want of a Reformed Parliament; but had he informed their Lordships in what wars, and what losses the nations around had been involved during the same period? Would the noble Baron charge the enormous ambition of Buonaparte, and the immense machine which he wielded, till he laid half the world at his feet, to the corruption of the House of Commons? And had the noble Baron forgotten that it was this rejected Constitution which enabled this kingdom, small in extent, but vast in its resources, to triumph over that colossal antagonist, and raise itself to such high pre-eminence? The noble Lord was loud in his complaints of the extravagance of the present House of Commons, but had he ever taken the trouble to look into the sums which the patriots in the Long Parliament lavished on themselves and their adherents, in spite of all their self-denying ordinances?—Had he examined into the expenditure of the present reformed government of France, made after the three glorious days of July? He would then find enough to make him doubt whether reformed governments would be more faithful guardians of the public purse than our unreformed Parliament, which had carried retrenchment so far as to leave it doubtful whether it had not lowered the military force, and the strength of the Government, beyond what was consistent with the interests, perhaps even the safety, of the country. The noble Baron had expatiated on what would have been the fortunate results had Charles 1st and Louis 16th made earlier concessions 372 to the wishes of the people—these points he would not discuss with him, because it was absolutely impossible for the wit of man, or the penetration of philosophy, to discover what might have been the consequence of a different conduct from any which was pursued in times of such great and complicated difficulty. The noble Lord had dwelt upon the danger of withholding timely concessions; but were there not dangers on both sides? And did not history afford abundant lessons on the fatal consequence of concession, and the advantage of firm, but well-advised resistance? Taking leave of this part of the subject, he would not follow the noble Lord into details which it was natural for him to enter into, but which, when opposing the principle of the Bill, were not necessary for him to discuss. If, contrary to his hope and expectation, the Bill should be committed, he would not enter into minute cavils with a view to harass or embarrass the Government, but endeavour to give to the details of the Bill what amendments they might be capable of; and without pledging himself to his ultimate vote on the third reading, he would meet it as he had hitherto done, with a fair, manly, and open opposition upon public principle alone. Their Lordships had often been reminded of the dangers arising to Government from an obstinate adherence to old practices under altered circumstances; but might he not be permitted to ask whether in this, which some thought violent and revolutionary, but which, at least, was a very strong and extensive measure, there might not be, on the part of its authors, some remaining bias or partiality to old opinions, some faint reminiscences of the old Whig club of toast-drinking memory? Might it not have received a little colouring from the tone and temper of the speeches of every Whig underling at every public meeting during the last forty years? And something from the spirit, freshly reimported, of the numerous constitution-mongers who had been so busily employed on the Continent during the same period, without ever having succeeded in making one permanent constitution? Or if there might be one, or perhaps two, which yet lingered in existence, they were but new-born, ricketty bantlings, already perishing in their cradles of infantine decrepitude. He could not content himself with his noble friend (Lord Haddington) to search for a plank from 373 the wreck, on which to float a little while longer; but he hoped that by strenuous exertions, they might extricate the vessel from the shoal, and preserve her uninjured by the storm. Before he consented to go into a Committee on this Bill, he must be satisfied that there was a fair prospect that it might be so amended, as to produce a Representation capable of affording better protection to all the great interests of the country. He therefore was justified in asking them whether, in this Bill, the political, the commercial, the colonial interests had been wisely provided for? But he should content himself with asking, whether they had made any just or fit provision for the colonial interests? The noble Lord, he believed, who had first proposed the Amendment, had put that question, and had asked them whether the want of such a provision was not a strong objection to the Bill? And he had been answered with another question by a noble Lord opposite, who asked why they would concede to the colonial interest, and refuse to the home interest? He thought that his noble friend had not been fairly dealt with by that sort of answer, for his argument was, that the colonies were now virtually represented by means of the boroughs, but that, in conceding to the home interest, those boroughs would be taken away, so that the advantage which the colonists now virtually possessed would be destroyed, and nothing would be substituted in its stead. It was said, that this measure was one deeply affecting the interest of the poorer classes; he thought that it quite as deeply affected the richer. He always believed that it was the object of all governments to secure the interests of property. He thought that the Government had not, in the present measure, attended to that object. It was said, that the rich man could, if he disliked to stay in a country, sell his lands and go away; but that the poor man, however wretched he might be, was fixed to the soil. How the first part of that statement could be made he did not understand. How it could be said that a rich man might sell his lands, when there were no purchasers at all to be found in the market, he was at a loss to conceive. He believed that whenever this revolution should be carried, if it ever was carried, into effect, the unfortunate landholder would be found incapable of getting anything for his lands, but if he quitted the country he must take 374 his poverty with him. He thought that old institutions were to be preserved under this Bill—at least, it was so said. Yet he did not see that the basis of property was attended to, or that any beneficial result flowed from this alleged care of property. On the contrary, he asserted, that democratic influence was most attended to, for that power was given in the great towns to the lowest of the inhabitants, and the Constitution was, in fact, made more democratic than ever. At one time the noble Earl himself admitted the opposition of interest in the counties and great towns, for he proposed to give fifty-five new Members to counties, and only forty-three to the towns. It was not for him to argue that in that proposition the noble Earl was wrong, for that towns and counties had a common interest—he believed that in fact they had a common interest in the general prosperity, though they might differ as to the means by which that prosperity was to be attained. In the last Bill ten new Members had been given to counties, ten to great towns, and forty to smaller boroughs; and it was said that when new Members were given to great towns, it was necessary likewise to give them to counties. There was the admission of actual necessity from the noble Earl; and yet, in the present Bill, which he (Lord C.) had before stated, and truly stated, to be more democratic than the former, that principle was not applied. Twelve Members were given to the large towns, and ten to the smaller boroughs; and to the counties, on the strength of the noble Earl's declaration were given, what?—Nothing. It was true that the noble Earl had given in this Bill one additional Member to a county; but then he immediately afterwards took away the Member to give it to a large town that had before been forgotten. The boon was no sooner given than it was taken away. The gentlemen of the county of Monmouth would understand how impartially the authors of the Bill had looked upon the common and undistinguishable interests of the country. But if he could obviate all other objections to the measure there was one which it was impossible to obviate, an objection which went entirely to the principle of the Bill, which was of the deepest importance, which must sensibly affect every sincere friend of the established religion of the country, and which lay at the foundation of the Protest- 375 ant interest. He earnestly called upon their Lordships' attention to the tremendous extent of the present measure in connexion with the present state of Ireland. He entreated them to consider the character of the Irish Reform Bill, which was not indeed then before them, but which they knew to be in progress. There was not one of their Lordships but must be convinced that it was impossible for them to pass this Bill and refuse to pass that. The advocates of the measure said not only that the opinion of the country required Reform, but that great and important interests had sprung up since the present Constitution of Parliament had been established, for which adequate Representation ought to be provided. Now, the interests which had grown up were precisely the interests for which the Bill did not provide. They were interests for which our forefathers had not provided, because in their day, they were not in existence. Had they been in existence it could not be doubted that our forefathers would have provided for them an adequate share of the Representation. The Bill threw overboard the funded and colonial interests of England, and what did it do for Ireland? Unfortunately that country had no monied or colonial interest to provide for. What was really wanted was not a Representation of new towns, but of new interests. And had this been the main feature or principle of the Bill it might have been a ground for going into Committee. But the authors of the Bill took the same general scope for the three kingdoms, regardless of the difference of their circumstances and position. The principle of enfranchising large towns which had been laid down was not applicable to Ireland, for there, unfortunately, a manufacturing interest had not grown up. She had no manufacturing towns, nor was it possible in Ireland to find the materials of manufacturing a schedule A. And was this the moment, when that country was in a state of turbulence approaching to the character of a servile war, and when the property of the Church had already become the subject of spoliation—was this the moment to increase the agitation of society by throwing into its bosom the discussion of the principles of Parliamentary Reform? Was this the time to introduce a measure of Reform which must add strength to the party who had already despoiled the Church, after having declared at the period 376 of their emancipation that by that measure they would be fully and permanently satisfied? Was the state of society in Ireland such at the present moment as to encourage them to introduce a measure of Reform which must deprive of political power and influence the friends, the only friends, of British connection, and give a predominant power to those who had made so bad a use of what they now enjoyed, and who actually threatened, in express terms to employ the power they were about to acquire for the subversion of the British Government? This argument did apply to the principle of the present Bill. He had hoped that the state of Ireland would have opened the eyes of his Majesty's Government to the question of Reform. They had received a little information from a friend of their own, (Mr. Shiel) one of the most influential men in Ireland. Did he prophecy a long period of calm, and happiness, and prosperity, as a consequence of this measure? A venerable statesman had predicted all these as the consequences of Catholic Emancipation. But, alas! the laurels were already torn from his brow. This friend of Ministers spoke fearlessly and forcibly to the purpose. He told the noble Earl that the giant democracy which that Bill would call into being would drive him to the verge of a precipice, would hang him suspended over it, and would there shake him till he conceded its utmost wishes. If this Gentleman, and others of the same school desired that this measure should produce the fruits which his noble friends expected, would they now, in the present stage of the Bill, gratify themselves by indulging in this bragging style of Irish oratory? He could imagine a caricature which it would, indeed, be lamentable to see realized in fact. The noble Earl should be held in a grasp of this democratic giant, over a fearful precipice, dressed in all the gorgeous robes and decorations of his order, and in the magnificent folds of these robes should be seen a Representation of all vested interests, the property of the Church, the funds, the colonies; and having been shaken until life was extinct, down they should fall. One circumstance in this caricature he should especially not forget. It should have the letters H. B. in the corner. Had their Lordships the slightest hope that the measure would be productive of tranquillity in Ireland? His Majesty's Ministers had 377 said that they had selected the place at which they were prepared to make their stand. Did any of them think now that they could do so? If they did, he would ask them what they would think of what one of their own body had been heard to say—and sometimes one did hear what men filling the high situation of Ministers said out of Parliament—what would they think had one of their own body said that the present measure could not be final, but that it was going as far as they thought it prudent to go for the present? If this was the language of Ministers of the Crown, how could they expect that that House would follow them to the extent which they now provisionally proposed, and adopt a measure which they recommended to them as final, and which was identified with another measure yet to be introduced? What did they see at the present moment so propitious to their attempt that they selected it for the purpose of rooting up the established institutions of the country and of planting others in their stead. A philosophic statesman and orator, Mr. Burke, who had been previously quoted by the noble Baron who spoke last observed, 'As it is the interest of Government that reformation should be early, it is the interest of the people it should be temper' ate. It is their interest, because a temperate Reform is permanent, and because it has a principle of growth. Whenever we improve, it is right to leave room for a further improvement; it is right to consider, to look about us, to examine the effect of what we have done. Then we can proceed with confidence, because we can proceed with intelligence;—whereas, in hot reformations—in what men, more zealous than considerate, call making clear work—the whole generally is so crude, so harsh, so indigested, mixed with so much imprudence and so much injustice, so contrary to the whole course of human nature and human institutions, that the very people who are most eager for it, are among the first to grow disgusted with what they have done.' It would be wise, before their Lordships came to a decision on this hasty and intemperate project, to weigh well the words of that eminent statesman. His noble friend (the Marquis of Lansdown) had referred to the constitution of America. It had not been customary hitherto, in this country to appeal to American precedents; but if this 378 Bill was to pass, it would be wise in those who hoped to govern the country hereafter, to accustom themselves to such constitutional references. Yet it would have been as well if his noble friend had turned over another leaf of the American constitution, and there learned how well that people knew, and how cautiously they guarded against, the changeful spirit of republican legislatures. In the fifth Act of the original constitution of the States, which he believed was yet unrepealed, the noble Marquis would find. 'The Congress whenever two-thirds of both houses shall deem it necesssary, shall propose amendments to this constitution, or on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States shall call a Convention for proposing amendments, which in either case shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states or by conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress. Provided that no amendment, which may be made prior to the year 1808, shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the 9th section of the first article; and that no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the senate.' That was more like a contrast than a parallel to the precipitation with which the present Government of England had proceeded in the work of Reform—a precipitate haste which excluded the time for deliberation, and was regardless even of the health of Members of Parliament—a degree of haste, in relation to this particular measure, so pressing and urgent that it placed all the great and complicated business of the country in a state of abeyance and neglect. Even the usual period of relaxation after the labours of an oppressive Session had been abridged. During that period of relaxation he read in a Journal, with which he was happy to hear to-night that his Majesty's Government was not in communication, that Parliament was to assemble before Christmas. He began of course immediately to prepare for his journey to town, although he had learned that the meeting of Parliament was not to be until after the holidays. The noble Marquis had applied to a right reverend Prelate the appellation of a recruiting officer against the Bill. Were there no recruiting 379 officers in its favour? Were there none who, having on a former occasion voted against it themselves, had now employed all their powers of persuasion to induce other Peers to Act as they did, and vote in its support? He did not blame this conduct. He knew it was natural that men in society should endeavour to impress upon others the motives which at the moment they might happen to entertain, however these motives might vary from hour to hour. But the charge of being a recruiting officer against the Bill was a strange one, when that Bill professedly had no other foundation than popular opinion. He had been a Member of Parliament for many years, and he never knew the time when Ministers were not desirous of making parliamentary proselytes. It was also said, that the object of this Bill was to give the middle classes a greater share in the Representation. If it were so, it should have his support; for he thought the middle classes of this country were the most loyal, the most wealthy, the most intelligent middle class in the world. If he could believe the Bill would give an increase of influence and power in Parliament, to that body he should be most unwilling to oppose it. He knew no safer or better depositaries of authority than they could be, holding, as they did, a great portion of the landed, and nearly all of the mercantile, wealth of the kingdom. But was it, he asked, by a measure like this that the middle classes were to receive a share in the Government? How many of the middle classes, ordinarily lived in houses of 10l. a-year? Not one of them occupied such premises except some thrifty old bachelor, with a view to save his rent, but it was not for such a class of men that they were to legislate. The only difference of persons which could be established in this country was, between those who lived upon their capital or on the produce of their property, or by the exercise of their talents, which might be accounted capital, and those who lived merely upon the fruits of their daily manual or mechanical labour. It was with a view to the interests of both these classes that the theory of Representation was founded. Now, in his opinion, this Bill would be fatal to the middle classes. The middle classes would, in b s opinion, be entirely swamped by this measure. He trusted, however, that ere long—he hoped it would not be too late—they would discover their true rights, and see that 380 their interests were identical with those of that class which had been denominated the highest. True it was, the greatest properties might be the first seized, but the properties of all of the middle classes would eventually become the prey of the spoiler. They might expect great things from this measure of Reform, but, if it passed they would derive nothing from it but their own destruction. The noble Earl (Earl Grey) said, you must not judge of the Reform Bill by the Returns in November next. Hereafter, he said, the country would be satisfied—property would recover its natural ascendancy—people of a different kind would be elected. He supposed the noble Earl meant good Members would be then returned, because he said he wished for a change in a part of the Constitution, because it was incapable of returning good Members. Now the noble Earl had long been a Member for Northumberland—he ceased to represent that county—he became then a Member for a close borough. But did he then cease to become a good Member of Parliament? Did Mr. Fox cease to be a good Member of Parliament when he became the Representative of a close borough? When—as it assuredly would be if the Bill passed—Ireland was separated from England, and all the Protestant establishments in that country put down, he was compelled to say, that, under all the circumstances, the House of Brunswick could not be regarded in Ireland as other than usurpers. What, then, he asked, would become of the Bill of Rights? The leaders of a certain party in Ireland declared that, when their first summer should have passed away, and the Autumn of our decay should produce the yellow leaf, the next Autumn would see the whole fabric in the dust. He, however, did look to what would take place hereafter; and he said, that, if the Bill passed in anything like the shape it was presented to them, the sooner they turned away their eyes from Ireland the better. The noble Lord had compared the Constitution to a coat; for himself, he was satisfied that they should wear that old Saxon garment so long as a shred of it remained. The noble. Lord was a greater dandy; but he would not consent to have the pro[...] f the Constitution placed in durance to gratify the fancies of a political tailor, although he might bring over to us the newest French [...]hions, and recom- 381 mend to our notice the Belgian costume. He had heard much of the march of intellect, and he thought the march of folly had been parallel with the march of intellect; so much so, indeed, that it required great discrimination to distinguish the footsteps of the one from the traces of the other. Therefore, he considered that they should be most cautious in coming to a decision of this question of Reform. The Ministry, in their attempt to redeem a rash pledge, did not alone risk their own honour and character, but they risked the property and happiness of all men in the country, and they risked the greatness and glory of the empire. If the noble Earl could play the part of Quintus Curtius, they would have no right to object to it; but they certainly had a right to object to his compromising the happiness and safety of others. The noble Earl, however, did not seem to admire that act of self-devotion, for he would rather swamp the honour and independence of that House than run the smallest risk even of deranging his own consistency. The noble Earl had said, he did not wish to be driven to the expedient of creating Peers, which, if possible, he would fain not use. What was the necessity which compelled him to sacrifice the House of Lords? How was he driven to it? Was it to carry the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill? It could only be for this. Since, without much driving, all, or almost all, acknowledged that, under present circumstances, it would be wise to concede some temperate Reform. And was it merely to carry into effect a scheme which was so temperate, that it only left two Universities, which they did not muchlike, untouched and unaltered, that the noble Earl would destroy the House of Peers? Was it to force upon them his exclusive Bill, that he was prepared to say to them, "If I have no other means, I will not hesitate to destroy the House of Lords?" Was it for such an object he was prepared to advise the Sovereign to set his hand to an Act, which was an abuse of his authority—an abuse of his most important prerogative. Was it for this he would recommend the Sovereign to an act which had been pronounced, by the greatest lawyers of the age, a greater violation of the duty pf the Sovereign to the other branches of the Legislature than any which had been committed by James 2nd? Could they forget that, by a vote of Parliament—and who would say that it was an improper vote?— 382 James 2nd was declared to have abdicated the Throne of these realms? He knew the noble Earl had always been a Reformer; but the noble Viscount had not long been a Reformer, and many of the present Government had been brought up in the school of the Anti-Jacobins. He knew that his noble friend had not made up his mind to a Reform until after a painful struggle. He knew that it was said, his noble friend, if a Reformer at all, was a most moderate Reformer. Well, then, with a Government, consisting in great part of such new converts to Reform—and the noble Earl having admitted that his ideas on the subject had been much changed—he could not suppose that Government would take a step so fraught with danger. He admired the Whigs of former times, who felt the danger of meddling with our institutions, and pursued a very different line from the Whiglings of the present day. What could they think, when they heard Law Officers of the Crown not only maintain that the King had a right, by making Peers, to destroy the House of Lords, but also that he had a right to issue writs to some towns and places, and withhold them from others—in fact, that he possessed the uncontrolled powers of the Grand Seignor, and could make two new Houses of Parliament out of his own slaves and dependents? This was the modern Whig version, of the British Constitution. They recommend for imitation one of the worst acts of the Tories—one of the worst measures that soil the pages of our history—and one for which the guilty Minister was impeached by the Whig Opposition of that day. The love of things ancient, he knew it was the fashion of the day to decry as debasing prejudice. For his part, he thought it a sentiment which elevated the character of him who entertained it. What but this prejudice made a man prefer the friend of his youth to a stranger unknown to him?—and what also was it that bound the noblest spirits to their own country? What but that made them prefer the oaks of the forest, under which the Druids might have worshipped, to the splendid foliage of the spring. He would conclude by imploring their Lordships to remember, that the British Constitution was one of those ancient and venerable objects; and to reject the pernicious counsels which had been addressed to them in behalf of the Bill, and thus save their country from the many evils by which 383 it was threatened. He implored their Lordships not to lay the axe to the root of the tree. He implored them to avert the axe. If they did so, their destiny was in their own power: if not, their destruction appeared to him inevitable.
