« PreviousContinue »
YORKSHIRE (WEST RIDING) ELECTION.
[MAY 6TH, 1831.]
LORD VISCOUNT MORPETH, having been proposed by SIR
EDWARD VAVASOUR, Bart., and seconded by J. MARSHALL, Jun., Esq., said :
If there could be any one circumstance which could occasion me not to regret the failure of the Reform Bill, in support and furtherance of which we are now assembled-if there could be any circumstance to console me for the delay which has adjourned its progress towards the triumphant issue to which it is now hastening, it would be the being allowed to look once more upon the beautiful spectacle now before me of the freeholders of the yet undivided county of York gathered together in this ancient and noble precinct to select their representatives in the Commons House of Parliament. It necessarily presses upon our attention at once the sameness of the scene which upon the same spot was exhibited to us in the summer of last year, and the difference of circumstances under which it now recurs. Then we hailed with anxious expectation the accession to the throne of a Monarch who, we fondly hoped, would repay the confidence of his loyal subjects. Now we find our expectations more than realized, and mingle with our constitutional allegiance to the King our yet more warm attachment to the friend of his people. Then we were rather laying, as it were, the first stone of Parliamentary Reform; now we are putting the finishing and crowning work to the all but completed edifice. Then, although one of your candidates was the wondrously gifted man whom the Sovereign, taking the hint from Yorkshire, has preferred to the highest civil station in his realms, yet it was the object of your exertions to return two Reforming Members. Now you are invited to present your county with four. I feel that at any other time it might not appear entirely modest in any party to put forward so engrossing a pretension; but in a conjuncture like the present, a duty, nay, a necessity, devolved
upon us to task our energies to the utmost. The principle of Reform is fairly pitted against the authority of ancient abuses. If our cause has the vigour of youth, it has to contend against the bulk of ages, and we cannot spare one stone from our sling to slay the giant. Of my late colleagues in the high trust of your representation, whether in their presence or absence, I can never wish to speak but in one manner. It would
not be merely a want of courtesy, but it would be a denial of justice to withhold from them the praise of strict honour, of assiduous industry, of conscientious conduct. But it is a matter of no doubt with respect to the one, and it is a matter of no doubt with respect to the other, whether they were prepared to wage the whole of our battle. The one upon this occasion refused altogether to pronounce-the other did not pronounce with a sufficiently determined accent the necessary password for admission into our camp. Gentlemen, I feel that it would be superfluous to press upon your notice the circumstances that attend and distinguish the present general elections. The Bill—the Reform Bill--is the prominent feature and pervading motive. That Bill united, upon more friendly terms than have perhaps ever yet subsisted between them, King, Government, and people. For the virtual rejection of the Bill, the late Parliament was dissolved-for a fair and impartial verdict upon that Bill, the people of England are now convened in all their towns, cities, and counties. The reasons why I think a favourable verdict shall be returned by the people of England, and consequently by the people of Yorkshire for the county of York is a splendid epitome of the wealth, industry, fertility, enterprise, and intelligence of England-- I will endeavour to comprise in a few brief sentences. Since the first framework of our Parliamentary representation was cast, and after much alteration and variety finally fixed as at present, new populations, new wealth, new wants, new intelligence, have everywhere arisen. These assuredly require, not any dislocation or subversion of the existing system, but such an accommodation and adaptation of it as the several circumstances indicate. Such an object the present Bill appears to me admirably calculated to accomplish, by transferring the right of voting from places made either infamous by their corruption, despicable by their servility, or ridiculous by the fewness of their elective bodies, to great and opulent towns, and large agricultural districts. The qualifications which the Bill introduces for the right of voting I likewise think entitled to much approbation, because it provides that right which
a free and intelligent people will always esteem as a high privilege upon a reasonable basis of property, high enough to inspire a due regard to the inestimable blessing of public order, but not too high to put it out of the reach of the efforts of honest industry, to which it will act at once as a stimulus and a reward. Be this, then, the general title of the measure to your acceptance, Gentlemen, that it will rest upon the property, that it will comprise the intelligence, and that it will encourage the industry of the country. It has many other less comprehensive, but hardly less important claims to favour, such as the disfranchisement of non-residents, the curtailment of time of elections, the limitation of the distance for taking the poll, and other matters of economical arrangement; so that I hope the Bill, in the due progress of its operation, will not only give the right of election to Leeds and Sheffield, but freedom of election to Newark and Knaresborough, and purity of election to Beverley and Pontefract. The advantage, however, which I would most fondly anticipate from the adoption of such a measure of reform is an increase of good understanding, and a return of confidence between the different classes and the various interests mixed up in our body politic, including high and low, rich and poor, agriculture, trade, and