GREAT REFORM DINNER IN THE SOUTH HAMS
Transcribed from the Exeter Flying Post, dated 22 Dec 1836
As provided by GALE Cengage Learning from their Website of British Newspapers 1600-1900
Transcribed by Reg Rundle
A short time since, the Town Council of Totnes determined to give a dinner to their Mayor, Phabian Windeatt Esq,: and Messrs. Taylor, Toms, and Soper, his liberal predecessors in the civic chair; and on the occasion the inhabitants of Totnes sent invitations to their Representatives, and, to most of the influential noblemen and gentlemen of the county, who are identified with the liberal interest. Most of these applied to, signified their intention to be present. Preparations of a most extensive scale were set on foot for their accommodation, and Wednesday last, 15th instant. Fixed on as the day of meeting. On that day business in Totnes seemed entirely suspended, and before noon, the town (notwithstanding it rained torrents) was crowded with visitors. The price of tickets for the dinner, which was first fixed at half-a-crown, for some days before Wednesday, had been rising in price, and on that morning the Secretary, was obliged to refuse eight times the price first fixed. The Gentlemen who were provided with tickets, met at the Guildhall by 3 o'clock, and walked in procession to the mayoralty house, in the assembly hall of which, the dinner was to be held. The assembly room had been lengthened for the occasion, 5½ to 96 feet, was splendidly fitted up, and the arrangements for the dinner included as much of individual comfort as is compatible with a dinner on such a large scale. We can only notice a few of the devices and decorations which covered the walls. At the end, opposite the entrance, was a banner bearing, in the rays of a sun, the names of " the names of the minority of 73" who, some years ago, had voted for Mr Mayne. About the centre of the room were two banners, with the inscriptions
"The people, the source of all power" and "Behold the voice of the people went forth, and the temples of corruption were shaken"-Large medallions encircled with laurel, containing likenesses of the King, Earl Grey, Lord Brougham, and Lord John Russell, were hung in different parts of the room.
About a quarter before four, STANLEY CAREY, Esq:, of Fedaton, took the Chair, supported on his right by Lords Seymour and Cranstoun, on his left by Jasper Parrott, Esq:,MP., the Hon. Newton Fellowes, M.P., Sir W Moleworth. M.P., T Leader, Esq:, M.P., &etc. In front of the Chairman stood the Mayor, supported by Rev. Dr, Carwithen, and J Rundle, Esq:, M.P. Among the company present were the following:- Sir W Tonkin. knt, Sir R Newman, bart., Adm. Sir C Ekins, Baron De Arabet, Col. Seale, M.P. Col. Carlyon, Hon. -- Gerningham. Dr. Puddicombe.-- Curteis, G Soltan, T Caunter, Chas Taylor, Esqrs, Capt, Foote RN, S. Savery, J P Smith, Pearce, Avent, Prout, Teage, Esqrs: Capt Allen; M Davey and H Studdy, Esqrs; Captain Coward, Captain Devon; Taunton, Garrow, C. Calmady, M Elton Esqrs; Rev H Stranger; C Hamlyn and H Carey, &ecc. &cc.
The Chairman at the side tables were Messrs . Watson, Skinner, and Michelmore. The Vice-Chairman were Messrs. Worth, Webber, Cumming, Page, Hiberton and L Huxham. Four hundred and two persons dined in the principal rooms, and about one hundred in the room adjoining, with the privilege of being admitted to hear the speeches after dinner. Could they have been accommodated, it is supposed that 7 or 800 persons would have been present.
After the cloth was removed, the Chairman gave King William the Reformer, the first Sovereign Friend of Ireland. Drank with three times three. The Chairman said, that as the deeds of the husband threw a lustre over his consort, he called upon the fealty and loyalty of the meeting for a bumper to the Queen. Drank with harmonious cheers. The next toast was the young and future hope of England, Scotland, and alienated Ireland, the rising star of Reform, Princess Victoria- (Cheers)- Virtues in high places - The Duke of Sussex, and the rest of the Royal Family. (Three times three). - The Chairman then gave the People, from whom is derived all power; for whom is formed all good government; - (Enthusiastic Cheers.)
The Chairman then rose to propose the health of the Mayor, and his three Liberal Predecessors, and all the Members of the Municipal body. On the honourable conduct of Mr Windeatt, in the discharge of his duties, and the high legal attainments which qualified him for the duties he would have to perform under the Municipal Bill, the Chairman passed a warm eulogium.
