13. [Add. Ms. 27789, f. 374]
It was my opinion that the society should as it had promised cease to
exist with the commencement of the new parliament, and employ the small
sum which remained in paying the persons who had hitherto been employed in extracting from the parliamentary debates and other authentic
sources the political acts of the members; to announce this and ask for
donations to enable them to continue the work till near the eve of another
election; then to revive the society by calling together, not the dandyish
gentility, which was seeking to obtain seats in the house of commons; but
such men as were unlikely to have any sinister views; men whose habits of
business and intelligence would lead them to work without intermission or
fear for the accomplishment of the real objects of the society. To publish in
a volume as cheaply as possible the information collected—from which all
might select whatever could be useful. It was only necessary to follow closely
the plan in progress, to accomplish this proposal. In every case which had
been published—the matter was carefully collated and verified—and in no
instance that I ever heard of, was the society accused of making a false
statement or even of having in any instance in any way exaggerated the
facts. The opinion of the majority was that an effort should be made to
continue the society, it wholly failed, no money was obtained, the small
balance in hand was soon expended and the society died what is usually in
such cases called a natural death.
14. [Add. Ms. 27789, ff. 294-5. A petition occasioned by the defeat of the
Whigs during the committee stage on the reform bill on 19 April 1831.]
To the Kings most excellent Majesty
The humble petition of the undersigned inhabitants of Westminster
That the unwillingness of your petitioners to delay the expression of
their opinion at the present awful moment until a public meeting could be
called, has induced your petitioners thus to address your most excellent
Your petitioners believe that the continuance of order and tranquillity
throughout the empire depends entirely on passing the Reform Bill brought
forward by your Majesty's ministers.
That the astonishing unanimity displayed by the great body of the
people on the subject testifies how inseperably [sic] they think their dearest
rights and liberties are connected with the success of that measure.
That your petitioners further believe that if the principles of the Reform
Bill be nullified or invalidated that the most awful consequences will ensue,
commencing either in the tumultuous proceedings of a resolute Scotch or a
famished Irish multitude, or on the more gradual but not less complete
convulsion which the refusal to pay taxes by large bodies of the [people] in
England will inevitably bring about.
Your petitioners therefore pray your most excellent Majesty to insure
the success of the Reform Bill, and thereby avert revolution bloodshed and
anarchy by commanding the instant dissolution of the Commons House of
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Copies of the petition were with a note of its having been delivered
immediately sent to all the London newspapers and was printed in almost
every one of them. Had the dissolution been delayed1 but a very few days
many hundreds of similar petitions would also have been presented.
15. [Add. Ms. 27789, ff. 251-2]
The proceedings of the people fully answered the purposes of ministers,
as they served to fix them in office, to guarantee and support them; while
they more than answered their purpose, respecting the measures to be taken
to promote reform in the commons house of Parliament. That some among
the ministers desired reform for its own sake may be safely admitted as
truth. Others among them now desired it because they had committed
themselves before they knew how far they would be obliged to proceed, and
could not now back out, and all of them because such demonstrations had
been made, and were still being made by the people as rendered it impossible
for them to continue in office unless a very considerable measure of reform
was proposed, and because they saw that any paltering with it would have
the further consequence of producing commotions the end of which no one
could forsee. So fully indeed, so far beyond their expectations had the
proceedings of the people been carried that all retreat was cut off and however much some of them disliked the proposed bill they dared not openly
dissent from it. The business—for such the people really made it was
immense and was carried on as systematically as it could have been had
there been an arrangement made for the whole of it, yet there was not even
the smallest communication between places in the same neighbourhoods,
each portion of the people appeared to understand what ought to be done
and each did its part—as if it were an arranged part of one great whole. The
systematic way in which the people proceeded, their steady perseverance,
their activity and skill astounded the enemies of reform and produced an
effect sometimes observed in considerable bodies of men, yet scarcely ever
in a nation. The enemies of reform had so strong a feeling of the impossibility of any thing like a successful opposition that they remained in a state of
comparative quiescence quite at variance with their proceedings on former
16. [B.M. Place Collection, set 63, vol. 2, f. 9. Printed.]
