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all the blame on the serjeant; might say | issued-he (Mr. W.) would cheerfully he should have been prepared with prece- join him; but if his rallying point was to dents; that he should be a judge both of be the present ministers, he miglit set off law and gospel; yet, he thought, that ex- as soon as he pleased. He (Mr. W.) cept themselves, no one, either in that would stay where he was, and beg leava House or out of it, would be of the same to decline any such connection. opinion. If any of his friends were to The hon. gent. (Mr. W.) feeling the resort to such an expedient to palliate the consequences likely to follow any attempt neglect of official duty, if they could at- to proceed, in this instance, to the extreme tempt to cover themselves in such a man- alluded to by some gentlemen, particularly ner by casting blame upon such an of- recollecting and recommending to the atficer, he would really be ashamed of them. tention of the House the case of Wilkes, But ministers upon this question seemed expressed his preference for the more moto call forth the compassion of the House. derate course. If an expulsion were to What claim, however, had they to that take place, the House was aware what consideration? — Westminster was sud- must follow. All must know what an denly thrown into a state of alarming election for Westminster was, and all must commotion, and leaving that commotion calculate upon the consequence of sir F. to extend they took time to consult law- Burdett's re-election. An expulsion, yers.
It would be remembered, that when therefore, was a proposition not to be enin 1780 it was proposed to take the opi- tertained even upon this ground. But he nion of the judges, as to the mode of re- disclaimed all sense of fear as among the pressing the riots, a great man exclaimed causes of this his opinion. No, he was “What, wait for the opinion of the not afraid of the consequences of conspijudges, wben all London may be in flames racy among any set of persons whatever. in a few hours ? No;" said he, « let us This he thought proper to state, as some act immediately, and take the responsi- gentlemen had alluded to conspiracies, bility upon ourselves." But ministers But at the same time he would not be unwere not in this instance so courageous. derstood to believe in the existence of any No; the right hon. gentleman pusillani- conspiracies whatever, nor did he mean to mously shrunk from the occasion, and now cast any censure upon sir F. Burdett, al. endeavoured to shelter himself by the though he must say, that had the hon. bart. çensure of a subordinate officer.
confined himself to a proper shew of re. It had been stated that some difference sistance, instead of proceeding to extremi. of opinion prevailed between the sheriffs ties, he would have placed his popularity and the magistrates on Sunday, and that upon a throne from which it could never this difference occasioned a delay in the be dislodged.-(Hear, hear, on the minisexecution of the warrant. No proof, how-terial benches.) What, did gentlemen ever, of such a difference appeared. But really imagine that their manner of view. in fact the execution of the warrant ought ing things was general; that the country to have taken place before the period at was filled with lawyers and attornies like which that difference was said to arise. themselves, likely and competent to make Now, with regard to the effect which the distinction between the validity and value cause of this discussion appeared to have of a warrant? He could assure the right upon the mind of an hon. friend behind hon. gent. that numerous converts had him (Mr. Curwen), he was certainly sur been made to the doctrine of sir F. Burprised at it. His hon. friend said that he dett, not merely by his own arguments, would stand by the government that mi- but by the conduct of the right hon. genpisters ought to be supported in such a tlemen themselves. Let the recollection crisis. But he would seriously ask his then, of this conduct, urge the House wisehon. friend, whether he could call uponly to attend to considerations of expeany gentleman connected with him to diency in due time. Let the House besally round a rush-to rely upon weak- ware of doing things whereof they could ness? Was it possible, after the proofs of not clearly foresee the consequences. He imbecility and vacillation which these really believed there were few who would ministers had so recently afforded, that not have been willing to revoke the vote his hon. friend could considerately press they were induced to give, upon the prosuch a proposition ? If he meant to rally position of the right hon. gent. or at least, round the law and the constitution-round what he proposed through another, that sir the Speaker's warrant, when properly F. Burdett should be committed instead of being reprimanded. He would ask the to be referred to in the event of any aphon. gent. himself, who brought the sub- plication from the hon. baronet for his re. ject before the House, but whom he did lease from the Tower, he should only say, not then see in bis place, whether he did that in the first place such an application not now regret the proposition? Sure he did not appear to be at all likely. But, if was, that a feeling of regret upon the de- it were made ; if the hon. baronet manicision of the House in this case, was ge- fested any disposition to make a proper neral_(No, no, from the Chancellor of concession to the authority of the House, the Exchequer.) Why, the right hon. he should be willing to have this letter gent. could not pretend to know every forgotten altogether. Indeed, upon every body, although every body knew him consideration of policy and experience, the from the situation which he happened to House should decline to put this letter on hold. He was persuaded that there was the Journals. He would therefore