Imágenes de páginas

The Marquis of Clanricarde ri. dence even before it was carried diculed Lord Ripon's argument for into effect. refusing to inquire into the possi Lord Wharncliffe said, the repeal bility of finding a remedy, merely of the Corn-laws would only cause because they might be unable to such alarm among the agricultural find one. The distress was spread- population as would greatly aggraing to the agricultural districts; vate the existing distress. the poor-rates were everywhere In his reply Lord Brougham obincreasing; and now the Income- served that inquiry was not refused tax had to be paid in addition to into agricultural distress in 1822. those rates; if they would not On a division the motion was submit to the inconvenience of in- negatived by 61 to 14. quiry, he feared that they might The most striking shape, howbe compelled to submit to some ever, in which the grievances of thing worse.

the working classes presented themViscount Melbourne agreed, that selves to the notice of the LegislaLord Brougham, always able and ture during this Session, was the eloquent, had never addressed the presentation of a petition, which House in a more temperate speech. for bulk and number of signatures, He did not deny the melancholy was unparalleled in the annals of and awful state of affairs to which Parliament. The sum total of that speech related ; the long con names attached was stated to tinuance of the distress, and the amount to upwards of 3,000,000. time which it took the country to - the proportion of bona fide sig. recover from it alarmed him ; but natures being considerably less he did not think that any good pur- its prayer was for the enactment pose could be answered by the in- of the great constitutional changes quiry, or that it would be wise which form the “ six points” comand proper for the House to grant prised in the Chartist creed-beit. The question of the Corn- sides these demands, however, the laws had been fully inquired into; petition declared the weight of the and he thought that the application National Debt too great to be of change and fluctuation at this borne, and pointed in significant time would do more harm than language at the abolition of all had been attributed to the Corn. “Monopolies," including those of laws in the course of the debate. paper-money, machinery, land, re

The Earl of Radnor insisted that ligion, the public press, and railthe new Corn-law had done no way travelling. The conveyance good, for the greater portion of the and presentation of this enormous little corn which had come in un. document afforded a curious specder it, had been Colonial wheat tacle, and a task of no small diffiand not foreign. With respect to culty-it required sixteen men to the Tariff, too, but little good support it, and was escorted to could be expected from it, and in Palace-yard by a long procession some instances harm, he consi- of working men, who

marched in dered, would ensue from it. He good discipline and with peaceful recommended Mr. Canning's mea

demeanour to the Houses of Par. sure of 1826, for admitting liament. Arrived at the door of 500,000 quarters of wheat at 12s. the House of Commons, however, duty, as tending to restore confi. it proved too big for admission,

and in order to effect its entrance distress exists in this country, but it became necessary to divide it they will also prove, if not to the into sections. Hastily plucked satisfaction of every man in this asunder in many parts, each piece House, at least to the conviction formed a load for a troop of the of every unprejudiced mind, that petitioners, who carried it into the those grievances arise from the body of the House. It there lay neglect and misrepresentation of on the floor beside the Table, which their interests within these walls. it overtopped, piled up in massy They will also state to you what folds, and was “presented,” if that they believe to be the remedy for term can be strictly applied to so the evils of which they complain. unwieldy a document, by Mr. T. It will not be for you to decide Duncombe, one of the Members to-night upon the merits of the for Finsbury.

remedy they may suggest ; that In calling attention to its con will be for


consideration after tents, he thanked the House for having heard their statements. the kind and respectful manner in After you shall have heard their which it had been received. The arguments, then it will be my petition, he observed, had nearly duty to propose what I conceive 3,500,000 of signatures; and, make would remedy and correct the ing allowance for the signatures of abuses and mismanagement under females and youths, he was pre- which this country is now lapared to prove that there were bouring." above 1,500,000 of families of the He traced the history of Conindustrious classes subscribers to stitutional Reform in the country that petition. He had gathered for the last fifty or sixty years. in conversation with Members Many called the Chartists wild and what were likely to be the ob- visionary ; but several eminent jections to its prayer; and one men of both Houses had advowas, the doubt as to there being cated the same principles. When any precedent. But in 1785, the Major Cartwright advocated Repromoters of the Lancashire pe- form in 1777, it was called tition against the duties on cotton Radical Reform ;" and at that stuffs were heard at the Bar; in time the people almost repudiated 1789, persons who took a strong the name of “ Radical" as interest in the Slave-trade were stigma. In 1798, the Whigs took heard at the Bar, and afterwards up the cause of Reform, and they referred to a Select Committee; were then called “ Reformers :" in 1812, on the motion of Lord but those who were originally Brougham, and with the concur called Radicals, and afterwards rence of Lord Stanley, Mr. Rose, Reformers, were now called “CharMr. Baring, (Lord 'Ashburton,) tists;" the Chartists were the Ra. and Lord Castlereagh, witnesses dicals of former days. were heard against the Orders in He doubted if the House was Council. Unquestionably, the pe- aware of the state of the public tition which he now presented, mind and of the country. The proceeding from every part of the petition had received its number empire, was equally deserving of of signatures in the course of the attention. “They will not only last three or four months; the prove to you that a state of great persons interested in it were en


