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of the country.
different spectator of public events, whether any | been the guide and guardian of his people through
country, in any two epochs, however many a weary and many a stormy pilgrimage, Signal change in the condition distant, of its history, ever present. scarce less a guide, and quite as much a guan.
otty ed such a contrast with itself as this ian, in the cloud of his evening darkness, as in country in November, 1819, and this country in the brightness of his meridian day." February, 1820 ? Do I exaggerate when I say, 1 That such a loss, and the recollections and rethat there was not a man of property who did not flections naturally arising from it, must have bad tremble for his possessions ?-that there was not a tendency to revive and refresh the attachment a man of retired and peaceable habits who did to monarchy, and to root that attachment deeper not tremble for the tranquillity and security of in the hearts of the people, might easily be sbowa his home ?-that there was not a man of orderly by reasoning ; but a feeling, truer than all reaand religious principles who did not fear that soning, anticipates the result, and renders the those principles were about to be cut from under process of argument unnecessary. So far, therethe feet of succeeding generations ? Was there fore, has this great calamity brought with it its any man who did not apprehend the Crown to own compensation, and conspired to the restors. be in danger ? Was there any man attached to tion of peace throughout the country with be the other branches of the Constitution who did measures adopted by Parliament. not contemplate with anxiety and dismay the And, gentlemen, what was the character of rapid and apparently irresistible diffusion of doc- those measures ? The best eulogy of trines hostile to the very existence of Parliament them I take to be this: it may be said plesa as at present constituted, and calculated to ex- of them, as has been said of some of hc Fetish cite not hatred and contempt merely, but open the most consummate productions of literary art and audacious force, especially against the House that, though no man beforehand had exacts anof Commons ? What is, in these respects, the ticipated the scope and the details of them, there situation of the country now? Is there a man was no man, when they were laid before him, of property who does not feel the tenure by which who did not feel that they were precisely such he holds his possessions to have been strength as he would himself have suggested. So faithened? Is there a man of peace who does not fully adapted to the case which they were framed feel bis domestic tranquillity to have been se to meet, so correctly adjusted to the degree and cured? Is there a man of moral and religious nature of the mischief they were intended to cusprinciples who does not look forward with better trol, that, while we all feel that they have done hope to see his children educated in those prin- their work, I think none will say there has been ciples ?—who does not hail, with renewed con- any thing in them of excess or supererogation. fidence, the revival and re-establishment of that! We were loudly assured by the reformers, that moral and religious sense which had been at the test throughout the country by which those tempted to be obliterated from the hearts of man who were ambitious of seats in the new Par. kind ?
liament would be tried, was to be — whether Well, gentlemen, and what has intervened be- they had supported those measures. I hare ioThis change tween the two periods ? A calling of quired, with as much diligence as was con patithe action of that degraded Parliament; a meeting ble with my duties here, after the proceedings of the so much of that scoffed at and derided House other elections, and I protest I know no place ret, Parliament of Commons; a concurrence of those | besides the hustings of Westminster and South three branches of an imperfect Constitution, not wark, at which that menaced test has been put one of which, if we are to believe the radical re- to any candidates. To me, indeed, it was not formers, lived in the hearts, or swayed the feel- put as a test, but objected as a charge. You ings, or commanded the respect of the nation ; know how ihat charge was answered, and the but which, despised as they were while in a state result is to me a majority of 1300 out of 2000 of separation and inaction, did, by a co-operation voters upon the poll. of four short weeks, restore order, confidence, a But, gentlemen, though this question has not. reverence for the laws, and a just sense of their as was threatened, been the watch- The sensition own legitimate authority.
