« PreviousContinue »
A WORD FITLY SPOKEN IS LIKE APPLES OF GOLD IN PICTURES OF SILVER.--PROVERBS XXV. 11.
[Our readers, we are sure, will be grateful to us for pressing into our service an entire Speech delivered by Mr Canning, at the dinner given in celebration of his re-election as Member for Liverpool. We rejoice in having an opportunity of giving any additional circulation to a production which, whether we regard the matter or the manner of it, we cannot help regarding as the very masterpiece of its illustrious author's genius, ---which seems to us to embody by far the most clear, distinct, and philosophical views that have yet been laid before any portion of the British public in regard to the present internal disturbance, and disturbers of our country ;- and which, under the blessing of Divine Providence, may, we would fondly hope, contribute signally and speedily to the re-establishment of sober reflection and mutual confidence among all orders of the people. The natural effects, indeed, even of the wisdom and the eloquence of the greatest and best of men are thwarted and weakened in these days, by the unrelenting persevering spleen with which all such men are persecuted by the base rabble, who have obtruded themselves, in the character of teachers and writers, on the too credulous ears of by far too great a part of our population : nor, among all the living statesmen of England, is there any one who has had to contend either with so continuous or so foul a stream of this abuse, as the Right Honourable George Canning. None, indeed, have the audacity to deny his talents but Whig-radical, and Radical-whig, and every organ of vulgar slander, by whatever name it is known-all seem, with one unceasing pertinacious spitefulness, to be leagued together in one common conspiracy of perpetual detraction against his personal character as a politician. And yet, when one looks back to the history of this remarkable man's public life, not only does it defy the utmost zeal of all his enemies to find one instance from which
any conclusion hostile to his character as a man of honour and principle can possibly be drawn ;—but we venture fearlessly to assert, that of all living English statesmen, of all parties, he is the one whose career exhibits the greatest and most memorable sacrifices of personal interest ; and which, to men of his cast, is out of all comparison more difficult, of personal feeling and personal pride to the purity and firmness of principle. There needs no
one to rise from the dead to inform us, that of all human objects a clever Tory is to a stupid Whig the most exalted and essential of abominations. But when one sees by how many Whigs, that nobody calls stupid, these absurd and wicked reproaches are for ever re-echoed and reiterated, one cannot help feeling some little emotion, not of contempt merely, but of astonishment. These men are not aware how miserably they are pulling down their own authority, by convincing the whole world that their minds are incapable of any sympathy in regard to any one matter, either of thought or of feeling, with one, whom every body that reads a page of any of his works, knows and feels irresistibly, to be among the most accomplished and powerful intellects of his age and country-one, we devoutly believe, of the most upright and honourable men that ever devoted the energies of a great genius to the ill-rewarded toils of British Statesmanship.]
SPEECH OF THE RIGHT HON. GEORGE CANNING, at the Liverpool Dinner, given in Celebration of his Re-election. GentleMEN -Short as the interval applied to it, if not of permanent cure, is since I last met you in this place at least of temporary mitigation. on a similar occasion, the events which Gentlemen, with respect to those have filled up that interval have not remedies, I mean with respect to the been unimportant. The great moral transactions of the last shori session of disease which we then talked of as Parliament, previous to the dissolugaining ground on the community, tion, I feel that it is my duty, as your has, since that period, arrived at its representative, to render to you some most extravagant height; and, since account of the part which Í took in that period also, remedies have been that assembly to which you sent me; VOL. VII.
I feel it my duty also, as a member of audacious force, especially against the the Government by which those mea- House of Commons ?-What is, in sures were advised. Upon occasions these respects, the situation of the of such trying exigency as those which country now? Is there a man of prowe have lately experienced, I hold it perty who does not feel the tenure by to be of the very essence of our free which he holds his possessions to have and popular Constitution, that an un- been strengthened ? Is there a man of reserved interchange of sentiment peace who does not feel his domestic should take place between the repre- tranquillity to have been secured ? Is sentative and his constituents: and there a man of moral and religious if it accidentally happen, that he principles who does not look forward who' addresses you as your repre- with better hope to see his children sentative, stands also in the situation educated in those principles ? who of a responsible adviser of the crown, does not hail with renewed confidence I recognise in that more rare occur- the revival and re-establishment of rence, à not less striking or less valu- that moral and religious sense which able peculiarity of that reviled Consti- had been attempted to be obliterated tution under which we have the hap- from the hearts of mankind ? piness to live; by which a minister of Well, Gentlemen, and what has inthe crown is brought into contact with tervened between the two periods ? A the great body of the community ; and meeting of that degraded Parliament,
r the service of the king is shown to be a meeting of that scoffed at and derida part of the service of the people. ed House of Commons, a concurrence
Gentlemen, it has been one advane of those three branches of an impertage of the transactions of the last Ses- fect constitution, not one of which, if sion of Parliament, that while they we are to believe the Radical Reformwere addressed to meet the evils which ers, lived in the hearts, or swayed the had grown out of charges heaped upon feelings, or commanded the respect of the House of Commons, they have also, the nation; but which, despised as in a great measure, falsified the charges they were while in a state of separation themselves.
