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HÍSTORICAL CHRONICLE. : PROCEEDINGS IN THE Fifth Session Of The Fifth ParliamENT OF THE UNITED
KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND ; continued from p. 264.
House of Lords, Feb, 24. port. The Committee had presented the EARL Grosvenor observed, that another conclusions and results of their investiga
petition from Mr. Cleary, the secretary tion, instead of detailing information, neto the London Union Society, had been put cessarily of a secret nature, and producing into bis hands, in substance the same as documents which would put to hazard the the perition which he had formerly of safety of individuals. These seditious fered. He trusted that the period was now papers had been spread over the country come wben it would be received.
in a profusion scarcely credible, and with Lord Harrozby said, that the document an industry without example : every towa from which the Committee had drawn their in the manufacturing districts was overconclusion that there did actually exist a flowed by them, and scarcely a cottage London Union Society engaged in these had escaped the perseverance of the projects, was this :-It was
agents of mischief. Many prosecutions dated the 30th of October, 1816, and pub. were now pending. The circumstances lished by the Sheffield Union Society, that marked the atrocious character and established for the professed purpose of designs of the meeting in Spa-fields, did promoting Parliamentary Reform, which not come to the knowledge of ministers referred to the London Society as then until three weeks before ihe meeting of existing. In that address it was stated, Parliament. It was a great satisfaction that the object of the society was to carry
to him to inform the House, that it would its purpose into execution by a general not be necessary or just to extend the opeand national union, by co-operation ration of the bill to Ireland. with the London Union Society, and with The Marquis of Wellesley observed that the branches througbout the country ;
this was a crisis which at once called for and the address proceeded to state, that all the fortitade of the people aod all the it was absolutely necessary that there energy of the Government: he was ready should be a radical reform, annual par- to allow that the state of the popular mind bameots, and universal suffrage.
was exactly such as had been described by Earl Grey said, with respect to the Re one of the greatest statesmen of any age port, the explanation just given, shewed or country--he meant, that general disthe danger of proceeding to legislaie on tress had produced general discontent. matters of the highest importance-to 'The statesman to whom he alluded had Suspend the laws upon which the liberties said, that “ the matter of sedition was of of the subject depended-merely on an two kinds, poverty and discontent:" and examination of ex-parte evidence:
of this matter of sedition he was willing to Lord Holland strongly condemned any admit that there was an abundant supply: attempt to snspend the Habeas Corpus Act though, as to the sedition itself, he did on soch vague and general charges as not think the proof was so evident. Let were to be found in the Report.
it be proved, however, that the country Lord Erskine observed, that the charges was in danger, and he would ask where of treason in the Report were confined to was the man who would not say that even societies called Spencean Philanthropists a great evil ought to be sustained in order
- visionaries who talk of dividing the to prevent a greater. land. No suspension of the Habeas Cor. The Earl of Liverpool, in reviewing the pus Act was necessary on their account: Report, took the same line of argument the fittest way of disposing of them would as Lord Sidmouth, contending for the nebe to place them in private mad-houses. cessity of vigorous measures.
Earl Grey then moved, that the petition Earl Grey contended gegerally that the be referred to the same Lords who com existing laws were sufficient to punishi posed the Secret Committee, that they both sedition and blasphemy. might examine witnesses, and report their The Duke of Sussex observed, that he opinion to the House.-Motion negatived was present at the greatest part of the by 74 to 23.
examinations of the rioters, and the re. Viscount Sidmouth, on moving the se sult he had heard was this :-The whole cond reading of the bill to enable his Ma- subscription amounted to the enormous jesty to secare and detain in custody per sum of ten pounds. The ammunition was sons suspected of designs agaiust bis Ma- contained in an old stocking; there were jesty's person and government, comment about 50 balls, none of which fitted the ed upon the prominent parts of the Re. pistols, and llb. of powder : such was this GENT. Mag, April, 1817.
mighty plan of insurrection ; but he could beas Corpus Act, to which he was denot allow mole-bills to be magnified into cidedly adverse. mountains. The duty of an honest man Sir F. Burdett objected to all the meawas to vote only on that side on which sures proposed. It was not, he said, the bis conscience lies, and therefore he should Spenceans who ought to be feared, but the sit down in voting against the measure, Expenceans in that House, that really (Hear!)
