Imágenes de página

ber who felt a doubt upon the subject was enough to maintain its rights and priviwhat do rime me, then

, he would ask, le site Joseph Yorke, unaccustomed as he could result from agreeing to the adjourn- had been to address that House, still did ment of this discussion All gentlemen not think it would require much ability were not so bighly gifted as the right to refute the arguments of the hon. gent, hon. gent., to comprehend the details of who had just sat down, and who had so two important subjects at once. They freely criticised the conduct of every had not, as that right hon. gent. seemed member whom he had thought fit to adto have, cells in their brains for the re- vert to. The hon. gent. among other cri. ception of different kinds of evidence, nor ticisms, had alluded to a legacy which that constitution of intellect which enabled had been bequeathed to that House by him to east shades over one description the Teller of the Exchequer, the late of evidence, whilst he applied his atten- member for Cambridgeshire. He could tion to another, and then to withdraw assure that hon. gent., that whatever lethese shades at will, for the purpose of gacy was bequeathed by the late member proceeding to the consideration of the for Cambridgeshire, would be remembertemporarily secluded subjects. When the ed with respect by that House. Certain right hon. gent. therefore, called upon he was, that it must be as good as any the House, not possessing the same ad- that proceeded from a brewer of bad vantages with himself, to divide their at- porter. [Here a general cry of Order, tention between two questions, he was order ! Chair, chair! continued for some doing an injury to the House, to each in minutes ; several members of the opposidividual in the House, and to to the tion benches at the same time standing nation. But whatever effect the right up in their places to speak to order. ] hon. gent. might have expected from this Mr. Whitbread, as soon as silence could interruption, he trusted he would be dis- be obtained, rose and declared, that whate appointed as well within as without the ever might be the emotions felt by bis howalls of that House. He might suppose nourable friends, as to the language which that the public would be distracted by had been used, he could assure the House, this question from paying the same atten- that he was in no other way affected by it tion, which it would otherwise devote than as a tradesman, and in that capacity to the question in which that right hon. he thought the hon. gent. had no right to gent. was so deeply and personally in- hold him out as a brewer of bad porter. terested. But the public he believed He only hoped, that, as the hon. gent. to be too wise to give into that delusion. conceived so bad an opinion of him in The right hon. gent. would gain but a supposing that he had so far deviated short respite before the decision should from the precepts and practice of his father, be pronounced upon himself. The hon. that he would do his porter the justice to baronet too had strong claims on the make a trial of it. If the hon. member House not to proceed precipitately in this should order a cask of it, he would under. question. The House of Commons, whose take to furnish him with the best, and all rights and privileges were interested no he should ask in return was, that he would less than the freedom of the people in the give it to the electors of Cambridgeshire decision, had claims upon that House to to drink the health of their late member. proceed calmly, and deliberately, not (A laugh.) The cry of Order, order! rashly and precipitately. When the ho- Chair, chair! was again repeated, when nourable baronet had made his motion for Mr. Croker rose. (The calls upon the the liberation of Jones, he was not con- chair were renewed.) vinced by his speech, but had voted for The Speaker then observed, that unless the discharge of Jones, because his any other honourable member rose to orprevious confinement appeared sufficient der, the hon. gent. (Mr. Croker), was in punishment, because his offence was light, possession of the House. and because he had conducted bimself Lord Milton then rose and said, that in respectfully when at the bar of that order to preserve that decorum which House. He was sure if the right was not ought to prevail in the discussions in that consistent with law, that the House of House, he felt himself bound to move Commons was too liberal not to relinquish that the hon. gent.'s words be taken it; but if on the contrary, the right was down. legal, that House would always be bold, Mr: Whitbread. I wish, as I am sure I feel perfect good humour on this subject; he dared not have uttered in his place. and the hon. gent. as 1 perceive by his Had he spoken such a speech in his place, countenance, is restored to tranquillity, he was confident that he would have been the House would not call for any apology : immediately called to order, and conI require none on this occasion --(Hear, victed of a violation of the privilege of hear!)

