• TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Foreword
 April, 1822
 May, 1822
 June, 1822
 July, 1822
 August, 1822
 Appendices
 Index to debates in the House of...
 Index to debates in the House of...
 Index of names - House of...
 Index of names - House of...














Group Title: Parliamentary debates (1820-1829)
Title: The parliamentary debates
ALL VOLUMES CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00073533/00007
 Material Information
Title: The parliamentary debates
Uniform Title: Parliamentary debates (1820-1829)
Physical Description: 20 v. : ; 25 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Great Britain -- Parliament
Hansard, T. C ( Thomas Curson ), 1776-1833
Publisher: Published under the superintendence of T.C. Hansard
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1820-1829
 Subjects
Subject: Politics and government -- Periodicals -- Great Britain -- 1820-1830   ( lcsh )
 Notes
Dates or Sequential Designation: New ser., v. 1 (1820)-v. 20 (1829).
Numbering Peculiarities: Covers Mar. 1820-Feb./Mar. 1829.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00073533
Volume ID: VID00007
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 07655703
lccn - sn 85062629
 Related Items
Preceded by: Parliamentary debates for the year 1803 to the present time
Succeeded by: Hansard's parliamentary debates

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents 1
        Table of Contents 2
        Table of Contents 3
        Table of Contents 4
        Table of Contents 5
        Table of Contents 6
    Foreword
        Foreword
    April, 1822
        Page 1-2
        Page 3-4
        Page 5-6
        Page 7-8
        Page 9-10
        Page 11-12
        Page 13-14
        Page 15-16
        Page 17-18
        Page 19-20
        Page 21-22
        Page 23-24
        Page 25-26
        Page 27-28
        Page 29-30
        Page 31-32
        Page 33-34
        Page 35-36
        Page 37-38
        Page 39-40
        Page 41-42
        Page 43-44
        Page 45-46
        Page 47-48
        House of Commons - Thursday, April 25
            Page 49-50
            Page 51-52
            Page 53-54
            Page 55-56
            Page 57-58
            Page 59-60
            Page 61-62
            Page 63-64
            Page 65-66
            Page 67-68
            Page 69-70
            Page 71-72
            Page 73-74
            Page 75-76
            Page 77-78
            Page 79-80
            Page 81-82
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            Page 99-100
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            Page 103-104
            Page 105-106
            Page 107-108
            Page 109-110
            Page 111-112
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            Page 125-126
            Page 127-128
            Page 129-130
            Page 131-132
            Page 133-134
            Page 135-136
            Page 137-138
            Page 139-140
        House of Lords - Monday, April 29
            Page 141-142
        House of Commons - Monday, April 29
            Page 141-142
            Page 143-144
            Page 145-146
            Page 147-148
            Page 149-150
            Page 151-152
            Page 153-154
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            Page 207-208
        House of Commons - Tuesday, April 30
            Page 209-210
            Page 211-212
            Page 213-214
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    May, 1822
        Page 279-280
        House of Commons - Wednesday, May 1
            Page 279-280
            Page 281-282
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        House of Commons - Thursday, May 2
            Page 297-298
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        House of Lords - Friday, May 3
            Page 313-314
        House of Commons - Friday, May 3
            Page 315-316
            Page 317-318
            Page 319-320
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        House of Lords - Monday, May 6
            Page 325-326
        House of Commons - Monday, May 6
            Page 327-328
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, May 7
            Page 365-366
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        House of Commons - Wednesday, May 8
            Page 421-422
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        House of Commons - Thursday, May 9
            Page 453-454
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        House of Lords - Friday, May 10
            Page 469-470
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            Page 473-474
        House of Commons - Friday, May 10
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        House of Commons - Monday, May 13
            Page 517-518
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, May 14
            Page 559-560
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        House of Commons - Wednesday, May 15
            Page 597-598
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        House of Commons - Thursday, May 16
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        House of Lords - Friday, May 17
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        House of Commons - Friday, May 17
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        House of Commons - Saturday, May 18
            Page 701-702
        House of Commons - Monday, May 20
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, May 21
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        House of Lords - Thursday, May 23
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        House of Commons - Thursday, May 23
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        House of Commons - Friday, May 24
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        House of Commons - Thursday, May 30
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        House of Commons - Friday, May 31
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    June, 1822
        Page 779-780
        House of Commons - Monday, June 3
            Page 779-780
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, June 4
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        House of Commons - Wednesday, June 5
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        House of Lords - Friday, June 7
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        House of Commons - Friday, June 7
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        House of Commons - Monday, June 10
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, June 11
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        House of Commons - Wednesday, June 12
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        House of Lords - Thursday, June 13
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        House of Commons - Thursday, June 13
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        House of Lords - Friday, June 14
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        House of Commons - Friday, June 14
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        House of Lords - Monday, June 17
            Page 1119-1120
        House of Commons - Monday, June 17
            Page 1121-1122
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            Page 1125-1126
        House of Lords - Tuesday, June 18
            Page 1127-1128
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        House of Lords - Wednesday, June 19
            Page 1143-1144
        House of Commons - Wednesday, June 19
            Page 1145-1146
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        House of Lords - Thursday, June 20
            Page 1197-1198
        House of Commons - Thursday, June 20
            Page 1199-1200
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        House of Lords - Friday, June 21
            Page 1215-1216
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        House of Commons - Friday, June 21
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        House of Commons - Monday, June 21
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        House of Lords - Tuesday, June 25
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, June 25
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        House of Lords - Wednesday, June 26
            Page 1373-1374
        House of Commons - Wednesday, June 26
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        House of Lords - Thursday, June 27
            Page 1395-1396
        House of Commons - Thursday, June 27
            Page 1397-1398
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        House of Commons - Friday, June 28
            Page 1405-1406
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    July, 1822
        Page 1413-1414
        House of Commons - Monday, July 1
            Page 1413-1414
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        House of Lords - Tuesday, July 2
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, July 2
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        House of Commons - Thursday, July 4
            Page 1499-1500
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        House of Lords - Friday, July 5
            Page 1503-1504
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        House of Commons - Friday, July 5
            Page 1511-1512
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        House of Commons - Monday, July 8
            Page 1521-1522
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, July 9
            Page 1547-1548
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        House of Lords - Wednesday, July 10
            Page 1555-1556
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        House of Commons - Wednesday, July 10
            Page 1559-1560
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        House of Commons - Friday, July 12
            Page 1633-1634
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        House of Commons - Monday, July 15
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        House of Lords - Tuesday, July 16
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        House of Lords - Wednesday, July 17
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        House of Commons - Wednesday, July 17
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        House of Commons - Thursday, July 18
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        House of Lords - Friday, July 19
            Page 1713-1714
        House of Commons - Friday, July 19
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, July 23
            Page 1725-1726
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        House of Commons - Wednesday, July 24
            Page 1735-1736
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        House of Commons - Thursday, July 24
            Page 1739-1740
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        House of Commons - Friday, July 26
            Page 1843-1844
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        House of Lords - Monday, July 29
            Page 1851-1852
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        House of Commons - Tuesday, July 30
            Page 1857-1858
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    August, 1822
        Page 1865-1866
        House of Lords - Tuesday, August 6
            Page 1865-1866
            Page 1867-1868
            Page 1869-1870
            Page 1871-1872
    Appendices
        Page i-ii
        Public income
            Page iii-iv
        Consolidated fund
            Page v-vi
            Page vii-viii
            Page ix-x
            Page xi-xii
            Page xiii-xiv
        Arrears and balances
            Page xv-xvi
        Trade and navigation of the United Kingdom
            Page xv-xvi
            Page xvii-xviii
            Page xix-xx
        Public expenditure - 5th January 1822
            Page xxi-xxii
        Public funded debt
            Page xxiii-xxiv
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            Page xxxi-xxxii
            Page xxxiii-xxxiv
        Unfunded debt
            Page xxxv-xxxvi
        Disposition of grants
            Page xxxv-xxxvi
            Page xxxvii-xxxviii
            Page xxxix-xl
            Page xli-xlii
            Page xliii-xliv
            Page xlv-xlvi
            Page xlvii-xlviii
    Index to debates in the House of Lords
        Page xlix-l
    Index to debates in the House of Commons
        Page xlix-l
    Index of names - House of Lords
        Page li-lii
    Index of names - House of Commons
        Page liii-liv
        Page lv-lvi
Full Text

,"? ,*t. ,J A a- .


THE
T H E


PARLIAMENTARY


DEBATES:


FORMING A CONTINUATION OF THE WORK ENTITLED

THE PARLIAMENTARY HISTORY OF ENGLAND

FROM THE EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE YEAR 1803."


PUBLISHED UNDER THE SUPERINTENDENCE OP

T. C. HANSARD.




COMMENCING WITH THE ACCESSION OF GEORGE IV.



VO L. VII.
COMPRISING THE PERIOD
FROM
THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF
To -.
THE SIXTH DAY OF AUGUT, '.l lp

\ d' '- ;'^ ^^


LO ND ON-..
PRINTED BY T. C. HANSARD, PETERBOROUGH-COURT, FLEET-STREET;
POR BALDWIN, CRADOCK, AND JOY; J. BOOKER; LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME,
AND BROWN; J. M. RICHARDSON; BLACK, KINGSBURY, PARBURY, AND ALLEN;
J. HATCHARD & SON; J. RIDGWAY & SONS; E. JEFFERY & SON; RODWELL &
MARTIN; R. H. EVANS; BUDD AND CALKIN; J. BOOTH; AND T. C. HANSARD.

1823.
c. ?4-.




4, '"-. -
^ '


TABLE OF CONTENTS


TO

VOLUME VII.


NEW SERIES.


I. DEBATES IN THE HOUSE
LORDS.
II. DEBATES IN THE HOUSE
COMMONS.


OF III.
IV.
OF V.
VI.


KING'S SPEECHES.
PARLIAMENTARY PAPERS.
PROTESTS.
LISTS.


I. DEBATES IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS.


Scarcity of Provisions in Ireland ......................................
Scots Representative Peers ........................................
Agricultural Distress, and the Measures for its Relief...........
Scarcity of Provisions in Ireland ......................................
Scarcity of Provisions in Ireland ......................................
Irish Poor Employment Bill...........................................
Bishop of Peterborough's Examination Questions...............
Bankrupt Laws ..................................... ...............
The Marquis of Lansdown's Motion on the State of Ireland......
Navigation Laws ....................................................
Marriage Act Amendment Bill ......................................
Marriage Act Amendment Bill .................. ............
Marriage Act Amendment Bill .....................................
Roman Catholic Peers Bill ........................................
Naval and Military Pensions Bill.....................................
Marriage Act Amendment Bi .........................................
Naval and Military Pensions Bill....... ...... .........


1822.
Apr. 29.
May 3.
6.
10.
17.
23.
June 7.
13.
14.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
25.
26.
27.


Page
141
314
325
470
671
725
824
1028
1045
1119
1128
1143
1198
1216
1319
1373
1396


_ _~__~_I~_







TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Page
July 2. Marriage Act Amendment Bill ...................................... 14.52
5. Corn Importation Bill .............................................. 1504
10. Corn Importation Bill ............................................ 1556
16. Small Notes Bill .......................................................... 1661
17. Greek Hostages at Constantinople ................................... 1665
19. Irish Insurrection Bill .................. .............................. 1714
29. Aliens Regulation Bill .................................................. 1851
Aug. 6. The Speaker's Speech at the Close of the Session................ 1867



II. DEBATES IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.

Apr. 24. Ilchester Gaol-Treatment of Mr. Hunt............................. 1
Sir Francis Burdett's Motion to remit the remainder of Mr.
Hunt's Imprisonment ............................................. 2
25. Petition for a Reform of Parliament.................................. 49
Lord John Russell's Motion for a Reform of Parliament ......... 51
29. Agricultural Distress.................................................... 142
Scarcity of Provisions in Ireland ............. .............. .... .. 146
Agricultural Distress, and the Financial and other Measures for
its R elief............................................................... 150
30. Roman Catholic Claims............................................... 210
Roman Catholic Peers Bill ............................................. 211
May 1. Reform of Parliament ................................................. 280
Naval and Military Pensions........................................... 280
2. Alterations of the Currency ................................ ...... 297
Lord Normanby's Motion respecting the Office of Joint Post-
master-General .............................................. ...... 298
3. Joint Postmaster-General ........................................ ...... 315
Naval and Military Pensions.... ................................ ..... 316
6. Licensing Public Houses ........................................... 327
Agricultural Distress Report.......................................... 333
7. Newspapers-Government Advertisements........................... 365
Fees of Consuls ................. ....................................... 366
Agricultural Distress Report ....................................... 371
8. Complaint against The Morning Chronicle" .................... 421
Agricultural Distress Report ............................ ......... 423
9. Agricultural Distress Report .................. ................ .. 454
10. Roman Catholic Peers Bill .................................. ..... 475
Ilchester G aol..................... ......................... ........... 518
13. Salford Hundred Court Extension Bill ............................. 518
Agricultural Distress Report ......................................... 520
14. Ale-houses Licensing Bill................................................ 560
Mr. Hume's Motion respecting the State of the Ionian Islands... 562
15. Tithes on Potatoes in Ireland ......................................... 597
Mr. Lennard's Motion respecting the Third Class of the Civil
,List-Diplomatic Expenditure.................................. 604
16. Absentees ..................... .... .. ... ................ 653







TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Page
May 16, Mr. Warre's Motion respecting the Embassy to the Swiss
Cantons ............................. .......... ................... 659
Irish Poor Employment Bill......................................... 670
17. Roman Catholic Peers Bill .......................................... 673
West India and American Trade Bill............................... 673
Colonial Trade Bill........................ ................ ....... ... 674
Irish Poor Employment Bill................................ ... 698
18. Irish Linen Trade .............................. ....................... 701
20. Marriage Act Amendment Bill ..................................... 702
Navigation Bill ................................................. 708
21. Irish Payment of Rent Bill ........................................... 721
Irish Civil List .......................................................... 722
23. Welch Judicature ...................................................... 728
24. Ale-houses Licensing Bill.................................... .... 735
Naval and Military Pensions............................................. 737
Ill Treatment of Cattle Bill ............................................ 758
30. Welch Judicature Bill .................................................... 759
31. Bank Charter ............................................................. 760
Poor Removal Bill......................................................... 761
June 3. Reform of Parliament Remonstrance and Petition from
Greenhoe ............................................................. 779
Naval and Military Pensions............................................ 782
Corn Importation Bill ........................ ...................... 788
4. Sir James Mackintosh's Motion respecting the Efficacy of the
Criminal Laws .................................... ................. 790
5. Aliens Regulation Bill .................................................. 805
7. Yorkshire Elections Polls Bill ....................................... 816
Irish Constables Bill ..................................................... 852
Ill Treatment of Cattle Bill ............................................ 873
10. Corn Importation Bill ................................................ 874
11. Mr. Western's Motion concerning the Resumption of Cash
Payments.................................. ......... ..... 877
12, Mr. Western's Motion concerning the Resumption of Cash
Payments............................................................... 928
13. Irish Tithes Leasing Bill ............................................... 1029
14. Reform of Parliament-Kent Petition................................ 1078
Aliens Regulation Bill ................................................. 1092
17. Labourers Wages ... ..................................................... 1122
Scarcity of Provisions in Ireland ............................ ......... 1123
Scotch Burghs Accounts Bill ......................................... 1126
19. County Court of Middlesex ........................................... 1145
Mr. Hume's Motion respecting Tithes, and the Church Esta-
blishment in Ireland ................................................... 1147
S23. Canada Government and Trade Bill ...................... ...... 1199
Scotch Juries Bill ........................................................ 1200
Irish Butter Trade ......................................................... 1210
S21. Warehousing Bill ..................................................... 1264
Irish Poor Employment Bill.................................. ....... 1265
24. Mr. Brougham's Motion respecting the Influence now possessed
by the Crown..... ................... ....................... ............... 1265







TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Page
25. Mr. Abercromby's Nlotion respecting the Conduct of the Lord
Advocate, with relation to the Public Press of Scotland ...... 1324
26. Mr. M. A. Taylor's Motion respecting the Vice Chancellor's
Court ............. ................................. ............... 1374
Mr. Creevey's Motionrespecting the Ministerial Pensions Bill 1381
27. Ale-houses Licensing Bill ............................................... 1397
Mr. Wilberforce's Motion respecting the Slave Trade ............ 1399
28. Mr. Saurin's Letter to Lord Norbury ................................ 1406
Salt Duties .................................................................. 1407
July 1. The Budget.................................................................. 1413
Aliens Regulation Bill ................................................. 1433
2. Small Notes Bill.................................... ................. 1456
Excise Licenses Regulation Bill ..................................... 1457
Mr. Hobhouse's Motion for the Repeal of the House and
Window Tax .................................................... 1458
Irish Insurrection Bill ................................................. 1498
4. Chief Baron of Ireland .................................................. 1500
Petition of the Calcutta Bankers ..................................... 1502
5. Maritime Rights ......................................................... 1511
National Monument in Scotland ...................................... 1513
Army Extraordinaries ............................................... 1514
8. Small Notes Bill........ ..................................... 1521
Irish Insurrection Bill..................................................... 1522
9. Breach of Privilege-Complaint against Mr. Hope and Mr.
Menzies .................................................................. 1548
10. Mr. Nolan's Motion respecting the Poor Laws ......... ... .... 1560
Mr. Western's Motion respecting the altered State of the
Currency............................................................. 1506
12. Breach of Privilege-Complaint against Mr. Hope and Mr.
Menzies ................................. ......... ........... 1634
Marriage Act Amendment Bill........................................ 1635
15. Maritime Rights-Detention of The Lord Collingwood............ 1648
Cause of the Greeks .................................................... 1649
Irish Insurrection Bill .................................................. 1653
Consuls in the Brazils ............................................... 1658
National Monument in Scotland ...................................... 1660
17. Breach of Privilege-Complaint against Mr. Hope and Mr.
Menzies .................................................................. 1668
18. Retail of Beer Bill ........................................................ 1692
Canada Government and Trade Bill.................................. 1698
19. Steam Boats-Foreigners at Gravesend ............................ 1716
Aliens Regulation Bill ................................................. 1717
23. British Commerce-Piracy in the West Indies .................... 1725
Canada Government and Trade Bill ................................ 1729
Mr. Lennard's Motion respecting the Recognition of the
Columbian Republic .................................................. 1731
24. Poor Rates in Ireland.................................................... 1736
Ancient Historians........................................................ 1737
25. Mr. Hume's Resolutions relative to the National Debt and
Sinking Fund ......................................................... 1740







TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Page
July 25. Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope................................... 1783
Commission of Inquiry into the State of the Colonies ............ 1801
26. Superannuation Act Amendment Bill............................... 1844
Colonial Commission of Inquiry ...................................... 1850
30. British Commerce-Piracy in the West Indies .................... 1858


III. KING'S SPEECHES.

Aug. 6. KING'S SPEECH at the Close of the Session........................ 1870



IV. PARLIAMENTARY PAPERS.

FINANCE ACCOUNTS for the Year ending 5th January, 1822 ...App. i.



V. PROTESTS.

July 2. PROTEST against the Marriage Act Amendment Bill ............ 1455
10. - against the Corn Importation Bill ....................... 1557
29. - against the Aliens Regulation Bill .................... 1857



VI. LISTS.

Apr. 24. LIST of the Minority on Sir Francis Burdett's Motion to remit
the remainder of Mr. Hunt's Imprisonment ................ 49
25. of the Minority, on Lord John Russell's Motion for a
Reform of Parliament .......................................... 139
30. of the Minority, in the House of Commons, on the Roman
Catholic Peers Bill ............................................... 278
May 2. of the Majority, on Lord Normanby's Motion for abolish-
ing the Office of one of the Post-Masters General ......... 312
3. of the Minority, in the House of Commons, on the Pay-
ment of the Naval and Military Pensions ................ 324
8. of the Minority, on Mr. Wyvill's Amendment to the Reso-
lutions on the Agricultural Distress ......................... 435
of the Minority, on Sir T. Lethbridge's Amendment to the
Resolutions on the Agricultural Distress ................... 453
9. -of the Minority, on Lord Althorp's Amendment to the
Resolutions on the Agricultural Distress ................... 469
of the Minority, on Mr. Ricardo's Amendment to the
Resolutions on the Agricultural Distress ..................... 470
14. of the Minority, on Mr. Hume's Motion respecting the
State of the Ionian Islands .................................. 596
15. of the Minority, on Mr. Lennard's Motion respecting the
Third Class of the Civil List-Diplomatic Expenditure ... 652
16. of the Minority, on Mr. Warre's Motion respecting the
Embassy to the Swiss Cantons .......................... 669
VOL. VII. b


!-r xrrrrrsJ-~~~~_l







TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Page
May 24. LIST of the Minority, on Mr. Hume's Amendment to the Reso-
lutions respecting Naval and Military Pensions............. 758
June 3. of the Minority, in the House of Commons, on the Motion
for receiving a Remonstrance and Petition for a Reform
of Parliament, from Greenhoe ............................... 781
of the Minority, on Mr. Hume's Amendment to the Report
of the Committee on Naval and Military Pensions ........ 785
7. of the Minority, in the House of Commons, on the Irish
Constables Bill ..................................................... 873
10. of the Minority, in the House of Commons, on the Corn
Importation Bill .................................................. 877
12. of the Minority, on Mr. Weston's Motion respecting the
Resumption of Cash Payments ............................... 1028
14. of the Minority, in the House of Commons, on the Aliens
Regulation Bill .................................................... 1119
19. of the Minority, on Mr. Hume's Motion respecting Tithes,
and the Church Establishment in Ireland .................... 1197
21. of the Majority, and also of the Minority, in the House of
Lords, on the Roman Catholic Peers Bill................... 1262
24. of the Minority, on Mr. Brougham's Motion respecting the
Influence now possessed by the Crown ....................... 1318
25. of the Minority, on Mr. Abercromby's Motion respecting
the conduct of the Lord Advocate with relation to the
Public Press in Scotland .......................................... 1372
26. of the Minority, on Mr. Creevey's Resolutions respecting
the Ministerial Pensions Bill .................................. 1395
July 1. of the Minority, in the House of Commons, on the Aliens
Regulation Bill.................................... .............. 1451
8. of the Minority, in the House of Commons, on the Irish
Insurrection Bill .................................................. 1547
19. of the Minority, in the House of Commons, on the Aliens
Regulation Bill.................................................. 1725
























PARLIAMENTARY INDEX.

*#* The Editor is preparing for the Press, to be comprised in Two
Volumes:
A GENERAL INDEX to the Parliamentary History of
England,from the earliest Period to the Year 1803: and
II. A GENERAL INDEX to the Parliamentary Debates
from the Year 1803, to the Accession of GEORGE THE
FOURTH, in 1820.
The two Volumes twillform a complete Parliamentary Dictionary, or ready Book
of Reference to every subject of importance that has, at any time, come before
Parliament. The great utility of such a Work, not only to Members of the two
Houses, but to every Lawyer and Politician, must be self-evident. As many gen-
tlemen, who have not been regular subscribers to the two Works, may nevertheless
be desirous of possessing a General Index to the Parliamentary History of their
Country, such gentlemen are requested to send in their names to the publishers; as
only a limited number of Copies, beyond the usual impression, will be printed.









v THE


Par iamentaryDebates


During the Third Session of the Seventh Parliament of
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,
appointed to meet at Westminster, the Fifth Day of
February 1822, in the Third Year of the Reign of His
Majesty King GEORGE the Fourth.


HOUSE OF COMMONS.
* Wednesday, April 24, 1822.
ILCHESTER GOAL-TREATMENT OF
MR. HUNT.] The Marquis of Titchfield
presented a petition from Lynn, praying
the interference of the House for a remis-
sion of the remainder of Mr. Hunt's im-
prisonment. The noble marquis read an
extract from the petition, in which it
spoke of the unrelenting severity prac-
tised towards the victim of ministerial
hate, by the petty tyrants in whose power
he was placed." The petition then re-
ferred, as a precedent for the inter-
ference of the House on the present oc-
casion, to their having interfered to pro-
cure the remission of the punishment of
sir Manasseh Lopez, whose crime was ten
thousand times greater than the one im-
puted to Mr. Hunt. The noble marquis
said, he fully concurred in the prayer of
the petition, but although he concurred
in the prayer, he differed from the peti-
S tioners in the reasons which they assigned;
for, notwithstanding all he felt upon this
subject, it did appear to him that ministers
had done no more than their duty in
ordering thbto prosecution of Mr. Hunt.
For courts of justice he had the highest
respect, and he should not, therefore, be
disposed to listen to any thing against
S their decisions, without the strongest
grounds; but the same respect for them
made him wish, that they slhou!d not be-
come the innocent instruments of unne-
S cessary severity. In looking at the sen-
tence on Mr. Hunt, he certainly did think
it a severe one; and it had been rendered
much more so, by the great severity with
VOL. VII. Iw}
($Scria


which he had been treated. So much
was this the fact, that he looked upon two
years imprisonment or less, in the place.
to which he happened to be sent, as
worse than two years and a half in any
other prison. Under these circumstances,
he considered that, in wishing for a re-
mission of the remainder of the punish-
ment, he was not recommending him to
the favour of the Crown, but asking for
him a measure of simple justice. He was
not one who thought that the House
ought lightly to interfere with courts of
justice, and especially in a case like the
present, as he had no doubt whatever of
the illegality of the meeting at which Mr.
Hunt presided; but looking at all the
circumstances which had. since occurred,
he thought the home department were
called upon to interpose, and advise the
Crown to the exercise of its prerogative
of mercy.
Ordered to lie on the table.
MOTION TO REMIT THE REMAINDER
OF MR. HUNT'S IMPRISONMENT.] Sir
Francis Burdelt said, that after the
numerous petitions which had been pre-
sented to the House on the subject re-
specting which he then rose to address it,
and in favour of the motion with which he
intended to conclude, and after the able
manner in which those petitions had been
supported, and especially that presented
by a noble lord from Lynn, in Norfolk,
he felt somewhat embarrassed regarding
the manner in which he should address
them, because he thought that the noble
lord, though shortly, had strongly occu-
pied all the grounds on which he felt it
B







3] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
his duty to press this subject on the
attention of parliament; the noble lord
having delivered his sentiments in a style
that could not fail to produce a strong
impression upon the House, from the
unaffected simplicity of his language and
manner. [Hear.] He must repeat, that
he felt more than usually anxious, anxious
as lie was upon all occasions, in opening
a question so materially affecting the
liberty of the individual concerned, and
o interesting as it appeared, from the
-numerous petitions from al quarters of
the country, to be to the public at large,
and when there were strong symptoms of
its being favourably considered by a
large portion of the House -itself. He
was also apprehensive that he might not
forward, tbt, by an over-zealous effort
retard the object he had in view;
namely, the liberation of an individual
from an imprisonment which, in the mind,
of all impartial men, was a more than
adequate punishment for any crime of
which he had been found guilty. He
must own, that up to the latest moment,
he had entertained strong hopes that the
ministers of the Crown wbuld'have spared
him the trouble of addressing the House
upon this question. He had been in
hopes, that when so plain and palpable a
course of proceeding was open before
them-a course at once consistent with
justice and propriety-a course that
would not have been 1es grateful than
just-grateful to the public mind on
many accounts, of which the omission
would answer no one ,purpose, but the
accomplishment of all those ends which
ought to be avoided-namely, that of
creating a sympathy with the individual
suffering, from a feeling .that the crime
bore no proportion to the magnitude of
the punishment. Under all these circum-
stances, he had been in hopes that minis-
ters would have recommended the Crown
to do that which he did not despair of
still persuading them to do, if the House
should support him in his present motion.
Notwithstanding the difficulty under which
the members of administration sometimes
laboured, and those trammels by which
they felt themselves bound to support
generally what they did not on all occa-
sions individually approve, he did not
altogether despair of having the able and
Efficient assistance of the right hon. secre-
thry for the home department on the pre-
sent occasion. He flattered himself the
more with the hope of obtaining it, be-


Motion to remit ths remainder of [4
cause, on his having occasion to apply to
that right hon. gentleman on behalf of
two persons, who lived near his residence
in the North, whoyhad been sentenced to
a punishment which appeared more than
commensurate with their fence, and
who bore, indeed, so good a character
that their neighbours doubted whether
they had been properly convicted; he
repeated, :hat on making known their
cases to the right thon. gentleman, he had,
wiih a promptitude and humanity that
were highly to his credit, taken them into
consideration, and afterwards recom-
mended a nfitigatibn of their punishment.
He would not say, that he was obliged to
the right hon. gentleman for the atten-
tion that he had thus paid; he would not
pay him the parliamentary compliments
:usually offered on such occasions, not
from any want of courtesy towards him,
but from a wish that the right hon. gen-
tleman would take what had fallen from
him as he intended it-as a tribute to his
integrity and assiduous attention to the
duties of his office, and without any re-
gard to the quarter from which it came.
Under these circumstances, he trusted,
that if he made out the following proposi-
tions-first, that the sentence on Mr.
Hunt was sufficiently severe for the crime
of which he had been convicted (and here
he must observe, that it was not necessary
for his argument to impugn that sen-
tence) ; and secondly, that the mode of
carrying it into execution had augmented
it tenfold, and in a manner which the
judges themselves never dreamt of-if he
made out these propositions, he trusted
he should have done that which would
ensure him the support of the right hon.
gentleman. Besides these two reasons
for liberating Mr. Hunt, he had another,
which, though he placed last, he did not
value least. He thought that gentleman
had a claim, and a strong claim too, upon
the public, for having brought to light,
circumstances, and for having conducted
to a successful termination the important
inquiry which had been lately instituted
into the treatment of prisoners in Ilchester
Gaol. In treating of the first proposition
which he had laid down, he must beg
leave to call the attention of the House
to the nature of the charge against Mr.
Hunt. In stating that charge, he could
not help observing, in passing, the great
hardships that sometimes arose from legal
proceedings in this country. When a
person had different charges preferred







5] 'Mr, Hunt's Imprisonment..
against him in what were called the dif-
ferent counts of an indictment, containing
every gradation of guilt, from the highest
to the lowest, the hardship was, that after
a defendant had been acqtted on all the
Heavy charges,.after he- ad, been found
guilty of only one small part of.one of the
charges, by a jury which took five hours
to deliberate on their verdict, and which
acquitted him of all the rest, and even of
all the heavy part of that individual
charge on which they found him guilty
-the hardship, he repeated it, was, that
h the persecuting lawyers might direct the
jury to find a defendant guilty upon that
count which contained the minimum of
guilt, arid which, if it had stood alone,
would never have been thought fit to form
the subject of an indictment. In legis-
lating regarding the fisheries in some of
the rivers of the country, the House had
passed acts to prevent the meshes of the
nets used in them from being made so
small as to catch the smallest fish. Now,
it was particularly hard that these legal
meshes should be made so small that even
offenders of the slightest nature could not
escape them. There was no evidence to
support the heavy charges that were im-
puted to Mr. Hunt, but the narrow
meshes of the law were drawn so tightly
around him, that it became impossible for
him to escape. Even if Mr. Hunt had
been found guilty of the heavy part of
the charges preferred against him, he
would say, that the punishment inflicted
on him was a severe punishment. But,
when he recollected, that the offence of
which Mr. Hunt had been found guilty
was a misdemeanor, and was classed by
Blackstone inter minor delicta, for which
an imprisonment of from one to six
months was deemed sufficient, he was
compelled to say, that the visiting it with
a the punishment of imprisonment for two
years and a half, was more than sufficient
for the purpose ofjustice. But Mr. Hunt's
offence, was even minimus inter minora;
for of all the charges preferred against
him, that on which he was convicted
was the slightest; so that they had the
anomaly before them, of a man suffering
a heavy punishment for a crime that was as
small, as possible. A great deal more
might he said on this part of the subject;
because, at.the time of Mr. Hunt's com-
mitting the offence for which he was now
suffering, he was, in mind at least, as
innocent a man as could be. It was an
ancient maxim of English law, that actus


APRIL 24, 1822. [6
non fact reum, nisi means sit rea"; but,
in Mr. Hunt's case, a new practice had
been .introduced: the intention of his
mind was not considered; his knowledge
of the legality or illegality of his conduct
at Manchester was not inquired into;
though it was clear, from his previous
deportment and his peculiar characters
that he would not have adopted that
course of proceeding which he afterwards
did adopt, had he known it to he in vio-
lation.ofthe law. It was not unnecessary,
at this stage of the argument, to repeat
that the magistrates had sanctioned the
meeting of the 16th of August, by not
protesting against it; and with regard to
what took place at that meeting, he must
repeat what he had said on a former oc-
casion, that he was at a loss to know what
the crime was of which Mr. Hunt had
been guilty, either individually or collect.
tively with others However, let his guilt
have been what it might, no person could
say, that an imprisonment of two years
and a half was not a punishment sufficient
for it. Our old lawyers, who were men
who valued highly the freedom of the sub-
ject. were accustomed to hold, that the
slightest corporal infliction or deprivation
of freedom was a much severer punish-
ment than the heaviest fine. If that doc-
trine were sound, then again must the
House admit the great severity of the
sentence on Mr. Hunt. Indeed, he
would ask them, if an imprisonment of
two years and a half was not more than
sufficient for so small an offence as that
on which Mr. Hunt was convicted, to
what period of time they would have
limited his confinement, supposing he had
been found guilty of the heavier charges
preferred against him ? If they observed
the same proportion, Mr. Hunt's whole
life would not be sufficient for the punish-
ment, unless, indeed, it were prolonged
to the age of Methusalem; and not even
then, unless the life of Dr. Colston were
extended to the same age also. [Hear,
hear, and a laugh.]
He next came.to the second proposition
which he had laid down, having, as he
trusted, rendered it impossible for any
person to doubt of the severity of the
punishment which Mr. Hunt was now en-
during. In entering upon this part of his
subject,' he did not intend to introduce
any topics that were extraneous from it,
or to forestall that discussion which
would come more naturally before
the House, when the state of Ilchester







7] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
gaol should be brought before it. He
would, however, go as far into it as
the report of the commissioners and
the petition of Mr. Hunt would bear him
out. It would, no doubt, be recollected
that Mr. Hunt, on receiving his sentence,
did, before he left the court, ask the judge,
with great readiness and sagacity, whether
it was intended he should suffer solitary
confinement ? and that the court said in
reply, By no means." Now, when Mr.
Hunt was sent to Ilchester, it was said in
that House, that he had been sent there
because it was one of the healthiest and
best conducted gaols in England. If such
were really the motive for sending him
there, when that gaol was found to be one
of the worst conducted gaols in the
kingdom, and to be insalubrious to a
degree that could hardly be credited, he
had a right to say, that even those who
inflicted the sentence on Mr. Hunt never
intended to submit him to the inconve-
niences which he had since suffered; and
he was glad to observe, that no gentleman
in that House had ever contended that
Mr. Hunt should be punished in the
manner he had been. Not even the hon.
members for Somerset had justified the
treatment which Mr. Hunt had received.
One of them had said, that he did not
believe the charges which Mr. Hunt had
preferred against the gaoler, but at the
same time admitted, that he ought to
have all possible accommodation in the
prison. The other who was as incredulous
as his colleague to the misconduct of the
gaoler, declared, that Mr. Hunt ought
not to be permitted to suffer any other in-
convenience than that of imprisonment
for two years and a half, which was in-
convenience enough in all conscience.
After such declarations, no doubt the
two hon. members would, upon finding
that Mr. Hunt had really been treated in
the manner which he had described in
his able petition, agree that the House
ought to do every thing it could, to relieve
that gentleman, and that the duration of
his sufferings ought to be diminished as
their severity had been increased. When
Mr. Hunt was first sent to Ilchester, he
was put into the northern ward of the
prison, where no sun ever came for five
months of the year-into a room which
was cold and damp, and liable to all the
changes of the weatherand atmosphere, and
into which, when the sun did shine it shone
not to bless but to annoy his sight; for
it shone upon a high white-washed wall,


Motion to remit the remainder of [8
within four or five yards of the window of
his apartment, and from that wall was re-
flected a light so strong and dazzling as
to be extremely distressing to the eyes,
as he (sir F. B.) had himself experienced
on visiting the prison. In consequence
of this, Mr. Hunt's eyes had suffered
severely. When he entered the prison
he was ushered into a room which had a
stone floor, and no sort of accommodation.
In this place he found two persons con-
fined, who were to be his co-prisoners,
his companions in this quarter of the
gaol. They were intended to be his sleep-
ing companions, upon two truckle beds
which adjoined the apartment; and one
of them, in his gaol-dress, was kindly ap-
pointed to assist Mr. Hunt in the room of
his own servant. The other prisoner who
was to be his companion, was a half-
witted fellow, but a whole rogue, who
was charged with an attempt to murder
his own wife and children. Mr. Hunt
naturally enough objected to the social
enjoyment of such company; they were,
he thought, rather too good for him; and
at his desire these fellows were remanded
to other cells. It was at this time that
sir John Acland visited Mr. Hunt in his
apartment; and it was due to sir John to
state, that so far as he was personally
concerned, Mr. Hunt always received at
his hands the most considerate attention.
Sir John, at the visit to which he alluded,
apologized to Mr. Hunt for wearing his
hat in the room, and called on Mr. Hunt
to do the same thing, as he feared the
consequences of cold, from his head being
exposed in so damp a place. He ordered
in a board, to stand upon while he re-'
mained in the apartment, and recom-
mended Mr. Hunt to take the same pre-
caution against dampness in his feet on
such a spot. Sir John also gave directions
that the stone-floor should be immediately
boarded over, the windows well closed
and secured, and, in short, the apartment
made as decent for Mr. Hunt, as it was
capable of being rendered under the cir-
cumstances of the prison. Mr. Hunt ac-
knowledged this attention on the part of sir
John Acland, and felt gratefulforit. This
showed the previous state of the gaol,
which they had been told was selected for
the accommodation of Mr.Hunt, as a mark
of favour; but which was in every respect
calculated to produce an aggravation of
the severe lot of his imprisonment. It
was impossible to impose greater hard-
ships upon any prisoner than those which







9} Mr. Hunt's Imprisonment.
Mr. Hunt endured in this prison. What
Season upon earth could there have been
for denying him the assistance of his own
servant ?-The small ward in which Mr.
Hunt was confined was, strange to say,
Intended by the prison directors for an
infirmary, an office for which, of all other
places, it was the worst calculated: it
was, indeed, the very best place that
could be selected to prepare a man for
the benefit of an infirmary ; but the worst
possible one to secure for him any fair
chance of achieving a cure. And on the
S subject of an infirmary, it was a remark-
able fact, that no such place was, up to
the present moment, provided in IIchester
Gaol. In this part of the prison Mr. Hunt
was placed; and he was not aware that
in the whole prison a better apart-
ment could be found for him, except in
the gaoler's house. When he was first
confined he was only allowed the benefit
of air in a small close yard, about 24 feet
in length; from it a door opened into a
larger yard, one, perhaps, twice the length
of that House, and from which alone any
adequate ventilation could be procured
for the ward in which he lived; but to
the larger yard he was for a long time
denied access. At last, however, that
indulgence was granted, to do away, per-
haps, the effect of his previous solitary
and dreadful confinement. And here, in
justice to Mr. Hunt, he ought to say,
that so reasonable and moderate were his
demands, that whenever the parties to
a whom he applied could be got to consider
his applications, they were usually suc-
cessful. Sir Charles Bampfylde, the late
sheriff, who on this, as on every other
occasion, demeaned himself like an
upright magistrate, issued an order against
Mr. Hunt's solitary confinement, and
directed that his visitors, both male and
* female, should be admitted to see him;
and that, in fact, a more liberal system of
treatment should be observed towards
him; but even before that worthy sheriff
had retired from office, the rev. Dr. Cols-
ton-a visiting magistrate, unfortunately,
of this prison, interfered, in spite of sir
Charles's positive orders for an ameliora-
* tion of Mr. Hunt's treatment, and enfor-
ced against him the most unjustifiable
restrictions. The reverend doctor acted
in this case in the most unjust, imperious,
cruel, and ungentlemanly manner in his
treatment of Mr. Hunt; and three times,
in defiance of the sheriff's orders, renewed
0 the scandalous, degrading, and disgraceful


APRIL 24, 1822. [1
restrictions which it was the object of
those orders to remove.-[Hear, hear.]
-It was while suffering under these cruel
orders that Mr. Hunt was struck with
the gross malversation carried on in the
gaol, and the necessity, if possible, of some
inquiry, in the hope of exposing so much
cruelty. It was under these circum-
stances of restriction and privation, which
few men could bear up against, and with
an energy rarely possessed, that Mr. Hunt
surrounded by difficulties, having before
him, as things then stood, an impossibility
almost of obtaining a fair hearing, and
little chance of getting a full or fair
inquiry, it was under such circumstances,
and superior to them all, that Mr. Hunt
had called for, or rather demanded, an
inquiry into the prison abuses. He firmly
demanded it, too, against a gaoler, who
had acquired a sort of character for inte-
grity in his office; who had, in fact,
obtained not only the ear of, but a degree
of ascendancy over, the magistrates that
should have controlled him, who used to
dine at table with some of them, rather
upon thefooting of a companionandfriend,
than as a subordinate. This gaoler had
succeeded, by a course of deceit, by un-
accountable cunning, by a tissue of hypo-
crisy, in insinuating himself into the con-
fidence ofrthose about him, and in having
so imposed upon honourable and worthy
men, as to have obtained a high character
for probity and humanity. It was this
successful deceit which had unfortunately
enabled him to continue so long a dreadful
instrument of inflicting human suffering,
to a degree hardly to be equalled in the
annals of tyranny within the sphere of a
gaoler's opportunities. Mr. Hunt first
applied in the way of charge to the visiting
magistrates; and at last, after stating
various strong and convincing facts of
harshness and oppression, he compelled
them to give ear to his complaint. The
gaol-committee, then, at his suggestion,
or rather upon his firm demand, instituted
the inquiry; and they had not proceeded
more than three days in the investigation,
when, struck with the confirmatory evi-
dence of the truth of the complaints, they
offered a sort of compromise to Mr. Hunt;
they agreed that the gaoler ought to be
dismissed; they said his resignation should
be tendered, if Mr. Hunt were satisfied
not to press for further proceedings. Mr.
Hunt treated this proposal as it deserved.
He said-" No; it is your province to
determine upon the conduct of the gaoler







11) HOUSE OF COMMONS,


as you shall think proper, and to decide
upon the facts as they shall appear in evi-
dence. I charge your public officer with
being guilty of great public abuse; and I
am ready to prove that charge, and let
you see the nature of his conduct.- I
must call for inquiry, not only with a view
to his punishment, but also to, secure
future prisoners from the recurrence of
such cruelty; it is for you to conclude
the matter, I shall not consent to its sus-
pension."-[Hlear, hear.] It was a sin.
gular coincidence, that the moment Mr.
Hunt rejected this preferred compromise,
the gaoler's solicitor, Mr. Joddrel, who,
by the way, was mixed up with all these
proceedings, served Mr. Hunt with the
copy of an attachment for costs, which he
represented himself to have been put to,
by an application to the court of King's
Bench, made by Mr. Hunt, in the hope
of getting relief from some of the scanda-
lous acts of oppression and exclusion to
which he found himself exposed. This
attachment, he repeated, was served the
moment Mr. Hunt refused to stifle in-
quiry. And another strange coincidence
was, that on the heels of it came another
legal process, demanding payment from
Mr. Hunt of Excise penalties, for what
was construed to be a breach of the law;
but which it was on all hands admitted,
was quite unintentional: it was for an act,
which, he must say, did not in any sense
come within the purview, not to say of
the severity, but of the plain and obvious
meaning of these harassing laws: It was
for a discovery, that roasted wheat or rye
was capable of being made into a good,
cheap, and wholesome breakfast-beverage
as a substitute for coffee for the poor. For
this discovery, meritorious and useful as
he pronounced it to have been, Mr. Hunt
was convicted by the Excise, and ordered
to pay a penalty of 1001. for selling the
article, and another penalty of 1001. for
making it. No man believed, when Mr.
Hunt made this breakfast-powder, that
he dreamt of infringing upon any Excise
law. He could have had no private or
public motive to induce him to evade that
law: but, notwithstanding this evident
innocence on the part of Mr. Hunt, he
was, by, a technical construction of the
law, exposed to a severe and cruel penalty.
Besides, he understood that a law officer
of the Crown in that House had intimated,
that it was not intended to press for those
penalties. Yet so it was, the penalties were
enforced. When this Crown extent was


issued, notice was at the same time served
upon Mr. Hunt's tenants, not to pay him
any rent; so that at the very moment the
demand for payment was made, under all
the terrors of the law, to a prisoner in
close custody, the parties making it took
the decisive step of cutting off from him
all: means of satisfying their imperative
demands. [Hear, hear.] Mr. Hunt in
this situaAion, requested that the sheriff
would collect the rents in satisfaction of
hig extent. Oh, no! the sheriff refused
to collect them; and proceeded at once
to advertise his estate tor public sale, on
account of the Excise penalties. Every
body knew what was the nature of a
sheriff's sale, and the condition in which
all property was placed when subject to it.
Inconsequence, a general notion prevailed
that the estate was abandoned to summary
confiscation, and exposed to the dilapida-
tions which usually precede such sacrifices.
He believed some timber was wantonly
cut down and removed and other spolia-
tions committed by marauders on the
occasion. The day of sale was first fixed
for the 10th of February, and after-
wards a nearer day, the 7th, was named
for the sheriff's auction, Mr. Hunt,
however, found means to raise the 2001.
to pay the penalties, and thereby saved
his estate from the confiscation which
threatened it. How did it happen, he
must again ask, that these penalties were
not called for until Mr, Hunt was engaged
in detecting and exposing local abuses?
Was Mr. Hunt to be told, that he could
not venture to do his. fellow-subjects
service, but at the expense of his property ?
Was he to be told, that what would have
been meritorious in any other person, was
in him an offence, for which there was a
determination that he should incur a
harassing responsibility ? Independent
of the hardship, there was great impolicy
in this proceeding. At a time when
general complaints were made of the pres-
sure of agricultural distress, when one
cause of the complaint was, that the glut
in the market was such, that there was no
suitable demand, for the commodity, here
was a man who, by his discovery, opened
a new channel of consumption in the
market, which served both the seller and
the consumer, and yet he was to be pu-
nished for his sagacity He should have
rather been presented with a reward for
his ingenuity, than a penalty fora violation
of law which he never could have contem-i
plated--[Heas hear.] And yet -sunc
had been the hard fate of Mr. Hunt.


