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A SPEECH WHICH OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE
OF COMMONS DURING THIS SESSION OF PARLIAMENT.
TO JOHN BULL, ESQ.
London, July 8, 1828. MY DEAR AND HONOURED PARENT, A LETTER which I addressed to you through the medium of this Magazine on the eve of the last General Election, will justify me for soliciting your attention to the following Speech. The feeling which made me wish to influence you in the choice of your Representatives, now makes me anxious to prevail on you to examine how the Representatives you selected have discharged their duties.
Let not the Speech have the less weight with you, because it is not presented in a newspaper, graced with the name of some accomplished orator. In so far as concerns your interests, it is a far more important and valuable one than any speech that was delivered in either House during the session. Of its other characteristics, it does not become me to speak, and they are of minor consequence. In order that it may make the greater impression on you, imagine that it was actually uttered in Parliament by one of your favourite speakers, that it was greeted with thunders of applause, and that it now meets your eye in a newspaper, eulogized as a specimen of finished eloquence.
Your imagination, my dear sir, has in late years been accustomed to Alights intinitely more difficult, daring, and extravagant; but, however, if, in your present sober and dejected condition, it be incapable of this, let it slumber, and have recourse to other and more trust-worthy faculties. Look at your agriculture—your shipping-your silk and glove trades—in a word, at all your interests. Look at the records of your criminal courts, and at the general state of your working population. Look, with a determination to use your eyes as you were wont to use them; and to reason from ocular proofs as you were wont to reason. Do this, and then read the Speech.
To prevail with you, I need not on this occasion employ reproach and remonstrance. You have not trod the fames in vain ; the cup of afilicVol. XXIV.
tion has not visited your lips, to be disregarded. I speak not now to a man infatuated and prejudiced, deaf to reason and blind to demonstration"; but I address one, rational, free from delusion, anxious to discover truth, and
to conviction. Alas, alas ! that the change has not been wrought in you by other things than loss and misery!
After you have read the Speech again and again, compel your Representatives, while they are separated, to accompany you singly through the confiscation, want, and suffering, which they have produced. Make them examine the books of the farmer, shipowner, and their other victim3–show them the family which they have dragged from afluence into bankruptcy-and let them see not only the agonies of the husband and father, but the privations and sorrows of the wife, the mother, and the children-take them to those whose hopes they have for ever blasted, and to the graves of those whose hearts they have broken-constrain them to enter the hovel of the labourer, whose wages they have taken away or reduced, so that he cannot provide his family with necessaries; and let them analyze fully his penury and wretchedness-and lead them through your prisons to observe the insolvency, vice, and crime, which have flowed from their measures. Spare them not-suffer them not to close their eyes—but force them into the most perfect knowledge of the ruined fortunes, the miserable insufficient meal, the rags, the hunger, the ignorance, the distress, and the wickedness, not only of the individual and family, but of the class—the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions. If all this will work in them no reformation-if it will extort from them no contrition, and no confession of error-then brand on the forehead of each,—A STRANGER TO ALL THAT THE ENGLISHMAN SHOULD KNOW; AND AN ENEMY TO ALL THAT THE ENGLISHMAN SHOULD LOVE.
In my last letter, I was compelled, by the conduct you were displaying, to use language scarcely warranted by filial duty; and I, therefore, did not mention my relationship. I now avow myself to be in birth, blood, residence, and affection, one of your offspring. I make the avowal, that my words may have the greater influence. I have been proud of my descent; I have valued my plain English name above the most splendid title of foreign nobility; and I have never trod the hallowed dust of my native land, without having had elasticity imparted to my spring, and haughtiness to my demeanour, by the reflection that I was an Englishman. In me, this has been something better than prejudice, for I have known it to be amply justified by what my country contained. But, alas ! where is now the boasted superiority of my country over all others, in security of property, and the means of happiness? When I see the vast mass of my countrymen stripped of their property and comforts, doomed to endure greater privations than the inhabitants of almost any foreign nation, and placed in circumstances which must demoralize them, and plunge them into barbarism-when I see this, I must exchange my pride for humiliation; I must blush and weep for England, or be a disgrace to the name of Englishman.
By that blood with which you have filled my veins, in the name of all. that you have taught me to love and worship, and for the sake of every thing dear to your character and weal, I conjure you to shake off your dejection, and do your duty. Speak as you were wont to speak—let the plain, comprehensive, powerful, and majestic common sense of John BULL again be heard—and you will be obeyed by your House of Commons.
