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affairs by a public assemblage in the market-place, the people now delegated their power to others. This was a great and admirable invention; but then it was one that would subject the people to this inconvenience, that if the people should make a choice of those who might deceive them if they put themselves into the hands of those who might be deserving of the epithets applied to the author of this petition-if the people gave to such persons the power of legislation-then, they would be without a remedy; then they might see carried into effect attacks on that property which they were disposed to respect; then they might find institutions destroyed which they themselves might approve of; and then that very respect for the law, that very quality which Mr. Roebuck had so truly and so justly extolled, that ready and constant obedience to law, might be one of the means used to their prejudice; for if they placed themselves in the hands of designing men of men whose object was plunder-and if rapacious leaders obtained the powers of legislation, that very characteristic quality of the people might be taken advantage of to effect their ruin. He felt confident, that if all the adult males in a place were assembled, and were made to understand that the present public creditors had obtained their claim on the faith of the country for a valuable consideration, they would repudiate the project of applying a sponge to the public debt; but he was not so sure that those who had induced them to aign this petition might not mislead them to choose as representatives men who would call such an act necessary for the public good.

The improved representation of modern times made it the more necessary that they should be careful as to those in whose hands they placed the power of choosing representatives. As for "the indefeasible and unalienable right" to vote for a Member of Parliament, he was at a loss to understand it. Why should every adult person be entitled to elect a Member of Parliament any more than to sit upon a jury? It was a question of policy. Though, generally, wealth might be considered in elections under universal suffrage, yet he saw no security against a popular ferment in the case of a general election. The constitution was too precious to be put to such a hazard. It might be safer in the United States, where no monarchy exists, where every officer in the state is elected, where there is no established church, and no great masses of property collected in few hands; but, in this country, the many institutions which hold society together would be held up as prizes to the people in times of distress. The present demand would be best met by a direct negative.

Sir Robert Peel was quite pre pared to resist the motion for the hearing on the ground of his opposition to the Charter, as it was called; as he did not mean to awaken hopes on false grounds, The honourable Gentleman had said that the petitioners only demanded inquiry; but this petition was nothing more or less than an impeachment of the constitution and of the whole frame of our society. The petition said it was wrong to maintain an Established Church; and, after many other statements, declared as a postscript that the people of Ireland were

entitled to a repeal of the Union. How could he be justified in lis tening to such demands, or what could be the practical result of hearing four or five speeches at the Bar on such topics? Were the speeches to be made at the Bar of the House to be replied to? Supposing that they failed in producing their effect, was the demand then to be, that he should enter into an inquiry with respect to every allegation which might be brought forward? should he admit that inquiry, or refuse it? The petition had been characterized as not representing the sentiments of those who signed it ➡as a document at variance with the judgments, with the good sense, of the three millions and a half of petitioners; and as a document which had been imposed upon them by a 'cowardly and malignant demagogue,' whom the ho nourable Member in question knew, and from his personal knowledge was entitled to speak of with disrespect. He knew not to whom the honourable Gentleman alluded he would take the description from the honourable Gentleman. And should he permit the author of the petition, the man described in such terms-the man who had so perverted to his own evil purposes the minds of the intelligent, the industrious, the labouring classes of England-should he admit that man to the Bar of the House?—and he, of course, would be the man who would come forward to defend the allegations of the petition-should not he be countenancing gross delusion if he permitted him, the author of the petition which put forth an hundred points, the acquiescence in each of which would be an evil to the interests of the

petitioners? Was such a person one whom he could admit to the Bar of the House, to establish the rights of the labouring classes of England?

What was it, he asked, that gave to the law that influence over the people which Mr. Roebuck had described ?

It was a conviction on the part of the people that it was just. Did they believe that, if the peaple of England were in that condition in which the petition asserted they lived-did they believe that if the spirit of the country was justly decribed in that memorial, which stated that Your honourable House has enacted laws contrary to the expressed wishes of the people, and by unconstitutional means enforced obedience to them, thereby creating an unbearable des potism on the one hand, and degrading slavery on the other'-if such (he said), was a just representation of the feelings of the people with respect to the law of England, would that people acknowledge that tacit influence of the law which gave to the decrepid constable the power which he now possessed? Did the House imagine, that the high-spirited people of England would have that respect for the law which they now exhibited, if they did not believe that the law was such as guaranteed the rights of property, and preserved the blessing of liberty-as a law for the poor man as well as for the rich?

The English people had been contrasted by a preceding speaker with those of foreign nations, as being superior in patience, in intelligence, and in spirit; but what had formed that character, if not those laws and institutions which were impeached by the present petition? And on the other hand,

how could he trust to that high character which was given of the petitioners, if they had agreed to such a petition as Mr. Roebuck had described? He agreed with Lord John Russell, that if the people had been deluded in this instance, they might be deluded again, when they had acquired that power which others might abuse. He believed Universal Suffrage to be incompatible with the maintenance of a mixed Monarchy, under which the people had obtained for 150 years as much practical liberty, and enjoyment of social happiness, as any form of human government could affordnot excepting that of the United States of America.

He concluded by expressing his sincere sympathy with the present sufferings of the people, but his firm resolution not to consent to those momentous changes in the

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Mr. Villiers spoke in favour of the motion, which went no further than a hearing of the case alleged in the petition by counsel at the Bar.

