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I do not say that these are considerations with pointed out as the compatriot of Wellington; as a view to which the war, if otherwise terminable, one of that nation whose firmness and perseverought to have been purposely protracted; but I ance have humbled France and rescued Europe. say that, upon the retrospect, we have good reason Is there any man that has a heart in his bosom to rejoice that the war was not closed ingloriously who does not find, in the contemplation of this and insecurely, when the latter events of it have contrast alone, a recompense for the struggles and been such as have established our security by our the sufferings of years ? glory.

But, gentlemen, the doing right is not only the I say we have reason to rejoice, that, during the most honorable course of action—it is the reask net period when the continent was prostrate before also the most profitable in its result. maly France—that, especially during the period when At any former period of the war, the Scial the continental system was in force, we did not independence of almost all the other countries, shrink from the struggle ; that we did not make our allies would have been to be purchased with peace for present and momentary ease, unmind- sacrifices profusely poured out from the lap of ful of the permanent safety and greatness of this British victory. Not a throne to be re-estabcountry; that we did not leave unsolved the mo- lished, not a province to bo evacuated, not a garmentous questions, whether this country could rison to be withdrawn, but this country would maintain itself against France, unaided and alone; have had to make compensation, out of her conor with the continent divided; or with the con quests, for the concessions obtained from the entinent combined against it; whether, when the emy. Now, happily, this work is already done, wrath of the tyrant of the European world was either by our efforts or to our hands. The penkindled against us with seven-fold fury, we insula free—the lawful commonwealth of Eurocould or could not walk unharmed and unfet- pean states already, in a great measure, restored, tered through the flames ?

Great Britain may now appear in the congress I say we have reason to rejoice that, through of the world, rich in conquests, nobly and rightout this more than Punic war, in which it has so fully won, with little claim upon her faith or her often been the pride of our enemy to represent her- justice, whatever may be the spontaneous imself as the Rome, and England as the Carthage, pulse of her generosity or her moderation. of modern times (with at least this color for the Such, gentlemen, is the situation and prospect comparison, that the utter destruction of the mod- of affairs at the moment at which I have the hosern Carthage has uniformly been proclaimed to be or to address you. That you, gentlemen, may indispensable to the greatness of her rival)—we have your full share in the prosperity of your have, I say, reason to rejoice that, unlike our as-country, is my sincere and earnest wish. The signed prototype, we have not been diverted by courage with which you bore up in adverse cirinternal dissensions from the vigorous support of cumstances eminently entitles you to this reward. a vital struggle ; that we have not suffered dis- For myself, gentlemen, while I rejoice in your tress nor clamor to distract our counsels, or to returning prosperity, I rejoice also that our concheck the exertions of our arms.

nection began under auspices so much less favor. Gentlemen, for twenty years that I have sat in able; that we had an opportunity of knowing The war has Parliament, I have been an advocate each other's minds in times when the minds of bercame a rely of the war. You knew this when you men are brought to the proof-times of trial and the means of did me the honor to choose me as your difficulty. I had the satisfaction of avowing to

representative. I then told you that you, and you the candor and magnanimity to apI was the advocate of the war, because I was a prove, the principles and opinions by which my lover of peace; but of a peace that should be the public conduct has uniformly been guided, at a fruit of honorable exertion, a peace that should period when the soundness of those opinions and have a character of dignity, a peace that should the application of those principles was matter be worth preserving, and should be likely to of doubt and controversy. I thought, and I said, endure. I confess I was not sanguine enough, at the time of our first meeting, that the cause at that time, to hope that I should so soon have of England and of civilized Europe must be ultian opportunity of justifying my professions. But mately triumphant, if we but preserved our spirit I know not why, six weeks hence, such a peace untainted and our constancy unshaken. Such an should not be made as England may not only assertion was, at that time, the object of ridicule be glad, but proud to ratily. Not such a peace, with many persons: a single year has elapsed, gentlemen, as that of Amiens—a short and le- and it is now the voice of the whole world. verish interval of unrefreshing repose. Dar- Gentlemen, we may, therefore, confidently ining that peace, which of you went or sent a son dulge the hope that our opinions will continue to Paris, who did not feel or learn that an En- in unison ; that our concurrence will be as corglishman appeared in France shorn of the digni- dial as it has hitherto been, if unhappily any new ty of his country; with the mien of a suppliant, occasion of difficulty or embarrassment should and the conscious prostration of a man who had hereafter arise. consented to purchase his gain or his ease by sub- At the present moment, I am sure, we are mission ? But let a peace be made to-morrow, equally desirous to bury the recollection of all such as the allies have now the power to dictate, our differences with others in that general feeling and the meanest of the subjects of this kingdom of exultation in which all opinions happily comshall not walk the streets of Paris without being I bine.




