Category Archives: Personalities

Key participants in assisted emigration and history of Upper Canada.

Thomas Talbot and Lord Wharncliffe

Source: W.H.G. Armytage, “Thomas Talbot and Lord Wharncliffe: Some New Letters Hitherto Unpublished” in Ontario History, volume XLV (1953), pp. 177-197.

The greatest single coloniser in the history of Canada, Thomas Talbot (1771-1853) presents a challenging enigma to the historian. For nearly fifty years he infused life into one of the most beautiful and fertile tracts of land in the dominion, founding twenty-eight townships, and ruling them with an eccentric despotism from a spartan log-cabin on a high cliff overlooking Lake Erie. From these he sustained a vigorous correspond­ence with all who might promote his plans; and fought with the imaginative tenacity of his Irish nature to preserve the individuality of the settle­ments he had so laboriously created. Since E. D. Ermatinger’s biography, published six years after Talbot’s death,1 his personal papers remained unpublished till 1907 and 1909, when J. H. Coyne gave them to the world, together with a valuable study of Talbot’s character, through the pages of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada.2 In 1939, Professor Norman Macdonald threw further light on Talbot’s benevolent despotism from the Public Archives of Canada.3 To these three major sources of Talbot material can now be added a small contribution from one of Tal­bot’s closest personal friends, discovered in the Wharncliffe Papers in the Central Reference Library, Sheffield.4

James Archibald Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie was five years younger than Thomas Talbot. Great grandson of the famous Lady Mary Wortley Montague (whose letters he edited), grandson of King George III’s favourite the third Earl of Bute (who gave Dr. Johnson a pension of £300 a year), he first came to Canada as a fifteen year old ensign in the 48th Regiment of Foot, exchanging into the 7th Royal Fusiliers when H.R.H. the Duke of Kent came out. Thomas Talbot was at the same time a lieutenant in the 24th Foot, in garrison at Quebec; and between the two young officers a firm friendship was forged which lasted for the next fifty years. Friendship was one of Talbot’s strongest affections: for it earned him the position of aide to Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe for the term of six years. Stuart-Wortley stayed for three years in Canada, and after becoming colonel of the 12th Foot, left the army in 1801. Talbot left the army at the same time. But whereas Stuart-Wortley had also become a Tory M.P. for the family borough of Bossiney in Cornwall in the meantime, and resolved to adopt a political career in England, Talbot returned to Canada to take possession of a settlement which he proposed to establish around Port Talbot on the northern shores of Lake Erie.

Talbot arrived at Port Talbot on 21 May 1802, and his first letter to James Stuart-Wortley was written two and a half years later. Others might have been sent before, but they have not survived among the papers.

Port Talbot

10 Dec. 1805

My dear James,

Considering where and how I am placed it must be admitted by all impartial judges that I have great merit for writing twice to your once; what on earth are you about? I suppose investigating some of the rascally peculations that I find by the papers that your Parliament folks have been practising.5 Well, but you might have stolen a moment to tell me how you liked my séjour, the fact is that you are growing so bad in England that had I but the power of drawing your house and a very few of my other friends to this country, I never would feel the least inclina­tion to cross the Atlantic. I frequently flatter myself in my solitary rambles through my Forests that the downfall of Great Britain will some day throw you within reach of this place, for as far as life can be peace­able I enjoy it, and the more I labour the more I become attached to the spot I have chosen for my retreat.

I have nearly got over the difficulties which attend the commence­ment of an establishment upon so extensive a scale as I have undertaken. It has been subject to much heavier charges than I had looked for owing to its remote situation from other settlements. The articles of living have hitherto demanded large payments not so much in my own housekeeping as what compassion urged me to in granting supplies to my Settlers who came on poor and had not the means without my assistance of furnishing their provisions. This present year will thank God nearly put an end to such expence for the future, as I have this Autumn sown 43 acres in wheat which will no doubt next harvest yield 1200 Bush. and by that time my mill will be in a state for grinding. Those 1200 Bushls. at the present market price of wheat would sell for 270£ exclusive of my Spring crop of Indian Corn, Barley, Potatoes etc. so that without being too sanguine I calculate my next Summer produce at good 400£ and am satis­fied that should my improvements increase for a couple of years more in the same proportion that they have already done that my income will amount to £1000 a considerable share of which I may lay by, as my Farm will furnish every necessity excepting Wines and Groceries and the former I am not without my expectation of making at home as the soil and climate appear most genial to the Vine, but to enjoy all these blessings, a person must divert himself of the Society of the Great World and feel the inward gratification that I do of being the founder of this little Empire. My sub­jects this day amount to about 100 souls.

My brother James6 has written to me in a most serious manner ex­pressive of his intention to pay me a visit and desiring a route and my opinion as to the practicability of the attempt. I have replied, that not knowing his Wife, I could not hazard an opinion but that if she was a person that could muster up sufficient nerve to encounter a few of les grands aventures, I foresaw no difficulty. Their society for a year might add much to my satisfaction.

I must give you the routine of my agricultural system beginning with the present season. I am now clearing 40 acres to be ready for the Spring Crop about the 1st of May I will plant the most part of it with Indian Corn and some acres of Potatoes and sow the remainder with Barley, the two first are done without any ploughing or harrowing simply a hand hoe which you perform twice more during the Summer to destroy the weeds for the Barley, the new land is twice gone over with the harrow before and as often after sowing the grain, it not being necessary to use a plough for three or four years upon new land. Its the same process for Wheat—about the middle of September when the Indian Corn and Potatoes are taken off the ground (the Barley having been mown in July) I har­row over the entire 40 acres and sow it with wheat so that I have nearly two crops off in the space of the year. My land yields about 40 Bush, of Indian Corn to the acre and from 25 to 30 Bush, of Wheat. The Indian Corn bears the same price as wheat this year, viz: one Dolr per Bushl. and the clearing and fencing costs me about 4 to 10£ per acre so that you can perceive that farming may be followed to some profit in this country. My mills when completed will stand me in somewhere near £1,200 sterl which is a large sum considering my capital, but there was not any doing without such a convenience. I had near 60 miles of water carriage in open boats to the nighest mills subject to more risk and expence than I could purchase flour for, besides if I had not provided mills settlers would not have come on my land, about 40 industrious Farmers at a moderate calculation would give me a dole worth £225 per annum but I must wait some years in patience for that good fortune.

Now Master James the only method you have [of] obtaining my pardon for not writing is to be sending me 20 lbs of white Dutch Clover Seed. Take care that it is fresh and good. It must be packed in a tin case to preserve it from wet and then in a wooden case and forwarded by the earliest Spring vessel from London to Thos. Talbot Esquire Port Talbot care of Messers Logan and Watt, Merchants, Montreal, Canada.

I want sadly to hear how my friend John grows up. Charles will be a thorough lion and the young Lady is no doubt a Lamb. I don’t know that I ever wrote so long a letter before so God preserve you and give my kindest regards to Lady Caroline and I hope you don’t neglect assuring Lady Erne how much I esteem her—if you are near Corbett when this is received, remember me to him, if in Town to your Father and Mother.7

I am and hope will remain always, most faithfully and affectionately yours, Thomas Talbot.

Thirteen years elapsed during which no correspondence has survived:[7] years in which Stuart-Wortley began to make a name for himself in the House of Commons, arguing for a relaxation of the Com Laws, the Game Laws, and the free importation of wool. Talbot had also been making a name, though not so desirable a one, by his acquisition of 150 acres for every settler that entered his colony. The Executive Council grew restive, and desired him to grant 50 acres per settler out of his own original land- grant, instead of deducting it from the 200 acre grant which he himself received from the Government for each settler. So Talbot came to Eng­land to see Lord Bathurst, Secretary for the Colonies, and wrote to Stuart- Wortley :

Limmers Hotel, Conduit Street 18 Jany. 1818

Mv dear Wortley,

You no doubt will be a little surprised at finding that I have found my way back to the land of the living if such we are to call England. I have been three days in Town, from Penzance, where I landed after a passage of 28 days from New York: The next thing is to acquaint you with the cause of my visiting Europe—a difficulty in my land affairs pro­duced by a mischievous and designing disposition in the executive council of Upper Canada. I am therefore here for the purpose of making an appeal to Lord Bathurst.’ as yet I have not called on his Lordship.

Believe me, my dear friend, that I most ardently long to hear from you, informing me of the state of a family for whose happiness I ever feel most sincerely interested. I write in total ignorance not having seen an individual who could give me any information on your subject—pray let me hear from you by return of Post and say all that is affectionate for me to those around you that I am known to. I shall make every exertion to arrange my business before the end of next month as I am most anxious to return to my own dear country the beginning of March and I promise myself the pleasure of meeting you in London before I leave it—I am my dear Wortley

Most faithfully yrs

Thomas Talbot.

Between Talbot’s return and his next visit to England, momentous developments took place at Port Talbot. Hungry landhunters, hopeful emi­grants, pioneers: all the flotsam that a great migration of peoples carries along, poured into his settlement. His famous road, along which settlers received grants, served as an artery along which this new’ blood could pass and animate the countryside. Four miles north of Lake Erie, what was once an Indian trail, now, under the hatchets and shovels of European pioneers, became a life duct running parallel with Lake Erie. The townships of Aldboro and Dunwich were settled along the lines of his original plan, with 240 settlers on 50 acre homesteads. This meant that, for his services, Talbot obtained a grant of 48,000 acres for so doing, and in fact received 12,000 acres more than that because the number of settlers increased.

Talbot was in truth a busy and singleminded man. Professor Mac­Donald has well described his technique of operating:

“ .. . with the settlers he acted the part of a benevolent despot. Nairn could obtain land without applying to him, and the conditions and price were uniform and absolute. He admitted no applicant into bis house, but when he felt disposed to listen to him, he opened a szoaZ compartment of his window* which he closed and secured the HMjnuatt he had delivered his reply. If the application was granted, the najne was inscribed in pencil on a plan and upon the identical lot chosen by the applicant. Should the settler desert his lot or attempt to sell it or neglect to perform the settlement duties, Talbot took a p!*eoe india-rubber wMch was attached to his pencil, and as he very jjostty expressed it. “rules Mm out”’, from which moment the man oeiaw as madh “”a nonentity as the Same of a candle which had been bfewtis ©nit”‘ Hans by the pencil snd india-rubber Talbot governed in «*?&*- tude—fcy the csae be rewarded zzxI attracted, by the other he and repelled the setHere. aisd as he was judge, jury and of his owe law, Ms power was unquestioned.

To preserve this authority against the encroachment of the exstuifrfe. Talbot constantly straggled with Sir Peregrine Maitland. governor of Upper Canada from ISIS to 1S28. Maitland too, \vjva an oM soldier, and the tension between the two is revealed in the following letter written after Talbot’s next visit to England:

Port Talbot 12 July 1822

My dear James,

I am again safe in my old Log House on the top of my own high Hill, after a very tedious passage from England and journey from New York, occasioned by the quantity of baggage and the three great Dogs that 1 brought, which forced me to travel slow in a common farm waggon the most part of the way. I wrote a short letter from New York, which I trust you received, informing you that I had escaped the dangers of the Sea, but at that time I did not know of the dreadful shipwrecks that had happened so immediately after my sailing, which possibly might have occasioned some alarming feelings amongst my friends.

I reached York(e) in this Province the 13th of last month, where Sir Peregrine Maitland receivd me rather coldly and after reading Ld. Bat hursts Dispatch shewed much displeasure at the contents and said he should answer it by the first opportunity and that probably it would be 3 or 4 months before he would be able to act in my business—the fact iSs that he is much annoyed at my not having presented a letter of in- ltv<ducUe.n which he had written at my request to Ld. Bathurst at the tm*? of my grnng for England last Autumn. I then returned his letter, ofcs&rving that I had met with so kind a reception from Lord Bathurst that I eoasidfctevi it best not to make use of any letter of recommendation- I   another strong reason, but which I did not communicate,

that even cootk^tially  consulted upon the state of the Province

and rapjfc&tect to suggest whatever might occur- to me. as likely to promote its interests- -i conceived that his views and mine might not agree and that had 1 recommendied measures- hostile to his plans, be might have said that I had made use ox Ids introduction to forward my own schemes.

I lost no time in writing explanatory on the subject to WiImott,n in order that he should be prepared for Maitland’s statement, and I hope that my letter may have the good fortune to reach him in time—it is really most vexatious after the assurances that Wilmott gave me that I would not meet with any difficulty in this Province to find myself placed in the situation I am thro’ the caprice of such a little genious as you and myself recollect Maitland to have been. However, under my disappoint­ments, my spirits have been a little invigorated, by the receipt of a letter from a friend at Montreal two days ago, who mentions having heard from an official source, tho’ given in a secret, that Sir Peregrine was to be re­moved to another situation, and that your humble servant was to be elevated to the Government Chair of this Province—I give but little credit to such report, but confess I would like it much, as it would afford a comfortable provision and enable me to render essential benefit to a part of the world that has taken up so many years of my life in endeavouring to serve—By the way, I was not in time for the Talbot Anniversary, but understand that the day was celebrated with much zeal. I have cut out of a paper an account of the Fete which I enclose for your and all my friends entertainment.

I long to get a letter from you and anticipate the pleasure of hearing that yourself, Lady Caroline and every individual of the family have en­joyed themselves and that you have every prospect of a continuance of such blessing as believe me my dear James there is not any person who feels a more affectionate solicitude in every circumstance connected with your happiness than I do, therefore do not neglect writing to me as frequently as your time will allow, and the most expeditious mode of forwarding your letters will be to enclose them to Cropper Benson and Co. at Liverpool requesting them to forward them by the first vessel belonging to the Line of Packets to New York which sail (I think, three times each month)—and direct to Col. Talbot, Niagara, State of New York—don’t add Canada, as it occasions great delay by its being sent to Halifax and Quebec—I found my Settlement looking very well as also Port Talbot where the crops are excellent. The Church at St. Thomas is in a forward state and I have begun to make arrangements for building another at Port Talbot—This letter in all probability will not reach Eng­land before the end of August, when it will be hoped you will be a steady country squire at Wortley, however I will address it to Curzon St.

hope that John has taken a trip to amuse himself as he did not appear partial to London, let me know all about him—and assure Missy’1 that I only wait the arrival of Brant from England to get Lady Caroline and her Mockasines made—dont forget to say, what success you have had in your racing way—you must know that I am not so satisfied with my retirement in this Country as formerly and that I frequently wish that I was amongst you—I think that by this you allow that I have said enough for this time, but I must add my most affectionate regards to Lady Caroline, Missy, John, Charles, and James—and when you see Lady Erne and the Dundas’s[8] the same—now God bless you my dear James

Always most sincerely yrs Thomas Talbot.

Three months later, Talbot was writing again:

Port Talbot N.C. October 24th. 1822.

My dear James,

Your truly affectionate letter of the 3rd July, reached me about three weeks ago and I can most devoutly declare, that the reading of it has afforded me the only comfort I have experienced since my return to

Canada. Such a delightful account as you gave of yourself, My dear Lady Caroline, Missy, John, Charles and James, has gratified me more than I can express, and the only drawback, was in hearing that Mrs. Dundas’s health was not so good, as all who know her excellencies must wish her to enjoy, however I must accuse you of one piece of neglect, which is, your not having mentioned a person I most sincerely love, Lady Erne.

This letter will probably get to England before X    ss, the very

thoughts of which makes me melancholy, recalling to my recollection the enjoyable time I spent at Wortley, so widely different to my present solitary situation, but I must not infect you or any of my friends with my gloomy feelings—so God bless every one of you.

I wrote to you soon after I arrived at Port Talbot informing you how greatly disappointed and mortified I felt in consequence of the unkind and illiberal reception I met with from Sir Peregrine Maitland, having left London in high spirits and not in the slightest degree suspecting that any unfavourable consequences would occur, Wilmot having assured me that Lord Bathurst’s Dispatch, of which I was the bearer, contained the strongest recommendations to the Lieut. Govr. that all the relief that I had solicited should be granted, instead of which Maitland has not com­plied in any one instance, but on the contrary has answered the Dispatch representing (as I am persuaded) that I had not any just claim to the indulgence I had memorialed for. The truth is, that he is jealous and annoyed at my having acquired so much credit for the improvement of so extensive a portion of the Province, and to hear from every person who visits the Talbot Country, that it infinitely surpasses any of the settlements formed under the auspices of the Colonial Governt. In addi­tion to these vexations, I have to relate a circumstance that I am sure will cause your friendly heart to sympathise with me. On leaving Eng­land, all the money I possessed in the world, amounting to between

& 1200£ which was placed in the hands of Inglis and Co. of Mark Lane, considered one of the safest and most respectable houses in London. Mr. Inglis advised me not to take the money out to America, as I would gain probably 12 pr. cent on the amount by drawing Bills of Exchange at New York and that he would allow me interest until my drafts became pay­able. I followed his recommendation and at New York, drew upon him for the whole sum and sold my Bills at a premium of 8y2 P**. ct. By the last post, the day before yesterday, I received a letter from the Merchant at New York who had purchased my Bills, stating that an account had just been received, that the house of Inglis and Co. had failed on the 7th of Augt. and that the senior partner had shot himself on the 6th of that month, so that I have lost all.[9] Under such a painful embarrassment

and deplorable state of my affairs, it has occured to me, provided that it would not in any manner interfere with your own family’s interest, that you should have the kindness to call on Lord Bathurst, and describe to him my situation, as possibly he may feel disposed to assist me in some shape or other, and what appears to me not to be unreasonable, is, that Lord B. might forward instructions, not a recommendation, to the Lieut. Govr. of this Province requiring of him to send a message to the Legisla­ture, expressing a desire that it might make some provision by pension as a reward for the services I had rendered to the Province in devoting 20 years of my life in settling such an extent of it. And I have not any hesitation in saying that I have more essentially contributed to the advancement of the Colony than all the Gentlemen collectively that have governed Upper Canada since it has become a province. I would be per­fectly satisfied with £800 or even £500 pr. ann.—Perhaps Lord Bathurst may remark that I have been compensated by a grant of a large quantity of Land, which I allow I have received, but such grant was not in any respect connected with the Settlements I have formed on the Crown Lands.—An arrangement having been entered into in the year 1803, be­tween His Majesty’s Govemt. and myself, that a certain Tract of Land should be appropriated to me, upon the condition, of my placing Settlers upon it, and that I was to make a Deed of 50 acres in perpetuity to each Settler and receive from the Crown a grant of 150 acres to myself for each of them, which condition I have faithfully performed. Besides Land is of mere nominal value, there not being any purchasers in the Country, and were I to offer all the land I own for sale, I could not realise £3,000 for it, and am in debt to that amount. If you see fit, you can consult with Wilmot, who I think is friendly disposed towards me—however I submit myself entirely to your better judgment and therefore will not dwell further on this unpleasant subject—the next shall be more gay.