oppose now scarcely any difference of sentiment the right hon. gentleman's motion, for throughout the country as to the intempe- which, however, upon a general principle, rate conduct of ministers upon the ques- he could never consent to vote. tion alluded to; and that the wiser course Earl Temple complained of the impotent would have been to vote for the reprimand vacillation evinced in the whole conduct of sir F. Burdett. It was argued however of ministers throughout this business. The that if the hon. baronet bad been repri- serjeant at arms had applied to the secremanded, he would have forced the House tary of state for the home department, and to go farther; but to that it was satisfac- by him had been referred to his deputy, torily answered, that then the hon. baro- Mr. Becket; Mr. Becket refers him to net would have been palpably wrong. the secretary of state, and the secretary Of course, if the House had proceeded to of state refers him back to Mr. Becket. committal, it would bave stood acquitted Assistance was not to say promised, but in the eye of the country.-Here the hon. proffered by ministers - assistance both gent. took occasion to submit a few words civil and military, and yet the assistance to the consideration of the House, as to that was declared to be necessary in the what he thought should be its future con- first instance, was not granted till the fourth duct. He hoped, that recent experience day after the issuing of the warrant-till would teach the House the propriety of Monday morning. Either the assistance cautiously abstaining from passionate de. afforded, was proper or it was not; if juscisions that it would not allow itself to tifiable, why was it delayed so long to the be provoked into rage by such a miser- imminent hazard of the peace, of the se. able production as that of Gale Jones, curity of the metropolis? The secretary which led to so much evil; that it would of state for the home department was, er not enable such a man to occasion trou- officio, one of the magistrates, and as such, ble, by putting a sword into the weak answerable for the maintenance of the hands of an angry minister; that it would public peace, and more especially so at a not be forward to take notice of frivolous period when that peace was endangered libels, and thus bring those privileges into by measures sanctioned by the ministers question among the people for whose be- of the day, at least, in furtherance of carnefit alone they did or ought to exist. rying into effect, measures adopted by that -As to the consequences which arose out House, under the influence of their ada of the recent disturbances, he hoped and vice; and yet, such had been the hesitate trusted they would be minutely inquired ing imbecility of ministers, that they into, and those minutes reported to that could not bring themselves to act with House. The people ought to see, that resolution, even in prosecution of their own where serious outrages were committed, measures. The serjeant was referred to where lives were actually lost, nothing Mr. Becket, who referred him to Mr. was left undone by that House to procure Read, who referred him to Mr. Becket: information, and to administer all the re- Was this a line of conduct, characteristic dress in its power. Of the two proposi- either of wisdom or of energy He contions before the House, he confessed that ceived ministers, therefore, entirely to he should prefer that for an adjourpment. blame, and looked upon them as answera. To the Chancellor of the Exchequer's ob- ble for all the blood that had been shed, servation that the letter of sir F. Burdett and all the lives that had been lost on the should be inserted upon the Journals, with occasion. As to the motions before the the opinion of the House upon it, in order House, he should prefer that of the right, 'hon. gent. because it took notice of sir F. tion, as to deprive him of any
what-, Burdett's Letter to the Speaker as an ag- ever. But it might be supposed by some gravation of the offence, and might be gentlemen, that he had failed in his duty, produced in bar to any petition or other in not giving that advice to the Serjeant, application to the House for his release which he had since received from a grave from confinement.
opinion as to the breaking open an outer Mr. Windham observed, that the House, door for the purpose of executing his warwhen sitting on Friday, ought to bave rant. Upon the Serjeant's expression of been apprized, before its rising, of the his doubt on the point of breaking open apprehensions entertained as to the re- the outer door, he certainly did not feel sistance to the execution of the Speaker's himself justified in advising him to do so. warrant, in order that measures might There being no case whatever of a similar have been taken by the House accordo instance upon record, he had no authority ingly.
to guide his judgment as to the legality of The Speaker took occasion upon this to such a proceeding, and thought proper to address the House, conceiving, that by refer the Serjeant to the law officers of the this observation it was meant to impute crown, as the best judges of the law. He to bim a neglect of duty. The right hon. hoped the House would not find any fault member's charge, he observed, involved with him for not advising the Serjeant to two points; the one as to a matter of fact, put his life in jeopardy. He felt that he and the other as to a matter of opinion. ought not to urge any man to risk his life It was stated, that while the House was in a proceeding which such person did sitting on Friday night, he was informed not think right to undertake himself. of sir F. Burdett's intention to resist the Such was his opinion at the time, and such execution of his warrant, and that he ought was his opinion still. The Serjeant had to have notified that circumstance to the been referred to all the sources, from House.