§ Viscount Goderich
said, he had listened with the utmost attention to the eloquent speech of the noble Earl; but still the noble Earl had not succeeded in convincing him that the objections which he had urged with so much force against the principles of this Bill were founded on solid reasoning, or were supported by conclusive argument. One thing was quite apparent on the present occasion—it gave a novel air to their proceedings, and, as it was well worthy of their Lordships' notice, he thought it right to advert to it. If their Lordships' former discussions of this subject did not prove that a general wish for some degree of Reform existed, it was now perfectly clear, from the concessions made by all, that, whether this Bill was or was not the proper measure—whether it did or did not embrace the right mode for correcting the defects in the Representative system—still the general opinion evidently was, that some material change must take place in that system. He stated this in justification of the course which he had adopted with reference to this question. If he wanted to vindicate himself against the charge which the noble Earl seemed half-disposed to bring against some Members of his Majesty's Government, who now pursued a course different from that which they had taken in former periods of their life, he thought he might appeal with confidence, as the ground of his justification, to that consentaneous opinion which all had expressed as to the necessity of adopting some species of Reform. What that Reform ought to be was now the subject of debate. He quarrelled not with those who fairly stated their objections to the measure now under consideration. It was fit that they should consider the plan submitted to them for their approbation. It was right that they should investigate whether the plan now brought before the House was the best that could be devised for the purpose which his Majesty's Government had in view. Amongst those who were compelled to make the admission that some Reform was necessary, there appeared however, to be a sort of intuitive horror against any effectual Reform—an intuitive horror against the extinction of 384 that which was at the bottom of all the evil, and the attempt to get rid of which formed the head and front of the offending of his Majesty's Ministers. He meant the extinction of the nomination boroughs. The arguments of the noble Lord who moved the amendment, and of a noble friend of his who spoke ably on the subject the other night, all proceeded on the principle that these nomination boroughs were extremely useful. The noble Baron (Ellenborough) had paraded before their Lordships a list of many distinguished individuals who had found their way into Parliament, and some of whom now sat there by virtue of this very abuse. The noble Baron had told their Lordships of the utility of the presence of those Members in Parliament, and he argued that the honour of their character, and the value of their services, were sufficient to vindicate the defective mode by which they got into Parliament. The noble Baron painted with great warmth the more agreeable parts of the system, but he left untouched those darker shades by which it was disfigured. Noble Lords might conceal those defects from themselves, but they could not conceal them from the eyes of the country. The noble Baron, in addressing their Lordships, had not defended what had been called the shameful parts of the Constitution; but that noble Baron was followed by a bolder champion—a member of the Church—he might almost say of the church militant. That right rev. Prelate, with a boldness that filled his mind with astonishment, defended that system—the defects of which the noble Baron had attempted to conceal, and loudly called on their Lordships to perpetuate its most glaring abuse. The arguments of the right rev. Prelate were the most dangerous he had ever heard. Why, he asked, were those defects called the shameful parts of the Constitution? They were shameful, in the first place, because they were inconsistent with the Constitution—they were shameful, because they were not agreeable to any intelligible idea of Representation—they were shameful, because they placed in the hands of irresponsible individuals an influence which they ought not to possess—they were shameful, because the Members were irresponsible, because it was impossible to have any guarantee against the liability of that power being subject to that which all such power must be more or less subject to—gross abuse—in 385 fine, they were emphatically shameful, because it was well known that they were abused. The right of nomination, it was contended, might be safely exercised; but their Lordships must be aware that that right frequently changed hands, and they must also be aware that those who wished to procure it were compelled to pay for it. What, then, were they to expect from those who made a sacrifice of property to obtain an interest of this kind? Looking to human nature, they could only expect that individuals who gave money for boroughs would endeavour to make money out of them, and would rather attend to their own views of interest or of ambition than to the public good. And yet they were gravely told that this great right, this power of nomination, ought to be preserved as the best feature of the Constitution, without which their Lordships, and all their honours, must tumble to the earth and be ground to powder, for such was the phrase used by the right rev. Prelate. Their Lordships, however, mustall well know that that so much boasted right was contaminated by money; and he would contend that it was a stain, a shame, a blot, to the Representation of this country. He would contend that it was contrary to individual rights—that it was contrary to freedom of election—that it was contrary to law—that it was contrary to ancient usage—that it was contrary to the well-considered Constitution of the country. Did he make these observations from any private feelings of his own, unsupported by authority? Did he extract these words from ancient musty records, over which the antiquary loved to pore? Did he go to philosophers of old for the sentiment which he had expressed? Did he apply to the Constitution-mongers of France or of any other country to bear him out in his opinions? No; he quoted words from an authority that must satisfy their Lordships. He quoted the words of an authority which, give him leave to say, their Lordships durst not dispute. He gave them the words of an Act of Parliament; and perhaps it would be well for their Lordships to consider how the law dealt with the improper intermeddling with the Representation. The law described this offence, which was an invariable adjunct, a component part of the system of nomination—for he defied any noble Lord to dissociate the offence from what was called the right of nomination—the law, then, 386 first described the offence, and then proceeded to lay down the punishment. It declared, that the individual who paid the money, which was to place him in the House, should be subjected to a penalty of 1,000l. It declared him incapable of sitting in Parliament for that place or any other, and, in short, pointed him out, ipso facto, as no Member of Parliament. If any individual who had incurred this penalty became, for the first time, cognizant of the fact, ought it not to give him strong ground for reflection, when he found that such serious consequences might arise from his conduct in putting individuals into Parliament who had no right to be there? This system, he would argue, tended to destroy all respect for law—it tended to confound all notion of right and wrong—it tended to involve in inextricable difficulty the limits of obedience and disobedience. Let their Lordships consider how large a portion of our laws rested, not merely on moral sense, but on positive enactment—how large a portion of offences, like those which he had been describing, were mala prohibita. If the corrupt system at present pursued were allowed to go on with impunity, what effect would it have on our Legislation with respect to other offences? He agreed with the right rev. Prelate in considering this the most august assembly in the world, but he did not see that it was likely to be supported in its lofty state by the admission of the doctrine which the right rev. Prelate had laid down. If they admitted a system of this kind, on what point, he would ask, were they to rest the affections of the people of this country, when they were so governed? When he was told that this system ought to be maintained for the security of their Lordships' dignity, independence, and station in the country, he felt that he was called upon to forget all those lofty feelings and considerations which gave value and distinction to an English Peerage:—Incipit ipsorum contra me stare Parentum Nobilitas claramque facem præferre pudori.When it was argued that the Ministers were revolutionists, because they wished to cut off from the Constitution those abuses, and that the amputation of these shameful excrescences was to lead to inevitable ruin, he wanted to know what would be the ultimate effect of perpetuating the gangrene of such a sore, and how long they might hope to linger on under the influence of 387 such an undermining and fatal malady? Looking at the posture in which the country stood, and the feeling which led the people to call for an additional measure of Reform, it was impossible for the Legislature to escape without making some decided attempt to get rid of this monstrous abuse, which every man knew to exist, and few were disposed to bear. If the disfranchisement of some boroughs was necessary, in order to give enfranchisement to others of more importance, he believed he should find no one who would contest the justice of that principle. Indeed, the noble Lord who spoke last, had formerly admitted the propriety of some such change. He had even taken steps to obtain it, and when he blamed Ministers for having proposed such a measure as the present, he wondered that that noble Earl had not reflected on the want of success which he had himself experienced in winning over their Lordships to a minor and more moderate Reform. That noble Lord had quoted a beautiful sentiment of Mr. Burke, which he entirely adopted; but, so far from justifying the noble Earl's argument, it did, in his eyes, afford a direct vindication of his conduct. The substance of that passage was an exhortation "to grant a change in time—not to suffer ourselves to be driven into a corner—to apply temperate remedies to prevent those consequences in which the want of such remedies had in all times, and in all countries, involved all governments." They had heard much of revolution, and a right rev. Prelate the other night had given them what appeared to him to be the most singular history of the revolution of France that he had ever heard. The right rev. Prelate seemed to think that the excesses which were committed in the early part of the revolution were sanctioned by the law. He said, "I will show you that great changes were effected in France, and that dreadful excesses were committed under the sanction of the law which those changes had produced." Now, he should like to know by virtue of what law, or by virtue of what part of the French constitution it was that the mob of Paris stormed the Bastile. He would ask the right rev. Prelate, by virtue of what law of France it was, that a furious crowd of beings, more like demons than human creatures, thirsting for blood, proceeded to Versailles, burst in upon the privacy of the Chamber of the King and Queen, murdered their guards, and conveyed them to Paris, preceded, not by the ensigns of royalty, but by two frightful 388 symbols of murder. Was that, he demanded, done under the sanction of any lain? It was perfectly true that all these horrors occurred when great changes were taking place in France. It was also true that then existed at the time a sort of Representative body; but it was totally unlike—nay, it was the very antipodes of—any legislative authority that had ever existed in France. There had been a Chamber of Peers—there had been tiers étals—but these horrors took place when those bodies no longer existed, and a forcible revolution had taken place. Was there, then, anything in the extinction of the nomination boroughs, which was at all similar to what had taken place in France? Certainly there was not; and he would say, not only was the extinction of those boroughs consistent with, but it was required by, the constitution. The extension of the elective franchise to large towns was justified by every principle of constitutional law. If, then, it were found necessary to give Members to places which did not at present possess Representatives in Parliament, how could they fairly regulate the principle if they did not apply it to individuals who inhabited large towns? What was the principle of scot-and-lot? What was- the principle of the inhabitants of houses who were allowed to vote? How many individuals possessed the right of Representation founded upon these two points alone? Were Ministers, then, to be told by noble Lords opposite, that their proposition was speculative and fanciful? In point of fact, they adopted in the new boroughs which they proposed to create, the very same principle that had hitherto existed in most of the old boroughs in the kingdom. Then, he said, that it was utterly inconsistent with common sense and common reason to charge this measure with being revolutionary. Their Lordships might say that it went too far, that it disfranchised too much, or enfranchised where there was no occasion for it—that the qualification which it proposed was too low; but he defied them to give any proof of intelligent argument that any one of its principles comprehended an atom of what was inconsistent with the principle, law, and practice of the Constitution. It had been said, that, if the franchise were extended to the degree proposed, the measure would be of too democratic a nature. Much as he loved liberty—and he loved it not only because a love of it had descended to him from those, some of them not insignificant, from whom 389 he derived his birth; but he loved it because he thought it necessary for the happiness and the well-being of his country—but he did not think it necessary for liberty that democratic principles should prevail to too great an extent. But he wished to know how the franchise which Ministers proposed was so democratic as it had been called? They proposed to give an additional right and power to the middle classes of society to send Members to Parliament. But when noble Lords argued against that principle of the measure, they always spoke as if the 10l. qualification was the maximum, and not the minimum. They talked of the qualification as if there lived in great towns no persons but those who just came within that description. But, when they came to discuss the Bill in detail, he believed it would be perfectly easy to show that there never existed a greater delusion. Yet he wished to know on what principle the franchise could be given to persons who moved in an honest and respectable, but still somewhat inferior rank of life, if it were not generally extended to such a degree, at least, as to bring them within the qualification required? Some of the persons who would vote under the qualification proposed were wealthy—some were highly educated—some had great influence and power. They would have the right of voting by virtue of the franchise, as regulated by the Bill. Others, perhaps, less influential—less wealthy—of inferior education, less cultivated and refined—came also within the 10l. qualification. But why should they be excluded from the right of voting? And if there should happen to be an inferior and lower class of persons, with nothing but their industry to recommend them, on what account were they to be excluded? Did it follow that a man must necessarily be excluded from the right of voting for Representatives in Parliament, merely because be did not happen to be rich or accomplished? According to the provisions of this Bill, the lowest of those whom it was proposed to invest with the privilege of voting for Members to serve in the other House might be assumed to be honest and industrious persons. They might not be great politicians—not men whom one would take into Council to decide upon great political acts—not persons to whom one would intrust the reins of Government; but they were men from the earnings of whose industry the condition was exacted that they should be charged to the poor-rate to a certain amount—that that charge should be paid—that the amount of 390 the assessment to the King's taxes should be paid—that they should have occupied the house in which they lived for a certain term; and that, fulfilling these conditions, they should be admitted to the right of voting for Representatives in Parliament. He maintained that there was the strongest presumption for believing that a man, who had fulfilled these conditions was, at least, honest and industrious. If he were idle and profligate it was impossible, or at all events, extremely improbable, that he could comply with such conditions. And why, he wished to know, should their Lordships suppose that all people of this description were a set of levellers? He believed that there was a body of persons in this as well as in other countries, who were anxious for a war of no property against property; but if their Lordships adopted this Bill, and showed that they had confidence in that class out of which the ranks of the discontented were likely to be strengthened, they would take the best method of binding them by a new tie to those whom fortune had placed above them; and he had no doubt that they would send to the House of Commons men fit to represent them, and who would be capable of performing their duties properly. In the visionary fears, then, of those noble Lords who anticipated so many unhappy results from the proposed enlargement of the franchise, he, for one, could not participate. He must, in conclusion, beg to allude to the speech of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter) on a former night. That right rev. Prelate had invoked the great Ruler and Disposer of things to direct them in their decision on this eventful occasion. In that prayer he joined, although he could not help contrasting the last words of the right rev. Prelate with the tone and temper which pervaded his speech. He (Lord Goderich) did not wish to offend or to hurt the feelings of any man; but upon this occasion, and upon some others that had occurred, things had been said with respect to the motives, perhaps, but certainly with respect to the conduct of the Government on matters of a sacred character, which had created in his mind feelings which he knew hardly how to check. They had been accused of indifference to religion, and of unchristian conduct. He regretted that such charges should have come from a quarter where he should have thought that a feeling of Christian charity would have intervened to prevent the utterance of that which, though embued with enough of gall and acrimony, was still without the slightest foundation.
