Slike strani

came into the committee; it was to omit existing law, as far as it regarded the the clause against advisedly speaking, and king's life, was defective, or wherein this that being done, there would remain no- bill was likely to amend it. He never thing in the bill which was not already ac- thought that the noble lord would have knowledged by the existing laws to be so far forgotten what the nation owed to treason. With regard to the clause re- those who brought about the Revolution, specting sedition, it did not interfere with as to speak of the reigns of Elizabeth and the present laws, nor prohibit any acts or Charles 2nd as models for example. The mectings which were now legal, but in noble lord ought to reflect on the events some cases it provided a more adequate that followed those precedents. In queen punishment according to the degree of Elizabeth's time, these laws were chiefly crime than the existing laws, it having in directed against bulls issued by the pope, tany instances been found that though and when the country was in a very disthe crime was sufficiently proved, the law tracted state, both from foreign and dodid not point out an adequate punishment. mestic foes; and in Charles 2nd's reign, The remaining provisions of the bill were these measures were adopted when he was all of a nature favourable to the persons just restored, after a twenty year's ahwho might be accused. He then moved, sence, and when such laws might be ab* That the bill be now read a second time." solutely necessary for his protection. But

The Duke of Bedford said, that on the how could a comparison be drawn befirst part of the bill there could be no dif- tween such times and the present? Even ference of opinion, as far as it related to the allowing that some bill was necessary for flagitions outrage committed against the the greater protection of his majesty, there sovereign : every man must reprobate such was nothing in this bill that could tend to crimes, and earnestly wish to see them pu- that purpose. If it was a bill fit to be nished in an exemplary manner; at the passed at all for that object, it ought to same time, he saw nothing in the bill that be a permanent one. tended to secure or protect his majesty's The Earl of Lauderdale said, that conperson more than what the existing laws sidering the magnitude and importance provided for. The seeond part of the bill of the question, he did expect that some was founded upon the proclamation against argument would have been offered in this certain meetings. Now, he would submit stage of the bill, to convince the House to the House, whether it was not incon- of the necessity of such an extraordinary sistent with their dignity to proceed to so measure. The noble lord had confidently solemn an act as the introduction of this said, that no man doubted the fact, that extraordinary bill, without having before the outrage upon the king was ascribeable them proof of any sort, that the proceed to the meeting in the fields near Islingings of those meetings had rendered such ton. He would tell the noble lord, that a strong measure necessary. When the he doubted it, and that he did not believe same ministers had thought it proper to there was the smallest connexion between suspend the Habeas Corpus act, they did the London Corresponding Society and not dare to propose it without previously the mob who committed the outrage in appointing a select committee, who re. Westminster. The London Correspondported to the House a mass of evidence ing Society had no more to do with it which gave their proceedings at least an than his majesty's cabinet. The cabinet appearance of deliberation ; whereas, in were ten times more involved, because by the present instance, they seemed to disre- their commencement of the war, and their gard all idea of deliberation, inquiry, or mad continuance of it, they had reduced evidence, and merely because an abomi- the lower order of people to the most abnable outrage had been committed on the ject distress. Was it to be wondered at, first day of the session, they were to be therefore, if some thirty or fifty infatuated satisfied that such dangerous consequen- individuals, in a mixed assembly of perces were likely to follow, as nothing but haps 100,000 should break out and vent this strongest of all measures could pos- their indignation in any manner that the sibly prevent. It was not enough that irritation of the moment suggested? As the noble lord should declare that he was far as was yet known, the assertions upon satisfied on this point. Parliament ought which the present measure was founded to know the necessity of the measure be- were so general, that no man could before they adopted it. He wished the no- lieve them upon such authority: The ble lord 'would explain in what respect the precedents in the reign of Charles 2nd did not apply at all to the present case. ment giving great latitude to judges by If they talked of precedents from better any new powers. There never had been times, why had the noble lord chosen to an instance of either judges, or the legis. pass over the first years of the reign of lature, stretching their proper functions, William 3rd? Had there then been no but it had been followed quickly by condaager to the person of the sovereign, sequences of the most fatal tendency. He and the safety and security of the govern- mentioned the case of the archbishop of ment? The acts passed in that reign Canterbury, in 1640, when it was held would have been as good models to copy that an attack on a privy counsellor was from as those in the reign of Charles the levying war against the king. If the pre2nd. He recurred to the statute of Edw. sent bill was only one of a series about to 3rd which at present was reckoned the be introduced, the prospect was truly best definition of the treason laws, and alarming. which he concluded was very different The Earl of Mansfield said, that, differfrom the present bill. He compared the ing with the noble ford upon many of the preamble of the bill with its contents, topics which he had introduced into the and denied that there was any thing in it discussion, he perfectly agreed with him in applicable to any circumstances that were the observations on the danger of extraorknown to exist. That part of the bill dinary powers vested in the executive goconcerning misdemeanors, struck him vernment. He could not repose so much as infinitely more dangerous than the confidence in the integrity of any minisother; for where treason was the crime, ters as to confer an authority they might and a man's life was at stake, both judges easily abuse, and in such a situation he and juries acted with more hesitation, would distrust even the noble lord's moand of course the subject was better deration. Yet it had ever been the pracguarded and more safe, than when merely | tice in this country to accommodate the property or the personal liberty of the sub- laws of treason to the circumstances which ject were at stake. The words of the second occurred, and to enact such regulations as enacting clause, he considered as a libel the exigencies of the case required. on the times, in consequence of words Could their lordships forget the provisions being put in that were never before used ; adopted in the reign of William 3rd and for instance, the word “ constitution”- queen Anne for the security of the Prowho could define the constitution in an testant succession? The periods from act of parliament? Law and government which the precedents were drawn, had could be defined, but he had good autho- been much insisted on, though he con. rity, from a pamphlet which he imagined ceived that the present bill was in itself a was well known to ministers, to say, that wise and salutary measure, and had no the word constitution could not. From need to be defended by example. He the wording of this clause, he must insist, had, however, heard with surprise, the that it created new crimes by new phrases. arguments maintained upon this head. The word “ people” came under the same Reprobated as the times of Charles 2nd uncertainty as constitution, and was not had been, he would venture to say that to be found in other acts. He still, how they were good times. He asked, who ever, conceived the reservation in favour was the minister at the era alluded to? of members of parliament to be the most It was the earl of Clarendon, whose atdangerous innovation on the laws; and tachment to the constitution, and whose when laws were either strained to a de distinguished virtues had contributed es. gree of oppression, or new laws made to- sentially to its preservation, and whose tally subversive of the liberty of the sub- | whole conduct exhibited a model which ject, it must be expected, and would fol. was worthy the imitation of every minislow, that the people would resort to force. ter. There were two points which it was He was supported by great authorities in important to consider: first, whether, in saying, that times and circumstances the existing circumstances, any legal promight be such as not only to justify, but vision were necessary, and whether that to make resistance become a duty, and, now proposed was proper to be adopted ? in certain instances, he should feel him- He believed there was but one sentiment self compelled by a sense of duty to resist with regard to the outrage committed on an act of parliament founded in tyranny his majesty ; but it was their duty to and oppression, if prudence did not res- guard against the renewal of such attrain him. He was much against parlia- tempts. It had been said, that the statute of Edward 3rd was sufficient; but he con- mited monarchy" proved it. To define sidered this statute as furnishing too many the point at which the right should begin evasions, and as liable to too much uncer- to be exercised, or even to discuss it withtainty, to be a suitable remedy for such an out

