§ Mr. John Wood
rose for the purpose of presenting a Petition—the first, he believed, of thousands which that House would soon receive—praying, and in that prayer he heartily joined, believing, as he did, that it would speedily, be re-echoed from every part of this free country, that they, the House of Commons, would refuse to vote any Supplies until the measure of Reform was carried. The petition came from the populous and important town of Manchester. He regretted that the hon. member for Thetford was not then in the House, because he wished to tell him, that this petition was agreed to at one of those meetings upon which the hon. Member last night endeavoured to throw so much 877 obloquy. It was agreed to at Manchester, at one of those vulgar meetings of which so much was said in the debate of yesterday evening. Yesterday morning a copy of The Courier newspaper arrived at Manchester, containing an account of the resignation of Ministers. A meeting was instantly convened; it was most numerously attended; the petition which he held in his hand was prepared; and, in the space of three hours, it was signed by 25,000 persons; and of such importance was it considered, that that House should know that if there had been any re-action in the minds of the people, in that part of the country, upon the subject, it was a re-action in favour of Reform, that three gentlemen were immediately to proceed to London with the petition in a post-chaise and four horses; and in the space of seventeen hours afterwards the petition was placed in his hands. The gentlemen to whom it was intrusted wished to place it in the hands of one of the county Members; but, finding him first, they confided it to him; and he might justly say, that he considered it one of the highest honours that had ever been conferred upon him since he had been in Parliament. To the latest hour of his life, he should remain proud of the recollection that the petition of a meeting so respectable and so immense, had been confided to him for presentation to that House. As an Englishman he owed the greatest respect to the Kingly office. He owed not only respect, but more than respect, to his present Majesty, for the liberal course which he had hitherto pursued; but he thought he should best show that respect by endeavouring to exhibit to his Majesty the truth. By the events which had occurred within the last few days, it was pretty evident to the whole of the country, that the King had forsaken the advice of his trusty Counsellors—that he had delivered himself over to the subtle and backsliding party—that he had been entrapped in the meshes of some dirty intrigue, which, whether brought to perfection by man or woman, he cared not; but certain it was, that, in an evil hour, his Majesty had listened to pernicious advice. That being the case, he (Mr. Wood) claimed the privilege, as one of the people, of telling his Majesty, that he was much mistaken if, in these times, he thought to remain Chief Magistrate of Great Britain with the assistance, and acting upon the advice, of a boroughmongering faction. The King existed for the benefit of the people; if he delivered himself over, bound 878 hand and foot, to a boroughmongering faction, the people would soon send that faction dispersed over the four quarters of the globe. If his information were correct, an attempt was making to form a Government which should set the people at defiance, or which would forfeit all claim to the confidence of the people, under a bond and pledge to pass the very Bill which the late Ministers were turned out for not passing. He begged leave to read the petition; which the hon. Member did as follows:—To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled.The Petition of the undersigned Inhabitants of Manchester, in the County Palatine of Lancaster, showeth;—That your Petitioners have heard, with feelings which it is impossible to describe, that the Reform Bill has again been virtually lost in the House of Lords, and that Earl Grey and his Administration have, in consequence, been compelled to withdraw from his Majesty's Councils.That your Petitioners, considering that the plan of Reform which has thus been defeated, was a measure which merely restored to the people a right to which they were always entitled by the Constitution, and of which they have beer, too long defrauded by a faction; considering, also, that the Bill had been twice passed by your honourable House, and was earnestly desired by the people, and, moreover, that it is a measure which, legally and honestly, can affect the people and their Representatives only, are at a loss to find words to express their indignation at being again denied their birth-right by the manœuvres of a small number of interested individuals.That your Petitioners, thus situated, have recourse to your honourable House, as the constitutional organ of their wishes, and their established defence against injustice and arbitrary rule; and do pray your honourable House, that you will assert your own collective dignity, and the indefeasible rights of your fellow-subjects, by a determined adherence to the Bill; and by refusing to vote any Supplies until a measure essential to the happiness of the people, and the safety of the Throne, shall be carried into a law.And your Petitioners will ever pray," &c.The whole of the north of England, the Deputation from Manchester informed