§ The Earl of Eldon
said, that during the 391 fifty years of his public life he had never suffered such deep pain as on seeing the House of Commons come to the Bar of that House with the Bill now upon their Lordships' Table. Looking at that body as representing the constituency of the country, the light in which all great constitutional authorities held that they ought to be viewed, he could not but feel a deep sense of humiliation in recollecting the pledges under which they had permitted themselves to be returned to the House of Commons. At the time of the Revolution of 1688, when the convention came to pass an Act of Parliament by which the best rights of the subject were secured, they set out by a declaration of this doctrine, affirming that they were not delegates from this place or from that place, but, clothing themselves with a character more elevated and a higher duty, they declared that they were the Representatives of all the Commons of England. To convert a Member of the other House of Parliament into the mere Representative of the particular place for which he was returned, instead of the Representative of the whole of the Commons of England, was a perversion of one of the best principles of the Constitution; and if there were Members of the other House who would indeed submit to the degradation of being called to account by their particular constituents, it was high time to take measures to prevent such men from continuing to sit in Parliament. It had been stated, that he (the Earl of Eldon) had declared himself in that House an enemy to all Reform. He begged to repeat what he had stated upon a late occasion in that House, that he was bound as a Peer of Parliament to pledge himself not at all; but in the conscientious discharge of his duty to consider and determine upon each measure separately according to its merits. He opposed the measure in discharge of a sacred duty which he owed to the Constitution and to the people. Long as he had been in Parliament, he never yet heard any proposition for Reform in either House which in his conscience he believed was more or less than a mere alteration, without any improvement being likely to result from it; nor was any one alteration ever proposed which it was possible for him to support. It was alleged as one of the necessities for Reform, that the Members of that House and of the House of Commons had no care for any men but those of their own rank. On the contrary, his principle was, that members of Parliament, whether sitting in 392 that House or in the House of Commons, were the trustees of the people, and bound to act the best for their interests. If a man was poor and in a humble station of life, he was an Englishman and their fellow-countryman, and as well entitled to protection and to have his happiness consulted as their Lordships themselves. But then he was told, that, for the last fifty years, he had voted against all Reform; and although he had heard many propositions on that subject which he would more readily have voted for than for this, that assertion was true. But having admitted that, he must do himself the justice to say, that he never saw the proposition made which, in his conscience, he believed had a tendency to promote the happiness, or advance the prosperity of the country. He never had seen, in that or in the other House, any measure, though coming under the enchanting name of Reform, which appeared to him calculated to lead in any likelihood to an alteration for the better. But would any man to whom he had now the honour of addressing himself tell him, that this Bill did not contemplate a more violent and extensive change than had ever before been proposed by any man possessing the character of a statesman? Let them take the plans of Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, and of the noble Earl himself, and compare them with what was now before their Lordships. Yet there never was a measure proposed in the House of Commons while he was there, which the House did not think dangerous, and rejected it accordingly. But then he was asked, why they did not go into the Committee and try to improve it? His answer was, "You have brought in a Bill so vicious in its principles, that it is impossible to correct them in dealing with the clauses in Committee." The noble Earl had told them, one and all, that the principles of the Bill were to be found in the preamble. What he had to say upon that point was this: that if the principles of this Bill were to be found in the preamble, then the principles of the last Bill must have been contained in the preamble also, which was a very unfortunate fact for his noble friend, who opposed the last Bill because its principles were incorrigible, and yet voted for this on account of some change which they saw in its principles; for he would undertake to say, that, in the preamble now before them, there was no syllable, no word, no letter, of alteration from the preamble of the last Bill. How, then, did it happen, that those noble Lords were now ready to go into Committee 393 with a view to amend the clauses, when they were before unanimous in determining, and in leading the House to determine, that they would not go into Committee, because the principles contained in the preamble were so vicious, that it was impossible their vices could be cured? But those noble Lords now turned round and said, that there had been some change in the principle. He denied that there was in reality any change. But then they were told, that the Bill, such as it was, had come recommended to them by the opinions of the wealth and intelligence of the country. He denied the assertion; but, though many in the country might have expressed an opinion favourable to this measure, he did not think that opinion would remain the same, if they had the Bills affecting the other parts of the United Kingdom fully before them. When the Bill was brought into their Lordships' House, it was his intention to have moved its postponement, until the whole extent of the measure was before them. But the minds of the people were so bent upon the settlement of the question, that he scarcely felt himself justified in interposing delay. He was now sorry, however, that he did not move the postponement of the consideration of this Bill, until the Irish and Scotch Bills were before them. The state of the question of the Church in Ireland, was such as to have caused great distrust in his mind, as to whether they ought to have given any consideration to this Bill, until something had been done to remove the danger with which it was threatened. His mind certainly did accuse him of not having done his duty to his fellow-subjects when he consented to receive the Bill. He did not mean to say, that all the three Bills should proceed pari passu, but, considering the nature of property in Scotland, and the situation of parties in Ireland, he thought their Lordships would look with somewhat different feelings at this Bill, if they had also the others before them. It was, however, now too late to express any regret on that point. Another consideration which he should wish to submit to their Lordships was this—and, perhaps, in submitting it, he should be told that he held, what he detested, radical doctrines. He would assert, that the House of Commons was elected by a constituency—that constituency now so much blamed and calumniated—yet all the laws, from the accession of William 3rd to the present time, were passed by Commons chosen by that constituency. Now, if that were to be set aside 394 as unfit to choose a House of Commons, what, he would ask, would be the condition of the sovereignty of this country, and of all the great interests which had been affected by measures sanctioned by that House? If that constituency was now to be changed, what security were they to have for the continuance of those guarantees of person and property, on which they had hitherto relied with so much confidence? It might be of little consequence, perhaps, what became of him as an individual, or of what little property he had got together. His life and his property were both at the service of his country. His life was of little value at this time, and his property, perhaps, might be transferred to fructify in the pocket of some otherwise pennyless financier. These might be minor considerations in looking at the effect of a great change; but when he came to look at the possible and probable effect of that change on the sovereignty—on the throne of the country—he owned he could not contemplate it with any but feelings of fear and dismay. He was not one of those who could think, with any kind of satisfaction, on the effect of a system which might send the Sovereign of the country abroad, to provide for himself as a teacher of music or mathematics, and to afterwards import him back as a citizen king. He was the less inclined to look to the proposed measure with anything like a happy presage, when he considered that they were now debating it on its second and most important stage, on the very anniversary of the day which saw passed into a law another measure, of which so much good had been predicted, and from which so little had resulted; which, on the contrary, had produced effects the very reverse of those predicted by its supporters. He must repeat, then, that he looked with no confidence at the effect of allowing this measure to pass its present stage, for he saw no hope of such an amelioration of it in the Committee, as would cure what he considered the great defect of its principle. What argument could they expect to hear in the Committee, in favour of the most objectionable parts of the Bill, which they had not already heard? What would their Lordships say now, if they had allowed the last Bill to become the law of the land? Why the effect would have been, that they would have some towns disfranchised, which it was now intended should continue to return Members, and places excluded from the franchise, which were now included, 395 yet the same kind of arguments were used for going into the Committee on that occasion as at present. They were then told, that it would be a final settlement of the question. It was a gross fallacy to state, that either that or the present Bill would be a final settlement of the question of Reform or change. What had they seen gained by any of the great changes which had been made within their time? They had seen the changes in France in the year 1789, followed by attempts at a revolution in this country; and how did they begin here? Why, placards were stuck up in all the public places, with the words "No King;" and he did not hesitate to predict that, if they passed the measure now before them, they would bring on such changes as would destroy that Constitution which had placed this country in an altitude so far above all other nations. But they would not stop even there—they would go on until, along with the ruin of the Constitution, they would also involve the ruin of the country itself. It was utterly impossible, that, if this Bill passed, it could be a final measure. He had heard much of a measure—the exercise of the royal prerogative—by which the passing of this Bill was to be secured. He did not deny the right of the Sovereign to the free exercise of that prerogative. He would admit that, at the next Recorder's report, of persons condemned at the Old Bailey, the Sovereign possessed, not only the right to grant a free pardon to any number of such convicts, but to make Peers of them if he pleased. At the same time he contended, that no censure would be too severe, no punishment too great, for any Minister who should advise his Sovereign to destroy the House of Lords, by such an enormous creation of new Peers. What caused the Revolution of 1688, which hurled James end and the whole race of Stuarts from the Throne of this country? Was it not the power which he claimed of dispensing with the laws, and of setting his own will above the will of the two Houses of Parliament? Now, if the Crown were to exercise its power of creating Peers, to carry into execution an Act of Parliament, which that House deemed unfit to be carried into execution, would it not be a stretch of the prerogative in legislation quite as dangerous as the dispensing power of James end. It had been proposed by some of those who wished to set aside the Constitution as it existed, that writs should be issued by the Sovereign to new boroughs and great towns, and that 396 the writs which had been usually issued should be withheld from others; and he would say, without hesitation, that, if the advice given by one of the newspapers, to swamp that House with a number of new Peers, was adopted by the Minister, he would not pursue a course less unconstitutional, than if he was to advise the King to exercise his prerogative with respect to the writs in the manner he had stated. He had not, in all human probability, long to live; but whilst Providence thought proper to prolong his life, it was a duty which he owed to himself, to his Sovereign, and to the Constitution, to use his best exertions to hand down those rights which the present generation inherited from their ancestors unimpaired to the generation that was to succeed it. He contended, that their Lordships had no more right to take away the elective franchise from the present holders of it, than they had to take away from them the property in houses or land which conferred it. The elective franchise was a vested right, which their Lordships were not entitled to declare forfeited, without having some proof of the delinquency of those who possessed it. Borough property was a species of property which had been known in this country for centuries, it had been over and over again made the subject of purchase and sale in all parts of the kingdom, and they might as well extinguish the right of private individuals to their advowsons, as their right to exercise the privileges which they derived from the possession of burgage tenures. He could not separate from this Bill the two Bills for amending the Representation of the people in Scotland and Ireland. If he had those Bills with him, he could demonstrate to the conviction of all who heard him, that the Scotch Bill would create a perfect revolution in Scotland, and that the Irish Bill would destroy all those bulwarks which were essential to the safety of the Protestant establishment in Ireland. Besides, whatever might be the case in England, it was quite clear, that the holders of borough property in Scotland and in Ireland were entitled to a compensation for the loss of property which these Bills would respectively inflict upon them. In Scotland, when the heritable jurisdictions were destroyed, the greatest caution was observed by the Legislature, that those who then held them should not be damnified in property by the loss of them; and, in Ireland, when the Union was passed, and the number of Irish boroughs was diminished, a liberal 397 compensation was granted to those who then were in possession of them. If the principle which was adopted in those two countries at those two periods were adopted on the present occasion, then would the holders of Scotch and Irish boroughs which these Bills disfranchised be entitled to receive compensation also. Any Irish Nobleman, who had received compensation for the destruction of his Irish borough—who voted for the present Bill, was bound, as an honest man to go and return back to the Treasury the money which he had received some thirty years ago as a compensation for his loss. He had stated it to be his sincere opinion, that the great mass of intelligence and property now in the country were adverse to this Bill, and he still thought his assertion correct. He did not mean to deny, that the lower class of people were anxious for the measure; but, in his judgment, they would not be satisfied until much more was done than was now proposed. The associations called Political Unions explicitly declared, they had further objects in view. Moreover, if the labouring classes and the operatives still continued to Subscribe a portion of their scanty wages to support contests against the Aristocracy in counties, some hundreds of miles from the place in which they earned their subsistence, things would soon be reduced to a condition incompatible with the existence of good government. He thought that sufficient promptness and energy had not been displayed by the Government in putting down the Political Unions. They had, indeed, issued a proclamation against them, but they had not seriously endeavoured to give effect to that proclamation. The consequence was, that a degree of excitement prevailed among the lower orders in favour of this Bill, which was without a parallel in the history of this country. Be the consequences what they might, he was determined not to participate in the injustice perpetrated by this Bill—he was resolved to have no share in tampering with the Constitution. He would do his duty, and would fear not. He maintained that, during all these discussions, the name of the King had been shamefully and unconstitutionally used. The Sovereign was constitutionally advised to recommend the consideration of this measure to his Parliament: but he was not constitutionally advised when he was brought forward almost personally to say, that he was determined to have it carried into law. For the sake of the higher, the 398 middle, and the lower orders of society—for all of whom, and more particularly for the last, he considered himself a trustee—he was determined, as far as in him lay, to preserve the blessings of that Constitution under which they had all been born and spent their lives, which had rendered them happier than any other people on God's earth, and which had given to their country a lustre and a glory that did not belong to any other nation in the world.
§ Lord Tenterden
said, that he felt it to be his duty to state very shortly, the plain reasons which would induce him to give his vote against the second reading of this Bill. If the question before their Lordships were, whether the House should or should not resolve itself into a Committee to consider whether it was fitting to make any alteration in the Constitution of the House of Commons, or if the question were whether a Bill containing a safe and moderate plan of Reform should be taken into consideration by their Lordships, he should have had no objection in either of those cases to have voted for the affirmative proposition; but the question now was, whether they should go further with the consideration of this specific Bill, a Bill which, be had no hesitation in saying ought on no account to be permitted to pass into a law. The Bill evinced a settled disregard to all existing rights. In the disfranchising clauses of it, it went far beyond anything which could be done with safety; and in the enfranchising clauses, it went equally far beyond anything which the state of the country required. For it extended the elective franchise, not merely to the great populous towns which had recently risen into opulence, but also to the villages and hamlets which had sprung up around them. Moreover it placed the elective franchise, if not entirely, at least in a preponderating degree, in the hands of one class. If that class had been a class of men well educated and well informed, be should have felt great reluctance to placing the elective franchise so entirely in their hands; but it was notorious that this class did not consist of such persons as he had just described. The power of returning a majority of the House of Commons was given to a class of persons far below the middle class of society. He admitted that that class about to receive the franchise was entitled to the superintending care and protection of their Lordships, but he did not expect to find any man bold enough to say, that it was entitled to the exclusive exercise of the elective 399 franchise. He could never consent to go into Committee, upon this Bill, because if he were in the Committee he should feel himself compelled by a sense of duty to move that every word of the Bill, after the word "that," be erased from it; for he saw no hope of modifying it in such a manner as would entitle it to his approbation. He had listened with attention to all the arguments adduced by noble Lords in support of it; and he must say he had not heard a word which could lead him to believe that the principle of the Bill they had already rejected was materially altered, or that they were disposed in the present Bill to consent to those changes the adoption of which must form the only inducement for their going into a Committee on the details. A noble Duke (the Duke of Buckingham) had promised to bring forward a measure of a description less objectionable; and, therefore, he had the less reluctance in coming to a determination to reject the present measure altogether. But it had been said, that their Lordships ought to attend to the wishes of the people, and ought not to act in contradiction to a decided majority of the House of Commons. He admitted that the expressed wishes of the people deserved consideration, but he contended, at the same time, that it was the duty of their Lordships to consider whether the fulfilment of their wishes might not be pernicious to themselves, and if they were convinced that it would, it was their duty not to grant the wishes of the people. He, admitted, also that the opinion of a majority of the House of Commons was entitled to respect from their Lordships, but it ought to have no other influence over their judgments, and certainly ought not to induce them blindly to pass a Bill of which they could discover neither the merits nor the necessity. As by going into the Committee this measure could not be so altered as to become a beneficial measure, he should oppose its future progress altogether; for, in his opinion, any other course would only be adding delusion to the disappointment of the public. But it had been said, that calamitous consequences would follow the rejection of this Bill by their Lordships. He believed that this would turn out a false prediction; for he never had despaired, nor would he despair now, of the good sense of the people of England. Give them but time for reflection, and he was sure that they would act not only wisely but justly. Of late they had been excited by the schemes of Ministers, by the arts of agitators, by the in- 400 flammatory productions of the public Press. But give them time to cool and he had no doubt that they would be able to distinguish between their true and their pretended friends. He had another reason for believing that no serious calamity would arise from the rejection of the Bill by their Lordships, and that was this—there was a general feeling now abroad among the people that they had of late been following blind guides; and a very great majority of the nation was ready to enter into and to adopt any measure of moderate and temperate Reform. The measure had left nothing untouched in the existing state of the elective franchise. It introduced a complete alteration in all its departments. It went, at the same time, to vest all the power of the State in the other House of Parliament, and, were it passed into a law, there would be nothing left for this House but to obey the dictation of the Commons. "Never," said the noble and learned Lord, in conclusion, "never shall I enter the doors of this House, after it has become the phantom of its departed greatness."
The Bishop of Rochester
said, he was desirous of offering a few observations to their Lordships, with a view of putting them in possession of the reasons which would guide his vote on the approaching division. In the first place, he had to observe, that the light which appeared to have dawned on some of his right reverend brethren, and on some of the noble Lords who on the division of last year gave their votes against the Ministerial measure of Reform, had not cast its ray upon him. He repeated, that he was still unilluminated, and he regretted it not, for he was convinced that the change in the opinions of those individuals to whom he alluded was based on expediency, and he did not think that their Lordships ought to legislate on expediency upon a question involving the total subversion and annihilation of law and justice. If the maxim were true "that we may not commit evil that good may come of it," much lesss might their Lordships commit a great evil to get rid of a temporary inconvenience. The temporary inconvenience to which he referred was the press of popular opinion, and the expediency to which he alluded as guiding the attention in the minds of certain noble Lords and right reverend Prelates was the effect of popular clamour. Now, he desired to draw a distinction between popular clamour and public opinion, and, with little trouble, he thought it was in his power to afford an 401 existing example, which was better than all definition, of each. In one word, his Majesty's Government enjoyed the absolute benefit of popular clamour, while he firmly and conscientiously believed, that the majority of public opinion was on the side of the question of which he was an advocate. As he happened to deny the correctness of the motto "Vox populi suprema lex," his vote would be given in opposition to that party who made popular, nay, mob clamour, their basis of legislation. There was no man either in their Lordships' House or in the country who entertained a greater respect for what was termed the people than he did, so long as they maintained their respective and private stations. Let them be commoners or let them be Peers, be their station high or be their station low, if they performed their duties of such their station as honest men, he would respect them but at the same time, he should always bear in mind the saving ne sutor ultra crepidam. The lower classes should not be called into council; they should not be suffered to interfere with matters connected with legislation. A noble Lord (Lord Durham), speaking on the subject of popular opinion, had been pleased to say, that if the people of England some years back had been admitted to their full share in the management of the councils of the nation, there would have been no war, no taxes, no pensions, no debt. Now, he begged leave to deny this argument in toto. Their Lordships could not but remember the popular enthusiasm which prevailed at the conclusion of the late war. Could any man tell him that there was not then the greatest possible enthusiasm, both in favour of the cause for which that war had been undertaken and its happy and glorious results? From the Peer to the Commoner, at that period, the whole country pressed around their Monarch to assure him of their unbounded confidence and love. He was old enough to recollect its commencement, and he remembered seeing, in the county with which he was connected, the county of Kent, a force of 5,000 volunteers collected, who received their King, George 3rd, with enthusiasm when he went to review them: other such scenes then took place. The whole people were filled with enthusiasm. If their Lordships required further proof of that enthusiasm, let them but look to the expression of popular feeling towards the noble Duke, to whom England's success on that occasion was attributed. After that illustrious Duke's achievments what followed? Was he not 402 fifteen or sixteen times thanked by the united votes of both Houses of Parliament? When he walked through the streets did not the people press round him on every side to touch his hand or the hem of his garments? Did he ever pass through any of the streets of London without having been gratified with the loud applause of the people? And yet after all, what did their Lordships witness only last year? Did they not see that illustrious Duke, once the professed object of the people's adoration and love, hissed, hooted and publicly insulted in those very streets in which, but a few years back, he had enjoyed a triumph nearly equal to any of those which history stated were ever attendant upon splendid victories? Yes, and that too, at the very moment when the carriage of the French ambassador, prince Talleyrand, was passing, whom they lauded and applauded. Such was popular opinion, such the fickleness of popular enthusiasm. And should their Lordships, with this example before their eyes, give way to popular opinion, and legislate on the ground of obedience to popular clamour? It might be asked how was popular opinion to be ascertained? To this he answered, it was to be judged by the sentiments and conduct of the House of Commons. He repeated, it must be collected from the conduct of the House of Commons, but it must be by a House of Commons elected under the influence of public opinion; yes, public opinion, and not by intimidation and mob law. He should have been inclined to pay every possible respect to the opinion of the House of Commons on the subject of the Reform question had its Members been returned to that House under the influence of public opinion, but he repeated that popular clamour went hand in hand with that House, while the tide of rational public opinion was running in a strong current against them. He requested their Lordships to look to the turn which county elections had taken in England since the powerful intimidation and the influence of mob dictation had ceased. If their Lordships considered it attentively, they could not fail to see the strong change that had set in. At that late hour he would not longer detain their Lordships, but would content himself with saying this much—in addition to the duties which, as a Member of their Lordships' House and as a Prelate, were imposed upon him, he could not forget that his ancestors hail sat as Members of their Lordships' House, for nearly 500 years, and had at all times supported the cause which he advocated, and he would never disgrace their 403 name or his own by voting for the overturning of a Constitution for which they were content to lay down their lives.