and effectually took away the property Lords Grenville and Holland spoke of the people. shortly against the Bill; and the Duke of Mr. Elliot said, that we had at present Gloucester in support of it.
but a choice of evils; that no one would The House then divided on the motion willingly go into such measures as were for the second reading, when it was car then before the House, but he conceived ried in the affirmative by 150 to 35. The they were now called for by the necessity Bill was then read a second time, com of ihe case. The point at issue he upmitted, reported, read a third time, and derstood to be this, whether or not, when passed.
a number of individuals pervert the rights and privileges of the Coustitution to its
danger, may not those rights be for a In the Commous, the same day, Lord time suspended ? Castlereagh concluded a very long speech Mr. Lamb, Sir William Garrow, the Soon the subject of the Report, by proposing licitor General, and Mr. Canning, spoke the suspensiou of the Habeas Corpus Act; at great leogth on the same side; they secondly, to extend the provisions of the were replied to by Mr. Brougham, Sir SaAct of 1795 to the security of the person muel Romilly, and Lord Cochrane. The of the Prince Regent ; thirdly, to embody motion being put, that leave be given to io one Act the provisions of the former bring in a Bill to suppress seditious meetActs against seditious meetings in iwo ings, there appeared, for the motion 190; branches : one against tumultuous meei against it 14. The Bill was read a first ings, and the other to regulate the de. time; as were also the several other bills, bating societies, taking the provisions of as proposed by Lord Castlereagh. the 39th of the King, against all societies Lord Cochrane moved, that a petition administering illegal oaths, and all those should be read which within ten minutes bound together by secret afliliations; also had been put into his hand. It came to make the appointment of a delegate from an individual who was ready to prove from one society to another a proof of at the bar of the House, the falsehood of their affiliation ( hear!) He hesitated not certain imputations on the publick that had to contend, that the provisions of the law lately appeared in the journals as the ought to be permanent against aggregate Report of the Secret Committee. He ing societies, and trusted the House would (Lord C.) thought there could be no see it made effectual. But he did not doubt, that allegations of this nature wish the law against debating societies should be examined before the House proand seditious meetings to remain in force ceeded to suspend the liberties of the longer than the necessity of the case; country. The individual in question stated, therefore he had taken a shorter period that Lord Sidmouth knew beforehand the than formerly. He boped that the sense proposals and intentions of the parties of Parliament, and the sound and dis- who excited the tumult at Spafields; that cerning part of the community, would certain instruments, resembling pikemake the prevailing absurdities fall to the heads, had been ordered, by a person in ground with rapidity. Though the theories the dress of a game-keeper, to be made at were of so absurd and disgusting a cha. the shop of one Bentley; that those instru. racter, yet they were dangerous enough ments were nothing more nor less than to call on Parliament to act with a vigi. spikes, for securing the head of a fish-pond lant and determined band, to relieve the against marauders; that certain police-offipublic mind from the bondage of despe- cers had come to this same Bentley, and had rate men, countenanced too much by the ordered him to fabricate some more spikes conduct of men of higher raok and inn- similar to those he had made for the game. portance (Hear!) They must, therefore, keeper; and that these imitations, fabribe prompt aut efficacious. On these cated by such orders, were the pike-heads grounds, ibeu, he exercised this painful produced before the Committee of Seact of duty arising out of the Report. He crecy. The petition contained much other concluded by moving for leave to bring curious matter, for the truth of wbich be in a Bill for more effectually preventing (Lord C.) did not hold himself responsible; seditious meetirgs.
