Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

quire into the Public Records of this So then, as long as any other country reKingdom, and of such other public instru- tained Jacobinical principles, even though ments, rolls, books, and papers, as they France renounced them, so long must shall think proper; and to report to the Great Britain remain deprived of the House the nature and condition thereof, Habeas Corpus act! This was the greatest together with what they shall judge fit to insult that could be offered to the nation. be done for the better arrangement, pre- Better give up the Habeas Corpus enservation, and more convenient use of the tirely! Was there any appearance of same.”_ The Master of the Rolls seconded treason now in the country? And yet the motion, and a Select Committee was though nothing of a seditious nature had accordingly appointed.

passed, this suspension was to be conti

nued. Not one of the imprisoned perDebute in the Commons on the Habeas sons had been brought to trial. And Corpus Suspension Bill.]. Feb. 13. The how many had been taken up since April Attorney General (Sir John Mitford) rose 1799? Only one Irishman and one Sweto move for the renewal of the act to en. dish baron. He thought it peculiarly unable bis majesty to secure and detain per- just, that persons should be kept for years sons suspected of conspiring against his in prison without being brought to trial, person and government; which act would because proof sufficient could not be expire on the 1st of March next. Since brought against them. The only reason the last passing of the bill, the disposition why more people were not taken up was, of the country was not changed with regard because ministers were convinced that no to the machinations of those persons who conspiracy existed. were to be the objects of the bill; and Mr. Windham said, that the hon. gen. therefore if the House thought it a fit and tleman had always opposed the suspension, proper measure last year, they must and he would not be consistent with himthink so now. The country might be in self if he did not oppose it now. But the a state of greater safety than it was a year question was not what the hon. gentleman or two ago; but it was impossible to read might do, but what the House should do the report of the committee of that upon this subject; and in the determinaHouse, published last year, without tion of that, another question arose, which being convinced that there were persons was, whether any such change has taken in this country who would disturb the place since the last suspension, as to repeace of it, if any opportunity presented quire measures different from those which itself. The peace of the country had parliament has hitherto pursued, by way been already preserved by the powers of general safety? Now upon that subwhich this act vested in the hands of go-ject he must contend, that we were not vernment. Conceiving it necessary, warranted in saying there was no symptherefore, to continue the same powers, toms remaining of the mischief which we he would move, “ That leave be given to formerly dreaded, and that therefore the bring in a bill for further continuing, for a Habeas Corpus act should not now be time to be limited, the said act."

suspended; but he was very far from being Mr. Jones conceived the loyalty of the sure, that such manner of reasoning was country to be so great, as to render the to be adopted, or that the reverse was bill unnecessary. He never would place not to be in some measure taken up,

be. unlimited power in the hands of ministers cause the very cessation of the mischief over the liberties and lives of the whole proved, to a certain extent, the efficacy of country. It would be better to repeal the the remedy, and therefore the non-apHabeas Corpus act at once.

pearance of the evil, instead of being a Mr. Buxton believed it was to the sus- reason for taking off the remedy, was a pension of that act that members owed reason for its continuance, otherwise the the liberty of sitting there. The war was House must come to this sort of reason; carried on against Jacobin principles, and " We will repeal the act, because we as long as they continued in France, so have found it to be efficacious." The long must it endure.

case was, indeed, open to two ways of Mr. Sheridan said, that at no time reasoning; for he believed that both were should he be easily persuaded to vote for in a degree true. He believed that the this bill; and less than ever when the plea quiet of the country was partly owing to was, not the disaffection in this country, this act, and he believed also that there but the dangerous principles in another. was a change in the dispositions of some parts of the country. The numbers of He did not mean to say, that the metroihe disaffected he took to be altered, be- polis of Great Britain had ever been excause the state of the stock which sup- posed to the same danger ; nor that these ported (disaffection was higher at some considerations made up the strongest reatimes than at others, like the state of stock sons for the continuance of the suspenin another country; but he had no doubt, sion; but he did say these were some that if Buonaparté were to be successful, reasons for it. The number of disaffected in reviving, to its utmost height, the pride persons was not so great as it had been; and confidence of French power, the spirit but he did not believe the disposition of which accompanied it before would ap- the disaffected to all establishments in the pear again ; and he thought it would be world was altered; he believed it was in quite childish in the House to suffer itself full vigour still, and therefore he hoped to be misled in this way. He believed that this bill would be continued. indeed that Jacobinism was on the de. Sir Francis Burdett said, that ministers cline, nor did he apprehend the principles seemed to pass this bill, as a matter of of the rights of man to be so popular as course, without assigning the reasons that they had been; but he hoped the House induced them to have recourse to such a would not be off its guard; by thinking measure. The general reason of Jacobin that all danger was at an end; for many principles---principles, not even yet defined of these things disappeared for the furnished them hitherto with pretexts purpose of giving them more effect when for depriving the subject of one of his they should appear again. Here the dis- most estimable privileges. This reason affected stood upon the badness of their he was inclined to think, was done away, own character, by saying, ".We are so and he wished to know upon what grounds degraded that nobody will give us credit, they were now to proceed. He was at a and therefore it is quite unnecessary to loss to comprehend what was meant by make any provision against us.” He Jacobin principles being on the decline in hoped, however, the House would not act this country, unless they meant the prinupon any confidence of this kind. The ciples of liberty. The secretary at war, smallness of the number of Jacobins in had asked, Was there nothing to dread this country arose, in a great measure, from the contagion of French principles, from the discretion of these persons; for and the mischiefs which they almost every they felt that by the act they were sub- where produce ? He in return would ask, ject to punishment, and therefore they was there nothing to dread from were silent. Beside this, it took away the breaking down the barriers of the constipower of those men, whom nothing but tution, erecting of barracks throughout the want of power would render harmless. the kingdom, perverting the purposes of He knew of a man who was put upon his the militia, and perpetually passing the trial, and on which the jury (for proper suspension of this act, which secured to reasons no doubt) acquitted him; but he the subject his freedom ? He had not would not be so childish as to say, that language to express what he felt at the he was tied down by that decision of the repeated suspension of the Habeas Core jury (though acquitted rightly and pro- pus. If any part of our constitution was perly, perhaps, from a defect of evidence, preferable to another, it was this act; accidentally happening, or otherwise) which when removed, left very little diffrom saying that he might still be of opi- ference between one government and annion he was really guilty, and he would other. Was not two years imprisonment therefore wish to put such a person in a sufficient for those unhappy persons who situation in which it would not be in his were in confinement: and did not their power to do any more mischief. Besides, detention from justice argue a fear in mievery thing being quiet at this moment, nisters to bring them to trial? He said was no proof that there was no plot in their innocence was the cause of their deexistence. What was the case in Ireland? tention, and in proof of that he asked to A plot was discovered by information of have them brought to trial. To whom an accomplice, and other means, which if was the power to be given which this bill it had not, within twenty-four hours the called for? To those who had already capital might have been in ashes and abused it. To those who, upon illegal streaming in blood--it was a plot that warrants, upon the warrants of clerks in was discovered at once, as by lemon juice offices, powers not known to the constituhidden characters are rendered legible. tion were passed into the hands of Bow

street ruffians, who, under their authority throughout Europe, and had produced went down to Manchester, and dragged such mighty mischiefs, and that the hon. from their own houses, at night, and baronet should profess his ignorance of amidst the cries of their families, the them, gifted as he was with considerable masters of those families, hand-cuffed and talents, and considerable powers of eloloaded with irons, to Clerkenwell prison, quence, he considered as a grave and sewhere they were lodged, under torture of rious caution to gentlemen, lest they mind and body. When out of their should be imposed on as the hon. baronet hands, they applied to the humanity of certainly was, when he confessed that the the gaoler for relief, in consequence of only conjecture he could make of those the swellings of their legs, occasioned by principles was, that they were principles the treatment of these savages. What of liberty; when the hon. baronet knew, would the father of the chancellor of the as he certainly must know, that by those exchequer have said on the recital of principles the governments of Europe had such oppression? Would he not have been overthrown: that by those principles said, that the cottage of the peasant was aided by the sword, and the sword edged as sacred as the palace of the prince? in turn by those principles, not only the That, though humbly thatched it was se- governments that were free, but even the cure, and the king could not lay a finger strongest despotisms, had been attacked on it? Yet this asylum was violated. If and shaken; for on them the storm had that illustrious character were now alive, most heavily fallen. Yet after all this the thunder of his eloquence would shake waste and desolation, this country was safe. the House about their ears, and the ave- The hon. baronet was of opinion, that there nues would be crouded with auditors im- was no security in the country, because it patient for the decision. He would raise had resisted what he called principles a storm from which the members would of freedom. What the operation of those be glad to hide their heads, and hasten to principles were, all could judge. What their homes. But he (Sir Francis) was his right hon. friend had said, was, not not so inexperienced as not to know the that the great mass was infected in this character of that House ;-he knew it was country, for they were sound; but that power, not language : and that majorities factions still remained, who were looking in that House did not depend upon rea- round for a wide range for their ambition, soning [The Speaker here interposed, and who, on invitation, were ready to suggesting the impropriety of the expres- ruin their country. The events on the sion), Sir Francis resumed his speech, continent furnished to such factions hopes in reference to the conduct of the Attor- and views for their ambitious projects. ney General, and said, he did not forget | For these two or three years there was his predecessor (sir J. Scott) in that sta- nothing in France that could either ention. He had passed to power through courage or prompt ambition. But now the gradations of similar services to those there was the example of one man, for the the present directed his attention to, and first time risen to the height of power. In was now on the way to the first high sta- former attempts all who had enterprised tion in the kingdom. Sir Francis said he for eminence, or intrigued for power, had would

yet do his utmost to stop that sys- been indiscriminately swept off to the tem of tyranny and corruption which fas- scaffold. If ever there was an excuse for tened on the country; and though there ambition it was now. The Jacobin prinwas much cause to complain of the 8,000 ciples had gained an ascendant in the prisoners delivered up on the failure of present usurper. Had Buonaparté rethe late expedition, yet he did not nounced the conduct and crimes of his complain so much of the surrender of predecessors ? Certainly not. So far was these men, as he did of those who were he from dismissing the accomplices of illegally, unjustly, and cruelly confined.

those crimes, that he kept them about his Mr. Canning said, that if any gentle. person. Though a military despot, he man could bring himself to think that was a Jacobin in his heart. In him JaJacobin principles had ceased to produce cobin principles have a certain pledge for their mischievous effects, or could ima- all the mischiefs they can produce. An gine for a moment that they were shamed hon. gentleman had put a question on the or run down in this country, the hon. conduct of foreign princes towards their baronet's speech would remove the delu- subjects, and had asked, whether in casé sion. That thos' principles had raged of their misconduct, we should impute a

} }

similar attempt to our monarch at home? | justice; and he thought that such gentleHe had no objection to this question, had men, if they did not confess their being he put it distinctly. Had any monarch imposed on, should at least refrain from been seduced by the example of foreign the discussion. There was another falpotentates so as to infringe the laws, and lacy that he wished to correct, which was, attempt to destroy the constitution (as that when yon take away the Habeas in the instance of James the 2nd), the Corpus act you take away all. This was country would certainly now, as it did not true. Many valuable rights remained. then, interfere in defence of its laws and The liberty of the press remained, and constitution. He would then call upon even to a degree of licentiousness. The the hon. baronet, and ask him if religion, liberty of speech also remained. If the under the most black and malignant ef- liberty of the subject was dammed up one fects of its superstition, was at all compa- way, it was open another. rable to the bigger mischiefs produced by The House divided : this horrible superstition that overturned

Tellers. thrones, powers, and principalities, together with all their dependencies, wherever YEAS

.

69

Mr. Buxton it went ? This contagion still continued to rage, and it was our duty to guard against Noes Mr. Sheridan

9 the example ; for that was enough to pro

Sir Francis Burdett duce the effect. When it was asserted, that in two years ministers had taken up Feb. 19. On the order of the day for but two or three persons, this proved that the second reading of the bill, they were not inclined to abuse their Mr. Jolliffe said, he had great objection trust. One of these was a Swedish to the renewal of this act. At any rate baron, who had been naturalized, and it ought first to expire, were it only for a this furnished a hint to the legislature to day, rather than that it should be renewed be sparing of that favour in future. The year after year, like the Mutiny or Land. hon. baronet's charge of cruelty in the tax bill, a matter of course, and thus arrest of the persons at Manchester, might become a part of the constitution. furnish language for a modern novel. He Mr. H. Lascelles considered it necesdid not know why a warrant should not sary that the hands of government should be executed by night as well as by day, be strengthened. To such measures as The officers arrived there at night, and the present he attributed the general to prevent an escape secured their priso- tranquillity, notwithstanding the efforts

The house was entered by legal used to disturb all civilized order. He instruments, and they acted according to saw no reason why the generality of the law. He admitted that the cottage should people, who were well affected, should be equally secure as the palace; and one not be protected from the disaffected. It of the main objects of the war was to might as well be argued, that because the maintain that equal security ; but the generality of the people were honest, there French had made one indiscriminate wide should be no law against robbers. waste of cottages and palaces. Thanks Mr. Hobhouse pointed out the inconto parliament, in this country it had been sistency of ministers in the arguments so, and would continue so, as long as we urged in support of this bill. Upon apcould preserve the higher ranks from the pearance of danger, the liberties of the infection of Jacobin principles, and the subject must be suspended ; upon disaplower from the seduction of them. pearance of the peril, the same arbitrary

Mr. Wilberforce said, that ministers powers must be placed in the hands of were entitled to confidence, unless there ministers; and thus, whether the state appeared from their confidence and cha- were, or were not, exposed to risk, an in. racter reasons for refusing it. Parliament dividual might be committed under a warwould also consider whether the persons rant from the privy council, or secretary who opposed this bill might not be imposed of state, and denied the privilege of deon, and whether they had not, under such manding his trial within a given time. imposition, been led solemnly to attest Farewell then, an eternal farewell, to the upon oath the characters of persons who blessings of that great charter of our perwere afterwards convicted of crimes from sonal freedom, the Habeas Corpus act! which they had escaped. This testimony Traitors, but for this measure, it was said, had been given solemnly in a court of would no longer lurk in hiding places,

ners.

but, on the first opportunity, would rush powered the privy council, or secretary forward to accomplish the ruin of their of state to detain persons after commitcountry. What was this, but to contend ment, without allowing them the privilege that the suspension had produced only a of habeas corpus; but it gave no authohollow and delusive quiet? Was not this rity to commit without information upon a strange method of demonstrating its ef- oath, or having recourse to those forms ficacy ? - Another argument which had which were required before a common been brought forward originated in fears magistrate. Had not many been sent to of French Jacobinism. Those destruc- prison upon suspicion, on the mere wartive principles, it was observed, were still rant of the privy council, without any afprevalent in France, and attempts had fidavit having been lodged against them, been made, to spread the poison in this or the facts stated upon which the charge country. Did the dread of French prin- against them was grounded? Was not ciples restrain ministers from offering this a gross violation of the law of the three several times to negotiate with Ja- land ? For such conduct ministers must, cobin France? It had been said, that it at a future day, come down to the House, was essential, in considering whether the and pray for a bill of indemnity to shelter overtures of an enemy should be received, themselves against the punishment which to attend to the personal character of the they so justly merited. chief ruler. But had not ministers soli. Mr. Sturges, in a maiden speech, said, cited peace from men, whom they had that he was not so much surprised, that reprobated for the murder of their sove. gentlemen who had originally opposed reign? But, it was too much to assume, this measure should now resist its continuthat Jacobinism was still prevalent in ance, as that they should expect others France. The power of Buonaparté rose to renounce the opinions they had delibeupon the destruction of the Jacobin as-rately formed, and abandon the precaucendancy. Was it not, then, the interest tions they had wisely taken. Such an of Buonaparté to keep the Jacobins in the expectation, however, was formed on the lowest state of subjection ? But, notwith late change which had taken place in standing these facts, an hon. gentleman France, which the hon. gentleman conhad, in a former debate, asserted, that tended had destroyed Jacobinism, and Buonaparte was a concealed Jacobin. with it the danger of its principles. But How did this appear? It was one of the the effect of those principles was not so principles of Jacobinism to spread war easily to be removed. The French revoand desolation among other nations, and lution was unlike others, by which the to attempt the subversion of the most an- person of a governor, or even the form cient monarchies. Did Buonaparté prove of a government, had been altered, which himself to be a Jacobin, because he had were calculated, perhaps, to remove a made overtures of peace to this country, local evil, orproduce a local advantage, and and though they had been proudly and were therefore local and partial only in their disdainfully rejected, had, without return. effects; but being a revolution in the opiing insult for insult, invited negotiation a nions, doctrines, and principles by which all second time?-An hon. gentleman had, governments were held together, and the on a former night, contended, that it was frame of social orders cemented, its effect our duty to confide in administration. was as general as its nature. It created This doctrine was extremely convenient; in every state which was within its reach but it became the House to inquire, whe- proselytes devoted to the authors of their ther ministers were deserving of this con- creed, and professors of their faith abroad, fidence. Was not their whole conduet a more attached, therefore, to a foreign system of raising false alarms, and excit- country than their own, and actuated by ing groundless panics, with a view to ac- motives which became paramount to the quire continued accessions of power? To duties of allegiance, and the obligations grasp at illegitimate power by a system of of natural patriotism. Hence had proterror, was a leading feature in the pro- ceeded those professions of an enlarged ceedings of the present administration. patriotism too extensive for the narrow In such gentlemen he could place no con- limits of our own island. Hence the nufidence. It would be proper also to in- merous acts of these sectaries, from the vestigate how those arbitrary powers, addresses of their affiliated societies to which they now wished to be continued to the French Convention, in September them, had been exercised. This bill em- 1792, after the deposition of the king, (VOL. XXXIV.)

[ 5 B]

« ZurückWeiter »