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majestrati populi Romani detractaret.” | vested in him by the constitution of putAugustus passed no such decree at the ting his negative on these bills. What! latter end of his reign : nor did Tiberius, does the hon. gentleman think it would be at any period, feel such a decree to be decorous to go to his majesty with his necessary. The present was a law against advice to reject bills, offered to him by proclaiming the defects of the constitu- the other two branches of the legislature, tion, at a period when the government as a testimony of their concern for the were every day bringing on fresh abuses safety of bis royal person, and which The bill was itself an intolerable grievo comprehend a salutary enactment in sup

This is the last opportunity, (said port of their own constitutional rights: Mr. Fox), that I may have to state my The right hon. gentlemen who spoke last sentiments with respect to these bills. I would advise his majesty not to put his feel it therefore incumbent upon me to negative on the bills, but immediately to declare, that my objections still remain dissolve parliament. It certainly is one unimpaired. The one is calculated to pre- of the prerogatives of the crown, to disvent the liberty of speech; the other the solve parliament; but there was a time Liberty of writing and publishing. If when that right hon. gentleman was not these bills be carried into effect, and if quite well convinced that such their influence extend to the national cha- dissolution was an unquestionable exerracter, oiher nations will be enabled to cise of a just prerogative ; on the consay, that England, which has conquered trary, wlien the voice of the people was others, has at last made a shameful con- heard from all quarters, about twelve quest of herself.

years ago, against a particular public Mr. Pitt rose and said :-After the measure, that right hon. gentleman not many important discussions, which for only questioned the constitutional right some days past have successively engaged to dissolve parliament in such circumyour attention, it would ill become me to stances, but branded the dissolution which occupy much of your time at this ad- took place, as perfectly unconstitutional. vanced period of the debate; but having If his majesty should have advisers who had so large a share in bringing forward would give such counsel, I shall only say, these bill, it is necessary that I should that they will not be those who are in the sbortly advert to the arguments advanced habit of giving his majesty advice, and against them by gentlemen on the other are responsible for the advice they give. side. And first, I will take notice of the A strong proof to me that the crisis general objections, before I enter into to which I have referred is determined, the detail of the measures. There is one is the different language which I now circumstance, in which I agree with the find to be held by the right hon. gentleright hon. gentleman who has just sat He has no longer any hopes to down, namely, that these bills form an prevent the bills from being enacted, important crisis in the history of this but he trusts to the people in order to country. The question is no less than- have them speedily repealed. I am glad whether the King, Lords, and Commons, to find the right hon. gentleman is beinvested with the constitutional power of come so far a convert to the system of the country, and acting for the protection moderation, that he looks to see bow of the whole, shall unite to repel the at- many he can bring to concur with him in tacks of those, who have proclaimed them- endeavouring to procure the repeal of selves the enemies of the constitution, and the bills, if they should pass into laws, who, under the pretence of exercising its and not with how many he may think it privileges, are busied in carrying on their prudent to resist their operation. I am hostile designs. There are two reasons glad to find that the doctrine of resistfrom which I am apt to think that this ance, on which so much stress was laid crisis is determined. On this day a bold- in an earlier stage of the business, is not ness of language and vehemence of asser- at this time uppermost in the mind of the tion have been employed in arraigning the right hon. gentleman. I trust that the bills, which go beyond the bounds of par- avowal and justification of this doctrine liamentary usage! One gentleman has will not produce that impression which called these, “ infernal” bills. Another such a principle is calculated to make on hon. gentleman has said, that if he was violent and unenlightened minds. Should entitled to demand an audience, he would their ignorance be misled and their pase beseech the king to exert the power sions inflamed, dreadful indeed may be the consequences on their future conduct. | the bill, but also the seditious speeches I trust that the danger incurred to the and publications of evil-disposed persons. public peace, will operate as a warning In opposition to the right hon. gentle. to gentlemen how they rashly broach doc- man, I maintain, that the provisions of trines in the heat of debate, which may the bil) are calculated to give greater seproduce the most pernicious effects.-Icurity to his majesty's person and governshall first advert to that part of the bill, ment, and that the grounds stated in the which affects the existing law of treason ; preamble, are commensurate to all the and secondly, to the particular species of objects which the bill has in view. In all misdemeanor to which the bill is calcu- times, when the person of the sovereign lated to apply. First, the bill makes a has been supposed to be endangered, conspiracy to do any thing that may tend a law of this nature has been passed. to the king's death, to maim or to do him We are not now, for the first time, any species of bodily injury, to restrain bringing forward a speculative act, of the and imprison his person, or to seek to probable consequences of which we can make him alter, by force, the measures not pretend to judge, but we are adoptof his government, a substantive treason. ing the salutary precautions of former These, by the 25th Edw. 3rd, are only times. Acts, of which this is a transmade overt acts, of compassing and ima- cript, were passed in the reigns of queen gining the king's death. By the present Elizabeth, and of Charles Žnd. Elizabill they are made direct and substantive beth has been reproached as an arbitrary treasons. By the other part of the bill it princess. It is certain that her life was is made treason to levy war, to overawe threatened from many quarters. But the legislature. the right hon. gentleman how far is the charge that this act is a has asked, might not the people attempt weak and inefficient measure, consistent to influence the decision of the legislature with the description which has been given by the force of opinion, by the violence of her character? If she was an arbitrary of prayer ? He forgets that the bill does princess, it surely is not likely, that not preclude the people from any peace where her own preservation was concerned, able and legal mode of bringing forward she should adopt measures inadequate to their opinion, in order to influence the the purpose. Tbe parliament of Charles sentiments of the legislature: that it does 2nd has been accused with making many not interfere with their right, or prevent sacrifices to the throne. It is not therethem from carrying to their representa- fore probable, that in the excess of their tives, in decent and orderly language, loyalty, they should have neglected to their sense of public measures. The put a sufficient guard around the king's treason described by the bill attaches only person. Thus does the reasoning of those to those who levy war in order to over- gentlemen, so far at least as concerns the awe the legislature. Will the hon. gen- efficacy of the measure, retort upon themtleman contend, that levying war has any selves. Such laws having passed in difconnexion with that mode of expressing ferent periods of our history, and having opinion, which is intended to influence in no instance been found insufficient, we the proceedings of a legislative body ? have a well-grounded presumption that


