§ Lord Lyndhurst
spoke to the following effect:*—I am anxious, my Lords, to call your attention, in pursuance of the notice I gave yesterday, to the proceedings of the two Houses of Parliament during the present Session. As far as I am personally concerned, the task is by no means an agreeable one; but I have undertaken it as a duty—in some sort, as a duty to the noble Viscount (Melbourne), and partly also in pursuance of an intimation which I received from him at a former period of the Session. Your Lordships may, perhaps, recollect, that when the Irish Municipal Bill was under discussion, I stated in considerable detail the circumstances attending the tardy and heavy progress of that Bill through the other House of Parliament. The noble Viscount, on a subsequent day, with reference to that statement, and also to some similar remarks made by my noble and learned Friend opposite (Lord Brougham), said that this was an unfair course of observation; that I ought to have considered, not that particular case alone, but to have taken into account the general proceedings and measures of the Government. My Lords, I felt the propriety of the observation made by the noble Viscount; and I shall, therefore, in pursuance of that intimation, in*From a corrected Report,497 justice to the subject, and in justice to the noble Viscount himself, call your Lordships' attention to the entire proceedings of the present Session of Parliament, in order that when the case is fairly before you, stated with plainness and simplicity on my part, your Lordships may be in a condition to judge how far her Majesty's Ministers are entitled to your confidence—how far they can be considered as capable of conducting the affairs of this country, in a manner suitable to the interests of this extensive and mighty empire. My Lords, in directing your attention to this subject, there is one thing that is very remarkable. Your Lordships will find, that during the five first months of the Session, not a single bill of any importance passed the two Houses of Parliament. Legislation was a perfect blank. It seems that her Majesty's Ministers, either from want of energy or capacity, or from not possessing the confidence of the other House of Parliament, are, while that House can be considered as fairly representing the country, incapable of dealing with it and conducting the business of the Government. It is not until the benches of the House have become empty, not until 550 Members, as we are told, have quitted the metropolis, and the House is reduced to such a state as to be little more than a mere Government board, that they are roused from their supineness, or able to conduct in any manner the legislation of the country. This, my Lords, is a striking illustration of the correctness of the anticipation of my noble Friend, the noble Duke, when he asked, at a former period, with reference to a House of Commons composed like the present—How is the King's Government to be carried on? The anticipation of the noble Duke has been amply verified by the result; for as long as the House of Commons continues to be a House of Commons, and to form the representation of the country, it appears the Queen's Government cannot be carried on; and it is not until it ceases to assume that shape, that any thing like legislation can be conducted through that House by her Majesty's Ministers. My Lords, I consider the fair and just mode of examining the subject I am about to submit to your Lordships, is to refer, in the first instance, to her Majesty's gracious Speech, which must, of course, be considered as the Speech of the Ministers, pronounced at the opening of the Session. I look to that speech for the purpose of ascertaining what were the views of the 498 Government, and what were the measures they considered essential to the interests of the country; and looking to the speech with that view, let us inquire to what extent the promises held out and the pledges given in it have been redeemed by her Majesty's Government. In that speech, ray Lords, there are four principal points to which the attention of Parliament was particularly directed. The Irish Municipal Bill, we are told, was essential to the interests of that part of the empire; we were called upon to take measures for the purpose of settling the important affairs of Canada; we were told, that to carry into effect the recommendations of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners was a matter of great urgency; we were further informed, that it was a matter of the first importance that we should direct our attention to measures which would be submitted to us for the more speedy and certain administration of justice. These, my Lords, were the prominent topics of her Majesty's Speech; and I am desirous, in the first instance, of leading your Lordships through the course of the proceedings of this Session, to show how far these important objects, to which our attention was thus directed, have been realized. First, then, with respect to the Irish Municipal Bill. It is not my intention to enter into any details on that question. It came up to your Lordships' House, where it was amended in a manner to make it correspond, or nearly so, with the bill of the last Session. What, then, was the course pursued by the noble Viscount? What was the objection, placed as it were in front of the battle, and urged against the amendments proposed by your Lordships? It was the amendment made with respect to the freemen. Now, it is remarkable, as showing how forgetful the noble Viscount was of the past history of this bill—how careless and inattentive to its provisions—that exactly the same amendment had been made last Session. It met with no opposition from the Government when it went down to the other House of Parliament, although many other objections were urged against the measure in its amended shape. This clause, with a trifling addition, was assented to; and yet now, so inconsistent were Ministers with themselves, that the amendment which before had been acquiesced in, to which no objection was even whispered by the Government, was put prominently forward as a ground for rejecting the bill. This is not all, Another amendment was opposed. 499 with great zeal and earnestness. That amendment related to the appointment of sheriffs. It turned out, that three years ago the noble Viscount had himself made in a former bill precisely the same amendment, and defended it upon just and constitutional grounds; but now, because the amendment proceeded from this side of the House, the noble Viscount turned round and gave it his most decided opposition. So much, my Lords, for the consistency of her Majesty's Ministers, and the manner in which they have treated this important bill. I can only ascribe this to thoughtlessness, to indifference, to their utter carelessness about a measure which they told us, in the speech from the throne, was so "essential" to the interests, of Ireland. But there was another amendment made by your Lordships, the effect of which was to strike out a number of clauses that had been introduced into the bill for the first time, during the present Session, in the House of Commons. These clauses were never heard of till the present year. They related to the grand jury cess, the powers of which were to be transferred to the town-councils. They were not even introduced into the bill when it was first brought into the House of Commons; but in that memorable committee of the 19th of April they were, for the first time, ingrafted on the bill: We objected to that alteration. We said "Let the law in this respect remain as it is." We struck out these clauses. The noble Viscount told us it would defeat the bill in another place. I said that it is impossible: it is an assumption of privilege and power to which we never can subscribe. You introduce clauses which you call money clauses, and ingraft them on a bill which is, in itself, a complete measure; we strike them out, and say, let the law remain as it is, or at all events introduce them in a separate bill; and we are told this is to be fatal to the whole measure. When the bill went down to the other House, this alteration did prove fatal to the measure; but it is worthy of remark, that at the very time when the amendment was objected to, it was admitted by the noble Lord who had the conduct of the bill in that House, that the clauses might and therefore ought to have been made the subject of a separate bill. To ingraft them on the Municipal Bill—to tack them to it—was an encroachment upon the privileges of this House. It was a clumsy proceeding, and if done with design, could only have been intended to 500 keep on foot something that might be considered in certain quarters as a grievance of which the Government might avail itself as occasion might require. Her Majesty's Ministers have thus made themselves responsible for the loss of this bill. The tacking of such clauses to such a bill was an unjustifiable act: it was advised by Ministers, and formed a pretext for getting rid of the measure. They, therefore, have themselves defeated a bill calculated, according to their own statement, essentially to promote the interests of Ireland. So much, then, as to the first measure alluded to in her Majesty's gracious Speech from the Throne. Now, as to the measures called for by the state of Canada. We all felt that nothing could be more pressing and more urgent than the necessity for taking that most important subject into consideration early in the Session. We felt that every hour's delay, and what has since occurred has confirmed the justness of our opinion, would add to the difficulty of the subject. Noble Lords hastened up to this House from all parts of the country and the Continent, anxious to be present at the earliest moment during the discussion of these important measures. But nothing was done: no measure was even submitted for consideration. A few conversations of a personal nature took place, and thus the matter ended. At length, however, at an advanced period of the Session, we were told that the plan for settling the Canadas was matured—the plan came forth. A constitution was to be formed for the two provinces, which were to be united into one; this plan, however, was not to come into effect till after the expiration of three years—in 1842. The temporary government was to be continued till that time; and thus it became necessary, as a matter of course, from the extension of the duration of the temporary Government, that further powers should be given to it, particularly with a view to provide for local improvement. Thus the affair rested, and continued for some time in suspense. Intimation, however, was given, that these measures proposed by Ministers would meet with opposition. It was ascertained that the opposition would be of a vigorous character, and the whole scheme was suddenly abandoned. We were told it was abandoned in consequence of information recently received from Canada. What that information was, has never been communicated to your Lordships or the other House of 501 Parliament; and any person who will take, the pains to trace the proceedings in Canada for the last six months will find, that no alteration had occurred in the state of things in that country, which could have any influence upon this measure. With the bill fell also the other part of the scheme, which was to continue the temporary Government for a period of three years. But then it was necessary that something should be done—that at least there should be an appearance of legislating for Canada. Therefore, it was that that bill, that fragment of a measure which passed the other House of Parliament, was brought up and submitted to your consideration; but so little importance did her Majesty's Ministers attach to it, that the noble Lord who had the conduct of the bill in this House, was unacquainted with its provisions, and the effects of them, and utterly unable to explain them to your Lordships. It would of course have been desirable if the temporary Government of Canada had been prolonged for three years, to give extended powers to the Governor, for the purpose of providing for local improvements; but when that plan was abandoned, such necessity no longer existed, and in fact, as the bill is now framed, nothing effectual can be done under it till next spring; at which time your Lordships must legislate for Canada, because in the course of the year the powers of the governor under the former bill will expire. The bill was, therefore, idle and unnecessary, and was obviously introduced merely for the purpose of making a show of legislation. So much for the redemption of this pledge—so much for the conduct of her Majesty's Government on this grave and important subject—the settlement of the affairs of Canada. With respect, my Lords, to the third subject referred to in her Majesty's Speech, there is an absolute blank: here there is not even a show of legislation. We were to take measures for carrying into effect the recommendation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. A bill was brought into the other House of Parliament for that purpose; it proceeded on a false statement of facts; it was read a second time; nothing further was done with respect to it; it was abandoned. In the Speech from the Throne, it is described as a measure most urgently called for; the recommendation was followed as far as the stage I have mentioned, and by the act of Ministers themselves the measure was then abandoned. The fourth subject, my Lords, Referred to in the Queen's Speech, was 502 stated to be of the first importance. Measures were said to be in preparation to provide for the more certain and speedy administration of justice—a subject, undoubtedly of paramount importance. What has been done, then, in this respect? As in the case of the recommendation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, literally nothing. Upwards of two months ago I thought it my duty to call your attention most seriously to the state of the business in the Court of Chancery. There is no court, there are no proceedings in any court, to which the recommendation in her Majesty's Speech would so strongly apply as to the Court of Chancery. I brought the subject under your Lordships' consideration shortly after the Easter recess; I stated the immense arrear of business in that court, and the remedy that was required. Referring to the arrears, I stated that the evil had become grievous and intolerable. My noble and learned Friend, the Master of the Rolls, adverting to those expressions, said the terms were strong, but were hardly strong enough to describe the extent of the evil. And, my Lords, it is impossible to form an adequate idea of the cruelty of the system, unless you direct your attention to some particular case; then only will you adequately feel, by considering its details, how individuals and whole families are ruined, and their prospects for ever blighted, by this delay of justice; then only can you form a just estimate of the extent and magnitude of this evil. Don't let it be supposed for a moment that I am finding fault with the learned judges who preside in that court: they are all persons faithful in the discharge of their respective duties—vigorous, active, learned, able men. But they have not power, not physical strength, to cope with the evil: the force of the court is not adequate for that purpose; this is admitted—it is avowed by every person acquainted with the subject. When I brought the matter forward, I laid before your Lordships a plan for remedying the evil, which I understood, at the time, was assented to by my noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, and by her Majesty's Ministers. It was assented to by my noble and learned Friend opposite (Lord Brougham;) and I did expect—indeed I understood we had something like a pledge, that some bill would be brought in during the present Session of Parliament, to remedy the evil. It was stated, indeed by my noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, that I did not go far enough; but he 503 was willing, as I understood, to try what I i proposed, which, to a considerable extent at least, would, even according to his admission, have provided a remedy for the evils of the present system; but from that time to this, we have heard nothing from her Majesty's Ministers on the subject. They have not touched this grievance, this intolerable grievance. The more speedy and certain administration of justice was stated to be a matter of the first importance in the Queen's Speech; the attention of your Lordships and of Ministers was earnestly directed to the subject; we had a sort of pledge that it would be immediately attended to; but, from that time to the present, no steps whatever have been taken to redeem that pledge. But, my Lords, it may be supposed that Ministers have been engaged upon other measures for reforming the law and rendering the administration of justice both speedy and certain. I look around in vain for anything as the fruit and result of their labours upon this subject. No bill has been introduced into this House, or come up from the other House of Parliament, on this important matter. The whole is a blank. There was, indeed a measure which had been lingering through Parliament for three Sessions, relative to Bankrupt Estates in Scotland, and to which no opposition was offered. There was also a bill for the purpose of increasing the salaries and making some trifling alterations in the Supreme Court of Scotland. But, with respect to England, there has been no attempt whatever to perform the promises which her Majesty's Ministers held out in the Speech from the Throne; and upon a subject which they themselves justly described as of the first importance. They have done nothing to promote the more speedy and certain administration of justice. Seeing the noble Baron the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster opposite reminds me of the extent of this supineness. The noble Baron, three years ago, directed a commission to inquire into the state of the Court of Chancery within his jurisdiction; a Commissioner was appointed, he immediately went down to make the necessary inquiries, but no report has yet been made, nothing further has been done—matters stand precisely where they did. My Lords, I have now gone through the particulars noticed in the Speech from the Throne. I have Stated to you what were the promises and pledges given in that Speech by her Majesty's Ministers at the commencement of the 504 Session; and I have shewn you what has been the performance, or rather I should say the absence of all performance, on their part, relative to these important subjects. What is the conclusion to be drawn from such a state of things? Obviously this; her Majesty's Ministers, at the commencement of the Session, stated in this document, deliberately and in terms, the opinion they themselves entertained as to the measures of legislation which the interests of the country required; they stated what, in their judgment the country had a right to expect from a vigorous, an able, and an effective administration. Not one of these measures has been accomplished. They have thus enabled us to compare their own opinion of what their duty required with their subsequent performance. They have thus pronounced their own condemnation. The Ministry has passed judgment on itself—habes confitentum reum; and yet, my Lords, these men still continue to hold the reins, without being able to direct the course of Government.