parliament. Were they to be told in Mr. Croker, who had before offered him-1810 that a privilege that had been claimself to the attention of the House, then rose ed and enjoyed from the most remote pe. and being requested by the Speaker to riod was a transgression of the constitution, proceed, observed, that the fraternal feel. or a violation of the rights of the people ? ings of the hon. gent. (sir J. Yorke) af. What he would ask, was the proposition forded a sufficient apology for the lan- stated by the hon. baronet ?' That we guage he had made use of, considering the cannot commit strangers for contempt. manner in which his hon. relative bad He had stated, that what was done unani. been alluded to by the hon. gent. (Cries mously, in a very numerous meeting of of question question !) He had expected the House, where all the talent and weight some indulgence from the good humour of the House was combined, when both of the gentlemen opposite, and asked them sides of the House were agreed, he had if they had called as clamorously for the stated that that act was an illegal one, question, when the hon. gent. had so evi- and contrary to the rights of the people. dently wandered from the subject before There was a want of taste as well as of judgthem? In deviating from the question, ment on the part of the worthy baronet. that hon. member had used as rude and He set at defiance the unanimous decision unparliamentary language as had been em- of that House ; he condemned it as a vioployed on this side of the House. One lation of the constitution, and, instead of would have imagined, from the speech of openly and candidly avowing this sentithe hon. gent., that the question now be- ment in the House itself, where he ought fore them was of such a nature that nobody to have sought his redress, he libels their could decide upon it without the utmost proceedings before the public, and dedifficulty. He was sure it must be other. clares that proceeding to be a violation wise with the hon. member, if he only con- of the rights of the people-a sentiment sulted his own library. What in fact was which he dared not have avowed in that the question? Whether this publication House. The passages that had been ob-* was unconstitutional or not? Whether it jected to were so clearly libellous, that no was allowable for any member of that comment was required to prove them so. House to arraign its proceedings, and to He should not enter minutely into a deappeal from their authority to the opi- tail of those expressions or sentiments. nions of the public? The question did | The gentlemen opposite were not unanot require a moment's deliberation. ware of their libellous tendency, and he The hon. member had said, that he should leave them to fight it out among was not to be intimidated from stating themselves, which were constitutional, and his doubts or opinions on this subject, which not. “ I appeal” (said Mr. Croker) however those opinions might lean; nor to you, Mr. Speaker, without entering am I (said Mr. Croker) to be clamoured into any laboured argument ; I appeal to into silence by any outcry or monosyl- you, whose authority and signature he lable, unaccompanied by any argument." has traduced, whether if he had dared to The question was one of the most im- have made use of such expressions before portant, he admitted, that ever came be- you, you would not have felt it your duty fore the House, but it was important with to have called him to order, as you did respect to the privileges, the existence, once before this session, when he was proand dignity of that House.

ceeding to indulge in invective against The hon. baronet had spoken in the the dignity and character of this House. House on the subject of the commitment He has so far degraded the dignity of the complained of, but he had not dared to, House, and the authority of the chair, as utter those sentiments, nor to employ those to represent your warrant, Sir, as a piece expressions that he had since sent forth to of unsealed paper, with your name afthe public. He had published, however, fixed, denying it any weight or authoin the shape of an Argument, what pro- rity. He has called it an unlawful infessed to be a speech spoken in the House strument. I appeal to the House, if I utof Commons, and which from its nature tered any such language within these

[ocr errors]

walls, whether you would not have deem- | old practice, it must draw down upon ited it not only highly irregular and unpar- self that sentence of St. Paul alluded to. liamentary, but a libel on the House. But If the House was to revert to its ancient I appeal further to the House, if the sen- practice, was not that a condemnation of timents of the hon. baronet on this sub- its present conduct? Was it not a libel on ject are not well known, and if they are the House to state, that their practice and not such as require no attempt to prove conduct would lead to such consequences? the application or tendency of the lan- Such, however, was the spirit and ten. guage he employs (Order, Order, from dency of the whole of the pamphlet. If several members.) I insist that we do the hon. gentlemen opposite wished for know his sentiments, because they have time to consider and criticise this pambeen avowed before, and therefore I am phlet for the purpose of doing away

its not to be called to order: While humbly libellous passages, a week, even a month supporting the dignity of the chair, and would be too little for that purpose, so the privileges of this House, I am not, I numerous and so pointed were the obcontend, out of order. I say humbly, for noxious passages.