and inaction, did, by a co-operation of I would appeal to the recollection of four short weeks, restore order, confi. every man who now hears me, of any dence, a reverence for the laws, and a the most careless estimator of public just sense of their own legitimate ausentiment, or the most indifferent
spec- thority. tator of public events, whether any Another event, indeed, has intervencountry, in any two epochs, however ed, in itself of a most painful nature, distant, of its history, ever present- but powerful in aiding and confirming ed such a contrast with itself as this the impressions which the assembling country, in November, 1819, and and the proceedings of Parliament this country in January 1820 ? What were calculated to produce. I mean was the situation of the country in the loss which the nation has sustained November, 1819?---Do I exagge- by the death of a Sovereign, with rate when I say, that there was not a whose person all that is venerable in man of property who did not tremble Monarchy has been identified in the for his possessions ? that there was not eyes of successive generations of his a man of retired and peaceable habits subjects ; a Sovereign, whose goodness, who did not tremble for the tranquillity whose years, whose sorrows and sufferand security of his home? that there ings, must have softened the hearts of was not a man of orderly and religious the most ferocious enemies of kingly principles who did not fear that those power ;-whose active virtues, and the principles were about to be cut from memory of whose virtues, when it under the feet of succeeding genera- pleased Divine Providence that they tions? Was there any man who did should be active no more, have been not apprehend the Crown to be in the guide and guardian of his people danger? Was there any man attach- through many a weary and many a ed to the other branches of the Consti- stormy pilgrimage ;-scarce lessa guide, tution, who did not contemplate, with and quite as much a guardian, in the anxiety and dismay, the rapid and, ap- cloud of his evening darkness as in parently, irresistible diffusion of doc- the brightness of his meridian day. trines hostile to the very existence of That such a loss, and the recollecParliament as at present constituted, tions and reflections naturally arisand calculated to excite, not hatred ing from it, must have had a tendenand contempt merely, but open and cy to revive and refresh the attach
ment to Monarchy, and to root that been known to the nation since it beattachment deeper in the hearts of the came free. We are fond of dating our people, might easily be shown by rea- freedom from the Revolution. I should soning ; but a feeling truer than all be glad to know in what period since reasoning anticipates the result, and the Revolution, (up to a very late
perenders the process of argument unne- riod indeed, which I will specify,) in cessary. So far, therefore, has this what period of those reigns growing great calamity brought with it its own out of the Revolution-I mean, of the compensation, and conspired to the first reigns of the House of Brunswick restoration of peace throughout the — did it enter into the head of man, country, with the measures adopted by that such meetings could be holden, Parliament.
or that the Legislature would tolerate And, Gentlemen, what was the cha- the holding of such meetings, as disracter of those measures ?—The best graced the country for some months eulogy of them I take to be this: it previous to the last session of Parliamay be said of them, as has been said ment? When, therefore, it is asserted of some of the most consummate pro- that such meetings were never before ductions of literary art, that though suppressed, the simple answer is, they no man beforehand had exactly anti- were never before systematically atcipated them, no man, when they were tempted to be holden. laid before him, did not feel that they I verily believe, the first meeting of were such as he would himself have the kind that was ever attempted and suggested. So faithfully adapted to tolerated (I know of none anterior to the case which they were framed to it) was that called by Lord George meet, so correctly adjusted to the de- Gordon, in St George's-fields, in the gree and nature of the mischief which year 1780, which led to the demolition they were intended to control, that of chapels and dwelling-houses, the while we all feel that they have done breaking of prisons, and the conflagratheir work, I think none will say there tion of London. Was England never has been any thing in them of excess free till 1780 ? Did British liberty or supererogation.
