Imágenes de páginas

selves callous to the sufferings of their , admitted in so slight a degree as to render fellow-countrymen, and who denied that the admission an aggravation to those who those sufferings required to be relieved, were suffering under its overwhelming would meet with retribution for such con- severity. With respect to the letters duct when least they expected it. In which had been read, with a view of dithe hope that the vote of every Member minishing its extent, he had observed that upon this Motion would hereafter gain no Member who represented a populous full publicity, he would not torment the place had been able to get up and to deHouse and himself by making a longer clare it to be the opinion of his constituspeech, but would conclude by giving his , ents that they were not in a state of sufsupport to the Motion for going into a fering. As far as the topics derived from committee upon

the state of the country. those letters went, they had received a Sir F. Burdett, (who had risen with decisive answer from the hon. Member for several of the preceding Members, but had Newark. Was it in the House of Comnever been able to attract the notice of mons that these private communications the Speaker,] then proceeded to explain could be considered as a satisfactory conthe reasons which induced him to give a vote tradiction to the statements embodied in in opposition, he said, to that of several of petitions sent up to them by vast masses his hon. friends with whom he usually acted. of the people? Was it likely that the He thought that his hon. friend, the Mem- people would see with patience their stateber for Shaftesbury, was entitled to the ments subverted by letters, which at best thanks of the country for bringing this contained but the opinions of individuals? matter so distinctly under the consider- At an early period of the debate, his hon. ation of parliament. It was impossible and gallant friend, the Member for Windthat a mass of Petitions, complaining so sor, bad, in his very excellent and elobitterly of distress, could be left unno- quent speech, admitted that there was ticed on the Table of the House of Com- great suffering in the country, arising from mons; and though they referred to a sub- the great depreciation of prices; "but,” ject of magnitude sufficient to deter many said his hon. and gallant friend, in conpersons from bringing it forward, still such tinuation of his argument," is it possible for was the patriotism of his hon. friend, that this country, whilst it carries on intercourse he had not shrunk from the task of under- with foreign nations, to maintain the high taking it. He had paid great attention prices which it procured during the war?” to the course which this debate had taken, Now he should answer that question by and he was now compelled to say, that his another, and that other would be simply mind was confirmed as to the necessity this—“Why is it not possible ?” The of complying with the prayer of these impossibility was a point which the other petitions, not merely by the arguments of side took at once for granted, whereas his those who spoke in favour of his hon. opinion was that the very reverse of the friend's Motion, but also by the arguments conclusion at which they arrived respectof those who spoke against it. He could ing the impossibility of maintaining high not concur with his noble friend, the Mein- prices was the correct conclusion. It was ber for Northamptonshire, that it was any with this country a question of high and reason for not granting this committee to of low prices. If high prices could be the prayers of the people of England, that maintained, the country would be relievthe vote of the House of Commons in ed; and it therefore ought to be clearly favour of such a proposition might be con- shown that high prices could not be had, strued into a vote of censure against the and if had, could not be maintained, beCabinet. Ile did not think that there was fore a negative was given to the Motion any reason in the other notion of his for the appointment of this committee. noble friend, that if such a committee He was as much surprised as the gallant were granted, it would end in being a Member for Liverpool at the avowal of his delusion on the public. If there were any hon. friend the Member for Suffolk. That truth in that argument, then all the func- hon. Member had in the year 1822, brought tions of that House must in future be con- forward a motion exactly similar to the sidered as a mere delusion upon the pub- Motion which he was now opposing. He lic. As to the distress of the country, it had then said that the curses of the peoappeared to be at length admitted in some ple onght to fall on the head of every man degree by the Ministers, but still it was who refused to consider the remedies for their distresses. If that were true in 1822, | ever satisfactory the reasons for coming to it was still more true in the present year,-- such a vote might appear in that House, if the curses of the people ouglit to have they would be deemed most unsatisfactory fallen heavily at that tiine on the heads of out of it, and he therefore trusted that those who were then callous to their suffer- hon. Gentlemen would pause before they ings, they ought to fall on such persons came to such a degrading resolution. The still more heavily now; for the distress right hon. Secretary, in the course of his which prevailed now was far more general speech, had advocated a variety of than the distress which prevailed then. In mistaken principles and fallacious doc1822 there was only agricultural distress. trines. He had said that he had a chart At that time the agriculturists fancied before him. It was certain that the right that their distress could be relieved though hon. Gentleman had a sea of distress the distress of the other classes of the before him. Whether be had a chart of community remained unmitigated. Since it he could not say, but sure he was that that time agriculturists, manufacturers, 'the right hon. Gentleman was without a merchants, ship-owners, in short, all classes meridian live to direct his course. He had found out that they were all embarked was like a ship in a stormy ocean without in one bottom, and that they must sink or rudder and without compass, driving about swim together. It was therefore worth with every wind, and yet endeavouring inquiring whether there was any thing in with every shattered remnant of sail to the argument, whether it was or was not keep out in that sea' of trouble into possible to return to and maintain high which he ought never to have launched. prices ; for if that inquiry should lead to That was in itself an alarming state of a result opposite to that which had been things, and rendered still more so by the so readily taken for granted by bis hon. conduct of another Minister in another and gallant friend, the Member for Wind- place. When he heard that Minister sor, then, without any other proceeding, the stating, and showing by his statement, distress of the country might be relieved. such a total unacquaintance with a subject In the year 1822 bis hon. friend, the of such vital importance to the country, Member for Suffolk, had obtained relief that our currency and circulation were as for the class whose interests he represent- great now as they ever were, at the same ed; but how? by an issue of 11. notes. – time that he supposed them not to amount It might therefore be worth inquir- to more than 28,000,0001.