strong and urgent occasion, appeared attack as had been made upon his majesty. to him to be highly

improper. With

reThe statute of Elizabeth had been justi- gard to the present bill, the evidence their fied by her situation : but he would re- lordships had heard at their bar, on the mark, that the provisions it contained were first day of the session, certainly proved, copied into that of queen Anne. A de- that a most daring outrage had been comnial of her right was declared to be high mitted upon his majesty; every one of treason; and upon this act a person had their lordships, therefore, would heartily been convicted and executed. In Charles concur in taking immediate measures to 2nd's reign, he said, much of the leaven of mark their indignation at what had haprepublicanism remained. There were also pened, and effectually to protect the perFifth Monarchy men, who indeed differed son of his majesty from the possibility of from the republicans of the present day, such a circumstance again arising. So who wished for no king, as they adhered far, the measure had his concurrence ; to the idea of a king of a certain descrip- but he could not say that, from any thing tion. On the second part, he justified the he had heard, he was reconciled to the words “and constitution,” which had been rest of the bill. When the attack upon put into the clause. The people of this his majesty was coupled with the proceedcountry had been accustomed to hold ings of certain societies, he could not their constitution in the utmost veneration, see the chain of reasoning that connected and to prize the blessings it produced; the two together. No proof whatever and he hoped this sentiment in general was of such connexion had been adduced, and not impaired in consequence of the com- therefore he was not prepared to consent parisons they had of late an opportunity to the whole of the bill. to make. He said, that all the ill temper The Earl of Abingdon objected to the and ill blood which pervaded this country bill

