Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

ment did not devise some means of pre- | Holland, with the avowed design of atventing the circulation of the seditious tempting the invasion of his majesty's and treasonable writings, of the daring dominions; and that in this the enemy is and atrocious libels which were constantly encouraged by the correspondence and published in a multitude of shapes, it would communications of traitorous and disaf. be impossible to answer for the security fected persons and societies of these kingof the government, and the preservation doms." Did ministers mean to assume of the constitution. The country might that it was notorious there were traitorous be armed, and its income expended, but designs now carrying on in this country, every effort was useless if this intestine or that the enemy were preparing an inulcer was suffered to prey upon its vitals.vasion, with considerable and increasing No one regretted more than he did the li- activity? He should think it an insult it centiousness of the press, and feeling such a reason was stated. Was the Hathese sentiments, the noble lord might be beas Corpus act to be suspended for the assured that he sincerely joined with him fourth time, though the reason for its in the propriety of making his complaint suspension had ceased? Of the import. of the misrepresentation to which he had ance of that act he had no occasion to been subjected. He did not wonder that say much : there could be no man who he should be anxious to disclaim all ac- did not know that it was to that act he quaintance with Mr. O'Connor. It was, owed his personal freedom. He trusted indeed, very singular that the noble lord there was no man so dead to duty as who only knew him eleven years ago, should to abandon the bulwark raised by our have been called upon to give evidence at ancestors for the preservation of the coun. Maidstone in favour of that gentleman. try, without the most imperious necessity. But he believed it was not unfortunate for If such necessity did exist, let it be proved; Mr. O'Connor that such persons as his it would be for their lordships to consider lordship should have been called in that whether any such proof had been adduced. way. His lordship’s evidence was a good And here he must state it as his opinion, evidence for Mr. O'Connor. With regard that nothing which had taken place for to the treatment of the state prisoners, it the last four years justified the suspension was only within a few days that it had of an act so valuable to the liberty of the come to his knowledge that any complaint subject. Probably he might be told to was made upon this subject. It was, night, that there were the same reasons however, one which had already been be- for suspending it, as had ever been confore the public, and was likely to undergo sidered sufficient. It might be said, the farther discussion, and he was convinced, designs of our enemies were manifest ; that whenever it should be completely in- that it was necessary to sacrifice some vestigated, it would appear that no unne- part of our constitution to preserve the cessary severity had been exercised either rest. He might be told of the detestable on the part of government, or of the per- consequences of French principles; that sons to whose care the prisoners had there were men in this country, who had been entrusted. With regard to the bill, so rooted an aversion to its government he should only repeat, that the causes and constitution, that nothing would serve which formely existed for adopting a si- them but overturning it. But even admilar measure were not yet removed. mitting all this, he could not consider it

Lord Holland said, their lordships were as sufficient for suspending the Habeas informed that the same reasons existed corpus act, He was, however, ready to now as were urged when this bill was be- declare that there might be circumstances fore the House on a former day ; to which of a peculiar nature to justify its suspenhe would answer, that the reasons could sion; but he never could allow that the not be the same, for the situation of the warlike preparations of an enemy, or the country and of its enemies was very dif- disaffection of the people, the natural ferent now from what it was then. To consequence of a war, were reasons show the truth of this, he should read a weighty enough to induceparliament to give passage out of the proclamation of April up so important a privilege into the hands last : “Whereas it appears that the pre- of ministers. He firmly believed the conparation for the embarkation of troops stitution was adequate to its own protecand warlike stores are now carried on tion. Who would have supposed, six years with considerable and increasing activity ago, that the suspension of the Habeas in the ports of France, Flanders, and corpus act would ever have been demand