I was much pleased with your matrimonial accounts and really re­joice that Miss Greville has made such a famous alliance as I admire her exceedingly as a very superior person, pray when you see Lady Charlotte congratulate her for- me on the event. I also wish Lord Howard every success and happiness in his speculations, all of which, creates in me, a lively interest in my friend John’s future destiny.

I fear that Missy is quite out of all patience for the Mockasines, the truth is, that in consequence of Brant’s not having returned till about a month ago, I waited for him as I knew that his sister would make prittier [ sic ] ones than any other Squaw that I could employ. I have had a note from Brant saying that he will visit me in a few days, when I will make the needful arrangements. I am looking anxiously for every post, hoping for a letter from you. You are quite correct in your suspicions as to my enjoying the civilised society around Port Talbot. Not one of my trees grew, and the Spanish Dog is dead. The Lady has produced 3 but un­fortunately they are the consequence of an illicit amour carried on with

a Dandy Lurcher during the voyage. I pitied you all for being kept so long in London, but I hope that you will have had good weather since you have been in the Country, what would I not give to dine with you to­day—everything that is affectte. for me to Lady Caroline, Missy, John Charles & James besides Lady Erne and the Dundas’s and all other that care about old

Tanaguerierque

Stuart Wortley, to judge by his note on the coversheet of the above letter, replied to Thomas Talbot on the 9 January 1823, to which Talbot responded:

Port Talbot 13th June 1823

My dear James,

No doubt but that you will have given me up, for dead, long before this reaches you. The truth is, that I put off writing to you three suc­cessive times since my letter of the 24th October. 1st. I waited to hear from you upon the critical situation I found myself placed at that date 2ndly after the receipt of yours of the 9th Jany., wherein you promised to let me know the result of your conference at the Colonial Office on your getting to Town. I was anxious for that information before I wrote; and in consequence of the exceedingly long passages of vessels from Eng­land during the Winter, that of the 9th Jany. found its way to me only a month ago, and that of the 4th March the week following. I will not attempt to express my feelings for your kind exertions as I am satisfied that you will give me credit for those that ought to exist. My third put off, was to ascertain (agreably to Wilmot’s hint) how I stood with the House of Assembly, accordingly I wrote to a particular friend, one of the leading Members, confidentially stating your communication, and it was but the last post that I got his answer, which I enclose to you, conceiving it may give you a better idea of the matter than I could myself, perhaps you may think it advisable to send it to Mr. Wilmot. I fancy it conveys a favourable prospect. I don’t intend adopting Mr. Hagermans suggestion of writing to Maitland or his Secretary, as it would not be attended with any good whatever, for he is of so cold and unforgiving a nature, that I am fully persuaded he would be more disposed to counteract than for­ward a measure for my relief, but if you and Mr. Wilmot could in­duce Lord Bathurst to instruct Sir Peregrine to propose to the House of Assembly next Session (which will probably be in January) that some provision in the way of a pension should be made for me, I am of opinion it would be granted 800£ if you can or at the least 500£, so much for that business. Next I have the pleasure to tell you, that I am not likely to suffer by the House of Inglis and Co. as I have had lately a notice from Montreal that my money was disposed of in such a way as not to be subject to the failure, which has cheered me not a little.

How delightful are all your accounts of every one of my dear friends belonging to your family. I can’t describe the pleasure I would feel from

seeing you all again, but Missy I fear will be so grown, before I can pay my way to England, that she will cut the Knight of St. Thomas, there­fore pray put her on her guard. I sincerely lament the melancholy state you describe Mr. Ellis to be in, as I have a high esteem and respect for him. I need not apprize you that I passed a devilish Winter besides it has been the most severe that I have known in U.C. and the Spring the most backward and cold. I went for a month to York, our Metropolis. Maitland and myself corresponded with the frigidness of the Season, but I was received in as friendly a manner as possible by Lady Sarah, who is a dear good person and I pity her from my heart in having so frozen a helpmate. I am now busy ploughing and getting in my Spring crops and superin­tending my flock (settlers) by the way, there was a most gay anniversary on the 21st May and “the Old Colonel” kicked his heels from 8 in the evening to 8 in the morng. so that you may appreciate his merits. I must declare to you, that you are beyond dispute the most interesting and satisfactory correspondent I ever had and you have got into the way of forwarding your letters by Liverpool which ensures the quickest and safest route, as for instance, I received a letter from Wilmot two days ago by the Kings Packet via Famouth of the 11th of Feby. transmitting his plan of emigration to U.C. which I like exceedingly and trust it may be carried thro’ Parliament, but I am so much vexed with the Bourbons for disturbing the world with their hazardous game, that I would not be sorry if they were all driven to Russia. Now for all my loves to Lady Caroline, Missy, Lady Erne, John Charles and James and to poor Corbett if you are near him as well as the Dundas’s. Write to me as soon as you can, and believe me, my dear James most affectly yrs.

Thomas Talbot.

Robert John Wilmot, some thirteen years younger than Talbot, was at this time the undersecretary for war and the colonies: a post he had held for the previous two years and was to hold for five years more. In this very year he took the surname of Horton, under which he was to become famous as a colonial reformer and apostle of emigration, and as such, was to become chairman of the Parliamentary Emigration Com­mittees of 1826 and 1827. His main concern was to ‘shovel out the paupers’ so embarrassingly multiplied as a result of the Speenhamland system.

Stuart Wortley, now M.P. for Yorkshire, was a person of consequence in the House of Commons, and his communications with Wilmot Horton on the subject of Talbot’s pension, led to his receiving the following letter, which indicates that Hagerman’s letter (noted by Wortley to have been enclosed with the above letter from Talbot) was forwarded to Horton for his consideration. Wilmot Horton’s reply shows the extent to which Stuart-Wortley pressed the claims of his old friend Thomas Talbot: claims which were shortly to be so adequately satisfied.

Wilmot Horton wrote:

Private   Leamington

£    Warwick

Confidential

27 Augt 1823.

My dear Wortley

The fairest way to place before you the state of the case respecting Coll Talbot is, to send you the letter which I had intended to address to you; but on applying to Lord Bathurst, I find that he is not disposed to allow this recommendation to be given in anticipation. Whether Lord Bathurst would be disposed to sanction the grant, in the event of Mr. Hagerman volunteering such a proposition & the assembly supporting it, is a point which I do not think determined by his present objection. But he is strongly of opinion that Coll Talbot was much to blame in withhold­ing the letter of recommendation with which Sir Peregrine Maitland had entrusted him;—& that perhaps will give you a key to his objection in the present instance—Have the goodness to return me my intended letter to you, & write such a letter to Coll Talbot as may explain, as far as may be prudent, the circumstances of the case.—I return you Mr. Hager- man’s letter, having taken a copy.

I have to assure you that not one word has been expressed by Sir Peregrine upon this subject.—You will understand that the proposition is left to take its chance. If made & supported, it will of course be trans­mitted to Lord Bathurst by Sir Peregrine, who will, equally of course & without instructions, state to the assembly that he can do nothing upon it until he has heard from the Secretary of State.

Believe me

Very truly yours

J. Wilmot Horton

As the proposal for Talbot’s pension was passing through high chan­nels, Stuart-Wortley received another letter:

Port Talbot 6th September 1823

Dear James,

A person who proposes setting out for England in a few days has offered to take charge of letters, and although I have but very little to communicate I cannot forbear writing to you, if it should only be to assure you that I am in existence and well, which I trust this may find you and all my friends of your house in the same state—I wrote to you some time back enclosing you a letter which I had received from a friend of mine, and a Member of the Assembly, giving his opinion on the subject of your hint, relative to a Provincial pension, which I hope reached you and that I may have your answer before January next, in fact, I look anxiously for a letter from you every post day, your last being so long ago as the 4th March—and I am further desirous of hearing if Lady Caroline and Missy have received their Mockasines having sent two pair for each by a young Scotchman who came out from Fifeshire expressly for the pur­pose of seeing my settlement, he informed me that there were a number of respectable Farmers who had made up their minds to emigrate to New South Wales, but that the Edinburgh Reviewers had represented the Talbot Settt. so favourably, that he was sent out to ascertain the truth, and I am happy to add that he appeared to be highly pleased with my Country—he appeared to be an honest fellow, otherwise I would not have risked the Mockasins with a stranger, on his taking leave of me, he gave me his address, in order that he might be applied to, should the parcel not reach Wortley—which is Mr. Alexr Scott, Fingashly, Cupar, Fife. His intention was to sail from New York on the 8th. of Augt so that it is not impossible but that Lady Caroline and Missy may be in possession of them at this moment. The Mockasins were made by Miss Brant and I presume of the best Mohawk taste.

I take it for granted that you are all enjoying yourselves in the Country, perhaps in Scotland, as you mentioned last year, that you would have been in that country had it not been for the King’s visit. Some Settlers who have lately arrived from England, say that the Agricultural interests are much improved generally which is delightful circumstance, with me it continues as dull as last year, that is, as bad as possible, no money. I wish that a company of rich Fifeshire farmers would come out and purchase all my lands, if so I would soon be amongst you and enjoy the remainder of my days in Gentlemanly Society here I scarcely see one of that description in 12 months, even when I visit York, our seat of Govt, the Noblesse, some of whom are good sort of people, but in point of refinement, not a little deficient. I have waited the arrival of the post today but no letter from you. Now I must beg of you to write to me as often as you can as I really have no other pleasure in this wilderness than yr. letters—my most affectionate love to Lady Caroline, Missy, John, Charles, James, Lady Erne—and believe me my dear James always

most affectly yrs.

Thomas Talbot

Wortley at the same time (a week later in fact) was writing to Tal­bot, still over the pension, and on receipt of it, Talbot wrote once again:

Port Talbot 9th Feby. 1824.

My dear James,

The last letter which I have received from you, was dated the 13th Sepr. which appears 100 years ago, however it was a most satisfactory account of yourself, Lady Caroline, Missy and all of your family, how much I would have enjoyed being of your party to Scotland, it would have renewed my life twenty years, by the way, I trust that the Scotchman by whom I sent the Mockasins for Lady Caroline & Missy was faithful to his charge, I think I gave you his direction in a former letter viz: Mr. Alexr. Scott, Fingashby, Cupar, Fife, if they have not been received, write to him. as I will be very angry should the Ladies be disappointed—I re­turned to this place yesterday from York, where I had been five weeks, I did not make any attempt in regard to the business of which your last letter, gave so explicit an account of, as I could not for a moment think of exposing myself before such a body as a Colonial House of Assembly is composed of, upon such very slender encouragement as was held out by Lord Bathurst and Wilmot Horton.

Sir Peregrine Maitland was particularly marked in his attention to me during my stay in York, and I paid him in kind. Lady Sarah Maitland is a most charming person and I was delighted to find her looking so much better in health than she was last year, she has now three Girls and one Boy, very nice children.

Wilmot was so obliging as to send me the Report of the Committee on the State of the Poor of Ireland, by which I regret that the worst description of my Neighbours, the Indians, are infinitely better condi­tioned than the people of the South of Ireland and this country could provide comfortably for some hundred of thousands of them. Now my dear James write to me as frequently as your time will admit as believe me that a letter from [you] if the chief pleasure I enjoy here. With my most affecte love to all your House.

I remain ever yrs ever

Thomas Talbot.

Eight months later, Talbot was very pleased to receive a visit from James Stuart-Wortley’s eldest son John, then twenty three years old, who was not only an Oxford graduate, but a major in the South West York­shire Yeomanry. John had entered the British House of Commons as M.P. for the family borough of Bossiney, previously occupied by his father, and was accompanied on his visit to the North American continent by Edward Geoffrey Stanley, the twenty five year old son of the 13th Earl of Derby, a scholar, orator, and rising politician who also sat in the House of Commons as M.P. for Stockbridge. Stanley was, four years later, destined to hold the first of a series of ministerial appointments: that of under secretary of state for the colonies under Lord Goderich. This, the prelude to two periods as secretary for the colonies (1833-4 and 1841-5) was to culminate in his tenure of the first lordship of the Treasury, briefly held in 1852, 1858, and 1866.

John Stuart Wortley and Edward Stanley were accompanied by a third young man, like them a graduate of Christ Church, Oxford: John Evelyn Denison. He was also a member of the House of Commons, sitting for Newcastle-under Lyme. He too was destined to rise to great place, and became Speaker of the House in 1857. To his sister, John Stuart- Wortley wrote a lively account of his journey to “the Old Colonel’s” village, being particularly struck by Miss Brant, the moccasin maker, whom he described as “a tall good figure, her countenance stamped with the characteristic Indian features but open mild and dignified and with a very pleasing expression.” Her black silk gown, silver rings, leggings, and moccasins, her “uncommonly good English”, her absence of arkward shyness, impressed him so much that he exclaimed “Is this not extra­ordinary in a person who has never moved from the Grand River further than Niagara probably, and who is now to pass her time amongst the idle wretched, half-savage creatures who now people that village?”.15

John and his companions impressed Thomas Talbot, as his next letter to James Stuart Wortley indicates:

Port Talbot 18th Sepr. 1825

My dear James

I have been puzzling myself for nearly a year, to account for my not hearing a word from you, your last letter being dated the 31st May 1824, telling me of my friend John’s trip to this Continent, and I have put off writing to you, since his sailing from New York, until I received certain accounts, of his being safely restored to you, which I am now most happy to hear from good authority is the case—as long as John remained in America, I felt as if I was not altogether separated from my Wortley friends, and he continued to prove himself, the kindest person possible, by writing to me frequently, and I will add that himself and his 3 Companions, acquired the admiration, and esteem, of all America, and to be spoken of, with the highest respect—I have no doubt but that he has amused you, and Lady Caroline also, with his descriptions of my­self, and Wild house, which you can easily believe, was rendered more interesting to me, whilst he remained at Port Talbot, than it had ever been before—Now, my dear James, do not encourage laziness, but take up your pen, immediately after the receipt of this, and send me, a faith­ful account of yourself, and all my friends, of your family, for as to the probability of my seeing you in England, for years to come, is beyond my calculation, at the same time, If I could realize such an event, it would afford me more happiness, than I can express. I am in daily expectation of a letter from John, and if he should not have found time, before this reaches you, pray remind him of his promise, and as a further claim, on my part, tell him that Stanley, wrote to me, in a few days, after he got to London—as to my own affairs, I cannot give you any news more satis­factory, than when I last wrote to you, I am just returned from paying a visit, to Sir P., & Lady Sarah Maitland, at their Country Cottage, the former and I are apparently, on good terms, but I do not enter with him, on the subject of my wants, he is so forbiddingly cold & reserved.

The prospect of the produce of our Canadian farms, is somewhat more cheering, since the Bill has passed admitting Canada wheat than it was before, but the Land holders in Engd. need not be under any appre­hension of our overwhelming your Markets. I must now beg you to give my most Affecte, love to Lady Caroline, Missy, who is now Miss Wortley, Lady Eva & the Dundas’s and believe me, My dear James, ever Yrs affecly.

Thomas Talbot

The pension for which Thomas Talbot had canvassed so energetically at last came his way, when, on 20 November 1826, WTilmot Horton wrote to Secretary Herries of the Treasury on the subject of the sevenfold appro­priation of the proceeds of the lands granted to the Canada Land Com­pany: £8,500 for the civil establishment of Upper Canada, £1,000 for a college, £400 for a Roman Catholic Bishop, £750 for Roman Catholic priests, £750 for Presbyterian ministers, and £400 for a pension to Colonel Talbot “in reward for the exertions of that officer & the sacrifice which he has made of his fortune & profession in directing and superintending the settlement of the London & Western District, which are now exceed­ingly flourishing.”[10]

As might be expected, the correspondence now falls off. From now, till Talbot’s death in 1853, two letters only remain in the Wharncliffe Papers. But both of them are so characteristic of the man that they deserve to be quoted in full.

The first runs:

Port Talbot May 1st. 1831.

Mv dear James,

I was much gratified by the receipt of your excellent letters of the 29th of last Jany. I say gratified, as for as it related to the concerns of your own family, but the picture you have drawn of the state of my beloved Engd grieves one to the very quick, but God grant that the result may not prove so terrible as you prophesy, and be assured that there is at least one “Dweller” on the Shore of Lake Erie, who takes as lively an interest in your well-doing and salvation, as any that is seated in the immediate Field of Action, however I will not say more than I can avoid, on so painful a subject.