him, was in a state which it was impossible to describe. Dismay, and, above all, indignation, prevailed everywhere. He believed, however, if the House did its duty, that the country might yet be saved; if it would not, he believed the people knew their duty; and if the House would not stop the Supplies, the Chancellor of the Ex- 879 chequer, whoever he might be, would very soon find that his coffers were unreplenished. Whether such a line of conduct might be right or wrong, it was not for him to argue then; but it was his duty, as a Reformer, to state his firm conviction, that, if a boroughmongering faction should prevail, the people would take the most effectual mode of stopping the Supplies, by telling the tax-collector to call upon them when the Reform Bill had passed into a law. He had heard that one of the bold measures in contemplation was on an early day in the next week to dissolve the House, and to send its Members back to their constituents. How utterly ignorant and uninformed of the state of the country, of its feelings, its opinions, its determination—its unaltered and unchangeable determination—must those persons be, who, by borough-mongering cliques, by aristocratic domination, or through the medium of the non-disfranchised boroughs in schedules A and B, expected to return a House which should be subservient to the Minister of the Crown! If, however, the new Ministry, of whatever party, or of whatever materials it might happen to be formed, should think proper to dissolve the House, he believed it would deserve the thanks of the country; because he believed that the majority by which the Reform Bill had twice been carried through that House, would then be increased. Cordially concurring in the prayer of the petition, he begged leave to move that it be brought up.
§ Mr. Heywood
, in seconding the Motion, bore testimony to the consternation and dismay which prevailed throughout the country, and expressed his conviction, that the passing of a measure of Reform could not, with any safety, be delayed.
rose to express his cordial concurrence in the prayer of the petition. He, for one, would never vote for any Supply until the Reform Bill was carried—until the people were placed in full possession of their undoubted right—free Representation. "I have heard," said the hon. Member, "that the Duke of Wellington is again to be Prime Minister—that we are to have the fighting Duke and a military Government. But I have no fear on that head. If the soldiers forget themselves—if they are to take part with a violent faction [expressions of impatience]; I know, said the hon. Member, that the hon. Gentlemen of the boroughmongering faction around me do not agree with what I am now saying—I know that they do not 880 like it—but I say, that if the soldiers forget their duty as citizens of this free country, and take part against the people—I know that swords, and cannons, and bayonets, and guns, and pistols, ay, and dungeons into the bargain, cannot compel this House to vote Supplies even for the support of that army. I know that swords and bayonets cannot prevent the people from permitting the law to take its course with respect to the payment of taxes. The people are not compelled to pay taxes in money. I know that swords and bayonets [laughter]; I say, that swords and bayonets [reiterated laughter.] Ay, undoubtedly, it affords very great amusement and entertainment to the boroughmongering Gentlemen, who, no doubt, would think it great fun to join the army and butcher the people [cries of "Order."] I know not what right those Gentlemen have to interrupt me."
§ Mr. Wrangham
I rise to order, and I submit it to the House, whether the hon. Gentleman, in his anxiety to preserve the tranquillity of the country, is following the course which a sense of what is due, both to the State and the public, would point out to him, when he charges those who differ from him in opinion with an anxiety to join the army for the purpose of butchering the people?
§ The Speaker
The point of order having been raised, all I can say is, that the hon. Gentleman, in the warmth and ardour of debate, and being excited by an irregularity of noise, by which the disorder of the debate was first commenced, has been betrayed into an expression which, in a moment of cooler reflection, he would not have made use of.
I am extremely obliged to you, Sir, for the very fair, just, and proper footing on which you have placed the irregularity of which I was guilty. I was, undoubtedly, betrayed into the expression of the warmth of my feelings at the interruption which I received. I was about to say that swords and bayonets [laughter]—I have no doubt but that the Duke of Wellington is about to be Prime Minister, and that the anticipation of a military Government is very entertaining to some of the Members of this House. They laugh at swords and bayonets; but the people are of a different opinion. Not that I wish the people to take up arms; God forbid. I hope they will not be driven to it. I hope they will not play the game of the Tories. They have a better remedy in their hands; all the swords and bayonets in the world cannot compel persons to buy goods distrained for 881 taxes. If the people will only be true to themselves, I am sure they will find means of succeeding against the Duke of Wellington and all his armies; ay and that too without spilling one drop of blood.
