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vernment, and finally adopted, was to the following effect:-That the house, taking into consideration the necessity of destroying the increasing naval force of the enemy, and the propriety of effecting a diversion in favour of Austria, approved of the conduct of ministers in sending a large force to the Scheldt; and were of opinion that ministers were not responsible for the failure of the alterior objects of the expedition, from the unforeseen circumstances of wind and weather. The retention of the island of Walcheren, under all the circumstances of the case, was also declared to be proper.

We are perfectly aware of the degree in which the human mind is apt to be biassed in its judgment of any particular transaction by the success which attends it. After every endeavour, however, to divest our minds of this bias, and with every disposition to give weight to the arguments of ministers, as well as to think favourably of their intentions, we do not feel inclined to qualify materially the opinions respecting this expedition. which we ventured to express in our last number. All parties concur if acquitting the military and naval commanders from any share of blame. The evidence also shews, that great obstacles arose from the state of wind and weather; and it must of necessity remain, in some degree, a doubtful point, whether, if these obstacles had not arisen, the expedition might not have succeeded. The probabilities appear to us to be against its success. Nevertheless, it must be coneeded, that this is a point which admitted of great latitude of opinion, and therefore that the blame attending an erroneous decision would be, at least, of a more venial kind than it was represented to be in the motion of Lord Porchester. We cannot think, at the same time, that the expedition, under all its circun tances, was one which justified a vote of a obation. The imaieuse sacrifice of life with which, in the months of July and August, it could not fail to be attended, combined with the natural uncertainties of wind and weather, seems to have required that the likelihood of success should be much stronger than it appears at any time to have been. On the whole, we feel much more disposed to blame than to approve; but still we would remember (and it is very material in forming a sound and impartial judgment ou such a case to remember), that our decision is adopted after the event, and is almost unavoidably affected by it: whereas that of ministers was necessarily taken with out any such light to influence and guide their deliberations. It cannot, at the same fime, be denied, that the resolutions which

the House of Commons has passed in favour of the Scheldt expedition, do not accord with the general sentiments of the nation.

Before we enter upon the great question respecting the privileges of the House of Commons, which has produced so much agitation during the present month, we will advert to one or two other points of parlia mentary discussion.


The Hon. Capt. Lake, of the navy, some time since put a seaman, of the name of Jeffery, who had committed some offence, ashore on the desert island of Sombrero, in the West Indies. Whether the poor man perished in consequence, has not yet been ascertained, although the probabilities seem to favour that supposition. For this monstrous act of oppression and cruelty, Capt. Lake was tried by a court-martial, and sentenced to be dismissed the service. punishment, however, appearing to be hardly commensurate to the offence, which, in case Jeffery had died from the inhuman act of his captain, could be regarded in no other light than as a murder, the affair was brought before the House of Commons by Sir Francis Burdett. After a considerable discussion, in which all sides of the house seemed desirous of promoting the ends of justice, it was agreed to address his Majesty to cause farther search to be made on the island of Sombrero and elsewhere, in order to ascertain the facts of the case, with a view to such ulterior proceedings as might be proper. A ship of war has since been sent out to pursue this inquiry.

Mr. Parnell brought forward a proposition for the appointment of a committee, to consider the subject of the commutation of tithes in Ireland. The motion was negatived, on the ground that the mover admitted that he had no specific plan of substitution to propose.

We now proceed to notice, as briefly as we can, what has proved by far the most interesting transaction of the present month.

We stated in our last number, that the House of Commons was on the point of coming to some resolution, on the subject of the letter of Sir Francis Burdett to his constituents, which appeared to be generally considered as a libel on the house; and we intimated an opinion, that his commitment to the Tower might possibly be the measure which would be resorted to. That measure has been adopted. We also took occasion to remark, that Sir Francis, though he denied generally the right of the house to commit for a breach of privilege, had happily restricted his doctrine to the case of persons

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"ot being members of the House of Commons. We therefore were not at all prepared to expect (and the public, as we believe, no more expected than ourselves), that the Hon. Baronet would resist the Speaker's warrant, and thus render necessary that violence which has been employed in arresting him. The passages, in his letter to his constituents, by which we were misled", are the following. First, in opening his subject, he remarks, that "it will be necessary to state the question about to be discussed, as it was proposed originally, in the House of Commons; and to endeavour to put out of view altogether, as making no 'part of the present inquiry, every other privilege or power for which the House of Commons may contend. I am the more anxious," says he, upon this point, on account of the difficulty experienced, during the discussion in the House of Commons, of keeping separate, things in their nature totally dissimilar, and quite distinct, but always confounded; namely, the other privileges and powers contended for by the House of Commons, and that which we are now about to discuss," viz. " The power exercised by the House of Commons, of passing a sentence of imprisonment on any person not being a member of the house.” The last words are printed in italics in Mr. Cobbett's Register. will be necessary," Sir Francis adds, "to keep our minds constantly fixed on this simple question alone," &c. The passage which we have quoted certainly does not afhrm that the power of commitment is limited to members of the house; it only professes to limit the proposed discussion to the case of such persons as are not members; but in so doing it leads to the supposition that Sir Francis saw some distinction between the two cases. The passage would also lead the cursory reader, and more than half his constituents would be of this number, to imagine, that Sir Francis admitted the right of the house to imprison its own members. It certainly sounds that way. But let us advert also to some expressions in the sequel of the same letter. "Lest it should be possible," says he (page 463 of Cobbett's Register), "that any person should attach the slightest importance to the reso lutions of either House of Parliament, which


