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moted his interests, when he had con- generation to the next to do this on clusive evidence before him, that what the pretext that it would be beneficial we had done had annihilated his pro- bereafter, formed such barbarous ini. perty, or taken away his bread. The quity, as had never disgraced the most country traced the fruits of our con, blind and savage government known duct from interest to interest, and to history. What could the land. trade to trade ; it found, from physical owner, manufacturer, farmer, or trades: demonstration, that they were only in man, think of us, when we were thus jury and calamity; therefore it scoffed intentionally destroying his property, at our asseverations that we had been and placing him in danger of ruin? its benefactors. When we, sir, pronoun- What could the mechanic, the artisan, ced all who opposed us to be the slaves or the labourer, think of us, when we of prejudice and bigotry, the country were thus intentionally taking away saw that we believed in doctrines, in the bread of himself and family spite of every kind of refutation What could the country think of us, that we believed in these doctrines in when we were so acting ? When we utter contempt of glaring fact and de- even could not say confidently that cisive experiment--that to justify our our measures would produce future adherence to these doctrines, we stifled prosperity--when our great argument investigation, refused inquiry, and as. was, that we were causing loss and serted that beggary was prosperity, distress, to prevent loss and distressloss was gain, want was abundance, and when the most ignorant hind saw, and misery was comfort; it saw this, that according to our own confession and it knew that it was not our oppo. we were doing little more than bringnents, but OURSELVES, WHO WERE ing that upon the community, which THE SLAVES
we predicted would be brought upon WERE THE BIGOTS. It saw that we it at some future time by other means were sacrificing its interests to preju- —what could even charity itself say dice and bigotry, surpassing all that of our conduct? It was by good fora human nature had ever previously dis- tune almost miraculous, that we were played. Our nick-names and insults called madmen, and escaped more opwere cast upon a high-minded nation; probrious titles. Our pretext of tuthey had their effect, and they gained ture benefit, which we half abandonus what we deserved.
ed, and half acted on, was ridiculed When at last we were fairly beaten by all, because all saw it to be groundout of our assertions, that we were in- less. The landowner saw, that we creasing prosperity and happiness, were binding him to a rent which what did we do? We actually decla« took away for ever a large part of his red that we were intentionally pro- income, and the worth of his estate. ducing distress and misery, in order The farmer saw, that we were binding that we might prevent them from vi- him to prices which took away for siting the country hereafter. Effectu- ever a large part of his profits, and the ally silenced in respect of benefiting value of his farming-stock. The shipthe present, we owned that, for the owner saw, that we were binding him sake of the future, we were delibere for ever to freights that were ruinous. ately causing much loss and suffering. The manufacturer saw, that we were We broadly confessed that our meae binding him to prices which took away sures for a time would scatter, far and for ever a large part of his profits, and wide, destruction to property and the worth of his stook in trade. The bread; and we entrenched ourselves labouring classes saw, that we were on the ground, that they would in taking away for ever a large part of time to come supply re-payment. A their wages. The country saw, that disgrace, sir, to my country should I we were annihilating for ever hunbe, if my cheeks were not crimsoned dreds of millions of property and inwith shame by the repetition of the come. We declared, sir, that what crying enormity. To intentionally we took,' we took for ever; and in the cause loss and suffering-to intention. same breath we protested that we took ally destroy property, and the means it in order that it might be restored of subsistence-to intentionally sube with abundant interest: in the selfject, not individuals, but vast classes, same moment we held out hopes, and to practical confiscation and penury- solemnly vowed they should never be to intentionally sacrifice the present realized; we gare pledges, and enacte ed laws to prevent their redemption. misery, it naturally followed, that The avowed object of our measures they did not content themselves with formed a confession that our pretext merely taking from us their confidence. was worthless. Had the country as- We did that which irresistibly tended serted far worse of us than that we to make them detest us, and it had its did not know what we were doing effects... that we had lost our reason, it might It was not possible, sir, for the have produced evidence to give some country to be kept in ignorance of colour to its assertions.
this conduct, or to be restrained from It had always previously been the judging of it. It saw that we opposed enviable privilege and honourable chan assertions to facts, and that our reply racteristic of the House of Commons, to the offer of proofs was a volley of to labour to increase prosperity and slanders. It heard us dared in vain happiness, but not to destroy them- by our victims to the test of inquiry; to remove loss and suffering, but not it beheld us sneak away from the comto create them. Its measures were bat, when we were threatened with always intended to make the good of overpowering evidence.