, as a violation of the constitution, arose from the seditious publications with and an unnecessary multiplication of the which it was inundated.

law of treasons. “ Hoc fonte derivata clades,

The Duke of Leeds said, that his reIn patriam, populumque fuxit.”

spect for the sacred person of his MaThe experience of every age and country jesty would induce him to consent to go had demonstrated the fatal effects of sedi- into a committee with the bill, in hopes tion. However men of sense might de that it might be so qualified, as to be a spise the gross publications so industri- sure protection to the king without vioously circulated, it was a mistake to ima- lating the rights of the people. It was gine that their grossness would form the material for their lordships to weigh the antidote to their pernicious influence. It bill most seriously, for there never was a was easy when the cup was presented to measure more imminent in its consethe multitude to conceal the poison it quences to the king and people. contained. The most enormous crimes The House divided : Contents, 56 ; had been found to originate in the delu- Proxies 23. Not-Contents, 7; Proxy, 1. sions which false principles had inspired, The bill was then read a second time. and the murderers of Henry 4th confessed, that they had been induced to perpetrate

List of the Minority. the crime by the doctrines they had imbi. bed. He cautioned the House against Earl of Lauderdale,

Duke of Bedford, Earl of Besborough,

Lord vis. St. John, being lulled into security by the syren elo- Earl of Abingdon,

Proxy. quence of the noble lord, and concluded Lord vis. Chedworth, Earl of Guilford. with giving his hearty assent to the bill.

Earl of Derby, The Duke of Norfolk observed, that the doctrine of resistance was a principle

Nov. 11. The House being in a cominberent in the constitution, and it was mittee on the bill, to the exercise of that principle that the The Duke of Leeds moved an amend. family of Brunswick owed their elevation ment on the second clause, that instead to the throne. In every limited monar- of the words “ established government, chy the right of resistance must neces. or constitution,” there should be inserted sarily exist; indeed, the very words " li- the words " established constitution, con, sisting of King, Lords, and Commons." , embrace. It was not from the want of There were many persons, who, while proper laws that dangerous principles had they professed the greatest attachment to been disseminated, and had assumed a the constitution, indulged themselves in threatening aspect, but because those the most virulent invectives against its laws had not been employed by the execomponent parts ; so that his intention cutive power to remedy the evil, and to was, to mark an attack against any one punish the offenders. New acts and seof the branches, as equally coming under vere penalties he thought little calculated the description of an offence against the to attain the object proposed. He was constitution.

convinced in his own mind, that severe The Lord Chancellor was inclined to penal laws never conduce to the safety of think, that the amendment would tend to a prince, or the preservation of any concreate that very confusion which it was stitution. A jury would be inclined to intended to prevent. If these words were acquit a person prosecuted under the peinserted, it would be necessary, in framing nalties of this bill, who was guilty of the an indictment upon this bill, to introduce facts in the indictment, rather than expose the very words of it, and to say, that him to transportation to Botany-Bay for such an act was done, or word spoken, seven years. It was by accommodating with intent to destroy, &c. the constitu. the severity of punishment to the magnition, consisting of King, Lords, and Com tude of the offence, and by properly ex: mons. Now, would it not be very easy, if ercising the moderate penalties of the the law stood so, to write a most atrocious laws, in every case which occurred, that libel with impunity ? For instance, a person crimes were to be restrained. In advertmight write thus, “ The constitution of ing to the succeeding clause of the bill, England consists of King, Lords, and which places the power of prosecution at Commons; but I do not like an here. | the discretion of ministers, he observed, ditary monarchy; it is an absurdity. that though he would not suspect that the I think an hereditary House of Lords present administration could convert to still worse; and I think the Commons an improper use any authority with which should be chosen in a very different they might be invested, there was much manner. I would have an elective mo. danger that in future it might be misapnarchy, and the dignity of peerage should plied. The minister might choose to pro. be granted only for life, or for a session tect one culprit, while he launched the of parliament." Here was an instance of whole vengeance of the law upon another. a man admitting the constitution, as con- He might even employ, for sinister pursisting of King, Lords, and Commons, poses, creatures to commit trespasses and yet destroying the very foundations under this bill, from the punishment of of the constitution.