The right hon. gentleman objects to the they are calculated to afford security to preamble, which, by the by he seems not the person of the sovereign. They apply to have attended to. He said, that he liked directly the penalties of treason to that no preamble, which did not state truth. species of offence against the person of He affirmed, that the preamble made the the covereign, to which, before, they attack on his majesty the foundation of could only have circuitously been brought the bill and contended, that though the to attach. They constitute substantive bill purported to be for the security of treasons, acts which before could only his majesty's person, and the preservation have been brought to prove the criminal of his government, it did not, in fact, intention. But an instance yet fresh in tend to give to either any additional secu. our memories, will best illustrate the pro. rity. If the right hon. gentleman had position. Supposing the person who gone farther, and read the latter part of threw the stone at his majesty to have the preamble, he would have found, that been discovered and brought to trial, he it was not so narrowed and confined as he would not have wanted an able and elohas described ; that it stated not only the quent advocate to have pleaded, “ that attack on his majesty, as the ground of by throwing the stone he had no inten. tion of seriously injuring the person of right of petitioning, have employed a the sovereign; that he was actuated by language which sufficiently shows how far no deliberate, malicious purpose; that he these were their real objects. They have was carried away by the impulse of the declared that the 558 gentlemen of St. moment: that he meant by throwing the Stephen's chapel may go about their bu. stone, only to mark more strongly that siness. They have taken every opportusentiment of indignity to his majesty, nity of vilifying the character of the legiswhich excited the clamours of disappro- lative body, of expressing their contempts bation among the surrounding multitude, of its authority, and of showing how much and to express his own feelings of resent. they are disposed to usurp its functions, ment from the continuance of the war." and, if possible, to annihilate its existence. It is possible even that such a defence, The right hon. gentleman has said, dressed up with ingenuity, and enforced that he had never found that the lives of with the eloquence with which it would princes had been safe in proportion to the not fail to be supported, might induce an sanguinary laws and the severe punish. honest jury to pronounce a verdict of ments which had been instituted for their acquittal. The intention of this bill is to protection. I must remark that the pre.. cut off the possibility of such a defence sent is no new sanguinary law, that it cre. being made in extenuation of such an act, ates no extraordinary severity of punishto remove from the offender all hopes of ment. If the right hon. gentleman thinks escape by subterfuge and evasion, and that the person of the sovereign is not by making the remedy more simple, to rendered safer by the punishments which diminish the danger. -- But it was said, the law has devised for his protection, why not make a new declaratory law? It this argument goes to repeal all the existwas necessary that the present should be ing laws of treason. But he chooses to an enacting and not a declaratory law, appeal to the example of former periods because it only made that which was al- of the history of this country: He asks, ready treason by the 25th Edw. 3rd trea whether, notwithstanding the excessive son under another branch, and to be laid loyalty of the parliament and the extreme in a different manner in the indictment. vigour of the laws, there were not some As to the present bill making treasons, real plots in the reign of Charles 2nd, bewhich were not before known to the law sides the sham plots that were brought of England, in contradiction to so injuri- forward to serve a particular purpose ? ous an assertion let me refer to the writ- That in the course of that reign the ings of lord Hale, and sir Matthew Fos- parliament made many shameful concester. These venerable judges have given sions, I am ready to admit; but I can by a history of the different statutes of trea no means allow that it was a blind indisson, accompanied with their own com- criminating spirit of devotion to the moments. The object of the present bill is narch which gave rise to the act of which clearly to define the true meaning of the this bill is the counterpart. Neither can I old law, which is now only to be drawn allow that those persons who were conout of a long series of judicial exposi- cerned in effecting the Restoration, left tions. It is in order to guard against all principles altogether out of their view, ambiguous and doubtful interpretation, though, perhaps, they neglected to em. at a time when it may be necessary to ploy some precautions which it would have provide against a positive and immediate been wise and proper to have adopted. In danger, Must not such be felt to be the order to prove that some regard was had case when a daring attack has so recently to principles in the act of the restoration, been made on the person of his majesty, it is only necessary to refer to the history and when the instance of the precise dan- of the times, and to the persons concerned ger against which the bill is directed, has in that event. The earl of Clarendon and happened under our own eyes, and at the those who were connected with him, were door of parliament? The bill also makes not men entirely indifferent about the an attempt to overawe the legislature high English constitution, or likely to be partreason. Need I prove the necessity of ties in a transaction, where its principles such a precaution, at a moment when were entirely left out of contemplation, there exist societies hostile to the autho- But with respect to this particular act, rity and existence of parliament ? Those we have the sanction of the venerable name societies, meeting under the specious pre- of serjeant Maynard, who was one of the text of parliamentary reform, and the persons then employed in framing the bill

