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by. Why keep the man in prison? Was | influence his argument, if it were not rethere any thing in the temper of the times regular, he should not press the question, to induce the House to that course ? He but assume the affirmative, and reason could wish that the learned gentleman had upon that assumption. First, then, the not brought forward this question at this reason why the practice of petitioning had time. Though he thought that they should grown into use was plain and obvious. not act under the apprehension of being The commitments by the House were for thought afraid : yet he would rather be an indefinite time, and as the prisoner suspected of fear than convicted of in- could have no knowledge of the time for justice. He should, therefore, feel it his which he was committed, he was usually duty to perform an act of justice to the led to petition early, in the hope that it individual, by voting for the motion of might lead to his discharge. 'Into his the hon. and learned member who had so petition, therefore, it would be natural for ably and eloquently recommended it to him to throw all the circumstances and the House.
sentiments which might be likely to in, The Master of the Rolls then rose to duce the House to comply with his applisubmit to the consideration of the House cation. Thus it was, that the practice of the impressions he felt upon this important petitioning might have arisen, and thus too subject, and stated, that according to his the parties might, by petitioning, have view of the’motion under consideration, it usually obtained their discharge sooner might be reduced to two questions; first, than they otherwise would. The House, whether the individual had suffered suf- shewing itself indulgent to those who thus ficient punishment; and 2dly, whether, respectfully petitioned, generally released such being the case, he ought to be dis- them in three or four days after their comcharged ? He could wish, that he had mitment, unless in cases of an aggravated been better acquainted with the practice nature, which may have led to the pracof the House, in such cases; whether it tice of requiring petitions to be presented. was founded on established law or on -For himself, he was extremely loth to usage; and again, if upon usage, whether break in upon long established usages; that usage had been unbroken from time but he was not prepared to follow this immemorial. He should always be against usage to its full extent or into all its conbreaking in upon long continued usage, sequences. The effcct of such an usage because the presumption in such a case as this would be, that different persons would be, that it had been founded on might be committed for the same or siwise and convenient grounds; and he milar offences, at different periods of the should, therefore, be inclined to abide by session, and, in consequence of this usage, the usage long established where it did be subjected to very unequal degrees of not lead to palpable injustice. If this usage punishment. Mr. Gale Jones might for were, as he must presume it to be, such, his offence, be committed at the comthat the party offending was not to be dis- mencement of the session, and not being charged until he should petition and ac- disposed to petition, might be confined knowledge his offence, it would, he owned, for six or seven months, whilst another lead to consequences to the full extent of | committed for the same offence may be which he would be unwilling to follow it. confined only three or four days. Jones He agreed that a man must be taken for persists in not petitioning, and continues guilty, when the House bas declared his ihe whole of the session in confinenrent: guilt by a vote : but then the individual the other submits, acknowledging his ofmay not think his act an offence, and in fence, and is discharged in three or four that case it would be cruel to insist upon days. If a question were to be put to his admitting or acknowledging it to be an him after any given time of confinement, offence. But the right bon. gent. (Mr. whether the prisoner had been sufficiently Ryder) seemed to think that such acknow- punished, he might answer in the affirledgement of the offence was not neces. mative, according to his idea of the prosary. Upon this point, he should wish to portion between the offence and punishput a question to some competent autho- ment. But if asked why he should not rity ; and to none more competent could be discharged, he should be at a loss to he apply than to the right hon. member answer, according to any principles of in the chair. The question was, whether jurisprudence known to him. The conthe established practice was as had been tinuance of the confinement after sufficient described; but though the answer might punishment, was a punishment for an ofVOL. XVI.