—Versate diu, quid ferre recusent Quid valeant humeri.is applicable not to poetry alone; it extends equally and emphatically to those who undertake to conduct the affairs of a great empire. To undertake the conduct of such affairs, without possessing the vigour, or the capacity, or the Parliamentary confidence and support necessary to carry such measures as are essential to the interests of the country, is considered, and justly, by the constitution of these realms, as a high misdemeanour, as subjecting the parties to impeachment. And yet this is the course which has been pursued by the noble Viscount and his colleagues. This, at the present moment, is their actual slate and condition. I here take leave of the measures referred to in the speech from the Throne. The Ministers found it necessary to attempt something—something to gain the support of at least a certain class of their followers; and it seems to have occurred to them, that nothing was so well suited to their purpose as some measure on the subject of general education—a matter undoubtedly, my Lords, of the first importance, and deeply interesting to the welfare of the country. What course, then, would an enlightened, able, and straightforward Ministry have pursued upon this great subject? They would have prepared a bill containing the principles and the details of their measure; they 505 would have submitted it to Parliament, and have given ample time for the consideration of it, not only by Parliament itself, but by the country, deeply interested as it must have felt on a subject of such a nature. This was the course pursued by ray noble and learned Friend opposite, who set them a bright example, which they would have done well on this occasion to have imitated. It was the course which a manly, able, and constitutional Government would have pursued; but such a course did not suit the views, and was at variance with the principles and practice, of her Majesty's present advisers. They constantly prefer to the broad highway, in their course of policy, the tortuous by-paths which lead more obscurely and indirectly to the end which they are desirous of attaining. Availing themselves of, and abusing the confidence which your Lordships had placed in them and in the other House of Parliament, they proceeded, by a vote of that House, carried only by a majority of two, to give effect to the appointment of a committee of general instruction to superintend and control the general education of the country. This policy they pursued for the express, I had almost said the avowed, purpose of excluding your Lordships from all deliberation on this the greatest of all national subjects. Looking at the composition of your Lordships' House, do I say too much when I assert, that no assembly in the world is better qualified to consider, to discuss, and to advise on, such a subject? Yet the policy—the little and narrow policy I must call it—of her Majesty's Ministers has been to exclude you from all consideration of it, and to proceed exclusively on the vote of the other House of Parliament. But of whom does this Committee of education consist? There is the Chancellor of the Exchequer; there is the noble Viscount at the head of the Board of Works, who has of late been so active in the business of this House; there is also the Secretary of State for the Home Department; and lastly, and as a matter of course, the President of the Council. Such is the composition of this committee—such the Board which has to form plans and to digest schemes for the superintendence and conduct of the general education of the country. With the greatest possible respect for these individuals, I must say, that they are not exactly the description of persons whom I should have selected, or whom I believe the nation would have selected, for 506 the discharge of so delicate and important a trust. We find, in their very first publication, one of them betraying his ignorance of the very terms of the science of which he is appointed a professor. And what has been their first act? They published their scheme; it was circulated throughout the country, and it was met every where with universal reprobation; and not only in England, but also in the northern part of the island. So strong was the feeling excited against it, that though her Majesty's Ministers endeavoured to conciliate the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, by placing three hundred livings at their disposal, they passed a unanimous vote in condemnation of this scheme. Your Lordships considered it your duty to address the Throne upon the subject, not because you had been treated with indignity by her Majesty's Ministers, but because you thought the interests of the country required that as a branch of the Legislature, you should have been consulted upon a subject of such extensive and immeasurable importance. I rejoice that you did so; and, if for no other reason, for this—that we have thereby discovered what are the further objects and intentions of her Majesty's Ministers. It might otherwise have been supposed, that this Committee of instruction was a mere temporary body, appointed to dispose of the sum of 30,000l. voted by the House of Commons; but from the answer which the noble Viscount advised her Majesty to give to your address, we are, for the first time, let into the secret that the system is intended to be permanent; for we are told, that the proceedings of the Board are to be submitted to both Houses of Parliament annually. They are establishing, then, by the votes of the House of Commons, a permanent system for the superintendence and direction of education in this country. As to the other part of the answer which the noble Viscount advised, it is a mere mockery, though I can hardly suppose it was so intended by the noble Viscount. You complained, my Lords, that you had not been allowed to exercise any judgment upon this important subject; and what is the reply? "Of the proceedings of this Committee, annual reports will be laid before Parliament, so that the House of Lords will be enabled to exercise its judgment upon them." But when your Lordships expressed yourselves anxious "to have an opportunity of fully considering a measure 507 of such deep importance to the highest interests of the community," you, of course, intended that your judgment was to he coupled with a control—not a judgment without fruit; not a judgment which would he followed by no practical result. It was, then, a sneer and a mockery—for I will not use a harsher expression—to tell you that you would be enabled to exercise your judgment upon these annual reports, though, I repeat it, I can hardly bring myself to believe, that it was so intended by the noble Viscount. I pass, my Lords, from this subject to another of no inconsiderable importance—another measure of legislation. The subject to which I have just adverted was in substance a measure of legislation by one House alone, for which your Lordships may indeed find precedents; but precedents drawn from times of tumult and disorder, which I can scarcely think the noble Viscount would wish to see renewed. I now call your attention to the first Jamaica Bill. The Assembly of Jamaica contended, that we had infringed their privileges, by legislating without necessity respecting the internal affairs of that island. They did what they had before done under similar circumstances. They presented an address to the Crown, and resolved that they would not proceed in any work of legislation, except such as related to the maintenance of public credit, until they received an answer to their address. They were immediately prorogued, and were afterwards continued under prorogation. No answer was returned to their address; no explanation given; no communication of any description was made to them: hut a bill was prepared by the Colonial office, and brought into Parliament to annihilate for ever the constitution of Jamaica;—I say, a bill to annihilate the constitution of Jamaica:—for, though that bill was in terms only directed to the suspension of the constitution for the period of five years, every one who reflects for a moment must be aware, that the practical result of such a measure would have been its complete and entire extinction. A measure so strong and so despotic met with a vigorous opposition in the other House of Parliament. A reformed House of Commons—itself a representative Assembly, and professing liberal opinions could not well consent to to abolish another and ancient representative assembly, except in a case of absolute necessity. The bill, on its second reading, was carried only by a majority of five. It 508 was considered as lost, and so in substance it was. Her Majesty's Ministers felt and stated that they no longer possessed the confidence of the House of Commons. They never had enjoyed the confidence of this House; and as to the people, they well knew that they were regarded by them with hatred and contempt. They, therefore, tendered the resignation of their offices to her Majesty, and that resignation was accepted. The history of the few days subsequent to that event I pass over, it forms no part of the matter which I have to submit to your Lordships; it has, besides, been so fully laid before you by the noble Duke, himself an actor in it, and was afterwards treated in so able and masterly a manner by my noble and learned Friend opposite, that the recollection of the whole subject must be fresh in your memories, and I will not impair the effect of it by any statement of my own. But there is one point connected with it to which I must call the attention of your Lordships. Her Majesty's Miisnters tendered their resignation—that resignation was accepted, and they stated that they only held office until their successors were appointed, Then commenced the communication for forming another administration. While these were still in progress, the Ministers, who only held office until their successors were appointed, interposed, individually and collectively, with their counsel, advised the letter addressed by her Majesty to Sir Robert Peel, and were thus the negotiators with their political opponents. In the result, they advised her Majesty to break off the negotiation, and to restore themselves to the position they formerly occupied; for that was the constitutional effect of the whole proceeding. Such a course of conduct never before occurred in the history of this country; and I trust in God that it never will occur again. And what, my Lords, was the first act of this restored Government? Their first act was to draw up their celebrated cabinet minute—a document historically false, argumentatively false, legally false; and the unconstitutional character of which was only equalled by its folly, its extravagance, and its absurdity. Ministers, I have said, were reinstated in their former position. They had declared that they had lost the confidence of the House of Commons. What had they since done so regain that forfeited confidence? Every act, every circumstance which had occurred in these transactions, had tended only to sink 509 and lower them still further in public estimation. Far from having gained an increase of confidence in the House of Commons, all these proceedings had tended only to weaken and degrade them. It was necessary, however, to put the question to the test; and thes econd Jamaica Bill was brought in. The pretence was, the necessity of continuing certain laws which were about to expire in that colony; but other clauses were engrafted upon it, equally pernicious in principle with the bill which Ministers had abandoned. The second reading was carried by a majority of ten. With a majority of five, they confessed that they had forfeited the confidence of the House of Commons; and with all this management they had contrived to advance this majority in House of six hundred and fifty-eight Members from five to ten. Such was the fruit of these intrigues. Their situation had become uneasy and almost desperate, and it became necessary to attempt something to regain the confidence of a party in the House of Commons, and the subject of the Ballot was selected for that purpose. It was perhaps, after the Reform Bill, the most important question that had been submitted to the consideration of Parliament. If ever there was a measure respecting which it was incumbent upon the Government to act as a Government, it was this measure of the Ballot. The opinion of the Government was well known regarding it; but they thought, that to make it an open question would he considered a concession, and would tend to increase their influence with a certain party in the House of Commons. It was a shabby proceeding! It was supposed, however that there would be a further advantage attending it; that it would enable some Members of the Cabinet to win the regard of their constituents by their votes in favour of the measure. The result of this policy was an entire failure—it disgusted many—it conciliated no one; and when a leading member of the Cabinet, with unexampled frankness, let out the secret that he had voted for making the question an open one, as the best way of defeating it, the shabbiness of the proceeding was forgetten in the contempt of the hypocrisy and deception which had been practised in this transaction. I cannot then, my Lords, congratulate the noble Viscount, and his Government, on any accession of strength gained by the course pursued upon this question of the Ballot. When the second Jamaica Bill was over, 510 the 9th of July had arrived. Up to that day not one bill of any consequence had passed the two Houses. The whole was a blank. We had passed, it is true, the Mutiny Bill, and the Annual Indemnity Bill; we had passed nine or ten money bills, of the ordinary course and character. We had also passed, twelve or fourteen other bills, some for the amendment, some for the continuance of former bills, and others for trifling and unimportant matters, to which no opposition was made in either House of Parliament. There were many bills lying on the Table of the House of Commons, and several of them of an important nature. It became, therefore, necessary to inquire what the Government intended to do with them. The Session was far advanced, and Members were naturally anxious on the subject. And accordingly, we find, that upon this intimation, that measure after measure was abandoned. I hold a list in my hand of these bills. There was a bill for the Registration of Voters in England, it was abandoned. A similar bill was introduced for the Registration of Voters in Scotland; it was in like manner abandoned. The Fictitious Votes Bill (Scotland)—a bill of importance to that country, was abandoned. The Preparation of Writs (Scotland), abandoned; the Registration of Leases (Scotland), abandoned; the Heritable Securities (Scotland) abandoned; the District Sessions Bill, abandoned; the District Prisons Bill, abandoned; the Town Councils' Bill, abandoned; so also the Ecclesiastical Duties and Revenues. Bill, it was abandoned. The Factories' Regulation Bill—a bill which had been much discussed and of vast importance to the interests of humanity, was abandoned. The Collection of Rates Bill, the County Courts Bill, the Embankments (Ireland) Bill, and many other bills of different descriptions, all, all were abandoned, because Ministers, from not possessing the necessary energy, vigour, and capacity, and, above all, from not enjoying the confidence of the House of Commons, found it impossible to carry these measures through Parliament. But there is another measure on which, at the close of the Session, some reliance may possibly be placed, and upon which, therefore, I must say a few words. I allude to the Postage Bill. That measure was at first ridiculed and assailed by the retainers, and also by some of the Members of the Government. It was abused as absolutely impracticable; with a deficient revenue to 511 give up another million, upon such an experiment, was the very extreme of impolicy and absurdity. All this was urged and circulated with great activity by the Members and retainers of Government. But the measure was pressed from without, and her Majesty's Ministers did not possess sufficient vigour or character, nor enough of the confidence of Parliament, to resist it; and, in opposition to their better judgment, they prepared to bring in the bill. Not having the courage or the ability to look the measure directly in the face, they hit, as they fancied, upon a contrivance to get rid of it by a side-wind; and her Majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer, with that singular ingenuity which distinguishes his character, thought that if he could introduce into the bill a clause distasteful to the House of Commons, he should be enabled to defeat the measure. Accordingly, a pledge was introduced, that Parliament would make good any deficiency which might be occasioned in the public revenue by the adoption of the new project. This pledge proved, as he had anticipated, distasteful to the House, and it was strenuously opposed. It was said, and said justly, by its opponents, that such a pledge was unnecessary, for that if the revenue proved deficient, it would become the duty of the House of Commons, without any such pledge, to make that deficiency good. At length, however, in spite of all these manœuvres, the Postage measure passed through all its stages in the House of Commons. Then the Government looked for assistance to your Lordships; the cry was "the Lords will never pass the bill—they will not suffer the revenue to be thus reduced. It is sure to be defeated in the House of Lords.'' Well, the bill came on for discussion here upon the motion for the second reading; and I never observed, upon the consideration of any important ministerial measure, a thinner attendance upon the opposite benches. The noble Viscount moved the second reading; he urged with great force, with all the talent, and with all the knowledge of the world which distinguish him, every reason that could be urged against the measure: and after he had expatiated upon and exhausted all these topics, he concluded by saying, "However, as the bill seems to be wished for, I now move its second reading." Your Lordships considered it principally as a measure connected with the finances of the country, and on this account more particularly within the province of the 512 other House of Parliament, and for which the Ministers were responsible. No effective opposition was therefore directed against it. It was passed, I cannot say with the satisfaction of the noble Viscount, and has now become the law of the land. My Lords, in pursuing the course which I have chalked out for myself, I come now to another bill of very deep interest—I mean the bill for the suppression of the slave-trade. When that bill was introduced, I read with care and attention the treaties between this country and Portugal, and also the correspondence which has passed between our Minister and the authorities of the Court of Lisbon on this subject; the conclusion to which I have come is, that Portugal has violated her engagements with this country, and never entertained the slightest intention