[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

rolled in about 600 national asso- hear them; while by doing so they
ciations in England and Scotland; would gain some portion of what
about 100,000 subscribed å ld. they much needed—the confidence,
weekly to keep up the agitation; affection, and gratitude of the great
and between 50,000 and 60,000 body of the nation. Mr. Ďun-
of those had pledged themselves to combe moved" that the petitioners
continue to subscribe as long as who signed the National Petition
they received is. of wages, and be heard at the Bar of this House,
until they were heard within the by themselves, their counsel; or
House of their Representatives. agents, in support of the allegations
The distress which they were suf of their petition.”
fering swelled the cry; and while Mr. Leader seconded the motion,
that distress was recognised in the declaring it mere blindness to doubt
delusive promises of a Queen's the sincerity of the petitioners,
speech, without the offer of a or the increasing numbers in which
remedy, it could not be expected they came before the House, al-
but that they should make their though Lord Campbell had said,
way into that assembly, and en- after the prosecutions of the Chat:
deavour to do something for thema tists, “ that Chartism was put
selves. He had received, he would down." To Mt. Duricombe's list
venture to say, 500 communications of precedents Mr. Leader added
on the subject; and of those he Mr. Roebuck's having been per-
read a few, describing the destitute mitted to plead at the Bar for the
state of numbers in Sheffield, Wol Lówer Canadians.
verhampton, Burnley, the Vale of Sir James Graham said, that
Leven, Edinburgh; and other nothing was further from his in-
places, and the zeal and coopera- tention than to turn the paragraphs
tion of numbers in the agitation of the petition into ridicule. Unë
of legislative measures from which fortunately, the foundation of the
they expected relief. In Burnley petition was generally admitted :
the people were so famished, that the distress was great, the number
šome had disinterred à dead cow, of petitioners complaining of that
and used it for food. Would it be distress was large ; and their state-
possible for such a state of things ments were, in many particulars,
to continue? Surely Sir Robert founded in fact. It was not, there-
Peel did not expect his Income- fore, a question of fact to be inves-
tax and Tariff to cure it? Nortigated, but a question of policy to
could he mean to suspend the be adopted; it was not a question
Habeas Corpus Act; and put down of fact to be inquired into, but a
the Chartists by force. "He ap- question of political remedy to be
pealed to the conduct of the decided on by the House ; and as
Chartists themselves, to the pro he could not conceive a course
cession which bore the petition, more likely to be disastrous than
and to the terms of the last address to excite hopes which were certain
issued by the National Convention, to be disappointed, and to hold
(which he read,) to show that the out expectations which those who
Chartists did not contemplate vio consented to the inquiry were
lenicé: The House might think aware would be fallacious, he must
their arguments visionary and ab oppose the present motion.
surd, but they could not refuse to Mr. Macuulay besought the