I do indeed, with thanks and gratitude, acknowledge the bounty of every member of your affectte & amiable family, in being steady and constant in writing me such full accts. of all your proceedings, and your last, with the exception of what related to dear Ly Georgy, had delighted and amused me, beyond description. Truly “most prodigious”, the marriage of Chars., he that was all prudence and consideration, in opposing the union of my friends John Talbot and Missy, saying it was quite obvious that the consequence wd. be their begetting and introducing a Brigae of Beggars, into the World. I am actually laughing at this moment, with the thoughts of it. Nevertheless, Chars, is a most excellent person, and no small favourite of mine & as such, wish him all prosperity and hap­piness. I reed a letter from John Talbot 10 days before yrs. reached me, of the 27th Deer, and some time before, a most delightful, long & sensible despatch, from charming Missy, wh. I shall answer during this month, it was my intention to have done myself that pleasure sooner, had not yrs. arrived—John mentions that you were of opinion, that Wilmot Hor­tons wd. have a triumph as to emigration, for my part, I am quite satisfied, that Engd. could not adopt any measure that could more successfully relieve her of the burden of the poor labouring class, than by sending such as may be willing to Upper Canada, where want is not known, but the reverse, for many Emigrants who came out a few years ago, have now more than they can find sale for, particularly Horned Cattle, but Wheat, Pork and Potash, are articles in demand and command money payments, wh. is a new event, for 2 or 3 years back, nothing but barter was in use. Since I have had John’s hint, I have been turning in my mind, a scheme for relieving the Parishes, by sending out their poor to this Country, and have fancied that a plan, both simple and feasible, could be adopted by the Govt, that would ensure success & eventually indemnify the Mother Country for the sums she might advance. All calculations made by Mr. Wilmot Horton & others, have been extravagant to a great degree, a few years back, I enquired of some Irish Emigrants how much thier LsicJ expences amounted to. They said that they paid 30s/- a head for the passage from Dublin to Quebec, finding their own bedding & pro­visions, wh. last cost them 30s/- more, I presume the then Irish Cury. Their expences from Quebec to Port Talbot was somewhat more, but in consequence of the number of Steamboats & Craft of all descriptions, having I suppose doubled, since that time, the charges of transport up the Country, must have lessened considerably, but you are aware as much as I am, that all Govt, undertakings are made jobs of, so that that shd. be guarded against in the beginning, it will also be necessary to furnish a ration of flour & meat for the first year, to the Parish poor, who may be sent out, and pprhaps Blankets to such of them who may be destitute, to protect them against the severity of the Canadian Winters. The rations shd. be as small as possible, certainly one half less, than allowed to Mr. Horton’s Irish settlers, for it is a notorious fact here, that where Emigrants get liberally supplied provisions that they do not make any industrious efforts to clear their Land, to supply their future wants & become dissipated, by selling such part of their rations as they can do without to buy Whiskey, consequently they are miserable and discontented, when their rations are stoped. Any assistance in addition shd. be con­fined to an Axe & a Hoe to each man, and seed Corn and Potatoes, perhaps a Cow to each family w. be well.

My plan for repayment of expences is this, that a Township shd. be surveyed, subdivided into Concessions and Lots containing 200 acres each, as the enclosed plan will explain, each adult male Settler to get a gratuitous grant, in fee simple, of 25 Acres, the adjoining 75 acres to the centre of the Lot to be reserved, so as to afford the person owning the 25 acres an opportunity of enlarging his Farm by the purchase of the 75 acres so reserved, wh. all industrious Settlers would be most anxious to do, in 4 or 5 years after he was settled, which wd. make his farm 100 acres wh. would be a sufficient extent of Land, to admit of his clearing and bringing under cultivation 50 acres, & reserving the remainder for fuel and fencing Timber. The price I shd. sell the reserve of 75 acres, would be 13s/6d Sterg. per acre, payable in 4 annual instalments, the 3 cash with interest, which would bring for each Settler about £50 Sterg. and to every young man when of the age of 21 years or married might be placed on a similar grant for—and that the patents for the 25 acres gratuitously given shd. not issue from the Crown before the grantee had actually resided 5 years on the Land allotted to him, and had completely cleared & under cultiva­tion and Fence, 10 acres of the same, across the front of the 25 acres adjoining to the Concession Road, together with one half of the width of the said Road. By adhering to such a system, I am positive that two material objects might be realised, relieving the United Kingdom of it’s increasing burden, and promoting the value of the Colonies, for the more a Colony is peopled, the greater quantity of the manufactures from the Mother Country will be in demand. And the mode of selling the reserved land to the Emigrant, will by degrees nearly if not altogether re-imburse the whole money advanced by England.

Now knowing that you possess a superior degree of Tact to me in matters of State, I have submitted the foregoing suggestions to your consideration, so that in case any plan may be brought before Parliament & you should consider any ideas worthy of notice, you may make such use of them as you may think fit. Perhaps you might consult with Lds. Landown and Grey on the project, but shd. any suspect that I am desirous of acting in any shape in the execution of the scheme, you may assure them that I am not, being already worn out by the labours attending the superintendance of settling a new country.

And now having bored you, more than I fear you will pardon me for, I will confine the remainder of this terrible long letter to private matter. I am sure that you will agree with me, in thinking, that it would be mad­ness on my side to weigh my anchor, from Lake Erie, in these unsettled times, and give up a certainty for an uncertainty, it is quite true, that this Country affords me but little enjoyment, yet I am independent, and have the satisfaction of witnessing daily, this New World, encreasing and improving, in every particular, more rapidly, than I believe to be the case, in any other portion of the Globe, and Landed property is becoming more valuable, and available, every year, and at all events, worst come to the worst, by retaining it, I shall possess the means of affording an asylum, in case of necessity, to those Friends, I most value. I said as much in my last letter to Ly. Wharcliffe, and that I had immortalised you in this hemisphere, by naming some of my roads after you and your family. I have Wharcliffe Highway, Wortley Road, Caroline Row, a beautiful line

of Lots along the banks of our Thames and a short road between Wham- cliffe Highway & Wortley Road, I have called Stuart Place. And to con­vince you that I am not humbugging, I have cut the scrap which I herein send, from the Gazette giving the sums voted by our Provincial Assembly to improve the Public Roads. I can’t conclude, without telling you how delighted I feel by the charming accts. I receive from all, of the excellent manner in which John Talbot and Missy conduct themselves, & that every person admires them accordingly. Pray write as soon as you can after you receive this, so with my most affecte. love to all my dear friends, believe me my dear James ever most affectly.

Thomas Talbot.

James Stuart Wortley was indeed a different man when he received this. For not only had he been created Baron Wharncliffe in 1826, but in this very year he was one of the leading opponents of the attempts made to widen the parliamentary franchise. Popular discontent in England seethed with inceasing violence, till it culminiated in the stormy forties in an age aptly described as ‘bleak’. Before that, however, Talbot him­self had surrendered his stewardship of settlers by order of Lieut.-Gover- nor Head.[11]

The last letter among the Wharncliffe Papers was written in a shakier hand than all the others. It ran:

Port Talbot 18th Novemr 1844

My dear James,

I am very thankful for your letter of the 2nd Sepr. last, as there is some satisfaction even, to be derived from knowing the particulars of misfortunes, and increased by the favourable report you give of my dear Lady Wharncliffe and yourself, and in confirmation, I have just seen in late English Newspapers, that Your Lordship and Her Ladyship were at one of the Queen’s Dinner Parties at Windsor, during the visit of Louis Phillipe.

The next subject I shall enter upon, is that state of Canada, which has, indeed, been most deplorable for the last 8 or 9 years, which I do charge to the fickle and weak policy of the Home Government, in listening to, and giving into the treasonable and Republican representations, made under the name of Grievances.

The Country was actually on the brink of a revolution, when the present Governor General, Sir Charles Metcalff commenced his administra­tion, but thank God, it has been saved at least for the present, by his wise firm and prudent measures. Now the general election is just over, and I am happy to inform you that the Royal Governt. has a small majority, which is more than I anticipated, and to give you the result, I shall enclose a printed return which I have cut out of a newspaper. How­ever I fear that this success is merely temporary, for in a colony where radical feelings are not only encouraged but fostered, there cannot be any security for the future. I myself have for several years past, been frankly convinced, that unless some bold system is resorted to by the Imperial Parliament to new model the constitution in this Hemisphere, that all the North American Provinces will continue more or less in a state of anarchy.

I am aware that all you wise-men of the East, must consider such a Backwoodsman as myself but a [scurvy?] politician, nevertheless I differ in opinion, and do not hesitate to pronounce, that the only alternative left to prevent our separation from the Mother Country, is simply this, to unite the whole of the North American Colonies into a Vice Royalty, and give it the necessary respectability by the creation of a Peerage, for all Mankind are slaves to titles of distinction, at the same time I will not recommend, that such honours be extended further than it may be found absolutely prudent for some years to come. If such a measure could be effected, and The Duke of Cambridge be appointed The Vice-Roy, I mention his Royal Highness, from having been under the impression for a length of time, that he is a discreet and prudent person, and would give general satisfaction, besides should it hereafter be found expedient to form an independent Kingdom in America, it might be given to Prince George of Cambridge.

The foregoing experiment might likewise be attended with salutary consequences, in some parts of the United States, where there are many who possess wealth and ambition enough to cause them to sigh for dis­tinction above their fellow Ragamuffin Citizens.

Now my dear James, I entreat of you, to give the subject of this letter your serious consideration and write me the result, you need not be delicate in stating your view of it, as I can assure you, that I am altogether indifferent whether it meets w’ith censure or applause—

I had actually decided upon visiting you all in England this Winter, and had made the necessary arrangements for leaving Port Talbot on the 15th of last month to go to Boston and embark in the Mail Steamer of the 1st. of this month, if I had, I should now be with you, and what a change I would find amongst all your Young Tribe in 16 years but, alas, I have been frustrated by the Treasurer of my District having come to Port Talbot four days before I had fixed to start to demand the payment of my tax to the tune of nearly £600 which monstrous sum knocked all my Fairy dreams in the head. This is the fruit of Lord Sydenham’s tyrannical and odious Municipal Bill, and God only knows when “The

I inn Of the West” can quit his den, for to appear before you all in the Old World as a Pauper would not correspond with my natural dignity.

When you write, do take the trouble to give a minute detail of every member of your family not omitting any dear friends the Dundas s foi whom I shall ever feel the most affecte love. As to myself, I am. in the enjoyment of rude health. Remember me most happily to all and God

bless you my dear James

Ever affly yrs

Thomas Talbot.

A year later, James Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, first Baron Wham- cliffe, was dead.

(5)

(9)  Lord Bathurst, (1862-1834) was the Tory secretary for war and the colonies.

(10) Macdonald, op. eit pp. 133-4.

(11) Robert John Wilmot (1784-1841) took the name of his father-in-law, Horton, as an additional surname in 1823. Like John Stuart Wortley, he was a graduate of Christ Church, Oxford. For his theories on emigration and the colonies see Klaus Knorr British Colonial Theories 1570-1850 (Toronto, 1944) 270 //.

(12) Caroline Jane Stuart-Wortley, who later married the Hon. John Chetwynd Talbot, 4th son of the 2nd Earl Talbot on 30 August, 1830.

(16) H. A. Innes and A.R.M. Lowci, *Sdcct l-Jocu’inc’tits iiz CciiuicliitTt Ecoiioitvic History (Toronto, 1933) ii 23-4.

 


[5]

[6]

[7]         Coyne, op. cit. pp. 96-8 (1907). Stuart Wortley sent the seeds as requested, from Gibbs, “the most famous seedsman in London”.

[8]        William Dundas, 3rd son of Robert Dundas of Arniston, married James Stuart-Wortley’s sister, Mary, in 1813.

[9]        John Inglis (1748-1822) of Inglish, Ellice and Co., shot himself on 6 August, and the Gentleman’x Magazine of that year (p. 283) remarked: “the sensation it pro­duced on ’change and at Lloyds was uniform and general, for he had long been known and respected as a British merchant of the old school”. He was a director of the East India Docks and Chairman of the London Docks.

[10] Caroline Grosvenor and Lord Stuart, op. cit. i 316.

[11]      He had written to Missy (see n. 12) now Mrs. J. C. Talbot on 10 Sept., 1839: “In the present state of Canada, sink or swim, it is impossible to leave my property. The Yanky’s . . . are endeavouring to excite discontent and form associations under the cloak of Durhamites to commence fresh disturbances. They have actually got vast quantities of . . . Bowie Knives, large Butchers’ knives, made to murder us Loyalists. Some of these knives are stamped “Durham”, some “Reform” knives, and others “responsible Government knives”. So far are we indebted to that fellow Lord Durham . . .” Grosvenor and Stuart, op. cit. ii 300-1.

  1.   E. D. Ermatinger, The Life of Colonel Talbot (St. Thomas’, 1859).
  2. 3rd Series, 1907 and 1909.
  3. Norman MacDonald, Canada, 1763-1841. Immigration and Settlement (Lon­don, 1939) pp. 127-150. Two books not mentioned in his admirable bibliography, and which add little or nothing to what is already known are Fred Landon, Colonel Thomas Talbot (Toronto, 1930) and Ella N. Lewis, Sidelights on the Talbot Settlement (Elgin Historical Society, 1938).
  4. Through the kindness of the City archivist, Miss Rosamund Meredith, who drew my attention to these letters, and published by kind permission of Earl Wharncliffe.
  5.  A reference to the erasure of Henry Dundas, first Viscount Melville, from the roll of the Privy Council for malversation of funds as first Lord of the Admiralty. The proceedings against him in the House of Commons occupied much public attention in this year.
  6. Afterwards Lord Talbot of Malahide (1766-1849) who paid some of Thomas’ debts at Manchester, England, in 1810 (Coyne, op cit. p. 103, 1907).
  7. James Stuart-Wortley’s wife, Elizabeth Caroline Mary, whom he married on 30 March, 1799, was the daughter of the first Earl Erne and his second wife. John Stuart-Wortley was James and Caroline’s first son, born in 1801; Charles James Stuart their second, born a year later; and James Archibald their third. The Rev. Stuart Corbet (1777-1845) was James’ first cousin, who became in 1802 the vicar of Walkley Church, and later archdeacon of York. His son became agent to the Wortley estates. For a vivacious picture of the whole Wortley family at this time see Caroline Grosvenor and Lord Stuart of Wortley, The First Lady Wharncliffe and her Family 1779-1850 (London, 1927).

Sir Henry Parnell on the Irish Insurrection Bill – Hansard – 18230624

IRISH INSURRECTION BILL.

HC Deb 24 June 1823 vol 9 cc1147-203 1147

§ The order of the day having been read for the second reading of the Bill for continuing the Irish Insurrection Act, Mr. Goulburn moved, That this Bill be now read a second time.” Upon which,

1148

§ Sir Henry Parnelladdressed the House as follows:*

§ Mr. Speaker;—I do not feel, that the House will require from me any justification of my conduct, when I propose to it to adopt a different course of proceeding in respect to Ireland, from that which the right hon. gentleman has called upon it to pursue. Because, if ever there was a time when it was the duty of every member belonging to Ireland to come forward and offer his opinion to the consideration of the House, the present circumstances of that country call upon them to do so; and if I were to remain silent on this occasion, feeling as I do, that much more is absolutely necessary to be done than what the right hon. gentleman proposes to do, I should be guilty of nothing short of a great neglect of my public duty. Parliament is highly interested in every thing which may tend finally to put down disturbances, to compose discontent, and to conciliate the affections of the people of Ireland; and, therefore, let the merits of the motion be what they may, which I shall submit to the House, it will, by promoting discussion on the state of Ireland be productive of a good effect.

Before, Sir, I proceed to show the grounds on which I propose to amend the motion of the right hon. gentleman, by moving that a secret committee be appointed to inquire into the extent and object of the disturbances existing in Ireland, I beg to say, in order that my motives may not be misunderstood, that I do not wish to obstruct the passing of the Bill for continuing the Insurrection act. But when I say this, I by no means support it because I think it will have any permanent effect in putting down and preventing the renewal of disturbances; but because I believe that it is called for to afford protection to the lives and properties of the loyal inhabitants of the disturbed districts. I wish also to declare, that in moving this amendment I have no intention of casting the slightest reproach upon the administration of lord Wellesley: I feel the greatest confidence in his disposition and in his ability to serve his country, and to conduct the government to the best advantage amidst the great and numerous difficulties with which it is encompassed. I am ready to acknowledge, that lord Wellesley, du- * From the original edition printed for Ridgway, Piccadilly. 1149 ring the short time he has been in Ireland, has brought forward several very valuable measures. The act for reforming the constables has proved of great utility, and promises to be completely successful. The revision of the magisracy is of great value, though the extent to which it has been carried is far short of what it ought to be, to make it a perfect measure. The bill for a composition of tithes I consider of the greatest importance; and a measure, that, in its amended state, will be easy to be carried into execution. But, above all, I think lord Wellesley is particularly entitled to praise for the efforts he has made to administer the laws impartially, and to check the violence of religious animosities.

But, Sir, it appears to me, that the present question is not one between parliament and lord Wellesley. It is his business to administer the laws such as he finds them; but we are now occupied in making a new law, and in legislating generally for the affairs of Ireland; and the question is, therefore, one between parliament and the government generally, and not fit to be confined within the narrow limits of a mere Irish question. It is, in fact, as much an English question as an Irish one. The dearest interests of Englishmen are included in it; and they are particularly concerned at this moment in taking care, that such a system of measures shall be adopted as are best calculated to establish tranquillity in Ireland.

I wish also, Sir, not to be considered as one of those, who make indiscriminate charges against his majesty’s ministers, for having done nothing for the advantage of Ireland. So far from thinking that this is the case, I give them credit for having effected a complete change in the administration of government in Ireland. From the time of the king’s visit to Ireland to the present moment I have seen but little to find fault with, that has been done in Ireland; and a great many beneficial measures have been passed, though not much taken notice of by the House. The acts, which have passed this session, for removing the duties upon the trade between England and Ireland, are measures of the greatest value. The act for consolidating the boards of revenue is of great value. As this measure goes to take from government the great patronage which has heretofore belonged 1150 to it in Ireland, of appointing to all the inferior revenue offices, the concession deserves to be considered as one highly creditable to them; and the new distillery bill is also a measure, which shows the anxiety of government to reform abuses in Ireland.

In respect, Sir, to the amendment I now submit to the House, I am aware, that the period of the session will afford to the right hon. gentleman the opportunity of objecting to it on that account. But I think, Sir, that if I had brought forward a motion for inquiry into the state of Ireland before the right hon. gentleman had communicated to the House what the plans of government were, I should have been justly liable to be complained of for not giving time to government to mature their plans; and since the right hon. gentleman has developed them, I appeal to the House whether the business that has been before it would have afforded me an earlier opportunity of bringing forward my motion. In such a case as this, it will ill become the, right hon. gentleman to set forth this old plea of the late period of the session. The state of Ireland is every day becoming worse; it is so bad as to lead the public mind to anticipate some dreadful calamity, and to excite universal alarm; and, therefore, if an inquiry would occupy the whole summer, the House ought to go into it, and not refuse it because, according to the common routine of parliament, the session would close in the month of July.

We now see, that all that is intended to be done by government is, to continue the Insurrection act. That is, after the experiment of having, recourse to it last year has completely failed, and after the disturbances are greatly extended, parliament is to separate with no better prospect of an improvement in the state of Ireland, than what this most severe, unconstitutional, and inefficient measure offers.