Motion to remit thre remiainckr of







I1] Mr. Hunt's Imprisonmei
There were, however, other parts s
Mr. Hunt's treatment of a yet more atro
-cious character; for instance, the refuse
of admittance to his visitors; and among
them, the denial of permission to a
anxious and dying sister, to take the las
opportunity she was likely to enjoy o
seeing an affectionate and afflicted brother
Would it be believed, that this refusal t4
a dying sister, to take a last farewell o
an imprisoned brother, was given by
man of station in society ? Or, still mor
would it be believed, that that madi pro
S fessed to be a teacher of the lessons incul
cated by the mild spirit of Christianity-
that he 'was a minister of religion, and
that religion the Protestant faith---
believer in the religion of Christ? Would
it, he said,' be believed, that from such
man the hard-hearted and cruel refusa
came to an expiring woman to take hei
last leave of a brother whom she loved
But so it was: she was refused this sad
consolation, and she died, without ever
again seeing her brother-[Hear.] How
far a refusal, under the circumstances in
which she was placed, tended to accelerate
that doom to which she was approaching,
he could not pretend to say; but this he
knew, that the refusal was the most out-
rageous, the most atrocious, and the most
repugnant act to every feeling of humanity
and justice, that he knew upon record.
This act had been done by the Rev. Dr.
Colston, and in doing it he had not only
violated his sacred duty as a clergyman,
* but his legal duty as a magistrate: he
had paid no attention either to law or to
gospel; but had ventured to forget both
by a more heartless, more wicked, a
more cruel and flagrant act, than had a
parallel in the transactions of the most
atrocious institutions that ever cursed
mankind in the most cruel of times.
* [Hear, hear.] It was worse, taking all
its attendant circumstances into the
account, than any thing he had read of in
the dark -proceedings of the Spanish
Inquisition.
It was one of the singular circum-
stances attending the malversation in
IIchester gaol, that the very enormity of
the wickedness practised within its walls,
furnished, for:a long time, its best protec-
tion. The flagrancy of. the deeds was
such as to stagger credibility. They
were, however, unfortunately proved to
be too true: they were, through the per-
severing and unappalled energy of Mr.
* Hunt, confirmed by irrefragable evidence:


It. APRIL 24t 1822. [14
vf and he {sir F. Burdett) would say, that
- for bringing forward such an inquiry, and
l1 for the ability he had displayed in con-
t ducting the investigation when it was
n commenced, Mr. Hunt was entitled to
st public thanks: he deserved that tribute
if for his fortitude at such a moment; but,
. above all, he was entitled to it for the be-
o nefit which his country could not fail to
f derive from the inquiry. Every man in
a England would have cause to rejoice in
e the consequences of that investigation;
- and that individual had a strong claim
- upon public gratitude, who had put an
end to this atrocious system of prison op-
d pression, and had held out to all the
s gaolers of the empire, both now and here-
I after, a memorable example of disgrace
a and punishment. The government, too,
I had a right to feel indebted to Mr. Hunt,
r inasmuch as he had been the means of re-
Slieving them from the odium which must
Necessarily attach to them for any acts of
r cruelty or injustice committed under
their government; for in every ease mi-
nisters were responsible for the guilty acts
of those subordinate officers over whom it
was their duty to keep a vigilant eye.
This reverend doctor (Colston) among
his many other acts of oppression towards
Mr. Hunt, had, during Mr. Hunt's soli-
tary confinement, by his order, and while
he was, through that severity,'severely
afflicted with cramps and spasms in his
stomach, refused his application to have
the professional aid of a medical gentle-
man in Ilchester, who had previously at-
tended him. The reverend doctor had
treated this application with the utmost
contempt, and referred Mr. Hunt to the
regular gaol doctor. Now, when the
House should look at the evidence res-
pecting this gaol doctor-when they
found him mixed up as a party with al-
most all the acts of the gaoler, and, ac-
cording to his own evidence, guilty of
misapplying the great means which the
healing art furnishes for alleviating human
affliction, for the purpose of inflicting
torture upon his fellow creatures, they
would .cease to wonder -that Mr. Hunt
preferred trusting to nature and a good
constitution, rather than place himself in
the hands of this humane gaoldoctor. It
was not enough that there were to be
found in that prison, chains, stocks, hand-
cuffs. :No, this would not do. There
,was a doctor, who did not hesitate to
apply a blister to the head of a miian in
irons. Why ? Because he was ill? be-







15] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
cause his health required it? No such
thing. The blister was applied because
the man was considered to be-" a trou-
blesome fellow" [hear, hear!]. This ap-
plication of blisters appeared to have been
a favourite punishment in Ilchester gaol;
for, by the evidence, it appeared, three
persons, Evans, Halkins, and Gardner,
had all been blistered. One was blistered
in order to mend his manners;" ano-
ther, because he was a troublesome
jockey;" a third because it was thought
" he shammed;" and so this last person
was blistered on the side. Was it sur-
prising that, with these facts before him,
Mr. Hunt should decline availing himself
of the assistance of this kind and humane
gaol doctor ? Having suffered under re-
peated spasmodic attacks for eleven days
and nights, Mr. Hunt made application
to the Court of King's-bench, and an order
was made for the admission of his medical
attendant; and in consequence Mr. Hunt
was now as far recovered as a person
placed under such circumstances could he
expected to be. Soon after this, a new
chairman was appointed by the magis-
tracy; and that gentleman took every
step in his power to make Mr. Hunt's si-
tuation as comfortable as circumstances
would' admit. But it was for what Mr.
Hunt had suffered-it was for the punish-
ment that had been inflicted upon him
beyond the law-that he now called upon
them to adopt the measure which he was
about to propose. That Mr. Hunt had
suffered more than was intended by the
Court which sentenced him, was evident
from the fact of that Court having, upon
his application, afforded him relief from
certain restrictions under which he la-
boured. Let it not, therefore, be said,
that by adopting this measure, they would
interfere with the jurisdiction of the courts
of law. In support of the allegations
which he had made, he should feel it ne-
cessary to read a few extracts from the
report of the commissioners. When he
saw the names of the gentlemen appointed
on the commission, among whom was a
relation of his own (Mr. Monday), he
felt the fullest confidence in the result of
their labours, and in that confidence he was
fully justified. At the same time. the
commissioners instead of giving a colour,
or endeavouring to make out a bad case,
had softened down the facts stated before
them as much as it was in their power as
honest men to do. Yet, notwithstanding
this, they came to the conclusion that the


Motion to remit the remainder of [16
government of the gaol was the very re-
verse of what it ought to be; that the
very situation of the gaol rendered it im-
possible to have effective improvement;
that as to regulations for the management
of the prison, they were in too many in-
stances unattended to; and that the visit-
ing magistrates had been remiss in the
due performance of their functions; that
they, in fact, had trusted too much to the
discretion and judgment of the rev. Dr.
Colston. Indeed it was apparent, that
the 'other visiting mngistrates rather
leaned to screen this man's acts, than to
investigate and correct them. With re-
spect to the powers and conduct of the
magistracy as a body, he was as ready as
any man to admit their beneficial effect,
but he must protest against the lumping
way in which some gentlemen were prone
to speak of the acts of the magistracy.
It was said that they ought to be protected
in the performance of their disinterested
and gratuitous duty; that they ought not
to be exposed to too rigid a scrutiny;
and that what they did wrong, should be
overlooked for its motive, and not be
afterwards made the subject of inquiry.
He protested against this doctrine. He
objected to the opinion that because they
were unpaid they should be irresponsible.
If receiving no pay entitled them to free-
dom from inquiry, in God's name let them
be paid for their services, and held an-
swerable for their acts! But unfortu-
nately the great body of the upright ma-
gistracy of the kingdom were thus in-
sulted, and their real utility decried, by
being mixed up with these ignorant med-
dling, pettifogging individuals, who had
crept into the magistracy to gratify some
pusillanimous desire for petty power-
and consequential authority, and made a
gaol the scene of their tyranny, or the in-
strument of their malicious or corrupt op-
pression.
But, to return to the state of this
prison: its locality exposed it to every
kind of disadvantage. There were no
means of effectually cleansing it, except
by the constant application of human
labour. The pumps for supplying the
gaol with water were constantly contami-
nated with filth, and the various drains
which ought to carry off noxious ingredi-
ents, never swept away the impurities.
Nay, strange to say, although there was a
river within a stone's throw of the gaol, it
was deemed too great an indulgence to
suffer debtors to be supplied with water








from its bed. They were-not even allowed breast, this young woman was, during a
k to.receive a pint of beer from a friendly period of severe frost and snow, locked up
visitor, without permission from this hu- in a solitary cell from Thursday till Sun-
mane doctor and his colleague, the day. She had had a quarrel with another
equally humane gaoler. All this was female prisoner, who, with her infant,
Contrary to the provisions of an act of was also subjected to the same punishment.
parliament. Bad as was the old law for It appears by the evidence of Mary Cuer,
governing prisons, it was not half so se- that for the two first days there was no fire
vere as this wanton practice. It would be in her cell: that she suffered severely from
in vain to preach up the reformation of cold, and that during the whole of
prison discipline, if torture and oppres- the four days' confinement she was pro- \
sion could be inflicted with impunity. vided only with bread and cold water
By the evidence it would be seen, 'that a in a bucket, without the use of any lesser
Considerable manufacture had been carried vessel to drink it out of, and she was not
on in this gaol, and that Mr. Hunt offered allowed the opportunity of laying out, for
to prove that the gaoler derived great pro- the benefit of her child, the money granted
fits from it. The commissioners refused to by the parish for its maintenance, nor even
enter into that head of inquiry, and left it of warming a part of her own allowance of
for the consideration of the county. In- bread and water for its support; and her
dependent of the cruelty inflicted, enough own milk having, under these privations,
appeared to show that the gaol was utterly failed entirely, no mitigation to the suffer-
without classification. The women were, ings of the infant could be derived from
it was true, separated from the men, for that source." [Cries of hear.] He did
purposes of morality; but they were think that this was a case of iniquitous
always locked up by male turnkeys, to cruelty exceeding any thing he had ever
whose visits they, at all hours, must heard of. He knew of no form of ]an-
have been consequently exposed. There guage, of no felicity of expression, which
was, in fact, an utter disregard of every could be more emphatic or more affecting
thing like prison discipline in this gaol; than this simple and unlaboured statement
and yet it had been held out as a model of of a mother, with a famishing infant at
perfection to the whole kingdom.-There her breast, shut up in a prison at Christmas
was another singular thing apparent in -in that inclement season when the snow
these transactions. The turnkeys, or and frost without, increased the bodily suf-
persons under the gaoler, instead of being ferings of those who were immured within;
selected from men who deserved reward and denied even the sustenance of water,
for their good conduct, were taken from excepting in a bucket-[Hear, hear.]
S the worst characters in the gaol. So said -as if it were necessary that cold water
the commissioners. One of them was a shouldbeconveyedtoherinamannerwhich
man who had been three times confined might most aggravate her other sufferings !
for different offences, and who was a re- Good God! could the torments of hell
markably bad character. Such were the itself exceed the misery endured by
persons intrusted with the gaoler's con- this unhappy woman? Was it possible
fidence. It was his duty to repeat, that the for the human mind to conceive a picture
principal allegationsof Mr. Hunt's petition of greater agony, than a helpless mother,
were sustained by the evidence before the thus excluded from all relief, from all
commissioners. A more important sub- sympathy even, with an infant starving at
ject than the present could not possibly her breast, and her ears for ever pierced
be brought under the consideration of par- with the unavailing cries of her offspring
lament. The commissioners reported the for its food ? Could any ingenuity pro-
particulars of the gross and scandalous duce a more deplorable or afflicting case?
conduct of the late gaoler, and expressed And did facts like this lay no ground for
their sentiments of indignation threat, the proposition he was about to submit to
There could, indeed, be but one opinion the House ? Why, he was prepared to
among all who heard him; it was not say, that if Mr. Hunt had done no more
necessary, therefore, that he should more than bring to light such enormous cruel-
particularly advert to this part of the re- ties as these, and thereby become the
port. But he would just notice the case cause of preventing such scenes from ever
of Mary -Cuer, which the commissioners occurring again in our gaols, he might
described as one of extraordinary reasonably claim some consideration from
cruelty. With a young infant at her a body professing, to a certain degree at.
VOL. VII. C


IV~r. Hunt's Imprisuonment.


APRIL 21, 18,2.







19) HOUSE OF COMMONS,


least, some sympathy with the feeling of
the public. On this ground alone Mr.
Hunt would surely be entitled to some
manifestation of favour from that House.
If a House of Commons, at a former
period of our history, had received an
eulogy from a celebrated poet, for having
inquired into the abuses of gaols, and de-
tected the evils of the then existing system
-if Thomson could have been moved to
commemorate that band of patriots, not to
be forgotten-
"Who, touch'd with human woe, redressive
search'd
Into the horrors of the gloomy gaol,
Unpitied and unheard, where misery moans,
Where sickness pines, where thirst and hunger
burn,
And poor misfortune feels the lash of vice :
While in the land of Liberty, the land
Whose every street and public meeting glow
With open freedom, little tyrants rag'd,
Snatch'd the lean morsel from the starving
mouth ;
Tore from cold wintry limbs the tatter'd
weed;
Ev'n robb'd them of the last comforts, sleep;
The free-born Briton to the dungeon chain'd:
Or, as the lust of cruelty prevail'd,
At pleasure mark'd him with inglorious
stripes"-
if, for the exertions which a Houseof Com-
mons at that period made in such a cause,
it had received this memorable eulogy,
what ought to be the praise bestowed on
Mr. Hunt? What was his desert, who
had brought to light such a monster as this
execrable gaoler ? [Hear.] Let gentle-
men consider how Mr. Hunt was situated
when he rendered his country this great
service. He was under the lock and key
of the same relentless torturer, and even
his life was in danger; for under the same
roof with such a gaoler, no man's life could
be safe. It appeared, however, that the
visiting magistrates had offered to compro-
mise matters with this disgraced character,
after Mr. Hunt had succeeded in making
known these enormities. Was it not too
much that these gentlemen should think of
leaving Mr. Hunt in the power of this man,
after such exposures had been made ? He
would confess, that to him it appearedalmost
providential and miraculous, that the other
unfortunate beings, broken down in mind
and spirit as they must have been, should
have had the energy to establish charges
of so atrocious a nature against a gaoler
under whose control they were. It was
highly important, in order to show the
extent of Mr. Hunt's sufferings, to read


that part of the report of the commis-
sioners, which described the state of the
apartments in which he had been placed,
" We had the opportunity of seeing these
three wards under different circumstances
of weather; and the impression left on
our minds is, that they are, for the pur-
poses to which they are intended to be ap-
plied, the most objectionable part of the
gaol. It is in this part that the incon-
venience of high walls is most sensibly felt:
with a northern aspect and no good ad-
mission of air, all the worst effects of damp
prevail in an aggravated degree; the cold
evaporations of wet seasons and the heat
of the summer, each generate a species
of atmosphere distressing and insalubrious.
When to this is added the distance from
that assistance so constantly required in
hospitals, we consider the ward intended
for the sick peculiarly ill-suited to its pur-
pose. When we visited Ilchester, this ward
was occupied by Mr. Hunt and the adjoin-
ing refractory ward, was given up to two
prisoners who attended upon him. The
magistrates appeared to have made many
alterations calculated to improve the
apartments for the occupation of Mr.
Hunt; and in the general arrangement,
it did not occur to us that the gaol could
have admitted (without great sacrifice)
of a disposition more conducive to his
comfort. So long, however, as such an
exclusion of sun and air continues, the
main objection to the ward cannot be con-
sidered as removed." Why, the mere
exclusion of sun and air from the prison
chamber of a man who was sentenced to
be confined there two years and a half,
was a pretty considerable grievance init-
self. But if, in addition to being con-
fined in this way, he was to be subjected,
to the cruelty of his inhuman gaoler, it
was no great mercy not to have taken
away his life at once. Of the visiting
magistrates he should not say much, ex-
cepting only of the rev. Dr. Colston. How-
ever extraordinary it might seem that an
individual of his profession should be so
disposed, it was not less true, that Dr.
Colston appeared to have been the man,
who, on every possible occasion, was fore-
most in his endeavours to deprive a pri-
soner of the means by which his health
might be preserved or his comforts ex-
tended. Nay, the disposition of this rev.
gentleman towards Mr. Hunt was mani-
fested even after the new gaoler had gone
down to the prison. That individual, for
the sake of ventilation, had left a little


Motion to remit the remainder qf







S1] IMr. Hunt's Imprisonment.
door open, which led into a sort of yard
near Mr. Hunt's room. But, then down
came Dr. Colston, and notwithstanding
that the commissioners had reported this
indulgence in terms of commendation,
and that every principle of common huma-
nity and common sense required its con-
itinuance, he ordered the door to be shut
-up. At present, however, not only this
door was again left open as before, but
even the high walls which had been com-
plained of had been lowered so as consi-
derably to improve the ventilation of the
gaol. He (sir F. B.) did mean to say,
that, after Mr. Hunt had been thus sub-
jected to the vexatious caprices of an ar-
bitrary magistrate, and of a brutal gaoler
-after he had passed twelve months of
solitary confinement (and it was import-
ant to remark, that solitary confinement
formed no part of his original sentence),
an aggravation which was never intended
to be inflicted-he had a fair claim upon
the consideration of parliament. His
cause was still further aggravated, by the
insult contained in the observation of an
lion, member, who had said, that Mr.
Hunt's was a voluntary solitary confine-
ment; because, forsooth, Mr. Hunt did
not condescend to avail himself of a per-
mission to walk in a very small room or
yard, with felons and other prisoners,
who had obtained a rule" as it was
termed. Mr. Hunt did not care to mingle
with these unhappy men, covered as many
of them were with filth and rags. The
offer itself was only adding cruelty to in-
sult. And on the subject of the cruelty
exercised towards Mr. Hunt, it was pro-
per to state, that at first he was allowed
to see some persons among his friends;
then he was forbidden to see certain others
of them; and at length Dr. Colston posi-
tively prohibited all visitors whatever.
These severities had aggravated the
original sentence of Mr. Hunt beyond all
measure. Another thing not to be for-
gotten was, that Mr. Hunt was only one
out of a number of persons who were in-
cluded in the same verdict. There were
Johnson, Healy, Knight, and another in-
dividual, who were all of them included;
and if there was any guilt in the transac-
tion in regard to which they were tried
(though he was at a loss to conceive how
any guilty intention could have existed on
that occasion, and certainly none was
proved against them), each of those per-
sons was more guilty than Mr. Hunt. Mr.
Hunt was an invited person only; but the


ARIL 24, 182l [22
others had framed the resolutions, and
originated the meeting. Yet, strange to
say, they had been sentenced to one year's
imprisonment only in Lincoln gaol; and
none of these four individuals had had any
reason to complain ofunnecessaryseverity.
Was it possible for the public to form any
,other judgment on the subject than this-
that Mr. Hunt was, in truth, the victim
of vindictive feeling ? The people did
think that his majesty's government had
done themselves no good by their treat-
ment of this individual. They had, in fact,
by their own act and deed, elevated Mr.
Hunt into the character of a martyr.
They had taught the people to look up to
him as their victim; and after the ex-
posures which he had caused to be made,
the people could not but feel that he had
done a most important service to his
country. The inquiries which Mr. Hunt's
representations had led to, must, ere long,
tend to produce an entirely new modifica-
tion of our gaol system, and of the seve-
rities of solitary confinement. However
well intentioned the late Mr. Howard
might have been, his system in this re-
spect had been productive of more mis-
chief than any other system of imprison-
ment. In this day it was common to hear
declamations against theories as Utopian ;
but he knew of none that more deserved
that name than the scheme for making a
prison a house of reform. It was only
justice, however, to admit, that Mr.
Howard only intended, that the soli-
tude of imprisonment should relieve the
guilty from the contagion and example of
crime. It was his wish, that the im-
prisoned should be treated with the utmost
humanity-that they should be visited by
chaplains and magistrates- that they
should be expostulated with, made sen-
sible of their crimes, and reclaimed from
the paths of wickedness to those of virtue.
He never wished that, under his system,
men should become imbecile, or driven to
madness and despair. That humane indi-
vidual never desired that human beings
should be shut up in placeswhere one would
not keep a dog. But the men, who, to a
sentence of more than two years solitary
confinement, had superadded numberless
cruelties, who on the victims of such a
sentence had in many instances aggravated
punishment by insult, had introduced into
the country a system of imprisonment
totally repugnant to every feeling of
humanity, every principle of justice, and
every dictate of common sense. On the







23] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
grounds he had stated, he did trust that
Mr. Hunt would be considered to have
some claim to the favourable treatment of
that House. If ministers wished that these
deeds of darkness should be brought to
light, and checked in their origin, they
must feel that inquiry and detection were
the only means of effecting their wishes ;
but if, on the other hand, they thought
that such detection was mischievous, they
would perhaps consider, not that Mr.
Hunt had any claim upon them, but that
he was a fit object of further punishment.
Be that as it might, the public would not
come to this last conclusion. Whether,
however, they would remit the smaller and
by far the lighter part, of Mr. Hunt's sen-
tence, it was now for them to judge. For
his own part, it became his duty to
submit to the House three proposi-
tions: 1st, that Mr. Hunt's sentence was
originally more than sufficiently severe;
2nd, that that sentence had been aggra-
vated by the abuse of the powers vested
in the local authorities of his prison; and
thirdly, that he possessed some claim on
the public gratitude by reason of the suc-
cessful exposure which he had made of the
abuses existing in the prison at Ilchester.
If hon. gentlemen should agree with him
in all, or in any of these points, he trusted
that they would not think the course
which he was now about to propose, at
all objectionable; namely, an address to
his majesty, which would give him the
opportunity of exercising that prerogative
which lie felt assured was most congenial
to his majesty's beneficent disposition, by
remitting the remaining portion of a
punishment, the complete infliction of
which could be attended with no public
benefit. He therefore moved, That an
humble address be presented to his
majesty, praying that he would be gra-
ciously pleased to remit the remainder of
Mr. Hunt's imprisonment."
Mr. G. Dawson declared, that in the
observations he was about to offer, he did
not mean to defend the departure which
had taken place from all principles of hu-
manity, in the conduct of the late gaoler
of the prison in question. At the same
time he thought that the feelings of men
might seduce their judgments. No man
ever went to a dungeon where he wit-
nessed the situation of an unhappy con-
vict, without having his compassion highly
excited. He proposed to examine into
the charges of cruelty preferred on the
part of Mr. Hunt. The hon. baronet had


Motion to rmeit the remainder of [24
assumed, that the sentence passed upon
Mr. Hunt was too severe. He (Mr. D.)
did not conceive that he should bp justi-
fied in opening this question, and on such
a subject he could not but bow to the
decision of the learned judges who passed
that sentence. It did happen, however,
that Mr. Hunt's own complaints included
not half the grievances stated by the hon.
baronet. Mr. Hunt had made no com-
plaints about the blister on the head-the
irons-the water-bucket; but had repre-
sented, that he was confined in a dark
room, with a high brick wall, which shut
out the sun, and that he was debarred from
communication with his family. In regard
to the matter of cruelty, the hon. baronet,
so far as Mr. Hunt was concerned, had
totally failed to establish his charge; and
if he (Mr. D.) should be able to show
that Mr. Hunt had himself praised the
salubrity and convenience of his apart-
ment, he did trust that that part of the
question would be entirely disposed of.
On the 15th of May, 1820, Mr. Hunt was
sentenced to two years and a half impri-
sonment. When that sentence was passed
he applied to Mr. Justice Bayley, to know
whether his confinement was intended to
be solitary ? Mr. Justice Bayley replied,
" Certainly not;" and added, that if Mr.
Hunt should find reason to complain of
improper hardship, he might appeal to
the Court. On his arrival at llchester,
Mr. Hunt was placed in a room of the
prison which the hon. baronet had been
pleased to call a dungeon. It was, how-
ever, situated in the female ward of the
prison, and, therefore, not very likely to
be placed in the most uncomfortable
situation. When Mr. Hunt first arrived,
two or three beds were in this room, and
did remain there for one night, in conse-
quence of the absence of the gaoler ; but
on his return they were removed, and a
comfortable feather bed was provided for
him at the expense of the county. The
persons with whom Mr. Hunt had been
described as not condescending to mix
were not felons, but imprisoned for mis-
demeanors only. For the convenience
of Mr. Hunt, bells were hung; and the
floor of his apartment, which before was
of stone, was replaced with one of wood.
This was at Mr. Hunt's own suggestion.
To show that those attentions were felt
and acknowledged by Mr. Hunt, he would
now read a letter from that gentleman, ia
which he stated--" I believe no man that
ever lived was more happy than I am







25] Mr. Hunt's Imprisonment.
here. In fact, I have every possible care
taken of me." [Hear.] It was dated
July, 1820. It was true this was only a
few weeks after his committal; but he
(Mr. D.) begged the House would bear
in mind the contents of this letter.
Shortly after the appearance of this letter,
an order was made by the visiting magis,
trates for the admission of Mr. Hunt's
family. Among the visitors who came,
however, was a Mrs. Vince, a woman who
was notoriously living (her husband being
still in existence) with Mr. Hunt, whose
wife was also alive. This was considered
to be too grossly immoral. [Cries of
" hear."] Such a scandalous connexion
the magistrates were bound to discoun-
tenance; and they forbad these visits ac-
cordingly. From the time that Mrs.
Vince was refused admission every thing
became jaundiced in the eyes of Mr. Hunt.
He applied to the Court of King's Bench,
and in his petition prayed, that no other
punishment might be inflicted upon him
than that which had been awarded by the
Court." He asserted in his affidavit, that,
on being conveyed to Ilclester, he was
placed in a cold, dark, miserable dungeon
-that he was not allowed fire irons or
fender (no very important deprivations,)
and that his health was materially injured
" by being confined within the pestilential
walls of a small yard." How did this
statement correspond with the letter Mr.
Hunt had published in the Sherborne
Mercury ?" He had there been guilty of
a voluntary falsehood, or in his affidavit
had committed a wilful perjury. He com-
plained also to the Court, that the
females of his family" were driven away in
a brutal and ferocious manner. The
Court of King's Bench called upon the
gaoler and the magistrates for their reply,
and they put in an answer .so satisfactory,
that the complaint was dismissed with
costs. Besides, whom had Mr. Hunt
called the females of his family '' One
of them was a woman with whom he was
living in open adultery. The females of
his family, properly so called, had never
been excluded-his mistress only was re-
fused admission. The refusal of the
Court to interpose, was, he thought, a
sufficient warrant for the House to reject
this motion. He admitted that some
slight hardship might have arisen out of
the want of accordance between the ma-
gistrates and the sheriff; they did not act
together: and what at one time was re-
fused, at another was granted. It would


ApnRlt 24, 1822. [2S
have been far better if this vacillating
system had not been pursued ; but even
by that Mr. Hunt had been a gainer, for
he had been allowed to continue his adul-
terous intercourse in the most unblushing
manner. The House, however, had
nothing to do with this want of concert
between the local authorities. The sim-
pie question for it was, whether the
punishment, as it had been inflicted, was
disproportionate to the -offence of Mr.
Hunt, and whether any thing had been
done contrary to the sentence of the
Court? He did not think that his im-
prisonment had been attended with any
unnecessary restrictions. His medical,
legal, and personal, nay even the females
of his family," had been admitted,
although, for some time, an objection, on
the score of decorum and morality was
made to Mrs. Vince. The restrictions
complained of had continued till the 16th
Dec., 1820. When sir C. Bampfylde
took the management of the gaol into his
own hands, free access to all Mr. Hunt's
friends was allowed; but no sooner had
sir C. retired, than the magistrates thought
themselves bound to put the rules of the
prison in force, and they supposed that
Mr. Hanning, the new sheriff, would con.
tinue the opinions he had held as a magis-
trate. Matters thus remained until the
investigation, when Mr. Hanning relin-
quished his previous notions, and admis-
sion was again given to Mr. Hunt's mis-
tress. The magistrates again succeeded
in procuring her exclusion; but, subse-
quently, the admission of Mr. Hunt's
friends, male and female, was granted at
all times of the day; and at the present
moment the only hardship he suffered was
the deprivation of personal liberty. That
the magistrates had the right to impose
and enforce these restrictions there could
be no doubt; as the 32 Geo. 3rd, 60,
was passed for the special purpose -of
giving visiting magistrates authority.
There was no reason why Mr. Hunt should
not be treated like all other prisoners; yet
he had been even more favoured than the
debtors; for the debtors in Ilchester gaol
were not allowed to be visited by their
wives. He was of opinion, that the magis-
trates would have forfeited their characters
and neglected their duty if they had per-
mitted the adulterous intercourse between
Mr. Hunt and Mrs. Vince. Of all men
in the world, Mr. Hunt had .the least right
to expect favour. He had run a long and
dangerous career; and, with a considerable







S7] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
share of talent, he had applied it to the
worst purposes. He had thrust himself
forward every where: he had even gone
out of his way to attract popularity: he
had put himself at the head of mobs,
rebels whom he had instigated to rapine
and violence; he had put himself at the
head of a new school of rebels, infidels,
and blasphemers. He had kept the coun-
try in a constant state of alarm, until his
course was happily at length arrested by
the strong arm of the law. Since he, with
those incendiaries Wooler and Carlile, had
been safely imprisoned, order and tran-
quillity had been re-established. He
trusted that the result of that night's dis-
cussion would not afford a hope to the
friends of confusion and anarchy that the
public mind would again be poisoned by
the seditious artifices of a Wooler, or by
the odious blasphemies of a Carlile.
Mr. Hobhouse, from the temperate
opening of the hon. under secretary, had
not at all anticipated the heat and vio-
lence of his conclusion. If such men as
Wooler and Carlile endeavoured to in-
flame the country, such men as the hon.
gentlemen and his friends did their utmost
to inflame the House, to excite its pas-
sions against an unfortunate individual, by
mixing up his name with those with whom
he was not in any way connected. In this
attempt the hon. gentleman had shown
far more skill than fairness, though the
portion of skill, judging at least by its
effect, was indeed scanty enough. He
begged the hon. gentleman to show him,
if he could, what Wooler or his sedi-
tious artifices" had to do with this debate,
or how Carlile and his odious blasphe-
mies" affected the question before the
House? He had heard of no blasphemy
of Mr. Hunt's, no impiety, no infidelity.
He was not so well acquainted with the
writings of Mr. Hunt as the gentlemen
opposite seemed to be; but there cer-
tainly was nothing of these imputations
against him there; there was no such
crime on the record, and he protested
against the associating Mr. Hunt's name
with invidious topics, merely for the pur-
pose of diverting them from the conside-
ration of his claims on their justice. The
hon. gentleman had failed to show that
the statement of his hon. colleague was in
any respect exaggerated. In endeavour-
ing to discredit the testimony of Mr.
Hunt, the hon. gentleman had discredited
the commissioners. Every thing which
the hon. gentleman alleged in defence of


Motion to remit the remainder of [28
the magistrates and gaoler, had been set
aside by the commissioners. Every charge
against the gaoler and magistrates, made
by Mr. Hunt, had been substantially ad-
mitted to have been proved. The lion.
gentleman had gone out of his way to give
them a lecture on adultery. He trusted
he had as much love for morality as the
hon. gentleman. Certain it was, that the
friends of liberty in that House had much
more need to be pure in their morals than
gentlemen on the other side, as their con-
duct was more. closely watched, and was
commented upon with malignity, with (as
an hon. gentleman had suggested to him)
paid malignity. But he recommended
to the hon. gentleman to be cautious on
that topic, as, when le uttered censures on
immorality in general, he knew not how
high his shafts might reach. His con-
demnation might affect persons very dif-
ferent from the defenceless individual
whom he had dragged forward on the
floor of the House. The intercourse of
Mr. Hunt with Mrs. Vince was no doubt
to be considered scandalous; but who
were the persons who complained of it ?
The magistrates who had permitted an
improper intercourse to exist between the
male and female prisoners, and Mr.
Bridle, who, there was good reason to
suspect, had carried on an improper in-
tercourse with a female prisoner. How,
then, did the hon. gentleman pour all the
thunders of his morality on Mr. Hunt
alone ? The magistrates, however, were
not so confident in their morality as the
hon. gentleman, for they had withdrawn
their prohibition, and Mrs. Vince was now
allowed to visit Mr. Hunt. The hon. gen-
tleman had relied on the fact, that Mr.
Hunt had thought differently of the gaol
at the beginning of his imprisonment.
But, the hon. gentleman had not told
them the date of the letter on] which
he relied. The letter was written in July.
Mr. Hunt had only been committed at
the end of May, and it was to be observed
that in the summer months the inconve-
niences of which Mr. Hunt complained
were not perceptible. If Mr. Hunt, after
that short residence in the gaol, thought
it a place in which a man could be happy,
he was as much deceived as to it, as the
hon. gentleman who had not been there, or
the members who had formerly come for-
ward to vouch for its good management,
after what they had thought an examina-
tion, and the county members, who had
seen it hundreds of times, and who were


- 111







APRIL 24s, 1822. [30


astonished at the enormities which this
* investigation had brought to light. Let
the House forget the lectures of the
undersecretary, and look only at the re-
port of the commissioners. The commis-
* sioners said, that Mr. Hunt's cell must
suffer for want of sun and air; and when
it was considered how trifling these in-
gredients of human existence were, they
would know what to think of his situation.
But the magistrates, though they would
not allow him sun or air, gave him some-
thing to lie on when he was sick-a feather
* bed. Now this munificent gift, purchased
at the expense of the county, and dwelt
on by the hon. gentleman, was not thought
worthy of notice by the commissioners
who perhaps thought it better to provide
for continued health than for inevitable
sickness. But not only had afeather-bed
been given to Mr. Hunt, but a bell to
* ring up a gentleman in livery-one of the
prisoners, with his coat turned inside out
to attend him. But this indulgence was
thought too much for a person of so de-
termined a character of wickedness as Mr.
Hunt, and the bell was taken away. But
even this great, though transitory happi-
* ness, was not mentioned by the commis-
sioners, who did not seem to imagine
that the evil of a want of sun and air
could be effectually mitigated, either by
the feather-bed or the bell. It was not
to be contended, that because Mr. Hunt
had been sentenced to imprisonment he
was to be treated as a common felon.
* There were certain cases of imprisonment
in which allowances were to be made to
the prisoners. The under secretary of
state might be safely appealed to on such
a point. The three successive sheriffs of
Somerset had taken the same view as he
had. The court of King's-bench also de-
clared, that no addition should be made
* to the suffering of confinement. The hon.
gentleman had allowed that Mr. Hunt had
been made the subject of irritating con-
tradictory orders, but he had said, that
Mr. Hunt had derived an advantage from
them. How this could be he could not
conceive. If Mr. Hunt had at once known
what he had to suffer, he might have
* braced himself up to the endurance of it;
but he had at at one time been treated
with some mildness-at others plunged
in the extremest severities. The hon. gen-
tleman had conceded much of the case.
He had allowed the enormities-he had
allowed the cruelties perpetrated in the
S gaol. But, after stigmatizing in their


proper terms the enormities of the gaol
management, had he no gratitude to him
who had brought these enormities to
light? He (Mr. H.) could consider Mr.
Hunt in no other light, in this instance,
than as a public benefactor. He had no
reason to regard Mr. Hunt with personal
favour: he considered him merely in his
public conduct in the investigation of
abuses. The hon. gentleman had misre-
presented his hon. colleague, in his re-
marks on Mr. Hunt's sentence. All he
had said was, the two years and a half
'imprisonment was punishment enough
for an anomalous crime-not known to
be a crime even by the prosecutors-
scarcely contemplated as a crime by the
jury-an offence which had made it ne-
cessary to send the jury back. The hon.
gentleman had said, that so much respect
should be paid to the tribunals, that their
sentences once delivered should be ex-
empted from reflection or censure. He
(Mr. H.) had not read the constitutional
law of the country. It was one of the
most useful' duties of representatives of
the people, to shew judges that they were
not to be exempt from censure even on
their high seats, when the language of
revenge spoke in their sentences; and if
there was to be liberty in England, not
liberty which was merely to round a sen-
tence, but to form the happiness of a na-
tion, this scrutiny must still be exercised
over the whole conduct of judges, but es-
pecially over the sentences of judges on
criminals of state. To those who thought
the character and talents of Mr. Hunt
full of danger, he would say, that the
danger would be augmented by continu-
ing what the mass of people now consi-
dered an unjust punishment. On those
who did not consider Mr. Hunt as dan-
gerous, as well as those who did-on all
who knew what he had done, and what he
had suffered, he called as men and gentle-
men, and (by a name which involved still
higher duties), as Christians, to agree to
the motion.
Mr. Dickinson thought, that he could
not better begin the observations he
intended to make, than by referring to an
observation that had been made on this
subject, by his worthy friend, the member
for Norwich, who had said, that at the
commencement of the Coldbath-fields
examination, the magistrates had persisted
with pertinacity in defending their gaoler.
He wished the conduct of the magistrates
of Somerset to be contrasted with this.


Mr. Iluntwr Imprisonment.







31] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
On the first symptom of accusation, they,
together with the sheriff, appointed a
committee of their own, to investigate
the abuses, the conclusion of which was
the dismissal of the gaoler and the sur-
geon. Of the surgeon's general character,
from long acquaintance, he could bear tes-
timony, though he could say nothing with
effect to mitigate the sending the blister
as a punishment. The hon. baronet had
spoken with considerable severity of a
misdemeanant, who he said had been
appointed as the companion of Mr. Hunt
on his going into prison. Any gentleman
who would read the evidence would see
that there was some reason for this
asperity. He would refer to the examin-
ation of Wyatt, who was a witness in the
true sense of the word, for he was only
convicted of an assault, whereas most of
the other witnesses, especially the one
against Dr. Colston, was a convicted
felon; and unless he was pardoned his
testimony could not be received in a
court ofjustice. But it appeared in p. 335,
that Wyatt had been his servant, and not
his companion, for nine months; and in
the way in which his services were re-
jected, and the way in which the relation
of master and servant was concluded was,
by Mr. Hunt contriving with Hobbs, a
turnkey, to have him placed in solitary
confinement for twenty-four hours; and
for what?--because he came one day
suddenly into his room, and found his
ward, Miss Gray, sitting upon his knee.
This produced great anger on the part of
Mr. Hunt at the moment, and ended in
the punishment he had stated: the history
of this transaction was in the evidence of
Wyatt, p. 335. Much had been said of
the cruelty practised on Mary Cuer, and
which he did not intend to palliate; but
this he knew, that the attention of the
visiting magistrates was not drawn to it,
and that the attention of nobody was
drawn to it, till two years after the trans-
action; and there seemed to be a good
deal of variation in the testimony of this
witness. The hon. baronet had mentioned
two facts, that had that night for the first
time met his ears: one was a compromise
between the gaoler and the magistrate
for his retirement, and on which he
thought there must be some mistake; for
he had been a party to his dismissal, and
had never heard of any compromise. The
other was, that Dr. Colston had denied
admittance to Mr. Hunt's sister when
she was in a state of health in which she


Motion to remit the remainder of [32
could not last long. As he had never
heard of this, he with difficulty believed
it to be a fact; and he would now repeat
what he had said on a former occasion,
that from a long acquaintance with Dr.
Colston, he believed, although he might,
like others, sometimes mistake the nature
of his duties, yet he believed him incapa-
ble of a deliberate act of cruelty. The
nature of the solitary confinement of Mr.
Hunt was this; he had, above the other
prisoners, the power of walking three
hours and a half in the day in the time-
yard-a space longer than the length of
the House of Commons from its outward
walls; he had two times-men to attend
him as servants; and in other respects he
was like the other prisoners. This could
not be termed solitary, nor any thing like
it; and yet he was ready to say, that he
believed it a more rigid imprisonment
than was intended for him by the court
of King's-bench! We had heard, that a
feather-bed had been afforded him only
on his first entrance. In fact, the magis-
trates had studiously endeavoured to make
his apartments comfortable; and, if it
was a qi-3stion at this moment in a court
of justice, he would not hesitate to call
the hon. baronet to prove, that his upper
apartment was as airy an apartment as
a man need have; that his lower apart-
ment must of necessity partake of this
good air; and that, upon the whole, barr-
ing the gloom of a prison, his apartments
were such as a man sending his son for
the first time to the University would be
delighted to find in a college. But, in
order that the lower apartment might be
made more airy, he had lately, with the
other visiting magistrates, visited the
gaol, and had ordered that the cross walls
might be lowered as far as was consistent
with safety; and, as Mr. Hunt had un-
fortunately contracted a complaint in his
eyes, that green blinds might be furnished,
to give a more commodious shade to the
room. Nobody could lament more than
he did the vacillations that had taken
place in the councils of the magistrates
of Somerset; but the magistrates, never-
theless, had been consistent in their
orders, and the sheriff being of a different
opinion gave more the appearance of
inconsistency than was, in fact, the case.
There were no signed rules; and there-
fore the magistrates thought that they
could not follow a better direction than
the rules as they were, and these they
applied to Mr. Hunt; and whether they







33] Mr. Hunfs Imprisonment.
ought to have been applied to him or not,
there still existed two opinions. But the
magistrates knew that they, as a body,
were the custos morum" of the county,
and they felt the impropriety of permitting
the bad example to be introduced into
the gaol, of a cohabitation with a person
not his wife, who, notoriously for many
years, had been in the habit of living with
him. He was the first political offender
that had been placed in Ilchester gaol,
and it was well thought that no leniency
ought to have been shown him on this
account; for it was known that political
offences were often more mischievous in
their results than others, and that they
were so contemplated in the law; for the
highest offence of that kind, that of high
treason, was visited by peculiar punish-
ments. For himself, and a minority of
the magistrates, he was of a different opi-
nion, and perhaps he was guided by a law
maxim that he had read in the former
part of his life, which was, that prisons
were ad conservandos homines, non ad
puniendos;" and besides this, he was
more inclined to look generally on the
subject, and to be governed by the prac-
tices of other gaols with regard to this
description of offenders. But the autho-
rity of Mr. Justice Best silenced his opi-
nion; and after that he owned that he
thought it in vain, and he had made no
further effort for the unrestricted impri-
sonment of Mr. Hunt. If the magistrates
had acted with impropriety, there was an
appeal to the highest tribunal in this
country. If it was a new offence, the
court ofKing's-bench had the power, if
it chose to exercise it, of speedy and
summary proceeding to bring it before
them. Nobody questioned its impartial
distribution of justice: it was peculiarly
watchful over all inferior tribunals. The
magistracy of the counties were one of its
principal cares: they there knew what
countenance to receive for the perform-
ance of their duties, and what punishment
for their neglect. With regard to his
vote that night, it would be against the
motion of the hon. baronet. He felt
actuated by no feeling of hostility to Mr.
Hunt. He lamented the necessity of
inflicting on any man two years and a
half's imprisonment. But Mr. Hunt had
been guilty of a most dangerous offence
-that of assembling, with a bad design,
an immense number of people. The
principle of his punishment was, to deter
others from committing a similar offence
VOL. VII.


APRIL 24, 1824. [34
-" pena ad paucos, ut metus ad omnes
perveniat." He believed it had htid its
good effect in checking such meetings;
and as he hoped the dread of a similar
punishment would remain on the minds,
of the disaffected, he should oppose the
motion [Hear!].
Mr. Peel said, that the strong impression
he felt, that this particular subject- was,
not fit for the consideration of that House,
was a sufficient guarantee, that he would,
not trouble them with many observations.
He felt that he might almost put it to the
House, whether, in the course of the lion
baronet's speech, he had laid down any
thing like sufficient grounds to induce
parliament to interfere with the exclusive-
prerogative of the Crown, and to depart
from that which had been the unvaried
practice of the House ever since the Re-
volution ? That practice was, not to ex-
press any opinion as to the continuation
of a punishment awarded to an individual
by a court of justice. On the propriety
of adhering to that wise and rational
practice, unless compelled to depart front
it by some overwhelming necessity, there
could be but one opinion. But, if there
were one man who, more than another,
ought to entertain the opinion that this
practice should not be departed from, the
lion. baronet was that individual. With
his avowed opinions of that House-with
his recorded complaints of its encroach-
ments on the peculiar province of the
Crown-he conceived that the hon. baro-
net ought to be the last man to propose a
precedent, which, if once established
would arrogate to that House a power,
than which none could be conceived more
fatal to the constitution; since it would
have the effect of enlarging the functions
of the democratic part of that constitution
far beyond its useful and natural boundary.
The question was simply this-was there;
in this case, circumstances of that. over-
whelming nature, which should tempt the
House to interfere with this most im-
portant prerogative-that should induce
them to meddle with that peculiar attri-
bute of the Crown, which was wholly
alienated from the powers of that House,
and was unconnected with the ends for
which it was instituted? Before he
applied himself to the particular case now
before the House, he would offer a remark
or two Qn the observation with which the
hon. baronet had prefaced his speech,
The hon. baronet alluded to a communi-
cation which he had had some time ago,
D







55] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


with him relative to the punishment which
had been awarded to certain individuals
who were apprehended on suspicion of a
highway robbery. The hon. baronet had
said, that he (Mr. P.) must not consider
it as arising from want of courtesy, if he
did not pay him a compliment for the
course he had pursued on that occasion.
Good God could any one suppose that
he expected a compliment on such an
occasion? He should consider it as the
most severe satire, if it could be imagined
that he looked forward to a compliment
because he had discharged a duty. The
hon. baronet had stated to him the case
of two individuals who were suffering
punishment on account of a highway
robbery. But on examining the facts of
the case, their conduct assumed the cha-
racter rather of a culpable frolic than of a
felonious design. When acquainted with
all the circumstances, he had taken the
necessary steps for remitting the remainder
of the sentence, and the individuals were
liberated. He claimed no merit for this
act, which, as he before said, was an act
of duty. The exercise of mercy ought
to be as prompt and as pure as the visita-
tion of justice. Where good reasons
were advanced for the extension of
mercy, he would immediately attend to
them; but he never would consent to
recommend any one on the ground of
personal favour. But the inference which
the hon. baronet attempted to draw from
this transaction was, that the system
which he (Mr. P.) was anxious to adopt
would lead him to call for the remission
of Mr. Hunt's sentence. In the trans-
action to which the hon. baronet alluded,
he had been influenced by a sense of
public duty alone; and if he opposed the
present motion, his opposition sprang
from the same source. After having
fully considered the subject, the strongest
conviction was impressed on his mind,
that nothing could be more inexpedient,
nothing could be more fatal, than that the
House should agree to this address.
They would, if they allowed this motion
to be carried, establish a most dangerous
precedent. Who was Mr. Hunt, and for
what crime had he been committed to
this gaol? The hon. baronet had quoted
several writers to show that his offence
was inter minora criminal; but he must
look to the intentions of Mr. Hunt, if he
wished to discover the particular crime
for which that individual was punished.
The duty of inquiring into the motives of


Mr. Hunt was not assumed voluntarily by
him. That duty was imposed on him, by
the hon. baronet's motion. The hon.
baronet had put him on his trial-he had
called on him to state to the House on
what grounds he refused to recommend a
mitigation of Mr. Hunt's sentence. His
reason was recorded in the criminal juris-
prudence of the country, where it was
entered, that Henry Hunt and others
were found guilty of "assembling with
unlawful banners, and in an unlawful
manner." [Cheering from the Opposition
benches.] Was it possible that such a
statement could be treated with con-
tempt? Was it possible that a meeting
which assembled with unlawful banners,
for the purpose of inciting the liege sub-
jects of the king to hatred and contempt
of his government, could be treated with
levity? If it were so, let that circum-
stance operate as a warning to the House
not to agree to this motion. Let the
House well consider the consequences
before they acquiesced in an address
which told the country that the charge
brought against Mr. Hunt was so slight,
and his conduct so admirable, that the
Commons of England were induced to
interfere, and to call on the Crown for a
mitigation of punishment. Was there any
man who had read what had occurred in
Lancaster within the last fortnight, with-
out being convinced of the magnitude of
the offence? Did any man see, in the
full consideration which the subject then
received-in the perfect establishment of
all that had been stated on the minis-
terial side of the House-in the com-
plete refutation of what had been called
the Manchester massacre-did any man
see, in these circumstances, the least
reason for supposing, that the meeting was
an innocent one ? Had gentlemen read
those proceedings ? Had they, professing
as they did a respect for the decision of a
jury, considered the verdict which was re-
turned by the jury at Lancaster? Were
not the most decisive proofs given of the
previous drilling-of the manner in which
the parties marched-of their inflamma-
tory banners-and of expressions which
left no doubt as to the almost avowed ob-
ject of the meeting? Were they, after
such evidence, to be cajoled into a belief,
that the object of the meeting was peace-
able-that it was only assembled to peti-
tion parliament for a redress of grievances?
Would they suffer themselves to believe
this, and allow the constitution to be


Motion to remit the remainder of







APRIL 24, 1822. [38


sapped and undermined and invaded, by
those who took advantage of the liberty
which that constitution provided, in order
to destroy it with the greater security?
He could never view the sentence pro-
nounced on Mr. Hunt as too severe for
the crime he had committed. Believing,
as he did, that his punishment was fully
merited-conceiving that the evidence
adduced at his trial fully supported the
charge that was preferred against him-
he never would, as a servant of the Crown,
advise the Crown to remit any part of his
sentence. Nay, he would declare, with
all respect for the decision of that House,
that even its unanimous assent to the mo-
tion of the hon. baronet would not induce
him to depart from the line of conduct he
had adopted, after the most mature con-
sideration that he could possibly give to
the subject. He saw nothing in the case
that called for commiseration. He saw
nothing but accumulated proofs of Mr.
Hunt's enormous guilt, in availing himself
of that distress by which the country had
been visited, for the purpose of inflaming
the minds of those with whom he had no
other connexion except a community of
bad feelings.-And, if he saw nothing in
the case of Mr. Hunt that called for par-
liamentary interference, still less could he
see any thing that ought to influence the
House in those other circumstances which
the hon. baronet had thought proper to
introduce. The hon. baronet said, that
the sentence of Mr. Hunt was aggravated
by the conduct of the magistrates; and he
also stated, that he would confine himself
to Mr. Hunt's case, and leave all discus-
sion relative to the general discipline which
had prevailed in Ilchester gaol for the
motion of the hon. alderman (Mr. Wood).
Here he wished to observe, that when that
motion was brought forward, he would be
ready to discuss it, and most certainly lhe
would not defend those acts of arbitrary
power which were alleged to have been
committed. He would fully state his
opinion then; but until then, as he saw no
necessary connexion between the question
now before the House, and the system
which had prevailed in the prison, he
would abstain from noticing it. He would
not follow the example of the hon.
baronet, who, perceiving that there was
nothing in the case of Mr. Hunt, had,
with the skill of an artist, referred to
other facts in order to inflame the passions
of the House. No motion was introduced,
it should be remembered, for the release


of those prisoners who were thus incident.
tally mentioned; but Mr. Hunt, who, of
all the prisoners in Ilchester gaol, had
suffered the least, was selected as an ob.
ject of special favour. He would put out
of the case, the woman who was placed in
solitary confinement-he would put out
of the case, the blister which was applied
to a prisoner's head. No man could de,
fend such acts; no man condemned them
more than he did; but he now rejected
them, because they were not connected
with this motion. The House, if they
meant to decide dispassionately, would
leave out of their consideration subjects
that were not before them. He found
that the magistrates and the gaoler had
issued contradictory orders with respect
to Mr. Hunt; but he must impute the
necessity in which that conduct originated
to Mr. Hunt himself. Now, admitting
every thing that had been stated to be
true, supposing that nothing more horrible
could be found in the annals of the inqui-
sition than was experienced in that gaol,
why, he asked, was Mr. Hunt selected
from amongst the sufferers, as the only
object of mercy? Was the insalubrity
of the air the great cause of complaint?
That was an evil, if it existed, which all
must feel as well as Mr. Hunt. In the
course of twenty years, about 25,0001.
had been expended on this gaol, to make
it as convenient as possible; and, at the
present moment, many persons were con-
fined there who had not been convicted
of any crime, but who had the misfortune
of being in debt. Now, was it consistent
with justice to call on the Crown to miti-
gate the sentence of a convicted offender
on account of the insalubrity of the gaol,
while persons who were confined as
debtors, were exposed to the same evil ?
Could they possibly request the Crown to
relieve the one, without relieving the
other ? Or, if they did, would not the
omission be fatal, and justly fatal, to the
application ?-With respect to the other
ground advanced by the lion. baronet,
that it was through Mr. Hunt's means
that an inquiry was set on foot as to the
conduct of the gaoler, and that very im-
portant disclosures were made in conse-
quence, he must say, that if the hon.
baronet compelled him to look at the con-
duct of Mr. Hunt, he must also take a
view of his motives. He did not think
that the motives of Mr. Hunt were of the
most disinterested character. He believed,
also; that had he been placed in any other


Mr. Hunts Imprisonment.






