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They had given to the dema. | his misfortune, on the present occasion, to gogues the example for that language by differ with many honourable friends of which the House was now continually re- his, with whom he had been in the habit viled and insulted. Their constant reply of acting in the humble sphere in which to those who resisted their measures, or he moved in this House, and with whom arraigned their misconduct, was, that their he hoped long to continue to act; but it only motive for opposition was a wish to was some consolation to him to know and get into their places. Could they sup- foresee from what had fallen from those pose the people would not catch at such hon. friends themselves, that though they language? Their very phrases were differed in their votes, there was no mateadopted in every popular discussion, and rial difference in their opinions as to the made the general ground of abuse of both offensive character of the petition now sides of the House. But he could not presented. An hon. friend of his (aldersuppose any man so absurd as to oppose man Combe), had stated yesterday, as a such minişiers merely for the sake of get- reason for receiving the petition, that he ting into their places, under existing cir- knew not what might be ihe consequences cumstances. He wished the House, how- of its rejection.--He did not know what ever, to view with temperate considera- might be the consequences of its rejection the state of popular feeling, and that tion; but he would iell his hon. friend, those persons whom he had been just ad. that he was more solicitous about the indressing would consider how far they terests and character of the House, than themselves had been instrumental to the for the consequences of the rejection of success of those who propagated libels this petition." But although he did not upon the parliament. If there was any know what would be the consequences of such sentiment that he or his friends were the rejection of the petition, he had a deactuated by, any views to power or emo- cided opinion upon what would be likely lument, he wished it to be fairly and to be the consequences of its reception; fully investigated. Apologising to the and this opinion was, that if this petition House for trespassing so long on their in- were received, the table would very soon dulgence, he wished the question for re- be covered with insults and indignitjes ofjecting this petition might be shaped as a fered to the House, by those whose object resolution in the form he had already sug- it was to degrade, vilify and insult the gested. He had drawn up one as rather House of Commons. He begged not to explanatory of his own sentiments than be understood, or to be supposed to beto bind the House to adopt it in the pre- lieve, that there was any general disposicise form it was now drawn up. He con- tion throughout this country to insult and cluded with moving the following Resolu- vilify the House of Commons. He betion, explanatory of the grounds upon lieved no such thing. That there were which the petition should be rejected :- great discontents and dissatisfactions, and “ That the House was at all times willing arising from just causes, he admitted and to receive the petitions of the people; contended, and he should at all times be but that it could not receive that which, ready to concur in measures for their cor. under the name of a petition, was a pro, rection. One great and principal cause test against the proceedings of the House." of those dissatisfactions he believed to be
Mr. Grenfell observed, that as he had the oppressive, vexatious, and tyrannical seconded the motion for the adjournment manner in which the taxes of this country the day before, he felt it incumbent upon were levied upon the subject. And it was him to make a few observations upon the his firm belief, that if ever the horrors of subject now before the House. He re- a revolution should be brought upon this joiced with the hon. gent. who spoke last, country, it would be attributable more to that the delay had taken place, not be the vexatious and oppressive mode of carcause he should now give a vote different rying the tax laws into execution, than to from that which he had been prepared to the burden (great as it was) of the taxes give the day before, but because the vote themselves. He was less afraid of meetof this night, whatever it might be, would ings in Palace yard, or at Hackney, than be a vote of greater weight and dignity, of what was silently carrying on at the than if it had been given yesterday, under tax office in Somerset place. He concluded the impression of that heat and agitation by saying, as he considered the petition which the offensive language of the peti- to be a protest, and an insult upon the tion was calculated to produce. It was House, he skould vote for its rejection,
The Hon. J. W. Ward moved that the and thinking that the House had done, Westminster petition be read for the pur- wrong in receiving it, wished the House pose of comparison. The Clerk having to follow up that which he conceived to read it accordingly, the hon. gent. rose and be their error, by committing another stated, that he wished to say a few words error in receiving the petition under conin explanation of the vote he intended to sideration. This certainly did not apgive. He had opposed the Westminster pear to him to be the best mode of prepetition, because, whether the prayer of serving the dignity of the House. 'He it was right or wrong, he then thought, was one of those who, on the first reading and did still think, that it was couched in of the Westminster petition, thought with Janguage highly indecent and improper. the hon. gent. that it contained matter of He had, therefore, thought it his duty to so offensive a nature as to preclude the call the attention of the House to it, that House from receiving it; but on a more it might not pass sub silentio like an ordi. attentive consideration, the objectionable nary petition. Yet he meant to vote for passages appeared capable of being interthe reception of this petition, and this re- preted in a way in which it was desirable. quired explanation. He was actuated that all petitions presented by the people, now, as he had been then, by a regard to to the House of Commons should, if possithe dignity of the Honse, and in his opi- ble, be interpreted. But was the Middle nion no mean part of dignity was consist- sex petition of that description? Could ency. He had heard nothing in the pre- any one believe that it was sent to the sent petition more objectionable than what House with any other view than with a appeared in the other, which the House premeditated design to insult them? If had determined to receive. How he in the discharge of their duty, the House would have acted if this had been a res in ought not to be too scrupulous. If in tegra, was another question. In these their anxiety to shew that they threw cases the House oughi to act on a broad their doors wide open to the petitions of the principle, and not receive one petition be- people, they had received the petition of cause its offensive nature could be ex- the electors of Westminster, did it follow plained away by a quibble, and reject that they were to go on day after day reanother of the same kind, because a simi-ceiving petitions, each more insulting and lar quibble could not be found. He saw offensive than its predecessor? Whatever no fair and open ground of objection to might be the sentiments of the hon. gent. this petition, ihat did not equally apply such was not in his opinion the course by to the other.