He did not speak I do not think either the dignity of the from any feelings of hostility to the wor. chair, or the honour of the House, stand thy baronet, but from an affection for the in need of such defenders.” There could constitution and the digniry of the House. be no doubt of the question, unless the The original discussion had been a month forms and privileges of the House were ago before the House, yet no one had wholly changed. Whatever the princi- ever doubted of the right of the House to ple of the commitment might be, there exercise the power it had done on this occould be no doubt of the illegality of the casion, with the solitary exception of a Argument, and the conclusions adopted noble lord opposite (lord Folkestone) to by the worthy baronet; there could be whose consistency, therefore, on this acno doubt, that the paper was a most au- count, he gave some credit; and were dacious libel. It would be tiresome, and they then to postpone the present quesstill more offensive than tiresome to the tion, on which, judging from the former House, to read all the objectionable pas decision of the House, so littla diversity sages. The gentlemen opposite admit of opinion could possibly subsist? He that their minds were made up on the would therefore give his vote against the subject; they admit that the publication amendment. is a libel, and yet they wish for delay; Sir S. Romilly thought the House called they wish for further time to inquire into on, out of respect to its own character, to it. If the libel was admitted, what occa- deliberate longer before they should come sion was there for farther time to consider? to any decision in this case. Though The bon. bact. did not merely excite oppo- they were here judges from necessity, yet sition to the proceedings of the House, but he let them not forget that they were judges endeavoured to entail upon it contempt in their own cause. This was a time, at and dishonour.--Here the right hon. which they were called on not sharply to member quoted the passage in which the catch at every supposed or apparent vioHouse is represented as inflated with their lation of their privileges, but to protect high-blown, fanciful ideas of Majesty, and them with temper and moderation, never tricked out in the trappings of royalty, over-stepping the liberal and substantial thinking privilege and protection beneath rules of justice. With ail the pains he their dignity, assuming the sword of pre- had been able to bestow, in the short peTogalive, and lording it equally over the riod he had it in his power, on the reading king and the people. He also read the of the publication in question, he had passage in which scripture language was considerable doubt in declaring that it was empioved, " God shall smite thee thou

a libel.

If he should be compelled 10 whited wall,” &c. (a laugh.) Gentlemen come to a vote on it that night, he must, might laugh, but the hon. baronet could

on every principle of law, and from conuse scripture language when it suited his siderations of substantial justice, as pracpurpose", and that those gentlemen who rised in the courts in which he had been were disposeil to laugh might feel the full educated, say that it was not a libel, beextent of its design and application, he cause so long as he remained in doubt he should read the paragraph preceding. must

, of necessity, incline to the side of The evident purpose of the passage was, innocence.' He was not a person to come that unless the House should revert to its to the decision of a question of this kiud

[merged small][ocr errors]

with that sharp retort, and with that | sion of the whole House. This was a heated temper, which some gentlemen strange and extravagant construction to seemed to have brought along with them. have given the paragraph, as, he was con He begged of them to come to the deci- vinced, the hon. gent. himself would adsion of the question now before them with mit after again perusing it. Now, surely, temper and moderation. There was not after seeing this egregious error into which a man who wished more than he did to he had fallen, the hon. gent. would agree hold a high check orer attacks on the pri- that the consideration of the question vileges of that House. So far, however, should be postponed. He was convinced from protecting their privileges, by ac- that the hon. gent., having for some years ceding to the proposed Resolutions, he been of the same profession with himself, was satisfied that to do so would have a would deplore what might have been the contrary effect. He was told that the effects of so rash and precipitate a judge House was not to listen to the language ment. of intimidation. He confessed that he He begged to call to the recollection of had not courage, considering wbat had the House whal was in reality the prolately passed at the numerous great meet position they were called on to support. ings throughout the country, in which It was not that sir F. Burdett was guilty opinions, in many instances, unanimous of a breach of the privileges of that House, ones, on grand public questions, were de- but that the publication in question was clared contrary to the decisions of that a libel, and then it went on to state, that House, to contend that the majority of it was a breach of the privileges of the that House must be correct, and the great House. The honourable and learned body of the nation wrong, or to set up his gent. would not pretend to say, that the own opinion, had he originally formed one publication was not a libel, but he conin those majorities, against the voice of lessed be entertained a doubt on that the nation.

point. A publication might be a libel The House was now proceeding, how- in its matter, next in its manner. Any ever, to dispose of the present question man has a right to discuss every great without being accurately acquainted with constitutional question, whether of orithe true nature and real bearing of it. ginal power or of constituted authority. He thought he should be able to satisfy He might shew his folly in arguing a point some gentlemen, who seemed anxious to in which no other man would agree with come to an immediate decision on the him, but still be had a right to do so. question, that this was the case, and that There might be inflammatory language if they were at this moment to decide it in the paper in question, but, at the same on the facts as they understood them, they time, it was reasoned with great ability, would decide contrary to the true import and all the great authorities and preceand meaning of the very passages on

dents on the subject were given and argued which their decision was built. An hon. on with much learning. This was a grave gent. under the gallery had, as the ground argument, and God forbid that any man of his opinion, cited a particular para- should be precluded from discussing such graph from the Argument in question, a subject. The question then was, if 'giving it an interpretation which it would there were not in that