When, Sir, I examine what the state, of Ireland is this year, in comparison with what it was when the Insurrection act was passed last year, I consider, that it has become infinitely worse, and that the danger is much more formidable. Last year there was some reason for expecting, that this law might have produced, at least, a temporary restoration of tranquillity; but now, after we have had full experience of its powers, and of the persevering re- 1151 sistance which is made to it, no one can venture to say, that it will operate as a remedy of the disturbances. It is under these circumstances, so new and so formidable, that I feel it my duty to call upon the House not to separate, until it is in full possession of the actual state of Ireland. It is impossible to collect the necessary information from speeches in this House, or from despatches, and other documents. Nothing but a committee, exercising unlimited powers of inquiry, can effectually expose, in all their proper bearings, the nature, extent, and object, of the existing disturbances,

I might, Sir, I conceive, let my motion rest upon this general statement, as affording a sufficient parliamentary ground to justify me in calling upon the House to adopt it, but I consider the necessity of instituting an inquiry so urgent, that I feel myself called upon to set forth, in detail, every thing which can contribute to secure the concurrence of the House to the request I make, not longer to postpone this inquiry, I shall begin, by showing the extent of the disturbances, as they existed in the past and present year; and, in order to do this, I shall refer, in the first place, to the dispatches of lord Wellesley. In the dispatches of the 3d and 11th of January, 1822, lord Wellesley states, that disturbances have occurred in no less than sixteen counties, which he mentions by name, in the provinces of Leinster and Munster. He says, that in the province of Connaught the great body of the people have been sworn. And, in a dispatch of the 1st May, 1822, lord Wellesley says, “In Ulster strong indications have been generally manifested of resistance to the process of the law.”

In the next place, I refer to the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Goulburn), who, on the 22d of April, 1822, in speaking upon the state of Ireland, said, “the disturbances which then prevailed were such as had not been known for a considerable time past; such as had ultimately broken out into open insurrection against the government. He could not better describe the state of the south of Ireland, than by stating, that there was no county in which the police was sufficient to protect the peaceable.” And, on the 8th of July, 1822, the right hon. gentleman further said, “A general system of insubordination prevailed throughout Ireland: a general combination, conducted by secret 1152 association, collecting arms, and making proselytes, with a view to the complete extension of their principles throughout the country.”

From these documents, we are able to ascertain to what an extent the disturbances existed in 1822 in the south of Ireland, and what was the general character of them. But it appears, that, while these disturbances were thus covering nearly the whole of the south of Ireland, a distinct secret conspiracy, carried on by the Ribbon-men, was establishing itself in six other counties, having the same general object in view, but working by more skilful and deep-laid means. The attorney-general of Ireland; in his speech on the trial of Michael Keenan, in Dublin, on the 4th of November, 1822, gives the following description of this Conspiracy:—”For some time past, I believe considerable more than for two or three years, a plan has been formed in Ireland for associating the members of the community, by unlawful oaths, to overthrow the established government. The machinery, by which it is sought to effectuate this purpose, is one of a very complicated nature, and evincing much consideration and contrivance. The association has at ready extended into several neighbouring counties” (five or six are the number mentioned, in a letter from the attorney general to lord Wellesley, dated November 26, 1822), “and is intended to embrace the whole kingdom if it is, however not connected with the outrages which have for some time disgraced the south of Ireland. The object of the association is rather the hatching of mischief, to be brought into future operation. They condemn the disturbances of the south, and regret their premature appearance: their design is to wait until some period of danger and difficulty, when they hope, by a vigorous and united effort, to be able to shake the whole foundation of our civil polity to its centre.”

The attorney general gives the following description of the manner in which this conspiracy is conducted.—”The course was, first to have lodges formed, the number of men in each of which was not limited, but seldom exceeded thirty or forty: each of these members was bound, by an oath, to be of the society to conform to its rules, not to reveal or divulge its secrets, and to obey the order of his superior reach of these lodges had a master, who was to represent his lodge 1153 in the baronial* commmittees: from these baronial committees delegates were appointed to represent the counties: and from these, delegates to attend provincial meetings: and from these, again, delegates to attend national meetings, thus finally composing a general association, affecting to represent the entire community.”

The House will not fail to remark, how formidable an association this must be, that has been going on for two or three years in five or six counties, having the city of Dublin for its focus, and governed in the way that has been described. If reports are to be credited, this association is not confined to five or six counties, but is spread over the whole of the province of Ulster, and over a great many of the midland counties; and, although no persons have as yet been discovered to belong to it of consequence or consideration, where there exists so much skill and method in contriving it, and so much natural talent among the people for conducting the operations of such an association, it appears to me to be much more formidable than those other associations, that are less organized, and more forward in committing open acts of outrage and disturbance.

The references I have made show the extent of the disturbances in 1822; I will now submit to the House what is their present character. Lord Wellesley, in a dispatch of the 29th Jan. 1823, expressed an opinion, that the country had become more tranquil; but, in another dispatch, dated the 8th of April, he says, “Subsequent events have disappointed that expectation; and, during the month of March, the system of outrage and terror has been pursued, in the parts of the province of Munster, with increasing activity and vigour, and has reached other parts of the country. In less agitated counties of Ireland, crimes of an insurrectionary character appear to be more frequent.”

The right hon. gentleman (Mr. Goulburn), when he moved for leave to bring in the bill for continuing the Insurrection Act, said, “There existed an emergency so alarming, as not to admit of time to inquire into it.” In corroboration of this description of the state of the country, as given by lord Wellesley and the right *A Barony in Ireland is similar to a hundred in England. 1154 hon. gentleman, the accounts that daily come from Ireland show, that the disturbances are extending, and that the whole country is placed in a state of great apprehension of some desperate calamity befalling it. All my communications with the Irish representatives go to confirm these accounts.

If, Sir, these disturbances, which I have described, had commenced for the first time last year, formidable as they are, they would be much less alarming than they must appear to every one to be, who will take the trouble of examining how closely they resemble, in plan, spirit, and object, the series of disturbances which have for some years occurred in Ireland; because this similarity of circumstances indisputably proves, that some deep-seated evil must be at the bottom of so much national discontent, and such daring insurrection. The House will see, by looking into the details of former disturbances, that the existing disturbances can only be considered as one of a long series which in succession have broken out in different parts of Ireland.

In the year 1820, my hon. friend, the member for the county of Gal way (Mr. Daly), proposed to the House a motion* similar to that which I now am about to submit to it, founded upon the disturbances existing in the counties of Galway and Roscommon. He described the state of the south and west of Ireland in the following words:—”There never was a period, when the state of Ireland required a more prompt and vigorous interposition on the part of government; a period, when the disturbances were so extensive, and the outrages of so violent and dangerous a character.” His statement was corroborated by the speeches of my hon. friends, the members for the counties of Clare and Derry. These disturbances commenced in the autumn, of 1819, and have continued ever since, except for a short interval in 1821. In 1817, the Insurrection act was continued, in consequence of disturbances in the counties of Lowth, Tipperary, and Limerick. In 1816, the dispatches of lord Whitworth were laid before the House, which showed the existence of disturbances from 1810 to 1816. Lord Whitworth states—”A special commission was appointed in 1811, in consequence of the outrages * See Vol. 2. p. 91 of the present Series. 1155 committed in the counties of Tipperary, Waterford, Kilkenny, and Limerick, by bodies of men, who assembled in arms by night, administered unlawful oaths, prescribed Jaws respecting the payment of rents and tithes, and plundered several houses of arms. In the early part of 1813, and during the whole of that year, many daring offences were committed against the public peace in these and other counties, particularly in Waterford, Westmeath, Roscommon, and the King’s county, the nature of which sufficiently proved, that illegal combinations, and the same systematic violence and disorder, against which the special commission of 1811 had been directed, still existed. In consequence of the continuance and increase of disturbances, in March 1814, the Insurrection act was introduced.” In 1815, according to these dispatches, application was made by the magistrates to have the Insurrection act enforced in the counties of Clare, Meath, and Limerick. In 1816, it was enforced in Lowth; and it appears, that during 1814, 1815, and 1816, disturbances had existed in the Queen’s county, and county of Longford. The House will observe, that the description given by lord Whitworth of the disturbances in these years shows, that they were exactly similar in all respects to the disturbances which now exist. Secret oaths, obtaining arms, prescribing laws, are the characteristics of the present disturbances, as they were of those described by lord Whitworth.

In 1807, the Insurrection act was revived, and continued till 1810. In 1803, the conspiracy of Emmet occurred; and although it was instantly suppressed, there is no doubt that it was one embracing several counties, and that if the first effort had been successful, a general insurrection would have been the immediate consequence. A great number of country people had come into Dublin immediately previous to the explosion of the plot, and lord Redesdale, then Chancellor of Ireland, has stated, that several counties were ready to have embarked in it.

In 1801, a secret committee was appointed to inquire into the state of Ireland, and they say in their report, “The conspiracy of 1798 is not then subsided. It appears to be in agitation, suddenly, by means of secret confederacy, to call numerous meetings, in different parts of the country, at the same day and hour, to an extent, which, if not prevented, must 1156 materially endanger the public peace.” And in a second, report, the committee describe the counties of Wicklow, Wexford, Tipperary, and Limerick, as being particularly disturbed. We learn from the reports of both Houses of the Irish Parliament, in the years 1798, 1795, and 1793, that the country was in a continual state of disturbance, from 1792 to 1798.

From the statement that I have now submitted to the House, it appears, that a great extent of Ireland has, from time to time, since theu Union, been in a state of open disturbance. The following summary, which is taken from public documents, will accurately illustrate this important fact:—

Counties in which Disturbances have taken place,
1801. Wicklow, Wexford, Tipperary, Limerick.
1806. Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim.
1811. Tipperary, Waterford, Kilkenny, Limerick.
1813. Waterford, Westmeath, Roscommon, King’s county.
1814. Queen’s county and county of Longford, in addition to the last mentioned counties.
1816. County of Lowth also in addition.
1819. Galway, Roscommon, Kilkenny, Cork, Westmeath.
1822 Sixteen counties since 1821. All Connaught sworn. The association of Ribbon-men established in five or six counties.

Another way of judging of the state of disturbance in Ireland, is by referring to the Statute Book: from this it appears as follows:

Years
That the Insurrection Act was in force from 1796 to 1802 6
That Martial Law was in Force from 1803 to 1805 2
That the Insurrection Act was in force from 1807 to 1810 3
That the Insurrection Act was in force from 1814 to 1818 4
That the Insurrection Act was in force from 1822 to 1823 1
Out of a period of 27 years, these laws were in force for 16

But in addition to these two acts, others of a similar unconstitutional kind have been passed within the same period. The Habeas Corpus act was suspended from 1797 to 1802: again, from 1803 to 1806 and again in 1822. The Arms act, allowing domiciliary, visits, and prohibiting the use of arms, was in force from 1796 to 11571801, and has been in force from 1807 to the present time, and now forms part of the standing law of the country. The Peace-preservation act, by which a regular gendarmerie was appointed, has been in force from 1814 to the present time. Taking together the periods of disturbances, as before mentioned, with the periods for which the Martial Law and insurrection Acts have been in force, we obtain the following table of actually existing disturbances in Ireland:—

Period. Years.
1. From 1792 to 1802 10
2. 1803 1805 2
3. 1607 1810 3
4. 1811 1818 7
5. 1819 1823 4
26

That is, out of a period of the last thirty-one years, no less than twenty-six years have been years of actual insurrection or disturbance. The following conclusions may be drawn from this case of Ireland, as to the means taken for suppressing disturbances. First, That as often as any disturbance has appeared, since 1795, it has been immediately followed by some new law of a severe and coercive character. Secondly, That a regular system has thus grown up, and been constantly acted upon, of dealing with discontent and disturbance with severe and coercive measures. Thirdly, That this system has completely failed; for, in place of discontent and disturbance being diminished, great as they were in 1795, they are still greater at the present moment.The only years of any thing like tranquility since 1792, have been from 1802 to 1803: from 1805 to 1806; from 1810 to 1811; and from 1818 to 1819. Four years; out of thirty-one! The government of Ireland, to use the language of a celebrated constitutional writer, referring to another government, has been but a continued scuffle between the magistrate and the multitude; And is this, Sir, I ask, the system of government the British parliament will passively submit to? Can it go on with impunity? Can it last for another thirty years; another twenty; ten; five; or one other year.

Let us examine what must be the consequences of persevering in this system. What is the present evil against which we have to contend? In the first place, in three provinces of Ireland, nearly every county habitually occupied with disturb- 1158 ances; and in the fourth province, the public peace continually violated by the contests of Orange-men and Ribbon-men. Secondly, almost the whole grown-up male population, under the age of forty years, regularly educated in insurrection. Thirdly, the disturbances and spirit of insurrection extending in every direction. Fourthly, the population increasing at a rate so as to double itself in forty-six years. Fifthly, the whole efforts of government to put down these disturbances by force, a complete failure.

This, Sir, I undertake to say, is a correct summary of the political circumstances of Ireland, belonging to the systematic confederacy of the people to obtain redress for the grievances they labour under: and it is in the face of so formidable a state of things, that all that government proposes for parliament to do is, to continue the Insurrection act. If the people of Ireland are suffered to go on increasing, both in number and in insurrection, it will become a very serious question, how England will be able to control them, and secure the connexion between the two countries. If six millions of discontented Irish are to become twelve millions, without any change being effected in their temper and habits, while they are every day learning how to evade the violences of coercive laws, and to make the system of secret association more general and more manageable, a power will grow up on the side of England of such magnitude as may be able to cope with the power of England, and involve England in all the calamities belonging to a new effort to conquer Ireland.

With a view, Sir, to form something like a correct judgment in respect to the object of these disturbances, I will state the evidence we have on that head, as contained in authentic documents, for it is by being fully acquainted with their object, that we can best judge of their causes, and best understand how to apply proper remedies. To begin with the year 1798: we all know, that the object of the conspiracy of that year was, to take possession of the country. The report of the secret committee of 1801 informs us, that the conspiracy of 1798, was not then abandoned; and that it was in agitation to rise suddenly, and destroy the government. In 1803, Emmet’s conspiracy had the same object. In 1806, the system of assembling in arms at night, of adminis- 1159 tering unlawful oaths, and of collecting arms by plunder, was carried on in several counties. In 1811, the same system was renewed and continued for six years. In 1819, it was again renewed, and has continued to the present time. In 1822, we learn from the attorney-general of Ireland, that the conspiracy of the Ribbon men hopes, by a vigorous and united effort, to be able to subvert the present law and government. These circumstances place beyond all doubt the principles, the motives, and the objects of the discontented. In 1798, 1801, 1803, and 1822, we have direct evidence of the intention of the disaffected to rise suddenly, and seize on the country. In 1806, 1811, and 1819, we have direct evidence of associations existing for years together, acting on such a scheme of confederacy by secret oaths, and of preparation by obtaining arms, that cannot be accounted for in any other way, but by supposing them the first steps towards a general rising of the people.

Now, Sir, I say, with so much evidence before us of the intention of the disaffected and with the knowledge we possess of the great extent of preparation which exists, and of the facility with which the lower orders may be collected together, it is, nothing short of exposing the lives and property of all the loyal and peaceable people to sudden destruction, if we close the session without a full inquiry into the state of Ireland, and without taking all those measures of precaution, and remedy, which the actual circumstances of the case may appear to require.

I have now, Sir, submitted to the House what appear to me to be sufficient parliamentary grounds to support my motion for appointing a secret committee. I have proposed a secret committee, in order to place the business of inquiry under a reasonable control on the part of government; and I have limited the instructions to inquire into the extent and object of the disturbances, in order to remove all objections, that might arise from calling upon a committee at this period of the session, to inquire into a matter so much controverted as the causes of the disturbances. An accurate knowledge of the objects of the disturbances will best lead to a correct judgment upon the causes of them, and, therefore, the proposed inquiry will in this way be indirectly an inquiry into these causes.

1160 But, although I have been, for these reasons, led to frame my motion, I should be sorry to see the discussion of this evening limited in the same way; for I think it is of essential importance, that the causes of the disturbances should be fully discussed. As far as discussion has, as yet, taken place, and as opinions have been formed concerning the causes of the disturbances, but little good has been done; on the contrary, I am inclined to think, that a great deal of harm has been the result of persons of authority taking very erroneous views of the circumstances of Ireland, and leading the public to form opinions upon the causes of its disorders, which are altogether erroneous, and in the way of a correct decision upon the most effectual remedy of them. The question, in point of fact, has been very superficially considered; and the great principles which govern mankind, and the proper objects of good government, have been too generally overlooked.

The noble lord, who is at the head of his majesty’s government, has, on every occasion when the state of Ireland has been under discussion, very confidently expressed his opinions upon the causes of the disturbances in Ireland. In alluding to the noble lord, I do so, feeling the highest respect for the purity of his political conduct, and believing that he is sincerely desirous to improve the condition of Ireland; but I must say, from all the experience I have had of the people and of the circumstances of Ireland, that nothing can be more untenable than the doctrines of lord Liverpool, concerning the causes of her disorders, and the remedies that are fit to be applied to them. The noble lord says, and very truly, that it was, owing to the source of the evil being mistaken, that an effectual remedy had not yet been applied: but when the noble lord goes on to say, what is, in his opinion, the source of the evil, he shows, that he does not comprehend, in the most remote degree, the character of the people, or those circumstances belonging to the disturbances, which must always be taken into consideration, in endeavouring to ascertain the real source of them.