I remain, my dear sir, your affectionate and dutiful son, and faithful and unchangeable friend,
ONE OF THE OLD School.
racter, our interests, and the interests The grand characteristic, not only of the community. Our loss of chaof wisdom, but likewise of sanity, in racter alone, independently of what it the individual is he continually re- is to ourselves, is a mighty public fers to the fruits of his past conduct evil; and we may, by a single pernifor his guidance in the present and cious measure, take away the fortunes, the future. Does he regulate his fan bread, and peace of millions. If we mily by particular rules he examines act the part of lunatics, we are above what they yield, to ascertain whether the reach of the law; our lunacy is be shall adhere to, or change them. despotic; it may by a breath sink Does he adopt a new system of ma- half the nation into beggary and nagement on his estate or his farm, in wretchedness, and there is no appeal his counting-house or manufactory, from its mandates. If this House, sir, he rigidly scrutinizes its products, to be at this moment in the possession of determine whether he shall persist in common reason, it will require from it, or return to the old one. Does he me no farther proofs that it is its duty make experiments in the conducting to do, what it is my object to induce of his affairs-he carefully watches it to do, viz. to institute a rigid intheir results, to decide whether he quiry into the consequences which its shall continue or abandon them. Does conduct in late years have yielded to he deport himself in any peculiar itself and the community. Other manner in society-he acquaints him proofs, however, I shall place before self with the impression it makes, in it; and such proofs too, as must eiorder to judge whether any change in ther gain its conviction, or show it to it be called for by his interests and be labouring under lunacy, perfect and character. If he do differently--if he incurable. follow maxiins, persist in systems, con- This House, sir, from nature, duty, tinue experiments, and persevere in and desert, as well as from interest demeanour, without noticing or regu- and prejudice, ought always to hold lating his conduct by what they pro- a very high place in public estimation. duce-it forms a conclusive proof that In it, speaking constitutionally, the he is destitute of the reason which nation should find a child born of its distinguishes man from the beast of own loins, uttering its own sentiments, the field; and that he will plunge and loving it with filial fondness-a himself into irretrievable ruin. On champion to protect it from every such a proof, the world pronounces enemy-a comforter to assuage every him a lunatic, and the law treats him sorrow-and a friend and benefactor as one.
to remedy every ill, and remove every • The case, with little exception, is distress. If ever the nation withdraw the same with the body of men in from us its confidence, and array itits collective capacity. This body can self against us, it must be taken as no more act in utter disregard of what conclusive evidence, that our conduct its past conduct has produced, with is fearfully erroneous and injurious. out proving that it is destitute of the What, sir, is the case at present ? essentials of common reason, and that This House has lost public confidence. it will plunge itself and others into The country—I do not mean by the ruin, than the individual. The world term the multitude disqualified by may call its members severally sane, ignorance and delusion from judging but in the aggregate it will treat them correctly, but I mean the intelligent as madmen; the law may not restrain part of the community, the knowthem as lunatics in its letter and acts, ledge, sense, and wisdom of the coun. because it cannot, but it will do this try-has arrayed itself against us. in its principle.
While the independent and enlightTo no body of men, sir, would this ened men of all parties unite to conapply more powerfully, than to that demn our conduct, it is only supportof which this House consists. Our ed by the sthick-and-thin interested duties are of a kind, which nothing partizans of our leaders. Amidst that but a perpetual and severe examina- part of society, which can only forsake tion of the fruits of our past conduct us when we deserve to be forsaken, can enable us to discharge properly. nothing is more common than to hear And our errors are of a kind which this House called “ a public nuisance;" must be destructive alike to our cha. it constantly looks forward to our assembling with sorrow and dismay, and it was enabled to seize this House, and to our separating with pleasure ; it for å time the country. We were anticipates from our labours little be- taught by those who ought to have yond loss and suffering, and it hopes given us better instruction, that it was for an interval of ease when we cease our duty to act solely on abstract prin them.
ciples, directly the reverse of the prinTo those who, with ignorance and ciples on which we had previously actassurance which can never be suffi. ed. Were these abstract principles ciently wondered at, assert that our matter of experimental truth, or were conduct is popular, and the country is they based on such a collection of with us, I will put this question- facts as gave them the colour of it? What do you call the country? Does No. They were merely the opinions it consist of a few of the London of individuals. Granting that they newspapers and periodicals, and the had been promulgated by able men place-hunting, profligate, untaught, and philosophers by Adam Smith, half-witted part of the population of Mr Ricardo, and others—they still London, or of the community at larger were only the opinions of their parents. If the reply be the community at They were not even represented to be large, I will ask, What has it told us? more. Experimental truth was flatly The Agricultural Interest—the dif. opposed to them. The fact was beferent Colonial Interests—the Ship- fore us, as well as the rest of the ping, Mining, and Monied Interests world, that every country had been poor the Silk Manufacture, and various and barbarous, or had advanced in other Manufactures—the Aristocracy wealth, power, and happiness, in proand the Church, have furnished us portion as it had adhered to or departed with the most conclusive evidence that from them. This was not the asserthey are opposed to us. And it is no- tion of this writer or that-the mere torious, that amidst the rest of the opinion of individuals—it was a truth community we have more opponents rendered alike notorious and unquesthan friends. If these, sir, do not tionable by history. It stared us in constitute the country, we must, of the face, let us look where we would ; necessity, find it in a minority, as in- and no one could be ignorant of it. significant in number as in all other When I reflect on this, I am lost in things. We cannot call this minority astonishment that any person, not the country, without affording evi wholly insane, could be found to bedence either of lunacy, or of something lieve in the new opinions, much less pardonable. The over- We were taught by the Ministry whelming majority, whether we look and the press, that these opinions were at rank, wealth, intelligence, wisdom, perfectly unerring; and ihat dissent independence, patriotism, or mere irom them would prove us to be desnumbers, is against us—the voice of titute of knowledge, wisdom, and ungeneral society is against us. With derstanding, and brimful of prejudice the proofs of this we have been over- and bigotry. whelmed, and it follows, as a matter It is our grand, paramount duty, to of course, that the country is against deliberate before we act, even in re
spect of mere belief ; but, sir, we torThis, sir, has not resulted from spe- got that we were legislators, and of culative fears and groundless assump- course we forgot the duty of deliberations. The cry of corruption has cea- tion. When certain of the Ministers, sed. It is no longer alleged that we by their shameless threats and scura are bought by the Ministry, or bound rilities, endeavoured to stifle discusby the dictates of the borough proprie- sion in this House and out of it, we tors. The opposition to us rests whole tamely submitted to them, instead of ly on our principles and measureson driving them from office for the audawhat we say, and what we do-with- cious outrage on British rights. We out reference to any other matter. made ourselves the instruments of
What have been the principles and them and the press, in virtually estameasures which have operated so ca- blishing an luquisition of the most lamitously?