Mr Windeatt, who returned thanks in the name of the gentlemen who had preceded him in office, as well as for himself, said it was a great satisfaction to him, to witness such an array of rank and talent assembled to celebrate the triumph of principles for which they had fought. They who knew the state of the borough before the passing of the Reform Bill could appreciate his feelings . But his thoughts were not now merely of the past, they extended into the future. The past has been merely an affair of posts, the battle was now to be won. They had procured rights, but to maintain these, they must have the protection of the Ballot. There was not only this, but other important questions. The people of England must exert themselves, to secure for the people of Ireland a union of rights and privileges.
He did not distrust ministers, but unless the people backed them up when right, and condemned them when wrong, they would never obtain their wishes. The ultimate triumphs of the glorious cause in which they had embarked might be described in the words of one of our most celebrated poets,
"still shall the mighty flame burn on,
"Through chance through change, through good and ill
"Deep, constant, bright, unquenchable"
The Chairman next proposed the health of Sir H Newman and the electors of South Devon.
The Chairman then said that Totnes, which five years ago rejoiced in being a nominated borough, could now exult in members of its own choosing - honest Reformers, the aim of whose labours was social improvement. He proposed the health's of Jasper Parrott. Esq and Lord Seymour, the Liberal Members of the Borough.
Mr Parrott said he thanked then in sincerity of heart, for the manner in which the health of his colleague and himself had been drunk. He had had the honour of attending many meetings in that town, but had never witnessed such an array of talent, respectability and numbers, as was then present. On looking at the state of the borough he has the happiness to say, he represented an enlightened constituency, whose object like his own, was the benefit of the country. If we were to read the Tory press the ministry was tottering. He wished them to look at this borough, where the young men now growing up were all embarking in one cause, their country's good. It was necessary for the Reformers to be united, to oppose the arts used to sow dissension amongst them. He advocated such a union that as could agree in.
If the more decide Liberals waived some of their demands, the old Whigs must meet them halfway. By granting ample justice to Ireland - relieving the Dissenters - abolishing church-rates - not taking it from the taxation of the country, but from the overpaid sinecures of the church - by instituting a strict enquiry into the pension list - by, at least, making the questions of the Ballot and the Repeal of the Septennial Act open questions; and last, although not least, by instituting a strict enquiry into that branch of the legislature -(Cheers) - which last session almost stopped the progress of legislation. This would satisfy the Reformers. He had touched on two questions, the Ballot and Peerage Reform, on which he would speak more particularly. He has always voted for the Ballot, as he believed it was the best method of protecting the voter in the exercise of his franchise. With regard to Peerage Reform, he would say, for himself, although he did not approve of rash measures, if the House of Lords with Lyndhurst at their head, persevere in the conduct of last session, throwing out some bills, and mutilating others of the greatest consequences to the country, he should, with calm bearing, look the matter in the face, and endeavour to find out an effectual remedy - (Cheering) - As he thought he was now giving an account of his stewardship, he would glance at a few of the divisions. He voted against Ministers on the Bishop's Bill - On the Ballot - (Cheers) During the last session, his Majesty's Ministers had brought in a number of good bills, and he would urge the more Liberal Members, as friends, not to oppose these measures, though they do not go as far as could be wished. Let public opinion be expressed on these questions at this and similar meetings, and he had no doubt the Ministry would do much to carry out the wishes of the people. After pledging himself to carry out to the extent of his power the principles of civil and religious freedom, the honourable gentleman sat down to loudly cheered.