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may go to affect those who are not mem-”
bers of those bodies, it may be necessary to
remark," &c. Surely such a passage as this
implies that the resolutions of either house
(including their resolutions of imprisonment,
which are the subject matter under discus-
cussion), may affect those who are members'
of those bodies. But once more. "It has
been shewn," says he (page 439), "from the
opinions of learned judges, &c. &c. that the
power exercised by the House of Commons,
of passing a sentence of imprisonment upon
any person, not a member of its body, is
contrary to the common law, to Magna
Charta, and every constitutional principle."
This is still more plainly a passage which,
according to all fair construction, amounts
to an implied admission, that to imprison a
person who is a member of the legislative
body is not contrary to the common law, &c."

We have been the more particular in stating this apparent discordance between the letter of Sir Francis, and his subsequent doctrine as well as conduct, because we do not perceive that it has been distinctly pointed out, either in the course of the debates in parliament, or in any of the public prints; and because also the serjeant of the House of Commons appears to have been very naturally misled, by this and other circumstances, into an opinion that no difficulty would be found to attend the execution of his warrant. The short history of the transtion is as follows.

On the 5th instant, the letter of Sir Francis to his constituents was considered by the House of Commons; when, after a long debate, it was voted to be a gross and scandalous libel, by a majority of 271 to 80. But even of this minority only a small part was disposed to deny either the power of the House of Commons to commit for contempt, or the libellous nature of the letter under consideration. They deemed it, nevertheless, more expedient not to proceed to such a vote as was proposed.

The resolution for the committal of Sir Francis to the Tower was carried by a moch smaller majority, viz. 190 to 152 *. But al

A similar minority has more recently voted for the liberation of Mr. Gale Jones, on the ground of his having been adequately punished. His imprisonment is protracted, because he will not comply with the customary form of petitioning for his release. A petition is clearly very proper, when a mitigation of punishment is desired; but surely it may have been dispensed with in a case in which it is admitted on all hands, that the offence has been already suficiently pu nished.

most all those who opposed the measure, did it, not from an idea that Sir Francis had not merited punishment, but on this professed principle, that a reprimand from the Speaker. would be much less acceptable to the Baronet, than a committal to the Tower. The event will probably shew whether the stronger or the milder course was preferable.

On the morning of Friday the 6th instant, the serjeant at arms, having received the warrant from the Speaker, went to the house of Sir Francis; but he was not at home. The serjeant, after having first sent a polite letter, stating his business, called about four in the afternoon, and, in an interview to which he was admitted, received an assurance from Sir Francis, that he should be ready next day at eleven o'clock*, and that he would write a letter to the Speaker. The serjeant returned with this communication to the Speaker, who advised him to go back and execute his warrant. He had another

interview with Sir Francis about nine in the evening, when the Baronet, having resolved on the course he should pursue, expressed his determination to resist the execution of the warrant by force. The serjeant on this withdrew.

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It is impossible to acquit the serjeant of blame in this affair. He was twice in the presence of Sir Francis, and might unquestionably have proceeded to the formal arrest of the Baronet, by laying his hand on

• These words certainly convey an engagemeut on the part of Sir Francis to give himself up. Many attempts have been made by the Baronet's partizans to parry this charge; but they appear to us to have wholly failed. No fair man, as we think, can deny, that the words must have been derstood by the serjeant (and that Sir Francis must have been aware that they were so understood), as implying a promise to surrender himself on the following day. It is impossible, therefore, to acquit him of deliberate deception. He possibly, at this time, may have meant to give himself up, but the rapid increase of the tumult in the evening of that day, may have led him, as we have already supposed, to change his plan. Towards the serjeant, however, there is no denying that his conduct was highly disLoourable; and this was fully admitted by tee of his warmest advocates in the House of Commons. The discredit which attaches to this proceeding is certainly not lessened, when we consider the mischiefs which it has occasioned, and which he must have


him. This would have changed the whole aspect of the case. It would at least have divested it of some of its difficulties...