When we the moment better; and if they hap- deliberately charged the petitioners pened to have a contrary effect, it with falsehood and bad motive, and zealously and promptly applied a re- then silenced them with our power as medy. If any interest or trade lan, they challenged us to the proof, it guished, the House of Commons, al. found in this sufficient to convict ourmost without solicitation, laboured to selves of falsehood and bad motive. restore it. If any class or portion of In our obstinate refusal to inquire his Majesty's subjects were in distress, into the fruits of our own measures, the House of Commons attended at and to receive evidence that these once to their petitions, and spared no measures had operated injuriously, it efforts to relieve them. In the House found testimony that we knew they of Commons, the wronged knew they would not bear investigation. In our had a friend to redress their wrongs; admission that inquiry would be useand the suffering knew they had a less, because we could not grant rebenefactor to remove, or mitigate to the lief without departing from a system, utmost, their sufferings. But what, it perceived a confession that we could sir, has been our conduct? When not refute the petitioners, and that we vast portions of the community com- were determined to sacrifice everyplained to us by petition, that our thing to a system which we knew to measures would involve them in ruin, be producing the most baleful consewe treated them with contempt; when quences. We re-echoed the delusive they afterwards assured us that their dogmas and fallacious statements of worst fears had been realized, and ima the Minister, only to convince it, that plored us to inquire and to receive at our object was, not its weal, but the their hands the most irrefragable proofs Minister's protection; and that to save that we had plunged them into bank, him, we would plunge it into ruin. ruptcy and want, we treated them in Within these walls we were triumpha worse manner. A man who was ant, because we were careful to make then a Minister, but who, thank Hea, ourselves the sole witnesses and judges; ven! is no longer one, heaped on them but in the Supreme Court without, every species of insult and contumely; the judge found evidence and confesa and we, to our eternal shame I speak sion against us without any thing to it, imitated him. When the silk counterpoise them, and the decision manufacturers, the ship-owners, and was accordingly. The country found others, were thus treated when their that we were not a House of Comprayers for inquiry were refused mons to protect it from the injurious when their supplications, for us to measures of the Executive-to listen examine their proofs, and deal with to its petitions—to redress its wrongs them only according to what they —to relieve its distresses—and to watch might prove, were scornfully rejected over and foster its prosperity and hap-when they were denied all oppora piness; therefore it found that we were tunity of refuting the aspersions we the reverse of that House of Commons, cast upon them-and when their ef- which the Constitution intended to forts to obtain an impartial hearing create. only caused us to add to their logs and Up to the present moment we have continued to act in this manner. How placed before it our dazzling character have we dealt with the petitions of ourselves to no purpose; we have which in every session have been poured our own eulogy into its ears in poured upon us from large portions of vain; it has rejected our new rules of the community, complaining of bitter judgment for the ancient one, of suffering, and imploring from us re- judging of the tree by its fruits ; and lief? Have we instituted inquiry ? in consequence it has arrived at the No. Have we ever attempted to mi- conclusion, that we are the reverse of tigate the distress of the petitioners ? what we describe ourselves to be. No. Has the existence of the distress All things have conspired against been problematical? No, it has been us, to sink us in public estimation. wholly above doubt. Have we been It has unfortunately happened that destitute of the means of relieving it? while we have dilated on our surpassNo, we have possessed them in abun- ing ability, we have furnished the most dance. We have received the peti. incontestable proofs of our destitution tions, and without calling for evidence of ability. The country knew the to refute a single allegation, or asking best of the leaders in our proceedings a question as to our means of granting to be scarcely second-rates, and it what they prayed for, we have been found in their speeches evidence silent, or we have contented ourselves of gross incapacity. This was bad with saying-We know you to be dis- enough, but it was nothing to what tressed, but you are mistaken touch follows. Men among us who were ing the causes, and we can do nothing utterly unknown, and who displayed for you. We have acted as though the most rare assemblage of disqualifiour duty extended only to the crea- cations conceivable, actually undertook tion of public misery, without having to re-model or abolish laws of the any thing to do with the removal of it.