which he might wish to shield them. Lord Thurlow said, it was difficult to The Lord Chancellor was surprised at define, with logical accuracy, the terms the opinion which the learned lord had government and constitution. He repro- expressed. The magnitude of the crimes bated with great severity the attempt to against which this clause was directed, vilify or degrade the person of his majesty, must be obvious to every noble lord who which he reckoned a subject too sacred read the publications which the press for petulant and wanton attacks : but he teemed with. They aimed at the subverconsidered the operation of the penal en- sion of every part of the constitution. actment of this clause as too severe in They taught the people that royalty was many cases to which it might be ap- a usurpation of their rights, and aristoplied. Was it a matter of such crimina- cracy a nuisance to which they should not lity as that to which he had alluded, to submit. They laboured to persuade them say that it was an abuse that twenty acres that they had no political existence, that of land below Old Sarum Hill should send they were slaves, and that they ought to two representatives to parliament? Yet, assert their importance, and menaced this might be represented as tending to the same evils which this country had create a dislike of the established consti- once experienced, and of which a neightution, since under it such a case existed. bouring nation afforded a distinct example. He was decidedly of opinion that the pre- Were such enormities too rigorously pusent laws of the country were fully ade- nished by the penalties of this bill? quate to the punishment and restraint of The Bishop of Ruchester spoke in fathe crimes which this clause was meant to vour of the clause, and of every part of


the bill, without going into any abstract I thought they did more harm than good; questions about the borough of Old Sa for the bill was merely directed against rum, or any other place. He conceived those idle and seditious public meetings the bill to be necessary, because any at. for the discussion of the laws where the tack against either of the three branches people were not competent to decide upon of the legislature was equally dangerous them. In fact, he did not know what the and criminal, and if ministers did any mass of the people in any country had to thing that was wrong, they were respon- do with the laws but to obey thein, with sible for what they did.

the reserve of their undoubted right to The Amendment was negatived. petition against any particular law, as a

The Duke of Leeds suggested, that grievance on a particular description of there obviously was a degree in all acts of people. sedition, and from the difference of cir- The Earl of Lauderdale said, a short cumstances some were less criminal than speech required a short answer. He others; it would, therefore, be proper to should have supposed the noble prelate alter the penal part of the clause, and in- had been educated in a foreign country, stead of adjudging transportation for seven and not in England, when he declared years for all convictions of high misdemea- that he did not know what the people had nours under the act, to leave the punish- to do with the laws, but to obey them. ment to the discretion of the court. If he had been in Turkey, and had heard

Lord Grenville admitted the propriety such a declaration from the mouth of a of the proposed amendment; and after Mufti, he should have attributed it to his some farther conversation it was modified. ignorance, the despotic government of his

The Duke of Bedford could not let the country, or the bias of his religious opiclause pass without giving it his decided nions ; but to hear a British prelate, in a opposition. He looked upon it as a dar- British house of parliament, declare that ing attack and Aagitious outrage on the he did not know what the people had to liberty of the subject, and felt as a man do with the laws but to obey them, filled that might incur the penalty in making him with wonder and astonishment. this declaration. He then adverted to the The Committee divided on the clause : observations of a noble prelate, and in Contents, 45; Not-contents, 3. contradiction to him, said, he must regard every borough as a component part Nov. 13. The Bill was read a third of the House of Commons, and every time. On the motion, that it do pass, law a component part of the constitution. The Duke of Bedford said, that after Otherwise a man might first write or the ample discussion the bill had underspeak against the representation of the gone, it was not his wish to occupy their borough of Old Sarum with impunity, lordships time, by going over the grounds and so go on singly, from borough to bo- of objection that had already been taken rough, and from county to county, till he to it. He felt, however, so great a dehad shown that the whole system of the pression of spirits, and found himself so representation of the House of Commons overwhelmed with anxiety of mind, when he was corrupt.

contemplated the measure in question, that The Bishop of Rochester thanked the he was impelled to oppose the bill through noble duke for the honour he had done every stage of it, and would endeavour, him in noticing what he said, and in order by one more effort, to impress their lordto explain his meaning more fully, re- ships with the sentiments he entertained peated his argument respecting the bo- on the subject. I conceive, said his grace rough of Old Sarum, declaring, at the this measure to be, not merely an extensame time, that he concurred with the no- sion of the criminal law, but a stab to the ble duke that, if any person were so to constitution, and an attempt to strike at proceed through the whole state of the the foundation of the liberties of Englishrepresentation of the House of Commons, men. I shall therefore shortly advert to or through all the laws and statutes of the the reasons by which this measure is supcountry, as to suggest a general conclu- ported, and the arguments by which these sion, that the government was corrupt, he reasons are enforced. I ought to say reawould incur the penalties of this bill. son, for one only has been assigned, Common speculative and philosophical namely, the outrage against his majesty, disquisitions, however, might be still This outrage we all equally lament: the written and published, though he always sentiments of regret and abhorrence which (VOL. XXXII.]


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