Lord Seymour on rising was received with much cheering. He thanked them with unfeigned satisfaction for this mark of kindness. As public men live on public approbation he was most happy at the satisfaction expressed by his constituents on the present occasion, where he saw so many friends of the Liberal cause around him, the sure pledge of future success. They were assembled to advance the cause of Liberal Government, which had hitherto been so successful. What at the present time, is the lurking wish of every Tory? Is it not to suppress public opinion - to say to popular feeling thus far you shall go and no farther. The success of our cause is certain, but we must not lax in our exertions. We must not sit down only trusting to our principles. We have against us numerous and powerful opponents - men in every way practised to deceive the credulous and alarm the timid, and we must be careful not to give them any advantage over us. Their opponents say to the people " we are the guardians, the preservers of the constitution". inhabitants of Totnes know how they guarded them by keeping all the benefits to themselves. If that be considered guarding the constitution, he would advise them to have the Tories again. They call themselves the only friends of the church, almost denying to those who differed from in politics the name of christian. He was sorry to the church brought so prominently into their disputes, but the fault was with their opponents; for his part he wished to see the church the haven of repose, and not brought into political strife. He wished to see church-rates no longer demanded. Look at Ireland. Thirty-seven years have passed since the union, and the church-rates and tithes have been a constant cause of irritation; instead of promoting religion, they have occasioned strife, and it not this enough to convince Tories of their mistake. The Reformers only wished to take a small portion of the church property for the moral education of the poor, and the Tories cried out it was sacrilege. They have branded the Irish as aliens in blood, in language and religion and what hope was there that they could legislate for her benefit. They see nothing in Ireland but O'Connell, and to crush one man they would subjugate the millions. Their inability to legislate for the country was evident from the frequency with which they changed their leaders. Not long since they had the Duke of Wellington, who was the man above all for a Minister - next they had Sir R Peel, whose extensive knowledge and great talent could alone save the country. Suddenly we see another; they wanted a man of bolder enterprise, of greater daring. What would not be prudence do for them, that they were for so long a time without a man to suit their purpose. He should conclude by proposing the health of Stanley Carey Esq., the steady friend of the people.
Mr Carey thanked Lord Seymour and the meeting for the kind manner in which his name had been mentioned and received. He would not on any account have been absent on the Continent or elsewhere on that day. Through whatever countries he had travelled, and they had not been few, however beautiful they might be by nature, adorned by art, or signalised by patriotism, he had never been so gratified as he had been that day. Lord Seymour had dwelt with great ability on the absorbing question of the present day, that of the Irish Church. He (Mr C) thought that if the Irish Tithes Bill, and the Appropriation Clause attached to it were long delayed, it would be impossible to do justice and give satisfaction. Eighty five thousand persons took the tithes of six millions. He did not mean to harrow up their feelings by a description of the manner of levying the Irish Tithes; of this he was sure, that Englishmen would have resisted, long before rags and starvation stared them in the face. The large sums gathered as tithes in the parishes, were not applied to the wants of the people, but pampered with luxuries the absentee gentry and Indolent priesthood. And who were the men for whom the people of Ireland are stripped of their property? The second and third sons of Irish noblemen, or pensioned tutors and parasites. And it is for these that the treaty of Limerick is becoming so much waste paper. The heroic Reformers in endeavouring to obtain redress of the wrongs of the Irish people, have been loaded with reproach. And what is their crime? That the ministers determined to take a portion of the tithes, to be applied to the moral and religious improvement of the poor. The advocacy of this has occasioned charges against the Catholics, which if true, he would not another moment remain one, but would go in search of better name. The public harangues, lay and clerical, have impugned the Irish name, which he thought not the way to answer the wrongs of Ireland. He proposed the health of Lord Melbourne and his Majesty's Ministers.
Lord Seymour, in acknowledging the toast, said, the present government owed their elevation to the constituencies of the kingdom, and he was happy to find they approved of their conduct. With the aid of every Reformer, the ministry might proceed in the course desired by the Liberals. The people complained that the government did not move fast enough. But he would ask what government in this age could keep pace with the intellect of the community? The nation will always move faster than the government, that they should move aright, is what only can be expected. For the purpose of carrying out the plans of Reform, the government require no small support - they must have the united aid of the people, and if they fail in their exertions, on those who impede the measures of government, rests the responsibility.
The Chairman then proposed the health of Lord Cranstoun and the Reformers of Scotland.
Lord Cranstoun, in returning his warmest thanks to the meeting, said he was the more sensible of the honour, as he as a stranger to all present. This was the first time he had had the pleasure of being present at a public meeting with the Reformers of Devon, and the supporters of his Majesty's Ministers. After the manner in which the popular questions had been handled by his friends who preceded him, little more was required than to return thanks for the honour done to him. He hoped that what had already been effected, was but an earnest of what would be done; and that the march of Reform would proceed till the Constitution, and Church of the country, should have attained the greatest purity of which their spirit was susceptible. If Reformers abated a jot of their exertions, the ground already won would be lost for ever. In conclusion, he would say, be firm to your posts, active in your endeavours, united in your councils, till enlightened civil and religious freedom are awarded you. (Cheers)
The Chairman said he was about to propose the health's of those to whom the county was indebted for the first impulse in 1831 - Lord Ebrington, the Hon. Newton Fellowes, and the Electors of North Devon.