to fulfil them. But this does not appear now for the first time; it was long ago equally clear. And I say, without hesitation, that her Majesty's Ministers deserted their duty, and forgot what was due to the honour and character of their country, and to the interests of humanity, in not having long since called upon Portugal to fulfil the engagements into which she had entered with us. I say further, that they might and ought, by the blockade of the port of Lisbon, or by other similar measures of energy and vigour, and according to the ordinary and usual course of proceeding in cases of this nature, to have compelled Portugal to the performance of her engagements. The result would have been, that thousands of lives would have been spared, which have since been sacrificed in this inhuman and detestable traffic. And believe me, my Lords, that this straightforward, correct, and legitimate course of proceeding, would have been far more effectual for its object than the new, irregular, and doubtful policy, upon which this measure is founded. Instead, therefore, of giving her Majesty's Ministers credit for their bill, I complain of their tardiness, and of the substitution of an indirect and inefficient course of proceeding for those measures, usually resorted to on such occasions, and which can never be resorted to without effect by a great and powerful nation like England. I consider this as another proof of their utter want of efficiency to discharge their duty towards their Sovereign and their country. My Lords, I have now brought you down to an advanced period of the Session. The 9th of August had arrived, and then a great flight of 513 bills, the of legislation, were introduced, some of them mischievous—some of them unconstitutional—some of them of a jobbing character, but the great mass of them unimportant and inoffensive, and which met with no opposition. It appears as if her Majesty's Ministers were determined to make up by number, what they wanted in the weight and quality of their legislative measures. Am I expressing myself, my Lords, too strongly? I will select one or two instances in proof of what I have stated. One of these measures was the Metropolitan Police-Courts Bill. By this bill, a patronage, to the extent of 54,000l. a-year, was given to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. There was another provision of the bill, by which the trial by jury, in a particular class of felonies was abolished. This was the first attempt of such a nature ever made in this country, except perhaps during the disorders of the seventeenth century, from which the present liberal Government seems very much inclined to draw its precedents. Trial by jury had always been respected even in the most arbitrary times, but, instead of a jury, a magistrate appointed by the Crown, paid by the Crown, and removable at the pleasure of the Crown, was substituted. Stealing, and receiving stolen goods to any amount, came within his jurisdiction, and it was left to his arbitrary will to decide, whether the accused should or should not have the benefit of trial by jury—to the arbitrary will of a judge, removable at the pleasure of the Crown. Such was the bill as it passed through the Reformed House of Commons. It was sent up here at the close of the Session, and your Lordships, acting wisely and constitutionally, struck out this extraordinary provision. Another objectionable measure was the Admiralty Bill, the salary of the Judge presiding in that Court, was to be increased to 4,000l. a-year, and he was to be allowed to sit in the House of Commons. I wish to speak with every respect of the learned gentleman who at present fills that office, but it is notorious that he is a keen political partizan, and most devoted and inflexible in his adherence to the present Government. Other alterations, of an extensive character, were proposed to be effected by the bill, and at a period of the Session when it was impossible for your Lordships to give them due consideration; your Lordships therefore rejected the bill. Another measure was brought up to your Lordships' House, 514 which I do not characterize too strongly when I state it to have been one of the most scandalous jobs ever attempted to be carried through Parliament. When I recall that measure to your Lordships' recollections, I am sure you will not think the terms I have used are too strong for the occasion: I allude to the Sale of Spirits (Ireland) Bill. Another bill had been introduced into the other House of Parliament for electioneering purposes, having for its object to alter a law of great importance passed for the protection of public morals. This bill was so distasteful to the other House, and of such a character, that there was no chance of its-ever passing; what then was the course pursued? The Chancellor of the Exchequer's bill for the Sale of Spirits, had passed through its various stages up to the third reading. Then it was, when nobody expected such a proceeding, that he allowed the person who introduced the bill I have just referred to, to ingraft that bill, at the third reading, on the Government measure, and thus it passed the House of Commons by a contrivance as scandalous as had ever occurred in the history of legislation. It is unnecessary for me to say, that this addition to the Government bill was thrown out by your Lordships, without any attempt being made to defend it: for the whole proceeding was one which would not bear consideration or argument for a moment. Why was this bill embodied in the Government measure? It was felt convenient to conciliate the patron of that bill, and therefore it was that this extraordinary consent was given. But this kind of proceeding always fails of its object, and it failed signally in the present instance; for when the bill relating to the charter of the Bank of Ireland came on shortly after for discussion, the individual, whom it was wished to conciliate, opposed that bill with the utmost activity and vigour; and, in consequence of that opposition, that measure, so important to the credit and character of the Government, and the loss of which proved them to be utterly incapable of managing the affairs of the country, was, after a long and ineffectual struggle, finally abandoned. With respect to the rest of these bills, the mere sweepings of the offices, they were dealt out like cards at the table by the noble Viscount the Lord Privy Seal, to whom the whole Government business seems, at this important period of the Session, to have been entrusted. They were submitted with little explanation to your Lordships, and 515 met with no opposition. But there is another class of bills—three in number—which calls for a few observations. These were among the last bills of the Session. One of them has been discussed to-night, the others having been considered on former evenings. They relate to the establishment of a police force at Manchester, Bolton, and Birmingham. They are mere temporary measures; but what has led to their introduction? Because, in granting charters to those particular towns, Ministers have been So careless and negligent in their proceedings, that serious doubts have been entertained as to the validity of the charters, and they are now under consideration in the courts of law. These bills, therefore, were rendered necessary in consequence of the bungling of Ministers themselves; and they, surely, therefore, are not entitled to take praise for their introduction. There were, however, other considerations which unfortunately called for the passing of these bills. They were felt to be requisite on account of the tumults and disturbances which have taken place in the northern parts of this island, and for which the Ministers are deeply responsible. It was they who first roused the people—they first excited and stimulated them to acts of tumult and disorder—they first sent forth the watchword, "Agitate, agitate, agitate!" and they are, therefore, responsible for the consequences which have followed. Agitation was convenient to raise them to power, and they were willing to keep up as much of it as was necessary to maintain them in their position. They wished that thus far the flood might proceed, and no further—that at this point the proud waves might be stayed. But it is far easier to let loose the tempest, than afterwards to enchain or to direct it. In all ages the same course has been pursued, and the same result has followed. Ambitious men make use of the multitude, and awaken their passions, for their own ambitiouspurposes—for the attainment of their own personal objects of aggrandisement and power. They ride into authority on the shoulders of the people, and then they find the tumult} and violence to which they owed their elevation, inconvenient and dangerous. It then becomes necessary to coerce and restrain those whom they had before incited and encouraged; and their astonished and deluded followers at length discover that they have become the dupes and the victims of those whom they had formerly eulogised and extolled. Such, too, is the history of 516 the present Government. We all remember the period when the noble Lord at the head of the Home Department, received an address from one hundred and fifty thousand persons assembled in the neighbourhood of Birmingham. With affected humility—forLowliness is young Ambition's ladder."—he received that address: "he was utterly undeserving of the great honour conferred upon him"—"he was deeply grateful for it;" and then it was that that noble Lord drew a comparison between the conduct of that meeting and the proceedings of your Lordships' House, designating the one as the voice of the nation, and the other as the whisper of a faction. Are you surprised, then, at what has followed? Are you astonished at the result? It is all in the natural order of things; had it been otherwise, there would have been indeed reason to have been surprised. I have now gone through the business of the Session, and have executed the task which I undertook to perform. I have done it, more meo, with plainness and simplicity; I trust, with accuracy, and without exaggeration. I now put it to your Lordships, whether the Ministers who have thus conducted themselves in matters of legislation during the last seven months, can possibly enjoy, or ought to enjoy, the confidence of Parliament? Whether they have shewn themselves capable of conducting the affairs of this mighty empire in a manner suitable to its wants and necessities, and such as the country is entitled to expect from the Ministers of the Crown? I stated in the outset, what I now repeat, that, in submitting this matter to your Lordships' consideration, I have felt, that I was discharging a duty; it has not been a grateful task to me, but I have endeavoured to perform it faithfully, and to the best of my power. The noble and learned Lord concluded by moving for a return of the bills which had come up to the House of Lords from the House of Commons, since the commencement of the present Session, and the dates when such bills were brought up.
§ Viscount Melbourne
spoke as follows:—In the exercitation with which the noble and learned Lord has favoured the House, and in the course of which he has brought under the consideration of this House and of country the capacity, or rather the incapacity, which he conceives himself to be able to pass judgment upon in those to whom, 517 under new circumstances, and more particularly under present circumstances, has been committed the conduct of the affairs of this country, the noble Lord has concuded, by saying, that he leaves the question entirely to the opinion and decision of your Lordships; and yet he has brought forward that question in a shape which renders it perfectly impossible that your Lordships can give any judgment or decision upon it. The noble and learned Lord brings forward a number of statements with respect to much that has passed in the course of the present Session, with much of which the noble and learned Lord himself acquiesced, and then, upon the whole of that statement, he calls upon your Lordships for a decision hostile to the Government, although lie brings forward the question in a shape in which no decision can possibly be pronounced, and in a shape which can really lead to no practical result whatever. The real object and meaning of observations of the noble and learned Lord, although not distinctly stated in his speech, was to foster any discontent that may exist in the country—to increase any unpopularity which he conceives we may labour under, to make out a case against us; and the noble and learned Lord has undertaken the more hopeless, and, as I apprehend, the utterly impossible and impracticable task of raising himself in the estimation of his fellow-citizens. The noble and learned Lord may possibly prove, that we are unfit to conduct the affairs of this country; he may possibly show that we are unfit for the difficult situation in which we are placed; this he may possibly show, but as to gaining for himself anything of credit—as to gaining for himself anything of character—as to his conciliating any confidence towards himself and towards those who would have to administer the affairs of the Government of this country, if it had the misfortune to be placed in his hands, the noble and learned Lord may depend upon it, that if his powers were ten thousand times what they are, if his abilities were ten thousand times as powerful, he would be utterly unable to effect any such Herculean, and, indeed, utterly impossible labour. Let the noble and learned Lord be perfectly assured of that. The noble and learned Lord has said that we are totally unable to conduct the business of the country, and he has referred to a question which was asked by the noble Duke opposite at the time of the passing of the Reform Bill, when the noble Puke asked if that bill passed, how was the 518 business of the country afterwards to be conducted? I apprehend that the noble Duke, in asking that question, did not refer merely to legislative business; he did not entirely refer to the passing of laws, and I must beg leave to remind the noble and learned Lord, that the business of the Government is not properly the passing of laws, that Parliament had much to do besides the passing of laws, and the making of new enactments, that it has something to do besides introducing new laws, and amending those which are faulty and defective; and that although many bills may not have been passed into law, and many more may have been left unconsidered, yet it cannot be said that the business of the country is left unconducted, because the passing of bills and making laws is only a subsidiary and incidental duty of Parliament; the principal duty of Parliament is to consider the estimates for the public service, to retrench what is superfluous; to correct what is amiss, and to assist the Crown with those supplies and subsidies which it thinks it right and necessary to afford. Therefore, it does not follow, that because many bills do not pass in a Session, or because many laws do not pass, it does not follow that the business of the country is not vigorously and efficiently conducted in that Session. I apprehend, that when at the end of the Session of Parliament, noble Lords look at the book which we shall have compiled, to the volume of Acts and Statutes which we shall have framed, they will find it sufficiently bulky, and probably sufficiently faulty in its nature, to produce an additional crop of Acts and Statutes in the next Session. The noble and learned Lord has referred to the Speech from the Throne with which her Majesty was advised to open this Session, and he has referred to three or four measures which were especially recommended in that Speech, and he began with that bill with which we have now been engaged for so many Sessions; namely, the bill for settling the municipal corporations of Ireland; and the noble and learned Lord said, that it is our fault that that bill has not passed into law during the present Session. I can only say, that I take a quite different view of the matter. I conceive that the only reason why that bill was not passed, and why the matter was not settled long ago, is unquestionably—and T am not about to go into any discussion that may be offensive to any of your Lordships, I am not about to make any observations that ought, in the slightest 519 degree, to be offensive as regards the decision of your Lordships—but unquestionably the reason why that bill was not long ago passed into law, was those alterations with which, under the name of amendments, your Lordships, in our opinion, encumbered that bill. Then the noble and learned Lord charges me with peculiar inconsistency upon this subject. He has said that I put in the front of the battle an objection with respect to which I had not objected before, but in which I acquiesced in the former bill. This was very true; but the fact was, that I was not perfectly aware of the objection. The noble and learned Lord has used some strong language—he has talked of fraud and corruption, of baseness and shabbiness; but I must say, that with respect to the clause in question, I was not fully aware of of the skill and dexterity with which it had been drawn up, or of the consequences it involved, and of the extensive consequences to which it would lead; and now, being aware of them, is the reason why I have been induced in this Session to lay stress on that clause, which I had not laid upon it on a former occasion. The noble and learned Lord thinks that I have been guilty of very great inconsistency in supporting the clause with respect to the nomination of sheriffs. When I supported that clause, I stated, that the provision with respect to the choice of sheriffs was a violation of the general principles which I entertained, but that there were sufficient reasons for adopting it, considering the present state of circumstances, and the present state of feeling in Ireland. But, unquestionably, as the noble and learned Lord clearly stated, the grand jury clause it was that lost that bill. It was not owing to delay in the introduction of the bill; it was not owing to indifference to the bill on the part of Government, that that bill was not passed into a law; but it was entirely owing to the difference of opinion between the two Houses upon the question, and that difference of opinion, I cannot help saying, I trust will be removed in a future Session of Parliament, and that we shall then bring the matter to a conclusion. The noble and learned Lord said, that there was great anxiety on the subject of Canada, and that noble Lords came posting up, anxious to hear the debates upon that subject. If any noble Lords were disappointed with respect to the debates which they expected to hear, that is not my fault. With respect to Canada itself, I have already distinctly stated the reason why Government did not think it wise or 520 prudent to proceed to a settlement in this Session of Parliament, and when that reason was stated, why I did not think it wise or prudent so to proceed, I do not remember that any great difference of opinion was expressed in this House upon the subject, or that we were much urged to take up the question, or that we were urged to come to a decision; and I think, therefore, that it is too much for the noble and learned Lord, at this distance