spring to light from the ashes of the We were loudly assured by the Re- metropolis ? What! was there no formers, that the test throughout the freedom in the reign of George the country by which those who were am- Second ? None in that of George the bitious of seats in the new Parliament First ? None in the reign of Queen would be tried was to be--whether Ann or of King William ? Beyond the they had supported those measures. I Revolution I will not go. But I have have inquired, with as much diligence always heard, that British liberty was as was compatible with my duties here, established long before the commenceafter the proceedings of other elections; ment of the late reign; nay, that in the and I protest I know no place yet, be late reign (according to popular politisides the hustings of Westminster and cians) it rather sunk and retrograded; Southwark, at which that menaced and yet, never till that reign was such test has been put to any candidates. an abuse of popular meetings dreamt To me, indeed, it was not put as a test, of, much less erected into a right, not but objected as a charge. You know to be questioned by Magistrates, and how that charge was answered : and not to be controlled by Parliament. the result is to me a majority of 1300 Do I deny, then, the general right out of 2000 voters upon the poll. of the people to meet, to petition, or to
But, Gentlemen, though this ques- deliberate upon their grievances? God tion has not, as was threatened, been forbid ! But right is not a simple, the watchword of popular elections, abstract, positive, unqualified term. every other effort has, nevertheless, Rights are in the same individual to been industriously employed to per- be compared with his duties; and suade the country, that their liberties rights in one person are to be balanced have been essentially abridged by the with the rights of others. But let us regulation of popular meetings. Against take the right to meet in its most exthat one of the measures passed by Par- tended construction. The persons who liament it is that the attacks of the called the meeting at Manchester tell Radical Reformers have been particu- you, that they had a right to collect tolarly directed. Gentlemen, the first gether countless multitudes to discuss answer to this averment is, that the the question of Parliamentary Reform ; Act leaves untouched all the constitu- to collect them when they would, and tional modes of assembly whiclı have where they would, without consent of Magistrates, or concurrence of in- is of itself the source of terror and of habitants, or reference to the comfort danger. and convenience of the neighbourhood. It is no part of the provision of the Now may not the peaceable, the in- laws, nor is it in the spirit of them, dustrious inhabitant of Manchester that such multitudes should be brought say, “I have a right to quiet in my together at the will of unauthorised house; I have a right to carry on my and irresponsible individuals, changing manufactory, on which not my exist- the scene of meeting as may suit their ence only and that of my children, but caprice or convenience, and fixing it that of my workmen and their numer- where they have neither property, nor ous families depends. I have a right domicile, nor connexion. The spirit to be protected in the exercise of this of the law goes directly the other way. my lawful calling. I have a right to It is, if I may so express myself, emibe protected, not against violence and nently a spirit of corporation. Counplunder only, against fire and sword, ties, parishes, townships, guilds, probut against the terror of these calam- fessions, trades, and callings, form so ities, and against the risk of these in- many local and political subdivisions, flictions; against the intimidation or into which the people of England are seduction of my workmen ; against distributed by the law; and the perthe distraction of that attention and vading principle of the whole is that the interruption of that industry, with- of vicinage or neighbourhood; by which out which neither they nor I can gain each man is held to act under the view our livelihood. I call upon the laws and inspection of his neighbours; to to afford me that protection; and if lend his aid to them, to borrow theirs; the laws in this country cannot afford to share their councils, their duties, it, depend upon it, I and my manu- and their burdens; and to bear with factures must emigrate to some coun- them his share of responsibility for try where they can." Here is a con- the acts of any of the members of the flict of rights, between which, what community of which he forms a part. is the decision? Which of the two Observe, I am not speaking here of claims is to give way? Can any rea- the reviled and discredited statute law sonable being doubt? Can any honest only, but of that venerable common man hesitate ? Let private justice or law to which our Reformers are so public expediency decide, and can the fond of appealing on all occasions, as decision by possibility be other, than well as of the statute law by which it that the peaceable and industrious is modified, explained, or enforced. shall be protected, the turbulent and Guided by the spirit of the one, no mischievous put down?