The Hon. N Fellowes said he had to regret the absence of Lord Ebrington, who was prevented from being here, by business of absolute necessity. He was not present on that occasion to give an account of his stewardship, but those who had heard him knew pretty well he was no shifter,- (Laughter and cheers) - He had never in his life had the pleasure of being at such a meeting. He thought such an assemblage a sufficient answer to the cry of re-action. He many years ago belonged to a party of gentlemen who exercised some influence over the representation of North Devon. Their cry was for Reform of the House of Commons, Vote by Ballot, and Catholic Emancipation. Some of these objects had been obtained - but how? Solely by the will of the people. He was convinced that there was nothing which the people might not obtain by constitutional means. Power is the people and not in the House of Lords. When it is said such and such measures were expedient, what is that but saying that the will of the people must be obeyed. If they want a Reform of the Lords, they must try what could be done out of doors; the Lords care nothing for the House of Commons, it is the pressure of the people upwards. In creating Peers the question has not been as to the merit or talent of persons, but "what are your politics, and will you do our work?". This was the secret of the appointments during the reigns of George III and IV. Let there be no more dissensions amongst Reformers. His best friend here (Sir William Molesworth) says he will have the Ballot, and so would he too when he could get it. They must throw aside their differences of opinion - show themselves united for the public good - do their work in the House of Commons, while the electors did their work out of doors. He would say a word on the appropriation of the Irish Tithes; and he was sure if those who opposed it looked the matter in the face, they would be of the Reformers opinion on the subject. All Ireland was taxed for one-eighth part of the population, and all that had been asked for was, that after the Protestant clergy had been provided for, the surplus should be applied to the moral and religious improvement of the people. The Hon. Gent then proceeded to show that the unequal, unjust laws which had been applied in Ireland, had been productive of the worst effects to this country. [What do you think of Poor Laws for Ireland]- That question has never been brought before the house, nor even publicly discussed, and he would not give an opinion on the subject until it had been. He intended to allude but to one subject more, the Union of Church and State. He believed that union had produced most of the evils which this country has suffered. The Hon. Gentleman then stated his readiness to avow his opinions on all occasions, and sat down amid loud cheers.
The Chairman proposed the health of Sir William Molesworth, M.P. and the electors of Cornwall: and he was sure the Hon. Baronet would not be behind the Hon. Newton Fellowes in stating his opinions.
Sir William Molesworth, M.P., in acknowledging the toast said he felt deeply felt the honour that had been bestowed on him in so flattering, so enthusiastic a manner. He was the most grateful as he was comparatively a stranger amongst them. He had been delighted at hearing sentiments in which he so fully agreed expressed by his friend Mr. Parrott. He was well known to be one of the popular party, and he was doubly delighted this evening, to see by the manner in which the sentiments of his friend had been responded to, the progress that public opinion is making in favour of these questions which the popular party deem of the utmost importance. It was an opinion of those who oppose the popular party, that the Reform Bill was a final measure, for his part he looked on it merely as the step to numerous important measures of Reform, by introducing into the House of Commons a new set of men, whose weight of character and arguments might overcome the noxious opinions which had too long existed. This had been its effects on the question of the Ballot: When this question was brought forward by Mr Grote it was much opposed, many were terrified at the sound of the name, but two sessions passed away, and its enemies were silenced, or delegated their opposition to other and inferior men. Still it is notorious that in every election in England the most reckless bribery and intimidation have taken place. The electors are most of them in dependent circumstances - many of them are dependent on Conservative landlords, and it was too much to expect them to sacrifice themselves and their families for their political privileges. Many without doubt are now present who were at Exeter previous to the last election for South Devon, and might, perhaps remember that he then told the Reformers that without the Ballot they were sure to be defeated, and so it proved. Until the Ballot was gained they would never be able to shake off the overwhelming effect of coercion. He thought that no friend of Liberal principles could think this a matter of slight consequence. As his name had been coupled with the electors of Cornwall, he might be able to speak with personal feelings on this subject; for want of the Ballot, he had been obliged to leave a body of electors whose feelings were in unison with his own. With the Ballot he would never have left the Cornish electors; he would have been delighted to have shown the aristocratic party how insignificant they are when stripped of their undue power. But he could not, he would not, expose his kind friends to the dangers which would result from