Mr. O'Connell explained that his vote would be given on the same side, on the ground of his being a decided advocate of Universal Suffrage; a doctrine which he had not heard successfully combated, either in this debate, or at any other time.

Mr. Duncombe replied.

The House divided, and there appeared-ayes, 49; noes, 287: majority, 238.


Lord Ashley's bill for restraining the Employment_of_Women and Children in Mines and Collieries-Extracts from the Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry-Impression made by Lord Ashley's statement upon the House of Commons-Speeches of Mr. Fox Maule, Lord F. Egerton, Sir J. Graham, and other MembersLeave given to bring in the Bill nem. con.-Rapid progress of the measure in the House of Commons-It is passed with slight opposition-It is introduced in an altered form in the House of Lords. Debates on the Second Reading-Lord Wharncliffe states the intentions of the Government respecting it-Lord Londonderry moves, that it be read a second time that day six months, but the Motion is not seconded. Speech of Lord Brougham before going into Committee-Various amendments are proposed and negatived, and the Bill passed-Debates in the House of Commons on the Lords' Amendments-Charges against the Government made by Lord Palmerston and Mr. C. Buller-Sir R. Peel vindicates the Ministers-The Amendments agreed to-Bribery at ElectionsSingular result of proceedings before Committees - General reports respecting compromises of petitions-Mr. Roebuck undertakes an inquiry-He addresses questions to the Members for Reading, Nottingham, Harwich, Penryn and Lewes-Their answers - Mr. Roebuck states his charges and moves for a Select CommitteeMr. Fitzroy seconds the motion-Adjourned debate-Speeches of Mr. Wynn, Mr. Ward, Lord Palmerston, Sir R. Inglis, Sir R. Peel, Lord J. Russell, Lord Stanley, and others-Mr. Roebuck amends his motion, which is then carried without a division-Mr. T. Duncombe proposes a test for the Committee, which is rejected— Nomination of the Committee-An Act of Indemnity for Witnesses passed-Presentation of the Report of the Committee-Particulars of compromises in the cases of Harwich, Nottingham, Lewes, Reading, Penryn, and Bridport-Mr. Roebuck moves Resolutions founded on the Report-Speeches of Mr. C. Russell, Major Beresford, Mr. Fitzroy, Captain Plumridge, and Lord Chelsea-The Solicitorgeneral moves the previous question-Sir R. Peel states reasons for opposing the resolutions, which are negatived on a division-The Chancellor of the Exchequer refuses Lord Chelsea's application for the Chiltern Hundreds-Lord Palmerston finds fault with the Go. vernment-The Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sir R. Peel vindicate the course adopted for frustrating the Compromises published by the Committee-Statement of Captain Plumridge-Suspension of the Writs for Nottingham, Ipswich, Southampton, and Newcastle-underVOL. LXXXIV. [M]

Lyne-They are finally issued-Bill for Disfranchisement of Sudbury carried in the House of Commons, but afterwards droppedBill of Lord J. Russell for the prevention of Bribery at Elections.


WHILE measures involving the conflict of party views and the excitement of party feelings were engrossing the attention of the Legislature and of the public mind, a subject of deep importance and painful interest was presented to the notice of the House of Commons, by a Member whose generous exertions on behalf of a suffering but neglected class of the community had, on former occasions, been attended with honour able success. The condition of children employed in Factories had been within a recent period the subject of a public investigation, the result of which was the discovery, that mis-management and mercenary cruelty had gradually built up a system which was distorting and crippling the rising generation of our most important districts. A law was passed to prevent the continuance of that evil. It was then alleged that the condition of children in other employments was even worse, and the benevolent exertions of Lord Ashley procured the appointment of Commissioners for Inquiry into the Employment of Children. They examined into the state of young persons in one branch of employment-mines and collieries; and the course of their inquiries brought to light more than the sufferings of children alone, for they found the case of the women in many places no less pitiable. The frequent juxtaposition of enormous wealth with the lowest degree of destitution and want has often been remarked as a characteristic feature of society in England; the Report of the Commissioners referred to exposed

in conjunction with the highest civilization in the world, whole sections of the people sunk in the lowest moral and intellectual barbarism. In the midst of the refinements of the nineteenth century, in the heart of a Christian and enlightened community, and with all the channels for the exposure of oppression and abuses which our political system affords,

it appears hard to realize as truth the picture of children consigned by their parents almost from the cradle to perpetual labour, at an employment entailing on them premature adolescence, disease, and misery, and amid scenes which ensure a moral degradation even worse than the physical suffering which accompanies it. Still less, if possible, would the ear of modern refinement have been inclined to credit tales, now too well established, of women compelled to work like beasts of burthen in noisome caves where the sun never enters, surrounded by an atmosphere of vice and pollution which can hardly be depicted with decency, and under circumstances of coarse and loathsome exposure to which savage life scarcely affords a parallel. The details of this frightful system will best appear from the selections which we shall presently furnish from the Commissioners' Report, and which Lord Ashley cited in his able introduction to his motion in the House of Commons on the 7th of June.

He began with complimenting the late Government on the readiness with which they had appointed the Commission, and on their choice of Commissioners;

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