of time, to come with one of those speeches with which he usually winds up the Session, making the delay and the alteration of our determination upon this subject a matter of complaint against us. The noble and learned Lord, said we recommended that Parliament should proceed with the Report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and then he complains that we dropped the bill. Unquestionably, the pressure of public business,, the great weight of public business, compelled us not to proceed with the bill, although I admit it to be one of great importance, and one which it is in the highest degree desirable to carry into law. The same may be said with respect to the bills for the better administration of justice. The noble and learned Lord draws a very striking picture of the evils that arise from delay; and he has said, that he conceived that a sort of pledge was given that those measures should be proceeded with during the present Session. It was impossible to proceed with that measure consistently with the transaction of public business; and the noble and learned Lord must allow me to remind him, that if he had been in the same mind two or three years ago, when a bill was introduced for the very purpose of remedying these delays in the Court of Chancery—if then the noble and learned Lord had been so much struck with the great evil of delay—if he was so much struck with the absolute necessity and urgency of applying a remedy—an opportunity was then offered of doing so, and why did not the noble and learned Lord accept that opportunity? I can recollect that the noble and learned Lord was the leader who at that time induced the House to reject the bill upon its second reading. The noble and learned Lord would not even go into committee for the consideration of the bill, and yet the evil was then as trying and as pressing as it is now; but the noble and learned Lord refused to consider the remedy that might possibly have been then applied. These are the measures which were spoken of by the noble and learned Lord as having been 521 recommended in the speech from the Throne, and these are the reasons why we have not been able to bring them, in this Session of Parliament, to a satisfactory conclusion. The noble and learned Lord then said, that many other measures were brought forward in the course of the Session, which were not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne; and, above all others, he places in the front of the battle the celebrated question upon education, upon which there has been so much discussion in this House. I entirely deny that there was any intention of excluding the judgment of this House in that matter. I utterly deny that any disrespect whatever was intended to this House; but I acted as by law, I conceived, we had the right and power to act, namely, we obtained from the other House of Parliament a grant for that which the noble and learned Lord admits to be a great and useful purpose, one than which there cannot be any purpose more worthy of, or more befitting, a Government, or one more demanding the attention and care of the Government, and as the administration of that grant was admitted to be within the power of the Queen's prerogative. I, therefore, conceive that we had a right to advise her Majesty to take that course which we considered, under the present state of the country, and in the present state of the question, the one best fitted for directing our progress towards the great object which we must all admit ourselves to be seeking. Then the noble and learned Lord proceeded to the bill which we introduced into the other House of Parliament, for the purpose of suspending the constitution of Jamaica. The noble and learned Lord stated the consequences that arose from that bill, and the circumstances that followed it. He passed over them lightly, as he said he would, but, at the same time, the noble and learned Lord was not sparing of insinuations of the basest and vilest kind—insinuations, I beg leave to say, entirely void, false, and without foundation. The noble and learned Lord has used, with reference to that occasion, the word "intrigues." I have heard the same word used in other quarters with reference to this subject; I have heard other mean and base and vile expressions applied to it; but I utterly and entirely deny that there was any intrigue; I utterly and entirely deny that there was any management; I utterly and entirely deny that there was anything in the nature of mean, base, or perfidious in the transactions that took place; and I 522 utterly disclaim the insinuations and imputations that have been thrown out by the noble and learned Lord. I stated, my Lords, that when I was sent for by her Majesty, and that when I advised her Majesty, I considered that her Majesty's ultimate determination had been taken. I stated before in this House, that that was my understanding upon that subject. I stated all this before most fully; I told all this before most distinctly; and I now say, as I then said, that I believe that, under the circumstances, I acted rightly, I acted fairly, and I acted constitutionally. The noble and learned Lord then went into the question of the second Jamaica bill. This is a question into which I own, I would not wish to enter. I am extremely unwilling now to discuss it—I am very unwilling to refer to that question; because I have already stated my opinion strongly, perhaps I might say, too strongly, but still, most distinctly, my opinion with reference to it. I did not wish to repeat that opinion, if I were not compelled to do it by the speech of the noble and learned Lord. Feeling myself so compelled, I say, that both upon the Canada Bill, or from the beginning to the end of the Canada Bill and the Jamaica Bill, the Government was not supported in this House as it ought to have been. I think, my Lords, that the interests of the Government and the interests of the country were sacrificed on those occasions, I will not say to the feelings of party, because I do not wish to follow the example that has been set to me, and impute motives, but I say, that neither the interests of the Government nor of the country were supported as they ought to have been, if noble Lords had taken that clear, fair, and impartial view of the circumstances of the case and of the country which it was their duty to do. It may be, that the very interests which persons feel the most anxious to preserve, they may be diverted from by the contests continually occurring in both Houses, and by the feelings and passions which such contests are likely to engender. But then, my Lords, neither upon the first Canada Bill, when a proviso was introduced into it, in my opinion most unwisely, in the House of Commons; nor in all the subsequent proceedings on that bill; nor in the Jamaica Bill; nor in the Portuguese Slavery Bill, when an opposition was offered, which I must greatly deplore, considering the weight and authority of him by whom that opposition was carried; but 523 upon none of these occasions do I conceive that this House did its duty in that impartial manner to the Government, which, in my opinion, it ought to have done. I express this opinion with feelings of profound sorrow and of great grief: it only makes me apprehensive, that in times which probably are coming, there is neither in this country, nor in this House, which may be looked upon as a favourable specimen of the country—that neither in this House nor in this country, are there to be found that disinterestedness and determination sufficient to meet the difficulties, nor to avert the consequences, which, in different circumstances from the present, are likely to arise. I shall not state the reasons, having had the opportunity of doing so, why we were induced to take that course with the Ballot which the noble and learned Lord has adverted to—in taking that, which he is pleased to call a shabby course—by making it "an open question." If that, my Lords was shabby, then there was no Government that has existed for the last fifty or sixty years in this country, that was ever exempt from the charge of "shabbiness." No government that has existed in this country in that time has not made open questions of great and important, and particularly popular questions; because it is in the nature of things, that you are forced by the feeling so generally pervading your own ranks, that it is impossible for you to keep anything in the shape of a party together unless you make material concessions. There is, then, no government, however strong—there is none, however powerful—there is none, however firm, and there are no men, however eminent—there are none, however respected—there have been none, however revered, whose fame or whose memory can be said to be free from "shabbiness," if that be the proper term thrown upon such a course of proceeding by the noble and learned Lord. These, then, are the measures which have been brought forward in the course of the Session, and to which the noble and learned Lord adverted before he attacked us with respect to that which happened after the 9th of July. After that time he says, that only "the sweepings of the offices" were presented to the House, and then he goes on to say, that in some of these he acquiesced; that some others were very useful, but that there were some which he must distinguish from others by a few particular, and certainly not any very favourable observations. The noble and 524 learned Lord deals plentifully and profusely in insinuations; he insinuates nothing but meanness and baseness, and he repeats baseness and meanness in every charge that he makes. Such is the mode of censure adopted by the noble and learned Lord, the great superiority of whose character in all respects is so well known. This is the manner in which he looks down upon others from that acknowledged eminence and that great superiority on which he is placed, or has placed himself; but at the same time, he must permit me to tell him, that I throw back the meanness and baseness which he has been prodigally casting upon us. Then, with respect to the Postage Bill, he says, that for a long time we were opposed to it—that we said that we declared that it would be hazardous, and that it would occasion a great loss to the revenue. He says that we asserted that the success of it would be doubtful. I do not know the occasion when nor where all this was uttered; but surely, it will be admitted that it was but right that a subject of such novelty and importance should be duly considered. But, then, the noble Lord says, that we adopted it to satisfy those who were anxious for the success of the plan, and that we came to the conclusion to adopt it in consequence of "the pressure from without." Let me tell the noble Lord, that on this question there was also the pressure from within. Even some of his own Friends took part t hat pressure. A noble Lord who is not now present (Lord Ashburton) was the first to bring this question forward. The pressure, however, being there, he does not call it a pressure from without. He only calls it so when it originates with Liberals or Radicals; but then, I presume, that pressure from the Conservatives is not one which he condemns. I must, however, observe, that the pressure outside from the one party was as great as it was from the other. As I have stated, there was a general feeling in favour of the measure, and therefore one great motive for consenting to make the experiment. But then, my Lords, he has said that we introduced the measure, certain that it would be lost in the other House. That is not true. I tell the noble and learned Lord distinctly, that that is not true. The inferences of the noble and learned Lord I deny—I do not deny his facts; and when he makes the statement I have just referred to, I say it is not so;—I say, that the pledge in the preamble to the bill wag introduced solely for the 525 purpose which it professes—that of binding the United Parliament, as far as it could be so bound, to make good the defalcation in the revenue consequent upon the passing of the bill. It was only for that purpose, and not with a view of defeating the bill, that the pledge was introduced. But then, the noble and learned Lord has said, that we relied with confidence that your Lordships would throw out the bill; that you would not consent to pass it. Sometimes, indeed, my Lords, we might rely with the greatest safety and certainty that your Lordships would take that course; but, assuredly, we did not so calculate upon that occasion. But what is the reason given by the noble and learned Lord for your Lordships' declining to reject the bill? It is this, that being a matter of revenue, you had nothing to do with it. That you cannot alter a money bill, is a doctrine, which, although you have never admitted, you have not practically violated; but then to say, that you have nothing do with whatever may be the amount of the revenue to be sacrificed, or whatever may be the tax to be imposed, is a doctrine which I hardly could have expected to hear from the noble and learned Lord, But I shall not pursue this topic further. All that I am anxious for, is to have the opportunity of clearing away the misrepresentations of the noble and learned Lord, who, when he deals in assertions and imputes motives, I can only meet him with a contrary assertion, and declare, that his imputations are utterly and entirely without foundation. The noble and learned Lord has made a statement in one part of his speech with respect to the Portuguese slave-trade; in that part of his speech I concurred, and it is the only part which I listened to with pleasure, that which certainly is not very extraordinary. He states very clearly very justly, and very boldly, the impression that was made upon his mind, from a perusal of the papers, of the perfidy, that has marked the Portuguese with respect to the slave-trade; hut then, he says, that the case was as good two years ago as it is now for us to have proceeded upon, and that having then taken it up, we should have been saved from all the horrors that have taken place for the last two years. I do not say my Lords, that we have not suffered too much and borne too long with the Portuguese; but then, considering the intimacy of their alliance with this country, considering the antiquity of that relation, the commercial relations, and all the con- 526 nections between the two people, surely' something of forbearance was to be exercised, and I do not think that we are to be blamed if we carried that forbearance something further than in strict reason we were justified in doing. The noble and learned Lord then goes through a number of other bills with all that clearness, admirable order, and lucidness of expression for which he is distinguished; but still, with all his powers of language, a little tiresome. I am afraid that I, who have none of the qualities which distinguish him must necessarily be much more tiresome, and cause more fatigue to your Lordships. He says, that the Metropolitan Courts Bill was introduced for the sake of party, for the purpose of superannuating the present magistrates and of appointing new ones. These are his arguments. I can only oppose them with an unqualified denial, as I do the other imputations, of being actuated by unworthy motives, which have been cast upon me by the noble and learned Lord. To be sure, I have not so much to bear, because I have companions with me in my misfortune; for in the whole noble and learned Lord's speech he has divided his censure upon me with the reformed House of Commons. Upon that point, I do do not know but that I shall be assisted by my noble and learned Friend on my right (Lord Brougham) and that he will vindicate us and the House of Commons from the censure cast upon us I do not, my Lords, debate the bills which have passed, and therefore which I have already discussed. I do not now either, go into the summary jurisdiction clause. I feel, that however that clause may have been objected to, a fitter opportunity will be afforded for discussing the subject, and that a bill in which it will be introduced, will some day or another obtain the sanction of your Lordships. There was one bill referred to by the noble and learned Lord, which I cannot avoid noticing—that is, the bill for reforming the Court of Admiralty. I cannot advert to it without saying that a rejection of that bill by your Lordships was one of the most disreputable and unprovoked acts of power, that I ever knew to be exercised. I not only lament what was done, but particularly lament that it should have been done by those who did it. It was a bill demanded by every one—the principles of it were admitted by every one—it was a bill, too, the details of which could have been easily remedied upon consideration and 527 due deliberation. The name and character of the learned judge whose name has been introduced upon the present occasion, is one of whom I shall say no more, than that respect for his feelings and consideration for his name should have induced others to act differently; and yet I believe it was his connection with the bill that alone led to its rash and wanton rejection. The noble and learned Lord has passed a long course of public life, and must be well acquainted with the proceedings in politics and he suffered the things he has stated to have happened because they concur with his own views and objects. He is rather familiar with these things, and then he says that the clause which was introduced into the Sale of Spirits (Ireland) Bill was intended to buy the support of a Gentleman to whom allusion is so often made in this House, not to oppose the Irish Bank. How, my Lords, does he know that? What possible evidence has he of that? It is but the fiction of his brain—it is nothing more than the conjecture of his fancy; and such fancies and such conjectures do not certainly afford us a very favourable specimen of the mind in which they are formed. Then with respect to the Manchester, Birmingham, and Bolton Bills, the noble and learned Lord has said, that all these are the consequences of the charters given to these towns, that the charters are bad, and that they are so owing to the bungling of Ministers themselves. A doubt has been entertained with respect to these charters. There is a legal doubt and considering the feeling that exists in these towns, that cannot be a matter of surprise, and assuredly is no proof of any bungling in the giving or the framing of these charters. When these charters come to be discussed and determined before the proper tribunals, we shall see whether there has been any bungling about them. It is plain that at present it is premature to assume that there has been bungling. The noble and learned Lord then comes to the argument as to the unquiet state of the north, and he makes us responsible for all the rows, the tumults, and all the disturbances in the country; he says to us, "you have roused the people." I say, on the contrary, we never roused the people. I say, that if they were roused it was by the circumstances of the times; they were roused by the grievances they conceived themselves to suffer; and particularly they were roused, if roused they 528 were, by the imprudent and the obstinate resistance to the redress of grievances which was given by the noble and learned Lord and those who acted with him.