said, that he had just come from a meeting of 10,000 persons, whose character and respectability completely falsified the statement made by the hon. member for Thetford last night.
rose, in order, as he said, to give the hon. and gallant Gentleman the opportunity of retracting the word falsify. If the hon. and gallant Member came from a meeting of 10,000 persons, and the hon. Member behind him (Mr. Wood) from a meeting of 25,000 persons, he did still hold it to be uncourteous and unjust for them to impute to him expressions which he never used.
said, that he could not mention the fact of having been at one of those meetings without calling to mind the words of insult which he thought the hon. member for Thetford had last night applied to all assemblies of that kind. The words which he understood the hon. Member to use were these: that the Government had appealed for support to brawlers out of doors, or to the delegates of clubs and associations within. Was he mistaken when he supposed that the hon. Member used those words?
said, that he could not answer for the particular words which he might have used in the heat of debate; but he had no hesitation in saying that whatever words he might have used, he had, at least, no intention to utter anything personally offensive either to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Colonel Evans), or to the hon. Gentleman behind him (Mr. Wood). The words that he used were, perhaps, stronger than he intended; but, at the same time, he thought that what the hon. Gentleman had stated was a misrepresentation of what had fallen from him. He did not mean to say—he did not even suppose that the hon. Gentleman had intentionally misrepresented him, but it seemed obvious that he had mistaken his meaning. He (Mr. Baring) certainly complained the more of what the hon. Gentleman had said, because he had taken an opportunity, last evening, of explaining the very expressions to which the hon. Member had alluded. The hon. member for Middlesex, in his speech last evening referred to those expressions, and he (Mr. Baring) then took the opportunity satisfactorily, as he hoped, 882 of explaining them. He stated that he had not used them in the slightest degree in the sense imputed to him. He did not remember having used the words, but even if he had, he appealed to every Gentleman present whether, after having distinctly stated that he never meant them in the sense in which they had been received, it was fair or courteous that he should thus, on a second occasion have them attempted to be fastened upon him?
begged to understand whether in his observations the hon. Gentleman had used the word "misrepresentation," and not "falsification."
did not remember what particular word he had used, but, as he had before stated, he meant no personal insult to the hon. Member.
said, that with that explanation he would pass the matter by. In allusion to one observation which had fallen from the hon. member for Carlisle, for whom, on many accounts, he entertained the highest esteem, he was about to observe that, as he could not help recollecting that one of the last intentions of the illustrious Duke, who had been referred to, was said to be the organization of a military force, to be brought into operation in the city of London, he sincerely trusted that such a measure would not be one of the first acts of the noble Duke's Government, if he should again come into power.
wished to give the hon. member for Thetford the opportunity of saying whether he really did use the words which he (Mr. Hume) supposed he used last evening. The words that he (Mr. Hume) had put down at the time, and thought the hon. Member used were these—that "the Government had appealed to clubs and associations that were brawling without, and to the persons delegated from them within." Now, the offence to him (Mr. Hume) was, that he, belonging to one of those institutions, was supposed by the hon. Member to be delegated from a brawling association; and that was what he conceived the hon. Member had no right to apply to him or any other individual who sat in that House, He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Member would explain whether he was right in attributing those words to him, and if so, whether the hon. Member meant to apply them to him (Mr. Hume) or any other Member of that House?
