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tell the noble lord, that the hope was have been ; and so entirely has the vain ; for the attention of the people event justified our confidence, that we was not to be diverted from those sa. have been enabled to procure a report lutary and necessary objects, retrench- -an unanimous report from that ment and reduction, and, finally, a re. committee, affirming the existence of form in the representation of the people. the plot, but without a hint at the Whatever might be the fate of the bill, suspiciousness of its origin. Why, the noble lord would find that as soon sir, all this sounds very foolish, and it as it was got rid of, the House would is so; but it is the creed, real or preimmediately take up the last motion, tended, of those who say that the plot that on the Lords of the Admiralty, is the plot of ministers; and it is, as I from which its attention had been di- have said, the ordinary course of those, verted.
who hardily deny what, according to Mr Canning had often remarked, all fair rules of evidence, they cannot that no creed was so extravagant as
avoid believing, to take refuge in some the creed of unbelief; this seemed extravagant hypothesis, by which the confirmed by the case of those who most implicit credulity would be stage thought that all the matter of the re- gered.” It had been asked what was port was a plot invented by ministers. the nature of the danger? “Why, sir, « The object of this ingenious and dia. the danger to be apprehended is not to bolical invention, it seems, was to de- be defined in one word. It is rebellion, feat the efforts of the mighty phalanx but not rebellion only ; it is treason, which is combined to investigate our but not treason merely; it is confisca. conduct, and drive us from our seats. tion, but not confiscation within such And for this purpose we have, it is bounds as have been usually applied to supposed, gone through the following it in the changes of dynasties, or the elaborate, but compendious system of revolutions of states; it is an aggre. operations. We have, first, devised or gate of all these evils ; it is all that resuscitated a set of extravagant and dreadful variety of sorrow and of sufpernicious principles, hostile alike to fering which must follow the extincthe peace of nations and to the welfare tion of loyalty, morality, and religion ; of mankind, which we have caused to which must follow upon the accombe circulated throughout the country, plishment of designs, tending not only and particularly throughout the dis. to subvert the constitution of Eng. tressed and suffering parts of it. We land, but to overthrow the whole have next selected a certain number of frame of society. Such is the nature desperate, but trust-worthy incendia- and extent of the danger which would ries, to act upon these principles to attend the success of the projects de the full extent of direct physical re- veloped in the report of the commitsistance and rebellion, risking their tee. It was said that the Spencean own lives, but keeping our counsel all doctrines were mere idle and visionary the time. Next, so secure have we speculations ; but when their support, felt in the framing and jointing of our ers came forth armed in furtherance of conspiracy against ourselves, so confic them, was it not time to be on our dent that nothing would appear that guard ? He did not believe the Spenshould betray the secret of its fabrica. ceans meant to make an equal partition tion, that we have ventured to submit of the land, but he believed they meant it to the inspection of a secret com- to spoil its present possessors. Minismittee, composed, as I have stated, ters were far from feeling any wish to and as we all know, that committee to wield at pleasure an unconstitutional
authority. “Theexecutive government opposition of mere negation to God. do not ask for these additional powers It was left for the reformers of modern as a boon, (God knows they are no ob. times to endeavour to strip the mind ject of desire,) but for the due dis- of all reverence for the Deity, in order charge of an embarrassing and distress. to prepare the man to become a mere ing duty, we feel bound to receive instrument of ruin,-a remorseless them as a trust-to support them as a
agent of evil.” burden, which we shall most unwil. The sense of the House upon this lingly carry, and shall most gladly lay subject was strongly marked by the down. We ask them—we will accept vote, in which, by a majority of 190 to them—only for the conservation of the 14, leave was given to bring in the public safety. At our own sugges- bill. At the same time leave was tion, the duration of the most onerous given to bring in the other two bills and delicate part of this trust is to be announced by