The Bishop of Gloucester
observed, that since the commencement of the present debate it had been the practice of their Lordships, he believed rather an universal one, to make appeals to the right reverend Prelates who sat among them. Their candour, therefore, he trusted would induce them to hear those individuals when they ventured to explain the motives which guided them in their votes on the present occasion. It was not his intention even generally to comment on those appeals which had been made to him and to his right rev. Colleagues; but there was one of them which was of so extraordinary a kind that he owned he should not be satisfied unless he was permitted particularly to advert to it. A noble Earl whose pedigree, connection, and wealth, might well be the object of boast, the Earl of Shrewsbury, in the course of his speech on the second night on the present debate had thought proper to call upon the Episcopal Bench to give their assent to the measure before them, on the ground that it would conduce to their interests, adding at the same time a remark that that Bench had always been noted for their attention to their interests. If the noble Earl by this remark meant to insinuate, and he confessed that it appeared to him that such was his intention, that the right reverend Prelates who sat on the Episcopal Bench were in the habit of consulting their own private and personal interests to the detriment of those of the body which they represented, or those of the community at large, he begged to say, that he rejected the imputation of the noble Earl with unutterable scorn. If, on the contrary, the noble Earl intended only to refer to the general interests of the Church of England, he begged to say that on a question of the kind on which they were then discussing he knew of no interests which the Church had distinct from the general good and welfare of the country. The interests of the Church, he begged to repeat, were inseparable from those of the country, and whatever tended to the happiness, prosperity, and liberty of the people of England Was so far conducive to the interests of the Church. On the following evening the noble Earl again rose to address their Lordships. But was it to explain? No; instead of explanation, instead of avowal of error, or indeed of apology which might have been expected, the noble Earl, with 404 an air of candour from which he had augured better intentions, renewed his attack, and openly impeached the Episcopal Bench at large with being guilty of the most profligate conduct in the discharge of their duties as Members of their Lordships' House. The noble Earl had not brought any charge of dishonesty against them; he had only accused them of a want of morality. He impeached them not of robbery, only of profligacy. The noble Earl had accused them of being the abettors of every act of oppression, of being guilty of every act of extortion, rapine, and robbery. Indeed, he forgot all the words which the noble Earl had applied to the Espiscopal Bench, and for which he appeared to have ransacked his whole vocabulary of abuse.—"Now, my Lords (continued the right reverend Prelate), I believe these charges must be one of two things—they must either be true, or else false and monstrous calumnies. I, therefore, do now call upon the noble Earl, in the face of your Lordships here, and of the country, to substantiate those charges by proof, or admit that his accusations are unfounded and be assured, if the latter be the case, not all his line of ancestry will be able to protect him from the disgrace of having uttered a monstrous calumny." With respect to the charge of abetting tyranny, the last tyrant in this country was James 2nd. He was guilty of various acts of tyranny; and though he would not say who were his abettors, they were not the clergy. It was by the clergy that resistance to his tyranny was first made. That resistance began, he believed, in the University of Cambridge, and soon afterwards extended to Oxford; and soon afterwards the great body of the Prelates so resisted that arbitrary prince, that they showed that they were ready to preserve our liberties at the expense of their lives. They contributed to promote the revolution; and he believed the noble and illustrious persons who brought that about would have failed, but for the assistance they received from the Bishops and the clergy; and the illustrious House of Brunswick would now have been confined to a mere German principality. The clergy had been accused of robbery and extortion; but every one knew that in the exaction of their dues they were more moderate than the possessors of lay property. When, he asked, was it found that they were wanting in attention to the wants and feelings of their poorer brethren? When distress and famine oppressed the sister isle the Bishops of the English Church 405 had been the first to come forward with money and advice. With reference to the Bill before their Lordships, it was his determination to vote then as he had done before. When the last Reform Bill was before the House, on the division on its second reading, it met with the opposition of a considerable portion of the right reverend Prelates, and in consequence of their voting against it they were made the subject of obloquy, particularly by the public Press; and yet it must be well known that of all the Members who voted against the Bill there were none who were so completely free from the slightest suspicion of interested motives as the class thus selected for the obloquy and abuse of the Press. It was well known that in their public character nothing could influence their conduct so much as the bringing about and securing of content and tranquillity, such being the objects of true religion; and in their private situations what interest could they have to oppose a measure originating with Government? Indeed he must be permitted to say, that the coincidence of opinion of so many disinterested individuals as were to be found in the Episcopal Bench was a strong argument against the Bill. It was said, that they were guilty of combination and conspiracy to defeat the Reform Bill. This he unhesitatingly denied. The allegation was one of the many unfounded assertions against them. So far from there being combination or conspiracy there was not even an understanding, and until the very moment when they were called upon to vote each was ignorant of the manner in which the others proposed to act. He had given his opposition to the last measure because it went to destroy the Constitution of the country, and on the same grounds he would oppose the present Bill. The Bill would be but the first of a series of changes. It was to the principle of the present measure that he objected, and not to the Reform of abuses. No man was more desirous than he was, to see those abuses which took place at elections, and which were so often and so frequently the ground of complaint, corrected. This, however, was not the purpose of the present Bill. The principle of it was totally to alter the Constitution of the House of Commons. To any measure having the correction of abuses for its object he would give his most willing support; but to this which went to alter the Constitution of the other House, he was most decidedly op- 406 posed. He objected to the Bill on the same ground that he would object to all great changes. The Constitution of this country was not the work of a moment. It grew up by degrees, and gained maturity by accommodating itself to the wants, and changes, and circumstances of society, and of the times. This view of the British Constitution was confirmed by all history. In so far as circumstances called for partial alteration he was willing to concur in it: for instance, he would not object to giving the elective franchise to large towns which in the progress of time had grown up to wealth and importance. The question here, however, was not between partial Reform and no Reform, but between the British Constitution and no Reform. One great and decided objection to the measure was, that in his opinion it contained within itself a principle of perpetual change. He would not enter into the details of this Bill, but he was bound to say that of all the speeches he had heard on the present occasion, that to which he listened with most conviction was the speech of the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Tenterden). When a pleasure similar to the present was before their Lordships in the last Session of Parliament, the opinion which he formed, and that which decided him to oppose the Bill, was strongly influenced by the arguments then urged by a noble Earl (Harrowby) and a noble Baron (Lord Wharncliffe). These two noble persons upon that occasion opposed the Bill, and used such arguments as appeared to him decisive upon the point, and must have had considerable influence upon several of their Lordships. Now, however, it appeared that these noble persons had altered their opinions, and they counselled the House not to reject the present Motion for the second reading of the Bill. The arguments used by them upon that occasion against the measure received no reply. They were not answered, and the natural conclusion was, that they could not be answered. These noble Lords grounded their present support of the measure upon the change which they alleged took place in public mind since the last Session, but they still entertained the same hostility to the principle of the Bill. It was a most extraordinary circumstance that the noble Earl (Harrowby), who now supported the second reading, declared at the same time his disapprobation of the measure, and called it an unhappy one, while the noble Baron (Wharncliffe), who also gave it his 407 support now, described it formerly as a most fatal measure. Would the noble Baron so far forget what was due to himself and to the country as to vote for a Bill which, if carried into effect, he thought must be fatal to the best interests of the country. A great majority of the noble Lords who sat on the Bench below him (the Treasury Bench) were, until very recently, most determined opposers of every measure of Reform great and small. Many of them joined the Administration of a right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Canning), who was a strenuous and uncompromosing opposer through his whole political life of every proposition for Parliamentary Reform. He did not mean to cast any censure upon those noble Lords for their change of opinion. If they thought the course they were now pursuing was the most beneficial to the general interests of the country, they were perfectly justified in their change of opinion. As these noble Lords, however, were themselves once hostile to Reform, it ought to teach them to be more lenient to those who opposed the Bill because they thought it went too far, that it was subversive of the constitution of the House of Commons, and ultimately of the most valuable institutions of the country. As the guardians of public morals, he and the Prelates who sat on the benches near him were bound to oppose a system which appeared to them subversive of all morality. It could not be denied that at present many abuses and a great deal of immorality prevailed at elections. He wished to see such abuses corrected, but the present Bill would not effect that object. It had no tendency to diminish crime, but, on the contrary, to increase it. One evil it evidently tended to produce; he meant the multiplication of oaths, which had a natural tendency to encourage and increase the crime of perjury. This was one of the evils which he would venture to say would follow from the measure, if it should unfortunately become law. It must also in a considerable degree affect those sums of money collected in this country for the support of the poor. Already a very large portion of it was expended in litigation. To this source of expenses, this large deduction under the head of litigation, at present made from the poor-rates, would be added by the Bill now under consideration the expense of the registry. This expense would fall upon persons, and would in a great measure be collected from that class of society, who could have no direct 408 interest in the elections. He was unwilling to trespass upon their Lordships' attention, but upon a question of such vast importance he could not content himself with giving a silent vote. He felt confident that the Bill would not content the people of England. He did not think that the nation, or even a majority of the nation, called for it. He hoped their Lordships would never be inattentive to the voice of the country, but there was a material difference between the voice of the country and the voice of the rabble. He admitted that the supporters of the Bill did not consist exclusively of the rabble—of those who were incapable of forming an opinion on political subjects. There were persons not ignorant in political matters who were friendly to it; he meant the Radicals, who were desirous to see a republic established in this country. Instead of yielding to the wishes of these persons, it should be a very strong motive with their Lordships, and with all who had the real interests of the country at heart, for giving the Bill their most strenuous opposition. Besides the Radicals all those who were inimical to the Protestant Church as by law established did everything in their power to advance this question of Reform. The Roman Catholics, and the whole class of Dissenters were most clamorous for it. If, however, he thought the measure would be generally beneficial, this latter circumstance would not prevent him from voting for it. Nor was any such consideration at all likely to sway the Bench of Bishops. After the appeals which had been so often made to the right reverend Bench, it was only fair that upon this question they should be heard with patience and attention. He regretted much that upon the present occasion he was divided in opinion from some of his brethren, with whom he had been in habits of intimacy from early life, and from whom he never differed before upon any public question. He thanked their Lordships for the attention with which they had listened to the few observations he felt it his duty to make, and should not trespass further on their patience.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that he owed some apology to their Lordships for proceeding to address to them more than but a very few words at that late period of a protracted debate, when fatigue must oppress them, and when they must, as he experienced in his own person, be suffering from the extreme heat of the place; but he did not feel that he should discharge 409 his duty in the situation which he had the honour of filling in his Majesty's councils; he did not feel that he should be discharging his duty towards their Lordships, and he hardly thought he should be satisfied that he was discharging the duty which he owed to himself, if he were, resting on what all their Lordships knew his opinions to be on the question under discussion—opinions so often stated in their presence—he should not, he said, feel that he was discharging either the duty he owed to himself, to their Lordships, or the country, if he were to give a silent vote upon the question then for the second time before them. However, he could assure their Lordships that it was his intention to trespass as briefly as possible on their time and patience; and but for some things which had been stated, and some charges which had been made against his Majesty's Government, on account of the production and prosecution of this measure, his task would have been short and simple indeed. Those charges, however, he could not leave unrepelled in justice to his Majesty's Government, and in justice to what he knew to be the truth. Before he proceeded to those charges which had been levelled at Government on account of their general conduct with respect to this measure, he would put aside at once some matters of minor importance, affecting only a part of the Ministry one of which had been alluded to at an early period of the night as well as on a former occasion; but the imputation which was conveyed had been partly retracted and partly explained away, and partly triumphantly repelled; and he now only lingered on the subject for the purpose of expressing his unqualified and unhesitating concurrence with the indignant denial which had been given by the noble Earl at the head of his Majesty's Government. As far as a man could answer for a matter not within the scope of his own immediate knowledge, he knew from a belief, which amounted to absolute conviction, that with respect to all his colleagues, as well as the two who had already disclaimed them, there was not the shadow of a shade of foundation for the calumnies which had been whispered in public, and which when brought to the test in that House, had received an indignant denial. He referred not merely to the blacker charge, but to one hardly less black—he meant that of violating the sacred confidence which was reposed in them, in respect to a correspondence 410 in which a noble Duke was concerned. He would also slightly notice another matter of a passing nature, affecting some of the Ministry which had been alluded to by the right reverend Prelate who had just addressed the House, who had exhibited the most exemplary and innocent ignorance, not only of what took place four or five years ago, with respect to the formation of a Ministry, but also of what was passing before his own eyes, for he mistook a cheer of denial, which proceeded from a noble Marquis, for a cheer of assent, and proceeded to give him credit for his manliness in having changed his opinions on the question of Reform. There was not the shadow of a foundation for the suspicion or belief of the right reverend Prelate upon that point. The opinions of those who joined Mr. Canning's Administration on the subject of Reform, and all other questions of foreign and domestic policy remained precisely the same after the junction as they were before. He did all in his power to facilitate that junction; and though he declined holding any office in Mr. Canning's Government, be continued to be that Minister's supporter. There were, however, one or two questions on which he opposed Mr. Canning's Administration, and one of these was the question of Parliamentary Reform, which was mooted in the House of Commons. He was sorry to detain their Lordships upon these matters, which were more or less of a personal nature, but so brief an allusion to them he was sure their Lordships would pardon. Hearing or seeing these calumnies out of doors did not of course entail the necessity of refuting them; indeed that would be to embark in a life of endless contradiction, so sharp was the ingenuity of calumniators, and so inordinate the appetite of their dupes; but when they came to be stated in the most august assembly in the world, and backed by the authority of a right reverend Prelate, in so far as that the right reverend Prelate thought them not improbable—then the aspect of them became changed, and they called for a refutation, which was instantly given, and it was equally indignant and complete. In the very few observations with which he had risen to trouble their Lordships, he should follow the example which had been set him in the speech of his noble friend, who moved the second reading of the Bill, by adopting the calm, and deliberate, and conciliatory tone which marked that speech, and which, indeed, was the only part of 411 that luminous, and able, and eloquent, and argumentative address which he could hope to succeed in imitating. It was his intention to lay aside all considerations that could even be thought of a personal nature, to deal in no personal allusions, and carefully to avoid every argument which might by possibility be construed to have a personal tendency or object; and to confine himself strictly to the most material of those charges which had been brought against the Government and the Bill, and the conduct of the Government in reference to the Bill. And now let him observe, in the first place, that he had been a little surprised at hearing it asserted again and again, in the course of this discussion, as it had been asserted by several noble Lords who should have known better in the course of the last discussion six months ago that the Government had introduced this measure in breathless haste, and at finding himself and colleagues taunted now once more, for about the hundredth time, with the haste and precipitation with which they had so rashly plunged into this question of Reform, and so unmercifully urged forward their Bill till it had reached their Lordships' House. His noble friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) near him had that night brought forward this charge once more—his noble friend's favourite charge on the former discussion—to which he (the Lord Chancellor) had himself given, over and over again, strong and repeated denials; but his noble friend seemed to have forgotten those denials, and to be so wedded to this extraordinary charge, that he verily believed his noble friend would repeat it for an age to come if the question lasted so long, unless he could prove to his noble friend, by an authority that would be unsuspected and undisputed, even by the authority of his noble friend himself, that there was, in truth, no foundation whatsoever for the accusation. Happily for himself and for their Lordships, who, like him, must, he thought, be tired of this so frequently repeated taunt—happily too for his noble friend himself, who must have thought the charge a most serious one, since he so constantly recurred to it—happily, he said, for all parties, he had authority which would set the matter at rest, and which he was sure his noble friend would not dispute, since it happened to be the authority of no other person than his noble friend himself. On the first day on which his noble colleague at the head of the Government took his seat on that bench opposite 412 as Prime Minister, the noble Earl (Carnarvon) addressed the Government somewhat to the following effect:—"He was far from wishing the noble Earl to delay his plan of Reform. He would urge him, indeed, if he had any regard to his own safety, and to the safety of the country to bring it forward as soon as possible."* Such was the language of his noble friend in November 1830. Now he and his colleagues did not take the earliest opportunity of submitting their intended measure to the House of Commons; they did delay for some little time to bring forward the great question of Reform, and so far they did not follow to the letter the advice which his noble friend—he was sure in all sincerity and friendship to them, and with the soundest views of what was necessary for the safety of the Government and of the country—had been good enough to offer them in November, 1830. They delayed, however, for a very little time; they took an early, if not the earliest, opportunity of submitting a measure of Reform to the Legislature; and now, at the end of more than a year he did think it a little hard for one who, like his noble friend, had given them such advice and upon such weighty grounds, in November, 1830, to turn round and taunt them upon the breathless haste and the rash precipitation with which they had plunged into this question of Reform: Then again his noble friend, and several other noble Lords, but particularly the right reverend Prelate who spoke last but one, were of opinion, or rather had taken up the opinion of the noble and gallant Duke (of Wellington), that this question of Reform had not taken so deep a root in the country as it was said to have taken by others, and, indeed, even as the country itself supposed it had taken. The noble Duke, and all who had followed him on that side, had insisted, in spite of the declarations of the people themselves to the contrary, that the people did not care much, if at all, about Reform; and to so great an extent had that to him astonishing doctrine been carried, that he would venture to say that if any intelligent man not accustomed to the debates of their Lordships had been brought into that House, without knowing what the subject in debate was, and had heard this assertion that the people did not care about the matter under discussion—that man could have gone away from the* Hansard's Debates, (third series), vol. i. p. 616.413 House without ever even having suspected—as indeed no intelligent man could suspect—that the subject so alluded to as finding so little favour and interest in the eyes of the people was the great, the absorbing, the almost all-absorbing question of Parliamentary Reform. Indeed this doctrine must have startled even the right reverend Prelate who spoke last but one, and must have forced his ingenuity to the discovery of that distinction between the popular mind and the public mind which had enabled the right rev. Prelate to satisfy himself that though the popular mind was for the Bill, the public mind was against it. However satisfactory this distinction and its concomitant assertion might be to the right reverend Prelate, he trusted he should be able to show that there was as little foundation in fact for either as there was in the other doctrine of the noble Duke which also found credit in the estimation of many noble Lords—namely, that all the landed property of the country was against the Bill—at least he supposed the noble Duke meant the landed property.