for the security of his majesty's 'person. meanors against which the present bill is . Immediately after the Restoration this directed, are of the most serious descriptruly constitutional lawyer said, “ That tion. They are those offences which are except for that event he had been on the productive of the worst consequences eve not only of surviving lawyers, but the which militate against the welfare of the laws."-(Mr. Pitt was reminded that these whole community, which are calculated to words were spoken not after the Restora- disturb the order, and interrupt the trantion, but after the Revolution]-I admit quillity of society. If we look to the ormy error--these words were spoken after dinary operation of law, and compare the the Revolution; and is it likely that the species of misdemeanors described in this venerable person who during the course bill, with other offences which are at preof a long and honourable life, had present punishable with transportation, I apserved his attachment to the constitution, peal to the House whether those offences, should have so entirely have forgotten either in point of moral guilt, or of public its spirit, or departed from its principles in danger, are to be compared to the acts framing that bill, so frequently referred to against which this bill is calculated to in the discussion? But I will ask the right guard. The right hon. gentleman has deshon. gentleman, does he attribute the canted on the hardship of the sentence of plots in the time of Charles 2nd, to the transportation, and talked of the compasadoption of new laws, and the unusual se- sion due to individuals, who from having verity of punishinents; or does he not ra- been placed in a better situation of life, ther attribute them to the repeated have been doomed to experience its ribreaches of law committed by that mo- gours. That it is a sentence at all times narch, and to the attempts which he made, severe in its operation, I cannot but adat different periods of his reign, to go- mit ; and that it becomes more peculiarly vern without a parliament? 4 Among his so when the person who is its object, has other allusions to history, the right hon. beeen placed in a respectable and comforgentleman refers to the reign of Robes- table situation. But while we feel compierre. He asks, whether that tyrant de passion for this individual, we must recolrived any security from the system of lect, that, as legislators, there is a duty terror which he employed as the engine of we owe to the public paramount to every his government, and which he supported other consideration. I have only to call by a large military force ? I appeal to the upon the House, to consider what is the House, how far this allusion can, with description of offence against which the any propriety apply to the present dis- punishment is directed. It is not to apcussion? I appeal to the House, how far ply twice to the offence that may have the question, whether a lawless, wanton, previously been committed, but to the seand barbarous system of proseription and cond instance of offence after conviction. carnage, is calculated to afford security An objection was started, that the crimes to the tyranny from which it originates, comprehended under the present bill, was can possibly bear a comparison with the of a description of the nature of which it effect of those regulations which we are was not within the province of a jury to now employed in enacting for the secu- judge. My learned friend (the attorneyrity of his majesty's person, who is the ob- general)|has stated to the House what is his ject of the affections of his people, and for own practice. He had always left to the the preservation of that government, jury to decide, whether the innocent cause which is the best pledge for their happi- assigned was the realmotive of the action. ness?

