Imagini ale paginilor

such men how could the friends of Reform, would, in Ireland, be no violation of lawrepose a trust?

Contrast their conduct no outrage-no insurrection—but a firm, with that of Earl Grey, who had brought consolidated combination for the attainforward in 1831, the very project of Re-ment of liberty. What, then, would the form which he had proposed in 1797 English people do? They would also main[cries of No, no!"). He repeated it-tain the peace, because they knew that the plan of Earl Grey in 1797, contained their strength lay in legitimate and cordial the disfranchisement of boroughs, the union. If the people's wishes were disrehousehold qualification, the increase of garded, what would be the result? From county Members, and even the division of every district of this great country a voice counties. His plan was not fortuitously would come, to which an insensible ear could conceived and abortively delivered, but not long, with impunity, be turned. And had long abided in bis mind, and was pro- from whence would this demand come ? duced-fully and symmetrically formed. Would it come from itinerant agitatorsHe (Mr. Sheil) rejected with bitter scorn from disseminators of discord—from trafthe insinuation that Earl Grey had re- fickers in sedition ? No! United, confesorted to Reform in order to sustain derated, resolved-indomitable, irresistible the weakness and decrepitude of his Go-England would demand that her Constivernment. He had availed himself of tution should be given back. To that dethe first opportunity which was afforded mand would the Lords be deaf? The first him to bring forward the measure to which wave had broken on the ramparts that he was, from his earliest political life en- were opposed to it--it would only recede thusiastically devoted. In him the House to collect its might, and the second would should confide. The next question was— roll on with a more fearful shock, and a what the Minister should do? He should more imperious surge. The Lords would not leave the helm in the storm; and though have too much regard for their interests the wave should wash overtheship, he should and for their duty to oppose the unanicling to the wheel. He should act with mous will of England, or to expose the vigour and firmness. His patronage should coronet and the mitre to be blown off in not be bestowed where it would be re- the hurricane of the popular passions. quited with perfidy; the mitre should We should hear no more of the privileges not be planted on any Iscariot brow of Dukes and Marquisses to vote by proxy [cries of " oh, oh"). He knew not what in this House; and “vested rights” in recollections that phrase revived in the Gatton and in Old Sarum would excite minds of those Gentlemen who sent out a but little respect. He had as much remuttering negative. He was innocent of spect for vested rights as any man; but if any unpleasant reminiscences. The ad- any incompatibility existed between what vice he would give to the Minister would was called, by a misnomer the most monbe this—“ Let him he true to the people strous, the vested rights of this Duke and and the people would not be false to him.” that Marquis, and the sacred, the imme“ Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace

morial right of the English people to be To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not; fully, freely, and fairly

represented in the Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's, Commons House of Parliament, he would Thy God's and truth's; then if thou fallist, Oh! not say that he would merely give a preCromwell,

ponderance in the balance to the prerogaThou fall'xt a blessed martyr."

tive that belonged to the majesty of the He had thus suggested what, in his opin- people, but he would fling every other ion, the Minister should do. The next regard as dust out of the scales, and question was-

:- what will the people do ? disdain to weigh them against the franHe, perhaps, might be allowed to have chise which had come to us from our ansome knowledge of his own countrymen ; cestors—which had been won in so many and if he were asked, what would Ireland a field of glorious victory, and had dropped do? He should reply, that which she has to us from so many a martyr scaffold, and done before !—that in spite of all incen- which, with the blessing of God, and the tives and temptations, she would maintain aid of their own virtuous determination, the peace, and with the olive-branch in her would be transmitted by the English people, hand would be victorious. Ireland would renovated and confirmed, to the remotest give to England not only aid, but the posterity. benefit of her former example. There Sir George Murray would not attempt

