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themselves, and there had come home a , also, that Mr. Petrie had been removed on great number of private letters, many of er parte evidence. It was impossible that. them containing matter of the most crimi- after the frauds and tyrannies which had nal nature. The House was aware, how- been practised at Madras, that country ever, that the governor-general of India, should not feel a soreness and aversion to with the view to heal the wounds of the the government, which it required all the: British empire in that country, had exertion and authority of that House to adopted the course (with certain excep- mitigate. He would wish to know by tions) of restoring to their rank and confi- what means ministers became possessed of dence all the officers of the Madras army. the papers respecting that government, It would not be filting, therefore, under which they then had ? He conceived that such circumstances, that the private let- the papers of sir G. Barlow had not been ters which he had mentioned should be transmitted legally. India, which could produced. They might find their way only be supported by truth and justice, back to India, and do the individuals by called aloud for the interposition of this whom they were written great disservice, government, and her prayers for aid and the country no good. To the com- could not be refused. ments of the hon. gent. on the civil pro- Sir J. Anstruther would say a few words: ceedings of the government of Madras, on the subject of sir G. Barlow's conduct. he was not prepared, from the shortness It was said that he had used a desperate of the hon. gent.'s notice, fully to reply ; experiment, and that the general opinion: but in some of those comments he was of the people of Madras was against the sure that the hon. gent. was totally mis- English government.
The facts were taken ; for instance, in his animadversions quite the reverse. The conduct of sir G." on the part which the Madras government Barlow was highly laudable, instead of took in support of the commissioners ap- being intemperate or desperate; and the pointed to consider the Carnatic claims. individuals who were under the protecțion With respect also to the removal from of of the East India company, felt, and fice of persons for their conduct while avowed they felt, that their happiness and serving upon juries, he was persuaded that freedom emanated from the care and the the hon. gent. was wholly mistaken. So far parental fondness of that government. from having been removed several of the He believed there had been many misreindividuals alluded to had even been pro- presentations respecting the civil power. moted. In his observations on the remo- The particulars of their conduct could not val of Mr. Petrie, the hon. gent. had yet be ascertained. He was one of those omitted several very important conside- who did not consider the removal of a rations. He had not mentioned, that be- man from one place to another any dise" fore that removal the court of directors grace, provided the change was for the: had distinctly approved the conduct of sir better. This was the case with the jury</ G. Barlow. Besides, as it was necessary men, who had, many of them, received that one of the three counsellors should be positive advantage by their removal. He removed, in order to make way for sir S. wished that all the necessary papers should Achmuty, who had been appointed com- be produced; but if the motion for all the mander in chief, it became a question papers was carried, he would desire that a whether of the three counsellors it was not selection should be made, before the moexpedient to remove the one with whom tion for printing them was carried. there was positive proof that sir G. Bar- Sir T. Turton said, it had been mention law could not sit at the same counciled that sir G. Barlow had acted firmly in board. The conduct therefore of Mr. his government. It was possible that Petrie was not the sole ground for his re- the government at Madras, like the go. moval, although it did not follow that it vernment at home, was firm in opposing might not have had its influence. He every thing in which the public interests should say no more on the subject, than were concerned. He conceived that the merely to read a list of the letters which people there must be disgusted with the in his opinion, comprised all that it was government placed over them, in propornecessary to lay before the House. This tion to the disgust which the English gooi he accordingly did.