--when he licard ing how far a similar expedient might that Minister moving for documents to produce a similar result at the present prove that with a circulation of 28,000,0001. moment. The right hon. Secretary for there was now a larger circulation than the Home Department had made a very that which we bad when we forced so large long, but not a very conclusive, speech upon an issue of paper that not a single piece this subject. He by no means answered of gold could circulate with it,—when be the constitutional speech of the hon. heard absurdities so palpable on their very Member, as he had almost called him, for enunciation gravely submitted to, and adBirmingham, but “by that all hail, here- mitted as correct, by the other branch of after.” The right hon. Secretary had dealt the Legislature, he thought that it became in a multifarious mass of details, and en- the House -indeed, that it was high time veloping himself in their obscurity escaped for the House--to step between the counfrom the great constitutional points with try and a Minister who entertained such which the hon. Member for Callington had erroneous and such mischievous notions. so hardly beset him. The hon. Member The right hon. Secretary for the Home for Callington had proved, beyond all Department said, that he had read a rumcontradiction, that if the House should, ber of able writers on this subject, who, by its vote of that night, determine to if a committee were granted, must all be abandon this inquiry, it would be guilty examined before it. Gentlemen might of an abandonment of its most important perhaps read too much; and he recollected functions it would sink to the level of an that old Hobbes, when asked, after spendassembly formed for no other purpose than ing an evening with several learned men, to register the edicts of the Ministry—it what he thought of them? replied, “If would become powerful for that purpose I had read as much as they have I should only, but would be impotent to relieve or be as great a fool as any of thein.” If remedy the distresses of the people. How Mr, Tooke, for instance, were selected as a gnide, he maintained that money prices might be applied to the country. It was did not depend upon money, and he had therefore a fallacy in the right hon Gencollected a vast number of facts from which tleman's argument, that the system had it was not only impossible to arrive at any been going on for eleven years. He denied conclusion, but to establish any principle. that it had been settled for eleven months. He would recommend to hon. Gentlemen to In spite of this metallic currency—this read one short essay of David Hume on god of idolatry-this golden idol, which the subject, and they would obtain clearer the nation was ready to worship, as besotted ideas respecting it than if they had the as the Israelites who set up their calf in meridian line of the right hon. Gentleman Horeb, the public prosperity was below to direct their course, and to guide them the standard of 1812, 1813, and 1814. through the difficulties of the Question. Even during the profligate expenditure of The right hon.Gentleman said, that money the war, and profligate as were the minishad nothing to do with this Question; that ters of that day, and confiding as was the there was distress in 1810 and in 1816, House of Commons then, the country was whereas the measure which was referred in a more flourishing state than now. The to as the cause of the present distress took measure of 1797 was one which, in the place in 1819. But it was an error to then state of things, had saved the country. deduce general conclusions from particular Every thing settled itself to that state; and facts. He had conversed that morning the industry and enterprise of the country with two intelligent persons from Birming- were so great, that they produced more ham, Messrs. Hadley and Spooner, both than sufficed for the expenditure of the practically connected with these periods, war; and at the end of it, to the utter upon this very point; and they remarked astonishment of those who had opposed that the cause of the distress in 1810 was, the war, the country, so far from deteriorthat the Bank had pushed its issues too ating, never was in a state of greater far, and suddenly contracted them, and to prosperity, fictitious prosperity as it was save itself ruined the bankers. Again, in called, than in the last year of that pro1816, before the birth of the adopted child tracted war. He was no friend to taxof the right hon. Gentleman, its coming ation--on the contrary, he thought needexistence was foreseen and foretasted by less taxation only extortion ; but it was a the country ; in 1815 it was known that mere farce to pretend that taxation was there would be a return to cash payments. the cause of the evils now endured. At The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Peel) had that time the taxation had reached a spoken of the nation as of a patient sub- greater height than at present, and though jected to a system of doctoring; and, he did not mean to say that it did not speaking of the proposed committee, that press with weight upon the strength of he was more afraid of the doctor than of the every individual, so as to retard the addisease; but mutato nomine, the remark vance of the country to prosperity, it was applied to the right hon. Gentleman him- idle to say, comparing taxation then with self--lie was the doctor who had crammed taxation now, that this was the sole cause down the throat of the country that empi- of our disability. According to the right rical remedy, his fatal bill of 1819, and hon. Gentleman, a continuance of peace who had only one nostrum for all diseases, was the calamity--nunc patimur longe and that was, gold. Subsequently to that pacis mala ; but let the House go into a measure, there was a motion for a com- committee, and he would find men well mittee, by the hon. Member for Suffolk, versed in the affairs of business and trade which was obtained, and a partial relief to tell a very different story. He would was procured for the existing distress by produce two witnesses from Birmingham the issue of 11. notes. This was after the who, notwithstanding all that the right experiment had been only a short time hon. Gentleman had said about gigs and tried. So that this was no new or theo- railways, would contradict him on the retical complaint--there was experience flourishing state of that town, and would as well as reason against the bill; but fully confirm all that had been advanced after the system had been altered and by a noble Duke in another place. The altered, it was now said, “ we will never right hon. Gentleman might say,