was really sorry to be called upon to trouble the House with so many repeated explanations. If on some occa- 883 sions he ventured to address the House, it must be owned that he never did so with the ease of the hon. member for Middlesex, who was more in the habit of speaking. It was to him (Mr. Baring) a matter of labour and difficulty, and unpractised as he was, it might occasionally happen that words and phrases were used by him which, had he greater readiness or greater powers of selection, he would have avoided. On the present occasion, he hoped the House would see that, having used an expression which some hon. Members deemed to be offensive, he had been as ready as any hon. Gentleman could possibly be to explain it. He did not remember the application of the particular phrase which had been attributed to him. But what was the great subject which occupied the attention of the House and the nation? It was the Constitution of the country—the construction of a new system of popular Representation—a new adjustment of the balance of power between the three estates upon which the Constitution was founded. If that House must be so constituted as to be overawed by cries from without—if the action of public meetings was to be immediate upon the councils of Parliament, our mixed monarchical Government was at an end. If their discussions in that House were not free from all influence from without, it was a mere mockery for them to assemble; a far greater mockery to retain the appellation of an independent branch of the Legislature. He did not know that he had used the expressions attributed to him—but he was quite ready to repeat, that if they now expressed too much, only in apprehension of danger, they were likely to fall short of what would be the fact when they had their new Constitution. Whether that danger was apprehended with or without reason—whether those whom the hon. member for Preston had been pleased to call the boroughmongering faction, should indeed be scattered over the four quarters of the globe, as long as he (Mr. Baring) had the honour of a seat in that House, he would firmly and fearlessly speak his sentiments, without caring one straw by what public bodies, or by what public unions, whether of thousands, of tens of thousands, or of hundreds of thousands, these expressions might be disliked. Therefore, without recollecting the expressions which were attributed to him, without sufficiently remembering whether he had used them, he was now quite prepared to repeat them and to state it as his distinct opinion that that 884 House would lose its freedom of debate as a Legislative Assembly, if it were to be overawed by the brawling, he did not mean the word in an offensive sense, although he must observe that the hon. Gentlemen who had objected to it had not been so very particular as to the phrases which they had within the last few days applied to the Crown—but he meant to say that, if the debates of that House were to be overawed by the proceedings of bodies without, it could no longer be considered as a free and independent co-estate of the realm. That was the danger which he apprehended, and if he wanted an example to prove what he meant to express, it was precisely contained in the petitions which had that night been presented, and in the arguments by which those petitions had been supported. Neither the hon. member for Middlesex, nor the hon. and gallant member for Rye, could have a more sincere desire and wish to promote the prosperity and happiness of all the honest labouring classes of the community, or a greater desire to contribute to their comfort and welfare, than the humble individual whom those hon. members had so unfortunately misunderstood.
said, that as the hon. member for Thetford had stated he meant nothing personal in the observations he had made, it was of course sufficient, and he should say nothing further upon that subject. But with respect to the matter of the hon. Gentleman's speech, he must make one or two observations. He concurred entirely with the deputation who had come up to present that petition to the House, and with those who had deputed them, as to the necessity of the measure they pointed out. He was satisfied notwithstanding what the hon. Member had said of the excitement and alarm of the country, that the best wishes of the most sincere well-wishers of their country, who were more numerous than the hon. Member seemed to imagine, and who were quite as zealous as he was, were directed to the final success and triumph of the Reform Bill. He must say, that he thought the country was in imminent danger, and the peace of the country was likely to be interrupted most unnecessarily and most gratuitously. Those who really wished well to the King, and to the permanency of his Government, wished it to become permanent, not by the influence of military force, but by being the object of the affections and good wishes of the people. The petition from Birmingham had been agreed to at a meeting of 100,000 885 people, collected in a very short space of time, and was signed by 20,000 people in a very few hours. That was something of a sample of the deep interest taken in the success of the Reform Bill by the people of this country. The hon. Member had spoken of attacks being made on the Crown—none had been made; and he who spoke as the hon. Member had done, was in fact the worst enemy of the Crown. But, then, the opponents of the Bill said they were averse to it, out of a fear that it would prove injurious to the people. Why, almost all the despots that had lived had taken measures, or refused them, as they said, with a view to the benefit of the people. We had too long suffered from that hackneyed phrase to trust in it any longer. We must have, not professions, but performances, not talk about good Government but the thing itself. That was what the people wanted, and that was what they must have.
§ Mr. Duncombe
also concurred in the sentiments contained in the petition. His object, in rising, however, was to put a question to the right hon. Baronet opposite, and when he did so he must remark that the observations of the hon. Gentleman opposite, as to the phrases used on his side of the House, were anything but founded on reason or justice. The hon. Gentleman complained of the attributes imputed to Members on the Ministerial side, but seemed to forget the epithets used on his own side. Did he not himself apply the epithet "Constitution-mongers" to hon. Members, and had not the House heard of such a phrase as a "mob-courting Attorney-General?"
denied having used such a phrase, and even if he had done so the hon. Member was quite irregular in repeating at that time what had been stated on a former occasion
§ Mr. Duncombe
only meant to remind the House that the use of uncourteous phrases was not by any means confined to one side of the House. The hon. Member designated his Majesty's late Ministers as Constitution-mongers and revolutionists.
again rose to order, and appealed to the Chair, whether it was consistent with the rules of the House to refer to a discussion which had taken place at former periods.