The Lord Chancellor
continued—That was certainly carrying the proposition to a far greater extent than he had understood it, since the noble Duke had used the word yeomanry. His noble friend near him, some right reverend Prelates, and other noble Lords, had re-echoed the minor proposition, evidently understanding it as he had understood it; but it would be idle to notice what they had said upon it—it would be an absolute loss of time to discuss the lesser point and its supporters; so with the permission of their lordships, he would pass over the imitators and deal with the great original. The noble and gallant Duke, then really meant to tell the House gravely that the whole property this country was leagued together in opposition to the Bill. Now let him put it to the noble Duke who had made this discovery, whether it was not passing strange that those who possessed either the property of the country, or who represented the possessors of it, should have conducted themselves in such a manner as to make every body suppose that instead of being opposed to, they were warm friends of, the Bill? Not to go very far for an answer to this proposition of the noble Duke—not to trouble the noble Duke to cast his eyes beyond the limits of those walls, he would 414 ask the noble Duke to look across the House and then tell him whether he could by possibility be right in saying that all the property of the country was opposed to the Bill. Let the noble Duke look at the benches opposite, let him consider how much of the property of the country was held by noble Lords whose eyes would meet his—let the noble Duke take this survey only, and he was sure that if the noble Duke did not see the rashness of the assertion he had made, he would be the only man in that House, or out of that House who would fail to see it. And then what was to become of the property out of doors? The property embarked in the trade of the country? Was the meeting of the merchants, traders, and bankers of the city of London, in the Egyptian Hall, to go for nothing? Did that intelligent, that respectable, that opulent class of the community, possess no property? He was quite sure that if a very small portion of that class of men had met together, not by public advertisement and in a public place, but in some retired room to which the people were admitted by tickets and by favor, or that the few assembled would be secure of having it all their own way—he was sure, he said, that if such a meeting had petitioned that House against the Bill, there would have been no end of references and appeals to their petition. What, however, had been done by the great body of merchants, and traders and bankers of the city of London, called together by public advertisement in the newspapers, and openly congregated together in the Egyptian hall? What they had done with regard to this measure, and what opinion they had pronounced upon it, was too well known to render it necessary for him to do more than allude to their meeting—the very mention of which was sufficient to settle the question as to how the persons representing the trading and commercial property of the country stood affected towards Reform and towards this measure of Reform. His noble and learned friend (the Lord Chief justice) had very properly said, that the House of Commons had no right to declare the law, or control their Lordships; but his noble and learned friend had admitted that the opinion of a majority of that House was entitled to most respectful consideration. So also had a right reverend Prelate said, but then the same ingenuity which led that right reverend Prelate to distinguish between the popular mind and the public mind had put him upon the dis- 415 covery that the present House of Commons was returned, not by the public, but by what the right reverend prelate was pleased to call the rabble. Now allow him to inform that right reverend Prelate, and to remind the rest of their Lordships, how the majority of the House of Commons which had sent that Bill to their Lordships was made up. On the last division, 294 Members voted for, and 191 against, the Bill. Out of the 294 there were 93 Members not returned by the rabble—not representing the popular as distinguished from the public voice—but ninety-three Members representing counties; while, in the minority, there were only ten county Members, and they (though their votes were not the less to be attended to on that account) representing some of the very smallest, and not one of the largest counties; whereas among the ninety-three were to be found all the Representatives of the largest, the wealthiest, and the most populous counties in the kingdom. If the right reverend Prelate, who seemed never to have heard of this fact before, had any curiosity to learn how the rest of the Members on that decision was composed, he was happy to say that he was in a condition to satisfy that laudable spirit of inquiry on the part of the right reverend Prelate. A large majority of the Representatives of the most considerable towns now in possession of the elective franchise followed the course of the county Members and voted in favour of the Bill, and the rest of the numbers on the division was made up of the Representatives of places in schedules A and B. If the right reverend Prelate chose to take the votes of the Representatives of those boroughs as an index of the public mind and not of what he called the popular mind—then indeed, he (the Lord Chancellor) could afford the right reverend Prelate some little comfort and consolation. For though the Members in schedule B were about equally divided between the majority and minority, and so might be put out of the question, yet, of the Members whose constituents, real or imaginary, had been consigned to schedule A, only twenty-four voted for, while seventy-seven voted against, the Bill. This Parliament it must be observed had not been elected under the immediate control of those who were to obtain the franchise, but it was chosen under the present system and according to the existing arrangements; but, notwithstanding the advantage thus given against the question of Reform, and, notwithstand- 416 ing the manifest tendency of men's interests to influence their votes on a measure which disfranchised the boroughs they represented, the numerical majority was 294 to 191, but if the counties and populous places only were taken then the majority would be eight or nine to one, while in property it was much greater. So, much, then, for the public mind being all against, and the popular mind being all in favour of, the Bill; and he would put it to their Lordships whether there was the shadow of foundation for the rash assertion—he might almost call it the ridiculous joke—of saying that the public generally did not care much about the Bill, and all the property in the country was against the Bill. All he could say was, that if they would take men's actions and words as evidence of their feeling, there could be no doubt that the people of this country were firmly, strongly, almost uniformly, in favour of the Bill. But then it was said, "Look at the constituents of the House of Commons: see what they told their Representatives to do—those Representatives who are so bound hand and foot, and ought not to be called Representatives, but delegates." Was it so? He told them, if it were so—if they were delegates, they had been made delegates by the old and much lauded system of Representation of the noble Lords near him—the delegation so much complained of proceeded from the well-working of the old plan, which some noble Lords thought it revolution to attempt to alter. He might have thought there was something of plausibility in this objection on the score of delegation, if he had found that, after a lapse of nine months—during which time the representatives and their constituents had had time to retrace their steps, if they repented of them, if the majority on the divisions had fallen off; but when, on the contrary, the majority had actually increased, he could not for the life of him consider this objection worth one straw. They must attribute this increase either to one or other of two causes: first, the Members must have acted—not as mere delegates—not as persons who merely reflected the impression conveyed to them by their constituents, but as honest, independent Members of Parliament acting upon their own opinion, though not, of course, entirely neglecting the wishes of their constituents; or, they must have been the delegates they were represented to be, and, knowing the opinions of their constituents to remain unchanged, they had con- 417 tinued to act, and speak, and vote, as before. In the one case, what became of the objection on the score of delegation? and in the other case what became of the doctrine that the people had cooled in their ardour for Reform? One of the points, which was a favourite with the noble and gallant Duke (of Wellington) was, that the feeling of the people in favour of Reform was a feeling of very late growth—that it did not even exist in 1829 and the beginning of 1830; but that it arose out of the events which took place in France in the month of July. He did assure the noble Duke that a greater mistake than that no man could by possibility fall into. He should say with a noble friend of his, who spoke the night before last, that the cause of this error—and a great and signal error it was—was to be found in the fact of the noble Duke having, until the peace, resided so little in his native country, for he was convinced that, if the noble Duke had lived in England, as he and his noble friend had, the noble Duke would have seen, as no man of common observation could help seeing, that, from the end of the American war up to the present moment, this question of Reform had been making, though not a regular, yet a constant and a steady progress. At the conclusion of that unhappy and unnatural contest, the feeling of the people of this country for Reform was as strong as it was loudly and unequivocally expressed. The horrors of the French revolution checked and diminished it for a time; during the first years of the French war, the question lost some of its supporters, but towards the end of the first branch of that war, it had not only greatly increased, but had pervaded districts where the sound of a Reformer's voice had never till then been heard. At the general peace, the feeling had become still more strong and more deep; from that period it assumed a course more steady, more uniform, and more regular, than at any former time, and, at the moment in which he was speaking, their Lordships well knew, however reluctant they might be to admit the fact, that it had spread itself from one end of the kingdom to the other. It was impossible to doubt (and the noble Duke must have forgotten it) that the circumstances which occurred in 1829 and 1830 considerably increased the progress of Reform in this country. He alluded particularly to the determination of some of the noble Duke's friends, and the decisions of the other House of Parliament, on the subject of the disfranchisement, and 418 the transfer of the franchise from East Retford. When the country found that, although an opportunity then offered to enfranchise some of the great towns, which was liable to none of the objections now made against Reform—which was free from those strictures, on the ground of disfranchisement, which had been so ably advanced, and by none more so than by his noble and learned friend the Chief Justice—when disfranchisement would only have followed upon crime; when there was this opportunity of giving the franchise to Birmingham, which it was quite consistent to see represented, and to which it was expedient and politic to give Representatives, whether they wished to promote the interests of the country, or to avoid mischief—when this occasion offered of giving Members to Birmingham and it was not only neglected, but studiously, and, he might say, elaborately repudiated and rejected—this gave a stimulus to the feeling in favour of Reform, such as it had not had for many years. There were several other circumstances that greatly increased the ardour of the public in favour of Reform. He could state himself, from his own experience, that, at the election of 1830, Reform was not only a favourite subject, but it was the favourite subject of the great body of the community. He spoke on this point from personal experience. When he canvassed Yorkshire, before he went to a single place—or, at all events, before he went to more than one place—it was well known that the French king had broken the Charter. The discomfiture of the plot of the French ministers, and the revolution which was consequent upon it, had something to do with accelerating the feeling of the people of this country in favour of Reform he admitted; but then long before it was known that the French king had broken the Charter, there was no one subject on which the people were more ardent, and there was no one place to which a candidate could go that he did not meet Reform whether he would or not. The candidates could go no where that they did not meet this question, and there was no question that met them more frequently, or that the people were more unanimous upon. Next to this question was that of Negro Slavery, but the question of Reform was everywhere more zealously and more unanimously espoused. Great changes took place at the election of 1830, though not so great as at the election of 1831, when so many changes were made in the county Representation; but great changes were made in 419 1830 in a great number of places, and in almost every one of those places the change was to the exclusion of those who were against Reform. He hoped their Lordships did not suppose that he was going through all these circumstances merely for the purpose of sustaining his opinion. They were very important circumstances in relation to the whole question, and the whole course of the debate, inasmuch as his Majesty's Ministers were charged with agitating the subject, as if they had invented it for some purpose of their own. They had been charged with bringing forward this measure when the country was indifferent or careless concerning it. He assured their Lordships, they only brought forward this question in the redemption of their pledges. His noble friend at the head of the Government had pledged the opinions of his whole life on Parliamentary Reform; but, at the same time, he only brought the question forward when the people were not only ripe for it, but were actually beseeching the Government to take it up—when the people were ripe for it to a degree they never were before, and when the feelings were more intense and more universal than on any former occasion. If he were to name any one event more than another, and ten thousand times more than the revolution of the three days at Paris, that had tended to render this feeling intense, and spread it widely through the country, he would point to the ill-fated declaration of the noble Duke (Wellington), that no Reform should be had—that all was perfect—that the Representation of this country, whether now to be found in schedules A and B, whether in the boroughs which were corrupt from jobbing freemen giving their venal votes, or whether in close boroughs which might be brought to market and sold by their owners—that the whole of this Constitution taken together, from the less impure parts down to the most rotten, was such a perfect system of Representative Government, that, if it should be the noble Duke's lot to form a Constitution for a country not endowed with one, he could not hope to make so excellent a system, but would endeavour to approach it as near as possible. He admitted that that declaration of opinion on the part of the noble Duke was manly and gallant. No person could blame him for his opinion, but every person must now be convinced that it was a mistaken one. The effect of that declaration was, to convince the people that they had no chance of ever getting their great- 420 est grievance redressed; it made them start up almost to a man against the noble Duke's Government, and it spread far and wide—what he might not unaptly call, that almost ungovernable zeal for Parliamentary Reform—which he and his noble friend found in existence when they were called upon to take office. The system itself was the great disposing cause of that zeal; but the noble Dukes declaration was the proximate cause of that strong and universal feeling which they found existing on accepting office. There were one or two other statements which he had intended to make with respect to the events that led to the feeling on this subject; but he would not enter into a detail or exposition, at this late hour, even of the principal arguments against this measure. Certain consequences, it had been stated, would follow a Reform in Parliament; but he supposed those statements could only have been intended to alarm persons in and out of this House. The immediate and direct tendency of the measure, as it appeared to him, entitled it to the approbation and support of the public. The noble Duke (Wellington) had asserted, that the measure would totally subvert the whole Parliamentary Constitution of the country, and the Lord Chief Justice had made the same remark. Those noble Peers had talked of this Bill as if it left nothing whatever of the old Parliamentary principle of election remaining; but was it nothing that the whole county Representation was left nearly as it stood at present. He would go further, and maintain that the Bill now before their Lordships would act when the alterations were made in such constituencies, to the preservation of conservative principles. It was not correct to say, that the better part of the system was destroyed by it, when all the Representatives under the proposed method would be chosen by freeholders as at present, with the addition of leaseholders, copyholders, and tenants at will. Did such an arrangement not give the landlord every influence over the tenant that he could desire. Then, there was only some small modifications of life-interest; but wherever the Bill affected the principle of life-votes, it rather extended than contracted it, in a sense favourable to the opponents of this Bill. Let it also be remembered that the Bill doubled the Members of twenty-five counties, and gave to others seven additional single Representatives: thus increasing the county Representation by fifty-seven Members. A great number 421 of persons, also, who had hitherto had votes in counties, and who now, for the first time, acquired them in towns, would lose their votes for counties; and this would leave a greater number of purely county votes, unbalanced by those in towns. He would not say, that this was an improvement; but it was a distinct alteration, which would have the effect of increasing the influence of property, and particularly of landed property. Then it had been said that it was not so much with respect to counties that property was underrated, as with respect to the 10l. qualification for towns; but great and manifest errors prevailed on this subject. It was said, that if the returns of any place was examined, it would be found the 10l. householders were more numerous than those of 20l.—meaning by 20l. householders, those who held houses of from 10l. to 20l. annual value, and by 20l. householders, those of 20l. and upwards. He thought, generally speaking, there were more houses of 20l. annual value and upwards, than below that amount. It must not be supposed, that all those larger class of houses between 10l. and 20l. were merely 10l. houses. They must not take a minimum, and erect it into a maximum; and to say, that the inhabitants of the small tenements would overwhelm the richer classes who occupied houses of 20l. 30l. 40l. 50l. and 100l. value, was an assertion unsupported by arguments or facts. Take, as an instance, the town of Warwick: it had 300 voters who inhabited houses of 10l. and upwards, but under 20l.; and about 215 who held houses of 20l. and upwards; the smaller were, therefore, in the proportion to the larger tenements as three to two. But of those 10l. houses, perhaps 100 or 150 were houses of the value of 14l., 15l., and from that up to 20l.; therefore, the highest of the smaller houses approached very nearly to the lowest the lowest of the larger houses. He could not, therefore, see how the 10l. householders would overwhelm those of the higher classes, or how the Representation would, by such means, be thrown into the hands of men of little or no property. The 10l. householders did not form a distinct class; they were blended into other classes, by imperceptible gradations. Noble Lords were accustomed to take their ideas of 10l. houses, from what they saw of that class in a great town; he would recommend them to go into one of those towns on which the franchise was to be conferred. They would find, that it was not the common day-labourer that 422 could afford to give 10l. a-year for his votes in counties, and who now, for the house; was it possible for the man who was earning 10s. 12s. 13s. or 14s. a-week, to afford to pay 3s. 10d. of it for his weekly house-rent? Such a man would occupy a much inferior tenement. The persons paying that rent would be men in the situation of respectable shopkeepers and tradesmen, overseers in some manufactory, or foremen at least; persons respectable in every point of view, with reference to their station; and did their Lordships think that there was such a difference in point of communication, connexion, and influence, between the tenants of these different houses; that the man who occupied a house of from 20l. to 30l. a-year, strutted by his poorer neighbour, who was the holder of only a 13l., 14l., or even a 10l. house? Had they no communication together; no connexion; no habits of society? in a word, had the more opulent man no means of making his opinions known, or of using the influence which superior wealth gave him? The richer man would have the opportunity of making his sentiments known to his poorer neighbour; and the practical effect would be, in many cases, to give him that influence which superiority—not only in point of circumstances, but of character and education—would always enable him to exert. He felt no alarm even in contemplating the possibility of a case in which no influence whatever could be exerted, and which would leave all and every one of those persons to exercise their own judgment in the choice of their Representatives? It was the interest of the poorer, as well as of the higher classes, that there should be good Government in the country—that efficient Representatives should be chosen—that men should be sent to Parliament to watch over the institutions of the country; and it was no less the interest of the lowest the lowest of those classes that there should be peace and prosperity in the country, and that the stability of its institutions should be carefully secured. He would not enter into the question whether the rich or the poor man had the greater interest in the preservation of tranquillity; it was sufficient for him that the poor man would lose his all, and that he was the first who would suffer in a convulsion long before acts of spoliation took place, sufficient to ruin the rich man—public calamity, the want of bread, and all the evils that follow in the train of a convulsed state of the country, would be sure to press with the most grinding effect upon the humbler 423 classes. Their Lordships might suffer undoubtedly if every man were frantic enough to dream of unsettling the established institutions of his country, and to introduce confusion into the empire; but the humbler classes, the day-labourer, the artisan, and the peasant, would suffer first and most severely. The men who would suffer most of all were the humbler portion of the middle class—to whom this measure proposed to give the franchise. Why, then, were their Lordships afraid to trust those classes?—why should they fear that such a Parliament as those classes would return, would dream of unsettling the Constitution of the country?—why not trust those classes who were, at least, as worthy of trust as those who were now trusted?