"returnalter again.” After the first, second, ing were as tedious as to go o'er;" but he third, and he believed a fourth change, evinced a non-acquaintance with the great this experiment, this experimentum crucis, concerns and interests of the country, and

what would promote them, and he was con- to pay 1001. The right hon. Gentleman vinced that if a committee of inquiry were asked whether, after so long a period of to look into all the parts of the flattering war, we could expect to keep up our high picture which the right hon. Gentleman prices? lle clearly, therefore, by implicahad drawn, it would be found false and tion, supposed high prices necessary to hollow. He did not mean to say that the prosperity of the country. As to what the country might not still go on; it might the right hon. Gentleman had said rego on till it reached destruction; he would specting the improvement which had taken say as Lord Chatham said, in the American place in one corner or another of the war, looking at a list of generals, “ I do country, he could assure him there was no not know whether it will affect the enemy, such improvement. He then said, that the but it makes me tremble.” It was said distress had been caused, not by transition, that we ought to be grateful to Ministers but by the different state of war and for the relief they had afforded ; but gra- peace. War was often adduced as a reason titude was not a word to be used towards for what it had nothing whatever to do Ministers, especially when they had done with. It was a deceptive argument to say no more than their duty, and which they that war did this, and prevented that. Let were well rewarded for doing. He for the right hon. Gentleman show how these one could not consent to compliment monstrous results could have been proaway the national prosperity lest the vote duced by war. The right hon. Gentleman should imply a censure on Ministers. This had expressed great sympathy for the was a question in which the public in- poorer classes, great sympathy for the terests were at issue: when the salus populi manufacturing classes, and for all but the authorised the Commons to interfere for landed interest, which (and to this he the suprema lex, it involved the prosperity begged the attention of the House) the of all classes in the country, who were right hon. Gentleman said should remain in suffering from distress, all except place- its present depressed condition. [Here Mr. men, pensioners, and public annuitants. Peel expressed his dissent.] He (Sir F. If the House meant to stifle inquiry, they Burdeti) had understood so.

The right would be sacrificing the landed interest, hon. Gentleman had stated, that we were the shipping interest, and the commercial not to have high prices, that we must have interest, to the public creditor, to placemen low prices; and what was that but to say and pensioners. He (Sir F. Burdett) was that the landed interest must remain for sacrificing much, and thought that depressed. When so many persons were ample justice should be done to all; but ready to come forward and state that the the House should not be so fooled by words landed interest was of no importance at as to submit to be called cheats and rob- all, he should be inclined to make a fight bers merely because they would have of it upon that point: he was happy to debts paid in the money in which they believe that no interest could nourish were contracted. He (Sir F. Burdett) unless the landed interest flourished, and bad the highest authority, that of Lord he trusted that the landed interest would Eldon, whose opinion on matters of equity lay this point to heart. This was the and law he apprehended was indisputable, time for landed gentlemen to put to themthat there was no dishonesty in paying selves the question asked by the Poetdebts in the same money in which they “Shall we, like exiles, still be doomed to mourn, were contraeted. It appeared from a little And ne'er, with length of rolling years, return? pamphlet signed “Merchantman,” that the