§ The Speaker
said, he was sure the hon. Member must be well aware, that it was out of order to refer to particular words in a former debate, and more particularly when 886 these words referred to a different subject. These words were liable to misconstruction and mistake, and though the House did not always adhere technically to rules which had been adopted for the purpose of preventing irregularity, he must say, that it had never been the practice to persevere in quoting such detached parts of a former debate when they were objected to.
§ Mr. Duncombe
bowed willingly to the authority of Mr. Speaker, for no one could entertain greater respect for that authority than he did. Perhaps the words of the hon. member for Thetford had not that force until they were in print which they would have from other persons. The hon. Gentleman had such an oily, silky way with him, that he forcibly reminded him of Bottom, the weaver, who was to play the Lion, but who said "he could roar like any sucking dove." He had originally risen to ask a question of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel), and be should make no apology to the right hon. Baronet for doing so, taking into consideration the great excitement that existed at present in the public mind. He had the highest respect for the right hon. Baronet, and should always wish to pay it to him. Precedents were great things in this country, whether they were good or bad, and the precedent he should make use of and follow was the question put on the 1st of June, 1812, by Mr. Stuart Wortley to Mr. Ponsonby, and he would repeat the very words:—"Whether any person, up to this morning, did make any proposition to the right hon. Gentleman, or to any of his right hon. friends, to form part of an Administration; and did the right hon. Gentleman or his friends give a refusal on personal grounds, or on what other grounds?" Secondly, "Whether, in what had passed in those propositions, if any were made, his friends insisted upon any, and what conditions?"* He was aware that objections had been made, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, whose authority on these points was very great, had used these words:—"Mr. Wynn hoped also that the House would allow the answer to be given. In the last instance of the kind which had occurred, the House had so decided: that was during the Administration of Lord North."† Lord Castlereagh also had said, "That though, perhaps, the present was not a convenient time to put* Hansard, vol. xxiii. p. 314.† Ibid. p. 315.887 the questions, yet there could be no objection to the principle of them, as tending to explain the conduct and clear the characters of public men."* Upon this Mr. Ponsonby rose, and the right hon. Baronet should have the benefit of the answer given by that Gentleman, who said, "I trust it will occur to the House, that [Mr. Stuart Wortley having at Mr. Ponsonby's request, repeated the questions] after the questions put to me by the hon. Gentleman, it will be an unexampled hardship to deny me the opportunity of answering them as correctly, as fully, and at the same time as concisely, as possible."† Mr. Ponsonby gave his answer in these words:—"No person whatever, up to this morning, has made any proposal to me, or to any Gentleman whom I have the honour to call my friend, either in this House or in the other House of Parliament, to form part of an Administration, and, therefore, no refusal was given, or could be given, either on public or personal grounds."‡ After quoting this precedent he should only state, that there were reports that this morning the right hon. Baronet opposite had accepted office upon the pledge of granting some kind of Parliamentary Reform. Upon these reports he should only repeat the question that Mr. Wortley had put upon the former occasion, and he trusted that the answer of the right hon. Baronet would be similar to that given by Mr. Ponsonby.