had not intended to trespass on their Lordships' indulgence on the present occasion, and would have abstained from doing so, were it not that he had been alluded to by his noble Friend who had just sat down in terms so distinct as not to be misunderstood, and had even been called upon by his noble Friend to come to his rescue on one or two points. Again, by way he supposed of inducing him to obey that summons, he had been attacked by his noble Friend on some points, to make it more certain that if he did not take the opportunity of defending himself, he should not miss the occasion of defending the noble Viscount against the attacks of his noble and learned Friend on the opposite side. He could not therefore allow the present opportunity to pass without troubling their Lordships with a few observations. If his noble Friend who had just sat down, with the great power which he possessed of arresting the attention of that House or any audience which he might address was afraid that his statement might seem tiresome, after the singularly lucid, the pellucid yet sparkling clearness which distinguished the whole stream of the statement of his noble and learned Friend opposite, how much more must he be under the apprehension that he might run the risk of exhausting the already almost worn-out patience of their Lordships. He felt that the disadvantage under which he laboured was infinitely greater than that of his noble Friend. He felt that he had not only not the chance of rivalling the clearness of his noble and learned Friend opposite, but perhaps, not even the power of arresting their Lordships' attention. On one point he totally differed from his noble Friend. It was not only not at all correct, in point of fact, to say that this was an annual exercitation of his noble and learned Friend, by which he wound up every Session; but it was the second time, according to his (Lord Brougham's) recollection, that his noble and learned Friend had brought forward this, in his opinion most useful, most wholesome, and most necessary summary of the Session;—useful wholesome, and necessary, as often as the Session had proved a failure—useful, wholesome and necessary, as often as the Government had shown their indolence or incapa- 529 city, or both combined. He did not believe that his noble Friend's attention had flagged for one instant during the eloquent statement of the noble and learned Lord opposite. It was only when his noble Friend proceeded to answer it, that his noble Friend's power, was inadequate to the task. His noble Friend seemed to recollect a passage of his noble and learned Friend's speech, and gave a strong proof of his having attended closely to its delivery by the accuracy with which he had quoted passages from it. If his noble Friend had exhibited only the same power of answering that he had shown of recollecting portions of that speech, then indeed would his reply have been one of the most successful that ever was heard. But the noble Viscount, speaking of the noble and learned Lord said—"He may assail us; and he may carry with him in the attack all the influence of his great station in this House, of his great talents and of his established public character; and the attack against us may be severe, and not be repelled. He may disgrace and degrade and sink us lower than we now stand, in the eyes of Parliament and of the country." That the noble Viscount seemed to think possible. He assumed it for a fact that it was possible—that in the "lowest depth" of degradation for a Government, a lower still did exist. Be it so. "But how," proceeded the noble Viscount, "would the noble and learned Lord raise himself? There is no chance whatever of his rising. Parliament may distrust us, and the public may scorn us; but how will the noble and learned Lord opposite attain to the position of those whom he endeavours to sink still lower in the estimation of the public, if that be possible? How will he ever secure any confidence from Parliament or respect from the public for him and for the noble Duke, and for those who act with them? [Viscount Melbourne—I did not mention the noble Duke]. The noble Viscount did not mention the noble Duke's name; and he (Lord Brougham) would presently show why. But he spoke of those who acted with the noble and learned Lord, and he asked, "How will they ever acquire any portion of the confidence which we have lost?" The noble Viscount spoke of the noble and learned Lord, and of those who usually sat and voted with him. Now, what, he would ask, had they done since the 7th of May, in the year of grace 1839, to forfeit any confidence which they had ever possessed, or lose any respect which vas felt for them either by Parliament or 530 by the nation at large? What had they done during that period to abandon any position in the public mind which they had formerly occupied? He asked his noble Friend cast his mind accurately back on that portion of his own history, and say what had happened to lower them in public estimation? They had received a certificate to their public character when the noble Viscount retired from office. It was not that some one, wanting to change their servants, called in these, and sent for a character to his noble Friend. No; but his noble Friend, upon resigning his service, gave them a character unsolicited, and recommended the Queen to employ them. Of course, no one dreamt of going out if no other parties were to come in; and the noble Viscount would surely not hare recommended to the Queen to send for them, if he knew that no confidence, esteem, or respect was felt for them on the part of Parliament or the public. Yet this was what he said to night—"that as long as this country continues to be what it now is, never, never"—and his manner was most vehement; it was the most violent part of his speech—"can they hope to raise themselves in the confidence of Parliament or the public." Then, why recommend them to form a Government? Why go out that they might come in? Why advise his mistress to send for them, and let that Royal personage send for them accordingly. He said this not only in justice to his noble and learned Friend opposite, who had been unjustly assailed, but also to prevent this from going forth as the state of parties, and of public feeling in this country; for it was no light matter that it should go out on the authority of his noble Friend at the head of her Majesty's Government that this was the position in which the Liberal party—the Reform party—the Whig party—stands with reference to their antagonists—the anti-Reform, or Tory party, it was no light matter that his noble Friend should have thus described their relative position. He was glad to perceive, however, that his noble Friend enjoyed a monopoly of that opinion, for he did not hear—although no doubt they were willing enough to "lay the flattering unction to their souls"—a single cheer responsive to the sentiment—not even from his noble Friend behind him, coming from that part of the country which was most remarkable for its enthusiam, and, where lore of the Government, as long as it was in, was proverbial; apart of the country 531 which was noted for the zeal with which it supported the Ministry—he meant the present Ministry, with the noble Viscount at the head of it, and whose strenuous opposition to that party which is now under the cloud of Royal displeasure, which is no longer shone upon—he meant the Conservative party—was as epidemical as the strenuous confidence which is reposed in the present Executive Government. Yet even amongst those noble Lords he did not hear one cheer—he did not observe one token of assent to the warm, and, let him say it at once, the violent statement of his noble Friend, that the Tory, or Conservative party, was almost reduced to annihilation. Why, that party had the confidence of all but an extremely narrow majority in the House of Commons; and this narrow majority was all that the noble Viscount's party had to rely on. He wished to God that the Reform party were not in this predicament—that it should be able to muster so poor a majority, with the assistance of all that official support could give, with the Royal favour to strengthen it, and with all the advantage of being eight years in office—a circumstance greatly tending to secure a majority in the House of Commons; to which were to be added, their constantly reiterated experiments in tenacity of life—experiments which would puzzle and astound a naturalist; for, in this respect, they might be envied by the cold-blooded animals, which have many lives for our one. Indeed, their tenacity of life almost exceeded that of the serpent, which, cut into ten thousand pieces, immediately afterwards exhibited life again. With a majority of five upon one day, and eight upon a second, and two upon a third, and. upon many questions no majority at all—and a complete abandonment of many measures, from the utter impossibility of carrying them—still this Ministry was to be found in office. Such, then, being their position in the House of Commons, surely this House was something—especially, as his noble Friend had that night admitted in his speech, that this House was a fair representation of the people of this country. [Viscount Melbourne.—A favourable representation.] "Favourable" was still better. If their Lordships, then, exhibited a favourable representation of the people of this country, how did it come to pass that some of the noble Viscount's supporters, who lived from band to mouth, were constantly declaiming against their Lordships? If they passed a 532 good bill, they were forced. If they changed an opinion upon mature deliberation, they yielded not to reason, but to fear. If, in any respect, they altered their views, it was said that they were eating their own words. These attacks upon their Lordships, emanating from the noble Viscount's supporters, were going on daily. They were held up to ridicule in some cases, to scorn in others—to detestation and execration in all; and this was the daily food with which the palates were pampered of those who out of doors supported the Government of the noble Lord. But his noble Friend now came forward, and expressed himself as entirely differing in opinion from his friends and supporters, giving a most just and candid view of the attributes of their Lordships, whom as a body he had described as exhibiting a fair—in fact, too fair—a favourable sample of the people of this country. If so, the people of this country had, by a very large majority, opposed his noble Friend in all the plans of improvement which he had brought forward—he ought to change the tense—would have brought forward, or might have done so, but never would. They had opposed him (Lord Brougham) also in all the plans which he had from time to time brought forward. Surely, this was an indication that the people of this country, of whom their Lordships were a "favourable representation," were hostile to the Government as at present constituted, and to those plans of improvement which he, as well as his noble Friend, complained of not having been able to carry. He had some right to complain of this; but he did not see what reason Ministers had. They had got their heart's content. They were of an obstructive nature rather than of the movement party. [Lord Melbourne: "No, no."] He contended for it that they were either for standing still, or that they were moving at so slow a pace that their progress was almost imperceptible. His noble Friend, and those with whom he acted, had lately promulgated what they called the doctrine of "finality." They were for not moving at all; for resisting further Parliamentary reform. No matter what faults might be discovered in their legislation, they were only for amending the slightest portions of the system requiring amendment, and for standing still in all others. Whether this was or was not their system, at all events so they had acted; and his noble Friend at the head of her Majesty's Government was the deputy of the noble Lord opposite. 533 Through him they assuredly acted by deputy; for Session after Session he laboured most sedulously in keeping matters as they were—in obstinately resisting every attempt at political progress, and setting his face and hands against any thing like change. If the noble Duke and the noble and learned Lord opposite held the reins of Government, and exercised their power through the noble Viscount, as their acknowledged viceroy, they could not have administered the affairs of the country more to the heart's content of the Tory party. It certainly was hard that at the end of the Session, after gratifying that party to the utmost, the noble Viscount should thus be called to account. He wondered that the noble Viscount had not taken this ground of defence, which would be much better than any of which he had sought to avail himself. How much more powerful than any of his other responses would have been a specification of the useful purposes which he had served. Surely, this consideration should have saved the innocent victim from slaughter:—Quid meruistis, oves, placidum pecus, inquetuendos Natum homines, pleno quæ fertis in ubere nectar? ——Vitâque magis, quam morte juvatis.It was better that they should still be permitted to live, and continue to exercise that power which they wielded so innocuously, than that the Conservative party should come into the possession of a power which they would find it hard to hold, and which, if they held, he was absolutely certain that they would be compelled to give the people reforms and improvements which the party now in power could if they would, but would not, though they could, concede. If the Tory party were in office to-morrow they would have the power of making numerous administrative improvements, which, at least, the present Ministers can't. And he (Lord Brougham) perfectly well knew that their advent to power would be hailed by very many persons of liberal politics, in comparison with men who had refused to give anything, partly because what they refused to give they could not give, and partly because they would not give it though they could. His noble and learned friend had told their Lordships, that there was one subject upon which he must have his (Lord Brougham's) assistance, and he at once gave it. He said, that he must be with him against the attacks which his 534 noble and learned Friend had made in the other House of Parliament, in common with the noble Viscount. They were jointly sufferers from that attack. Nothing could be more unfair to the Reform Bill—nothing less just, or candid, or liberal towards the constitution of Parliament, as existing under that great national measure of public improvement, than the view which had been taken by his noble and learned Friend in connexion with this subject—a view which was wholly unworthy of his powerful mind and great intelligence. First, he denied that the wish for reform, on the part of the Government by which it was carried, had been the parent of any of the agitation which went on at that period in the country. He knew that no such attempt had been made. His noble Friend was then at the head of the Home-office, and had the responsibility of preserving the public peace of the country; and he knew, that if any man in that Government objected to any scheme for creating public excitement at that period, it was his noble Friend. He had himself joined his efforts in that House, with a view to prevent such excitement. He had endeavoured to put it down; and when called on by his late respected Friend, the Chief Justice of the King's Bench, who asked him, "Are these meetings lawful or not?" he had distinctly stated in his place that they were not lawful. He held that they could not be permitted with safety to the peace of the country—that popular violence could only be pernicious to the cause of reform—that tumultuous meetings of this description endangered the property, the limbs, and even the lives of the people. He should not have been sorry to have seen a proclamation issued for the suppression of those meetings. Now that he was on this subject, he might also say, that he should not have been sorry to to see a proclamation issued against the practice of arming—a practice which could not fail to be attended with consequences the most serious, with results the most fatal. It was with the most utter astonishment that he had seen, what purported to be a communication from the Home-office, in reply to an application on this subject from Cockermouth. The parties who applied for information were here informed, that before the people were prevented from arming, it must first be proved that they were arming for an unlawful purpose. Now, by the law of this country—and here he challenged any lawyer to contradict him—the act of col- 535 lecting arms was so far from primâ facie legal, that it cast the proof on the parties arming. They were bound to show that they did it for a lawful purpose, or the Government might stop them—might declaim against—might proceed against—might take the most effectual measures to prevent them. If arms were collected for the purpose of arming any force in the country, it was as nearly an act of overt high treason as any act which could by possibility be committed. He trusted that no noble Lord would show such ignorance of the law, or such inattention to what he (Lord Brougham) had been stating, as to represent him as having said that the practice of individuals arming for private defence was illegal; but it was arming in masses large bands of the people, and manufacturing and collecting arms in masses—this was what he pronounced to be directly and decidedly illegal. So far as to the agitation; now as to its fruits. And here he differed as much from the noble and learned Lord as on the former point. He agreed with his noble Friend that the agitation was owing to their Lordships' proceedings. Night after night they were told that the people did not care for reform; and day after day the people assembled to hold these tumultuous meetings in its favour. Their Lordships threw out the bill, and this increased the popular fervor. During the interregnum which ensued, when he and his colleagues were forced to resign, and when it was found not possible to form any other Government, the excitement was still further increased, and they were restored to office. It was not fair to charge all the error—if there were any—on the part of the Government, upon the bill itself. He had even heard of the Reform Bill producing very bad fruits during either 1833 or 1834, or even in 1835. During the years 1836, 1837, 1838, and 1839, no doubt it had produced no fruits; but whose was he fault? Not of those who sowed and who watered—not of those who planted and raised it throughout wide England, in the hearts of whose people they had reared it, and where it flourished to this day—but of those who had made sterile the ground where it grows, and marred the culture of the plant. It was nipped in the bud; it yielded no fruit. They had struck it with barrenness, and stunted its growth; they had plucked off its blossoms, and prevented the wholesome fruit of the stately tree from being gathered in at the appointed time, to the comfort and satisfaction and 536 contentment of the good people of this country, for whose use it was planted at first, and in whose gratitude those who assisted in that husbandry to this day flourish. No man has said, or could say, that the Reform Bill would work well, if there was a Government which was incapable of doing its business. No one had said, or could say, that the Reform Act was a machine that would work well without a governor, a director, a safety-valve, and a fire kindled to boil the water to create the steam. And when this bill—this machine, which must be worked by man, of which every movement and every operation required to be superintended, as well as worked, by men's hands—when it was found that the Parliamentary business of the country was intrusted to the hands of men utterly imbecile and incapable of doing it—men who had lost the confidence of their own reformed House of Commons—men who never had the confidence of this House—men who now had not the confidence of the country at large, it was a little too hard to charge the faults of such a Government upon that great measure. He thought he had now, and he hoped to the satisfaction of his noble Friend behind him (Viscount Melbourne), redeemed the pledge he, on the instant it was asked, had given his noble Friend to answer his call, in showing that it was not a very fair attack which his noble and learned Friend opposite had made upon their joint operations in passing the Reform Bill. His noble and learned Friend opposite had gone through such a variety of matters in the speech which he had addressed to their Lordships, that he was very little disposed to follow him further than to remark on one omission which had been made by his noble Friend behind him, and upon one point which had been omitted by his noble and learned Friend himself. He alluded now to the Irish Corporation Bill. But first of all, his noble Friend behind him had said, that the number of bills which were passed in the course of a Session formed no test of the capacity of those who directed the movements of the Legislature—that their duty was to carry on the old laws—to get supplies granted—to continue expiring laws—to carry addresses to the Throne, which meant little, and to bring back answers to addresses, which meant nothing —in short, to conduct the courtesies between the two Chambers of Parliament and the Throne. These were, according to his noble Friend, the common functions 537 of the Government, and the framing and passing new measures' on that principle formed no part of their duty. That certainly was a most convenient doctrine for a Ministry existing and flourishing in ease and comfort, and caring hut little for the affairs, wants, or wishes of any mortal man, to hold: but the word "Legislature," as he understood it, was derived from its nature to make laws. But, said his noble Friend, its duty was to grant supplies. There had been one curious illustration of the doctrine furnished during the present Session, when 30,000l. had been voted for educating the people, and 70,000l. voted for building stables for her Majesty. Such was his noble Friend's conception of the legitimate province of Parliament, that he thought Parliament had nothing to do but pass such votes, and say nothing at all about enacting new laws. He differed widely from his noble Friend on this point. He did not like to run the risk of being charged with making insinuations as his noble and learned Friend had been charged by his noble Friend, though the noble Viscount had himself made lumping insinuations against his noble and learned Friend opposite, one in words, and another by a tone and manner to which the noble Viscount had been