less than by the letter of the other, But what similarity is there between what man is there in this country who tumults such as these, and an orderly cannot point out the portion of someeting, recognised by the law, for all ciety to which it belongs? If injury legitimate purposes of discussion or is sustained, upon whom is the inpetition ? God forbid, that there should jured person expressly entitled to not be modes of assembly by which come for redress ? Upon the hundred, every class of this great nation may be or the division in which he has susbrought together to deliberate on any tained the injury. On what prinmatters connected with their interest ciple? On the principle, that as the and their freedom. It is, however, an individual is amenable to the division inversion of the natural order of things, of the community to which he specie it is a disturbance of the settled course ally belongs, so neighbours are of society, to represent discussion as swerable for each other. Just laws, every thing, and the ordinary occupa- to be sure, and admirable equity, if á tions of life as nothing. To protect stranger is to collect a mob which is the peaceable in their ordinary occu- to set half Manchester on fire; and pations, is as much the province of the the burnt half is to come upon the laws, as to provide opportunities of other half for indemnity, while the discussion for every purpose to which stranger goes off unquestioned, by the it is necessarily and properly applica- stage! ble. The laws do both; but it is no That such was the nature, such the part of the contrivance of the laws that tendency, nay, that such, in all human immense multitudes should wantonly probability, might have been the rebe brought together, month after sult of such meetings, as that of the month and day after day, where the 16th of August, who can deny? Who very bringing together of a multitude that weighs all the particulars of that
day's transactions, comparing them recognized modes of collecting the with the rumours and the threats that sense of the English people! Was it preceded them, will dispute that such by meetings such as these that the remight have been the result of that volution was brought about, the great very day's meeting, if that meeting, so event to which our antagonists are so very legally assembled, had not, by fond of referring ? Was it by a meetthe happy decision of the magistrates, ing in St George's-fields ? in Spabeen so very illegally dispersed ? fields ? in Smith-field ? Was it by
It is, therefore, not in consonance, untold multitudes collected in a vil. but in contradiction to the spirit of lage in the north? No; it was by the law, that such meetings have been meeting of corporations in their corholden. The law prescribes a cor- porate capacity—by the assembly of porate character. The callers of these recognised bodies of the State -by the meetings have always studiously a- interchange of opinions among porvoided it. No summons of freehold- tions of the community known to each ers-none of freemen-none of the other, and capable of estimating each inhabitants of particular places or pa- others views and characters. Do we rishes-no acknowledgment of local want a more striking mode of remeor political classification. Just so at dying grievances than this ? Do we rethe beginning of the French revolua quire a more animating example? And tion: the first work of the Reformers did it remain for the Reformers of the was to loosen every established politi- present day to strike out the course by cal relation, every legal holding of which alone Great Britain could make man to man, to destroy every corpo- and keep herself free? ration, to dissolve every subsisting Gentlemen, all power is, or ought class of society, and to reduce the na- to be, accompanied by responsibility. tion into individuals, in order, after- Tyranny is irresponsible power. This wards, to congregate them into mobs. definition is equally true, whether the
Let no person, therefore, run away power be lodged in one or many; with the notion, that these things whether in a despot, exempted by were done without design. To bring the form of government from the contogether the inhabitants of a particu- trol of law; or in a mob, whose lar division, or men sharing a com- numbers put them beyond the reach mon franchise, is to bring together an of law. Idle, therefore, and absurd, assembly, of which the component to talk of freedom where a mob doparts act with some respect and awe of mineers ! Idle, therefore, and absurd, each other : ancient habits, which the to talk of liberty, when you hold Reformers would call prejudices, pre- your property, perhaps your life, not conceived attachments, which they indeed at the nod of a despot, but at would call corruption, that mutual the will of an inflamed, an infuriated respect which makes the eye of a populace ! If, therefore, during the neighbour a security for each man's reign of terror at Manchester or at Spagood conduct, but which the Reform- fields, there were persons in this ers would stigmatize as a confederacy country who had a right to complain among the few for dominion over their of tyranny, it was they who loved the fellows all these things make men Constitution, who loved the Monardifficult to be moved on the sudden to chy, but who dared not utter their any extravagant and violent enterprize. opinions or their wishes until their But bring together a multitude of in- houses were barricadoed, and their dividuals having no permanent rela- children sent to a place of safety. tion to each other, no common tie, That was tyranny! and, so far as but what arises from their concurrence the mobs were under the control of as members of that meeting-a tie a leader, that was despotism. And it dissolved as soon as the meeting is at was against that tyranny, that despotan end ;-in such an aggregation of ism, that Parliament at length raised individuals there is no such mutual its arm. respect, no such check upon the pro- All power, I say, is vicious, that is ceedings of each man from the awe of not accompanied by proportionate reshis neighbour's disapprobation ; and if ponsibility. Personal responsibility ever a multitudinous assembly can be prevents the abuse of individual powwrought up to purposes of mischief, er; responsibility of character is the it will be an assembly so composed. security against the abuse of collective
How monstrous is it to confound power, when exercised by bodies of such meetings with the genuine and men whose existence is permanent