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right hon. gentleman had been one of the first thirty-eight Resolutions. The 39th first at that day to raise a cry against his and 40th were negatived; and the follownoble friend; he was therefore of all men ing moved by Mr. Douglas, passed in the least entitled to complain, in terms of their stead, viz. indignation and haughty resentment, that “ Resolved, 1. That it appears to this something should be said which might House, that the terms of the loan were be considered as an implied censure of fixed with a due regard to the magnitude the transaction of a bargain for a loan of the sums borrowed, and provided for, made by himself, and attended with cir- as well as to the market price of the cumstances of a most questionable na- funds, and the situation of public affairs, ture. A committee above stairs had been at the time the bargain was concluded. appointed. The examination had been 2. “ That it appears to this House, chiefly in the hands of the right hon. gen- that, in every part of the transaction of tleman's personal friends. He did not, the late loan, the conduct of the chantherefore, envy the right hon. gentleman cellor of the exchequer was actuated by the triumph termed his acquittal; be- a view to the public interest; and that cause he owned, had his public conduct there is no ground to suppose that any as a minister of finance, been to have been interference took place on the part of any made a subject of inquiry, he should not persons connected with government in have considered a report in his favour the distribution of the said loan.” from such a committee, a very honourable ground of pride or exultation. The re- February 29. Mr. Jekyll brought forport of the committee, he considered ward his promised motion respecting cerLittle better than a mockery, and rejoiced tain Treasury Bills bearing a fictitious that he was not one of those who were date at Hamburgh, and moved the fol. responsible for it. Mr. Sheridan then lowing Resolutions : touched upon the several circumstances 1. " That it appears to this House, that, of the loan in a general manner, and de- in the month of September 1795, Walter clared, that his own opinion of what Boyd, esq. did, at the request of the changained Mr. Boyd the preference was the cellor of the exchequer, undertake to adtransaction of the Hamburgb bills, a vance money for the use of government transaction which, he had a right to say, to the amount of one million, for which tended to tarnish the national credit, as he was to reimburse himself by bills to be the governor of the bank had not hesi- drawn upon the lords commissioners of tated to declare, that if such a transac- the Treasury, to be accepted by them, tion had been operated by a private mer- and negotiated at his own convenience, chant, it would have been deemed a dis- and that bills to the amount of 700,0001. grace to his house. When he reviewed were drawn in London on the commisthe chain of singular circumstances, that sioners of the Treasury, in the name of connected the different parts of the trans- Walter Boyd, jun. bearing a fictitious action, when he considered how ex- date at Hamburgh, several weeks precedtremely suspicious they were, the manner ing the time at which, with the privity of in which the inquiry had been conducted, the chancellor of the exchequer, they the points left unexplained, and the sort were really drawn in London; and that of reasoning that had that day been set the said Walter Boyd, jun. is a gentleman up in defence of it, he could not but not engaged in any house of business at withhold his assent from any resolution Hamburgh. of approbation.
2. “ That it appears to this House, that The House divided on Mr. Smith's first the amount of the said bills was immediResolution :
ately paid into the office of the paymaster Tellers.
of his majesty's forces, in direct breach Mr. William Smith
of an act of parliament, and that the said. Yeas Mr. Jekyll
} 23 bills, though drawn in London, yet pro
fessing to be foreign, and not written on Mr. Steele Mr.
} 171 stamped paper, were of such a nature
and description as the Bank of England So it passed in the negative. Mr. would have refused to discount for any Douglas's Resolution was then put and commercial house whatever, and such agreed to. After which, the previous as it would have been injurious to the question was put and carried upon the credit of any private house to have nego
Noes Mr. Douglas
3. “ That it appears to this House, that fere with any inducement to gentlemen's the practice of drawing such bills of ex- spending their time and fortunes in the change, not duly stamped, with fictitious country, instead of moving for the repeal dates of time and place, accepted by the of the game laws, I should have contentlords commissioners of the Treasury, and ed myself with offering a modification of causing the monies raised thereon to be them. Sir, I protest I have the clearest immediately paid into the office of the conviction in my own mind, that, if the paymaster of his majesty's forces, is ille- House should adopt the proposition, I shal gal, unconstitutional, and highly injurious make to them, it will greatly increase the to the public credit; and that the chan- quantity of game, prevent those unfortucellor of the exchequer, by the introduc. nate misunderstandings that but too fretion of such practice has brought into quently interrupt 'the peace and harmony disrepute and suspicion the acceptance of of neighbours, and at the same time rehis majesty's treasury, and sanctioned a move the odium which the present tysystem of fraud and collusion unprece- ranny of the game laws and unjustifiable dented in the administration of the finances monopoly occasions, and unite every landof this country.”
