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down to the last communication between | ferent instances in which the Habeas the Executive Directory of England, and Corpus act had been suspended, but only the Executive Directory of France. Let call to their recollection one of those it be considered of what description of events which proved that the best gopersons these sects were composed. They vernment, administered by the best men, were of two classes : first, of those who might be endangered by the weakest of from their birth, habits, and situation, its subjects. He alluded to the conspi. must be ever ignorant of these subjects on racy against the life of king William ; for which they are called to decide, but were which some persons were brought to trial
, deluded by the art and knavery of others, and many others imprisoned. The Ha. of whom they become the blind and ser. beas Corpus act was suspended; but that vile instruments. Secondly, of the indi- was not enough: a power was given to gent and ambitious, seeking property his majesty to continue those who had which they did not possess, and power not been tried, in custody, at first from which they did not enjoy, without being year to year, at length during his pleavery scrupulous as to the means by which sure. That pleasure continued during either might be obtained. On which of his majesty's life. On his demise the these was it that the last revolution was danger arising from a conspiracy against to have a beneficial effect ? Not surely on his person was not considered as extinct, the ignorant, who were unable to judge and the same power was given to queen of its tendency, and acted in obedience Anne. Their imprisonment continued to their leaders-not surely on the ambi- during the whole of her reign; and on tious, unless the acquisition of unbounded the accession of the present illustrious power, by revolutionary means, be a dis- House a similar act was passed, which couragement to rebellion, and successful was again renewed on the accession of usurpation the best antidote to treason.- George 2nd, and the last survivor of The hon. gentleman had stated that these unfortunate persons (whose name Buonaparte had suppressed Jacobinism, was Bernardi) died in Newgate, in the and renounced the system of conquest year 1736, at the age of 82, after an imwhich made it formidable. He would only prisonment of 40 years, without any alremind the House, that in the many coun- lowance from government. * He mentries which he had conquered, he had im- tioned this case, not to applaud it, far posed, in the true spirit of these princi. from it, but for the purpose of showing ples, that very constitution to which he what was the practice which had been had himself sworn allegiance, but which referred to in the best times, from the he had afterwards destroyed. The hon. period when the seals were in the hands gentleman had objected to the degree of of lord Somers, till they were placed in confidence which was to be given to mi- those of lord Hardwicke. It was not nisters. That confidence undoubtedly such power which was now solicited, was considerable, and it would be given and thinking the cause had not ceased to with more or less caution, in proportion operate which made this measure of preas it was more or less likely to be abused. caution unnecessary, that the power given Of this they were enabled to judge from had not been abused, and that it had prothe past conduct of government. If the duced the security we enjoyed, he should list on the table were referred to, it would vote for the bill. be impossible for malignity itself, to attri- Sir Francis Burdett said, that much debute the commitment of those in custody clamation was used against the Jacobin to any other motive than the public security. principles of France; and, if it was on The power given by the bill had been account of the injustice and atrocities used with a degree of moderation, that which they had caused to be committed, proved, in the hon. gentleman's opinion, he opposed ministers on the same grounds, the measure to be unnecessary. It did, as it was their Jacobipical principles that however, afford the most satisfactory as he held in abhorrence; for never was surance that the power would not be there greater injustice than they had dis. abused if it were still reposed in the same played in their conduct. The principles hands. It was said, that the confinement of government were common to all counof persons for eighteen months without tries; if injustice constituted Jacobinism trial, was new, and contrary to the practice of the constitution. He would not * For the case of Major John Bernardi, trouble the House by detailing the dif- see Howell's State Trials, Vol. 13, p. 759.
in France, it also constituted Jacobinism was no evidence of a change having taken in England. It would be better to re- place since the report was made with peal the Habeas Corpus act altogether, those who thought it false, he would not than thus continually to vote its suspen- attempt to reason. The second question sion. The repeal would not change the was, whether such power might be safely law of the land, the suspension did. The entrusted in the hands of ministers? The Habeas Corpus in common law would still list of the persons in confinement, would remain, which it did not now do. There show that they had not abused it. The was no part of the constitution which mi- only apprehension which could be formed nisters had not violated. They had left to on this point was, that they should exerthe country nothing of the constitution cise this power against the adversaries of but its corruptions.
