Obrazy na stronie

any more than if they were so many of those cursed flies that are now daily tormenting my horses. "What! Do you," says some

to be read with the greatest care" authorities" against me in 1819: by every man, who shall think it nay, they might act rightly in worth while to read the remarks doing this: but, at any rate, they that are to follow it. But, before were my foes; they were that, at we read this Report; before you least; and, therefore, though they and I read it; before we, who had may be entitled to the compassion the power-of-imprisonment Bill of others, they are entitled to none passed against us, and SIX- from ME; and, none they have, ACTS passed against us; before WE read this Report, we ought to look back to the years 1817 and 1819, when scores of petitioners were, under the bayonet, marched one, "never forgive"? Forgive? as malefactors into the yard of the Yes, when offenders repent, and NEW BAILEY PRISON, and kept when they prove their repentance there under the rain for a whole by making, or showing a desire to day and night, in the winter, and make, atonement. And, I, for my when CANNING made the Honour-part, can discover, in the conduct able House ready to burst itself of the parties here alluded to, no with laughter by joking about the marks of any such desire. On the revered and ruptured Ogden," contrary, it appears to me, that whose petition ought, by-the-by, the far greater part of them would to be read to CANNING once a almost as soon perish with hunger month for the rest of his life. Yes, themselves, as to see that parliayou and I, my friends, ought to mentary reform, which would give when years, you, and all of us, fair play. Let those who now petition were so them perish, then, say I; and I very silent, to say the very best of wish them to perish to the last their conduct. I beg you to look at man, if they still persist in their my motto. The day of suffering, opposition to reform. there spoken of, is come. It is But, more of this by-and-by: come, at last; and, whatever others let me now insert the Report of ought to feel for the fall of the the proceedings at this Meeting; rich of Manchester, no sorrow, on for, though the petition, being, as their account, is due from ME. it is, silent upon the subject of They might think that they were REFORM, will produce no acting rightly in backing their effect; though it will get no an

look back to those

-swer, and will hardly bring an in- | power to prevent it; and thus, this

timation that it has been received; →still the speeches are worth notice; and, as coming from Manchester, the whole thing forms the sign of a change of some sort being on the work. When I have inserted the Report, I shall remark on the mat

ter in the order in which it lies before me.

This day a numerous Meeting of the inhabitants was held in the nor Court-Room. At eleven o'clock the doors were thrown open, and the multitude outside were admitted. As soon as order and silence could be procured,


the second in the kingdom, for its important and unrepresented town, wealth, the number of its inhabhas been deprived of that influence tants, and its extensive commerce, in the State which it ought to mainwho signed the Requisition, and the The public in general, have long and anxiously waited, expecting that the constituted authorities would do their duty by calling a meeting to make such representations to the Government as the emergency of the times required their not having done so, at length induced the Requisitionists no longer to remain silent spectators of the ruin and misery which perMa-vades every class. They, therefore, applied to the Churchwardens to call a meeting of the ley-payers to take into consideration the important objects we are now met to consider. These gentlemen refused to call the meeting, alleging as a reason for so MR. BAXTER was unanimously doing, that they did not consider it called to the Chair, when he proceed- within their province as Parish Offied to address the Meeting to the fol- cers-(Hisses.) There might perlowing effect:-Gentlemen, I much haps have been some validity in their regret that this place is not filled by objection, if the application had been some person more competent to pre- to call a meeting of the inhabitants side in so numerous and respectable at large; but as it was contined to an assembly of the ley-payers of this the ley-payers only, and as these important town; but I rely upon officers are appointed by that body, your indulgence and support, whilst the Requisitionists did hope that to the best of my power, I endeavour they would have felt it their duty to to perform the duties required (Ap- have complied with the request, parplause.) Custom has given more ticularly when it must have been weight to public opinion, when that known to them how utterly useless opinion has been expressed in meet-it was to apply to the officers of the ings convened by the regular con- Lord of the Manor for the purpose, stituted authorities; but as it re- when it was considered what their gards the town of Manchester, if the conduct had been. We meet here to Boroughreeve and Constables are to take into consideration the propriety be considered in that capacity, the of making such representations to public in general ought to be inform- the King of the state of this distressed, what is notoriously known here ed town and the manufacturing disto be the fact, that these officers are tricts generally, as shall impress appointed by a small number of the upon His Majesty the necessity of friends of the Lord of the Manor's calling together the Parliament to steward, that they are generally se-endeavour to mitigate evils which, lected from amongst that portion of the if not speedily attended to, may force inhabitants which would never allow a the industrious and generally peacepopular meeting, if it were in their able population, to acts of despera

that there will no longer be a necessity for the future to apply to this, or any other of those authorities, who, in their attachment to hole-and-corner proceedings, have treated this great and enlightened town, as if it were unworthy the exercise of any public right.-(Great and continued applause.)

