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various and contradictory motives for a particular action, his conduct would lead to the suspicion that those alleged motives were mere pretences, and that the real ones were concealed. If, in addition to the variety and inconsistency of his statements, we found that he accounted for his conduct on grounds of so romantic a nature as indicated the absence of all our usual feelings, and a neglect of our most cherished interests, it would not be uncharitable to imagine, that he not only aimed at concealment, but that his real motive, if disclosed, was of too odious a character to be openly avowed and defended. Now, when he recollected the course pursued respecting this measure, he could not but feel that the above description applied to it. When he recollected what happened more particularly in another place, where it was introduced on the ground of correcting an anomaly in our criminal law, by persons that opposed themselves to any revision or improvement of the criminal code, he could not but suspect the alleged motive. That ground was afterwards deserted, as being found too narrow for the superstructure to be raised upon it; and then we were told that the measure was necessary to preserve the principles of neutrality. Subsequently it had been discovered, that this foundation was still too confined, and now the House was called upon to adopt the measure before it, because the country was pledged to it by the mo ification introduced into our practice by the stipulations of a particular treaty,
which was completely at variance with the argument in its favour drawn from the principles of neutrality. It had been said that the interests of the country were on the other side of the question, and the noble earl himself seemed to maintain the same opinion in his reasonings from analogy; but if it was against the commercial interests of England that the bill should pass, it was still more decidedly against the feelings of Englishmen. After replying to various arguments brought in favour of the bill, the noble lord went on to state the dangers. which would result from this new doctrine of neutrality. Should the present law be found insufficient for its purpose, the king of Spain might come forward, backed by the Amphictionic council of Europe, the assembled congress, and demand stronger measures. Ministers might then find that a police must be established, the executive armed with. new and extraordinary powers, and emigration prohibited. The freedom of our press might next be attacked at the instigation of Ferdinand VII. He was the more opposed to this act when he considered it as one of a multitude of acts which seemed to be in contemplation; and that it went parijure with the Alien act. He would not proceed one step further in such a policy. The Earl of Westmorland contended for the necessity of the present bill as a fulfilment of our treaty with Spain, and affirmed that we had nothing to do with the consideration of liberty or slavery, superstition or independence, ence, on the part of either of the belligerents.
After an animated debate, in which the marquises of Lansdowne and Bute, and the earl of Carnarvon argued against the bill, and the earl of Harrowby in its favour, an amendment proposed by Lord Holland for dividing the bill into two parts, and passing only so much of it as went to repeal the statutes of George II, was put and lost, the numbers being, Contents, 27; Proxies, 20–47. Not-contents, 49; Proxies, 51–100. The bill then went through the committee.
State of the Nation.—May 18. Mr. Tierney rose, in pursuance of the notice which he had given, to move for the appointment of a committee on the state of the nation. After expressing, in a style of indignant sarcasm, the contempt into which he affirmed the present ministry to have fallen in the eyes of that House and of the nation at large, the right hon. gentleman proceeded to take a comprehensive view of the state of the country, and of the circumstances which ought to induce parliament to grant a committee of inquiry, under the respective heads of political relations with foreign powers, commercial arrangements with them, and finance. On all these points, he contended, that the conduct of ministers had been so unwise, so feeble, and so vaccillatory, that their incompetence was now fully apparent, and nothing but their general removal would be satisfactory to the country at large.
Lord Castlereagh felt all the difficulty of his situation in rising to reply to the very able and luminous speech which the House had just heard. With the right hon. gentleman's view of our financial difficulties he was not much disposed to differ; but he appealed to himself whether any finance minister had shown greater ability under circumstances so difficult than the present chancellor of the exchequer. He contended that a general inquiry on finance ought not to be entered upon pending the important investigations respecting the bank. He could not sit quietly by and listen to the taunts of the right hon. gentleman on that coalition of great nations which had taken place. The principles which now bound those sovereigns in strict alliance, were not those of ambition nor aggression; they were not united for the violation of public freedom, nor to oppress and overlay the liberties of nations, but to preserve to their subjects the fruits of their arduous struggles for the independence of this as well as other powers. Our limits do not permit us to
follow the train of argument pursued by the different members on both sides of the House in the wide field of discussion thus opened; neither is it essential; the motion was universally understood as little more than a trial of strength between ministers and the opposition, now first arrayed under the leading of Mr. Tierney. The division gave, Ayes, 178; Noes, 357. Majority against the motion, 179.