Lord Castlereagh. The limited to a period during which it Habeas Corpus Act having originated will be exercised under the immediate in the Lords, was to be received from observation of parliament. Does this that House. look as if our application had in view In consequence of the rapidity with any object which we fear to describe ?” which the Habeas Corpus Bili had Besides, if the government demanded passed the House of Lords, the first extraordinary powers, were not these reading was moved in the House of extraordinary times ? “Have we-has Commons on the 26th. It gave occaEngland ever seen the like before? We sion to a long and animated debate. have had our share in this country of
Mr Bennet said, he would oppose every species of political dissension ; in every stage this arbitrary, impolitic, disputed titles to the crown ; disputed and uncalled-for measure. After what rights to the people ; invasions ; re- had passed in the House that nightbellions ; the struggles of rival dynas- after the statements of various memties ; and civil wars both of politics bers, and from various parts of the and religion ; but in all our varieties country, he was surprised that the of agitation and convulsion, were we noble lord opposite should move the ever exposed to such pests as these of first reading of this bill as a matter of the present day? In our civil wars, course. He was surprised that no de. there was enough of violence and of fence was offered, that no explanation blood; but principle was opposed to was given, that no facts were stated, principle, and honest and upright men for the purpose of inducing the House might be found on either side. Re- to enact a measure which suspended publicanism was opposed to monar
all the benefits of the constitution, chy, and monarchy was overthrown; which enslaved the country, and placed but the overthrow of monarchy was the liberty of every man in it at the not effected for the sake of throwing disposal of ministers. With regard to all government into confusion—they the report, he could not help being destroyed not in those days for the surprised that his friend Mr Ponsonby sake of destruction alone. In religion, had disgraced himself by sitting in the independency was opposed to episco- committee, particularly in company pacy, and independency triumphed; with Lord Castlereagh. Similarcharges but it was still for some form of reli- had been brought forward against the gion that the contest was carried on. country in 1794 and 1812, the falseIt was not for the destruction of all hood of which had been afterwards religious principle; it was not the proved by judicial evidence, and the actual disturbances were found to have must advance to summon the Tower, been in a great measure fomented by defended with artillery, and manned government. No man could condemn with soldiers ; they must overpower more than he blasphemous expressions all opposition, and take possession of and publications ; but the existing the town. Was not such an absurdity, laws upon this subject appeared to gravely advanced in the report, suffihim quite sufficient for their suppres. cient to throw discredit on the whole? sion. Nothing was more ridiculous Shame, shame, to those who could than the importance attached to the produce this absurdity to parliament, attempt of the 20 December. How and, on the ground of its importance, was this mighty project to be accom- call upon us for a surrender of our liplished ? Could a hope be formed of berties ! It was said that few of the success ? Could there be the least dan- higher, or even middling classes, were ger apprehended from such wild and concernedin these proceedings. If there absurd projects ? Could they suppose was any one, he ought to have been that they could overpower a garrison named. If there was none, then this part without spreading an alarm, in a case of the report insinuateda falsehood. The where a single watchman would not whole people were in this report libelbe surprised? He was willing to ad. led and arraigned; they were traduced mit that some wild, mad, desperate, in their characters, and were to surand mischievous enthusiasts might dis- render their freedom to such trash as cuss the probability of success attend. this, trash" which was only fit to ing such enterprizes in ale-houses ; be trampled under feet. Yet upon that they might, in their ignorant and vague and absurd allegations, the inintoxicated societies, start such ab- vasion of the constitution was justified, surd ideas, but could there be any and measures were to be passed, by danger from such instruments ? Was which he might be apprehended and there not strength enough in the exist. imprisoned to-morrow, by the coming law to restrain their attempts ? and mand, and during the pleasure, of the because they were so frantic and foolnoble lord. “ Though those,” said ish, was the liberty of the whole nation the honourable gentleman, “ in whom to be placed at the disposal of minis- I have the greatest confidence were to ters? The pompous display of burn require such a sacrifice—though milesque design in the report, compared nisters, whose conduct I was