Shall we, compell’d by fate's unjust decree,

No more our homes and pleasant vallies see? debt contracted since 1793 amounted to

Or shall we mount again our rural throne, 765,537,0001. for which we had received And rule the rural kingdom once our own ?" only 509,456,0001., or 661. per cent, and, He would call upon the landed interest if the depreciation of the currency, esti- not to give up their superiority. Genmated at sixteen per cent, were taken into tleinen of landed property were the account, we had not received more than natural defenders of the people of Eng-571. per cent, for which we were now land; and it was because such a class

called upon to pay 1001. They did not existed here, and in no other country, that want reasonings, then; here were facts. ve had been able to maintain our high We had received only 571. and he did character in war and in peace, and to not comprehend the justice of the right resist with success the combined efforts of hon, Secretary compelling us by his bill | the civilized world. If the landed interest were to be sacrificed, he should be glad to from facility of communication, would be hear how the right hon. Gentleman pro- of more value to England, than with all posed to maintain the manufacturing in the rest of Europe. High prices might terest? How was the shipping interest thus be maintained in peace as well as in to be preserved, and how were our mer- war, and to restore high prices would be chants to be continued in their “ pride of to relieve the country from all its diffiplace ?" Though last not least, he would culties. It was stated by some that ask, what would then become the condition Ministers had excellent dispositions to of the labouring people? In the ad afford relief—that they had taken off the herence to this pernicious system, he saw Leather Tax, the Cider Tax, and, lastly, nothing but the reduction of Great Britain the tax upon Beer, the effect of wbich to a low grade in the scale of nations, would be, that in about seven months' incapable of looking in the face her ene-time porter would be reduced one penny mies abroad, and of maintaining freedom per pot. But what relief would this afford and prosperity at home. This condition to the tradesman, to the manufacturer, of degradation might yet be avoided by and to the gentlemen of England ? What the abandonment of that experiment which sort of mockery was this. It would not had already produced such monstrous impose even upon the most ignorant out mischiefs. Among other points the right of doors, and yet it was proposed as an hon. Gentleman had urged, that it had not adequate remedy for the distresses of the been shown that high prices were pre- whole community. No hon. Member had served in time of peace; and for a very yet remarked that there were two distinct good reason—but for the right hon. Gen- causes of distress in this country: the ileman's bill of 1819, high prices during distress alone kept in view by those who peace might have been maintained. Aye, bad spoken was that of the labouring said the right hon. Gentleman, but then classes, who suffered the uttermost distress, you would not have had gold. True, but nakedness and hunger, and shame it was of what benefit was gold? It was at this to any nation that did not prevent itmoment the greatest evil of the nation. and shame to any government that reMinisters,like Midas, had turned everything fused to inquire. This species of distress they touched to gold, and the consequence might exist when all other classes were was starvation. Great Britain had nothing prosperous; it might arise from overuseful because she would have everything population, to answer that by saying that gold. Who was the Midas he would not there were many lands still out of cultivasay, for aures asininas Midas non habet. tion was nothing to the purpose. The Next the right hon. Gentleman had in- question was, whether labour received its quired whether, for the sake of a paper adequate reward ; and whenever it did currency, it was wished that every barber not obtain a remunerating price, the nation who could put up a board should start as was over-populous.

The distress was a banker? Certainly not, any more than very severely felt by the landowners and it was fit that every coppersmith should all connected with them. The produce of become a coiner. Neither paper nor gold an acre, which formerly sold for 91., would should be debased, and there was no now only fetch 61. The consequences of necessary connection between the use and their distress reached the manufacturer, abuse of anything. But it was said, if who could not avoid being distressed when our high prices are kept up we can have the landed interest were in difficulties. no foreign trade. He (Sir F. Burdett) con- The merchant suffered from the distress tended, that foreign trade had nothing to do of the manufacturer; and, in fact, the with the question. Commerce, truly con- distress of the country was felt in all sidered, was an exchange between differ- classes of its inhabitants. Under these ent nations of equivalents; but how little circumstances he thought inquiry ought to was this considered when, instead of ob- be granted; and he did not anticipate, as taining good wine from France at a cheap some hon. Members did, that that inquiry rate, we took bad wine from Portugal at a would produce a monstrous mass of evidear rate? To adopt free trade in the dence, that would, by its bulk and the true sense of the words, would be to ren- variety of subjects with which it was conder unnecessary all the complicated and nected, prevent them from coming to any expensive machinery for the prevention of definite conclusion upon it. He implored smuggling; trade with civilized France, the House of Commons to believe that it

« AnteriorContinuar »