commerce, since it is upon the wholesome state and just coincidence of the whole that the vigour, the happiness, and the virtue of a nation must mainly depend. Allow me also to hope, without deviating upon this occasion into the other topics which severally engage public attention the most, and upon which I have already had the opportunity which your kindness gave me of explaining myself from this place, that many other objects which I know you have most at heart will be essentially assisted and advanced by the adoption of a safe and substantial measure of Parliamentary Reform. There is reason to hope that a House of Commons representing more directly the sentiments and opinions of their countrymen will, in these comparatively more enlightened times, avoid any recurrence to useless expenditure and unnecessary wars-that they will promote in all possible degrees the comfort of the labouring classes-that they will no longer be parties to such legislative barbarism as that which excludes the produce of British industry and skill from countless tribes and boundless regions--that, together with the measures of a wise economy, they will not neglect those of a just humanity that they may have the glory of relaxing the severity of our penal code, and of giving liberty and light to the unhappy Negro
race, which has long eaten the scanty bread of slavery without an interval of rest here, or a hope of it hereafter. What, then, is the cry against us? One cry is "Dictation." Is it the dictation of the West? Why, then, I can only say that my colleagues and myself have found throughout our extensive canvass that the North and the East are as imperious as the West. I do not understand the term "dictation," when applied to an intelligent, independent, and immense body of men. It is the dictation of the cook who sets out some dishes for your dinner, and you, poor weak soul, are cowed into eating them. All I can say for myself is, that I disclaim being the instrument of any such dictation; and if any one person who hears me feels dissatisfied with my conduct, or has no reliance on my character, him I beg to withhold his vote from me. Another cry is, "Revolution." We are branded as disaffected and disloyal men, enemies to the Constitution, and traitors to the Throne. Gentlemen, I will not insult you by endeavouring to refute that charge in your behalf. Allow me to say one word in my own. It so happens, by the chance of my birth, that I share in the accident of a high and historic name. I feel put upon my defence, and you will excuse this personal reference; but often as the name of Howard may be found on the page of British story--though it has been the rallying shout of many a well-fought field-though it rose above the wrecks of the Armada-it never appeared in a more ennobling crisis, and never performed a more acceptable service than when he who is now its head, the present Duke of Norfolk, stepped forward, and in the place in Parliament to which he had lately been restored sacrificed the oligarchical privilege which he had inherited from his ancestors for the benefit of that community of which he thinks it honour enough to be the foremost citizen; while I, who bear his name, but cannot emulate his sacrifice, feel that I shall most nearly tread in his steps by joining heart and hand with you, my countrymen, in accomplishing the work before us, which, as it strengthens the Crown by basing it upon the love, so it will support the aristocracy by inciting them to win the respect of the people. And I will only add a prayer to Almighty Goodness that He may deign to sanction this attempt to achieve a great act of national conciliation, by infusing amongst us, in every walk and every work of life such a spirit of order, such a spirit of union, such a spirit of piety, as can alone make us capable and worthy of enjoying all those blessings of peace, and prosperity, and plenty, which He alone can give!
ELECTION AT WAKEFIELD.
[JUNE 28TH, 1841.]
ORD VISCOUNT MORPETH, having been proposed by F. H. FAWKES, Esq., and seconded by JAMES LEES, Esq., said:
MEN OF YORKSHIRE,
I hope you are all inclined to agree with the advice so properly given by the proposer of Mr. Pitkeithley, which was to hear all parties with patience, and await the result with order. The attention which I crave from you I shall be happy to give, and I hope that my friends will give it to those who are particularly representing your different opinions. It can be no matter of complaint to me that candidates representing every class of society and every shade of opinion should be submitted to your choice and your decision. I have as little right to complain that every opportunity should be afforded to you of choosing a Chartist as of choosing a Tory member; but the line of duty which seems to lie before me is, that holding opinions widely distinct from either, I should set before you, Gentlemen, who form this thronged assembly, and through you to this great Riding, the reason of the appeal which I now come forward to make to you on my own part. I do not make that appeal entirely in a single capacity. I make it both as a Minister of the Crown, and I make it in what, without pretence or flattery, is to me a still more valid title I make it as your already tried and often chosen Representative. With the close of last week, Lord Milton and myself concluded our canvass throughout the whole of this extensive and populous Riding; and with some slight alteration of feeling in particular districts, arising upon different subjects, I can say with perfect truth that our general reception has been all that I could desire, and far more, I most unfeignedly feel, than I could deserve. Of course, Gentlemen, I attribute the general cordiality and warmth which have hailed and accompanied our progress to the important public questions which have been brought prominently under notice. There was another distinguishing feature of our canvass to which I must advert in justice to you,