vernment had excited in liberal and en: Lord A. Hamilton reprobated the con- lightened people. It had been said that duct which had prompted the recent dis- anonymous remonstrances had been madez turbances in India. It appeared to him but was it not known that punishment: and expedients, calculated only to meet or disposition to undermine or impair the elude the passing events of the hour; but constitution, which was the best security totally without plan or design, or any of the throne, and of the rights and libersettled system befitting their situations, ties of the people. The privileges of parand tending to the service and benefit of liament he conceived to be absolutely esthe crown, or of the country at large. sential to its independence, in its exista After bringing themselves and the state ence; or else, in all the experience he bad by their own gross misconduct into the been able to acquire in parliament-in all greatest difficulties and dangers, they that he had heard or seen, or read upon vainly, weakly, and rashly thought them the subject, he had been entirely wrong. selves able to encounter all the perils of | The opposition now raised was hostile to the storm, without chart, or compass, or the whole of the privileges of parliament; rudder to direct them. They did nothing privileges assumed originally for the sake to remove or avert dangers-nothing to of the independence of parliament, and of pacify, nothing to conciliate the mind of the liberties of the subjects of the nation. the public. At one time they strained Sure he was, that all the great and wise, the power of government beyond its pitch, and experienced public men whom he had and at another they exposed the frame of known, under whatever political descripthe constitution to the greatest danger. tion they might be classed, entertained that They exhibited by their councils and con- opinion that it was essential to maintain duct a mixture of weakness and rashness, those privileges of parliament which had of ignorance and violence. In every pub been so long acted upon, sanctioned, and lic act, they only tended farther to offend acknowledged. Convinced sincerely that and to disgust the public nind. No man the privileges of parliament were so necese could look upon the state of our affairs sary in a constitutional view of the subunder their mismanagement, without par. ject, he was equally ready to meet the ticipating in the anxieties and fears, and just and constitutional claims of the peoindignation which he felt on the subject. ple of this country, which could in no While he saw the necessity for parlia- Other place but in parliament be justly ment's taking the subject into their most and advantageously considered or attended serious consideration, he must say that to. The sentiments he entertained he had unless parliament were fully impressed no difficulty in declaring. The public was with a deep sense of the duties they were anxiously solicitous for reforms; and be so urgently called upon to perform, he thought there were reforms which, more felt little hope or confidence from any especially after what had passed, they had effort that he could make, even though a just right to claim and to demand. They supported by the powerful aid of his noble had a right, in the first place, to demand friend sitting by him (Lord Grenville), to all useful and practicable reforms in the whose integrity, talents, and wisdom, as management and expenditure of the pubwell as those of other noble persons, who lic revenues, the responsibility of the pub. entertained similar public principles and lic agents, and all that was .connected views, for saving the country from its dan- with a due regard and attention to economy gers, and procuring for it future benefits, in every branch of public affairs. They „the nation must look up. But while he had also a right to ask for a reform of considered ministers as the cause of so those evils which, in the course of time, many calamities, he never could bring his had crept into the frame of the govern mind to be friendly to any system, the ment; and also for a reform (founded object or consequences of which was to
upon the principles, and kept within the delude the public mind, taking off their form, and pale, and object of the constiattention from the true interests and the tution) of those evils which had crept into real dangers of the country, and assuming the composition of parliament itself. He the shape, not of complaint against, and was sure that the people would not be a desire of redress from specific evils, but misled and deluded into the fallacious idea of a systematic opposition to the frame of seeking for redress otherwise than, by and essential privileges of the parlia- the forms of that constitution which had mentary constitution, from which we had been the parent and support of their rights derived such benefit and happiness. He and liberties, and all the benefits and haphoped, that at the present crisis, any such piness they enjoyed: and which, whatappearances were only imputable to error ever grounds of objection might be made į and mistake, and had no foundation in any to particular evils and abuses, had bees, and still was, the best constitution that the , ters, who shewed the greatest political inworld had yet seen, for every good and capacity, and absolute ignorance of the practicable purpose. He never was more constitution, of the principles of which deeply impressed with any subject, than their very first act, their entrance into he was with the present general situation power, was a violation. Danger had likeof the country in all its most important wise increased from another quarter; and relations; and he was convinced that it even our parliamentary constitution had was his duty to move an address to his become the object of attack. His lordMajesty, expressive of the opinions enter- ship must now contend for the necessity tained by himself and those with whom of maintaining the privileges of parliament. he had the honour and happiness to be They had been assumed in the earlier pepolitically connected, stating the causes riods of the Stuarts for the support of the which, in their judgments, bad produced independence of the parliament, and of this alarming crisis, and humbly recom- the privileges of the people themselves. mending to his Majesty such measures as They had been maintained and acted the honour of the crown and the security upon ever since, and had become part of and happiness of the country imperiously the law and usage of parliament. Our demanded. As these were subjects of rights and liberties were not secure withgreat importance, that required the almost out them. He concurred most cordially iinmediate attention of their lordships, he with what had been so ably said by his should conclude by giving notice of his nobie friend : he was noi one who would motion for such an address to be moved rally round the administration, but be by him on that day three weeks.