their measures. But the character of the The Attorney General said, it had been men in confinement was very different imputed to him that he considered the from that of any of these classes. Since passing of this bill as a matter of course, the act now in force was passed, only He certainly did not consider it in any two, or at most three, have been appresuch light. When he introduced the bill, he hended, and kept in custody. The first stated the reasons which he conceived of these was a Swedish baron. The other justified him in proposing it, namely, two were, one an American, the other that a secret committee of the House, an Irishman, in situations the most obafter a most laborious inquiry, had given scure. in a report on the 15th of March last, Mr. Tierney asked, whether there ever which he did not detail, indeed, because was an occasion before on which parliahe thought it unnecessary to detail what ment had been called, without any reasons was fresh in every one's memory. That being stated, to vote for a bill which imreport the House had formerly thought plied such a large suspension of our libersufficient to authorize the suspension of ties? If there was such a precedent, let the Habeas Corpus act; and he had only it be produced. The report which had thought it necessary farther to state, that been referred to contained a direct argusubsequent to that report being given in, ment against the present measure, for, and to the act which was passed in May after stating all the circumstances, it last, for the suspension of that act, there added, that it would be expedient to suswas no evidence of a change having taken pend the Habeas Corpus till the 1st of place sufficient to authorize its now being March 1800. But there was no mention admitted to be in force. The present act that this suspension ought to be continued would expire on the 1st of March. It for a longer time; on the contrary, from was therefore necessary that a new one a specified time being mentioned, it was should be passed as soon as possible, or fair to infer, that, in the opinion of the the delay would have the effect of libe- committee, no longer suspension would rating persons whom he was convinced be necessary. But, without supposing any no gentleman wished to see liberated; it designed abuse of this power, might not would have the effect of liberating those ministers have been deceived into an immen who had been brought from Ireland, proper exercise of it? How could they and were now in confinement in Scotland. prove that some of these unfortunate men, There were only two points to be con- whom they have in custody, were not sidered in the present question ; first, falsely accused by some under-strapper of whether the suspension is necessary ? and the same rank with themselves? Had pot second, whether it is safe to entrust such some of these men been committed withadditional power to ministers? The ne- out an information on oath? If they nad, cessity was proved by the report above ministers had grossly abused the powers referred to. In the very first page of entrusted to them. These men had been that report, it was stated by the com- kept in custody, some of them two years. mittee, that in the whole course of the Would an opportunity rever be granted inquiry they had found the clearest proof them to stand their trial before their counof a systematic design and plan to over- try? If the House, in such circumstances, throw the constitution and laws of the should vote the suspension, he washed his country, and to dissolve the connexion hands of the transaction, and should conbetween Great Britain and Ireland. Was sole himself with the reflexion that he had this true or false? Those wlio believed it (borne his testimony against it. to be true, would act upon it; for there Lord Belgrave said, that the question
of this night rested, first, on the necessity fied under various shapes and transformaof the measure, both external and internal, tions. He who was not, therefore, a and then on the opinion the House enter thorough hater of Jacobinism, in all its tained of the persons in power: if the forms, could be no credit to human nature. House entertained any doubts as to the The contest must not be continued one conduct of ministers, they should petition day, and relinquished another; to be suchis majesty to remove them. The com- cessful, it must be constant, persevering, mittee of last year was of opinion, that the unremitting, eterna dangers were great; and no man could Mr. Sheridan said, that in reasoning on say that those dangers had so far disap- the principles of government, it was not peared as to render precaution unneces- fair to conclude, because a corrupt peosary: even if we had not the proof, it ple, debased under a despotic state, had could not be supposed that Ireland, which broken and then dashed about the chains had been in a state of insurrection from that held them, that the people of Engone end to the other, could have been so, land, accustomed to a mild and beneficent without the infection, in some degree, government, should be so restrained that reaching this country. But let gentlemen their liberties should be ripped up and look to an address of the London Cor- curtailed from mere unfounded suspicion. responding Society of 1798, inserted in It could not be inferred, because a wolf the report of last year, in