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comment upon the evidence that had constitution. Those watchful guardians been adduced against him in order either were then asleep; but the moment a pamto disprove it or abate its force and ap- phlet appeared on the other side, then all plication. About punishment he was their vigilance was roused and all their little solicitous; and he should even have vengeance called forth. He noticed the cared little about burning the pamphlet, sudden change which had taken place in if Mr. Reeves had not been at the head of the opinion of those gentlemen with resthese associations, and if this and other pect to juries; at one time they were idopamphlets, circulated by those associa- lized, and their decision even set above tions, had not proceeded from the same those of the House of Commons; but shop. The removal from a place of trust now the opinions of the gentlemen oppowas certainly a severe punishment; but site were changed, and they were afraid was it not inflicted in cases where parti- to venture before a jury. Being bound cular tests were not taken? Had it not by the decision of the House to admit been inflicted in similar cases to the pre- that this pamphlet was a libel, he should sent.* In the case of the bishop of Wor give his vote for a prosecution by the atcester, who had interfered in an election, torney-general, rather than for any
other did not the House petition the queen to mode of punishment. remove him from the office of almoner to Mr. Sheridan said, that if he did not her majesty ?
wish to send Mr. Reeves to a jury, it was Mr. Piti referred to two precedents of because he did not wish to commit the a contrary tendency; that of Mr. Murray, privileges of the House to the king's in 1751,+ and that of a letter called " The attorney-general. If Mr. Reeves should South Briton," in 1774,5 in which the be found guilty, perhaps the secretary at House had ordered prosecutions by the war, would call him a “convicted innoattorney-general.
cent," as he had called others “ acquitSir W. Dolben was proceeding to de- ted felons." fend the pamphlet, when he was called Sir G. P. Turner was against burning to order by the Speaker, who told him the pamphlet by the hands of the comthat the House having voted it to be a mon hangman, which would only draw a libel, it was not permitted to any member crowd of idle people together, make them to defend it. If the worthy baronet wish- neglect their business, and occasion a ed to rescind the resolution of the House, I great loss to the community. it was competent to him to make a mo- The question was then put on the protion to that effect on another day. posed omission of the words of Mr. She
Mr. Courtenay said, he wished to pro- ridan's motion, which was carried without pose, as a conciliatory measure, that the a division. It being then supposed that book in question should be burnt by Mr. the subject was disposed of, the greater Reeves himself, and that, if necessary, part of the members had left the House Mr. Arthur Young should assist.
before the question could be put on the Mr. Windham said, that as the House words proposed to be inserted by Mr. had decided upon the pamphlet, he would Dundas; and on sir W. Dolben and Mr. not presume to defend it ; but he would Dent calling for a division, the House assert, that if the principles contained in divided : it were unjustifiable, still there did not
Tellers. appear any proof of a bad intention in the author. "The pamphlet had not been Yeas Mr. Adams
25 printed in a cheap shape, as many gross
Mr. Wigley libels on the other side had been, for the Noes
Sir William Dolben
4 purpose of being wore easily circulated
Mr. Pole Carew among the lower classes of the people. And it appearing, that forty members He was happy to hear those gentlemen were not present, the House adjourned. profess such anxiety for the preservation of the constitution in all its points: hi. Dec. 15. Mr. Sheridan moved, That therto they had seen, unmoved, innumer- the farther, consideration of the Reports able libels on the monarchical part of the of the Committee appointed to inquire mode of proceeding proposed by the mo- i he hoped, for once at least, their lordtion, but as it was not proposed to prose- ships might come to an unanimous vote cute the printer and publisher, he was upon it. Much as he was averse to proadverse to the affair resting where it was, secutions in general for the publication of and would therefore move, “ That an political opinions, he must nevertheless humble Address be presented to his Ma- press for the condemnation of this book, jesty, that he will be graciously pleased inasmuch as, from the peculiar circumto give directions to his attorney-general stances attending it, it formed an excepto prosecute John Reeves, esq. as the tion to the general rule. If the selection author or publisher of the said pamphlet.” of a few passages only were brought forThe motion was then agreed to.
who was the author of the pamphlet in* See Vol. 6, p. 53.
titled, “ Thoughts on the English Go+ Vol. 14, p. 1084.
vernment,' be resumed. He observed Vol. 17, p. 105 1.
