Motion of Sir Francis Burdett for Parliamentary Reform. Remarks on

that Subject. Colonel Wardle's Budget of Retrenchments; his Dispute with Mrs Clarke ; her Attack upon the Duke of Kent. His Royal Highness contradicts her Calumnies,

Two days after the disa forward it may be fully and clearly June 15, cussion

upon Mr Curwen's understood how far I do really mean bill was finally closed, Sir to go, and at what point I mean to Francis Burdett, according to his stop. notice, brought forward his plan of · The remedy which I propose is parliamentary reform. “I rise,” said simple, and perfectly practicable ; it he,“ to propose a resolution, the ob- is consistent with the habits and inte. ject of which is to hold out an assu- rests of the people, and in unison rance to the country, that the House with the laws and constitution of the will, at an early period in the next country ; it is the Constitution itself. session, take into its consideration the -Let others deal in whimsical spenecessity of a reform in the state of culations, in undefined mysterious nothe representation.

tions of a constitution, which eludes “ This course I adopt, in order to the grasp, and soars above the conget rid of the misrepresentations which ception of ordinary minds, let them have been so long and so actively pro. amuse themselves with intricate theo. pagated, with regard to my views and ries and fine-spun metaphysics, I opinions on this momentous point: shall hold fast by that plain and subthe mischievous tendency of which stantial constitution, adapted to the misrepresentations, as affecting my contemplation of common understand. self personally, would alone have very ings, to be found in the Statute Book, little influence upon my mind; but aud recognized by the Common Law it has much, combined with the pub- of the Land. Jic interest. I therefore feel it a du. “ But I am not disposed to be saty to myself and the public to relieve tisfied with the forms, when the spirit this subject from all misrepresenta- and essence of the constitution have tion, ambiguity, and misconception : Aed.—I have no dread of the preroand to state to this House, and to gative of the crown ; which forms the public, definitely and precisely, part of the law of the land, and is what my views are upon the subject material and necessary to maintain of parliamentary reform, that hence the constitution. My only appre

hension is, from the usurpation of the would have been exercised benefici. legitimate prerogative, by the bo- ally, and given the King his proper rough-monger faction, and the con- weight in the administration of nasequent abuse of it by the agents of tional affairs, whilst the people would that faction, untruly styling them. have a shield—and a shield and not a selves ministers of the King, servants sword is all the people expect—in an of the crown, through the medium uncorrupted and fairly-elected House of this House falsely denominating of Commons.—But out of this usuritself the representative of the peo- pation upon the crown, conspiring ple.

with the innovations of time, a third “A charge has been made by power has arisen, that of the boroughthe abettors of corruption against mongers--the creature of innovation, those who wish for reform, as inno- the worm of corruption, always unrators and subverters of the constitu- known to our laws, now become tion of the country, whereas the sole greater than the laws, equally hostile object of us reformers is, to rescue to King and people, misrepresenting the country from the effects of the in. oneto the other, filling the mind of one novation that has been introduced with jealousy, the ears of the other Those who speak so much of inno- with alarm, which, by perpetuating yation seem to forget what the great discord, reigns sole arbiter of the Lord Bacon has said, that of all in- strife, and establishes its ignominious novators time is the greatest.' Will dominion over both.-My first obyou, then, while all things are chan. ject, therefore, is, to reunite the King ging around you, determine to stand and the people by the constitutional still? Will you still cling to a rottenbond of allegiance on the one hand, borough system, the creature of in- and protection on the other. Dovation, nursed by usurpation, and “The simple principle upon which, matured by corruption ? Is it reason- as upon a pivot, the whole subject able that sovereignty should be at- of representation turns, is this ; that tached to particular spots and places, the free subjects of this kingdom and to convert into private property have a right of property in their own that which the constitution has de. goods ; in other words, that the peoclared to be a public-trust--to permit ple of England cannot be legally and an usurped local sovereignty, inde. constitutionally taxed without their pendent of the King, independent of own consent.

