Page images

but more especially the agrieul

turist, laboured. Unless that disSURREY

tress was speedily and effectually

relieved, it was impossible that COUNTY MEETING, the respectability and character

which he saw around him could Held at Epsom, Monday the 18th, long continue to support its station pursuant to a Requisition pre- at the last Meeting, heard from his

in society (hear, hear!) They had, sented to the High Sheriff at a for- friend Mr. Webbe Weston, that mer Meeting (that day fortnight), much had been done for the far

mers by landlords reducing their for the purpose of considering the rents. That Hon. Gentleman bad DISTRESS OF AGRICUL stated the reductions made by him

self, and he (Mr. Leech) hoped that TURE and of petitioning for rents would be reduced to the REFORM IN PARLIAMENT. standard of 1792; for unless rents

were reduced to that period farmers The following speeches are ex-naust coatinue to be losers; for tracted from the report in the Morn-, while rents and taxes had doubled, ing Chronicle of the proceedings The Honourable Gentleman pro

cornwas 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 farmer must be mined. When,

speedy alteration took place the Lieutenant are apt to call them. indeed, he had heard of the great

and remedial measure lately pxoThe High Sheriff having opened posed by Lord Londonderry, he the Meeting,

beyan to fear that that Meeting

would be upattended; 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 bear! and laughter). The Honourthat at 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 whieh 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 coun-tbat Ministers could be honest ty who did not feel the distress un- while they were teased and driven der which every class of society, 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 that 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 protend 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, petly without a Reform in Parlia- appear perfectly natural to your ment. He contended then, upon Petitioners, when they consider, the principles of Mr. Fox, Sir that the price of their produce, George Saville, and the late Duke takiog one article with another, is of Richmond, that a Reform in now lower than it was in 1790, Parliament was absolutely and while the taxes, including the milinevitably necessary cheers.) The lions paid for the collection, are Honourable Gentleman, after some now more than three times as great other observations, concluded by in amount as they were in that proposing the following Petition :


Your Petitioners, who trust that To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdon of Great Brituin less alarm, and who hope that your

they are unsusceptible of groundand Ireland, in Parliument assem

Honourable House'will not think bled.

them capable of deliberate exag** The Petition of the Owners and goration, assure your Honourable

Occupiers of Land in the County House, that they think-there must of Surrey, assembled in County be, on an average of years, a still Meeting, this 18th day of Febru- further decline in the price of the ary 1822,

produce of the land ; that they can Most humbly sheweth,

see many reasons for, and none That the greatest embarrass- against this opinion; and, if a furment and distress pervade the ther decline should take place with whole of that numerous class of the present taxes remaining, your his Majesty's subjects whose pro- Petitioners can have no scruple to perty consists of land, or of stock, state, that it will be impossible for or materials, or goods, connected the main body of the farmers to with the land, or who are in any

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 ; por will then have been, by the hand of un- they disguise from your Honour. sparing taxation, virtually despoil-able House that they have no hope ed of their estates.

of effectual, present effectual relief, Your Petitioners forbear to de- or of security against future opscribe their feelings at bearing pression, but in an efficient Reform their distresses, at the end of seven in that Representation. 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 vigilant control over the public by the several parties to pay the money, declare in the face of all taxes on things of indispensable England, that they will never, till consumption, can be at no loss to that all - important object shall discover, that excessive taxation have been accomplished, cease is the immediate cause of all their to use all the lawful means in their embarrassment and distress; and power for the obtaining of such they, therefore, pray generally, Reform. that your Honourable House will, with a degree of speed proportion- Mr. HARE TOWNSHEND, ed to the pressing necessity of the in seconding the Motion, pointed case, be pleased to make a very out the pernicious influence exergreat abatement in the amount of cised in the House of Commons by that taxation, and, particularly, those boroughmongers and placethat you will repeal the taxes on men who were not, who could never malt, salt, soap, candles and be considered, the Representatives leather.

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 (hear, hear). They were told too, support to the Petition.

that this distress was in conse

quence 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 (bear, 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 England 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 ParliaI ense 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 wbich ther), with respect to the borough made England, not the envy of surof Whitehaven. In that borough, rounding nations, but the envy of several person's had petitioned surrounding sovereigns, who had against an election return, upon not so potent and pliable an instruwhich Sir James Lowther saidment 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 6 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 4 and I can deprive them of water. would any thinking man agree to “ Nay, even the very air they buy, under such circumstances? 6 breathe is mine, for I can suffo- He was sure they would not. In 6 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. Of 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 wis. the 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 hereft 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 badstitution-out of every thing save been advocated by the great Lord what most immediately affected Chatham, and nothing bad been themselves. It was true they some since done;- certainly nothing by times spoke their minds, but not

« PreviousContinue »