which they will had committed depredations on the fold, find these expressions, “ we have not yet that a man should take down his dwellceased from our exertions; we have per ing, when the remedy would be to chain severed, and we will persevere.” Now, up this animal; nor, because the fire had I ask against such threats, ought we not burnt down a wooden bridge, that we to be upon our guard? The present situa. should take down one built of solid stone. tion of France was a strong argument for Nor should it be inferred, because the the continuance of the suspension. France licentiousness of France had demolished was the thermometer of disaffection; as all that was excellent in human institushe was victorious it rose, as she was un- tions, that the freedom of Englishmen successful it fell in this country. From would do the same mischief. The people the relative situation of the two countries, of England were not slaves broke loose the danger to be apprehended from the from their chains, nor rushing from desmischievous effects of Jacobinism was the potism into anarchy and disorder. For greater. To reason with an hon. baronet the votes of the House, he always had a (sir F. Burdett), who saw nothing but due deference; but from committees seliberty in Jacobinism, and nothing but lected from among the minister's friends, slavery in the British constitution, would it was hardly possible that a just decision be fruitless; but an hon. gentleman who could be obtained. Such was his opinion preceded-him, seemed to think that Jaco- on the perusal of the reports of the select binism was destroyed by Buonaparté. Hap- committees. The attorney-general seempily Jacobinism had lost much of its power ed to pay little attention to the verdict of to do mischief. But though shorn of its lio- a jury. This jury had negatived the renours, it was not destroyed. It had been port of a secret committee, and he pre: asked what Jacobinism was? It was every ferred that verdict to the reports. The thing vile, base, degrading, and cruel; opinion of the chief justice Eyre on and if he were asked what a Jacobin was, that occasion, was, that this mighty he would say, a man who had renounced conspiracy turned out to be a conspiracy his religion, and with it, as a necessary perfectly insignificant, a conspiracy with. consequence, his moral probity. He would out men, money, leaders, or even desiga turn, then, to Buonaparté, and ask whe- in their schemes ; their rendevous a back. ther, from all his public recorded acts, he garret, their arms tto rusty muskets, and was the man likely to have put down Ja- their exchequer about 101. 15s. Such was cobinism. If he had dismissed certain its formidable appearance, and so inactive, Jacobins at St. Cloud, he had dismissed that the learned judge said they even them, not because they were Jacobins, wanted zeal in the undertaking. The prebut because they opposed bis power; for cedent from the reign of king William, he had replaced them with others as bad. was inapplicable to the present period. Gentlemen, then, must not relax their The majority of the nation at that period efforts in combating Jacobinism, which were Jacobites. The Jacobites were com. was nothing but the evil spirit personi. posed of the nobility and the landed in. terest, and were formidable from their | believed that the people wished it to pass principles and opposition to William. The into a law; not, indeed, to enable minisact was made at the time of the conspi- ters to carry on the war for the restoration racy against his life. It was a specific of the Bourbons; but to bring about a act to confine those whose moral guilt was safe and honourable peace. ascertained ; but the present shut up every Mr. Canning said, that the fallacy of man upon vague suspicion.-Mr. Sheridan Mr. Sheridan, throughout the whole of then reviewed the state of Ireland under his speech was this-he had confounded lord Fitzwilliam, and attributed the out the mass of the people of England with rages, cruelties, and atrocities, not to the objects of this bill; and he had, under French principles, but British councils. that fallacy, argued, that the bill was a The effects of such councils were pre- coercion on the people of England. There dicted by earl Fitzwilliam. He then en- was no such coercion intended-thank tered on the abuse of the power lodged in God, there was no need; but because the hands of ministers, evidenced in the there was no disposition in the people to case of colonel Despard, and the infamous render such coercion necessary, it did not conduct of Aris, the keeper of the prison. thence follow that there should be no Another abuse of power was under the such bill as this; for the objects of this Alien bill. This bill, said to be for poli. bill, although few, were nevertheless fit tical purposes, was perverted into an in- objects for the coercion of it, and the strument of family protection; as persons House would be remiss if they did not who had paid their addresses to the provide a remedy for the evil, which would daughters of gentlemen had been on that be felt if such persons were under no reaccount taken up under this bill, and sent straint. The manner in which his hon. out of the kingdom. No new reason had friend had quoted the language of the been given why this act should be con- learned judge before whom the state trials tinued.