MARCH 18, 1820.

INTRODUCTION. ENGLAND was in a very agitated state during the year 1819. Pecuniary distress was nearly universal, and the agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial interests were reduced to the lowest point of de. pression.

Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Hunt, Lord Cochrane, and others, ascribed nearly all the sufferings of the coun. try to one cause, viz., the want of parliamentary reform, and made the most strenuous efforts in favor of annual Parliaments and universal suffrage. Nothing could be more injurious than these efforts to the cause of genuine reform, as advocated by Earl Grey, especially considering the means adopted by the radical reformers to accomplish their object. Itinerant lecturers traversed the country, gathering immense crowds of the lower classes, and inflaming their minds by a sense of injury and oppression. Bodies of men, amounting sometimes to fifty thousand, marched to the place of meeting in regular array, with banners bearing the inscription "Liberty or Death!” and others of a similar import. The magistrates became alarmed, and the measures used to prevent mischief were sometimes unduly severe, and in one instance (that of the meeting at Manchester, August 16th) were attended with the most deplorable consequences.

It was the general sentiment of the country, that some measures should be adopted to prevent these evils, and at the meeting of Parliament in November, 1819, the ministry introduced bills for the following purposes, which, from their number, were called the “Six Acts.” 1. To take away the right of traversing in cases of misdemeanor; 2. To punish any person found guilty on a second conviction of libel, by fine, imprisonment, and banishment for life; 3. To prevent seditious meetings, requiring the names of seven householders to the requisition, which in future convened any meeting for the discussion of subjects connected with Church or State ; 4. To probibit military training, except under the authority of a magistrate or Lord Lieutenant; 5. To subject cheap periodical pamphlets, on political subjects, to a duty similar to that of newspapers; 6. A bill giving magistrates the power of entering houses by night or by day, for the purpose of seizing arms believed to be collected for unlawful purposes. These bills were all carried by large majorities; the entering houses by night, and the severity of the restrictions on the press, were chiefly objected to; but there appeared a general concurrence in the necessity of strong measures.

Soon after these acts were passed, a new election took place; and Mr. Canning came forward to vindicate the above measures, and also to resist every attempt at parliamentary reform by identifying the whole plan with these radical views. The speech is certainly a very able one, and will interest the reader as giving the Tory side of the argument, though it by no means meets the question as presented by sach reformers as Earl Grey and Mr. Brougham.

Recent po

SPEECH, &c. GENTLEMEN,Short as the interval is since I | an unreserved interchange of sentiment should

last met you in this place on a similar take place between the representative and his liucal evils. occasion, the events which have filled constituents; and if it accidentally happens that up that interval have not been unimportant. The he who addresses you as your representative, great moral disease which we then talked of as stands also in the situation of a responsible adgaining ground on the community has, since that viser of the Crown, I recognize in that more rare period, arrived at its most extravagant height; occurrence a not less striking or less valuable and since that period, also, remedies have been peculiarity of that Constitution under which we applied to it, if not of permanent cure, at least of have the happiness to live-by which a minister temporary mitigation.

of the Crown is brought into contact with the Gentlemen, with respect to those remedies— great body of the community, and the service of

I mean with respect to the transactions the King is shown to be a part of the service of dies appled. of the last short session of Parliament, the people. previous to the dissolution—I feel that it is my Gentlemen, it has been one advantage of the duty, as your representative, to render to you transactions of the last session of Parliament, that some account of the part which I took in that while they were addressed to meet the evils which assembly to which you sent me; I feel it my duty had grown out of charges heaped upon the House also, as a member of the government by which of Commons, they had also, in a great measure, those measures were advised. Upon occasions falsified the charges themselves. of such trying exigency as those which we have I would appeal to the recollection of every lately experienced, I hold it to be of the very es- man who now hears me—of any the most caresence of our free and popular Constitution, that I less estimator of public sentiment, or the most in


The reme

Signal change

of the country,


lic meeting

different spectator of public events, whether any | been the guide and guardian of his people through

country, in any two epochs, however many a weary and many a stormy pilgrimage; in the condition distant, of its history, ever present- scarce less a guide, and quite as much a guard

ed such a contrast with itself as this ian, in the cloud of his evening darkness, as in country in November, 1819, and this country in the brightness of his meridian day." February, 1820 ? Do I exaggerate when I say, That such a loss, and the recollections and rethat there was not a man of property who did not flections naturally arising from it, must have had tremble for his possessions ?—that there was not a tendency to revive and refresh the attachment a man of retired and peaceable habits who did to monarchy, and to root that attachment deeper not tremble for the tranquillity and security of in the hearts of the people, might easily be shown his home ?—that there was not a man of orderly by reasoning; but a feeling, truer than all reaand religious principles who did not fear that soning, anticipates the result

