Page images



Great as it is, sir, this is not the only pleasure most pregnant with good or evil to the country; and I have received in these latter days. I have seen, though I seldom medule with political meetings, I within these few weeks, a degree of wisdom in our could not reconcile it to my conscience to be absent mercantile law, such superiority to vulgar prejudice, , from this. views so just and so profound, ihat it seemed to me as Every year, for this half century, the question of if I was reading the works of a speculative economist, reform has been pressing upon us, till it has swelled rather than the improvement of a practical politician, up at last into this great and awful combination ; so agreed to by a legislative assembly, and upon the eve that almost every city and every borough in England of being carried into execution, for the benefit of a are at this moment assembled for the same purpose, great people. Let who will be their master, I honour and are doing the same thing we are doing. It damps and praise the ministers who have learnt such a les. the ostentation of argument and mitigates the pain of

I rejoice that I have lived to see such an im- doubt, to believe (as I believe) that the measure is provement in English affairs--that the stubbom resis- inevitable; the consequences inay be good or bad; tance to all improvement-the contempt of all scienti. but done it must be ; I defy the most determined fic reasoning, and the rigid adhesion to every stupid enemy of popular influence, either now or a little time error which so long characterized the proceedings from now, to prevent a reform in Parliament. Some of this country, are fast giving way to better things, years ago, by timely concession, it might have been under better men, placed in better circumstances. prevented. If members had been granted to Birming.

I contess it is not without severe pain that, in the ham, Leeds and Manchester, and other great towns, as midst of all this expansion and improvement, I per- opportunities occurred, a spirit of conciliation would ceive that in our profession we are still calling for the have been evinced, and the people might have been same exclusion-still asking that the same fetters satisfied with a reform, which ihough remote would may be riveted on our fellow-creatures-still mistak. have been gradual; but with the customary blindness ing what constitutes the weakness and misfortune of and insolence of human beings, the day of adversity the church, for that which contributes to its glory, its was forgotten, the rapid improvement of the people dignity, and its strength. Sir, there are two petitions was not noticed ; the object of a certain class of poliat this moment in this bouse, against two of the wis- ticians was to please the court and to gratify their own est and best measures which ever came into the Bri: arrogance by treating every attempi to expand the tish parliament, against the impending corn law and representation, and to increase the popular influence, against the Catholic emancipation—ihe one bill in. with every species of contempt and obloquy: the tended to increase the comforis, and the other to al golden opportunity was lost; and now proud lips must lay the bad passions of man.-Sir, I am not in a situ. swallow bitter potions. ation of life to do much good, but I will take care that The arguments and practices (as I remember to I will not willingly do any evil. The wealth of the have heard Mr. Huskisson say), which did very well riding should not rempt me to petition against either twenty years ago, will not do now. The people read of those bills. With the corn bill, I have nothing to too much, think too much, see too many newspapers, do at this time. Of the Catholic emancipation bill, I hear too many speeches, have their eyes too intensely shall say, that it will be the foundation stone ot a last: fixed upon political events. But it ii was possible to ing religious peace ; that it will give to Ireland not all put oti parliamentary reform a week ago, is it possible that it wants, but what it most wants, and without now? When a monarch (whose amiable and popular which no other boon will be of any avail.

inanders have, I verily believe, saved us from a retoWhen this bill passes, it will be a signal to all the luion) approves the nieasure-when a minister of ex. religious sects of that unhappy country to lay aside alted character plans and fashions it-when a cabinet their mutual hatred, and to live in peace, as equal otsuch varied talent and disposition protects it-when men should live under equal law—when this bill pass such a body of the aristocracy vote for il-when the es, the Orange flag will fall-when this bill passes, hundred-horse power of the press is labouring for it; the Green flag of the rebel will fall, when this bill who does not know, after this, (whaterer be the deci. passes, no other flag will fly in the land of Erin than sion of the present Parliament), that the measure is That flag which blends the lion with the harp—that virtually carried and that all the struggle between flag which, wherever it does fly, is the sign of free such annunciation of such a plan, and its completion, dom and of joy—the only banner in Europe which is tumult, disorder, disaffection, and (it may be) pofloats over a limited king and a free people.

litical ruin?