their opposing the men of influence, and the clergy, the zealous opponents of all improvements. If there were any county in England where a contest for Liberal principles under the protection of the Ballot would be successful, it was Cornwall. If the Whigs of Cornwall has shown the same zeal to support him which he had always shown to support them, he would not have declined again becoming a candidate. They had sacrificed him for his known opinions on the Reform of the House of Lords. - (loud Cheers) - He was glad to hear that expression of feeling - it proved that the fear of timid men were not shared by that meeting. There was no subject that a mightier change had taken place than that of a Reform in the House of Lords. But a short time since such an opinion had existed in the minds of a few studious men; while the many look on the institution with a sort of superstitious veneration, a claim which bided indifference under the mask of respect, and the upmost reform believed possible was the creation of a few liberal peers. But these prejudices have been swept away ; the utility of such an institution is questioned in the minds of many, and its defenders are obliged to look about for arguments in its support. These are symptoms of a growing opinion, that an hereditary aristocracy is bad. And what is the cause of this feeling? The Lords have shown a disposition to oppose the wishes of the people, when these wishes were opposed to their own interest. It has long been known as a truth that men entrusted with irresponsible power will be tempted to use it for their own benefit, but a difficulty has been made of applying this to the House of Lords. We have to thank the Peers themselves for having, by their conduct, cleared this difficulty. A conviction of the necessity of a Reform in the House of Lords, and the Ballot is advancing with gigantic steps; a thousand who thought differently from us yesterday think with us today, and a thousand more will be with us tomorrow. Public opinion is advancing on this grave subject, and it becomes a matter of consequence for his Majesty's Ministers to decide what course they mean to pursue. If they wish to be the rulers of the nation - if they wish to maintain their places, they must keep pace with public opinion. It was union with this that had placed them in power, and kept them there. No one wished more than he did that that union might continue, but it must be made an equal one. Hitherto all concessions have been made by the popular party, none by the ministers. On the question of the Ballot, a question that could not to often be referred to, it is well known that the majority of the supporters of his Majesty's Ministers in the House of Commons were pledged to it, and many of the ministers themselves were also as much pledged as honourable could be. In this assemblage of his countrymen, he would put the question, is this a fair union?. When the slightest apathy on the part of the popular party would be fatal to ministers, that they should link themselves with the opponents of all reform. He would direct their attention to the conduct of the electors of Dundee to Sir H. Parnell on a recent occasion. It was well known that Sir Henry was in favour of the ballot, but connected as he was with the ministry, he could not give his vote, and was obliged to leave the house. His electors told him, they did not approve of such a compromise of principle, that the union of parties, was merely for party sake. These feelings, which common in many parts of England, would be attended with most disastrous consequences. This might be denied by ministers, but it was his duty to tell them, that the union was an unfair one, which induced many men to vote against their principles. This mode of acting might have done very well in distant times, under the rotten borough system: men might then have made such a compromise of opinion, as to keep a party in power, was all their aim: but now the ministers are responsible to their constituents; and if to hold office under the crown required such a sacrifice of opinions, the consequence would be, that the people would not elect any person connected with the government, indeed, it was the case in many parts of England already, that to be a minister of the crown, was a ground of objection, and government would be obliged to seek for its members among the refuse of these places - the remnants of the rotten borough system. What high-spirited, and independent man, would expose himself to the reproaches which have been heaped on Sir H Parnell. This system must be altered. Some people are of opinion that this kind of union - that a similarity of opinion is necessary - but that ought to be the cause, and not the consequence of a union of men. He would say again, that this system must be changed, or it will be fatal to the administration. The question at issue must be made open - he did not ask them to make it a cabinet measure, but to allow every member to vote as they pleased. Let there be no Cabinet opposition to a Reform in the House of Lords, and the Ballot. He thought it his duty to tell the noble lord (Seymour) - he hoped it would be taken in good part, as coming from one who was a friend to ministers - that unless concessions were made to the popular party - unless the union was an equal one - the ministry would not long exist. If this was done, they would have the people again rally tround them - but if not, they could not expect the support of those who cannot, and will not sacrifice every principle.
The next toast was Templer Leader Esq. M.P. and the Reformers of Bridgewater.