, and renders the those principles were about to be cut from under process of argument unnecessary. So far, therethe feet of succeeding generations? Was there fore, has this great calamity brought with it its any man who did not apprehend the Crown to own compensation, and conspired to the restora. be in danger ? Was there any man attached to tion of peace throughout the country with the the other branches of the Constitution who did measures adopted by Parliament. not contemplate with anxiety and dismay the And, gentlemen, what was the character of rapid and apparently irresistible diffusion of doc- those measures ? The best eulogy of trines hostile to the very existence of Parliament them I take to be this: it may be said of large put as at present constituted, and calculated to ex- of them, as has been said of some of cite not hatred and contempt merely, but open the most consummate productions of literary art, and audacious force, especially against the House that, though no man beforehand had exactly abof Commons ? What is, in these respects, the ticipated the scope and the details of them, there situation of the country now?

Is there a man was no man, when they were laid before him, of property who does not feel the tenure by which who did not feel that they were precisely such he holds his possessions to have been strength- as he would himself have suggested. So faithened? Is there a man of peace who does not fully adapted to the case which they were framed feel bis domestic tranquillity to have been se- to meet, so correctly adjusted to the degree and cured? Is there a man of moral and religious nature of the mischief they were intended to conprinciples who does not look forward with better trol, that, while we all feel that they have done hope to see his children educated in those prin- their work, I think none will say there has been ciples ?—who does not hail, with renewed con- any thing in them of excess or supererogation. fidence, the revival and re-establishment of that We were loudly assured by the reformers, that moral and religious sense which had been at the test throughout the country by which those tempted to be obliterated from the hearts of man- who were ambitious of seats in the new Parkind?

liament would be tried, was to be — whether Well, gentlemen, and what has intervened be- they had supported those measures. I have in

tween the two periods ? A calling of quired, with as much diligence as was compatithe action of that degraded Parliament; a meeting ble with my duties here, after the proceedings of

of that scofled at and derided House other elections, and I protest I know no place yet,

of Commons; a concurrence of those besides the hustings of Westminster and Souththree branches of an imperfect Constitution, not wark, at which that menaced test has been pa! one of which, if we are to believe the radical re- to any candidates. To me, indeed, it was not formers, lived in the hearts, or swayed the feel- put as a test, but objected as a charge. You ings, or commanded the respect of the nation ; know how that charge was answered; and the but which, despised as they were while in a state result is to me a majority of 1300 out of 2000 of separation and inaction, did, by a co-operation voters upon the poll. of four short weeks, restore order, confidence, a But, gentlemen, though this question has not, reverence for the laws, and a just sense of their as was threatened, been the wateh- The isterdital own legitimate authority.

word of popular elections, every other es sertise, Another event, indeed, has intervened, in it- effort has, nevertheless, been indus- restraint on the self of a most painful nature, but powerful in aid-triously employed to persuade the people ing and confirming the impressions which the as- people that their liberties have been essentially sembling and the proceedings of Parliament were abridged by the regulation of popular meetings. calculated to produce. I mean the loss which Against that one of the measures passed by Parthe nation has sustained by the death of a Sov- liament, it is that the attacks of the radical reereign, with whose person all that is venerable formers have been particularly directed. Genin monarchy has been identified in the eyes of tlemen, the first answer to this averment is, that successive generations of his subjects; a Sover- the act leaves untouched all the constitutional eign whose goodness, whose years, whose sor- modes of assembly which have been known to rows and sufferings must have softened the the nation since it became free. We are fond hearts of the most ferocious enemies of kingly of dating our freedom from the Revolution. I power; whose active virtues, and the memory should be glad to know in what period since the of whose virtues, when it pleased Divine Providence that they should be active no more, have 1 This refers to the King's derangement from 1811.