An honourable member of the honourable house, much connected with this town, and once its represen.

tative, seems to be amazingly surprised, and equally SPEECH AT THE TAUNTON REFORM dissatisfied, at this combination of king, ministers, no MEETING.

bles, and people, against his opinion ;- like the gentle. MR. BAILIFF,—This is the greatest measure which disconcerted, and complaining, he had inet with eleven

man who came home from serving on a jury very much has ever been before Parliament in my time, and the of the most obstinate people he had ever seen in his

life, whom he found it absolutely impossible by the * I was a sincere friend to reform ; I am so still. It was a strongest arguments to bring overtó his way of thinking. great deal too violent-but the only justification is, that you They tell you gentlemen that you have grown rich cannot reform as you wish, by degrees; you must avail your- and powerful with these rotten boroughs, and that it self of the few opportunities that present themselves. The re-would be madness to part with them, or to alter a form carried, it became the business of every honest man to constitution which had produced such happy effects. turn it to good, and to see that ther people (drunk with their There happens, gentlemen, to live near iny parsoarge new power) did not ruin our ancient institutions. been in considerable danger, and that danger is not over. a labouring man, of very superior character and under. What alarms me most is the large price paid by both parties standing to bis fellow labourers; and who has made for popular favour. The yeomanry were put down: nothing such good use of that superiority, that he has saved could be more grossly absurd--the people were rising up what is (for his station in life) a very considerable against the poor laws, and such an excellent and permanent sum of money, and if his existence is extended to the force was abolished because they were not deemed a proper common period, he will die rich. It happens, bowever force to deal with popular insurrections. You may just as well object to put out a fire with pond water because pump

that he is (and long has been) troubled with violent water is better for the purpose: I say, put out the fire with stomachic pains, for which he has hitherto obtained the first water yon can get; but the truth is, radicals don't like no relief, and which really are the bane and torment armed yeomen: they have an ugly homicide appearance. of his life. Now if my excellent labourer were to send Again,-a million of revenue is given up in the nonsensical penny-post scheme, to please my old, excellent, and universal- have become ministers upon principles of chivalry and gal. ly dissentient friend, Noah Warburton. I admire the whig lantry; and the tories, too, for fear of the people, have been ministry, and think they have done more good things than all much too quiet. There is only one principle of public conduct the ministers since the Revolution ; but these concessions Do what you think right, and take place and power as on acciare sad and unworthy marks of weakness, and fill reasonable dent. Upon any other plan, office is shabbiness, labour, and mon with just alarm. All this folly has taken place since they sorrow.

for a physician, and to consult him respecting this would destroy the trade of the smaggler; their funcmalady, would it not be very singular language if our tions would be carried on faintly, and with little profit; doctor were to say to him, 'My good friend, you you would soon feel that your position was stable, sosurely will not be so rash as to attempt to get rid of lid, and sate. these pains in your stomach. Have you not grown All would be well, it is urged, if they would but let rich with these pains in your stomach ? have you not the people alone. But what chance is there, I demand, risen under them from poverty to prosperity ? has not of these wise politicians, that the people will ever be your situation, since you were first attacked, been im- let alone ; that the orator will lay down his craft, and proving every year? You surely will not be so foolish the demagogue forget his cunning? If many things and so indiscreet as to part with the pains in your sto- were let alone, which never will be let alone, the asmach ?'-Why, what would be the answer of the rus- pect of human affairs would be a little varied. If the tic to this nonsensical monition? • Monster of rhu. winds would let the waves alone, there would be no barb ! (he would say) I am not rich in consequence storms. If gentlemen would let ladies alone, there of the pains in my stomach, but in spite of the pains would he no unhappy marriages, and deserted dam. in my stomach ; and I should have been ten times sels. If persons who can reason no better than this, richer, and fifty times happier, if I had never had any would leave speaking alone, the school of eloquence pains in my stomach at all. Gentlemen, these rotten might be improved. I have little hopes, however, of boroughs are your pains in the stomach-and you witnessing any of these acts of forbearance, particuwould have been a much richer and greater people it larly the last, and so we must (however foolish it may you had never had them at all. Your wealth and your appear), proceed to make laws for a people who, we power have been owing, not to the debased and cor. are sure, will not be let alone. rupted parts of the House of Commons, but to the ma. We might really imagine, from the objections made ny independent and honourable meinbers whom it has to the plan of reform, that the great mass of English. always contained within its walls. If there had been men were madmen, robbers, and murderers. The a few more of these very valuable members for close kingly power is to be destroyed, the House of Lords is boroughs, we should, I verily believe, have been by to be annihilated, the church is to be ruined, estates this time about as free as Denmark, Sweden, or the are to be confiscated. I am quite at a loss to find in Germanized sales of Italy.

