VII: MEETING AT HEREFORD IN HONOUR OF JOSEPH HUME17 December 1821 - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 1815-1823.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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MEETING AT HEREFORD IN HONOUR OF JOSEPH HUME
7 December 1821
A meeting in honour of Joseph Hume, M.P. was held at Hereford on 7 December 1821, to present him with ‘a superb silver tankard’ and ‘a hogshead of prime Hereford cider’, in recognition of his efforts in Parliament to lessen taxation and reduce corruption. Mr. E. B. Clive presided.
Addressing the meeting, Mr. Hume urged the people to resume their ancient right of control over their representatives in Parliament—the only remedy for the existing abuses in public expenditure. He later complimented Mr. Ricardo and other members ‘for the zealous assistance they had rendered him in Parliament’, and regretted that Mr. Ricardo had been so unjustly misrepresented as a friend of the fundholder and an enemy of the landowner.
The President spoke next and concluded by proposing ‘the health of one of the first political economists of this or any other age, Mr. Ricardo, who I am happy to say is a considerable freeholder amongst us.’
Mr. Ricardo said, he felt highly gratified by the manner in which the mention of his name had been received by the respectable company before him, and begged to return his grateful thanks for the honour which had been conferred on him. With respect to the misapprehension of an opinion he had given, alluded to by his Honourable Friend Mr. Hume, he should endeavour in very few words to remove it, as he did not wish to occupy the attention of the company by any thing personal to himself. Thinking, as he did, that the national debt was a most oppressive burden on the industry of the country, he had, in his place in Parliament, expressed his opinion that it would be a measure of wisdom to submit once for all to a great sacrifice in order to remove it, and for that purpose recommended a general and fair contribution of a portion of every man’s property; not, as had been said, of the property of the landowner only, but of that of the merchant, the manufacturer, and the fundholder. He should have been ashamed of himself if any thing so unfair could ever enter his mind as that of exonerating the fundholder from the payment of his quota of so equitable a tax. On this subject he should say no more, as he fully agreed with his Hon. Friend, Mr. Price, that as this day was set apart for the purpose of acknowledging the services of Mr. Hume, questions wholly extraneous should be avoided. Of Mr. Hume’s services to the public, he entertained as high an opinion as any gentleman present; and as he had seen much of his persevering exertions, he could perhaps speak of them with more accuracy than many others. Mr. Hume’s exertions in Parliament had been unremitting as they all knew; but he had duties to attend also in different committees, and few could have a just idea of the number of documents which he had had to consult. When he considered the variety of accounts which came under his notice, and the voluminous reports which he had read, he believed he might say, that in persevering exertions, Mr. Hume had never been surpassed by any former or present member of Parliament. It was a pleasure to him (Mr. Ricardo) to reflect, that he had voted on all occasions in favour of economy; and while he had a seat in the House of Commons, he would continue to give his Hon. Friend his best support in opposing every wasteful expenditure of the public money. He concurred fully with the Hon. Chairman and with Mr. Hume, that a reform in the representation was of vital importance to the interests of the country.—Without it good government might truly be said to be impossible. To obtain a reform, then, every exertion should be made; but he recommended to those who heard him to consider well what constituted a real and efficient reform of the Parliament; for much error might and did prevail on this important question. The subject might be considered under three views—First, the extension of the elective franchise; secondly, the frequency of elections; and, thirdly, the mode of election. With respect to the first of these, the extension of the elective franchise, he did not consider it the most important object of the three he had mentioned, yet no reform could be an adequate one which did not greatly extend the elective franchise—for he should be contented if it went so far as householder suffrage. Upon the second point, frequency of elections, he should say that without it there would be no check in the hands of the electors against the corruption of the members. If elections were not frequent, we should not very materially improve our system, and if they were, it would be but reasonable to allow each member to act as he thought proper, notwithstanding the known sentiments of his constituents—those constituents would have the power to displace him at the following election. With respect to the third point, the mode of election, he thought that of the greatest importance on a question of real reform. To secure a real representation of the people in Parliament, there must be secrecy of suffrage, or as it was commonly called election by ballot. It was nothing but mockery and delusion to pretend to give the right of voting to a man, if you prevented him from exercising it without control. Let the kind offices and superior talents of those above him in station have their due effect in influencing his will—this was a just and legitimate influence, but do not subject his will to the will of another. If you do it, it is not his vote you obtain, but the vote of another man, and it would be better and more honourable to give it to that man in the first instance. He (Mr. R.) had thought much on this subject: he had attentively considered all the objections which were brought against voting by ballot, but he could see no weight in them. He hoped whenever the important subject of reform came under the consideration of the gentlemen present, they would not fail to pay due attention to this vital security for good government.
‘Mr. R. concluded amid loud cheers.’