that he was adverse to the particular
ward, and those were not supported by the
general context of the work, then he Debate in the House of Lords on Mr. should say it was harsh to judge it in Reeves's Libel on the British Constitution.] that mode. But if those passages were Dec. 2. The order of the day being read, strengthened by the general tendency of
The Earl of Albemarle said, he would the work; if the doctrines inculcated state, as shortly as possible, the reasons were uniformly sustained by the whole that had induced him to cause their lord- chain of reasoning which the author emships to be summoned upon the conside- ployed, and if, throughout, the intent of ration of a pamphlet which he was sure the author appeared evident and uniform, all who read it must acknowledge to be a then they might be fairly quoted. If, performance that required their imme- also they were merely the speculative opidiate interference. The pamphlet con- nions of an insulated political writer, and tained doctrines directly hostile to the were left to the common modes of circuspirit of our constitution, and tending to lation, much excuse might be admitted. alienate from the minds of the people their If, on the other hand, the pamphlet affection for it. It was also a gross and throughout was an atrocious libel on the unwarrantable libel upon the privileges of constitution ; if it was one of the many the House. This not being a party ques- libels circulated upon the same system; if tion, nor a subject of discussion (for no it came from a person whose particular man in that House, he was sure, would connexion with government, gave it rise to defend the doctrines it inculcated) weight and influence in the country; then
it became matter of serious consideration * On the 20th of May 1796, the Trial of indeed; particularly as it was understcod Mr. Reeves for the said Libel came on before to contain principles not discordant to lord Kenyon, and a special jury at Guildhall. the sentiments of a nobleman high in ofThe Attorney General stated the case on the fice, under whose influence they might part of the Crown, and left it to the jury to have been disseminated. Under such circonsider, whether the expressions alluded to were merely unadvised and erroneous; or
cumstances as these, it became their lordwhether, considering the whole context of ships to interfere, and determine upon the the pamphlet, they were, as charged, libel- libel. He should be well content to have lous, and tending to villity the constitution. the pamphlet read at length to their lordMr. Plumer, in behalf of Mr. Reeves, admit- ships, without offering a single comment: tcd the fact of publication; and contended, he was sure it would condemn itself; for from the whole tenor of the work, and the the passages it contained were so strong, known character of Mr Reeves, and his en- they were impossible to be mistaken; and thusiastic admiration of the British constitutheir tendency so direct, that they would tion, that no imputation of libel could be fixed on him. Lord 'Kenyon delivered an able immediately carry a conviction of their charge to the jury, who retired, and remained meaning. He would not, however, so seu out of court for upwards of an hour. When verely tax the patience of their lordships; they returned, the foreman said, “ My lord because, although it was a laboured and the jury are of opinion, that the pamphlet, artful work, it was wretchedly dull. To which has been proved to bave been written save, therefore, their lordships the trouby John Reeves, esq. is a very improper pub- ble, he would recapitulate the positions it lication : but being of opinion, that his mo- maintained, and then read a few of the find him —Not Guilty.” This interesting passages, by which they were endeavoured Trial has never been published. The Editor to be supported. 1. That the king alone is, however, informed, that a correct report of makes laws. 2. That the other branches it, from the short hand notes of Mr. Gurney, of the legislature are derived from the will be preserved in Howell's State Trials. king. 3. That our liberties were grants
from the king. 4. That the only object The Earl of Lauderdale said, his noble of the Revolution was to secure us a Pro- friend was perfectly in order in delivering testant king. And, 5. That the verdict in the book at the table. His noble friend of juries went for nothing. In quoting had so ably stated the dangerous tendenthe passages, he would not overstrain the cy of the pamphlet, and had so fully estasense of the author ; indeed, they were so blished his charge against the author, of plainly expressed, that, when their lord- being guilty of the most audacious attack ships heard them, they must assent to on the privileges of the House, that it their tendency. But if it should be ob- would be superfluous to add any thing jected, that he put a forced construction farther in support of his proposition. upon them, he would give up the point, The first impulse which ministers ought to and willingly refer to the direct tendency have shown on the occasion was, their inof the whole work. His lordship here dignation at the calumnies they had just read extracts from the pamphlet, intituled, heard read against the dignity of the “ Thoughts on the English Government.” House, and the safety of the constitution. The one which he considered to be the The Earl of Albemarle then moved, strongest, was that, commented upon so « That the said pamphlet is a malicious, much in the other House of Parliament, scandalous, and seditious libel, containing in which the author compared the English matter tending to create jealousies, and government to a tree, of which monarchy divisions among his majesty's loyal subwas the trunk, and the Lords and Com-jects; to alieriate their affections from our mons the leaves and branches. The present form of government, as established leaves and branches of the tree might be in King, Lords, and Commons, and to lopped off and thrown into the fire, and subvert the true principles of our free yet the trunk, though shorn of its honours, constitution ; and that the said pamphlet would continue: so the kingly govern- is a high breach of the privileges of this ment would remain entire, though the House." Lords and Commons should be lopt off. Lord Grenville said, that with respect This was so directly the reverse