these prpetrators of crimes--in this mass of pillagers They tell you of the few men of name and character and lunatics—the steady and respectable tradesmen who have sai tor boroughs; but nothing is said of those and farmers, who will have votes to confer, and the mean and qual men who are sent down every day steady and respectable country gentlemen, who will by their aristocratic masters to continue unjust and probably have votes to receive ;-it may be true of unnecessary wars, to prevent inquiring into profligate ihe tradesmen of Mauritania, it may be just of the expenditure, to take money out of your pockets, or to country gentlemen of Fez-it is any ihing but true of do any other bad or base thing which the minister of the English people. The English are a tranquil, the day may require at their unclean hands. What phlegmatic, money-loving, money.getting people, who mischief, it is asked, have these boroughs done? I want to be quiet-and would be quiet if they were not believe there is not a day of your lives in which you surrounded by evils of such magnitude, that it would are not suffering in all the taxed commodities of lite be baseness and pusillanimity not to oppose to them from the accumulation of bad votes of bad men. But, the strongest constitutional resistance. Mr. Bailiff, if this were otherwise ; if it really were a Then it is said that there is to be a lack of talent in great political invention, that cities of 100,000 men the new Parliament: it is to be composed of ordinary should have no representatives, because those repre. and inferior persons, who will bring the government of sentatives were wanted for political ditches, political the country into contempt. But the best of all talents, walls, and political parks; that the people should be gentlemen, is to conduct our affairs honestly, diligentbought and sold like any other commodity; that a re. ly, and economically—and this talent will, I am sure, tired merchant should be able to go into the market and abound as much in the new Parliament as in many prebuy ten shares in the government of twenty millions vious parliaments. Parliament is not a school for theot his fellow subjects ; yet can such asseverations be toric and declamation, where a stranger would go to made openly before the people? Wise men, men con. hear a speech, as he would go to the opera to hear a versant with human affairs, may whisper such theo song; but if it were otherwise---if eloquence be a neries to each other in retirement; but can the people cessary ornament of, and an indispensable adjunct to, ever be taught that it is right they should be bought popular assemblies--can it ever be absent from popuand sold? Can the vehemence of eloquent democrats Iar assemblies? I have always found that all things be met with such arguments and theories ? Can the moral or physical grow in the soil best suited for them. doubts of honest and limited men be met by such argu- Show me a deep and tenacious earth-and I am sure ments and theories? The moment such a government the oak will spring up in it. In a low and damp soil I is looked at by all the people it is lost. It is impossible am equally certain of the alder and the willow. Gen. to explain, defend, and recommend it to the mass of silemen, the free Parliament of a free people is the namankind. And true enough it is, that as often as mis- tive soil of eloquence-and in that soil will it ever fortune threatens us at home, or imitation excites us flourish and abound-there it will produce those intel. from abroad, political reform is clamoured for by the lectual effects which drive before them whole tribes people—there it stands, and ever will stand, in the and nations of the human race, and settle the destinies apprehension of the multitude-reform, the cure of of man. And, gentlemen, if a few persons of a less el. every evil--corruption, the source of every misfortune egant and aristocratic description were to become --famine, defeat, decayed trade, depressed agriculture, members of the House of Commons, where would be will all lapse into the question of reform. Till that the evil? They would probably understand the com. question is set at rest and it may be set at rest), all mon people a great deal better, and in this way the will be disaffection, tumult, and perhaps (which"God feelings and interests of all classes of people would be avert !) destruction.

