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of Commons, when the cry of" no Popery” | be allowed the expression, than to allow a was set up. They had already found wanton attack on the privileges of the that turn against themselves, and they House, which were those of the people. were not the first who erected engines He would not reject a perition, though the from which they themselves suffered. It prayer was against his own opin on. But would be a fatal day for the constitu- he must attend to times and circumstances. tion of the country, when the people If this had been an insulated petition, be should be prevented from expressing their would nnt have been much disposed to reopinions.
ject it, though he did not altogether apMr. Peel asked whether those who sup- prove of it. But this was the third imported the petition thought there were any proper petition, or rather the second, one terms sufficiently harsb to justify the re- of them having been received. This was jection of a petition? If not, then he as- at least the second affront which had been serted that it was perfectly useless to put offered. But it had been said, that the the question, wheiher any petition should charges against the House were not direct be received. He asked whether the House assertions, but stated as opinions. How might not claim the humble privilege of would this have answered in private life? an individual, to repel insult ? If it had | Suppose any one said to any gentleman, not this privilege, it was necessary that to himself for instance, that he was a commembers should know it, that they might mon cheat, a coward, or an incendiary, thank the petitioners for their forbearance. then he would be entitled to repel the inThe worse way to prevent insults was to sult; but if it was stated as only the opinion acquiesce in them; and he did not think it of the person accusing him, then it was to very squeamish in them to take offence at pass without notice ! There was in truth a charge of murder, and an assertion, that nothing in the distinction. He would ask their conduct iended to establish a mili- any one to read that petition, and then to tary despotism. If they were to lay that say whether its primary object was not to paper on the table, they might prepare to affront the House? The prayer was only expect insult-it knocked at the door in a secondary object. Whoever read the the humble character of a petition ; but speeches delivered at these meetings, could when it got in it would shew its real na. hardly fail of being convinced that there ture. He thought it was not too much to was a systematic plan for keeping op the require that petitions should at least have flame in the minds of the people, to the the negative merit of decency. It was subversion of the rights and privileges of said that the construction of the House did the House. If the House should receive not entitle it to any thing better ; but this petition, it would not be ascribed to a those who looked to a purer House of desire of conciliation, but to doubt and Commons ought not to admit a prece- fear. He then adverted to a speech of an dent that might be applied to any future hon. friend of his, which he described as House. Among their objections to the pe- an echo to the petition. If he understood tition, one was, that it founded its prayer that it was intended to be so, he hoped that upon the assumption that an illegal act few would agree with his hon. friend in had been committed at the time when, ac- opinion. He concurred with him as to cording to their own view of it, the ques- the impropriety of the vote on the Waltion was pending. He would vote for cheren Expedition. No doubt majorities the rejection of this paper.
of that House might be wrong. He must Mr. Elliot, after expressing his regret at suppose so, as the greater part of his votes being compelled to differ from some valued had been given in a minority. But they friends of bis, said, that there never was a not to judge of the House from question since the commencement of his a particular act. They were to take political career, upon which he felt less the aggregate of advantage and disanddoubt. The House could have no fixed vantage. rule with respect to the nature of petitions. Mr. Whitbread denied that he had ex. Each must in a great measure stand on its pressed any opinion upon the merits of own merits. He allowed that the temper the Petition, as his right hon. friend had of the House ought to be rather to extend asserted. than to contract the avenues for petitions, Mr. Elliot was glad to hear the disabut they ought to guard against the wine vowal. ton abuse of the right, if he knew no way Mr. Wardle, as a member of the livery more likely to profane the right; if he might of London, as well as a member of this
member of the
that there inn bis judgment, the party that of
House, felt himself bound to make some peat, condescend, and even degrade itself.