But in stating this, he stated not only that I shall now very shortly advert to that mode of practice which is conformable to part of the bill which relates to misdemea- the liberality of his own sentiments, but nors. The first question is, whether, in which is sanctioned by the liberal spirit of any possible case of misdemeanor, trans- tha laws of England. There is no legal portation is a punishment which ought to privilege which may not be made the prebe left to the discretion of the court? text to cover the most illegal actions. I Misdemeanors are undoubtedly of very must particularly remark, in order to obdifferent sorts, and unless they can be viate misrepresentation, that nothing is marked out and graduated by some scale made a crime by the present bill which of legislative regulation, it is necessary, that, was not before criminal, and subjected to in adjusting the punishment, something a severe punishment by the common law should be left to discretion. The misde- of England.

Yeas { Mr. John Smith

The question being put, “ That the said of these doctrines and attempts had lately bill be now read the third time.” the House been exhibited in the attack made upon divided :

the sovereign, which had excited universal Tellers.

horror and indignation. The necessity of Sir William Young

remedying these evils was already recog226 nized. What had already been done, was

only affixing a severer degree of punishNoes {Mr. Whitbread

} 45

ment to particular offences; it was next

necessary to employ legislative measures The bill being read a third time, Mr. of prevention, and to strike at the root of Sheridan proposed a clause by way of the evil. These self-erected societies had rider, the purport of which was, to take spread themselves and their poison away the arbitrary power of the judges in throughout the country : they had sucScotland, and to declare that they should ceeded in availing themselves of the prinot be able to transport persons for sedi- vileges of our free constitution to destroy tion for more than seven years. Upon its existence. Could their lordships forwhich the House divided : Yeas, 27 ; Noes get that, through the machinations of si184. The bill was then passed.

milar societies in France, the sovereignty

was reduced, the king hurried to prison, Debate in the Lords on the Seditious and from that prison led to the scaffold? Meetings Bill.] Dec. 9. The order of After all these enormities, the conduct of the day being read, for the second read the French became the subject of approing of this bill,

bation to the societies in this country; Lord Grenville said, that he had, on a and addresses, in which the hopes were former day, introduced a bill for the bet- expressed of a speedy revolution in this ter security of his majesty's person and country, announced their wishes and their government, which had met with their designs. It had been said, on a former lordships approbation. On that occasion, occasion, that the laws guarded against he had thought it incumbent on him to these principles ; their lordships were, state, that it was one of the measures however, convinced that was not the case ; which government intended to bring for. he therefore found himself justified in ward to guard the constitution and pro- saying, that new and adequate remedies tect the liberties of the country; but it must be used to destroy an evil of such would be imperfect if not followed up by magnitude. With such an evil it was peranother bill, which was more immediately haps impossible effectually to contend, calculated to meet the evils they were in- without appearing to encroach upon the tended to remedy. That other measure privileges of the people. Even were this was the present bill

, which had been re- true in a considerable degree, it was worceived from the other House, and was thy of the wisdom of the legislature, then brought forward for their lordships worthy of the generosity of a great nadiscussion. The present bill was therefore tion, to sacrifice a part of the constitution to provide for what the other bill did not to preserve the whole. He was very ready to contain. He considered the present bill admit, that many persons in various parts as part of a system for suppressing an of the kingdom had sent up, both to this evil, that not only threatened the secu- and the other House of parliament, their rity of the subject, but menaced the very sentiments against this bill; but he verily existence of the constitution. The syg. believed, that the greatest part of them tem to overthrow all order had been gra- had been led so to do from a total misapdually proceeding for three years. The prehension of its tendency. One strong fact was notorious. Their lordships, on a ground of objection was, that the bill former occasion, had declared by their vote went to prevent meetings to consider upon the existence of a conspiracy; the parties public measures, than which nothing could were brought to trial. But since that pe- be more contrary to the fact. It was unriod had they abandoned their errors ? doubtedly true, that the people had a right On the contrary, no sooner were the tem- to meet for the purpose of discussing pubporary checks removed, than the former lic measures; but then it was equally true business was resumed, and new designs that those meetings should be called by put in motion. Meetings had repeatedly the lords lieutenant of counties, the mayors been held ; the same abominable principles of corporations, or other official persons; were inculcated and diffused. An effect and this right would not be infringed upon

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