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HOUSE OF COMMONS.
favourable reception ; for how can we Tuesday, May 8.
hope for redress and relief, if the bare
statement of the wrongs and grievances of [PETITION FROM The Livery or Lon. which we complain be rejected ; We also DON, RESPECTING THE COMMITTAL of Sir beg your honourable House to believe, F. BURDETT, &c.] Sir William Curtis rose that in the language we may have occaand stated, that he held in his hand a Pe. sion, and are indeed compelled to employ, tition from the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, no offence is intended to your honourable and Livery of the City of London, in House. Common-hall assembled, which he was “ The circumstance which most deeply desired to present to the House. The pe- afflicts us, and which most strongly impels titioners, among other things, he observ. us at this time to approach your honouraed, expressed their sorrow and regret at ble House is, what appears to us to have certain proceedings of this House, and been on your part, a violation of the perstated grievances for which they desired sonal security of the people of the land. , a remedy; that it had been declared in We humbly conceive, that, without law, this House, that the doors of Parliament and against law, you have imprisoned two should be open wide to petitions, and of your fellow-subjects, and that without a therefore they came for relief. The hon. trial, without a hearing, you have conbaronet said, it was but fair he should demned them. Law requires legal process mention to the House, that the petition, and trial by jury of our equals. Justice was not exactly the petition of the whole demands that no person shall be prosecutor, body of the Livery; because, though the juror, judge and executioner, in his own hall was rather full, yet there were many cause. We beg leave to express our conthousands not present. At the same time, riction that this eternal principle of imhe must declare, that the meeting was mutable justice cannot be annulled by constitutionally convened by the Lord any House of Commons, by any King, by Mayor, and the sentiments of the Petition any parliament, by any legislature upon were those of the Livery so assembled. I earth. But it appears to us that your The petitioners, observed the hon. ba honourable House have, in the instances ronet, after stating certain grievances of of Mr. John Gale Jones and sir Franeis which they complain, beg this House to Burdett, assumed, accumulated, and exerre-consider the measures lately adopted cised all these offices. with reference to the committal of Mr. “ We feel it a duty which we owe to Jones and sir F. Burdett, to retrace its you, to ourselves, to our posterity, to state, steps and to expunge from the Journals that, in our conception, this jurisdiction is the resolutions come to on that occasion. unfounded ; and we bumbly, but firmly Now, these sentiments, though coming declare our opinion against the existence from the Livery, it is my duty to convey of this power in any hands ;-ajurisdiction to the House, as one of the representatives unknown to us, a power above the law, of the city of London, yet I must declare and which could be enforced only by mithat they are very far from being my own. litary violence ; a violence made mani
The Petition was then brought up and fest by the breaking open of an Englishread by the Clerk at the table, as follows: man's castle, made by the preceding and " To the honourable the Commons of the subsequent murder of peaceable and un
“ Permit us humbly to observe, that the The humble Address, Remonstrance, prevents our surprise at this conduct of
construction of your honourable House and Petition of the Lord Mayor,
We will not Aldermen, and Livery of the City of
your honourable House.
enter into the details, so often and so ably London, in Common Hall assembled, stated to your honourable House, by which this 4th day of May, 1810.
it appears, that upwards of 300 members " We, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and of your honourable House, in England and Livery of the city of London, in common Wales only, are not elected by the people, hall assembled, beg leave, with feelings in any honest sense of the word people ; of the most anxious concern, to present but are sent to your honourable House by this our bumble Address, Petition, and the absolute nomination or powerful inRemonstrance ; and we earnestly entreat fluence of about 150 peers and others, as your honourable House to give to it a averred in a Petition to your honourable House in the year 1791, and which re- “ Under the agonizing feelings excited mains on your Journals uncontroverted. by the late imprisonment of our fellow This is the great constitutional disease of subjects, can it be necessary for us to reour country. This is the true root of all capitulate the many instances, as thus apevils, corruptions, and oppressions, under pears to us, of refusals to institute just and which we labour. If it be not eradicated, necessary inquiry; to pursue to condign the nation must perish.
punishment public delinquents and pecu“ In support of this our sincere convic-lators; to economize the means and retion, we need only refer to the never-10. sources of the state ; to administer to the be-forgotten vote of your honourable people relief and redress for the various House, refusing to examine evidence on a disgraces which the national honour bas charge against lord Castlereagh and Mr. sustained, for the lavish profusion of Perceval, then two of the King's ministers, British blood and treasure, extravagantly for trafficking in seats in your honourable wasted in ill-contrived and fruitless camHouse.
