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ed laws to prevent their redemption. misery, it naturally followed, that The avowed object of our measures they did not content themselves with formed a confession that our pretext merely taking from us their confidence. was worthless. Had the country as- We did that
which irresistibly tended serted far worse of us than that we to make them detest us, and it had its did not know what we were doing effects. that we had lost our reason, it might It was not possible, sir, for the have produced evidence to give some country to be kept in ignorance of colour to its assertions.
this conduct, or to be restrained from It had always previously been the judging of it. It saw that we opposed enviable privilege and honourable cha- assertions to facts, and that our reply racteristic of the House of Commons, to the offer of proofs was a volley of to labour to increase prosperity and slanders. It heard us dared in vain happiness, but not to destroy them— by our victims to the test of inquiry ;' to remove loss and suffering, but not it beheld us sneak away from the comto create them. Its measures were bat, when we were threatened with always intended to make the good of overpowering evidence.
When we the moment better; and if they hap- deliberately charged the petitioners pened to have a contrary effect, it with falsehood and bad motive, and zealously and promptly applied a re
then silenced them with our power as medy. If any interest or trade lan- they challenged us to the proof, it guished, the House of Commons, al- found in this sufficient to convict ourmost without solicitation, laboured to selves of falsehood and bad motive. restore it. If any class or portion of In our obstinate refusal to inquire his Majesty's subjects were in distress, into the fruits of our own measures, the House of Commons attended at and to receive evidence that these once to their petitions, and spared no measures had operated injuriously, it efforts to relieve them. In the House found testimony that we knew they of Commons, the wronged knew they would not bear investigation. In our had a friend
to redress their wrongs; admission that inquiry would be useand the suffering knew they had a less, because we could not grant rebenefactor to remove or mitigate to the lief without departing from a system, utmost, their sufferings. But what, it perceived a confession that we could sir, has been our conduct? When not refute the petitioners, and that we vast portions of the community com- were determined to sacrifice everyplained to us by petition, that our thing to a system which we knew to measures would involve them in ruin, be producing the most baleful consewe treated them with contempt; when quences. We re-echoed the delusive they afterwards assured us that their dogmas and fallacious statements of worst fears had been realized, and im, the Minister, only to convince it, that plored us to inquire and to receive at our object was, not its weal, but the their hands the most irrefragable proofs Minister's protection; and that to save that we had plunged them into bank, him, we would plunge it into ruin. ruptcy and want, we treated them in Within these walls we were triumph
A man who was ant, because we were careful to make then a Minister, but who, thank Hea- ourselves the sole witnesses and judges; ven! is no longer one, heaped on them but in the Supreme Court without, every species of insult and contumely; the judge found evidence and confesand we, to our eternal shame I speak sion against us without any thing to it, imitated him. When the silk counterpoise them, and the decision manufacturers, the ship-owners, and was accordingly. The country found others, were thus treated--when their that we were not a House of Comprayers for inquiry were refused mons to protect it from the injurious when their supplications, for us to measures of the Executive-to listen examine their proofs, and deal with to its petitions—to redress its wrongs them only according to what they - to relieve its distresses and to watch might prove, were scornfully rejected over and foster its prosperity and hap
-when they were denied all oppor- piness ; therefore it found that we were tunity of refuting the aspersions we the reverse of that House of Commons, cast upon them--and when their ef. which the Constitution intended to forts to obtain an impartial hearing create. only caused us to add to their loss and Up to the present moment we have
a worse manner.