greatest complexity and the most Never before, sir, in the history of sweeping operation. Nothing could civilized England was such conduct have been more admirably calculated displayed by the House of Commons. for covering us with public derision. Never before, in the history of civilized Worse yet remains. Our beardless England, did the House of Commons striplings--beings not yet released from see immense numbers of the commu- boyhood-youngsters just entering on nity involved in suffering, without their senatorial apprenticeship, to toiling heartily aud incessantly, with- whom experience was utterly unout exhausting inquiry and effort, known, whose knowledge was barely however fruitlessly, to administer a sufficient to enable them to find their remedy. And how have we employed way to our doors, and in whom it was ourselves while these petitions have an unpardonable fault to think that been flowing upon us? In perfecting they were capable of forming an our measures of public evil-in pro- opinion—these, sir, forgetting that moting visionary experiments calcu- they had every thing to learn, thrust lated only to increase the suffering themselves forward as teachers; and in threatening laws with destruction, excelled us all in oracular dogma and and thereby filling the land with ap- noisy declamation-in scoffing at the prehension and embarrassment-in de- wisdom of the greatest men of former vising gimcrack changes and experi- times, and covering the sufferers who ments--in vilifying the laws and petitioned us, with insult and calumny. systems yet spared by our innova. It is one of the most loathsome things tions—in boasting of our own tran- in nature, to hear one of these stripscendent talents and wisdom-and in lings, in a voice which has scarcely covering all who have called our cone divested itself of the treble tone of duct in question with slanders. childhood, reviling laws and institu
Such proceedings, sir, could only tions, the operation of which is wholly have one effect on the opinion of the above his comprehension ; and advocountry. If in the gallop of our abo- cating changes to throw the affairs of litions, we could have abolished the a great empire into confusion, when laws of nature and the maxims of com- it is impossible for him to understand mon reason, we might perhaps have their nature and tendency. The counpersuaded it, that we were, what we try felt inexpressible disgust, when it called ourselves; but this we could saw that its injuries flowed mainly not accomplish. We have therefore from the vociferous ignorance and riotous imbecility of senatorial in- be largely influenced by them. Speakfants. Then, to crown all, our pro- ing of them as Members of this House, ceedings were the most rapturously I trust for its sake that they will never applauded by such of us as had through again act in a similar manner. life distinguished ourselves by hold. This relates to the fruits which our ing absurd and dangerous opinions; conduct has yielded to ourselves;
it is and they were dissented from by such sufficient to prove that for our own of us as had always been honoured by sake inquiry is imperiously necessary. the country for experience, prudence, I will now turn to what our conduct wisdom, integrity, and patriotism. has yielded to the community.
In pointing out, sir, thus freely our The late Minister, sir,'asserts that no errors and faults, I must not spare evils have been produced by our abosome of those who had the chief share lition of the Navigation Laws. On in leading us into them. I mean the what evidence does he make the as. more prominent members of the exe- sertion ? Simply and solely on the cutive, who belonged to this House. tonnage entries inwards and outwards. Regularly acknowledged as at least a Does this evidence establish all that is part of our leaders, and officially in- required ? No, it is utterly silent vested with the duty of watching over respecting the essentials of the subject. and promoting the public weal in all If we be satisfied with it, we must be things; it is natural for us to look up deservedly ridiculed, as being ignoto them to a certain extent as guides, rant of our duty, and only competent without compromising our indepen« to plunge the empire into ruin. To dence. They proclaimed that attach- know what the Abolition has yielded, ment to our laws and institutions was we must know what effect it has had not merely erroneous, but disgrace- on the capital, freights, and profits, of ful; and it was impossible for any of the shipowners, and on the number us to avow such attachment, without of ships and seamen possessed by the drawing upon ourselves their ridicule community. Here is the pith of the and calumny. We could not object question. If we, sir, by the abolition, to change and innovation, without have annihilated, a large part of the being treated by them as criminals; and shipowner's property, and compelled we could not laud change and inno- him to accept freights which subject vation without being overwhelmed with him to constant loss, we have done their panegyrics. They thus by in- no matter what the tonnage entries timidation on the one hand, and sea may be--a fatal deed to our country. duction on the other, insensibly led In this I advance a truth, which no us to act as we have done. They man, in this House or out of it, can caused us to pronounce the whole question. If we have done this, we system of the country erroneous; and have demonstrably wasted a vast they incited us to rival each other in amount of national wealth already; attempts to pull this system to pieces. and we have subjected the wealth and It was from their encouragement that naval power of the nation to a conour incapable members so outrageous- stant decrease. A losing trade may be ly mistook their own powers, as to carried on for a shorter or longer time, think themselves qualified to abolish according as its annual losses are old laws and frame new ones; and that greater or smaller ; but nothing can our young members made such a bar- be more certain, than that it must be barous display of folly and culpability. ultimately destroyed. And it was from their example that This applies to the community at we acted in so unconstitutional a man- large. We will now look at that part ner to those who petitioned us for re- of it which is more directly and sedress and relief.