better represented. The House of Commons, thus orBut 'democrats and agitators (and democrats and ganized, will express more faithfully the opinions of agitators there are in the world,) will not be content. the people. ed with this reform. Perhaps not, sir ; I never hope The people are sometimes, it is urged, grossly misto content men whose game is never to be contented-taken ; but are kings never mistaken? Are the higher but if they are not contented, I am sure their discon. orders never mistaken ?-never wilfully corrupted by tent will then comparatively be of little importance. their own int rests? The people have at least this suI am afraid of them now; have no arguments to an- periority, that they always intend to do what is right. swer them: but I shall not be afraid of them after this The argument of fear is very easily disposed of: he bill, and would tell them boldly in the middle of their who is afraid of a knock on the head or a cut on the mobs, that there was no longer cause for agitation and cheek is a coward; he who is afraid of entailing greatexcitement, and that they were intending wickedly to er evils on the country by refusing the remedy than by the people. You may depend upon it such a measure applying it, and who acts in pursuance of that convic. would destroy their trade, as the repeal of duties Ition, is a wise and prudent man--nothing can be more

different than personal and political fear; it is the change of system. I did not understand the joy whicb artifice of our opponents to confound them together. it occasioned. I did not feel it, and I did not counter

The right of disfranchisement, gentlemen, must ex. feit what I did not feel. ist somewhere, and where but in Parliament? If not, I think very differently of the accession of his prehow was the scoich union, how was the Irish union, sent majesty. I believe I see in that accession a great effected? The Duke of Wellington's administration probability of serious improvement, and a great indisfranchised at one blow 200,000 Irish voters--for no crease of public happiness. The evils which have fault of theirs, and for no other reason than the best of been long complained of by bold and intelligent men all reasons, that public expediency required it. These are now universally admitted. The public feeling, very same politicians are now looking in an agony of which has been so long appealed to, is now intensely terror at the disfranchisement of corporations contain. excited The remedies which have been so ofien ing twenty or thirty persons, sold to their representa- called tur are now at last vigorously, wisely, and faithtives, who are themselves perhaps sold to the govern- fully applied. I admire, gentlemen, in the present ment: and to put an end to these enormous abuses is king, his love of peace-1 admire in him his disposi. called corporation robbery, and there are some persons tion to economy-and I admire in him, above all, his wild enough to talk of compensation. This principle faithful and honourable conduct to those who happen of compensation you will consider perhaps in the to be his ministers. He was, I believe, quite as laitb. following instance to have been carried as far as sound ful to the Duke of Wellington as to Lord Grey, and discretion permits. When I was a young man, the would, I have no doubt, be quite as faithful to the place in England I remember as most notorious for political enemies of Lord Grey (if he thought fit to highwaymen and their exploits was Finchley Common, employ them) as he is to Lord Grey himseli. There near the metropolis; but Finchley Common, gentle. is, in this reign, no secret influence, no double minismen, in the progress of improvement, came to be try-on whomsoever he confers the office, to him he enclosed, and ihe highwaymen lost by these means the gives that confidence without which the office cannot opportunity of exercising their gallant vocation. I be holden with honour, nor executed with efiect.

He remember a friend of mine proposed to draw up for is not only a peaceful king, and an economical king, them a petition to the House of Commons for compen, but he is an honest king. So far, I believe, every sation, which ran in this manner. We, your loyal individual of this company will go with me. There is highwaymen of Finchley Common, and its neighbour. another topic of eulogium, on which, before I sit hood, having, at great expense, said in a stock of down, I should like to say a few wordí-I mean the blunderbusses, pistols, and other instruments for willingness of our present king to investigate abuses plundering the public, and finding ourselves impeded and to reform them. If this subject is not unpleasant, in the exercise of our calling by the said enclosure of I will offer upon it a very few observations—a few, the said Common of Finchley, humbly petition your because the subject is exhausted, and because, if it honourable house will be pleased to assign to us such were not, I have no right, from my standing or my compensation as your honourable house in its wisdom situation in this country, to detain you long upon that and justice may think fit.' Gentlemen, I must leave or any other subject. the application to you.