ed by ministers as a mere matter of course? tertain any doubt as to the dispositions of The existence of a few men dissatisfied the people of this country, after the events with the government, or tainted with what of last year? Would they not allow, that were called Jacobinical principles, was the people at the period to which he alnot sufficient to authorize a suspension of luded, although they were then labouring this act; neither, if French principles did under burthens unparalleled, had made prevail among any part of the people, was sacrifices to the utmost extent of their it the way to meet them, to draw a line means, certainly beyond the most sanof distinction which should separate the guine expectations, the moment they rich from the poor, and withdraw protec- were apprized of danger? After a people tion from the one while it was afforded to had so exerted themselves, it was insultthe other. The House had got so much ing their feelings to allow a bill filled with into the argument of sacrificing a part to calumnies and libels on them, to pass to preserve the rest, that they seemed to its last stage, without an argument to have forgot that there were laws for pu- show its necessity. Every one must feel nishing treason, without suspending the the necessity of confidence between the Habeas Corpus act. There was but one governors and the governed; but what state of circumstances he knew of which confidence could exist, if the enthusiasm could justify it, and that was where a con- displayed by the people was met with spiracy existed, so artful in its arrange- coldness; if the chearfulness with which ment, wherein the nature, extent, and they paid taxes, unequal and oppressive object of it were so difficult to be deve- as they were, was received with disgust? loped, that the discharging any one per- What could be expected from such treatson who had been taken up on suspicion, ment? Would they not naturally argue, would necessarily inform all the parties that those persons were unworthy of the concerned, and give them an opportunity confidence of the people who seemed to of eluding the justice of the country. have so little regard for theirs ? — Thus, But even in that case he would be cautious then, it appeared, from the comparative to whom such power was entrusted. It state of public affairs, this year and the would be to those who had wisdom to un- Jast, that the reason for suspending the derstand the power, and resolution not to Habeas Corpus act no longer existed, the abuse it. He would tell them that by preamble of the bill no longer applied. putting such a power in their hands it was Thanks to the rashness of the enemy; not intended they should indiscriminately thanks to the bravery and skill of British arrest all persons they pleased, those even seamen; and, above all, thanks to the against whom they had no evidence; but victory obtained by lord Nelson; and merely, that they were to delay the trials thanks, no less, to the vigour and activity of those against whom they had evidence, of the Admiralty, the danger of invasion but whom it would be imprudent to bring was not only removed, but wholly desto immediate trial. Unless they fully un- troyed. The plea, therefore, founded derstood this, no danger however alarm- on the apprehension of invasion, was at ing, no conspiracy however extensive, an end, and no other remained but that should induce him to suspend the Ha- of the conspiracies of the very people who beas Corpus act, so long as there were had so cheârfully met the demands of gotribunals in the country for the peaceful vernment. But then followed the arguadministration of justice, so long as there ment, that the executive government remained a semblance of law and govern- were the best judges of the necessity, and ment. See whether it was necessary at that the House must know they had not this period. To prove it was, some do- brought forward, nor ever would bring cuments should have been produced, if forward, a proposition to suspend the for nothing else, at least to have preserved Habeas Corpus act, unless they were conthe character of the House, and to have vinced of the existence of a conspiracy: convinced the people they did not wan. With respect to that argument, he wished tonly wrest from them what their ances- to know in what chapter of the constitutors had considered necessary for their tion of this country there was any thing security. But no one document had been to be found to oblige parliament to beoffered ; all the materials on which the lieve ministers when they were recom. House could proceed, consisted in the mending what was to place additional suggestions of ministers as to the state of power in their hands. They might say, public affairs. Could their lordships en- it was not their interest to misuse the power entrusted to them; but to this he served. He trusted the people would, to would observe, there were men possessed the satisfaction of Europe and of posteof a depraved appetite that could bear no rity, contradict those calumnies ; and he restraint; men, whose thirst for power trusted also, that their actions would soon was such, that they cared not how unne- contradict another calumny, namely, that cessary any measure of rigour was, pro of their being intended by administration vided it tended to increase their power. to assist their views against themselves, The constitutional words, jealousy of mi- and through the medium of alarm to benisters, should lead the House to with- come a party supporting the attacks of hold confidence, and to refuse to resign ministers against their own liberty, freepower out of their hands, unless where dom, and independence. the necessity was fully proved. He could Lord Grenville said, that if the debate see nothing in the conduct or language of on this bill had depended on the merits ministers to induce the House to wave of the individuals who compose the present that jealousy in their favour. He could administration, he should certainly have look back, and see that those individuals no hope, perhaps no ambition, to con who had been brought to trial under every vince the noble lord of the propriety of disadvantage, with the prejudice of minis- any part of the measure-indeed, it would, ters against them, had been proved inno- perhaps, be difficult to persuade that noble cent; to the honour of the juries who had lord of the propriety of any measure of tried them, they had conquered every his majesty's ministers. He had acted prejudice, and acquitted them. When uniformly, as if he thought them wrong he considered the result of those trials, he in every thing; but although ministers had little hesitation in saying, that far had not the approbation of that noble from thinking ministers should be indulged lord, they had repeatedly received the with additional power, there never was a support of a considerable part of the time when it was less necessary.