tyrannical and detestable description Some years since, an incomprehen- in favour of these new opinions. “We sible and portentous delusion seized were like school-boys, eager to pro-the Ministry, and through the latter nounce the lessons of our pedagogues
unerring, in order to escape the rod hour. Our abstract truths made us and the fool's-cap. A moment's dem all in a single moment finished legisliberation might have told us, that to lators. They rendered fact and dedissent from an unproved proposition duction-the application of knowledge was no proof of ignorance ; and that and the exercise of talent, wholly to differ from the mere opinion of unnecessary. They declared that para another, was no evidence of bigotry. ticular opinions were erroneous, and But we did not deliberate. Our con- that particular laws and systems ought version, after the Inquisition was es- to be abolished, or changed in a partitablished, was a matter of compul- cular manner, withoutany reference to sion ; it was the work of the moral circumstances. Of course, they rerack and faggot; it needed but little duced the science of legislation to the aid from our understanding and con- mechanical rules of the work-shop; viction, when it was supported by the they placed us all on an equality in terrors of martyrdom.
every qualification, save perhaps ma· This conversion extended, of course, nual skill; they made the stripling the far beyond mere belief: it imposed on equal of the most experienced Minisus the duty of making wholesale ter; and in truth, through them, the changes in laws and systems. To work inhabitants of the other hemisphere we went, with all the sightless enthu- could have legislated for the British siasm of zealots: The materials on empire just as wisely as the wisest man which we had practically to labour, were in this House. Our boys found that, agriculture, commerce, and manufac. instead of having any thing to learn, tures—the fortunes and bread of the they were admirably fitted to teach ; community ; inquiry and evidence and our aged and other members, who were out of the question, our abstract had never dreamed that they underprinciples forbade the use of them; stood the principle of a law, or were we commenced when the country was qualified to utter an opinion, discoverin unexampled prosperity, and whened that they were raised to the elevaour toils had endured for only a few tion of leaders. Fame and distinction short months, it fell into unexampled were placed within the reach of all, suffering. Then, sir, the country shook and all naturally scrambled to partake off its delusion ; bankruptcy and hun. of them. Our leaders felt that they ger convinced it of the fallacy of our could not retract without covering abstract principles by their fearful de themselves with shame, and the rest monstrations; it called us its delu- of us felt that we could not retract ders, and withdrew from us its confi- without abandoningour eminence, and dence.
sinking again into obscurity and insig. I say not, sir, that we ought to have nificance ; therefore we have persem embraced martyrdom, rather than have vered with constancy unparalleled. In changed our faith; I will allow for hu- endeavouring to save and benefit ourman infirmity and error, and admit that selves individually, we have ruined much may be pleaded for our deplo- ourselves as a House of Commons. rable change and consequent labours, Our protesting, sir, that we were in the way of palliation. But I say right, was of no avail, when the counthat we ought to have duly examined try knew us to be wrong. While our the tremendous evidence which resto- abstract principles were mere matter red the country to its senses. Had we of opinion and promise, we obtained done this, we should have retraced our credence; but when they were tested steps, and regained what we had lost by experiment, they were judged of in public opinion. We, however, shut by other things than our protestations. our eyes to refutation; we closed our It was useless for us to vow to the silk ears to the public voice, and we perse- manufacturer that our measures had vered, regardless of every thing save benefited him, when bankruptcy and the impulses of our new bigotry. In want proved to him the contrary. It this we were not a House of Commons was idle for us to declare to the shipaccording to the constitution. It had owner that we had conferred on him its natural consequences ; momentary advantages, when he possessed arithpublic distrust was changed into lasta metical proof that our measures had ing public dislike, and even hostility. visited him with confiscation. It was
In perfect consistency with this has fruitless in us to assure the farmer, or been our conduct up to the present husbandry labourer, that we had pro