Mr Leader said that the kind manner in which his health had been drunk, was most gratifying to him, more particularly he saw at the same time men who advocated the most Liberal opinions, declaring their determination to support those principles to the upmost of their power. He should have been content to have thanked them for the honour they had done him, did he not think it the duty of a public man to avow opinions which he thought were for the good of the country. They were on the eve of a great struggle. One the one side there were the Lords and their adherents, on the other the middle classes and the great body of the people. Within late years the people have made rapid advances in knowledge and were determined to remain no longer in bondage. Seven years ago they compelled the Peers to pass the Catholic Relief Bill - three years after they had passed the Reform Bill - he need not more particularly revert to the excitement which prevailed at that time. All present knew it was little short of a revolution which carried the question that allowed the people representatives in the House of Commons. While they looked back to the past, they ought not to fail to make provisions for the future. Before he talked about Reform in the Lords, he would ask are the farmers, tradesmen, and the poor electors generally, represented in the Commons? He would say No. They are not represented until they can give their votes without fear. This they could not do now. This was no invention of his, it was proved by the testimony of some of the most enlightened men in the kingdom - by reports of the House of Commons. And even in that county did not many suffer because they would not vote according to the wishes of their landlords; and did not many go to the poll with downcast heads to vote against their opinions. In doing so they were certainly guilty, but though guilty they deserved compassion, placed as they were in the terrible alternative of ruining their families, by voting for their principles. The reproaches of honest Reformers should fall on those who forced the electors to this alternative. On their hands is the guilty spot - on their heads could the shame alight. Look as East Cornwall, a few influential persons took offence at the freedom of opinions held by one of the representatives, and he, sooner than sacrifice those who support ed him, would not again become a candidate. He was the friend of Sir Wm Molesworth and what he might say of him would perhaps be attributed to private friendship; but what said the Reformers of the north ? The man who was sacrificed by a few old fashioned Whigs in Cornwall, is accepted by one of the most independent constituencies in England.
This should teach ministers to protect the electors in exercising their franchise. This is the evil which most galls them, and most loudly calls for redress. Let those who most fully understand the question instruct their less-enlightened brethren - let pamphlets be circulated - let the question be agitated, till the shout from one of the country to the other be vote by ballot. It may be said if the people had the ballot, how would the House of Commons harmonise with the Lords? Why just as well as present, when all measures of good government are impended. The people must make up their minds to retreat or advance - to advance boldly to the reform of the Lords, or continue in the state of men who believe their government to be the best, without enquiring at all. Let them consider the system of Irresponsible power possessed by the Peers. What can there be more repugnant to good government than this power held by a few - what more unreasonable - what more absurd, than that four or five hundred men should have the power of obstructing every measure passed for the good of the people by their representatives, until terrified into submission.? Yes, there was one thing more absurd, the people of England submitted to it. Not many years ago a right rev. prelate said in his place in the House of Lords that the people had nothing to do with the laws but to obey them; and till within these few years the people have submitted with a great deal of docility to this doctrine; but now they think that they should have some share in making laws as well as obeying them. This was viewed with horror by the old school; but he (Mr L) must confess that he rejoiced in it, and thought it one of the best signs of the times - that the people were looking after their own affairs, and calling the House of Lords to account. It will perhaps be said the Lords deserve our regard. He would ask what part of their conduct? Was it their conduct on the Catholic question? On the Reform Bill, which they neglected to pass till the eleventh hour? Their general conduct during the last two sessions? Or the malignant insult to the people of Ireland, for his part in which Lord Lyndhurst has been denounced by the Irish Association as an enemy of the Irish people. All the facts prove that the Lords have preferred their own interest to that of the people - that they have been from first to last an insolent, overbearing, domineering faction, who, when they reform abuses, it is from fear, and not from love of the people. And is this a body which deserves our respect and affection? Or whose conduct should teach us to overlook the absurdities of the system. The object of the Liberals is good government, but as long as the Lords hold their present power, it cannot be attained. Reform of the House of Lords should now be the watch-word of the electors, and the test of every Liberal candidate. The people will be at the mercy of an aristocratic faction, and the wrongs of Ireland remain un-redressed.
The Chairman said he needed no apology in introducing the next toast, justice to Ireland cleared his way. In mentioning the name of Daniel O'Connell, he would say to him, Ireland owes all she possesses of good government. The Lords say, England shall have municipal institutions - Scotland shall have them, but poor Ireland shall still be kept in bondage. The secret of this hostility was to destroy the influence of the wealthy Catholics, thus their religion hung like a stone around their neck to weigh them down. He would tell the Conservative orators at the late Devonport dinner, that the object of the Catholics' hostility was Orange ascendancy, and not the Protestant faith. Which was received with deafening cheers.