would rally round our parliamentary conThe Earl of Liverpool said, that satisfied stitution. To our parliament our country in seeing that the noble earl perceived the owed its liberty, its greatness, its prospe. situation of the country, and the necessity rity, and its happiness. No delusion could of upholding the privileges and dignity of be more gross and fatal to the public, than parliament, notwithstanding the severity to suppose that there
that there was any other of the observations which he had made on quarter to which they could look for any the conduct of his Majesty's ministers amendment in the present state of public (a severity which he was bold to say was affairs, for maintaining their best rights totally unmerited by them), he should and interests, or for any beneficial ima thankfully receive the assistance of that provements in future. It became the innoble carl in the support of those privi- dispensable duty of the House to take leges which were necessary to the woll- some measures suited to the danger of the being and security of the constitution. It times, and he fully approved of the mode was by no fault that could with justice be proposed by his noble friend, by an huinimputed to administration, that subjects of ble and suitable address to his Majesty, recent notoriety had occurred, and which Lord Erskine said he felt himself called every man must regret. But at the pro- upon to say a very few words to their per time when this question came before lordships, although he was afraid irregu. them, if it was intended to blame minis- larly, as there was no question before the ters, he should be ready, and he did then House. (Lord Erskine was here told put in his claim to defend their conduct to that there was a question, though of form, the satisfaction of the House and the coun- that the House should be summoned that try. As sufficient time would elapse pre- day three weeks.] That being so, he vious to that discussion, he hoped the could speak with more freedom upon
what noble earl would give him an idea of the appeared to him to be a most momentous objects of his address.
subject. He said he entirely agreed with Lord Grenville thought, that the intel- his noble friend who gave the notice; that ligible and able statement of his noble notwithstanding any imperfections with friend must convey to ministers a pretty which time might have visited our happy correct idea of the object of the address constitution, it was the best and wisest which he intended to propose. The upon the face of the earth, and under country saw, indeed, its difficulties daily which there was the greatest enjoyment of increasing. Our dangers were accumi- happiness and freedom; but it was imlating upon 03, and surrounding us, from possible to contemplate that perfection the increasing pressure of our expenditure, without adverting to the principles which and more especially from the imbecility, were its essential characteristic. Its cha. rashness, and folly of the King's minis-racteristic indeed had been correctly and VOL. XVI,
luminously expressed by his noble friend court; but so far was be from consider(lord Grenville), who sat next to him, ing such a claim as matter of argument when he said, " that parliament was the under this government of law, that I say author of it, and that like our ancestors, advisedly, said his lordship, that if, upon from whom we inherited our freedom, we the present occasion, a similar attack was should rally round parliament; so said made upon my noble and learned friend his lordship; because in rallying round (lord Eilenborough) who sits next me, for parliament, or in other words, round the the exercise of his legal jurisdiction, I King, Lords, and Commons, we were rally. would resist the usurpation with my ing round the constitution and the laws; strength, and bones and blood. Why, around which all were disposed to rally." was any danger to the House of Commons It was the cause of the inmediate refer
or the country to be anticipated by a sober ence to this sound doctrine that obliged appeal to the judgment of the laws? If him to address their lordships. His noble his noble and learned friend and his brefriends had adverted to the late exercise thren the judges had no jurisdietion over of privileges by the House of Commons, the privileges of the House of Commons, and of the sensation they had created. If they would say they had no jurisdiction. they alluded only to the disturbances in If they thought they had, they would give this great city which they inhabited, hea just decision according to the facts and joined in lamenting them; but if they in- circumstances of the case, whatever they volved in this sentiment the legal resista might be. These facts and circumstances ance by those who had been the objects are considered, however, too clear for inof them if they alluded to actions which, quiry; yet the King's attorney general, though not pending, were in immediate and a member of the House of Commons, prospect, he must declare that he consi. when called upon by the serjeant for ad. dered it to be a matter of the greatest vice upon the subject, was obliged, and magnitude and importance, which the most properly, to admit that there was no laws alone ought to determine, and with precedent to be found for his forcibly prowhich their lordships had at present no secuting, and that if death ensued he matter of concern. If the privileges of could not undertake to insure him against the Commons under the constitution had a conviction, and an execution for mur. been invaded, the Commons wanted no der. Was this the character of an imassistance from the Lords to protect them memorial and an acknowledged jurisdicthe laws would protect them; and if in tion? But it was said that there was an the invasion of their privileges, the Lords' end of the privileges of parliament if they privileges were by analogy invaded, it must pray in aid the King, or any other less became them to be forward in their authority, to support their jurisdiction. assertion; more especially as the ques. Yet, in the very instance alluded to, they tion might come legally and judicially be- were obliged to pray in aid the King-not fore them. No man would more zea- of his laws indeed, to which the peopla lously defend