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tion of the report on the bill for pre- mere fiat, could create a demand venting blasphemous and seditious for superabundant labour and comlibels; when Lord Ellenborough pro- modities; compel foreign nations to posed, by way of amendment, the consume more than they had occafollowing definition of a seditious sion for, or could afford to purchase; libel, viz. “one calculated to bring induce manufacturers, who were obhis Majesty's person, or the Govern liged to sell their commodities at ment and Constitution, or either and below the cost of production, House of Parliament, into hatred or to raise the money price of labour, contempt, or calculated to excite his to their own certain and inevitable Majesty's subjects to attempt any ruin; or control and regulate that alteration of any matter in church which all men, in the slightest deor state as by law established, other gree informed, know to be as much wise than by lawful means." Lord beyond the reach of mere legislation Liverpool said he would not object as the course of the seasons, or the to the amendment, with the addition ebbing and flowing of the tide. If of the words, “ or the person of the no relief was obtained, added Mr Prince Regent.” Lords Erskine Bennet, discontent must be the conand Holland commented on this de. sequence, and discontent will finalfinition, and also on the nature of ly produce despair. He readily adthe punishment awarded by the act, mitted, that these feelings had been which, as heretofore, they pronoun- inflamed by the practices of designced inadequate both in kind and de- ing men : but he still contended, that gree.

they originated in and were kept On the same day, Mr Bennet alive by what approached to a state moved in the Commons for the ap- of famine. " Give them but food pointment of a committee to inquire and work, and the House will soon into the present state of the manu- cease to hear of their distresses or facturing districts. By way of pre- their discontents.” Very true; the face to his motion, the honourable proposal is easily made : nothing can gentleman entered at great length be simpler than to say to Parliament, into the detail of the distresses, which " Give the people food and work, he described as existing in various and they will no longer plot treadistricts, both in England and Scot- son, or assemble in such overwhelmland, owing to the want of employ- ing masses as to threaten the very ment, the consequent low state of existence of the State.” But when wages, which did not afford the la. was it ever before gravely proposed bourer the means of subsistence to Parliament, “ to find food and even on the most economical plan, work” for the people, to alter the and the severe and unexampled rate of wages, and to destroy, as it pressure of taxation. In the course were by the talisman of an enchanof this detail he particularised the ter, the sufferings and privations that rate of wages in many manufacture had sprung from the state of Europe ing towns and districts, and describ, for the last twenty-five years, and ed the destitute situation to which the altered relations in which all the the labouring classes were reduced; other nations as well as ourselves maintaining that, in such circum- have been placed by the return of stances, it was natural that the peo. peace ? Surely, if Parliament were ple should look to Parliament for as- as omnipotent as this strange docsistance: as. if Parliament, by its trine would lead us to suppose, it


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must have been the worst kind of cover more clearly and intelligibly treason against the people, to suffer the causes of distress in the manu. them to labour for a single day at facturing districts, he must guard reduced wages, or with a diminution his concurrence from any asset to of those comforts which Mr Bennet what would in the event be so insupposed Parliament competent to jurious a proceeding : a proceeding bestow. But if, on the contrary, Par- that would go to try over again liament could do nothing to alleviate every subject of local agitation and the evils which he described, and private dispute, which could be rewhich were but too real, inquiry vived in the present irritated state of would have been at least useless, or public feeling. perhaps worse. Upon the best sup- This motion, which, to our appreposition, Parliament could do no- hension, appears so absurd and prething, and therefore it would have posterous, was nevertheless supportbeen mere empiricism to pretend to ed by great acuteness, ingenuity, accomplish what is competent to no and eloquence, particularly by Mr power save that of the Almighty: Baring and Mr Tierney, the speech and upon the worst, delusive hopes of the latter of whom we regret that would have been fostered only to be our limits forbid us even to abridge. disappointed, and to aggravate the In the course of the lengthened de. severity of distress by the bitterness bate which took place, the Lord Adof despair. Upon these and similar vocate entered at considerable length grounds, Lord Castlereagh opposed into the state of the manufacturing the motion of the honourable gentle districts of Scotland, detailing both man. On entering the House, he the rate of the wages of labour and communicated to Mr Bennet that the practices of the disaffected in he did not object, in the first in and about Glasgow, with the means stance, to the appointment of a which had been adopted by the loyal committee : but he felt the impor- part of the community, both to detance of defining specifically what fend themselves and their property the nature of the inquiry was which against the nocturnal and diurnal was to be entrusted to them. It visitations of the radicals, and if poswas a duty which the House owed to sible to check the progress of the the unfortunate classes of society, pestilence which seemed then spread. on whose behalf the inquiry was to ing among the lower classes. The be undertaken, not to raise expec. motion was finally negatived withtations far beyond the means of par- out a division. liamentary relief. Was it possible, The same day, the training prehe asked, for any fund to be esta- vention bill was read a third time, blished that would secure employ- and passed, ment, amidst all the fluctuations of On the following day, the training commerce and manufactures ? Upon prevention bill, with the amendo wbat principle could Government ments affixed to it by the Commons, act, if in seasons of difficulty they was agreed to by the Lords; and the were to recognise the policy of tak- bill for the prevention of seditious ing from one class merely for the and blasphemous libels read a third purpose of giving to another? How time, passed, and sent down to the ever disposed he might be to accede Commons for their concurrence. to an inquiry, the object of which As a proof of the necessity of this was to ascertain facts, and to dis- bill, in order to restrain and punish

