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Held at Erson, Monday the 18th,
but more especially the agriculturist, laboured. Unless that distress was speedily and effectually relieved, it was impossible that the respectability and character which he saw around him could long continue to support its station pursuant to a Requisition pre-at the last Meeting, heard from his in society (hear, hear!) They had, friend Mr. Webbe Weston, that much had been done for the farmers by landlords reducing their rents. That Hon. Gentleman had stated the reductions made by himself, and he (Mr. Leech) hoped that rents would be reduced to the standard of 1792; for unless rents must continue to be losers; for were reduced to that period farmers
sented to the High Sheriff at a former Meeting (that day fortnight), for the purpose of considering the DISTRESS OF AGRICUL TURE and of petitioning for REFORM IN PARLIAMENT. The following speeches are ex tracted from the report in the Morn-while rents and taxes had doubled, ing Chronicle of the proceedings The Honourable Gentleman procorn was lower now than it was then. which took place; which proceed-ceeded to compare the prices of produce and labour at the present ings are very important and show period with those of 1792, and that County Meetings are not went on to show, that unless some always farces, as some Lords Lieutenant are apt to call them.
The High Sheriff having opened the Meeting,
farmer must be ruined. When, speedy alteration took place the indeed, he had heard of the great and remedial measure lately proposed by Lord Londonderry, he began to fear that that Meeting would be unattended; he dreaded Mr. LEECH (of Leigh) present-that they should be unable to ased himself and was received with semble more than a very few of the loud and repeated cheers. It was freeholders, as the great body of natural to suppose, from the line the county must be pleased, graof conduct which he pursued at the tified, and delighted, at finding that Jast Meeting, that he should have that Noble Lord was about to profelt disappointed by the conduct pose a reduction of one shilling per then pursued by the High Sheriff; bushel of the duty on malt (hear, he was, however, fully convinced hear! and laughter). The Honourthat that Honourable Gentleman able Gentleman went on to remark, had been actuated by the purest that the main object relied upon in principles of duty in taking the the Petition he submitted to them course which he had done (hear, was a Reform in Parliamenthear!) Having said so much with (cheers.) By this, and by this only, respect to the conduct of their wor- dould they expect to get rid of all thy High Sheriff, he felt that few the abuses by which the Constituobservations were necessary upon tion was surrounded, and which the question more immediately pressed so severely upon all classes before them. There was not any of society. How was it possible occupier or inhabitant of that county who did not feel the distress under which every class of society,
that Ministers could be honest while they were teased and driven by those men who supported them
by their votes, to repay them-wise dependent for their welltheir friends and relatives, by plun- being on the prosperity of Agridering the purses of the people? culture; that the farmer has no (hear, hear!) How could Ministers longer the means to pay for the withstand the applications of that labour necessary to due cultivabody, without whom they could not tion; that the able labourer, from command their majorities in the insufficiency of wages, is compelled House of Commons? (hear, hear!) to become a pauper, and, under The only means of redress to which that degrading name, and in thất the country had to look was by a state of uselessness, has to be reformation of the House of Com-maintained by money drawn from mons, by constituting Parliament the Farmer, though the latter is so as to make it the organ of the unable to employ him for their muwishes and feelings of the people.tual benefit.
Until this was done Parliament Your Petitioners pretend not would not speak the sense of the to enter into theoretical inquiries community, but the reverse. This as to the causes which have led to doctrine he had ever advocated, this state of things, but sorrowful and he hoped that he should ever experience enables them distinctly continue to advocate it. He had to state the practical result to be formed his opinions upon the asser- this: that the wages of labour, tion of Mr. Pitt, "that no honest the rates, the mere sustenance of Minister could govern the country the farmer's family, and the bare unless a Reform in Parliament interest of his capital, now demand took place" (hear, hear!) He (Mr. nearly the whole of the gross Leech) defied any Minister, even amount of his produce, leaving nothough he were an angel, to carry thing for profit, and little or nothing on the business of the country pro-for rent; and this result does, too, perly without a Reform in Parliament. He contended then, upon the principles of Mr. Fox, Sir George Saville, and the late Duke of Richmond, that a Reform in Parliament was absolutely and inevitably necessary (cheers.) The Honourable Gentleman, after some other observations, concluded by proposing the following Petition :
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled.
