button to main menu  Gents Mag 1795 p.305

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Gentleman's Magazine 1795 p.305

  petition for peace

Petition for Peace, Carlisle

Parliamentary Proceedings of Lords and Commons in 1795.
January 22.
Mr. Curwen presented a petition from the inhabitants of Carlisle, for a speedy and effectual peace.
Lord Morpeth produced a protest, which, he said, was signed by 12 or 1300 inhabitants, who, notwithstanding the general inclination for a peace, did not agree or participate in the proceedings of the petitioners. He spoke much of the respectability of the persons signing the protest; which was done from a sense of duty, and not in consequence of any solicitation.
Mr. Curwen defended very zealously the character and principles of the petitioners who drew up this address in consequence of an adverisement calling for a public meeting. It was a petition very far from partaking of the spirit of party or opposition, which the subscribers not only disclaimed for themselves, but also directed their representatives to join with any gentlemen who were in favour of peace, and not to be influenced in any degree by the conduct of the party, by whom, from experience, they knew they were liable to be deceived. Were the petition drawn up in any other spirit, he should be ashamed to bring it before the House. He was sure that it was not manufactured, nor was any influence used in bringing it forward, though he was very well assured that very active influence was employed in producing their protest. The characters of the petitioners were exceedingly well known, as they consisted of the most respectable inhabitants of Carlisle.
Mr. Wallace did not deny but that some of the signatures to the petition were highly respectable; but, with regard to the generality of them, he would not pretend to say any thing. Their object he could by no means commend, as it seemed intended to obstruct the operations of Government: nor was it sanctioned by a majority of the inhabitants of Carlisle, and of the county of Cumberland in general. The only argument adduced to prove that it conveyed the general sense of the inhabitants was, that it came from a public meeting, convened by advertisement. It was not, however, his opinion, that the sense of the country was accurately collected by such meetings; besides, the petition was not signed by the chairman, by order of the meeting, but signatures taken individually, and persons invited for that purpose. It was but too notorious, that petitions could in this manner be procured for almost any cause; and the straights the abettors of the petition were driven to were evident, from their applying for signatures to strangers and children, one of whom was a boy of 13 years of age, apprentice to a hair-dresser. He confessed there was a very ardent wish for peace, but it was not for a premature peace, but one consistent with the honor, interests, and the safety of the country.
Mr. Fox was sorry the advisers of the protest had not drawn it up in a shape which would admit of its being received by the House. For then it would appear, that the opinions of the subscribers to the petition, and those to the protest, were precisely the same respecting the necessity for an immediate peace, and that they only differed on the propriety of making in this way any application to Parliament.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the other hand, contended, the subscribers to the protest having declared their desire for peace, when Parliament in their wisdom should think proper, possessed an object perfectly distinct from the petitioners, who desired a peace at present, on whatever terms it might be gained. The address was not signed till after Parliament, in its address to the throne, had declared, that a secure and honourable peace was only to be obtained by a vigourous persecution of the war, and the subscribers, in submitting to their prudence and wisdom, professed to entertain the same opinion as the House.
The question, that the petition do lie upon the table, was put, and carried.
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