but he thought that it ought to be exaMr. Ponsonby had concurred with the mined into, and a committee ajipointed Committee in their Report, and was pre. for the purpose ; because it would be sapared to give his assent to all the mea. tisfactory, that the proceedings of the Sures, except the suspensiou of the Ha. House should be grounded on iruth, or
that, if the allegations contained in the nothing ; but he trusted a simple narra. petition were false, the individual who had. tion would remove all suspicion from those attempted thus to imp se on the House who were principally concerned in the should be severely punished for his con business of the day, The petitioner, while tempt of their proceedings. It appeared in the country, had received a letter from to him a most extraordinary circumstance, Preston, requesting his attendance at a that though a private person, when ac meeting to be held at Spa-fields; he wrote cused, was allowed to excu!pa'e himself to know the object of the meeting, and in the best manner he could, the whole received for answer an advertisement dated people of England should be condemned, from the Carlisle Arms, and addressed 10 avheard, by a selected Commitee (and the distressed mechanics, mariners, and all knew how Committees were selected). others of the meliopolis. Petitioner heThis was so extraordinary and unjust, sitates not to accept the invitation, and that he there, in bis seat, protested against attended the meeting: he found there a it; and he trusted the House would not memorial ready prepared, which a stransanction such a proceeding by its vote, ger put into his hand. Petitioner, finding when it was notorious that no serious dis- it contained propositions he could not apturbances had taken place. It was true, prove, and, among others, one to lead that a small body, calling themselves the people to Carlton House, refused to Spenceans, had meditaled an attack on accede io it, and moved instead, that a the property of the country; but they petition should be presented by himself were not above 100 in number, even in to the Prince Regent. John Dyer bad the opinion of the Lord Mayor; that a furnished Mr. Gifford, the magistrate, with few desperate individuals might have evil a copy of the other resolutions, which designs he had no doubt, but that the were in the hands of Lord Sidmouth be. Constitution was in danger from any such fore the meeting was convened; so that wretched individuals, no one could se whatever took place was owing to the conriously imagine. The petitioner himself, nivance of those who knew beforehand on his way to the Spa-fields meeting, met what would be proposed. With respect those coming from ii who were said to have to the second allegation in the Report of bired the waggon from which such inflam- the Committee, there was nothing like matory speeches had been made : that it previous concert in the transactions of the Fas extraordinary that the Courier should meeting. A second day bad been aphave stated those resolutions to have been pointed without any decided preference, made as part of the proceedings of the but only with a view to the probable meetmeeting, which were absolutely rejected ng of Parliament: at that meeting the by the petitioner, and which ministers petitioner was to carry down the Prince were in possession of long before the Regent's answer to the petition that had meeting. It was averred in the petition, been presented him : the petitioner had that so far from Spa-Gelds having been informed Lord Sidmouth of this, who, so fixed on with any settled design, that far from making any objection, or adPalace-yard was the place originally vising petitioner not to do so, said that chosen for the meeting; from whence petitioner's presence appeared to have there could have been no design for at. prevented mischief ; so that his Lordship tacking the Bank or the Towcr.
could have had no desire to prevent the The petition from Henry Hunt, of Mid- meeting. The petitioner, and others condleton Cotiage near Andover, wasthen read. nected with him, had nothing to do with It stated in substance, that the petitioner the unhappy disturbances on the day of had been the mover of several petitions the Spa-fields meeting. He met the which had been favourably received by rioters on bis way to the meeting, and both Houses of Parliament, and of one in proceeded to the strongest resolutions particular as the Spa-fields meeting, which against violence and tumult; so that at a had been received by his Royal Highness third meeting, much more numerous than the Prince Regent; that he had lately either of the preceding, every thing passread the Report of the Secret Committee, ed off in the most orderly manner. As which, as far as he was able to disentangle to the pike-heads, he was ready to shew it, endeavoured to show that Spa-fields that a person of the name of Bentley had had been chosen as the centre for an at been employed by a game-keeper to make lack on the Bank and on the Tower; and spikes for the preservation of fish in a fish. that at the second meeting, the banners pond; that the first set succeeding exof revolution had been unfurled, and an tremely well, more had been ordered ; insurrection actually begun. That pike- and that, after this, Bentley had been sent heads bad actually been fabricated, and for to Bow-street, and ordered to make delegates appointed from different meet others similar as a copy of what he had ings in the country. With respect to the furnished the game-keeper with. Dele. brst allegation, the petitioner, as he could gates from Hampden Clubs having been Dot know the thoughts of men, could say mentioned, the petitioner begged to shew
that they were not termed delegates, but this measure ; so that, if their personal deputies; that they had met only three liberty was to be restrained, they should times, and that in an open room to which endure nothing more. It migbt be said, newspaper reporters were admitted ; that that it was sought to suspend the Aet but they had separated by an absolute disso. for a short time; but no man who apprelution, and not by an adjoufoment; nor ciated the value of liberty, or knew the were they to meet again in March, as horrors of a dungeon, could consider any was alledged in the Report of the Com- time short that was passed in a prisoo. mittee. The petition was grdered to lie Lord Castlereagh, in reply, said, the on the table,
Hon, Baronet's speech was not made to
convince the House, but was addressed to February 25.