The Petition of the Owners and Occupiers of Land in the County of Surrey, assembled in County Meeting, this 18th day of February 1822,
Most humbly sheweth,
That the greatest embarrassment and distress pervade the whole of that numerous class of his Majesty's subjects whose property consists of land, or of stock, or materials, or goods, connected with the land, or who are in any
appear perfectly natural to your Petitioners, when they consider, that the price of their produce, taking one article with another, is now lower than it was in 1790, while the taxes, including the millions paid for the collection, are now more than three times as great in amount as they were in that
Your Petitioners, who trust that they are unsusceptible of groundless alarm, and who hope that your Honourable House will not think them capable of deliberate exags geration, assure your Honourable House, that they think there must be, on an average of years, a still further decline in the price of the produce of the land; that they can see many reasons for, and none against this opinion; and, if a further decline should take place with the present taxes remaining, your Petitioners can have no scruple to state, that it will be impossible for the main body of the farmers to P 2
pay any rent at all; thus leaving House had been consonant with merely the name of landlords to the long-settled laws and constituthe owners of the land, who will tion of their country; nor will then have been, by the hand of un- they disguise from your Honoursparing taxation, virtually despoil-able House that they have no hope ed of their estates. of effectual, present effectual relief, or of security against future oppression, but in an efficient Reform in that Representation.
Your Petitioners forbear to describe their feelings at bearing their distresses, at the end of seven years and ten months duration, Your Petitioners, without dwellattributed, by some, to a sudden ing in detail on the innumerable transition from war to peace; and instances of wasteful expenditure at hearing those distresses ascribed, sanctioned by Parliament, in the by others, to superabundant crops, civil and military departments, while, by the same persons, a su- cannot but know, that to the want perabundant population is at other of such a Reform they owe the times alleged to be the cause; and burden of establishments wholly while, on that bare allegation, unnecessary, and of an annual exlarge sums raised on your Peti- penditure surpassing, in a season tioners in taxes, are expended to of profound peace, that of former convey beyond the seas a part of seasons of actual and widely exthese superabundant consumers of tended war. Well knowing these your Petitioners' superabundant things, and anxious, not less for crops! Your Petitioners, turning the safety of the Throne than for from these notions to that plain that of their own properties, libercommon sense, and that daily ex- ties and lives, the County of Surperience, which tell them, that a rey, while they humbly implore very large proportion of all that your Honourable House to make the farmer pays in the shape of a Constitutional Reform, so absowages and rates, for implements of lutely necessary to secure the behusbandry and for articles con-nefit of real representation, and a sumed in his family, is required by the several parties to pay the taxes on things of indispensable consumption, can be at no loss to discover, that excessive taxation is the immediate cause of all their embarrassment and distress; and they, therefore, pray generally, that your Honourable House will, with a degree of speed proportioned to the pressing necessity of the case, be pleased to make a very great abatement in the amount of that taxation, and, particularly, that you will repeal the taxes on malt, salt, soap, candles and leather.
vigilant control over the public money, declare in the face of all England, that they will never, till that all-important object shall have been accomplished, cease to use all the lawful means in their power for the obtaining of such Reform.
Mr. HARE TOWNSHEND, in seconding the Motion, pointed out the pernicious influence exercised in the House of Commons by those boroughmongers and placemen who were not, who could never be considered, the Representatives of the people; (hear, hear!) withBut while your humble Petition- out a Reform in the House of Comers well know this to be the only mons it was impossible that there immediate remedy for the intoler- could be any security for the liberable evils that oppress them, they ties, the properties, or even the cannot disguise from themselves lives of the people of England that these evils would never have (Cheers.) He had also to remark been known, if the Representation upon the distresses of the farmer, of the People in your Honourable or to use the words of certain noble
and eminent persons in society, [saw a full House, he felt convinced the "transfer of property" which that Ministers must succeed in was going on, and which was likely, opposition to the wishes of the however lightly some persons might people; but the appearance of that be inclined to treat it, to be attend- meeting convinced him that the ed with the most serious and la-people, if united, must succeed in mentable effects (hear, hear!). It opposition to Ministers (cheers). was a transfer which carried ruin At the last meeting they had heard to the farmer; it was a transfer much of the distresses of the counwhich carried misery and distress try; they had been told, and truly, to the cottage of the labourer; it that those distresses arose out of was a transfer which was likely, if grievous and oppressive taxation, not speedily checked, to spread occasioned by a long war, by the gloom and desolation over this once influence of the Crown, and by the happy land (hear, hear, hear !).— gross and lavish expenditure which The Honourable Gentleman con-had been sanctioned by Parliament cluded by giving his most cordial support to the Petition.