This principle is abthe people, and destructive to both ?- solutely annihilated by the present The prerogative of the crown, had it frame of the representation of this been maintained free from encroach. House, to which one hundred and ments, would never have suffered this fifty-seven individuals have the power anomaly, this ill-shaped monster, this of returning a majority; so that rotten-borough system, at once for. the whole property of the free submidable and contemptible, to have un. jects of this kingdom is, in violadermined the constitution.

tion of this first and plain principle, “ Had the constitutional power of at the disposal of 157 borough-monthe crown remained undiminished, gers; or, in other words, 157 boroughthis House would not now be in its mongers have usurped, and hold as present contaminated state; the just private property, the sovereign of and great prerogative of the crown England ; and can we be satisfied

with this miserable, pitiful substitu- putting justice out of the question, tion for the King and constitution ? any longer to tolerate such a system?

“ Every part of the empire will By the adoption of reform, the gofeel the benefit of the reform ; but vernment will have the fairest opporno where will the great advantages tunity of reinoving the principal of the measure be likely to prove grounds of dissatisfaction in Ireland; more salutary than in Ireland. I dare now will be the time to do every not venture to trust myself with the thing without yielding any thing, to grievances of Ireland. It is a subject legislate upon enlarged principles

, I cannot discuss without a more con- knowing nothing of particular parsiderable degree of warmth than is ties, sects, or factions : keeping alive consistent with that dispassionate line no distinctions of Catholic, Protestof conduct I am upon this occasion ant, and Presbyterian, Tory, Whig, particularly anxious to maintain. My or Jacobin ; alarming no prejudice, desire is to have Ireland united with insulting no party, they may now in. this country, upon terms very dif- clude the whole within one bond of ferent from those which at present union of the constitution, embracing exist. I wish to see there a perfect and ensuring the safety and tranquil

. equality of advantage, and no exclu- lity of the empire at large. We shall sions. Of the present union, so called, then, and not till then, have an united I shall speak but little at this time : it kingdom--one King-one people. was a measure contrary to the wishes, -We shall by this recurrence to the repugnant to the interest, revolting constitution, not only seat the chief to the feelings of that nation; and magistrate upon his throne, and fix effected by means the most flagi- the crown upon his head, but we tious, if the most unblushing cor. shall place within his hand the scepruption on the part of the agents, tre and legitimate power of the King, and the breach of every solemn assu- in despite of those 157 borough-monrance to the great body of that peo. gers, who have traitorousły usurped ple, not only implied but expressed all but the pageantry and outward by the government of that country, shew and forms of royalty. deserve the appellation. Instead of “ What is the condition of the that parchment union, I propose a King under this faction ? Instead of real union of heart and affection, taking advantage of the elevation of founded on the broad basis of the his situation, where the constitution constitution, of equal rights and re- had placed him, as the eye of the naciprocal interests.-Away with that tion, for the purpose of taking extencrooked policy, that narrow-minded sive views for the advantage of the bigotry of legislation, that intolerable national interests, beyond the conintolerance, which keeps alive perpe- tracted horizon of ordinary men, his tual heart-burnings, hatred, and re- whole time is employed, his whole venge. Is it to be any longer endured, skill directed, not towards the duties that four millions of Irish men should of his high office, but in trying to be aliens and outlaws in their native keep his balance, in endeavouring to land ? Is it safe to have four millions conciliate the support of such and of the people thrust out of the pale such a borough-monger, in order to of the constitution ? Is it consistent obtain his permission to allow the with reason, with common sense, government to go on. In truth, the

CHAP 9.1

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borough faction have such power, parish by the parish officers; and that he is more like a rope-dancer all elections finished in one and the than a King; as, they make it ne- same day. cessary for him to be perpetually “ That the parish officers make upon the alert to balance himself the returns to the Sheriff's Court, to on his slippery elevation, whilst the be held for that purpose at stated utmost he can do is to keep his place. periods. Such is the state to which he is re- “And that Parliaments be brought duced under the influence of this ig- back to a constitutional duration. nominious system, instead of having “ Under the operation of this rehis throne fixed on the rock of the form, it would be attended with much constitution, and bound to the hearts less difficulty to return a whole Parof a whole people. Thisis not the situa- liament, than to settle a dispute at a tion in which the laws and constitu- vestry about a parish pauper. Those tion have placed the King, nor that disgraceful practices, which now atwhich his dignity requires, and the tend even county elections, would be best interests of the people demand. put a stop to. No bribery, perjury, This question is so completely deci- drunkenness, nor riot ; no opportuded by Magna Charta, which,' as nity for mock patriotism ;-no leadLord Coke says, “is such a fellow ing attornies galloping about the that he will bear no equal,' so strong, country, lying, cheating, and stirring ly fortified by all our constitutional up the worst passions among the laws, that no inferior authority can worst people ;-no ill blood engenbe required.