continued to act in this manner. How placed before it our dazzling character have we dealt with the petitions of ourselves to no purpose; we have which in every session have been poured our own eulogy into its ears in poured upon us from large portions of vain ; it has rejected our new rules of the community, complaining of bitter judgment for the ancient one, of suffering, and imploring from us re- judging of the tree by its fruits; and lief ? Have we instituted inquiry? in consequence it has arrived at the No. Have we ever attempted to mi- conclusion, that we are the reverse of tigate the distress of the petitioners ? what we describe ourselves to be. No. Has the existence of the distress : All things have conspired against been problematical ? No, it has been us, to sink us in public estimation. wholly above doubt. Have we been It has unfortunately happened that destitute of the means of relieving it? while we have dilated on our surpassNo, we have possessed them in abun- ing ability, we have furnished the most dance. We have received the peti- incontestable proofs of our destitution tions, and without calling for evidence of ability. The country knew the to refute a single allegation, or asking best of the leaders in our proceedings a question as to our means of granting to be scarcely second-rates, and it what they prayed for, we have been found in their speeches evidence silent, or we have contented ourselves of gross incapacity. This was bad with saying-We know you to be dis- enough, but it was nothing to what tressed, but you are mistaken touch- follows. Men among us who were ing the causes, and we can do nothing utterly unknown, and who displayed for you. We have acted as though the most rare assemblage of disqualifiour duty extended only to the crea- cations conceivable, actually undertook tion of public misery, without having to re-model or abolish laws of the any thing to do with the removal of it. greatest complexity and the most Never before, sir, in the history of sweeping operation. Nothing could civilized England was such conduct have been more admirably calculated displayed by the House of Commons. for covering us with public derision. Never before, in the history of civilized Worse yet remains. Our beardless England, did the House of Commons striplings-beings not yet released from see immense numbers of the commu- boyhood-youngsters just entering on nity involved in suffering, without their senatorial apprenticeship, to toiling heartily aud incessantly, with whom experience was utterly unout exhausting inquiry and effort, known, whose knowledge was barely however fruitlessly, to administer a sufficient to enable them to find their remedy. And how have we employed way to our doors, and in whom it was ourselves while these petitions have an unpardonable fault to think that been flowing upon us? In perfecting they were capable of forming an cur measures of public evil-in pro- opinion—these, sir, forgetting that moting visionary experiments calcu- they had every thing to learn, thrust lated only to increase the suffering themselves forward as teachers; and in threatening laws with destruction, excelled us all in oracular dogma and and thereby filling the land with ap- noisy declamation-in scoffing at the prehension and
embarrassment-in de wisdom of the greatest men of former vising gimcrack changes and experie times, and covering the sufferers who ments—in vilifying the laws and petitioned us, with insult and calumny. systems yet spared by our innova. It is one of the most loathsome things tions—in boasting of our own tran- in nature, to hear one of these stripscendent talents and wisdom--and in lings, in a voice which has scarcely covering all who have called our con- divested itself of the treble tone of duct in question with slanders. childhood, reviling laws and institu,
Such proceedings, sir, could only tions, the operation of which is wholly have one effect on the opinion of the above his comprehension ; and advocountry. If in the gallop of our abo- cating changes to throw the affairs of litions, we could have abolished the a great empire into confusion, when laws of nature and the maxims of com, it is impossible for him to understand mon reason, we might perhaps have their nature and tendency. The counpersuaded it, that we were, what we try felt inexpressible disgust, when it called ourselves; but this we could saw that its injuries flowed mainly not accomplish. We have therefore from the vociferous ignorance and riotous imbecility of 'senatorial ina be largely influenced by them. Speaks fants. Then, to crown all, our pro- ing of them as Members of this House, ceedings were the most rapturously I trust for its sake that they will never applauded by such of us as had through again act in a similar manner. life distinguished ourselves by hold. This relates to the fruits which our ing absurd and dangerous opinions; conduct has yielded to ourselves ; it is and they were dissented from by such sufficient to prove that for our own of us as had always been honoured by sake inquiry is imperiously necessary. the country for experience, prudence, I will now turn to what our conduct wisdom, integrity, and patriotism. has yielded to the community.
In pointing out, sir, thus freely our The late Minister, sir,'asserts that no errors and faults, I must not spare evils have been produced by our abou some of those who had the chief share lition of the Navigation Laws. On in leading us into them. I mean the what evidence does he make the asmore prominent members of the exe- sertion ? Simply and solely on the cutive, who belonged to this House. tonnage entries inwards and outwards. Regularly acknowledged as at least a Does this evidence establish all that is part of our leaders, and officially in- required ? No, it is utterly silent vested with the duty of watching over respecting the essentials of the subject. and promoting the public weal in all If we be satisfied with it, we must be things; it is natural for us to look up deservedly ridiculed, as being igno. to them to a certain extent as guides, rant of our duty, and only competent without compromising our indepen- to plunge the empire into ruin. To dence. They proclaimed that attach- know what the Abolition has yielded, ment to our laws and institutions was we must know what effect it has had not merely erroneous, but disgrace- on the capital, freights, and profits, of ful; and it was impossible for any of the shipowners, and on the number us to avow such attachment, without of ships and seamen possessed by the drawing upon ourselves their ridicule community. Here is the pith of the and calumny. We could not object question. If we, sir, by the abolition, to change and innovation, without have annihilated a large part of the being treated by them as criminals; and shipowner's property, and compelled we could not laud change and inno him to accept freights which subject vation without being overwhelmed with him to constant oss, we have done their panegyrics. They thus by in- no matter what the tonnage entries timidation on the one hand, and se- may be-a fatal deed to our country. duction on the other, insensibly led In this I advance a truth, which no us to act as we have done. They man, in this House or out of it, can caused us to pronounce the whole question. If we have done this, we system of the country erroneous ; and have demonstrably wasted a vast they incited us to rival each other in amount of national wealth already; attempts to pull this system to pieces. and we have subjected the wealth and It was from their encouragement that naval power of the nation to a con our incapable members so outrageous- stant decrease. A losing trade may be ly mistook their own powers, as to carried on for a shorter or longer time, think themselves qualified to abolish according 'as its annual losses are old laws and frame new ones; and that greater or smaller ; but nothing can our young
members made such a bar- be more certain, than that it must be barous display of folly and culpability. ultimately destroyed. And it was from their example that This applies to the community at we acted in so unconstitutional a man- large. We will now look at that part ner to those who petitioned us for re- of it which is more directly and sedress and relief.
