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sense could conceive the submission of person whose case was now under consisuch a person to be deserving even
deration had done nothing derogatory to moment's thought. He concluded by the privileges of the House. Breach of moving, That John Gale Jones be brought privilege was a general unmeaning cry, an to the bar to-morrow, for the purpose of undefined cant, which never struck his being discharged.
ears without raising in his mind a suspicion Mr. Secretary Ryder said, that for one, of those from whom it came. Reporting he could not concur in the motion. If the the debates of the House had been idly hon. and learned gent. had been correct construed into a breach of privilege, though in stating, that it was necessary for an in- at length it was peaceably acquiesced in dividual to retract his sentiments before as an advantage. But he was glad to find he was discharged, that might in some that no appendage had been hung to the respect have altered the question. That, question of the release. He had stated however, was not the fact; all that was his opinion when the question first came required was, that the person should ex- before the House ; he then thought that press his sorrow that he had incurred the the House wandered strangely from its displeasure of the House. If this had due constitutional course when it conbeen a case where the individual had used descended to take up a private quarrel; speculative opinions, and the usage of the the offence having been given by Mr. House was to require that those opinions Jones, to Mr. Yorke; which made it the should be disclaimed, then the arguments case of an individual against an individual. and eloquent common places of his hon. As the quarrel was private, it ought to and learned friend would have applied, have been determined as all such quarrels which, he submitted, they did not, as things between private persons. The House, oce now stood. The question was, if the cupied as it should be, in the great conHouse was now, for the first time, to de- cerns of the empire, should not have stooppart from their established rule, and dis. ed from its dignity, to pour the weight of charge. Mr. Jones without any petition its vengeance on a man, of whom they from him expressive of his sorrow for hav- knew nothing more than that he turned ing incurred the displeasure of the House. Mr. Yorke, the teller of the exchequer, What was this requiring of him more than into ridicule. By the unfortunate notice what he himself had voluntarily stated at which the House was led to take of that the bar? He was sorry not to see a right quarrel, a train of circumstances, some hon. gent. present (Mr. Sheridan), who disgraceful, some most disastrous, was had on a former night, if he was rightly drawn on, till the privileges of the House informed, been solicited to present a peti- began to be looked on by the people as intion from Mr. Jones. There was no gen- struments of danger, and questioned by tleman, indeed, in that House who would even theinselves as rights of usurpation. refuse to present a petition for him. He Perhaps the circumstances under which continued a prisoner, however, not because Mr. Jones's irritation arose, were such as his offence was such as that he ought on might justify no slight popular discontent. account of it to continue a prisoner, but in a great expedition, the greatest that ever consequence of his desire to put the House left a British port, had failed; the officers of Commons at defiance, and that he might threw the blame on each other; the mihave it in his power to say, that he had nistry came to open violence upon it; the been the person to shew them that they people demanded an inquiry into the had been wrong in all their former practice causes of that most dreadful calamity; of commitments. He was one who wished the House promised it; public expectano rigour to be observed in this instance, tion was awakened, and waiting to see jasbut he had not heard any reason to in- tice done. The trial began, and instantly duce the House to depart from their uni- the gates of that great temple of national form practice.
justice were shut. Was it not natural that Lord A. Hamilton felt particularly anxi- the excluded people should at least exous that no doubt of his sentiments should press their surprize that wandering round be felt on this occasion, as he entirely con- the courts of that temple, they should be curred in the propriety of the present mo- dissatisfied with hearing only the broken tion. The doctrines of the right hon. se- and scattered responses that might be crétary were not, in his opinion, of an periodically issued out froin the shrine, to order to heal the breach that existed be- feed and to elude popular anxiety? Adtween the House and the country. The mitting that such a feeling was wrong, it was natural; and Mr. Jones was only one, , ties and rights.-As it was submitted on among many, who felt displeased at the all hands, that Gale Jones had been suffiact and its author; but his offence was not ciently punished, he ought to be dislevelled at the House. In what predica- charged. If they should not enact some ment would the House be placed by the statuie on the subject, he was determined, doctrines of the right hon. secretary? He whenever a question arose for a commit. admitted that the person in confinement ment, to vote for it for a certain period had at the bar expressed his sorrow for only. If their privileges should be left having incurred the displeasure of the in their present vague and undefined state, House, and did the right hon. secretary no man's house could be safe. But as he then actually think it becoming the dig. had been already very severely reprinity of that House, to measure its punish- manded for a breach of those privileges, ments, not by the quantity of the offence, in order to avoid being led too far by ire not by the natural principles of justice, ritation, he should read from a paper what but by the power of the offender to hold undefined privilege could do. The hon. out in bis opinion; thus making the wis- member then read, that such privilege dom of the House to be the idle com- could put it in the power of a nervous batant of the folly of any individual, and chairman of a committee to call upon
the forcing their good sense to depend upon Speaker for protection ; it could give the Mr. Jones's obstinacy: An adjournment | Speaker the power to order a person to might be so managed as to confine the withdraw, and to the House that of orderprisoner for any indefinite time; and was ing him into custody, without allowing This to be called only a fit punishment, for him the opportunity of hearing the charge want of facility in the accused person ? against him; it could give the power of With respect to parliamentary privileges, keeping him in confinement, to the great he revered them, as they ought to be re- affliction of his family, and so as nearly to vered, in the mild exercise of their power; cause the death of some of his connexions; but if that power was strong, its use ought and then it could give the power of imto be delicate; and to make their privi- posing a heavy fine, and of reprimanding leges what they ought to be in point of the person for an offence, which at com. vigour, they must be used in that form, mon law would not be punished by a fine from which they should never have been of five shillings. If that reprimand should diverted in point of principle. They go down to posterity vpon the journals, it should be used for the protection of the would be more injurious to the Huse than rights of the people.