In criticising this great question of reform, I think An honourable baronet says, if Parliament is dissol- there is some injustice done to its authors. Men ved, I will go to my borough with the bill in my hand, seem to suppose that a minister can sit down and and will say, 'I know of no crime you have commit- make a plan of reform with as much ease and as much ted, found nothing proved against you: I voted exactness, and with as complete a gratification of his against the bill, and am come to fling myself upon own will, as an architect can do in a building or your kindness, with the hope that my conduct will be altering a house. But a minister of state (it should be approved, and that you will return me again to Parlia. in justice observed), works in the hands of hatred, ment.' That honourable baronet may, perhaps, re- injustice, violence, and the worst of human passionsceive from his borough an answer he little expects, his works are not the works of calm and unembarrass"We are above being bribed by such a childish and ed wisdom—they are not the best that a dreamer of unworthy artifice; we do not choose to consult our dreams can imagine. It is enough if they are the best own interest at the expense of the general peace and plans which the parties, passions, and prejudices of happiness of the country; we are thoroughly convinc- the times in which he acts will permit. In passing a ed a reform ought to take place; we are very willing reform bill, the minister overthrows the long and deep to sacrifice a privilege we ought never to have possesso interest which powerful men have in existing abuses ed to the good of the community, and we will return --he subjects himself to the deepest batred, and enno one to Parliament who is not deeply impressed with counters the bitterest opposition. Auxiliaries he most the same feeling.' This I hope is the answer that have, and auxiliaries he can only find among the peo. gentleman will receive, and this, I hope, will be the ple—not the mob_but the great mass of those who noble and generous feeling of every borough in Eng. have opinions worth hearing, and property worth land.

defending-a greater mass, I am happy to say, in this The greater part of human improvements, gentle country than exists in any other country on the tace men, I am sorry to say, are made after war, tumult, of the earth. Now, before the middling orders will bloodshed, and civil commotion : mankind 'seem to come forward with one great impulse, they must see object to every species of gratuitous happiness, and to that something is offered them worth the price of conconsider every advantage as too cheap, which is not tention; they must see that the object is great, and purchased by some calamity. I shall 'esteem it as a the gain serious. If you call them in at all, it must singular act of God's providence, if this great nation, not be to displace one faction at the expense of annguided by these warnings of history, not waiting till ther, but to put down all factions—to substitute purity tumult for reform, nor trusting reform to the rude and principle for corruption—to give to the many that hands of the lowest of the people, shah amend their political power which the few have unjustly taken to decayed institutions at a period when they are ruled themselves to get rid of evils so ancient and so rast by a popular monarch, guided by an upright minister, that any other arm than the public arm would be lifted and blest with profound peace.

up against them in vain. This, then, I say, is one of the reasons why ministers have been compelled to make their measures a little more vigorous and deci.

sive than a speculative philosopher, sitting in his cloSPEECH AT TAUNTON

set, might approve of. They had a mass of opposition

to contend with, which could be encountered only by a MR. CHAIRMAN,—I am particularly happy to assist general exertion of public spirit--they had a long-suron this occasion, because I think that the accession of fering and an often deceived public to appeal to, who the present king is a marked and important era in Eng. were determined to suffer no longer, and to be deceived lish history Another coronation has taken place no more. The alternative was to continue the ancient since I have been in the world, but I never assisted at abuses, or to do what they have done and most @rmly its celebration. I saw in it a change of masters, not al do I believe that you and I, and the latest posterity of

us all, will rejoice in the decision they have made. | lieve that the English people will return to their Gradation has been called for in reform: we might, it ancient degradation—that they will hold out their is said, have taken thirty or forty years to have accom- repentant hands for those inanacles which at this moplished

what we have done in one year. It is not soment lay broken into links at their feet. much the magnitude of what you are doing we object to, as the suddenness. But was not gradation tendered? Was it not said by the friends of reform. Give us Birmingham and Manchester, and we will be