He House. As to the trial of the persons maintained that the system by which they who were acquitted at the Old Bailey, he governed was a system of alarm : they thought the point had been given up, and knew they had no way of diverting the that it was never to be insisted upon people from reflecting on the miseries of again that the acquittal of these persons the war and their own incapacity but by invalidated the reports of the two Houses raising an alarm, that all who opposed of parliament relative to the existence of the war were Jacobins, and leagued with a conspiracy against the government of the French to destroy the country. This this country. Were we to be told, after was the

way in which the government had all that had happened, that the acquittal, been supported, and ministers enabled the honourable acquittal, of persons into pass this and bills of a similar ten- dicted for high treason, was a proof of endency; but he believed the juggle would tire innocence? Were we now to learn not continue long: he believed the cry of that it was impossible for any man to be Jacobinism would not long take hold ; acquitted, and afterwards prove to be but that the people of this country would guilty of high treason? So far was the enter into a serious examination of the event of these trials from negativing the conduct of ministers. They seemed to assertion of the reports of the existence him to have overshot their mark. They of a conspiracy, that it tended to confirm it. bad rung the alarm bell so long in the - But, it seemed, there was no evidence of people's ears, that it would no longer any conspiracy. Did the noble lord ever awaken them. Neither the failure of the hear that there existed acertain society callobject of the war, or the distresses of the ed the Corresponding Society? The object people, had prevented them from evincing of that society was, under the mask of à ling of conduct last year, when the parliamentary reform, to pull down the country was threatened, that reflected the government, and to introduce a new syshighest degree of honour on themselves. tem of things in this country on the model The ungenerous treatment they had re of the French government. These things ceived from ministers in return astonish- were proved at the trials at the old ed him. So far from recanting their Bailey, to which the noble lord had alformer assertion of disaffection among the luded, and in which acquittals he had people, they had obliquely added to them, triumphed so much. They were so well and now continued to load them with ca understood to be proved, even by the lumnies which they knew were not de- counsel for Hardy, that the best defence

the learned gentlemen could make for testable on account of religion being made their client - was, that no man could be use of as a cloak to cover its iniquity, ignorant of the facts, but that the prisoner This plan was followed up also in Engwas a poor, harmless, simple, inoffensive land. "Did any man believe that the real man, and that if any mischief was intended design of the meeting at Chalk Farm was by any body, he was not in the least to reconcile the people of England to a aware of it; and the acquittal of the constitutional parliamentary reform? This others turned very much on the acquittal country contained a number of disaffected of the first; but nobody ever thought of men; and it had been made the depot of doubting the views entertained by some the treasonable endeavours of many who members of this society.- The noble lord were concerned in the Irish rebellion. had asked, on what evidence ministers As to the idea that the people of England maintained the necessity of this bill? He would conceive themselves calumniated would refer the noble lord to the procla- by this bill, he did not apprehend any mation in April last, which stated that our such thing, any more than they would enemies were aided and abetted by per- think they were called murderers, besons in this country, &c. The evidence cause a law was made against murder. If was last year deemed so satisfactory, that he thought the discontent of the people the bill then passed unanimously. But of England against government was genehad not the fact turned out as ministers ral, he should not propose this measure, had foretold it? Was it not confirmed in because, in such a case, little could be the case of a person who was acquitted, done by the imprisonment of a few. But honourably acquitted, at Maidstone? The he was persuaded the people would view House need not be told he alluded to the this as a bill, not for the destruction of case of O'Connor. Had not that traitor, their liberties, but for the continuance since his trial and honourable acquittal, and protection of them. thrown himself upon the inercy of that The House divided: Contents, 26; Notgracious sovereign whom he had conspired Contents, l. The bill was then passed. with other traitors to dethrone? Had he not afterwards, to obtain that mercy, de- Lord Holland's Protest against passing tailed upon his oath circumstances which the Habeas Corpus Suspension Bill.] The were afterwards confirmed by a rebellion ? following Protest was entered on the Jour, But was that all? Had not O'Coigly nals: been convicted of treason upon the evi

« DISSENTIENT, dence of a paper, by which it appeared 1. “ Because the existence of a conspithat a communication was to be made to racy, of an extent so formidable, and of a' the French Directory, not from any so- nature so complicated, that the public disciety in Ireland, but from a society in closures of the evidence necessary to the England ? Was not that paper the evi- conviction of one conspirator might enadence on which the jury convicted that ble his accomplices to ascertain the infortraitor? All these things he stated to show, mation of government, and to elude the that the assertion of there having been a justice of the country, can alone conconspiracy in this country was not lightly stitute a necessity sufficient to justify a made. What was the case at the present Peer of parliament in assenting to any moment? That a treasonable conspiracy suspension of the Habeas Corpus. had existed in Ireland ever since the year 2. « Because no measures have been 1791, was proved by the reports of both taken to make such necessity apparent. houses of parliament in that country. By 3. “ Because if, from private informathis it was manifest that the design had tion, or from the general circumstances of been long conceived of separating Ireland the country, the House were convinced from this country. This was planned by that such necessity did actually exist, it a society. The very object of that so- would, nevertheless, be more consoriant ciety was to put forward parliamentary with the usages, and less derogatory to reform as a cloak to the real design, but the dignity of parliament, to produce subnot to show that design until they thought stantial documents, rather than the sugsome impression was made on the minds gestions of ministers, or the vague suspiof the people. The mask was afterwards cions of individuals in justification of so partly thrown off