House, if he should be betrayed ference from the very words of the into any expressions not entirely petition, which say—“Yout peconsistent with a calm view of the titioners complain that they are question, to attribute it to the enormously taxed to pay the inte. warmth with which he viewed the rest of what is called the National subject generally, and to no want Debt-a debt amounting at present of kindness towards the petitioners. to 800,000,0001.-being only a He could not consent to hear them portion of the enormous amount at the Bar, as if the House had expended in cruel and expensive not fully made up their minds to wars for the suppression of all tesist what was asked ; for he could liberty, by men not authorized by not but see that the petitioners the people, and who, consequently, demanded the Charter. To some had no right to tax posterity for parts of the Charter indeed he the outrages committed by them was not opposed :- as, the vote by upon mankind.” If he was really ballot, the absence of a property to understand that as an indication qualification for Members:-and, of the opinion of the petitioners, though he could not support an- it was an expression of an opinion nual Parliaments, he would have that a national bankruptcy would them shortened. But to the és be just and politic. He made no sence of the Charter — universal distinction in the right of the suffrage, suffrage without any fundholder to his dividend and of qualification at all, he was deter- the landowner to his tent, and the minately opposed; and nothing petitioners made none; but they short of that would have the lumped them together with all smallest effect in diminishing the monopolies : they “respectfully agitation which prevailed. Uni- mention the existing monopolies versal suffrage would be fatal to' of the suffrage, of paper money, of all the purposes for which Govern- machinery, of land, of the public ment exists, for which aristocracies press, of religion, of the means of exist; and it was incompatible with travelling and transit, and a host the very essence of civilization. of other evils too numerous to Civilization rests on security of mention, all arising from classproperty: without that, the finest legislation." Could any thing be soil in the world, or the moral or meant but a general confiscationintellectual institutions of any of land, of the funds, of railways, country, would have no power to and machinery ? prevent its sinking into a state of He did not wonder at such barbarism ; but on the other hand, views in uneducated men, impelled while property is secure, it is im- by distress to seek relief; but if possible to prevent any country education would mend those de. from advancing in prosperity; and fects, would it not be well to wait he never could intrust the supreme till education had exerted its ingovernment of the country to any flúence? But grant the power of class which would, tó a moral cer- so sweeping a confiscation of protainty, be induced to commit great pérty, and what must be the effect ? and systematic inroads on the se- 1 No experience enables is to guess curity of property. He assumed at it. 'All I can say is, that it that 'that would be the result of seems to me to be something more the motion : and he drew his in- horrid than can be imagined. A

great community of human beings the people had hit upon the prin-a vast people would be called ciple of deputation to a few to do into existence in a new position; that, which in former times was there would be a depression, if done in the market-place by the not an utter stoppage, of trade, whole body of the people. The and of all those vast engagements House of Commons then sat there of the country by which our people to prevent the desire that each are supported ; and how is it

man has of profiting by another's possible to doubt that famine and labour from coming into action: pestilence would come before long they were put over the people to to wind up the effects of such a watch for them ; but then, that system? The best thing which I being the case, who was to watch can expect, and which I think them—to watch the watchers ? every one must see as the result That could only be done with is, that in some of the desperate effect by making the House of struggles which must take place in Commons responsible to the people; such a state of things, some strong and the charge against the House military despot would arise, and of Commons on the part of the give some sort of protection, some people was, that it had delegated to security to the property which a small section the power of enmay remain. But if you flatter forcing this responsibility, and yourselves that, after such an oc that that small section had joined currence, you would ever see again with the House of Commons to opthose institutions under which you press the remainder of the people ; have lived, you deceive yourselves: and that they did oppress the reyou would never see them again, mainder of the people. The right and you would never deserve to honourable Gentleman, holding see them.”

the petition in his hands, had said, Mr. Roebuck said, he had seen that the petitioners made a demand the substance of Mr. Macaulay's for the establishment of a minimum speech before, in an article in the of wages; if this were so, then he Edinburgh Review. Mr. Macau- asked honourable Gentlemen on lay denied the grounds on which the the other side of the House whether petitioners made their claim; but they did not make a demand of on what grounds was the House exactly the same principle in the of Commons itself constituted? Corn-laws?

It might be bad He was prepared to maintain that political economy to demand a the same principle, if carried out, fixed minimum of wages, but it would bring together the whole was a political economy taught by body of the people to confer on the landlords, who sought a minipublic affairs in that place. There mum of prices was a natural desire in every man What class was so interested in to profit by another's labour : the the security of property as the laobject of Government was to pre- bouring class ? though Mr. Macauvent that desire from breaking out lay feared that to concede political into action. In a state of nature, privileges to them would make the if a man was strong, he obtained country one scene of anarchy, that which he desired. As men bloodshed, and rapine. He (Mr. Roeadvanced, they met together and buck), however, would say, “ do formed societies. In this country not judge of the people of England

« AnteriorContinuar »