That the practice of the which the House would best maintain its House varied not only from century to dignity: The hon. gent. in whom the century, but even in the course of twenty discussion that evening originated, had years, was obvious, when gentlemen com
ascribed to his Majesty's ministers, and to pared the conduct of their ancestors, as to those who supported them, a great deal petitions, in the brightest times of our of what he called the prevailing dissatishistory, with the proceedings of the pre- faction of the country. In the first place sent day. They could not help these he must be permitted to doubt the existchanges, but still they ought not to allow ence of that dissatisfaction. If the hon. them to take place with an indecent rapi- gent. really believed that it existed, he dity. The practice ought not to change must also believe that the House had lost from week to week, and from day to day, the confidence of the country. From such merely because a chancellor of the exche- a conclusion he most completely disquer had more political courage on one day sented. One of the instances adduced by than he had on another. At the same
the hon. gent. as tending to create this time he declared his unaltered detestation supposed dissatisfaction was, that his Maand abhorrence of the principles of those jesty had been advised to select a gentle'who sent this petition, and if any one man to fill a high official situation who could shew him a real and substantial dif- bad, whether justly or unjustly, recently ference between the Westminster petition been assailed by popular clamour. Now and the present, he would be prepared to he conceived, that if his Majesty's minisvote for its rejection,
ters were to advise bis Majesty to listen Mr. R. Dundas felt himself at a loss to to popular clamour, whether deserved or follow the hon. gent. in his ideas of con- undeserved, they would, indeed, expesistency. The hon. gent. having been rience the dissatisfaction of the country: averse to receive the Westminster petition He was persuaded that the hon. gent. had
used that expression inadvertently, and many petitions presented against tax bills that he would be disposed to retract it. (although such petitions were not allowed Another hon. gent. had attributed a great to be presented until the session succeed. deal of this supposed dissatisfaction to the ing that in which the bills were passed), conduct of the board of taxes. This was the measures complained of were usually a most extraordinary and most unjust ac- denominated « partial, oppressive, and cusation. The board of taxes were the unjust.” Could any thing be abstractedly mere instruments of parliament. To single more offensive than to charge that House out that board as worthy censure for ex- with partiality, oppression, and injustice? ecuting a very painful duty, which they and yet it did not appear that any petitions were compelled to execute, in the execu. had ever been rejected in consequence of tion of which they have no option, was to their containing such charges ; because cast blame where it was wholly unmerited. that House considered them as conveying With respect to the proposed resolution, the sentiments of the petitioners. It should he did not think it at all necessary that the be equally so with regard to the present rejection of the petition should be prefaced petitioners. They thought the conduct of by any declaration of the motives by that House unjust, and they told them so. which the House were actuated. Such a If they really and conscientiously thought declaration not customary. The the House in its conduct unjust, how could House of Commons had already shewn they express that in words but such as their willingness to receive the petitions of they had made use of, and ought to make the people when they could do so consist- use of ? Far, indeed, was be from conently with their duty to themselves and curring in the sentiments contained in their constituents. The mere fact of the their petition. He knew of no privilege reading of the petition and its rejection claimed by that House which it did not would suficiently shew the grounds on possess. He knew of no power exercised which the House proceeded.