to pursue the hon. Gentleman in his am- to pass any such resolution as that under bitious flights of eloquence, not merely consideration, in assertion of those rights. because they were not exactly to his taste, The next object which was proposed to but because he confessed himself incom- be attained by this resolution was an expetent to such grandiloquent elevations, pression of the confidence of the House which left poor plodding reason and in his Majesty's Ministers. The noble sober judgment far below. He cer- Lord on the other side of the House (Lord tainly, however, could not withhold his Althorp) had once done him the honour commendations from the noble Lord whose to say, that one of his faults was too great motion was now under discussion, in con- a degree of independence of constitusequence of the calm and considerate ents, and had at the same time exview which he had taken of the events pressed a wish that he had a greater which had induced him to make that Mo-body of constituents, and was somewhat tion, though, at the same time, he must more dependent upon them. He must first say that he did not concıır in its propriety. observe, that he had ever exercised the In saying this, he did not mean to deny independence in that House which was that ihe country was in a state of consi- allowed to him by his constituents accordderable excitement, but it was by no means ing to a conscientious view of his duty; in a state to warrant its being said, that and when the last Administration was the present was a convulsive crisis. It dismissed, he saw the noble Lord at the had been said by an hon. Member, that the head of the Government and his colleagues safety of the empire depended on the vote installed in office. Though he felt that of that night; but he must express his there was no particular reason why he hopes that the empire was fixed on much should give them his confidence, yet he too solid a basis to depend on the mode had no motives for mistrusting them, furin which that vote might be carried. The ther than the necessity for watching their objects of the noble Lord's proposition measures, and giving his support to all were two-first, to pledge the House to which he should deem beneficial to the the principles of the Bill which was lately country, whilst he opposed all which he sent to the Upper House; and the other conceived to be adverse to its welfare. was to elicit from them an expression of That Administration came into office confidence in his Majesty's Ministers. pledged to the reduction of the public esNow it seemed to him that there was no tablishments, and to economy in the expendpressing necessity for the House to comply iture of the public money. He objected with the first object of this proposition; to neither of those pledges, provided for the Reform Bill had only very lately nothing was done which might be injubeen sent to the Upper House with a ma- rious to the public service; and the Gojority of 109 in its favour; and why vernment adhering to this principle, and should there be any necessity for so soon not departing from prudence in iheir atexpressing their sentiments again upon tempts at reduction, the consequence was, that Bill? The Upper House had, with that very little saving had accrued to the great propriety, discussed that measure- public. The next point was the consifor it had as much right to deliberate upon deration of their financial measures, and it as the House of Commons had—and, these, he must say, were of very little imfrom what had been said of those rights portance, for if the noble Lord claimed a and privileges by the noble Lord in bring-resolution of that House on that ground, ing forward his Motion, he certainly did not the claims of Government must be conconsider it as meant to convey a vote of fined to thie reduction eflected in the coal censure on the Upper House for the course and candle duty, which he supposed must which had been pursued with respect to be considered as measures of high imthe Bill. He should, upon these grounds, portance. But, he must ask, were those object to the first part of the noble Lord's two remissions measures of such magnitude proposition; for he was of opinion that it as to call for a specific vote of the House was not called for; nor was it right to pass to express the confidence with which they a vote of censure on the other House of had inspired its Members? But let them Parliament. The noble Lord had also take the financial operations of the Goalluded to the rights of the House of vernment on a larger scale, and let it be Commons; but, as they were not called in shown that there was any measure of such question, there was no necessity for them I importance as to entitle the Ministers to a vote of confidence. Looking at the jectionable on many points. Those who schemes of finance which they had brought had resisted, not only on the principle but forward, he must say, that his Majesty's the details of the Reform Bill, must be the Ministers had not even obtained the con- last to concur in a vote of confidence. fidence of the House, for they were op- Some changes had been made in the Bill posed in the most important of them to which even Ministers had been opposed, by practical men of their own side of the and to which they were still opposed, House, who thought that the projected so that they themselves did not approve scheme was inconsistent with good faith of the whole of their own Bill. It had to the public creditor. But although been asked whether that Bill was not Ministers had thus found it impossible to brought forward by Ministers principally carry through their plans, they had main with a view to strengthen them in the pretained the principle to the last, reserving carious hold which they had on the Goit to some future period when they might vernment; and he for one must certainly have to deal with a House of Commons say, that, in his opinion, the Bill, was less scrupulous and more contiding. Their originally brought forward at a time when next measure materially affected trade, the confidence of the House in the Governand nobody had imputed that it was re- ment was greatly shaken. They then sisted upon party grounds. Here again found themselves in the predicament in practical men, at other times the sup- which the ancient inhabitants of Britain porters