and above all, the intense interest evidently felt, fully justifies us in what we have done. And, surely, if ever there was a period in our history, when men of all ranks and parties ought to come forward to use their utmost endeavours to rescue their country from the awful calamities which now surround it-that pe

tion which would involve themselves and others in one common ruin. It is a fact, I believe, well known to all who hear me, that the great mass of the people of this manufacturing county have long been without the necessaries of life, that some have died for want, and that tens of thousands receive a bare existence from the hands of charity. The public have been long impressed with MR. RICHARD POTTER, prethe belief, that it was imperative vious to moving the Resolution, thus upon the Government to remove addressed the Meeting:-After the every impediment which obstructs remarks of my friend, your worthy our commerce with the other nations Chairman, it is not necessary for me of the world, and particularly to re- to enter into a justification of the peal those pernicious laws against steps which have been taken (and the importation of corn, the exist- which I am proud to avow, I joined ence of which operates as a double in), to bring about the present meetScourge upon the industrious inha-ing; the number of the inhabitants bitants of this country; first, by de-assembled show high respectability, priving them of a market for the produce of their labour; and, secondly, by enhancing to so exorbitant a price the greatest necessary of life, as to put it out of the power of the labourer and mechanic to obtain for himself and his family their daily bread. In calling together the leypayers only, the Requisitionists were not actuated by any feelings of dis-riod is the present. It should be our respect, or of the incompetency of the business this day to inquire into, and, people at large to deliberate with if possible, find out those causes of themselves upon the question before poverty and embarrassment which af the Mecting; but it was thought that flict us; and why a powerful nation an Address from that portion of the like England, meriting happiness and inhabitants which composes this as- greatness by its high moral character, sembly, would, in the present state its skill, its capital, its enterprise, and, of things, be more likely to have the above all, by its unwearied industry, desired effect, and that it would dis- is in a state, the most depressed and arm the opponents of the measure (if wretched; more so, I do believe, than any there be), by showing that the any country in-the world-not even Resolutions which are intended to be excepting Ireland; and men of passed, were not carried by that part your enlightened minds and sound of the population which is labouring judgment, I am sure, will enter under the want of the necessaries of upon the inquiry with that calmness life. The illiberal conduct of the which its importance deserves. The Committee, to whom is intrusted the Resolution which I have the honour power of permitting the use of the of submitting to you is to this eflarge room in the Exchange, which fect:has been refused upon this occasion, is scarcely worth naming. In all probability, before another Meeting is required, the Town Hall will be in a state for use; and I congratulate you

"1. That this town, and the great manufacturing districts, of which "it' is the centre and the mart, are "suffering, at the present moment,

"under the pressure of distress, "which is wholly unexampled in its "extent and duration; which has al"ready brought to insolvency and "ruin, great numbers of manufac"turers and dealers, and merchauts, "whose honest acquisitions appeared "to have placed them beyond the "reach of embarrassment; which is "daily augmenting the difficulties of "those whom it has not yet over"whelmed; which has deprived of "all employment many thousands of "skilful and industrious families of "the labouring classes, degrading "them into miserable dependants on "the scanty pittance furmshed by the poor-rates, and by charitable relief; "which is continually adding to the "number of those who are so de"pendent; which is, at the same "time, gradually forcing down into "the ranks of the necessitous, many "of the persons by whom those rates "have been paid, and that relief has "been given; and which is thus "threatening to involve, in all the "horrors of starvation, this most "thickly peopled portion of the "three kingdoms."

It is fortunate for me, though dreadfully unfortunate for the country, that no oratorical powers are needed to induce you to adopt it, but I will avail myself of the privilege which moving a resolution gives me, to make a few observations. For a number of years back, fluctuations and changes of a most violent nature have taken place; at one time we appeared to be all prosperous and happy; suddenly a cloud arises, and a storm is generated, which, in its descent, overwhelms and destroys all before it. These convulsions have come on periodically, but none of them was ever so distressing, ever so frightful, or caused such general destruction to the trading world as the one under which we have so long suffered; for, from the highest merchant, down to the humblest weaver, all are alike prostrule.-(Applause and cries of True!

true!) There must be something rudically wrong to have produced this state of things; it has been ascribed to various causes-some years ago, to the transition from “war to peace.' During the last session of Parliament, we heard of its being caused by over-trading ruinous speculations, an over-issue of paper-money, &c. &c. But one great cause, and, in my opinion, the greatest of them all, and respecting which I trust you will this day express your opinion, was completely lost sight of, viz., over taxation.