—why not admit those whose interests and feelings, it must be allowed, were most adverse to any violent change, to assist in giving stability to the Constitution? Suppose there existed a worse portion of the people bent upon mischievous designs—the populace as they were usually termed—men over whom they had no hold—men who had no stake in the country—men tossed about by every gale of opinion—and to whom agitation was described as natural—the supporters of those opinions about which so much alarm had been expressed—if there was a body of men of this sort in the country could any one thing be conceived more effectual towards reclaiming them, and bringing them back to a sense of their duty to their country, and to a right view of their own interests, than the course which this measure pursued? for it afforded an opportunity of reclaiming these misguided individuals, by placing among them persons capable of controlling them by their influence, and of gaining them over, by their advice, giving them an interest in the preservation of the institutions of the country. With the exception of the scot-and-lot boroughs, the right of voting in all Corporations was now confined to freemen. By the change introduced into this Bill since the last measure was before the House, the votes of freemen were not only preserved to them for their lives, but the right of voting would extend to all who should hereafter entitle themselves, by service or by birth; so that, in point of fact, all freemen would be retained. This was another instance of the errors of those who said that the Bill would totally subvert all the rights of voting under the present system: for it preserved the rights of freemen, with the single exception of occasional freemen, 424 who, under any system, could not transmit their privilege to their descendants; and of non-resident freemen, by far the grossest and most monstrous abuse of the present system, for they had no connexion whatever with any other object that could be considered deserving of Representation. It had been said, both by a noble Duke and a noble Baron, that among the persons who were desirous of disfranchising the non-resident freemen, and indeed who were anxious to throw open the corporate elective monopoly of boroughs, were those who expected to get votes under this Bill. He should not wonder if such were the case. Was it a matter of surprise that so many thousands of their Lordships' fellow-subjects should be naturally desirous of possessing the right of the elective franchise, or that they should feel intense anxiety as to the termination of an abuse which deprived them of rights to which common sense, and according to the best authorities, common law, fully entitled them. These persons were not so numerous as some had represented, and were, perhaps, more numerous than others might suppose; they were, in point of fact, between 300,000 and 400,000—that was to say, some 160,000 whom the 10l. qualification would admit to the right of voting, and about as many more who were rated much higher, and who had no hope, under the present system of misrepresentation, of obtaining their elective rights, and who, therefore, naturally rejoiced that a measure was in progress which would take out of the hands of a small Corporation minority, a power which could only be beneficially wielded by the interested majority. But he begged leave to assure their Lordships that there were others who were almost as anxious for this change as those were to whom he had just alluded—he meant not merely those who were to obtain votes, but those who inhabited towns which were, for the first time, to obtain Members; for even though they were not to have votes themselves, still they were assured that their interests were more likely to be attended to and promoted, when the places in which they resided had Members who were popularly chosen—he said popularly chosen, because there could exist no community of feeling between Members of Parliament and inhabitants of towns, where those Members were elected by close Corporations. Such persons, therefore, naturally rejoiced that a measure was in progress which would take out of the hands 425 of a small corporation minority a power, which could only be beneficially wielded by the majority, whose interests were at stake. Was it natural, that the 50,000 persons of a city which, like Bath, at present had nothing to do with returning of their nominal Representatives, or the 150,000 inhabitants of Edinburgh, whose right to elect their own Representatives was monopolized by a close Corporation like their brethren in Bath, of not more than thirty-three persons—was it not natural, he asked, that these persons should feel a deep interest in the success of the measure, which would for ever put an end to all the monstrous abuses of close corporations and nomination boroughs, and make the House of Commons what it ought to be, and what the constitution intended it should be—the Representative of the intelligence, wants, and interests of the people of England? Many pictures had been drawn of the direful consequences of passing the present Bill; among which, perhaps, the most ingenious was that of a noble Duke, which represented extravagant expenditure as the inevitable result of a popular representative body. "If you look back," said the noble Duke, "at the experience of the Long Parliament in this country, or still more recently, of the present Chamber of Deputies in France, you will find that, in proportion as they became popular, they became lavish of the public money." What! the responsible Representation of the people evince their zeal in the people's cause by a reckless expenditure of the people's money. The supposition was monstrous. Why was it that, as the noble Duke had stated, the French budget, in the popular Chamber of Deputies, exceeded in amount the average charge under the despotic, the elder branch of the House of Bourbon? Why, simply this—because, in consequence of a new dynasty and a disputed succession, and because the germs of a civil war were hourly disclosing themselves in France, and because the aspect of Europe in respect to that country was by no means calculated to prevent her preparing herself for the worst—it was, in fact, because dark clouds hung over that fair country, that a standing army, and, as a consequence, a large expenditure, was required. Many changes and benefits, indeed, were expected from Reform; but, if there was one result which more than another could confidently be reckoned upon, it was this—that, in a Reformed Parliament, no Minister could long indulge in schemes leading to an extravagant expenditure of 426 the public money. In a Reformed Parliament, no Government could think of managing public affairs through the mere agency of patronage. A Reformed Parliament, he was sure, would not deprive the executive of that official patronage which was essential to its efficiency; and he was equally sure, that it would not admit of the smallest amount of patronage which tended to screen the Minister from responsibility. A Government honestly intent on doing its duty to the country would receive a ready and energetic support from a reformed House of Commons, but it should stand on its own merits alone, and not trust in the influence of mere patronage, no more than in the influence of nomination boroughs. He verily believed that, as Parliament was at present constituted, for years and years to come vast difficulties would arise, which the most consummate abilities could not overcome; but reform the Parliament, and all the most formidable difficulties would disappear, for he was convinced that an honest, fair, and liberal policy would regulate the proceedings of a House of Commons not dictated to by the caprice or even the feelings of the people, but faithfully representing the opinions of the rational part of society, which, he believed, constituted an overwhelming majority, extending down as it did to those humbler classes, among whom he would say cheerfully, nay, exultingly, that education had made and was making such rapid progress—he said, that a House of Commons, representing the plain sound sense, the rational opinions, the mature conviction, and the peaceful wishes of the majority of the people of England, would be distinguished by a high-minded and magnanimous bearing. That there should be some restriction in the right of voting, in order to prevent too great assemblies of the people, and too vast expenses at elections, he believed; but that restriction he would not insist on in a Bill like the present, from any distrust even of those classes to which it did not communicate the elective franchise. What he asked was, to remove the great obvious grievance of our time and of times long past—the state of the Representation. That was the great capital grievance: once remove it, and he, for one, entertained not the slightest apprehension from the power and conduct of the very humblest members of the community. Much had been said of the consequences of rejecting the Bill. He would not touch upon that delicate ground, as he was studiously anxious to avoid using any language 427 ikely to admit of mischievous construction. He would, however, beg and entreat of their Lordships not to lose that favourable opportunity of gaining, improving—he would not say regaining, as that would imply that they had lost ground—but, he would repeat, of improving, their place in the affections of the people. He could assure them, that it required but little exertion in them to raise themselves infinitely higher than ever they stood in the combined love and respect of their countrymen, and, he was sure, a due regard to their own interests, to what they owed to their own dignity, and to the peace and security of the country, would induce them to make that exertion. By doing so, they would not only regain any ground they might have lost by their unfortunate decision of last Session, but, as he had said, raise themselves infinitely higher than ever in the respect of the people of England. If there was any one feeling more than another which he would carefully guard against—if there was any one feeling which he considered more fatal than another to the security of all establishments in Church and State, that feeling was an alienation, on the part of the middle and lower classes, from those above them in wealth and station; and nothing could be more fatal to the security of all our institutions, than any thing which would tend to increase that alienation, or augment the distance which now separated their Lordships, and the Legislature generally, from the body and bulk of the people. The Bill, by identifying the Representatives with the represented people of England, would re-create a confidence that was now almost lost, and put an end to those suspicions and that mistrust which now frequently paralyzed the warmest and most enlightened efforts of their Lordships to promote the public welfare. They had heard much of other plans of Reform, which were to be free from the objections of the present, and a noble Duke had promised them a scheme of his own. He confessed that he regarded all those schemes with feelings closely allied to suspicion. They were concocted in such mysterious privacy—they were brought forth at such a late hour of the proceeding—they were known to so few persons, up to the hour of their being hatched—and they had met with such little countenance from either side of the House—that he could not suppress his distrust of their being characterized by any healing character, of their efficacy, and, he thought, to quote the language of the noble 428 Earl, that even the noble Duke (Buckingham) himself might return into the country, sacrataque gestans dona ducum—the Bill with which he has threatened us—and he would not find that his gift would be met with the smallest acceptance or gratitude. A right rev. Prelate said, that the anxiety of the people as to the success of the Bill had entirely subsided—that it had, in fact, passed away. "Do not, my Lords," said the noble and learned Lord, in conclusion, "let any man among you deceive himself with this belief. I tell you that the anxiety of the people has not gone by, that it exists as strongly and as intensely as ever, with this only difference—that it has stood the test of disappointment and long delay, and, as was justly observed during the debate, of the 'hope deferred, that maketh the heart sick.' It is, I say, as strong and as intense as ever; and you may rely on it, that, from one end of this land to the other, the people—the intelligent, the thinking, the rational, the honest people, and that, too, not merely of this metropolis, but of every town, and village, and hamlet in England, and, if possible, still more in Scotland—hang with breathless suspense upon your decision this night. I hope, I confidently believe, indeed I expect with certainty, that that decision will diffuse universal joy throughout the empire, that it will terminate the painful suspense with which this Bill has been so long regarded, and, above all, that it will greatly increase towards your Lordships the affections of the people."
§ Lord Lyndhurst
spoke to the following effect:—The indulgence I experienced at your Lordships' hands in the former debate makes me hope, if not on my own account, yet on account of the vast importance of the question now under consideration, that you will bear with me for a short period. One statement has recently been revived, which requires contradiction—I mean, that the Members of the late Government retired from office on the ground that they would not concede Parliamentary Reform. I take upon myself to say, that there is no foundation whatever for the assertion, and that I shall be able to convince your Lordships that it is totally unfounded. On the Monday preceding the day on which the late Cabinet retired from office, they were left in a minority on the question of the Civil List. It was impossible, at that late hour, to assemble the Members of the Administration in order to decide upon the course it was fit to pursue; but early on the 429 following morning they were convened, and it was determined, as they did not sufficiently possess the confidence of the House of Commons to enable them to carry the Civil List, that it was absolutely necessary that they should tender their resignation. On that day (Tuesday) notice was given in the House of Commons that the then Servants of the Crown had relinquished the Seals of Office. For the correctness of this statement I may confidently appeal to the noble Duke who was at the head of the Cabinet which was so dissolved. In consequence of this proceeding, the noble Lord now presiding over his Majesty's Exchequer applied to an hon. Member, who was to bring forward the question of Reform, to postpone the motion, of which he had given notice. That hon. Member absolutely refused to defer his Motion to a later date than the 25th of that month, on the ground that, whatever might be the future composition of the Cabinet, it would make no difference to him. It is, therefore, evident, from what I have said, that it is impossible to state with truth that the late Administration resigned on account of its opposition to Parliamentary Reform; and, having thus dismissed this preliminary topic, I will take the liberty of calling your Lordships' attention to the immediate question before the House. The noble Earl who moved the second reading of the Reform Bill, stated, with great fairness and candour, that in principle it was the same as the measure which had been already rejected by this House. It is so; and I admit that he has completely redeemed the pledge he gave to the country, that the measure he intended to introduce should be as efficient as its predecessor. It is as efficient; and, according to my interpretation of its provisions, as mischievous and as flagrant. As I see no reason to change my opinion as to the nature and consequences of the Bill, I shall take the liberty to pursue the course I adopted last Session, and give my negative to the second reading. In the interval, I have considered with great care whether I was right in the decision at which I formerly arrived, and all my meditations and inquiries have satisfied me that it is impossible to pursue any other course. In fact, I may say that events have even run before and anticipated my predictions of what would be the effects of the measure, particularly in the Sister Kingdom; some of the consequences of the Bill have already commenced, arising out of the mere discussion of the subject, and the promise that it would be passed into a law. My noble friend has 430 stated what is not consistent with my knowledge—I mean, that public attention has always been anxiously alive upon this subject. Surely he must have forgotten the celebrated declaration of a deceased Statesman (Mr. Canning), that, at the period when he spoke, the subject of Parliamentary Reform was quite forgotten by the people. But I rest my notions upon this point—upon evidence which noble Lords opposite may consider less exceptionable. In 1828, or 1829, the Whig Member for Cheshire stated in his place, that the well-advocated but ill-omened measure of Reform no longer excited the slightest interest among the people. The noble Lord at the head of his Majesty's Exchequer made a similar declaration, and to him I may appeal as an unimpeachable witness: he said, in his place in the other House, that the question of Parliamentary Reform was forgotten by the people. When he was reminded of this remarkable declaration, what was that noble Lord's reply? He adopted the statement, and, in a triumphant tone, exclaimed, "True it is, the question slumbered; but we called upon the people, and they immediately responded to the call." But the fact that it was entirely neglected does not depend upon the assertions and statements of individuals; if my noble and learned friend had duly examined, he would have found this decisive fact confirmatory of what I have advanced—that, from the year 1824 to the year 1829, not a single petition was presented in favour of Parliamentary Reform. After the people, to use the word of the noble Lord, had "responded," then about 700 petitions were sent in, in answer to the call. But my noble and learned friend asserted, that what fell from a noble Duke regarding the French revolution in July was not borne out by the fact. My noble and learned friend referred to what he had observed among his constituents in one county of the kingdom, and, of course, I shall not attempt to dispute that which he states of his own knowledge; but this I will venture to say that, in other places, the elections in this country had proceeded to a considerable extent before the result of the proceedings in Paris was even mentioned. The subject of Parliamentary Reform was not even mentioned; but, as some popular cry must be raised on such occasions, it was merely connected with the subject of the Slave Trade. When the notice of the Insurrection of Paris, and of its triumphant conclusion, did arrive in this country, then the cry of Parliamentary Reform was raised, 431 and then did it supersede that of the Slave Trade. It has been said, my Lords, that Ministers are not responsible for this. To determine that question, I call on your Lordships to attend to the facts and circumstances I am about to state. The late Ministry went out of office, the change of Government took place, and then, after two months of deliberation, out came this declaration of Reform, that astounded every person—that surprised even the party of the Movement, by whom, however, it was at once supported. By flattering the multitude, it at once secured their favour. It was hailed by the Press, and the partizans of the Government supported it with activity and zeal. When the Bill came into the House of Commons, that House was evidently averse from the measure. What was the result? The Ministers brought his Majesty down to this House to dissolve the Parliament. Then was the cry raised in the country; then were exhibited those scenes to which we have had such frequent allusion; and then arose that agitation which will never be forgotten. That agitation is as much to be ascribed to the Ministers, and to the course of policy they pursued, as to the measure itself. On this occasion, my Lords, I will not say that we have been deserted—that there has been a defection of our friends; for after the explanation given by the noble Earl near me, those terms would not be correctly applied; but we have, my Lords, to lament the departure from our ranks of the noble Earl and some of his colleagues. I regret, I deplore, the loss we have suffered from the want of support of the character, the talents, and the statesman-like knowledge and habit of thinking, of the noble Earl; but, my Lords, there is this consolation, that if we have lost the noble Earl's support, he has left us a rich legacy in the eloquent speech he formerly delivered. I shall appeal to that speech, my Lords, for an answer to the reasons adduced by the noble Earl for the course he is about to pursue; and I say, my Lords, that there is not one of those arguments which is not the same that has been used on the other side of the House, that was used on the former occasion, without having the effect of inducing the support of the noble Earl. My Lords, it is not supposed nor pretended, that the noble Lords who were formerly with us have altered their views. One of them calls this measure a tremendous evil; another says that it is impossible that without the most extensive alterations 432 it could ever meet his support. They, therefore, my Lords, entertain the same opinion that I do—that your Lordships on this side of the House do—and they vary from us only in the course which they would pursue, in order to get rid of those evils with which the measure in question is admitted to be pregnant. The noble Lord had said, that the present Bill differed from the principle of the former one in one material respect, that was, that it was not altogether founded on the principle of population; but the practical operation of both measures will be precisely the same. But the noble Earl further says that this side of the House has not on this question the support of any considerable portion of the people. I join issue with him on that question. I say that this side of the House has received, in the course it has pursued, the countenance and support of a great proportion of the people of wealth, intelligence, station, and rank in the country. If the noble Earl could possibly expect, by the vote that we before gave, that we should abate the virulence of the Press—if he believed that our vote would subvert the Political Unions—that public meetings would be held to give support to our conduct—the noble Earl formed extravagant expectations, in which it was impossible he should not be disappointed. But, my Lords, though nothing of this sort was done, still I say that the House has received the countenance and support of a very large portion of the people. Allow me, my Lords, to appeal to those numerous Addresses that have been presented to the Crown, concurring with our view of the subject, but which have been most studiously kept from public observation. Let me appeal, too, my Lords, to the former House of Commons. That House was, as I have before said, decidedly averse to this measure. My Lords, is it possible to suppose that there should not have been a large party in the country to support them, a party by whom they had been elected before this cry for Reform was raised, and whose opinions they consequently represented? But, my Lords, that is not all. Even in the present House of Commons, elected as it was under the influence of agitation and of all the arts that party could employ, what is the majority by which this Bill has been sent to us? My Lords, it is a majority of only 106 out of a House of 600 Members, and elected in the manner I have described. Let me, then, ask the noble Earl, whether, in the face of all these facts, he 433 can say that the opinions of this side of the House have received no support from the people? It has been said, that we ought to give our best consideration to this Bill, because it has been sent to us by the other House of Parliament. I do not deny that we ought to give it our best consideration, it is our duty so to consider it; we must give it a careful examination, but the form of that examination must depend on the nature of the Bill, and the character of the objections raised against it. My Lords, what are these objections? If I object to the details, which I acknowledge to be of minor importance, it may be said, that I should consent to go into Committee, and if I objected to them alone, I would go into the Committee for the purpose of correcting them. But what is the Bill—what is the principle of the Bill as stated by the noble Earl himself? Its first principle is that of disfranchisement—it disfranchises fifty-six boroughs: its second is enfranchisement—it enfranchises sixty-four; and its last and most important principle is that of qualification, which is a 10l. qualification. In these provisions the principle of the Bill consists. The noble Earl opposite has stated what is the principle of the Bill. So important does he consider these provisions as constituting the principle of the Bill, that he has told us their rejection would be fatal to the Bill itself. It is to that, my Lords, I object. Why, my Lords, should I consent to go into the Committee if these provisions are to be established? I care not for others, for the errors in them may be corrected; but with respect to these, I am told that I must not correct them, for that they constitute the principle of the Bill itself. I know the difficulties that the noble Earl has met with on the subject of this measure. I know that not a day has passed that he has not been assailed for not giving way to the popular cry, and taking means to control the decision of this House. My Lords, the noble Earl knew this House too well to think of resorting to such a course. No man who knows this House would think of having recourse to such a measure. The noble Earl well knew that he could not follow up this advice—that he could not pack this House; but the proposition that he should do so—nay, the very measure of this Bill, as well as the means recommended to carry it, showed the kind of feeling by which the party, urging on the noble Earl, are governed. I will do the noble Earl the justice to believe that he never could have intended to have recourse 434 to such a measure. The effect of this Bill will be immeasureably to increase the strength and power of the House of Commons, and to weaken and destroy this House, which was created as a conservative body to balance the other two estates. I, however, do not think it is possible that the Sovereign will allow himself to be placed in a situation from which he never can be extricated, except by having recourse to a similar creation. I have stated, my Lords, what I believe the noble Earl to have gone through in the painful sort of support he has received from his scourge and task masters, who have urged it on him. I repeat, that I do not impute to the noble Earl the intention of resorting to such a rash, and desperate, and wicked measure. These were the terms, my Lords, in which a Whig party formerly expressed their opinions of a similar measure, when proposed for the adoption of the Government, and such are the terms in which they will, I am sure, agree with me in thinking that the measure to which I allude ought to be characterized. But, my Lords, if they do not—if the Government are, in fact, determined to have recourse to such an expedient, what are the great difficulties that will prevent them from resorting to it in the Committee, instead of on the second reading of this Bill? Something like an argument I have read, that if we allow the Bill to pass through this stage, we bind ourselves to adopt the principles and provisions of the Bill. My Lords, that argument may be pressed upon us, and, therefore, I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill. I do not mean to say, that many persons of knowledge, of intelligence, of wealth, do not support this measure, but I say, that a great majority of the persons composing the classes thus distinguished are decidedly hostile to it. I ask your Lordships to tax the recollections of your personal observation, and say whether you are not led to the same conclusion. How, then, are we to account for the number of those who support the Bill? In the first place it is supported by the Whig party throughout the country, not that they approve of the measure itself, for you may hear them oppose in private that which, as a party, they support in public. Again, it is supported by the whole party of the movement or revolution, which has become a most extensive party. They cordially approve of the measure, and were the first to raise a cry in its favour, in the hope that it will lead to future and more extensive changes. There 435 is another class of persons numerous, and of great influence, who almost to a man support this Bill—I mean the whole body of Dissenters. Again, my Lords, there is another numerous party, consisting of all those who are dissatisfied with their actual condition—persons who have no property of their own, and who have, therefore, a desire for that of other men, who were described by the historian 2,000 years ago, and who are still the same, and who will always continue so in every period of the world. 