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now pressed: he thinks that those who have ever supported the cause of parliamentary reform upon grounds of practical advantage, must not oppose those who having nothing in common with them but the name of reform, make that the cover for objects widely different, and support that pretence which they assume upon principles diametrically opposite to those upon which the true friends to the cause of reform ever proceeded. Will the honorable gentleman who made, or the learned gentleman who seconded the motion, say, that those men who contend as an indispensable point for universal suffrage; that those who hold doctrines which go to the extinction of every branch of the constitution, because they think it convenient to avail themselves of the pretence of parliamentary reform, as the first step towards the attainment of their own views, and as facilitating their progress; that those who, though they condescended to take advantage of the co-operation of those who support the cause of reform in this house, yet have never applied to Parliament, and who would not even receive as a boon, what they contend for as a right; can it seriously be said, that such men as these have embarked in the cause or have proceeded on the principles of those, who, upon far different grounds, and for far different objects, have moved this important question? Will they say, that those men have adopted the principles, or followed the course of those who formerly have agitated the cause of reform, who have avowedly borrowed their political creed from the doctrines of the rights of man, from the writings of THOMAS PAINE, from the monstrous and detestable system of the French Jacobins and affiliated societies, from that proud, shallow, and presumptuous philosophy, which, pretending to communicate new lights to mankind, has carried theoretical absurdity higher than the wild imaginations of the
most extravagant visionaries ever conceived, and carried practical evil to an extent which no age or history has equalled? Will it be said, that those men pursued only that practical advantage which a reform upon principles consonant to the British constitution was calculated to afford, who saw without emotion the detestable theories of the jacobins developed in the destructive ravage which marked their progress, and their practical effects in the bloody tragedies which were acted on the theatre of France, and who still adhered to their system of indefeasible right, when they saw such overwhelming proofs of its theoretical falsehood, and its baneful tendency? Will it be believed, that those men are actuated by principles consonant to the spirit of the British constitution, who, with the exception of the pretence of parliamentary reform, adopted all the forms of French political systems, who followed them through all their consequences, who looked upon the ravage which they spread through all laws, religion, and property, without shrinking from their practical effect, and who deemed the horrors with which it was attended, as the triumphs of their system? Can we believe, that men who remained unmoved by the dismal example which their principles had produced, whose pretensions rose and fell with the success or decline of jacobinism in every part of the world, were ever actuated by a similarity of motives and of objects, with those who prosecuted the cause of reform as a practical advantage, and maintained it upon constitutional views? The utmost point of difference, indeed, that ever subsisted between those who supported, and those who opposed the question of reform, previous to the French revolution, which forms new era in politics, and in the history of the world, was union and concert in comparison with the views of
those who maintained that question upon grounds of expediency, and those who assert it as a matter of right.
"The question then was with those who contended for reform on grounds of expediency, whether the means proposed were calculated to infuse new vigor into the constitution? The object with those who affect a parliamentary reform upon French principles is the shortest way to compass its utter destruction. From the period when the new and alarming æra of the French revolution broke in upon the world, and the doctrines which it ushered into light laid hold of the minds of men, I found that the grounds upon which the question rested were essentjally and fundamentally altered. Whatever may have been my former opinion, I am to be told that I am inconsistent, if I feel that it is expedient to forego the advantage which any alteration may be calculated to produce, rather than afford an inlet to principles with which no compromise can be made; rather than hazard the utter annihilation of a system under which this country has flourished in its prosperity, by which it has been supported in its adversity, and by the energy and vigor of which it has been enabled to recover from the difficulties and distresses with which it has to contend? In the warmth of argument upon this subject, the honorable and learned gentleman has conceived himself at liberty to assume a proposition which was not only unsupported by reasoning, but even contradicted by his own statements. The learned gentleman assumed, that it was necessary to adopt the moderate reform proposed, in order to separate those whom such a plan would satisfy from those who would be satisfied with none; but who, I contend, by means of this, would only labor to attain the complete object of their wishes in the utter annihilation of the constitution. Those men
who treat Parliament as an usurpation, and Monarchy as an invasion of the rights of man, would not receive a reform which was not the recognition of their right, and which they would consider as vitiated if conveyed in any other shape. Though such men had availed themselves of the aid of those who supported parliamentary reform on other grounds, would they be contented with this species of reform as an ultimate object?
"But does the honorable, and learned gentleman mean to assume, that these who are the friends of moderate reform (and I know not how such a wish has been expressed at all) must remain confounded with those whom no reform will satisfy, unless some measure like the present is adopted? Where has such a wish for a moderate reform been expressed? If those who are even thought to entertain sentiments favorable to that cause, had cherished them in silence, if they have abstained from pressing them at a moment when they would have served only to promote the views of those who wished to annihilate, not to reform, is it to be apprehended that any ill effects will ensue, unless you adopt some expedient to distinguish the moderate reformer from the desparate foe? Yet this is the main argument of the learned gentleman which he has put in a thousand different shapes. I do not believe however that the temper of moderate reformers will lead them to make common cause with the irreconcileable enemies of the constitution. If there are really many, who may be ranked as moderate reformers, it is at least probable, that they feel the force of the danger which I have stated; that they think it wiser to check their wishes than to risk the inlet of jacobin principles, and the imprudence of affording to the enemies of the constitution, the means of accomplishing its destruction. Has there been however any decisive manifestation of their desires, or is there reason to believe
lieve, that disappointed in their wishes, they will be immediately driven beyond the bounds of duty to the constitutution? If there is no security that those whose views have already pointed beyond reform, will be recalled to better sentiments,-if there are even certain grounds to believe that they will merely employ any reform that may be introduced, as a step towards realizing their own system, upon what pretence can the present measure be held out as calculated to reconcile those men to the constitution? From the conduct of gentlemen on the other side, it is obvious that they do not conceive any decisive manifestation of the wishes of the people for a moderate reform being now introduced, to have taken place? My reason for such an opinion is this: we have seen that the gentlemen in opposition have not been deficient in their efforts to procure every expression of the public concurrence in the objects for which they have contended. From their own account, these efforts have not been unsuccessful; but supposing that no efforts of theirs had been employed, and that to the spontaneous impulse of the people themselves are to be ascribed the petitions which have been voted in different quarters, to a degree, indeed, in their opinion, to decide the sense of the country to be in favor of an immediate peace, and the removal of ministers, it follows that those who have presented such petitions have not felt, or the exertions of opposition have not been been able to excite, any expression of that opinion they have so often urged, that no change of men, without a change of system, would lead to any permanent good.
"It does not appear then, that there is any call upon the house to adopt the measure, which so far from being necessary to satisfy men friendly to moderate reform, they have not in any shape expressed a wish to obtain. Before the practical expediency of this measure, then, comes to be discussed,