riously interested in the matter. If I plead this conduct, sir, in the we, by the abolition, which no public Ministers, not to justify, but to ex- necessity called for, have destroyed a plain in some degree our own. We large part of the shipowner's property, are not sent here to obey or imitate taken away his profits, and surroundthem; our duties are of a widely dif- ed him with almost inevitable ruin, ferent description ; but nevertheless, and if we have taken away the bread while human nature remains un- of numbers of seamen, and ground changed, we shall always, no matter down the remainder to wages which how pure our own motives may be, not only strip them of many comforts * VOL. XXIV.
to induce us to inquire rigidly into Let not our leaders and this House the consequences which have flowed hope that mere opinions, no matter from our new system of governing from whom they may emanate, will Ireland.
again lead the country. Mr Huskis In advocating this extended Inquia son will utter his opinions on trade in ry, sir, I am not calling on this House vain--Mr Peel will utter his opinions to adopt the opinions of any writer, on currency in vain-Mr Brougham or the policy of any party. I am not will utter his opinions on education asking it to wander into speculation, and the relations between master and to institute experiments, or to aban- servant in vain-this House will utter don any principle or system. I am its opinions on all manner of subjects merely craving it to discharge a plain in vain; for the domination of opiand obvious duty, which has not the nions, I devoutly thank Heaven for most remote connexion with party in- it! is no more. We may persevere terests. Its own interests call for com. we may vaunt of our omniscience and pliance, as a matter of imperious ne- infallibility-we may cover all who cessity. If we, sir, have been acting oppose us with slander and obloquywisely and justly, the Inquiry will we may worship our
liberal princisupply us with ample proofs to silence ples” and “ enlightened views”. our opponents, sanction us in proceed may be puffed to our hearts' content ing farther, and regain public confi- by the newspapers—but the issue will dence.
be, the loss of all that in our public We may refuse to inquire, and per- character we ought to value; and the severe in the conduct we have of late production of all that in our public displayed; but if we do, we shall not duty we ought to prevent. escape the penalties. Thespell, through I have said, sir, that this Inquiry which we were wont to lead the com. has nothing to do with party creeds; munity, is broken; and it will never and I will now say, that I am not admore be known to the present gene- vocating it for the sake of any party ration. So long, sir, as our labours of public men. My party bonds exwere confined to foreign policy, and tend not beyond principles ; they the making of laws which were obvie have nothing to do with persons. Í ously necessary, our infallibility esca- oppose those who hold principles ped suspicion ; the bulk of the nation ;
which I oppose ; and I support those was compelled to take our words on who hold principles which I support, trust, or it saw that we did, what it without looking at name and condic was our duty to do. But when we tion. The principles and policy which began to inake speculative changes in I steadily withstood in Mr Canning agriculture, manufactures, trade, cur- and Mr Huskisson, I will as steadily rency, and the relations of society; withstand in any other Minister ; the we enabled the country to take exact iniquity of acting otherwise shall not measure of our qualifications. Then, stain my forehead. In respect of mere alas! it discovered that we were, not persons, I care no more for the Duke only imperfect, erring men, but that of Wellington than for the Marquis of we displayed more imperfection and Lansdown or Lord King—for Mr Peel error, than the generality of men. than for Mr Brougham or Mr HusThe humble member of the commu- kisson. Personal politics have been nity perceived, to his inexpressible as- too long the shame and
scourge tonishment, that individuals who were country, for me to have any further leaders in this House and the country connexion with them. From the hu. that individuals who were even the miliation of combating for one knot rulers of the empire-were grossly ig- of public men against another; when, norant on matters perfectly familiar to after their quarrelling and resigning, himself. He heard them assert that their treachery, and vituperations of to be truth, which he knew from ocu. each other, they shake hands, and lar demonstration to be fiction ; and protest that they have never differed he saw them enact laws on principles in principle, and have only had a tema and assumptions, which had been pro- porary squabble from dirty personal ved to him to be erroneous by the pique and interest ;- from such hu. daily experience of his whole life. The miliation I will be careful in future to charm of names vanished, and the reign preserve myself. With the coalitions of trust ceased.