by it which it had not the right to employ. Mr. Ponsonby contended, that what his He had most certainly read in that petihon. friend had said with respect to the tion, and elsewhere, that the House had recent appointment of Mr. Yorke to the claimed and exercised privileges and head of the Admiralty was perfectly justi- powers which it did not constitutionally fiable. He knew no mode by which the possess; but such statements, he was far sense of the people of a county could be from considering as offensive, proceeding better collected, than by their refusing to as they did from an ignorance of the conre-elect any individual sent back to them sritution. The surrender of any of the for that purpose. When, therefore, the privileges of that House would lead to the hon. gent. condemned his hon. friend for destruction of the constitution. He remaintaining that the appointment of Mr. gretied the ignorance which seemed to Yorke to ofiice was not sanctioned by influence the people upon this subject; public approbation, the conduct of the but he could not look upon it as an ofelectors of Cambridge was a sufficient fence, if they differed in opinion from voucher for the injustice of that condem- that House, that they should say so.- As nation. He was extremely sorry however to the designs of those who had stirred up that bis view of the subject under dis. the spirit which manifested itself on the cussion differed from that of his hon. friend. present occasion, he was not acquainted He should not vote for the rejection of the with them ; bor if their designs were evil, Middlesex petition; he could not find it was the duty of ministers to detect and any thing in that petition more offensive punish them.' He cautioned the House than the expressions contained in the pe- against laying too much stress upon the tition which had already been received by accounts of public meetings, as reported the House, and he could never think that in the papers. He could quote one inany language which did not directly imply stance, as a proof that they were not to be offence, but which might be construed relied on with much confidence; for into offence, ought to induce the House to either the papers must be wrong, or an reject the petitions of the people. He hon member of that House (Mr. Wardle) intreated the House to consider the nature must have hazarded some very strange of the object for which the petitioners assertions. The hon. member was reportprayed. If the people complained of an ed to have said, that when the ministers act of that House, was it not indispensible were contending for privileges, whicb that they should term it injurious i In the did not belong to the House, the opposition had joined in the cry" to rally round the been stated by one hon. gent. that even if ministers upon such an occasion.' He his Majesty's ministers were to have hewas sure that the hon. member could have reditary offices in the government, the said no such thing; he must have known House ought to rally round them on such that he would be one of the last men in the an occasion. As that hon. member was country to rally round the ministers. He was in his place, he would correct him if he also reported to have said, “ that his Majes. was wrong : but the impression upon his ty's ministers were reproached by the op- mind was that he had made use of the position, for not bringing in the military expression; but as to his having said that in the first instance." The hon. member no members of that House were honest, could not have said this, no such thing but the few who concurred in opinions having happened. The gentlemen on his with himself, he could not recollect his side of the House, instead of adopting such | having used any such expression, and he language, had accused and condemned the was sure he had not, because he had never government for having employed the mi- thought so : bat in or out of that House, litary before they had tried whether the he should always state freely what he civil power would not have been sufficient. thought, though he could assure the right The bon. gent. (Mr. Wardle), was also hon. gent. never with offence towards him reported to have ascribed to what were personally. In stating however fairly commonly called the two great parties in and openly his opinion of public affairs the House, the greatest selfishness and im- and public men at the general meeting of purity of motive. He supposed that this the electors of Westminster, he had done must also have been a mistake-for surely nothing more than what was his right and no man could arrogate so much to himself what he conceived to be his duty. He as to think that he had more wisdom and hoped that similar occasions for speaking more honesty than the whole House of his sentiments, would often recur. InCommons. No man could be absnrd, or deed, he thought they could not occur too unjust enough to say, that out of 058 | frequentiy, because it was for the benefit members, 650 were notorious rogues. It of the people to have a frequent opportuwas for these reasons that he thought the nity of expressing their sentiments, and for news-paper reports could not have been the benefit of that House also to have an opcorrect, and ought not to be relied upon portunity of knowing those sentiments. The with too much confidence. The right of more frankly those sentiments were ex. petition was that of which the House ought pressed, the more he should approve of to be particularly careful; in the main them. Having said so much as to the ato tenance of which he felt that he could not tack which had been made upon him, he with propriety, vote against the petition: had only one word to add on the subject of
Mr. Wurdle hoped the House would in the petition under consideration. He dulge him in a few observations, in reply trusted that the right hon. the Chancellor to the personal attacks which had been of the Exchequer would pursue the same made upon him (“No! no!” from the Op- course with respect to this as he had done position : "upon the newspapers.") Then, with respect to the Westminster' petition. as the right hon. gent. liad quoted from the In that case the right hon. gent. had connews-papers certain expressions which sented to receive the petition, a's containwere attributed to him, that right hon ing the sentiments of the electors of Westgent. should have stated where he had minster. If he should put a similar confound them, because for his part he had struction upon the present, which was the not seen them so stated in any newspaper. construction upon which it ought to be What he had said he believed was this, received, he was sure the right hon. gent. that he thought it rather a curious mo- would have, no difficulty in acceding to ment for the gentlemen of the opposition the motion that it be laid upon the table. to shew that they rejoiced in the commit- Mr. Ponsonby, in explanation, stated ment of sir F. Burdett. He said too, that that he had not intended any attack he had heard it stated by one gentleman upon the hon. gent. What he had said amongst them, that the occasion required was directed against the statements in the them to rally round the government, and newspapers, purporting to be reports on from that sentiment having been cheered the hon. gent.'s speech. As he had been particularly by the members on the op. called upon to state where he had seen position benches, he was justified in as- these reports, he should inform the hon. suming it to be general. It had even gent., in the Morning Chronicle and the VOL, XVI.
Times newspapers; and also in another, Now, in both these opinions he must differ the name of which he did not recollect; from his hon. friend. He had not only but all the accounts were nearly similar. voted for receiving, but contended that What the hon. gent. had just stated, cor the House was bound to receive, the roborated his assertion that the hon. mem- former petition; not because it was the ber had never made use of the expressions petition of the electors of Westipinster, stated to have been used by him.
but because the passage which appeared Sir John Anstruther, as the hon. member most offensive in it, might be supposed to seemed to have alluded particularly 10 refer to the conduct of their officer, and him, trusted he should be indulged in not to the conduct of the House. The making a few observations. When that present petition however he conceived to hon. gent. imputed to the members on the be peculiarly offensive, and his objection opposition side of the House, that they re- to it, he confessed, to rest upon his perjoiced at the commitment of sir F. Burdett
, suasion that it conveyed an intended inhe was of opinion that he should have sult to the House. He should, therefore, looked rather to their votes than to their oppose its reception. It was not in fact cheers for evidence of tbeir sentiments. conceived in the terms, or drawn up in For himself, he was one of those who the spirit of a petition. For instead of thought the House had not exceeded its asking, or even recommending, it dictated just and constitutional privileges in that authoritatively to the House.
The case instance. How far it might be desirable between Sir Francis Burdett and that to exercise these privileges on any paru- House was said to be at present sub judice. çular occasion was quite another question. It was understood that it was to be sabBut such privileges the House not only mitted to the investigation of a court of had, but ought to have; and without them law, and he should ask, was it respectful, it must soon cease to exist as an sintegral or was it decorous in a party professedly branch of the legislature. The hon. mem- complaining to that House, to pronounce ber in quoting the particular expression not a mere opinion upon the question, but which inadvertently fell from him in the a most authoritative decision? It was in former debate, should have quoted it cor- fact impossible to read this petition atten. rectly.--He had said, and he repeated tively, without seeing that it was indecoit again, that, if the question was be- rous—without feeling that it was the object tween the present ministers continuing of the parties by whom it was drawn up, in place, and the subversion of the con- to try to what extent they could contrive stilution, he would make his election of to offend the House, and still get their pethe first of these alternatives, even though tition upon the table. Believing that the it was to give them hereditary seats. He Westminster electors entertained no such would try to have them removed by all view, he supported the motion for the relegal and constitutional means, but ception of their petition. If it should be no further would he go; and it was in said that the rejection of the petition unthis sense that he would rally round the der discussion, implied any wish to nargovernment, or, rather round the con- row the right of petitioning he felt that stitution and the House of Commons. no such wish could be imputed to him. There was no comparison between this for the twenty-six years during which he government as it exists, and the rain of liad been a representative of the people in every thing dear to us as men and Britons; that House, he could refer to bis conduct our laws, freedom, and the constitution of | as the best defence against any such imour ancestors.
putation; as in the course of that period Mr. W. Smith had never felt more dif- he had never voted against any popular ficulty upon any subject than upon the rif it was for him to say what was popular) Very important question under considera- or constitutional measure. He was sorry tion. It often happened that men of that his sense of duty should, on this octhe best intentions differed in opinion occasion, impel bim to oppose many per. foto cælo upon topics of this description; sons whom he respected. But he differed and in proof of this he could not help ade from them, only as to the means they em. verting to the speech of his hon, friend ployed for carrying their object. It had (Mr. Ward). That hon, member kad been often observed, and with justice, that voted against receiving the Westminster it was necessary to the preservation of the petition, and yet thought that the House liberty of the press to guard against its liwas in consistency bound to receive this. I centiousness; and why not apply the same