holder in the wish to preserve and protect The motion was supported by Mr. the game. Of so long standing, and so Grey, Mr. Francis, sir F. Baring, Mr. W. deep-rooted are the sentiments enterSmith, Mr. M. Robinson, and general tained of the injustice and tyranny of the Smith. The conduct of the chancellor of game laws, that it appears impossible to the exchequer was defended by Mr. confound them with any of those princiCharles Long, who moved the previous ples, the alarm of which so powerfully question upon the first resolution. On a haunts the imaginations of many gentledivision, the numbers were, Yeas, 24; men at the present moment. Had I any Noes, 109. The second resolution was occasion for stronger proof than what negatived. On the third resolution, the every gentleman's own observation would House, after Mr. Pitt had been heard in furnish, as to the general execration in place, divided ; Yeas, 8: Noes, 108. which the game laws have long been held,
I might cite that great constitutional lawyer, Debate on Mr. Curwen's Motion for the sir William Blackstone, who represents repeal of the Game Laws.] March 4. their tyranny as little short of the forest Mr. Curwen rose, and addressed the chair laws, and repugnant to every principle of as follows:- I now rise, Mr. Speaker, to justice.* Sir, it would have been imsubmit to the House, a motion for the re- possible for laws so contradictory to the peal of all the prohibitory statutes relat- spirit and principle of the English constiing to Game, and for leave to substitute tution to have existed at this time of day, provisions in their place, for the more had they been carried into general execu. effectual preservation and security of the tion; sufficient instances have occurred to same. I am well aware of the prejudices keep up the resentment of the country, but which every considerable change has to not sufficient to call forth the united voice encounter ; first, from such as are ene- of the nation for their repeal. Sir, it is mies to all reform, and, secondly, from the boast of Englishmen to hold their those who, though no friends to the Game liberty as a right, not as a boon. if the laws, are fearful their abolition would laws be such as cannot, ought not to be prove the destruction of the game. Be- executed, does it become the legislature fore I proceed farther, I must declare, if to suffer them to remain upon our statute I conceived any thing in this measure books? A security from oppression that could have such a tendency, or in the rests upon forbearance, is not a situation smallest degree, render the residence of under which 1,990 out of 2,000, or even a gentlemen in the country less pleasant, or greater proportion of Englishmen should in any ways interfere with their amuse. be suffered to remain. Sir, it was acments, I should have thought I did an counted wise policy in former statesmen injury rather than a benefit to the com- to attend to the changes which time and munity by my motion; sensible that the circumstances produced, and to alter and residence of gentlemen in the country is adapt the laws, to meet the exigencies of a most desirable object, and tends much the moment. Our present system seems to the happiness of the bulk of the peo- the very reverse, and, without adverting ple, could I suppose, what I was about to offer, would in the smallest degree, inter- * Commentaries, Vol. 4, p. 416
to the astonishing revolution of the pub- | others of the right of the crown to the sole lic mind, we appear solely occupied by property in the game, either as lord of means of harsh restrictions and increased the whole soil or in right of the preroga. severity of penal statutes, in keeping tive of the crown to all things which have things up to the standard of former opi- no owner. As generally as this doctrine nions. Sir, so wide, so extended is the has been received, I am strongly indiffusion of knowledge, through almost clined to the opinion of a late learned every country in Europe, that such go and ingenious commentator on sir William vernments and such laws as are not cal- Blackstone (I mean professor Christian) culated honestly and fairly to promote who has, I think, with the most complete the general ends of all government, the success, refuted this opinion, and shown happiness and prosperity of the people at clearly the crown had no such right. large, will be submitted to with reluctance, Lord Coke has delivered himself strongly and can only be supported by force-á to the same effect: that the licence of the weak reliance against the collective body crown was necessary for the erection of of the people, and never to be depended parks and warrens, but that every man upon. However harsh such opinions may might pursue hunting and hawking as be in the ears of some gentlemen, and matter of pastime and amusement. The however we may wish to shut our eyes statute of the 13th Richard 2nd, confirms against them, they are too much founded the general right, and only narrows the in truth to be denied. So circumstanced, exercise of it to persons possessed of 40s, every motive of wisdom and policy should per annum. and clergymen with benefices call upon us to rescind a system of law of 10l. And this on the ground that sere that violates every principle of justice. varts and others misemployed their time For upwards of 700 years the game laws in the pursuit of game. The statute of have been a constant source of grievance 11th of Henry the 7th, restrains the killing and complaint to this kingdom. What I game on any man's freehold against have to propose will have nothing of no- his consent, under a penalty of 101., velty or innovation. It is simply to re- which was a very considerable sum at store to the landholders at large, that that period. The prohibition of Richard which the tyranny and usurpation of 2nd, continued without alteration till the William the Conqueror robbed them of; 1st of James 1st, when they were inę with the Norman conquest came