National Reform Association. Declaration and
The evils inseparable from mis-government, having at length pressed
upon the people with a severity too great to be any longer quiescently
endured, their first efforts have been directed to put an end to a system, the
workings of which have entailed upon them such accumulated ills.
Thay have long been conscious, that a small but dominant faction has
grown up in this country, which has usurped and wielded a controlling
influence over the councils of the King, and the deliberations of the Senate;
and that this faction has uniformly exercised its power for the promotion
of its own exclusive and sinister interests.
The origin of this anomalous body, and the seat of its strength, are to be
found in the defective state of the representative branch of the legislature,
which, by enabling it to command a majority of votes in Parliament, has
given it a direct dictatorial sway over the measures of government, and an
unlimited and irresponsible power in the disposal of the nation's wealth.
While such a faction is suffered to exist, no honest ministry can efficiently
serve the King, nor can the People be in any degree assured of having their
rights protected, or their welfare advanced.
Conscious of this truth, and of the injustice wrought by such usurpation, both King and People have resolved to put it down. Hitherto their
efforts have been attended with success; but much yet remains to be done.
The enemy is strong, and must be met with proportionate firmness. Experience has taught the people, that their power consists in numbers allied with
intelligence. Let them then unite, and instruct one another. By these means
alone, can they aid their Sovereign in his efforts to rescue them from out the
hands of a faction, and to restore to them that salutary influence over public
affairs, which justice entitles them to demand, and good policy dictates
should be conceded to them.
Deeply impressed with the conviction, that the present crisis is eminently
auspicious for such a course being adopted by the people, We, whose names
are hereunto subscribed, have by this act resolved ourselves into a National Reform Association, with a view to use our utmost and united exertions to promote, on all occasions, such measures as shall be calculated to
advance the real interests of the community, and give strength and stability to
the empire at large—but more especially, at this particular juncture, to devote
our best energies in assisting the King and his Ministers, to carry on the
great measure of Reform now pending to a successful issue: and, forasmuch
as it is probable, that on this measure being carried, another Parliament will
be speedily summoned by the King, we deem it to be an indispensable duty
on our part, to aid in securing the return of honest and talented men to
represent the people in such Reformed Parliament—and also, to the end
that these objects may be accomplished, and the Parliament so elected be
made subservient to the general good, it shall be our endeavour, by discussion and through the medium of the Press, to diffuse among the people,
sound and practical knowledge upon all political subjects, by which means
we hope to create an enlightened public opinion, that shall be capable at all
times of being brought to bear with an irresistible moral force, upon all
important public questions, and be made productive of a permanent system
of just policy and wise legislation.
For carrying into immediate effect these our intentions, we hereby agree
to, and bind ourselves to the strict observance of, the following
Rules and Regulations.
I. That the name of the Society shall be, 'The National Reform Association'.
II. That any person desirous of becoming a member of this Association
shall furnish the Secretary with his name and address, and subscribe his
name to these regulations in the book prepared for that purpose; and thereupon shall be admitted a member, and receive a ticket of admission to the
general meetings of the Association.
III. That each member shall subscribe one penny a week to the funds of the
Association, the payment thereof to be made at the general weekly meetings.
IV. That strangers may be admitted to the meetings of the Association
upon being introduced by a member, or by application to the chairman of
V. That there shall be a Committee of management, for the purpose of
arranging and conducting the general business of the Association.
VI. That a general meeting of the members of the Association shall be held
on Saturday evening in every week, at the Crown Tavern, Museum-Street;
the chair to be taken at half past eight o'clock.
VII. That there shall be a Secretary and also a Treasurer of the Association. The Treasurer to be accountable to the Committee for all receipts and
disbursements, and he shall not be at liberty to make any disbursements
without the authority of the Committee.
VIII. That the Committee shall at all times be open to the strictures of, and
be responsible for their conduct to, the members; and that each member
shall have free access to the books of account and proceedings of the
IX. That one half of the Committee shall go out of office every three
months, and an election thereupon take place to supply the vacancies; and
that the old members shall be eligible for re-election.
Crown Tavern, Museum-Street, Bloomsbury, May 21, 1831