The noble lord lays down this position, “that all the insurrections in Ireland, with the exception of that of 1798, have been directed against property, and not against the government of the country.” This position has been so frequently in- 1161 sisted upon by the noble lord, and so little has been said to controvert it, that it has become indispensably necessary to examine it, in order to prevent the injurious consequences which may flow from it. The first great mistake on which this opinion is founded consists in the assumption, that the lower orders of the people of Ireland have no kind of interest in the state of the penal laws under which they live; that they do not concern themselves at all with politics; that they are Only influenced by the consideration of matters of property—tithes, rent, and taxes. Now Sir, I can assure the House, that nothing is more unfounded than this assumption. Feeling the importance of ascertaining, by every means in my power, what the real state of the case is, I have for several years made it my business to obtain information upon it. I have conversed with and examined a great many individuals of the lower orders: I have consulted their bishops and their clergy: I have obtained the opinions of the best informed Catholics in every profession; and I have myself had the advantage of witnessing the fullest expression of popular feelings on two severely-contested elections, in which the whole population took a most lively interest: and the opinion that I have formed, as the result of all my experience, is, that the whole mind of the people is occupied with politics; that they thoroughly comprehend every law and every measure of government which relates to them; that they have a very: accurate knowledge of all the privations to which they are exposed; and that they not only know, that they live as a class placed in a condition of inferiority in respect to a small party in the country, but that they practically feel inconvenience from this condition of inferiority. I believe, therefore that the disturbances are altogether political; that although many local provocations immediately produce the first overt acts, the principle which serves to give them continuance, extension, and power, is a political principle.

The noble lord has endeavoured to illustrate his position by referring to the feelings expressed towards his majesty on his visit to Ireland. But really nothing can be more unfortunate than this illustration: for the whole spirit of the expression of those feelings consisted in this, that it was universally believed, that the king came to Ireland to give relief to the 1162 people from the long-established by stem of a local Irish government, that made the interests of the people subservient to those of an exclusive ascendancy party. The people said, they had at last got a king of their own—this was the emphatic way in which they drew the distinction between the king and the castle. The people know the king has all his life been their friend; and if he were now to go into the south of Ireland, they would instantly abandon their insurrectionary practices; but not because those practices were wholly against property but because they would calculate upon change in the laws and in the measures of government, as a certain consequence of his majesty’s becoming personally acquainted with their condition.

Another way of showing that the disturbances are of apolitical character is by referring to the evidence I have laid before the House, of the nature and objects of the disturbances The object of the disturbance in 1801 is described by a committee to be, a sudden rising, and the seizing of the possession of the country. The object of Emmet’s conspiracy was, to put down the government The object of the Ribbon-men is the same; and in respect to the disturbances which have existed in regular succession, is it consistent with common reasoning to infer, that they are solely leveled against property, when they are carried on by administering secret oaths, and for the purpose of arming the whole of the population?

But a circumstance, which fully shows, that the pressure of tithes, rent, or taxes, is not the cause of these disturbances, is, that they never Were more general, according to the dispatches of lord Whitworth, than in the years 1811,1812, and 1813, when the market prices of landed produce were so high, and labourers wages so great, that the people felt no pressure whatever from the Circumstances of the times, as connected with property.

The same noble lord has also said “that the real question had never been considered: and why? Because it was the interest of faction to give a direction to grievances entirely different from that which actually caused them; to represent evils as growing out of the measures of government; to trace disturbance and discontent to the conduct of this or that administration.” But the noble lord seems to have for gotten, that it is decidedly the interest of government to say, the insuf- 1163 rections are not against government; and thus, as would say to give a direction to grievances entirely different from that which actually caused them. Nothing can be more convenient to government than to have this doctrine believed in; for then they are wholly freed from all responsibility. They can say, we really have nothing to do with these disturbances, but to quell them as well as we can: it is with the landlords to remove the causes of them.

But upon this point, “who, or what party gives the wrong direction to grievances?” we possess a method of bringing it to a test; and that is, by referring to the opinion of persons of unquestionable authority in all matters of this kind. The authority to which shall refer is that of Mr. Burke; and I think the House will, when they hoar his opinion, admit, that nothing can be more applicable to the present case of Ireland than his words are, as contained in his “Thoughts on Popular Discontents.” He says, “In all disputes between the people and their rulers, the presumption is at least upon a par in favour of the people”—”When popular discontents have been very prevalent, it may well be affirmed and supported, that there has I been generally something found amiss in the constitution and in the conduct of government. The people have no interest in disorder. When they do wrong, it is from error, and not from crime; but with the governing part of the state it is far otherwise.” Here is the opinion of Mr. Burke, and one more applicable to show the futility of the position of the noble lord, and to direct the House how to judge correctly upon the disturbances of Ireland, could not exist. The length of time for which popular discontents have j been prevalent in Ireland shows, beyond; all doubt, that they are not directed against property, but that there is something amiss in the constitution and in the conduct of government.

But Sir, however unfounded the doctrine may be, that the insurrections are wholly against property, it is no doubt true there exist many appearances to make this doctrine seem to be correct; particularly with those who are not locally acquainted with Ireland, or who do not possess the means of unravelling circumstances of a very complicated and almost incomprehensible nature. It is quite true, that the first outrages of the insurgents 1164 are uniformly directed against the owners of property, or the laws for regulating it; and the commencement of every disturbance may almost always be traced to some matter of rents or tithes. In the manner of managing these descriptions of property in Ireland, there frequently occur great provocations to excite the resistance and the revenge of the lower orders. But their efforts very soon cease to be limited to the mere objects of retaliation and redress, as connected with the immediate and pressing grievance. The disturbance, that begins on one estate, spreads rapidly over the parish, then over the country then over the adjoining counties; and no connection at last is to be traced between the settled course of disturbances and the original provocations. This is the regular progress of the disturbances: and the true point to ascertain is, why local commotion spreads so rapidly? This readiness to embark in insurrection; the practice of administering secret oaths, that meets with so much support and protection, though exposing the parties to transportation; the associating together under engagements to be ready to come forward when called upon, and to use every means of obtaining arms; the long succession of disturbances, all managed on the same plan; and the open insurrections, which have actually taken place against the government; all serve to place it beyond dispute, that something, as Mr. Burke says, is amiss in the government, and that some deep-seated discontent possesses the minds of the whole people.

But even if the doctrine were correct that the disturbances of the south of Ireland are wholly directed against property, what is the source of the spirit of insurrection, which belongs to the association of Ribbon-men, that is wholly distinct and unconnected with these’ disturbances? This society has been growing up for several years: a great portion of the people are embarked in it. The plan of it is well adapted to the management of the physical force of the country. It is founded on the plan of the conspiracy of 1798, and has the same objects. It is making a progress, that, unless something be done to suppress it, the whole country will be formed into a secret conspiracy against the government. This, in point of fact, is a conspiracy a vast deal more formidable than the open disturbances in the south of Ireland, and therefore the more particularly requiring the attention 1165 of government and of parliament; but no one can show a single instance in which it is directed against rents, tithes, or taxes, or any description of property.

The great importance, Sir, of every thing that is said by the first minister of the country, in respect to the affairs of Ireland, makes it necessary for me to refer to the remedies which he proposes for its disorders. The noble lord says, “Amelioration is to be accomplished by education of the lower orders, by inculcating principles and encouraging habits of order and tranquillity.” “All experience,” his lordship says, “shows, that this was the best and only remedy.” The modus operandi, which is to accompany this remedy, is what I really cannot comprehend. How is education to bring about this amelioration? The body, on which it is to be applied, consists of millions of people, highly educated already in all the mysteries and practices of insurrection; with their minds full of established hatreds and animosities; too old to go to school, and too hardened in long established habits to be influenced by good advice and admonition. Education, it is very true, cannot be too much cultivated and extended in Ireland; but its use will be through its influence on the rising generation, and limited to their improvement.

But the noble lord, in proposing education as a proper remedy, not only proposes what is impracticable as a remedy, as it relates to the actual participation in the existing disturbances, but advances a doctrine, that is not to be supported by any sound principle, of government. Because all experience, and the authority of all the best writers on government, establish this maxim, that the manners of a people are always formed by the laws under which they live. To the laws, therefore, the noble lord should look for the sources of the existing manners of the people of Ireland; and to an alteration of these laws for that amelioration in the condition of that people, which he says is to be accomplished only by education.

An hon. member (Mr. John Smith), who on all occasions, when Ireland is the subject of debate, expresses such liberal arid kind feelings for its welfare, mentioned Scotland, in the last debate on the Insurrection act, as illustrative of the effect of education in correcting the savage, and insurrectionary manners of a people; but, the hon. member is not historically accurate in connecting effects 1166 with their proper causes. The case of Scotland is this: Fletcher of Saltoun relates, that the lower orders, about the end of the seventeenth century, were in a condition of perfect barbarism and law lessness; but the frightful catalogue of vices which he enumerates, were to be traced, and have always been traced, to the misconduct of government. The state of society which then existed was the natural consequence of arbitrary government, and of the attempts which were made to subvert the religion of the people by the roost cruel persecutions. This was the source of the evil. The remedy was not education; but such a change in the laws, as restored and established the religion of the country. It was this act of conciliation and concession, that put an end to the civil commotions of; Scotland, and laid the foundation for that state of order and tranquillity, which has since made the union between Scotland arid England so great a blessing to both countries. It is no doubt very true, that education has had a great share in civilizing Scotland; but without the preparatory measure of removing political discontent, every one must see that education could have done but little.

But again, in respect to Scotland, let it be remembered, that the education of that country is confided to the management of the Scotch people, and their own clergy; and that no minister has yet pro posed to form a plan for educating the people of Ireland, by giving the necessary means to the Catholics, and to the Catholic clergy.

Some statesmen have not hesitated; to; say, that the source of all the disorders of Ireland was to be found in her absentees; but this is a very loose way of accounting for an evil of so great; magnitude. This case of the absentees has been very much misrepresented and exaggerated. In the first place, it is a great mistake to say, that the absentees injure Ireland in respect to her improvement in wealth, because it is precisely the same thing, whether articles of the produce of Ireland are purchased by the landlord in Ireland, or purchased to be exported, to meet his drafts for his rents. It is true, the country suffers; from absentees, by losing their assistance as magistrates, and their example as men of education. But in a great many parts of Ireland, their places are supplied by resident landlords or by respectable agents.

1167 It is not rich resident landlords that are wanting in Ireland, so much as making the middle classes satisfied with their situation, and inducing them to take that active part in society, which enables them so effectually to assist in the administration of the laws, and in preserving the habits of the people. There is, through out Ireland, a very numerous and respect able middle order of people; but they are highly discontented with the laws, and neutral between the people and the government. In respect to the absentees, this may be farther observed, that, in the counties at present the most disturbed, there are more resident gentlemen than in any other part of Ireland. But, in proportion as the number of absentees is an evil, so is it of importance to establish tranquillity, as nothing contributes so much to make new absentees as these disturbances.

There another description of statesmen, who say, that the only way of putting down disturbances in Ireland is by finding employment for the people. But these statesmen overlook all the great principles of political science, and of political economy, upon which the general employment of the people depend. There must exist funds for paying them; but how are these to be created? Not by private subscriptions, or grants of parliament: these are ridiculous inventions for finding employment for a population of seven millions. Funds for employing the people of Ireland depend upon her markets, the profits of capital, and the accumulation of capital. The process of acquiring them is necessarily slow. Nations rise only by degrees out of poverty, and struggle for many years before such a state of things arrives, as admits of a full employment of the whole people. England herself cannot find employment for her whole people. All we can do, in regard to Ireland is, to remove obstructions in the way of industry, of trade, and of the investment of English capital in Ireland. And the most direct way of doing this is, by composing discontents, reconciling the people to the government, and establishing security of persons and property in Ireland.

So much stress is laid upon these supposed causes of disturbances, by persons of name and authority, and so much in jury is the result of erroneous theories concerning them, particularly when they govern the conduct of several members of 1168 the cabinet, that too much pains cannot be taken to expose their true character, and to get the public mind to come to a correct judgment upon the real causes of the disorders. The common error, which is made by the authors and supporters of these theories, is, that they take a very superficial view of the circumstances of Ireland, and build their conclusions on local and temporary outrages. They judge from the proximate excitements of disturbance, and connect only the apparent existing grievance with the consequent outrage belonging to it. They do not take into account the prepared state in which the minds of the people are to join in any commotion, whatever may be the casual or peculiar incident that has occasioned it. They never take into their consideration this question, which was so ably put last year by the right hon. gentleman, the member for Inverness (Mr. C. Grant), in his excellent speech on the state of Ireland*—What is the reason why local commotion spreads so rapidly in Ireland? They wholly forget, that this case of national disease may be one of the mind, of strong feelings, and even of wounded pride. They also make this great mistake, that they think the whole difficulty consists in keeping down the lower orders, because they see only the lower orders concerned in the disturbances; whereas the middle classes are in point of fact, a main part of the question; for in Ireland, as in all other countries, it is by the aid of the middle classes only that the lowest are governed, and brought either to oppose, or to be con tented with the laws.

I have dwelt, Sir, at some length upon the examination into the causes, which may be called the popular causes, that are so generally set forth to account for the disturbances in Ireland, because I am convinced, that the case of Ireland will never be rightly understood, until the whole of them are exposed and abandoned. * See Vol. vi, p. 1500, of the present Series. Mr. Grant, having filled the office of chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland for three years, is in every respect fully qualified to come forward as a witness upon the nature and causes of the disturbances in Ireland. His speech contains a most able exposition of them, and should be read by every one anxious to become acquainted with the affairs of Ireland. The great difference that exists in the Opinions of the chief secretary and the present prime minister is peculiarly striking. 1169 By serving to present something like a proper explanation of the sources of the evil, they do great harm, in as much as they prevent inquiry from being carried sufficiently far to be able to discover what are the true sources. Tithes, rents, want of education, absentees, unemployed poor, each and all of them no doubt serve to aggravate the evil; each is a great provocation, but they are not the causes of it. For let us suppose all to be done that can be done to afford relief in each particular case can any one feel the smallest confidence, that an end would be put to the disturbances of Ireland? In point of intelligence and wealth, the country would certainly be greatly improved; but, unless the political condition of the people be changed if they continue to, think they are placed in a condition of political inferiority and exclusion, will not this increased intelligence and wealth make them still more formidable than they now are?

To arrive at the source of the evil, and to understand what us likely to prove a proper remedy, more enlarged principles must be referred to, arid the state of the Irish people must be examined according to those rules which the experience of what has occurred in all other countries has established us safe and sound rules for governing mankind. Among those persons who have taken a public part in the affairs of Ireland, there is a class who differ altogether from those to whom I have been alluding in the way of accounting for the disturbances in Ireland but unfortunately, in my opinion, they have been but too little attended to This class conceives the long-continued series of disturbances, resembling each other so entirety in character and execution, must necessarily be the offspring of some uniform, continual, and universal national feeling, originally excited, and afterwards established, by political events having one general influence upon it; and they look back to the history of Ireland for an explanation of those events, and for the cause of this national feeling.

This historical case may be stated in a very few words, without any risk of in accuracy, or any possibility of refutation:—Beginning from the year 1600, we know, that the whole of that century was a century of war, bloodshed, and spoliation: during that century, nearly the whole landed property of the island changed masters by confiscation. The 1170 entire area of Ireland is reckoned at twelve millions of Irish acres: and of that number, lord Clare states, that eleven millions and a half underwent confiscation in the course of the century. The necessary consequence of these events was, that the seventeenth century closed by leaving the deepest discontent and hatred towards England. By this reference to history, the first fact is, established, of great consequence in tracing the causes of the existing disturbances; namely, that at the end of the last century the people of Ireland were possessed of the most fixed and most general feelings of discontent and hatred towards England; and, this being the case, I ask what has been done, what change of system has taken place, since that period, at all calculated to remove this discontent and haired?

Certainly, nothing took place during the first seventy eighteenth century, to alter the feelings of the people of Ireland, but, on the contrary, a vast deal, father to exasperate them. For, immediately after the final conquest of Ireland by William 3rd, that code of laws was commenced which formed that abominable anti-catholic code, which had for its object to deprive the Catholics of all political power and privileges, of the means of acquiring and pre serving property, of education and of religion. And as no change in this policy of governing Ireland was made until the year 1778, it is evident that no alteration, up to that time, could have taken place in the feelings of discontent and hatred of England, which: existed at the end of the seventeenth century.

But, Sir, the tendency of this penal code to keep alive discontent and hatred towards England was greatly aggravated by the direct violation, which these penal laws effected, of the treaty of Limerick, under which Ireland was surrendered by the generals of James to king William. The House, and the people of this country, should always remember, that the conquest of Ireland by William was not complete, until he entered into terms with the Irish general and through them with the people of Ireland. The conquest of Ireland occupied William two years and two moths: several severe battles were fought, and the first siege of Limerick has failed. Until it surrendered, a great portion of Ireland adhered to James. The besieged were in a condition 1171 to have held; out longer; and, had they done so, they would have been relieved by large reinforcements from France a French fleet having arrived in Dingle Bay three days after the capitulation. Had William failed in obtaining possession of Ireland just when he did, it is possible that he would never have surmounted the difficulties of establishing the Revolution; so that, in point of fact, the surrender and treaty of Limerick are very much connected with the success of that great measure.

I will now explain to the House the terms of this treaty. By the first article, “The Roman Catholics of this kingdom (Ireland) shall enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion as are consistent with the laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the reign of Charles 2nd: and their majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such farther security in that particular as may preserve them from any disturbance on account of their religion.” Now, Sir, in the reign of Charles 2nd, the Catholics sat in parliament, and could fill all the civil offices of the state; they were excluded only from corporations.

The ninth article of the treaty is to this effect: “The oath to be administered to such Roman Catholics as shall submit to their majesties government, shall be the oath aforesaid, and no other;” namely, the oath of allegiance made in the first year of the reign of William and Mary.*

As the penal laws against the Catholics derive all their force, by requiring oaths and declarations which are wholly different from this oath of allegiance, namely, the oath of supremacy, and the declaration against transubstantiation, it is quite evident they were direct violations of the treaty. No one can doubt, that the object of the Irish generals, who proposed the conditions of the treaty, was, to secure the rights and privileges of the constitution: this was the consideration for which they surrendered Ireland to William and to England; and such would have been the necessary consequence of* a fair fulfilment of it. But in place of this result, the penal laws excluded the Catholics * “I, A. B., sincerely and solemnly swear, that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to their majesties king William and queen Mary. So help me God. 1172 from the constitution, and left it only in the possession of the Protestants, thereby not only taking away what the Catholics had a right to have, but giving to the Protestants a superiority over them, and every kind of arbitrary power to enforce the penal laws with rigour against them. This is the basis on which the government of Ireland was formed at the Revolution. The same system of government has existed ever since: a government established on the principle of excluding six millions of the people from those rights and privileges which had been guaranteed to them by the solemn act of a king of England. May I not ask, is it not very probable, that all the misfortunes which have befallen Ireland during the last 130 years, and which now afflict, her, would have been prevented had faith been kept with the Roman Catholics?