convinwith the instruments and the means of ced had always tended to promote the execution, put him in mind of a pere public good-though my own friends formance, which perhaps the right ho- made the demand, I would oppose nourable gentleman opposite (Mr Can- them, till they shewed, in the necessity ning) would remember better than he of the case, a justification of their procould, he meant the attack on the Ab- posals. I will never consent, therefore, bey of Quedlinburg, (in the Anti-Ja. to surrender the rights of the people, cobin.) To describe this enterprize in without such necessity, into the hands the style of that performance, there of such ministers as the noble lord, would be-Scene, Spafields-Time, who would abuse the power intrusted morning-Enter waggon, with six to them, who have already imbrued men and the ammunition stocking.- their hands in the blood of their coun. (A laugh.)–From Spafields they must try, who have already been guilty of proceed to blow up the bridges, with- the most criminal cruelties.” out sappers or miners ; they must take Lord Castlereagh spoke to order. the Bank, defended by its guard; they He felt it his duty to call upon the
honourable member to state which in. Mr Robinson observed, that the dividual member of the present govern- union of Mr Ponsonby and Lord Casment had criminally imbrued his hands tlereagh, so much deprecated by Mr in the blood of his country?
Bennet, appeared to him the clearest Mr Bennet said he charged the mem- proof of the solid grounds upon which bers of his majesty's government in the committee proceeded. It was easy their official situations, with having to deny the facts reported by a combefore called for the very same powers mittee of this nature, which could not which they now required, and with with propriety state names and authohaving abused the trust then reposed rities. The Spenceans, however, were in them, and afterwards covered their no new society ; they had been menmisconduct with a bill of indemnity. tioned in the report of 1801, under the
Lord Castlereagh. “ I have then to name of Spensonians, their object then say, that, if it has been asserted that I being the same as now, a general disever criminally imbrued my hands in tribution of the property of the counthe blood of my country, the honour- try. Many societies, meeting ostensiable member has stated that which is bly for lawful purposes, carried on false,"
similar plans ; and nothing appeared After some conversation by Lord to him so dangerous as the unlawful Milton, Mr Yorke, Mr Wynn, &c. oaths which were so generally adminiMr Bennet said, that, though he would stered. be the last man alive to retract anything Lord Althorp felt himself conscienhe might have said, from any regard for tiously called upon to vote against the the consequences which might ensue so bill. far as they could affect himself, he had, The Lord Advocate of Scotland however, no hesitation in saying, that communicated some facts relative to the charges in question were meant that part of the kingdom to which he generally, and were not intended to be belonged. Publications had been reconfined to one individual. When he cently circulated there, calculated to had spoken of a minister imbruing his familiarise the popular mind with every hands in the blood of his country, he immoral and seditious principle. Dihad not meant to speak of the two rections were given to watch very hands belonging to any individualmem. closely the conduct of those persons ber of the government, but he spoke who were conspicuous in the seditions of all that administration in whose time of 1796. The consequence was, that those scenes had passed in Ireland, they were soon put in possession of which he should ever sincerely lament, information, that a regular conspiracy and under which this very law was had been organized. It was found called for.
that an oath of the most dreadful imLord Castlereagh, when he inter- port was used to bind together the rupted the honourable member, had members of this conspiracy. thought the charge which he had made “In awful presence of God, I, A.B., was directed personally against him. do voluntarily swear, that I will perNow that he had heard the honourable severe in my endeavouring to form a gentleman say he meant it generally brotherhood of affection amongst Briagainst the government of which he tons of every description, who are conwas a member, he had no cause to sidered worthy of confidence; and that complain.
I will persevere in my endeavours to Mr Frankland Lewis and Mr Yorke obtain for all the people in Great Britain supported the bill, and Mr Smyth of and Ireland, not disqualified by crimes Cambridge opposed it.
or insanity, the elective franchise at the
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 Ainch 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 at. the 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 Mayor 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