word of popular elections, every other ; Another event, indeed, has intervened, in it-effort has, nevertheless, been indus- simais, le self of a most painful nature, but powerful in aid triously employed to persuade the people. ing and confirming the impressions which the as- people that their liberties have been essentially sembling and the proceedings of Parliament were abridged by the regulation of popular ineetings. calculated to produce. I mean the loss which Against that one of the measures passed by Parthe nation has sustained by the death of a Sov- liament, it is that the attacks of the radical reereign, with whose person all that is venerable formers have been particularly directed. Gelin monarchy has been identified in the eyes of tlemen, the first answer to this averment is, that successive generations of his subjects; a Sover- the act leaves untouched all the constitutional eign whose goodness, whose years, whose sor- | modes of assembly which have been known to rows and sufferings must have softened the the nation since it became free. We are fond hearts of the most ferocious enemies of kingly of dating our freedom from the Revolution. I power; whose active virtues, and the memory should be glad to know in what period since the of whose virtues, when it pleased Divine Providence that they should be active no more, have This refers to the King's derangement from 1811.
berty of the
not essential to
Revolution (up to a very late period indeed, which ther they nor I can gain our livelihood. I call I will specify)-in what period of those reigns upon the laws to afford me that protection; and growing out of the Revolution-I mean, of the is the laws in this country can not afford it, defirst reigns of the house of Brunswick-did it en-pend upon it, I and my manufacturers must em. ter into the head of man, that such meetings could igrate to some country where they can.” Here be holden, or that the Legislature would tolerate is a conflict of rights, between which what is the the holding of such meetings, as disgraced this decision? Which of the two claims is to give kingdom for some months previous to the last ses. way? Can any reasonable being doubt? Can sion of Parliament? When, therefore, it is as- any honest man hesitate ? Let private justice or serted that such meetings were never before sup- public expediency decide, and can the decision by pressed, the simple answer is, they were never possibility be other than that the peaceable and before systematically attempted to be holden industrious shall be protected—the turbulent and I verily believe the first meeting of the kind mischievous put down?
that was ever attempted and toler. But what similarity is there between tumults unknown to the ated (I know of none anterior to it) | such as these and an orderly meeting, Constitution.
on was that called by Lord George Gor. recognized by the law for all legiti- mass meetings don, in St. George's Fields, in the year 1780, mate purposes of discussion or peti- the right of pe which led to the demolition of chapels and dwell. tion? God forbid that there should " ing-houses, the breaking of prisons, and the con- not be modes of assembly by which every class flagration of London. Was England never free of this great nation may be brought together to till 1780 ? Did British Liberty spring to light deliberate on any matters connected with their from the ashes of the metropolis ? What! was interest and their freedom. It is, however, an inthere no freedom in the reign of George the Sec- version of the natural order of things, it is a disond ? None in that of George the First ? None turbance of the settled course of society, to reprein the reign of Queen Anne or of King William ? sent discussion as every thing, and the ordinary Beyond the Revolution I will not go. But I have occupations of life as nothing. To protect the always heard that British liberty was established peaceable in their ordinary occupations is as much long before the commencement of the late reign; the province of the laws, as to provide opportuninay, that in the late reign (according to popular ties of discussion for every purpose to which it is politicians) it rather sunk and retrograded ; and necessary and properly applicable. The laws do yet never till that reign was such an abuse of both; but it is no part of the contrivance of the popular meetings dreamed of, much less erected laws that immense multitudes should wantonly into a right not to be questioned by magistrates, be brought together, month after month, and day and not to be controlled by Parliament. after day, in places where the very bringing to.