of all the to the insinuation, that government had principles of the constitution, that it re- any part in the distribution of the pamphquired no argument to prove it. The let adverted to, he thought it too frivoRevolution also it was asserted, only se lous a charge to demand any reply; for cured us a Protestant king; the word was. how could it be imagined that his majesunknown to the English law, and must be ty’s ministers would use their influence displeasing to the king to hear of. Good to circulate a publication, calculated to God! could the mention of the Revolu- alienate the subjects of this country from tion be unpleasing to the House of Bruns- the government and constitution, as comwick! That Revolution which placed posed of King, Lords, and Commons ? them on the throne which they now filled! He declared, he had never heard a syllaNay more, the author said, that the Re- ble about the pamphlet, till it was alluded volution had never been mentioned in the to by the noble earl in a former debate ; recorils of parliament; an assertion that and even then he was totally ignorant of proved the ignorance of the writer, as the person described as the author. To much as the other arguments he had stated this moment he had not read it, except proved his wickedness and his folly. The half a page in the hands of another person; writer forgot that no longer since than the nor was he farther acquainted with the trial of Sacheverel, it was recognized by contents, except from the passages which both Lords and Commons. In another he had heard quoted by the noble lord. passage, the author treated the dissenters Those passages, he felt no hesitation to as a set of men who ought to be extir- declare, were, to his judgment, libellous. pated from the earth; and speaking of the He could not, however, help expressing Iate trials, said, though the persons ar. his astonishment, to find the present moraigned were acquitted by the jury, they tion brought forward, when proceedings were condemned by the country. If this had taken place in the other House. The did not go to make the verdict of a jury Commons had already come to a deterpass for nothing, he did not know what did. mination upon this question, and were He should content himself with laying the employed in tracing the author.
The pamphlet on the table.
reasonable presumption was, that they The Lord Chancellor said, it was ne- meant to proceed criminally against him, cessary the noble lord should move some and this might be by impeachment, as thing
was done in the case of Sacheverel. If what the pamphlet was.
He was sure such should be the result, their lordships noble lords must know, he would never must perceive the dilemma to which they countenance any doctrine which carried would be reduced, should they now come the least reflection on the government of to a determination upon the subject. King, Lords, and Commons. It might They would be the judges of a man, whom not be irrelevant to say something of Mr. they had legislatively condemned, and the Reeves, the supposed author. It was case would come before them already pre- true, that he had been appointed law clerk judged by their former resolution. Upon in the department in which he (lord H.) these grounds, he should move “ That had the honour of serving the crown; the House do now adjourn."
and he was appointed upon the best of The Earl of Lauderdale said, that when recommendations, the recommendation of he expected an opposition to his noble personal merit. He had written a History friend's motion, he expected it upon some of the law of England, a work which such grounds; for he was certain that no evinced the powers of his mind, and was man in that House would dare to stand up highly esteemed by every lawyer, both on and defend the libellous and scandalous the bench and at the bar. Of the present doctrines contained in the pamphlet. work, he would repeat, that he knew noHe was shocked at the libel, because, thing; he was perfectly unbiassed and from the context, nothing could be more uninfluenced as to the contents; he should evident than that it was a premeditated however, give no opinion whatever reand malignant insult offered to the go. specting them at that time ; and for the vernment, as composed of King, Lords, reasons already urged by his noble friend, and Commons. He was surprised to hear should support the motion of adjournthe noble secretary advance, that because ment. the Commons had paid a 'regard to a Earl Spencer agreed, that in the House breach of privilege, their lordships should of Lords alone, the privileges of their be negligent of theirs. Should they, in a ļordships ought to be considered ; and he matter which concerned their own privi- said, he would be the last man to give leges, be bound by what was passing in up any of their principles; in the prethe Commons? If they should come to sent instance however, he saw great imthe vote, it would be a very good ar- propriety in coming to a decision. With gument in the other House why im- respect to the pamphlet he did not know peachment should not be the mode of of its existence till it was brought forward prosecution ; but it came with an ill grace in the other House. He had not read it.
was making the privileges of one House de given their lordships to read and to consipendent upon the other. He called on der the work. In what he had heard that the noble secretary to consider what must night read from it, there was much unbe the opinion of the public, when they constitutional and offensive matter ; but found a question like the present eluded passages might be taken from almost any by a side wind; when they saw that mi- work highly objectionable while they were nisters were not so ready to come forward detached, but which with the context, to prosecute excesses on one side as ex- might be not only harmless but laudable. cesses on the other. It had been pretty Lord Mulgrave said, that the question loudly rumoured, that a number of these before their lordships was, whether it was pamphlets had been sent to a person high proper to go into an enquiry on the subin office, which at least argued, that the ject of the privileges of that House at author supposed they were congenial to that moment, a question which he for himhis sentiments, and would be sanctioned self had determined in the negative. The by administration.