the game creased to 101. freehold, 301. leasehold, or laws amongst other innovations of oppres- 2001. in chattles, sons of esquires, and sion and injustice. The laws then estab- persons of higher degree. The intermelished for the protection of the game, are diate laws relate chiefly to restrictions so severe and tyrannical, that it is impos- respecting arms, and breathe the same sible to consider them without the strong. spirit of tyranny and oppression which est emotions of horror and indignation. characterizes every law relative to this Good God, sir, that it could ever enter subject, the statute of the 11th of Henry into the head or heart of man, to contem- 7th excepted, which guards to every plate in the same point of view, and pu- freeholder the game upon his own pronish as equally criminal the murder of a perty ; by the 22nd and 23d of Charles fellow creature, and the killing of a mi. 2nd the qualifications are advanced to serable deer! To what a wretched state 1001. freehold, and 1501. leasehold, and must the inhabitants of this island have persons of certain degree; but all qualifi. been reduced, to content themselves with cations from personal property were complaining for 150 years of the atrocity omitted. This is a period of our history of such laws ! The Carta de Foresta in which neither sound policy nor a scru. granted in 1224, mitigated the severity pulous attention to the interest or liberty of the game laws, and disfranchised many of the subject is to be looked for. In a of the forests. It was considered as an country whose very existence depends acquisition, on the part of the subject, upon commerce, any insidious distinction little inferior to Magna Charta itself. The between the landholder and the commercial laws from this period to the first pro- interest was unwise and unjust, was even hibitory statute, made the 13th Richard upon the principles of the restrictions them. 2nd 1389, seem to have principally in selves ; which profess to have in view no view the disarming the people. It may other object but the preventing of impro. not here be improper to advert to the per people from mispending their time to doctrine advanced by Blackstone and the injury of themselves and the public. VOL. XXXII.]
[ 3 H]
Sir, to the subject of prohibitions, I wished its introduction into that country, principally to call the attention of the where, for once taxation was the parent of House. The tyranny and justice of re- liberty, and produced the total abolition straining any individual in the exercise of the game laws. It is singular, that of a right at the arbitrary and unconfined one of the most despotic governments in pleasure of the legislature, can be justi- Europe should have been the first to fied upon no principle, nor defended upon have put an end to a system which had any policy. It is a complete system of been a source of such oppression and monopoly of a few, upon the right of tyianny; while it yet remains a disgrace to three parts of the landed interest. I know that country, which claims a pre-eminence of no particular quality that gives to the in freedom. The right hon. gentleman's possessor of an estate of 100l. a right tax does away all necessity of restrictions, which might not, with as much or more and puts it out of the power of persons propriety be given to one of less value. who might injure themselves and the pubExtent of estates dpends so much upon lic, by mispending their time in pursuit local situation, that a property of 100l. per of game. By the product of this tax, we annum, inay be but a few acres on which no may form some estimate of what proporgame is bred, whilst an estate of half the tion of landed interest has a concern in value in a distant part, may be of con- the preservation and protection of the siderable extent, rear and feed a quantity game. The amount of the tax is little of game; and yet the owner must not more than 40,0001.: after deducting what touch it, under penalties that may be so may be supposed to be paid by gameexercised as to fall little short of his ruin. keepers, there may be 12,000 persons who Sir, if prescription might be pleaded, the take out licences: allow to each of these game was from the earliest period consi- persons an estate of 5001. per annum, and dered as the right of the proprietor of we shall find six millions to be the prothe land, and the first restriction seems to perty that monopolizes the game; just have been directed against persons, who one fourth of the whole. Sir, though could not follow it without evident ruin I believe this to exceed the real state of to themselves. The law prevents any the fact, it is sufficient for my purpose to man from going upon the property allow double that sum, and suppose the of another; and yet restrains him from interest to be equally divided ; what then, the enjoyment of what is the produce of Sir, must be the consequence, when we it as much as the grain. The impolicy of make it equally the interest of every prothis restriction is only exceeded by its prietor to protect the game? I think I injustice; and nothing could operate more am well-founded in supposing, that the forcibly to defeat the object it has in view, repeal of these laws will amply repay the the preservation of the game. The sportsman by an abundant increase of his harshness and tyranny of these laws in- sport : it may, indeed, call upon him to spire so general a disgust and abhorrence lay out something of what he now pays in the minds of all who are subjected to for the guarding of game, for the permisthem, that it induces a large proportion sion to shoot on the property of others. of landholders to take every means to The strictest preservation of his own will to destroy the game. Add to this what no longer be considered as odious and is suffered by feeding as well as by the oppressive. A worthy friend of mine has pursuit of the game, and it will cease to long practised a mode of protecting the surprise gentlemen