Sir Robert Peel
said, he must beg leave, notwithstanding the precedents quoted by the hon. Gentleman opposite, to exercise his own discretion. He certainly was disposed to give the hon. Gentleman every possible information, both because it was proper for public men to give explanations of matters which might affect their character, and because of the courtesy which the hon. Gentleman had manifested to him in the way in which he put the question. He claimed the right of exercising his discretion, notwithstanding precedents; but, on the present occasion that discretion, would not induce him to refuse an answer. "I do not hesitate," said the right hon. Baronet, "to state, that I stand here in a private capacity only. I also do not hesitate to declare, that the rumour to which the hon. Gentleman has alluded, of my having accepted office under the Duke of Wellington, is wholly unfounded. The fact is, I have received no invitation, from any person au-* Hansard, vol. xxiii. p. 315.† Ibid. ‡ I Ibid.888 thorized to make one, to accept office, and' therefore, stand here in my private capacity' It was because he stood there in a private capacity that he begged leave to entreat the House to take care that, while it expressed its opinions on the great question which now occupied the public mind with firmness, to do so temperately. He felt that neither he nor any other Member had a right to dictate to any Gentleman the measure of vehemence with which he should give utterance to his feelings, but he also felt it to be a matter of duty to respectfully urge upon the House the expediency, indeed the imperative necessity, of not adding to the excitement of the public by violent expressions, or unnecessary reference to delicate and inflammable topics. It was the more necessary that they should abstain from such indiscreet allusions and exciting topics, as there was no man in that House authorized to address the House on the part of the Crown, so as to give an official contradiction to the vague assertions, or unfounded rumours, affecting the public mind, like that just referred to, and apparently credited, by the hon. member for Hertford; else why found a question upon it? It was by no means improbable, that many other rumours, equally groundless, and equally stimulant to the public mind, might be in circulation, which, however, it might not be so easy to expose: so that he trusted, in the absence of persons authorized by the Crown to speak officially, that hon. Members would exercise a wholesome discretion in bringing them in an authoritative manner before the public. For example, the hon. member for Carlisle had mentioned a rumour which no man could take it upon him to officially contradict, and which, repeated in Parliament without being contradicted, must necessarily aggravate the dangerously excited state of the public mind. That hon. Member, in alluding to a report, which might have no foundation whatever, that Parliament was to be dissolved on Monday by the Duke of Wellington's Government, made a most inflammatory appeal to the determination of the people, not to be diverted from their purpose by the "swords and bayonets", and other machinery of military rule, and which, he repeated, in the absence of those authorised to contradict or affirm the report, was only calculated to add to the excitement of those out of doors. Again, the hon. member for Rye had made it a charge against the Duke of Wellington, that the last act of his official career was marshalling a strong military 889 force to act against the people in the city of London. He would calmly recall their attention to the facts of the case. The King was to have dined with the civic authorities of the city of London on the 9th of November. Great apprehensions were entertained that the occasion would be made instrumental in disturbing the public peace, and, accordingly, the necessary precautions were taken to protect the lives and properties of the inhabitants against all marauders. It was doubtless true, that in order to afford aid to the civil authorities, if the civil force should not be equal to the protection of the public peace, that he, as Home Secretary (and he, therefore, and not the Duke of Wellington, was responsible for the act) desired the Commander-in-chief to have a military force in readiness to aid the civil force in quelling disturbance, should it be necessary. And God forbid that the time should ever come when any Home Secretary would refuse, on a lawful occasion, to, at all hazards, call upon the military to assist the civil power in protecting the public peace. But what did they do on the occasion? Why, simply, when they found that there were serious apprehensions that the immense assembly which the occasion would collect might, at a period of the year in which the shortness of the days afforded great facilities to mischief and riot, be led into acts of collision—in the first instance, perhaps, with the police, and next with the military—they advised his Majesty not to attend the city dinner, as he had intended, and thereby precluded the possibility of the collision and its consequences. And for this humane policy they were at the time censured as unnecessary alarmists; while now the gallant Member, on the other hand, denounced them for having meditated something like military oppression.
§ Mr. Duncombe
was glad that he had given the right hon. Baronet the opportunity of contradicting the rumours he had heard. All these reports were extremely malicious, and he was glad they had been contradicted. He hoped that the right hon. Baronet—towards whom he entertained the most friendly feelings—would still preserve the esteem and respect of that House and of the country.
