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age of twenty-one, with free and equal necessary ; but he was persuaded that representation, and annual parliaments; the very safety and existence of the and that I will support the same to the constitution was concerned, and that utmost of my power, either by moral the constitution could not be preserved or physical strength, as the case may unless on this occasion one of its best require ; and I do further swear, that and strongest bulwarks was suspended. neither hopes, fears, or punishment, Lord Milton still retained his opinion shall induce me to inform or give evi- as to the dangerous nature of the dedence against any member or members, signs of the disaffected, though he was collectively or individually, for any act surprised to hear the noble lord reor expression done or made, in or out, peating the oath in question, which in this or similar societies, under the had been purposely kept back by the punishment of death, to be inflicted on committee. Notwithstanding his conme by any member or members of such viction of the nefarious designs of many society. So help me God, and keep individuals throughout the country, he me stedfast."

did not think there were a sufficient Many hundred persons were bound ground for removing the great bulwark together by this oath, both in Glasgow to our liberties. and its vicinity. Soon afterwards in. Mr Wynne considered the danger of formation was obtained, that a meeting the country as very serious, and entirely had been held, in which a motion was approved of the bill. made for the purpose of modifying the Sir Samuel Romilly again urged that oath, and of leaving out its most offen- no trial had been made of the efficacy sive terms; but such was the malignant of the existing laws, and conceived that disposition of that assembly, such its the proposed suspension could not be determination to have nothing to do agreed to without serious danger to with persons who would flinch from our liberties. their horrid test, that the proposition Lord John Russell saw no ground of amendment was unanimously reject- whatever for the proposed suspension. ed. The result was, that at the next He conceived it indispensible for the meeting several persons were appre- justification of such a measure, that hended while sitting in full conclave. persons within the country should be Though these were all the persons who plotting with an enemy from without. had been taken up, yet there were There seemed nothing in the present others in a different sphere of life, who danger which the existing laws were ought to have been apprehended, and not sufficient to encounter. « The who would have been taken up, pro- report of the committee refers to two vided the evidence against them had objects—to the plot which broke out been more satisfactory. This conspi- in Spa-fields, and to the system of racy was not confined to Glasgow; its clubs and combinations now carrying ramifications extended through various on. As to the first, though the story parts of the kingdom ; and so wide had is told in very pompous language in the mischief spread, that he was in his the report, we know the fact to be, conscience convinced that nothing but that a few miserable malcontents atthe passing of this bill could prevent tempted a riot ; that one man summon. the effusion of the blood of our fellow. ed the Tower; and that another party, citizens ; for a riot once commenced, which went to the Royal Exchange, who could say where it would end? was defeated by the Lord May and He deeply regretted the great misfor- Sir James Shaw. So that whatever the tune that such a measure should be danger may have been previously, it is

ow past. The insurrection was tried testable, and mischievous power, be. hd failed. Now, sir, what better proof cause, he said, there were criminal an there be of the excellence of the persons in the country, the guilt of resent laws? An attempt was made whom government had not the means

overturn them ; the people refused of proving. According to him, men • join in it, and it was immediately were to be punished, not

cause they uelled. What better evidence could were guilty, but because there were no ve desire of the sufficiency of the con means of proving them guilty. Was titution to repel the dangers which there ever doctrine more odious and nenace it." With regard

to reform, more abominable, held in any assembly, le thought the best mode by which or under any tyrant on earth? This he House could preserve the respect country had nothing to do with the of the people would be, that, while political scenes

political scenes of the French revolu. hey were ready to sanction a new code tion, and with regard to its impiety, in favour of the crown, they should he knew nothing that could equal it, 100 refuse all innovation in favour of but the impiety which had lately been the people.