I am very well aware, Sir, that the construction which I am now giving to the treaty of Limerick is not the construction given to it by some other persons. A Mr. Browne, formerly representative of the university of Dublin, and Dr. Duigenan, published laboured, pamphlets to endeavour to show, that all that was guaranteed to the Catholics was the toleration of their religion: but let those gentlemen who wish to see the treaty fully explained, read in Curry’s Civil Wars of Ireland the arguments of sir Theobald Butler, Mr. Malone, and sir. Stephen Rice, at the bar of the Irish House of Commons, against the popery laws, and they will see how full of sophistry these writings are of Mr. Browne and Dr. Duigenan.

That the Catholics considered and. complained of the penal laws as a violation of this treaty is proved by the effort they made, with the assistance of these learned and able counsel, to stop them from passing. Their endeavours were in vain; for the Irish parliament, in defiance of all faith and decency, broke through all the engagements under which Ireland had been surrendered to England. But the publication of Mr. Burke’s posthumous works has put an end to all controversy concerning the treaty of Limerick, as it is impossible to refute the arguments which he sets forth to prove the violation of it. In the Tracts on the Popery Laws, he says, “It will now be seen, that even if these laws could be supposed agreeable to those of nature in these particulars, on another, and almost as strong a principle 1173 they are yet unjust, as being contrary to positive compact, and the public faith most solemnly plighted. On the surrender of Limerick and some other Irish garrisons, in the war of the Revolution, the lords justices of Ireland, and the commander-in chief of the king’s forces, signed a capitulation with the Irish, which was afterwards ratified by the king himself by inspeximus under the great seal of England. It contains some public articles relative to the whole body of the Roman Catholics in that kingdom, and some with regard to the security of the greater part of the inhabitants of five counties. What the latter were, or in what manner they were observed, is, at this day, of much less public concern. The former are two, the 1st and 9th: the 1st is of this tenour: The Roman Catholics of this kingdom (Ireland) shall enjoy such privileges, in the exercise of their religion, as are consistent with the laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the reign of Charles the 2nd; and their majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such farther security in that particular, as may preserve them from any disturbance on account of their religion.’ The 9th article is to this effect: ‘The oath to be administered to such Roman Catholics as submit to their majesties’ government shall be the oath aforesaid, and no other,’ &c. viz. the oath of allegiance, made by an act of parliament in England, in the first year of their then majesties, as required by the second of the articles of Limerick.” “Compare,” says Mr. Burke, “this latter article with the penal laws, and judge whether they seem to be the public acts of the same power, and observe whether other oaths are tendered to them, and under what penalties. Compare the former with the same laws, from the beginning to the end, and judge whether Roman Catholics have been preserved, agreeably to the sense of the article, from, any disturbance upon account of their religion: or rather, whether on that account there is a single right of nature, or benefit of society, which has not been either totally taken away or considerably impaired.”

“But,” proceeds Mr. Burke, “it is said that the legislature was not bound by this article, as it has never been ratified in parliament. I do admit it never had that sanction, and that the parlia- 1174 ment was under no obligation to ratify these articles by any express act of theirs. But still I am at a loss how they come to be less valid, on the principles of our constitution, by being without that sanction. They certainly bound the king and his successors. The words of the article do this, or they do nothing: and, so far as the Crown had a share in passing those acts (the penal laws), the public faith was unquestionably broken. But,” continues Mr. Burke, “the constitution will warrant us in going a great deal farther, and in affirming, that a treaty executed by the Crown, and contradictory of no preceding law, is full as binding on the whole body of the nation as if it had twenty times, received the sanction of parliament; because the very same constitution which has given to the houses, of parliament their definite authority, has also left to the Crown the trust of making peace, as a consequence, and much the best consequence, of the prerogative to making war. If the peace was ill made my lords Galway, Coningsby, and Porter, who signed it, were responsible, because they were subject to the community But its own contracts are not subject to it, it is subject to them: and the compact of the king, acting constitutionally, is the compact of the nation. Observe what monstrous consequences would result from a contrary position. A foreign enemy has entered, or a domestic one has arisen in the nation. In such events, the circumstances may be, and often have been, that parliament cannot sit. That was precisely the case in that rebellion of Ireland.” Vol. ix, p. 377.

With such an authority as that of Mr. Burke, I may with safety say, that there was a violation of the treaty of Limerick by the enactment of the popery, laws; and no one can doubt, that these lass must have contributed to the continuing that discontent and hatred to England, which had been established by the events of the seventeenth century. As new penal laws against the Catholics were passed through all the reigns preceding that of Geo, 3rd, and as no change whatever took place till the first act for giving relief, in 1778, it is therefore, correct to infer, that nothing had happened, up to that period, to abate the discontent and hatred of Ireland towards England.

I will now, Sir, examine, whether, from the year 1778 to the present time, any political occurrence have taken place 1175 of such a nature as to enable us to suppose, that at this moment there exist less discontent and less hatred to England in Ireland, than at former periods. It is, no doubt, true, that the late reign was distinguished by many very valuable concessions to Ireland. The act of 1793 was unquestionably a great favour conferred upon the Catholics. But the effects which ought to have followed those measures have never taken place. The liberal and kind intentions of the king, and of parliament have been intercepted by the old hostile spirit of exclusive government which has had possession, almost without interruption, of all power in Ireland; and the consequence has been, that new discontent has arisen, from no practical enjoyment being allowed of the benefits which were intended to have been given by the relief acts: so that the public mind has been occupied almost perpetually, with the numerous evils which have been the consequence of the efforts and insults of the Orange associations, rather than in estimating, very justly, the value of what has been conceded.

Besides, it has unfortunately happened, that, just when the system of legislation became more conciliatory, in respect to the popery laws, it became very sanguinary and severe in punishing popular excesses. The White boy act, the Tithe acts, the Insurrection and Martial-law acts, which in succession were passed during the late reign, have kept alive, in full vigour, all the old hatred and hostility to the English law and government; and, therefore, what between the effects of the administration Of the Irish government being in the hands of the Orange party, and of these sanguinary laws, we are obliged to draw this conclusion, in respect to the present temper and feelings of the people of Ireland towards England, that there exists no reason for supposing, that it is less hostile now than it was at the end of the seventeenth century.

In coming to this conclusion, Sir, I have the sanction of the authority of the present and last chief secretary to the lord lieutenant of Ireland. The late chief, secretary (Mr. C. Grant), in his speech last year, describes the vivid recollections of past history, and the force and intensity of mental associations, which distinguish the lower orders of the people. The present chief secretary (Mr. Goulburn), in his speech last year, on sir John Newport’s motion, gave to the House a very 1176 accurate description of the origin of the disorders of Ireland; and, had he followed out his own facts to their proper conclusion, he would have given the same description of the sources of the existing disorders as I now do. He said, “A bitter animosity existed to the English government, that had been handed down, since the conquest of Ireland, from father to son, and which at this moment pervaded the minds of the Irish peasantry.”—”Up to that very moment,” he said, “the conduct which had been pursued, in the conquest of Ireland, was referred to in that country as a just ground for hatred of the existing government.”

In addition to these authorities, I am able to refer to the Catholics themselves; for they say, in the late address, agreed upon to be presented by the Catholic body to the king, “The main vice of the system of misrule is the system of hostility to the law, in which it places the great majority of the people.” This hostility, this bitter animosity, this discontent and hatred, which were general in Ireland at the end of the seventeenth century, which were continued by the popery laws, and which have farther been continued by bad government, and by coercive laws, and which exist up to this very moment against England, form that deep-seated disease which is the source of all commotion and disturbance, and which we have now to attempt to cure. This is the evil we have to contend with, we must cure this, to put down disturbances. This is my opinion, after long deliberation, after seeing and knowing the people, tracing events, and examining them in all ways; an opinion, which, I feel confident, is borne out by the actual circumstances of Ireland.

Then, Sir, I feel that I may safely say, that none of those remedies, which are commonly proposed, can be of any avail; not any of them will serve to conciliate the feelings of the people, so long estranged to the English government. As to the Insurrection act, and measures of that kind, they can do no good; for measures of force have in no country removed discontent, when it has once got fast hold of the public mind; on the contrary, they have always increased it, and made the evil take deeper root.

To treat, therefore, the case of Ireland properly, we must begin by acknowledging, that the people have had great cause to be discontented, and to be hostile 1177 to the English law and English connexion; we must consider it as beyond all dispute, that this discontent and hostility exist, to as great a degree as ever, at the present moment; and we must adopt those measures which have been so often successful in this country when, similar disorders: have prevailed. The history of England, fortunately, is not without precedents to point out the proper remedy in such a case. This country has often been rent asunder by internal commotion; but, as the refusal or withdrawing of some constitutional right has always been the cause, so the concession of the right has always proved a remedy. The case of Wales resembles that of Ireland in a very remarkable degree. It was not considered a part of the realm. It was governed by lords marches in a very arbitrary manner. The people were fierce and uncultivated, and in constant disorder. Severe laws were passed, but to no purpose; until, in the reign of Henry the eighth, the English constitution was given to Wales, and then all disorder ceased, and the country became tranquil and happy.* * As in the course of the debate it was asserted, that the case of Wales did not apply to that of Ireland, the following extract from Mr. Burke’s Speech on America will serve to refute this assertion. “I am sure,” says Mr. Burke, “I shall hot be misled, when, in a case of constitutional difficulty, I consult the genius of the English constitution;”—”and consulting at that oracle,” he says, “I refer to the example of Wales.” “This country,” he proceeds to say, “was said to be reduced by Henry the third. It was said more truly to be so by Edward the first. But though then conquered it was not looked upon as any part of the realm of England. Its old constitution, whatever that might have been, was destroyed, and no good one was substituted in its place. The manners of the Welsh nation followed the genius of the government; the people were ferocious, restive, savage, and uncultivated; sometimes composed, never pacified. Wales, within itself, was in perpetual disorder; and it kept the frontier of England in perpetual alarm. Benefits from it to the state there were none. Wales was only known to England by incursion and invasion.”—”Sir,” Mr. Burke says, “during that state of things parliament was not idle. They attempted to subdue the fierce spirit, of the Welsh by all sorts of rigorous laws. When the Statute book was not quite so much swelled as it is now, you find no less than fifteen acts of penal regulation on the subject of Wales. Here we rub our hands.—A fine body of precedents for the authority of parliament and the use of it! I admit it fully; and pray add likewise to these pre- 1178 Now that every attempt that has hitherto been tried to put down disturbance and to check the spirit of insurrection in Ireland has failed, and that the disorders are increasing and. becoming most formidable, would it not be wise to change the system of governments, and see whether the giving to Ireland the constitution would not have the same good effect that it bad in Wales? This experiment has never yet been tried, though often promised, and surely there exist abundant reasons for no longer deferring it. But, Sir, when I intimate an opinion, that the proper remedy for the disorders of Ireland is the giving of the constitution, I am fully sensible that I tread on disputable ground: that there, are those who maintain, that Ireland possesses the English constitution; and, what is rather curious, they date the period of its origin at the Revolution, when the treaty of Limerick was violated by the passing of the popery laws.

Now, I have no hesitation in asserting, cedents, that all the while Wales rid this kingdom like an incubus: that it was unprofitable and oppressive burthen.” Your ancestors did, however, at length open their eyes to the ill husbandry of injustice. They, found, that the tyranny of a free people could, of all tyrannies, the least be endured; and that laws made against a whole nation were not the most effectual methods for securing its obedience Accordingly, in the 27th year of Henry the eighth, the course was entirely altered. With a preamble, stating the entire and perfect rights of the crown of England, it gave the Welsh all the rights and privileges of English subjects. A political order was established; the military power gave way to the civil; the marches were turned into counties. But that a nation, should have a right to English liberties, and yet no share at all in the fundamental security of these liberties, the grant of their own property, seemed a thing so incongruous, that eight years after, that is, in the thirty-fifth of the reign, a complete and not ill-proportioned representation by counties and boroughs was bestowed upon Wales, by an act of parliament. From that moment, as by a charm, the tumults subsided; obedience was restored; peace, order, and civilization followed in the train of liberty. When the day-star of the English constitution had arisen in their hearts, all was harmony within and without. —”Simul alba nautis Stella refulsit, Defluit saxis agitatus humor: Concidunt venti: fugiuntque nubes; Et minax (quod sic voluere) ponto Unda recumbit. Parl. Hist. v. 18, p. 512. 1179 in the most unqualified and positive manner, that Ireland does not enjoy the English constitution. Six-sevenths of the people are deprived of many of its most essential privileges, but particularly of that right which forms the fundamental security of English liberty—the right of representation. Nominally the constitution does exist in Ireland. The great bulwarks of English liberty are by law established there, but they exist only by name, except for the benefit of a few. There are juries, there are the Habeas Corpus act, the elective franchise, and representation by counties and boroughs: but let it be remembered under what exceptions and qualifications, and in what and in what way the constitution is administered! No one can deny, that the administration of it may totally alter its character and its character and its real efficacy. In point of fact, no one thing can be more unlike to another thing than the constitution as it exists in Ireland is to the constitution as it exists in England. Those great principles of morals and public virtue, which direct in England the constitution in all its operations are yet to be acquired in Ireland; and perhaps it may safely he said, that that party in Ireland, who have exclusively held the power of the state in their own hands, are distinguished beyond all other men by being little subject to the influence of these great and valuable moving principles.

But, Sir, the best tests in a question of this kind are the actual facts belonging to it. Take the Catholics of Ireland; do they really enjoy the practical benefits which all Englishmen enjoy under their constitution? How many rights are taken from them by law? What are the effects of those privations? Are they on a footing of equality with their fellow countrymen? Do they not really live subject to the tyranny of a part of the people; that is, to the worst of all tyrannies—the tyranny of a free people?

The truth is, that being deprived of representation by persons of their own persuasion, they are deprived of the fundamental security of English liberty. They are in that state in which Wales was described to be; a nation having a right to English liberties, and yet no share in the fundamental security of those liberties—the grant of their own property. True it is, that Catholics may Vote at elections, and send Protestant representatives to parliament but this 1180 sort of virtual representation is not sufficient. No Protestant can represent Catholics, in the spirit and meaning of English representation. There must be an actual identity and sympathy in all respects between the constituent and the representative; and the truth and importance of this intimate connection cannot be better illustrated than by the actual condition of the Catholics; for had Catholics been allowed to sit in parliament, would it have been possible to keep on the Statute book the numerous vexatious and grievous laws which still exist there? And could a small party of Irishmen have been allowed to exercise all the powers of government in the way they have done over six-sevenths of their countrymen? Mr. Burke illustrates the necessity of real representation by refers ring again to Wales, when speaking of America. He says, Wales Chester, and Durham were surrounded by abundance of representation that was actual and palpable. “But,” he adds, “your ancestors thought this sort of virtual representation, however ample, to be totally insufficient for the freedom of the inhabitants of territories, that are so near and comparatively so inconsiderable; how then can I think it sufficient for those which are infinitely greater and infinitely more remote?” Ireland, then, like Wales, Chester, and Durham, must possess the right of real representation, before, like them, she will properly possess the English constitution.

But, Sir, if what I have already advanced is not sufficient to establish the case, that Ireland does not possess the English constitution, and that the proper remedy for its disorders will be, the giving of the constitution to her, I shall be able, without the possibility of failure, to establish both these points by referring to what took place at the time of the Union. For I shall be able to show, that Mr. Pitt must have acted under the impression, that Ireland did not possess the Constitution; and also, that his main object in carrying that measure was, to give to Ireland the constitution.

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Wilmot Horton – Hansard – 18200531

Mr. Wilmot

thought it was paltering with the agriculturists to grant a committee, if there was not an intention to support remedial measures in their favour. It would have been better to oppose the appointment of a committee than to resist all practical measures which it might recommend. He could not conceive any thing more futile than to agree to a motion, and then set one’s face against the objects proposed. On the Catholic question, for instance, a subject which was to be shortly submitted to them, if any member were to say that he supported going into a committee, but at the same time stated his determination to oppose every object of that committee, what could be more contradictory? His own belief 720 was, that all they could do was by a legislative process to extract from the manufacturer something to be given to the agriculturist. He approved of protection to a certain point, and the price fixed in the year 1815 had been virtually increased by the alteration in the value of our currency. The only remedy was to be found in a remission of rent upon poor lands, when the existing leases should expire, and new contracts be entered into. It ought, however, to be observed on behalf of landlords, that they were as much entitled to protection for the capital which they had vested in land, as if that capital were employed in any other way. They ought to be considered in the light of manufacturers of corn. He agreed with the remarks that had been made by the hon. member for Portarlington; but yet he thought they were rather theoretical than practical. The principles of political economy might serve as beacons to enable us to direct our course; but as, in mechanics allowance must be made for friction and resistance, so in legislation reference must be had to the actual situation of affairs. As he understood the right hon. gentleman’s proposition, it was of a ministerial nature, having for its object only to render perfect the execution of the act of 1815, and to this he was ready to give his support. If any improvements could be made in the mode of taking the averages he would wish that they might be made; those improvements were due to the public, but beyond that he thought it would be trifling with the agricultural interests to hold out any expectation.