paigns, and more particularly in the hu“We remember well, that when it was miliating and ignominious expedition to gravely averred, and proof oifered, in a the coast of Holland, in wbich the greal. Petition which stood on your Journals, and est armament that ever left our shores, the complaints thereof unredressed for was exposed to the scorn, contempt and more than twenty years, That seats for ridicule of the enemy; and the flower of legislation in the House of Commons were the British arny left ingloriously to perish as notoriously rented and bought as the in the pestilential marshes of Walcheren, standings for cattle at a fair," the then without succour! without necessity! withhonourable House treated the assertion out object ! without hope ! with affected indignation, and the minister “ These and similar proceedings of your threatened to punish the Petitioner, for honourable House require no comment; presenting a scandalous and libellous Pe- but we cannot, by our silence, become tition. Bui we have lived to see a House accomplices in the ruin of our country; of Commons avow the traffic, and screen and dare not conceal from you the wholethose accused of this breach of law and some, though unpleasant, truth, that they right, because it has been equally com- appear to us to have materially shaken mitted hy all parties, and was a practice what remained of the confidence of the “as notorious as the sun at noon day.” subjects of these realms in the wisdom of At this vote, and at these practices, we your honourable House. feel as “our ancestors would have felt,” “ We therefore humbly, but firmly, enand cannot repress the expression of “ our treat you to reconsider your conduct, to indignation and disgust."
retrace your steps, and to expunge from “ Under these circumstances, may we Journals all your orders, declarations, and not be perinitted to ask, where is your resolutions, respecting Mr. Gale Jones and justice, where your dignity ? Mr. John sir Francis Burdett; and that as sir Francis Gale Jones is confined within the walls of Burdett has not been expelled from your Newgate, for an aileged offence against honourable House, he be no longer preyourselves, which, if committed against any vented from exercising therein all the other subjects of these realms, or duties of a member of the same. against the King himself, must have been “Above all, we earnestly pray your hoadjudged by the established rules and nourable House, in conjunction with sir laws of the land ! Lord Castlereagh con- Francis Burdett, and in conformity to the tinued to be a principal minister of the notice he has given, to devise and adopt crown, and is now a free member of your such measures as will effect an immediate honourable House ! Sir Francis Burdett, and radical reform in the Commons' House dragged by a miliary force from the of Parliament, and insure to the people a bosom of his family, is committed to the full, fair, and substantial representation, Tower for exercising the right of constitu- withont which, they must inevitably cease tional discussion, common, and, indeed, to exist, a great, a free, a glorious and inundeniable to you, to us, to all! Mr. dependent nation." Spencer Perceval continues a member of Sir W. Curtis then moved that it do lie your honourable House, taking a lead in on the table. your deliberations, the first minister of Mr. Secretary Ryder stated, that he felt the Crown, and the chief adviser of the less difficulty in objecting to the reception Royal Councils !
of the petition from the admission of the
worthy baronet who presented it, that it | them. The late meeting was legally callwas not the opinion of the great body of ed together by the authority of the lord his constituents; but even were it the una mayor, and was as numerously attended as nimous opinion of the whole of the livery any he had ever seen; and out of 3,000 of London, he would resist its reception. persons then present, he believed that not Why he felt that to be his duty he would 50 held up their hands against the reso. explain. In the first place he observed lutions. If, therefore, the petition of such that notwithstanding all the pains bestow- meeting, according to the arguments of ed and abilities exerted in drawing up the right hon. secretary, were not to be the petition, it went to carry a direct insult considered the legitimate and real sense of upon the character and dignity of that the livery of London, it would be imposHouse. It went to traduce the whole sible, upon similar grounds, to consider conduct of that House in a manner per- the proceedings of that House upon many fectly unnecessary-uncalled for by any occasions, as the proceedings of the House other object than the wish to degrade it of Commons. If, as had been stated, or in the estimation of the public. Why rather insinuated, by bis hon. colleague, ask that House where was its justice and many of those liverymen who were prewhere was its dignity? It did not rest sa- sent had been deterred from delivering tisfied with that insult, severe as it was, but their sentiments, from a fear of the recepproceeded to comment in the most offen. tion they would meet with by marks of sive manner upon the construction of that disapprobation from the majority, they House, and that from that construction certainly might have evinced they did not the petitioners were not surprized at their approve of the petition, and that it did not proceedlings. He thought it was the more contain their sentiments, by holding up necessary to reject this petition, because their hands against it. Every man bad the petitioners had endeavoured to take the power of doing that: and from the advantage of what had passed on a former number who availed themselves of it being night relative to another petition, and so small, it was evident that the petition had studiously and arifully attempted to contained the opinions of nearly all who word it in such a way as should steer clear were present. He was always sorry to of the objections made to that of the free. see the smallest interruption given to any holders of Middlesex, by stating every person in delivering his sentiments at a thing as opinion and not as matter of fact; public meeting, whatever side of the ques. but it was clearly evident that the inten- tion he might incline to; but it was well tion was the same as that of the other, and known, that in all large popuiar meetings they only cloaked their design under dif- there was no preventing great numbers ferent form of words, which were, in his from giving way to their feelings, and opinion, equally inadmisible and disgust. shewing their disapprobation of the conjug. If the House permitted such peti- duct of public men, which was not agreetions as this to lie on ihe table, it wouli lose able to what they thought just and right. its diguiry, character, and consequence in As to those of the minority, who did not the eyes of the whole world. He should think proper to express their dissent to therefore, without trespassing further on the peiition, in the meeting at the comthe time of the House, move that it be re- mon hall, and who afterwards met in anjected.