of Ministers, came forward and were placed in former times, and they showed how unjust the proposed change had recourse to the same dangerous expewould be to the colonies, and how in- dient, of calling in a power stronger than jurious to the commerce of the nation. themselves. In following that dangerous He was at a loss, therefore, to discover on example they had prostrated themselves what ground such a vote of confidence was before the shrine of democracy; and on to rest, unless, indeed, upon the altera- that altar they had offered up as a sacrition of the Game Laws, under the special fice the Constitution of their country to auspices of the noble Lord (Althorp)-a preserve to themselves the possession of measure he (Sir George Murray) certainly power. Entertaining such sentiments, it approved—but not of that reach and mag- was impossible for him to accede to the nitude to warrant a proceeding so unusual proposition of the noble Lord. He must as the expression of a vote of confidence at the same time declare, that he was not in the Ministry He had now touched upon indisposed to give Ministers that share of the principal measures which the present his confidence which every Government Government had brought forward, inde- deserved. Seeing at the head of the Gopendent of the Reform Bill, because the vernment a noble Earl who had intimated noble Lord had said that he did not rest his that although, in the ardour and enthumotion exclusively on that ground, but also siasm of youth, he had been a strong adon the other points of their principles. Asto vocate for Reform, yet his views had been the Reform Bill, the hon. member for Calne much sobered by age and experience, as was had said there were two parties for it the case with Pitt, whose youth was characone in that House, and the other oụt of terized by strong opinions on Reform, the House; but did that hon. Member which time had greatly modified-an effect expect that those who had opposed the which he had hoped to observe in the change in the Constitution in this House views of the noble Earl at the head of in all its stages could concur in this resolu- the Government — seeing also another tion? He (Sir George Murray) had re- noble Lord (the Lord Chancellor) pledged sisted the Bill, because its principles filled to the Bill, whose sentiments, when he him with apprehension. Since the Bill had uttered them in his hearing in ihat applicable to En land and Wales had House, were far short of the Reform propassed, another to regulate the Represent-posed by the measure recently rejected by ation of Scotland had been brought for the other House, and whose sentiments ward by Ministers, and to concur in the were confirmed also by a letter of that resolution of the noble Lord would imply noble Lord which he had seen, but which some kind of assent to the Scotch Reform were far exceeded by the present Bill Bill, which he (Sir George Murray) was seeing also another noble Lord (the Presinot at all prepared to give. He consident of the Council), whose moderation on dered the Scotch Reforın Bill highly ob- I those points he had ample reason to know —seeing also three noble Secretaries of The greatest public mischief, he believed, State, whose views hitherto had been con- would ensue if his Majesty's Ministers fined to moderation on this head — he should retire. The public had confidence could draw no other conclusions from in the Government; but a retirement from their conduct than those which he had office would only increase, and, he might already explained to the House. The say set the seal, to the public excitement, threats which had been uttered, of some and destroy that confidence in Government thing worse than the Bill if it was re- which now happily existed. It was of no jected were, certainly, not calculated to use to allege, as some hon. Members did, gain his confidence or to conciliate bis op- that the people had been excited by Miposition; nor were such speeches as those of nisters. The question had been agitated, the hon, member for Calne, and the hon. more or less, for the last seventy years, and and learned member for Louth, likely to had now assumed a shape which no Miproduce any other effect than that of nistry could safely gainsay. He would making it infinitely more difficult to carry not enter on the original principles of the on the Government than up to that moment Constitution-he believed no man knew it had been; for the House was not to exactly what they were. They had comexpect that speeches, he would not say so menced in dark and remote ages, and had infiammatory, but couched in such strong grown with our growth and strengthened language, would not be re-echoed through with our strength. He was, therefore, out the country by persons of less respect- convinced that the time was now come to ability and of less moderation than was make an important alteration in the Conpossessed by hon. Members of that House, stitution, and that it was the bounden and not the best effects might be antici- duty of the House to express their contipated from them. Allusions had been dence in his Majesty's Government. made to the Upper House, and to the Mr. Littleton observed, that the present course which had been adopted by that was an occasion on which it was peculiarly assembly with respect to this measure; he necessary for the Representatives of large, must, however, express his firm conviction and, above all, of manufacturing commuof the independence and magnanimity nities, to express their opinions. He conwhich were displayed by the House of sidered that it would be impossible, after Lords on that occasion. To that House the rejection of a measure affecting so he still looked with confidence, and to deeply' the interests of the commonalty, that House, he must say, ought all its and in which the hopes of the people rights and independence to be preserved, for were so extensively embarked, for the to it alone did he look as to that estate of House of Commons to separate, even for the realm which would afford a protection the briefest interval, without taking the to the Constitution from any delusions earliest opportunity of re-asserting the into which the people of England might, principle of the Bill, of declaring their by momentary excitement, be led. approbation of its leading provisions, and,