'Nam semper in civitate, quibus opes nullæ sint, bonis invident malos extollunt, vetera adere, nova exoptant; odio suarum rerum mutari omnia student.' Of the other persons who support this Bill, I shall first point out to your Lordships the conductors of the periodical Press. Of these a great portion support this measure, because they prosper by agitation. Besides, they see that as the principle of democracy is advanced, they rise in their condition. Their personal ambition has encouragements which in any other state of society never would be offered to them. Those several classes of persons give the appearance of numbers to the supporters of this measure. I admit that they present an appearance of population that by some may be thought formidable, as it is powerful in its organization. But I ask your Lordships, will you bow to those persons?—will you allow them to influence and decide you in your judgment upon a question of such importance? I am satisfied, my Lords, that the same classes of persons could be brought together, pursuing the same objects in co-operation, to an attack upon any of the principal institutions of this country, if not by the present Ministry, by that which may succeed them after you pass this fatal Bill. They could easily be brought to act in concert against the property of the Church—against the standing army—and against the legislative authority of this House. It is amazing to see how the delusion which prevailed on this subject has extended to persons of high rank, station, and character. I can state no instance of that delusion more curious than the course which has been pursued by a right rev. Prelate, who thought himself justified in writing a letter, charging your Lordships, in direct terms, with having been influenced by interested and selfish motives in the vote which you gave upon this Bill last Session. I should not have thought that it was consistent with the charity, of which an example might be 436 looked for in the conduct of a Christian Bishop, to make such a charge, without any evidence to support it. But I will ask him, what would he have felt, had any of your Lordships imputed it to him, that he was influenced by motives of selfish ambition in the course which he took upon the same occasion? Let it not be supposed that I mean to insinuate the slightest degree of selfish feeling to the right rev. Prelate. I know him to be distinguished for eminent learning and talents, and for every good quality. But what I complain of is, that he charges your Lordships with having been influenced in the course of your proceedings by factious views. But the right rev. Prelate, in his letter to an association, has pointed out a safe and easy way to put an end to the combinations which he says exist in this and in the other House of Parliament. Others have hesitated—others have ventured no more than to insinuate the suggestion—but not so the right rev. Prelate——Ille impiger hausit Spumantem pateram.The noble Secretary of State for the Home Department has stated, and other noble Lords have done the same, that he for many years was opposed to Parliamentary Reform, but that he has since observed the signs of the times, and has come to the conclusion that the change is indispensable. Now, it appears to me a most extraordinary line of argument, to say that your counsels ought to be swayed by timid apprehension. All the writers upon the Constitution, and amongst them Burke, Bolingbroke, and Hume, have taken it as part of the scheme of the Constitution, that they who represent the King should always join with the conservative party; but it has never been supposed that the King would throw the weight of his prerogative into the balance on the side of the democracy. Wherever such a thing is hinted as possible by those writers, it is at once scouted as incompatible with the existence of the Monarchy itself. As to the extent of the present measure—and to that most of the arguments in its favour has, in this debate, been chiefly directed—I must say, that nothing short of a demonstration of absolute necessity can justify a measure so extensive. The measures which have been from time to time proposed by the noble Lord now on the Woolsack, when he was a Member of the other House of Parliament, fell infinitely short of this, though 437 they satisfied all Reformers. But look to what was the conduct of a former Parliament, which had to provide for the succession to the Crown, and for a new settlement of the Constitution. How did those illustrious persons proceed? They attempted no change which was not absolutely and indispensably necessary. Has that example operated upon the noble Lords who framed this project of a new Constitution? If they had looked to it with attention, it would have taught them the necessity of more caution in the re-modelling of a fabric so mighty as the British Constitution. It is said, that our objects in opposing this Bill are the objects of a selfish and ambitious faction. I shall not retort the charge, nor impute such motives to the noble Earl and his colleagues, who have pressed this Bill upon your Lordships' attention. But I will say, that, if it had been the sole object of that noble Earl to crush for ever his political opponents, and to perpetuate his own power, he could have adopted no course more effectual. We are told that we ought to provide for the independence of the representative body. I say that the project of independence is altogether visionary. I say, give to the House of Commons the powers which would make it independent, and there is an end of the other two branches of the Legislature. Such experiments have been made in more instances than one in the history of the world, and they have constantly failed. More than fifty years ago Mr. Hume applied his great powers to the solution of that problem, but the result of his inquiry was, that there could be devised no practicable scheme for a democratic House of Commons co-existing with the Peerage and the Throne. But Mr. Hume is not the only authority on the subject, for I remember that, in a quarterly publication, then conducted by a learned Lord, now a Member of the other House, an essay was contained on this question, and in that essay the same conclusion was arrived at, as had been deduced by Mr. Hume and Lord Bolingbroke. So much for the independence of the House of Commons. A noble Earl, who spoke during the debate of last night, having remarked upon what he considered to be so many blots upon the character of the Constitution, turns round, and asks, can that system be called a Representative Government in which the Representation is so much controlled and interfered with? But I would ask the noble Earl, was there ever, since the first 438 institution of our Representative system, such a Representation as he calls for? Has not the House of Commons been always constituted—I mean as to the principles of its constitution—just as it is at present? But the operation of this Bill, in enfranchising on the one hand, and disfranchising on the other, will render it impossible that the Constitution should remain upon its ancient principles. As this subject has already been most ably treated by a noble friend of mine, in an early part of the debate, I will only point out one or two things as worthy of attention, and leave it to your Lordships to draw the conclusion. Sixty-four Members are given to places whose Representation will be thrown into the scale of extreme democracy. These are to be taken from the conservative class in the present House of Commons, and the consequence will be, to transfer 120 Members to the side of extreme democracy. I might ask again here, what will be the effect of such an infusion of the democratic principle into the constitution of the other House? My noble friend has drawn your attention to the effect of this measure as respects Ireland and Scotland. In the latter the greater portion of the Members which will be returned after you shall have passed these Bills will be of the same class as those returned in England. But in Ireland more than two-thirds of the Members will be returned by the Roman Catholics; and, it is unnecessary to add, that the conduct of those whom the Roman Catholics of Ireland have hitherto sent into Parliament sufficiently proves that those Members will also be in the scale of extreme democracy. Thus the effect of the measure will be, to add at least 200 Members to the partizans of democracy in that House. With such a House of Commons is it to be supposed that the present frame of the Government can be upheld? If it cannot, and I am convinced that it cannot, be upheld, who, I ask, has yet pointed to us the necessity by which we are compelled to run the hazard of irretrievable ruin? Consider, my Lords, that the manner in which the present House of Commons is composed is such as to place it but just one step in advance of what that House will be under this Bill. Look, then, to its character at present, and think what it would be after this, with such an infusion of democracy, and wielding the powers of the purse and the sword; for it will have the power to disband the army. That 439 House will possess all the authority of the State, and the Government of the country cannot, as a matter of course, exist in its present form. The House of Commons which Cromwell summoned, on a principle of democratic representation far short of that proposed by this Bill, was found, by the Usurper, in the zenith of his power, to be so unmanageable, that he was compelled, by an arbitrary exercise of his own power, to expel 100 Members by one act alone, otherwise he could not have carried on the Government. Such a House of Commons will most surely set itself in opposition to the Crown, and one must reduce the other to submission. The Crown must submit to the Commons, or the Commons to the Crown. But this prospect is viewed without alarm by the advisers of the Crown! Impavidum feriunt ruinœ. As to insurrection throughout the country, I do declare, that, if the Government will only perform its duty, it never can occur; and I do not think, that, in a deliberative assembly, any such proposition as that set forth ever can be entertained. And if any excitement should occur, it must be merely transient. But if a House of Commons, such as that contemplated by the Bill, were to be constituted—disposing of our lives, our fortunes, and liberties—a yoke would be imposed upon us such as it would be heavy indeed to bear, and of which it would be scarcely possible to get rid—a yoke, my Lords, which we never could shake off, except by a violent convulsion, There are many other topics, my Lords, on which I could wish to touch, but I pass them over in consequence of the lateness of the hour, and from the feeling that my own physical faculties will not bear me through. But, my Lords, it is said, if we throw out this Bill, there will be a collision between the two Houses of Parliament on this subject. I cannot believe this. This House is as independent of the House of Commons as that House is of us. We have the same authority to reject the Bill that they had to pass it; and there would be no more disrespect on our parts in now rejecting it than there was upon theirs in sending it up, after our solemn rejection of it, a second time. We are told, besides, that this measure is to be permanent; but, my Lords, no person looking at this Bill, at its various provisions, its anomalies, its absurdities, can for a moment imagine that it will be permanent. My Lords, the organs of the 440 Movement party, in and out of Parliament, have declared that it is not to be final. It is not intended to be a final measure. If, my Lords, you should pass it under such an impression, you are grossly deluded. My Lords, I know enough of this House to declare, that, if this Bill pass through this stage, the certain result will be, that there can be no possibility of preventing it from becoming the law of the land. My Lords, I am borne down by apprehensions and alarm upon this momentous occasion, not upon my own account, but for the sake of the country, whose dearest interests are placed in jeopardy. My Lords, I therefore beg you to lay aside all temporizing policy, which must assuredly, if you should be weak enough to entertain it, prove your destruction. By voting against the second reading, on the contrary, you will turn aside the dangers which menace the Constitution, and you will win the eternal gratitude of your fellow-countrymen and of all good men.
§ Earl Grey
said, that the great length to which the debate had already proceeded, and the exhausted state in which their Lordships must feel themselves, precluded him from making any long trespass on their indulgence. However desirous he might be to notice many things which had occurred in the course of the debate, his strength would fail him, and he should be unequal to the task. Yet it was impossible for him to remain silent, and not to do justice to the course which the Government had pursued—to defend himself against the suspicions which had been cast upon him, and to endeavour to assure their Lordships that the success of this Bill would not be attended by the consequences which had been so confidently asserted by the noble and learned Lord, and that, if it were likely to be attended by such consequences, it never would have been proposed by him. The first point to which he should address himself was, the charge which had been already successfully refuted by the noble Lord on the Woolsack, but which had been again advanced by the noble Lord who spoke last, namely, that the agitation which prevailed on the subject of Parliamentary Reform was to be wholly attributed to the misconduct of the present Ministers. It had occurred to him to state to their Lordships what the state of the country was when the present Administration first came into office. "I have before stated," said the noble Earl, 441 "that when I was at a distance from London, contemplating nothing less than my accession to power, I was attentive to what I saw of the progress of the public desire for Reform; I received statements, too, from my friends in town of the great strides which it had made there, which were corroborated to me, on my return to town, by many of my friends, whom I met here, and many of whom, though adverse to Reform, told me that it was a measure that could not be delayed. I say that I then felt, and I declared that feeling in October, 1830, that the conviction of the public was so strong that the present constitution of the House of Commons was so defective in practice and so untenable in theory, that Reform must be granted to avert those evils which the further denial of it could not prevent from happening. And my counsel at that time was, not to delay a measure which the longer it was delayed would become the more imperative. That this was my feeling, what stronger proof can I give than that quotation which has already been made from the speech which a noble Earl delivered when I declared the principles in which I intended to conduct the Administration? Among the pledges which I then gave, one was to introduce the question of Parliamentary Reform. On hearing it, the noble Earl called upon us not to delay the introduction of the measure, which was equally necessary to the safety of the country, and of the Administration itself. If that were the impression on the mind of the noble Earl, who, though a friend to Reform, was not a friend to extensive Reform, does it not prove the fact, that, on the public mind, a favourable impression was made even before we came into office? Then, I say, that the statement is untrue that we caused the present excitement. That excitement existed previously—it was produced by a variety of causes acting upon various classes of the community, at times active and vigorous, at times dormant and quiescent, but never extinct, and always reviving at every period of public distress. Then, I say, that we are bound to look at this state of the question. I must also call upon your Lordships to look at what was stated by a noble Baron, both at that time, and subsequently in this very debate. He has confirmed, in the strongest way in which confirmation can be given, what I stated before, that even at the time when Reform appeared to be most lost sight of 442 by the people, it was not dormant. He has told you that he informed Mr. Canning, that though it now appeared to be lulled, it would again burst upon them, and that something must be done to satisfy the people. This was not unnatural. I am not disposed to assert, that the revolution of France, in July, 1830, and the revolution of Belgium, had not their effect in giving additional excitement to the public enthusiasm on this subject. But the question had been agitated during the whole of the preceding year. The Birmingham Union had been formed in January, 1830, and the Manchester Union was, I believe, formed even before that time. Under these circumstances, when we came into office, we were bound to look at the case, and the necessity of doing something being generally admitted, the question resolved into this—what was it necessary to do? And here let me put one question to the noble and learned Lord who spoke last, and I call upon him to answer it, ay or no. Did he not admit, when he left office, that it was absolutely necessary to grant some Reform to carry on the Government of the country? [Lord Lyndhurst made no reply] I assert that such was the opinion of the noble and learned Lord, and of all his colleagues in the Administration, the noble and gallant Duke alone excepted. I say, then, that we, succeeding to that Administration, found it necessary to look at some measure of Reform, and the question, therefore, with us only was, how far the Reform should go. I may have erred—Government may have erred—our views may have been wrong—we are erring men, and do not pretend that our judgment is infallible—but applying our best judgment to the best information we could obtain, and examining minutely the situation and prospects of the country, the view we took was this—that something being to be done in the way of Reform, it should be done to that extent as to give us a resting-place on which the Constitution could repose in future free from all further discussion and agitation. We acted on that principle. Reform being necessary, the other consequences were the result of our honest and unbiassed judgment. Then this measure of Reform was introduced, and was received with satisfaction by the whole country; and here I must state, that in the progress of the feeling of Reform, it was strongly directed to those injurious systems, Annual Parliaments, 443 Universal Suffrage, and Vote by Ballot. Those I have declared on other occasions, even when I was most eager for Reform, to be in opposition to my principles; but this measure, founded on the satisfaction of the public—and without it I admit the measure would be good for nothing—was no sooner propagated than all agitation on these other topics was at an end, and an unanimity manifested itself in favour of the present measure to a degree which was hardly conceivable. But an opposition subsequently arose to it. In my opening speech I denied that any blame was imputable to the Ministers for bringing this measure forward, and now I do not impute blame to those who opposed it when brought forward, I trust that I have shown to the noble and learned Lord that the circumstances of the country were such as to require that Ministers should immediately undertake some measure of Reform, and that they had acted on no erroneous view in proposing a Reform of such an extent as, if carried, would go far to put a stop to a wish for further changes. In the course of such discussion, which, I am sorry to say, has not answered the expectations which I formed, and the hope that I entertained, that, by avoiding all personal attack myself, I should induce others to do the same—in the course of this discussion, which has been replete with the most acrimonious language, a great part of the debate has turned on the inconsistency of conduct manifested by different Peers. An attack has been made on others for the extravagance of their views, and on myself for having introduced this measure, from a false notion of preserving my own consistency, or from personal motives of ambition. Something of that sort, though disclaimed by the noble and learned Lord at the time, was insinuated by him when he said, that, if any Minister had contemplated the permanence of his own power, he would not have taken any other measure than the present to preserve it. I am sorry that a question like the present, which ought to depend on merits of its own, has been accompanied by such reflections, and that acrimony has been most strongly displayed where it ought most of all to have been conceded. I have been congratulated by a learned and right rev. Prelate, that I have rejected with scorn and indignation the stigma of revolution. The charity of that sneer, and of that 444 insinuation is not lost upon me; but I tell that right rev. Prelate, that I have a long life to appeal to, which, even those who know me not in private, will think sufficient to justify me in the opinion of my countrymen, from the foul and malignant charges which he, in his Christian charity, has thought proper to produce against me. I have a stake also in the country, perhaps as large a one as he has. I have also given pledges to my country—pledges which must prove my sincere desire to transmit to my posterity the property which I have received from my ancestors—pledges which ought to satisfy the country that I shall not, with my eyes open, undertake anything that is dangerous to the Constitution. The right rev. Prelate threw out insinuations about my ambition. Let me tell him calmly, that the pulses of ambition may beat as strongly under sleeves of lawn as under an ordinary habit. I wish not to pursue further a subject on which I feel strongly; but a speech more unbecoming the situation of a Christian Bishop—a speech more inconsistent with the love of peace—a speech more remote from the charity which ought to distinguish a Clergyman of his order—a speech more replete with insinuations and charges, calculated to promote disunion and discord in the community, never was uttered within the walls of this or any other House of Parliament." The noble Earl then proceeded to refute that part of the rev. Prelate's