goaded by the facts stated by his noble and learned Friend. He repeated, he did not like to make insinuations, but preferred to state his charge plainly, and he charged it directly as a fact, that while the late King and the late Court existed, the Government, finding no favour with the one and great hatred towards them among the other, being as weak at Court as any Government this country ever saw, except that of Richard Cromwell, being worse than the administration of Mr. Addington, now Lord Sid-mouth, but not so courageous in its measures, having nothing to rely upon but the people, were then exceedingly profuse in the professions in favour of reform and improvement; there was nothing then that they would not do if they could, but they said, "The Crown is against us, the Court is against us, the House of Lords is always opposed to us in battle array." His noble Friend asserted—certainly he had never heard the King say as much—he had never heard these facts officially announced, but these were the statements—the uncontradicted statements made by all the supporters both in the public press and by the speakers at public meetings held in 538 England, Scotland, and Ireland. [Viscount Melbourne: It was not done with my knowledge.] His noble Friend said be knew nothing of these statements. Oh, not at all? But his noble Friend had taken all the benefits arising from them; he had kept himself in office by means of such statements, and he doubted whether he could justly say his noble Friend was not responsible for them. Suppose his noble Friend lounging at his window one morning saw a man rob another of his watch, no person could be less answerable for the robbery than his noble Friend, but suppose a man went to his noble Friend's bankers and paid in a sum of money at the rate of five per cent, to his own account, and ninety-five per cent, to the credit of his noble Friend, would his noble Friend, on seeing his account thus increase, take to it and say it was no fault of 1 is, or would he not have rejected it as r e now seemed to reject the assistance of his former supporters out of doors, with horror and indignation. If his noble Friend was not privy to these statements, he was at least party to them by a participation in the benefits which had arisen from them. His noble Friend and his colleagues must have surely known that at the period to which he adverted, every one of the newspapers, of the pamphlets, all their orators in the country, all the agitators in Ireland, all the more cautious essayists on the hustings in Scotland—in short, every orator, gazette writer, newspaper man, pamphleteer, agitator, and dissertator, in all parts of the country, spoke and wrote of nothing else than that the Court was against the Government; and that, therefore, they could not answer the wishes of their impatient and sanguine friends, but that when things took a turn at Court, or in the House of Lords, that then they would be found as great Reformers as the hearts of their friends could desire. By these means it was, that his noble Friend and his colleagues had kept their troops together in the other House of Parliament, and this continued up to a very late period. In short, nothing was said of finality during the lifetime of his late revered and gracious master, King William 4th. Nothing was said about finality until the present Sovereign come to the throne, or until the new Parliament in which the Ministry had gained a bare majority had assembled. Then came the finality declaration—then was it first thought of—then was it first promulgated. Upon that declaration the 539 Government had acted—they had done nothing for the people—the people became impatient in consequence—then followed the events of last May, when the noble Viscount and his colleagues went out of office and came in again. He would not say that there had been anything underhand, or that it had been affected to go out when they intended to remain in. He was sure, that was not the fact; but certainly they did go out, and they had again come in; they went out because they did not possess the confidence of the other House of Parliament, or of the people, or of the House of Lords, but in about a week after, they came in again, having done nothing in the mean time, to regain even the confidence they had lost; but they returned with everything in the same state, as when they resigned because there was no confidence reposed in them. But it was said, there had been a difference between the Ministry and the Sovereign. What was the difference? Her Majesty had been praised at every meeting which at the time had been got up, for having Stood by reform and liberal principles of having resolved to have nothing to do with his noble and learned Friend opposite, and with the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington), and with the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. That was the character of the praise then given to her Majesty—that was the nature of the cry all over England. In part of Scotland (though there it was hardly responded to by the sanguine and long-headed people of that country), and in Ireland, the cry had been hooted forth with the most exravagant excess, that silly and bewildered fancy could indulge in. The cry, however, was "Reformers, stand by your Queen, for she has stood by you and rejected the Duke and the Baronet." He had seen that placarded fifty times—aye, five hundred times—at least, during the three weeks after the little change was attempted. But had the Queen been advised to reject the noble Duke, his noble and learned Friend opposite, and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, to stand by reform policy, to refuse to communicate with the anti-reformers? On the contrary, her Majesty had been advised by the noble Viscount to send for the noble Duke opposite, even though he had declared against all Parliamentary reform, even though he had declared, with the exaggerations of 540 which he (Lord Brougham) had already reminded their Lordships, that the Borough Parliament was one "entire and perfect chrysolite", a miracle of human polity, without flaw or stain. To the noble Duke no objection was made, and he, accordingly, had been sent for on the instant at which that step was advised. The first thing the noble Duke did was to advise her Majesty to send for Sir Robert Peel. Was there any objection made to that? None whatever. The right hon. Baronet, the paragon of Anti-Reformers, and Ultra-Tories in the other House, was at once sent for, and graciously received. Was there any objection to measures—any stipulations in favour of the movement—any for the progress of reform, or against Toryism? There was not the shadow of a shade of an objection to any Tory measure, or to any of the 39 or the 390 articles of the Tory creed. But touch a lady of the bedchamber—one lady of the bedchamber—and away goes the Duke—away goes the noble and learned Lord—away goes the right hon. Baronet, and hug me the Ministers to the bosom—those Ministers who had given out a week before, less than a week, that they had lost the confidence of Parliament—having never had the confidence of the House of Lords, and not daring to appeal to the people, that they were utterly incapable of carrying on the Government for four-and-twenty hours.So great events from little causes springsA lady of the bedchamber put an end at once and for ever to the scheme of taking in Tory statesmen and Tory principles to the Government, and excluding Whigs and Reformers, and Liberal principles. It was all very well for the people of this country; and if they thought it a proper and becoming course to yield to the delusion, when they were asked to stand by reform, and be grateful to her Majesty for standing by Reformers, and rejecting those who were opposed to reform: "Qui vult decipi decipiatur." If people chose to close their eyes, they could not complain of being left in the dark. He passed from the subject of ladies of the bedchamber, because it had been discussed before. They had lately seen a communication to the public—rather a long letter—in which it was distinctly stated that ladies of the bedchamber consider themselves as servants constitutionally responsible. They were responsible constitutional servants, according to his noble Friend Lord Port- 541 man, yet it was considered harsh and unjust for the noble Duke and the noble and learned Lord to say a word about the removal of those constitutional servants, when the other constitutionally responsible servants, namely, the Cabinet, were changed. But he now came to make a remark or two on the interregnum, and the addresses, speeches, and meetings got up in all quarters at that time. He was speaking of speeches of Members of Parliament, addressing meetings in England and Ireland—of Members of Parliament high in the favour and confidence of the Government—he was speaking of placards of all sorts, and of publications of all kinds, in which, if a man wished to have a low opinion of human nature—of its dishonesty—for upon some points it was impossible for those writers to be deceived to the extent to which they pretended—and of its weakness, he could not anywhere meet with so mortifying a sight as was presented by those publications for about three weeks after the Ministers came back to office, after they had been driven from it by the distrust of Parliament. It was the one constant song of all these parties, that the Ministers were so different now, you would not know them to be the same, that they were determined to give reforms, determined to throw overboard the finality declaration, determined to wash themselves clean of that leprous spot, and prove themselves the true friends of reform, by measures of which it was impossible to explain particulars, but which, when they were known, would obtain universal approbation. Such were the terms asked in every place, at every hour during those three weeks, by the friends of Ministers, while they themselves, good innocent lambs, had no intention of doing any such thing. Such were the high acts of courage, firmness, boldness, and consistency, preparing for them by kind friends, of which they themselves never dreamt; and for the best reason, because if they were too weak to carry measures before going out, they were much weaker, ten thousand times weaker, after that act of self-stultification. An apology, indeed, was offered for them with amusing naiveté—that it was too late in the Session, and that the measures of reform must be postponed till next Session. Since that declaration, they had, it was true, brought in fifty-five bills, but not one of any effect. It was 542 true also, that they had made the ballot an open question. This his noble and learned Friend opposite, had characterized as a shabby proceeding, and his noble Friend behind him (Viscount Melbourne) said it might be so, but that it was by no means a new mode of proceeding. Now, he (Lord Brougham) never before remembered a question, which having once been dealt with by the Government as not an open question, being al! of a sudden made an open question. [Lord Holland, The Roman Catholic question.] The Roman Catholic question, and that of the slave-trade, had been the two great subjects on which the attention of Parliament had for many years been engaged, but he never remembered them except as open questions. He might be mistaken in this, bat he was certain that the ill-grace arising from its being made an open question, with which Roman Catholic emancipation had been granted, had done more injury to Ireland, and been more productive of permanent discontent and intestine broil, than any system which ever had been practised. He had discussed the point with many eminent statesmen, who all agreed, that if the Roman Catholic question had to be dealt with over again, they would be against its being made an open question. But to return to the declaration of making the ballot an open question, He could not forget the declaration which had been made with respect to the motives for making it an open question, or the equal disgust and astonishment with which that declaration was received. He could not forget the declaration, which no doubt was sincere, that the reason for making this an open question was, to hug it to death—to stifle and extinguish it; that if it was made an open question, it was less likely to be carried, than if it continued a close question; and that it was made open in order to be strangled. For all these omissions and misdeeds of the Government, was it wonderful that Reformers should be hostile, even rancor-ously hostile, in the exact proportion in which they were heartily and sincerely attached to the cause of reform? Therefore it was, that you now hear said of these men, what has sometimes been said to Whigs before—Whigs are deceivers ever,One foot on sea and one on shore,To one thing constant never.543 But you also hear added, what never was added before:—Sigh not so.But let them go.Language never heard of in the mouths of the strongest Reformers, of those most adverse to the Whigs, until the celebrated 7th of last May. He could not conclude without a few remarks on another subject—he alluded to the great question of education, on which he entirely differed from his noble and learned Friend, and the majority of their Lordships, as he agreed in the debate and in the decision with his noble Friend near him. He must still say, that he most exceedingly disapproved of the manner in which this subject of education had been treated by Government. It had seemed to him the greatest folly, the uttermost infatuation, the most inconsistent, the most unreflecting thing, for men to bring in an education plan which was just large enough to excite the greatest storm on the part of the Church and the Conservative party against it and against them, and yet to make it so very small, so utterly insignificant in amount, that it was not worth a struggle on the part of the friends of the principle of education. A Privy Council board was made for the purpose of preparing a measure which could have been prepared without any Privy Council at all, for when it came forth, it was found to be no plan of general education, nothing of the kind, but merely a plan for the establishment of one normal school. Well, upon the production of that plan a cry was raised, and just such a cry as might have been expected. In fact, he had forewarned them of that very cry, and he had said to them—"For God's sake, if you are going to raise the Church and State cry of the country against you—if you are going to provoke them to rise up in arms in opposition to your plan, do it for something that is worth fighting for; let it be a measure which, when it comes forth, will enlist some of the persons, at least, who are on your side in its support." There was no sense in making it just small enough to gain no support, and just large enough to provoke attacks upon it; and it turned out to be just such a measure as stirred up all the elements of confusion and agitation, and failed to unite any one party in its favour. For the Reformers of this country were not the only agitators; and as long as there was a 544 clergyman presiding at head-quarters in every parish or district in the country, who could be excited by such questions, there would be religious as well as political agitators. Well, there was all manner of agitation, and every weapon of heavenly warfare was put in operation, and the storm, and crashing, and confusion of hostile elements, as if there was something really alarming, and something to oppose, whereas it was only a wretched plan of spending 30,000l., to be voted by the House of Commons, in a particular way, in maintaining one model school. What happened? The crash of elements which he had described, was not against that little bit of a plan of education merely, but against the general principles of the Government; and there was a betokened distrust of that Government, and of the principles on which it was conducted, rather than of the plan itself. But no sooner did the storm begin to rise, than his noble Friend threw the plan out of window, supposing the storm to be occasioned by the plan. Yet the tempest raged, and the storm boiled and threatened as furiously as before. The noble Lord and his plan reminded him of an old anecdote, which ran thus: A good Catholic was eating a savoury omelette on a Friday, when there happened to break out a tremendous thunder-storm; therefore he concluded that the storm was occasioned by the omelette, just as Lord John Russell concluded that the storm against education was occasioned by his little plan. The omelette-eater, however, was trying to get on with his savoury little dish, as Lord John Russell tried to keep on a while with his plan, when all at once there came a most deafening crash of thunder, and a most fearful flash of lightning, just as there was a tremendous anti-education storm at Exeter-Hall and elsewhere, whereupon the omelette-eater threw his savoury mess out of the window, exclaiming pettishly, "My God! all this storm for one little savoury omelette !"—just as Lord J. Russell said, "All this storm about my little plan!" but the storm continued both in the one case and in the other. That was just the way in which his noble Friend had proceeded: at first, he was surprised and astonished at the storm without, and then foolishly thought he could restore a calm by throwing away his plan. He hoped to God that the next time the subject of education 545 was taken in hand, it would be introduced and conducted with more firmness, and delicacy, and consistency. His noble Friend had thought proper to attack his conduct with respect to the Admiralty Bill, and he seemed to charge him with inconsistency. It was quite true that he had opposed that bill after asking for a bill upon this subject. But why had he opposed it? He had said, that was not the bill he wanted, on the contrary, it was the very reverse, for he had never once mentioned the subject to his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, he had never once conversed with him upon the mode of paying the Judge of the Admiralty Court, without saying that one integral and necessary part of the plan must be, that the judge must be disqualified from sitting in Parliament. Had he asked for such propositions as were made in the bill which had been rejected? and least of all had he ever asked that the judge should have that frightful patronage in his own court which was to have been established. Instead of a bill to pay the Judge a salary, and to exclude him from Parliament, a bill was brought in to alter the whole Admiralty Court and jurisdiction, and to invest the Judge with power both of creating places, and of bestowing them, and upon those grounds he objected to it. If the bill bad come up at an earlier period of the Session, when he wanted it, and when he called for it, he should have gone into Committee with it for the purpose of striking out every part of the bill except the first clause, and then he would have added a disqualifying clause, and such other clauses as might be necessary to make it a good bill. But the bill came up from the other House at so late a period of the Session that there was no time for that. The charge of his inconsistency amounted to this—that so absolutely inconsistent had he been, that he had asked for a bill when there was time to discuss it, and that it was brought in when there was no time to discuss it; and that he had asked for a good bill framed on constitutional principles, and they gave him a bad bill—a noxious bill—a bill founded on the most unsound and unconstitutional principles. Why, it was said or implied, that his noble and learned Friend opposite only wished to exclude the present Judge of the Admiralty Court from Parliament on account of his great personal weight and influence; but that 546 was not the principle upon which either his noble and learned Friend or himself had acted; they had much better grounds to go upon. Why in October last he wrote to the learned Judge, and stated to him his opinion, that he would support a bill to pay him a salary of 4,000l. a-year, but that it must be accompanied by a disqualifying clause, so that he should not sit in the House of Commons one hour after the passing of the bill. He admitted that the learned Judge had great merits—he was an excellent advocate at the bar; he was an able counsel for consultation in chambers; a clever, honest, uptight judge on the bench. He was all that, and he knew it; it was acknowledged that he was all that. He had long known it. But when they came to speak of his great personal weight and influence in Parliament, he was ready to admit that, as a debater, his talents might be respectable. But in the character of a judge, he would become formidable—so formidable, as to afford a sufficient ground for the disqualifying clause which he wished to propose. As a debater, then, he had great merits; but, in his character of a judge, he was formidable—nay, more, his aspect was absolutely frightful. Frightful if regarded as a judge as well as a debater. Because a party man, mingling in the fray of factions, and coming down from night to night ready to give a party opinion with all the zeal of a partisan, and with the authority of judge to boot—clothed with the zeal of the one, and covered with the ermine of the other, might well be deemed a formidable man, that might well give him weight which never would have belonged to his powers of debating. But he said, and he said it advisedly, that here his aspect was not only formidable but frightful; and to all lovers of the pure administration of justice, it was too hideous a spectacle to be tolerated. It was the duty of Parliament, then, to see that they laid no such snares in the way of any judge, or they might find that influence and that weight which was so used under the stimulus of party zeal, and the blindness which that zeal spread over the eyes of men, very soon cease, and that instead of having to complain that their weight and authority were too great in the senate, they might have to complain that their weight and authority in the senate were gone. But that would signify nothing in itself; it would only be a just retribution 547 for the prostitution of great, high, and eminent powers, judicial powers, to party purposes. There would also be a far more just and serious and lasting cause of complaint, that with the weight and authority of the judicial partisans in the House of Commons, or of the judicial partisans upon the hustings, there had also vanished with it the weight and impartiality of the judge. Those were the reasons upon which le had acted in reference to the bill, and which he had been rather reluctantly and unexpectedly called upon by the noble Viscount to explain; and with this explanation he would take leave of the subject and of their Lordships.