SPEECH AT TAUNTON. satisfied ?' and what was the answer? No Manchester, no Birmingham, no reform in any degree-all abu (From the Taunton Courier' of October 12th, 1831.) ses as they are-all perversions as we have found THE REVEREND SIDNEY SMITH rose and said: Mr. them—the corruptions which our fathers bequeathed Bailiff, I have spoken so often on this subject, that I us we will hand down unimpaired and unpurified to our am sure both you and the gentlemen here present will children.' But I would say to the graduate philoso- be obliged to me for saying but little, and that favour sopher,— How often does a reforming minister occur?! I am as willing to contër, as you can he to receive it. I and if such are so common that you can command feel most deeply the event which has taken place, bethem when you please, how often does a reforming cause, by putiing the two houses of Parliament in col. monarch occur? and how often does the conjunction lision with each other, it will impede the public busiof both occur? Are you sure that a people, bursting ness, and diminish the public prosperity. I feel it as into new knowledge, and speculating on every public a churchman, because I cannot but blush to sec so event, will wait for your protracted reform?' Strike many dignitaries of the church arrayed against the while the iron is hot-up with the arm and down with wishes and happiness of the people I feel it more the hammer, and up again with the arm, and down than all, because I believe it will sow the seeds of again with the hammer. The iron is hot--the oppor. deadly hatred between the aristocracy and the great tunity exists now—if you neglect it, it may not return mass of the people. The loss of the bill I do not reel, for an hundred years to come.

and for the best of all possible reasons--because Í There is an argument I have often heard, and that is have not the slightest idea that it is lost. I have no this-Are we to be afraid ?—is this measure to be car. more doubt, before the expiration of the winter, that ried by intimidation ?-is the House of Lords to be this bill will pass, than I have that the annual tax bill overawed? But this style of argument proceeds from will pass, and greater certainty than this no man can confounding together two sets of feelings which are have, for Franklin tells us, there are but two things entirely distinct-personal fear and political fear. If certain in this world—death and taxes. As for the I am afraid of voting against this bill, because a mob possibility of the House of Lords preventing ere long may gather about the House of Lords—because stones a reform of Parliament, I hold it to be the most absurd may be flung at my head—because my house may be notion that ever entered into human imagination. I dle with public affairs ; but I may rationally be afraid the lords to stop the progress of reform, reminds me of producing great public agitation-I may be honour very forcibly of the great storm of Sidmouth, and of ably afraid offlinging people into secret clubs and con- the conduct of the excellent Mrs. Partington on that spiracies--I may be wisely afraid of making the aris. occasion. In the winter of 1824, there set in a great tocracy hateful to the great body of the people. This flood upon that town—the tide rose to an incredible surely has no more to do with fear than a loose iden. height—the waves rushed in upon the houses, and evetity of name; it is in fact prudence of the highest ry thing was threatened with destruction. In the order; the deliberate reflection of a wise man who midst of this sublime and terrible storm, Dame Pardoes not like what he is going to do, but likes still tington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the less the consequence of not doing it, and who, of two door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling evils, chooses ihe least.