(Applause.) This was indeed. brought forward by that faithful and indefatigable friend of the people, Mr. Huine, but he could obtain no support, scarcely a hearing on that subject.-(Applause). A question of great importance, the Corn-Laws, will be brought before you by gentlemen far more qualified for the task than I am. I will, not, therefore, occupy any of your time with it., Taxation will, in all probability, by others be entered upon, but I must join my efforts to theirs in endeavouring to direct your attention to this all-important subject. I contend, then, that we are called upon to pay far more than we are able or ought to do, and unless we are speedily relieved by a considerable reduction, this country must sink in the scale of nations,-or, in the enphatic and prophetic language of Earl Grey, "If this were not done (that is, inquiry made into the state of the country, and relief granted) these distresses would come on from time to time, in an aggravated form, and would ultimately produce such a convulsion as he hoped the country might recover from hereafter, but which the present generation could not pass through without producing a degree of suffering which he was not prepared to describe or express." The necessity of a reduction of taxation was, in the spring of 1822, brought before Parliament by that great Statesman, Mr. Brougham, in a motion he made, pledging the House to lessen the burdens of the

the habitations of some of the applicants; those of you who may not have had such opportunities, can hardly form an idea of the wretched

people; he concluded a most luminous and able view of the causes which had brought the country into the state it then was in, and which hé justly attributed to our vast ex-state to which many of them are rependiture; and declared, "That the duced. I have, in company with our only hope of relief to the suffering highly respected Chairman, entered classes lay in a determined reduction an apartment, probably three or four of the taxes which oppressed them. yards square, in which we found a The celebrated Mr. Burke, in his man, his wife, and six children, hudfamous speech, delivered near fifty dled together round a few embers. We years ago, on Economical Reform, asked, where is your furniture?-We observed, in glowing language, the have none but what you see, was the misery and ruin which over-taxation reply. And what do you think it was? entailed upon a people. Fortified for seats, a few loose bricks; for bedby such high authority, I again de- ding, a piece of tattered wrappering, clare my firm and solemn conviction, rolled up in a corner, with shavings in that to over-taxation a great part of it; and only one such bed for eight the distress and misery now felt may persons. We inquired, where is your be attributed. Ministers have either food? Answer-We have none, nor gone too far, or not far enough. any means of procuring any. This Free trade, cheap food, and reduction was not a solitary instance. I could of taxes, in our situation, should be detail scores, even still worse than this; simultaneous. When a prudent in- but your feelings and my own would dividual finds his income reduced-be too much worked upon, for it and all individuals are, I fear, now would "a tale unfold, whose lightest in this situation-he conforms his word would harrow up your souls." expenditure to that reduction. I ap- (Applause.) Dreadful as their conprehend a similar line of conduct will dition is, it becomes, in point of exapply to countries. The people who tent, comparatively light to what is find the money have a right, and are endured in other parts of the country. surely justified in telling their Go- I have the authority of an extensive vernment, in respectful but firm manufacturer, Mr. Edward Pollard language, that they are no longer in of Burnley, in stating, that out of a a condition, or are willing to pay the population of ten thousand persons, no enormous demands made upon them less than eight thousand of them re-and that they must be consider-ceived relief only last Friday! I have ably reduced leaving to the wisdom also the authority of a gentleman, inof the legislature from and where the capable of exaggeration, who has exretrenchments may be made. You tensive print works in the neighbourare, no doubt, aware of the great dis-hood, in stating, that in no very tress which, since the commence- extended circuit round Pendle-hill, ment of this year, has prevailed, and there are at least eighty thousand perwhich still continues amongst the sons in a state of the most frightful working class of this town and neigh-destitution, comprehending, probably, bourhood, more particularly with twenty thousand families, most of those employed in the cotton busi- whom still get up in a morning withness. To endeavour to alleviate this, out having the slightest article of food a very liberal subscription has been to eat in their houses, and no certainty entered into by the wealthier part of of obtaining any that day! Good the inhabitants. I was thought wor- GoD! what a state to be in. Imathy to be appointed on the Commit- gine to yourselves, a mother with an tee for distributing this charity, and infaut at her breast, crying and in the execution of that duty, have struggling to extract nourishment visited, along with my colleagues,from those sources from whence it

« PoprzedniaDalej »