to the individual, in the minds of the people. Mr. Fuller thought the question lay
Lord Folkestone denied, that any applicawithin a narrow compass. To his mind it tion had been made to have a petition appeared to be only whether the prisoner presented on behalf of Mr. Gale' Jones. had been sufficiently punished or not. If But he had risen principally from a wish he had been suficiently punished, why to set the right hon. Secretary right, were they to have him called to their bar as to what he had erroneously conceived to acknowledge his offence? That House and stated to be the practice of the House had nobly cut up the prerogatives of the respecting petitions. That right hon. crown, which had been previously unde- gent. had said that it was not necessary. fined; it now became their duty to re- for Mr. Gale Jones to acknowledge bis duce to some definite state its own privi. offence, or retract any opinion upon his leges, which even the right hon. member petition, in order to his being discharged, in the chair would find difficált to under. but merely to state his regret for having stand. They were bound to define their incurred the displeasure of the House. To privileges, and not continue the practice shew that the right hon. gent. was not to commit during the session. It was no correct in this statement, he had only to matter whether a party were committed refer to a petition which he remembered for three days or three months, as nothing to have been presented a few years since, could be more absurd than to commit from a Mr. Drake, who had been ordered without any certain rule to go by. The into custody for prevarication in his evi. subject in this free country had a right to dence at the bar, for having told lies and inhave some measure of offences and punish- credible stories, respecting himself, during ment established. They ought to enact his examination as a witness before that a Magna Charta of parliament, as they House. That petition he had himself had the Great Charter of their civil liber brought up, and when it had been read,
he moved that it be laid on the table; but | nish him for that obstinacy, to which he was then informed by the Speaker, that it might perhaps have heen worked up by was contrary to the established practice of others, in abstaining from applying for the House to place any such petition on his release by petition. The House on its table, unless the petitioner submitted this occasion should leave out of its conto the authority, and craved the mercy of sideration every thing concerning Mr. the House, at the same time acknowledg. Jones, or the circumstances which might ing the justice of the sentence. Some days have prevented him from petitioning. In after he had presented the petition, how that it would do what became its own digever, it was found that all that Mr. Drake nity; and he was“ persuaded it would be had said was perfectly correct.
more honourable to them, as well as gain sequence was, that Mr. Dráke having been them more respect from the public, to committed for supposed lies and prevari- discharge this man, than to continue his cation was suffered to remain in confine imprisonment. There might be, and he ment because he would not acknowledge had no doubt, there were persons who that to be false which was afterwards found would attribute such an act to motives to be true. Though he had not remained dishonourable and base. But were they, long in such confinement, the parliament as upright representatives of the people, having been dissolved in three or four days in the conscientious discharge of a public after, yet that did not alter the nature of duty, to regard such feelings? Were they the case. Having stated this case, and to neglect to do a duty, because wicked the decision of the chair upon it, he was men' might ascribe bad motives to them? authorized to assume it to be the invariable He concurred in all the sentiments of the practice of the House to require a peti- honourable and learned member who tioner to submit to the mercy of the House, brought forward this question; he was and acknowledge the justice of his sen- persuaded that it would be cruel to call tence. As the right hon. gent. therefore upon a man to retract or renounce opi. had stated that, if that were the practice nions, the truth of which he might still of the House, he should vote that Mr. continue conscientiously to believe. Such Jones be discharged, he had a right to ex- a principle was unknown to the laws of pect that the right hon. gent. would be as this free country; at least, he knew of no good as his word, and vote for the motion law that called for such a renunciation. of his hon. and learned friend, whose com- If the dignity of that House required that mon places, as represented by the right such a principle should be acted upon, he hon. gent. appeared to him to consist of should be the last man that would yote for most able, and eloquent, and conclusive the discharge of Gale Jones without rearguments. Upon the whole, he was con- quiring him
to comply with the established vinced that Mr. Jones ought to be dis- forms. Whatever might have been his opicharged, and should therefore vote for the nion as to the nature of the offence, as the motion.
