« AnteriorContinuar »
bers to Parliament, he should freely Owen, of New Lanark, for ameliogive his support, and that this right rating the condition of the lower should be transferred to others. As orders. The honourable Baronet to the borough in question, no op- seemed to have become an entire position, he presumed, would be proselyte to Mr Owen's views, and made to the plan proposed by the to have considered, that by adopting Noble Lord; and in ihat point he some modification of his plan, upon perfectly concurred with the noble an extended scale, the distress which mover. . The only question was, pressed so heavily upon the working what was to be done with the fran- classes might be removed, and the chise of that borough? He hoped country greatly benefited. Lord the Noble Lord would not throw Archibald Hamilton, who seconded down the apple of discord on a the motion, had also formed the most question where both sides of the favourable opinion of the salutary House were disposed to co-operate effects likely to result from the exwith him. Let particular cases be tension of this plan; and the bolddisposed of as the cases might re
ness and contidence with which a quire, and he offered his assistance number of benevolent individuals to the Noble Lord for a practical re- had united in maintaining, with Mr medy; but he could not consent to Owen, that the plan would prove the laying down of general rules infallibly certain in its results, impowhich would furnish arms against sed upon a great portion of the comthe reform which it was the object munity, and induced them to favour, of the motion to obtain.
without examination, one of the Lord John Russell having ex- wildest and most unexampled pieces pressed his satisfaction with the turn of empiricism that has sprung up in the debate had taken, and particu- this kingdom since the era of the larly with the concessions of the South Sea Scheme. It was natural, Noble Lord, who had gone much far that a benevolent man, like Mr ther than he had expected, withdrew Owen, with only “one idea" in his bis motion, and gave notice that on head, should be an enthusiast in its the 16th he would bring forward a favour, and should be blind to any motion for the disfranchisement of consequences, but such as were fathe borough of Grampound.
vourable to the single notion which The House then went into a Com- had taken undisputed possession of mittee on the seizure of arms bill. his mind : But it either proves the Mr Bennet proposed that informa- extremity of the distress which then tion on oath of concealed arms prevailed, or the utter ignorance of should be taken by two Magistrates political economy, and the gullibility instead of one ; but the proposal was of some persons invested with the negatived by a majority of 108. The character of legislators, when we find other clauses of the bill were then it gravely proposed to extend the discussed seriatim, when the House regulations, that may have been resumed, and ordered the report to found useful in the management of a be received the next day.
cotton-mill, to the whole of the workOn the 16th, Sir W. De Crespigny ing classes in this great empire. But submitted to the House of Commons what, we may ask, are the instrua motion for a Select Committee to ments by which Mr Owen proposes inquire into the nature and practic to regenerate society; to eradicate, cability of the plan proposed by Mr at once, poverty and crime ; to in. crease, to an extent nearly illimitable, ings, instead of relieving, would only the powers both of production, and aggravate and exasperate the evil. consumption; and to give a prodi- The unexampled increase of our gious and unexampled impulse to the population during the last twentyprinciple of population? Why, truly, five years may be chiefly ascribed they are abundantly simple, though to two causes : the Bank Restriction it seems their powers lay dormant till and the War. The former, by rethey were developed by Mr Robert lieving the Bank from paying their Owen of New Lanark: They are notes in coin, enabled them to nothing but the "spade,” that an- quadruple their issues in paper ; cient and useful implement, by which the first effects of which were a Mr Owen proposes that the whole great stimulus to commercial entercountry, when parcelled out accord- prise, by the augmentation of the ing to his agrarian notions, shall be circulating medium, and the consecultivated ; and the establishment quent improvement of the condition of villages in the form of a parallelo- of the labouring classes. The war, gram, in which a community of goods combining with this state of things, should be established. By a proper and creating an artificial and unnadirection of spade labour, he assures tural demand for our commodities, us, that “ Great Britain and its de. tended to make the pernicious efpendencies may be made to support fects of the paper system not only an incalculable increase of popula. not visible for a time, but to diffuse tion advantageously for all its inha- a spirit of enterprise and activity bitants ;" and he adds, that “the throughout the whole population of deficiency of employment for the the country. More labourers were reworking classes cannot proceed quired, and more were produced. The from want of wealth, or of the means country seemed advancing rapidly of greatly adding to that which in