Mr. Strickland said, the simple question above all, of expressing their undiminished was, whether the House and the country confidence in the Ministers who had had confidence in his Majesty's Ministers; brought the measure forward, and through and whether there was any ground for whose instrumentality he hoped it would their retiring from the helm of affairs. speedily be carried triumphantly through. What reason, he would ask, was there for It was important for another reason that such a course, when ninety-nine out of every the House of Commons should adopt hundred of the people of England had this course at the present critical juncture expressed their entire approbation of the namely, because it was of the utmost Bill, and reposed their undivided confi- importance that they should place them dence in his Majesty's Government? The selves in front of the nation, and set an House of Lords, he was sorry to say, had example of the conduct which the people made a lamentable mistake about public should pursue in order to prevent exasopinion, and had not evinced by their con- peration of feeling and violence of action, duct any knowledge of the feeling which which would tend more than any other the question had excited in the public thing to do that which argument had mind. They had placed themselves on failed to do-give authority to the opinthe brink of a tremendous precipice, and ions of the opponents of the measure. were now attempting to retrace their steps. There was another reason of paramount VOL. VIII. {Third


[ocr errors]

importance which ought to induce the having become a convert to the necessity, House to adopt the resolution which had the country at large must share in the been proposed (and he urged it from no censure, for his opinions had changed with feeling of disrespect to the hon. Gentle- those of the country. Reference bad men on the other side of the House), been made to the almost miraculous denamely, that if Ministers should be forced spatch of business by the Lord Chancellor. to retire, no other Administration could at Whatever sneers might be employed by this moment be formed, for by the course professional and other Gentlemen on this of conduct which the hon. Gentlemen subject, he believed that the Lord Clanopposite had unfortunately pursued with cellor, by redeeming the professions which respect to Reform, they had utterly for- he made relative to the despatch of busifeited all claim to the confidence of the vess, had obtained more influence in the 'country. What claim to the confidence country than any individual ever obtained of the country could those statesmen have by a single act. If the brilliancy of Lord who, last year, opposed the enfranchise- Brougham's course in Parliament had ment of Birmingham, Manchester, and never attracted the admiring gaze of his Leeds, until an opportunity of effecting country-jf he had never distinguished that object might occur by a correspond- himself amongst public men by his gigantic ing disfranchisement of other places, and intellect, devoted with unparalleled energy who this year had opposed the disfran- to the advancement of the best interests chisement of even the most insignificant of society, the achievement of this victory boroughs? In the course of the discus- (for such, in point of fact it was) was sufsion, allusion had been made to a letter ficient to secure the admiration and gratireported to have been written by the Lord tude of the present age, and to hand Chancellor, twenty years ago, on the sub- down his name to posterity. Ministers ject of Reform. That letter contained had properly availed themselves of the opinions with respect to the mode of treat- golden opportunity which the circuming that question, addressed to an adverse stances of the country presented for bringGovernment. It was one thing to pro- ing forward the measure of Reform. The pose a measure to an adverse Government, party-wall of the Catholic Question having and another to propose it when the pro- been thrown down, the people united in poser had become an influential member new associatiors, and a general conviction of an Administration, and had the country of the necessity of Reform pervaded the ranged on his side. When the letter was public mind. These circumstances prewritten, the country was engaged in a war sented so favourable an opportunity, so with France, and the public attention was rare a tide in the affairs of men, that if directed to no other object than the pro- Ministers had neglected it they would secution of that contest. It would have have deserved to lose the confidence of been as insane to have proposed a large the country. There were some persons and comprehensive plan of Reform at that to be found amongst the opponents of the period, as it was insane to attempt to Reform Bill, in both Houses of Parliawithhold one now. It was not till very ment, who appeared to be quite ignorant recently that he (Mr. Littleton) had made of the state of public feeling. He had, up his mind to support a large and compre- during twenty years of his life, been hensive measure of Reform. In saying closely connected with a large manufacthis he only avowed what was a matter of turing community, and therefore had had notoriety to all who thought it worth their an opportunity of witnessing the great while to observe the conduct of so humble progress which they had made in intellecan individual as himself. Ile, however, tual inprovement. Persons who were was much mistaken if public opinion had unacquainted with these large communinot for a long time been veering round to ties, could have but a faint idea of the the conclusion, that some large and com- ferment which was going on amongst prehensive measure of Reform must be in them at the present moment. An opporintroduced by Government. For these tunity was now. presented of turning the reasons he had, during the last four years, active and energetic spirit of these combeen a zealous and an ardent supporter of munities into a channel in which it would the schemes of Reform wbich had been prove beneficial to the empire. If that brought forward by the noble Paymaster of opportunity should be lost, activity and the Forces. If he were to be blamed for energy might be succeeded by turbulence

« ÎnapoiContinuați »