practised in this country, in the prayer After some remarks from Mr Cour- which, in solemn mockery, implored of tenay in favour of the bill, Sir Francis heaven to guard the Prince Regent Burdett expressed his satisfaction at from the pestilence that walked by the speech of the noble lord. The day. He (Sir F. B.) knew of no name of Russell was dear to every pestilence except that pestilence which Englishman ; and in the defence of met the people at every corner, which these rights his revered ancestor had visited their firesides, which partook lost his life. He did not believe that of their meals, which accompanied the proposed measure was designed for them to their beds, which contaminathe benefit either of the crown or the ted every thing they touched-the people. In his opinion, it was calcu- pestilence of insupportable taxation. lated solely for the benefit of the mi. The Attorney-General possessed alnisters, who having brought the coun. ready enormous power over the press, try into inextricable difficulties, found and if he did not prosecute, it could a general demand for retrenchment of only be because there was no proof of their profligate expenditure. The ex- any offence. The noble lord might travagance of which ministers had been fine and imprison, he might erect a guilty, was tenfold more destructive of gallows in Palace-yard, or in the lobby the landed property of the kingdom, of the House of Commons, but he than the newly raised and visionary could not physically gag the mouths

mischief apprehended from the disciples of the people. If it was true that the j of a weak man who died twenty years great mass of the population of the

ago, who never dreamed that he should empire was infected with the prin

make such a noise in the world, and ciples reprobated by the noble lord, :: from whose absurd tracts no real dan. could he shut it up? Had he prisons

ger could ever be anticipared. The sufficiently capacious ? Buonaparte Expencean party, as he would deno- erected eight additional bastiles in minate them, came to the same point as France ; but the noble lord must do the Spenceans, whom they denounced. much more, for our gaols were already The honourable and learned gentleman overflowing. The execution of this had contended, that it was necessary to act had been attended with many gross arm ministers with this despotic, de- instances of cruelty and oppression,

and far from agreeing to it for even a horrid principle of inflicting death or few months, he would not agree to it those who revealed them. He believed for a few hours.

too, that if the societies engaged in Lord Castlereagh said, that with all this conspiracy were not soon put his

respect for the rank and talents of down, they would be capable of strugthe honourable baronet, it appeared to gling by force against the laws and him that his speech tended rather to government of this country. He bethe destruction than the salvation of lieved that the conspirators thougbt the British constitution. The sub- they were strong enough on the 2d of stance of that speech, the attempt in December to accomplish their purpose; it to treat with ridicule the present he believed they afterwards adjourned alarming state of the country, was the execution of their intention to the only consistent with the honourable 10th of February. He would put it baronet, who had many years ago, to the House, whether on the eve of during the late war, endeavoured to an insurrection, embracing many parts ridicule those treasons, which if they of the country and the metropolis, they had been treated as lightly by parlia- wished the executive to sit with their ment as they had been by the honour arms folded, and make no effort to able baronet, the constitution would arrest it till it exploded against the long ago have been overturned, and state? Did they wish ministers to that House would now have lain pros- suffer it first to explode, and blood to trate, the victim of treason and rebel- flow in the country? Was it not hu. lion, under the mask of reform. He manity to snatch the leader from the begged pardon for having detained the head of his troops before he could lead House on a subject foreign to the them against his majesty's peaceful question before it. But really it was subjects ? matter for serious consideration to find Mr Ponsonby was placed in a hard the dangers which now threatened the situation between his friends, who accountry talked lightly of; to hear even cused him of credulity, and gentlemen ridicule endeavoured to be thrown on opposite, who called on him to support the attempts against the person of his the bill. He was still fully convinced Royal Highness the Prince Regent- of the existence of the alleged disaffecattempts of a nature so criminal, so tion ; but it appeared to him confined abhorrent to human nature, as scarcely to the lower orders, and to be the effect to be credited as having been made in of distress acted on by malignity. He any civilized country ; to hear those had a reverence for this law amounting plots attempted to be made the subject almost to superstition ; he believed it of laughter which threatened the sub- the great bulwark of British libertyversion of the constitution, and which that which brought home to the poor had threatened the lives and properties est man in the country the value of the of the people of England. He dis. British constitution. claimed any use of the bill for the Lord Lascelles supported the bill, purposes of punishment, but thought while Lord Stanley and Lord Cochrane it essential to the safety of the state. opposed it. He believed that a conspiracy existed The question was now put, when in the country, for the subversion of there voted for the first reading of the the constitution. He was convinced bill

273 that that conspiracy was great in point Against it,

98 of numbers ; that the members were bound together by oaths, involving the Majority,