paper offensive not bear, and without weighing the im. paragraphs? He agreed that there were ; port of it, after a cursory reading, asked but, then, did they amount to a libel was not this and this libellous ?' The hon. [A sort of laugh from the ministerial gent. Mr. Owen) had construed the pas- bench.] He dared to say that gentlemen sage to which he alluded as if it charged much better acquainted with the nature the House with converting the Bill of of a libel than he could pretend to be, Rights into a Bill of Wrongs ; whereas, if would be prepared to answer this questhe hon. member had perused the passage tion, and he should be obliged 10 some of attentively, he would have found it stated them to favour the House with an opinion that no one member agreed with Mr. on this subject. The paper said that the Yorke in imprisoning Mr. Jones under the right assumed to themselves by the House sanction of the Bill of Rights. If the was contrary to Magna Charta ; and genHouse had agreed with the hon. gent. tlemen objected that many parts of it under the gallery, however, in his inter- were conceived in strong language. Why pretation of the passage, they must have should there not be strong language in taken it for granted that this was the deci- arguing a question of great consequence, involving at the same time the rights of the the House of Commons, a man could be public and the constitution of the country? punished by this House when he had not Was the House called on to interfere, and been heard in his defence. This doctrine to measure out the nature and quality of was not the law in any court in the kingthe language to be used in every such dis- dom. In any of our courts, when a man cussion? Surely it was not on such nice was indicted, after the mischievous ten. matters as these that the House should be dency of the libel was pointed out he had called on to judge? He hoped the House an opportunity of shewing, that such was would not suppose that he meant to enter not the meaning of it ; he was allowed to into a defence of this paper. He only meant shew what its meaning actually was ; and to state his doubts, whether that House that, though it might admit of the meanought to lake up this paper as a libel on ing given it on the part of the prosecution, which they were to judge. It rarely fell still that was not the meaning he intended to his lot to sit in a judicial character; it should rective. Here the person acbut so far as he could judge on this matter, cused had no such opportunity. The he was not prepared to vote in support of paper was read, and then he was ordered these Resolutions. There were, as he had al- to withdraw without being heard.--He did ready said, offensive paragraphs in the pas not mean to say that this was not the law per; but he could not view them in the mis- of parliament. He was not so much ac, chievous light in which some gentlemen quainted with its practice, as with that of had been induced to conceive them. The the courts in which he was accustomed to paragraph in which the House was stated practise. He did not even mean to say to " assume the sword of prerogative, and that this was not the proper course; but, lord it equally over the king and the peo- if they were to pursue this mode, when ple," had been particularly dwelt on, as they themselves were the party, they containing matter bigbly objectionable. should at least, act deliberately; and if He could hardly view it in this light. they could not call the hon. baronet be. The 'hon. baronet might perhaps take fore them, to hear his explanation of the offence at his observation, but he could objectionable passages, they should take not help conceiving the paragraph alto- care at least, that all justice was done him. gether nonsense. As to mischief, he It was admitted yesterday, that time should could not conceive how it could arise. be given for deliberation. Now, they It was impossible that the idea of that were to consider what had been done since, House lording it over the King, could pro- and what time had intervened, which duce any injurious effect. Could any could enable the House to have made person, not an ideot, or fit to be sent to themselves more complete masters of the a mad-house, be deceived by such an subject? Would gentlemen venture to say, idea? Where had that House ever en- that those passages which had been obcroached on the royal prerogative? jected to, might not admit of a very difThere were other passages objected to, ferent interpretation after the House had such as an allusion to the “ manner in had sufficient time to consider them? which that House was constituted,” and He had already proved, in the person of that they were " collected together by the learned gentleman under the gallery, means which it is not necessary for me to (Mr. Owen) that there were gentlemen describe.” He would ask the gentlemen ready to decide on the paper in question, opposite as learned lawyers to say, if the as being a libel, while at the same time, kon. baronet were to be indicted for those they were under a complete misapprehenobjectionable paragraphs, how the charge sion of the meaning of the passages on would be laid? Where was the inuendo? which their opinion was founded. This, He recollected a case of this kind, where he submitted, was a sufficient ground on an hon. gent. on the opposite side was which to postpone the discussion of the on the side of the prosecution, and he question. It was impossible to say that (sir S. Romilly) for the defendant, a fair opportunity had already been afand there, because there no forded for considering the paper in quesinuendo, the case was dismissed. tion. It would be useless in him to point But there was another matter to which out the ill consequences of precipitahe wished particularly to call the atten- tion in such a case as this ; and not. tion of the House. They were called on withstanding the courage of some of the to vote this paper a libel, in a very singa- gentlemen who had spoken on the other lar situation. For if this was the law of side, he hoped the House would take some


« AnteriorContinuar »