S9] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


prison in England, some ground would
have been discovered on which, in the
opinions of some, a secretary of state ought
to recommend the remission of his
sentence. On the three grounds which
formed the main branches of the hon.
baronet's argument, he must oppose the
motion. The hon. baronet had, he
thought, utterly failed in making out a
case. He had not shown that the conduct
of Hunt was such as demanded the inter-
ference of government: he had not shown
that the severity of his sentence had been
aggravated by the conduct of the magis-
trates: and he never could be induced to
think that the punishment of the offender
was uncommensurate with the offence he
Jhad committed. On these grounds he
would oppose the introduction of a princi-
ple which had not been acted on since the
revolution. But above all, he implored
the House not to let it go forth to the
country, that they relieved this man, be-
cause'he was guilty of sedition, while in-
-aocent persons,who were suffering through
unavoidable misfortune, were left, un-
pitied, to their fate.
Sir J. Mackintosh said, that, before he
proceeded to state the grounds on which
he would give his vote, he was anxious, on
account of the tone which had been
adopted by the right hon.gentleman, to de-
clare the grounds on which his vote would
not rest. It did not follow, as the right
hon. gentleman seemed to suppose, that
those who supported the present motion
approved of the conduct of Mr. Hunt.
He, for one, did not approve of his con-
duct; but he would support the motion on
general principles, and not with reference
to the course which Mr. Hunt had pur-
sued. When the right hon. gentleman
asked, Who is Mr. Hunt?" he would
answer He is an Englishman!" He
knew Mr. Hunt only in that capacity.
On his behalf he made no claim of favour;
but he demanded whether he had, or had
not, a claim of justice on that House? He
should despise himself if, on account of
any displeasure he might feel at Mr. Hunt's
conduct, he could be induced to abstain
from defending those rights of justice
which were as sacred in the person of Mr.
Hunt as in that of any other Englishman.
He did not underrate the charge brought
against Mr. Hunt: he did not arraign the
verdict, nor dispute the justice of the
judgment. He did not take these points
into consideration, because they were fo-
reign to the question before the House.


He was not ignorant of that painful part
of the duty of a judge-the exercise of a
discretionary power, and the infliction of
a discretionary punishment. No doubt,
the grave and learned persons who appor-
tioned the punishment in this instance
were satisfied in their minds it was just.
But, when he made this remark, he felt
himself bound to add, that if he saw any
thing which appeared to him to be
wrong, he would not shrink from dis-
cussing and examining the conduct of
any judge. One of the most important
duties of a member of that House, was
that of arraigning the proceedings of a
judge, if they appeared to be improper;
and he could not help thinking that it
was unwise and undignified on the part
of judges, or of their advocates in that
House, or elsewhere, to deprecate a fair
discussion of their conduct. What had
been the conduct of judges before that
House investigated their proceedings
-before the press noticed their actions-
before the public scanned their decisions ?
They were, like judges in all despotic
governments, venal, corrupt, and arbi-
trary. Such were the judges of the in-
famous star-chamber. Before the period
when a free and fair examination of the
conduct of the judges became common,
they were wicked or contemptible: since
that period, they had acquired a reputa-
tion, which rendered them the pride of
their own country, and the admiration of
the world. Nothing was so calculated
to exalt their character, as the bold and
manly examination of their conduct. He
was not called on now to contest their
judgment; but, though he had a reve-
rence for judges, it was not a blind one;
and if he thought it necessary to arraign
their conduct, he would do so without
hesitation. Neither was it his intention
to make any attack on the magistrates of
Somersetshire, farther than to say, that
their negligence allowed an alteration to
be made in this prison, by which the pu-
nishment awarded by the sentence of the
court was aggravated. As to his hon.
friend below him, though he attempted to
defend his brother magistrates, he had
pronounced on them a very severe cen-
sure, when he stated his own liberal
opinions, from which it appeared they
had dissented. Now, the ground on
which he supported this motion was, that
Mr. Hunt had already suffered more than
the court sentenced him to, or could have
wished him to suffer. He did not found


Motion to remit the remainder of







41]' Mr. Hunt's Imprisonment.
this opinion on any statements contained
in the petitions which had been laid on
the table-petitions distinguished by
foolish language and questionable facts :
neither did he adopt it in consequence of
the declarations of Mr. Hunt; but he
was induced to form his opinion on there-
port of the commissioners, which had
been very cautiously kept out of view
during the discussion. The right hon.
gentleman had observed, that no prece-
dent could be found, since the Revolu-
tion, for addressing the Crown as to the
exercise of this prerogative. The con-
trary was the fact. There was an abun-
dance of precedents both before and
since the Revolution; but there was not
an instance in which the precedent was
so strongly called for, or where it was so
likely to furnish an useful example to
future times, as in this case. Surely the
right hon. gentleman must recollect the
case of sir Harry Vane, in the time of
Charles 2nd. It was a very remarkable
case. On an address from parliament,
the king promised not to prosecute that
individual; but he afterwards broke his
promise, and sir H. Vane was convicted.
S In 1697, a most remarkable precedent
occurred--a precedent much stronger
than any address to the Crown for the
pardon of an offender. In January, 1697,
an address was presented to the king, re-
questing him to stop the pardon of Thomas
White. He would ask the House whe-
ther this was not a much greater intru-
s ion on the feelings of the sovereign, than
any address for mercy could possibly be ?
The House sent on that occasion a com-
mission to Newgate to examine evidence
and to report their opinion. This, be it
observed, was nine years after the Revo.
lution. This commission made a report
on the subject of the inquiry intrusted
to it, and upon that report the House re-
solved, that it would interfere no further,
but leave the case to the pleasure of th(
Crown. Here was an interference of the
House, not calling for the exercise of tht
prerogative of mercy residing in the
Crown, but against it-not requiring a
secretary of state to represent to his mas.
ter, that as sufficient punishment had beei
endured, the royal clemency might bc
extended to the offender; but to checl
S in the sovereign the exercise of thosefeel
lings which he might esteem it his greatest
privilege to indulge. Yet, notwithstand
ing the nature of the case, the Hous4
* decided, that it would interfere, and king


APIL 24, 1822. [49
William and the secretary of state of that
day deferred to its judgment. The mi-
nister of king William did not, on that
occasion, use language like that which
had been heard that night. He did not
declare, that he would resign sooner than
convey to his majesty the wishes and
views of his faithful Commons. le did
not assure parliament that whatever re-
solution it might pass, it would never in-
duce him to second it by a favourable re-
presentation. There was no such secre-
tary of state in that day. On the con-
trary, the greatest deference was shown
to the opinion of the House, and no
threats of resignation were uttered.
Threats of resignation had been more fre-
quently made than faithfully observed.
Had the right hon. gentleman ever heard
of another case in which the House had
interfered in favour of the exercise of the
royal clemency ? Had he never heard
of the proceeding with respect to the
rebel lords in 1716 Sir Richard Steele
presented a petition to the House in that
year, and made a motion in favour of
those lords, which was opposed by sir
Robert Walpole, the then minister. Be
it remembered, that the case was of infi-
nitely greater importance than the pre-
sent; it concerned men of high rank and
station-men who had committed high
treason-who had been found in arms
against the government of the country,
and immediately after a rebellion which
threatened the overthrow of the throne.
Sir R. Walpole, therefore, would have
been justified in using strong language on
the occasion; and if he had pursued the
course followed by the right hon. gentle-
man, he ought to have risen and declared,
S" Whatever vote the House may come
to, I shall never advise his majesty to
Sremit the punishment of these lords: if
Sthe motion is carried, I shall resign
my office under the Crown, than advise
e his majesty to comply with it; or I will
Sincur the penalties of an impeachment, by
: openly advising the Crown to hold it in
i contempt." Such was the language of
i the right hon. gentleman; but sir R.
- Walpole did not take so high a ground,
Snor threaten the nation with a loss like that
e which the House had heard threatened that
k night. The question before the House
- was extremely simple and limited: it was
t merely whether the punishment which
SMr. Hunt had endured was not greater
Than that which was intended to be in-
flicted; and whether, in consideration of







433 HOUSE OF COMMONS, Motion to remit the remainder of (41
that excess of unintended severity, it was were not liable to such treatment; but
not incumbent on the House to address what said the commissioners? That the
the Crown to remit the remainder. He whole system was one of cruelty and irri-
would omit altogether any reference to station. The right hon. gentleman had
the character of the offender. On consi- here ventured upon the only argument
during the circumstances on which the which he had employed against the mo-
present application was founded, it would tion, in saying that if the House interfered
appear that there never was a case in to mitigate the sentence of Mr. Hunt, it
which the interference of the House would ought likewise to interfere in favour of
belessliable to be regarded as an encroach- the other prisoners who had been the
ment on the prerogative of the Crown. It victims of the gaoler's tyranny, and even
involved no question as to the degree of in favour of the debtors. How he sup-
punishment proper for his offence, or as posed that the Crown could be called
to the justice of the judgment pronounced upon to remit their imprisonment to the
upon him. It was simply whether more latter, he did not understand; but with
had not been suffered than was intended ; regard to the former, he would show the
and this could not be a question of fre- difference between their case and that of
quent occurrence, or one that could ex- Mr. Hunt. The judges chose Ilchester
cite any alarm as to its being drawn into gaol as the place of his imprisonment;
a precedent. In consequence of certain but the other prisoners were in it as be-
statements made in that House, and longing to the county. And, why did
certain proceedings consequentupon them, the judges make such a selection ? Be-
an inquiry was instituted into the state of cause the place was considered a model
Ilchester gaol; and on the recommenda- of good management, and one of the best
tion of the House, a royal commission regulated prisons in England. They had
was sent down to conduct it. These com- made the choice with these views and
missioners had made a report, which con- under these impressions, which they de-
tained discoveries of abuses existing in rived from popular report, and had seen
the management of that gaol. This inves- confirmed in a publication of the hon.
tigation was set on foot by the House; member for Weymouth (Mr. Buxton),
these discoveries were made by a Crown who had laudably devoted a great deal of
commission, appointed on the recom- attention to the state of prisons. This
mendation of the House, and the House supposed well-regulated prison had turned
was now called upon to follow up a pro- out to be a scene of disorder and mis-
deeding which originated with itself, management: the gaoler, who was pre-
Such was the history of the measure viously thought humane and merciful, was
which now remained to be matured. The found to be a monster of cruelty. In-
right hon. gentleman had said, that stead of a medical attendant who was ima-
although abuses existed, Mr. Hunt, who gined skilful and attentive, they met with
complained, did not suffer by them. Take a man ignorant, obstinate, and capricious,
the evidence as stated in the report of the who employed those remedial applications
commissioners. If a person suffered from that belonged to his art, as the means of
the cruelty of the gaoler, like that un- torture and punishment. The situation
fortunate woman, Mary Cuer, (than of the gaol, instead of being dry and sa-
whose case nothing more horrible could lubrious, was humid and unhealthy. In
be imagined), could such treatment be short, this prison, instead of bearing any
indifferent, or rather was it not most ma- resemblance to the representations made
trial to the situation of Mr. Hunt? Who, of it, exhibited an absolute contrast there-
placed as Mr. Hunt was, could feel secu- to. The court was deceived. The judges
rity, or be free from alarm, in such a could not correct their mistake; and
prison? Was it nothing to be under a therefore it was incumbent on the House,
cruel gaoler, who inflicted torture on his who had made the inquiries which termi-
prisoners, and who mightextend a similar nated in this discovery, to address the
treatment to himself? What apprehen- Crown to do an act of bare justice, in
sion, what fear, must not the cruelties, remitting a punishment not originally con-
the dark malignity, and ungoverned pas- templated. The House ought to com-
sions of this man, not have excited in the plete its own work: it ought not to have
breast of all the persons who felt them- addressed the Crown for a commission,
selves under his power! It had been which had gone through the farce of re-
stated, that the prisoners at one time porting, unless it was prepared to act







45] Mr. Hunt's Imprisonment. APRIL 21, 1822. [46
upon that report. No apprehension need It had been said, that the offence of which
be entertained that the present case would Mr. Hunt had been convicted was not a
often occur, or that the interference of very grave one; but, in his opinion, it
the House would encourage many similar was an offence bordering, as nearly as
applications. The hon. under-secretary possible, upon high treason. It had not
had denied the severity of Mr. Hunt's been shown that Mr. Hunt, during his
punishment, and had quoted a letter from confinement, had suffered any hardships
Ilchester gaol written in the first months which were not also shared by the other
of his confinement, in which he praised prisoners: in fact, he believed Mr. Hunt
the gaoler, and expressed his comfort in had less cause of complaint than any other
his new situation. This letter was written person in the gaol. The circumstance
in July: it was probably a flourish, in- which Mr. Hunt appeared to consider the
tended to show his friends how much he greatest hardship to which he had been
despised the efforts of his enemies, and subjected was his seclusion from the
with what stoicism he could bear his mis- society of a person who did not form part
fortunes. But, even though true and of his family. This person was a female
sincere, what did it prove ? Why, that with whom he was connected. There
from May to July he had not begun to was no reason why Mr. Hunt should, in
suffer what he afterwards endured. He this respect, be allowed greater indulgence
(sir J. M.) was not called on to support than the other prisoners. Was he to be
the veracity of Mr. Hunt, and he would permitted exclusively to practise immoral
only beg the right hon. gentleman to be- conduct? If Mr. Hunt had been allowed
lieve him when he was confirmed by other the society of that female, the magistrates
evidence. The court ofKing's-bench re- could not, in common fairness, have re-
fused to receive the affidavit of Bridle, fused to any other prisoner the privilege
when his character came to be known, of receiving any prostitute with whom he
The magistrates, as well as Mr. Hunt, might be acquainted. He concluded by
had been at first deceived and gulled by reading a passage from one of the numbers
this man. From the evidence before the of Mr. Hunt's Memoirs, in which that
commissioners, it was clear that Mr. Hunt individual stated that he had heard sir F.
had suffered more than was contemplated Burdett intended to move for the remis-
by thejudges. He would warn the House sion of the remainder of his sentence, on
against allowing the obnoxious name of the ground that he had already suffered
an individual (and he was sensible how more than the judges intended. This
obnoxious was the name of Mr. Hunt) last idea Mr. Hunt thought was all a hoax.
to be a palliative of any injustice. He Would any man" (said Mr. Hunt),
was sure the House was too just and ge- lay his hand on his heart, and say that
nerous to adopt the maxim, that any he had suffered more than judge Best and
illegal severity could be practised upon two other judges of the King's-bench had
any individual because he was odious, intended ? Had he suffered more than
which they would not countenance to- Best intended he should ? He believed
wards another of more estimable qualities, that Best would have had him tortured if
The injustice established in one case was he could."
soon imitated. Tyrants were too quick- Mr. Fotell Buxton said, that having on
sighted to begin with the mild, the gentle, a former occasion fully stated his opinion
and the amiable. It was among the ob- with respect to Mr. Hunt's sentence and
noxious few that the rights of all were treatment whilst in confinement, he would
first attacked. He, therefore, called upon not that night have said one word, had
the House, on all these considerations to it not been for the pointed allusion which
support the motion, his hon. and learned friend had made to
Mr. Wynn said, that in the case of him. His hon. and learned friend had
White the House reversed its own deci- referred to him as a kind of witness to
sion, and therefore the precedent did not the good conduct of Bridle. He begged
apply. In the case of the rebel lords, the the House to understand that at the time
House of Peers, who had tried them, in- he (Mr. Buxton) visited the prison, and
terfered as a jury to recommend them to made a favourable report of its ma-
mercy, and the House of Commons, who nagement, none of the evils which had
carried up the impeachment, interfered since been proved to exist prevailed. He
as prosecutors in the same application, would say a few words with respect to
This, therefore, was not a similar case. the question before the House. He dis-







47] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


missed from his mind all consideration of
the former conduct of Mr. Hunt; he
looked upon him only as a man under
sentence. Both the term and nature
of his sentence were defined ; and it was
known that the judges who delivered the
sentence believed the prison to be whole-
some and well disciplined. Now, it had
been proved by the report of the commis-
sioners, and by the result of the coroner's
inquest on a prisoner named Bryant, that
the gaol was in a damp and unwholesome
state. If, therefore, Mr. Hunt remained
in that prison, the whole period which
the law had awarded for his confinement,
he would suffer more than the judges
intended-he would suffer injustice.
Mr. Estcourt adverted to some arrange-
ments which had been made in the prison,
all of which tended to afford additional
convenience to the prisoners. Mr. Hunt
had appealed to him, as one of the com-
missioners, to bear testimony to his con-
duct, and he must, in justice to that indi-
vidual, now say that he had seen nothing
improper in it; but, on the contrary, that
there was direct evidence of its being per-
fectly correct.
Sir F. Burdett said, that never, on any
occasion, did he feel less strongly the
necessity of replying; for nothing in the
shape of argument had been offered in
opposition to his motion. The vague and
general declamation in which the right
hon. secretary had indulged, he could look
upon only as a kind of vapour which not
unfrequently arose from that side of the
House. The right hon. secretary had
not condescended to support his declama-
tion against the general conduct of Mr.
Hunt by any proofs. Every person must
feel how vague and indefinite a charge it
was to say, that a man had an intention to
subvert the principles of the constitution.
Ministers would think every man liable to
this charge who might attend a public
meeting to endeavour to obtain redress for
public grievances. The right hon. secre-
tary had entirely overlooked all the hard-
ships which Mr. Hunt had suffered. Ano-
ther hon. gentleman had said, however,
that some of those grievances had been
redressed. But, what inference should be
drawn from this circumstance ? That Mr.
Hunt ought to remain in prison? No;
but that he had suffered inconveniences
which he ought not to have suffered, du-
ring a great part of the term of his con-
finement, and should therefore receive
atonement for the injury. If any mea-


sures of relief had been adopted with res-
pect to Mr. Hunt, thatbwas a proof that
he had formerly been improperly treated.
If that which was now done was right,
that which before existed was wrong. He
was sorry that some observations had beep
made on the subject of the intercourse
which was said to have been carried on
between Mr. Hunt and Mrs. Vince. He
could see no necessity for alluding to that
lady. When it was considered that two
convicts employed in the governor's house
had proved with child, and that the moral
magistrates who superintended the gaol,
were in the habit of putting boys to
sleep in cells with men who had been
guilty of unnatural crimes, it did appear
a little extraordinary, that the purity of
the gaol could not endure the contamina-
tion of Mrs. Vince. Mr. Hunt's private
affairs were a subject with which he was
disinclined to interfere. Misfortunes
might happen to all men. Mr. Hunt, it
appeared, had been separated from his
wife at an early period of his life; perhaps
this might be considered a misfortune;
and he had lived with Mrs. Vinee for 1&
years. He would wish to know, then,
since Mr. Hunt had not been sent to
prison to reform his morals, or to be in-
terdicted from intercourse with any per-
son, why he should be deprived of the so-
ciety of that lady ? He contended, that
there was more immorality and scandal in
unnecessarily dragging the circumstance
before the public, than in allowing it to
pass unnoticed. It had been said, that
the motion before the House interfered
with the prerogatives of the Crown. No
man was more desirous of upholding the
just prerogatives of the Crown than he
was; he would do nothing tending to
infringe them, and no such effect would
result from his motion. But those who
now opposed his motion on the ground
that it was inimical to the kingly prero-
gatives, upon other occasions surmounted
their scruples on that point. In the case
of sir M. Lopez, who was convicted of an
offence deeply affecting the honour and
dignity of parliament, the House had
made a representation in the proper
quarter in favour of that individual, the re-
sult of which was the remission of the
half of his sentence. Could it be improper
for the House to interfere in behalf of Mr.
Hunt, when it had exerted itself in favour
of sir M. Lopez, notwithstanding the
atrocious attack on the purity of election
made by that unfortunate old gentleman ?


JMotion to rew~it thre remainder, A c.







49J Petitionsfor a Rform of Parliament.


He would not detain the House by any
Further observations from coming to a de-
cision on the question, but would conclude
with stating, that he remained of opinion,
that the three grounds upon which he
Rested his motion, had not in the least de-
gree been shaken.
The House then divided: Ayes 84.
Noes 223. Majority against the motion,
139.
List of the Minority.


Barrett, S. M.
I Benyon, B.
Bernal, R.
Birch, Jos.
Brougham, H.
Bright, H.
Bury, vise.
Buxton, T. F.
Calvert, C.
Chaloner, R.
S Concannon, Lucius
Crompton, S.
Crespigny, sir W. De
Davies, T. H.
Denman, T.
Duncannon, visct.
Dundas, hon. T.
Ebrington, viscount
S Ellice, E.
Farquharson, A.
Fergusson, sir R.
Folkestone, visct.
Farrand, R.
Grattan, J.
Graham, S.
Grant, J. P.
Griffith, J. W.
* Guise, sir W.
Gurney, R.
Grosset, J. R.
Gaskell, B.
Heron, sir R.
Hobhouse, J. C.
Hornby, E.
Hume, J.
James, W.
SJohnson, col.
Jervoise, G. P.
Lamb, hon. G.
Lambton, J. G.
Lennard, W.
Lloyd, sir, E.
Lushington, Dr.
Leycester, R.


Macdonald, J.
Mackintosh, sir J.
Martin, J.
Maule, hon. W.
Milbank, M.
Monck, J. B,
Moore, Peter
Marjoribanks, S.
Normanby, visct.
Newman, R. W.
Newport, rt.hon. sir J.
Nugent, lord
O'Callaghan, J,
Ossulston, lord
Palmer, C. F.
Power, R.
Pryse, P.
Rickford, W.
Ramsay, sir A.
Ricardo, D.
Robarts, A. W.
Robarts, D. G.
Robinson, sir G.
Rice, T. S.
Smith, W.
Sefton, earl of
Scott, J.
Stanley,lord
Stewart, W.
Stuart, lord J.
Sykes, D.
Tavistock, marquis of
Titchfield, marquis of
Webb, Ed.
Western, C. C.
Whitbread, W. H.
Whitbread, S. C.
Wilson, sir R.
Wood, alderman
Wyvill, M.
Williams, sir R.
TELLERS.
Burdett, sir F.
Bennet, hon. H. G.


HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Thursday, April 25.
S PETITIONS FOR A REFORM OF PAR-
LIAMENT.] Mr. Pelham rose to present
a petition from the county of Lincoln, for,
a reform in the representation. A noble
VOL. VII.


lord had given notice of a motion on that
subject, who was looked up to from all
parts of the country as a friend of consti-
tutional liberty. He would not pledge
himself to support the noble lord's motion
but he thought the subject entitled to
every degree of attention.
Sir R. Heron said, that the meeting was
most numerously and respectably attend-
ed. The population of Lincolnshire was
almost exclusively agricultural. Formerly,
contented with their lot, they were little
inclined to interfere in political questions,
butnow,seeingaroundthem themostsevere
and menacing distress-finding that the
legislature was either unable or unwilling
to look the state of the country manfully
in the face, and administer those remedies
by which alone their distresses could be
mitigated they were convinced, that no
relief was to be expected but from sub-
stantial and effective reform.
Lord Ebrington presented a petition
from Crediton in Devonshire, praying for
an effectual and complete reform of par-
liament. It had been unanimously
agreed to at a numerous meeting of the
inhabitants regularly convened by the
portreeve. This was the twelfth petition
on this subject which he had presented
from Devon, in the course of the present
session and among the petitioners were a
large portion of the'most respectable gen-
try, clergy, and yeomanry, of that county.
Many more would have petitioned but that
feelings now existed, very generally,
throughout the country, which discouraged
the people fromdoingso. From the manner
in which their petitions were treated they
were becomingdaily more and more convin-
ced that it was utterly uselessto petition that
House. Although he was not surprised
at this, it was to him matter of the greatest
regret; and he could not but express his
hope, that the people of England from one
end of the kingdom to the other, would
persevere in public meetings and in using
every means which the law allowed them
for the declaration of their opinions on the
great and vital question of parliamentary
reform. He hoped, too, that the conviction
which was so universally prevalent among
all ranks of persons out of doors, as to the
necessity of correcting the present state
of the representation, would, ere long, be
enforced even upon the House of Commons
itself.
The Marquis of Tavistock presented a
petition from the county of Bedford,
agreed to at a numerous and respectable
E


APRIL 25P 1822.







fill HOUSE OF COMMONS, Lord John Russell's Motion for a


public meeting, praying for parliamentary
reform. He admitted, that it was fruitless
to petition the House on such a subject;
,and he knew that the petitioners were well
convinced of this. They had seen every
application for a reduction of expenditure
resisted by the minister, backed by the
overwhelming majorities of that House.
They knew well that ministers would meet
their statement with perfect indifference.
,Still they considered it due to themselves
'and their suffering fellow citizens once
,more to approach that House with their
complaints. They would probably hear
from the ministers of the Crown, and par-
ticularly from a right hon. gentleman (Mr.
Canning), that parliamentary reform was
a question merely taken up in the emer-
gency of distress, and that its propriety
was not felt, by what they considered the
-well-disposed part of the community. If
by the well-disposed part of the community
was meant a large proportion of the landed
'interest, borough proprietors, magistrates,
and clergymen, he was bound in truth and
candour to admit that they were unfortu-
nately correct. Butifthey comprehended
within their view of the well-disposed part
of the community, the great body of the
Commons of England, the industrious and
intelligentand moral middleclass of society,
the men who lived not on the taxes, and
who speculated not on the patronage of
the ministers ; then he denied the correct-
ness of the assertion, convinced as he was,
that there existed, from one end of the
kingdom to the other, in that great body,
-a want of confidence in that House, and a
firm conviction of the necessity of a par-
liamentary reform.
The petitions were ordered to lie on
the table, and to be printed.

REFORM or PARLIAMENT.] Lord
John Russell rose and addressed the House
as follows*:
Mr. Speaker; I rise for the purpose of
moving a resolution, that the present
state of the representation of the people
in parliament requires the most serious
:consideration of this House." Should I
be so fortunate as to succeed in this mo-
tion, I shall then move for leave to bring
in a bill for the more effectual represen-
tation of the people in parliament. In
bringing this subject before the notice of
parliament, I naturally feel considerable

From the original edition printed for
Ridgway.


anxiety: not anxiety lest I should fail to
impress upon the House the importance of
a question affecting the formation of the
governing body of this mighty empire-a
question which, if carried, involves, as
some think, the ruin, but as others, and,
according to me, a majority of the people
believe, the salvation of the country-but
anxiety and apprehension lest the weak-
ness of the person, who presumes to bring
forward the motion, should be thought
unequal to a discussion of such magnitude.
It will be an additional weight upon me,
in urging arguments which I think are in
their nature irresistible, to consider how
often those arguments have been enforced
by men of the highest talents ; men entitled
to the veneration of the House and of the
country.
On the other hand, if I may venture to
speak of myself, I feel some encourage-
ment to proceed, in the recollection, that
I have served an apprenticeship, so to term
it, in the cause of reform; that I have
thus had occasion to consider the subject
in its various forms and bearings; and
that, in bringing forward a part of the
question of reform more than two years
ago, although I never for one instant
allowed it to be imagined, that the small
alteration I then proposed contained my
utmost wishes, I yet professed myself in-
clined rather to support the reforms of
others than to originate any general pro-
position myself. I therefore claim some
credit for deliberation when I say, that a
careful investigation of the subject induces
me to lay before the House the reasons
and the principles upon which, in my mind,
a more extensive reform may be safely
founded.-I am likewise encouraged by
the propitious fitness of the present time
for entertaining such a motion. The
question has been so often met and turned
aside by fears of jacobinism in foreign
nations, or of tumults at home, that I feel
it a great advantage to be able to say, that
our present state of external peace and
internal tranquillity affords opportunity for
ample and undisturbed discussion.
There is another circumstance which
ought to weigh in favour of the motion I
am about to make; I mean the number
of petitions for reform of parliament,
which have been pouring into this House
since the beginning of the session. This
fact shows the value which the people at
large attach to this question, and the
eagerness with which they look forward
to its success. Petitions have this year







53] Reform ojParliament. APRIL 25, 1822. [54
been presented to the House from the is called upon to decide. Considering,
Counties of Middlesex, Devon, Norfolk, therefore, that as to the constitutional
Suffolk, Bedford, Cambridge, Surrey, right of the people to representation no
and Cornwall, all praying for reform in doubt or question can exist, I shall not
parliament. In the county of Hunting- consume the time of the House in dis-
S don a petition to the same effect has cussing all the wild theories which have
been voted. Petitions have also been been framed upon that subject. Among
presented in great numbers from separate others, I shall entirely neglect the theory,
towns for the same object; and the peti- that the House of Commons ought to -e-
tions, which have been presented for the present, not the people alone, but the
liberation of Mr. Hunt, nearly all contain Crown and the House of Lords, as well
a petition for reform: thus showing, that as the people. Surely nothing can be
the vast number of persons, who embraced more dangerous than the admission of
opinions in favour of this measure some such a theory. Nothing can be more ab-
years ago, maintain their wishes un- surd than to think, that the balance of
changed, and their judgment unshaken, the Constitution, instead of existing in
Whilst this anxiety in the country for King, Lords, and Commons, should be
reform in general encourages me in the found in the House of Commons alone:
task I have undertaken, I feel it to be a for how, if such a system could be allowed
circumstance no less propitious, that the to prevail, would the country ever be
S petitioners do not ask exclusively for any sure that the balance was adjusted?
one plan of reformation. It may be re- How could the people have any security,
membered, that a few years ago all the that the Crown and the House of Lords
petitions prayed for universal suffrage; had not a majority, and that the true re-
but at a meeting, in the present year, of presentatives of the people were not, by
the county of Middlesex, a meeting which comparison, few in the assembly which
might be supposed to bring together all professes to be sent by them alone ?
classes of reformers, when a venerable Where then would be their guarantee,
* advocate of the cause of reform proposed that their wishes and their interests might
a petition for universal suffrage, he could not be entirely neglected in a house
find no one to second him. That single called the House of Commons, instituted
circumstance shows the disposition of the for the purpose of gathering their wishes,
people to ask for reform as a cure for and protecting their privileges? Throw-
abuses existing, and not as a fanciful, un- ing this theory aside, therefore, I shall
tried measure, of which in their own consider this House as the House of
minds they have some vague conception: Commons only, and its members, not as
* it shows their inclination to accept from delegates of the various branches of the
this House any reasonable system of Constitution, but as forming one. branch
amendment, subject to such an interval of only.-In rejecting theories, I shall like-
deliberation as the importance of the sub. wise lay out of consideration all those
ject may appear to demand, plans which require an entire re-construc-
Under these impressions, I come to tion of the House of Commons: not that
consider what it is that the petitioners I do not think such plans extremely
ask. I think I am borne out in saying, proper to be discussed, but thatI imagine
that what they ask is nothing new; no in- the benefits I seek may be obtained by a
novation upon the constitution; no change smaller change; and I think every re-
in the existing laws; they simply pray, former must agree with me, that if it
that the functions of granting supplies of could be proved we should obtain the ad-
money, of appealing for the redress of vantages we desire by a lesser change it
grievances, of giving advice to the Crown, would be unwise to attempt a greater.
in short, all the legal functions of a House Throwing aside, then, such theories
Sof Commons, should be exercised by the entirely, I come to the question of fact
true representatives of the people. This which I have suggested to the House;
is the language of the petitions, and it is and it becomes necessary, in order to
the undoubted language of the constitu- our right decision, to take into considera-
* tion. The question to be tried, therefore, tion on the one hand, the state of the
is, not whether in law the House ought to House, and, on the other, the condition
be the representatives of the people, but of the people. If I can show, that the
-whether in truth they now are so. It is a condition of the people has materially
* simple question of fact, which the House changed, and that the change in the state







55] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


of the House has not been agreed.
ble to that change in the state of
the people, but of a very different and
opposite tendency, I trust it will be
allowed, that the flouse and the people
have no longer that accordance which
they ought to have, and that some remedy
is required; but if I farther show, that
this discrepancy has Imade itself evident
by acts which the House has done, and
which the representatives of the people
never could have sanctioned; then it
must be admitted, not only that there are
abuses to be reformed, but that duty, and
love of their country command the House
immediately to begin the work.
Without entering into detail farther
than is absolutely necessary, it cannot be
denied, that the people of England have
undergone a considerable change during
the last forty years. The wealth of the
country during that period has very con-
siderably increased. The fact, which was
mentioned early in the session by my hon.
friend, the member for Winchelsea, that
our expenditure during the last two years
of war was 270,000,0001.-while it showed
the immense expenditure of government,
showed also the very great wealth and re-
sources of the people. That wealth and
those resources, widely diffused, have had
a tendency to increase the importance of
the middle classes of society; classes that
stand in a peculiarly fortunate situation,
equally removed from poverty, which is
too often the parent of crime, and from
idleness, which is proverbially the mother
of vice. Free alike from the temptations
created by want, and from those sug-
gested by indolence, they find, in decent
competency and useful occupation, the
guardians of their morality. Politically
speaking, they are intimately connected
with the classes above and below them;
and are, therefore, not liable to partake
either of that disregard of the poor, which
sometimes disgraces the rich, or that hos-
tility to the rich, which unfortunately is
apt to find its way among the poor.
Thus forming themselves the best class
of the community, and at the same time
zealous for the welfare of the others, they
constitute one of the most solid pillars of
the state; and I know not that I could
select a better sign of the future pros-
perity of a country, than the wealth,
comfort, and intelligence of its middle
orders.
Another cause of the improvement of
the country is the great increase which


has occurred of late years in our manu-
Factures. From the year 1785 to 1792,
the average amount of our exports of Bri-
tish manufactures was about 13,000,0001.
a year. From 1792 to 1799 it was
17,000,0001.; but the exports of the year
1821, are stated to amount to 40,000,0001.
When to this is added the still larger con-
sumption of our manufactures at home,
and when it is considered, that out of
these 40,000,0001. our export of cotton
goods amounted to 23,000,0001., our
woollens and linens to 7,000,0001., it must
be inferred,.that a very large proportion
of the inhabitants of the country subsist
by those manufactures. I will not now
dwell upon this new phenomenon in the
state of the country, but for the present
confine myself to a statement of the
fact.
With this immense increase in manu-
factures and commerce, the dissemination
of instruction, and the improvement in
knowledge, have advanced even in more
than equal proportion. Indeed, this is a
circumstance which must strike the most
careless observer, from the vast increase
of books, and the very high prices which
are paid for the exercise of literary
talents. From the immense distribution
of works of every description throughout
the country, one would infer, that, as the
opportunities of information are thus in-
creased, the education of the lower classes
must be enlarged in the same proportion.
Being curious to gain some information
on this subject, I some time ago applied
to an eminent bookseller's house in the
city, from which I learned a number of
interesting facts. I will state to the
House one, which will of itself be suffi-
cient to prove the astonishing extent to
which books are circulated throughout
the country. From the firm to which I
applied, I learned, that their own sale
amounted to five millions of volumes in
the year; that they employed sixty clerks,
paid a sum of 5,5001. in advertisements,
and gave constant employment to not
fewer than 250 printers and bookbinders.
Another great source of information to
the country is the increase of circulating
libraries. In the year 1770, there were
only four circulating libraries in the
metropolis; there are at present one
hundred, and about nine hundred more
scattered throughout the country. Be-
sides these, there are from 1,500 to 2,000
book-clubs, distributing throughout the
kingdom large masses of information on


Lord John Rustedlo Motionfor a







57] RIform of Parliament.
history, voyages, and every species of
* science by which the sum of human
knowledge can be increased, or the human
mind improved. Here I may also remark
on the increase of periodical works. Of
* these there are two (the Edinburgh and
the Quarterly Reviews), many articles in
which are written with an ability equal to
some of the best original writings of
former times, and having a greater circu-
lation than all the periodical works of
thirty years ago put together. Besides
these there are five periodical works of
* science only, all in great demand. And
here, to show that the demand for such
works is not confined to the vicinity of
the universities alone, I will mention, that
a friend of mine, travelling through Inver-
ness, was enabled to procure, at a small
shop, a journal of science and a number
of the Encyclopedia, but afterwards, when
in passing through Oxford he applied for
the same books, he was told that they
were not to be had unless previously
ordered.
While so many and such fruitful sources
of information are thus opened to the
higher orders, the means of improving
the minds of the poorer class have ad-
vanced at a pace not less rapid or less
steady. First came the establishment
about twenty-five years ago of the Lan-
casterian schools, which have distributed
so widely the blessings of early instruc-
tion; and after these followed-the no less
beneficial system of national schools,
* which afford to the poor of every class
education suitable to their state and con-
dition in life. In addition to those means
of improvement, another has been opened,
not less advantageous to the poor-I
allude to the great facilities which at pre-
sent exist, of getting the most valuable
works at a rate so very cheap as to bring
S them within 'the compass of all. Some
time ago an establishment was commenced
by a number of individuals, with a capi-
tal of not less than 1,000,0001., for the
purpose of printing standard works at a
cheap rate. By that establishment the
history of Hume, the works of Buffon,
the Encyclopedia, and other valuable
productions, were sold in small numbers
at sixpence each, and by this means
sources of the highest and most useful in.
S struction were placed within the poor-
man's reach. I regret much to add, that
this valuable establishment was very much
checked in its operation, by the effect of
S one of those acts for the suppression of


APRIL 25, 1822. [58
knowledge which were passed in the year
1819. I regret this the more, as one of
the rules of that establishment has been,
not to allow the venders of their works to
sell any book on the political controversies
of the day.
In noticing the means which have con-
tributed so much to the mental improve-
ment of the great body of the people, I
ought not to omit noticing the very good
effects which have resulted from the exer-
tions of the Bible Society, the Religious
Tract Society, the Society for the dissemi-
nation of Christian Knowledge, and other
valuable associations of similar character.
Since the commencement of the Bible
Society, it has applied the immense sum of
900,0001. to the laudable purpose of
disseminating the knowledge of the scrip-
tures. From the Religious Tract Society
not fewer than five millions of tracts are
distributed annually, and the Society for
Christian Knowledge distributes one mil-
lion. These facts will show the rapid
strides which have been made by the
public in the improvement of general
knowledge.
I will now come to the state of politi-
cal knowledge in the country. This has
been greatly augmented by the extra-
ordinary increase in the circulation of
newspapers. Some time ago I moved
for a return of the number and circulation
of the several newspapers printed in Lon-
don and in the country. That return
has not been made in the manner in
which I had intended; but from the
account I was enabled to procure, it
appears, that there were not less than
23,600,000 newspapers sold in the cpun-
try in the last year. Of these the daily
London papers sold above 11,000,000,
the country papers above 7,000,000, and
the weekly papers above 2,000,000.
From another source I have been enabled
to procure more particular information as
to the increase in the number of papers
within the last thirty or forty years, the
substance of which I will read to the
House.
In the year 1781. In the year 1790. In the year 1821.
In England. 50 . 60 . 135
In Scotland.. 8 ..... 27 ..... 31
In Ireland.. 3..... 27 ..... 56
London daily. 9 ..... 14 ...... 16
Twice a week 9 .... 7 ..... 8
Weekly ... ... 11 .... 32
British Islands O ..... .0 . 6

79 146 284
making in the whole the increase in the







59] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


number since 1790, from 146 to 284,
which is very nearly double in the space
of thirty years.
SHaving made these statements, from
which the House will judge of the vast
increase of the wealth and importance of
the country, and of the rapid strides it
has made in moral and political knowledge,
I will now come to the other part of the
inquiry; namely, whether the state of
parliament is also changed, so as to repre-
sent this increased importance of the
middling, the manufacturing, and the
commercial classes. In proposing this
inquiry, I will state broadly, that not only
is the House bound to consider whether
parliament represents this increased im-
portance, but also whether the govern-
ment generally keeps up with the increase
in strength and knowledge of the people
for I will assert, that no government can
be stable, which does not keep pace with
the increasing improvement of the people
over whom it presides; and that any
government, which fails to make such
advances, must soon come to final ruin.
I take these to be positions so trite, and
even so self-evident, that I should not
have thought it worth while to recal them
to the attention of the House, had not
another and a very different theory
recently found its way within their walls.
I allude to what has fallen from the most
liberal member of his majesty's cabinet,
one who I believe really takes an interest
in the progress of liberty. That right
honourable member has urged the in-
creased information of the people as a
defence of the existence of Certain offices,
which could be defended on no other
ground. Now to assert, that in propor-
tion as the people asked for more economy
there should be more waste-in proportion
as they became more honest there should
be more corruption-in proportion as
they became more enlightened they should
have a government less able to bear inves-
tigation, are propositions so monstrous
and absurd, as must in their very nature
tend to the destruction of any government
they are meant to support. And yet
such is in fact the meaning of the defence
which has been set up in this House, that
an useless office should be continued
because the intelligence of the people
had increased. If such propositions are
followed up, they will have the certain
effect of rendering the government odious
in the eyes of the people-of making
them doubt the value of a monarchy,


and even indifferent to the destruction
of our constitutional form altogether.
But to come to the question-the pre.
sent state of the parliament of the country,
and the relation it bears to the improved
condition of the people. In looking at
this part of the question I was struck
with the remark made by Mr. Justice
Blackstone, who, in referring to the defects
of the representation, says, that yet there
was hardly a free agent in the country
who had not a vote for a member of
parliament in some place or another.
Now, it is not to be supposed, that that
able commentator on our laws would have
gravely made a statement which was at
variance with the fact, and, therefore, his
assertion must have had some foundation
at the time at which he wrote: but let
the present state of the representation be
compared with the statement, and what a
difference will be seen ? We have now
not only one free agent, but there are in
the country at least one million of free
agents-men perfectly free and inde-
pendent, who have no vote for a member
of parliament, though anxious to acquire
the right, and in every way qualified to
exercise the functions of electors. On a
former occasion, when this subject was
before the House, it was stated, and not
denied, that a majority of the members
of this House are returned by a body of
electors not fully 8,000 in number-a
fact utterly at variance with the increase
which has taken place in the numbers,
the wealth, knowledge, and consequent
importance of the people of the country.
But if we look a little farther, and go a
little more into detail on the subject, we
shall find, that while the people go on
rapidly improving, the basis of this House
is gradually becoming more narrow; and
instead of embracing the whole of the
community as the source of their repre*
sentative character, is dwindling into a
sort of self-elected corporation, depend-
ing on a very small portion of that com-
munity. In making this remark, I do
not mean to say it is applicable generally
to the members of this House, but it is
applicable to a majority, able to influ-
ence ,the decision of every vote of the
whole.
First, with respect to the county mem-
bers. I have already observed, that a
great increase has taken place in the
middling orders-in the commercial and
manufacturing classes; but there is no
commensurate increase in the number of


Zord John Russell's M~otionfor a







61] Reform of Parliament.
county members. Out of 513 members
(for England), there are only 92 who
represent counties; and, even with res-
spect to that number, the full and free
expression of the opinions of those who
* have a right to vote is impeded by a
variety of circumstances. Among these
I will notice the enormousexpenses attend-
ant upon contested elections for counties.
I will instance the county of Devon,
where some freeholders have to come
forty miles at each side of Exeter to give
their votes. The consequence of this
* is, that, as few fortunes can bear the
immense charges of a warmly-contested
struggle, there is usually a compromise,
and one member is returned by each
party, though the numbers of one party
may be five or six to one compared with
the other. Another circumstance, injuri-
ous to the state of the representation, is
* caused by the great number of landed
proprietors, whom Mr. Pitt so improvi-
dently raised to the dignity of the peer-
age. The result was, that those of the
landed gentry who remained in the repre-
sentation of the Commons did not form
a body sufficiently strong in name and
property to resist the votes of those who
were swayed by private interests. For
my own part, I am of opinion, that if
only the great landed proprietors were
members of this House, even if they held
their situation as such for life, they would,
provided their proceedings were con-
stantly exposed to the criticism of public
* opinion, be found a more valuable safe-
guard for the liberties of the people than
the House as it is at present constituted.
I will even venture to assert, that if the
House of Commons were abolished alto-
gether, and the public business transacted
by the House of Lords, it would soon be-
come more popular, and obtain more of
the reverence of the people, than ever
will be given to the House of Commons
*in its present state. My opinions on this
subject are founded on the principle,
that those who hold a great stake of pro-
perty in the country will never consent to
any measure of importance against the
declared sense of the public, or which can
irritate the people to resistance. I am
convinced of the truth of this remark,
when I recollect what occurred in the
case of the Queen, when the Lords showed
a deference to the well known feelings of
the people more evident than any in-
stance I can recollect in the House of
Commons.