that the game is so game, which has answered every purpose, diminished. Sir, from the earliest period that is, by the payment of so much for of the game laws, statutes have been made every head of game, to the person onwhose to prevent the destruction of eggs. estate the game is killed. A conduct so Whilst it is the interest of the farmer to liberal has interested every farmer in the extirpate the game, which can be done protection of the game: and the gentle. that with impunity in defiance of any thing man enjoys his sport with the good wishes tyranny can devise, it is in vain to hope it of the people, who, so far from envying will not be done. Sir, I cannot but lament him his amusements, concur as far as they that when a right hon. gentleman selected can to promote them. Contrast this with game as an object of taxation, the idea of the conduct of those who, by the terror which I am inclined to think he borrowed of the laws, endeavour to protect the game. from Russia, that he had not accompanied The odium and ill-wil defeat the purit with the same measures which attend- pose, and never fail, in the long run, to dise gust those who attemptit.—The next point, tion to which, in every instance, they are in is that clause which empowers one magis- direct opposition. What I have farther trate to grant warrants to search houses to state to the House is matter of mere of persons suspected of having dogs, nets, regulation and policy : should the House &c. on belief of the intention to use the adopt my proposition, and restore to same. How it was possible at any period every land-holder the game upon his prosince this country sat up a claim to liber perty, would it be consistent to prescribe ty, that such an enactment should pass to him the way in which he should enjoy this House is matter of astonishment. it? The game being once under the proA law more tyrannical and oppressive, tection of every proprietor of land, cannever was devised ; except by a subse- not be invaded without increased risks. quent statute, which extends this power And yet, Sir, in a country opulent as this, to game keepers, who may seize any dog persons of a certain situation, not advertor net, and enter any house they may ing to the consequences, will hold out suspect ; a power, perhaps, not often used temptations by giving extravagant prices from prudential reasons, as the other me- for game. Persons will be induced to run thod
puts it in the power of persons to all risks. Would it not, therefore, be better exercise the tyranny without risk. Sir, to let game come openly and freely to marto put a case by no means extreme : sup: ket? The price would be so reduced, posing the lord mayor of London should as of itself to destroy the temptation to by accident be found upon the manor of poaching, and the risk of detection a strict preserver of game, though able to considerably increased. For pass this contribute millions to a loan, if not pos- law, and it willbe no longer difficult to con• , sessed of a 100l. per annum in land, his vict the poacher. The nature of the dog might be seized with impunity and crime will be changed, and what was conhanged before his face. Vain is the sidered as only an attack upon the pasboast that every man's house is his castle; time and monopoly of a few, will be an it
may be violated upon suspicion of any offence again every individual. Is it just, unfeeling instrument of this despotism. to suffer laws to exist which we are ourSir, it once fell to my lot to be obliged selves the cause of tempting men to to grant a warrant upon this statute, and break? It is high time, after above 700 though no proof of usage was attempted, years of oppression to put an end to laws the dog being of a prohibited species was which have never, during the course of taken from the proprietor and hanged. I that period, been considered by the nation have no words that can convey the detesta. without execration and abhorrence. Not tion I feel for this act. The other enact- more than 40,000 persons in the kingdom ments for punishing the killing of game, are exempted from their tyranny. My are mild indeed to those now in force. first view of this subject inclined me to By the 5th of Ann, the law professes the stop here, and leave every man to defend punishment to be no more than 5l., or his property by an action at law; but a three months imprisonment; but by the farther consideration of the subject showmode it leaves to the option of the prose- ed me I should have done little for that cutor to recover this penalty, it amounts part of the community for whose right I to imprisonment for life. Thus, offences am contending. An action in the hands that have no shade of distinction are, ac- of men of property is a ready and efficacording to the more or less feeling of the cious remedy; but totally out of their prosecutor, punished by 5l. recovered be- power to wield without bringing ruin upon fore a magistrate, or swelled to 60l. or themselves. Fortunately for me, without 701. by a prosecution in the courts of introducing any thing new, an adequate Westminster. What can be more unjust and complete remedy presented itself in than to leave to the party injured the na. the statute of the 11th of Henry. 7th. What ture of the punishment he chooses to in- | I shall now offer to the House as a subfict? bad in all cases ; but terrible indeed stitute for the laws I propose to repeal is when it extends to the imprisonment of the renewal of that act with certain moa subject for life. Too many have found difications. First, I propose that any their
way into our prisons from the op. person who shall kill any kind of game pressive nature of these laws. It is high after a notice verbal or in writing from time they should be erased from our sta- the tenant or any person entitled to the tute books, nor longer be suffered to in. game, shall be subject to a penalty of 5l. sult the first principles of our constitu- for every head of game so killed, to be