and alliances, which are the scandal
ment, and can earn sufficient for their country. That a measure which der support ; therefore they are worthless.' prives a large part of the working clasTo evidence against us of the most ses of the comforts proper for their stagrave and conclusive pretensions, we tion, which takes from them the means have nothing to oppose; we are desti- of sending their children to school, tute of defence; we can only offer a and which binds them to penury and simple negative, which no one will ignorance, is a most injurious one to believe.
the country, if it have no other effect What sacred duty to our country whatever, is a truth which will be ir
here? Inquiry, imme- resistible against any speeches or endiate, impartial, and unsparing: Ins actments that we may make against quiry that shall ascertain whether the it. We have no evidence to prove silk manufacture has not been serious that these changes have had no such ly iniured, and placed in danger of effect; but, on the contrary, we have ultimate ruin—whether the manufac- the most powerful evidence of an opturers have not been subjected to great posite character. Here again the inloss of property, and their workmen terests of the country imperiously calli have not been ground down to wages upon us for Inquiry: which must keep them in penury, suf- That agriculture has been long in a fering, and the inseparable attendants state of suffering, is a notorious truth; of penury and suffering. The inte and that we have had the chief share rests of our country, sir, solemnly and in producing its suffering, is another loudly, demand from us such Inquiry; truth, equally notorious. Mr Huskis. and we cannot refuse, without acting son himself has admitted in this House, the part of traitors to these inte that our measure of last year brought rests.
such a quantity of foreign corn into We have made changes which have the market, as did great injury; and had the same operation on various this is equivalent to an admission, that other manufactures and trades; and what the agriculturists have suffered we have manifested the same disregard since the last harvest, has been produ. touching their consequences. We have ced solely by ourselves. When I renot asked a question ; we have acted member, sir, how those who opposed as though we could not err; or as our measure were treated by the Right though any evils, no matter how gi- Honourable Gentleman, his colleagues, gantic, which our acts might produce, and their eulogists, I think his admisought to be produced. These man sion goes very far towards forming a nufactures and trades have brought confession, that those opponents were against us similar charges, of having I need not say by whom-very vile injured the interests of our country, ly slandered. We may find in it a very and plunged great numbers of our in- beneficial lesson ; it may teach us to
2 nocent fellow subjects into loss and renounce the doctrine, that all who suffering ; and we are in similar cir- differ from us must of necessity, be cumstances in respect of reputation. both knaves and fools; and to speak The Minister has furnished us with no of them somewhat more courteously defence, and we have none. His assere than we have done. Here, then, we tion, sir, that these changes have caused have conclusive evidence that we have no evil, because they have brought no erred greatly; and that our errors have material quantity of foreign goods in- deeply injured the country, and an to the country against these manu, immense number of our fellow-sub. factures and trades, is of no value. jects. What is the irresistible infe. Whatever lamentable proofs of inca« rence? Inquiry, in order to discover, pacity we may have given, there can. and apply the necessary remedies. not be a man in this House so desti- On what, sir, have we been legisla. tute of understanding, as to be igno- ting respecting the Currency ? Mere rant, that, if they have so far lowered individual opinions. The speeches of prices, as to take away the profits of Mr Peel, and the Duke of Wellington, the masters, and render it impossible amounted to nothing more. Have we for the workmen to earn what will any solid reasons for believing that support their families in comfort, they these opinions are correct? We have have produced mighty evils, even none whatever. Mr Baring has con. though they have not brought a shil- fessed that we yet know, comparative ling's worth of foreigu goods into the ly, nothing of the Currency question ;