the privileges of parlia- | would have paid the most implicit obement, or of either House of parliament, dience, but of his bayonets, which, wben than he should; and he admitted, that contrary to law, they would resist. He what either branch of the legislature had desired to warn their lordships against too been for the course of ages exercising with lasty a resort to force, until right had the acquiescence of the whole legislature, determined its application. It was a danwould, in the absence of statutes, which gerous resort, which never could be newould be the grand question, be evidence cessary in the government of the British of the common law of parliament, and, as people, when the laws were on the side of such, of the common law of the land. authority ; let the laws speak first, and if The jurisdiction of courts rested in a great they were disobeyed, the people, instead measure upon the same foundation, but of resisting, would obey, and execute them besides that, these procedents, as appli- themselves. There was another view in cable alike to all of them, were matters of which this question must be looked at grave and deliberate consideration; they He was giving no opinion whatever on wero, and must be, determined in the end the subject, but stating only the question. by the law. He knew that the contrary Suppose there should be positive statutes was insisted upon by the Commons, when upon this subject, before the possible orithey committed lord chief justice Pem- gin of any jurisdiction of the House of berton for holding plea of them in his Commons-it was contended that there
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
were he was still giving no opinion; racter they justly had in the country, if but was it not open to the subject, if he they were capable, not merely from courwere advised to plead such statutes in bar tesy, but even from confidence and afof the privileges in the cases contended fection, to compromise opinions upon such for? and could any authority but a court grave and important questions. He was of law overrule such a plea? Could the most sincerely attached to the principles Commons themselves resist the effect of of those with whom he had so long acted, such statutes, to which they were parties and particularly to his iwo noble friends, There might be statutes indeed on such whose unquestionable integrity and supea subject, which, except in form, wanted rior talents intitled them io the great sta. no judicial cognizance, because every man tion which they must ever hold in the opi. could read for himself. If a written law nions of mankind. It was to secure that would bear two interpretations, and the pre-eminence that he made these obserworst interpretation bad been given to it vations, because he knew that nothing by a series of decisions, that worst inter could ever secure contentment and happretation was undoubtedly the law; but piness in this country, but the protection where a statute spoke a clear, plain, un- and dominion of the law. ambiguous language, the people had a
The Lords were ordered to be summonright to the protection of its letter, and ed for that day three weeks. they ought to insist upon that protection. The parliament might repeal it, but whilst it was a statute, neither the King, Lords, or Commons, or all three of them, had any
Monday, May 7. dominion over it. It might appear he [The King's LETTER TO FERDINAND was putting an almost impossible case ; VII.] Mr. Whitbread said, that having but on that very ground he had defended read a letter in all the public papers, purfrom death the subjects of this country, porting to be written by his Majesty, and and perhaps more than them; their lord- sent to king Ferdinand Vir. be begged ships might not have been sitting to-day leave to ask a question of the right hon. to hear him, if upon these grounds he had gent. opposite, viz. Whether it was to be not successfully defended the dominion of looked upon as a document which had any the laws. He was then told that a con- pretensions to the character of authentis spiracy to levy war against the king was city? treason, as an attack upon the natural life The Chancellor of the Exchequer declined of the king; he had said, no! because giving any answer, on the ground that it the statute of Edward 3 under any inter- might be prejudicial to the public service, pretation, had said no also. He was told Mr. Whitbreud said, he could not cone that lord Hale and lord Coke were against ceive how a letter that had been so prohim; to which he had answered irreve- fusely published, both in the French rendly perhaps, but in other respects papers and those of this country, and rightly, that their authorities were no more which must thereby be known to all the against a positive, unambiguous statute, world, could in any respecı prove inconve. than so many large flies buzzing against nient or injurious to the public service. a wall; and so he should for ever main- (Sir Francis Burdett's Notices To tain. Lord Erskine here said, “I would THE Speaker.) The Speaker said, that rather die, my lords, than submit to any before the House proceeded to the general dominion but that of the law. I know business, he felt anxious to call their prethe law upon this subject, my lords, as vious attention to a due consideration of well as any of your lordships ; it is im- the subject matter, and circumstances of possible I should not; and it would be the two Notices received from sir Francis criminal to surrender or even to withhold Burdett, and communicated by him (the my opinion.” If he had been warm upon Speaker) to that House. This was the the subject he must be pardoned; he more necessary, as the law term was so could not alter his nature-what he had near commencing. He waited, therefore, ever been through life he must be to-day the result of the serious consideration of -what had been the character of his mind the House upon the proceedings had and and understanding must continue to be its to be had, respecting a subject so deepcharacter. He made no apology to his ly interesting to their privileges. noble friends for this expression of his opi- The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, nion. They would little deserve the cha- that he was not then aware of any course