Gambar halaman

rify the people into weak compli- order of the day, which was, that ances, that ministers might continue his majesty's proclamations should in power, a power which drew the be read. . His lordship conceived conftitution into their own hands, those proclamations to be the and which he could not confider as ground-work of the bill which safely lodged while in their poffef. he proposed that day to fubmit fion.

to the consideration of the house. The remainder of the day was The late violent attack upon the spent in the examination of wit person of his inajesty demanded neles, and in a conference with some necessary measures for the the house of commons. The earl prevention of similar abuses; and of Mansfield, as chief manager for that attack he fufpected to have the lords, stated the nature of the been made in confequence of the evidence they had received ; and licentious assemblies and proceedthe two houses foon afterwards ings which had of late been futlerclosed the sitting, by adjournmented without any notice or reftrictill the next day.

tion. The treasonable and feditious On the zoth of O&ober the mi- fpeechesand writings which had latnutes of the evidence of the wit- terly been so afliduously disseminated nesses examined in the house of at public meetings, together with lords was communicated to the the number of otherwise cirhouse of commons. The reading culated, were lo general and notoof this evidence being closed, the rious, as most particularly to cald commons unanimously agreed to the for the interference of parliament. address, and a message was sent to He, as a servant of his majesty and acquaint the lords therewith. His a member of that houte, looked majesty's answer to the address was upon it as his duty to remonstrate reported on the 2d of November. against them, and endeavour to

On the 4th of November, copies check their flagitious tendency. of the proclamation issued by his He observed, that, whatever variamajesty relative to the outrages com- tion there might be in the bill he mitted against his person on the had to propose from the precedents 29th of O&tober, and of the pro- of former times, he assured their clamation afterwards published re- lordships that they would be found lative to seditious meetings, were only to vary so far as the peculiar submitted to the house of peers by forms of existing circumstances relord Mansfield, and were ordered quired. The precedents to which to lie on the table.

he referred were those in the reign On the same day lord Grenville of Elizabeth, and at the comgave notice, that upon the 6th mencerrent of the reizn of Charles he would bring forward a bill for the Second, acts passed in approved better securing the safety of his times, and applied to circumstances majesty's person and government, by no means dislimilar to those of when the proclamation would come the present day. He doubted not to be discuted, and moved that but their lord/bips would agree with their lordips be fun moned to at- him in the necessity there was of tend upon that day.

applying a speedy remedy to these Lord Grenville, on the 6th of dangerous practices, which had November, in pursuance of his no proceeded so far as to endanger the tice given on the 4th, moved the monarchy, or even the life and

falety safety of our present fovereign. forward with a measure ten times On these grounds he presented a bill stronger and more dangerous to the entitled, “ An Act for the, Safety liberties of the country, than they and Preservation of his Majetty's had hitherto dared to do, even at Person and Government against the moment of their greatest and Treasonable and Seditious Practices most avowed alarm. and Attempts;" which being read His lord fhip contended, that, by a first time, he moved that it the bill then introduced, a variety should be printed, and the lords be of new crimes and new treasons fummoned for the second reading would be added to the criminal on the Tuesday following.

code of this country; and it would The earl of Lauderdale said, that, effect a total alteration of the law's when he saw the proclamation which respecting treason, and a molt danhad just been read, his mind was gerous innovation upon the consti.. tilled with an equal degree of sur-tution. He thought it extraordiprize and anxiety, confidering it to nary, that so strong a measure fhould be a most extraordinary and unac

be proposed before there was the countabie measure; that he had least evidence to prove that there returned home, after the debate of .was the flightest connexion between a preceding evening *, perfe&tly fa- the meetings at Islington, &c. and tisfied, from what had passed there, the outrage on his majesty, or that that every idea of disquiet or alarm the treason and sedition complained had been lulled by the declaration of did actually exist. Thus a bill they had heard from the highest was to be brought in without the authority, and which tended to least foundation, which, if paticonvince the nation, that one of ed into a law, would annihilate the great objects of the war was every liberty and privilege which completely fulfilled, and that the Englishmen' then enjoyed. No dread and alarm which had any public meeting, for any public pur. where existed was quieted by the pose, could be held, however lefalutary effects of the proclama- gal such meeting might be, under tion of 1792, and the subsequent such a law. The old conftitution measures which minifters had a. of France had nothing more despodopted. But his astonishment was tic or more inconsistent with the greatly excited by the perusal of liberties of the people, than this bill the proclamation of Wednesday went to create. The fact appeared laft, and his surprize was augment to him to be, that, ministers having ed at finding a bill introduced from involved the country in a ruinous the same quarter, and grounded and destructive war, they had then upon that proclamation. This mea- recourse to extraordinary and unfure appeared to him to be a direct heard of measures, as the only contradiction to the high authority he means to carry on their mad and had just alluded to, and proved that dangerous fyítem; a war entered Dow it would be abfurd to suppose into against the sense of the people, government had succeeded in ob- and carried on at an expence so taining one of the greatest objects enormous, that it was with much of the war; for they now came difficulty the poor could bear the