APRIL 25, 1892. [62
I next would call the attention of the
House to the representation of the large
towns. In some of these there is a full
and free exercise of the opinions of the
electors; and in those instances they
return men of independence to parlia-
ment; but in very many others the elec-
tions are so managed, and the rights of
the voters so abridged, either by votes of
this House, or by usurpation of small
corporate juntas, that by degrees the
number of voters is diminished, while the
influence of many of those who remain is
absorbed by the intrigue of corporate
bodies. I will mention as an instance
Plymouth, which in the reign of Charles
2nd, had 7,000 inhabitants, of whom 300
had votes for its members. The popu-
lation has since increased to 60,000, while
the number of electors is reduced to 200.
I might instance other places, such as
Bath and Cambridge, where the elections
are managed by a small number of persons,
sometimes not even resident in the towns,
but who still contrive to direct the elec-
tions as they please.
I now come to notice the small towns
or boroughs which return members to
parliament. Of these there are 140,
containing less than 5000 inhabitants each.
(In all my calculations I only include
England.) By these 140 boroughs, 280
members are returned to parliament,
making a clear majority of the House in
the sense to which I have just alluded.
Of those small towns there are 40 which
contain from 3 to 5000 inhabitants, and
100 less than 3000 each. I believe that
the system which prevails in most of
these places, and particularly in the
Cornish boroughs, is pretty notorious. I
could, if I did not fear to fatigue the
attention of the House, and if the thing
were not so well known, read a number of
letters clearly showing many instances in
which the return of members to this
House, was procured by money only; by
bribery the most direct: but the thing is
so commonly acknowledged, so universally
allowed to be the case, that it would be
taking up the time of the House unnecesr
sarily. In the last year it was admitted,
that out of 44 members returned for the
several boroughs of Cornwall, there were
only five who were natives of that county.
In another place it was urged by a minister
of the Crown as an argument against
granting the forfeited franchise of Gram-
pound to Cornwall, that the boroughs of
that county represented the commercial







63] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


interests; and it has even been quoted as
a proof of the elasticity of the constitu-
tion, that it can thus take in and represent
the new interests and the new property of
the country. Good God! and is this the
way in which the representation of the
new interests, and the new property of
the country, is to commence? I beg the
attention of the House to this practice, to
its origin, and to some of its conse.
quences: and then I will ask any man,
who respects the Constitution, to say,
whether the new interests, the increased
wealth and importance of the country,
ought to be so represented ? This new
representation is commenced by an open
violation of one of the most sacred laws of
parliament. To this is added wilful and
corrupt perjury; and in the train of these
there follow drunkenness and almost every
species of immorality. But with all these
disadvantages, with this contempt of law,
this gross immorality, does the system
produce any thing like representation ?
It does'no such thing. There is no com-
munity of interests between the elector
and the elected; the elector is utterly in-
different to the character, conduct, or
sentiments of the man for whom he votes;
and when once the price of that vote is
paid, it is to him a matter of no earthly
consequence, whether his purchaser is a
Tory or a Whig, whether he has sworn
allegiance to the House of Stuart or the
House of Brunswick, or even the Nabob
of Arcot-whether he is a supporter of
despotism or a friend to liberty.
One of the worst consequences of this
system is the possession of power without
responsibility. In fact, the individual
thus buying himself in, represents only
the commercial House to which he be-
longs. I remember on one occasion, a
member who had got into the House by
dint of money, and who was afraid lest I
should criticise the means by which he
had obtained his seat, came to me, and
assured me, that he had no wish what-
ever to enter parliament, but that he did
so to oblige his partners in trade. Now,
that is exactly the kind of representative
which I do not wish to see in this House.
I do not wish to see men returned here
for commercial houses, representing only
their partners, and naturally anxious to
oblige government and support its mea-
sures, in order to procure patronage and
favour for their establishments. I do
not mean to say, that this was the case
with the gentleman to whose case I have


alluded; but I know that there are mem-
bers who procure seats in this House for
no other purpose but that of assisting the
commercial houses with which they are
connected. It is well known that in the
war there were many good things to be
given away, which it was of course a
great object with commercial men to pro-
cure. There was a license for trade to
the West Indies given to one house, which
I am informed was worth at least 15,0001.
Is it not natural to suppose, that such a
grant must give no small bias in favour of
government to the political sentiments of
the parties ?
Another circumstance arising out of
the representation of the small boroughs
is, that it is generally procured by the
supporters of government. There are
few who would wish to expend such a
large sum of money as will buy a seat in
parliament, for the pleasure of constantly
voting in minorities. Many of those who
are returned for these places may have a
conscientious disposition to support the
measures of government, and therefore
come into parliament, in order, by such
support, to forward the interests of their
country. Others come in with the view
that, by assisting the minister, they may
obtain a share of his patronage. But
whatever may be the views of those who
procure a seat in this House, in order to
support the government, whether consci-
entious or corrupt, it is interest, and in-
terest alone which induces the greater num-
ber of the immediate patrons of these bo-
roughs, to apply to ministers for a candi-
date. The attorney who has obtained an
influence in a corrupt borough-the mid-
dle man-who performs the disgraceful
office of handing over the bribe-keeping
half as a fee for himself-from the elected
to the elector, has no better way of pre-
serving his hold on the borough, than by
obtaining the disposal of government pa-
tronage in the place and its neighbour-
hood. He goes to the minister to offer
the seat: the minister recommends his
friend-his friend, sometimes assisted by
the minister, pays his money for the seat.
Thus a permanent connection is estab-
lished between the minister and the bo-
rough patron; the one secures a member
to support him in parliament, the other
confirms his own possession in the lucra-
tive property which produces members of
parliament.
Besides this general connection, it is
notorious, that some of the small boroughs


Lordl John Ruesoell's Motionfor a







*65] Reform of Parliament.
are so overrun with ministerial patronage,
* as to be completely in the hands of go-
vernment. That for which the right hon.
the chancellor of the exchequer sits, is of
this description. So many situations in
0 the post-office, the packet-office, and
other public departments, are held by
persons connected with it, that govern-
ment may be said to have the entire
command of the seat; and it is impossi-
ble that any independent inhabitant can
ever hope to possess the smallest influ-
ence there.
* But allowing the existence of the
abuses I have exposed, there arises an-
other question, whether these abuses have
made themselves practically felt in the
government of the country. In refer-
ence to this question, and in answer to an
exposition of abuses somewhat similar to
that I have just made, when the subject
was brought forward, on a former occa-
sion, Mr. Windham, who was opposed to
all reform, observed, that no practical
evil resulted from the system of represen-
tation, and, with his usual liveliness of
expression, likened the petitioners for re-
form to the man mentioned in the Spec-
tator," who had every symptom of the
gout except the pain. This, however
amusing, is a very unphilosophical view
of the question, and is directly in the teeth
of the remark of Bacon, who says, with
equal truth and sagacity, this is- true,
that the wisdom of all these latter times
in princes' affairs is rather fine deliveries
* and shifting of dangers when they are
near, than solid and grounded courses to
keep them aloof. But this is but to try
masteries with fortune: and let men be-
ware how they neglect and suffer matter
of trouble to be prepared ;,for no man can
forbid the spark, or tell whence it may
come.' Notwithstanding the evident
* existence of these abuses, however, I
should be hopeless of carrying conviction
to the minds of the House, if many of
those abuses had not become visible in
their effects. We have now the pain,
along with other symptoms, and are suf-
fering severely from the inadequacy of
this House to represent the people. By
S these sufferings it is, that the minds of
men are thoroughly convinced of the ne-
cessity of reform; and though the opi-
nion of most is, that it could not imme-
diately remedy many of the disorders
which its delay has produced, yet it
would at least have this effect, of affording
a security for good government in. future.
VOL. VII.


APRIL 25, 1822. [6(0
In looking at the evils arising from an
inadequate system of representation, it
must strike every one, that a parliament
might go on for a long time without re-
presenting the people, and yet without
appearing to have very distinct interests.
The consequence would be, that the evil
would not be so immediately felt. For
instance, the people might be eager for aw
war, and it might be the interest of a cor-
rupt parliament to encourage them to
carry their wish into execution. The
country might be governed by a good,
and enlightened minister, and it might be
the interest of a corrupt as well as of an
honest parliament to support that minis-
ter. The people might wish for a reforma-
tion in the laws, and there might be no-
thing in the interests of the most corrupt
House of Commons that should induce
them to oppose that reformation. There
might thus be some cases in which no in-
jury would result to the public from such
a system as I have described; but there
are other cases, which cannot fail to con-
vince even the most incredulous on the
subject, that what they have long been
accustomed to consider a complete sys-
tem of representation, is really incomplete
and imperfect.
To exemplify what I have just said, IT
will take the liberty of reviewing, as
shortly as I can, what has occurred since
the motion for reform, which Mr. Pitt
made in the year 1785. For some time
after Mr. Pitt became minister,, he es-
caped all odium, as well by the merit of
his own measures, as by the unpopularity
of the coalition. Indeed, I consider the'
measures of Mr. Pitt, after his first ac-
cession to office, to have been eminently
wise, economical, and just. They were,
followed by great popularity, which.
enabled him to conduct the affairs of go-
vernment, for some years, without the-
people feeling any necessity of a change
being made in the system of representa-,
tion. Mr. Pitt gave currency to the idea,
that the evils of a defective representa-
tion might not be felt upon all occasions,.
when, upon Mr. Flood's motion forreform
in 1790, he said, that he was as firm and
zealous a friend of the question as he had
ever been, that he should be ready to
propose his motion for it again, whenever,
a proper opportunity should arise-that
it was true, that, for some time, the incon-
veniences of a want of reform might note
be felt; but they would be felt in certain
contingencies.
F







67] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


Passing over some years of peace, Mr.
Pitt entered upon the war in 1793, hav-
ing on his side, as he believed, the
greater part of the property of the coun-
try. I am ready to admit, that the mo-
nied men of the country, alarmed by the
terrors of Jacobinism-whether justly or
no I will not now stop to determine-did
enter willingly at first into the war. At
a later period, however, it appeared from
general testimony that the disposition of
the. country tended towards peace. Their
disposition was gratified two or three
years afterwards, by the peace of Amiens.
That peace, as all of us know, was only
of short duration. We entered upon a
fresh war, and continued it for a few
years, without any discrepancy appearing
between the conduct of the parliament
and the wishes of the people, or at least
without the people's expressing any ear-
nest desire for a reform in their represen-
tation. Yet let it not be supposed, be-
cause the people did not cry out for re-
form, it follows, that the government was
conducted in exact accordance to their
sober and just opinions. For it is of the na-
ture of the people to push obedience almost
to a fault. Nothing can be more false than
the opinions of those, who maintain that
agitators can easily, and without cause, ex-
cite the people to tumultuous and seditious
practices. So far is this from being the
case, that the disposition of every people
is naturally hostile to agitators; indeed, it
is so strongly in favour of government,
that the general mass of a country never can
be induced to see abuse until it becomes
intolerable, or be persuaded to take mea-
sures of precaution against a contingent
loss of property and liberty : nay, more,
they will frequently even submit to the
greatest evils of misgovernment, before
they venture to utter one word in their
own behalf.
In the course of the war, however,
some instances occurred, which could not
fail to excite in the minds of a sensible
nation, a lively attention to the acts of its
representatives. The strongest instance
that I now recollect is, the resolution of
this House, on the expedition to Wal-
cheren, in 1809. That expedition was an
instance of as singular misconduct and in-
capacity on the part of the government,
as was ever displayed in any expedition
sent out from this country. There was
nothing alleged in this House, either in
support of the original plan, or of the
mode of its execution. No untoward ac-


cident had happened to prevent its suc-
cess; the enemy scarcely offered any re-
sistance; every thing went on as well as
the planner of the expedition could wish;
and yet the result of it has been nothing
but disgrace and calamity to the country;
It was so fatal as to realize the cries of
the children of Israel to Moses in the wil-
derness-" Because there were no graves
in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die
in the wilderness '" And yet, upon that
expedition, failing as it did in all its ob-
jects, attended as it was by the utmost
disgrace and calamity, the House of Com-
mons of that day was not contented with
conferring a vote of silent approbation,
but absolutely resolved upon a formal
eulogium, and entered that eulogium
upon its Journals, in order to prevent the
removal of the ministers who had devised
and supported so absurd a project! This
fact was so strong and so striking, that it
convinced many who had before held dif-
ferent opinions, and made them feel that
there was no community of interest be-
tween the parliament that could sanction
such an expedition, and a people which
were execrating the planners of it, and
calling for their condign punishment as an
atonement to the thousands of their coun-
trymen who had been unnecessarily and
wantonly sacrificed. The result of that
resolution of the House of Commons is,
that the projector of that most calamitous
expedition is now the leader of this
House, and the general who conducted
its execution is in possession of one of the
most splendid rewards that it is in the
power of the Crown to bestow.
The general popularity, however, of
the Spanish war-a war in which I con#
fess that I took a very strong interest-
and the hopes which the people had of
overcoming that sovereign who appeared
to aspire to the domination of the whole
earth,, enabled ministers to cast a veil
over the errors they had committed,
and to conceal the faults of which
they had been found guilty. The
people again bestowed their confidence
on the House of Commons, and certainly
that confidence was taken advantage of in
the fullest manner. Every abuse was
promoted, every job was advanced, every
opportunity was seized to turn the fa-
.cility of the people to their own disad-
vantage, and to increase the heavy bur.
thens under which they were labouring.
It was when the war was brought to an
end that the question of parliamentary reo


Lord JohTn Russell's Motionfor a







69] Reform Qf Parliament.
form again attracted the attention and
a excited the feelings of the country. It
then became a question between the two
parties in this House, whether we should
have a large, expensive military govern-
S meant, or a cheap, economical, civil go-
vernment. It was evident on which side
the interest of the people was on such a
question: it was also evident, that if the
House of Commons fairly represented the
people, it would speak in unison with the
wishes of the people: but it was likewise
manifest, that if it did not fairly represent
* the people, it would provide for the pri-
vate interests of its members, which, on
that occasion were directly opposed to
the interest of the community. Here,
then, we should have the House and the
people at issue. The question was one
from which the constitution of the House
of Commons could be fairly ascertained:
S it was an experiment on the subject which
might very fairly be called experimentum
crucis: it was then to be decided what
were the nature of its claims to public re-
gard and to public confidence. That
question was decided, and was decided
against the reputation of this House; for
it voted a standing army of 99,000 men,
and other establishments of corresponding
magnitude.
On a former occasion I have shown,
that those establishments, though they
were sanctioned by a majority of the votes
of this House, were not sanctioned by the
majority of the members for counties.
* And here I may be permitted to observe,
that the members for counties may be
fairly considered as the real representa-
tives of the people, though from the ex-
pense incident to county elections, they
are not now so completely popular as they
would become were that expense to be
diminished. Now it ought never to be
forgotten, that the county members had
opposed this immense military establish-
ment by a majority of 3 to 2, whilst the
House of Commons had sanctioned it by
a majority in the very same proportion,
and had imposed on the community those
heavy burthens to which a great part of
their present sufferings might be fairly
attributed.
In looking in a general view at the votes
which have been given within the last
four or five years, relative to questions of
economy and retrenchment, a noble friend
of mine, the member for Yorkshire, whom
I do not now see in the House, has made
a calculation of the manner in which votes


APRIL 25, 1822. [70
have been given for ministers or against
them by the representatives of the larger
and the smaller towns. I have myself
made a similar calculation from data,
which I found in a pamphlet called the
Elector's Remembrancer, stating the dis-
tinct votes of each particular member.
My noble friend has formed his calculation
chiefly from memory. I have taken my
calculations from the book I have
mentioned, without at all inquiring
whether the parties were deemed mi-
nisterial or not. I have considered all
those as ministerial voters who have never
voted at all in favour of reduction, and
have put down those as opposition mem-
bers who have voted three times in favour
of popular measures, even though they
voted in general in behalf of ministers. I
think that such a calculation is a fair test
of virtual representation, and a fair test,
also, of the value of an opinion which has
been sometimes advanced in this House,
that the members returned by the small
towns are as much the representatives of
the feelings of the people as those re-
turned by the large towns.
In speaking of popular questions, I
chiefly allude to those which refer either
to the Queen or to retrenchment. These
two subjects have certainly interested the
country more than any others which have
come before parliament. I will now
mention what were the results of the
different calculations made by myself and
my noble friend. I will give my noble
friend's calculation, first, premising, at the
same time, that my noble friend considered
as neutral those members who cannot
fairly be said to support or oppose minis-
ters constantly. In my calculation I have
left out entirely those who appear never
to have voted.
According to my noble friend, there
are 33 boroughs, in each of which there
are less than 1,000 inhabitants ; out of the
members for those boroughs 12 have voted
against ministers, 44 for them, and 10
neutral. There are 35 boroughs, con-
taining less than 2,000 inhabitants each;
of their members, 15 vote against
ministers, 45 for them, and 8 neutral.
There were 76 boroughs, containing less
than 5,000 inhabitants ; out of the mem-
.bers for them, 48 vote against ministers,
93 for them, and 10 neutral: There were
25 boroughs, containing from 5,000 to
10,000 inhabitants each ; oat of the mem-
bers for them, 22 vote against ministers,
27 for them, and 1 neutral. And in 31







71] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


boroughs, containing 10,000 inhabitants
each and upwards, there were 38 members
against ministers, only 21 for them, and
5 neutral.
Now, my own statement is not very
different from that which I have just read
to the House; and as the House has
heard the one with patience, 1 will trespass
on its attention with the other. From
the members of the boroughs under 500
inhabitants, there was one member in
favour of reduction, and 19 against it.
From the members of the boroughs con-
taining from 500 to 1,000 inhabitants.
there were 12 for, and 33 against reduc-
tion. From the.members of the boroughs
containing more than 1,000 and less than
2,000 inhabitants, 17 were for, and 44
against reduction. From the members
of the boroughs containing more than
2,000, and less than 3,000 inhabitants, 19
were for, and 46 against reduction. From
the members for the boroughs containing
5,000 inhabitants, there were 25 for, and
44 against reduction; and from those
from the boroughs containing more than
5,000 inhabitants, there were 66 for, and
only 47 against reduction.
Now, the general result of this calcula-
tion goes to show, that the proportion in
favour of ministers diminishes as the size
of the places increases; for, combining
the two calculations I have just read to
the House, the proportion is in the first
instance as 19 to 1 in their favour; in the
second, as 3 to 1; in the third, as 2 to 1;
in the fourth, as 4 to 3; in the fifth as
3 to 5 ; so that in the last case it is 5 to 3
against administration, and for retrench-
ment.
Now these are facts which ought to
convince the most incredulous, that
rP the small towns do not represent the in-
terests of the people as well as the large
towns. They speak for themselves, and
need no further illustration from me. But
besides these facts, others have occurred
during this session of parliament, which
afford results equally striking. I shall
.take two questions which have been dis-
cussed in it, and which undoubtedly are
of great public interest and importance:
the one relates to the salt-tax, the other
to the office of post-master-general. Upon
the salt-tax the numbers were 169 in
favour of its continuance, and 165 in sup-
port of its abolition. Out of these 165
members, there were 42 for English and
Welsh counties, and 55 for the large
tpwnas; of which towns there arealtogether


not more than 56; so that in this small
number of 165, less than a third of the
English members, we have nearly a ma-
jority of the whole number of English
members for counties and large towns.
Now out of the 169 members, who formed
the majority on that occasion, I cannot
make out more than 14 county members,
though I can make out 61 placemen, of
whom only 10 can be in any respect con-
sidered as nominees of counties or of large
towns. I trust, that after such a state-
ment I shall not hear it averred again,
that, while the ministerial side of the
House contains the representatives of
large and populous towns, the Opposition
benches are filled with nothing but
nominees sitting for rotten boroughs.
The division on the office of postmaster-
general was still more decisively in favour
of the proposition which I wish to
establish. There were 159 members for
the abolition, and 184 for the continuance
of that useless office; so that there was
a majority of 25 in favour of the office and
of ministers. Of the 159, 29 were the re-
presentatives of English and Welsh coun-
ties, and 40 the representatives of large
towns, making together a total of 69. On
the other side, I cannot make out more
than 11 county members, and 23 members
for large towns, making a total of 34:
that is to say, that out of those members
who were really elected by the people,
there were 69 for abolishing, and only 34
for continuing the office. If there be any
fact that can make an impression upon the
House, it is that which I have just men-
tioned. Upon that question we have an
illustration of the admirable theory I
before alluded to, and of which we have
lately heard so much-I mean the theory
that the House represents not only the
people, but also the Crown and the House
of Lords. Upon that question we had an
instance of the representatives of the
Crown and of the House of Lords over-
balancing the representatives of the
people, until they were completely merged
in a minority; and beit observed, that the
question upon which the representatives
of the Crown and of the House of Lords
so overbalanced the representatives of the
people, was a question whether we should
maintain an office that was in the
patronage of the Crown, and had been
conferred upon a member of the House
of Lords. Let it be also recollected, that
upon that memorable night the doctrine
was first advanced, that useless offices.


Lord John Russell's Motiirnfor a







73] Reform of Parliament.
ought to be maintained as a counterpois(
to the increasing intelligence of th(
people-a doctrine which my hon. and
learned friend the member for Knares.
borough (sir J. Mackintosh), with hi!
a knowledge of Constitutional history, ha!
declared to be altogether new; and ai
which even the hon. member for Corfe
Castle (Mr. Bankes) has expressed him-
self to be alarmed; and let it also not b(
forgotten, that that doctrine, new and
alarming as it was, has been sanction.
ed by those who were not the re-
* presentatives of the people, but who
personated, on this occasion, the House ol
Commons, and declared and avowed this
theory as their principle of action.-I will
ask any man who looked at this question
-who saw the confusion of different
branches of the constitution which was
thus created-who beheld the public
money unsparingly granted by those who
were afterwards to reap benefit from the
disposal of it-who perceived control
assumed over the public expenditure for
the purpose of more effectually sanction-
ing abuse, screening delinquency, and
opposing the wishes and petitions of the
* people for reduction-I will ask any man,
who took all the points to which I have
just referred into consideration, whether
it is any exaggeration to say, that every
lover of liberty ought to feel alarmed at
the danger to which the British constitu-
tion now stands exposed ?
Having stated thus much of the prac-
* tical evils resulting from the present sys-
tem of representation, I must be permit-
ted to observe, that there are other evils
to which it has given rise, much more
grievous to a friend of freedom than any
which I have yet mentioned. The natu-
ral balance of the constitution is this-
that the Crown should appoint its minis-
* ters, that those ministers should have the
confidence of the House of Commons,
and that the House of Commons should
represent the sense and wishes of the
people. Such was the machinery of our
government; and if any wheel of it went
wrong, it deranged the whole system.
Thus, when the Stuarts were on the
S throne, and their ministers did not enjoy
the confidence of the House of Commons,,
the consequence was tumult, insurrection,
and civil war throughout the country. At
the present period, the ministers of the
Crown possess the confidence of the
House of Commons, but the House of
SCommons does not possess the esteem


AnRIL 25, 1822. [74
e and reverence of the people. The con-,
e sequences to the country are equally fatal.
I We have seen discontent breaking into
- outrage in various quarters-we have seen
s every excess of popular frenzy committed
s and defended-we have seen alarm univer-
t sally prevailing among the upper classes,
and disaffection among the lower-we have
Seen the ministers of the Crown seek a
Remedy for these evils in a system of se-
Svere coercion-in restrictive laws-in
Large standing armies-in, enormous bar-
Sracks, and in every other resource that
belongs to a government which is not
Sounded on the hearts of its subjects. I
Smay be told, that in the divisions which
took place on the enacting of those res-
trictive laws, the names of many friends
Sof freedom are to be found. If I am
obliged to admit this, and even that there
are some personal friends of my own, for
whom I bear the greatest respect as sin-
cere partisans of liberty, who, neverthe-
less, have assisted in imposing those res-
trictions upon the people, which sweep
away many of the provisions of Magna
Charta and the Bill of Rights, and mate-
rially diminish the ancient privileges of
Englishmen, I shall at the same time say,
that I observe the occurrence with regret,
and deplore the more the fatal mistake
which has been committed. It is my
persuasion, that the liberties of English-
men, being founded upon the general con-
sent of all, must remain upon that basis,
or must altogether cease to have any ex-
istence. We cannot confine liberty in
this country to one class of men: we
cannot erect here a senate of Venice, by
which a small part of the community is
enabled to lord it over the majority; we
cannot in this land, and at this time make
liberty the inheritance of a caste. It is
the nature of English liberty, that her
nightingale notes should never be heard
from within the bars and gratings of a
cage; to preserve any thing of the grace
and the sweetness, they must have some-
thing of the wildness of freedom. I speak
according to the spirit of our constitution
when I say, that the liberty of England
abhors the unnatural protection of a
standing army; she abjures the counte-
nance of fortresses and barracks; nor can
those institutions ever be maintained by
force and terror that were founded upon
mildness and affection.
If we ask the causes, why a system of
government, so contrary to the spirit of
our laws, so obnoxious to the feelings of







75] HOUSE OF COMMONSj


aur people, so ominous to the future pros-
pects of the country, has been adopted,
we shall find the root of the evil to lie in
the defective state of our representation.
The votes of the House of Commons no
longer imply the general assent of the
realm; they no longer carry with them
the sympathies and understandings of the
nation. The ministers of the Crown,
after obtaining triumphant majorities in
this House, are obliged to have recourse
to other means than those of persuasion,
reverence for authority, and voluntary
respect, to procure the adherence of the
country. They are obliged to enforce,
by arms, obedience to acts of this
House-which, according to every just
theory, are supposed to emanate from the
people themselves.
Nor is it one of the least evils of this
system, that the ministers themselves are
often compelled to retract their measures
and alter their policy.* If the House of
Commons represented the people, the
ministers would have no other difficulty
than that of making their measures pala-
table to that assembly. Once sanctioned
there, they would naturally obtain the
cordial and affectionate concurrence of
the country. But, in the present state
of things, ministers are obliged to follow
a winding and uncertain course; they are
to be seen supplicating in one quarter,
bribing in another, menacing in a third;
they employ the whole session in courting
the approbation of the great proprietors
of the boroughs, and then, after the pro-
rogation of parliament, they frequently
find their whole web of policy undone by
the sense of the country: and why ? Be-
cause, in spite of the approbation of the
House of Commons, a free press and a
public opinion dare to condemn their
conduct, and have power enough to pre-
vent their measures being carried into ef-
fect.-Thus, to quote one instance among
a thousand, after the House of Commons
of 1816 gave their sanction to a standing
army of 99,000 men, the remonstrances
of the people have compelled the govern-
ment, by repeated clamours to reduce it
to 68,000, only two-thirds of the original
establishment.
Now, in proposing reform, I propose a
measure which must be for the advantage
of a wise and good administration; nay,
it ought to be wished for even by the pre-
sent ministers. For my own part, I will
confess that I have never seen in them
any dark or dangerous designs of destroy-


ing the liberty of their country : all that
I have been able to observe in them is
little inclination to do any thing, either
good or evil, so long as they were per-
mitted to retain unmolested the advan-
tages they derive from power, place, and
profit. I believe, that in most cases it
is perfectly indifferent to them whether
the measures they carry are those which
they themselves originally proposedor those
which have been altered, framed, and dic-
tated bythe indignant sense of the country.
I wish them, therefore, to find at once
in parliament an echo of the public
voice; to have it in their power to avoid
the odium and disgrace of carrying in
this assembly measures which they after-
wards abandon; to be able, without the
delusive support of a majority not ac-
knowledged by the country, to feel at
once in this House the pulse of the peo-
ple of England. Such a reform, I am
convinced, would be at once an advan-
tage to the Crown, a blessing to the peo-
ple, and the safety of the balance of the
constitution,
In these conclusions I am happy to
think that I am supported by great weight
of authority. Lord Clarendon, it is well
known, speaking of Cromwell's parlia-
ment, in which the number of members
for counties was greatly increased, and
the smaller boroughs totally omitted, says,
it was generally thought a warrantable
alteration, and fit to be made in better
times." Mr. Locke complains of the re-
presentation of decayed boroughs, and
particularly of Old Sarum. Without en-
tering more into detail, I may say, that
Mr. Justice Blackstone, lord Chatham,
Mr. Fox, and Mr. Pitt, all concur in
recommending a temperate and rational
reform.
Thus you have the sanction of lord
Clarendon, the most venerable of Tory
statesmen; of Locke, the most liberal of
Whig philosophers; of Blackstone, the
most cautious of constitutional writers;
of Chatham, the boldest of practical mi-
nisters; of Mr. Pitt, the theme of eulogy
to one great party in this country; of Mr.
Fox, the object of affectionate admiration
to another. Such an union of the great
authorities of men, however different in
temper, however opposed in politics, of
men forming their judgment upon the
most different grounds, living in different
times, and agreeing in their conclusions
upon hardly any other topic, strikes me
as presenting a moral combination in fa-


Lord John' Russell's Motion for a







77] Reform of Parliament.
vour of my proposition, that is in itself
almost irresistible. The opinions of the
men whom I have named are blended
in our minds with all that is venerable
in our constitution and our laws; their
S united suffrage in favour of any new mea-
sure gives to the mind much of that confi-
dence, which in general is only obtained
by following the lessons of experience; it
takes away from reform all the rugged-
ness of innovation, and constitutes, as it
were, a species of precedent in favour of
the course which I am urging you to pur-
a sue.-Against these authorities I know
of no equal names which can be ad-
duced on the other side. There are, it is
true, Mr. Burke and Mr. Windham, but
they were both, perhaps, men who dis-
played more fancy than deep reflection in
the view which they took of this ques-
tion, and who have certainly left on record
S no confutation of the powerful arguments
of the great statesmen, who thought dif-
ferently from them on the subject.
Having now had the honour of stating
to the House the unprecedented advance
of the country of late times in wealth
and knowledge; having stated the great
S increase of corruption which has crept
into the elections, and how much confined
the popular force has become in influ-
encing the various modes by which mem-
bers obtain seats in this House; having
also stated the practical injury which has
ensued in the wide distinctions prevailing
on some great public questions, between
" the opinions of the people of England
and of the members of this House, I now
come to the consideration of a plan which
I think calculated to remedy a great part
of the existing evil. In considering what
that plan should be, I have naturally di-
rected my attention to the remedial mea-
sures which have been heretofore sug-
* gested by persons of weight and autho-
rity on this subject. The proposition of
lord Chatham was to add 100 to the num-
ber of knights of the shire sitting in this
House. Mr. Pitt, likewise following the
footsteps of his father, at first proposed
an addition of 100 to the number of county
members. Mr. Flood, in the year 1790,
S proposed the same numerical accession of
strength to the representation, to be elect-,
ed by householders throughout the coun-
try; and Mr. Fox at the time remarked,
that the plan of Mr. Flood was the best he
had ever seen submitted tothe considera-
tion of parliament. Feeling, therefore, the
S weight and influence of such great authd-


APRIL 25, 1822. [78
rities, I shall adopt their number in my
present proposition.
My plan will then be, that a hundred
new members shall be admitted into this
House; and, as far as I have formed any
settled opinion about the distribution of
that number, the leaning of my mind is,
that 60 members should be added for the
counties, and the remaining 40 of the
100 should be for the great towns and
commercial interests of the country,
However, as to the manner of distribu-
tion and the mode of election, that is a
branch of the subject which ought to be
reserved for the gravest and most delibe-
rate consideration, after the present mo-
tion shall have been carried.
It may, however, be said, that since
the time when Chatham, Pitt, Fox, and
Flood called for an addition to the number
of members in this House, their proposed
number of 100 has, in point of fact, been
added by the Irish Union, which it is
known has given that numerical addition
to our body. Nor is there any reform
more generally unpalatable than that
which proposes to add to the numbers of
this House, already rather too large than
otherwise. In order to get out of this
difficulty, I should say, that a number to
the same amount as that given for the re-
presentation of Ireland might be struck
out of the present list, with great benefit
to the country; for instance, let the
hundred be taken away from the hundred
smallest boroughs, which return each two
members to sit in parliament. Let these
boroughs return but one member each,
and then the present number of the
House will be retained.
In proposing this plan, I cannot but
real to the recollection of the House,
that it was not long ago since I. hoped,
that much of the real advantages of reform
might have been obtained by the detec-
tion of prevailing corruption at the
borough elections, and the filling up of
vacancies so detected by a more popular
form. By these means it was possible
that a great popular representation might
have been introduced, to the exclusion of
a wide spreading corruption. In the hope
of accomplishing such a change, I moved
for a committee last year, to consider of
the means of legally convicting boroughs
of notorious corruption; and I am not
sure that, if the matter had been then
taken up in a spirit of sincerity, it would
not have effected, in a silent and gradual
manner an adequate reform in parliament,








79] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


But to be efficacious, it requires the whole
co-operation of this House, and such an
aid, I am sorry to declare, I have not
been so fortunate as to obtain. I am
sorry that the House did not, on the oc-
casion to which I allude, evince the
sincere wish I had hoped for, to put
down corruption. They agreed, it is true,
to punish any specific act of corruption,
whenever the particular case was brought
under the consideration of parliament;
but they would not agree to enact the
only measures which were calculated
practically to put down the evil they pro-
fessed so anxious a desire to correct. In
that respect their conduct resembled that
of a police magistrate, who should declare
his readiness to convict any notorious thief
who might be brought before him, but
who at the same time should proclaim,
that though he knew there were bands of
thieves nightly prowling through the
streets, he would not send out a single
officer of police to apprehend and detect
them.
The indifference of the House to the
measures I then proposed has compelled
me to look for others more calculated to
insure the co-operation of the country at
large, and to obtain from the House, in
the gross, that reform which they were
unwilling to effect by gradual and un-
pretending means. I therefore press for
your consideration the plan which I have
now opened; I think it the best and safest
proposition which can be suggested for
the remedy of a notorious and growing
evil.
There are, obviously, many minor
details, into which it is unnecessary for
me now to enter, and which can only be
conveniently considered in a future stage
of this proceeding : such, for instance, is
the discussion whether copyholders ought
to be permitted to vote in the counties;
but these matters, I repeat, had better
remain over until after the introduction
of a bill, defining the outline of my plan.
The first step must be to ascertain whether
the House will consider at all the question
of parliamentary reform. If they once
admit the necessity of the principle ford
which I contend, then I have no doubt
they may hereafter, with little difficulty,
become reconciled to the measures for its
practical application. I think, under such
circumstances, the modification of details
might easily be accomplished. Leaving,
therefore, all these details for future con-
sideration, I will shortly state the answers


that strike me as applicable to some of
the objections, which I have heard from
time to time made to the expediency, if
not to the principle, of parliamentary
reform.
The first and most plausible objection
against any alteration in the present con-
stitution of the small boroughs is, that
they constantly furnish the means of
bringing into parliament men of great
talents. This is an advantage which I am
not in any way disposed to undervalue;
but it is one which I submit would remain
after my plan is'adopted. I have no ob.
jection that a number of these boroughs
should remain as they now stand; but
what I object to respecting them is, that
the small boroughs are so numerous, ac-
cording to the present system, as not
only to have their proper weight in the
scale of the representation, but to have,
in addition, the means of commanding
a preponderating majority in parliament.
SThey thus give the sanction of a general
parliamentary assent to measures, which
have in the main received only the con-
currence of a number of individual
borough-proprietors. We are thus, for
the sake of obtaining a few men of talents,
sacrificing the great end of parliamentary
representation, the expression of the
feelings and interests of the people. In
order to preserve the show, we are giving
up the substance of a legitimate House of
Commons:
Thus, if you dine with my lord May'r.
Roast beef and venison are your fare;
But tulip leaves and lemon peel
Serve only to adorn the meal;
And he would be an idle dreamer,
Who left the pie and gnaw'd the streamer."
The next objection to which I shall ad-
vert, is founded on that inveterate ad-
herence to ancient forms, however un-
suitable, to old practices, however abusive,
which influences so greatly the decisions
of the English parliament. As this ob-.
jection has its strength more in the feelings
and affections, than in any logical argu-
ment upon which it is grounded; as it
rests on superstition rather than on reason,
I know not how to meet it better than by
referring to an example in ancient story.
The instance I allude to occurs in the his-
tory of Rome; and here I must entreat
the attention of the hon. member for
Corfe-castle, who may be styled the-tory
commentator, as Machiavel may be styled
the whig commentator, on Roman.history.
About 870 years after the foundation of


Lord Johnl Russell's Motionfor a







81] Reform of Parliament. APRIL 25, 1822. [82
Rome, there arose a contest, not very that the chickens declined to eat, or that
unlike the question we are now debating, they refused to leave their coops on ac-
whether the two consuls should continue count of the plebeian consul. The hon.
to be chosen from the patricians, or whe- member for Corfe-castle, in relating this
other one should be chosen invariably from circumstance, attributes the concession
the plebeians. Appius Claudius, who of Camillus to two reasons: first, that he
was the prime advocate of aristocracy thought it prudent to grant what could
and existing institutions in that day, ar- not long be refused; and secondly, that
gued, that the greatest evils would follow he was weary of bearing popular odium.
if any change was made in the ancient Now, I beseech the hon. member to
forms. He contended, particularly, that follow the example of Camillus: let him
none but a patrician could take the grant what we cannot much longer refuse,
auguries-that if any alteration were made without danger to ourselves and ruin to
the chickens would not eat-that in vain our country. Let him rest satisfied with
they would be required to leave their the odium we have already acquired, and
coops. The language given to him by consent to change a course which has
Livy is, '* Quid enim est, si pulli non made us so obnoxious to the people of.
pascentur? Siex caveA tardius exierint ? England.
Si occinuerit avis ? Parva sunt hmec: sed Another objection, which I have heard
parva istanon contemnendo majors nostri made to reform is, that the people, if
maximam hanc rem fecerunt." Such was not numerically, are at least virtually re-
the reasoning of the Roman senator: presented; and as the clearest proof of
reasoning, be it observed, not very dif- their agreement in the judgment of par-
ferent from that which is used to show, liament, it is stated, that when that judg-
that our whole constitution will be sub- ment is once pronounced, they acquiesce
averted if any invasion is made upon the in it without resistance, and the agitations
privileges of Old Sarum. But what was upon that subject immediately cease
the result ? After a successful war against throughout the country. This is to my
a foreign enemy, Camillus, the dictator, mind any thing but a test of popular con-
had to encounter the most dangerous se- fidence in the wisdom of parliament. The
editions at Rome, raised on this subject acquiescence, thus spoken of, is what in
of the consulship. What did he and the fact has constantly appeared in the con-
senate do? It will be imagined that they duct of the people under every govern-
passed restrictive laws; that they pro- ment throughout the world. For it is one
hibited public meetings of more than fifty thing for the people to complain, pending
persons in the open air; that they pun- the agitation of any question, and another
ished the seditious orators, and restrained and very different matter to incur the risk
the liberty of speech for the future. No of criminality, by declaring any violent
such thing. They assented to the peti- dissent from the final adjudication of the
tions of the people. Vix dum per- constitutional authorities under which
functum eum bello atrocior domi seditio they live. The practice of the people is,
except: et per ingentia certamina dic- to express their opinions while a great
tator senatusque victus, ut rogationes question is undecided; but when the de-
tribunicia acciperentur; et comitia con- cision of the supreme magistrate once
sulum advers& nobilitate habitat quibus takes place, they have only to choose
L. Sextius de plebe primus consul factus." between bowing to his authority, or acting
And what was the consequence ? Discord in rebellion to his power. The people of
and calamity ? Quite the reverse. After England, who are distinguished above all
some further contest, the whole dispute other nations for their respect to law,
terminated in favour of the people; and whose characteristic is a submission to
the senate, to celebrate the return of what has been adjudged to be legal, know
concord between the two orders, cor-, very well that a decision of the king and
handed that the great games, the ludi his ministers may be altered, but that,
,maimi, should be solemnized, and that once confirmed by parliament, the act is
an additional holiday should be observed, complete and final: therefore, while a
Rome increased in power and glory; she measure is ministerial, they complain ;
defeated the Samnites; she resisted when it becomes parliamentary, they are
Pyrrhus; she conquered Carthage; nor silent. But nothing is more irrational
in the whole of her famous history is than under such circumstances to infer
any complaint to be found on record, the approbation of the people from that
VOL. VII. G







83] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


silence. When the parliament decided
upon the propriety of omitting her late
majesty's name from the Liturgy, did the
people, because they then petitioned no
more, acquiesce in the justice of that de-
cision ? Were they, when they abstained
from remonstrating against the continu-
ance of two post-masters-general, to be
supposed as adopting the decision of this
House, that two were necessary. All
that ought to be inferred from the people's
silence, when so situated, is, that a suffi-
cient case for actual resistance had not
yet occurred, and that it was useless for
them to protest against the decision of
parliament. I think the people judge
wisely, because, in the times in which
we live, the abuses they endure, though
flagrant, do not amount to a justifiable
ground for actual resistance. But let not
any thing be inferred from theirobedience,
even if pushed still farther. The people,
under the very worst species of tyranny,
are often found sullen and silent victims.
Does the House not know the perfect
obedience which was paid to the acts of
James 2nd? Was that tyrant not sur-
rounded in his worst hour of misgovern-
luent by adulatory lawyers, by subservient
addressers, by servile surrenderers of cor-
porate rights-in short, by every being
who was ready to prostrate the liberties
of his country? Did not James enjoy
the full measure of this sort of obedience
until the evils of his misrule at length
compelled him to abandon his throne ?
Was not the Russian Emperor Paul, no-
toriously tyrannical as he was, obeyed
by the vast population of his empire
during years of oppression, and up to
the moment when the bowstring put an
end to his despotic career ? Was not
Ferdinand of Spain obeyed when he
signed with his own hand the death-war-
rants of his best subjects, until at last
the flame of popular discontent, which
remained so long smothered, burst forth
in the blaze of rebellion, and consumed
all the bulwarks of his arbitrary rule ?
No doubt that, in the day of these
tyrannic acts, the inflictors of them
thought, as some men are disposed to
think here, that the people were in willing
and satisfied obedience because they ab-
stained from open resistance; and there
were bad advisers to press for the con-
tinuance of fatal and desperate measures,
until at length they became intolerable,
and recoiled upon the heads of the
abettors of them with ruin and destruction.