fence, of which the House had not de., any means extend it beyond two months clared him guilty, upon which they had | Considering therefore, the length of this passed no vote; it would be a punishment, person's confinement as compared with not for what he had done, but for what he his offence, he should vote for his dis. had abstained from doing. According to charge. He'agreed perfectly with the any principles of jurisprudence with which hon. baronet who spoke last, that they he was acquainted, this would be a strange should not entertain any fear of being system of punishment. What difference thought afraid of what might be thought could it make to that House if Mr. G. of their motives. But he would not conJones were to acknowledge the offence ? sent to do an act of injustice, in order Would it be any satisfaction to their pri- that he might not be supposed to be afraid. vileges, or any addition to their dignity, Such a feeling he did not entertain. He if he were to make a false acknowledgment should take the same course on any other to that effect? Under the present circum- occasion. He had not paid any attention stances, it must be obvious to the House, to this subject before the present case had that in such an ackhowledgement the been brought forward. When he did turn party would not act voluntarily; and that his attention to it, he very quickly arrived if he were even to submit, it would only at the conclusion which his hon. and be, that he might not suffer three or four learned friend had come to, and as he months longer imprisonment. But, would was convinced that the man had been the House thereby gain any security for sufficiently punished, he should therefore its privileges--would they acquire any feel bimsell bound to vote for his disaccession to their dignity? Could they charge. be assured that Gale Jones would not again The Speaker rose and said, that he did offend in the same manner? If he were not know whether it inight not be the however, to offend again, could they not pleasure of the House that he should give commit him in the same manner as if he an answer to the questions which had been had acknowledged his offence in this input to him in the course of the discussion, stance: He knew of no analogy by which and particularly hy the right hon. gent. this right claimed to make a man confess who had just sat down. He was prepared his offence could be justified.--His opinion to state to the House what he had gathered of the original object and natural effect of from the Journals, as to the practice of petitioning was, that the party imprisoned parliament on this subject. The course might obtain his discharge somewhat the was different on commitments to the cusearlier. But he could not perceive why tody of the serjeant, and on commitments to the abstaining from presenting a petition his Majesty's jails. In the instance of comshould on the other hand have the effect mitments to the serjeant, which were but of lengthening the duration of his confine- temporary, the practice was both ways. ment. Putting the case in that way, the The party obtained his release by petition motive for petitioning, as well as for ab- often, and often by statement made in his staining from petitioning, would be ob- favour, as in case of a commitment of a vious. The person who presented a pe- witness by a Committee, when the Comtition was generally liberated; but he mittee reported that the witness comportwho did not petition was suffered to re- ed or demeaned himself properly. The main in confinement. This was the rea- House would recollect the case of Mr. Alson why the preferring petitions became cock, who presented a petition on being the practice, because there was scarcely ordered to the bar, and
yet was committed any instances, in which the party commit- to the custody of the serjeant ; thoughdisted did not present a petition, except in charged in the course of the same night. those cases, in which pride or conviction The last case of that description was that prevented the adoption of such a course. of Mr. Stuart the printer, who was coin. -Upon these grounds it was, that he was mitted to the custody of the serjeant, and clearly of opinion that John Gale Jones afterwards discharged upon petition. The ought to be discharged, if the House should practice on commitments to his Majesty's be of opinion that he had suffered suffi- jails was different. He might venture to cient punishment. If he were to be asked say, that in such cases the practice, if not what extent of imprisonment he should universal, was general, not to release from consider a sufficient punishment for the such commitment, but upon petition. For offence committed, he should say one this however, he could find no rule ; it month, or six weeks; but could not by rested altogether on practice ; and that, with the qualifications he had mentioned, , any opinions he had previously held? It was steady and uniform. As to the differ- was his own contumacy, therefore, in reent forms of petitions, that must have fusing to do by petition, what he had alarisen from the different and various cir- ready done orally, that prevented him cumstances wbich each petitioner might from being discharged. But it had been wish to bring under the consideration of asked, why not discharge him upon
their the House. In general, the party acknow own sense of justice? To this he would ledged that he had offended against the answer, that the justice of such cases was privileges of that House, and expressed always governed by the presenting a pesorrow for that offence. He bad thus stated tition. Refusing therefore to petition, he what he had been able to collect from the was not entitled to be discharged. It was Journals, and which he felt it his duty to absolutely necessary for the House to communicate to the House.