question might come before their lordships Lord Hawkesbury was happy at having judicially, in one form or other. The an opportunity of contradicting a most Commons might resort to the high tribufalse and scandalous report, that a num- nal of impeachment as the best mode of ber of the pamphlets had been sent to him. obtaining the ends of justice, and he This he positively denied : he declared, hoped the House would feel the force of upon his honour, that he did not so much that argument. They would in a great as know of the publication till it was no. measure prejudge the case in that view, ticed in the House of Commons, and if they then came to any vote upon the then he bought it out of curiosity to sce contents of the publication.
The House divided on the question to carry into execution the proposition of adjournment: Contents, 31; Not-con- which the report contained, being himself tents, 2.
perfectly ready to do everything in his
power for that purpose. He wished the Debate in the Commons on the Agree. House, however, to recollect seriously ment of the House for lessening the Con- whether the proposition would be in any sumption of Wheat.] Dec. 11. The considerable degree effectual, or adequate Lord Mayor reported from the Committee to the removal of the evil of which they on the High Price of Corn, that the Com had so much reason to complain. He bemittee had come to the following resolu- lieved that the gentlemen who would sign tion: “ That it is the opinion of this Com- the proposed agreement would comply, as mittee, that, in consequence of the high far as they were able, with the provisions price and deficient supply of Wheat, it is of it; he nevertheless feared that would expedient to adopt such measures as may not be of an extent sufficient to meet the be practicable for diminishing the con- evil. An agreement to something of this sumption thereof, during the continuance nature had been entered into some time of the present pressure, and for intro- ago by many persons of the first distincducing the use of such articles as may tion; it had not, however, removed the conveniently be substituted in the place evil; and he was afraid that this measure thereof." The Resolution was agreed to would also be inadequate, and that in a by the House nem. con. After which, Mr. few months the House would be obliged Ryder moved, That it is expedient an to go much farther. He should therefore Engagement should be entered into, by suggest to the House the propriety of such Members of this House as may prohibiting at once the making of bread choose to sign the same to the following of wheat alone, and leaving the different effect :-" To reduce the consumption of compositions of bread to be of a mixture wheat in the families of the persons sub- of wheat, rye, barley, potatoes, or In. scribing such Engagement, by at least one dian corn, as the case might require, and third of the usual quantity consumed in in certain proportions. If the House did ordinary times. In order to effect this not adopt it then, he was afraid they purpose-either to limit to that extent the would soon be obliged to adopt it. He quantity of fine wheaten bread, consumed wished also the House to consider whether by each individual in such families,-Or, millers should be allowed to refine wheat to consume only mixed bread, of which four beyond a certain standard. He apnot more than two-thirds shall be made of prehended that the danger of these regue wheat, -Or, only a proportional quantity lations, in consequence of the hardships of mixed bread, of which more than which they would introduce, were in a two-thirds is made of wheat,-Or, a pro- great degree chimerical; for he believed portional quantity of bread made of wheat that the great mass of the people would alone, for which no more than five pounds not take it to be an injury if the higher of bran is excluded :--And, if it should classes set them the example of eating this be necessary, in order to effect the pur- bread. The higher classes could at prepose of this Engagement, to prohibit the sent eat what bread they pleased, but the use of wheaten flour in pastry, and to di- lower classes were so far from it that they minish as much as possible the use thereof, could not subsist upon the wages for their in other articles than bread.-By one or labour, and a vast number of them were more of these measures, or by any other obliged to subsist upon charity. There. which may be found equally effectual, and fore it appeared to him that the better more expedient and practicable, in the way would be to come at once to a regurespective situations of persons subscrib- lation by law, with regard to bread, that ing, to ensure to the utmost of their the rich might be compelled to eat the power the reduction above mentioned. same bread as the poor. He did not say This Engagement to continue in force until this in contradiction to the opinion of the fourteen days after the next session of committee who recommended the agreeparliament, unless the average price of ment now proposed; on the contrary, he wheat shall, before that time, be reduced approved of it as far as it went; but he to an amount to be specified.”
was afraid it would not go far enough to Mr. Bankes said, he regarded the la- remove the evil. bours of the committee with great respect, Mr. Secretary Dundas contended, that and he hoped the House would endeavour the principle of the measure was a good