tered an insult even degraded itself more the whole of that body felt as indifferent than the party that received it. Was it to as he did to the reflections thrown out in be supposed, that if the party from whom the course of this debate, and particulariy bis petition came, meant io insult the to the opinion of an hon. gent. on the other | House, that that party could not have more side, who had indulged so much in such <tfectually contrived to convey that insult reflections. That hon. gent. bad thought through the medium of resolutions. If it proper to describe the common hall as a were said that such resolutions might be iumultuous turbulent assembly, but such prosecuted for libel, he would ask, whecould not be the opinion of that body by ther the livery of London had not as much the Lord Chief Justice of England : for right to express their opinion upon public that noble lord experienced no interrup: affairs as that House could pretend to, and tion whatever, although exercising his ju- whether the apprehension of such a prodicial functions immediately adjoining the secution was likely to form any cause of hall; and when he entered the hall itself, restiaint, if the livery were disposed treely on his way from the court of King's Bench, 10 anima įvert upon the conduit, or as far from witnessing any conduct that would some gentlemen would impress it, to insult justify the character ascribed to the meet- the dignity of that House. Why then ing by the hon. gent. bis lordship was should it be supposed, that if the livery treated in passing with the utmost defer- meant to insult they should resort to a ence. It was stated that the petition from mode so little suited to the complete graMiddlesex was a direct and declaratory | tification of their purpose as a petition to condemnation of the proceedings of the that House itself, which neces
cessarily subHouse of Comnions; it was not pretended | jected them to restraints? The people had that the present petition resembled that an unquestionable right to declare their petition in that respect, for it was the de. sentiments upon every public question ; sire of the petitioners and their wish to and why should they be restrained ? His convey no insult to the House ; and if opinion of their rights he always had and gentlemen would read, without connecting always would maintain both in and out it with any extraneous matter, they would of that House ; but in maintaining that not find one expression in the whole of or any other opinion, he had no intention that petition that could be fairly objected to convey an insult.--Among the passages to. It was objected by the right hon. in this petition deemed most offensive, gent. last night, that but a very small por- that which asked the House, where was tion of the livery had signed the petition. its dignity and honour? was, he observed, He believed that the common practice, most particularly objected to. But he both in London and Westminster, was that would ask those who pressed the objection, out of the immense number who usually where was the dignity, or the honour, or vote for a petition, a few are selected to justice of the House, when it refused to sign it afterwards, for and in the names of investigate the charge brought forward by the rest, because their multitude was well his hon. friend (Mr. Madocks) against two known. Here he wished to be corrected, members of that House (lord Castlereagh if he erred ; but he understood it was not and Mr. Perceval) relative to the sale of only unnecessary, but it would have been seats, when it prevented his hon. friend highly inexpedient, from the consumption from proving the fact; when, in a word, of time, and for other reasons, for the pe- it acquitted the delinquents, because, fortition to be signed by every individual, sooth, the delinquency was frequent ; bealthough that might be done in general cause the accused had done nothing more in the country. The right hon. the chan-than had been done before ? In adverting cellor of the exchequer had alleged that to this circumstance, he begged to say, this petition contained nothing but insult, that the charge which it produced against and that premeditated too ; but he (Mr. that House, did not apply more to the noWardle) really could not conceive that ble lord (Castlereagh) and those about him any great body like the livery of London than to the gentlemen on the opposite side could meditate any such thing; could, if who defended him. His language on this he might so express himself, condescend subject might be misinterpreted; but he to offer an insult-(Hear ! hear ! on the could not hesitate to say, that by the conministerial benches)-yes, he
duct of both parties on the occasion re
ferred to, it was casually discovered, indeed Mr. Jacob said he had not applied the distinctly avowed, that the purchase of epitbets he had used to the Livery of Lonseats in that House had been the continual don, but to those persons who had intropractice of all administrations, How then duced themselves into the Common Hall, could the livery of London be condemned to the annoyance of the sober, loyal, and for asking that House, where was its dig. honest citizens. nity, where was its justice, after overlook- Mr. Wilberforce expressed his satisfacing such a discovery, and giving impunity tion that the debate upon this question had to those who confessed a gross violation been adjourned, because it gave to the of its best privileges ? A right hon. gent. House more time for consideration, and :(Mr. Perceval) had distinctly stated in that because it afforded to himself an opporto. House, that there was no question upon nity of examining some doubts which be which both sides were so completely | last night entertained. The result of that agreed asin a decided opposition to reform; examination was the entire removal of and why should he be surprised to find these doubts ; and he was now ready his own words the language of the public? frankly to declare his intention to vote Yet he now denounced the repetirion of against the reception of this petition. That his own language as extremely offensive. House might well be regarded as the focus The petitioners were, it appeared, rather through which all the good and bad bu. unlucky in repeating the right hou.gent.'s mours of the country transpired, and be words. But, in truth, from what the right was extremely sorry to witness a disposi. hon. gent. and others had