House had decided it to be a breach of its Mr. Curwen observed, that the able privileges, it was not for him to dispute the speech of the hon. and learned gent. who propriety of such a decision. But the brought forward this motion, was in itself right hon. secretary seemed to have arsufficient to recommend this very impor- gued the propriety of requiring a petition, tant question to the most serious consider on the ground of precedent. Could not ation of the House. The case of Gale that right' hon. gent perceive, that if Jones at present seemed to him to be, not there were any value in that argument, be that he should be continued in confine- might on the same ground refuse his asment for a contempt, but for the obsti. sent to the discharge of Gale Jones, if he nacy and pertinacity with which he per did not appear at the bar on his knees, as sisted in declining to submit himself, by in the case of Murray, alluded to by the petition, to the mercy of the House. hon. and learned gent, on the floor? Though he had not been present on the Whatever might be the course of preceoccasion, he was well informed that Mr. dents heretofore, this was a time when he Jones had conducted himself with pro- was of opinion the House ought to make priety, and respectfully submitted to the a different precedent. He was determined authority of the House, when first brought to stand by the House in every thing that to the bar. That having been the case,
was necessary to its dignity ; but lie did then, he would ask, whether the House not think that would be best consulted by would consider
it becoming or just to pu- protracting the punishment of an indivi.
(702 dual, because he would not apply for his belong to any thing coming from the reenlargement, by submitting to acknow, presentative of 50,000 constituents? This ledge the justice of his sentence, and too shewed how necessary a reform was, craving the mercy of the House. At this which would give to the members of that critical and awful period, it was his settled House the representative respectability of and decided opinion that the House should the collective number of their constituents. not shut its eyes to the real state of the When he talked of reform, he did not country: H was one of those, who, so mean any of those, wild and visionary far from thinking, as had been sometime theories, which had so frequently been resince stated within their walls, that that commended for adoption in latter times. House, in point of reputation, had not a His wish was to infuse into that House a leg to stand on, were fully and satisfac- greater portion than it contained, in the torily persuaded that such an aspersion present state of its constitution, of the was absolutely groundlesswas in reality landed interest. Feeling as he did upon false. He was bound, nevertheless, to ad- this head, he could not but condemn that mit that they did not possess that high extravagant prodigality of the honours of degree of public estimation and confi- nobility, which had robbed that House of dence which ought to belong to them. If so much respectability, without adding by forbearance to discuss their real diffi- any thing to the consideration of the other culties, they could remove them, that House of parliament.—There was another might be a reason why they should pass point also; upon which he must express them over without notice. But, in his his most decided regret and unqualified opinion, the only true way of averting disapprobation; namely, that list, which, danger was to look it boldly in the face; upon the motion of the noble lord (lord and these were times which imperiously Cochrane) the member for Westminster, called upon them to meet every difficulty had been laid upon their table. In that with fortitude and spirit. The great bulk list of pensions he was sorry to find the of the nation, he was convinced, was firmly names of persons without merits; to per. attached to the constitution and the go-ceive that pensions were granted to the vernment, and ready to make all the sa- relatives of persons, who would and ought crifices which the circumstances of the to be ashamed to take such paltry sums times might require. He was constrained, from the public purse. It was by no
however, to allow that the country had means his opinion, that if the whole of many grievances to complain of; and such pensions were done away, they
these that House was most particularly would in any material degree contribuie called upon to attend to and redress. to relieve the public burthens : but when Under this impression, it was with consi- was found that such grants were taken derable satisfaction he learned that an by persons connected with the higher hon. member (Mr. Brand) had that even- classes, the circumstance would tend ing given notice of a motion for a parlia- greatly to excite and continue that dise mentary reform. It was impossible for trust of public men, which had unfortuany honourable member to listen to the nately risen to a greater height of late sentiments expressed out of doors, and than ever in this country. There was not be convinced of the necessity of some another circumstance too more immedi