other place for the purpose of drawing up Mr. Alderman Combe said he was ex. other resolutions, by way of a counter-detremely sorry 'o see any opposition to this claration of the livery of London, such petition's lying on the cable. He express- meeting was unquestionably illegal -not ed bis great surprise that the right hon. being covered by any authority, and could secretary should in the first part of his not be an expression of the public will of speech. have assigned, as one reason for the livery. On the whole, he hoped the objecting to it, that it was not the opinion House would consider this matter with the of a majority of the whole livery of London, serious attention and consideration which So far as that could be ascertained by a the petition of so highly respectable a body public meeting, it certainly was the opi. as the livery of London in common hall nion of the majority, and of a very de. assembled, had always been allowed to cided majority. It was altogether impos-merit, and that the House wouid pause besible that the whole Jivery, which con- fore they suffered themselves to be persisted of 12,000 persons, could get into suaded to reject it. Guildhall, for it would not hold half of Sir W. Curtis, in explanation, said, the right hon. secretary had certainly misap- , and constitutional meeting, and being so prehended him. He did not mean to state he would most certainly agree in the ihat the petition was not the opinion of a motion, that it should be laid upon the majority of the livery who were present, table. but merely that it was not that of a majority
Mr. Whitbread said, if any thing could of the whole body.
excite surprize at what passed in that Sir C. Price said, he wished to make a House, it would unquestionably be the few observations on the present occasion. conduct of the right hon. secretary on that He was clearly of opinion, and perfectly evening. Even since he had spoken, he satisfied in his own mind, that the House appeared to exult in the declaration of the of Commons had not, in any of its late worthy baronet behind him (sir W. Cor. proceedings, done any thing which it had tis), though he had been told by the not a perfect right to do, and as such he worthy baronet that he had misstated and had given his vote in the case of all the misapprehended him, and founded his first petitions which had hitherto been presented objection to the petition on its not being on the subject. He had attended the late the opinion of the whole body of the meeting of the livery of London, but he livery. Was there ever such an objection was not permitted to state his sentiments, heard of? The House had been told by or he would have told them freely and one worthy alderman (Combe) that it was a fairly, that he thought the House had acted very decided majority of 3,000 of the livery as it ought to do; but clamour was the who were present, and by another (Shaw) order of the day, and he could not obtain that there were 2,000 present; and yet the hearing he wished for. He was sure this is a majority which would not content this petition, though certainly that of a the right hon. gent. If this doctrine were body duly and legally convened, did not allowed to hold, what would become of, contain the sentiments and opinions of a or what would be said to, the majority of majority of the whole livery, but merely that House ? Was it for the right hon. those of a junto, who endeavoured to gent. to resort to such an argument, when carry every measure relative to the city of he and his colleagues had so lately grasped London, in their own way. The hon. at a majority of 38 for sending sir F. bart. asserted that the majority of the livery Burdett to the Tower? Let them look did not entertain the doctrines which the also to many other still more trifling mapetition contained, and he should be unfit jorities under which they had sheltered to represent that city if he did not state so themselves, and then let the right hou. much.-He was satisfied from the declara-gent. blush to find fault with the majority tion issued at the counter meeting, that to the present petition. The right hon. the respectable part of the livery were of gent. was equally inconsistent and undifferent sentiments. He must therefore founded as to other objections he made to maintain the sentiments of the declaration, the petition. He found fault with the and could not subscribe to the general language used by the petitioners. What opinions of the petition, nor lend a hand language would he have them make use to support it, but vote for the motion of the of The House had thought fit to comright hon. gentleman.