Do I deny, then, the general right of the peo- gether of a multitude is of itself the source of All social rights ple to meet, to petition, or to delib terror and of danger. Lable to restric: erate upon their grievances ? God! It is no part of the provision of the laws, nor ton for the gener eral good. forbid! But social right is not a sim. is it in the spirit of them, that such They are directple, abstract, positive, unqualified term. Rights multitudes should be brought togeth- opported are, in the same individual, to be compared with er at the will of unauthorized and ir- English laws. his duties; and rights in one person are to be responsible individuals, changing the scene of balanced with the rights of others. Let us take meeting as may suit their caprice or convenience, this right of meeting in its most extended con- and fixing it where they have neither property, struction and most absolute sense. The persons nor domicil, nor connection. The spirit of the who called the meeting at Manchester tell you | law goes directly the other way. It is, if I may that they had a right to collect together count. so express myself, eminently a spirit of corporaless multitudes to discuss the question of parlia- tion. Counties, parishes, townships, guilds, promentary reform; to collect them when they would fessions, trades, and callings, form so many local and where they would, without consent of mag- and political subdivisions, into which the people istrates, or concurrence of inhabitants, or refer- of England are distributed by the law; and the ence to the comfort or convenience of the neigh-pervading principle of the whole is that of vicinborhood. May not the peaceable, the industri- age or neighborhood; by which each man is held ous inhabitant of Manchester say, on the other to act under the view of his neighbors; to lend hand, “I have a right to quiet in my house; I his aid to them, to borrow theirs; to share their have a right to carry on my manufactory, on councils, their duties, and their burdens; and to which not my existence only and that of my bear with them his share of responsibility for the children, but that of my workmen and their nu- acts of any of the members of the community of merous families depends. I have a right to be which he forms a part. protected in the exercise of this my lawful call Observe, I am not speaking here of the reviled ing; I have a right to be protected, not against and discredited statute law only, but of that venviolence and plunder only, against fire and sword, erable common law to which our reformers are but against the terror of these calamities, and so fond of appealing on all occasions, against the against the risk of these inflictions ; against the statute law by which it is modified, explained, or intimidation or seduction of my workmen; or enforced. Guided by the spirit of the one, no against the distraction of that attention and the less than by the letter of the other, what man is interruption of that industry, without which nei- | there in this country who can not point to the
fr Le bat?
portion of society to which he belongs ? If in- bor's disapprobation ; and if ever a multitudinoss jury is sustained, upon whom is the injured per- assembly can be wrought up to purposes of mis. son expressly entitled to come for redress? Upon chief, it will be an assembly so composed. the hundred, or the division in which he has sus. How monstrous is it 10 confound such meet. tained the injnry. On what principle ? On the ings with the genuine and recognized principle, that as the individual is amenable to modes of collecting the sense of the be coolcolded the division of the community to which he spe- English people! Was it by meet. indbre cially belongs, so neighbors are answerable for ings such as these that the Revolu- of the people. each other. Just laws, to be sure, and admira- tion was brought about, that grand event to which ble equity, if a stranger is to collect a mob which our antagonists are so fond of referring ? Was is to set hall Manchester on fire ; and the burned it by meetings in St. George's Fields ? in Spa ball is to come upon the other hall for indemni Fields ? in Smithfield ? Was it by untold mul. ty, while the stranger goes off unquestioned, to titudes collected in a village in the north? No! excite the like tumult and produce the like dan. It was by the meeting of corporations, in their ger elsewhere !
corporate capacity; by the assembly of recog. That such was the nature, such the tendency, nized bodies of the state; by the interchange of
nay, that such, in all human probabili- opinions among portions of the community known Their results triple easily ty, might have been the result, of meet. to each other, and capable of estimating each
ings like that of the 16th of August, other's views and characters. Do we want a who can deny? Who that weighs all the par more striking mode of remedying grievances ticulars of that day, comparing them with the than this? Do we require a more animating exrumors and the threats that preceded it, will dis. ample ? And did it remain for the reformers of pute that such might have been the result of that the present day to strike out the course by which very meeting, if that meeting, so very legally alone Great Britain could make and keep her. assembled, had not, by the happy decision of the self free? magistrates, been so very illegally dispersed ? | Gentlemen, all power is, or ought to be, acIt is, therefore, not in consonance, but in con. companied by responsibility. Tyr. s
Some one ceste tradiction to the spirit of the law, ibat anny is irresponsible power. This the reportes They were call el in a way to such meetings have been holden. The definition is equally true, whether of public ses action of the per law prescribes a corporate character. the power be lodged in one or ma. taga