reform of the representation of the people ately connected with their proceedings, in parliament. In order to shew how the which was likewise an object of regret in feelings of the House and of the country the present situation of the country; he pointed out the expediency of adopting meant that practice of personal criminasome measure for that purpose, he had tion and recrimination which had too only to advert to the attention, which was often lately disgraced their proceedings uniformly paid to every thing that fell in that House. The chair, he was confrom the honourable member for York- vinced, had never been more ably filled, shire (Mr. Wilberforce). This mark of nor its duties performed with more digo respect that honourable member received nity and satisfaction than by the present in a much higher degree than many other Speaker: yet he must observe, that a great hon. members, who, without meaning any laxity of order and decency had crept in thing offensive to that hon. member, might of late which brought public men into disjustly compare with him in every other credit. Though he was persuaded that respect
. To what was this owing but to there was much integrity and talents on the great weight which must naturally both sides of the House, he must be allowed to say, that the personal alterca- Sir T. Turton was of opinion, that the tions, to which he had alluded, had a di. individual, to whom the motion referred, rect tendency to lower them in the public had already suffered punishment enough. estimation. His most anxious—his only if he had, then, he would ask whether it wish was, that the House should be ren- was consistent with their dignity not to dered respectable, and though he certainly put an end to the punishment? The offence thought every item of saving of import- for which he had been imprisoned had ance, yet it was not according to any existed for several years, and might have view he could take of the subject by sub- been borne either by the House collective ordinate retrenchments, but by the reduc- ly or any individual member. These detion of the great establishments, that the bating societies had been held for several country was to be saved. Whenever years without having been taken notice of; peace may come it would be a serious and gentlemen might recollect to have question how far such reduction could be seen the names of Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox, effected; but the difficulties attending men great in mind, eminent in station, and that question were only to be removed by great in character, placarded in the same a strong, firm, and efficient administration, manner as in the instance which had been combining all the weight, ability, and ta- recently complained of. He had no doubt lents in the House. For the propriety of that the placard was a libel ; but be forming such an administration, he could thought that it was unworthy of the hon. appeal to the House whether they thought member to notice it. But when it had it could, under any circumstances of diff. been brought under the observation of the culty, be driven from its bias to the public House, it must have beempunished, though interest, by any minor considerations. not severely. When Jones had expressed Such an administration, however, he must contrition for his offence at the bar, it say, be
that of the House. It was the duty of all the most consistent with the dignity of the members of that House to attend to this House to have discharged him. As a difgreat subject; and of all those who had ference of opinion prevailed upon the subhigh characters in that House, and great ject, both in and out of the House, it weight as well as stake in the country, to would have well become that House Dot unite for that important purpose. If such to appear to punish the offence vindictivea body should declare themselves, the ly. As to what had been said of the procountry would soon rally round them: priety of requiring G. Jones to petition, and then their privileges would be cheer- he must observe, that it was scarcely to fully acquiesced in as privileges given be expected that a man, convinced ibat solely because exclusively exercised for he was right, could be brought to acknowthe interest of the people. The bill he ledge himself wrong. When he had last had the honour to bring forward last year, year moved for the release of general though abused by some, and ridiculed by Clavering, he was told that his application others, had yet, he trusted, produced some would be fruitless, unless general Clavering good, and would lead to that gradual and should, by petition, acknowledge bis temperate reform which was the most dif- error, and submit himself to the mercy of ficult to be accomplished. Of the right the House. But general Clavering would hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer he have submitted to rot in prison rather was always disposed to speak bandsomely; than admit what he was convinced he was but he could not look upon him as pos- incapable of, that he had been guilty of sessed of force and vigour enough for the prevarication. Then it was said that it administration of public affairs in times was enough that the person should say he like these. The hopes of the country, he was sorry for having incurred the displeashould repeat, depended altogether upon sure of the House. But could any one a combination of all the talents and res- suppose that he was not sorry for it? As pectability in that House. Having stated to the obstinacy that was imputed to him, thus much upon the general situation of would not persecution or prosecution be the country, he should revert to the ques likely to make any man obstinate ? But tion before the House ; and on this he by keeping Mr. Gale Jones in confinement, should only say that he would vote for would he be likely to come out either a the liberation of Gale Jones, conceiving better subject or with fewer partizans ? that such a measure would not compro- This was a case in which they ought to mise the honour, the dignity, or the cha- make a precedent, if they had none to go racter of that House.