took place, was not intended to have any Mr. Elison said, he supported the ad. effect, except as a pleasant sally; in truth, ministration, because he was convinced, he had put into his mouth words which that by so doing he was rendering his that great lawyer never uttered—and yet country essential service. He considered these were the facts, as they were called, the Habeas Corpus act, as one of the on which matured sentiments were to be bulwarks of our constitution; it stood be- set aside, and the good sense of the tween the king and his people, and was a people carried away. They were to begreat security for both in ordinary times ; lieve that a formal acquittal of a person but in extraordinary times there might charged with a specific crime could not, be reasons for suspending the operation in the nature of things, possibly leave of that great law for the safety of the behind it any suspicion of moral guilt ; body politic. The present, in his opinion, and all this while we recollected that we was that time. The people, if they had but narrowly escaped destruction, thought fit, had a right to suspend that from the machinations of those very perlaw; and the people spoke their senti- sons and their associates. His hon. friend ments in that House ; for the people were proceeded to observe, that there was now fairly represented in that House, at least no danger, because what had happened in he thought so. Was there any material France had opened the eyes of all manchange in the contest in which we were kind. If this conviction had taken place, engaged since parliament had determined how happened it that it did not take that this act should be suspended ? He place sooner? We all knew the pre-emitook neither the opinions nor the wills of Dence of Buonaparté-few doubted the others for his guide, while he had expe- superiority of his talents--none questioned rience and the evidence of facts. By that that his power was at this hour as great, evidence he was led to think, that the if not greater, than that possessed by any common enemy still aimed at the destruc- otherman; and yet gentlemen who said that tion of this country. After what we had the eyes of all mankind were now opened all seen, it was to him a matter of asto. by what had happened in France, seemed nishment, that any gentleman should say, to have forgotten the progress of the that this measure was not necessary for French revolution. What was the great the safety of the country. He believed evil of the French revolution ?—The fait was a measure that would do, as it had cility with which ambition might gratify done, much good to the country; and he itself at the expense of millions of the human race. Were he to define what I friend had observed, that we had in this ambition was, he would say it was that country a large volunteer force for the quality in the human mind that altered its protection of our liberties. He admitted colour as circumstances might alter, but we had such a force, and he rejoiced in whose nature was invariably the same, it ; nor had he the least doubt of its effi. and led to good or to evil according to cacy, should the season arrive for calling the temper and pursuits of the person it into action ; but he hoped the day was who possessed it. The ambition in his far off when this country would be obliged right hon. friend, for instance, led him to military force for the preservation of forward in a career of virtue- the ambi- its liberties. For the preservation of our tion of a Jacobin was to procure and pre-civil liberties, the constitution was proserve power by proscription, by plunder, vided with civil arms. He knew it was by confiscation, and by death ; or by the a common parlance that the liberties of utter destruction of all establishments, this country had been sealed with the civil or religious; and by the erection of blood of our ancestors. This was not that hideous anarchy in which order was true to any considerable extent; for the buried, and confusion triumphed in the liberties of this country had been secured ruins. Such had been, with various with less bloodshed than that of any other shades of difference, the ruling principle country on the face of the globe. It of all the prime actors in the French re- was not upon the plain of battle, but volution from La Fayette to Buonaparté. upon this plain, the foor of that House, Here Mr. Canning went over all the lead. that the constitution of England had ing actors in the French revolution, as triumphed. Mirabeau, Condorcet, Brissot, Robes- And the question being put, That the pierre, Carnot, Reubel, Barras, &c. giving said bill be now read a second time, the to each appropriate epithets to describe House divided : the leading features of their character;
Tellers. and observed, that all their peculiar qualities were met and blended in Buona- Yeas,
Lord Viscount Belgrave
Mr. Sturges parté. Why did he mention those things? pe mentioned them, to show how very Noes, Sir Francis Burdett
Mr. Hobhouse slowly the admirers of French principles
}12 could be brought to see their error-how much time it took to convince men of the Debate in the Lords on the Habeas Cor. hideous form of what they had originally pus Suspension Bill.] Feb. 27. On the admired as a beauty. He then passed on order of the day for the third reading of to the observation of Mr. Sheridan, that the bill, there was a great difference between the Lord King said, that he had always people of England and the people of been taught to look upon the Habeas France. He admitted there was much, Corpus act as one of the most material but he objected to the argument, because safeguards of the liberties of the people, it proved too much ; for it proved that no It was the opinion of the most celebrated provision should be made against the writers, that it ought never to be suswicked if they were few: and to show pended but upon occasions of the most what the contagion of an evil example imminent necessity : those occasions had might be, he called the attention of the been pointed out, and were, internal inHouse to the situation of Switzerland, surrection, or an apprehension of foreign where those men who were proverbial for invasion. In 1798, when the suspension mildness, candour, simplicity, and an at. was moved for, ministers had laid before tachment to that system of protection to the House his majesty's message, which persons and property which elevated them stated the great preparations making by in the opinion of all who knew them, had the enemy for the invasion of this country, been made to change, as it were, their and a variety of reasons as to the state of very nature, and reduce their country to the country were then brought forward, a a scene of plunder, confiscation, proscrip- shadow of which did not appear to exist tion, and bloodshed. Such' were the at present. When the act was moved to effects of listening to a system of Jaco- be suspended, it was upon the report of bivical reformation, which was another a special committee of each House, name for the destruction of all the esta- which directly stated that an actual con. blishments of the world. But his hon. spiracy was then carrying on within the