speech in which he had contended that the King was bound, by his Coronation Oath, not to grant his assent to the Irish Reform Bill. He thought the noble Duke opposite would agree with him in repudiating the use which had been made of the Coronation Oath. Nothing could be more absurd than to suppose that his Majesty, who had certainly taken the Coronation Oath with all the solemnity which had been so well described by the right rev. Prelate, was bound by that oath not to agree to the present measure. The same fallacy had been advanced in the discussions on the Catholic question. He (Earl Grey) thought he had already proved to demonstration, that the Coronation Oath bound the King, not in his legislative, but in his executive, capacity. The way in which the right rev. Prelate had argued this part of the question was Popish doctrine. The true import of the Coronation Oath, confined to civil matters, was a solemn con- 445 tract and obligation of the King to his people, to execute his office with strict attention to the laws, and to the interest, of the State. The doctrine of the right rev. Prelate on this point was mischievous; he had almost said wicked. He would leave this part of the subject, however, because he felt it had been completely answered by his noble friend, the Secretary for the colonies. The right rev. Prelate had also stated, in answer to what he (Earl Grey) had said in his opening speech, as to what constituted revolution, that external force was not necessary to produce it. He had said, that in general the term revolution was applied to cases where great changes were effected in the Constitution by external force, and by that he would stand. Suppose, for instance, the case which the right rev. Prelate supposed, that the King and the two Houses of Parliament should determine to alter the succession, that would be no revolution, for it had been directly asserted as a right of Parliament, by a law of Queen Anne, in which it was stated, that any writing to the contrary opinion was high treason, and that any speaking to the contrary of it rendered the speaker liable to the penalties of a prœmunire, so that, if the right rev. Prelate had uttered elsewhere the sentiments which he had delivered the other night in that House, he would have rendered himself liable to very awkward penalties. The right rev. Prelate had supposed the case of Parliament giving the King power to issue proclamations having the force of law. That might be a monstrous power, incompatible with the Constitution, and one which an enlightened Parliament would not grant, but it would be no revolution. He could suppose extreme emergencies, in which such a power might be necessary, in support of which he begged to cite the case of Henry the 8th, in which such a power really was given by Parliament to the King. He hoped, however, that such cases would never arrive again. Parliament, however, had done some things of late years almost equally bad; witness its repeated suspensions of the habeas corpus Act, and its repeatedly subjecting Ireland, by proclamation, to the Insurrection Act. He, therefore, contended, that he was justified in asserting that this Bill, brought in by the forms of the Constitution to be passed by the forms of the Constitution, for an object acknowledged by the Con- 446 stitution, to renovate and strengthen the Constitution, could not be called a revolution, or be, in justice, described as having a revolutionary tendency. He now came to the principles of the measure on which the noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst) had said so much. He again repeated, that disfranchisement, enfranchisement, and extension of the Suffrage, were the three principles of this measure, and, in fact, the only elements out of which any Reform could be made. Accordingly, all the speakers in this debate had agreed that every Reform must embrace these principles. Even the ridiculus mus, which, after so much teeming labour, had been produced by the parturient mountain, proceeded on the very same principle. Even the noble and learned Lord, who now at last was a Reformer—who, in the early times of his life, had never heard of, or argued for, or supported Reform—he supposed the noble Lord would not contradict that statement—even the noble Lord who, reluctantly consenting, admits that there is some necessity for Reform,
§ Earl Grey
would take this explanation. The learned Lord asserted, that he had said nothing; therefore, under this silence, they were left to suppose, that he would either oppose all Reform or support it. It was not necessary to press the topic further, and, therefore, he would leave him in the comfort of his disclaimer. It was enough for his (Earl Grey's) purpose to be able to show that a great many—almost all—of the noble Lords who had opposed the Bill under consideration, nevertheless admitted the necessity of some Reform. The noble and learned Lord had alluded to numerous Addresses to his Majesty on the subject of Reform, which had been kept out of sight. He did not know what the noble and learned Lord meant. He (Earl Grey) had himself presented to his Majesty above 200 Addresses, on the subject; and he was not aware that they were kept more in sight than the others. But he believed that almost all 447 the addresses to which the noble and learned lord adverted, although they were against so extensive a Reform as that proposed in the Bill, admitted the necessity of some Reform. In the opinion of the noble and learned Lord, the principles of the Bill were irreconcileable with the safety of the Constitution, because the Bill not only contained the principle of disfranchisement, but it disfranchised fifty-six boroughs; and because the Bill not only contained the principle of an extension of Suffrage, but extended it to householders of 10l. a-year. The noble and learned Lord said, that Ministers were pledged to consent to no alteration in the Bill. Now, although he (Earl Grey) thought fifty-six boroughs were not too many to disfranchise, and that 10l. was not too small a sum to which to extend the Suffrage, those propositions were no part of the principle of the Bill; and both of them might be altered with perfect consistency with that principle. But the noble and learned Lord said, that he (Earl Grey) would not consent to any alteration in the Bill. To that assertion he would make the same answer that he made in October—that it did not depend upon him, for that it depended upon their Lordships. When the Bill went into the Committee, he should certainly feel it his duty to resist any alterations which he might think inconsistent with the main object which the Bill proposed to carry into effect. But, if it could be shown that any injustice had inadvertently crept into any of the schedules—if it could be shown that any qualification, not so small as 10l. would be less open to fraud and abuse—he would not resist the correction of such circumstances. It was, at the same time, perfectly true, that he should strongly oppose any diminution of the number of fifty-six boroughs which it was proposed to disfranchise, and any increase of the 10l. which it was proposed to fix as the minimum of qualification. But the decision on those points would depend on the House, and not on him. His opinions were as he had stated them to be; but it was in the power of the House to make such alterations as might in their opinion render the provisions of the Bill more accordant with the principles of it. He found it impossible at that late hour to do justice to the subject; but he was desirous of making one or two further remarks. It had been asserted by the noble and learned Lord, that the Members of the House of 448 Commons returned under the new Bill would be not Representatives, but delegates. He had even maintained that the Members of the present House of Commons were not properly Representatives, but delegates, and had adduced as proofs of the fact, the dismissal of Sir Robert Wilson from Southwark, and the vote of censure which had been passed on Mr. Alderman Thompson. The House of Commons were at all times delegates from the constituent body, representing their constituents in a Representative body. Were the Members of the House of Commons of 1784 called delegates? It had been said by a noble Baron, that there never had been such a change at any election as at the last, and that all old family connexions and influences had been broken up by it. The same thing had occurred in 1784; yet he was sure there were some noble Lords on the other side who would object to terming the Members of the House of Commons of that period delegates. The majorities of the present House of Commons on this question afforded unequivocal evidence, however, of the opinion of the public upon it. After a year's consideration, there would not have been a majority of 116 (the last majority), if the opinion out of doors were not most decided in favour of the measure. Reverting to the charge against the Members, that they were delegates, he admitted it to be true that popular opinion had had great influence in the return of many of those Members; but he protested against its being anything but fair popular opinion which had secured the return of Members whom the people thought best qualified to serve the cause of Reform. But were there no delegates but those Members who were returned by popular bodies? What were the Members for nomination boroughs? They were in the strict sense of the word, delegates. They were delegated to represent and defend the interests of their patrons. If they refused to follow any changes of opinion into which their patrons might fall they were cashiered, and with this difference in comparison with the Members for popular places, that the latter could be dismissed only on a dissolution of Parliament, while the former were liable to dismissal whenever it suited the interest or the caprice of their patrons. When their Lordships were told of delegates, therefore, they should not be like children, terrified with bugbears, but should look with the eyes of men and statesmen at the real meaning 449 of the word. With regard to the nomination boroughs, practices denounced by the Bill of Rights, and by the Orders of Parliament in every Session—practices which had been reprobated by Locke, Somers, Blackstone, and every other writer on the Constitution, were now described as the beauties of the Constitution. He could not but admire the ingenuity of the right reverend Prelate, who had contended that these shameful parts of the Constitution were its necessary parts. In the year 1792, he (Lord Grey) had presented to Parliament a petition, in which it was stated that nine Peers returned between sixty and seventy Members of the House of Commons; and he believed that at present that number was greatly increased. He had stated at that time, and he now repeated the statement, that it was not the general interest of the House of Peers to maintain the borough nomination, but that it was only the interest of a few Peers, who, by uniting their strength, might effectually support or oppose any Administration, and thus deprive the country of the benefit of a free and a good Government. It was well known to their Lordships that these boroughs, which, according to the right reverend Prelate were so necessary to the Constitution, were frequently disposed of for money. The practice of purchasing seats in Parliament, however, was of modern invention, and he believed not known before 1760. Lord Chesterfield, in his letters, was one of the first persons who publicly mentioned it, and it was thought to add much to the power of the landed Aristocracy. It was, however, possible, that the demagogues, as they were called, might also avail themselves of this privilege of purchasing seats. Under this plan also the enemies of the Constitution might obtain admission into Parliament, and it had been made a ground of charge against a noble friend of his (Earl Radnor), that he had proposed bringing Mr. Cobbett into Parliament as a proof of the system being favourable to the introduction of demagogues. Horne Tooke, who had a character of that kind, had stood three times unsuccessfully for Westminster, and was at last returned for a rotten borough, and that borough was Old Sarum. In bringing in this Bill, the Ministers had been guided by the landmarks of the Constitution. It had been said that these boroughs existed in old times—true; but it was equally true that decayed boroughs in the old times ceased to send Members 450 to Parliament. It had also been said, that Kings had sent writs to boroughs to promote certain interests; but that was an abuse of the prerogative. With respect to the argument that the elective franchise was a trust, and could not be resumed, he must assert that, if it was a trust, it was intended to be exercised for the general benefit, and not to be made conducive to private advantage. But there was no want of precedent for this proceeding on their part. There were examples on the Statute Book, which could not be disputed. He would refer their Lordships to the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders in Ireland, and to the union of that country and of Scotland with England, at which period many boroughs were destroyed. These were examples not only of disfranchisement, but even of an interference with the right of exercising the elective franchise, quite as complete in principle as any alterations proposed by the present Bill. It had been said, that his Majesty's Ministers had much to answer for in reference to the state of Ireland; but he must remind their Lordships, that agitation in that country had nothing to do with the question of Parliamentary Reform, but arose from causes essentially different, and having no reference to that subject. It had been asserted, that Reform would increase the power of the Catholics of Ireland to a fearful extent, and would thereby lead to the downfal of the Church Establishment in that country. The right reverend Prelate stated, that the Irish Reform Bill would effect this, as it tended to destroy that arrangement respecting the corporate boroughs which was made by James 1st. He was sure, however, that the security afforded by that arrangement would be in a very slight degree affected by this Bill. But did the right reverend Prelate forget that this arrangement of James 1st was, for the greater part, destroyed at the time of the Union—that if the existence of the corporate boroughs was essential to the security of the establishment, that security was destroyed at the time of the Union, when out of seventy boroughs, all, with the exception of sixteen, were disfranchised. He thought this was quite as objectionable as the partial change that would be made in the constituency of the present Irish boroughs by the Reform Bill. A considerable degree of discussion had arisen as to the King having the power to issue writs to new boroughs, or to withhold them from 451 decayed places. He was not lawyer enough to assert whether this right did exist or not, but the right reverend Prelate had admitted, that the power was exercised by James 1st. Although, however, this might be a portion of the prerogative he was not prepared to say, that the exercise of it would be desirable. One of the objections which had been most strongly urged against this Bill was this—that, under the new system, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for Members of the Government to obtain seats in the House of Commons, and, consequently, that the public business could not be carried on with such precision and despatch as at the present moment. Undoubtedly the effect of this measure would be, to place the Government more under the control of public opinion, and make Ministers more upon their guard relative to the measures which they proposed to Parliament; but he did not believe that a gentleman would find greater difficulty than at present in obtaining a seat in the House of Commons, merely because he became a Member of a Government acting on honest principles. For his part, he believed this apprehension purely visionary; and he was confirmed in this belief, when he recollected that, out of the six Members of the Cabinet who had seats in the other House, no less than four were Representatives of counties. It was undoubtedly of the utmost importance that Ministers should be able to find their way into the House of Commons; but he did not think that the difficulties to be contended with under the proposed system would be much greater than at present. The principle was, that when a Member of the House of Commons accepted office, he returned to his constituents to receive their approval of the act, and under a Government enjoying the confidence of the country, he saw no danger of a Member being rejected by his constituents, merely because he had become a Minister. But even if the difficulties in this respect should be much greater than he anticipated, they were as nothing when put in competition with the disadvantages—and he might add, the dangers of the present system. Before he sat down, he felt it necessary to make one or two allusions to the present state of public opinion. He hoped that whatever might be the result of their Lordships' decision, the public tranquillity would not be disturbed. If this measure should unhappily be rejected, and consequences arose which he could not look at 452 without alarm, Government would be bound to exert themselves to the last, and to use all the constitutional means in their power for the preservation of the public tranquillity; but the danger of disturbance itself was not so great as that of an alienation of the feelings of the people from that House, and a withdrawal of that confidence which they had been accustomed to place in the Legislature. It was for this reason that he now implored their Lordships to pass this Bill, which he had felt it his duty to propose as a Minister of the Crown, which he hoped and trusted would now pass, and which he firmly believed must pass, whoever might be the Minister. Having already trespassed so long on the attention of their Lordships, he would only refer to one point, which undoubtedly was a matter of great importance, and which had repeatedly been alluded to in the course of the present discussion—he referred to the allusion which had been made respecting the Prerogative of the Crown to create Peers. It had been argued by the right rev. Prelate, by the noble and learned Earl, and by the noble and learned Lord, that the exercise of this portion of the prerogative for the purpose of facilitating the passing of this Bill, would be an act worse than any committed by James 2nd. Although every one must look with extreme reluctance to the exercise of this branch of the prerogative for any particular purpose, yet he was sure the noble and learned Lord Would admit that a case might arise when it would be absolutely necessary to exercise it. All the best constitutional writers admitted that, although the creation of a large number of Peers, for a particular purpose, was a measure which should rarely be resorted to, yet that cases might arise in which it might be absolutely necessary. He would suppose a case in which there was a collision between the two Houses of Parliament, and in which public opinion supported one branch of the Legislature against the other. Now, in a case where there was a hopeless variance in opinion between the Houses of Lords and Commons on any important question, he must ask, how could this be set at rest but by the exercise of the prerogative—and by an increase being made to this branch of the Legislature? The exercise of the prerogative in such a case had been supported by all the great constitutional writers, and there was no doubt that the power was vested in the Crown for the purpose of preventing the 453 danger which might arise from a collision between the two branches of the Legislature. More than this he did not think it necessary to say. He at once admitted that only extreme cases could justify such a measure; and he should be exceedingly averse to such a course; but, he repeated, in cases of necessity, it would be perfectly justifiable, and in accordance with the best and most acknowledged principles of the Constitution. The measure then before their Lordships had been proposed according to the forms of the Constitution, and, he believed, it would have the effect of adding to the permanence of the Constitution, to the security of the Government, and to the welfare of the country. He had been accused of having advocated revolutionary doctrines; but he had done no more than Mr. Pitt did, who had recorded his opinion on this subject, and on which he said:—"That under the present system no upright Government could exist, and no honest man could be Minister." Such were the words of a Resolution proposed by Mr. Pitt, and what be had proposed was only to remedy the evils which had been described by that right hon. Gentleman. In conclusion, he had now only to express a hope, and it was a confident one, that the Bill would go into a Committee, to be there improved, if possible; but that it would be ultimately
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|His R. H. the DUKE of SUSSEX.||CAWDOR||ROMNEY|
|BRANDON and HAMILTON||COWPER||TANKERVILLE.|
|HILLSBOROUGH (Marquis of Downshire)||HOOD|
|ANGLESEY||LEINSTER (D. of Leinster)|
|EARLS.||MORLEY||BELHAVEN and STENTON|
|MULGRAVE||BOYLE (Earl of Cork)|
§ passed in such a shape as would give satisfaction to the country.
The Earl of Carnarvon
said, the noble Earl, had put sentiments in his mouth which he had never entertained, much more uttered. At that late hour he would content himself with denying the expressions attributed to him by the noble Earl.
The Bishop of Exeter
said, he must also make the same complaint, the noble Earl had charged him with making such remarks as he had never given utterance to. He had never said that there might be a change of dynasty effected in a legal and constitutional manner. Further, he did not say that, to pass an Act of Parliament to make a proclamation have equal force with an Act of the Legislature, would be equivalent to a revolution, but, he did say that to pass an Act of Parliament to make proclamations equivalent to Acts of Parliament would be virtually a revolution.
§ The House then divided: Contents Present 128; Proxies 56—Total 184. Not contents Present 126; Proxies 49;—Total 175—Majority 9.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past seven o'clock.459
|CARLETON (E. of Shannon)||SELSEY||ONSLOW|
|CHAWORTH (E. of Meath)||SOMERHILL (Marquis of Clanricarde)||SPENCER|
|CLEMENTS (E. of Leitrim)||SUFFOLK|
|CLIFTON (E. of Darnley)||STAFFORD||THANET.|
|DE ROOS||SUNDRIDGE (D. of Argyll)||LAKE.|
|DOVER||WELLESEEY (M. Wellesley)||ABERCROMBY|
|DUNALLEY||WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY||BARHAM|
|ERSKINE||CLIFFORD, of Chudleigh|
|FIFE (Earl of Fife)||BATH and WELLS||CLINTON|
|FINGALL (Earl of Fingall)||CHESTER||CREWE|
|GAGE (Viscount Gage)||LICHFIELD & COVENTRY||DE SAUMAREZ|
|GLENLYON||LINCOLN||DUNMORE (E. of Dunmore)|
|HOWARD DE WALDEN||WORCESTER||GRANARD (E. of Granard)|
|HOWARD OF EFFINGHAM||YORK (Archbishop).||HAWKE|
|HOWDEN||—||KENLIS (M. of Headfort)|
|KILMARNOCK (E. of Erroll)||KING|
|LILFORD||Proxies.||LOVELL and HOLLAND (Earl of Egmont)|
|MELBOURNE (Viscount Melbourne)||LUDLOW (Earl of Ludlow)|
|MELROSE (E. of Haddington)||PORTLAND.||MIDDLETON|
|MENDIP (Visc. Clifden)||MARQUESSES.||ORMONDE (Marquis of Ormonde)|
|MOSTYN||AILSA||PONSONBY (Earl of Bessborough)|
|MOUNT EAGLE (Marq. of Sligo)||BREDALBANE|
|NAPIER||STAFFORD||RANFURLY (Earl of Ranfurly)|
|PETRE||STUART (Earl of Moray)|
|PONSONBY, of Imokilly||BURLINGTON||WENLOCK.|
|ROSSIE (Lord Kinnaird)||CORN WALLIS|
|ROSEBERY (Earl of Roseberry)||DERBY||KILLALOE|
|SAYE and SELE||FORTESCUE||ST. DAVID'S.|
|SEFTON (Earl of Sefton)||NELSON|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|His R. H. the DUKE of CUMBERLAND||DUKES.||DORSET|
|His R. H. the DUKE of GLOUCESTER.||BEAUFORT||MANCHESTER|
|BEVERLEY||CLANBRASSILL (Earl of Roden)||HERTFORD|
|CALEDON||CLANWILLIAM (Earl of Clanwilliam)|
|DONCASTER (Duke of Buccleuch)||DOUGLAS||CHESTERFIELD|
|ELDON||FARNBOROUGH||GRAHAM (D. of Montrose)|
|HOWE||HAY (Earl of Kinnoul)||SCARBOROUGH|
|JERSEY||KER (M. of Lothian)||WARWICK.|
|LEVEN and MELVILLE||LYNDHURST||VISCOUNTS.|
|LONGFORD||MELDRUM (E. of Aboyne)||CLANCARTY (Earl of Clancarty)|
|MAYO||ORIEL (Viscount Ferrard)||GORDON (E. of Aberdeen)|
|MORTON||PENSHURST (V. Strangford)||GORT|
|NORWICH (D. of Gordon)||REDESDALE||HEREFORD|
|POULETT||SHEFFIELD (E. of Sheffield)||BARONS.|
|ROSSLYN||STUART DE ROTHSAY||ARUNDEL|
|VANE (M. of Londonderry)||WIGAN (Earl of Balcarras)||COLCHESTER|
|VERULAM||WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE||COWLEY|
|GRAY||SALTERSFORD (E. of Courtown)||CLOGHER|
|HOPETOUN (E. of Hopetoun)||DURHAM|
|LAUDERDALE (E. of Lauderdale)||ST. HELEN'S||SALISBURY|
|LOFTUS (Marg. of Ely)||STOWELL.||WINCHESTER.|
|Of Peers who inherit their Titles—||Scotch Representative Peers—|
|Voted for Second Reading||111||For Second Reading||4|
|Majority for||17||Majority against||8|
|Peers who have been created—||Irish Representative Peers—|
|For Second Reading||46||For Second Reading||4|
|Majority for||10||Majority against||13|
|British Bishops—||Irish Representative Bishops—|
|For Second Reading||11||For Second Reading||1|
|Majority against||1||Majority against||2|