§ Lord Althorp
was anxious to add his voice to that of the right hon. Baronet, in suggesting the wisdom of their being temperate, no less than firm, in the expression of their opinions, and in avoiding those vehement appeals, founded on popular rumours and insinuations, which were likely 890 to excite the public mind unnecessarily. In saying this, he could not be mistaken for one who would impose any restraint on the freedom of debate. He felt the truth of what had been stated last night; namely, that that House should put itself forward as an example to the country. Feeling, as he and his colleagues must feel, that, till their successors were appointed, they were legally responsible for the preservation of the public peace, he would earnestly impress upon hon. Members the conviction, that temperate proceedings were the best means to the great end they had all in view, and that nothing was more to be deprecated by every honest friend of liberal principles than discussions calculated to unduly excite the whole people. He would be the last man to call upon the House to depart from the firm and decided expression and advocacy of those principles which they had hitherto supported, but he would remind them, that temperance and calmness were the best and most congenial allies they could enlist on the side of those principles, and those through agency of which they were most likely to be beneficial to the country. He wished also to impress it upon the mind of every man in the country who was a friend to Reform, that nothing could tend more to impede the great measure which they had so long been advancing towards completion than any ebullition of popular feeling at all involving a breach of the public peace. It was the duty of every honest Reformer to impress this important fact upon the minds of the people, and it was his urgent hope, that it would be acted upon, and that the people would seek for their rights firmly, but temperately, and by no means which the laws did not recognize as within their bounds.
thought the best course the people could pursue to attain their rights was, to vigilantly watch the proceedings of that House, and not to return any man who had voted against their interests, and to return every Representative who had honestly fulfilled his duty.
§ Mr. Gillon
observed, it had given him the most lively satisfaction to have heard the petition which had just been presented, as it clearly showed that Englishmen were worthy of that which they demanded— 891 their rights and liberties. As no Member from Scotland had yet expressed his opinion on this momentous crisis, he could not avoid saying and he was sure that in doing so he expressed the sentiments of nine-tenths of his countrymen—that the intelligence of the retirement of Ministers would be there heard with horror and dismay. He trusted in God the feeling would not proceed further; and he had great confidence in the good sense and discretion of his countrymen, as well as in their zeal and determination. At the same time he awaited with breathless anxiety the arrival of news from Scotland. The vote of this House last night would do much to tranquillize the public mind; they had shown that they were true to the trust reposed in them; and while they were true to the people, and the people were true to themselves, it was impossible but they must prevail. He was certain the example set so nobly by the city of London and. the Reformers of Birmingham would be followed by the whole country; every great community and every village in the empire would send up petitions to this House, begging them to stop all Supplies till the Reform Bill was passed. And could he doubt that the Reformers in this House would do their duty? If they consented to vote supplies to an unreforming or wavering Government, they would forfeit all character for consistency—all claim on the confidence of their constituents. This was a resource left to this House and to the people by which they could at any time teach a lesson to haughty Lords and overpaid and treacherous Churchmen. Their late conduct would increase, if it were possible, the public detestation of the system by which they throve, and of the conduct they pursued. This, then, he declared (and he believed the resolution to be general), that until a bill, at least as extensive as the one lately before the House, should have become a law, he should not pay one farthing of taxes. A despotic Government, if such ventured to assume the reins of office, might imprison his person or distrain his goods, but they should not enslave his mind. If any man ventured to purchase these goods, a brand would be set on him like Cain, and he would be marked for execration and detestation by all the people. His countrymen, as had been well remarked by his hon. and learned friend the member for Kerry, had dearly purchased the invaluable blessing of freedom of conscience. Civil liberty was no less dearly valued by their descendants. 892 Had the race degenerated—or had they forgot the glorious deeds of their ancestors? No; they hated civil despotism as much as their ancestors did priestly domination. He trusted they might not be driven to the same extremities to establish their freedom. The petition just presented should have his most cordial concurrence and support, now being the season for the people to speak out, and he trusted their voice would not be unattended to.
Mr. Wynn Ellis
bore testimony to the earnest feelings entertained by the people of the great towns of the north of England on the subject of the Reform Bill.
