Page images
PDF
EPUB

same country is once more awake-awake to the condition of Negro Slavery; the same indignation kindles in the bosom of the same people; the same cloud is gathering that annihilated the Slave Trade; and if it shall descend again, they on whom its crash may fall, will not be destroyed before I have warned them; but I pray that their destruction may turn away from us the more terrible judgments of God!

EXTRACT FROM A SPEECH

IN THE

HOUSE OF LORDS,

ON

THE INTRODUCTION

OF

THE LOCAL COURT BILL,

DECEMBER 2d, 1830.

I DEEM it a duty of the highest importance, that the Government should take care that the laws be loved and respected. I know, too, there are times and seasons when a change, however slight, in those laws, constitutes no part of the duty of the Government. Such I deem seasons of foreign war, periods of domestic distress and commotion, casting a eloud over the prospects of the country, and, above all, times in which intestine commotions concentrate all public care on the means of preserving tranquillity. But when tranquillity prevails abroad, as, thank God, it does now; and when, and I thank Heaven, I can say so, there is every reason to pronounce the disturbances which dis

grace some parts of this country, but as a passing cloud, over the fair face of our general prosperity, and when men's minds have been, as they have of late years, so influenced, and directed, and echoed by the great organs of the public voice, as to be lifted up with one loud and unanimous acclaim for law reform; when all these so unequivocally conspire towards the one object, it appears to me, much revolving on these matters, that this is the appropriate time, and this the appointed season for us all, my Lords, to join in undertaking the great work. And if all times of general tranquillity are fitting for such an undertaking as that I now propose to you, and if this be the appropriate time, and this the appointed season ; I say that this week, nay, that this very day is more especially so. Unhappily, owing to the temper which the disturbances that disfigure certain parts of the country too clearly evince, it has been found necessary, by His Majesty's Ministers, to provide extraordinary measures with a view to have the laws obeyed. Within a few days from the time I am now addressing your Lordships, the sword of justice shall be unsheathed, to smite, if it be necessary, with a firm and vigorous hand, the rebel against the law. My Lords, it is the duty, the great office, the high function of the Government, it is the King's most sacred duty,

it is all our deepest interests, that the law should be obeyed. It is the no less sacred, and high, and paramountly important duty of your

Lordships, as legislators, to take care that the laws be loved ; and when the Government resolve, on their part, in their executive capacity, with a determination from which no threat shall make them swerve, no supineness can make them slumber, to faithfully perform their duty to themselves, to their King, and, if possible, still more faithfully to the King's people, by enforcing the laws, as the greatest mercy to the deluded offenders against them, let me pray your Lordships on the other hand, in your capacity as lawgivers, in this most fitting moment, on this most graceful occasion, to take care, by making the laws better, that you make them the more loved. I counsel you to leave no means unbefitting your high station, to let no pride of place prevent your earnestly attempting this great work. And let neither your station nor pride be offended when I tell you, that a feeling has gone abroad of disrespect towards both Houses of Parliament, which, fortunately, both Houses have it yet in their power to allay. The ties which should bind the several orders in the State to each other, particularly the people to their Parliament, should be, as they have been often compared, like those of domestic union;

and, if unhappily, to continue the simile, there should arise domestic jars between the two parties, possessing so deep and intimate a common interest, if one party should be temporarily alienated, I would not counsel you to practise unworthy artifices to remove that alienation, far less would I counsel you to condescend to meretricious blandishments, to allure those who stood aloof from you. No, I should say, “ maintain

your own rights, preserve your own dignity, “ but take care and do your duty to yourselves “and the alienated party, by improving their

condition, and removing all just grounds of

complaint.” Trust me, my Lords, the road to duty, the door of reconcilement, is open and it will be exclusively your own faults if again the language of disrespect is addressed to you from any portion of the King's subjects. What, I repeat to you, the people want, and love, is cheap justice. What they hate and rail against is, expensive, and tardy, and uncertain litigation. And can there be a duty at once more pleasing and more befitting your high stations, one, too, the exercise of which is just now of such all-importance to the integrity of the institutions of the country in Church and State, than when you, on the one hand, show the people that you are firmly resolved to resist lawless aggression ; that, on the other, you are

to you;

« PreviousContinue »