§ Mr. Lawson
, in rising to present a petition, said, that it was with considerable diffidence; he put himself forward on the present occasion. He who was then, for the first time, trusting his virgin bark, which was scarcely sea-worthy, to the tempestuous ocean of political discussion, must naturally feel great timidity at the hazard of the trial. But still the importance of the trust which was confided to his hands, and the conviction that he was bound to use his best efforts to discharge it faithfully, gave him confidence; and, therefore, he unhesitatingly embraced the opportunity of taking the sense of the House upon the petition—the first which was presented to this parliament—which he held in his hand. "Nay," continued Mr. Lawson, "start not, Mr. Speaker, at the sight of parchment, nor imagine, from what I am now about to present, that you are about to have such an accumulation of petitions as daily poured in upon and covered your table in the last parliament. This is a petition for true and radical reform—a reform, not, Sir, of the House over which you so honourably preside—but, of a Yorkshire turnpike-road [A laugh]. The petitioners, it is true, have, like other reformers, gone upon a levelling system; but upon other grounds; they wish that the trustees, who form as well the representative as the executive power, may have an extension of their authority. Their prayer, however, was not for economy and retrenchment—they sought not to have their burthens lightened—no; but, anxious for the public good, they wished to have their burthens increased. Mr. Lawson went on to show, that though this in name might be considered a private matter, yet, from its importance, it ought to be considered as a public question. It prayed for a bill to improve the line of road leading to Harrowgate—the metropolis of a northern county; and to increase the toll to defray the expense to be incurred. The fashionable and gay place of resort to which this road led, rendered its improvement a matter of public interest. The Speaker himself could attest the importance of the place, having visited it. He also could give his testimony to the necessity of having the prayer of the petition complied with; and it must be evident to all, that it was of advantage to 67 the public, that there should be such a road leading to this place of resort for fashion as well as for health, as might prevent the delicate nerves of its visiters from being too much shaken in their passage to and from it.
§ The petition was referred to a committee.