(hear, hear). They were told too, that this distress was in consequence of the glorious war in which Lord KING, in coming forward the country had been engaged; to address the Meeting, was re-perhaps it was; but surely this ceived with loud and enthusiastic country would not have embarked cheering. When he had last the in such a lottery, if the prizes were honour of addressing them, they known to be such as those which had almost unanimously rejected we had drawn in it. He now came a Petition for relief from taxation, to that part of the Petition which because the proper authority had included Reform; and here he felt declined to couple with that ques-it necessary to state a circumstance tion a Reform in Parliament. By which bore seriously and weightily doing this the freeholders of the upon the present situation of the county of Surrey had stated, in the country. The first great blow broadest and most distinct man-which the independence of our ner, that they were to be satisfied Parliament received, was by the only by a sound and perfect cure, introduction of the 45 Scots Memand not by any attempted patch-bers (upon the Union), who were ing or mending the disorder (hear, properly called the Swiss of the hear). He was one of those who State (bear, hear, and a laugh); were for unanimity upon that oc-a set of gentlemen who received casion, but he could not help say- the whole patronage of Scotland ing, that he now preferred the in return for the valuable services course then pursued, because, by which they rendered from time to the rejection of the motion uncou- time to the Minister of the day pled with Reform, the Electors of (laughing). Soon after the union Surrey declared, that there was with Scotland, the then Minister of that which they looked to as more this country, who had failed in a beneficial than immediate relief, parliamentary measure, explained and without which they would not the cause of his failure by saying be satisfied (hear, hear). When that the waters were out, and that he looked to the meeting before the Scotch Members could not him, when he considered its rank, arrive in time (loud cheers, and its character, and its numbers, he laughing). That Minister, as well entertained a feeling diametrically as every succeeding one, had placed opposite to that which impressed full confidence in that trusty band himself upon seeing what was of gentlemen, who had never dee called " a full House." When he ceived any Administration down
to the present day (loud laughing). | the son of that great man, to make The patronage of Parliament was a a reform in parliament less necesnew trade, which had sprung up sary, The introduction of one within the last century; it afforded hundred members in that House an extensive scale of operation to made Reform more necessary, for the boroughmongering portion of God knows the great majority of society to those gentlemen who Irish and English members were had been well designated by Mr. careless of Englaud or Ireland, or Grattan as the proprietors of any thing but themselves (cheers). Parliament," and, if report spoke The spectacle that presented itself true, many a hard bargain they in England was that of a petitiondrove with Ministers at the ex-ing people and a confiding Parliaense of the country (cheers). He ment-that Parliament inflicted remembered a story which had taxation upon the people, without been told of the present Lord guarding or protecting their rights Lonsdale (then Sir James Low- or liberties. It was that which ther), with respect to the borough made England, not the envy of surof Whitehaven. In that borough, rounding nations, but the envy of several persons had petitioned surrounding sovereigns, who had against an election return, upon not so potent and pliable an instruwhich Sir James Lowther said- ment at their command. But, it "I should like to know who these was said that they had a virtual "petitioners are. I should like to representation in that House; he "know by what right they petition. would ask the farmers about him "The land upon which they live is to consider what would be thought mine, and I can turn them out. of them, if, on taking their grain to "The coal mines are mine, and 1 market, they offered a sample, not "can not only deprive them of fire; of that which they had to dispose but sink them into the earth. of, but of a different article ; would "The wells and pumps are mine, any honest man agree to sell, or " and I can deprive them of water. would any thinking man agree to "Nay, even the very air they buy, under such circumstances? "breathe is mine, for I can suffo- He was sure they would not. In "cate them with my coal mines" that light, and in that light only, (loud cheers). Thus had the Hon. might they look upon those who Gentleman at his disposal the four were called their representatives elements of earth, air, fire, and in the House of Commons. water. The same individual had, all the samples which it was most upon another occasion, sent down difficult to find in that House was to the House six of his borough re- a sample of honest men (cheers), presentatives, with strict orders to There was, however, one class who vote three on one side, and three were well represented in that house, on another; aye, and he would have he meant the country gentlemen; dismissed them too, had they dis- they contributed, in a considerable obeyed (cheers). This was one of degree, to the "collective wisthe Noble Lord's (for a Noble Lord dom" of the house; but, where the he now was) manoeuvres, when he interests of the people were conwas, perhaps, coquetting with a cerned, they were found bereft of blue ribbon, or some other object every sense but that of fear. They of equal value in his estimation allowed Ministers to scare them (laughing). It was now 50 years out of every privilege of the Consince the cause of Reform had stitution-out of every thing save been advocated by the great Lord what most immediately affected Chatham, and nothing had been themselves. It was true they somesince done, certainly nothing by times spoke their minds, but not