abide by its forms, and that without sufThe Chancellor of the Exchequer observed, fering themselves to be bewildered with that, as the Speaker had stated that every reasoning upon abstract propositions. As person committed to a jail, according to to questions raised with respect to the inihe practice of the House, was required to equality of punishment in the exercise of petition, before he could be discharged, it this power of the House, he would admit, would not be necessary for him to say that the House had many infirmities in its much upon this subject. The question was constitution as to the power of inflicting not whether a petition presented was in- punishments. If Jones had any severity sufficient, but whether the circumstances to complain of, he brought it upon himself. of the time or the character of the occa- He had reason to believe, notwithstanding sion were such as to induce the House to what had been stated by the noble lord depart for the first time from its ancient, opposite to the contrary, that his right hon. uniform and established practice. He friend was correct in stating, that Gale could see nothing in either to call for such Jones had applied to a member to present an abandonment of the practice of parlia- a petition for him. The fact he had from ment. His hon, and learned friend had he more quarters than one, and from persons must allow reasoned eloquently against the to whom it had been communicated by severity of calling upon a man to recant the honourable member himself. In the heretical, or theoretical opinions, which case of general Clavering last year, the he may have entertained against the con- hon. bart. (sir T. Turton) would not even stitution. Against all such arguments the be heard without a petition. The case of only answer was, that he was not to be Drake, too, which had been referred to; called upon to abjure any such opinions. happened in a good time, as the gentle But having been voted guilty of a breach men opposite sat then at the side of the of the privileges of that House, he saw no House, from which he spoke ; and yet the reason why he should not do that which uniform practice of the House had in that he had already done. (Hear, hear !) The instance been adhered to. In these two hon. gent. seemed to think that Gale Jones recent cases, the House had shewn more had done enough in his former acknow- severity than towards Gale Jones; who ledgment. But why should he now re- was not called upon to admit the falsehood fuse to do what he had before done at the of what he had stated before, but merely bar, when it was requisite according to the to say that by petition which he had alpractice of the House, that he should pre- ready said at the bar of the House. Was sent a petition to that effect to entitle him there any thing in his case that called for to be discharged? This single circum- such departure from their usages ? Was stance was in itself amply sufficient to get there any thing in the period that required rid of all the argument of his hon. and them to descend from their dignity Was learned friend opposite. It would appear, this a time, that they were to diminish those that he was not in being required to prefer privileges which were essential to their a petition, called upon to recant any opi- existence ? He agreed that they should nions, by a reference to the minutes of not be actuated by any fear of being what passed when he was at the bar. From thought afraid to do their duty; but these, it would be seen that he admitted, strong as he felt that sentiment, he should “ In this instance I have erred ; and I not be influenced by it to do an act of inthrow myself upon the mercy of this as justice. He was of opinion therefore that sembly.” Was it not clear then from this, Gale Jones should be made to submit to that he was not to be called on to recánt the practice of parliament. This he was
convinced the case required ; and as no circumstances had been shewn to induce of the House of Commons, that after hav. the House to depart from its established ing admitted his error and thrown himself usage, he should feel bound to vote against upon its mercy, it should be expected that the motion.
he should a second time acknowledge his Sir T. Turton in explanation stated that offence? Was it not enough that he had he had presented no petition from ge- once made the acknowledgment? No! neral Clavering, whom nothing could have said the right honourable gentleman, in tempted to acknowledge, that he had pre- the true spirit of his intolerance-no! we varicated, when conscious that he was must have him again do that which he has wholly incapable of such conduct. done before; we shali have bim again at
Mr. Whitbread, if the explanation of the the bar, and make him shew that he has hon. bart. had not anticipated him, had not changed his opinion. But, supposing intended to set the right hon. gent. right him to have changed his opinion, supposas to the allusion he had made to the case ing that others too have changed their of general Clavering. No petition what opinion upon the subject, why should they ever had been presented to the Honse from compel bim to say ihat what he thought general Clavering, and therefore so far as true yesterday, he continues to think true the reasoning of the right hon. gent. this day? He was aware that the right rested upon iliat case, it must fall to the honourable gentleman was stedfastly fixed ground. The object of the hon. bart, on in his religious opinions, and that he might that occasion was to induce the House 10 perbaps be disposed to call upon the expunge the whole of the proceedings llouse to believe all they had been taught against general Clavering from its Jour-when they were children. But, said the nals, and thus to do away the foundation right hon. gent. he is not to be called on of the commitment altogether. He was of to retract any theoretical opinion. If he opinion that the right hon. gent. in the had changed his opinion upon the subject course of his argument, had done great in- of that paper, which he had before adjustice to Gale Jones. By comparing his muitted to be an offence or error on his commitment to the cases of persons com- part, would it not be to call upon him to mitted for falsehood or prevarication, the do violence to his conviction, to oblige right hon. gent. had done much injury to him to acknowledge what he did not now the person whose case was now under believe? The right hon. gent. must be consideration. He was glad however to aware that there had been such an event find the right hon. gent. opposite admitting as the reformation. Suppose a man to that the submission of Mr. Gale Jones at the bave lived before the reformation, and bar was