which he was most likely to obtain comMr. Windham again rose and stated, in petent information, to those officers who explanation, that not knowing the con- were accustomed to the execution of war. trary when the House met, namely, that rants of contempt. Bat as to the breakno resistance would be made, the House ing open of the outer door of a house to ought to have been apprized of the cir- execute his warrant, having; as he before cumstance.
observed, no precedent of authority whatThe Speaker resumed, and assured the ever to direct his judgment, he could not House, that so far from having any doubt advise the officer to risk his life upon anaon the subject, the Serjeant at Arms told logies and reasoning: . Such being his him, that sir F. Burdett would accompany conception, he took that course which he him to the Tower on Saturday morning, thought best, by referring the Serjeant at and that he had so arranged it with him. Arms to those who were most competent But his instructions upon receiving that to decide and direct that officer's operaintelligence from the Serjeant was, that he tion. should proceed forthwith to execute the The Attorney General observing, that it warrant. At that time, however, and un- had been stated in pretty strong terms til a late hour that night, he had no ap- that if ministers had foreseen the conseprehension whatever, that any resistance quences of executing the warrant, they was in view. With regard to the remarks never would have advised it, declared, of the hon. member upon the subject of that he for his part, agreed entirely with the advice proper to be given to the Ser- some of his hon. friends, that even if the jeant at Arms, when the intention to resist consequences could have been forescen, was known, he certainly gave the best the House would have been still bound advice in his power. When the Serjeant to assert their privileges in the manner told him that civil aid was required to they had done. "He regretted as much as execute the warrant, in consequence of any man whatever calamities had taken the mob assembled about sir F. Burdett's place; but still this consideration would house, he thought it his duty to refer him have had no weight in determining his to the secretary of state. Throughout the vote. When it had been decided that progress of the business, he had had frequent the hon. baronet's publication was an ofcommunications with the Serjeant at Arms fence which came properly under the cog. both night and day. In fact, for 48 nizance of the House, he then only looked hours, it so engrossed his time and atten- to the quality of the offence, and the misVOL. XVI.
chief it was calculated to produce. It was those who voted against the majority foreclear that no greater insalt could be of- see or anticipate the sort of resistance fered to the House of Commons, than that which was made? It certainly occurred which the hon. baronet intended to con- to him, and to many others, that some revey in that paper upon which the House sistance was expected from abroad. It had decided; and he thought that an of- never occurred to him that the resistance fence of su a nature ought not to be would have come from the hon, baronet punished merely by a reprimand. In case himself, who had so recently declared of a reprimand being conceived a sufficient under bis own hand that the House had a punishment, there were always two par- right to commit its own members. If he ties considered, namely, the person who had been then asked his opinion, he would was to give the reprimand, and the per- bave said coufidently that he did not beson who was to receive it. Now, when believe the hon. baronet would have perthe person who was to receive the repri- sonally resisted the execution of the war. mand stated such an utter contempt of the rant. But it had been imputed as crimiauthority of those who gave it, as the hon. nal in his Majesty's ministers not to have baronet had professed to feel, the repri- made up their minds sooner on the legamand would be no punishment. It would lity of breaking open an outer door. It be like ordering bim to receive a repri- must, however, be recollected that the mand from his own servants, in his ser. serjeant at arms had twice been admitted vants hall (Murmurs of disapprobation). into the presence of sir F. Burdett, and had He meant that this was the light in which opportunities of executing his warrant the hon. baronet mighi feel a reprimand each time, in which case that question of from the House. It appeared to him that doubt would never have arisen. Sir Francis he set no more value upon the authority might have been arrested either on Friof that House than a right hon. and learn- day, or Saturday, without the necessity ed gent. who had filled that chair for. of breaking open a door. He hoped that merly professed, alloding to sir Fletcher he should not be blamed for not being Norton, who said, that he would pay no able to give an immediate opinion on i more attention to the resolutions of that case which was not governed by precedent, House than to those of a set of drunken and where he had only to form an opinion porters. He knew no punishment ade from analogy. If the case had not been quate to such an otience except imprison-a doubtful one, or if it had been withia ment. However he regretted the cala- the general custom of parliament, the mities which had happened, if the House Speaker would have been able to have had ordered any punishment slighter than given the serjeant a decided opinion ; but that of imprisonment, it would have been it was because it was a doubtful case that supposed that they were afraid of con- it was submitted to legal opinions. llad sequences; and if it were once supposed he been in the place of the serjeant at that this House was governed by consi- arms, he would have broken open tbe derations of that nature, its character door in the first instance; but he could would be entirely lost. If it were said that not expect the serjeant to have taken upon ministers were deserving of serious blame, himself such responsibility, without the for not foreseeing