persons in another place.-Being called Op a petition being presented, praying to order, the Speaker said that alĮ speeches for a reduction of the duty on wine, the made within those walls must be consi Chancellor of the Exchequer declared that, dered as delivered only to the House. under existing circumstances, po reduc Messrs. F. Lewis, Wynne, Wroilesley, tion could be made op the duty on wine. and Courtenay, spoke in favour of the Bill;
Sir Matthew Ridley made bis promised Lords Russell, Allhorp, and Rancliffe, with motion for an address to the Throne, to Sir S. Romilly and Mr. Ponsonby against reduce the number of the Lords of the it. The second reading was ultimately Adiniralty, in such a way as was not carried by 243 to 98—Majority, 175. incompatible with public safety, and was most suitable to the exigencies of the
February 27. time. The principal speakers against the The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved, motion were Lord Castlereagh, Messrs. that the House do go into a Committee Croker, Canning, Huskisson, and Law ; in on the Habeas Corpus Suspension Bill. support of it, Messrs. Brougham, Bankes, Messrs. Curwen and Marryal spoke against and Warre, and Lord Althorpe.
it, and Messrs. Grenfell and Lockhart in its On a division the motion was negatived defence. The House then resolved itself by a majority of 56
into a Committee. The blanks were filled
up, and the Report was brought up. February 26. Lord Castlereagh having moved the first
Febrụary 28. reading of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Sir James Shaw prese oted a petition Bill; Mr. Bennett expressed his surprise from the Common Council of Londog that the noble Lord should not have ad. agaiust the Suspension of the Habeas Corduced a syllable in support of a Bill, pus, which Sir James considered as unwhich was to take from the people, not a necessary. trial by juiy only, but all trial. It should Mr. Brougham presented a petition from be remembered that in the face of a Re- Liverpool on the same subject. port made in 1794, and another in 1812, On the third reading of the Habeas both by Secret Committees, the persons Corpus Suspension Bill, Messrs. Bankes, accused by them were, when tried, ac W. Quin, Protheroe, Lambe, the Lord Adquitied, and the testimony of nine-tenths vocate, the Allorney General, and Sir Ar. of the witnesses proved to be false. He thur Pigoll, spoke in favour of the Bill : suspected that the present Report was Messrs. M. A. Taylor, Lyttleton, W. Smith, founded ou similar evidence. The idea of Tierney, Sir S. Romilly, and Lord G. Ca handful of armed rioters taking the vendish, spoke against it. The third read. barracks by surprise --- also the Tower ing was then carried, on a division, by and the Bridges, was too ridiculous to 265 to 103; majority 162. dwell upon. And who were these conspi Mr. Ponsonby moved a clause which rators? what were their means? Six men went to limit the duration of the Bill to in a waggon, with a stocking full of am. the 20th May, which was negatived by munition ! He dared any Member of the 239 to 97. Committee to say that there was one nobleman, one gentleman implicated, or HOUSE OF LORDs, March 3. even any of the middle classes of society. Lord Holland wished to be informed by
The Lord Advocate of Scotland said, he the noble and learned Lord (Eldoo) on had given evidence before the Cominittre. the woolsack, wbether an individual, unfor. Early in January he learnt that secret tunately detained in any prison by order meetings had been held in Glasgow; that of government, under the power given by
conspiracy was organized there; and that the Habeas Corpus Suspension Bill, would the members were bound by a secret oath. have the means allowed him of petitioning
Sir Francis Burdett said, if the present Parliament ; or, if that should be thougbt motion passed, he should propose in the to involve too much publicity, at least of Committee some clause against the torture peritioning the Sovereign. He was the of prisoners who might be the victims of more desirops of being informed upon
this point, because knowing the kind of taken up for so doing. All those regula. regulation that was eoforced in some tions were precisely similar to what had prisons, it was of essential importance that been introduced into the Bill of 1797. an individual, placed in the situation he The first object of the measure, therefore, had alluded 10, should not be debarred was to prevent any meetings or assemblies from the free exercise of the right of mak of above 50 persons, except such meeling an application to the Government re ings of Corporate Bodies, &c. as he had specting the circumstances of his case. already mentioned, and except such as