This change


the so much complained of Parliament


Such meetings


These immense mass meetings not essential to


Revolution (up to a very late period indeed, which ther they nor I can gain our livelihood. I call I will specify)-in what period of those reigns upon the laws to afford me that protection; and growing out of the Revolution -I mean, of the is the laws in this country can not afford it, defirst reigns of the house of Brunswick—did it en- pend upon it, I and my manufacturers must emter into the head of man, that such meetings could igrate to some country where they can.” Here be holden, or that the Legislature would tolerate is a conflict of rights, between which what is the the holding of such meetings, as disgraced this decision? Which of the two claims is to give kingdom for some months previous to the last ses way? Can any reasonable being doubt? Can sion of Parliament ? When, therefore, it is as- any honest man hesitate ? Let private justice or serted that such meetings were never before sup- public expediency decide, and can the decision by pressed, the simple answer is, they were never possibility be other than that the peaceable and before systematically attempted to be holden. industrious shall be protected—the turbulent and I verily believe the first meeting of the kind mischievous put down?

that was ever attempted and toler. But what similarity is there between tumults unknown to the ated (I know of none anterior to it) such as these and an orderly meeting,

was that called by Lord George Gor-recognized by the law for all legitidon, in St. George's Fields, in the year 1780, mate purposes of discussion or peti- the right of pewhich led to the demolition of chapels and dwell- tion? God forbid that there should ing-houses, the breaking of prisons, and the con- not be modes of assembly by which every class flagration of London. Was England never free of this great nation may be brought together to till 1780? Did British liberty spring to light deliberate on any matters connected with their from the ashes of the metropolis ? What ! was interest and their freedom. It is, however, an inthere no freedom in the reign of George the See- version of the natural order of things, it is a disond ? None in that of George the First ? None turbance of the settled course of society, to reprein the reign of Queen Anne or of King William ? sent discussion as every thing, and the ordinary Beyond the Revolution I will not go. But I have occupations of life as nothing. To protect the always heard that British liberty was established peaceable in their ordinary occupations is as much long before the commencement of the late reign; the province of the laws, as to provide opportuni. nay, that in the late reign (according to popular ties of discussion for every purpose to which it is politicians) it rather sunk and retrograded ; and necessary and properly applicable. The laws do yet never till that reign was such an abuse of both; but it is no part of the contrivance of the popular meetings dreamed of, much less erected laws that immense multitudes should wantonly into a right not to be questioned by magistrates, be brought together, month after month, and day and not to be controlled by Parliament. after day, in places where the very bringing to

Do I deny, then, the general right of the peo- gether of a multitude is of itself the source of All social rights ple to meet, to petition, or to delib- terror and of danger. Liable to restric erate upon their grievances ? God It is no part of the provision of the laws, nor eral good. forbid ! But social right is not a sim- is it in the spirit of them, that such They are directple, abstract, positive, unqualified term. Rights multitudes should be brought togeth- the pictured the are, in the same individual, to be compared with er at the will of unauthorized and ir- English laws. his duties; and rights in one person are to be responsible individuals, changing the scene of balanced with the rights of others. Let us take meeting as may suit their caprice or convenience, this right of meeting in its most extended con- and fixing it where they have neither property, struction and most absolute sense. The persons nor domicil, nor connection. The spirit of the who called the meeting at Manchester tell you law goes directly the other way. It is, if I may that they had a right to collect together count- so express myself, eminently a spirit of corporaless multitudes to discuss the question of parlia- tion. Counties, parishes, townships, guilds, promentary reform; to collect them when they would fessions, trades, and callings, form so many local and where they would, without consent of mag- and political subdivisions, into which the people istrates, or concurrence of inhabitants, or refer- of England are distributed by the law; and the ence to the comfort or convenience of the neigh- pervading principle of the whole is that of vicinborhood. May not the peaceable, the industri- age or neighborhood; by which each man is held ous inhabitant of Manchester say, on the other to act under the view of his neighbors; to lend hand, "I have a right to quiet in my house; I his aid to them, to borrow theirs; to share their have a right to carry on my manufactory, on councils, their duties, and their burdens; and to which not my existence only and that of my bear with them his share of responsibility for the children, but that of my workmen and their nu- acts of any of the members of the community of merous families depends. I have a right to be which he forms a part. protected in the exercise of this my lawful call. Observe, I am not speaking here of the reviled ing ; I have a right to be protected, not against and discredited statute law only, but of that venviolence and plunder only, against fire and sword, erable common law to which our reformers are but against the terror of these calamities, and so fond of appealing on all occasions, against the against the risk of these inflictions ; against the statute law by which it is modified, explained, or intimidation or seduction of my workmen; or enforced. Guided by the spirit of the one, no against the distraction of that attention and the less than by the letter of the other, what man is interruption of that industry, without which nei- there in this country who can not point to the