all the possible conse- authority of legal advice. If the serjeant quences which might follow from the ex- at arms had bad recourse to military aid in ecution of the warrant, he would answer, the first instance, without trying the civil that it was as much the duty of the gentle- power, and lives had been lost, he would men who spoke from the other side of the have justly exposed himself to severe atHouse upon that question to have fore- tacks from gentlemen on the other side. seen those consequences; and if they He thought ibat it was evident that mihad foreseen them, it was their duty to nisters had no right to give him directions have stated them. Ministers certainly in the mode of executing his warrant, and did not expect that sort of resistance which that the case was a doubtful one, which had led to the present discussion. When arose from the manner in which the hon. the House bad voted for the committal of baronet chose to resist the execution of the sir F. Burdett, he took it for granted ge- warrant. nerally that the warrant would have been Sir John Sebright said, that if he could executed, and be did consider the parti- have formed any conception that the hon. cular circumstances which might take baronet could have been capable of proplaee. He would ask, did any one of ceeding so far, he would have been the
last man in that House to have compro- | duct of Sir F. Burdett, since the vote of mised its authority, by acceding to the commitment, he confessed that it was to adoption of any other than the most rigo- him a matter of astonishment that that rous proceedings. If ever there had been hon. baronet could have been prevailed conduct more disgraceful than any other upon to adopt the counsel he had acted tbat had yet come under the cognizance upon in furtherance of an object that was of the House, it was that of the bon. ba- attainable in a way so obviously prefer. ronet. If that hon. baronet wanted to try able to the one so injudiciously resolved the simple question of right in the present upon. Had the hon. bait. had a mind to instance, was it not in bis power to have try a legal right, he might as well have done so without disturbing the public chosen to try it on a motion for an habeas peace for four successive days ? Was this corpus, or an action for false imprisonment, his love of civil liberty, stirring up an in- as put it to the chance of an indictment furiated mob to aid him in the grave solu- for murder. If he had submitted upon tion of a great constitutional question the warrant being first exhibited to him, Was it an instance of his zeal for civil | there was no lawyer who could say, that liberty, that a tyrannical mob should line he would thereby have given up any of the front of his house, and compel every his legal rights, or deprived himself of passenger to uncover, while passing the any remedy which the law could give house of Sir Francis Burdett. He (Sir him. He did, however, feel some sure John) was not one of those disposed to prize when he heard hon. members in pay that servile testimony of compulsory that House say, that if they had foreseen homage to the house of the hon. baronet, all the consequences, they would have and in consequence neither he nor his voted as they did. Not to say any thing carriage passed that way. He agreed in of the calamities which had taken place, every thing that had fallen from his hon. he would ask, was it nothing that the chaand esteemed friend, who had opened the racter of the House should have suffered debate, and thought the House bound, for so seriously by having that power now the sake of their own dignity, to support called in question, which was before supa his majesty's ministers in the present cri- posed unquestionable? As to supporting tical emergency. Before he sat down, the dignity of the House upon this occahe would say one word in behalf of a per. sion, those who talked most of its dignity son whom he thought had not been done opposed the expulsion of sir F. Burdett, sufficient justice to, he meant the serjeant from the idea that not only the rabble or at arms, whom he described as a man of mere boys, but that the householders of great activity and tried personal courage. the great city of Westminster conceived He thought that the conduct of the ser- that House io be so much in the wrong jeant throughout was wholly free from that they would undoubtedly re-elect blame.
him, if he were expelled. What kind of Sir Samuel Romilly said, that it was not dignity, then, was that, which had no rehis intention, at present, toʻ go into the ference to character, or to the opinion of grounds of the vote he had already given, the country? When it was asked from even if it was thought necessary, in con- the other side, did those who sat on his sequence of late occurrences, to l'estate side of the House, foresee the consequences those grounds. His principal object in of the vote, he would say for one, that he now rising, was to mark to the House, in did, and warned the House of the consevindication of the vote he intended to quences; but if he had foreseen more give, the difference between the resolution clearly what would have taken place, he proposed by the Chancellor of the Exche could not have spoken more explicitly, quer and the original amendment; he was without being liable at the time to the one of those who thought that the first charge of suggesting things that otherwise Leiter and Argument of the hon. baronet would possibly not have taken place. He was not an offence cognizable by that certainly thought the conduct of ministers House, and being of that opinion, he blameable (an expression of disapprobacould not now agree to a vote, calling his tion from the ministerial 'Benches.) He subsequent Letter to the Speaker, an ag- did not know how to reply to those inargravation of that original offence. At the ticulate arguments, but would wish to same time, he had no hesitation in stating hear what was to be said on the other his sense of the gross impropriety of that side. Letter, and with respect to the whole con- Captain Parker, in a tone of great anje