her mop, squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously There are some men much afaid of what is to hap- pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was pen: my lively hope of good is, I confess, mingléd roused. Mrs. Partington's spirit was up; but I need with very little apprehension : but of one thing I must not tell you that the contest was unequal. The Allanbe candid enough to say I am much afraid, and that is tic Oceau beat Mrs. Partington. She was excellent at of the opinion now increasing, that the people are a slop, or a puddle, but she could not have med led becoming indifferent to reform; and of thai opinion 1 with a tempest. Gentlemen, be at your ease-be quiet am afraid, because I believe in an evil hour it may and steady. You will beat Mrs. Partington. lead some misguided members of the upper house of They tell you, gentlemen, in the debates by which Parliament to vote against the bill. As for the opi- we have been lately occupied, that the bill is not jusnion itself, I hold it in the utmost contempt. The tified by experience. I do not think this true, but if it people are waiting in virtuous patience for the com- were třue, nations are sometimes compelled to act pletion of the bill, because they know it is in the hands without experience for their guide, and to trust to of men who do not mean to deceive them. I do not their own sagacity for the anticipation of consequenbelieve they have given up one atom of reform—I do ces. The instances where this country has been comnot believe that a great people were ever before so pelled thus to act have been so eminently success. firmly bent upon any one measure. I put it to any ful, that I see no cause for fear, even if we were acting inan of common sense, whether he believes it possi- in the manner imputed to us by our enemies. What ble, after the king and Parliament have acted as they precedents and what experience were there at the Re. have done, that the people will ever be contented with formation, when the country, with one unanimous much less than the present bill contains. If a contra- effort, pushed out the pope, and his grasping and amry principle is acted upon, and the bill attempted to be bitious clergy? What experience, when, at the Revogot rid of altogether, I confess I tremble for the con lution, we drove away our ancient race of kings, and sequences, which I believe will be of the worst and chose another family more congenial to our free prinmost painful description ; and this I say deliberately, ciples? And yet to those two events, contrary to ex. after the most diligent and extensive inquiry. Upon perience, and unguided by precedents, we owe all our that diligent inquiry I repeat again my firm convico domestic happiness, and civil and religious freedomtion, that the desire of reform has increased, not di- and having got rid of corrupt priests and despotic minished; that the present repose is not indifference, kings, by our sense and our courage, are we now to be but the calmness of victory, and the tranquillity of intimidated by the awful danger of extinguishing bosuccess. When I see all the wishes and appetites of roughmongers, and shaking from our necks the igno. created beings changed,-when I see an eagle, that, minious yoke which their baseness has imposed upon after long confinement, has escaped into the air, comé us? Go on, they say, as you have done for these hunback to his cage and his chain,-when I see the dred years last past. I answer, it is impossible--five emancipated negro asking again for the hoe which has hundred people now write and read, where one hun. broken down his strength, and the lash which has dred wrote and read fifty years ago. The iniquities tortured bis body, I will then, and not till then, be-l and enormities of the borough system are now known


to the meanest of the people. You have a different what right has this lord, or that marquis, to buy ten sort of men to deal with—you must change, because seats in Parliament, in the shape of boroughs, and the beings whom you govern are changed. After all, then to make laws to govem me? And how are these and to be short, I must say that it has always appear. masses of power re-distributed ? The eldest son of ed to me to be the most absolute nonsense that we my lord is just come from Eton-he knows a good cannot be a great, or a rich and happy nation, without deal about Æneas and Dido, Apollo and Daphne suffering ourselves to be bought and sold every five and that is all ; and to this boy, his father gives a years like a pack of negro slaves. I hope I am not a six-hundredth part of the power of making laws, as he very rash man, but I would launch boldly into this would give him a horse, or a double-barrelled gun. experiment without any fear of consequences, and ! Then Vellum, the steward, is put in-an admirable believe there is not a man here present who would man ;-he has raised the estates-watched the pronot cheerfully embark with me. As to the enemies gress of the family road, and caua) bills and Vellum of the bill, who pretend to be reformers, I know them, shall help to rule over the people of Israel. A neigh. I believe, better than you do, and I earnestly caution bouring country gentleman, Mr. Plumpkin, hunts with you against them. You will have no more of reforın my lord-opens him a gate or two, while the hounds ihan they are compelled to grant ; you will have no are running-dines with my lord-agrees with my reform at all, if they can avoid it-you will be hurried lord-wishes he could rival the Southdown sheep of into a war to turn your attention from reform. They my lord-and upon Plumpkin is conferred a portion of do not understand you ; they will not believe in the the govemment. Then there is a distant relation of improvement you have made; they think the English the same name, in the county militia, with white of the preseni day are as the English of the times of teeth, who calls up the carriage at the opera, and is Queen Anne or George the First. They know no more always wishing O'Connell was hanged, drawn, and of the present state of their own country, than of the quartered—then a barrister, who has written an article state of the Esquimaux Indians. Gentlemen, I view in the Quarterly, and is very likely to speak, and rethe ignorance of the present state of the country with fute M'Culloch; and these five people, in whose nomithe most serious concem, and I believe they will one nation I have no more agency than I have in the day or another waken into conviction with horror and nomination of the toll keepers of the Bosphorus, are dismay. I will omit no means of rousing them to a to make laws for me and my family—to put their sense of their danger: for this object I cheerfully hands in my purse, and to sway the future destinies sign the petition proposed by Dr. Kinglake, which I of this country; and when the neighbours step in, and consider to be the wisest and most moderate of the beg permission to say a few words before these persons two.