strength, power, and prosperity. now exists, but from some defect Nobody dreamed that the system in the mode of distributing this ex. might change; for while people entraordinary addition of new wealth joy abundance they are naturally (which he proposes to create, "could improvident and thoughtless. But markets be found !”) throughout so peace came, and brought with it not ciety, or from the want of a market the blessings with which peace should co-extensive with the means of pro- be accompanied, but the horrors of duction *.” Now, with respect to the famine. Employment could not first of these blessings, an “ incalcu- be procured, because the demand lable increase of the population," for our manufactures had in a great we hold with Mr Brougham, that measure ceased; population pressed the increase of the population beyond on the means of subsistence; and the means of subsistence, which had hence all the evils of starvation, disalready taken place, was one of the content, and radical assemblies. great causes of the distress under
Had not Mr Owen been ignorant of which the country was labouring. almost every principle, by which the The plan of Mr Owen, therefore, affairs of men are regulated, he could in so far as it is proposed to increase not have overlooked principles so still farther the number of human be- obvious, and effects so lamentably
• See Report to the County of Lanark, of a l'lon for rclicving Public Distress. By Robert
certain. To show this ignorance, in happily described him, is still more a more striking point of view, we marvellous than his ignorance of, or need only mention, that, in his “re. contempt for, the principles of poliport to the county of Lanark,” tical economy. He proposes to baafter denouncing gold as a standard nish all emulation, and exorcise the of value, and proposing to substitute sceleratus amor habendi; yet still in its room * human labour,” the imagines that the subjects of his most variable, uncertain, and pre- cosmopolitism will continue indefaposterous of all abstractions consi. tigable in their industry! He dedered as a standard of value, he stroys the greatest of all the stimugoes on to say, that the
Legislature, lants that act upon men, and then in 1797, suspended cash payments, he assumes that they will act just as not on account of the run upon the they should do ! In his proposed paBank for coin, and the danger of its rallelograms, all property is to be in being drained of its last guinea for the common; there is to be an incessant purpose of hoarding or for exporta. surveillance exercised by every man tion, but from the “unfitness” of gold
upon every man; the whole is to to perform that necessary function! move, act, and keep time like a spinAvid he announces this as a disco- ning jennie ; no allowance is to be very! although, in prowling over the made for difference of constitution, pages of Adam Smith, he must have capacity, character, or habits; all found that that common-place wri. are to be moved by the same impulse, ter had represented human labour, to act precisely in the same manner, or, in other words, the cost of pro- to submit to the same discipline, to duction, as that which in the long- yield to the same motives, and corun determines the value of any com- operate for the same end : And this modity; but had never gone so far is called regenerating society! That as to represent it as the only fit mea. such a fantastic scheme, more visure of value, or as calculated to su. sionary than any which the most repersede the functions and use of the nowned conteurs of Arabia have imaprecious metals. The climax of his gined in their most dreamy moods, absurdity is, that he proposes to find should have gained the approbation the average value of labour by the of the gentlemen of a wealthy and day, and to constitute that the unit enlightened county, and been seor basis of his scale.
riously pressed on the attention of He also lays it down gravely, that, Parliament, is one of the wonders if he could find a market “ co-ex- of our time, which posterity will be tensive with the means of produce slow to believe. tion," he would achieve the most un. In the course of the debate on heard of prodigies. No doubt, Archi. Sir W. De Crespigny's motion, the medes declared he could move the Chancellor of the Exchequer made globe with his machines, were it possi- some highly judicious and pertinent ble to find a fulcrum, or point of sup- observations on the panacea which port on which to place then. The had been pressed on the attention fulcrum, however, has not yet been of the House ; and among other found: and the earth wheels on its things remarked the declaration of diurnal and annual course without Mr Owen, that “gross errors were the smallest interruption.
combined with the principles of eveBut the ignorance of human na- ry religion," and that he himself ture, displayed by this simple- was not of any religion that had ever minded projector,” as Mr Brougham been thought'ot; a declaration which could not fail to startle even those protracted debates; but, latterly, who might otherwise have been in- these possessed no manner of inteclined to think favourably of his plan. rest, as the same general topics We need hardly add, that the mo- were on all occasions urged both tion was lost; the numbers being 16 for or against them. The length, for it, and 141 against it.