The Lord Chancellor said, that every were called together upon a notice sigoed individual arrested on suspicion of trea by seven householders. To the Commitson, by order of Government, and de. Lee, however, it was his intention to protained under "he provisions of this Bill, pose a clause to prevent those meetings, bad jo his favour the presumprion of law, so convened by seven householders, from which always supposed every person un. being adjourned, and to prevent their der accusation to be innocent, until proved being held at any other time or place than to be guilty; and as far as he could an should be at first specified, by way of ad. swer a general question, every individual journient. A second object of the Bill in that situation bad the right of petition would be to prevent the existence of de. ing either the Sovereign or the Parliament, bating societies, lecture-rooms, readinga right which the gaoler, in whose custody rooms, &c. for admission to which money he was, had no right to deprive him of. was received. He should further observe, He must observe, at the same time, that that the 39th of the King bad for its obthis privilege would not be allowed to be ject to suppress by name certaio Societies, asserted as a mere colourable pretext with whose existence was regarded as prejua view to other objects.
dicial and detrimental to the State; it The Earl of Russlyn complained that also declared other societies to be unlaw. the Bill was upoecessary. The amend ful which were constituted in a particular ments made in the Biil by the House of way, such as imposing oaths, engageCommons were they agreed to; and a ments, tests, declarations, &c. or having message was ordered to be sent to the branches, divisions, employiug delegates, House of Commons to acquaint them &c. Another object of the Bill would be to Cherewith.
suppress a particular society or societies,
calling themselves Spenceans, or SpenIn the Commons, the same day, Mr, cean Philanthropists. If ever there was Bootle Wilbraham presented a petition from a society, the doctrines of wbich were uta the bundred of Blackburne, in Lanca. terly subversive of every well-regulated shire, complaining of the attempts inade state, subversive of all property, order, by desigoing persons to mislead and to and good government, it was that society. instigate them to measures subversive of At the present moment there was an im. the Government and Constitution.
mense number of persons who belonged Mr. Cawthorne said, that with respect to it; and therefore, without inquiring to the meeting at Preston, it had, no whether it employed delegates or not, it doubt, been regularly convened; but the was condemned by the very doctrines doors of the hall had hardly been opened, which it promulgated, and was rendered wben in rushed a rabble of cotton spinners as unlawful as any Corresponding Society and wearers, and others of the very lowest that ever existed. With respect to the order of the people,
using of delegates or inįssionaries, he was Some discussion took place on the se aware that many societies of the most ex. cond reading of the Seditious Assembly emplary kind did so; he believed the Bill. The Solicitor General said that meet Quakers had persons who visited their dif. ings called by Lords Lieutenants, Justices ferent communities in that character, of the Peace, or the Mayor, Aldermen, though under a different appellation, and or other officers of a Corporation, or di. therefore it would be a provision in the vision of a Corporation, would not be af. Act, to except from its operation all sofected by this Bill, Another opening 10 cieties constituted for charitable or reli, petitioning was left; for op a requisition gious purposes. The Hon, and learned being signed by seven resident house, Gentleman then concluded by moving the holders, a meeting might at any time or second reading of the Bill. place be convened; but the justices who Messrs. Bennel and Calvert, Sir F. attended at such meeting would be au. Burdelt and Lord Cochrane, were decidedthorised to declare it an unlawful assem, ly averse to the Bill, bly, if it proceeded to discuss any subject Mr. Baring remarked that the Report tending to alter matters of state, without said much of the prevalence of blasphethe authority of King and Parliament. mous doctrines. He believed the reverse Another regulation was, that any person was the case that religious feelings expropounding matters of that sort, or pro- isted very generally amongst the great pounding any seditious matter, might be body of the people that with some it