mit Gale Jones to Newgate, and sir F. Sir James Shaw said, the common hall Burdett to the Tower, on grounds which was numerous, and many respectable the people think is an assumption of power liverymen were present ; still be would the House had no right to exercise; and not say that the majority of those present the livery of London as well as others were of the livery. It was, however, a have petitioned against this: they think meeting legally and constitutionally con- the House have acted wrong, and they vened. Since that hall was assembled a tell them so in very warm language, cer. counter meeting of the livery had been tainly; but when the feelings are roused held, and since he came that night into the language will be warm, and the right the House, he understood that the decla- hon. gent. and his colleagues may blame ration agreed to at that counter meeting themselves for having forced the petihad been subscribed in the course of that tioners to say what they think. The right day by 1,500 liverymen. Now, he could hon. gent. then said, that on account of assure the House, that at the common hall, the animadversion on the construction of in his opinion, the number of the livery that House, the petition ought not to be present did not exceed 1,400! The peti- received. The construction of the House tion was, however, the decision of a legal of Commons! he exclaimed: look at your
the same Journals, the seats in that do as Westminster did, which
Journals, would it not there be found re- , between that House and the people. He corded, “ that upwards of 300 members in would tell them, if they did not petition England and Wales only are not elected in his form they should not petition at all. by the people, but are sent to the House How did the people stand now? said he. by the actual nomination or powerful in. The right hon. gent. says to them, You fluence of about 150 peers and others;" | are not to petition as Middlesex did, nor and in another place, is it not stated on as the Livery of London did, but you may House were as openly bought and sold as strongest of the three. Mr. Whitbread stalls for cattle in a fair." And what do alluded to what had fallen from the right do the petitioners say more? They use hon. gent. in last night's debate, respecte the language of truth and of the journals ing the right of the livery of London to of the House; and yet their petition is to have their petition presented to his Man be rejected on account of that language. jesty on the ibrone. He contended against Without adverting to what was recorded the arguments of the right bon. gent. upou the journals of that House, let us which referred to Wilkes's case, which he consider a very recent case, in no small could not express in English, but had redegree illustrative of its construction. course to the French, with his boutefeva The new teller of the exchequer (Mr. of the day; he maintained that the livery Yorke) upon his appointment to that had for a long course of years been always office vacated his seat in this House. He allowed to have that right; and that the again applies in a county, where for his infirmities of his Majesty had been indeprivate virtues and attention to its local corously and falsely mentioned to justify interests he was respected, for a repetition the late rejection of the claim..(Here Mr. of its confidence. The county of Cam- Ryder shewed an inclination to explain) bridge, indignant at his pablic conduct in but Mr. Whitbread said he would not althis House, almost unanimously dismiss low any thing like explanation in the midhim. They speak a language not alone | dle of his speech, when he was in possesdepending upon majorities, but actually sion of the attention of the House; if he recorded in the crown office. That right had been wrong, he should have been hon. gent. even subsequent to that dis- called to order. The House should there. missal, is appointed to an office of high forem [Here the Chancellor of the Excheresponsibility, and again finds his way quer spoke to order, and said he thought into this House. As the representative of it disorderly to allude to what had passed what body of Electors ? "By what in- in a former debate.] Mr. Whitbread said, fluence returned? Can the right hon. the right hon. gent. having spoken to secretary, so jealous of the character order, he must desist; but he would not of the House, contradict me when I say, be interrupted by explanation. He then that this representative of the people of proceeded to state, that at the time when England is nominated by a peer: “Is the petition of the city of London was of it possible,” said Mr. W. “that such fered to be presented by the sheriffs, the things should be that they should be secretary of state wrote a letter to the known to the people; and that when they city to say, that the infirmities of his Maspeak of them they should not do it with jesiy made it impossible to receive the warmth and indignation.” He lamented petition on the throne. This he denied to that he was absent when the Middlesex be the fact; the infirmities alluded to petition was presented, as he should most could be no bar to receiving them in that certainly have voted for receiving it. It way, and it was highly improper to menbad been rejected by the House, though, tion them. The right hon. gent, had as in his opinion, not to strongly worded as sured the House, that since he had been in that of Westminster which had been re. office he had received no petition that had ceived; because the freeholders had stated not reached his Majesty ; but that had not circumstances, not as matters of opinion, always been the case, for he was credibly but as facts actually existing. The peti- informed, and believed it to be true, that tion of the livery (the most moderate of when lord Hawkesbury was secretary of the three) was drawn up so as to avoid state at a particular period, when many these objoctions, and yet that was to be re. different bodies thought it necessary, to jected also. At this rate, if the right hon petition, those petitions were delivered to gent. continued in office long enough, he ihe secretary of state, and that not one of would bring on an irreconcileable breach them had ever reached the King. This