maintained in tion, which was particularly glaring of the course of this and a recent discussion, ate, to bring that House, to use a phrase it seemed impossible for the people to of laiv, into hatred and contempt. The present any statement of their grievances petition under discussion 100 palpably beio that llouse, unless the precise words in trayed that disposition. It dealt, to be which that statement should be drawn up, sure, in some common-place terms of ciwere distinctly pointed out. Unless such vility, but only with a view to cover wbat a course indeed were chalked out, it was was substantially an insult. The peti not possible to guard any petition against tioners, indeed, after reciting certain acts the cavilling, hypocritical spirit, which which are the subjects of their censure, was now so prevalent, and which there expressly stated that such acıs were nowas too much reason to fear proceeded thing more than was to be expected from from a desire to stifle the voice of the the construction of that House. From people. He would be sorry that such a such a petition, in fact, they could not exa desire should exist in any quarter, and pect any good, while they must mean to particularly in that House, from which do evil to that House. In maintaining that the people had a right to expect very that House did not consist of the represeos different conduct. That the people had tatives of the people, the authors of this any intention to insult that House, he dis- petition might, perhaps, propose next to tinctly denied. If they really meant to maintain as a corollary that that House insult, he did not think that they would had no right to pass laws. It was impose petition at all. But he firmly believed sible, indeed, to calculate how far such that the people looked to that House as persons might advance, if they were not their most essential support. It was not withstood that House did not maintain indeed to that House that the people its proper respect in this case by rejects ever objected, but to that corruption, ing the petition. From the tone of peculation and abuse, of which there this petition it clearly appeared, that was notoriously so much reason to com- its authors wished to degrade the chaplain. Such was his fixed opinion ; racter of the House. There were indeed and if he thought otherwise, he would too many who co-operated with such bave pursued a different line of conduct. persons to ascribe the conduct of all parHe fully believed that the petitioners in lies in that House to gross corruption-to this case had no other object than to com- hold them forth as objects of the country's plain of what they deemed an abuse. If scorn; and this could not be wondered at he could conceive that their intention was from the nature of the language, which to insult the House, he should have no he was too often used within these walls. sitation in voting for the rejection of their Gentlemen could not help sometimes petition; but his conception being decided speaking with warmth ; but if they would iy opposite, he would vote for its reception, deal fairly, he was sure they must admit that honest men might fairly differ in opi- \ such a constitution, as that which kept nion; and that any attempt to ascribe cor- this country safe and firm, while the pilrupt motives was generally unjust--Nay, lars of the world were shaken-while the jt too often happened, that those who most great bulwarks of society in the other nafreely dealt out such imputations were tions of Europe tottered to their very foun, least entitled to do so; and that if they dation? Let those then who loved their escaped recrimination, it was from want country--who loved mankind, cling to of materials to justify it. But the dispo- the main tenure of this invaluable constisition to ascribe improper motives was tution. Let such men oppose the spirit never the characteristic of candour, jus manifested in this petition ; let them be. tice, and particularly upon political ques. ware of these professions of civility whicha tions. It was an observation of that acute were only used to cover the daggers that writer, Dr. Paley, that on all great ques. would stab that House to the heart. Let tions which he had known to have been that petition be rejected which sought only agitated in parliament, there was much of to insult and to injure, while it professed justice on both sides ; and, as far as his to respect and to supplicate. experience went, he could justify the prin- Mr. Ponsonby declared his intention to ciple of this observation. He had, in fact, vote on this occasion as he had done with hardly ever known a case upon which regard to the petitions of Westminster and honest men might not differ. Now, as to. Middlesex. He would vote for the recepthe Walcheren expedition, for instance, tion of the petition, but he certainly would which was the subject of so much dispuò not do so it he thought it contained a stutation, he could not approve of it; but yet died insult to the House. This, however, he did not condemn those who differed he could not persuade himself to think, befrom him, because he thought the authors cause he could not suppose that men petiof that expedition did as well as they tioning for any object, would deem it prucould. But as to the merits of the discus- dent to use insulting language. Indeed, sion, he really conceived that there was a , if the could so intend, they could not be great deal of strong and just reasoning on serious in their wish to obtain the object both sides, and that, on the whole, it was in view; and if their petition were rejecta question, with regard to which honest ed, that rejection would be a reproach only men might differ. As to the abuse of mic upon themselves, aggravated by the connisters by the opposition in that House, he sideration that the conduct which produced had been in the habit of hearing the same it would rather tend to perpetuate than language from his first acquaintance with to remedy the evil complained of. Upon public life-from the administration of these grounds he must think it improbable lord North down to the present. Yet that that the petitioners could intend to insult : language, although industriously circulated the House. With regard to the assertion out of doors, and particularly hy artful de- of the hon. gent. (Mr. Wardle) that the magogues, was, he believed, seldom jus- gentlemen on his side of the House were tifiable, and therefore he thought it