Lord William Lenox
said, that no individual in the House was more anxious than himself to see the Reform Bill pass into a law; but he called upon the people not to resist the payment of their taxes, or to act illegally. The moral strength of the country was for Reform, and Reform, efficient Reform, must be granted. He cared not who were in office, so that the Bill, unmutilated, passed, and pass it must, for what Government could exist unpledged to the measure? It was Tory delusion to suppose they could.
supported the petition which had been presented from Manchester. His hon. friend supposed that the advice to stop the Supplies came too late; but that was not the case. The Irish Supplies had not yet been passed, and he would not allow one of them to be passed without a division, if the Reform Bill were to be thrown out. He thought that no Government would undertake to govern Ireland without it had money to pay the functionaries. He would not pass those Supplies without being likely to get the Reform, and the only chance he saw of getting Reform was to get a restoration of the late Government. He had attended a meeting this day, and he saw with regret the extreme degree of excitement that existed against a certain individual. When the hon. Baronet, who was as incapable as any man of saying anything intentionally severe upon those who were absent, and especially upon any one of the female sex, when he made an allusion to "secret influence," it was taken up in a way such as never could have been anticipated. They did not know the volcano they were standing on when they talked of having an Anti-reform Government. The people of England would not tolerate such a Government for a moment. He took that opportunity of saying, that he should present the Birmingham petition on Monday, and he should only observe now, that it was 893 the proudest moment of his political life when that petition was intrusted to him, the native of a different part of the country, to be presented to the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Alderman Wood
had been present at the Common-hall to-day, and could take it upon him to say, that the citizens of London regarded the retirement of Ministers, particularly in relation to its immediate cause, as an event likely to have the most deplorable consequences to the country. Till the Bill was passed, there could be no security for civil order.
declared, that the sentiments expressed in the Manchester petition were participated in by the great majority of the people of Lancashire and the northern counties.
§ Mr. Curteis
was anxious to take advantage of that earliest opportunity to state, that attendance in the country upon the illness of a near relative prevented his having heard of the resignation of Ministers till ten o'clock yesterday morning, when he immediately posted off to town, and travelled very fast with the hope that he might arrive in town early enough to give his vote in their favour. He exceedingly regretted that he was not present last night, for they should ever, cost him what it might, command his most cordial support, as he was confident they would of every honest Reformer and well-wisher of his country.
Sir Francis Burdett
had been present at a meeting that day at the Crown and Anchor, which was calculated to remove the doubts of the most sceptical Anti-Reformer. The people of this country were so intensely fixed upon having their favourite measure, that nothing short of madness could dream of longer withholding it. They felt, too—such was their well-deserved confidence hi Lord Grey's Government—that to no other Administration could they look, with any rational confidence, for measures in harmony with the advancing intelligence and wants of the age; and they deeply lamented that bad counsels should have obtained a moment's sway over the mind of their hitherto popular Sovereign; and, above all, they called upon that House to redeem its pledges—more than once solemnly repeated—of supporting no Administration which was likely to defraud the nation of any portion of the great measure of Reform 894 for which they and their children's children would owe a debt of gratitude to the honest and courageous Ministers who had staked their all on its success. He entirely agreed with them, and could not help hoping—when he recollected the native goodness of his Majesty's heart, which no person ventured to doubt, that, however mistaken, his Majesty acted from the purest intentions—that when the "lep'rous distilment," which had been poured into his royal ear by false-hearted counsellors, had worked its temporarily mischievous effect, and that he had recovered from the momentary weakness into which the poison had led him, his Majesty would see the wisdom and necessity of recalling his ill-judged declaration, and save his people from all the ills of civil convulsion, by acting upon the advice of his honest Ministers. But, be that as it might, the duty of that House was plain—the duty it owed to the country, to its own consistency, its own honour—namely, to support no Ministry not identical in principle with that of Earl Grey. If any man were insane enough to persuade himself nd his Sovereign that he could carry on a Government opposed to the present for a single week, let him make the trial, and that House would disabuse him in a single night. It was said the Duke of Wellington—the pledged foe to all Reform—was about to prove his own memorable declaration (one of the wisest in his political career) that "he should be mad to think of accepting office." Let him make the experiment. It would soon be seen, that though he might be as brave, he would be as senseless as his sword, to think, under the present circumstances of the country, with his peculiar views of its wants and interests, to undertake the management of its affairs. But there was hope for the country; it had returned a majority alive to its feelings and interests, and that majority would not betray their sacred trust; but would, with unflinching firmness, persist in forwarding that great measure of national regeneration, with less than which, the country could not, ought not, to be satisfied.
§ Mr. Alderman Venables
gave his support to the petition. He thought that the loyal and industrious people had every claim to be relieved from the rotten boroughs.
§ Petition to be printed.