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Wilmot Horton – Hansard – 18210515

Mr. Wilmot

assured the House, that if he did not consider that this was a question which was capable of being argued conveniently and conclusively within a much narrower compass than that in which it had been discussed in the course of the debate, he should not have risen, feeling as he did, that it was impossible at that late hour of the night to enter fully into the subject; yet, when he considered how deeply the character of the magistracy, the yeomanry, and even of the government itself was implicated, he trusted the House would not refuse to indulge him with a hearing for the very abort time he should claim its attention.—With respect to one gentleman whose name, had been mentioned by the hon. baronet, he thought it his duty to state, that whatever might be the opinion of the House as to his conduct in this instance, no person who had the pleasure of his acquaintance, could entertain a doubt as to the uprightness and humanity of his intentions. He alluded to Mr. Hulton, the chairman of the magistrates on that distressing occasion. He had known Mr. Hulton well in early life, and he appealed to those who also knew him, whether he was not distinguished for that manliness and high and generous spirit which were utterly incompatible with cruelty and oppression. They had heard a number of petitions read, which could not but have excited a considerable degree of regret, as they contained a melancholy detail of individual misfortune; but it appeared to him, that these petitions had been unnecessarily presented to the House, for if they once determined, as he had no doubt they would, that the magistrates, under the peculiarly trying circumstances of the case, were justified in calling in the military to aid the civil police, it would at once be seen, that the extent of casualty 758 did not bear upon the merits of the case, at least not upon the conduct of the magistrates. With respect to the motion of the hon. baronet, he could not but express his astonishment that he should have thought it advisable or expedient to make it. He had avowed, not in covert expressions, or in ambiguous terms, but plainly and distinctly; that he thought the government, for purposes of their own, had sanctioned and encouraged the proceedings which had taken place. Upon that point he (Mr. W.) had a strong opinion, indeed he had the authority of an hon. and learned gentleman. (Mr. Brougham) not inferior in character, ability, and talent to the hon. baronet, who stated on a late occasion, in the most explicit and public manner, that he did not think any person could have the folly to impute such conduct to any government; and he must repeat his astonishment, that the hon. baronet should have suffered his political feelings so to have blinded his common sense, as to suppose that the government of this or any country could act upon such self-stultifying and irrational principles.

With regard to the details contained in the depositions of the events of the 16th of August, the House must not putout of their view the unfortunate transactions of that day. He called them unfortunate, yet he thought it would not be a discreet or prudent measure, especially at this distance of time, to call evidence upon them to the bar of the House. There were other means much more satisfactory for eliciting the truth, which most inexplicably, in his opinion, had not been resorted to. When they recollected that there were only three public meetings from the month of January 1819 to June, and no less than fourteen between June and August, they must consider whether the poverty and distress of the people of Manchester and its vicinity did not make them of necessity the prey of agitators. The people were told that their wants and privations were owing to the defective form of their government—they were told, that to join in the overthrow of that government was the only mode of obtaining a redress of their grievances. He would ask the House, whether this was idle declamation? He could read; the resolutions which were published on the subject: they contained all the attributes and characters of incipient treason. The magistrates having caused the postpone 759 ment of the meeting of the 9th of August, what was the conduct of Mr. Hunt? Was it possible not to take into consideration his conduct and his words? He declared that the meeting of the 16th was to be considered as an adjournment of the meeting of the 9th. Then the hon. baronet asked why not arrest Mr. Hunt? For the plainest of all possible reasons, Mr. Hunt was at that time guiltless of any overt illegal act. The meeting of the 16th of August was a meeting leg any convened, precisely the contrary of that which was intended to have been held on the 9th inst. But when the House re-collected that Mr. Hunt came to the meeting of the 16th of August, accompanied by an immense multitude marshalled in military array, deploying upon the town from various points and advancing with measured steps in regular order and displaying eighteen flags, five caps of liberty, and numerous banners with seditious mottos and legends inscribed on them —and these were facts which he did not state upon light authority, but upon evidence which he was disposed implicitly and unequivocally to believe—he could not for a moment suppose, that the English law could contemplate such a meeting as one that bore a legal character: and, in fact, a grave, unsuspected judicial decision had confirmed the opinion of its decided illegality. He would then beg leave to call the attention of the House, to the very difficult situation in which the magistrates were placed, when, believing it to be their duty to prevent mischief, they arrested Mr. Hunt; and here was the difficulty: the unfortunate casualties that occurred were matters of fact, though highly exaggerated in many quarters. The mischief that might have ensued had the meeting been permitted to continue, and the people been taught their own power, and the alarms of the constituted authorities—that mischief, incalculable as it might have been, was, it seems, wholly to be Bet aside as a negative quantity in any analysis of the proceedings of that day. It did not by any means follow, that the magistrates, in availing themselves of the military power, could have contemplated the unfortunate scene which afterwards took place. Such were the transactions, and the state of affairs at Manchester, at the moment when the magistrates, being informed that the civil power were incompetent to effect the arrest of Mr. Hunt, 760 gave orders for the co-operation of the military. He would say it was not for them to disconnect the meeting of the 16th of August with the circumstances of the former proceedings, or to disconnect them with the state of the public mind at the time. The noble lord (Milton) had said, that up to the moment when the military interfered, the meeting was orderly and peaceable. It might be peaceable, but it was the peace of the thunderstorm, which advances slowly on with dark and lowering aspect, which may pass away, but which more probably may burst upon you with all the rage and fury of the tempest. The discretion to be exercised by the magistrates was a painful one. It was impossible not to feel for them. If they found that the men who were instrumental in giving this order to the military were men of humanity, it was impossible that and motive could be attributed to them but an imperative and overbearing sense of duty, which in a complete degree justified the satisfaction expressed by the ministers of the Crown. Could it fairly be supposed, that the satisfaction expressed by ministers, meant any thing like rejoicing at the events which had taken place? No; but it was a source of satisfaction to find that English magistrates would con-sent to take upon themselves such a responsibility at such a moment. “Was it possible that any man could have contemplated the infliction of wounds on persons of the other sex, on the aged, or on children? Be it remembered too, that the necessary precautions were not omitted: for the circumstances were such as to create a deliberate belief that the treason had arrived at a height which made it uncertain what might be the result. The hon. baronet had stated, that the responsibility of the magistrates was a grave responsibility; and he had reminded them of the denunciation in Holy Writ, that “whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed;” but this denunciation was not to be construed literally; for if it did, it would impeach that blood which was shed by the sword of justice; and, in this instance, if the magistrates were justified in calling in the military, they were not responsible for the accidents that occurred, and the transaction must be considered as one sanctioned by the law, and, as such, included in the exercise of justice on a more extended scale.

761 The hon. baronet had complained, that the liberties of England had passed away; but he thought that the very circumstance of his having made this complaint this night in such a tone as he had employed, was a sufficient disproof of the assertion. He would say, that those on whose beads the vengeance of the law ought to fall, were those who took advantage of the distresses of the people of the country, in order to gratify their own malignant or ambitious views. He thought, with regard to the hon. baronet, that he stood acquitted of any improper motives because the very men whom he supported were those who stigmatized him as a false patriot, as a mere charlatan in politics, and who vilified him in the same terms which he himself employed to vilify his majesty’s government. The hon. baronet had quoted an adage, “Voluntas et propositum distinguant maleficium.” Let that test be applied to the conduct of the magistrates assembled at Manchester, who were improperly termed, Manchester magistrates, and let that test be conclusive. He really thought an inquiry at the bar of the House, would be attended with the most prejudicial consequences: instead of supporting and consolidating the bonds of society; instead of strengthening the link that connects the people with the magistracy, the governed with the government, it would destroy that union, and place them in a state hostile to each other. Of this he was persuaded, that a more honourable body of men than the magistracy, not only at Manchester, but throughout the country, could not be. He had not yet heard it satisfactorily explained, why it was so difficult to prosecute any act of violence that had been wantonly or unjustly committed. If the grand jury had thrown out one or two bills, that was no reason why others might not have been preferred; and he would ask whether this subject would not have come with more propriety before the House if it had been founded on three or four verdicts. The hon. baronet had said, that the memory of this day would never be forgotten; and he had talked of the “Immortale odium et non sanabile vulnus:” certainly, that odium would be immortal, that wound would never be healed, if there was no statute of limitations for grievance, and if the hon. baronet was to come down here every year, and repeat this studied series of accusation and invective. He trusted, however, that 762 the time would soon arrive, when the odium of the transactions at Manchester would attach on theirs real authors—those men, who endeavoured to set the laws at nought, at the government at defiance who. Give the warm1 people no considering time, For then rebellion might be deemed a crime, He hoped, when these transactions should be dispassionately considered, that there would be but one prevailing sentiment with respect to them, and that although it might be deemed an unfortunate period when such measures were resorted to, yet that it would be thought still more unfortunate, that evil and designing men should have been suffered to induce and provoke the people to seek their own destruction as involved in the destruction of the government.—The hon. member concluded with expressing a hope that the time was not far distant, when, contrary to the prediction of the hon. baronet, the people of England would feel and acknowledge that the magistrates of this country had no other desire than to do their duty, and that the magistrates assembled at Manchester, had acquitted themselves, conscientiously in the exercise of a severe and painful discretion.

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Wilmot Horton – Hansard – 18210417

Mr. Wilmot

spoke as follows:—If, Sir, the hon. mover has thought it necessary to offer apologies to the House for the execution of the task which he has undertaken to perform, how much more incumbent is it upon me to press such apologies, and even to throw myself upon the mercy of those from whom I am compelled to differ upon this important question; for I perceive that the benches around me are nearly deserted, while the hon. gentleman is surrounded by a great proportion of his political friends; however, I cannot allow that this thin attendance is owing to any feelings of disrespect towards the hon. member, But to the interest excited by another more vital question in another place, the success of which I trust is far less problematical than that of the measure which we have just heard proposed. I will not stop to compliment the hon. gentleman upon the talents which he has just evinced; he will receive such compliments from others whose praise he will be more disposed to value. He says, that he shall be opposed by the misrepresentations of some, the sophistry of others, and the fears of many. He will not receive any misrepresentation intentional, at least from me; he has nothing to dread from any sophistries of mine, and as for fears, I cannot allow myself to feel the slightest, that this House will consent to a measure so dangerous, so unavailing, and so subversive of the real and tried constitution of this great country.

The hon. gentleman proposes to refer 387 the resolutions on which his bill is founded to a committee, in adoption of the method lately pursued by the eloquent member for the university of Dublin; but, however convenient such a plan may be, I must protest against any sort of analogy. The measures proposed in the bill of the right hon. and learned gentleman, were in perfect unison with the general opinions of those who supported the motion for a committee; but the proposed measures of reform, contained in the bill which the hon. gentleman has had the can dour in this first stage to produce, are directly at variance with the known and recorded opinions of many of those who sit around him, and who will not be more justified in giving their vote for this committee, than they would have been in voting for a committee on the Catholic question with a determination to oppose all the principal points of concession for the express accomplishment of which the right hon. gentleman had introduced the measure.

The hon. member commented at length, in the commencement of his speech, upon the state of the times, and upon the general cry for reformation and amendment; but that cry is mainly founded upon the pecuniary difficulties under which the country now labours, and which have been the necessary and unavoidable result of the arduous contest in which we have been engaged—a contest, be it remembered where the feelings of the people went entirely with the government, and consequently which would not have been prevented by any form of representation of those feelings presumed to be more complete than the existing one. And, Sir, it must not be forgotten, that but for those unparalleled exertions—exertions which I am prepared to admit were greater than the country could sustain in a pecuniary point of view—we should long before now have fallen victims to a despotism the most oppressive and unrelenting in the annals of Europe. There may be those who argue, that we ought to have husbanded our resources; but if the ministers of the Crown who directed the national strength at that awful crisis, instead of stimulating the energies of the country, had deemed it expedient to “husband its resources,” they would only have served as a fund to decorate the grave of the liberties of the people of England.

388 The hon. gentleman has urged, that our standing army is too great, and that in a reformed state so expensive an establishment would not be necessary. Now, Sir, I contend that from the moment the principle of Jacobinism was fully developed, it has been necessary to support standing armies as an auxiliary to the police of the country—that principle which Mr. Windham (the friend of the hon. gentleman opposite) desired to be the embodying the inevitable discontents and misfortunes of mankind, and of attributing them to the errors of civil government for the purpose of overthrowing it. The hon. member has asked,—Will it be possible much longer to resist the general cry for reform which is heard in every part of the country, coupled as it is with the general diffusion of education? For my part, I confidently hope that the spreading education will teach the people to attend less to the suggestions of those who flatter but to betray them, and whose sole object is to> delude them with visionary and pernicious theories. I do not mean to charge such conduct upon the hon. member, or upon any members of this House, but it is matter of undisputed notoriety that such tempters to mischief both exist and prosper. They work upon the natural and justifiable passions of the people. They assure them that they have been despoiled of their inalienable privileges, and invite them to regain them; and among these they have the audacity to record “Annual Parliaments, Universal Suffrage.” Such assertions are capable of mathematical confutation, and have not a shade of plausibility, and they have been too often destroyed to require any comment from me, especially as the hon. member has not made them any part of his case. But I shall merely advert to the monstrous imposture of inviting the regrets of the lower classes to the glorious days of the liberty of their ancestors, when a great proportion of those very classes were in a state of positive slavery, and when the very phrase in Magna Charta of “Nullus liber homo” records for ever the degradation of the unprivileged classes, who were not then deemed worthy to be admitted to an equality of law or to a capacity of privilege. But these are two points which appear to me to be the very key-stones of the argument of the hon. member, on which I will beg permission of the House to say a few words. I mean the universality of the 389 suffrage of freeholders, and the right of the people to triennial parliaments.

He has called our attention to a reply which Edward the 3rd made to a petition from the House of Commons for the annual holding (not election) of parliaments, and on other points, from which he infers the extent of popular rights at that period: but when I quote an address from the House of Commons to the Crown in the same reign, I will leave the House to conjecture the degree of importance to which that branch of the three estates had arrived at that period: “Most dreaded lord” (they say) “as to your war and the equipment necessary for it, we are so ignorant and simple, that we know not how, nor have the power to advise. Therefore we pray your grace to excuse us in this matter, and that it please you with the advice of the great and wise persons of your counsel to ordain what seems best to you and your lords and we shall readily assent to and hold it firmly established.”

The hon. gentleman asserts, that until the reign of Henry 6th all English freemen were entitled to vote, and he refers to the 7th Henry 4th, which enacted, that ‘all they who be present at the county court, as well suitors duly summoned for the same cause as others, shall proceed to elect.” It appears to me unquestionable that the words “all they” referred to suitors only as explained in the succeeding paragraph. Of these there were two sorts, those who were duly summoned, and others who though qualified had not been summoned, and who, from the imperfect degree of communication belonging to that early stage of society, might not have received the summons to which they were entitled. But when the hon. gentleman argues that the statute of the 8th Henry 6th which raised the qualification of the freeholder to 405.—”in consequence of elections having been made by outrageous and excessive numbers of people” did in fact deprive the freeholders of their undoubted rights, I would invite his attention to the consideration how far the state of foreign and domestic politics at that period may appear to favour such an unconstitutional invasion of the rights of the people. He will remember that that was a period of foreign discomfiture and intestine disturbance. Mr. Hallam, in his admirable chapter upon the English constitution, an authority which I am persuaded no member of this House will impeach, has this 390 remarkable passage, which appears to me to bear most strikingly upon this important point. He is alluding to the consultation of parliament upon public affairs and he adds. “Those precedents conspired with the weakness of the executive government in the minority of Henry 6th to fling an increase of influence into the scale of the Commons; they made their concurrence necessary to all important business both of a foreign and domestic nature And yet this is the precise period when the hon. gentleman contends, that a gross violation was effected of the rights of the people.

And now, Sir, with respect to the right of the people to triennial parliaments; and I think this point too clear to involve the possibility of mistake. At the period of the Revolution of 1688, a committee was appointed seven days after the meeting of the convention to bring in general heads of such things as were absolutely necessary for the better securing our religion, liberties, and laws, and for remedying several defects and inconveniences in the constitution. This committee suggested, among other points, the propriety of providing by new laws against the too long continuance of the same parliament. But if the old laws had provided against this danger, why have enacted new ones? Why not have passed a declaratory law? But, above all, why was not this recognition of what the hon. gentleman, I think most erroneously, implies to have been the ancient law. Why was it not inserted in the Declaration of Rights, which was presented to, and accepted by the prince and princess of Orange together with the Crown of England, In the preamble of the triennial act itself, the frequent holding of parliament is declared to be conformable to the ancient laws j but the frequent election of parliament is, on the contrary, described as a measure highly expedient. The triennial bill was passed in 1694s it failed in 1693, and in 1692, king William, who had accepted the Declaration of Rights, refused the royal assent to it. I assert, then, that the question of the duration of parliaments, whether for seven or three years, or any intermediate or longer period, must be decided upon the grounds of “high expediency,” to employ the phrase in the preamble which I have just quoted, and not upon the basis of rights which notoriously have never existed. In fact, in a very powerful article in the last Edinburgh Re- 391 view declaratory of pure Whig doctrines, upon the subject of reform, the writer says,—” Till the passing of the Triennial bill, parliament, unless dissolved by the king, might legally have continued till the demise of the Crown—its only natural and necessary termination. “The honourable gentleman has referred to the extension of the Elective franchise to Wales and Chester and Durham, but that reference if it establishes the fact of additions having been made to the system, it also proves, that the extension of the elective franchise to individuals never could have been a part of the constitution. The right of suffrage for which the inhabitants petitioned was not a right to be given to all the inhabitants, or to all the taxable inhabitants; but to the recognised bodies of electors, the freeholders of counties, and freemen of cities—a right securing to those classes a direct, and to others a virtual representation.