The same fate will befal England, If si-
milar measures are pursued to a desperate
extremity. Suppose a war arose, not of
the people's own seeking, though the mi-
nister were to secure for it the approba-
tion of parliament suppose it led to
bankruptcy and general confusion, in that
melancholy hour, what answer would the
uniform opposers of reform have for those
whose advice, if timely attended to, would
have saved the institutions of their
country? What security would you have
then, that the reform which has not been
made from within, may not come with a
vengeance from without ?
And now, lastly, I come to an objec-
tion, which, in the failure of all other ar-
gument, after the defeat of every specific
and tangible objection, is always brought
forward as a complete bar to every pro-
position of reform. This consideration,
which addresses itself rather to the nerves
than to the understanding of those on
whom it is meant to operate, is the ex-
ample of the civil wars of England and
the French Revolution., I likewise be-
seech your attention to the civil wars of
England and the French Revolution; but
I beg of you that it may be a sober at-
tention, worthy of men and of English-
men. And first let me ask, will any man
say, that it would have been right to per-
mit Charles 1st to abolish parliamentary
government, to levy money by his own
authority, and supersede the ancient li-
berties of England by the doctrine of di-
vine right ?-that it was not lawful and
praiseworthy to resist a system of despo-
tism, not intended, not projected, but ac-
tually established in England in the early
years of that reign? Or will any man
say, that the mean debauchery of Louis
15th was a fit employment for the re-
sources of a great nation like the French ?
That the abuses of the French government
did not require reform? If there be any
man who will say this, let him enjoy his
opinion if he will, but let him not presume
to think himself worthy to enjoy the be-
nefits of the British constitution; and,
above all, let him not venture to think his
counsels can be listened to in a British
parliament.
I assume, then, and let us now confine
our attention to one of the two countries
-I assume, that lord Clarendon, and
lord Strafford, and lord Falkland were
right in their early opposition to the mis-
government of Charles 1st. But why not
stop, it will be said, like lord Clarendon


Lordl John R~ussell'8 Motionfor a







85] Reform of Parliament.
and lord Falkland? Alas! Sir, who shall
S say that the policy of lord Clarendon and
lord Falkland would have procured for us
a system of liberty? Who will venture
to lay his' finger upon that point in the
S history of Charles 1st, when it would have
been possible to save the monarchy with-
out losing the constitution ? Who shall
presume himself to possess more learning
than Selden, more sagacity than Pym,
more patriotism than Hampden ?
The question, in fact, was involved in
inextricable difficulty. From all I have
S read, and all I have thought upon this
subject, I take the cause of that difficulty
to be this: The aristocracy were divided;
they were divided between a larger party,
who were satisfied to bear arbitrary power
for the sake of property and tranquillity;
and a smaller party, who were ready to
sacrifice property and even life for the
sake of destroying arbitrary power. But
this last party, being the minority, were
obliged to call to their aid the assistance
of the people. Now the history of the
world shows, that to accomplish great
changes in government by the active
agency of the people, is a task of great
* hazard and uncertainty. The people, in
a state of agitation, are, in times like
those I speak of, naturally suspicious;
they awake from a dream of confidence,
and find that their facility has been abused
by those rulers in whom they had impli-
citly trusted. In this wreck of all their
established reliances, in this anxious de-
* sire for the benefits of freedom, in this
tremorous apprehension of falling back
into slavery, what wonder is it that their
fears should be continually roused, that
they should listen to accusations even
against their best friends, and that, with
a mixture of zeal and timidity, they
should destroy the beautiful temple at
* the same time that they tear down the
foul idol that it contains? What matter
of surprise is it, that, unable to know ex-
actly the truth, they should rase the very
foundations of a society under which they
have greatly suffered ?
But how are these evils to be avoided
How are these natural and usual cala-
m ities, attendant on popular revolutions,
to be averted? By a united aristocracy.
History here, too, tells us, that if great
changes accomplished by the people are
dangerous, although sometimes salutary,
great changes accomplished by an aristo-
cracy, at the desire of the people, are at
S once salutary and safe. When such re-


APRIL 25, 1822, [86
volutions are made, the people are always
ready to leave in the hands of the aristo-
cracy that guidance which tends to pre-
serve the balance of the government and
the tranquillity of the state. Such a
change was the expulsion of the Tarquins
from Rome; of James 2nd from England,
These were revolutions accomplished
without bloodshed and confusion, by the
influence of an united aristocracy. I call
upon the aristocracy of England, there-
fore, now to unite to make that change
safe, which, if they do not unite, may be
dangerous, but which will not be the less
inevitable. I call upon the Tories to stay
the progress of abuses, which must end in
the convulsion of the state. I appeal still
more confidently to the Whigs to unite
for a similar object. If I know any thing
of Whiggism, the spirit of Whiggism is,
to require for the people as much liberty
as their hands can safely grasp at the time
when it is required: and I am so far from
agreeing to the flimsy accusations some-
times made against the Whigs, that I
think, looking at their conduct from the
beginning, their chief fault has been a
fault of policy, in asking for more free-
dom and more securities for freedom than
the people wished or could retain. The
exclusion bill and the whole life of Mr.
Fox are instances of this observation.
When at the revolution, however, the
government of this country was settled,
the Whigs retained in their own hands
the boroughs which they were able to in-
fluence. I really believe that to this
measure the settlement of the house of
Hanover is mainly owing. During the
reigns of the two first kings of the house
of Brunswick, the county members con-
sisted almost entirely of the most deter-
mined Tories; and had they prevailed,
we should probably have seen upon the
throne the descendants of James 2nd,
granting, perhaps, more securities for our
religion, but not more guarantees for our
liberty than James himself. I think,
therefore, the Whigs were fully justified
in retaining a certain quantity of borough
influence, which they could not otherwise
have justly held. But now, when the
people are enlightened, and fully capable
of understanding their own interests, the
Whigs will act wisely if they yield to the
increased intelligence of the country a
due share in the return of their represen-
tatives. As they formerly retained the
boroughs to secure liberty, let them now
for the same noble object consent to, part








87] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


with them. Let them show to the country,
that if reform is impeded, the Whig aris-
tocracy stands free from the charge of
hindering its progress from any personal
and selfish interest of their own., In so
doing, they will give energy and effect to
their opposition in parliament; for I do
not wish to conceal it, the possession of
these boroughs has lessened the energy
of their efforts in support of the liberties
of the country. They have been able to
state, with less firmness and frankness
than they might otherwise have done,
the causes of the misgovernment of the
country; and the people, on the other
hand, seem to feel that the Whig aristo-
cracy retain something which properly
belongs to themselves. Hence the union
between the party of the people within and
without the walls of parliament has been
less cordial than it would be if the Whigs
were content to yield something to the
popular desire for reform: I beseech
them to do so; but not them only; all
the aristocracy of the land. Sir William
Temple, a wise and amiable man, but
/whom no one will accuse of being too
great an enthusiast for liberty, has said,
/ that this great nation never can be ruined
S but by itself; and that, even in the
greatest changes, if the weight and num-
ber rolled one way, yet England would
be safe. I beseech you that the weight
and number may roll one way; I beseech
the possessors of great property to con-
sider how nearly it concerns them to re-
tain the affections of the great mass of
the people. I beseech you, that, throw-
ing aside all feminine fears, all pedantic
prejudices, and all private advantages,
you will consider only your duty as men,
the wants of the age in which we live,
and that permanent and pervading interest
which we all have in the maintenance of
the English constitution. May you re-
member, that the liberty which was ac-
quired for you by your ancestors will be
required of you by your descendants:
then will you agree to a temperate and
timely reform, reconcile the different
classes of society, and prevent a convul-
sion which may involve all in one common
ruin. Then may that proud constitution,
which has now subsisted in maturity little
more than one hundred years, continue
to maintain the spirit of its freedom, and
extend the sphere of its salutary influence,
until its existence vies with that of the
most durable institutions that were ever
reared for the happiness of mankind in


any age or in any country.-I now move,
" That the present state.of the represen-
tation of the People in Parliament requires
the most serious consideration of this
House."
Mr. Horace Twiss said, the House
would not expect him to go through a
tithe of the various matter adverted to,
and the enormous theories by which it had
been attempted to support this question.
As to the objections urged by the noble
lord against the influence of the Crown in
that House, it appeared to him, that such
influence could only be objectionable
when the functions of government were
completely exercised out of doors; but
when the whole executive was, as it were,
carried on in that House, the objection he
thought did not stand upon such good
ground. The same might be said of the
interference of the Lords in that House.
But, in advocating innovations upon the
existing system of things, the advocates
were not entitled to any benefit from the
antiquity of any practice. They who op-
posed them had a right to follow such a
course of argument; but surely not they
who urged as the foundation of their ar-
gument the modern changes of time.
But upon those silent changes he was will-
ing to rest the issue of the question be-
tween them. And in reply to the aug-
mentation of power in the House of Peers,
he would urge the popular party, which
in the lapse of time had insensibly grown
up in that House, unknown to our ances-
tors. If bribery and corruption were
found to exist in some of the details, it
was not fair to charge the system with it.
If the outrages of the Westminster mob
had been attended with loss of life in the
case of sir M. Maxwell, or if the attempt
at drowning a candidate on a late occasion
at Chester had succeeded, it would have
been deemed murder by the law; but would
it have been fair to charge these as evils
upon the popular system ? The noble
lord, in his inducements for reform in-
cluded the expense of boroughs. But,
allowing the expense of a borough elec-
tion to amount to 4,0001., he asked if for
treble that sum any one would guarantee
the cost of a contested election for Man-
chester or Leeds? The expense then
being equal, or greater in the popular
mode, he asked any one who had witness-
ed the scene of a contested election, the
state of the public-houses, and the state
of the electors, stimulated to outrage and
disorder by every idle watch-word, which


Lord John hI~russel's Alotionfor a







89] Reform of Parliament.
was the preferable system ? The expres-
sion of public opinion was much about
the same in both cases. There was one
very difficult point of difference between
the noble mover, and himself as to the
meaning of the word representative."
He (Mr. T.) understood by it a guardian
of the interests of the people in parlia-
ment, to the best of his abilities. Let the
noble lord look at the operation of public
opinion in bringing about the abolition of
the slave trade, the emancipation of re-
ligious sects, and the mitigation of punish.
ment, before he declared that the people
were not ably and amply represented in
parliament. But, although it ought duly
to represent public opinion, that House
ought to oppose a steady, constitutional
barrier, against the overrunning stream of
popular innovation. The innovation con-
tended for by the noble lord, was by some
unaccountable means, styled moderate re.
form. This moderate reform was, to dis-
franchise a hundred boroughs at once.
This was the amputation of an entire
limb [Hear 1]. It would be well for the
House, in disposing of this question, to
consider what would come next, if they
S satisfied the cravings of the reformers in
this respect. They would next be told
they had not gone far enough; and they
would be driven on, from one point to
another, until they arrived at complete
radical reform. These attempts of the
radicals had been, by some of their own
number, compared to the operation of
wedges! But, unhappily, those wedges
would be found each succeeding one of
larger dimensions than the last, and form-
ed so as to fit the enlarged gap, till the
solid fabric of the constitution was rent
asunder, and riven to the very heart.
Those who formerly only claimed to be
governed equitably, now demanded to
direct the government themselves. The
House would consider how far, if they as-
sented to the first of a series of premedi-
tated changes in the constitution, they
might not be instrumental in a total sub-
version of the monarchy. If a second
time the monarchy was to fall before the
* democracy, the House of Commons, he
trusted, would not a second time assist in
achieving the downfall.
Lord Folkestone said, that as this was
* the first time upon which he had risen to
deliver his opinions in that House upon
the great question which was involved in
the motion of the noble lord, he claimed
* the indulgence of the House while he


AP r, 25, 1822. [90
stated to them the grounds of the vote
which he should give. He had, after
much doubt and hesitation on this mo-
mentous subject, at length made up his
mind to vote for a reform in parliament,
and to support a measure calculated
properly to produce that end. Still,
however, entertaining great deference
for the opinions of very many honour-
able persons which he knew differed
on this point from his own opinions, he
must declare that every feeling of his
heart was engaged in the cause; and that
the result of his inquiries and delibera-
tions only tended to convince him, that it
had now become absolutely necessary, for
the salvation of the country, that a reform
-and a very decided one-should be
adopted. The reform he should advocate
was not framed so as to establish a demo-
cracy-it was not meant to destroy the
throne, but to support it. It was with a
view rather of rescuing the throne from
the dangerous situation in which the pre-
sent system, as he conceived, was calcu-
lated to place it-it was in the hope of
more firmly establishing it, that he meant
to support the present motion. To him
it did appear, that it must be almost im-
possible for any hon. member, whatever
his sentiments on political questions might
be, to take upon himself to assert, that the
representation of the people in that
House was in such a state, at present, as
he would declare that, he thought fit and
proper. To prove the necessity of some
reform, cases were by no means wanting;
for they were to be found in many of the
votes of the House. But, of all the vari-
ous votes to which it had of late years
come, none in his judgment was more ap-
posite by way of example, than one which
had been agreed to in an early period of the
present session. It did strike him as that
particular vote which of all others, in his -
parliamentary experience, was most likely
to reflect discredit and disrepute upon
parliament. A few weeks ago that House
had manifested its willingness to vote the
suspension of the Habeas Corpus act in
Ireland, without any ground whatever
being laid for such a suspension, except-
ing what was furnished by the speech of
the minister, and the mere representation
of the noble lord who was at the head of
the government of Ireland, to that effect.
Yet a measure of this momentous nature had
been voted, and passed in one night. Now, it
had turned out, that so slight was the ne-
cessity for such ap act, that since this







Lord John Russell's Motion for a


hasty vote, it had not been in one single
instance brought into operation ; nor had
there been one single person arrested
under it. After this, would any person
feeling a real regard, a genuine love for
his country and the constitution-would
any one be found to say, that House was
constituted as a British House of Com-
mons ought to be ? For his own part, he
really and truly believed, that there was
nd gentleman on the other side even, who
would get up and say that, either in prin-
ciple, or theory, or fact, the House at
present was so constituted. He did not
believe that any of those hon. gentlemen
really wished to retain the present consti-
tution of parliament, except from a fear
of ulterior consequences-from an appre-
hension of future convulsions and revolu-
tions. And, with respect to convulsions,
he would beg leave to ask the House,
looking at the state of affairs which at that
moment actually existed in the country,
whether, if the House continued to be
constituted as it now was, and went on
pursuing the same measures which it had
long been pursuing, they could suppose
that such convulsions could be averted ?
On referring to the various arguments
which had been at different times adduced
against parliamentary reform, he found
some that were singularly contradictory
and inconsistent with each other. In
some cases the argument had been drawn
from the paucity of petitions presented
for reform, in others, from the multipli-
city of such petitions: in others, again,
the objection or argument was founded
on the supposed danger of the principle
of adding 100 members to the body of
parliament. Another principle, upon
which parliamentary reform had been se-
veral years ago resisted in that House by
one of the most honest opponents of the
question, (the late Mr. John Pitt, after-
wards lord Camelford) was this-that the
House of Lords was no effective counter-
balance to the power of the Crown, and
therefore it was necessary to keep up the
borough system. This argument was not
less extraordinary than the others he had
mentioned. But, there had been some
two years since, a speech published, pur-
porting to have been delivered by a right
hon. gentleman (Mr. Canning), whom he
saw in his place, to his constituents at Li-
verpool, which was supposed to contain
the newest and most approved arguments
against reform. It had been cried up in
that House as containing all that could be


advanced on the subject; and from the
price at which it was published, (and by
which, to judge from the size of the pam-
phlet, the booksellers must have been
losers), it would appear to have been
widely dispersed over the country. If he
had not known that the right hon. gentle-
man was a strong opponent of reform in
parliament-that the right hon. gentle-
man's object in making that speech was
to instruct his constituents as to the dan-
gers of reform, he should have said, upon
perusing it, that it was a speech in favour
of parliamentary reform. [Hear.] The
right hon. gentleman, in his address at
Liverpool, had spoken of the account
which he owed to his constituents as their
member, and as a minister of the Crown.
This was a very democratical notion.
Responsible as a representative to his con-
stituents he certainly was, but how as a
minister of the Crown the right hon. gen-
tleman was more accountable to the peo-
ple of Liverpool than to the people of
Manchester or any other town, he did not
perceive. The argument upon which the
right hon. gentleman had chiefly relied
was, the vast happiness the people of
England enjoyed under the system as it
existed. In the first place, this happiness
might not be produced by the system;
but if it were, he should be glad to know
where that happiness was now to be
found ? Had it not entirely disappeared,
and were not the people at this moment in
a state of suffering not surpassed in the
history of the world ? In talking of the
present constitution of the House, it was
not a little curious to remark the present
constitution of the government. Not long
since, the noble marquis (Londonderry),
had come down with a detailed statement
of disturbances in Ireland: and he had
concluded by frightening the House by
assuring it, that rebellion was stalking
abroad in the land." Yet, what had ano-
ther member of the government only a
few nights ago asserted on the same sub-
ject ? Not only that rebellion did not
stalk the land, but that the disturbances
were only not contemptible, because if
not checked they might lead to dangerous
consequences. Such were the trifling
contradictions of the different members
of government in the present constitution
of the House But, if it was to be con-
tended, that all the happiness of the
country was to be attributed to the House
of Commons, he with much better reason,
might attribute all its distress to the


91]l HOUSE OF COMMRONS,







93] Reform of Parliament.
House of Commons; because it was the
S special business of the House of Com-
mons to see that the people were not
damnified.
To return to the speech of the right
hon. gentleman at Liverpool. He had pro-
ceeded to illustrate what he called the
happiness of the country under the powers
that were, by reference to the six acts-
those melancholy attacks upon British
liberty, which had passed shortly before
his election. At least this was unfortu-
nate, especially as within two months
after the address was delivered, rumours
were heard of drillings in the north, and
disorders prevailed, just as much as if the
House had never passed the six acts. In
addition, ministers had then thought it
necessary, in spite of the happiness of
the whole country, to build new barracks
at Carlisle and Glasgow, and for the
ground on which they were erected they
had been compelled to pay 2001. and 2501.
per acre. Such were the beneficent
effects of the six acts. If they looked at
the right hon. gentleman's account of the
effect of the House of Commons on the
other branches of the constitution, it was
the more extraordinary that he approved
of it. This, the right hon. gentleman
observed, was admitted on all hands, that,
from the first establishment of the House
of Commons, it had been gradually grow-
ing in power, until, like Aaron's rod, it
had well nigh swallowed up the other two
branches, its fellows. The right hon.
gentleman had said, that the constitution
was good, because it was continually
shifting and varying. Now, if it had been
good at that time-if it had then been so
nicely balanced at that time-it could
hardly happen that it was exactly balanced
now. If the system were good at the
moment the speech was delivered-if at
that precise period the balance were so
nicely and delicately adjusted, it could
not be so at present; because it was
always altering. And did the right hon.
gentleman mean that it had reached its
perfection just at the date of his defence ?
He (lord F.) was convinced that the
system-the constitution of the House-
was hourly becoming more obnoxious;
and though, perhaps, it might not yet
have absorbed its fellows, it had taken a
great stride to absorb one of the preroga-
tives of the Crown, and a prerogative of
the highest value and importance. After
the bill of pains and penalties against her
* majesty had been withdrawn, it became


Arant 25, 1822. [94
highly desirable that parliament should be
dismissed without any interview with the
sovereign: it was felt that for the king to
address both Houses, under such circum-
stances, would be attended with great
difficulty; although it was most indecent
that the Commons should not be thanked
for granting to the king the largest stipend
ever given to a monarch. Parliament had
not been prorogued by proclamation; as,
after consultation, it was finally deter-
mined that it could not be done: accord-
ingly, as the king could not come down,
and as the prorogation by proclamation
could not take place, both Houses had
taken upon themselves to dispense with
one of the most ancient and undoubted
prerogatives of the Crown-a prerogative
which he, though a determined reformer.
and a reformer to a great extent, would
not have consented to abolish. The right
hon. gentleman had once very candidly
confessed in that House, that when he com-
posed a speech, he sat down to consider
the arguments which might be used against
him, and to answer them before hand.
But in this sort of anticipation the right
hon. gentleman was apt to exaggerate the
arguments of his adversaries. In this way,
the right hon. gentleman had supposed the
reformers to have contended, that the
House of Commons was not sufficiently
powerful. This no reformer could ever
say. No: the complaint was, that the
people were not sufficiently powerful.
The six acts, the proceedings on the Man-
chester business, shewed the power of the
House of Commons; but what was wanted
was, that in the exercise of that power
they should be influenced by the will and
the interests of the people. The right
hon. gentleman, while he had described
the power to which the House of Com-
mons had grown up, had made it matter
of praise that its constitution had not
been changed. In ordinary cases of trust
examination of character was required, and
as that trust was increased, the necessity
of scrutiny as to the persons trusted was
greater. No doubt the House ought to
be watched, and watched narrowly: so
said the reformers, and so said the right
hon. gentleman; for here he was himself
a reformer. Strange and inconsistent as
it might seem, the conclusion the right
hon. gentleman had drawn from these
premises was, that the people were to be
well satisfied, because there was no mate-
rial difference between the House of Com-
mons now and formerly. It had been dis-







95] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


puted by some, whether if a man could
lift a calf, and continue to lift it every
day, he would grow stronger as the calf
grew heavier, so as to be able to lift it still,
when it was increased to the size of an ox.
What might be the right hon. gentleman's
present opinion, it might not be easy to
say; but, applying the moot point to the
House of Commons, he must contend, that
the man would not be stronger, yet never-
theless he would be able to lift the ox.
The fact, however, was mistaken. The
House of Commons had materially altered.
The right hon. gentleman had himself
asserted, that it was subject to perpetual
change; and he (lord F.) begged to assign
one or two reasons why, in the nature of
things, it must be very much altered from
its original constitution. He had been
long enough in parliament to recollect,
that many years ago, a member would
have been called to order for talking even
of a peer being concerned in an election ;
much more if he had said, that peers and
the Crown had their representatives in
that House. In this respect there had
been a change. As money made wealth
so power increased power; and those who
once were powerful daily became more so.
He had formerly seen a little book, con-
taining the names of members, and the
places they represented a century ago ;
and it there appeared, that boroughs were
usually represented by gentlemen residing
in their neighbourhood. Now, however,
the members were merely the nominees of
individuals, without the slightest con-
nexion with the places they affected to
represent. In this respect, also, there was
a change; and certainly not for the better.
He found also, that in the time of George
I. there were only 178 peers, but now
there were 310 : and, adding the bishops
and the Irish peers, 382. The progress
had been in the following degrees: In
1719, there were 178 peers. In 1780 there
were ]83. In 1821 there were 310.
From the year 1760 to 1821, there had
been no less than 209 creations. Was this
no change in the constitution ? He beg-
ged:the House to consider how this in-
crease applied to the question of reform.
In the first.place, there were taken from
the choice of the people, 209 persons who
might have been their champions; and
those who might have been their cham-
pions, by the favour of the Crown were
converted into their enemies. The ene-
mies of the people were also increased by
this operation in another way; for these


peers, who before, perhaps, had represen-
ted boroughs, on retiring to the upper
house of course put their nominees into
their seats; and thus, besides the 209 ene-
mies in the new peers, the people met
with 209 additional opponents in their
representatives in the House of Commons.
The only plea on which those who re-
sisted reform could defend the influence
of the Crown was this-that the House of
Commons, in fact, governed the country
-that the three estates no longer existed
to any practical purpose: but that the
king, the peers, and the people had their
representatives here, If this were true,
then it was not true, that the representa-
tives were chosen by the people; or, if it
were true, then the right hon. gentleman
was even a greater democrat than the re-
formers, and was for nothing short of a re-
public. If the House of Commons were
elected by the people, and it absorbed all
the power of the three estates, and if the
right hon. gentleman were content within
that state of affairs, he was satisfied, to all
intents and purposes, with nothing less
than a republic. [Some symptoms of im-
patience were here exhibited on the minis-
terial benches.] He could assure the
House, that he was not anxious to occupy
more of its time than was necessary.
What he had said might be very absurd,
but it did not appear to him to be so ; and
until he was of that opinion, he should
persevere. [Hear, hear.] The inconve-
nience of frequent changes was dwelt on ;
but it was not for frequent changes that
the advocates of reform looked : at least,
the most zealous and able advocate of
radical reform, Mr. Jeremy Bentham,
conceived, that by what he called "an-
nuality of election," a greater permanence
would be given to the composition of the
House than was now known. Those who
contended, that the Commons included the
three estates, and in fact governed the
nation, were the real enemies of the Crown
and of the peers, and they only seemed to
wish to destroy the monarchy. The king
had his representatives, and the peers had
theirs; and, among the former were the
lords of the Admiralty and the post-mas-
ters, who were sent to counteract the few
real representatives of the people. He
would contend that this doctrine of the
three estates being equallybalanced in that
House was not the fact. But, even if they
were balanced here, there was a power in
another place which rendered that balance
useless. As an instance of this, he would


Lord Johnl Russell's Motionfor ar







971 Reform of Parliament.
refer to the Catholic question. That ques-
0 tion had once been carried through the
House of Commons. Neither the repre-
sentatives of the Crown nor the represen-
tatives of the lords in that House were
* able to defeat it; but, in the House of
Lords, the measure was rejected. There-
fore, he had a right to argue, that the
people had not fair play ; because it ap-
peared, that when a popular measure was
carried in the Commons House of parlia-
ment, in spite of the representatives of the
other two bodies, those bodies revived,
* exerted all their influence, and gave a
death-blow to the question in another
place. Besides, it appeared that the deci-
sions of that House were considered by his
majesty's ministers as of no importance.
No later than last night, the right hon-
ourable member for the University of
Oxford had declared, that if an address to
the Crown were carried by the unanimous
voice of that House, he would not advise
his majesty to act. [Hear, hear.]
With respect to this new doctrine-this
doctrine of an equal balance of the consti-
tution-this doctrine of the strength of
king, lords, and commons being equally
" poised in that House-it was not to be
found in any of the books which treated of
the law and constitution of the country.
It was a new dictum, and, he conceived, a
very dangerous one. How could they tell
whether that balance, supposing it to exist
was or was not correctly struck? But, if
it were struck accurately, it was quite
* evident that a very trivial matter would
unsettle that balance. The creation of
the slightest additional debt-the appoint-
ment of an office-the sending forth a
commission-these, and a thousand other
circumstances, equally trifling, would at
once overthrow this vaunted balance, and
overthrow it, too, without any person
* being aware of the fact. The right
hon. gentleman, speaking of the pre-
sent state of the constitution, observed,
that the country was accustomed to cer-
tain inconveniences which were connected
with it, and had grown out of the lapse of
time and the change of circumstances.
The right hon. gentleman then went on to
ask, Would you reform the constitution
on new principles, or bring it back to what
it was at some former period ?" In his
" opinion, the first question was not fairly
put. The question ought to be Do you
wish to establish the constitution on old
principles ?" Supposing the question to
" be put fairly, he was inclined to think that
VOL. VII.


APRIL 25, 1822. [98
the principles contended for by most
radical reformers did obtain in other days
-not perhaps in form, but certainly in
principle. He had very good authority
for asserting this. Mr. Prynne, speaking
on this subject, observed, that before the
28th of Henry VIII., when a 40s. freehold
was declared to be the lowest qualification
for a county elector, every inhabitant and
commoner in a county had a right to vote
at each election, whether he had Id. 6d.,
or Is. a year, in the same manner as the
40s. freeholder had at present. So that
universal suffrage, which some gentlemen
were pleased to denominate universal
confusion," though he did not join in the
propriety of the designation, was, it ap-
peared, formerly allowed. Previous to the
time of Henry VIII., universal suffrage did
exist in the counties. The right hon.
gentleman asked with respect to cities
whether the election of members to repre-
sent them was' ever materially different
from what it was at present ? Now, there
were grave authorities to show, that the
right of voting in cities and boroughs was
formerly intrusted to a much larger body
than it now was. In favour of this doctrine
they had a resolution of that House, in
1626, in which-it was declared, that the
elective franchise did of common right
belong to all commoners, and nothing
could take it from them but prescription or
ancient usuage." The celebrated antiquary,
Mr. Cotton, Mr. Selwyn, and chief justice
Coke, agree to the interpretation put by
parliament on the documents to which this
resolution referred; Dr. Brady, objected
to it. He denied that those learned men
translated the words communilas civitatum
et burgorum correctly; alleging, that they
did not understand the meaning of the
word communitas, which they took in too
extensive a sense. This was the way Dr.
Brady got out of the dispute.
The right hon. gentleman had further
observed, that there could not be a pure
democracy in a limited monarchy like
ours, because, if there were, it would over-
throw the other estates. On this point he
reasoned, and he endeavoured to produce
instances to prove his proposition. Now,
it would be a misnomer to denominate that
a democracy which was not a pure demo-
cracy. It must be either a pure demo-
cracy or no democracy at all; if not a
pure democracy, it degenerated into an
aristocracy or an oligarchy; and he should
like to know, where the book was to be
found in which it was laid down, that there
H







99] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


were not three estates forming the English
constitution-a king, an hereditary aristo-
cracyi and an elective democracy. The
right hon. gentleman then adverted to the
state of things which, in his opinion, the
reformers wished to introduce; and he
asked, triumphantly, was this a mere idle
theory of his ? To show that it was not,
he referred to the difficulties into which
the parliament of 1648 had plunged the
country, and observed, that theproceedings
of that day showed what a radical parlia-
ment would do. Let the House consider
what that parliament really did. They,
undoubtedly, perpetrated some atrocious
acts. The attainder of the earl of Stafford
and the murder of the king were amongst
the number; but they also perfected many
good measures. In their firstsession they
passed an act abolishing the high court of
star-chamber. [Much interruption by
coughing and cries of hear."] Gentle-
men could not suppose that he would cease
in the middle of his observations. Many
of the acts which this parliament passed in
its first years were declared to be of such
a nature that uncorrupted posterity
would reverence those by whom they were
matured." If their early measures were
good-so good that the people thanked
the king, in the beginning, for assenting
to them-the people of the present day
had a right to thank that parliament for
some of the measures which it adopted at
its close, particularly for the navigation
act. As the conduct of that parliament
had been of a mixed character-as it had
done some good and some bad acts-it was
not fair in the right hon. gentleman to
hold it up as an object for undivided blame
The right hon. gentleman had stigmatised
it with a title of a "radical parliament;"
but it remained to be seen how far that
epithet could fairly be applied to it.
With respect to the election of that par-
liament, he had not had an opportunity
of searching the records to discover whe-
ther it was more popular than elections
had usually been at that time. He had,
however, no reason to suppose that it was
more popular; but that, on the contrary
the court party exerted themselves to pro-
cure favourable returns in different places.
In one point it was most irradical; for it
was the only parliament that ever affected
perpetuity. They had heard of parlia-
ments which sat for-twelve, or thirteen, and
even for twenty years; but this was the only
one that aimed at perpetuity. They passed
an act declaring that they could not be


dissolved, except by their own consent.'"
-The noble lord then proceeded to expa-
tiate on the mischiefs which arose from
the want of a proper check on the conduct'
of parliament. Where such a check did
not exist, parliament soon became irres-
ponsible; and all power, without responsi-
bility, was tyranny. This was,a strong
argument in favour of short parliaments.
He would ask the right hon. gentleman
how he could reconcile it to himself, pro-
fessing as he did, that he was a friend to
the whole constitution, to the privileges
of the peerage, and to the rights of the
people-how he could reconcile it to him-
self to support the present state of things,
as he described them, when the House of
Commons had swallowed up the power
both of the King and the House of Lords?
In opposing the sentiments of the right
hon. gentleman, he was also opposing pre-
judices in which he had himself been
reared, and opinions which he had for-
merly entertained. He conjured the
House to consider the motion seriously;
convinced, as he was, that the people
would not long put up with those sufferings
and privations to which they had been ex-
posed for a protracted period, unless par-
liament turned a favourable ear to their
complaints.
Mr. Duncombe said, that the plan of
Mr. Pitt went to reduce the rotten bo-
roughs, but that great statesman had
strongly deprecated annual parliaments
and universal suffrage. He could never
consent to hazard the fate of the country
upon wild theoretic plans, and would
therefore oppose the present motion.
Mr. Wynn rose amidst cries of ques-
tion." He said, that he should not
trespass on the House at any length; but
as, after a debate of five hours, not one
half hour had been consumed by those
who were desirous to oppose the motion,
he thought it but fair that some oppor-
tunity should be allowed for the statement
of their objections. He had also reasons
of a more personal nature for wishing to
occupy their attention, after the attack
which the noble mover had thought proper
to make upon him. The noble lord had
said, that whether he went among Whigs
or Tories, ministers or radicals, the Gren-
villes were equally the abhorrence of the
country. He was not disposed to shrink
from a comparison with the noble lord-
he was not ashamed to stand upon his
own character, but would fearlessly op-
pose that character to the character of


[100


Lord John Russelrs IV61ionfor a







101o


Reform of Parliament.


the noble lord. The noble lord could
urge no pretence to the opinion and con-
fidence of the country which he (Mr.
Wynn) could not advance with equal
claims. This might be called vanity;
but something was due to the injured
feelings of an individual who had always
pursued a direct and straight-forward
course. The noble lord had stated, that
he (Mr. W.) and his friends, when they
accepted of office, and had vacated their
seats, had no constituents by whom they
could be called upon to explain and jus-
tify their conduct as a condition of their
re-election. To this he would reply, that
he was returned by as large and respect-
able a body of constituents as the noble
lord. After he had accepted of office, he
went down to that body, and having in-
formed them of his appointment, and ex-
plained his reasons for again demanding
* their suffrages, he received their unqua-
lified approbation, and was elected with-
out opposition. He was sorry to be
obliged to obtrude any account of his
personal concerns or personal conduct
on the House; but every man's cha-
racter was dear to himself, and the at-
tack which had been made upon him jus-
tified him in attempting to repel insi-
nuations which he scorned, by appealing
to his parliamentary life for evidence of
his political consistency. When he first
obtained a seat in parliament in 1797, he
was directly opposed to these who occu-
pied the opposition benches, many of
" whom were the same gentlemen who now
sat there. And, why was he opposed to
them ? Because he was convinced that,
under the name of liberty, they advocated
licentiousness-because he thought that,
under the idea of supporting the friends
of freedom, they were encouraging and
strengthening the enemies of the consti-
* tution. After the party whom he then
opposed agreed in the necessity of pro-
secuting the war against the enemies of
real freedom, the differences between him
and them ceased; and without changing
his principles, he voted generally with
them. In 1817, he found nearly the same
state of things as when he first entered
* the House. He found the same system
of combining against the constitution, the
same system of secret meetings for illegal
purposes, the same disposition to tumult,
and the same feelings of disaffection. The
gentlemen opposite maintained the same
conduct on the latter as on the former
* occasion. He did not complain of them


APRIL 25, 1822. [102
for supporting their own consistency;
but if they were consistent in adhering to
their side, he could not be called incon-
sistent for reverting to his former opinions.
In these circumstances he found the dif-
ference between himself and the gehtle-
men who sat on the benches opposite
growing greater and greater every day.
This was particularly manifested in the
different views which they entertained on
the question of reform, and the necessity
of the six acts of 1819, which, in his opi-
nion, were indispensable for the salvation
of the country. The noble lord had sup-
posed the case of his (Mr. W.'s) being
called to answer questions on the hust-
ings, relative to his reasons for joining an
administration which he had formerly op-
posed; and he thought he could satisfac-
torily reconcile this apparent inconsis-
tency. He had been opposed to ministers
on the question of the currency. That
question had been set at rest by a mea-
sure in which ministers and the House
cordially concurred. All obstacles to an
union on this topic had therefore been
removed. After the peace, he had been
opposed to ministers on the subject of
the standing army. He resisted their
original estimates in 1816, because he
thought they manifested the adoption of a
military system -objectionable, on ac-
count of its expense, but more objection-
able from the dangers with which it
threatened the constitution. Such was
the military establishment which he op-
posed in 1816; but he had since seen
that military establishment reduced below
any estimate which he could previously
have formed. The noble lord had ad-
verted to his votes on the proposed repeal
of the salt-tax at different periods, as
evidence of his inconsistency; but these
likewise admitted of a satisfactory expla-
nation. He was opposed to that tax be-
fore he accepted of office: he was so still.
He thought it highly objectionable; and
was of opinion that it ought to be repealed
as soon as possible, consistently with the
public welfare. The gentlemen opposite
had many of them opposed the income
tax before their friends accepted of office,
and when in office they had continued
and increased it. In this they were not
inconsistent; neither was he in voting
against the immediate repeal of the salt-
tax, of which he as highly as ever disap-
proved. When the question came lately
before the House, he was of opinion that,
in the face of the pledges of parliament







103] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


to maintain a sinking fund of a certain
amount, and during the progress of a great
financial operation, the success of which
.depended on the fidelity with which par-
liament observed those pledges, he could
not consent to the immediate surrender of
so great a portion of the public revenue
as this tax supplied. On the question of
Catholic disabilities, he still maintained
every opinion which he had ever ex-
pressed. The question was so important,
the interests which it involved were so
momentous, that he was willing to incur
every sacrifice to accomplish the measure;
and if he had been of opinion that by re-
fusing office he could have promoted its
success more than by accepting it, he
would not have hesitated for a moment
to adopt the former course. With these
views, it was pleasing to him to reflect,
that a noble marquis, whose views on this
subject were similar to his own, had been
placed at the head of the Irish govern-
ment, and that a right hon. friend of his
(Mr. Plunkett) had likewise come into
office. These appointments he regarded
as a pledge, that, though that great mea-
sure itself might not be immediately car-
ried, it was only postponed; and in the
mean time afforded the country a security,
that the laws would be administered with
impartiality, and that the privileges which
the Catholics of Ireland had already ob-
tained, would not remain a dead letter,
but would be executed in their true spirit,
and to their full extent. The noble lord had
laid too much stress on the circumstance of
some of his (Mr. W.'s) friends not having
constituents, when he brought it forward
as a disqualification for office. Suppose
there should be a change of ministry to-
morrow, and the two hon. members for
Knaresborough (sir J. Mackintosh and Mr.
Tierney) were promoted to office, would it
be any reason against their appointment
that they could not be examined by their
constituents? Havingsaid thus much inan-
swer to thenoble lord's observationsrespect-
ing him and his family, he would now say
a few words on the subject of the motion
before the House. But he would first
revert to a part of the charge against him
which he had nearly forgotten. He was
accused of not only accepting office him-
self, but.of bringing in two of his friends
to the board of control along with him.
He could assure the House, that nothing
would have given him greater pleasure
than that his right hon. friend (Mr. S.
Bourne) should have remained at the


board; but when he had long previously
resolved to resign, it surely could not be
justly made the subject of charge against
him (Mr. W.) that he advised the ap-
pointment of two of his friends, with
whose talents and:assiduity he was best
acquainted.-With respect to the motion
itself, he saw no advantage that could
arise from it. If a hundred members for
boroughs were to be taken off, the effect
would be to deprive the House of some
of the most useful men in it. He could
not agree with those who thought that
the business of that House might be done
well enough by experience alone, without
any assistance from knowledge. He
should be very unwilling to try such ex-
periments. It always appeared to him
a great advantage that professional gen-
tlemen, who had no parliamentary influ-
ence of their own, should have opportu-
nities afforded them of displaying their
talents in that House. He could not
admit, with the noble lord, that the basis
of representation was narrowed, at the
same time that the population increased.
The system of representation was become
lately more popular. As a proof of this
he might refer to the boroughs of Ayles-
bury, Shoreham, Cricklade, and Gram-
pound. It always appeared to him
unwise to remove existing institutions,
without first providing a substitute. If
this motion were agreed to, was it to be
supposed that it would content the advo-
cates for reform? No. The noble lord
who spoke last had manfully declared
himself the friend of annual parliaments
and universal suffrage. Now, the effect
of such changes would be, to alter com-
pletely the constitution of the House of
Commons. He objected to the motion,
on account of its general and indefinite
nature. When any practical proposition
was submitted to the House, he should
give it his best attention but a general
motion of this kind, he would always
oppose.
Mr. Robinson presented himself to the
House, and continued on his legs, amidst
loud cries for Mr. Canning. He could
assure the House, that he would not have
interposed between its natural impatience
to hear his right hon. friend, and'his
right hon. friend's speech, had it not been
for a personal explanation. The noble
lord had adverted to some expressions of
his in a former debate, and had adduced
them as a motive for adopting the impor-
tant change which he recommended in the


Lordb John Russel~)s Motionfor a:


[104







105]


Reform of Parliament.


system of our representation. The use
thus made of his expressions made him
anxious to explain them; for what he had
anticipated at the time that he uttered
them had actually taken place. His
words had been made to bear a meaning
which he never intended. He was des.
cribed as an advocate for parliamenatry
corruption, though no one who considered
the argument in which he used the per-
verted words could justly impute such
sentiments to him. He was accused of
saying, that the general diffusion of know-
S ledge made it necessary to maintain use-
less places as a counterbalance to the
influence which knowledge created. Now,
he had said no such thing. In speaking
of the influence of the Crown, he had said,
that before measures were taken to reduce
it, it was necessary to consider what that
influence was; because offices which at
S one time and under certain circumstances
gave an undue influence, might at another
time, if destroyed, endanger the just in-
fluence of the Crown. His argument
was, that in the diffusion of knowledge, an
infinitely greater check on the influence
of the Crown existed in our days, than in
former periods of our history; and that
if the House proceeded to abolish an
office to decrease that influence, they
were taking a false estimate of its extent.
But, did he argue against the diffusion of
knowledge? Goqd God! could he be so
preposterous! No. He said, the diffusion
of knowledge was a blessing; and among
S other reasons, because it was a check on
power. He would not argue the merits
of the question; but he would say to the
noble lord (Folkestone), that, if he had
taken time to consider of,the alteration
which his opinions had undergone, he
(Mr. R.) knew not why he should not be
allowed time to consider why he should
* change his opinions. The noble lord had
given, as a strong reason for the measure
which he had proposed, the great change
which had taken place in the public mind;
and he (Mr. R.) would refer to that
change, as a reason why the House should
pause ere it adopted any such propositions.
He would allow that on this question of
* reform a very great change had taken
place in the public mind. There was
a time when many thought that there was
no salvation but in annual parliaments and
universal suffrage. Now, the hundreds,
or thousands, or millions, who held these
-opinions had come down to the more
S temperate reform proposed by the noble


Arm 2 9, 1822. [106
lord. He thought this change on the part
of the public, a conclusive reason why the
House ought not to be in a hurry. A
very great portion of the people had
already changed their minds upon the
subject; and it would be but fair to wait,
in order to see whether they would not
change their minds still further.
Several members then rose at the same
time; but the cry for Mr. Canning was
so loud and prevalent, that they gave way.
Upon which,
Mr. Canning rose and said *:-In obey-
ing the call which the House has done me
the honour to make upon me, I should be
unwilling to occupy their attention for
any length of time, uppn a subject with
respect to which my opinions are suffi-
ciently notorious, were it not for the
pointed manner in which I have been
alluded to by the noble lord Folkestone
who has lately addressed them. That
noble lord has challenged me either to
support my old opinions by new argu-
ments, or to abandon them. He describes
himself as having been converted by my
former arguments against parliamentary
reform, to an opinion in favour of it: and
in his own conversion to a creed which he
had before rejected, he fancies himself
entitled to carry me with him, and to
make me a proselyte against myself.
Those arguments of mine which have pro-
duced this unfortunate and unforeSeeneffect
upon the noble lord's understanding have
been long before the public; and I have
no disposition to complain that the noble
lord has referred to then as pointedly and
particularly as if they had been uttered
in the debate of this night. It was
natural too, perhaps, that the noble lord,
with the ardour of a convert, should
flatter himself that his new-born zeal
would extend to all around him: but I
must beg leave to say, that the noble
lord has carried his expectations a little
too far, when he desires me to read my
own speeches backwards; and to avow
myself, if not a confirmed democrat, at
least a friend to moderate reform. With
the permission of the House, I will state
in as few words as possible, the grounds
on which I continue to hold the same
opinions which I haveheretofore professed;
and to draw from them the same con-
clusion.
Never, Sir, could those opinions be ad-

From the original edition printed for
Hatchard and Son.







1071 HOUSE OF COMMONS,


vanced under more favourable auspices-
never could a conviction of their truth
and justness be expressed with better
assurance of a favourable reception than
on the present occasion; when we have
just been informed by the noble marquis
of Tavistock in presenting a petition for
parliamentary reform, that the whole body
of the nobility, of the gentry, of the clergy,
of the magistracy, of the leading and
opulent commercial classes-in short that
the great mass of the property and in-
telligence of the country, is arrayed
against that question. To this singular
and valuable admission of the noble mar-
quis (singular as to the opportunity
chosen for declaring it, and the more
valuable for that singularity) have been
added others not less striking, on the part
of the noble proposer of the motion.
That noble lord, while contending for a
change which he declares to be necessary
for the salvation of the state, but which
he admits to be a change serious and ex-
tensive in its nature, has acknowledged,
that under the existing system the country
has grown in power, in wealth, in know-
ledge, and in general prosperity. He
has detailed accurately and laboriously
the particulars of this gradual and sensible
improvement; and he has further acknow-
ledged, that in proportion to the progress
of that improvement a silent moral change
has been operated upon the conduct of
this House-which is now, he allows,
greatly more susceptible of the influence
of popular feeling and of the impressions
of public opinion, than it was a century
ago. Nay, he has gone farther still. He
has, in anticipation of an argument which
I perhaps might have used, if the noble
lord had not suggested it, but which I am
glad to take at his hands, expressed a
doubt, or at least has shewn it to be very
doubtful, whether a more implicit obse-
quiousness to popular opinion on the part
of the House of Commons, would produce
unqualified good;-avowing his own
belief that if the composition of the
House had been altered at the Revolution,
the purposes of the Revolution would not
have been accomplished, the House of
Hanover would never have been seated
upon the Throne. The composition of
the House of Commons is now precisely
what it wasat the time of the Revolution.
Whatevever change there may be in its
temper, is, by the noble lords acknow-
ledgment, towards a more ready obedi-
ence to the public opinion. But if the


House of Commons had at the time of
the Revolution, been implicitly obedient
to the people-in other words, if the
House had been then entirely composed
of members popularly elected-that great
event, to which I am as willing as the
noble lord to attribute the establishment
of our liberties, would, according to the
noble lord's declared belief, have been in
all probability defeated.
Surely these admissions of the noble
lord are in no small degree at variance
with his motion. Surely such admissions
if not ample enough of' themselves to
overbalance the direct arguments which
the noble lord has, in the subsequent part
of his speech, brought forward in the
support of that motion, do at least relieve
me from much of the difficulty and odium
which might otherwise have belonged to
an opposition to Parliamentary Reform.
If I contend in behalf of the constitution
of the House of Commons such as it is, I
contend at least for no untried, no dis-
credited, no confessedly pernicious es-
tablishment. I contend for a House of
Commons, the spirit of which, whatever
be its frame, has, without any forcible
alteration, gradually, but faithfully, ac-
commodated itself to the progressive spirit
of the country; and in the frame of
which, if an alteration, such as the noble
lord now proposes, had been made a hun-
dred and thirty years ago, the House of
Commons of that day would, by his own
confession, have been disabled from ac-
complishing the glorious Revolution and
securing the fruits of it to their posterity.
Thus fortified, I have the less difficulty
in meeting the noble lord's motion in
front; in giving, at once, a plain and
direct negative to the general resolution,
which is the basis of his whole plan. I
do not acknowledge the existence of the
necessity, which by that resolution is
declared to exist, for taking into conside-
ration, with a view to alteration and
amendment, the present state of the
representation of the people in the House
of Commons-knowing as I do, that
what is in the contemplation of many
persons who are calling for Reform, could
not be adopted; and not knowing what
may be the ideas and designs of others;
feeling an equal repugnance, both from
what I know and what I do not know
upon this subject, to a doubtful and
equivocal proposition, which would have
the effect of binding',this House to enter
into the consideration of an endless suc-


[108


Lo-rd John Russreli's Motionfor a







Reform of Parliament.


cession of schemes for purposes altogether
S indefinite; I object in the very outset to
the noble lord's general resolution, inde-
pendently of any objection which I may
feel to his particular plan.
SNot, however, that the plan itself is
not abundantly fertile of objections. So
far as I understand it, that plan is little
more than to make an addition of 100
members to this House, to be returned
by the counties and larger towns; and to
open the way for this augmentation, by
depriving each of the smaller boroughs of
one half of the elective franchise which
they now enjoy. This plan the noble
lord has introduced and recommended
with an enumeration of names whose autho-
rity he assumes to be in favour of it.
Amongst those names is that of Mr. Pitt.
But the House must surely be aware that
the plan brought forward by Mr. Pitt
S differed widely, not only in detail, but in
principle, from that propounded on this
occasion by the noble lord. True it is,
that the object of Mr. Pitt's plan was, like
that of the noble lords, to add 100 mem-
bers to this House: but this object was
to be attained without the forcible aboli-
S tion of any existing right of election.
Mr. Pitt proposed to establish a fund of
1,000,0001. to be applied to the purchase
of franchises from such decayed boroughs
as should be willing to sell them. This
fund was to accumulate at compound
interest, till an adequate inducement was
provided for the voluntary surrender, by
* the proprietors, of such elective franchises
as it might be thought expedient to
abolish. There was throughout the whole
of Mr. Pitt's plan a studious avoidance of
coercion; a careful preservation of vested
interests; and a fixed determination not
to violate existing rights in accomplishing
its object. It was hoped, that by these
* means every sense of injury or danger
would be excluded, and that the change
in view would be brought about by a
gradual process, resembling the silent and
insensible operation of time. Here then,
I repeat it, is a difference of the most
essential kind between the two proposi-
tions of Mr. Pitt and of the noble lord; a
difference, not superficial, but fundamen-
tal; as complete, indeed, as the difference
between concession and force, or between
, respect for property and spoliation. I am
not, however, bound, nor at all prepared
to contend for the intrinsic or absoluteex-
cellence of Mr. Pitt's plan; and still less
* to engage my own support to such a plan,


109}


Arpm. 25, 1822. [119
if it were to be brought forward at the
present time. But placing it in fair com-
parison with the noble lord's, I must
entreat the House to bear in mind that
Mr. Pitt never lost sight of the obligation
to preserve as well as to amend; that he
proposed not to enforce any reluctant sur-
render; nor to sacrifice any other than
voluntary victims on the altar of practical
improvement.
The noble lord has cited other grave
authorities in favour of his projected re-
form. Now, I hold in my hand an extract
from a work which probably will be re-
cognised, as I read it, but the title of
which I will not disclose in the first in-
stance. Hear the opinion of an eminent
writer on the right of parliament to inter-
fere with the elective franchise.-" As to
cutting away the rotten boroughs, I am as
much offended as any man, at seeing so
many of them under the direct influence
of the Crown, or at the disposal of private
persons. Yet I own I have both doubts
and apprehensions in regard to the remedy
you propose. Ishall be charged, perhaps,
with an unusual want of political intrepi-
dity, when I honestly confess to you, that
I am startled at the idea of so extensive
an amputation. In the first place, I ques-
tion the power de jure of the legislature,
to disfranchise a number of boroughs,
upon the general ground of improving the
constitution."-" I consider it as equi-
valent to robbing the parties concerned of
their freehold, of their birth-right. I sayv
that although this birth-right may be for-
feited, or the exercise of it suspended ia
particular cases, it cannot be taken away
by a general law, for any real or pre-
tended purpose of improving the constitu-
tion."-Is it from sir Robert Filmer-is it
from the works of some blind, servile,
bigotted, Tory writer, that I quote the
passage which I have now read? No; it
is from an author whose name, indeed, I
am not enabled to declare, but the sha-
dow of whose name is inseparably con-
nected, in our minds, with an ardent if
not intemperate zeal in the cause of poll
tical freedom. It is Junius, who thus ex-
presses his fears on the subject of inter.
fering with the existing franchises of elec-
tion, even for the purpose of effecting
what he deems, with the noble lord, a
beneficial change in the construction of
the. Hpuse of Commons.
The plan devised by Mr. Pitt, and, the
sentiments of this celebrated writer;
equally furnish a contrast to the proposiq







Ill] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


tion of the noble lord; which is in effect
forcibly to take away the elective
franchise from one body of the people for
the purpose of giving it to another: and
to inflict forfeiture without guilt and with-
out compensation.
But, even if I, and others who think
like me, could be won over to this plan, by
its vaunted moderation-by the circum-
stance of its going only half the length
of the more sweeping reform deprecated
by Junius-it does much surprise me
that the noble lord should imagine that
such half-measures would appear satis-
factory to reformers. Surely, surely, that
class of persons upon whom the noble
lord reckons for support, and whom he
considers as having of late so greatly in-
creased in numbers look for a very
different measure of alteration, from that
which seems to bound the noble lord's
present intentions. How happens it, for
instance, that the noble lord, notwith-
standing the accuracy of research with
which he has apparently studied the sub-
ject in all its parts, has omitted any men-
tion of Burgage.tenures ? He cannot but
know that it is against that species of
election that the popular clamour has
been most loudly directed. Yet, amidst
all the noble lord's enumeration of rights
and modes of election, of freehold and
copyhold, of large towns, and small towns,
and counties, and villages, the words
" Burgage Tenure," have never once
escaped his lips! Does the noble lord
mean to take away Burgage tenure, or
does he not? If he does not, I will so
far most cordially join with him; but let
not the noble lord, in that case, expect
the support of those reformers with whom
he has recently allied himself. If he in-
tends to pursue a double or a doubtful
course; if he proposes to mitigate his
violation of franchise in the hands of the
present holders by taking only half away,
and hopes by giving only half, to pro-
pitiate the new acquirers-it may be very
presumptuous in me to pronounce an opi-
nion upon a scheme which the noble lord
must no doubt have turned and viewed
in every light before he made up his mind
to adopt it-but I do venture, to opine,
that in thus endeavouring to keep terms
with both parties, he will in the end satisfy
neither. The one will be as little con-
tented with what is granted to them, as
the other will be reconciled to what they
lose. Needs there any further argument
to show that whatever may be the


feasibility of other plans of reform, this of
the noble lord is one which cannot possibly
be useful to any purpose, because it
cannot be palatable to any party ?
It being plain then to demonstration
that the noble lord's plan cannot succeed,
the House must prepare itself, if his first
resolution should be carried, to enter im-
mediately upon the discussion of a variety
of schemes; upon a concurrence of opi-
nions in favour of any one of which, it
would be vain to speculate. Plan will
follow plan; all unlike each other in every
respect, except in their tendency to
destroy the present frame of the constitu-
tion. It is affirmed, indeed, that a great
change has lately taken place in the public
mind; that the sentiment in favour of re-
form is diffused more widely, while the
violence and exaggeration of that senti-
ment in particular minds is much abated;
that more people wish for a reform; but
that there is a greater disposition to be
satisfied with a moderate one:-that in
proportion as a practical alteration has
become more generally desired, the wild
and visionary theories heretofore prevail-
ing, have been relinquished and dis-
countenanced. This may possibly be so;
but on what ground am I to rest my
belief of it .? I have seen nothing in the
course of the last two years, during which
the noble lord on the floor (Folkstone)
has been meditating on my speech at
Liverpool, to lead me to think that those
who two years ago entertained wild and
visionary notions of reform have since re-
linquished them. If my speech was, as
the noble lord declares, calculated only
to make proselytes to the persuasion that
the present House of Commons is in-
adequate to the discharge of its functions,
and if such be in consequence the views
which that noble lord has adopted, how
can he entertain the notion that the small
alterations proposed by the noble mover
will satisfy genuine reformers ? ; Let him
be assured that he must go far deeper
into democracy before he can hope to
satisfy the cravings of reform; nay, with-
out the hope of satisfying them-though
the constitution may be sacrificed in the
experiment.
Sir, if the House looks only to the
various plans of reform which have at
different times been laid upon its table,
not by visionary speculatists, but by able
and enlightened men, some of the orna-
ments of this and the other. House of Par-
liament, how faint and flat is the noble


Lord John Russeli's Mojtonfor 6


[112








mover's present plan in comparison with
S them ? Let us take for example that one
of the plans which had the greatest con-
currence of opinions, and the greatest
weight of authority in its favour. A pe-
tition was presented to this House in 1793,
which may perhaps be considered as the
most advised and authentic exposition of
the principles of parliamentary reform,
that ever has been submitted to the con-
sideration of this House or of the public.
Those principles are developed by the
petitioners, with singular clearness and
S force, and expressed in admirable lan-
guage. It was presented in 1793, by a
ndble person, now one of the chief lights
of the other House of Parliament, as the
petition of the Friends of the People,
associated for the purpose of obtaining
a Reform in Parliament." In that peti-
S tion, certain distinct propositions are laid
down as the basis of a reform, which, to
my recollection, have never yet been dis-
claimed, either on the part of the peti-
tioners, or of those who have succeeded
them in the same pursuit. The petitioners
complain, in the first place, that there is
not an uniform right of voting;-secondly,
S that the right of voting is in too small bo-
dies ;-thirdly, that many great bodies are
excluded from voting;-and, fourthly, they
complain of the protracted duration ofpar.
liaments.* Does the noble lord believe
that all these notions are forgotten ? that
no persons still cherish them as the only
means of effecting the salvation of the
* country ?-or, does he subscribe to them
all, although he may not think this the
time for pressing them upon the House ?
For my part, Sir, I value the system of
parliamentary representation, for that
very want of uniformity which is com-
plained of in this petition; for the variety
of rights of election. I conceive, that to
establish one uniform right would inevita-
bly be, to exclude some important inter-
ests from the advantage of being repre-
sented in this House. At all events the
noble lord's plan does not cure this objec-
tion. The rights of voting would remain
as various after the adoption of his plan,
as before; and a new variety would be
added to them. Even of burgage te-
anures, the most obnoxious right of all,
and the most indignantly reprobated by
* the petition of 1793, the noblelord would
-carefully preserve the principle-only
curtailing, by one-half, its operation.