Mr Rundle M.P. (whose name was, by mistake, connected with the Reformers of the north) said he was from the south, and would be most happy to unite with his brother electors, to take measures for turning out their present members (Hear, hear,) - He hoped that from this meeting, would emanate a committee of enquiry, in the hope of removing two Tories. He had met with a misfortune that afternoon - he had written on a card some notes, for what he had thought might be a tolerable speech, and some person had taken it away- (Laughter and applause) - But to return to the subject of the southern division, in behalf of the district of Tavistock in which he resided, he would undertake to pay all the expenses of the district, if they would set up two Reform candidates, at the next election. - (Loud cheers) - He made no attack on the private characters of the two representatives of the southern division, they were Tories, that was enough for him, but he thought if they were such very estimable characters, they were best employed at home, in the performance of their private duties. The Liberals have been condemned, as wishing to destroy the popularity of the Monarch. But he would ask, is not his Majesty more popular under the administration of Lord Melbourne, then he was when the Duke of Wellington advised him not to go into the city for fear of the mob. He had never believed that an hereditary House of Lords could work well, with a Reformed House of Commons. He had never abstained from voting on all popular questions when it was in his power. He much regretted that he by mistake, been shut out from one division, that was turning the Bishops out of the House of Lords. He had never until it he heard it explained by his friend Mr Leader, what was the use of bishops in the House of Lords - they were not heredity peers, and it was only that the Lords wished to see some there worse than themselves. Some of the previous speakers had touched on the subject of church-rates, he thought it an imposition which should be abolished, but not by shifting them on the consolidated fund. If such as that proposed by the ministry to the Liberal members, he thought it would be their duty to say let the church-rates alone, and we will deal with them. He would advise all parishes to do as had been done in Tavistock, where they had paid no church-rates for five years, and if an offer was made to them to put the rates on the consolidated fund, they would beg leave to decline. He had heard with great regret the notice of Sir W Molsworth, - that he would not support the Whigs in the next session. He asked Sir William what he could mean, that they, as Reformers should say the Whigs and Radicals could not combine against the Tories? They must combine; the union must be continued.
He (Mr R) had stood a contest to come into Parliament against a Whig ; for of two Reformers he thought it best for the most liberal to go to the house; but if by this procedure there had been any danger in admitting a Tory, he would have declined the contest. This indeed he had done when first requested, and it was only on further application that he allowed himself to be put in nomination. His constituents returned hinm without a farthing expense - He walked into the House without it costing him a shilling, and he had told them he was ready to resign the trust into their hands whenever they considered that he had failed in his duty. He was happy to have before him the seconders of the motion of the Ballot for two years; if the vote be the right of the landlord let him have it, and not mock the poor elector. He was please at the manner in which the Chairman had mentioned the name of O'Connell. He had the honour of sitting in the committee appointed to examine the charges against him; namely, bribery, and intimidation, which charges were abandoned. After thanking them in the name of the Reformers of Tavistock, and his own, for the honour done them the hon. gentleman sat down.
The Chairman then gave Col. Seale and the Reformers of Dartmouth.
Col Seale said he was happy that his name has been associated with so-true-hearted a band of Reformers. He rejoiced to see so reforming a spirit again in the South Hams, which he hoped would produce a beneficial result on the representation of the county. During the last session many liberal measures had been brought forward by his Majesty's ministers, some of which had become law, and others had gone no further than the upper house where they were lost principally through the exertions of the crafty lawyers, who led the opposition, and who were the first, at the close of the session, to turn round and censure the ministry for doing so little. He intended to support ministers as far as possible next session, for when he saw the opposition of the Tory faction, he was convinced it was impossible, unless the ministry was supported, to carry out the reforms called for by the country, and which is was hoped would be carried into effect. Would anyone tell him that a Radical administration could carry on the government, or that a Tory ministry would remain a month in office. What then were they to do?
(Try the Radical) For their security, and his own, he was determined to give his support to the present ministry. He was not expected on the present occasion to give an account of his stewardship; his conduct during the last session was before his constituents and the country. He had voted for Ballot (cheers), for extending Municipal Institutions to Ireland, and the Appropriation Clause. If the Reformers of the South Hams would put the noble Lord (Seymour) up for the county, he had no doubt whatever of his return (loud Cheers).