are chosen, there is an universal cry of ruin, confu. sion, and destruction ;-we have become a great people

under Vellum and Plumpkin-under Vellum and SPEECH BY THE REV. SIDNEY SMITH. Plumpkin our armies have secured the strength of the STICK to the bill—it is your Magna Charta and your but revolution.

hills-to turn out Vellum and Plumpkin is not reform, Runnymede. King John made a present to the barons. King William has made a similar present to you. Never before a real ministry of the people? Look at the

Was there ever such a ministry? Was there ever mind, common qualities good in common times. If a condition of the country when it was placed in their man does not vote for the bill, he is unclean, the plague. hands: the state of the house when the incoming spot is upon him; push him into the lazaretto of the tenant took possession : windows broken, chimneys last century, with Wetherell and Sadler ; purify the air on fire, mobs round the house threatening to pull it before you approach him; bathe your hands in chlo. down, roof tumbling, rain pouring in. It was courage ride of lime, if you have been contaminated by his to occupy it; it was a miracle to save it; it will be touch. So far from its being a merely theoretical improve make it the eternal palace of wise and temperate

the glory of glories to enlarge and expand it, and to ment, I put it to any man, who is himself embarked freedom. in a profession, or has sons in the same situation, if the unfair influence of boroughmongers has not pero happy and misguided disciples of Swing : a rope has

Proper examples have been made among the unpetually thwarted him in his lawful career of ambition, been carried round O'Connell's legs, and a ring in, and professional emolument ? , I have been in three serted in Cobbett's nose. Then the game laws!!! general engagements at sea,' said an old sailor-Was ever conduct so shabby as that of the two of have been twice wounded; I commanded the boats three governments which preceded that of Lord Grey? when the French frigate, the ASTROLABE, was cut out The cruelties and enormities of this code had been so gallantly.' "Then you are made a post captain?' thoroughly exposed; and a general conviction existed

No. I was very near it; but-Lieutenant Thomson of the necessity of a change. Bills were brought in cut me out, as I cut out the French frigate ; his father by various gentlemen, containing some trifling altera. is town clerk of the borough for which Lord F

tion in this abominable code, and even these were is member, and there my chance was finished.' In sacrificed to the tricks and manœuvres of some noble the same manner, all over England, you will find great Nimrod, who availed himself of the emptiness of the scholars rotting on curacies, brave captains starving town in July, and Aung out the bill. Government in garrets, profound lawyers decayed and mouldering never stirred'a step. The fulness of the prisons, the in the inns of court, because the parsons, warriors, and wretchedness and demoralization of the poor, never advocates of boroughmongers must be crammed to came across them. The humane and considerate Peel saturation, before there is a morsel of bread for the never once offered to extend his ægis over them. It man who does not sell his votes, and put his country had nothing to do with the state of party; and some up to auction ; and though this is of every day occur of their double-barrelled voters might be offended. In rence, the borough system, we are told, is no practical the mean time, for every ten pheasants which fluttered evil. Who can bear to walk through a slaughter-house ? No sooner is Lord Ålthorp chancellor of the exche,

in the wood, one English peasant was rotting in jail

. blood, garbage, stomachs, entrails, legs, tails, kid.quer, than he turns out of the house a trumpery and neys,'horrors- 1 often walk a mile to avoid it. What perhaps) an insiduous bill for the improvement of a scene of disgust and horror is an election--the base the game laws; and in an instant offers the assistance and infamous traffic of principles a candidate of high of government for the abolition of the whole code. character reduced to such means the perjury and Then look at the gigantic Brougham, sworn in at evasion of agents--the detestable rapacity of voters twelve o'clock, and before sis, has a bill on the table bill lessens it-begins the destruction of such practi. curse of the people of England for centuries. For ces-affords some chance and some means of tuming twenty-five

long years did Lord Eldon sit in that court, public opinion against bribery, and of rendering it in surrounded with miscry and sorrow, which he nerer famous.

held up a finger to alleviate. The widow and the But the thing I cannot. and will not bear, is this ;-orphan cried to him as vainly as the town crier cries

« PreviousContinue »