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portion of society to which he belongs? If in- bor's disapprobation ; and if ever a maltitudidons jury is sustained, upon whom is the injured per- assembly can be wrought up to purposes of misson expressly entitled to come for redress? Upon chief, it will be an assembly so composed. the hundred, or the division in which he has sus- How monstrous is it to confound such meeitained the injury. On what principle ? On the ings with the genuine and recognized principle, that as the individual is amenable to modes of collecting the sense of the be confounded the division of the community to which he spe- English people! Was it by meet- ized seeting cially belongs, so neighbors are answerable for ings such as these that the Revolu- of the people each other. Just laws, to be sure, and admira- tion was brought about, that grand event to which ble equity, if a stranger is to collect a mob which our antagonists are so fond of referring? Was is to set hall Manchester on fire ; and the burned it by meetings in St. George's Fields ? in Spa hall is to come upon the other half for indemni- Fields ? in Smithfield? Was it by untold mal. ty, while the stranger goes off unquestioned, to titudes collected in a village in the north ? No! excite the like tumult and produce the like dan- It was by the meeting of corporations, in their ger elsewhere!

corporate capacity; by the assembly of recog. That such was the nature, such the tendency, nized bodies of the state; by the interchange of Their resulte nay, that such, in all human probabili- opinions among portions of the community known might easily ty, might have been the result

, of meet- to each other, and capable of estimating each ings like that of the 16th of August, other's views and characters. Do we want a who can deny ? Who that weighs all the par- more striking mode of remedying grievances ticulars of that day, comparing them with the than this? Do we require a more animating exrumors and the threats that preceded it, will dis- ample ? And did it remain for the reformers of pute that such might have been the result of that the present day to strike out the course by which very meeting, if that meeting, so very legally alone Great Britain could make and keep herassembled, had not, by the happy decision of the self free? magistrates, been so very illegally dispersed ? Gentlemen, all power is, or ought to be, se

It is, therefore, not in consonance, but in con- companied by responsibility. Tyr- Some the caght They were call.

tradiction to the spirit of the law, that anny is irresponsible power. This to be response elin a way to such meetings have been holden. The definition is equally true, whether of public sees al cord of the per law prescribes a corporate character. the power be lodged in one or ma

The callers of these meetings have ny; whether in a despot, exempted by the form of always studiously avoided it. No summons of government from the control of the law; or in a freeholders-none of freemen—none of the in-mob, whose numbers put them beyond the reach habitants of particular places or parishes—no ac- of law. Idle, therefore, and absurd, to talk of knowledgment of local or political classification. freedom where a mob domineers ! Idle, thereJust so at the beginning of the French Revolu- fore, and absurd, to talk of liberty, when you hold tion; the first work of the reformers was to loos- your property, perhaps your life, not indeed at en every established political relation, every le- the nod of a despot, but at the will of an inflamed, gal holding of man to man; to destroy every cor- an infuriated populace! If, therefore, during the poration, to dissolve every subsisting class of so- reign of terror at Manchester, or at Spa Fields, ciety, and to reduce the nation into individuals, in there were persons in this country who had a order afterward to congregate them into mobs. right to complain of tyranny, it was they who Let no person, therefore, run away with the loved the Constitution, who loved the monarchy,

notion that these things were done but who dared not utter their opinions or their obvions design. without design. To bring together wishes until their houses were barricaded, and the inhabitants of a particular division, or men their children sent to a place of safety. That sharing a common franchise, is to bring together was tyranny! and so far as the mobs were under an assembly of which the component parts act the control of a leader, that was despotism! It with some respect and awe of each other. An- was against that tyranny, it was against that des. cient habits, which the reformers would call prej- potism, that Parliament at length raised its arm. udices; preconceived attachments, which ihey

I say, is vicious that is not acwould call corruption; that mutual respect which companied by proportionate responsi- Persoaalre makes the eye of a neighbor a security for each bility. Personal responsibility prevents man's good conduct, but which the reformers the abuse of individual power; respons- abese. would stigmatize as a confederacy among the ibility of character is the security against the few for dominion over their fellows; all these abuse of collective power, when exercised by things make men difficult to be moved, on the bodies of men whose existence is permanent and sudden, to any extravagant and violent enter- defined. But strip such bodies of ibese qualities, prise. But bring together a multitude of indi- you degrade them into multitudes, and then what viduals, having no permanent relation to each security have you against any thing that they other--no common tie but what arises from their may do or resolve, knowing that, from the moconcurrence as members of that meeting, a tie ment at which the meeting is at an end, there is no dissolved as soon as the meeting is at an end; in human being responsible for their proceedings ? such an aggregation of individuals there is no The meeting at Manchester, the meeting at Birsuch mutual respect, no such check upon the pro- mingham, the meeting at Spa Fields or Smith. ceedings of each man from the awe of his neigh- field, what pledge could they give to the nation

Sach was the

All power,


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