dered between friends and relations “ Having taken the laws and the setting families at variance, and maconstitution for my guide, in prepa- king each county a perpetual deposiring the measure I have to propose, tory of election feuds and quarrels: I examined attentively all those plans No demagogueing. If I am a demafor carrying the same principle into gogue, I am as complete a felo de se execution, which have at different as can well be imagined—this puts times been proposed ; and having an end to the occupation :—No qualiavoided all those intricacies which fications nor disqualifications no inconsidered as so many impediments vidious exclusions by reason


any in the way, have reduced it to that office, from the highest to the lowplain and simple form, the express est, either in the elector or the electimage of the constitution itself.--My edno variable, fantastical, litigious, plan consists in a very few and very rights of voting—no possibility of simple regulations.

false votes—no treating-no carrya That freeholders, house-hold- ing out voters-no charges of any ers, and others, subject to direct kind---no expense, legal or illegal taxation in support of the poor, the no contested elections. The people church, and the state, be required to would have a choice without à conelect members to serve in Parliament. test, instead of a contest without a

* That each county be subdivided choice ;—no sham remedies worse according to its taxed male popula- than the disease pretended to be cution, and each subdivision required red-No Grenville act. Here I speak to elect one representative.

feelingly; I have undergone this re"That the votes be taken in each medy. --It is the remedy of a toad


under a harrow. Under the opera- free the people from that enormous tion of that act, I have suffered a load of debt, and consequent taxagreater pecuniary penalty than any tion, under which the nation is weighwhich the law would have inflicted ed down. for any crime I could have committed: “ I hope, after this night, it will this remedy is a luxury a man must not be asserted nor insinuated, that be very rich indeed to indulge himself I have any concealed purpose ; that in. I could not afford it a second I shrink from speaking my sentiments time, and preferred abandoning my frankly; that I decline to act an seat after having been returned, to open part; or that I have any de. undergoing another operation of the signs beyond those I avow. I'have Grenville act. One great object I stated to this House and to the pubhave in view is to relieve other gen- lic the remedy for all our grievances

, tlemen from the like benefits, by pre. which I have been so often called venting the necessity of having re- upon to produce.

I have obeyed course to such remedies in future, that call. The remedy I have proby getting rid of all disputes and posed is simple, constitutional, praccontested elections: this good con- ticable, and safe, calculated to give sequence will result from the adop- satisfaction to the people, to preserve tion of this plan, besides preventing the rights of the crown, and to reendless litigation, ruinous expense, store the balance of the constitution. perjury, ill blood, and periodical up- These have been the objects of my roar and confusion, this House will pursuit-to these have I always dibe saved one-third of its time in elec. rected my attention-higher I do not tion committees ; and the Statute aspire, lower I cannot descend. I Book will be relieved from the shame- conjure this House to consider the ful burden of one hundred and thir- necessity of doing something to sateen confused and intricate laws, all tisfy the rational expectations of the pitiful substitutes for the constitu- public. I would have the timid bear tion. It must also give rise to other in mind, who stand so much in dread important results : those who com- of innovation, that the simple remedy plain of popular clamour-of persons now proposed is but a recurrence to allying themselves with the people those laws and that constitution, the against the sentiments and decisions departure from which has been the of this House, would cease to have sole cause of that accumulation of any room for complaint.

evils which we now endure ; that, in Though I am not one of those many cases, timidity is no less fatal who would apply a sponge to the than rashness; and that the omisdebt of the nation, yet am I firmly sion to do what is necessary, seals a persuaded, that a reformed House commission to a blank of danger." of Commons would introduce such a Sir Francis then moved, that the system of economy, both in the col- House would early in the next seslection and expenditure of the public sion take into consideration the nerevenue, as would give instant ease cessity of a reform. The motion was to the subject, and finally, and that seconded by Mr Madocks. This at no very distant period, by a due was a question which had been so application of national resources to fully discussed during some of the national objects, and to them alone, late debates, that it sufficed on the

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