[ocr errors]

* Alluding to the debate on the address to his majority on the 30th of Odober; for which, les the fullowing chaptes.


pre Ture of those grievances which disloyalty or disaffection in this it had already occasioned.

country; so far from this, he had The bill, he contended, was not the glory of saying, there was albrought in to check a specific or moft an universal spirit of loyalty immediate danger, but as a perma, in the nation. nent alteration of the criminal law He denied the noble earl's alof this country; for it was to con- sertion, that ministers had brought tinue during the life of the king, on this war. The votes of their and even afterwards. What ren. lord hips had already declared, that dered the bill still more objectiona ministers had not involved the ble was, that the ministers who were country in this war.

With respect to be entrusted with this extra. to the provisions of the bill, when ordinary acquisition of executive they came to be argued, he should power, were the very men who prove his assertions on the necessity had in the most glaring manner of the measure. He should prove strained the application of the pe- to the satisfaction of their lordihips, nal laws to an unprecedented that it did not, in the smallest de height. He pointed out several gree, interfere with the right of the cases wherein persons had been people to meet in legal and peacetreated with extreme tyranny under able assemblies. None could be prosecutions for supposed fedition made to suffer by it, except those and treason; and concluded a very who knew their conduct and intenable and animated speech, by pro. tions were wicked. nouncing the bill then before their The duke of Bedford said that lordships to be one of the feverest, he would embrace a future opporand most dangerous to the rights tunity to express the sentiments of and liberties of the people, that had disapprobation which he entertainever been introduced.”

ed against the bill. He was conLord Grenville, in contradiction vinced, that, while it was in their to the earl of Lauderdale, observed power to assemble, the people of that ministers had not said that all this country would meet, and disdiscontent and design against the play their sense of this injurious at. government of this country was tack aimed at their deareft rights done away; that all seditious prac- and liberties, in a manner fo mark. tices were at an end. This was not ed and decisive, as would induce the spirit or the meaning of his their lord ships to abandon the de. noble friend on the woolfack. The sign of carrying forward the bill. spirit of what he had said was this, The earl of Radnor observed that by the firmness of parliament that he might poflibly be thought in oppofing principles which had an odd man: but so far from being been supported by the arms of afraid to constitute new treasons, France, and which had been in- he rather wished to do to than not. dustriously propagated in this coun. If it were thought that certain of try, their lord ships were yet able fences, not in the purview of the to debate in that house, and still act 25 Edward the Third, ought to poffeffed of the power of arguing be considered and punished as high on the advantages of the British treason, why not make them high constitution; neither was it true treason at once, and enact that they that ministers had at any time affertwere so ? By so doing, men would ed that there was a general spirit of be taught to take warning, to un


derstand what crimes they were

and libellous and treasonable

papers comanitting, and what punishment circulated at that meeting. they were incurring, and to feel the The bill, he said, might be dineceflity of conducting themselves vided into two parts; the first for accordingly.

the safety and protection of his maThe question was at length put jesty's person, the other for the puand carried, that the bill be print- nilliment of treasonable crimes aed, &c.

gainst the ftate. On the first, he The duke of Portland, on the presumed, there would be no differroth of November, presented a pe- ence of opinion; and on the setition to the house from the city of cond, he affirted that there were Batlı, figned by a great number of no puniliments created for crimes persons of that city, stating their ab. that were not already acknowledg. horrence of the outrages and insuitsed to be so by the existing laws, excommitted against his majeity's per- cepting that it was intended, by the fon and the dignity of parliament, prefent bill, to include treafonable upon the first day of the sellion, publications and discourses as equaland praying that their lordfhips ly criminal and dangerous with the would take such fteps as might acts stated to be treason by the laws bring the offenders to speedy pu- then in force. To devise or comniflıment, and prevent the commis- pass the king's death, was already fion of fimilar crimes in future; treason; and the whole of that part which was read at the table. of the bill was grounded upon the