would more culpable than ministers in the case be become gentlemen in these times to con- referred to, because they, as he alledged, sider the nature and tendency of such defended the sale of seats, this assertion, as language, before they employed it. Al well as others used in that House, and out though he, for one, was not blind to pub- of doors, served to prove the existence of ·lic abuse, or slow to apply a remedy to it a studied plan of misrepresentation respectwherever it was found, yet he could never | ing the conduct of those who were the be blind to the excellence of that constitu- subjects of the hon. gent.'s censure. For tion which secured the enjoyment of so the fact was, that so far from defending much practical liberty, combined with the the sale of seats, there was actually a bill complete energy of the executive power, in that House at the time alluded to, to as excited the astonishment and admiration prohibit such traffic altogether; which of al intelligent strangers. When he hill was brought in by an hon friend of contemplated the effects of such a consti- his (Mr. Curwen) and which bill he himtution, he could not a ow bis attachment self and those with whom he had the hoto it, to be shaken by any description of nour to act, used every exertion in their abuse, because among its numerous advan- power to have carried into a law. But it tages it presented the merits of correcting seemed unsuitabid to the plan he bad
Was it possible that any mentioned to have any regard to justice, rational man could deny the blessings of to candour, or to truth. From all, indeed,
that he had heard and read of late, there pretending to the exclusive possession of was no doubt on his mind of the establish- virtues, he expressed his apprehension that ment of a system for propagating scandal that pretension might prove to be un--for promoting an impression that all founded. In fact, he was rather disposed public men vere alike-without principle to question this pretension altogether, be. or any regard to the public interest, and cause, from the whole experience of bis engaged in seeking only their own sinister life he never knew a man who pretended objects. Against that House these slanders to be much better than all the rest of man. were, he observed, particularly levelled. kind, who did not at some period of his What, that any assembly composed of life prove to be much worse. gentlemen of property, talents, and educa- Mr. Wurdle explained, that he did not tion, should be actuated only by love of mean to accuse the right hon. gent. and place or a view of plunder-could be blind his friends of defending the purchase of to every consideration of character, and seats in that House, but of maintaining in look only to the pursuit of gain? Was it the case of lord Castlereagh and the Chanpossible that there could exist such an un- cellor of the Exchequer, that such pur. happy public, such a nation of fools, as to chases ought not to be punished. believe such language? Sure he was, that The House then divided, and the num. there was a great deal of integrity and bers were,-For receiving the petition 36 honour on both sides of the House--for he -Against it 128-Majority for rejecting never doubted the integrity or honour of the petition 92. any gentleman, because he happened to [CRIMINAL Laws.1 Sir S. Romilly stated, differ from him in opinion. There were, that the subject to which he had now to die indeed, in all times differences of opinion rect their attention, was of no less importamong the most honourable men upon the ance than what he had already submitted most important topics. Many honour to their judgment. In considering puable men were found to differ even as to nishments as they operated to the prerenthe nature of our constitution. That cele- / tion of crimes, he thought they might be dibrated whig, lord Somers, was, it would be vided into three classes. The principle of recollected, once impeached before the the first was, that the punishment of the inHouse of Lords, through the spirit of dividual should operate on society in the party, and the influence of misrepresent- way of terror. The second was to put it out ations, and yet did any one now believe of the power of the person oflending to that lord Somers was not an honest man? commit crimes in future, either for a cer. or did any one now believe that the great tain time specified in the sentence, or for leader of the tories was not an honest man? erer. The principle of the third was, the Yet that noble lord was once the subject reformation of the offending party. This of considerable censure. But after the third mode he feared had been very much convulsions which agitated this country; neglected of late years. He was however after all the men of property, education ready to allow, that there were many very, and reflection had become disgusted with honourable exceptions in the conduct of the conduct of those who, by the bye, the different counties which had establishpretended to be all virtuous, and the re- ed penitentiaries. A favourite system storation of Charles the second took place, had, as he thought, most unhappily been ļord Clarendon rendered a most important adopted in the transportation of convicts service. When through the enthusiastic to New South Wales. Before the restora. loyalty of the day, it was proposed to tion of Charles 2., the principle had not grant such a revenue to Charles as should been adopted, nor was the transportamake it unnecessary for him afterwards to tion of convicts known; but after that apply to parliament, lord Clarendon, not- time, persons found guilty of offences, withstanding his devotion to monarchy, entitled to the benefit of clergy, and sen. successfully resisted the idea, declaring tenced to be imprisoned, were transported that he would never consent to render the to our settlements in North America. crown independent of parliament. Ac. They were not, however, sent away as cordingly the monarch never forgot the perpetual slaves, but bound by indentures resistance of Clarendon, and after giving for seven years, and for the last three him up to abuse, sold him to his enemies. years they received wages, in order that a -Reverting to the indiscriminate censure fund might be provided to give them : cast upon all public men, by those whom fair chance of future success in life. By the right hon. gent. described as modestly the act of the 4th of George the 1st, grand