§ The Duke of Wellington
had also been personally referred to, in such terms that it was absolutely impossible for him to avoid saying a few words upon the questions under consideration, but he would detain the House as shortly as possible. There could be nothing more legitimate than that his noble and learned Friend should avail himself of this opportunity, the last probably he could have this Session, for reviewing the measures and questions which had been under their Lordships' consideration, or under the consideration of Parliament, or which had merely been mentioned in Parliament in the course of the present Session. His noble and learned Friend had commenced very naturally by referring to those questions which were announced in her Majesty's Speech from the Throne, and graciously pointed out by her Majesty to the consideration of Parliament. The noble and learned Lord most naturally supposed, when Government took that course, that they had considered very closely if not actually prepared the measures announced. The noble Viscount in expressing his opinion, that the noble and learned Lord's object was to lower the Government in public opinion, had gone on to assure the noble and learned Lord, that happen what might, there was no chance of the noble and learned Lord and his Friends, meaning himself (the Duke of Wellington) and others, rising in public opinion, or having it in their power to carry on the Government of the country. There was, of course, no better judge on this point than the noble Viscount. So he (the Duke of Wellington) should consider this matter as entirely settled. He could assure the noble Viscount, that for his own part all that he 548 desired now, or had for some years desired, was to see a Government in the country. That was what he desired. He desired to see the country governed; he wished he could see that. He had seen how it had been governed for some years past, and he hoped that the noble Viscount would now turn over a new leaf, and really govern the country in future. He had had some little experience in these matters; he knew something about Speeches from the Throne; and he would now beg to submit to the noble Viscount that in future, before he submitted a list of measures to be recommended in the Speech from the Throne, he should consider those measures well before he inserted them in the Speech; that he should prepare those measures—that he should be ready to introduce them into Parliament the moment that Parliament met after the speech was delivered. If the noble Viscount were to do this, in all probability the measures would be in a state in which they might be passed; or, at all events, they would, before they were introduced to Parliament, be considered by men competent to consider them; that they would be at least their measures, and not be brought forward as the measures of a faction. Not one of the measures announced by the Ministers had been brought into that House in a a state in which it ought to pass. There were many other reasons why he desired to see a Government in this country. He desired it because he was anxious to see our colonies settled and governed; because he desired to see the interests of this country settled and governed; because he desired to see all our establishments placed safely in the state in which they were to remain. The noble Viscount had referred to his opinion respecting Canada, as an opinion coming from a person of some authority on the subject. The noble Viscount at the same time complained, that this opinion differed from that of the noble Viscount's; but if his opinion were wise and well-founded, it might have been better for the noble Viscount to have followed that opinion, at least to have been guided by it in some degree, instead of complaining that he had delivered that opinion. He believed, that the value of his opinion arose from this; that he was a person entirely independent, who had had some experience, and who was not in the habit of delivering an opinion 549 without due reflection and consideration. The noble Viscount might, therefore, perhaps, have done better had he attended somewhat more to his opinion on the subject. That opinion he had formed after the most careful deliberation, and he still fully adhered to it. He had delivered opinions upon this subject on two occasions in that House during the present Session, and he had supported the Government bill, not merely upon its general principles, but also in its details, and he had given his vote in its favour. He did not, therefore, understand what the noble Viscount had to complain of as against him in this case. In the last Session, too, he had supported the noble Lord's measure, and it was not he, therefore, who had turned his back upon the Ministry, but the Ministry who had turned their backs upon themselves. What, however, he complained of in reference to this subject was, that when the noble Viscount had prevailed on the House to pass the Act giving certain powers to the noble Earl opposite as Governor-general of Canada, he had not taken care that the noble Earl should carry that Act into full operation—that he had not seen that the Council was properly composed. He certainly thought he had not been well treated by the noble Earl opposite in reference to what had passed between them on this subject; but he would never himself have introduced any discussion on the point, being satisfied with the measures taken by Government when the noble Earl returned home, nor should he have said a word on the subject had he not been distinctly referred to by the noble Viscount. With reference to Jamaica he had acted on this principle, that it was absolutely necessary to maintain the authority of the House of Assembly of Jamaica, and of all the other islands, if it was intended to maintain the dominion of the British Crown there, and to protect the white population and their possessions. What he desired was this, that Government, when it took upon itself really to administer the affairs of the country, which he hoped it would soon do, would establish an effective Government in each of these islands; that this government should be constituted according to proper form, and should really carry out the laws for the protection and security of the lives, properties, and labour of each and every in- 550 dividual inhabitant. This country had sacrificed twenty millions of money to liberate the slaves, and was calling upon other nations—upon the United States, upon Spain, Brazil, and other countries which had slaves—to imitate our example, but we had given them no encouragement to do so, by the establishment of order and good government in our colonies, notwithstanding the many advantages we had, and might further have, in carrying these objects out. These were all small societies; there was not a man of the population, even in Jamaica, the largest of these societies—there was not a man in them who was not within reach of the constituted authorities; there were strong garrisons, troops, police, and everything that could be required for keeping the population in order, for putting the laws in force, and for protecting every individual, even the lowest in the society; yet he would venture to say, that, since the passing of the law for negro emancipation, there were no societies in such a state of disorder, disorganization, and anarchy, as these very islands were, which ought to be in so different a condition. The fact was, that they required to be governed by the Colonial Government, and not by the different factions who went there to interfere in the business of government. There were no countries in the world so capable of being well governed as these islands, if the noble Marquess opposite would only just undertake to perform his own duty, and to keep all factions at a distance, instead of allowing those factions to interfere in all the details of the business of government. Then, look at the other colonies—look at Newfoundland—look where you will, there was nothing but disorder and anarchy, and all resulting from the same cause—the interference of factions in England, who had nothing to do with the matter. The noble Viscount also complained of his conduct as regarded Portugal. He had on two occasions stated freely his opinions on this subject, opinions deliberately formed. He had voted against the first bill, which was thrown out; and he was one of the small minority who said non-content to the second bill. The noble Viscount had not attended to his authority in this matter, and whilst the noble Viscount had not followed his advice, but had taken another course, he still used this language. If he had not followed his advice, why, at any rate, did he not an- 551 swer him, and show the absurdity of the course that he had recommended? This was the course that the noble Viscount should have taken, because he (the. Duke of Wellington) felt satisfied that his argument was founded, not only on existing; treaties, but also in the justice and policy of the case. It appeared, however, that neither the noble Viscount nor any of his noble Friends could give any answer on that occasion to what he had advanced. He, therefore, had no apology to make to the noble Viscount for the conduct which he had thought it to be his duty to follow. He was an independent man, and a man, he would say, without any disparagement to the noble Viscount or to his services, who wished as well to the country, and would go as far to serve it, as the noble Viscount. Having shown how the noble Viscount might have obtained the object he had in view, instead of by adopting the course which he had thought proper to follow, and which, if he (the Duke of Wellington) was not very much mistaken, would be attended with much more difficulty than the noble Viscount was aware of—having said thus much, and having shown to their Lordships that the Government of the country had not been exactly prudent in the proceedings that they had taken, and that it was not a course which the Government should have exactly followed in the situation in which they were placed—having shown that there was something in the stale of the colonies—which of themselves formed a most important empire—there was something in the conduct of the foreign policy of the country which reflected no credit on the Government; he had said enough to justify the course he had pursued. He would, however, only go one step further, and advert directly to a subject which would fully justify what he had stated, and show that there was something in the state of things, there was something that determined the conduct and proceedings of the Government besides the House of Lords. He would presently advert to something that the noble Viscount had said, but he would first beg noble Lords to look to the proceedings that had occurred in another place on the Irish Bank Bill. This was a subject in which the honour of the country was engaged, and he believed, from communications which he had seen, that the credit of the Government was pledged. The Chancellor of the Ex- 552 chequer—the right hon. Gentleman who was at the head of the finance department of the Government—very properly stated his determination to carry this bill through, in the state in which he had brought it into the House. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that he was acting in the face of an honourable opposition to a measure, in the success of which the credit and engagements of the Government were materially involved. He believed that any Minister of the Crown, in former times, could have carried this bill as it was introduced; but the right, hon. Gentleman could only succeed in carrying it for the renewal of the charter for one year, although he anxiously wished to carry it for four years. And this change was effected, because there were some new stipulations with regard to banking in Ireland, which did not please some Gentlemen who opposed the measure. He did not wish at this hour to enter upon the other subjects; but there were one or two other topics which he must shortly advert to before he sat down. If noble Lords would turn their attention to the state of the finances, to which two noble Friends of his adverted a few nights ago, they would find that, notwithstanding there was a large deficiency of the revenue to pay the ordinary expenses of the country, there was to be a still further reduction made in the revenue, and for which no new source of revenue had been obtained from Parliament. They had, in addition to this, also funded a large amount of Exchequer bills, and in doing so they had pursued a course not at all in conformity with that which had almost uniformly been followed on similar occasions; for in funding this large amount they had not made any provision for an additional fund to pay the interest of the increased debt. This was not a state in which things of this importance should be allowed to be, or in which such affairs should be conducted. These matters should always be well considered beforehand, and should be brought forward at a proper time, so that they might be considered, and supported by those who would support them if they were sound measures, and were brought forward at a proper time, and not introduced for the purpose of being discussed at the latter end of the month of August. The noble Viscount had also been pleased to attribute the state of disturbance and dissatisfaction 553 that prevailed at the present moment to the opposition given in the House of Lords to measures brought forward for the redress of the grievances of the people. He really did not like to interrupt the noble Lord while he was speaking, but he had felt almost disposed to call upon the noble Viscount to state what those measures were, to the loss of which he attributed such serious consequences; he had been trying ever since to recollect what those measures could be to which the noble Viscount had adverted, and he found himself unable.
§ The Duke of Wellington
The noble Viscount might allude to some Irish measures, but they were alluding to the state of this country; and he did not recollect any measures that had been so rejected, which deserved such a character, with respect to England. He did not know of any measures which had been discussed in that House, or which had been treated in that House, in a way which could be justly designated in any degree at all a refusal to redress the grievances of the people. He was sure that if there were such measures, the noble Lord should again bring forward a discussion of them in that House. But he (the Duke of Wellington) took another view of the cause of the disturbances of the country; and he thought that they arose from a state of circumstances, and he would venture to submit them to the noble Viscount, in answer to that part of his speech in which he was kind enough to attribute the disturbances to the House of Lords; he believed that these disturbances originated in the unnoticed and unpunished combinations that were allowed by the Government to exist, whether as Political Unions, or as Trades' Unions, or as other combinations—clearly illegal combinations amongst workmen, to force others to abandon their work, who work at prices different from those at which they were content to work, and at which they had agreed to work for their employers. These combinations had gone so far in some parts of the country, and more particularly in the north of England, and indeed throughout almost the whole of the northern part of the island, as to threaten destruction to the trade and credit of the manufacturers and at last they had ar- 554 rived at that state, and had spread to that extent, that the country was brought to the situation in which it was at the present moment. What were the Chartists who were found marching about the country, and engaged in the disturbances that prevailed? He had enquired a great deal into the subject, and the result was, that he believed that they were nothing more nor less than persons combined for the purpose of driving other persons engaged, whether in manufactures, in the collieries, or agricultural pursuits, or in other districts, from their work, for the purpose of destroying machinery, and of increasing the wages of the workmen, and of interfering with the capital of the employers, and thus striking at the very root of employment, and of the subsistence of the people, and at the foundation of the manufactures and the commerce of the country, and of all its prosperity; and this was altogether owing to the want of early notice taken of their proceedings by the Government, and of carrying into effect the execution of the law against those engaged in such illegal proceedings, and in the punishment of their committal for trial, and it was also partly to be attributed to the unfortunate selection of magistrates which had recently been made, particularly of the magistrates appointed in the corporations; and, above all, in the newly-formed corporations of Birmingham, Manchester, Bolton, and other towns. The noble Viscount might depend upon it, that until the Government could induce the Parliament to entrust them with powers for the purpose, they could not ensure the peace of the country. The military establishments in this country were not now kept up to nearly the proper proportion or amount of force that was requisite. He believed that even in the disturbed districts they had not establishments equal to what were formerly the ordinary peace establishments of the country. A regard to this was necessary, as the peace of the country was to be maintained. They should also look for a due execution of the law, and that those that were tried, and convicted, and sentenced for punishment, should not rashly be allowed to escape; and also as regarded the sort of persons connected with these combinations, who had instigated those parties who had committed these disturbances. The noble Viscount should have censured those who had caused this state, of things, and not have indulged 555 in the observations which he did, with respect to nameless measures which had been rejected by the opposition in that House, and which measures, they were told, were for the redress of the grievances of the people. Having occupied so much of their Lordships' time, he should now conclude with apologizing for having said so much, although he felt that he could not have said less after what had taken place, and after the allusions that had been made to himself and others.
§ Viscount Melbourne
stated, that the noble Duke had mistaken some of his observations: he had not meant to say, that the disturbances of the country were owing to the proceedings of the opposition in that House during the present Session, or that the measures for the redress of the of the grievances of the people had been particularly rejected during that period. The noble and learned Lord had argued, that the disturbances, which had prevailed in certain districts were owing to the encouragement given to those persons by the Government and their supporters, and he, in reply, asserted and argued, that they were rather to be attributed—and he spoke generally—to the opposition that particular measures had met with on former occasions. For instance, he meant, as much as anything, the opposition and treatment that the Reform Bill experienced in this House.