sufficiently ample; because when for disbelieving transubstantiation to have he had stated that upon a former occasion been brought before the persecuting inthese right hon. gentlemen had denied the quisition. Suppose him before that terfact. Now, however, the right hon. gent. op- rible tribunal to admit that he believed posite acknowledged that the submission the article, and notwithstanding to be sent was such at that time as to satisfy him, if to prison, where, meeting with books to only renewed in a petition. The right enlighten him, he discovers the error into honourable gentleman had made but a which he had fallen, and reverts into his partial quotation from the minutes, be- former opinion, would it be no retractation cause if he had quoted the whole passage, of his opinion for him to be obliged to it would give a different appearance to admit the doctrine of transubstantiation? the feeling that produced it. The passage But the right hon. gent. if he did not ac. should begin, “On reviewing the paper, knowledge what he had before admitted, however, I acknowledge my error, &c.” would apply to him the torture of the
The House of Commons, therefore, he did mind. Might not the man properly avow think, had treated Gale Jones with great he would rather rot in prison than submit cruelty, in committing him for such an to such a recantation than be driven to offence after he had thrown himself upon admit that to be true, which he knew to their mercy.—But the right hon. gent. be false? This would be Jones's case, if had argued with an air of triumph, that he had conscientiously changed his opias he now refused to acknowledge by pe- nion since he had been at the bar of that tition what he had previously admitted, House. But the right hon. gent. would it was therefore owing to his own contu- have his confinement continued to the macy that he was not discharged. What end of the session, if he did not petition, and that too at a time when he was re- knew that manorial rights, for instance, marking upon the infirmities of the House had fallen to nothing. So ought the una of Commons respecting the infliction of necessary privileges of that House to have punishments. That right hon. gent. was been abated. All that was not necessary the first man who, in a British House of to be retained should be given up; and Commons, desired that it might have the there was no privilege more odious in power of imprisoning for a time certain. principle to the public, or at least more This was the first instance of such a doc. exceptionable in practice, than that under trine being broached, since these ques- which Gale Jones was imprisoned. Theretions had been canvassed by able and en- fore, every hour this man was detained in lightened men. If he for one were to be prison must increase the odium prevailing in the situation of Jones and to petition, against the privilege, while it was an he would be a hypocrite.
aggravation of the injustice and cruelty The other right hon. gent. (Mr. Ryder) practised towards the individual. Whai, who had called the able speech of his ho- he would ask, could the House gain for nourable and learned friend, a collection of even this privilege, or for any alleged common places, had certainly exbibited in claim to dignity, by imprisoning this man his own impressive, eloquent, illustrative, until the end of the session? Was it to be and conclusive speech a most striking con- argued, that unless Mr. Jones acted the trast to the common places he described ! hypocrite, by acknowledging himself But it had been said, that, in all such wrong, the House would not liberate cases as that of Jones, the House was bound him? It might be said that he would to decide for itself. That he denied. It not act the hypocrite by stating in a pehad not done so in the case of Stockdale tition, merely what he had said at the and of Reeves, in both of which the attor- bar. But supposing he had changed his ney-general was ordered to prosecute. opinion since he had been at the bar, The right hon. gent. (Mr. Ryder) there would the House punish him for that fore had mistaken and mis-stated the prac- change by a prolonged imprisonment ? tice of the House. In all his arguments, If change of opinion were a penal thing, the right hon. gent. confounded the com- he felt that he (Mr. W.) would not himmitment of Gale Jones with commitments self be exempt from penalty ; for his opito which it bore no resemblance. Why nion was directly the reverse of what it should it be confounded with the cases of had been when first this case was brought Drake, of Clavering, and of Sandon? For- before the House. In fact, a change of bid it, justice ! forbid it, fair dealing ! for- opinion, when sincere, when the result of bid it, the spirit of toleration! Mr. Gale an honest conviction, could in no instance Jones had been punished for a thing, that, be justly the subject of punishment or to the knowledge of every member in the censore. But to return to the privilege House, had been practised every day for under consideration, it was to be recola considerable time past. As to the pri- lected, that this privilege would not be vileges of the House, he conceived they surrendered by the adoption of the moshould be resorted to only in cases of ne- tion, and that recollection must obviate cessity; and he saw no necessity for the many of the objections urged against it. House having exercised its power in the For if Jones should be liberated to-morrow, case of Mr. Jones. He happened not to and should attempt to violate the privileges be in the House at the time the vote passed contended for, he might be re-committed for his committal, and he was now happy under the sanction of the same privilege, that he had in no degree made himself a to prison upon the next day. The House party to that vote. if, however, he had then having this power, what reason could happened to be present at the time the be advanced for resisting this motion ? question respecting the commitment of certainly none upon the ground of an adJones was put to the vote, he should herence to privilege, because not a doubt have rather voted to have it referred as to that privilege would be expressed to a jury. It was preposterous to main- or implied by the passing of this motion. tain, as the right hon. gent. who spoke As to the recommendation of his hon. last asserted, that ancient privileges friend (Mr. Curwen), that an union should should be tenaciously preserved; for how take place between the ministers and many of these privileges had been found those by whom they were generally opuntenable consistently with justice and posed, he must observe, that he could the common sense of mankind? They all not see that any good would result from