riously interested in the matter. If I plead this conduct, sir, in the we, by the abolition, which no public Ministers, not to justify, but to ex- necessity called for, have destroyed a plain in some degree our own. We large part of the shipowner's property, are not sent here to obey or imitate taken away his profits, and surroundthem; our duties are of a widely dif- ed him with almost inevitable ruin, ferent description ; but nevertheless, and if we have taken away the bread while human nature remains un- of numbers of seamen, and ground changed, we shall always, no matter down the remainder to wages which how pure our own motives may be, not only strip them of many comforts VOL. XXIV.
they previously enjoyed, but refuse to calculated to have in future, on the their families a sufficiency of common naval power of the empire. necessaries, we have, in respect of con- How have our free-trade measures sequences, done to an immense num. operated on the silk manufacture ? ber of our innocent fellow-subjects Have we ever inquired ? No. Has a deed of iniquity as dark as any that then their beneficial operation been so human nature could commit. I cannot, apparent as to render inquiry useless ? sir, be refuted, if there be any truth Alas! No. We made changes which in the commonly received definitions vitally affected a most important maof right and justice. The very appre- nufacture-a manufacture estimated hension that we may have-however to employ many millions of capital, inadvertently, and with whatever good and to give bread to half a million of intentions- done such a deed, ought souls, of course one of the highest to banish sleep from our pillows, un worth to the country; and we have til we make the most searching in- never asked a question touching their quiry, and, if necessary, the most consequences. The manufacturers and ample reparation.
throwsters declare, that these changes Now, sir, what have we before us have annihilated a large part of their touching these points ? Since the property, bound them to a trade which abolition took effect, shipping has sus- they must either carry on at a loss, or tained an enormous loss of value. abandon, by sacrificing much of the This we-deaf and blind as we have remnant of their property, and renmade ourselves-know to be a fact dered the comparative destruction of which cannot be disputed. Since the the silk manufacture at no distant per abolition took effect, freights have been riod almost a certainty. The weavers so low as to subject the shipowners to and working throwsters declare that almost constant loss--the shipowners, these changes have stripped them of as a body, have suffered the most se- many comforts, deprived great numrious losses-many seamen have lostbers of them wholly or partially of their employment - seamen's wages employment, and reduced wages so have been inadequate for the due sup- that they cannot earn what will support of their families--the quality of ply themselves and their families with British ships has greatly declined the necessaries of life. The united and the ships and seamen possessed declarations, sir, have not been uttered by the community at large have de- in a corner—the knowledge of them creased, and in the last year they de has not been confined to the public creased considerably. These we-deat they have been again and again rung and blind as we have made ourselves in our own ears, even in the present -know to be other facts which can- Session. Here then we have been once not be disputed. And, sir, it is an, more solemnly charged before our counother fact equally well known to us, try with having wasted a large portion and equally indisputable, that the of its wealth, subjected its wealth to shipowners charge all this mainly up- constant decrease, brought upon it on the abolition. The charge is un much penury and wretchedness, and answered; the Minister does not sup- grievously injured its general interests. ply a single satisfactory proof in its We have been solemnly charged berefutation; and, so far as we know to fore our God with having done what the contrary, it may be wholly unan- has utterly ruined many of our innoswerable.
cent fellow-subjects, deprived many Need I then define our duty? I more of a large part of their property, trust, sir, there is not one of us so and plunged hundreds of thousands unworthy of his seat, as to be igno- more into penury and misery. And rant that we are bound, by all our ob- where are the proofs of our innocence ? ligations to our country, to ascertain, Have they been supplied by the Minisby satisfactory evidence, what effect ter? No ; his proofs leave the merits the Abolition has had on the worth of of the subject untouched : they are shipping, on freights, on the property utterly silent as to the loss sustained and profits of the shipowners, on the by the manufacturers, as to whether employment and wages of seamen, and the manufacture can be continued at a on the number of ships and seamen profit,and of course preserved from compossessed by the community; and parative annihilation, and as to whether likewise what effect it has had, and is the workmen have sufficient employ