Sir R Newman said he would not have presumed to occupy the time of the meeting had he not been pressed to do so by his friends. After what had been said, he had nothing new to advance. He was, he believed, as staunch a Reformer as could be found in the county, he meant for honesty. For this he could confidently appeal to his conduct during the time he had a seat in Parliament. During that time he had always voted for measures calculated to promote the interests of the people. Much had been said on the matters of Ireland, and many were the complaint of difficulties of legislating on this subject, but difficulties will be found in every subject, and England would never enjoy the prosperity she might until one law be the law of the whole nation. He once had the courage to propose such a measure in Parliament, and the consequences was, was that almost every character came to him to complain of his boldness of including Ireland in his measure. Though not convinced in his own mind, he struck Ireland out, and then Sir R Peel came to him, complaining of what he had done, believing the same measure would have done. The question which seems most to have agitated the nation was the Reform of the House of Lords. Some person said the King might make a creation of Liberal Peers: but he would ask these persons, have the public derive any benefit from the increase of the Peerage since the reign of George 3rd. He was not prepared for any plan for the reform of the House of Lords, but he thought that some amendment might be made, without any fear of which they all wished to avoid - a revolution.
He would ask any gentleman, why the power of voting by proxy should be given to the Lords, and not to the Commons? If it was good for one case, it surely was in the other. He thought that petitions should go from Totnes on this subject: he remembered that at the time of the peace establishment, more petitions were sent from the South Hams than from all of the rest of the Country, and he was in the House when Lord Castlereagh asked if the House of Commons would be guided by the petty petitions of Devon.
The Chairman then proposed Civil and Religious Liberty through out the world - the health of Dr. Carwithen, and the Clergy of all denominations, who had honoured the dinner with their presence.
Rev. Dr, Carwithen thanked the meeting for coupling his name with the toast of civil and religious liberty. As he would never dictate to any man, he would not allow any man to dictate to him. If he had not taken part in public meetings before, it was not for the want of heart in the cause, but the humble situation which he then held, and which would perhaps have been endangered by such conduct, was of some consequence to him. But when he saw the hustings crowded with noblemen and gentlemen, he thought it was time for him, as a clergy of the Church of England, to stand forward and express his opinions. He had never endeavoured to influence any man's vote, and would extend the right hand of fellowship to every man, whether, at the hustings, he intended to support the same man or not. He hoped that he would never live to see the day when the interest of the landlord and tenant should be separated. Union was the bond of strength - and though he differed much in political opinion from some of his friends around him, he would not express his oqn particular views then, or at any Reform meeting, but pledge himself at the election, to support, by his vote the Reform candidate.
The Chairman proposed the health of W. D. Taunton, Esq; and the Liberal Corporation of Totnes.
Mr Taunton acknowledged the toast, and remarked, that if the cause of liberty, and the interests of the people required the council to advocate interests on a larger scale, he thought they should consent, even to the loss of one of their representatives. After the promise of that day, the splendid hopes of young England, he would ask the Tories, where was the reaction? The news of this meeting would stike terror to their hearts. It was impossible to add any arguments already advanced, of the necessity of a Reform in the House of Lords. Why all the dread in the case of organic change? Had they not organic change in the Reform Bill - In the Municipal Bill - and why shrink from a Reform in the House of Lords if it be necessary? He was satisfied that the Constitution, as it existed before the feudal system, would work out the salvation of the country. One of the company asked if it was possible that this meeting, with two Tories in the House of Commons, for that division of the county.
Mr Rundle said he was delighted to see a gentleman, who was not expected to take part in any proceedings, come forward as the last speaker had. He would propose that a committee of three people in each district, should be appointed to elicit the feelings of the county, with a view of restoring it to the state it was in three years ago. The men were ready at Tavistock, and would do the work at no expense to the candidate. He was sure that CaptainHamlyn would take the Okehampton district, and he hoped that Mr Soltan would take Plymouth. After some further discussion, the meeting delegated to the Chairman the power of appointing a committee to carry into effect the object under discussion.
Mr Carey having retired, The Mayor was called to the chair.
Mr Rundle proposed the health of Capt. Foote and the Reformers of Devonport.
Capt. Foote, as Chairman of the Reform Association of Devonport, returned thanks, and recommended the establishment of Reform Associations in every division in the county. At present there was but one Association of the kind in the county, and the Reformers of Devonport were obliged to go to Plymouth to defend their votes - pay for professional assistance, & etc . He therefore recommended that Associations should be formed at Totnes and Exeter, to carry out the objects of the Reformers.
These remarks were warmly responded to, and there appeared to be a determination in the meeting to act on Captain Foote's suggestions.
The meeting broke up about Eleven O'Clock.