The Marquess of Normanby
had not intended to have taken part in the present discussion, but he felt called upon to make a few remarks, in answer to some of the observations that had been made by the noble Duke, with respect to the department of the Government with which he was connected. With respect to the motion, he was sure if the noble and learned Lord had thought that any practical result would have followed from it, he would have brought it forward at an earlier period of the Session. The noble and learned Lord had designated his motion a review of the proceedings of the Session, but the noble and learned Lord should have brought it forward at a much earlier period, when there was a fuller attendance of Peers, as all the important measures were before the House at that time, and he might have left out those that had been dealt with at the latter end of the Session. The noble and learned Lord would then have had ample opportunity of adverting to those bills to which he had chiefly directed his 556 observation, namely, to those mentioned or alluded to in the Queen's Speech. The noble and learned Lord had spoken of the means by which the Government should be carried on; and if he had brought forward his motion some time ago, he would have had the attendance of many of those noble Lords who generally took a leading part in the debates of that House, and they, probably, would have given their opinions; but he was by no means sure that any of those noble Lords would have coincided in some of the opinions expressed by the noble and learned Lord. The noble Duke had been pleased to give him some advice as to the department with which he was connected, and if he thought that the noble Duke had taken a correct view of the facts of the case, he should follow the noble Duke's advice. The noble Duke had taken in review the circumstances of some of the colonies, and trusted that he would not allow himself to be influenced by certain factions which existed in the colonies. He could assure the noble Duke that he was not aware of any such factions having any influence in his office, and certainly he trusted that they would produce no effect on his mind. He was sure that the noble Duke was very much mistaken as to there being so much and such extensive disorganization in the state of society in Jamaica, and the other West India colonies. He had the best reason for saying, that in by far the greater portion of these colonies, no persons could behave in a more exemplary manner, or with greater propriety, than the great bulk of the emancipated population. There always was a certain degree of excitement on the surface of colonial society, but this, he was happy to say, had been much allayed in the West India Islands since the passing of the Emancipation Bill. He did not wish to say anything calculated to revive, by any reproachful language in that House, the state of excitement that had prevailed in Jamaica, for he was in hopes that means would be taken by the right hon. Gentleman to whom the government of that important colony had been entrusted, by which they would be enabled to come to a good understanding with the House of Assembly of Jamaica. He would not say more in answer to the observation, that if the Legislative Assembly of that colony was deprived of its legislative functions, that the island would not be a fit and proper residence for persona of property, than, 557 that since the time when the news arrived in the colony of the probability of passing the first Jamaica Bill, that property had increased in value twenty per cent. He believed and trusted, that those to whom the government of that colony had been entrusted, would perform their duties in such a satisfactory manner, as to preserve and extend this state of things; he would not say more on this subject. The noble Duke bad also alluded to Upper Canada, and said that he did not know on what intelligible ground they had abandoned the introduction of the Canada Bill for the union of the two provinces. Before this had been done, papers had been laid on the Table of the House, which described the alteration of opinion that had taken place in some parties, and the excitement of feeling that had been manifested by others on this subject. His noble Friend, who had been Governor of the Canadas, had been received with the most marked attention, and with the greatest enthusiasm, by certain parties there; but this appeared to have excited some strong feelings of opposition in the minds of the opposite party in the colony, which seemed disposed to dispute many of the recommendations that had been made by his noble Friend. At the same time, some recent information had been received from the Lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, relative to the resolutions that had been agreed to by the House of Assembly in that colony, relative to the union of the two provinces, and also as to the terms or intentions with which the legislative council of the colony would agree to such union. Sir George Arthur stated, that he trusted no legislation would take place on this subject in the present excited state of feeling, for it was not likely to be attended with beneficial effects. The information received from the gallant Officer, as well as that which had been derived from other sources, had been such as to induce the Government to give up their intention to proceed with the bill during the present Session. With respect to the state of the island of Newfoundland, to which the noble Duke had also adverted, and which he declared to be in a state of confusion, he would beg noble Lords to recollect that two petitions were presented in the early part of the Session from that colony from opposite factions there, the one by a noble Friend of his (the Earl of Durham) and the other by a noble Earl opposite (the Earl of 558 Ripon), containing allegations directly contradictory as to the state of Newfoundland. These two petitions were presented on the same day, and they emanated from two parties most violently opposed to each other. In consequence of this, he had sent out instructions to the Governor of Newfoundland to make inquiry into the subject. The report from him had been received within the last few days, and us it contained some important matter, and involved considerations of magnitude, it would require atttenion as to the steps that it might be deemed advisable to take; but, at the same time, he could assure their Lordships, that those who had described society in that colony as being in a state of insecurity or confusion, had been guilty of gross exaggeration. He would not say more on this subject at present, but, in justification to the colony, he felt bound to say these few words. The noble and learned Lord had dwelt in his opening speech on the state of feeling in the country, and the want of confidence that existed in the Government on the part of the legislature, as well as the people. If such a state of things existed, it was very extraordinary that the noble and learned Lord should have reserved his declaration and speech on the subject until nearly the last day of the Session, instead of introducing it when there was a fuller attendance, and when many noble Lords were present who were accustomed to take part in the debates in that House. If there was such a strong feeling in the country against the Government, and if there was such an entire want of confidence in them, and satisfaction at their measures, it was not a little extraordinary that there appeared to be an equal, or even a less want of confidence in the opposite party. If such was the opinion of the country, it was extraordinary that the opposition in the House of Commons did not bring matters to a trial as to the mode in which the government of the country should be carried on. If such was the want of confidence on the part of the country, why did not the noble Lords opposite, and their party, at once try their strength on this point? The noble and learned Lord on this side of the House (Lord Brougham), as well as the noble and learned Lord opposite, had used some very hard words as to the legislative proceedings of the other House. The noble and learned Lord near him also brought the charge, and it certainly did 559 did appear a little extraordinary against his noble Friend in having departed from the principle of Government on which his noble Friend came into office. To a charge of this kind he could only give a direct and positive denial. He was not aware that his noble Friend, or his other colleagues in the Government, had manifested any change of opinion, or used language indicative of an intention to resist any measures of reform which they had formerly supported. It was to the principle of progressive reform that his noble Friend pledged himself when he formed his administration, and to that he knew that his noble Friend was determined to adhere. The noble and learned Lord had also used some harsh words as to some observations that had fallen from a noble Friend of his (Viscount Howick) in the other House on the subject or the ballot. It had been already stated on authority in that House, and his noble Friend had spoken elsewhere for himself, and declared that what he then expressed was his own individual feeling, and that he believed that by adopting the ballot as an open question, the chances of carrying it would be diminished. This was not the opinion of the noble Lord's colleagues, and, for his own part, he wholly dissented from it. Again, he did not think that the noble and learned Lord was justified in saying that any defects in the action or operation of the Reform Bill were attributable to the Government. It was true, there might have been a less decided majority in the two last Parliaments than was desirable in support of those opinions so often and for so long a time expressed and supported by the noble and learned Lord, and by himself. But still the Government was supported by a majority, though a narrow one. He admitted that the smallness of the majority was a great misfortune in the present state of the country. They were told that the proper legislative measures required by the country could not be carried in consequence of this state of things. But what would be the effect of a change in the Government? If the noble and learned Lord opposite, and those who acted with him, became parties to the formation of a Government, would he not be opposed to the majority of the other House on the subject of national education—would he not differ from them on the subject of the Portuguese slave-trade? Could he get support on the subject of the 560 Government of Canada? and this would also be the case with several other subjects to which he could allude. He did not conceive that by the alteration of the relative positions of parties, notwithstanding any thing that the noble and learned Lord might think to the contrary, the progress of legislation would be materially improved. The noble and learned Lord near him had always professed principles of reform, and, as he believed, sincerely supported those opinions that he professed; but he believed that now the noble and learned Lord would find hardly any person in either House to support him in the course that he had thought proper to adopt. Unfortunately, he differed materially from the noble and learned Lord on the opinions he now expressed—the noble and learned Lord might be right and he wrong—but still he felt convinced that the noble and learned Lord would gel little support in the course that he had recently pursued. The noble and learned Lord had dwelt on the advantage that would result from noble Lords opposite coming into office, and how much the cause of Reform would be advanced by such a course. He was not sure that if there was a fuller attendance of noble Lords opposite, that they by their language would adopt this view of the subject, or would prove that the cause of constitutional reform would be promoted by giving the Government to those who had always opposed it. If this was the case, he admitted that it would be desirable that the Government should be changed, and that office should be given to those who had the inclination as well as the power to carry out the principles of the Reform Bill.
said, that the noble Marquess had totally misunderstood the language that had fallen from him; but as this was also the case as to what had been said by the noble Duke and his noble and learned Friend, he would not com-plain. It had been assumed that a great change had taken place in his opinions, or in the sentiments that he professed. He believed that for the first time, in November, 1837, the doctrine of finality was preached in another place, by a leading Member of the Government. He dared say he should be told that he was wrong, but he did not know it. He believed that this was always professed to be the principle of the Government when abuses were brought forward, but they took care 561 never to bring it forward at elections. The truth was, that the noble Marquess was too much engaged in Ireland to know what took place at the time of the elections. When, however, a change took place, and there was a new court, the Government seemed more than ever attached to the doctrine of finality. It was then said, in another place, openly and candidly, that the Reform Bill was given as a sort of sop to the agricultural interest. This, however, was very carefully not said before the elections; for it had been said, instead of the very small majority the Government now found themselves in, they would have found themselves in a very small minority. The noble Marquess had challenged him as to the number of persons who supported him in the course that he took. In reply, he would only beg the noble Marquess just to take the trouble to see how many would be his followers if he were out of office. The fact was, that no person presented petitions from so many bodies every afternoon as he did, and upon almost every subject. He should like to know what bodies corporate or not corporate, or meetings of. patricians or plebeians, of those engaged in trade, would send their petitions through the noble Marquess. No Member of either House of Parliament had been so often asked to preside over public meetings by all classes of the Liberal party as he had been; and he had been strongly urged to form a party by all Reformers who truly stood by the Reform standard, and he would very soon produce a proof of it. He did not want to be the leader of a party, for he had been long enough leader in the House of Commons; and God knew that he never led a more slavish life. He did not know that the noble Marquess would ever be the leader of a party. If he were, he felt satisfied he would pretty soon get rid of all his followers.
§ The Lord Chancellor
said, that his noble and learned Friend had alluded to the legal reforms referred to in the Queen's speech. Two measures were intended to be introduced by the Government, one relative to the Ecclesiastical Courts, and the other to the Court of Chancery. But previous to the first measure it was necessary to bring in a measure relative to the discipline of the Church, and one had been introduced at the early part of the Session which he thought had met 562 with the support of the majority of the right rev. Bench. Unfortunately it was referred to a select committee, over the deliberations of which he could have no control, which, such were his avocations elsewhere, he could not attend The bill was so altered by that committee—provisions, in his opinion, so extremely in admissable were introduced into it—that when it again came into their Lordships' House, he felt himself under the necessity of stating, that he could not consider himself responsible for it, and that he could not permit it to go down to the House of Commons as the measure introduced by him. Nevertheless, he voted for the third reading, hoping, that in the other House it might receive such alterations as would render it a more effectual measure when it came back to their Lordships' House. The House of Commons, however, took a different view of the subject, and the bill became one of those to which the noble and learned Lord had alluded as having been abandoned. He could not but regret that the House of Commons had taken this view respecting the measure, but having done so, the ultimate settlement of the question became, for the time, as difficult, and indeed as impracticable, as it had been in previous Sessions. This, however, was no fault either of his own or of the Government; it was the result of the alterations made in the original measure by the Select Committee of their Lordships' House. The other subject to which he would refer was that of the projected changes in the Court of Chancery. At an early period after he first had the honour of a seat in that House, he had given their Lordships reason to see that he was not. inattentive to the wants of that court. He early introduced two bills—one, to give more strength and efficiency to the Court of Chancery, the other, to alter the system by which the judicial business of their Lordships' House was administered. His noble and learned Friend thought it right to move the rejection of both those measures. Two Sessions passed over, and no bill or bills were introduced in place of them. But the evil had by that time become so pressing, and the injury to suitors in the Court of Chancery so great, that he (the Lord Chancellor) felt he could not let the present Session pass without some attempt to remedy that evil, His noble and learned Friend might re- 563 member, that early in the present Session a communication took place between them On the subject, and that he then pressed Upon his noble and learned Friend the desirableness of their agreeing upon some measure of a remedial nature. That proposition was then received by his noble and learned Friend in a very friendly way, and he did hope that there would have been a co-operation On his part towards the attainment of the object. On the return of his noble and learned Friend to this country after Easter, that communication was renewed, and he was then glad to observe his noble and learned Friend give notice of a motion for the production of returns, the object of which motion Was, to bring the subject of the existing State of the Court of Chancery and the measures necessary to reform it before the House. The result of that motion he awaited, thinking that it would probably create an opening for the successful consideration of the subject, and that he might reckon on the assistance of his noble and learned Friend towards the accomplishment of the object he had in view. How surprised, therefore, he naturally was to find himself now blamed for not having introduced any measure on the subject. The views of his noble and learned Friend differed from his own on the question. He found that what he considered essential for the due reform of the court, was a much larger measure than his noble and learned Friend would be ready to concede, and that his noble and learned Friend offered to co-operate to the extent of only a small part of what he considered so necessary. The question then arose, how far the acceptance of that smaller measure would prejudice the object of attaining the greater at some future time, He therefore consulted those whom it was necessary to conciliate on the subject, and he found, that if he brought forward any measure this Session for the attainment of the greater object, he would have to encounter the interests and the influence of others, without being able to reckon on the co-operation of his noble and learned Friend to the extent which he felt to be absolutely necessary. He then considered whether it would be more for the public benefit that he should take, this Session, the smaller measure which his noble and learned Friend was prepared to concede, or that he should postpone the whole subject until the next Session of 564 Parliament, in the hope that those adverse interests would by that time be reconciled, and the measure which he thought necessary introduced with some prospect of success. The difference between introducing the measure at the close of the present and the commencement of next Session would not be considerable. Making allowance for the long vacation and the Christmas vacation, there would not be more than three months of actual sitting in the Court of Chancery, before the measure could be introduced next Session. Under these circumstances, and feeling that to accept the smaller measure now would endanger the more extended one ultimately, he resolved to defer the subject until next Session. He had felt himself called on to say thus much in explanation of the non-introduction of the two measures in question this Session; but, at the same time, he must be allowed to add, that beyond the next Session of Parliament, the consideration and settlement of this important subject ought not to be deferred—whether the smaller or the larger measure was agreed to, the subject must then be disposed of. He trusted that next Session he would meet with the support of his noble and learned Friend, and that he would then be a little more liberal in his concession on this subject.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
maintained, that in what had fallen from him on the subject, he had merely stated the facts—that a measure for the Reform of the Court of Chancery was promised in the speech from the Throne, and for seven months no attempt had been made to introduce any such measure. With respect to what had fallen from the noble and learned Lord as to the Church Discipline Bill, it was undoubtedly true. But he supported the third reading of that measure; and it went down to the other House as a Government measure. But there no notice was taken of it; it was not read a second time, nor was it committed, but it was at once and entirely abandoned. With regard to the measure for the reform of the Court of Chancery, the noble and learned Lord went three years back, and said he opposed the bill which the noble and learned Lord then introduced. That was quite true, but it was equally true that even noble Lords who supported Government, agreed with him in so doing. The course he (Lord Lyndhurst) took on 565 that occasion, was not because he did not wish to see a reform in the Court of Chancery, but because he could not give his assent to that particular measure of reform which the noble and learned Lord introduced. It was also quite true that the noble and learned Lord, in the early part of the present Session, asked him whether he would give his support to a measure for the reform of the Court of Chancery, to which he replied in the affirmative. But the noble and learned Lord did not propose any specific measure, and in consequence of that silence on the part of the noble and learned Lord, he brought forward the subject. He certainly had understood the noble and learned Lord then, to assent to the proposition that there were not sufficient judges in the Court of Chancery; that there was an arrear of 700 causes; and that the first measure ought to be the appointment of a new judge. The noble and learned Lord expressed a wish for a more extended reform, but to that limited proposition, the noble and learned Lord in the mean time assented. It was a proposition which met with the assent of the whole profession, and he would venture to assert, that if a bill had been at once introduced, it would have passed that House in a week, and have passed at once through the other House. The noble and learned Lord argued, that between the introduction of the bill this Session and early next Session, there would be no practical difference—that at the utmost the Court of Chancery could not sit for actual business more than three months. This might be all very true, as regarded the interval of time between the opening of the next Session and the close of the present, but the noble and learned Lord did not take into account the time that must elapse during next Session before the bill could pass through both Houses. Much more than three months time would then be lost to the Court of Chancery. It did not appear whether the noble and learned Lord had actually prepared a bill on this subject, but he had never brought it in. The noble and learned Lord was as well aware of the urgency of the case as he was, and he had left it in the noble and learned Lord's hands. It was not his intention to go into a general reply, but he must advert to what had fallen from the noble Marquess on the subject of the abandonment of the Canada Bill. The noble Mar- 566 quess said that the bill was abandoned in consequence of the arrival of intelligence of resolutions agreed to in the House of Assembly of Upper Canada. Why, he (Lord Lyndhurst) was in possession of these resolutions several weeks before the abandonment of the measure in question. [The Marquess of Normanby: The resolutions were by the Legislative Council.] Yes, and I had those also a considerable time before the abandonment of the bill. The noble Marquess refers probably to alterations in them, but those were adopted within three days after the resolutions themselves were agreed to. Both the original resolutions and the altered resolutions, arrived in this country long before the Government abandoned the bill.
The Marquess of Normanby
the last resolution of the Legislative Council, arrived the very day on which the bill was withdrawn by the noble Lord in the other House of Parliament
§ Motion agreed to.