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YORKSHIRE (WEST RIDING) ELECTION.
[AUGUST 5TH, 1830.]
LORD VISCOUNT MORPETH, having been proposed by SIR JOHN
VANDEN B. JOHNSTONE, Bart., and seconded by C. WOOD, Esq., said:
I am here before you in a situation at once new, fearful, and highly elating. It is new and elating for me to have been thought worthy of being proposed, or mentioned, or even thought of, as a candidate for the representation of the county of York. But it is fearful for me to reflect upon the high qualifications which that post demands, the arduous duties it entails, and then upon the inability of which I cannot but be conscious in myself satisfactorily to encounter and fulfil them. Under this, which is so entirely disheartening a consideration, my first consolation is derived from the circumstances which have placed me where I now standnot, Gentlemen, my own presumption, not my own forwardness, nor my own suggestion-but the voice of several of my friends and fellow-countrymen which has twice called me forward, and, though not indifferent to it, I was once disobedient to it; for it would have involved an expense unjustifiable for me to incur, and discreditable for you to encourage. The call, Gentlemen, has now been renewed, on the condition that the result of this election is to be decided, not by the purses or acres of your candidates, but by the free votes and unbought support of the electors. You, Gentlemen, have had the virtue to re-echo that call, and I will not have the faint-heartedness to decline it; for I well know, Gentlemen, that your invitation, and that my chance of success, depend not indeed upon my personal fitness, which my friends on each side of me have
dwelt upon in far too flattering terms, but upon the attachment to those principles which I believe we hold and love in common. Under this view it is indeed a high gratification to me to present myself to this assembly-the honest yeomanry and skilful manufacturers of Yorkshire. We are sometimes accused of taking a foolish pride in our county—a pride in our county I hope we shall always feel; but it would be a foolish pride if we placed it exclusively, or even principally, on the richness of our soil, the extent of our borders, the beauties of our scenery, or even the products of our industry; but it ceases to be a foolish pride if we make it consist in setting an example to England of maintaining the purity of the elective franchise, of befriending the claims of humanity, and of vindicating the cause of freedom. It is fitting, Gentlemen, for me, and for the post to which I aspire, that I should now not merely apply for your support, but appeal to your judgment-not only ask you for your votes, but state to you my principles. In stating to you what those principles are, it seems natural to me to begin with the highest, which is religion. I hope that I may say, without incurring any charge of cant or hypocrisy, that however inadequate my performances may always be, I trust I have a due sense of that principle which is the only safe guarantee of every other. I do not of course allude to the different forms and sects which divide the opinion of this country, but to that which I hope includes us all—the worship of a common Creator, the doctrines of a common Gospel, and the faith of a common Cross. But upon public and political subjects, of all the principles which can guide individuals and advance communities-which can raise the character, or promote the happiness of the human race-next to religion, the first and best is freedom. You will ask me, Gentlemen, how I apply this principle to the particular questions of our own time. I am as ready as any one to admit that the institutions under which we live embrace a very high degree of civil and religious freedom, but at the same time I think free scope and additional security may be given to the exercise of that principle. I think, especially, that there is much ground for improvement in the representation of the people in Parliament. Many classes of this great communitymany of those whose representatives I may say I see around me, or, to say better in one word, the main body of the people, are not in my opinion adequately represented. Peers are represented within the walls of the House of Commons, corporations are represented, and rotten bo
roughs are represented there; but Leeds, and Sheffield, and Birmingham, and Glasgow, and Manchester, and other towns are not represented. Now, Gentlemen, till this be so-till the voice of the people is heard in Parliament with a force which Government must acknowledge, and which Legislatures must obey--I doubt whether the interests of the people will meet with sufficient attention, or their wants with adequate relief. The wasteful system of expenditure, whether in our civil charges, in our diplomacy, or in our colonies, will not be reformed-the numberless fountain-heads of corruption will not till then be effectually dried up; the amount of taxation which presses heavily upon your energies, and forbids them to attain their natural scope, will not till you exert yourselves by your representatives be removed or adequately lightened. I think, too, Gentlemen, that a reformed House of Commons would have far more strength to defeat some of those monopolies which go hand in hand with excessive taxation to contract the national resources. Can you doubt, Gentlemen, that, if the large manufacturing towns were represented in Parliament, a monopoly, for instance, like that of the East India Company, would be swept away in an hour?