Lord Grenville then moved the folemn opinions of the best lawyers order of the day, the second reading in this country. There could not of the bill to protect his majesty's be a doubt but such compassing or person and the constitution of the conspiring against the king's person country from funilar attacks to and government, as was specified those which had been so recently in the bill, amounted to that degree made upon both. He had already of guilt which called for the most ftated the grounds upon which this fevere punithment: whether it a. bill was brought in; the fact fet mounted to levying civil war against forth in the preamble was unde- the king, or encouraging foreign niable; a body of proof upon that enemies, or by writing, publishing, head was already before their lord- or even speaking, the effect of the tips; in addition to that evidence, crime was the fame, and the puthey had his majesty's proclama- nisbiyent ought to be so likewife. tion, grounded upon inquiry and The provisions of the bill had been examination. That such a meet- made upon the same principles as jag had been held in the fields but the acts of queen Elizabeth and three days before the meeting of Charies the Second, and were in parliament, no man could helitate fact as similar as the circumstances to believe; no man likewise could of the present times would admit; doubt for a single moment, that the and it having been found that diffidaring outrage committed on the culties foinetimes arose in the conperson of the sovereign, and in it struction of the acts now in force, a most unprecedented infult on the it was intended, by the variations dignity and freedom of parliament, from them in this bill, to ascertain followed from the feditious speeches, precisely the meaning which was

[ocr errors]

to be given to the whole of the ministry proposed the fufpenfion of treason laws. When the bill came the Habeas Corpus AE, a select coniinto the committee, he meant to mittee was appointed, who reportmove the omitting of the words ed to the house a mass of evidence malicious and advised speaking; and which gave to their proceedings at that being done, there would re- least the appearance of deliberation; main nothing in the bill which was whereas, in the present case, they not already acknowledged by the seemed to disregard all idea of des existing laws to be treason. With liberation, inquiry, or evidence. regard to the clause respecting sedi- It was not enough that lord Grention, it did not, he said, interfere ville should declare, that he was fawith the prefent laws, nor prohi. tisfied on this point; parliament bit anyacts or meetings which were ought to know the necessity of the then legal, but in some cases pro- measure before they adopted it. He vided a more adequate punishment for wished the noble fecretary of state the degree of crime, than the ex- would explain how the law, as far isting laws admitted of; it having as it regarded the king's life, was in many instances been fourd, that in any respect defective, or wherein though the crime was sufficiently this bill was likely to amend it. proved, the law did not point out His grace then made some pointed any adey uate puniliment. Having observations upon the good times from taken this general view of the bill, which lord Grenville had taken his he moved the second reading of it. precedents in support of the bill.

The duke of Bedford stated, that, He never thought that the noble as far as the bill related to the glar- lord had so far forgotten what he ing and Aagitious outrage commit- and the nation owed to those who ted against the covereign, every man brought about the revolution, as to in and out of the house must repro- speak of the reigns of Elizabeth bate such crimes, and earnestly with and Charles the Second as models to see them punished in an ade- for example, or furnishing precequate and exemplary manner; at dents for government to act upon the same time he must add, that he in the present day. The noble Nord saw nothing in the bill that tended ought to reflect on the events which in the least to secure or protect his followed those precedents; and they majesty's person in a better or more would surely furnish him with 10effeâual manner than it was now thing that he could wish to anticiprotected by the existing laws. pate from this measure. In queen The second part of the bill was Elizabeth's time those laws were founded upon the proclamation a. chiefly directed against bulls i flued gainst the meetings which had been by the pope, and when the country lately held. He appealed to their was in a very distracted state, both lordíhips, whether it would not be from foreign and domestic' foes ; inconfiitent with their dignity to and in Charles the Second's reign, proceed to so solemn an act as the these measures were adopted when Introduction of this extraordinary he was just restored after a twenty and dangerous bill, without having years' absence, and were deemed before them any proof of any sort, absolutely necessary for his prothat the proceedings of those meet. tection. ings had rendered so strong a mea- The earl of Lauderdale rose, and fure indispensable. When the same faid that he did not believe the af


« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »