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fended the proceedings of government, a juryman, because actual treason was and the judgments of the courts of law in concealed in the matter that was to bring cases of libel. Certainly, however, that it forth: and it was with great difficulty matter was not connected with the pre- that minds, not habituated to consider the sent subject. There was a case of great subject with the greatest attention, could hardship, of which he had been informed. be led to see the danger that surrounded A number of persons were brought up to them. Thus in Ireland under the pretown from Manchester : they were loaded tence of Catholic emancipation and parwith irons ; in this situation they travelled, liamentary reform, nothing less than the and when they arrived, they were lodged separation of Ireland from England, and in the House of Correction in Cold-bath the erection of the former into an indeFields. From the effects of travelling pendent republic, was the object aimed in this state, their legs were very at. So here, the pretence of a reform, much swelled, and when lodged in the &c. had been assumed. But would genprison, the Bow-street officers ordered the tlemen say that this was a cloak that conirons to be knocked off, which was a very cealed nothing ? The executive governpainful operation. They then were thrown ment assuredly would not not have done into places quite unprepared for their re- its duty, had they not made use of all ception, and next day taken before the lawful means to thwart the designs of privy council. Now, however, he under such confederacies, and made applicastood, their situation was much improved. tion to parliament for that power which As to the bill before the House, no grounds it was the object of the present bill to imhad been stated on which the House could part. surrender so important a bulwark of the Mr. Mainwaring said, that the House liberties of the subject.

of Correction in Cold-bath Fields had not The Solicitor General said, he should been established for any such purpose as have thought that what had been disclosed that for which, in the present situation of at the late trials at Maidstone, as well as affairs, it had been found necessary to emwhat had taken place in Ireland, were suf. ploy it. With regard to its management, ficient reasons for continuing the measure he could say, that there were none of the proposed. It was one that had been re- abuses stated. The keeper of that gaol peatedly adopted in times of danger. The was a person of great humanity, and every bill for suspending the Habeas Corpus act care was exerted for preserving the health originated in the reign of king William, in and comfort of persons confined. He was consequence of dangers to which he was sure that there was not a more comfortable exposed. In 1715, when this suspension place of the kind in the whole country, or was renewed, the most salutary conse- one in which, in proportion to the numbers quences had followed. This precaution hav- confined, there was less sickness. ing been omitted in 1745, the country was Mr. Wilberforce said, he was astonished left in a much more dangerous state than it at what the hon. baronet had said, reswas in 1715. Whoever had impartially pecting the situation of the prison in Coldconsidered what had lately passed in Ire- bath Fields; he had been there as well as land, must have seen that the society of the hon. baronet, not for the purpose of United Irishmen had enabled the con- visiting any particular persons, or on spiracy to diffuse itself, till at length it the spur of the occasion, but to examine burst forth in acts of open rebellion, the general state of the place, and to view which, from the very plan of these socie- the situation of the prisoners. He had ties, drew a veil of secrecy over their pro- likewise been in the habit of correspond. ceedings, which made it difficult to bring ing on the subject, before there was any home the guilt to individuals. Strong at- idea of its being agitated in that House, tempts had been made to establish similar and the accounts he had received were societies in this country. Hence corres- very different from what some gentlemen ponding societies had been established had stated. Nothing can be more satiswith their executive committees, &c.; an factory than the account which a friend imperium in imperio had been introduced, had given him of the state of the prison, which was a germ of treason and rebellion, as to the health and treatment of the priwhich, if not nipped in the bud, would soners. The gentleman who wrote the soon have discovered itself in a more open letter, a respectable clergyman, stated form. Now such sort of treason was not that he had seen the food intended for the easily brought home to the conviction of prisoners, which consisted of as good legs of mutton and pieces of beef as he had were not grounds for the suspension ever seen at his own table : that the ut- of the act. While there was a dread of most cleanliness prevailed throughout the invasion it was right to adopt such a meaplace; that of the 240 which the prison sure ; that dread, however no longer excontained at any one time, the sick were isted. only three, and the deaths for the whole

ole Mr. Elison supported the bill, because year only two. What then were the facts he thought the circumstances of the of the case ? On the one side there was country rendered, it necessary to vest the evidence of the minutes of the pro- those powers in the executive; and he ceedings of the magistrates superintending was the more inclined to support it, bethe prison, and on the other, the accounts cause the powers with which ministers which gentlemen opposite had received had been trusted, had been well exerfrom the parties themselves. All these cised. facts clearly proved that the gentle. Mr. Alderman Combe could not consent men opposite had been imposed on, and to the continuance of this restraint, as, that, from too credulously listening to the from the state of the country, he saw no information they received, they had brought necessity for parting with the great bula serious charge against a worthy set of wark of our liberty. magistrates. He trusted he was not the Mr. Western said, that as no grounds last to feel what was due to suffering, but had been stated to the House to show the at the same time there were feelings of necessity of this measure, he could not another kind which ought not to be over. support it. There never was a period looked. He never could forget the saying in which the domestic safety of the emof that great and good man lord Hale. pire was in less danger than it was at preWhen asked how he felt when he prosent. nounced sentence of death on a criminal, Mr. Pitt, while be expressed the warmhe replied, “ that he felt for the situation est satisfaction at hearing it stated from of the prisoner, but he felt likewise for all quarters that the situation of the counthe country." He recommended the ex. try had been so greatly improved, could ample of lord Hale to the gentlemen op- not but remind the House, that this posite. They seemed to be tremblingly change had been obtained by the adop: alive to the situation of those who were tion of those measures, which some gen. taken up on suspicion of the greatest tlemen who now exulted in our safety, crimes, but they did not seem to be alive had represented as calculated to produce to the danger of the country. With re- disaster abroad, and to destroy the constigard to the measure before the House, tution at home. If the measures which those who thought that there had been had been adopted by parliament had an. danger; who think that the danger swered the ends for which they were deis not entirely over, would not deprive signed; if they had rescued the country the executive of those means by which from those dangers which were now no lonthey had been enabled to provide for the ger represented as imaginary, surely it was safety of the country.

a most singular argument to say, that at Mr. M. A. Taylor, though he agreed that the moment in which they were mutually ministers had exercised the discretion en congratulating each other upon the adtrusted to them in as tender a manner as pos- vantageous change which had taken place sible, said that a case had notbeen made out in our affairs, they ought to throw away so strong as to induce him to support the those very means by which that advanta. motion. He thought it would be prudent geous change had been obtained. Did to send to a select committee the grounds gentlemen think, that because we had, by upon which they conceived that the sus- the wise and vigorous measures we had pension ought to be continued. In the adopted, fortunately escaped the perils prosecution and punishment of libels with which we were menaced, we might there had been no harshness. As to citi- now with safety abandon our efforts, and zen Smith and others, he had seen most relax our precaution? Did they suppose of their publications, and more diabolical that, if exulting in the idea of security, ones, in his opinion, never existed. But they were to sink into inattention and sustill there was in the hands of the attor-pineness, these dangers might not recur? ney general the power to prosecute, and Though Jacobinism might be curbed and in the hands of the court the power to repressed, yet while the principle repunish; he therefore conceived that there mained unextinguished, its efforts would

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not cease. Jacobinism, to all that was the avowed design of attempting the invadetestable and abhorrent, added one qua- sion of his majesty's dominions; and that lity which increased its malignity, and in this the enemy is encouraged by the corthat was an incorrigible obstinacy, a respondence and communications of traiwicked determination to be influenced by torous and disaffected persons and socieno arguments, to be convinced by no ties of these kingdoms." Here was facts. He trusted that the success that plain and candid reason assigned for the had hitherto attended these measures suspension of the act; but was the case would be an argument for their continu- the same now as it was then Were our ance. An hon. gentleman had suggested the enemies making preparation for the invapropriety of appointing a secret commit- sion of these kingdoms?

Had they iee, to inquire into the necessity of conti- not been baffled and discomfited in differs nuing the suspension. But what farther ent parts of the world? He must now proof could be necessary after what had advert to what had been said by the ata passed in Ireland ? A time, he hoped, torney.general during the last debate would come, during the present session, upon this measure. That gentleman had when, through the medium of a secret stated some points, as if he (Mr. C.) had committee, the public might be put in misrepresented facts relative to the pripossession of many circumstances, of soners in Clerkenwell. Now, as a corrowhich they now could have conception- boration of what he had stated upon circumstances, which would more fully this matter, he begged to read a letter display that system of treason which had from the wife of colonel Despard : been carried on, and those links by which “ Some mention having been made in the Irish traitors were connected with traitor- newspaper reports of the House of Commons ous societies in this country. But at pre- relative to the treatment of colonel Dessent he should be ashamed to have recourse pard in the new prison, I think it necessary to a secret committee, to justify them to state that the colonel was confined in adopting a measure, of the expedi- near seven months in a damp cell, not ency of which they were so perfectly con- seven feet square, without either fire or vinced.

candle, chair, table, knife, fork, a glazed The House divided :

window, or even a book to read. I made

several applications in person to Mr. Tellers.

Wickham, under secretary of state, and Yeas ŞMr. Attorney General


by letter to the duke of Portland-all to no Mr. Burdon

purpose. About the 20th of last month Mr. Tierney

he was removed into a room with a fire, but NOES

6 Mr. Alderman Combe

not until his feet were ulcerated by frost.

For the truth of this statement, I appeal The bill was then ad a second time.

to Mr. Lawless, or John Reeves, esq. List of the Minority.

who visited the colonel in prison, and at

whose intercession he was removed. I Rurdett, sir Francis Western, C.C. Baring, sir Francis.


state these facts without the colonel's Buuverie, hon. E. Tierney, G.

knowledge, as even his jailer will bear Denison, W.J. Combe, alderman witness that he never made any complaint Taylor, M. A.

of his treatment, however severe it was.

The colonel served his majesty thirty Dec. 26. The order of the day was years, and all his family are now in the read for going into a committee on the army. Catharine Despard. Berkeleybill. On the question being put, that the square, Dec. 23, 1798.". It was very true Speaker do now leave the chair,

that when he saw the colonel he made no Mr.Courtenay said, he was about to ad- complaint to him. He asked the colonel, duce additional reasons against suspend if he had been confined in the same maning the Habeas Corpus act any longer. ner as the other state prisoners committed But before he did so, he would read the since the suspension of the Habeas Cordeclaration made by his majesty in April: pus act? He answered, yes ; and that he “Whereas it appears that the preparation had been confined to his cell, till removed for the embarkation of troops and warlike by the humane interference of Mr. Reeves. stores are now carried on with conside- He knew colonel Despard thirty years ago ; rable and increasing activity in the ports he was then in the service. An hon. gentleof France, Flanders, and Holland, with man had asked, if he had any sympathy

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with prisoners of this description? He could not converse with others, yet it was understood, and held in contempt, the a condition inseparable from the nature of mean and malignant insinuation. He the thing. There had been something avowed that he sympathised with the vic- said about the wives and friends of some tims of oppression. If the persons con- prisoners being refused access to them. fined in this prison, under the authority By the way, there were some wives who of this act, were guilty, let them be tried had met with much indulgence, in not beand condemned; but ifthey were not guilty, ing taken up and confined as well as their let them be acquitted. To general decla- husbands. Some complaints having been mation upon probable guilt, or suspicion made to the duke of Portland relative to of guilt, he paid no regard; nor did the situation of colonel Despard, Mr. christian rancour, or religious facetious- Wickham, in May 1798, wrote a letter to ness, affect him. A worthy magistrate the keeper of the prison, stating that he had stated, that the prison which he al. was directed by the duke to desire that luded to was not originally designed for the wife of colonel Despard should have persons of this description, and that their access to him, and converse with him in being sent there was matter of neces. the presence of any proper person to be sity; but if it was necessary to send entrusted for that purpose. He had the them to this place, there was no ne- deposition of a person on oath, stating cessity of treating them with inhumanity that colonel Despard, on hearing what when they were in it. In his opinion, the had been said in the House of Commons coniplaints of abuse of the power given to of the hardships of his situation, was surgovernment by this act, might logically prised at it, and added, that if necessary, be urged against its renewal. He had he would contradict it himself. The acstated these facts, because he believed them count he had received of the matter was to be true ; but if they should be proved this: Mrs. Despard, in June, wrote a letter to be false, he should be very happy to to the duke of Portland, in consequence of retract them.

which the duke sent for the gaoler of the The Attorney General said, that the prison, and gave him directions, importing court of King's-bench did not order that there should be shown to the priSmith to be sent to that prison until after soner every indulgence which the nature they had been well assured that it was a of the warrant under which he was comfit and proper place to receive him. They mitted would admit. After this Mrs. did it in the execution of an important Despard wrote another letter to the duke, duty, and the hon. gentleman who talked to which no answer was returned, because so much of cruelty, would give him leave proper directions had been already given. to say, that he knew of no cruelty so Mrs. Despard wrote another letter to Mr. harsh as that of a member of parliament Wickhain. He told her she had betendeavouring to call forth the public in- ter write again to the duke. She did dignation on persons who stood in a situa- so. The duke heard her complaint himtion of great difficulty as well as of impor- self, and ordered the colonel to bave tance, without examining the case on every thing consistent with the nature which they spoke. Asto colonel Despard, of the warrant, and safe custody: he he was a man who had been long in the ordered him to be allowed the use of service of his country most certainly, and books, and directed the gaoler to attend who appeared to conduct himself well in to the circumstance of his being a man his confinement. The report of the case of rank, and to allow him such accommoof this gentleman, as stated this night, dation as common feeling dictated on was taken from a letter published in the that account. After this, Mr. Wickham, newspapers. In this case there was two by the order of the duke of Portland, deconsiderations involved : 1. What had been sired Mr. Ford to go to the gaol, and the conduct of the duke of Portland and order every indulgence, that was conof Mr. Wickham ? 2. What had been sistent with safety, to be given to all the the regulation of the gaol itself? It had prisoners. Some time after this the duke been always held that persons commit- Ordered colonel Despard to be removed ted for high treason, or on suspicion of to the place where he now was. Here he high treason, should be kept "safe and read the description of the cells in which close:” and therefore, however appa. the prisoners were confined, by which it rently harsh it might be, to put a person was clear there was no pretence for saya only accused in a situation in which he ing they were damp or unwholesome.


He read also some parts of a conversation, justification for such cruel treatment. If, by which he collected that the letter was after due investigation, he should find not of the writing of Mrs. Despard. that the ill-treatment of the prisoners was Perhaps she did not see the whole drift of not grounded on fact, he not only would it. It was a well written letter, and for be ready to make the amende honorable, a certain purpose well adapted; and the but should enjoy the happiness of having fair sex would pardon him, if he said it his feelings relieved from the idea that such was a little beyond their style in general. foul atrocities had been practised in the There were artful men in that prison, and country that gave him birth. It was his some of them had shown they ill deserved wish that evidence should be called to the the lenity that was shown to them ; 'some bar, in order to have the whole matter of them had a great number of O'Connor's cleared up to the general satisfaction of pamphlets ready for circulation. He the country. hoped in future, before any information Mr. Boudon said, that as soon as he was given to the House with respect to had seen Mrs. Despard's letter, he felt it the treatment of prisoners, every member his duty to inquire minutely into the would feel it his duty not to rely on the causes of her complaints. With that view reports of newspapers, but to sift the mat. he had a long conversation with colonel ter to the bottom.

Despard, in the presence of the governor Mr. Wilberforce acknowledged, that we of the prison. The colonel informed ought not to take away that guard to him, that he was as comfortable, in every which we owed the security of our rights circumstance, as the nature of a prison and liberties, upon slight and capricious would admit. It was true, that in Sepgrounds. When, however, it was obvious tember he had a chilblain on his heel; but that we had enemies both without and so little did he think of it, that he would within : when we saw members of that not employ the surgeon of the prison to House, who appeared at least friendly to relieve it. As soon as his complaints were persons of such a stamp, then it became known, he was removed to a room where that House not to relax in any of our ex. he had fire, candles, and every accommoertions to counteract the designs and ma- dation he could fairly expect, he had frechinations of such enemies : we should not quent interviews with his wife, with whom hesitate to sacrifice a part of that, the he was permitted to converse for almost whole of which we might secure and here any length of time.

He had not any after enjoy by means of that seasonable knowledge of the letter written by her sacrifice.

complaining of his ill-treatment; if he had, Sir F. Burdett contended, that every he would have disapproved of it. As to assertion he had made was grounded upon the dampness of the cells, he had examined facts. He would now adduce new facts them himself: they were raised conin proof of his former assertions. The siderably above the ground, and not hon. baronet then read several papers sent exposed to wet of any

kind. The him by the prisoners from Manchester, walls were moreover thick, and well the general purport of which was, to de- white-washed. The beds neither touched scribe the hardships which they had suf. the walls, nor were they exposed to any fered in the prison at Cold-bath fields ; inclemency of the weather. What, then, among which they enumerated their being could be the effect of agitating a question confined in solitary cells, measuring only like the present, but to traduce the fair eight feet by six, where they could not character of respectable men, and particuobtain any thing like a bed without paying larly of the magistrates, whose conduct a shilling for it; where they were left should not be lightly arraigned ? without fire or candle, exposed to cold Mr. Canning rose to ask, where was weather, in a narrow space where the wet the ground for the inquiry which the hon. continued to flow down the walls, a situa- baronet was so anxious should be insti. tion in which they had been compelled to tuted ? The House was not in the habit linger for seven months ; that far different of granting inquiries without some adetreatment had been promised them by the quate motive to justify them. It should privy council; and though they had re- clearly appear that all was not right peatedly written to Mr. Ford the magis- before an inquiry was acceded to. But trate, they could obtain no redress. He here every statement brought forward could not see that the charge of any par had been contradicted. The House, ticular species of guilt could afford any therefore, should institute no inquiry on [VOL. XXXIV.]


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