As soon as it was known that the House of Commons had voted the committal of Sir Francis to the Tower, crowds of people began to assemble both in Piccadilly, opposite to his house, and on Tower Hill. The crowd in Piccadilly increased prodigiously on the evening of Friday; and in order to il lustrate their ideas of liberty and independence, attacked the houses of several members of Parliament, who were obnoxious to them. The windows of Lord Castlereagh, Sir John Anstruther, &c. were completely demolished; and an attempt was made on Mr. Perceval's house. On this the Guards were ordered out, and additional troops were drawn towards the metropolis*. Throughout the whole of Saturday and Sunday the mob continued to collect in immense numbers; and even in open day assaulted with mud every person who refused, on passing by the house of Sir Francis, to take off his hat, and cry out, " Burdett for ever!" To put a stop to this outrage, as well as to prevent ulterior mischief, it became necessary to line Piccadilly with soldiers, and at length, through the obstinacy of the mob in resisting the civil power, to have recourse to military interference. Several persons were killed and wounded; but it is universally admitted that the soldiery, though they suf

* Much misrepresentation has been studiously circulated, by Mr. Cobbett and others, on the subject of the calling out of the soldiery. They were called out, not to execute the Speaker's warrant, but to quell a mob, which had proceeded to acts of the grossest outrage, and were likely to involve the metropolis in all the horrors it had experienced in 1780. Those who exult, as Mr. Cobbett does, in the popularity of Sir Francis, as it was manifested in the crowds that were collected to support him, and in the necessity which arose of bringing together an army to arrest him, ought to remember, that precisely the same language, might have been employed by the rioters of 1780. An army was required to subdue their turbulence, and to prevent the continuance of their incendiary acts. We see nothing in the mob of 1810, which distintinguishes it in its character from that of 1780, except that it was sooner arrested in its career of violence; nor can we regard it as a legitimate matter of boast, that a man should be popular (nay, the hero, the idol) with the class of persons who compose suck mobs.

fered not only much abuse, but also much pelting with mud and brick-bats, and were even frequently shot at, conducted them selves throughout with the most exemplary coolness and forbearance.

The serjeant at arms applied, in his difficulties, to Mr. Ryder, the secretary of state, and to the Attorney-General, for counsel; and having satisfied himself respecting his right to force an entrance into the house of Sir Francis, broke into it on Monday morning, attended by several magistrates and peace officers, and followed by a body of soldiers; when Sir Francis, still refusing to yield himself voluntarily, was arrested by the constables, and carried to the Tower. A considerable agitation was produced by this event in every part of London; and such was the violence of the mob towards the soldiers who had assisted in conducting Sir Francis to the Tower, that they were obliged to fire in self-defence. One man was killed, and several wounded. Before night, however, tranquillity was restored, and no symptoms of tumult have since appeared. This we must attribute, under Providence, to the promptitude with which a large military force was collected in London and its vicinity, and to the firmness, yet moderation, with which it was employed.

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That Sir Francis is, in a great degree, responsible for the painful occurrences which have been narrated, we can have no doubt. All the more intelligent of his friends are understood to have strongly advised him not to protract his resistance, and to have pressed it upon him, that, for every purpose of trying the question legally, it was sufficient that the serjeant should employ even the smallest shew of force in arresting him. Sir Francis, however, was inflexible.

It is impossible to overlook one circumstance of this affair which has given occasion to much remark: we mean that Mr. Roger O'Connor, the brother of the wellknown traitor Arthur, was the constant at tendant of the Baronet during his three days of resistance to the Speaker's warrant. It was, to say the least of it, a suspicious circumstance: for even if it were true, as Mr. Cobbett has affirmed, that Roger O'Connor was guiltless of all participation in his brother's schemes of treason, still it would have been much more seemly not to have admitted him to his familiarity and chief confidence on such an occasion. But the fact is otherwise. Roger O'Connor appears to have been privy to the traitorous conspiracy in which his brother confessed that he was engaged against his lawful Sovereign, and was one of the

persons who on that account were put into close confinement in one of the fortresses in the north of Scotland. He was afterwards freed from all restraint, not because he was not privy to the conspiracy, but because his guilt was not of so determinate a character as that of others. Mr. Lyttleton, a member of the House of Commons, who had hitherto been a particular friend of Sir Francis, declared that both on account of his intimacy with this person, the brother of a convicted traitor, whose pen was now hired by Bonaparte to vilify his country, and of his breach of good faith towards the serjeant at arms, he renounced a connexion with him in future, not only as a political but as a private friend.

Certainly the known intimacy of the Hon. Baronet both with the O'Comors and with Despard, is not calculated to produce a particularly favourable impression of his patriotism.