—a monopoly which excludes the products of Yorkshire and England at large from one of the most capacious markets in the world, in our own dominions, among our own fellow-subjects, whom otherwise we should help to civilize, whilst we enriched ourselves. There is another subject of legislation which I desire to see very much altered-the Corn Laws. I know that I am addressing a mixed assembly, both of consumers and producers of corn; but you are, Gentlemen, one and all of you, eaters of bread; and it never can make a country rich, it never will enable our industry to thrive or commerce to extend, if we unnecessarily raise the price, and stint the quantity of the daily bread we eat. But believe me, Gentlemen, whether you belong, like myself, to the landed interest, whether, as workmen, you handle the spade or the shuttle, or whether, in higher ranks of society you live upon the labours of an industrious tenantry, or the honourable enterprise of commerce, our interests are not separate and single, but reciprocal and united. We are members of the same community; our depressions and our successes must affect each other, and while our duty instructs us that we ought to be the best friends, our interests teach us that we are the best customers for each other. It is this sympathy which above all things besides I wish to see exist and grow among all classes and all ranks, when the wealthy por
tion of the community shall feel that their most real security is in the comfort of the industrious, and when the higher classes shall know that their most true support is in the contentment of the lower. It is this same feeling which leads me to entertain a decided hostility to the present system of the Game Laws. I think them conceived in a bad spirit, and that they have a bad tendency; they make neighbours unfriendly, landlords unpopular, and their tenants disaffected. And indeed who could have any doubt of this, when we see what is the practical cost of protection, which leads to tumultuous scenes, turbulent habits, vindictive feuds, long and demoralizing imprisonments, and occasionally to midnight bloodshed? These are the principal reflections which occur to me with reference to the topics which most interest us at home. A very short glimpse will suffice for those that concern us abroad. The country which is nearest to our own, with which we have had most frequent collisions in all the passages of our history, is France. France is now the scene of memorable events. Let us hope that they may contain in them the seeds of a better and happier era. But, whatever may be their bearing upon France and upon England, I trust there is one rule which we in England shall rigidly prescribe to ourselves-not to interfere. Let us leave to France the management of her own concerns. We have had too much, we have paid too much, for a contrary course. We still, I trust, are able to wield the sword, but we cannot defray the cost of the laurel. Or, if there is any lesson to be derived from what is passing there, let it teach us to regard with additional care and zeal the laws and liberties which the rulers of France have been mad enough to invade; and thus, while we may share in her attachment to freedom we shall escape the tears which she is doomed to pay as the price of its purchase. Gentlemen, while as a patriot and a philanthropist I cannot help expressing my general wishes for the triumphant and bloodless march of freedom in every corner of the globe-whether it sweeps away a Bourbon, a Don Miguel, or a Grand Turk-whether it inspires France, or revives Portugal, or regenerates Greece-we must not forget that it is a still more especial duty of our own to take care that the blessings of freedom should be extended and felt in our own dominions, and among our own fellow-subjects. I am sure you all, Gentlemen, desire and demand the speediest possible abolition of Negro slavery. You have heard much to his credit from Mr. Duncombe. I believe you will hear from all the candidates assurances of their concurrence in this
Christian object. I believe this has not been, as somebody has hinted, the reason exclusively, yet certainly very signally, why you have claimed and secured for yourselves the consummate mind and unrivalled energies of Mr. Brougham; and happy and proud for you will be that day, fellow-countrymen, when you will be able to reflect that in consequence of your efforts, and of the efforts of those whom you have encouraged and incited, and in consequence, too, of your example, the slave, now groaning under a brutalizing bondage, will be able to drop on his knee to thank Heaven for its greatest blessing, and to spring again to the earth without a chain and without a master. These, Gentlemen, are all the topics that occur to me to mention. If your support should enable me ever to boast that in the profession of such sentiments I represent the opinions of Yorkshire, believe me, Gentlemen, that I shall feel in my heart all the warmth, and I trust I may display in my conduct all the sincerity, of my gratitude.
After the declaration of the poll, LORD MORPETH again came forward, and said:
That what with the great quantity of speaking there had been in the morning, and the lateness of the hour at which the business had closed in the evening, he was of opinion two things must have occurred, namely, that the lungs of the candidates and the patience of the freeholders were exhausted; he should therefore be as brief as possible. He begged the freeholders to accept his heartfelt thanks for the high honour they had conferred upon him, by placing him in such a distinguished situation on the poll. To be in any place on the poll for the representation of this county was, he was conscious, as far above his deserts as it was a short time ago beyond his expectation. It was impossible for him to feel insensible to the honour they had done him by giving him their free, unbiassed, and unpaid votes. Until they met again, he respectfully took his grateful farewell of them.