The callers of these meetings have ny; whether in a despot, exempted by the form of always studiously avoided it. No summons of government from the control of the law; or in a freeholders--none of freemen-none of the in-mob, whose numbers put them beyond the reach habitants of particular places or parishes--no ac- of law. Idle, therefore, and absurd, to talk of knowledgment of local or political classification. freedom where a mob domineers! Idle, there. Just so at the beginning of the French Revolu fore, and absurd, to talk of liberty, when you hold tion; the first work of the reformers was to loos- yoor property, perhaps your life, not indeed at en every established political relation, every le the nod of a despot, but at the will of an inflamed. gal holding of man to man; to destroy every cor- an infuriated populace! If, therefore, during the poration, to dissolve every subsisting class of so- reign of terror at Manchester, or at Spa Fields ciety, and to reduce the nation into individuals, in there were persons in this country who had a order afterward to congregate them into mobs. right to complain of tyranny, it was they wbo
Let no person, therefore, run away with the loved the Constitution, who loved the monarchy, Such was the notion that these things were done but who dared not utter their opinions or their obvions design. without design. To bring together | wishes until their houses were barricaded, and the inhabitants of a particular division, or men their children sent to a place of safety. That sharing a common franchise, is to bring together was tyranny! and so far as the mobs were under an assembly of which the component parts act the control of a leader, that was despotism! It with some respect and awe of each other. An- was against that tyranny, it was against that des. cient habits, which the reformers would call prej- potism, that Parliament at length raised its arm. udices; preconceived attachments, which they! All power, I say, is vicious that is not acwould call corruption; that mutual respect which companied by proportionate responsi. Personalre makes the eye of a neighbor a security for each bility. Personal responsibility prevents man's good conduct, but which the reformers the abuse of individual power; respons- abuse. would stigmatize as a confederacy among the ibility of character is the security against the few for dominion over their fellows; all these abuse of collective power, when exercised by things make men difficult to be moved, on the bodies of men whose existence is permanent and sudden, to any extravagant and violent enter-defined. But strip such bodies of these qualities, prise. But bring together a multitude of indi- you degrade them into multitudes, and then wba! viduals, having no permanent relation to each security have you against any thing that they other--no common tie but what arises from their may do or resolve, knowing that, from the moconcurrence as members of that meeting, a tie ment at which the meeting is at an end, there is no dissolved as soon as the meeting is at an end ; in human being responsible for their proceedings! such an aggregation of individuals there is no The meeting at Manchester, the meeting at Birsuch mutual respect, no such check upon the pro- mingham, the meeting at Spa Fields or Smithceedings of each man from the awe of his neigh-field, what pledge could they give to the nation
The cause of
of the soundness or sincerity of their designs ? the situation of the other members, and the acThe local character of Manchester, the local tion of the Constitution itself. character of Birmingham, was not pledged to any I have, on former occasions, stated here, and of the proceedings to which their names were I have stated elsewhere, questions on this subappended. A certain number of ambulatory ject, to which, as yet, I have never received an tribunes of the people, self-elected to that high answer. “You who propose to reform the House function, assumed the name and authority of of Commons, do you mean to restore that branch whatever place they thought proper to select for of the Legislature to the same state in which it a place of meeting ; the rostrum was pitched, stood at some former period ? or do you mean to sometimes here, sometimes there, according to reconstruct it on new principles ?” the fancy of the mob or the patience of the mag. Perhaps a moderate Reformer or Whig will anistrates; but the proposition and the proposer swer, that he means only to restore the House of were in all places nearly alike; and when, by a Commons to what it was at some former period. sort of political ventriloquism, the same voice had I then beg to ask him—and to that question, also, been made to issue from half a dozen different I have never yet received an answer—"At what corners of the country, it was impudently as- period of our history was the House of Commons sumed to be a concord of sweet sounds, compos- in the state to which you wish to restore it?” ing the united voice of the people of England! The House of Commons must, for the purpose Now, gentlemen, let us estimate the mighty of clear argument, be considered in The Commons
mischief that has been done to liberty | two views. First, with respect to its nevermoretru. liberty has nnt by putting down meetings such as I agency as a third part in the Consti- at present. suffered by the remedies
we have described. Let us ask what tution ; secondly, with respect to its composition, adopted