But we return now to the House of Com mons. The letter which Sir Francis told the serjeant he should send to the Speaker is dated on the 6th inst. (Friday); but was not delivered till after the house had risen. It contains a distinct declaration of defiance, and is expressed in the most contumelious manner. When the house met on Monday, the letter of Sir Francis was read; but the consideration of it was postponed to the following day. It was then unanimous ly voted to be a high and flagrant breach of the privileges of the house; but as the offender was in the Tower, it did not seem necessary to proceed farther in the business. We were happy to perceive that there was on this occasion an almost entire concur rence among the members of the House of Commons in condemning the conduct par sued by Sir Francis; and the chief objec tion made to the conduct of government respected, not their having employed armed force to preserve the peace, but their having been so tardy in employing it. It was thought by the opposition, that they should have been much more prompt, both in causing the warrant to be executed, and

On the 7th, Sir Francis applied by let ter to the Sheriffs of Middlesex for their protection against the military force which had beset his house, for the purpose, as he alleged, of furthering an attempt illegally to deprive him of his liberty. The fallacy of this representation was too obvious to produce any effect; the military having been called in merely to repress the violence and outrage of a mob, which bis ill-advised resistance had excited.


in calling in the aid of military force. formal notice has since been served on the Speaker, stating the intention of Sir Francis, to prosecute him for his illegal arrest, with a view to bring the matter to a judicial decision.

On the important constitutional question which has thus come under discussion, it would perhaps be presumptuous in us to offer an opinion. Two subjects for consideration indeed arise; the one, whether it was prudent in the House to take the course which they have chosen: the other, the matter of right; a point which will now soon be brought before a court of law. The general right of the House to imprison has been strongly asserted by most of the leading members, and by none more than by Sir John Anstruther, Mr. Adam, Mr. Windham, and even Mr. Whitbread, all vehement oppositionists. It has however been questioned by Sir Samuel Romilly, and also by Mr. Whitbread, in a somewhat obscure manner, whether it be expedient to construe the right so broadly as to include the cases under consideration. There is some difficulty, as we are inclined to think, in drawing a distinction between the right and the expediency of exercising it, as well as in defining the precise boundary of the right in question; and we shall not be sorry to have our minds farther enlightened by the legal discussions which are now likely to take place. Ought the House of Commons to imprison both members and others, on the ground of breach of privilege, when the breach of privilege consists in a libel against the House, which libel is triable by a court of law, and is not likely to obstruct the proceedings of the House? Is it or is it not better to refer the matter in such case to a court of law, and thus let a jury determine it? On the one hand it may be said, that this is to let a jury take into its keeping the honour and privileges of the House; that it is a degradation of its dignity; that it may lead to a lax coustraction of the extent of its privileges; and that it is also a departure from established precedent. On the other hand, it is contended that this course is more favourable to general liberty, as well as to free discussion; more satisfactory to the great body

This point is certainly very questiona ble. It seems essential to free discussion within the walls of Parliament, and therefore to the maintenance of general liberty, that all attempts, by abuse or intimidation, to controud its members in the delivery of their sentiments, should be summarily repressed; and it is not very obvious how this

of the people; and also calculated to prevent those collisions between the people and their representatives which are so inconvenient whenever they take place. The principles laid down by Sir Francis, and re-echoed by some of the public meetings which are in his interest, are unquestionably most extravagant, and only serve to shew that their views are not limited to measures of constitational reform. On the expediency of a mitigated exercise of the prevailing practice in some particulars, reasonable men appear to entertain a variety of judgments. It is not however in popular meetings, inflamed by partial representations of the subject, and little disposed to enter into the difficulties on each side of questions of this sort, that the truth is likely to be elicited. The constitu tion, we are willing to hope, might be benefited by the grave consideration of the several points at issue; but we cannot help feeling some degree of alarm in witnessing the systematic efforts which are now made to bring into contempt all the constituted authorities of the realm, by the most distorted and exaggerated representations of those anomalies and imperfections which will continue more or less to adhere to every human institution. We certainly cannot look forward with satisfaction to the triumph of the Burdettite party, whether we consider their public views or their private character. Our intercourse with them has served to convince us, that if they were to obtain the mastery, all considerations of law and justice would be disregarded in the pursuit of their object; and that power would be exercised by them, especially on those who refused to concur in their views, with as much cruelty and oppression as we have seen it exercised on the alleged liberticides of a neighbouring kingdom.

That all this violence would ultimately issue in a military despotism, like that of Cromwell and Bonaparte, no man' who has read the page of history with any attention can doubt. These men, therefore, in spite of all their professions, are the grand enemies of reform; because they repel by their extravagance all men of moderation and intelligence from taking a part in their deliberations. We have even seen at a late public meeting of these pretended friends of freedom, that when Mr. Whitbread ventured to express a modest doubt, whether it were not essential to the liberties of the subject that the House of Commons should possess the power of arrest in certain cases, all his known partiality to the popular

can be effectually done but by a power such as that which is now disputed.

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