But then we are again told, that in the lapse of ages certain boroughs have fallen into decay, and that consequently a reform is necessary, but the antagonist results, if I may use the expression, are wholly overlooked—on the one hand, the great increase of freehold voters, from the progressive diminution of real qualification, arising from the extreme depreciation of money, and on the other, the extended right of voting in boroughs that have risen into prosperity; both of which effects have increased the relative proportion of the electors to the population in a very great degree, and have given the representation in general a much more popular character. I must not forget to add, the very creation of public opinion by means of the press in its present improved state, and the necessity of the ministers of the Crown, consulting and assaying that opinion, previous to their adoption of any measures of importance. The hon. gentleman has enlarged upon the flagrant injustice of withholding the elective fran-chise from the copyholder and leaseholder. I can by no means enter into his feelings; and I am reminded of what occurred in this House on a former occasion, when a right hon. gentleman argued how unfair it was to make the possession of 240l. in notes the lowest qualification for obtaining gold from the Bank of England, and it was asked why is it not permitted to a comparatively poor man with only 10l. to exchange his notes for gold at the Bank? The hon. member for Portarlington, an- 392 swered “Let him take his notes to a goldsmith and purchase 10 pounds’ worth of gold—he may make the purchase upon equally good terms with his more opulent neighbour who goes directly to the Bank.” So I say, Sir, with respect to the injured copyholder and leaseholder;—let them purchase a 40s. freehold; and let us hear no more of these mock complaints of pretended injustice. The hon. gentleman implies that one effect of his plan of reform would be, to lessen the weight of taxation; but I challenge him to point out any practicable degree of retrenchment which would alleviate the burthens of the people in any material degree; unless you are disposed to break faith with the public creditor; and in that case it does not require a reformed parliament to effect the object. Upon the specific plan proposed I shall say very little. The motion is for a committee, though the hon. gentleman has candidly produced his plan with all its cumbrous accessories of unconstitutional machinery, and all the multiplied inconvenieneies of a perpetual canvass. But allow me to inquire, would any set of men be found in this House to undertake the administration of government with such a plan of Reform in operation as that suggested by the hon. member? and I beg again to quote my former Whig authority upon this point:—” No reform can ever be peaceably carried, otherwise than by a friendly administration; all plans which will not bear the test of this condition are either delusions or instruments of revolution.” I will leave the hon. gentleman to reconcile his own opinion with that of his friends. He has alluded to the disposition shown by some of the great European powers to violate the rights of nations—a disposition which as it has not been countenanced by any members of this House, I do not quite understand how it can be connected with the state of the representation; but if any additional lesson were wanting to show how impossible it is that liberty can thrive where the soil is utterly unprepared to receive it, and how vain and impotent are the boastings of a nation professing itself desirous of emerging from slavery to freedom, but unwilling to face the difficulties of the change, let the fate of Naples point this additional moral. I use the words of one of the most celebrated of modern poets,— In vain may Liberty invoke, The spirit to its bondage broke, And ease the neck that courts the yoke. 393 We have also heard, Sir, a great deal on the present as on former occasions of the advantages of the restoration of that pure system of our ancestors, which they are presumed to have established; but let me inquire where are the seven years at any period of our history, more especially since the Revolution, when the complaints of the increasing influence of the Crown, and of the corruption of parliament and of public men have not been uttered even to nausea? Nor even were these complaints wanting soon after the period of the Revolution itself. If the House will permit me, I will read an extract from a pamphlet published in 1698, which I happened to meet with this morning in an Appendix to a volume of the Parliamentary History. It is entitled, “Considerations on the nature of parliament and on our present Elections.” The writer states, u that corruption is come to such a height, that a wise prince must consent to doing it away.” He then talks “of our low and corrupted state, when patriots must be hired to serve their country, when whigs go resty without pension or place, and begin with untimely barking against the government in war, to conclude with prostitute bawling for it in time of peace.”At last, in common with the hon. gentleman comes his grand panacea, though of a different nature. “Choose Rich Men; let no character of party recommend or prejudice: poor Whigs, poor tories, want equally places, and will act alike to get and keep them. Avoid the younger sons of lords, who full of pride, with empty pockets, will endeavour, at the nation’s cost, to become rich commoners.” He then sums up— “such a parliament would secure us from religious lewdness, protestant arbitrariness and parliamentary slavery.”

I have merely quoted this passage to shew that there were those who considered the very period of the Revolution, as one of marked degeneracy. I am not disposed, taking human nature as it is, to attach much value to such complaints, or to suppose that the reformation of public morals can precede that of private ones. I think with the late sir Philip Francis, at one period, at least, of his life, that the representation is good enough, and fully answers its purpose, that the milk throws up the cream, “and that it is impossible to build up a Grecian temple with brickbats and rubbish.” I am deliberately convinced that a comparison of sound and practical liberty, with former periods of 394 our own history is decidedly in our present favour; and it is especially so with respect to other countries, whether we look to the past or the present. In America, to whose institutions some gentlemen look with such parental fondness, there exists slavery, in the proportion of 19 per cent upon the whole population; in particular provinces the ratio is higher; in Georgia, for example, it is estimated at 71; in Louisiana at 80 per cent: I have found this estimate in the valuable and accurate work of Mr. Sibert. I do not state this in dispraise of America, in whose prosperity I am not ashamed to say I feel the warmest interest. This state of things has been unavoidable in that country, and I trust that she has the disposition to remove this stain; but I do state it to shew that no country enjoys that extension of freedom which it is our singular lot to experience and yet to vilify. I will only offer one observation more, that if the plan of the hon. member was to pass into a law, it would place each representative so directly and immediately under the influence of his constituents, that in attending to their voice he would often be at variance with the interests of the nation, considered as a whole. I might quote the opinion of Algernon Sidney as illustrative of this point, but I shall prefer reading one additional extract from the last Edinburgh Review, so often referred to by me, and which as an acknowledged code of Whig reform, tallying with the plans proposed by my noble friend (lord John Russell) I consider as an important document to be cited on this occasion. The writer says, The members of a legislative assembly ought not to consider themselves as delegates from districts” (the very plan of the hon. member for Durham) “bound by the instructions of their own constituents;” then in a subsequent passage he speaks of “the convenience of so framing the election of a certain portion of the members, as to render them less susceptible of local influence, more impartial, more in fact, what all are in law, the representatives of the whole people.” To such doctrines I must fully and unequivocally assent; and I cannot forget, that one of the most eloquent authors of modern times, has stated the opinion, that a deliberative assembly, however elected, where freedom of discussion and debate was completely permitted would be more likely to preserve and to transmit to posterity the sacred 395 flame of freedom, than an assembly elected upon the purest principles of representation, where such a degree of freedom of debate was not practically enjoyed. I have endeavoured to explain my conscientious opinion, that the plan of the hon. member is neither constitutional nor expedient; at the same time I do not mean to impeach in the slightest degree the sacred feelings of public duty which induced him to bring it forward. I have to apologize for having so long trespassed on the time of the House, and whatever may be the issue of this debate, I will conclude, Sir, in the words of one of your most distinguished predecessors in that chair—” My daily prayer will be for the continuance of the constitution in general; and that the freedom, the dignity, and the authority of this House may be perpetual.”

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Wilmot Horton – Hansard – 18200427

Mr. Wilmot

rose to second the address, and said, that he did not yield to the hon. mover in the earnest hope which he had expressed, that the House would unanimously agree to the address; and he trusted that no expression would fall from him which could in any degree tend to provoke discussion, or interrupt the unanimity of the House. He would avoid the introduction of any topics which might more properly come under the subsequent consideration of the House; but there was one topic on which he could anticipate the unanimous feelings of the House—he meant the demise of our late venerable sovereign. Looking at the period of his accession to the throne in the prime of life and the pride of hope, and contrasting it with the mournful close of his life, when confined within the precincts of his palace, and bereft of that sense which might have mitigated his afflictions, he was shut out from almost all the consolations which this life affords. Whatever difference of opinion might exist as to the policy of the measures pursued during his reign, every feeling of irritation must subside at the contemplation of so awful an instance of the instability of human grandeur. The recollection of the paternal solicitude with which he uniformly watched over the interests of the. people, would secure to his memory the lasting gratitude of the country. His reign, one of the longest in our annals, was distinguished by an event so prominent, as almost to monopolize our attention;—he alluded to the French revolution, an event which might justly be considered as one of the most extraordinary in the history of nations, whether we regarded its origin, its continuance or its termination. It had terminated in a military despotism, which threatened to overwhelm the whole civilised world, but which had been, at length, triumphantly 34 overthrown by the persevering exertions of this country. That great event had occurred in the actual reign of the late monarch, but in the virtual reign of our present sovereign. We had not only the promise of his majesty that he would follow the great example of his father, but we might look back with satisfaction upon its actual performance during the period in which he had exercised the functions of royalty. In adverting to that part of the speech which related to the finances of the country, he felt assured that the House would convey to the throne its gratitude for his majesty’s renunciation of his hereditary revenues, and for the principle of strict economy which dictated the arrangement of the civil list. Without entering into a review of any of the measures of the last session, he might express his confidence that the present parliament would be most anxious to support the dignity of the Crown, and the safety of the state, without reference to past transactions. He deplored deeply the distresses still prevailing in various parts of the country, but he deplored no less the advantage that had been taken of inevitable visitations to corrupt the minds of the lower orders, the effect of which could only be to augment sufferings that might otherwise be alleviated. He trusted that the time was not far distant, when the influence of temporary irritation would be removed; and that as soon as existing delusions were dispersed, the disaffected would return to their duty. He could not avoid here referring to the opinion of a most distinguished individual (the late Mr. Burke), whose sentiments upon this subject seemed to partake of the spirit of prophecy; it was uttered in 1791, and was in these words:—”As long as by every art the disaffected keep alive the spirit of disaffection against the constitution of the kingdom, and attribute, as lately they have done, all the public misfortunes to that constitution, it is absolutely impossible that some moment should not arrive when they will be able to produce a pretended reform but a real revolution.” What was here said generally might perhaps be applied particularly to the constitution of the House of Commons: for what good could result from the attempts to vilify it? Without entering into any of the questions of reform, and without pledging itself in favour of the abstract projects for its improvement, he was well assured that the House would 35 stand by the constitution, would do all in its power to instruct the public mind, and, by removing existing delusions, establish that national prosperity which was compatible with the present state and formation of the House of Commons. He never could believe that principles of sound political economy could have a fairer chance in a body collected merely to obey the will of the people, and compelled to abandon one course of policy for another at the command of the people, than in a body constituted like that which was now assembled to promote the national prosperity. He was convinced that the House would give the present state of the country its most anxious attention; but lie should be merely aiding the prevailing delusions, if he expressed any opinion but that the distresses could only be removed by the slow but certain process of time, which would invigorate the great sources of wealth, for a moment in some degree exhausted. Notwithstanding unfavourable appearances, there was every reason to anticipate that at no distant period the real and practical blessings of peace would be enjoyed by the whole people. The prosperity and happiness of the community at large, depended upon its sobriety and industry, and he trusted that a conviction of this truth would soon supersede the false and injurious notions at present prevailing among a great body of the manufacturing classes. It was not less his sanguine hope that the unanimous opinion of the House on this subject would have the speedy effect of checking and repressing disorders. In reviewing therefore the various topics of the royal speech, he should be extremely unwilling that any thing should drop from him that might for a moment retard the state he was anticipating: he did not mean to pledge himself against any kind of amelioration or reform, but he protested against the supposition, that the lower class or any class of the community could be benefitted by a general and sweeping alteration of the constitution. The nation was blest with a system of civil polity the most perfect of any age or country, and he believed that the great mass of the people duly estimated it: if the inferior orders, in the manufacturing districts, were once convinced of its benefits, much of the power of the agitators would be destroyed for ever. He concluded by thanking the House for the patience with which he had been received.

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Wilmot Horton – Hansard – 18190701

Mr. Wilmot

could not help regarding 1478 the agitation of this question with much suspicion and apprehension, when he observed that it coincided so accurately, in point of time, with those meetings throughout the country which he could characterize by no other name than seditious. Reform in that House was ingeniously combined with the most dangerous and alarming schemes. It was a lever or instrument by means of. which the whole force of the lower and more turbulent classes of the community could be applied to the overthrow of all that was stable and salutary in the state. For the ostensible purpose of reform, meetings were held in districts where those classes were numerous. It was upon those occasions represented, that the rich, the land-owners, and the clergy, were the enemies of the people. Upon those occasions, there never was any sober inquiry, or deliberate discussion, but loose and vehement declamation against every thing established and every thing respectable. He was therefore justified in connecting the motion now brought forward with the state of the people, and in regarding that connexion as equally unwise and delusive. The gallant general had said, that he should be satisfied with triennial parliaments and household suffrage; but would such a reform, if effected, remove the abuses and difficulties which now existed? The radical and sweeping reform of the hon. baronet would probably remove all establishments, and dissolve all national obligations: we should be driven back in the career of civilization, and obliged to begin de novo. He was an enemy to corruption, and where any overt acts of corruption were proved in boroughs, he thought nothing better could be adopted by that House than disfranchisement. As for the mere restoration of triennial parliaments, that could not improve or change in any degree the connexion between the people and that House. He could not therefore see any good that could be expected from it. Comparisons had been instituted with former times. He had hoped that the time had gone by when contrasts should be brought forward in that House, even by the hon. baronet, to the advantage of ancient times. He was astonished that the House could have repressed its indignation at hearing it gravely asserted that liberty was better understood and more enjoyed at periods when portions of the people were transferred, like cattle, from one lord to another,  1479  when Richard 2nd could say to the villains of Essex, “Rustic!, foist is et estis in bondagio,” &c.; for the hon. baronet had stated that the liberties of the people had then been infinitely more attended to than at present. The House of Commons of those times had been in nothing like the present corrupt House as it was called. They had been then assembled solely to assent to propositions and acts from the Lords. He was therefore astonished that such assertions could be ventured on in that House. It seemed as if it were expected that the guardians of the constitution should be fast asleep, and that the reformers could, as Boling-broke expressed it, “sculk into the sanctuary of the state.” The people listened with avidity to such false representations; anxious to be deceived, because the deception flattered their pride, they never doubted the correctness of assertions the most unfounded. It was by exaggerated statements of the advantages to be derived from a radical and sweeping reform, that all reform was brought into disrepute. It was sufficient to refer to Blackstone as an authority for affirming that our liberties stood now upon a fairer and stronger foundation than at any former period of our history. The Friends of the People in 1793 and 1794 had proposed a plan immeasurably more rational than the hon. baronet’s. He was convinced that the right of suffrage required, not to be brought lower, but to be raised higher than at present. Lord Bolingbroke, in his “Dissertation on Parties,” represented the necessity and advantages of reform in more vivid colours than the hon. baronet could use; and he admitted, at the same time, the great talents of the hon. baronet. Yet lord Bolingbroke said distinctly, that reform was to be effected by raising the qualifications of electors, as proposed in the reign of Edward 6th. That was the only reform which he should consent to, as a measure that would place the elective franchise in the hands of those whose education and independence would not suffer them to flatter the worst passions of the people, and to juggle them out of their rights and liberties. That all the evils of our population would cease if the motion of the hon. baronet were acceded to, he positively denied. The deduction of the hon. baronet in this respect was totally unphilosophical and unwarranted. With respect to the sufferings of the people, remedies might be found for them; 1480 and probably the wisdom of that House would provide suitable remedies, but he did not connect it with reform. The first remedy in his view, was a radical alteration of our system of poor laws. The next was a due encouragment to a system of emigration; not such as those would recommend who opposed the restraint on foreign enlistment, but emigration to our own colonies. As far as sound political economy, as far as the progress of political science, could afford relief to the poor, none could be more zealous than he was, to afford relief. But, because political economy and political science Were not acted upon so far in some points as he thought right and salutary, was he therefore to support a proposition for reforming parliament? A parliament constituted and assembled merely to consider the sufferings and to administer to the comforts of the poor, was an absurdity and a fallacy. In such a parliament as the hon. baronet would form, great and public business could not be carried on. It was surprising that so little sympathy with the hon. baronet appeared in that House; but the cause was, the discrepancy between his views and those of other members, and the conviction that no ultimate object could be attained by him. He, for one, had seen no specific proposition of reform, which would not endanger the whole constitution of the state. Dr. Johnson had been referred to by the hon. baronet, and Dr. Johnson had said, that “the hand which could not build a hovel, could destroy a palace.” This was strikingly true. The work of destruction was soon done, and required but the coarsest instruments; while to rebuild required skill, perseverance, and careful nicety. It was on this account that he opposed the motion of the hon. baronet, who had improperly lent himself to the passions of the people at the expense of the members of that House. It was all at their expense; for it was by describing them as corrupt and cruel, that the people were led to believe reform indispensably necessary, and to expect every advantage from its adoption. There were many great men who had, on former occasions, delivered opinions upon this question, but he should confine himself to the sentiments expressed by the late Mr. Fox. He begged permission to read Mr. Fox’s opinion on this subject—not because he considered himself bound to maintain the permanency or consistency 1481 of Mr. Fox’s opinions; but because sentiments, most just in themselves, were upon this occasion expressed by him in a manner peculiarly forcible:—”We have higher obligations to justice than to our constituents; we are chosen the delegates of the British electors, for salutary not for pernicious purposes; to guard, not to invade the constitution; to keep the privileges of the very freemen we represent, as much within their proper limits, as to control any unwarrantable exertion of the royal authority. We are bound to promote their true interests in preference to the dearest desires of their hearts; and the constitution makes us the sole arbiters of those interests, notwithstanding the imaginary infallibility of the people. To show the propriety of this reasoning, let us suppose that the people, instead of this mixed monarchy, which we celebrate as equally the pride and envy of the Universe, should instruct us, their representatives, to introduce a democratical form of government; should we act as good subjects to our king, or as faithful guardians to our country, if we complied with so dangerous an instruction? Shall we then do what we are sensible is wrong, because the people desire it? Shall we sacrifice our reason, our honour, our conscience, for fear of incurring the popular resentment; and while we are appointed to watch the Hesperian fruit of liberty with a dragon’s eye, be ourselves the only slaves of the whole community?” Upon those principles he thought himself perfectly justified in not concurring with the hon. baronet.

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Wilmot Horton – Hansard – 18190222

Mr. Wilmot

considered this in no view a question of economy, but of positive law: the committee were not called upon to decide at how cheap a rate they could 588 contract to keep their king, but whether, in the proposed amendment, it would not be guilty of the violation of a vested right. The dignity and the responsibility of the situation of custos, convinced him that the duke of York could be contemplated in no other light than as a public officer, and consequently that he ought to be paid by the public. Whether 10,000l. a year was or was not too much, was not the question: the point in difference was, whether the country ought to be relieved in the mode proposed, by requiring parliament to dip its hands into the pocket of the sovereign. Notwithstanding the distresses of the times, he by no means considered the 10,000l. as too much for an officer of such vast importance. If even the remuneration had been greater, he would have readily given his consent to it. The hon. member professed his independence; stated that he belonged to no party, but that he thought it his duty to give his vote in favour of the measure. He was a strenuous friend to economy; but while, on the one hand, he was anxious for the relief of the country, he was on the other equally anxious that there should be no violation of the faith of parliament; and he contended that it would be a most dangerous precedent were the legislature to interfere with admitted private right.

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