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those persons who seemed to have and passed. Before this, however, organised libel into a regular pro- the Lord Chancellor proposed a fession, and whose apparent object clause, which was adopted, and which was to sap and undermine the whole provided that the defendant should fabric of the constitution, and of so- be brought to trial within twelve ciety, we may here notice, that Mr months from the time of pleading; Courtenay, this day, called the ate and that if the trial did not take tention of the Commons to a pamph- place within that period, the defenlet which had just appeared, and up. dant might then call on the Attoron which he founded a motion (which ney-General to proceed with his trial was agreed to,) for calling the prin. within twenty days, after the expiry ter, Robert Stoddart, lo the bar of of which, if no trial took place, the the House, to answer for a high Attorney-General must enter a nolle breach of its privileges. The follow. prosequi, and the defendant would ing extract will show the nature of be relieved from the prosecution. this production, and justify the mo. On the same day, the House of tion of the honourable member : Commons proceeded first with the " What prevents the people from question of breach of privilege, when walking down to the House and pull- the printer of the pamphlet above ing out the members by the ears, alluded to appeared at the bar of the locking up their doors, and finging House, and gave up the name of the the key into the Thames? Is it any author, Mr John Cam Hobhouse, who majesty which lodges in the mem. having acknowledged himself to be bers of that assembly? Do we love the author of the pamphlet, which had them? Not at all : we have an in- been voted a scandalous libel, and a stinctive horror and disgust at the high contempt of the privileges and very abstract idea of a borough- constitutional authority of the House, monger. Do we respect them? Not was ordered to be committed to the in the least. Do we regard them as safe custody of his Majesty's gaol of endowed with any superior quali- Newgate. The seditious meetings ties! On the contrary, individually, prevention bill was then, after a there is scarcely a poorer creature long discussion, in which Mr Plunthan your mere member of Parlia- kett participated, read a third time ment; though, in his corporate ca- and passed; having previously receipacity, the earth furnishes not so ab- ved some immaterial verbal amend. solute a bully. Their true practical ments. protectors, then-the real efficient On the 14th, Lord John Russell anti-reformers, — are to be found brought forward the motion, of which at the Horse Guards and the Knights. he had previously given notice, on bridge-barracks. As long as the the subject of Parliamentary Reform. House of Commons' majorities are He began by remarking on the difbacked by the regimental muster. ficulties with which he had at preroll

, so long may those who have got sent to contend. It was impossible, the tax-power keep it, and hang he said, not to perceive that there those who resist.”

were two parties, between whom On the 11th, the royal assent was there prevailed an extreme irritation given, by commission, to the bill for at this moment; the one urging unpreventing military training, and on reasonable demands, and the other the 13th the misdemeanour traverse meeting every demand with a perbill was read a third time in the Lords emptory denial; the one claiming