* See Parl. Hist. v. 30, p. 789.
VOL. VII.


1131


Reform vf Parliament.


APRIL 25, 1822. [Ifr
It must be admitted that this alleged
defect of variety in rights of voting, was
much more directly dealt with by the hon.
member for Durham (Mr. Lambton), in
the last session; when he brought for-
ward, with great ability, and with the ut-
most temper and moderation, his specific
plan of reform.* That hon. gentleman
proposed to treat the constitution of the
House of Commons as a rasa tabula, and
to reconstruct the system of' representa-
tion altogether upon an uniform plan-
abating without scruple every right and
interest that stood in his way. His plan
differed as materially from that of the
noble lord, as the noble lord's differs from
that of Mr. Pitt, and from the project of
1793. I do not mean to say-(I shall
not be so misunderstood, I trust) that I ap-
proved therefore, of the hon. member for
Durham's plan ; or thought it either prac-
ticable or tolerable. Certainly, no con-
queror of an invaded country ever par-
celled out with a more unsparing hand,
the franchises and properties of indivi-
duals and communities. But that plan
had at least one merit which the noble
lord's has not: it cured the alleged evil
of diversified rights, and tended to pro-
duce the desired uniformity of represent.
station.
Then, Sir, as to the duration of parlia-
ment. Triennial parliaments, it is averred
by the petitioners of 1793, would be
greatly preferable to septennial. The
House would become a more express
image of its constituents, by being more
frequently sent back to them for election;
deriving like the giant of old, fresh vigour
from every fresh contact with its parent
earth. But the noble lord, if I under-
stand him rightly, admits that this parti-
cular reform would be rather an aggrava-
tion of inconveniences-other defects in
the constitution remaining unchanged.
Nothing indeed can be more clear than
this proposition. One of the main objec-
tions to close representation, at present,
is, the advantage which the member for a
close borough has over one chosen by a
popular election. The dissolution of par-
liament sends the popular representative
back to a real and formidable trial at the
bar of his constituents. For the repre-
sentative of a close borough there is no
trial at all; he sits still, and is returned
without any struggle or inquiry. It is obvi-

For a copy of Mr. Lambton's pro-
posed Bill, see Vol. 5, App. p. ciii.
I







15,y HOUSE OF COMMONS,
bus that the proportion of this compara-
tive disadvantage must be aggravated by
every repetition of a general election.
But further. What is the original sir
of septennial parliaments? Why, thai
the Septennial bill was a violent measure
Granted : it was so. But this allegation
however just, applies only to one enact.
ment of the act, not to its general policy
The violence of the Septennial act did no,
consist in the prolongation of the dura.
tion of parliaments in time to come: for t(
do that, the supreme authority of th<
state was undoubtedly as competent, as i
was to shorten the duration of parlia
ments by the Triennial act, some twenty
years before. The violence consisted ii
prolonging the duration of the then exist
ing parliament-in extending to sevei
years, a trust confided but for three. This
and this alone, is the questionable part o
that act-questionable, I mean, as ti
right. I will not now enquire how far th
political necessities of the time justified s
strong an act of power. It is quit
enough, for any practical purpose, tha
the evil, whatever it was, is irremediable
that its effect is gone by; that the repea
of the Septennial act now cannot undo it
and that, therefore, how grave soever thl
charge against the framers of the ac
might, be for the arbitrary injustice o
its immediate operation (a question, int,
the discussion of which 1 have said I wi]
not enter), the repeal of it would have n
tendency to cure the vice of that enact
ment which has given the Septennial ac
its ill name; but would only get rid c
that part of it which is blameless at least
if not (as I confess I think it) beneficial
in its operation. But however much th
duration of parliaments may be entitled t
a separate discussion, it is not to tha
point that the noble lord has called ou
attention to night. A change in the con
stitution of the House of Commons, is th
object of the noble lord's motion.
That such a change is necessary, th
noble lord asserts-and I deny. I den
altogether the existence of any such prac
tical defect in the present constitution <
this House, as requires the adoption of s
fearful an experiment. The noble lor
has attempted to show the necessity <
such a change by enumerating certain
questions on which this House has, o
sundry occasions, decided against th
noble mover's opinion, and against th
politics and interests of that party in th
state, of which the noble mover is so cor


Lord John Russell's Motion for a


[116


Sspicuous an ornament. But if such con-
siderations be sufficient to unsettle an an-
cient and established form of political
constitution, how could any constitution
-any free constitution-exist for six
months? While human nature continues
the same-the like divisions will arise in
every free state; the like conflict of in-
terests and opinions; the like rivalry for
office; the like contention for power. Apo-
pular assembly always has been and always
will be exposed to th6 operation of a party-
feeling, arraying its elements and influenc-
ing its decisions ;-in modern as in ancient
times; in Great Britain, in this our day,
as heretofore in Athens or in Rome. No
imaginable alteration in the mode of elec-
tion can eradicate this vice-if it be a
vice;-or can extinguish that feeling, be
it good or bad, which mixes itself largely
in every debate upon the public affairs of
a nation-the feeling of affection or dis-
favour towards the person in whose hands
is the conduct of those affairs. I am not
saying that this is a proper and laudable
feeling: I am not contending that par-
tiality ought to influence judgment; still
less that when judgment and partiality are
at variance, the latter ought, in strict
duty, to preponderate. I am not affirm-
ing that in the discussion of the question
-" What has been done ?"-the question
-" Who did it "-ought silently to dic.
tate or even to modify, the answer;-that
the case should be nothing, and the men
every thing. I say no such thing. But

I do say, that while men are men, popular
assemblies, get them together how you
will, will be liable to such influence. I
say that in discussing in a popular assem-
bly the particular acts of a government,
the consideration of the general character
of that government, and the conflicting
partialities which lead some men to favour
it, and others to aim at its subversion,
will, sometimes openly and avowedly, at
other times insensibly even to the dispu-
tants themselves, control opinions and
votes, and correct, or pervert (as it may
be) the specific decision. I say that, for
instance, in the discussion upon the Wal-
cheren expedition, which has been more
than once selected as an example of
undue influence and partiality, there was
notoriously another point at issue beside
the specific merits of the case; and that
point was-whether the then administra-
tion should or should not be dismissed
from the service of their country ? Never,
perhaps, was the struggle pushed farther







Reform of Parliament.


than on that occasion; and that vote sub-
Sstantially decided the question in what
hands should be placed the administration
of affairs." I am not saying that this was
right in the particular instance-I am not
Saying that it is right in principle. But
right or wrong, such a mode of thinking
and acting, is, I am afraid, essentially in
the very nature of all popular govern-
ments; and most particularly so in that of
the most free.
The noble lord has himself stated that
in the instance of the Revolution the par-
S liament did wisely in setting at nought
the immediate feelings of its constituents.
There cannot indeed be the slightest
doubt that had the nation been polled in
1688, the majority would have been
found adverse to the change that was
then effected in the government: but
parliament, acting in its higher and larger
capacity, decided for the people's inter-
ests against their prejudices. It is not
true, therefore, that the House of Com-
mons is necessarily defective, because it
may not instantly respond to every im-
pression of the people.
In the year 1811, I myself divided in a
minority of about forty against an over-
whelming majority, on the question re-
lating to the depreciation of the currency.
It would be idle to deny that the majo-
rity, which sturdily denied the fact of
that depreciation, then spoke the senti-
ments of the country at large ; they cer-
tainly did so; but who will now affirm
* that it would have been a misfortune if
the then prevailing sense of the country
had been less faithfully represented in the
votes of this House? What a world of
error and inconvenience should we have
avoided, by a salutary discrepancy, at
that time, between the constituent and
the representative! Eight years after-
S wards, but unluckily after eight years'
additional growth of embarrassment-in
1819, the principles which had found but
about forty supporters in 1811, were
adopted unanimously, first by a com-
mittee of this House, and then by this
House itself. But the country was much
slower in coming back from the errone-
ous opinions which the decision of this
House in 1811 had adopted and confirm-
ed. In 1819, as in 1811, if London and
, 'the other principal towns of the kingdom
had been canvassed for an opinion, the
prevailing opinion would still have been
-found nearly what it was in 1811. Yet is
* it necessary to argue that the decision of


"1173


APRIL 25, 1822. [118i
the House in 1819 againstthe opinion of the
country, was a sounder and wiser decision
tthahat of 1811 in conformity to it? Never
then can I consider it as a true proposi-
tion that the state of the representation is
deficient, because it does not immediately
speak the apparent sense of the people-
because it sometimes contradicts, and
sometimes goes before it. The House,
as well as the people, are liable to err;
but that the House may happen to differ
in opinion from the people, is no infallible
mark of error. And it would, in my opi-
nion be a base and cowardly House of
Commons, unworthy of the large and li-
beral confidence without which it must be
incompetent to the discharge of its high
functions, which having, after due deliber-
ation, adopted a great public measure,
should be frightened back into an ac-
quiescence with the temporary excitement
which might exist upon that measure out
of doors.
Upon another great question which I
have much at heart, I mean the Roman
Catholic question, I have hot the slightest
doubt that the House has run before the
sense of the country; which is now, how-
ever, gradually coming up to us. I have
no doubt that in all our early votes on
this most important question, we had not
the country with us; but I am equally
confident that the period is rapidly ad-
vancing, when the country will be con-
vinced that the House of Commons has
acted as they ought to have done. If on
such questions as these-questions before
which almost all others sink into insig-
nificance-the House of Commons have
been either against, or before, the opinions
of the country, the proposition that the
representative system is necessarily im-
perfect because it does not give an imme-
diate echo to the sentiments of the peo-
ple, is surely not to be received without
abundant qualification. On this ground,
therefore, there is no foundation for the
noble lord's motion; unless the free ex-
pression of an honest and conscientious
opinion, when it may happen to differ
from that of its constituents, be incon-
sistent with the duty and derogatory
to the character of a representative as-
sembly.
To return to the other noble lordt
(Folkestone), who has no sooner re-
nounced his former faith and adopted a
new one, than he seats himself in the con-
fessional chair, and calls upon me for
my recantation :-that noble lord has de-







119) HOUSE OF COMMONS, Lord John Russell's Motionfor a


sired me to explain and defend the pro-
position which I have heretofore laid
down, that those who wish to reform the
House of Commons must intend to re-
form it upon one of two principles:-
either to construct it anew, or to bring it
back to the state at which it existed at
some former period. Before I consent to
be thus catechised by the noble lord, I
might reasonably ask him in what third
sense the word reform can be understood
-except that in which it is sometimes
applied to a military corps; which means
to disband and cashier it altogether ?
Short of that mode of disposing of the
House of Commons (for which I presume
the noble lord is not yet altogether pre-
pared) there is, so far as I know, or can
conceive (until the noble lord shall fur-
ther enlighten me), no other way in which
a reform can take place, than those which
I have specified. Between those two
modes then, I must still desire the noble
lord to make his choice. If his choice
be another construction-a totally new
scheme of House of Commons-is it un-
reasonable in me that, before I pin my
faith upon that of the noble convert, I
desire to behold that beau iddal-that
imaged perfection of political good by
which his reason is fascinated, and which
his inventive fancy has pictured to him as
the standard of parliamentary purity ? If
the second of my proposed alternatives,
be that which the noble lord prefers, the
inquiry that I have then to make of him is
merely historical; and surely he can be
at no loss for an immediate answer to it-
what is the golden era at which the House
of Commons was precisely what you
would have it?
Simple, however, as this latter question
is, 1 have never yet met with the reformer,
who did not endeavour to evade it. I
must endeavour, therefore, to collect the
best answers that I can, from such par-
tial indications of opinion as are scattered
up and down among the general argu-
ments for reform. Some theorists are
fond of tracing back the constitution to
the twilight times of history, where all
that can be clearly discovered is, that
when a parliament met, it usually set
about a fortnight, granted a subsidy or
two, and was forthwith dissolved. It is
not to this infancy of our institutions that
any one will soberly refer, for the likeness
of such a House of Commons as would be
competent, in the present age, to transact
the business of the country and to main-


tain its due importance in the constitu-
'tion. But, the House gradually attained
a more matured existence; it has grown
into a co-ordinate, and is now the pre-
ponderant element of the constitution.
If the House has thus increased in power,
is it, therefore, necessary that it should
also become more popular in its forma-
tion? I should say-just the reverse.
If it were to add to its real active govern-
ing influence, such an exclusively popular
character and tone of action as would
arise from the consciousness that it was
the immediately deputed agent for the
whole people, and the exclusive organ of
their will-the House of Commons, in-
stead of enjoying one-third part of the
power of the state, would, in a little time,
absorb the whole. How could the House
of Lords, a mere assembly of individuals
however privileged, and representing only
themselves, presume to counteract the
decisions of the delegates of the people ?
How could the Crown itself, holding its
power as I should say,for the people, but
deriving it altogether as others would
contend, from the people-presume to
counteract, or hesitate implicitly to obey,
the supreme authority of the nation as-
sembled within these walls ?-I fear the
noble lord (Folkestone) is not prepared
to answer these questions. I do not pre-
sume to say, that they are unanswerable;
but I affirm that, since they were pro-
pounded in my obnoxious speech at
Liverpool, they have yet received no
answer here or elsewhere. In truth, they
admit of no other answer than one which
I happen to have fallen upon within these
few days, in the report of a debate on
parliamentary reform which took place
about thirty years ago; and for which, in
the absence of any answer of his own, the
noble lord will undoubtedly be very
thankful. It is in these words :-" It has
been said, that a House of Commons, so
chosen as to be a complete representative
of the people, would be too powerful for
the House of Lords, and even for the
king: they would abolish the one, and
dismiss the other. If the king and the
House of Lords are unnecessary and use-
less branches of the constitution, let them
be dismissed and abolished: for the
people were not made for them, but they
for the people. If, on the contrary, the
king and the House of Lords are felt and
believed by the people to be not only
useful but essential parts of the constitu-
tion, a House of Commons freely chosen


[120







121]


Reform of Parliament.


by and speaking the sentiments of the
* people, would cherish and protect both,
within the bounds which the constitution
had assigned to them*." These are re-
ported to have been the words of a man,
a the lustre of whose reputation will sur-
vive through distant ages, and of whom I
can never intend to speak but with feel-
ings of respect and admiration: they are
the words of Mr. Fox. That the report
is accurate to a letter, I am not entitled
to contend; but the substance of an ar-
gument so strikingly important, cannot
* have been essentially misapprehended. I
quote these words with the freedom of
history; not with the design of imputing
blame to the speaker of them, but because
they contain a frank solution (according
with the frankness of his character) of
the difficulty with which, in these days, I
have not found any one hardy enough to
grapple. So then-a House of Commons
freely chosen by the people, would, it
seems, cherish and protect" the House
of Lords and the Crown, so long as they
respectively kept within the bounds
allotted to them by the constitution.
Indeed! cherish and protect!-but cherish
and protect, if so and so :-and how, if
not so and so i-How, if the House of
Commons in its reformed character,
should happen to entertain a different
opinion with respect to the bounds" to
be allotted to the Crown and to the Lords,
under the new constitution ? What
would then be substituted for cherish-
ment and protection ?-A fearful ques-
tion! but a question which must be an-
swered, and much more satisfactorily
than I can anticipate, before I can con-
sent to exchange that equality and co-
ordination of powers among the three
branches of our present constitution, in
which its beauty, its strength, its stability,
and the happiness of those who live
under it, consist-for a constitution in
which two of those powers should con-
fessedly depend for their separate exist-
ence on the disposition of the third to
cherish and protect" them. This new
constitution might be very admirable:
but it is not the constitution under which
I live; it is not the constitution to which
I owe allegiance; it is not the constitu-
tion which I would wish to introduce;
and in order not to introduce a consti-
tution of this nature, T must not consent
to the reform of the House of Commons.

*Parliamentary History, vol. 30, p. 921.


ArRI. 25, 1822. [122
If this House is adequate to the func-
tions which really belong to it-which
functions are, not to exercise an undi-
vided, supreme dominion, in the name of
the people, over the Crown and the other
branch of the legislature-but, checking
the one and balancing the other, to watch
over the people's rights, and to provide
especially for the people's interests: if, I
say, the House is adequate to the per-
formance of these its legitimate functions,
the mode of its composition appears to
me a consideration of secondary import-
ance. 1 am aware that, by stating this
opinion so plainly, I run the risk of ex-
citing a cry against myself; but it is my
deliberate opinion, and I am not afraid to
declare it. Persons may look with a cri-
tical and microscopic eye into bodies
physical or moral, until doubts arise whe-
ther it is possible for them to perform
their assigned functions. Man himself is
said by inspired authority to be fear-
fully" as well as wonderfully made."
The study of anatomy, while it leads to
the most beneficial discoveries for the de-
tection and cure of physical disease, has
yet a tendency, in some minds, rather to
degrade than to exalt the opinion of
human nature. It appears surprising to
the contemplator of a skeleton of the
human form, that the eyeless skull, the
sapless bones, the assemblage of sinews
and cartilages, in which intellect and vo-
lition have ceased to reside-that this
piece of mechanism should constitute a
creature so noble in reason, so infinite in
faculties, in apprehension so like a God;
a creature formed after the image of the
Divinity-to whom Providence
Os-sublime dedit: coelumque tueri
Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus,"
So, in considering too curiously the com-
position of this House, and the different
processes through which it is composed
-not those processes alone which are
emphatically considered as pollution and
corruption, but those also which rank
among the noblest exercises of personal
freedom-the canvasses, the conflicts, the
controversies, and (what is inseparable
from these) the vituperations, and ex-
cesses of popular election-a dissector of
political constitutions might well be sur-
prised to behold the product of such ele-
ments in an assembly-of which, whatever
may be its other characteristics, no man
will seriously deny that it comprehends
as much of intellectual ability and of







123] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


moral integrity as was ever brought to-
gether in the civilized world. Nay, to
an unlearned spectator, undertaking for
the first time an anatomical examination
of the House of Commons, those parts of
it which, according to theory, are its
beauties, must appear most particularly
its stains. For while the members re-
turned for burgage-tenure seats, or
through other obscure and noiseless
modes of election, pass into the House of
Commons unnoticed and uncriticised,
their talents unquestioned, and their re-
putations unassailed; the successful
candidate of a popular election often
comes there loaded with the imputation
of every vice and crime that could unfit a
man, not only for representing any class
of persons, but for mixing with them as a
member of society. The first effect of a
reform which should convert all elections
into popular ones, would probably be, to
ensure a congregation of individuals,
against every one of whom a respectable
minority of his constituents would have
pronounced sentence of condemnation.
And if it be so very hard that there are
now a great number of persons who do
not directly exercise the elective fran-
chise, and who are therefore represented
by persons whom others have chosen for
them ; would this matter be much
mended when two-fifths of the people of
England should be represented not only
without their choice, but against their
will; not only by individuals whom they
had not selected, but by those whom they
had declared utterly unworthy of their
confidence ?
Again ;-should we have no cause to
lament the disfranchisement of those bo-
roughs which are not open to popular in-
fluence? How many of the gentlemen
who sit opposite to me, the rarest talents
of their party, owe their seats to the ex-
istence of such boroughs ? When I con-
sider the eminent qualities which distin-
guish, for instance, the representatives of
Knaresborough, Winchelsea, Wareham,
Higham-Ferrers, I never can consent to
join in the reprobation cast upon a system
which fructifies in produce of so admirable
a kind. No, Sir, if this House is not all
"that theory could wish it, I would rather
rest satisfied with its present state, than
by endeavouring to remedy some small
-defects, run the hazard of losing so much
that is excellent. Old Sarum, and other
boroughs, at which the finger of scorn
is pointed, are not more under private


Lord John Russell's Motion for a


[124


patronage now than at the periods the
most glorious in our history. Some of
them are still in the possession of the de-
scendants of the .same patrons who held
them at the period of the Revolution.
Yet in spite of Old Sarum, the Revolution
was accomplished, and the house of Ha-
nover seated on the throne. In spite of
Old Sarum did I say? No: rather by
the aid of Old Sarum and similar bo-
roughs; for the House has heard it ad-
mitted by the noble mover himself, that
if the House of Commons of that day had
been a reformed House of Commons, the
benefits of the Revolution would never
have been obtained.
The noble lord, in his opening speech,
made some allusion to the constitutional
history of ancient Rome, and called upon
my hon. friend opposite (Mr. Bankes) as
the most recent historian of that republic,
to vouch for his facts, and for the appli-
cation of them. Let me follow the noble
lord into his Roman history, to ask him a
single question. How was the senate of
Rome composed ?-I doubt whether even
my hon. friend opposite can inform us.
All that is certainly known on the subject
is, that one and by far the most usual way
of gaining admission to the senate-(this
has not a very reforming sound)-was
through office. Yet that senate dictated
to the world, and adequately represented
the majesty of the Roman people. His-
tory blazons its deeds; while antiqua-
rianism is poring into its pedigree.
But have the defects imputed to the
composition and constitution of the House
of Commons increased with time ? are
they grown more numerous or more un-
sightly? I believe the contrary. I be-
lieve, Sir, that in whatever period of our
history the composition and constitution
of the House of Commons are examined,
not only will the same alleged abuses as
are now complained of be found to have
prevailed; but I will venture to say, pre-
vailed in a degree which could not be
now avowed in debate without a violation
of our orders. There is great difficulty
in speaking on this delicate part of the
subject. It has been made an article of
reproach by the reformers, that the ene-
mies of reform treat these matters with
shameless indifference; that we now speak
with levity of transactions the bare men-
tion of which, according to the dictum of
once the highest authority in this House,
was calculated to make our ancestors per-
form certain evolutions in their graves.







12q5)


Reform of Parliament.


Now it is very hard that the want of shame
* should be imputed to those who are upon
the defensive side of the argument. They
who attack, scruple not to advance charges
of gross corruption in the grossest terms;
and they who defend are reduced to the
alternative either of affecting to be igno-
rant of the nature of those charges, or of
admitting notorious facts, and accounting
for or extenuating them; and if they take
the latter course, they are accused of
shamelessness. Be that as it may, how-
ever, it may be curious, and perhaps con-
* solatory, to show to the moralists who
are so sensitive upon these subjects, that
corruption-as they call it-that (in plain
words) influence in the return of members
to parliament, if it be a sin, is not one for
which their own generation is exclusively
responsible. The taint, if it be one, is
not newly acquired, but inherited through
a long line of ancestors. The purge, or
the cautery, may be applied to the pre-
sent generation; but I can show that the
original malady is at least as old as the
reign of Henry 6th-a period beyond
which the most retrospective antiquary
will not require of us to go back in search
* of purity of election.
Sir, in the reign of Henry 6th the
duchess of Norfolk thus instructed her
agent as to the election of members for
the county of Norfolk:-" Right trusty
and well beloved, we greet you heartily
well; and forasmuch as it is thought right
necessary for diverse causes, that my lord
* have at this time in the parliament such
persons as belongunto him, and be of his me-
nial servants-we heartily desire and pray
you, that at the contemplation of these
our letters, ye will give and apply your
voice unto our right well beloved cousin
and servants John Howard, and sir Roger
S Chamberlayn to be knights of the shire.
Framlingham Castle, this 8th day of
June, 1455."
What follows probably related to the
same election; it is addressed (by lord
Oxenford) to the same individual as the
preceding extract. My lord of Nor-
folk met with my lord of York at Bury
S on Thursday, and there [they] were to-
gether till Friday, nine of the clock, and
then they departed; and there a gen-
tleman of my lord of York took unto a
* yeoman of mine, John Deye, a token and
h sedell (schedule) of my lord's intent,
whom he would have knights of the shire,
and I send you a sedell inclosed of their
* names in this letter; wherefore mothinketh


APRIL 25, 1822. [126
it [were] well done to perform my lord's
intent.*
The next extract which I shall read to
the House is of seventeen years later date
than the preceding ones. It is from letter
addressed by one of the duchess of Nor-
folk's household, to the bailiff of the
borough ofMaldon; and is dpted in the
year 1472, thellth of Edward 4th: "I It
were necessary for my lady and you all
(her servants and tenants) to have in this
parliament as for one of the burgesses of
the town of Maldon, such a man of wor-
ship and of wit as were towards my said
lady; and also such one as is in favour of
the king and of the lords of his council
nigh about his person ; certifying you, that
my lady for her part, and such as be of
her council, be most agreeable that all
such as be her farmers and tenants and
well-willers, should give your voice to a
worshipful knight and one of my lady's
council, sir John Paston, which stands
greatly in favour with my lord Chamber-
lain; and what my said lord chamberlain
may do with the king, and with all the
lords of England, I trow it be not unknown
to you."t
It appears from the following letter that
the said member-elect for the borough
of Maldon, sir John Paston, (to whom it
is addressed) had expected to be nomi-
nated a knight of the shire; but that his
patrons had ordered it otherwise;--" My
lord of Norfolk and my lord of Suffolk were
agreed, more than a fortnight ago, to have
sir Robert Wyngfield, and sir Richard
Harcourt; and that knew I not till Friday
last past. I had sent, ere I went to
Framlingham, to warn as many of your
friends to be at Norwich as this Monday,
to serve your interest, as I could; but
when I came to Framlingham, and knew
the appointment that was taken for the two
knights, I sent warning again to as many
as I might, to tarry at home; and yet
there came to Norwich this day as many
as their costs drew to 9s. 1-d. paid and
reckoned by Peacock and Capron, and
yet they did but break their fasts and de-
parted."- If ye miss to be burgess of
Maldon, and my lord Chamberlain will,
ve may be in another place; there be a
dozen towns in England, that choose no
Burgess, which ought to do it,"-(this
will surely propitiate the reformers) :
" ye may be set in for one of these towns,

Paston Letters, v. I. pp. 97, 99.
t Paston Letters, Vol. 2. p. 99;








127] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
an if ye be befriended."*-Such was re-
form in those days!
In the reign of queen Elizabeth, the era
to which, habitually and almost in-
stinctively, the mind of Englishmen recurs
for every thing that is glorious, I could
shew the House, that the earl of Essex,
her mighty favourite, dictated without
scruple or reserve the returns to parlia-
ment, not only for the county of Stafford,
but for every borough in the county. Un-
luckily I have not the documents at hand;
but I can aver it on the most unquestion-
able authority.t


Ibid v. 2. p. 135.
t Among the documents alluded to in this
passage are the following letters from Robert
Devereux, earl of Essex, to Richard Bagot,
esq. high sheriff of the county of Stafford; of
which the originals are in the possession of lord
Bagot.
1. Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, to
Richard Bagot, Esq.-" After my verie hartie
comendacions; I cannot write several letters
to all those that have interests in the choyse of
the knights of the here, to be apoynted for the
parliament intended to be held verie shortlie.
To which place I do exceedingly desire that
my verie good friend, sir Christofer Blount may
be elected.-I do therefore comend the
matter to your friendlie sollicitacons; praying
you to move the gentlemen, my good friends,
and yours in that counties; particularly in my
name, that they will give their voice with him
for my sake; assuring them, that as they shall
do it for one home I hold deare, and whose
sufficiencie for the place is well known to
them; so, I will most thankfullie deserve to-
wards them and yourselves any travel, favour,
or kindeness, that shall be showed therein.
Thus I commit you to God's good protection.
From Hampton Court, the 2nd of January,
1592." ESSEX."
I persuade myself that my credit is so
good with my countrymen, as the using my
name, in so small a matter, will be enough to ef-
fect it: But I pray you use me so kindlie in
that as I have no repulse."
2. From the same to the same.-" After my
verie hartie comendacions. As I have by my
late letters comended untoyou sir Christofer
Blount to be elected one of the knightsofthat shire
for the parliament to be holden verie shortlie,
by your friendlie mediacion; so I do with no
less earnestness intreate your like favoure to-
wards my very good friend sir Thomas Sherrard,
for the other place; praying you that you will em-
ploye your creditte, and use my name to all my
good friends and yours, there, that they will
stand faste to me in this request, and that my
desire may be effected for them. They cannot
give me better testimonie of their love and af-
fection, because they are both such as I hold
deare, and you may assure all such as shall


Lord John Russell's Motionfor a


[128


join with you in election that I will most
thankfullie requite their readiness, and further-
ance them by any good office I can. So I
comitte you to God's best protection; from
Hampton Court, the 9th of January, 1592.',
"Your assured Friend, ESSEX."
I should think my credit little in my owne
countries, if it should not afford so small a
matter as this. Esspessalie the men being so
fitt. Therefore I commend you all (as I have
interest in your labours) effectuallie in it."
3. From the same to the same.-" After my
verie hartie comendacions. I have written
several letters to Lichfield, Stafford, Tam-
worth, and Newcastle, for the nomination and
election of certain burgesses of the parliament
to be held verie shortlie. I have named unto
them, for Lichfield, sir John Wyngfield and
Mr. Boughton. For Stafford, my kinsman
Henrie Bourgher and my servant Edward Rey-
nolds. For Tamworth my servant Thomas
Smith. For Newcastle Dr. James. Whome
because I do greatlie desire to be preferred to
the said places, I do earnestlie pray your fur-
therance, by the credit which you have in
those towns. Assuring them of my thankful-
ness if they shall, for my sake, gratifie those
whom I have comended; and yourself that I
willnotbe unmyndful of your curtesie therein.
So I commit you to God's good protection.
From Hampton-Court, the last of December,
1592. Your assured friend," ESSEX."
I send unto you the several letters,which
I praye you cause to be delivered according to
their directions."


- 4


Passing over the reign of James 1st and
his unfortunate successor,-and not dwell-
ing upon the cavalier treatment which
Cromwell bestowed upon his own purified
and reformed House of Commons, I come
to the reign of Charles 2nd; where I find,
not amid scarce manuscripts and treasures
of ancient lore, but published, in a
hundred popular books, in sketches of bio-
graphy and lessons for youth, the famous
letter of that most famous woman Ann
countess of Pembroke; who, amongst her
other great titles and possessions, was un-
doubted patroness of the then, I presume,
free and independent borough of Appleby.
This great lady writes thus to sir Joseph
Williamson, secretary of state to Charles
2nd, in answer to his suggestion of a mem-
ber for the borough of Appleby. I have
been bullied by an usurper; I have been
ill treated by a court; but I won't be dic-
tated to by a subject; your man sha'nt
stand.-Anne Countess of Dorset, Pem-
broke, and Montgomery."
Now, Sir, I should be curious to know
which generation of our ancestors it is, that
the exercise of political influence in the







129]


Reform of Parliionent.


elections of the present day, so lamentably
* disquiets in their:graves. Is it the cotem-
poraries of the duchess of Norfolk, and of
the worthy electors of Maldon, who were
to be careful to choose members so
* properly towards" my lady ?-or those
who tasted the sweets of uninfluenced elec-
tion under queen Elizabeth ?-or those
who contemplated with equal admiration
the countess of Pembroke's defence of her
castlesagainst the forces of the usurper, and
of her good borough of Appleby against
secretary Williamson's nominee? Pity it is
* that the noble lord (Folkstone), the con-
vert to reform, did not live in the days of
one or other of these heroines! Their ex-
ample could hardly have failed to recon-
vert him to his original native sentiments
upon the subject of influence in elections
and the fit constitution of a House of
Commons.
But I have not yet done with my list of
patronesses: nor has interference in elec-
tions, and female interference too, been
coupled with no great name in the unques-
tioned good times of the constitution. The
noble lord who made this motion will par-
don me for referring him to the published
letters of his great ancestress, the lady
Russell; in which he will find the lord
steward (the duke of Shrewsbury), and
lord keeper Somers-tendering to her, for
her son lord Tavistock, then a minor, the
representation of the county of Middlesex,
upon the single condition that lord Tavi-
stock would consent but to show himself
to the electors for one day under the
nameof lord Russell.* The offer was not
accepted on account, so far as appears, of
lord Tavistock's minority; though in-
stances are adduced by the makers of the
proposition to convince her ladyship that
that need not be an objection. But what
would be said now-a-days-and what
would be the agitation of our buried an-
cestors-if a lord chancellor and a lord
steward were to concur in offering a seat
in parliament for a county to some young
nobleman yet under age ?t-

At thegeneralelection which took place
in October, 1695, it was proposed to her in the
most flattering manner, by order of the duke
of Shrewsbury, then lord steward, and the
lord keeper Somers, to bring her son into
parliament as member for the county of Mid-
dlesex."- "Life ofLady Russell,"8vo.p. 120.
t It is to be remarked that in those early
days of our renovated constitution, the object-
tion of lord Tavistock's age was considered
merely in relation to himself, and as no ob-
VOL. VII.


ArS.U 25, 1822. [130
Now here let me guard myself against
misrepresentation. It must not be im-
puted to me that I am saying that all this
was right: I am only saying that all this
was so. I have been dealing (be it
observed) with the second of my two
questions:-not with the-question, whe-
ther the House of Commons should be
reconstructed?-but with the question
whether it should be recalled to some
state in which it formerly stood ? I have
been endeavouring to dispel the idle super-
stition that there once existed in this
country a House of Commons, in the con-
struction of which the faults that are
attributed to the present House of Com-
mons, and attributed to it as a motive
for inflicting upon itself its own de-
struction, did not equally exist and not
only exist equally, but exist in wider
extent and more undisguised enormi-
ty. I have been shewing that if the
present House of Commons is to be
destroyed for these faults, it has earned
that fate not by degeneracy, but by imita-
tion ; that it would in such case expiate
the misdeeds of its predecessors, instead
of suffering for any that are peculiarly its
own. I have been endeavouring to prove,
that of the two options-" do you mean
to restore?-or to construct anew-?"-no
reformer who has carefully examined the
subject, can in sincerity answer otherwise
than to construct anew :"-for that to
restore the times of purity of election-
that is, of election free from the influence,
and a preponderating influence too, of
property, rank, station, and power, natural
or acquired-would be, to restore a state
of things of which we can find no proto-
type, and to revert to times which in
truth have never been.
That the proposition to construct
anew" is the much more formidable pro-
position of the two, is tacitly admitted by
the very unwillingness which is shewn on
all occasions to acknowledge it as the
object of any motion for reform. Yet to
that must the reformers come. To that,
I venture to tell the noble lord-he, with

stacle to the success of his election. Mr. Mon-
tague, in his letter to the duke of Bedford, to
obviate any scruple in the duke's mind, men-
tions that lord Godolphin's son was to be
chosen in Cornwall, and lord Leicester's in
Kent, who were neither ofthem older than lord
Tavistock: and Mr. Owen, in a letter to lady
Russell, tells her the duke of Albemarle's
son had been allowed to sit in parliament under
age." Ibid, p. 123.
K








all his caution and all his desire to avoid In the principle of that proposition of tile
extravagance and exaggeration, must noble lord I concurred: and if I con-
come; if he consents to reform on prin- curred with those who suggested the sub-
ciple. By reforming on principle," I stitution of the county of York for the
mean, reforming with a view not simply town of Leeds, as the recipient of the
to the redress of any partial, practical franchise to be detached from Grampound.
grievance, but generally to theoretical -I didso, not because I was apprehensive
improvement. I may add that even on that Leeds would abuse the privilege; but
principle" his endeavours to reform will because for the last forty years the want
be utterly vain, if he insists upon the of a greater number of members for the
exclusion of influence, as an indispensable county of York had been the standing
quality of his reformed constitution. Not grievance complained of in every petition
in this country only, but in every country for reform. Shall the great county of
in which a popular elective assembly has York have no more members than the
formed part of the government, to exclude little county of Rutland ?"-is the ]an-
such influence from the elections, has guage of the petition of 1793. Shall
been a task either not attempted, or so great, and populous, and manufactur-
attempted to no purpose. While we ing a county, be no more numerously
dam up one source of influence a dozen represented in the House of Commons
others will open; in proportion as the than the borough of Shoreham, or Crick-
progress of civilization, the extension of lade, or Midhurst, or finally than Old
commerce, and a hundred other circum- Sarum ?"-are the apostrophes which have
stances better understood than defined, added zest to every debate, and a sting to
contribute to shift and change, in their every petition, from the year 1780 to the
relative proportions, the prevailing inte- present day. Well! here was an opportu-
rests of society. Whether the House of nityofmeeting this master-argument, and
Commons in its present shape does not quieting for ever the perturbed solicitude
practically, though silently, accommodate for Yorkshire representation. I thought,
itself to such changes, with a pliancy therefore, that it would be a pity to lose
almost as faithful as the nicest artifice such an opportunity;-the House fortu-
could contrive, is, in my opinion, I con- nately was of the same opinion ;-and lo!
fess, a much more important considera- the grievance of grievances, the subject
tion, than whether the component parts of of forty years' clamour, is redressed.
the House might be arranged with neater But, to be quite ingenuous, I will own
symmetry, or distributed in more scientific that I was not without expectation that
proportions. when the reformers had gained this point,
But am I, therefore, hostile to the they would find out that they had not
reformation of any proved cases of abuse, gotten exactly what they wanted. So
or to the punishment of mal-practices by indeed it has happened. Since the bill
which the existing rights of election are passed, I have heard of no congratulations
occasionally violated ? No such thing. on the event; but I have heard of much
When any such cases are pointed out regret, and of many fears lest great incon-
and proved, far be it from me to wish venience should result from the measure
that they should be passed over with to the county of York itself. This, to be
impunity. When the noble mover him- sure, would beexceedinglyto bedeplored:
self brought forward, two years ago, a and to remedy so unlucky a result of the
bill for transferring to other constituents, first effort at reform, I understand that it
the right of election of a borough in which is now in contemplation to bring in a bill
gross corruption had been practised, he for the purpose of dividing the county into
began, as I thought and think, in the two parts; assigning to one the old and
right course. When he proposed the to the other the new representation.-
disfranchisement of Grampound, I gave We shall see how this expedient will be
him my support; and if other cases of the relished. For my own part, I apprehend
same description occurred, I should be that every true Yorkshireman will object
ready to do so again. That, Sir, is the to it as a sort of converse of the judgment
true way of reforming the House of of Solomon; and that the two old mem-
Commons: by adding strength to the bers especially, will rush forward and im-
representation where we can do so certainly plore that their ancient parent may be
and definitely, and without incurring a permitted to survive whole and unmuti-
risk of evils greater than those we cure. lated. In that case, I shall unquestionably


131] HOUSE- OF COMMONS,


tls'


Lord'John Rulssell's Molionfor a







133] Reform of Parliament.
oin them in the vote for keeping York-
shire in undivided magnitude, with its
augmented representation; affording, as
it will do in that state, a conclusive reply
to near half a century of remonstrances
and lamentations.
I do not recollect in the speech of the
noble mover any other topic on which I
feel it necessary to remark; having
already I think touched upon all the main
principles, if not upon all the details and
illustrations of his motion; and having,
I am well aware, trespassed largely upon
the indulgence of the House. A few
words more upon the more general topics,
which belong to this debate; and I have
done. It is asked over and over again
whether the House of Commons ought
not to sympathize with the people ? I
answer, undoubtedly yes; and so the
House of Commons at present does,
finally and in the result. But I also
maintain that this House does not betray
its trust, if on points of gravity and diffi-
culty, of deep and of lasting importance,
it exercises a wary and independent dis-
cretion;-even though a momentary mis-
understanding between the people and
the House, should be created by such
difference in opinion with the people. I
do not believe that the change proposed
by the noble lord would infuse into the
House of Commons a more wholesome
spirit. I do not believe that, to increase
the power of the people, or rather to bring
that power into more direct, immediate,
and incessant operation upon the House,
-(whether such effect should be pro-
duced by rendering elections more popu-
lar, or by shortening the duration of
parliaments, or by both,)-I do not
believe, I say, that this change would
enable the House to discharge its functions
more usefully than it discharges them at
present. With respect to the plan of
universal suffrage and annual parliaments,
it seems to be pretty generally agreed,
that it would deprive the government of
all consistence and stability. Most of
the advocates for reform disclaim these
doctrines and resent the imputation of
them. I am glad of it. But I confess
myself at a loss to understand how any
extension of suffrage on principle, how any
shortening of parliaments on principle,
can be adopted without opening the whole
scope of that plan: and I confess myself
not provided with any argument satisfac-
tory to my own mind, by which, after
Coeceding these alterations in principle


APRIL 25, 1832. [134
I could hope to control then ib degree.
i I am still more at a loss to conceive in
What way such partial concession could
tend either to reconcile to the frame of
the House of Commons those who are
discontented with it as it at present
stands, or to enable parliament to watch
more effectually over the freedom, the
happiness, and the political importance of
the country.
Dreading therefore, the danger of total,
and seeing the difficulties as well as the
unprofitableness of partial alteration, I
object to this first step towards a change
in the constitution of the House of Comn-
mons. There are wild theories abroad.
I am not disposed to impute an ill motive
to any man who entertains them. I will
believe such a man to be as sincere in his
conviction of the possibility of realizing
his notions of change without risking the
tranquillity of the country, as I am sincere
in my belief of their impracticability, and
of the tremendous danger of attempting
to carry them into effect. But for the
sake of the world as well as for our own
safety, let us be cautious and firm. Other
nations, excited by the example of the
liberty which this country has long pos-
sessed, have attempted to copy our con-
stitution; and some of them have shot
beyond it in the fierceness of their pursuit.
I grudge not to other nations, that share
of liberty which they may acquire: in the
name of God, let them enjoy it! But let
us warn them that they lose not the
object of their desire by the very eager-
ness with which they attempt to grasp it.
Inheritors and conservators of rational
freedom, let us, while others are seeking
it in restlessness and trouble, be a steady
and shining light to guide their course,
not a wandering meteor to bewilder and
mislead them.
Let it not be thought that this is an un-
friendly or disheartening counsel to those
who are either struggling under the pres-
sure of harsh government, or exulting in
the novelty of sudden emancipation. It
is addressed much rather to those who,
though cradled and educated amidst the
sober blessings of the British constitution,
pant for other schemes of liberty than
those which that constitution sanctions,
other than are compatible with a just
equality of civil rights, or with the neces-
sary restraints of social obligation ;-of
some of whom it may be said, in the lan-
guage which Dryden puts into the mouth
of one of the most extravagant of his







135] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


heroes, that,
" They would be free as nature first made man,
"Ere the base laws of servitude began,
" When wild in woods the noble savage ran."
Noble and swelling sentiments! but such
as cannot be reduced into practice.
Grand ideas but which must be qualified
and adjusted by a compromise between
the aspiring of individuals, and a due
concern for the general tranquillity; must
be subdued and chastened by reason and
experience, before they can be directed
to any useful end A search after abstract
perfection in government, may produce,
in generous minds, an enterprise and en-
thusiasm to be recorded by the historian
and to be celebrated by the poet: but
such perfection is not an object of reason-
able pursuit, because it is not one of
possible' attainment: And never yet did
a passionate struggle after an absolutely
unattainable object fail to be productive
of misery to an individual, of madness and
confusion to a people. As the inhabitants
of those burning climates, which lie
beneath a tropical sun, sigh for the cool-
ness of the mountain and the grove; so
{all history instructs us,) do nations
which have basked for a time in the tor-
rent blaze of an unmitigated liberty, too
often call upon the shades of despotism,
even of military despotism, to cover them,
- "0 Quis me gelidis in vallibus Haemi
" Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbrh!"
a protection which blights while it shelters;
which dwarfs, the intellect, and stunts the
energies of man, but to which a. wearied
nation willingly resorts from intolerable
heats and from perpetual danger of con-
vulsion.
Our lot is happily cast in the temper-
ate zone of freedom: the clime best
suited to the development of the moral
qualities of the human race; to the cul-
tivation of their faculties, and to the
security as viell as the improvement of
their virtues: a clime not exempt indeed
from variations of the elements, but varia-
tions which purify while they agitate the
atmosphere that we breathe. Let us be
sensible of the advantages which it is our
happiness to enjoy. Let us guard with
pious gratitude the flame of genuine
liberty, that fire from heaven, of which
our constitution is the holy depository;
-and let us not, for the chance of ren-
dering it more intense and more radiant,
impair its purity or hazard itspextinction!
The noble lord is entitled to the ac-


knowledgments of the House, for the can-
did, able, and ingenuous manner in which,
he has brought forward his motion. If, in
the remarks which I have made upon it,
there has been any thing which has borne
the appearance of disrespect to him, I
hopelhe will acquit me of having so intend-
ed it. That the noble lord will carry
his motion this evening, I have no fear;
but with the talents which he has shewn
himself to possess, and with (I sincerely
hope) a long and brilliant career of
parliamentary distinction before him, he
will, no doubt, renew his efforts hereafter.
Although I presume not to expect that
he will give any weight to observations
or warnings of mine, yet on this, probably
the last, opportunity which I shall have,
of raising my voice on the question of
parliamentary reform, while I conjure the
House to pause before it consents to
adopt the proposition of the noble lord-
I cannot help conjuring the noble lord
himself, to pause before he again presses
it upon the country. If, however, he
shall persevere-and if his perseverance
shall be successful-and if the results of
that success shall be such as I cannot
help apprehending-his be the triumph to
have precipitated those results-be mine
the consolation that to the utmost, and.
the latest of my power, I have opposed
them. [Loud cheers.]
Mr. Denman observed, that the whole
of the right hon. gentleman's argument
was founded in fallacy. He, assumed
that a quotation from a speech of Mr.
Fox was correct, although it was most
likely the reverse; and, upon that, he
founded an argument against the expe-
diency of a reformed House of Commons.
After quoting several papers of rather
ancient date, he at last brought some
bombastic lines of Dryden to bear against
the reformers. The hon. and learned
gentleman then commented upon the
observations which the right hon. gentle-
man had made upon the subject of the
sympathy which existed between the
House of Commons and the people, and
contended, that the general conduct of
the House was opposed to the wishes of
the people. The right hon. gentleman
had himself furnished some proofs of this;
and he could produce another in the case
of the late queen. He did not think that
the House should blindly obey the wishes
of the people, whether they were proper
or not; but, in such a case as that to
which he had last referred, when not only


Lord fohn Rawell's Mot~ionfor a


[136







137]


Wform ofVParliaeneen.


the whole mass of the people in this
* country, but the whole of Europe, were
unanimous in condemning the proceedings
which were instituted against her majesty,
not to pay some deference to the wishes
" of their constituents, betrayed, on the
part of the House, a contempt for public
opinion which never ought to be exhibited
in a free state. Dear as the emancipation
of the Catholics was to every one who
valued civil and religious liberty, he would
not have it carried without the concur-
rence of the people. He believed the
* people approved of it. They ought not
to dictate changes to that House; but
the House ought to regard their disposi-
tion and temper. The judgment formed
by posterity of the conduct of the House
ought to be considered, and not the bias
manifested by contemporaries. Let them
now reflect what decision was irrevocably
* passed upon the measures of the House
of Commons in former periods-upon the
measures of those
Quorum Flaminia tegitur cinis, atque Latina."
what was now the settled judgment formed
upon that most important question the
American war? The House had then
addressed the Crown by a large majority;
and from some strange change, on which
it would be now vain to speculate, they
went up soon afterwards with an address
of quite a contrary description. The
present time confirmed the judgment of
the opposition, and condemned the base
* acquiescence of the majority in every
instance. But, the moral evil of the pre-
sent system, independently of its effects,
was itself quite dreadful. Could any
thing be more disgusting than the shuffling
answers, and the suspicious silence, of
persons brought to their bar charged with
corruption.at elections? He knew not if
* human nature ever appeared baser than
when persons stood at their bar with a
knowledge of facts which it was their
whole study to conceal by prevarication.
Another view of human nature was
indeed still lower-it was that presented
by the members of that House who had
been the means of all this corruption and
perjury, and who sat wishing success to
the most loathsome falsehoods. Was it
not a dreadful evil to see persons sent to
S gaol for what they were compelled, and
properly compelled, to declare before the
committees? This foul and disgusting
disease was no anatomical nicety. If the
0 examinations before their committees


APRILn 5, 1822. [138
were generally distributed and understood,
the 'country would'be still louder .in de-
manding reform. If the evil were latent,
it might be imprudent to reveal it; but
that question was no longer open to doubt
or cavil. The right hon. gentleman had
ingeniously put it to the advocates of re-
form, to refer to the period when the
representation had been such as they
would now have it. Suppose there had
been no such period, were they therefore
precluded from reforming a flagrant and
intolerable abuse ? This question was
not asked when a bill was brought in to
reform any other abuse. The people of
England had a right to be fairly, fully,
and freely represented. Was it not a
grievance to be remedied, that, in a season
of distress, when hunger stimulated to
sedition, the people should be left a prey
to any demagogue who could point to the
state of the representation, and the cha-
racter of that House ? It was, too, a*nost
pernicious evil, both in a moral and political
point of view, to see a species of conse-
cration given to sacrifice of principle,
dereliction of character, and venal barter
of opinions. Corruption thus
Mounts the tribunal, lifts her scarlet head,
And sees pale Virtue carted in her stead."
What was that influence, which they heard
openly avowed and defended, but, in
plain, homely, intelligible language, that
members of that House should be bribed
by the possession of places to vote con-
trary to justice and public policy? The
Cash Resumption bill of 1819 had been
referred to. Let them refer to the impo-
sition of new taxes in 1819, and say whe-
ther that was an act of wisdom for the
interests of the people. But, the great
evil was the preservation of useless places
to enable gentlemen to vote against the
people. It might be said that they ap-
proved of the measures which they. sup-
ported; but if they did, it was an insult
to say that they must be paid for support-
ing what they approved of. There was a
degree of absurdity in gentlemen passing
from one side to the other, and talking of
purity of motives, as the right hon. gen-
tleman who had spoken for himself had
done. The disfranchisement of boroughs,
as recommended by the right hon. gen-
tleman, would never apply to the repre-
sentatives of peers. The corruption of
the House did, in fact, dispense with the
exercise of the other two branches of the
legislature, on the very ground of the







139] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


right hon. gentleman. That House was
become the influenced organ of every act
of government, without the confidence of
the public, and even without the respect
of government; for a right hon. gentle-
man had told them last night, that he
would set at naught the unanimous vote
of that body. He was ashamed to have
occupied so much of their time; but he
could not refrain from offering a few ob-
servations in support of a motion which
had his most hearty concurrence.
Mr. Peel merely rose to take some
notice of an allusion which had been
twice made, to an observation which had
fallen from him last night. He did not
rise to explain away or retract, but to
repeat and uphold what he said with re-
ference to the case of Mr. Hunt. He
informed the House last night, that he
had advised the Crown not to exercise
what'he considered the peculiar, exclusive,
and almost sacred prerogative of mercy,
in the case of Mr.Hunt. He had declared,
at the same time, that if the House should
determine unanimously to address the
Crowh in behalf of Mr. Hunt, he would
not be the instrument for carrying such a
recommendation into effect. This senti-
ment he now repeated. He did not use
it as a menace. He felt himself called
upon to make that declaration, from a
conscientious conviction as to the merits
of the case; and he should consider him-
self unworthy of the place he held, if any
circumstances could induce him to become
the instrument of carrying into effect a
purpose which he felt to be inconsistent
with his conscientious sense of duty.
After a short reply, the House divided:
Ayes, 164; Noes, 269.
List of the Minority.
Abercromby, hon. J. Buxton, T. F.
Althorp, visct. Boughton, sirW. E. R.
Anson, sir G. Bentinck, lord W.
Anson, hon. G. Calvert, C.
Beaumont, J. W. Chaloner, R.
Barnard, visct. Calcraft, John
Barrett, S. M. Campbell, W. F.
Becher, W. W. Chamberlayne, W.
Bennet, hon.JH. G. Carew, R. S.
Benyon, B. Carter, John
Bernal, R. Cavendish, H.
Birch, J. Cavendish, C.
Brougham, H. Clifton, viscount
Burdett, sir F. Coffin, sir I.
Bury, visct. Coke, T. W.
Byng, G. Colborne, N. R.
Boughey, sir J. F. Concannon, L.
Benett, J. Crespigny, sir W. De
Belgrav6, visct. Crompton, S.


Curwen, J C. Nugent, lord
Creevey, T. O'Callaghan, J.
Calthorpe, hon. F. Ord, W.
Calvert, N. Osborne, lord F.
Davies, T. H. Ossulston, lord
Denison, W. J. Palmer, col.
Denman, Thos. Palmer, C. F.
Duncannon, visct; Pares, Thos.
Dundas, hon. T, Pierce, H.
Dundas, C. Pelham, hon. C. A.
Dickinson, W. Philips, G.
Ebrington, visct. Philips, G. R.
Ellice, E. Power, R.
Evans, W. Powlett, hon. W.
Ellis, hon. G. Agar Prittie, hon. F. A.
Fergusson, sir R. C. Pryse, P.
Foley, J. H. H. Pym, F.
Frankland, R. Ramsay, sir A.
Grattan, J. Ramsden, J. C.
Graham, S. Ricardo, D.
Grant, J. P. Ridley, sir M. W.
Griffith, J. W. Robarts, Geo.
Guise, sir W. Robarts, A. W.
Gurney, R. H. Robinson, sir G.
Gaskell, B. Rowley, sir W.
Haldimand, W. Rumbold, C.
Hamilton, lord A. Russell, R. G.
Heathcote, sir G. Rice, T. S.
Heathcote, G. J. Rickford, W.
Heron, sir Robt. Ramsbottom, J.
Hill, lord A. Smith, W.
Hobhouse, J. C. Smith, hon. R.
Hornby, E. Smith, J.
Hughes, W. L. Scarlett, J.
Hume, J. Scudamore, R.
Hurst, R. Sefton, earl of
James, W. Scott, J.
Johnson, col. Stanley, lord
Jervoise, G. P. Stewart, W. (Tyrone)
Kennedy, T. F. Stuart, lord W.
Lamb, hon. G. Sykes, D.
Lambton, J. G. Sebright, sir J.
Latouche, R. Tavistock, marquis of
Lemon, sir W. Talbot, R. W.
Lennard, T. B. Tierney, rt. hon. G.
Lloyd, sir E. Tennyson, C.
Leycester, R. Titchfield, marq.
Lawley, F. Townshend, lord C.
Langston, J. H. Taylor, C.
Lester, B. L. Warre, J. A.
Lushington, S. Webbe, E.
Marryat, Joseph White, Luke
Maberly, J. Whitbread, S. C.
Maberly, W. L. Williams, sir R.
Macdonald, J. Wilson, sir R.
Mackintosh, sir J. Wood, alderman
Martin, J. Wyvil, M.
Maule, hon. W. Wilberforce, W.
Maxwell, J. W. Whitmore, W. W.
Milbank, M. Williams, W.
Milton, visct. TELLERS.
Monck, J. B. Russell, lord John
Moore, P. Folkestone, visct.
Marjoribanks, S. PAIRED OFF.
Normanby, visct. Baring, sir T.
Newman, R. W. Cavendish, lord G.
Newport, rt. hon. sirJ. Hutchinson, C. H. '


Lord John Runell's MFotion, 4a.


[140







141]


.Agricultural Distress.


Markham, J; Wilkins, W.
Mostyn, sir T. Western, C. C.
Taylor, M. A.

HOUSE OF LORDS.
SMonday, April 29.
SCARCITY OF PROVISIONS IN IRE-
LAND.] The Earl of Darnley expressed
his surprise that no proposition had yet
been submitted to the House respecting
the state of Ireland. He did not now
mean to enter into any discussion on the
moral or political state of that country,
S but he thought himself bound to notice
the great distress which, according to the
best information, prevailed throughout
Ireland. The noble earl opposite must
be aware that there was an increasing dis-
tress in that country from the actual want
of provisions. His object in mentioning
this lamentable state of things was, to
learn from the noble earl whether the at-
tention of government had been called to
the distress prevailing in Ireland, and
whether any measures of relief had been
adopted.
The Earl of Liverpool said, he had no
hesitation in stating, that government had
S received information that distress for the
want of provisions was great in some parts
of Ireland. The subject, however, had
not been overlooked by government, and
measures, conformable to precedents es-
tablished on former occasions and found
sufficient, had been resorted to. With
regard to the general question of relief
in such cases, he must say, that nothing,
except in extreme cases, could be more
improper than the interference of govern-
ment with the subsistence of the country.
Such interference was far more likely to
cause famine, than to give relief in times
of difficulty. What ought to be done by
the government with respect to the whole
country might be illustrated by the reply
made to a foreigner who expressed his
surprise that so great a city as London
should be so well supplied without any
regulations. He was answered, that the
reason of its being so well supplied, was
precisely because there were no regula-
S tions for that purpose. The course to
be followed in the present case was the
same which had been adopted on former
occasions. He appealed to the noble
peers who had lately returned from Ire-
land, whether they were not satisfied,
that whatever could be done to relieve
the present distress, would be done, and
* was doing ?


APRIL 29, 182g. [142

HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Monday, April 29.
AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS.] Mr.
Gooch presented a petition from several
considerable land owners in Suffolk, com-
plaining of agricultural distress. The
petitioners prayed, that such a reduction
of public expenditure might be effected
as would justify a further reduction of
taxation ; but they expressed an appre-
hension, that no immediate relief could
be derived from that source. He viewed
with great dismay the distressed state of
the agriculturists. A remission of taxation
he knew would assist them; and as far as
a reduction of establishment could enable
that to be done, he would do it. He had
felt it his duty to move in the last session,
that some notice should be taken of the
numerous agricultural petitions on the
table of the House. In the committee
which was appointed, he was nominated
chairman, and he would not flinch from
any of the responsibility that might at-
tach to him on that account. It had been
thought proper that that committee should
be re-appointed this year; but he was
sorry to say, that their report contained
nothing satisfactory to the country. It
proposed no measures calculated to afford
immediate adequate relief. It should,
however, be borne in mind how difficult
it was to discover any such remedy for
the present evils. The markets were
glutted to the extreme, and corn must
either be removed from the market, or
more money must be brought into it for
that purpose. A prohibitory duty on the
importation of corn was what would be
most beneficial to the farmer. When the
ports were opened in 1820, by means of
a fraud, 700,000 quarters of oats were
admitted; and with an average consump.
tion of 30,000,000 a-year, it was surpris-
ing the effect which that importation had
in lowering the prices. He agreed in the
system of duties, but not as to the quan-
tum: the duties recommended by the re-
port were not sufficient. This country
could not maintain her station in Europe
if its agriculture were allowed to sink.
The petitioners, amongst other remedies,
prayed for a reform in parliament. In
this he did not agree with them, being
satisfied that reform would not put one
shilling'into the pocket of the farmer.
Mr. Hume observed, that this was not
the first time that the hon. member had
expressed his anxiety to relieve the dis-







141]


.Agricultural Distress.


Markham, J; Wilkins, W.
Mostyn, sir T. Western, C. C.
Taylor, M. A.

HOUSE OF LORDS.
SMonday, April 29.
SCARCITY OF PROVISIONS IN IRE-
LAND.] The Earl of Darnley expressed
his surprise that no proposition had yet
been submitted to the House respecting
the state of Ireland. He did not now
mean to enter into any discussion on the
moral or political state of that country,
S but he thought himself bound to notice
the great distress which, according to the
best information, prevailed throughout
Ireland. The noble earl opposite must
be aware that there was an increasing dis-
tress in that country from the actual want
of provisions. His object in mentioning
this lamentable state of things was, to
learn from the noble earl whether the at-
tention of government had been called to
the distress prevailing in Ireland, and
whether any measures of relief had been
adopted.
The Earl of Liverpool said, he had no
hesitation in stating, that government had
S received information that distress for the
want of provisions was great in some parts
of Ireland. The subject, however, had
not been overlooked by government, and
measures, conformable to precedents es-
tablished on former occasions and found
sufficient, had been resorted to. With
regard to the general question of relief
in such cases, he must say, that nothing,
except in extreme cases, could be more
improper than the interference of govern-
ment with the subsistence of the country.
Such interference was far more likely to
cause famine, than to give relief in times
of difficulty. What ought to be done by
the government with respect to the whole
country might be illustrated by the reply
made to a foreigner who expressed his
surprise that so great a city as London
should be so well supplied without any
regulations. He was answered, that the
reason of its being so well supplied, was
precisely because there were no regula-
S tions for that purpose. The course to
be followed in the present case was the
same which had been adopted on former
occasions. He appealed to the noble
peers who had lately returned from Ire-
land, whether they were not satisfied,
that whatever could be done to relieve
the present distress, would be done, and
* was doing ?


APRIL 29, 182g. [142

HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Monday, April 29.
AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS.] Mr.
Gooch presented a petition from several
considerable land owners in Suffolk, com-
plaining of agricultural distress. The
petitioners prayed, that such a reduction
of public expenditure might be effected
as would justify a further reduction of
taxation ; but they expressed an appre-
hension, that no immediate relief could
be derived from that source. He viewed
with great dismay the distressed state of
the agriculturists. A remission of taxation
he knew would assist them; and as far as
a reduction of establishment could enable
that to be done, he would do it. He had
felt it his duty to move in the last session,
that some notice should be taken of the
numerous agricultural petitions on the
table of the House. In the committee
which was appointed, he was nominated
chairman, and he would not flinch from
any of the responsibility that might at-
tach to him on that account. It had been
thought proper that that committee should
be re-appointed this year; but he was
sorry to say, that their report contained
nothing satisfactory to the country. It
proposed no measures calculated to afford
immediate adequate relief. It should,
however, be borne in mind how difficult
it was to discover any such remedy for
the present evils. The markets were
glutted to the extreme, and corn must
either be removed from the market, or
more money must be brought into it for
that purpose. A prohibitory duty on the
importation of corn was what would be
most beneficial to the farmer. When the
ports were opened in 1820, by means of
a fraud, 700,000 quarters of oats were
admitted; and with an average consump.
tion of 30,000,000 a-year, it was surpris-
ing the effect which that importation had
in lowering the prices. He agreed in the
system of duties, but not as to the quan-
tum: the duties recommended by the re-
port were not sufficient. This country
could not maintain her station in Europe
if its agriculture were allowed to sink.
The petitioners, amongst other remedies,
prayed for a reform in parliament. In
this he did not agree with them, being
satisfied that reform would not put one
shilling'into the pocket of the farmer.
Mr. Hume observed, that this was not
the first time that the hon. member had
expressed his anxiety to relieve the dis-








143] HOUSE OF COMMONS,
tress of the agriculturist. But in the
numerous motions which had been made
for the remission of taxes, and the reduc-
tion of expenditure, he did not recollect
having had the pleasure of having the
hon. member in the minority. What was
the use, then, of, presenting petitions of
this kind, and talking about raising the
price of corn, if he would not assist in
lowering and abolishing useless establish-
ments, in order to effect that which he
acknowledged to be the only remedy?
The only way to relieve the country was,
to reduce the price of production, and to
export the surplus corn to other countries.
Up to the year 1760 or 1770, this was an
exporting country. He hoped the hon.
member, by his future conduct, would
make up for his past omissions.
Mr. Coke presented a petition from the
hundred of Earsham, in the county of
Norfolk. He stated the distress in that
part of the country to be such, that many
farmers were quitting their farms, and
giving up agricultural pursuits altogether.
He believed most firmly that no relief
was to be expected from the noble
marquis who had so long managed that
House and the country. This was the
opinion of the petitioners, all of whom
went further than formerly, and called for
reform in that House as the only remedy
for the existing distress. He agreed with
them that the only perfect remedy for the
evil was to be found in a reform in that
House, and he hoped the example set by
these petitioners would be followed by
every hundred in the country. If this
were done, it would be impossible for the
government to resist the public voice.
Ultimately, the public voice would make
itself heard ; but he feared that it would
be.in some other way than through the
medium of that House. He complained
of the manner in which the complaints of
petitioners had hitherto been treated.
Some years ago, on a petition being pre-
sented, the noble lord opposite had re-
marked on the ignorant impatience of
taxation" which prevailed. Perhaps similar
language might be held on the present
occasion; but, whatever might be-said, it
was most- afflicting to see the county to
which he belonged, and which was so
closely identified with that noble science
to which his life had been devoted, re-
duced by the burthens under which it
lhboured almost to a state of beggarry.
Relief ought to be given.without delay.
No attention, however, was paid to the


Agricultural Distres. [144
distresses of the petitioners. They corn-
plained of the distress which had fallen
on them, and prayed for that protection
to which the British farmer was entitled.
They prayed for a reform in that House,
and a system of fair and equal representa-
tion, of which property should be the basis.
They demanded retrenchment in every
department, and called for the reduction
of sinecures, and all useless offices. The
petition he presented with pleasure, as he
was always gratified when his constituents
called for reform in firm, but constitu-
tional language. In the hundred from
which this petition came, there were but
two magistrates, both. of whom were
clergymen. On the propriety of placing
clergymen in such situations he offered
some remarks, and commented on their
conduct in withholding their sanction
from the meeting at which this petition
had been voted, and thus attempting to
interpose an obstacle to the exercise of
the right of petitioning.
Mr. Wodehouse said, that with respect
to the report, he thought it right to say,
that it had proved generally unsatisfactory
to the country. It did not protect the
farmer against the importation of foreign
grain; but he had no hesitation in saying,
that effectual relief could not be afforded
till the great pressure of the public
burthens had been mitigated.. As the
language he held was thought inconsistent
with his conduct in some.instances, he
was anxious to explain his reasons for
voting in favour of keeping up the sinking
fund, and for opposing the repeal of the
salt-tax. Whether in, the present state
of the country it was wise to preserve the
sinking fund was certainly questionable.
But he could, not make up,his mind to
dispense with it: as it was difficult to cal-
culate what effect this might produce on
public credit. When the question on the
salt-tax was brought forward, he had
looked at the peculiar situation in which
the. government was placed.. They had
lost by the malt-tax, which. had been
given up, 2,000,0001. The repeal of the
salt-tax would have taken from ,them
another million; and this too at a time
when the government was engaged in
paying off the 5 per cents. Under these
circumstances, he had not thought it right
to vote against ministers on that occasion.
He had now a few words,to offer on what
had fallen from his hon. colleague on the
subject of the meeting at which this peti-
tion had been voted. He had alluded to







Scarcity of Provisions in Ireland.


the refusal of the magistrates to sanction
S it on the requisition being first proposed.
After the language which had been
held at some of the meeting he did not
wonder at there being a reluctance
S on the part of the magistrates to
comply with the requisition. He felt it
incumbent on him to explain more parti-
cularly the situation in which the county
had stood. They had unfortunately had
two men executed in it, who, at the mo-
ment of their leaving the world, had de-
clared, that the outrages which they had
S committed had no object but to frighten
the farmers into increasing the allowances
of those in their employ. The House
might recollect that at the meeting in
Surrey, lord King had held forth at some
length on the merits of Mr. Cobbett.
That speech had been printed in hand-
bills, and circulated in Norfolk. Norfolk
was held to be the best place to circulate
this paper, because it was known that
great distress prevailed there. Now,
when a peer of the realm thought proper
to bestow unqualified praise on a man,
who, it was known, had no regard for the
rights to property, he could not but think
4 such conduct dangerous. In his opinion,
it was most improper-most unkind to the
country, and most unworthy of the situa-
tion which that noble lord held in society.
He had been taunted with having voted
last year, first against reducing the army
by 10,000 men, and then against taking
5,000 from its numbers. Now, he looked
* back on the votes which he had given on
those occasions with much satisfaction,
and regretted the reduction which had
taken place. If the effect of this reduction
were properly explained to the public-if
it were seen by them, that men who had
been twenty years in the service of their
country, were sent out again to rot in
places where they ought not to have been
called upon to serve any more, he thought
the public would be inclined to say, a
fig for such retrenchment." When gen-
tlemen were so fond of taunting others
with inconsistencies, he must remind
them of their own. After calling for
the reduction of the army, when the
S first question of the present session was
brought forward relating to Ireland, the
first words uttered were, Why not pro-
claim martial law ?" To him there ap-
peared no small inconsistency in declaring
against a standing army, and then, on the
first appearance of disturbances, of calling
for martial law.
VOL. VII.


Mr. Bennet said, that he was present at
the Surrey meeting alluded to, and would
observe, that if lord King had not so
spoken of Mr. Cobbett, he (Mr. B.)
would have said, what he now declared,
that Mr. Cobbett was entitled" to the
thanks of the country, for the able and
clear manner in which he investigated
many interesting subjects. But if lord
King had thought proper to make such a
statement, what right had the hon.
member to condemn him in his absence ?
The opinion of the noble lord was as good
as that of the hon. member. There was
in that noble lord that quickness and
acuteness of intellect which, while he was
by birth a descendant of the great Locke,
was a further proof of his claim to the
honour of which he had so much reason
to be proud.
Mr. Wodehouse said, he believed the
words used by lord King with respect to
Mr. Cobbett, were to the effect, that he
was the most able and intelligent writer
of this or any former time, on political
subjects." Mr. Cobbett had been a good
deal in the county of Norfolk of late. His
exertions during the last year had been
directed to persuade the people of Eng-
land that the farmers were the greatest
brutes in nature. To hear such a man
held up as an object of admiration was
shocking; and therefore it was that he had
made the observations which had fallen
from him.
Ordered to lie on the table.

SCARCITY OF PROVISIONS IN. IRE-
LAND.] Sir E. O'Brien said, that before
the House proceeded to the important
business of the day, he wished to.point
out to the gentlemen around him, the very
dreadful and calamitous situation to which
a great portion of his countrymen were
reduced. There were at that moment
thousands of persons in Ireland, who, in
consequence of the failure of the late
potato crop, were reduced to a single
meal a day, and that meal generally con-
sisted of oatmeal and water. It was well
known that, generally speaking, the whole
population of the South of Ireland lived,
during a great portion of the year, upon
potatoes; but, during the last year, the
incessant rains which prevailed, had totally
decayed and destroyed that vegetable in
the ground. At the late assizes in his
county, the distressed state of the people
was taken into consideration, and a repre-
sentation of that distress was made to the


145]


APRIL 29, 1822.







147] HOUSE OF COMMONS,


lord lieutenant. He had no doubt of the
benevolent intentions of the noble lord
who now filled the office of lord lieutenant
but it was impossible to extend relief to
that poor and suffering country, without
the interference and aid of parliament. It
was a lamentable fact, that at that moment
the counties of Cork, Kerry, Limerick,
Mayo, and Roscommon, in fact, the whole
provinces of Munster and Connaught,
were in a state of actual starvation. If
the counties of Lancaster, or Warwick, or
Stafford, were suffering as Ireland now
was, what, he would ask, would be the
feelings of that House? What were the
people of that unfortunate country to do ?
How were they, deprived as they were of
money, of any resource, to relieve them-
selves from the difficulties under which
they laboured ? He well remembered the
situation in which Ireland was placed in
1817. Great as the distresses of the
country were at that period, there was
still a circulation of money, and a high
price of corn, which afforded many open-
ings of relief. But, what was the situation
of the country now ? There was scarcely
a town in the south of Ireland, in which
hundreds of strong, able-bodied men,
were not to be seen walking about with-
out any means of getting employment.
The question for the consideration of the
House was-what had produced this state
of things ? One-third of the respectable
people of the county of Clare had been
reduced to absolute distress; they had
neither money nor means to relieve them.
selves. He was aware that there was
plenty of corn in the market; but, what
did that do towards relief, when the dis-
tressed parties had no money to buy ? It
was true that the gentry of the county
were, in many instances, ready to co-
operate with the magistrates in affording
relief; but how was it possible for a few
individuals to afford permanent relief to
150,000 men ? In making this statement,
he did not appear before the House as a
mendicant on the part of his country. All
he asked was, that government would
make advances to relieve the present dis-
tresses of unfortunate Ireland. For these
advances the county rates could be
pledged, and the money might be laid out
in repairing roads, or in such other manner
as might be best calculated to afford relief.
It was well known to many of his friends,
that thousands were at that moment dying
from famine in Ireland. -He was most
anxious to make this statement at the


earliest period, with a view to draw the
attention of government to it; for unless
relief was promptly afforded, the unfortu-
nate population must suffer the last stage
of misery. A short time ago, potatoes,
the principal food of the peasantry of Ire-
land, were sold at from one penny to three
halfpence per stone; during this year they
were sold at 6-d. per stone. And, while
this general article of Irish consumption
was so raised, oatmeal had also risen from
131. to 151. per ton. The hon. baronet,
after pointing out with great feeling the
other distresses under which the people
of Ireland laboured, adverted to the fact
of the poor people in Ireland being ac-
tually obliged to rob for their subsistence.
He had himself been informed by the head
police officer in his county, that if they
were to commit all the persons who took
provisions for their support, no gaol in the
country could hold them; nay, farther,
that the parties so arrested, if they could
get their families around them, would
think that they had made a happy ex-
change in getting into prison. The hon.
baronet concluded by expressing a hope
that parliament would take into its serious
consideration the suffering state of Ireland.
Mr. Becher corroborated the hon. ba-
ronet's statement, and expressed his fear
that, in a very short time, even the scanty
subsistence now on hand would be alto-
gether expended.
Mr. Goulburn expressed his surprise
that the hon. baronet should have taken
that premature opportunity of calling upon
the House to enter into the consideration
of the state of the peasantry in Ireland.
He was the more surprised at this course,
as the hon. baronet had been in daily
communication with him upon the subject
of this distress, and must have known that,
if he had hitherto refrained from stating
the views of the Irish government, it was
not from any want of sympathy for the
sufferers, nor from the slightest inclination
to withhold whatever relief the govern-
ment of Ireland could practically afford ;
but from a firm conviction, that the agita-
tion of the subject would augment rather
than alleviate the evils which the hon. ba-
ronet had so feelingly deplored. Sep-
posing the distress to be- as general it the
south of Ireland as the hon. baronet had
depicted it to be, and the condition of the
resident gentry so reduced as to render
them unable to mitigate the condition of
their peasantry, to whom, the hon. baronet
asked, but to the government, could the


'Scarcit~y f Provisions in Ireland.


[148







149)


Agricultural Distress.


people look up for relief? The Irish go-
S vernment were, however, first bound to
consider to what extent they had the
means of administering relief; and the
House might form some estimate of the
S probable amount which would be required
generally from the government, to meet
the demands likely to be made upon them,
if they once took upon themselves the re-
sponsibility of subsisting the people, from
this single fact, that the amount of relief
claimed from the hon. baronet's county
alone was for 400,0001. The government
S could not, he thought, be considered much
to blame, if they paused at the outset, and
forbore from hastily admitting a prece-
dent, which would encourage a liability
for a repetition of those demands from
various quarters of the country. The
case he believed, was really this-that, in
some parts there was a great deficiency
in a particular crop, which constituted
the chief subsistence of the peasantry of
Ireland. But, though the potato crops
had, in many places suffered, yet in others
there was an abundant supply of corn;
and at the very time when the scarcity had
enhanced the price of potatoes in the most
* distressed market, the price of oatmeal
continued lower than it generally was
throughout the empire. The rise in the
latter article was not for some time more
than 2s. in the cwt., although he admitted
the advance had increased to 12s. or 13s.
during a part of the last week. In answer
to the hon. baronet's inquiry, why the go-
* vernment had not sent down a commission
to inquire into the extent of the distress,
he had only to inform the House, what
the hon. baronet previously knew, that
Mr. Warburton, who came up to Dublin
to communicate the opinions of the gentle-
men of his county, was immediately
charged by the lord lieutenant with a
commission, to return and ascertain first,
in a more detailed form, the degree of
pressure which was apprehended; next,
to what extent the gentlemen of the county
could contribute to the relief of their
peasantry; and that then it would remain
for government to take into their conside-
ration the measures of co-operation which
they could administer. His letters from
Dublin that day announced the return of
Mr. Warburton, and that the lord lieute-
* nant was then in a situation to decide how
far government could afford any relief.
Sir E. O'Brien disclaimed imputing the
slightest neglect to the Irish government,
but repeated that he thought parliament


APRIL 29, 1822. [150
alone capable of meeting the evil. He
had no intention of throwing his country-
men upon Great Britain as paupers; but
only asked an advance upon the county
rates to enable them to provide for them-
selves by their own industry.

AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS, AND THE
FINANCIAL AND OTHER MEASURES FOR
ITS RELIEF.] The House having re-
solved itself into a committee to consider
farther of the Report of the Committee
on the Agricultural Distress,
The Marquis of Londonderry rose and
addressed the committee as follows:*
I rise, Sir, in conformity to my notice,
to call the attention of the committee to
the Report from the select committee ap-
pointed to inquire into the allegations of
the several petitions presented to the
House, in the last and present sessions of
parliament, complaining of the distressed
state of the Agriculture of the United
Kingdom. Sir, I am sure that I should
much disappoint the feelings and wishes
of the House, if, before I proceed to
explain the particular measures which I
am about to propose, I did not call their
attention to the question, out of which
that Report has mainly sprung;-- mean,
the severe distress of the agricultural in-
terest, which has led to the presentation
of so many petitions to parliament, in the
last as well as in the present session, from
the various bodies connected with it
throughout the country. I am anxious
to do so, as well for the purpose of ex-
pressing my own opinion on the nature
and extent of the existing distress, as of
giving some information to the committee,
preparatory to a full statement of the
course which his majesty's government
mean to take on the subject; and I shall
also communicate several further sug-
gestions, as to the relief which it may be
practicable to afford to the agricultural
interest; and to which I did not advert,
when I formerly had the honour to ad-
dress the House on this important topic.
About ten weeks have elapsed since I
last submitted my sentiments on this
question; and, if I now thought I had
taken, at that period, an inaccurate view
of the general nature of the evil, or of
the description of remedy of which it may
be susceptible, there is nothing that would

From the original edition, published
by Hatchard, Piccadilly.







151] rOUSE OF COMMONS, Agricultural Distress, and the Financial [152


make me unwilling to come forward and
acknowledge the error into which I had
fallen. But, on the contrary, I must
now declare, that the opinions which I
had then formed appear to me, on the
most deliberate reflection, to be sub-
stantially correct. I then stated, that I
believed the question of distress might
be considered as confined to the agricul-
tural interest. I lamented the existence
of that distress most deeply. I thought
as seriously on the consequences of it as
the hon. member for Norfolk himself can
think. But, entertaining most sincerely
that feeling, I nevertheless deemed it es-
sential to bear in mind, that the general
situation of the country, with the ex-
ception of what belonged to agriculture,
might be regarded as prosperous. As far
as I have since been informed, it un-
questionably appears, that our manufac-
tures and commerce are in a state of pro-
gressive prosperity; and I have the satis-
faction to add, that the revenue continues
to improve. Since I last addressed the
House on this point, the amount of the
quarter's revenue, as compared with the
corresponding quarter of last year, has
shown an increase of between 400,0001.
and 500,0001.: and I have the satisfaction
further to state, that the accounts, for
"three weeks, which have been made up
since the last quarter day, exhibit an in-
crease of 283,0001., as compared with the
corresponding period in the last year; so
that it appears, that subsequently to the
last quarter's account, which showed so
much improvement, the revenue has gra-
dually continued to increase, as compared
with that of last year, at the rate of above
90,0001. a week. I do not adduce this
fact as conclusive, but only as presumptive
evidence of the improving condition of
our manufactures and commerce; and it
is consoling, when so much stress is laid,
and very properly laid, on the present
pressure upon agriculture, to be enabled
to advert to a criterion which justifies us
in presuming that, although a great and
important interest of the country certainly
suffers severely, that suffering is not so
universally diffused as some persons seem
to imagine.
As to the mode by which it might be
practicable to relieve the agricultural
distress, I then stated my opinion-an
opinion to which I still adhere-that,
according to the best information which I
was enabled to procure, that distress
arose chiefly from causes which were not


within the reach of any legislative remedy,
and was the result of various circum-
stances influencing the market; that it
was occasioned by an excess of produce
brought to that market; and that, until
the supply adjusted itself to the demand,
so as to afford a fair profit on the capital
employed in agriculture, all attempts-to
correct the evil by legislation must prove
abortive. I contended, and Inow repeat,
fortified considerably by the discussions
which have since taken place on the sub-
ject, and more especially by the sanction
and confirmation which the opinion I
expressed has received in the able
work which has recently been published
by the hon. member for Portarlington
(Mr. Ricardo), than whom it is impos-
sible for the House on such questions to
have higher authority;-that the remis-
sion of taxes, although highly desirable
as a relief to the consumer generally, and
to the agriculturists only in common with
all other consumers, is not calculated to
reach the disease in the shape of an
effectual remedy.-I admitted, that it
might act as a palliative, and as such be
applied rather to soothe the feelings of
those whom it concerned, than to relieve
their actual wants; but I insisted that to
hold it out as a remedy for the depression
and distress of the corn market, was to
practise one of the worst delusions that
could possibly be imposed upon the
country. And, Sir, I do now conscien-
tiously believe, that the intelligent por-
tion of the community, even amongst the
farmers themselves, are convinced that,
if the whole of our taxation could by pos-
sibility be relinquished, the necessary re-
lief would not be thereby afforded to that
most important branch of the national in-
dustry. At the same time I distinctly
stated, that I considered it to be our duty
to look at all the circumstances connected
with the landed interest-in order to see
if it were possible to devise any thing,
which, though not a direct remedy, might
nevertheless afford relief collaterally, and
facilitate the efforts of individuals en-
gaged in agriculture, by giving to them
the means of advantageously employing
capital; and I added, that in a country
abounding in active exertion like this, it
was impossible, by judiciously relieving
any one branch of the national interests,
not thereby to benefit the whole.
Sir, I then ventured to call the atten-
tion of the House to various measures,
which seemed, in the opinion of his ma-








jesty's government, to deserve the serious plan appeared to these individuals so much
consideration of parliament. Those mea- to preponderate over its advantages, that
sures naturally divided themselves into it is not the intention of his majesty's go-
three classes ;first, measures of a financial vernment to make any proposition to par-
character;-secondly,suchasareconnected liament with respect to this particular
with the state of the currency of the species ofrelief.-There is, however, ain-
country; and, thirdly, those calculated other mode of advancing capital for the
to relieve agriculture, as far as relief is to relief of the agriculturist, which stands
be found in advances to be made to the on a different principle, and to this the
agriculturist, on adequate security. I committee have given their sanction;
now beg- leave to recal the attention of namely, an advance by government, not
the House to these particular measures, exceeding in amount one million sterling,
and to state the grounds on which his on the security of British corn, to be
majesty's government are now prepared stored for that purpose.-Sir, I never
to act, with reference to each of the disguised from the House my opinion,
three great branches of the question which that advances of this nature require great
I have just described, consideration, and are only justifiable
I will begin with that class to which I under the pressure of extraordinary ne-
last adverted; and consider how far any cessity. I stated to the House, on a
pecuniary advances which the House may former occasion, the reasons which in-
think it desirable to sanction, can be ren- duced me to think that such a measure
dered available to the diminution of agri- ought not to be adopted as a general
cultural distress. When I formerly ad- principle; but at the same time I observed
dressed the House on this subject, I stated that there might be circumstances which
the reasons why, after the fullest delibe- would render its adoption advisable; and
ration on the part of his majesty's govern- I instanced, as a similar case which
ment, it did not appear to them that it had already occurred, the advance of
would be practicable or advantageous as Exchequer bills a few years ago, on the
a system of relief, to advance any sums security of manufacturing and commercial
by way of mortgage; or that in point of property. It is not my intention at pre-
fact any effectual relief could be afforded, sent to enter into any detailed argument
by such a course of proceeding as that of on the subject: I wish, however, to ap-
advancing money either on the landed prise the House, that this particular pro-
property of the agriculturist, or on his position in the committee did not originate
own personal security. I stated, how- with me; but that, as it has received the
ever, that there was another measure, sanction of the committee, I feel it to be
by which we might facilitate the general my duty to propose it for the considera-
object we had in view; and that was, the tion of the House; the more especially,
making certain advances to parishes on as I understand that it is a measure from
the security of the parochial rates, with which the farmers themselves conceive
a view of mitigating the immediate and that they shall derive considerable ad-
extreme pressure of the poor-rates in vantage. In deference therefore to the
many parts of the country. In describing opinion of the committee, believing as I
that measure, however, I observed that, do that the farmers generally look to this
althoughhismajesty'sgovernmentthought measure with anxiety, as likely to tend
it their duty to submit it to the consi- materially to their relief-and anxious as
deration of parliament-as one which I am to assist in carrying into execution
might perhaps be resorted to with ad- any plan that may in its operation have a
vantage in the existing state of things, tendency to improve the condition of the
yet that we also felt it to be liable to con- great body of the agriculturists, I shall
siderable objections; and therefore that certainly submit to the House the pro-
his majesty's government were desirous priety of adopting in this respect the re-
to keep it open for further consideration commendation of the committee.
and discussion. In the agricultural com- If, Sir, I thought that the true character
mittee I had an opportunity of ascertain- of this measure was such, as I know I shall
ing the general opinion on this subject of hear it described by some hon. gentlemen,
individuals of great practical knowledge namely, one to raise the price of corn, I
and experience; and I have now to state would not give it my support. But my im-
to the House, that the difficulties in the pression with respect to it is, that it cannot
way of the successful execution of this fairly be so considered. Its effect will


153]


and other Measures~for its Reliff.