, for instead of a reform extraordinary a measure. in parliament, they talked of a free par- 4. “ Because the alarms of ministers are liament. Nor was this plan the less de- always to be received with mistrust by [XXXIV.]


the legislature, when the remedy proposed the poor-rates at three per cent. This is an extension of their power, and a di- added to the other makes 17 per cent. minution of the liberty of the subject.

When we cast our eye to the necessary 5. “ Because these principles of jea- | expenses of bailiffs, stewards, and other lousy, applicable to all times, appear to numerous incidentals to landed property, me to be peculiarly so to the present, when we cannot reasonably place less than five a system of government by alarm has been per cent to that account, which makes the resorted to year after year, and powers whole nearly 20 per cent. I have, in the similar to those required by this bill been course of the last few years, expended in obtained on the score of allegations improvements more than 15,000l.; in which subsequent events have refuted ; doing which I have of course submitted a memorable example of which occurred to the privation of a great many of those in the years 1794 and 1795, when a num-comforts which persons of my rank in life ber of persons detained under the provi- may fairly be allowed to be indulged in. It sions of a bill similar to this, were all must be evident, that I have not done this either liberated without trial, or acquitted for my own personal gratification. No, my by a verdict of their country.

lords; I was induced to such a line of 6. “ Because the danger of an invasion conduct, in order that I might transmit to (the pretence for suspending the Habeas my son an estate as independent as the Corpus last session) exists no longer. principles which I have endeavoured to And it is subversive of that mutual confi- instil into his mind, and which might aldence which would subsist between the ways prove the means of enabling him to government and governed, to requite with act up to them. Many other noble lords, distrust in their dispositions, and a conti- I dare say there are, who have acted upon nual suspension of one of the most essen- the same system with myself. I now call tial safeguards of their liberty, the affec- upon such noble lords, and caution them tions of the people manifested in their late to beware how they give their sanction to exertions at the moment of alarm, and in a measure which falls so peculiarly heavy the cheerfulness with which they have and oppressive on the landed interest in submitted to burthens unparalleled in particular. Very different indeed is the their pressure, and now confessedly une situation of the noble lords upon the cross qual in their operation."

bench, and other parts of the House, (Signed) “HOLLAND." whose situations bring them in very large

emoluments, which they no doubt well deDebate in the Lords on the Income serve, for the high, important, and arduDuty Bill.] Jan. 8. On the order of ous stations they fill in the administration the day for the third reading of the In- of the government of the country. Those come Duty bill,

noble lords, however, have only to pay The Earl of Suffolk said :-No man, my their ten per cent out of the seven, eight, lords, is more willing than I am, to sub- or ten thousand a year, which they remit to an equal and equitable tax upon ceive. They have no salt duties, amountincome; but the present measure is nei- ing to 4 per cent, no poor-rates, bailiffs, ther equal nor equitable; and if carried stewards, broken farmers, and other unainto effect, will be productive of conse- voidable incidentals of that nature to afquences mischievous to the country at fect them, They have beside a rich field large. The bill will be peculiarly oppres- of patronage open to them, wherewith to sive on the gentlemen of landed property; gratify the blooming hopes, and rising so much so, indeed, that the land will ambition of their younger sons and nearest never be able to bear it. This tax is cal- relatives, in the extensive and lucrative culated to affix no more than a tenth upon branches of the navy, the army, and the income; but it will, in fact, amount to church. These are circumstances which nearly twenty per cent. It is said that may make noble lords look lightly on a this tax is only ten per cent upon my in- tax of ten per cent upon income; but come; but, I beg leave to remind your when it falls in so oppressive a manner lordships, that last session a tax upon salt upon land, it becomes very hard indeed to took place, which, in Gloucestershire, those who have only their land, and what Wiltshire, and other counties, upon what they can save from it, to support the is called the dairy farms in particular, younger branches of their several families. will, in its operation, be equal to 4 per | For my own part, my lords, I have ever cent. I am within bounds when I state prided myself in the independence of my

« ZurückWeiter »