Reform Reform of Parliament.—July 1. The Marquis of Tavistock presented a petition from Liverpool praying for parliamentary reform, signed by upwards of 1,800 respectable householders, who complained that they were not represented in parliament. He did not know the nature of the motion which it was the intention of an hon. baronet to propose that evening, but he had had too many opportunities lately of witnessing and regretting the dissentions among those who professed to advocate the cause of parliamentary reform. Some were moderate reformers, others radical ones, who wished nothingless than such reform as would be totally destructive of the constitution. The reform which appeared to him to be the best, was one which would be moderate in the changes it would introduce in our existing institutions, and radical in the correction of the abuses which had gradually grown up under them. He heartily disapproved of all those wild and impracticable theories which had lately been broached. He did not see that any specific plan of reform could be proposed at this moment with any chance of success. Such had been the conduct of those who called themselves the people of England, taking up one plan one day and laying it down the next when it suited them, running down every plan that they thought to be practicable, and vilifying all those who in their projects of reform were one step short of themselves, that the fo. distrust and disunion ad been created among the friends of reform ; and therefore
it was his opinion that there were greater difficulties in the way of this question at the present moment than had ever before existed. Ordered to lie on the table. Sir Francis Burdett then rose in pursuance of the notice which he had given, to bring the subject of the representation before the House. He knew not how to answer to the vague invective against wild and visionary plans of reform, or the vague charges of promoting disunion brought by the noble marquis. He could only say, that whatever might be the differences of opinion, to whatever extent, small or great, gentlemen might have been willing to push a measure of this nature, it had always had his concurrence. He had never entertained the apprehensions by which many had been disturbed in the principle's being pushed to its utmost extent. He could fear nothing from pursuing to its utmost extent the ancient and recognised common law maxim, the corner stone of the edifice of our liberties; “That the people of England have a property in their own goods, which are not to be taken from them without their own consent;” in other words, that they are not constitutionally liable to be taxed without their own consent, expressed by a full, free, and fair representation in parliament. On this principle he stood as upon a rock, from which he thought it impossible to be moved. He had abstained from bringing forward this motion earlier in the session, lest he should be accused of thwarting, or interfering in any - mlannel' o
manner with the attempts of the gentlemen composing what was called the opposition, to remedy those evils of which they so loudly complained; and also because he wished both them and the public to be convinced by experience how vain and futile were any efforts and all expectations of any important redress of grievances from anew parliament constituted like the old. Much had been said about the infusion of independance into the new parliament; the elections were said to have proved, that the present system of ministers could not be continued,—that the ministers must relax in their career of corruption, and adopt a plan of retrenchment and economy, or resign to those who would. Hopes were excited both within and out of the House, which nothing but the conduct of this p. and the evidence of acts could have dispelled: nothing short of this could have induced men to concur with himself in opinion that an effectual remedy, a material amelioration in the condition of the people, was only to be expected from a radical reform. Had he sooner stirred this question, he should have been accused of throwing the apple of discord among the Whigs maliciously and advisedly, for the purpose of defeating all those rational and moderate plans of reform, as they were falsely
called, of which that party were
the advocates. But now, that all attempts at remedying minor abuses had failed, and the utter hopelessness and folly of placing any reliance on what was called a new parlia
ment had been made apparent, knowing the anxiety of the}. mind, seeing the dissatisfaction every where expressed by the people from the public burdens and distress; and, the cause of all, the want of a fair representation; he felt it his duty to bring forward the subject. He entertained no expectation of its being followed by the immediate adoption of any measure, but he did not doubt that the principle, if adopted, would have a practical and beneficial effect in tranquillising the mind of the country; and he was anxious that it should be tranquillised, that the people might give no pretence to the noble lord at the head of the administration, for again proposing to this borough-mongering o: the suspension of the abeas Corpus act.
The motion he should make, would lay gentlemen under no obligation to support general suffrage, or annual parliaments, or even to state explicitly how far they would go:-all he requested of them was, an engagement to satisfy the public mind that early in the following sessions, some remedy might be expected for an evil of such: magnitude, as the people not being represented in the Commons House of Parliament; and he did trust that all those gentlemen who had talked so much of grievances, would support a resolution for taking into consideration this master-grievance: The hon. baronet then entered into a train of argumentation intermixed with citations tending' to show that the plans of general suffrage which it was now es- | teemed
teemed wild and visionary to support, were in effect conformable to the true principles of the English constitution as laid down by Mr. Justice Blackstone, and in fact, by all our constitutional authorities. He added; it is indeed impossible to contemF. the whole system of our aws, the maxims of the common law, and the true principles of liberty, without at the same time perceiving that the true principles of the English constitution are the same. Election is the soul of both, and the people of England in former times not only elected members to serve in parliament, but also a great number of other constitutional officers, sheriffs, magistrates and constables; leaders in war, and conservators of peace.—So far therefore from being wild and visionary, and exorbitant in their demands for the restoration of their rights, even in the midst of distress, the people are moderate and wise:– their aims are noble, their first wish, is to be free,—and yet so modest are they in their demands, wild and visionary as they are called, —that they demand only to be restored to that portion of their rights which is necessary for the security of their property, and of their persons,—the appointment of those men who are to have the disposal of the hard-earned fruits of their industry and labor, and in whom they can confide for the honest application of them to the purposes of the state—to have some share in the appointment of those, who not only raise taxes from their labor, but who also exercise the power of taking the people themselves, using Wel. LXI.
their limbs and shedding their blood,—whenever the cause of the country demands the sacrifice. Is it, then, asking too much, for men who are liable to be torn from their families, and exposed to all risks and dangers, that they should have some share in the election of the representatives who have the power of saying, when and how these services should be demanded ? That they should, appears to me both reasonable and just. After a reference to the comparative state of freedom of the people of England, and of France in the time of lord chancellor Fortescue, contrasted with that of the present day, the hon. baronet proceeded to remark on the ignorance evinced by the noble lord opposite (Castlereagh) of the general state of distress and embarrassment now subsisting amongst all conditions of persons. At the commencement of the present sessions, he said, the noble lord dreamed, that the agriculture, manufactures and commerce of the country were in the most satisfactory state, and had recovered from that temporary pressure which he admitted they had undergone, in the transition from war to peace, I cannot but suppose these to have been the real sentiments of the noble lord, because he put this language into the speech from the throne; but I will say, that if the noble lord believed this, he was the only person in the country who did; at least, I never conversed with any gentleman from the country, either then, or since, whose opinion was not the very reverse. Your manufacturers come for