lawsul authority has been curtailed ; | in relation to its constituents. As to its agency let us ask what respectable community has been as a part of the Constitution, I venture to say defrauded of its franchise; let us ask what mu without hazard, as I believe, of contradiction, that nicipal institutions have been violated by a law there is no period in the history of this country which fixes the migratory complaint to the spot in which the House of Commons will be found to whence it professes to originate, and desires to have occupied so large a share of the functions hear of the grievance from those by whom that of government as at present. Whatever else may grievance is felt—which leaves to Manchester, be said of the House of Commons, this one point, as Manchester, to Birmingham, as Birmingham, at least, is indisputable, that from the earliest into London, as London, all the free scope of ut- fancy of the Constitution, the power of the House terance which they have at any time enjoyed for of Commons has been growing, till it has almost, making known their wants, their feelings, their like the rod of Aaron, absorbed its fellows. I wishes, their remonstrances; which leaves to am not saying whether this is or is not as it ought each of these divisions its separate authority—to to be. I am merely saying why I think that it the union of all, or of many of them, the aggre- can not be intended to complain of the want of gate authority of such a consent and co-opera- power, and of a due share in the government, as tion; but which denies to any itinerant hawker the defect of the modern House of Commons. of grievances the power of stamping their names I admit, however, very willingly, that the upon his wares; of pretending, because he may greater share of power the House of Commons raise an outcry at Manchester or at Birmingham, exercises, the more jealous we ought to be of its that he therefore speaks the sense of the town composition; and I presume, therefore, that it is which he disquiets and endangers; or, still more in this respect, and in relation to its constituents, preposterously, that because he has disquieted that the state of that House is contended to want and endangered half a dozen neighborhoods in revision. Well, then, at what period of our bistheir turn, he is, therefore, the organ of them all, tory was the composition of the history of the and through them, of the whole British people. House of Commons materially different from
Such are the stupid fallacies which the law of what it is at present ? Is there any period of the last session has extinguished ! and such are our history in which the rights of election were the object and effect of the measures which Brit- not as various, in which the influence of properish liberty is not to survive!
ty was not as direct, in which recommendations To remedy the dreadful wound thus inflicted of candidates were not as efficient, and some borParliamentary upon British liberty to restore to the oughs as close as they are now? I ask for inReform. people what the people have not lost formation ; but that information, plain and simple
-to give a new impulse to that spirit of freedom as it is, and necessary, one should think, to a clear which nothing has been done to embarrass or re- understanding, much more to a grave decision of strain, we are invited to alter the constitution of the point at issue, I never, though soliciting it that assembly through which the people share in with all humility, have ever yet been able to obthe Legislature; in short, to make a radical re- tain from any reformer, Radical or Whig. form in the House of Commons.
The Radical reformer, indeed, to do him jus. It has always struck me as extraordinary that tice, is not bound to furnish me with an Theo What is there should be persons prepared to en- answer to this question, because with the Radical re sneant by it? tertain the question of a change in so his view of the matter, precedents sistent with
monarchy. important a member of the Constitution, without (except one, which I shall mention considering in what way that change must affect presently) have nothing to do. The Radical re
of a republic
former would, probably, give to my first question pretension could the House of Lords be mainan answer very ditlerent from that which I have tained in equal authority and jurisdiction with supposed his moderate brother to give. He will the House of Commons, when once that Hoove tell me fairly, that he means not simply to bring of Commons should become a direct deputation, the House of Commons back, either to the share speaking the people's will, and that will the ruje of power which it formerly enjoyed, or to the of the government ? In one way or other ite modes of election by which it was formerly cho- House of Lords must act, if it be to remain a sen ; but to make it what, according to him, it concurrent branch of the Legislature. Either it ought to be — a direct, etlectual representative must uniformly aflirm the measures which come of the people ; representing them not as a dele- from the House of Commons, or it must occs. gate commissioned to take care of their interests, sionally take the liberty to reject them. If it but as a deputy appointed to speak their will. uniformly atlirm, it is without the shadow of auNow to this view of the matter I have no other thority. But to presume to reject an act of the objection than this : that the British Constitution deputies of the whole nation !--by what assumpis a limited monarchy: that a limited monarchy / tion of right could three or four hundred great is, in the nature of things, a mixed government; proprietors set themselves against the national but that such a House of Commons as the Radi-will? Grant the reformers, then, what they ask, cal reformer requires would, in effect, constitute on the principles on which they ask it, and it is a pure democracy—a power, as it appears to me, utterly impossible that, after such a reform, the nconsistent with any monarchy, and unsuscepti- Constitution should long consist of more than one ble of any limitation.