unknown privileges and imaginary rection in the abuses of borough erights, and the other ready to cast lections. Those who were therefore into oblivion all those ancient liber for the largest reform ought not to ties which, our ancestors shed their despise that which it would be blood to establish, and ready to en- the object of his propositions to danger them for ever, in order to ob- introduce. Of late years, some tain a temporary and momentary se. towns had risen up into places of curity. Yet he believed he might great commercial wealth and impormake use of a great authority to tance. Other towns had, on the conshow that circumstances of this kind trary, sunk into decay, and become did not render the period unfit for unfit to enjoy the right of sending going into a full consideration of the representatives to Parliament. On subject. In the year 1782, when Mr reference to the history of ParliaPitt submitted his propositions for a ment, it would be found that the reform in the constitution of that principle of a change had been ofHouse, two of which propositions ten acknowledged, and the franchise were similar to his own, he prefaced withdrawn on various occasions, as in them with a speech, in which it was the case of Malden. Elections had observed, that the large expenditure also been granted to new places both of the Government, and the immense by the King's writ and by act of Parburdens on the country, had produ- liament. When great disorders broke ced a sentiment of general disgust; out in the county palatine of Chethat the people began to turn their shire, the remedy adopted was to give eyes inward upon themselves; and it a representation. When the coun. that seeing some radical defect, a ty palatine of Durham was suffering number of wild plans and theories under similar evils, a similar remedy had been promulgated. Some sound was adopted. Similar changes had and practical remedy appeared to taken place so late as the reign of him, therefore, necessary, as well to Charles II. At the Revolution, limit the influence of the Crown, as when it was found necessary to disto guard the spirit of liberty from possess the Sovereign, it was consimisdirection. But although this au- dered that it would

be to disjoint the thority was thus strongly in his fa- constitution altogether to add any vour, he was not aware that many new power to one of the states ; and persons in that House were opposed our ancestors refused at that time to to all theoretical advantages origi. alter in any manner the composition nating in any change of the consti. of that House. By the act of Union, tution of Parliament. Those, how. too, the Sovereign, it was admitted, ever, who were generally averse to could no longer lawfully issue his reform might reconcile their minds writ for adding to the number of its to the present question, by reflecting members. But the evil consequences that it involved the consideration of which had resulted from this state of a particular defect, and that they had things were undeniable. The small always professed themselves ready boroughs had since become so corto entertain inquiries of this nature. rupt as to sell their suffrages, and, The Duke of Richmond, too, whose on some occasions, so openly as to ideas were carried so far with regard be visited with punishment by the to what might be advantageous, had House. In addition to this, many been foremost in the support of a large and opulent towns had sprung bill which went only to some cor- up, and had not yet obtained this right. A third effect equally indis- offence to give votes at any election putable had also followed: it was, to be held for the county in which ihat the House itself had ceased to such boroughs shall be respectively represent so exactly as it ought the situated. 2. That it is expedient wishes and sentiments of the public. that the right of returning members The abuses in small boroughs were to serve in Parliament, so taken matter of notoriety, and had been from any borough which shall have amply proved in the cases of Crick- been proved to have been guilty of lade and Aylesbury. Another evil bribery and corruption, should be to which he had already adverted given to some great town, the popu. was the non-representation of popu- lation of which shall not be less than lous, commercial, and manufactur. 15,000 souls, or to some of the laring towns. Amongst these was Man- gest counties. 3. That it is the chester, the population of which in duty of this House to consider of the year 1778 was between 2,000 and further means to detect and prevent 3,000, and was now 110,000. That corruption in the election of memof Leeds, from the same number of bers of Parliament. 4. That the between 2,000 and 3,000 a few years borough of Grampound, in which since, had increased in the year 1811 gross and notorious corruption has to 62,000. In the same year 1811, been proved to prevail, do cease to it appeared by the returus, that Bir- send members to this House.” mingham had a population of 85,000, The resolutions being seconded Halifax of 73,000, and Sheffield of by Lord Normanby, Lord Castle. 35,000 souls. So rapid and impor- reagh said, he thought it of the last tant a change surely called for the importance that the House should interference of Parliament, and for attend to the practical question, and some new adjustment of our repre- not suffer themselves to be led into sentative system. It was fit that the wide field of parliamentary rethey should be directly represented form. The speech of the noble in that House; and it must afford a

was extremely temperate ; consolation to them to know that but it did not completely separate the they had the means of defending general topic, parliamentary reform, their legal interest, or of stating their from the particular question before grievances through their own repre- the House. At no time had a more sentatives in Parliament. His Lord. morbid feeling prevailed on that subship then went into a detail tending to ject than the present, for there was show how the majorities of the House a spirit abroad that undervalued any were usually composed, and what moderate and reasonable change relative proportions of county and of which might be made in the state of borough members had voted on par. the representation; and any steps ticular occasions ; and concluded by which might be taken by Parliament proposing the following resolutions: on the subject would probably be 1. That it is expedient that all imputed to the influence of fear. It boroughs, in which gross and noto- was much to be desired that the rious bribery and corruption shall be House should show the country that proved to prevail, should cease to no essential difference prevailed on Teturn members to serve in Parlia. the subject of reform on either side ment; provision being made to ale of the House. To this principle of low such of the electors as shall not disfranchising a borough that had have been proved guilty of the said abused the right of returning mem


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