APRIL 29, 1822. 15







155] HOUSE OF COMMONS, Agricultural Distress, and the Financial :1156


be, not to raise the price of corn above its
just level, but to preserve that level, by
rendering the distribution of the produce
of the year more proportionate to the
actual wants of the consumer; thus re-
lieving the market, which, owing to pre-
sent circumstances, is so inundated with
produce, that the fair and natural com-
petition, which in ordinary times exists,
and which ought always to exist between
the buyer and the seller, is, for the pre-
sent, materially deranged. There pro-
bably never was a period in the history
of the country, when the seller of corn
laboured under such overwhelming dis-
advantages as at the present moment;
arising from the market being supplied,
as the returns will prove, with double its
average amount of produce. The ten.
dency of the measure recommended by
the committee, is, not to raise the price
of corn, but to distribute the supply more
equally over the whole year; and to pro-
tect the markets from the effects of that
excess, which, at the present moment,
pours in upon and depresses them. When
adopted, it may, or may not, come into
action. It is not founded on the prin-
ciple of any direct interference on the
part of government with the market; but
its operation will altogether depend on
the view which individuals take of the
state of that market, acting strictly on a
calculation of their own interests. If
those individuals do not believe that the
market has been glutted at an early pe-
riod of the year, to the excessive depres-
sion of price, so as necessarily to lead to
higher prices as the year advances, they
will have no inducement to enter into the
speculation of borrowing a capital, which
they will afterwards be called upon to
repay with interest. But if, on the other
hand, there be reason for the presump-
tion, that the market having been glutted,
corn will, under all the circumstances of
the case, naturally obtain higher prices
in the latter part of the year, it is surely
desirable that the farmer should have the
means afforded him, through the opera-
tions of the corn merchant, of a part of
the year's produce being held over for a
market, at a moment when, if brought to
a sale, it must necessarily lower the price.
It cannot therefore be truly said, that
there is any thing so unsound, so unna-
tural, or so artificial in this proposal, as
to redder it prejudicial, under circum-
stances of much agricultural embarrass-
ment; especially when adopted only as a


temporary measure, and as a corrective
of a system in itself artificial. If it should
lead to no favourable result, at least it
can do no harm;-and the general im-
pression on the minds of the farmers
being, as I understand, that it is likely to
be beneficial to them, if, under such cir-
cumstances, the House should refuse to
try the experiment, the farmers might
hereafter say, that, had it been tried, it
would have afforded them relief.-I really
do not perceive that any aggravation of
the existing evil can by possibility arise
from this measure, and 1 shall therefore
certainly submit it for the consideration
of the House.
The sum which his majesty's govern.
ment propose shall be thus advanced is,
as I have before stated, one million ster-
ling; and I will presently call your atten-
tion to the fund out of which it is in-
tended that that sum shall be so advanced.
But there is another application of the
credit of the country which, under the
present circumstances, his majesty's go-
vernment mean to recommend to parlia-
ment. Had the hon. baronet opposite
(sir E. O'Brien) delayed for a short time
the communication which he this evening
made to the House, with respect to the
distresses which unfortunately oppress
the population of the south and west of
Ireland, he would have found that those
distresses had already engaged the anxious
attention of his majesty's government;
and he would have been informed, that,
with a view to enable the lord lieutenant
of Ireland, liberally, but at the same time
cautiously, to relieve the most urgent of
those distresses, it is the intention of my
right hon. friend, the Chief Secretary for
Ireland, shortly to propose a vote of credit
(similar to that which was agreed to in
1817), placing at the disposal of the lord
lieutenant funds, by which he will be
enabled to make those local and appro-
priate advances, which may tend, as in
the former instance, materially to mitigate
the existing evil. With respect to the
second object of the hon. baronet, that of
employing the poorer classes, I have to
state that it is in the contemplation of his
majesty's government, to propose an ad-
ditional vote of one million sterling, to be
applied, under the present commissioners,
in the forwarding of public works, where
there is a prospect of a profit which will
indemnify the public .for the advance.
Such an application of capital will, while
it gives useful occupation to the poor,







and other Measuresfor its Relief.


have the effect of assisting improvements
a of great national benefit. These two
sums-the advance on British corn stored,
and that for carrying on public works,
will amount to about 2,000,0001. of ca-
a pital; of course to be advanced only upon
adequate security, and subject to repay-
ment with interest.
Sir, the next great branch of the ques-
tion to which I wish to direct the atten-
tion of the committee is, the state of the
circulating medium of the country. When
I mentioned this subject on a former oc-
casion, I opened to the House the opinion
entertained by his majesty's government
with respect to the most convenient mode
in which the advances, which it is pro-
posed to make, can be effected, so as to
afford the most general benefit; and I
stated, that his majesty's government were
engaged in a negotiation with the Bank
of England for an advance of 4,000,0001.
on Exchequer bills, at the moderate in-
terest of 3 per cent, subject of course to
the approbation and decision of parlia-
ment. I also stated, that the object which
his majesty's government had in view was
in some degree to relieve the pressure
upon the money circulation; and thereby
to produce a general and important be-
nefit to the country, independent of any
particular and individual advantage; and
I declared that I should be prepared to
urge parliament, should all schemes of
local application be abandoned, still to
adopt measures by which the sum in ques-
tion might find its way into general cir-
culation. Sir, his majesty's government
adhere to the views on this subject which
I then described; and I have now to
state that they have concluded an ar-
rangement with the Bank of England for
the purpose of carrying those views into
effect.
I have already observed that 1,000,0001.
will be necessary to execute the proposed
measure of making advances on the
-storing of British corn; and another
1,000,0001. for the intended application
to public works generally; which latter
*sut will include a sufficient fund for the
'purpose of mitigating the particular dis-
tress existing at the present moment in
the south and west of Ireland. I have
now the satisfaction to inform the House,
that since these subjects were last dis-
cussed in parliament, the Bank of Eng-
land has consented to advance, at an
interest of 3 per cent, a sufficient sum to
* -pay off all the holders of navy 5 per cents,


who have dissented from subscribing to
the proposal for an exchange into the 4
per cent stock; which sum will somewhat
exceed 2,600,0001. I therefore suggest
the expediency, in conformity to the
view which his majesty's government take
of the subject, of throwing these sums
into general circulation; namely, the
2,000,0001. to which I have already al-
luded, which will enter the circulation by
particular channels;-and the 2,600,0001.
which in July next will find its way into
direct circulation, by paying off those
holders of navy 5 per cents, who were
not disposed to become parties to the late
arrangement respecting that stock.
I will now call the attention of the
committee more pointedly to the general
state of the circulation, and to the various
circumstances by which it is affected.
The House are aware that the act, em-
powering private bankers in the country
to issue notes under 51. in value, will ex-
pire in the year 1825; and that conse-
quently, if parliament do not interfere,
by extending the operation of that act,
all the small paper currency of the coun-
try-all that currency which consists of
notes under 51. in value-must be put
out of circulation, and its place be sup-
plied by a metallic currency. Now, we
are approaching so nearly to the period
of the expiration of that actp that it is es-
sential parliament should, without loss of
time, decide with respect to the course of
policy which it may be most expedient
to pursue. Either we should at once de-

termine to extend the law for a further
period, or we should give the parties
concerned fair notice that we intend to
allow it to expire. This becomes the
more necessary, as there is reason to be-
lieve, that the country bankers, with the
termination of the present law in view,
have, for some time past, been contracting
their issues in order to meet that event.
There is reason to believe that, no longer
indulging in speculation, the country
bankers are not acting even up to the
natural scale of the credit to which the
property they possess entitles them, in
consequence of the measures which they
think it necessary to adopt, in order to
be prepared for the total suppression of
their small paper currency. If, therefore,
it be the intention of parliament to allow
the act for the regulation of country
bank paper to expire, that intention ought
now to be declared, in order that still
more extensive efforts may be made to


Arxtrit 29 1822. [158


157]







159] HOUSE OF COMMONS, Agricultural Distress, and the Financial [160


procure an adequate supply of the pre-
cious metals to replace that paper. If,
on the other hand, this operation can be
dispensed with, it should, without further
delay, be discouraged, as the effect of such
an importation, in the interval, would be,
to augment the pressure upon our circu-
lation, by a large, and in that case unne.
cessary, accumulation of gold. It is for
parliament to consider whether a metallic
currency alone is sufficient to satisfy all
the wants of the country. It is for par-
liament to consider whether, looking at
the general circulation, with respect both
to this country and to the world at large,
it would be sound policy, that the whole
of that circulation should be filled up, in
its details, by a metallic currency. I am
sure the House will go along with me in
feeling, that the time has arrived when
we are bound to come to some conclusion
on this most important question. And
here I have to state, that after the best
consideration which his majesty's govern-
ment have been able to bestow on the
subject, they are satisfied that, under all
the circumstances of the case, it will be
prudent and expedient, not only to ex-
tend the duration of the act in question,
but to extend it for a considerable num-
ber of years, by making that duration
concurrent with that of the charter of the
Bank of England, which will not expire
until the year 1833.
I am sure the House will feel, that if,
even at this moment, it be the fact,
that we are suffering an unnecessary pres-
sure, resulting from the efforts which had
been made to bring gold into the coun-
try, and to hold it in the coffers of the
Bank of England, in order to effect the
great object of returning to our ancient
metallic standard;-if that be the case,
and I really believe it so to be, it is im-
perative upon us to consider how much
the evil will be needlessly aggravated, if
to the gold which has been accumulated
for that purpose, is to be added the gold
which it will be necessary to provide, in
order to replace the small country notes,
should they also be withdrawn. If it be
not necessary to our credit to do away
with those notes, why should the country
bankers be exposed to the obligation of
keeping by them a large dead capital in
gold, which has, in many points, been
found inconvenient in the detail of gene-
ral circulation ? It is indispensable, there-
fore, that we should now decide this im-
portant question; and, in truth, we come


to the decision with some intimation from
the country of what we ought to do. It is a
curious fact, that thegreat effortswhich the
Bank of England have considered it their
duty to make, for the purpose of intro-
ducinggold generallyinto the circulation of
the country, have, in a great measure,
failed; for no sooner do they issue sove-
reigns, than those sovereigns are returned
to them in payments; which is certainly
the strongest possible indication that the
country prefers a paper currency, founded
on a basis ofsatisfactory security. Ifparlia-
ment, therefore, should refuse to renew the
act to which I have alluded, it will force a
gold currency upon the country, against
its wishes, at a moment when, to sustain
it, we must injudiciously draw on our re-
sources; and when the accumulation of
vast masses of that precious metal, must
inflict on this country, and all the other
countries of Europe, a great and unne-
cessary inconvenience. For these rea-
sons, and without troubling the committee
at present with further details, I have now
to state, that his majesty's government,
having to choose between the alternatives,
have determined, under all the circum-
stances of the case, to recommend to par-
liament to permit the circulation in ques-
tion to continue to be carried on in paper,
to rest on the credit of the parties by
whom that paper is issued. Of course,
the bill by which it is proposed to conti-
nue the present act, will contain the ex-
isting provisions for the security of the
public; and it is also intended to intro-
duce a provision that private bankers
issuing such small notes, shall not be con-
sidered as failing in their obligations if
they pay them in Bank of England
notes; these latter being of course pay-
able, as at present, in cash, at the Bank
of England. Unless the country bankers
are so protected, they will not be able to
issue their notes with safety.
It has been the anxious wish of his ma-
jesty's government to couple with the ex-
tension of the present permission to coun-
try bankers to issue small notes, some re-
gulation which may have a tendency to
provide against an excessive issue of such
notes upon inadequate security. It is cer-
tainly true, as has been justly observed by
an hon. gentleman opposite, that this
matter may be left to be dealt with by the
natural precaution of the community;
yet, if any unexceptionable security could
be combined with that precaution, it
would be so much clear gain. His ma-







and other Measuresfor its Relief


jesty's government had at one time some
idea of requiring a deposit of actual pro-
perty as a security; but the details of
such measures were, on examination,
found to be so difficult and complicated,
that we were induced to abandon it. In
lieu thereof, and in order to increase the
effect and stability of those banking ope-
rations, by augmenting the number of
persons embarking in them, it has been
thought fit and proper to open a negotia-
tion with the Bank of England, for the
purpose of obtaining from them such a
* relaxation of the Bank charter, as may
enable individuals who are. so disposed, to
establish private banks, consisting of a
greater number of partners than six, the
number to which they are at present
limited by the provisions of the Bank of
England charter. It is not intended,
however, that this shall takeplace imme-
* diately within the sphere of the Bank of
England-not in London, or in the
neighboring districts, but at such a dis-
tance from London as shall not materially
affect the operations of the Bank of Eng.
land, while it.undoubtedly will greatly
add to the convenience and security of
S the public. Sir, his majesty's govern-
ment are persuaded, that, if the important
object could be obtained of limiting the
exclusive privilege of the Bank of Eng-
land to a distance of sixty-five miles from
London, leaving it every where else open
for any joint stock company that chose to
.do so, to set up a banking establishment,
* such a measure would give.great solidity,
as well as facility to the circulation; and
very materially strengthen the credit of
the country. The object has been to as-
similate, as far as may be, the country
banks in England to those in Scotland,
which have long carried on all their deal-
ings with the greatest correctness, and
* advantage to: the public, and with the
most unshaken credit. In Scotland there
are twenty-six banks, three only of which
are chartered banks; the remaining twenty-
three are of the description of those which
his majesty's government are desirous of
enabling individuals to establish any where
in England, beyond the distance of sixty-
five miles from the metropolis. Several
of those Scottish banks are joint stock
companies ofa very extensive nature, con-
sisting of a. great number of partners : the
average number of partners of which those
companies are composed is between fifty
and sixty. Let the House:consider what an
S increase of security it must afford to the
VOL. VII.


public when so many Individuals combine
in, the responsibility of a banking concern,
and render themselves liable to be sued
by their legal representative. In ordtr
to induce persons to enter into them, the
banks of Scotland lay down principles of
banking so sound and safe, and so op-
posed to all illicit speculation, that in that
country, where the people are certainly
not much inclined to hazard their pro-
perty unwisely, numbers of persons are
always found ready to embark in them.
In the last hundred and twenty years,
during which period the pressure of cir-
cumstances has occasioned the failure of
so many banking establishments in Eng-
land, not one such failure has occurred-
in the whole of Scotland until the other
day, when there was a rumour of the failure
of a Scottish bank; whether true or not,
I have not since been informed. Some-
thing beneficial there must be in a system
which has passed so long and so safely
through the many tremendous shocks to
which banking property has necessarily
been exposed. By bringing the system
on which the banks of Scotland are
founded into this country, we shall indi-
rectly give a great increase of strength to
our paper circulation, without restraining
private bankers from rendering their ca-
pital a source of profit to its utmost ex-
tent. I ought to have mentioned before,
and in its proper place, that, in order to
induce the Bank of England to consent
to the surrender of this portion of their
chartered rights, it is.proposed to extend
their charter for ten years, merely in as
far as it is applicable to the local circula-
tion of London and its neighbourhood,
without affecting, however, any of the
subsisting arrangements between the Bank
and the public.
Having.stated so much to the commit-
tee on two of the great branches of this
subject namely the measures which it is
proposed to take for the mitigation of the
agricultural distress, and those in aid of
the general circulation of the country;
and having, as I hope sufficiently opened
the views of his majesty's government on
those points, I proceed now to call its at-
tention to what has been done, and to
what it is in contemplation further to do,
in regard to our financial arrangements.
In the first place, Sir, let us look at what
has been the result of our legislative en-
actments in the present session, on the
subject of finance, the consideration of
which will pave the way for statement
M '


161]


APRIL 29, 1822.







163] HOUSE OF COMMONS, Agricultural Distress, and the Financial [164


of the further measures which his ma-
jesty's government mean to propose,
growing out of the support that parlia-
ment has so wisely given to public credit;
for it is unquestionably true, that the
present state of the money market and
of credit generally, arises from the course
of policy which parliament lately pur-
sued, and which was dictated by so en-
lightened and uncompromising a spirit.
Sir, it is fresh in the memory of the
committee, that his majesty's government
having reduced the estimates for the year
by the sum of two millions; parliament,
after satisfying itself of the existence of
an effective surplus of five millions of re-
venue, over all the ordinary, and even
over all the extraordinary charges of the
year; and of the consequent realization of
the object which had long been contem-
plated, and out of which it was foreseen
would, grow a solid and improving condi-
tion of public credit, did, after further,
and most mature examination of the sub-
ject, the result of which was a corrobora-
tion of its former opinion with regard to
the. expediency of applying that surplus
to the maintenance of a sinking fund,
pledge itself so to apply that surplus,
thereby effectually supporting the public
credit, with which all the best interests of
the country are inseparably connected.
On the faith of the determination taken
by parliament upon this subject, his ma-
jesty's government felt that it might be
permitted to my right hon. friend, the
chancellor of the exchequer, to embark
in one of the most gigantic enterprises of
finance of which the history of the world
affords an instance; namely, that of pay-
ing off 155,000,0001. of the public debt,
either by actual payment, or, by means
arising out of the public credit. I am
confident that if, at any former period, it
had been declared that, in the course of
six weeks, a measure-of such magnitude
could be carried into effect, not only
without any convulsion, but without any
serious discontent or inconvenience-the
assertion would have been treated:as idle
and illusory. Nothing has happened in
the whole history of the country, which
so clearly exhibits the powers of the na-
tion, and the almost endless resources'
which result from the stability of its
credit and the character of its govern-
ment, when those resources are wielded-
under the sanction and authority of par-
liament, and are not broken downAby un-
sound or speculative principles of policy,


-than the fact we have lately witnessed,
that such an extensive operation has been
accomplished without the least apparent
difficulty or embarrassment. By that
single operation-by the conversion of
so great a mass of our debt into a stock
bearing a reduced interest-the people
have been at once relieved from an
annual burthen amounting to 1,300,0001.
But that is not all. It is not the immedi-
ate fruits of the measure, great as they
are, that are so important as the prece-
dent which its execution has established,
of a successful reduction of the interest of
our debt. How much more easy compa-
ratively, will be the task of my right hon.
friend hereafter, or of any of his suc-
cessors, when it shall be considered ad-
visable to proceed further with the re-
duction of the interest of the debt, from
their having such a precedent to refer to.
In fact, the country may henceforward
.consider the reduction of the interest of its
debt to be a safe and practi&able opera-
tion, whenever the price of the funds, and
the concurrence of favourable circum-
stances, may render such an undertaking
again expedient.
I wish now to call the attention of the
!committee to a measure, the outline of
which I am about to explain, not altoge-
ther resting on the same principle as that
to which I have just adverted; but, still,
one of the greatest importance, and
which, I hope, the committee will con-
sider to be fully warranted by present
circumstances. My right hon. friend,
the chancellor of the exchequer, has pre-
pared certain resolutions, which he will
move on Wednesday or Friday next, with
a view of bringing, this new measure, to
which I have alluded, under the consider-
ation of parliament. It is his wish, how-
ever, from its bearing upon the general
state of the country, that I should open
the outline of his plan this evening; and,
previous to doing so, I feel that I ought
to state why that measure is only now
brought forward; and why, if it be one
which his majesty's government think ex-
pedient andidesirable, it was not introduced
at an earlier period of the session.
Sir, the measure to which I havealluded
can be proposed with a fair prospect of
success, only at a period when the public
credit is in a flourishing condition. The
wisdom and magnanimity of, the House
of Commons having resisted all the shocks
which have been levelled, against public
credit in the course of the present session,







and other Measuresjfor its Reief.


the country now reposes perfect confi-
dence in the stability of that credit, which
parliament has in so decisive a tone
declared its determination to support.
Although, therefore, the principle of
this new measure has been for some time
under the consideration of my right hon.
friend, he could not bring it forward
sooner than at the present moment. It
was not only impossible that he should
submit it to the opinion of parliament
before the public credit became fairly and
unequivocally established, but it was also
inexpedient that he should do so before
the bill which was so mainly conducive
to that end-I mean the bill for reducing
the five per cents-had been completely
carried into execution. For, Sir, it could
not be foreseen what difficulties might
have occurred in the execution of that
measure, to contend with which, all the
exertions of the state, and all the means
which his majesty's government could
bring forward, might have been exclu-
sively necessary to be applied. Until,
therefore, the provisions of that bill were
executed, and until the money market
had thereby become completely tran-
quillized, it was by no means advisable to
embark parliament and the country in a
new measure of the extent and complexity
of that which, agreeably to the wish of
my right hon. friend, I am about briefly
to describe.
Sir, the committee will allow me to say,
that I by no means wish them to consider
this proposal as a parallel to that which
has recently been adopted. The measure
which has already been executed has
been productive of an absolute saving to
the country. By that great financial
operation, the reduction of the interest of
a large portion of the public debt, a posi-
tive annual saving has been effected, in
behalf of the country, of above 1,300,0001.
The plan which I am now going to de-
scribe, is a new and more convenient
arrangement of our existing means, rather
than a creation of new means.
The measure, then, which my right hon.
friend intends to submit to the considera-
tion of parliament, is-to place the liqui-
dation of a large portion of the present
expenditure of the country, namely, the
dead expense, as it is called, of our naval
and military establishment, oh a different
footing from that on which it now stands.
The committee are aware that this dead
expense is an immense annual charge,
* consisting of officers' pensions, retired


allowances, the pensions of the widows of
officers, and the half-pay, under the heads
of navy, army, and ordnance; amounting
altogether to about 5,000,0001. per annum.
This, amount is certainly liable to pro-
gressive decrease from the deaths of indi-
viduals; but having been granted by the
liberality and gratitude of parliament to
meritorious individuals, for services per-
formed, it is a charge, generally speaking;
which rests on the good faith of parlia-
ment, and which must be annually pro-
vided for as a debt of the state. It is;
however, a debt which stands in a very
inconvenient relation to the general
arrangements of the country. I am sure
the committee will feel that nothing is
more calculated to mislead the public, or
embarrass our discussions, than this vast
charge of 5,000,0001., which seems to be-
long to our annual expenditure; but
which, in fact, has nothing to do with that
expenditure, although, historically, it'
will be very proudly connected with the
state. The effect of the actual arrange-
ment is to make the public think that the
national expenditure is seventeen or
eighteen millions per annum, when in
fact it does not exceed twelve or thirteen
millions. If this charge, then, can be
separated from the general expenditure;
if it can be treated as a debt incurred
rather than as a service to be provided
for, although in that case the real amount
of expenditure will be the same, yet
things will be placed on their proper foot-
ing, and the public in this country, and
the world, will better know what is the
actual situation of our affairs. It is, I
think, most desirable to look at the ques-
tion of this dead expense in the view I
have here explained; and parliament is,
on all sound principles of prudence and
policy, entitled to deal with it in a dif-
ferent manner from any other branch of
the national expenditure. It has grown
out of a war perfectly unexampled in his-
tory. The exertions of this nation, while
that contest continued, were of a gigantic
description. Those exertions were made
for our own preservation, and for the
deliverance of Europe; and they were
made upon such a scale, that it cannot in
all common probability be supposed, that
England will ever be required to repeat
them.
We are justified, therefore, in dealing
with this charge on a distinct principle,
applicable to itself alone. We are war-
ranted in looking upon it as a debt sui


APRIL. 29, 1822 [1666


165]







167] HOUSE OF COMMONS, Agriulturaal Distress, and the Financial [168


generic, not likely to recur, at least in
any degree to the same extent. *For
some time past, his majesty's government
have been anxiously employed in consi-
dering all the regulations and provisions
out of which this dead expense has arisen;
and although they have not the slightest
intention-and I wish this to be most dis-
tinctly understood-of interfering with
the interests of those who are already
provided for by it; although they feel
that the rights of the parties who at pre-
sent enjoy a provision under this head
should be held sacred, yet they do not
consider themselves to be so fettered, as
not to be entitled to propos' such pro-
spective modifications, consistent with
sound principles of justice and of eco-
nomy, as may hereafter prevent the
charge from accumulating as it has latterly
done, to an amount altogether incompati-
ble with the beneficial administration of
the affairs of this or of any other country.
This charge amounts (as I have already
stated), at the present moment, to not
less than 5,000,0001. If the committee
will go back, and compare the present
amount of it with its amount in 1792,
that year with the expense of which it
has lately been so much the habit to con-
trast our existing expenditure, they will
find, by the Report of the Committee of
Finance, which investigated the expendi-
ture of the country at that period, that
the like expenditure did not exceed
650,000/., notwithstanding all the increase
which it had necessarily received during
the American and the preceding wars.
The committee, then, must see how rapid
has been the growth of this charge during
the last war, as compared with its increase
during former wars. Nine years after
the termination of the American war, it
amounted only to 650,0001.; at the pre-
sent moment, the country has to sustain
a burthen, consequent on the late war, of
5,000,0001.; arising in a great degree,
certainly, out of the peculiar circum-
stances of the contest in which we were
engaged, but also, mainly (and I state it
without intending to cast any obloquy or
imputation on any one), from the nature
of the regulations which were adopted
during that war, in regard to pensions
and allowances. It is, therefore, clearly
the duty of his majesty's government to
protect the country from the future
growth of so burthensome a system; and
we feel, in consequence, the more justi-
fied in dealing with this charge in the way
which I am about to describe.


In the first place, Sir, let us consider
what the precise nature of the charge is.
It is an annuity of 5,000,0001. on the lives
of numerous parties, some of whom are
young, and some old; and it is, therefore,
an annuity of varying amount and uncer-
tain duration. It may be considered, in
fact, as an annuity beginning at the sum
of 5,000,0001., but subject of course to
the usual decrease, according to the
calculations contained in tables of the
value and duration of human life, it
appears that this annuity may be carried
on to a period of seventy years; although,
towards the close of that period, as the
number of individuals living would be
very few, the payments would of course
materially decrease. Now, the nature of
the operation which I am about to suggest
to the House is, that parliament should
make provision for a change in the mode
of these payments, by entering into a
contract with parties, who, in considera-
tion of a fixed annual payment on the
part of the public, shall agree to supply
such a sum in each year as, upon calcula-
tion, may be required to effectuate to the'
survivors the payments which they will
be entitled to receive. This species of
operation, the committee will observe, is
purely financial, and will in no degree
alter the position of individuals at present
receiving pensions and allowances, intheir
relation to parliament or to the Crown.
I should most strongly deprecate, upon
constitutional grounds, the adoption of
any proposal, the effect of which would
be to render those individuals the pen-
sioners of any large commercial company.
Such a change would entirely destroy the
true constitutional character. of the con-
nexion of those individuals, with the
Crown. If, also, the arrangement in
question were in any way to affect the
functions of parliament in its control over
the national expenditure, or to supersede
its power of voting these public charges
annually, it would certainly be highly ob-
jectionable. But, Sir, the plan to be
proposed by my right hon. friend, is not
open to any of these objections. It is
strictly a financial arrangement, in no de-
gree changing the position of the parties
interested, in no degree interfering with
the constitutional control of parliament
over the public expenditure, but merely
altering the mode in which the public
resources are to be obtained, and by
which the charge in question is to be
defrayed and distributed equally over au







and other Measures for its Relief.


extended period of years, instead of falling
with excessive pressure on the earlier
years of the series.
His majesty's government then con-
ceive, that, under the very peculiar cir-
cumstances of this case, they shall be
justified in proposing an exception from
the usual practice, if, on sound financial
principles, they can adopt some system,
the effect of which will be, to distribute
this charge over a certain number of
years, and thereby to lighten its imme-
diate pressure. The number of years
which it is proposed to take as the
proper extent of time over which the
charge may be advantageously distri-
buted, is forty-five. That is the number
of years which was recognized by Mr.
Pitt as the period within which, by the
reservation of one per cent on the capital
of every loan, the debt created by that
loan would be liquidated. This period,
then, being fixed at forty-five years, it
remains to be determined what sum the
public ought to pay during that time; or,
what equal and invariable sum the public
ought annually to pay for five and forty
years, to induce any parties contracting
to undertake to pay annually the unequal
and variable amount of the charge under
consideration.-I should add, that it is
not in the contemplation of his majesty's
government to contract for a longer term
than forty-five years; because, after the
expiration of that term, the annual pay-
ments upon the surviving lives must of
course be so small, that it is not worth
while to embarrass the present transaction
by any reference to them.
I am sure the committee will feel that
1 cannot be expected at the present mo-
ment to state very accurately the details
which are connected with this part of the
subject; I will content myself with
endeavouring to give the committee a
notion of what will be the probable work-
ing of the plan. It would appear that,
by granting a fixed annuity for forty-five
years of from 2,500,0001. to 3,000,0001.,
if parliament shall think fit to sanction
the measure, a contract may be made,
for the payment every year, into his ma-
jesty's Exchequer, of the sum presumably
necessary to defray the charge in ques-
tion, according to a schedule to be con-
structed from the table of lives. The
effect of such an arrangement with respect
to the public will be this--that if the
fixed annuity to be so granted by parlia-
ment should, for instance, amount to


2,800,0001., the present total of the charge
being 5,000,0001., the immediate saving
to the country would be 2,200,0001.; and
consequently parliament would be enabled
to dispose of that saving of 2,200,0001. at
its discretion. The operation of the
measure will be:-that for the first sixteen
years the contractors will have to make
Good the difference between the fixed
payment of 2,800,0001., and the sum re-
quired to discharge these payments, as
set forth in the schedule, thereby, pro
tanto, operating a relief to our annual
expenditure. About the sixteenth year
it will probably become a balanced account
between the sums received by the con-
tractors and the sums to be paid by them;
-and from the sixteenth to the forty-fifth,
or last year, the payment by the con-
tractors, as lives fall in, will very much
diminish, and they will be reimbursed for
the great advances made by them at the
commencement of the transaction.
Sir, I am the more anxious for the
success of this measure, because, if par-
liament think fit to sanction 'it, and his
majesty's government should be enabled
to carry it into execution, I am very san-
guine in the hope that we may be at once
enabled to realize the project which the
hon. member for Corfe Castle proposed
to the House at an early period of the
present session. I confess I am very
much inclined to go along with that hon.
gentleman in his opinion, that unless we
are enabled to tie up the 5,000,0001. of
sinking fund, to accumulate at compound
interest, until it shall amount at least to a
sinking fund of one per cent on the whole
capital of the debt, which was the princi-
ple proposed by Mr. Pitt at its forma-
tion, we shall very imperfectly execute
the intentions of parliament as expressed
in repeated declarations, and very much
fall short of the original object for which
that fund was destined.
I am sure, then, it must be very satis-
factory to the House to learn, that the
period may not be very remote, when the
public will begin to reap those salutary
advantages, every year increasing in
value, which always result from trans-
actions like those to which- parliament
has lately given its sanction, founded on
justice and good faith, and conducted
with prudence and honour. By a calcu-
lation which has been recently made, it
appears that, if parliament shall determine
that the 5,000,0001. is to increase at
compound, instead of continuing to go on


169]


APrIL 29, 1822.


[170






171] HOUSE OF COMMONS, Agricultural Distress, and the Financial [172
at simple interest, it will arrive, in the lude the House by stating that the re-
course of ten years, at the maximum mission of 1,800,0001. of taxes, which is
which it is at present intended it shall the amount that it is probable my right
attain, namely, one per cent on the whole hon. friend may propose to remit, appro-
of the national debt. In ten years, the priating the remaining 400,0001. in the
sinking fund at compound interest, will manner which I shall afterwards explain,
amount to about 7,400,0001.; which will can effect any thing like a complete relief
be full one per cent on the capital of the to the agricultural interest. It is gratify-
debt, because by that time the operation ing, however, to know, that such a remis-
of the sinking fund will have reduced the sion must be very beneficial to consumers
debt above seventy millions of its present generally, and to the agriculturist there-
nominal capital, which will then be about fore among the rest, in his character as a
730,000,0001., instead of 800,000,0001:- consumer. In that way it certainly will
after the tenth year there will be a sur- operate as a relief to the agriculturist,
plus on the sinking fund, at the disposal whose distress has never been denied by
of parliament, of about 290,0001., in his majesty's government, and which dis-
every year, applicable to any purpose to tress it has always been, and still is, their
which parliament may choose to destine most anxious wish to diminish. When,
it: at the conclusion of the forty-five therefore, I say that, in the event of the
years, that sum will amount to about adoption of the proposed measure, par-
10,000,0001. of clear annual revenue. liament, may, even in the present session,
The country, therefore, will have from afford relief to the country to a consider-
the tenth to the forty-fifth year of this able extent, I mean a moderate and a
period, a growing surplus, accumulating rational relief. I do not mean that we
from that fund, of about 290,0001. a year; are competent to work miracles, by which
making in the whole about 10,000,0001.; alone the distress in question could be
and in the thirty-eighth year of that immediately and completely removed;
period the existing long annuities amount- but I mean, that we may give such aid as
ing to 1,300,000 per annum, will fall in. will be very generally beneficial, at the
With these prospects before them, I con- same time that it will not prejudicially
ceive that there can be no hesitation on affect those great financial principles, the
the part of the House, in tying up the maintenance of which parliament has
present sinking fund, so that it may accu- already declared to be indispensable to
mulate at compound interest, the national welfare and prosperity.
The question next to be considered is Having thus stated to the committee
-what will it be prudent and advisable the relief which his majesty's government
for parliament to do with the annual say- earnestly hope may with prudence be
ing that will be effected by the proposed afforded, I must again conjure the House
plan ? Supposing that the sum should not to look at the question of remission of
be that which I have already stated (but taxation otherwise than through the
instating which I beg not to be under- medium of this measure; from which a
stood as absolutely pledging myself to clear surplus will accrue, disposable by
accuracy in the amount), supposing that parliament, after having set apart, without
by making a contract for a fixed annuity prejudice to the sinking fund, adequate
of 2;800,0001., the arrangement should be funds for meeting the dead charge
completed, and should leave at the dis- throughout the entire period of forty-five
posal of parliament 2,200,0001. of annual years: adhering strictly to this principle,
revenue, in what way ought that sum to I have no doubt but that the plan may be
be disposed of? Now, Sir, with all my satisfactorily carried into effect in the
anxiety, and with all the anxiety of my course of the present session of parlia-
right hon. friend, to remit taxes whenever ment, and that the legislature may thereby
it becomes practicable to remit them, I be enabled to relieve the country from
am (not prepared to. saythat we can safely taxation to the amount which I have
go so far as to. propose the remission of mentioned,
taxes to the full amount of 2,200,0001. My right hon. friend is-not, as I before
By the adoption, however, of the proposed stated, at present prepared to appropriate
measure by ,parliament, they will be ena- the whole of the 2,200,0001. to the remis-
bled to give, even in the present session, sion of taxation; because, by so doing, he
considerable relief to the country. Sir, would violate justice and good faith. For,
God forbid that I should attempt to de- although it is perfectly true that







173]


and other Measuresfor its Rdef.


5,000,0001. is the present amount of the
Dead expense, yet the whole of the saving
which will arise by the death of the par-
ties now entitled to these pensions, will:
not accrue to the public even upon the
Present system, for it is obvious that pen-
sions must, from time to time, be granted
to individuals who served in the late war;
to the widows of officers who may die
whilst on half-pay; and to the widows
even of those who have married since the
peace. His majesty's government, there-
fore, feel that they should not act in a
S way at all consistent with a due regard to
principle, if, in their haste to afford that
relief to the country which they are
bound to give when the opportunity is
offered to them, they were to omit to
make the necessary provision for meeting
this growing expense. We propose,
therefore, out of the sum of 2,200,000,
which I have taken as the whole saving on
the measure, to make the necessary pro-
vision for the growing expense which will
probably arise between the present mo-
ment and the end of the period of the
next ten years; at which time, if par-
liament shall now agree to tie up the
5,000,0001. of sinking fund at compound
interest, it will arrive at its maximum,
yielding, as I have already stated, an an-
nual surplus of about 290,0001.; and, in
two or three years from that time, the
amount of surplus revenue so liberated
will be sufficient to provide for the charge
of the growing expense above mentioned,
without interference with any other finan-
cial measure calculated to support the
public credit.
His majesty's government have con-
sidered this question with as much accu-
racy as is possible on an abstruse point of
calculation, in which there are no very
precise data to go upon; and we have
reason to believe that an annuity of from
300,0001. to 400,0001., for forty-five years,
will completely, cover the dead expense
that is likely to accrue, over its present
amount, in the course of the next ten
years. If that be so, the general result
will'be as follows:--The present dead ex-
S pense is 5,000,0001. If'we can contract
for a fixed annuity of 2,800,000., the
saving will be 2,200,000;.; from which, if'
we deduct the 300,000/. or 400,0001.
which has been estimated as the sum that
will be sufficient to meet the growth of
the said expense for the nextten years,
there will remain between 1,800,000/. and
a 1,900,0001., which may be devoted to the


APRIL 29, 1822. 0174


repeal of taxation, without the abandon-
ment of any principle which ought to be
maintained. But here I must again
entreat the House and the country to
recollect, that this remission of taxes can
be afforded only, if the arrangement which '
my right hon. friend will have the honour
to propose can be carried into effect.
Sir, it would be highly objectionable-
were I to say any thing as to the particular
taxes which, in that case, it may be desir-
able to repeal This is a point which
ought always to remain undecided until
the very moment at which the repeal is
proposed. Many suggestions will' no-
doubt be made on the subject; but' it
would be an act of the grossest' injustice,
and leading to the most unfair and injuri-
ous speculations upon particular, articles
of commerce, if any member of his- ma-
jesty's government were, in this stage of
the proceeding,. to drop a-hint upon the
subject. Andi indeed hon. gentlemen
who are not members of'his- majesty's go-
vernment-, ought to be very cautious how
they prematurely raise an argument upon'
this point, lest they should:unwarily occa-
sion similar mischief. If, however, par,
liament shall sanction the' proceeding
which his majesty's government, recom-
mend to them; if we are thus-enabled to
relieve the country to the amount which I'
have described, the hon. and learned gen-
tleman opposite will find' that the total
amount of taxes which will then have been
remitted in the course of two years, will
not fall very far short of what was con-
templated in his own plan. Parliament
have already repealed' the husbandry-
horse tax, amounting to- nearly half a
million; and a shilling a bushel on the
malt-tax, amounting to a million and a'
half; and if, in addition to those sums, we'
are enabled; without- any violation ofprin-
ciple or good'faith, to take off l,800,0001.
more, that will make a total remissionof,
taxes of above 3,700,0001. in the course,
of two years. It must also be recollected'
that, if these effects should result from the
proposition of my right lion. friend; they'
will so result, not only without any things
having been taken from the- sinking fund,'
but coupled withthe determination to tieW
.up that fund at compound interest, until it'
shall'reach the amount of one per cent onw
the nominal capital of the debt. What a:
picture does this statement present -of the-
resources of the country !
In making it, Sir, I have notreferred-to'
our increasing revenue, nor to any further-







1753 HOUSE OF COMMONS, Agridultural Distress, and the Financial [ 17
diminution of expenditure. On this latter 'accurate and comprehensive judgment.
point, however, I beg leave to say that, with respect to the details of any measure
notwithstanding the reduction which has which it might become necessary to pro-
already been made in the present year, of pose, and that they might also have an
two millions sterling, his majesty's govern- opportunity of ascertaining and carrying
Sent are not disposed to relax their along with them, the sentiments of those
efforts at retrenchment, although, in truth, hon. gentlemen who are most competent
the expenditure has been pared down too to form an opinion on such subjects.
closely to warrant us in holding out the That, Sir, was the object which I had in
hope of relief to any great extent from view in proposing to parliament the re-
that quarter. When, to the above state- appointment of the agricultural com-
ment I add that we have the prospect of mittee; and I had no disposition whatever
being able, at no very distant period, to to impose on that committee the task of
effect a farther reduction in the interest of submitting, from themselves, any proposi-
the higher portions of the national debt, it tion to the House.
is evident that, if parliament will but I certainly feel, not only as one of that
remain true to itself, and to the best in- committee, but as a member of his ma-
terests of the country, by resolutely jesty's government, that, whatever incon-
maintaining the public credit, we may venience there may be in undertaking to
look forward, in the course of a certain make any proposal on the subject, I
period of years, to a very considerable should not discharge my public duty if I
diminution indeed of the public burthens. -were to shrink from the task: and I hope
Sir, it remains for me to proceed to that, hn coming forward on this occasion,
those topics which it more particularly I shall be considered by the House with
belongs to us to discuss on the present oc- the less disfavour, from my having re-
casion; and to offer such suggestions to ceived many pretty strong hints in the
the committee as grow out of the report committee, as several of the members
of the select committee on the distress of thereof can testify, that it would be con-
agriculture. I shall now do this as shortly sidered an extraordinary dereliction of
as I can; as there will be other opportu- public duty, if his majesty's government
cities for entering more fully into the were to suffer such a report as the agri-
details of the subject. cultural report to lie on the table of the
The first question which must naturally House of Commons, without proposing
attract.our attention is, whether this be a to parliament the adoption of some mea-
seasonable time for bringing under the sure founded upon it. In fact, Sir, I hold
consideration of parliament a subject of so this to have been most sound and correct
much difficulty, and on which there exists advice; for, although there undoubtedly
so great variety of opinions? Even the exists, both within and without these
committee themselves seem to have enter- walls, much difference of opinion on this
ta'ned considerable doubts on this point; important and interesting subject, yet I
as they have not charged their chairman am persuaded that we can never hope to
to make any proposition to parliament, bring the public mind to the consideration
grounded on their report. For myself, of it with more calm and temperate feel-
however, I must say, that when, on a for- ings than at the present moment. Sir, at
mer occasion, I ventured to state to the this moment, it is purely a speculative
House that I thought it highly desirable question. The existing law prohibits the
that such a committee as the agricultural importation of corn until the price in this
committee should be re-appointed, it was country shall be eighty shillings a quarter.
not with the slightest wish on my part to It is now below fifty shillings; and there
throw off from the shoulders of his ma- are no indications whatever of any sudden
jesty's government the responsibility at- rise. So that what is now before us is
tached to the duty which naturally rather an abstract contemplation of what
belongs to them, of proposing to parlia- it may be expedient to provide for some
ment any measures, however difficult or remote and uncertain period, than a pro-
great their importance, which the welfare position from which any of the parties in-
of the country might seem to require; but terested can expect to derive immediate
I did so rather with a view of taking the benefit, or to suffer any present incon-
benefit of the discussions in that corn- venience.
mittee; in order that his majesty's govern- A noble lord opposite has this evening
went might be enabled to form a more called the report of the agricultural com-







and other Measures for its Relief.


mittee paltry and powerless; and has
Spoken of it altogether in very contemp-
tuous terms. Now, the House will do
the committee, and will do me the jus-
tice to recollect, that, when I first opened
S the subject to parliament, I said that I
was quite aware the legislature could do
nothing to remedy the immediate disease
-that they could do nothing to affect, the
present price of corn, which was the evil
complained of; that the only ground on
which I recommended any interference at
all, was, that there were circumstances in
S the existing law which might work much
mischief at some future period, if they
were not altered; and that this was the
time to alter the law, when there was
no conflict of immediate interests.
If, Sir, there be this strong motive
for making a change in the law, I cer-
tainly continue to think that there never
was a moment at which the subject could
be discussed with more temper, with a
greater absence of heat, and with less em-
barrassment from strong and interested
feeling. Not that I deny that strong feel-
ings may be entertained on this question.
On the contrary, I know that very strong
and I will add very erroneous impressions,
exist with respect to it; but, were it only
to give the good sense of the country an
opportunity of manifesting itself on the
subject, I should be ready to bring it
under the consideration of parliament. I
am by no means disposed, even if I had
the power, to do violence to public feel-
ing, or to propose any thing in the ex-
pediency of which the public mind would
reluctantly acquiesce; but it is absolutely
necessary that the country should be un-
deceived with respect to the numerous
false principles and false impressions that
have gone abroad on this subject; for
never have I known a question on which
there has appeared so much, not only
of mistaken principle, but of absolute fal-
sification of fact. There is likewise the
strong motive to which I have already al-
luded for endeavouring to adopt some
measure that may guard against the future
contingent evil of the law at present in
force. On that point the differences of
opinion are so narrow and limited, that
I confess I entertain a sanguine ex-
pectation that, even in the present ses-
sion of parliament, a bill may be passed
to avert the impending calamity; for I
assert without fear of contradiction, that
the degree of distress to. which the ex-
s* isting law, if it remain unaltered, may,
VOL. VII.


at some future period, give rise, cannot be-
rated lower than that of the most serious
national calamity.
Gentlemen are aware that, as the larw
at present stands, the ports must necessa-
rily open for the importation of foreign
corn, whenever wheat in this country
shall reach the price of eighty shillings
a quarter. Now, I believe there was not
a second opinion in the agricultural com.
mittee, as to the evils which, in the pre-
sent state of the continental market, must
result from the unrestrained importationr
which, in that event, would immediately
take place. No member of that commit-
tee went further in allowing the extent of
that danger than the hon. member for
Portarlington. If, in the present glut of
the foreign markets, any unexpected oc-
currence were to open our ports, such
might be the immensity of the supply
poured into this country during the en-
suing year-that supply being wholly un-
checked and uncontrolled-that no man
can describe orgimagine the extent of
agricultural ruin that might not be in-
flicted on this country ; not merely for'
that year, but for years to come.-Three,
four, or five millions of quarters might'
be imported; indeed, it is impossible to
calculate the amount of the influx. Cheap
corn must be poured in with a profusion'
beyond all example; and, as the supply'
would thus be out of all proportion be-
yond the demand, there it would lie for'
many years to come, a dead weight orr
our agriculture, bearing it down to utter
ruin.
This, however, is the most gloomy
view of the subject. I do not mean to
say, that there is much probability that
corn in this country will soon rise to
such a price as to open the ports and ad-
mit the influx of foreign corn. If the
House were to ask me what I thought
were the chances of such an event, I
would reply that undoubtedly they were
largely against the ports opening in the
course of next year; that the probability
was, that they would not open in the
course of the following year, or even iq
the year after. So adequate is the pre-
sent principle of protection, that, in my
opinion, nothing can open the port short
of that species of dearth, which must
open them, even if the protecting price
were a hundred shillings instead of eighty.
But, Sir, it is no answer to make to our
constituents that, because the chances are
against the agriculture of the country
N


2.- -'-- ~


177]


APRIn 29, 1822.







179J HOUSE OF COMMONS, Agricultural Distress, and the Financial [180


being ruined in the next or the following
years, that therefore we will not make
any provision for its safety. For, although
there is at present every prospect of an
abundant harvest, some circumstance may
occur such as had very nearly opened the
portslastyear. If by any contingency the
ports were next year to be thus opened,
and if the import of foreign corn shall not
be restrained in the mean time by some
adequate regulation, the interests of agri-
culture must inevitably be ruined. It
behoves parliament, therefore, not to
slumber on its post, when there exists
even the slightest possibility of such an
event; and his majesty's government
would abandon their duty, if they shrunk
from the task of proposing measures to
guard against its occurrence. However
difficult and embarrassing that duty may
be, I am satisfied that whenever a go-
vernment throws itself upon the good
sense of the people of England, it will
make a safe passage through all obstacles,
even in the worst of Limes. Whatever
differences exist as to the details of the
subject, they appear to me to lie in such
a narrow compass, that if the House will
agree to the general principle, and the
question shall become merely one of the
quantum of duty, I am prepared to agree
to any of the various propositions made to
us, rather than expose the country to the
terrible visitation of an indefinite quantity
of foreign corn being poured into it with.
out check or limit.
. I will now state, as shortly as possible,
the grounds on which I entertain a san-
guine expectation that all the differences
of opinion which exist, are such as may
be so easily grappled with and overcome,
as to enable us to pass a bill upon the
subject in the course of the present ses-
sion of parliament. In fact, there is very
little difference of opinion in the view
taken of this subject by the intelligent
part of the community. All agree in con-
sidering the existing law defective in this
respect, that it allows a sudden transition
from absolute monopoly to unrestrained
importation ;-not to free trade, in, the
sense of the hon. member for Portarling-
ton ; for if that were its effect, I should
not feel such weighty objections to it,
being, as I am, the advocate of a free
trade, as nearly as circumstances will
permit, under such regulated duties, as
may protect the country from danger.
We are all, then, agreed not to remain
under the present regulations, and thereby


continue to expose agriculture to the
evils attendant on a sudden and unres.
trained inundation of foreign corn. If,
therefore, we are agreed upon that point,
and also in the opinion that, to regulate
the supply to be imported, by limiting the
quantity, would be matter of extreme dif-
ficulty, the regulation by duty is evidently
the only practicable principle of restraint
that is left; and in truth, therefore, the
main question is the quantum of duty
which it may be fit and proper to impose.
It really comes to little more than to de-
cide how we shall, in the committee on
the bill, fill up the blanks; and, however
important I freely allowtheseelausestobe,
I think they cannot open a very wide field
for discussion. Sir, after attentively con-
sidering the subject, it appears to me that
we may divide those who, although
agreeing in the general principle of a duty
differ with respect to its amount, into two
classes; one class wishing to carry the
duty from twenty shillings to forty shil-
lings per quarter, while the other class is
of opinion, that a duty of from ten shil-
lings to twenty shillings per quarter will
be sufficient. If I am asked in which
class I place myself, I answer that, for
reasons which I shall hereafter explain, I
must, without hesitation, avow myself to
belong to the latter class.
And here, before I observe upon the
particular scale of duties which it may be
proper to adopt, I ought to observe that
there is another very important point upon
which all parties seem to be agreed. We
are all agreed that there is something in
the present state of the corn-market, all
over the world, which not only justifies,
but imposes upon parliament, the neces-
sity of treating this great question upon a
principle applicable to the present mo-
ment, although such a proceeding may be
found to require a revision, when matters
shall be restored to their natural condi-
tion. This principle was distinctly re-
cognized by the agricultural committee of
last session; it has also been distinctly
admitted by the hon. member for Portar-
lington. It is enough for us to know that
there is a glut of corn every where, not
only to justify but enjoin us to act upon a
system of adequate precaution. Under
such circumstances, it becomes just and
wise, and even indispensable, to legislate
upon a scale of duties that certainly would
not be applicable if the agriculture of the
world were in its natural state.
Let us examine a little the history of


_ _~~_~~~_~_







and other Measures for its Relief.


the division of sentiment on this subject,
S and consider what it is that can make dif-
ferent minds, agreeing upon the general
principle of affording protection to agri-
culture by a duty on the importation of
* foreign corn, nevertheless take so different
a view of its application, that certain indi-
viduals shall propose a duty of from 10s.
to 20s. a quarter; while others shall pro.
pose a duty of from 20s. to 40s. a quarter.
Nay, there is a committee of gentlemen
sitting, not far from this House, who
call upon parliament to impose at once a
* duty of 40s.
Now, Sir, the individuals who thus call
for a duty of 40s. a quarter must surely
have entirely put out of their consider.
tion that there are other charges affecting
the importer of foreign corn, besides the
charge to be imposed in the shape of duty.
Let us consider what must be the charge
on the importer of foreign corn before
that corn becomes liable to the payment
of any duty at all. This point was, I
think, at first much underrated by the
agricultural committee; and, in fact, it
was the due consideration afterwards af-
forded to it, which gave a new bias to the
* opinions of a great portion of the members
of that committee, I am sure I am justi-
fied in saying, that if foreign corn were
brought to this country, and were to find
a market immediately, it could not arrive
under a charge to the importer of less
than from 10s. to 12s. per quarter.
Transport and insurance would amount to
* from 5s. to 7s. per quarter; and, allowing
to the importing merchant the ordinary
commercial profit of 10 per cent, that,
assuming the value of the imported corn,
including charges, to be 50s. per quarter,
would amount to 5s. more. Such would
be the charge upon the corn if it were to
be sold immediately on its arrival in the
ports of this country; but, if it were to lie
in the warehouses only for a year (which
on an average would be a very short pe-
riod) a farther charge of 5s. per quarter
would be incurred, and of course of 5s.
per quarter more, for every subsequent
year, during which it might remain un-
S sold. Suppose, however, that we take
10s. as the minimum of the importer's
certain expenses, and 5s. as the average
contingent charge on the corn remaining
* unsold, can any persons who do not aim
at effectuating a prohibition under the dis-
guise of a duty, think of calling upon par-
liament to impose a duty of 40s. a quarter
upon an article subject to a charge of 10s.


or 12s., even if sold immediately, and
which may lie two or three years in the
warehouses, incurring a farther charge of
five shillings a-year? Parliament, I am
sure, must be composed of materials very
different from those which now constitute
it, before it will lend itself to such a delu-
sion upon the farmer as to impose a duty
of that amount-a duty which it would be
impossible to maintain. It would in-
evitably be repealed, at the very moment
when the farmers might deceive them-
selves with the hope of its coming into
operation. It is a proposition which
stands on no practical basis ; for, it would
be as much as to say that we should never
have any foreign corn, until corn in this
country had reached a famine price of
above a hundred shillings per quarter.
But, Sir, when we come to consider the
question in connexion with the more mo-
derate duty proposed, I am prepared to
contend that that moderate duty will be
much more effective and powerful than
some gentlemen .seem disposed to admit.
There exists another delusion, against
which I feel it necessary to protest. We
have been told that foreign corn, at all
times and under all circumstances, can be
delivered in the London market, with a
fair profit to the grower and importer, at
35s. per quarter. Whence, I ask, can so
absurd a notion have originated? I do
not mean to deny that, if you proceed to
buy foreign corn at a very favourable mo-
ment, such as the present, when it is al-
most a drug in the market, you may be
able to procure and import a limited quan-
tity at 35s. per quarter. But can any
body be so blind as to suppose that, if our
ports were open, any considerable supply
could be procured at such a price, or that
the grower can have a profit upon it when
it is sold at that rate ? The truth is, that
the foreign agriculturists are in the same
state as our own. They are suffering at
least as much as we do.. The foreign
agriculturist sells his corn at the present
moment at a loss not less severe than that
which is sustained by the English farmer,
who sends his corn to Mark-lane, and
gets only 47s. per quarter for it. It is a
gross and dangerous delusion, therefore,
to hold out to the country that, at all
times, and under all circumstances, foreign
wheat can be profitably imported at 35s.;
and, persons who are not better informed
on the subject, ought not to attempt to
lead the public mind on this question. It
is evidently impossible that the foreign


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APrIL 29, 1822.




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