| body, and that one body a popular assembly. I may have great respect for the person who Why, gentlemen, is this theory? or is it a theThe question theoretically preters a republic to a ory of mine? If there be, among those Prorica moette be be monarchy. But even supposing me who hear me, any man who has been past weg fore use to agree with him in his prelerence, (as in the generous enthusiasm of youth any mas I should have a preliminary question to discuss, may blamelessly have been) bitten by the docby which he, perhaps, may not feel himself em-trines of reform, I implore him, before he goes barrassed; which is this, whether l, born as I am forward in his progress to embrace those due (and as I think it is my good fortune to be) under trines in their radical extent, to turn to the bis a monarchy, am quite at liberty to consider my- tory of the transactions in this country in the year self as having a clear stage for political experi- 1648, and to examine the bearings of those transments; whether I should be authorized, if I were actions on this very question of radical reform, convinced of the expediency of such a change, to He will find, gentlemen, that the House of Coo. withdraw monarchy altogether from the British mons of that day passed the following resoluConstitution, and to substitute an unqualified tion: democracy in its stead ; or whether, whatever “Resolved, That the people are, under God, the changes I may be desirous of introducing, I am original of all just power." not bound to consider the Constitution which I Well! can any sentiment be more just and find as at least circumscribing the range, and in reasonable? Is it not the foundation of all the some measure prescribing the nature of the im- liberties of mankind ? Be it so. Let us proprovement.
ceed. The House of Commons followed up this For my own part, I am undoubtedly prepared resolution by a second, which runs in something But the direct to uphold the ancient monarchy of the like these terms : tendency of the country, by arguments drawn from “ Resolved, That the Commons of England, Is to destroy what I think the blessings which we assembled in Parliament, being chosen by and the monarchy,
have enjoyed under it; and by argu- representing the people, have the supreme aaments of another sort, if arguments of another thority of this nation." sort shall ever be brought against it. But all In this resolution the leap is taken. Do the that I am now contending for is, that whatever Radical reformers deny the premises or the inserreformation is proposed, should be considered ence? or do they adopt the whole of the tempewith some reference to the established Constitu- ing precedent before them? tion of the country. That point being conceded But the inference did not stop there. The to me, I have no difficulty in saying, that I can House of Commons proceeded to deduce from not conceive a Constitution of which one third these propositions an inference, the apparently part shall be an assembly delegated by the peo- logical dependence of which upon these proposi. ple—not to consult for the good of the nation, tions I wish I could see logically disproved. but to speak, day by day, the people's will- “ Resolved (without one dissenting voice), That which must not, in a few days' sitting, sweep whatsoever is enacted and declared law by the away every other branch of the Constitution that Commons of England, assembled in Parliament, might attempt to oppose or control it. I can not hath the force of law, and all the people of this conceive how, in fair reasoning, any other branch nation are included thereby, although the consent of the Constitution should pretend to stand against and concurrence of the King and House of Peers it. If government be a matter of will, all that be not had thereunto.” we have to do is to collect the will of the nation, 2 It is bardly necessary to remind the reader, that and, having collected it by an adequate organ, Mr. Canding here goes back to the days of Cromwell that will is paramount and supreme. By what and the deposition of Charles I.