175

After this triumphant majority theference was denied by ministers, and bill was speedily carried through the the clause was rejected by 43 to 16. different stages of the committee, and Two clauses were however introduced, of the second and third readings. Se exempting the East India College and veral amendments were made, of which societies incorporated by royal charter the only important one was that made or act of parliament. The third read. by Sir Samuel Romilly in relation to ing of the bill was carried, on the 14th Scotland. The power of committal of March, by a majority of 179 to 44. was now there, as in England, to be The bill was then carried to the Lords, exercised only upon a warrant signed where it received several amendments, by one of the principal secretaries of of which the only important one was state. That power had formerly been that which prohibited any public meet. left in the hands of even a subordinate ings from being held within a mile of magistrate. The third reading was the Houses of Parliament and Westcarried by a majority of 265 against minster-hall. The bill, however, was 103. The amendments were then car. argued against at considerable length, ried up to the House of Lords, and on particularly by Lord Erskine ; but it the 38 of March were agreed to, and was carried by a majority of 111 to 23. the bill passed.

Eight lords protested.' The amendThe bill for restraining seditious ments were agreed to by the Commons, meetings was also carried through, with the exception of a trifling one rethough not in so rapid a manner. On specting a penalty of 501., on the prin. the 10th March, Sir James Mackintosh ciple, that the House would admit no moved an amendment, by which the alteration in any thing connected with punishment of death, pronounced upon money. The amendment was agreed those who did not disperse in an hour to by the Lords, and the bill was passed after warning given by a magistrate, on the 29th March, before the Easter should be commuted to transportation holidays. for seven years. It was negatived by The bills for the protection of the 70 to 26. Sir James moved also that, person of the Prince Regent against in the clause authorising the magistrate treasonable practices, and for the preto apprehend those who stirred up the vention and punishmeøt of attempts to people to hatred and contempt of the seduce persons serving in the army and government and constitution, the word navy, passed both the Houses without government might be omitted, as being a vote, and with few observations. a term often used as synonymous with They were both made perpetual. the existing administration. The in

VOL. X. PANT J.

E

CHAPTER IV.

THE SAME SUBJECT RENEWED.

Disturbances at Manchester-Rising in Derbyshire-Message from the Prince

Regent- Appointment and Report of Secret Committees-Renewed Suspession of the Habeas Corpus Aci-On the Employment of Spies.

The most important of the provisions commotion. The leaders of the rewhich had now received the sanction formers circulated proposals that the of parliament were only to continue in whole body, providing themselves with force till the period when the session blankets and knapsacks, should prowas to close, leaving room for their ceed to London, and there present in renewal or expiry, according as the person, to the Prince Regent, a statecountry should subside into a settled ment of their grievances, with a petiand tranquil state. During this inter- tion for redress. They were believed val, however, events occurred, afford- to be encouraged by reports of a most ing ample room for proposing the re numerous body of allies who were on newal of these restraints. The metro. their way from Scotland, and whose van polis, indeed, exhibited no alarming had even entered Preston. It was exsymptoms, and repeated meetings took pected that they would continually gaplace, even on the critical spot of Spa- ther strength as they proceeded, and fields, without any disturbance. The that in passing through Stockport, country, however, disappointed in its Derby, Nottingham, Coventry, Birexpectation of receiving the lead from mingham, and other large towns of this London, began to move of itself. Man- most populous part of England, they chester, the metropolis of the cotton would

be reinforced by a great propor. trade, was the centre of agitation ; a tion of the inhabitants, not to mention circumstance which too clearly pointed arms and other equipments with which to distress as the source of irritation, they would be supplied. The object of or the engine employed by the agents all this machinery very evidently was, of disorder to produce it. Great, how. that the petition might be presented in ever, as was the sympathy due to the such a shape as might render perilous a want of employment under which the refusal to grant the prayer contained in manufacturers' laboured, it was im- it. The doubts as to the reality of this possible to allow them to employ their meditated expedition were dispelled by unwelcome leisure in new-modelling a placard which appeared on the 8th, the British constitution.

appointing a meeting on the 10th, near On the 10th of March, Manchester St Peter's church, and expressing a became the scene of an extraordinary hope, that all those who intended to

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