therefore, to which they extendOn the same day, Lord John ed made abridgment " impossible, Russell moved for leave, which was if it had been endeavoured, and granted, to bring in a bill to disfran- foolish, if it had been possible.” We chise the borough of Grampound, have, however, endeavoured to lay and to enable Leeds to return two before our readers as full and distinct members to Parliament in lieu there. a view of the nature of the measures of.
proposed for curbing the projects of On the 18th, the royal assent was the disaffected as our limits would given, by commission, to the seizure permit; deeming it, at the same of arms' bill: on the 21st the sedi- iime, conducive to no good purpose tious meetings' bill was read a third to analyse, in the discussions of each time in the Lords, and passed; on the successive day, speeches which con24th, the bill for restraining the pu. tain no novelty or fact, and which blication of blasphemous and sedi- merely repeat what had perhaps been tious libels was read a third time in more fully and forcibly stated before. the Commons, and passed : and, on To the clamours raised against these the 29th, the newspaper stamp duty vigorous measures, by those whose bill was read a third time in the Lords practices they were so powerfully and passed. Ou the third reading of calculated to restrain,--that they this bill in the House of Commons, were calculated to impair, or, peran important clause was proposed haps, subvert public liberty, we reby the Attorney-General and adopt- ply in the words of Tacitus * Faled, viz. “ That nothing in this bill so libertatis vocabulum obtendi ab iis, shall extend, or be construed to ex. qui privatim degeneres, in publicum tend, to the publication of any work exitiosi, nihil spei, nisi per discordias in parts or numbers, provided that habeant : And to those who can dismore than two years have elapsed tinguish between liberty and licensince the publication of the work, tiousness, between the dominion of and provided also that such work the mob and the salutary and equal had originally been published in government of the laws; who revenumbers. On the 30th, the royal rence the constitution, but would assent was given, by commission, to curb and even punish seditious and the two last of these bills ; and the revolutionary movements, we would House, on its rising, adjourned till address the words of Cicero + : Hanc the 15th of February 1820.
retinete, quæsumus, Quirites, quam voThese measures, in every stage of bis tanquam hæreditatem majores vestri their progress through both Houses reliquerunt. of Parliament, gave rise to keen and
Progress of Burgh Reform.--Lord A. Hamilton's motion relative to the
Burgh of Aberdeen.-Lord Advocate's bill for regulating the mode of accounting of Royal Burghs.- Lord A. Hamilton's motion for the appointment of a Committee on the Petitions of the Royal Burghs carried.-New Jury Court Bill.-Motion for suspending, till next session, some of its enactments.- Report of the Committee on the Royal Burghs. Re-appointment of the Committee.
The progress of Burgh Reform in was uniformly offered, we shall have Scotland, during the last two years, no reason to be surprised that Parand the numerous and respectable liament listened with attention to the petitions which were in the course of representations of so large and re. this session laid on the table of the spectable a body of petitioners. House of Commons, seem to have The first proceeding of importance convinced Parliament that some al. in this cause was, the motion of Lord teration had become necessary in the Archibald Hamilton in the House of constitution of the Scottish Burghs, Commons on the 1st of April, that an in order to secure the citizens a- humble address be presented to the gainst the evils incident to the ma- Prince Regent, praying that his nagement of an irresponsible and self. Royal Highness would direct to be elected magistracy. Of the extent laid before the House a copy of the of this progress, a correct idea may warrant issued by the Crown for the be formed from the fact, that of election of Magistrates for the burgh the sixty-six Scottish Royal Burghs, of Aberdeen in 1818, and also a copy thirty-nine, the total population of of the petition on which that warrant which amounted to 421,125 souls, was granted. His Lordship then went had already voted resolutions in fa- into a history of the case, upon which vour of reform; while of the twenty. he grounded his motion. In Aberseven who had not moved, the total deen, at the end of the year 1817, population did not exceed 60,361: an election took place, irregular, and, so that the proportion of the popu. what was more, in a high degree lation of the former was to that of illegal. A complaint was made by the latter nearly as
two of the constituent Magistrates. If to this we add the strong facts The case was gross, flagrant, and alleged in petitions, of which proof unjust; yet it was owing to the
seven to one.