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would, I am persuaded, produce the hap- several matters referred to their consideration ; piest effects in promoting the security and and in the investigation of this subject, have happiness of both kingdoms, and in con- directed their inquiry to the general state of firming and augmenting the stability, the said prişon, and the plan which has been
adopted for its regulation and management. power, and resources of the empire."
It appears to your committee, not only
from the evidence adduced to them, but also Report of the Committee of the House of from their personal observation, that the Commons on the State of Cold Bath Fields prison is erected on a high and dry situation; Prison.] April 19. Mr. W. Dundas made that it is kept perfectly clean; that the cells the following Report from the Committee for solitary confinement are dry and airy. appointed to inquire into the State of It also appears, from the evidence laid beCold Bath Fields Prison, Clerkenwell: fore your committee, that the health of the
prisoners has been generally good, and that REPORT.
when, from two hundred and fifty to three Your Committee have, pursuant to the order hundred prisoners were in the prison, there of the House, proceeded to examine into the
will have every merit I can give you. with foreign nations, or her own colonies and I have only to assure your grace of every sup.. dependencies, consideration being duly had port necessary to carry this measure, and of to the circumstances of this country: I am the most confidential return to every commufattered with the expectation of receiving the nication you think the public service may remost positive assurances from
quire.--I entirely agree in your grace's reasons of their support in carrying such a bill through for putting as speedy an end as possible to the both Houses of parliament; and in case such present session, unless the measure you have an object could be obtained, I should presume in contemplation can be obtained. The king that it would be very advisable to trespass upon is at Windsor, and every one else out of the patience of this country to bring it to per- town; I therefore only write the sentiments fection, even in the present moment. Your of your grace's faithful servant. lordship may depend upon the earliest account
SHELBURNE. of my success and progress in this business. I have, &c.
No.VII. -Extractof a Letter from the Duke
of Portland, to the Earl of Shelburne; No.VI.- From Lord Shelburne to the Duke dated Dublin Castle, 220 June, 1782. of Portland; dated June 9.
The disappointment and mortification I My lord ;-In the very instant of the de- suffer by the unexpected change in those disparture of the messenger with the dispatches positions which had authorized me to entertain accompanying this letter, I have the honour the hopes I had, perhaps, too sanguinely exto receive your grace's of the 5th and 6th. pressed in the letier which I had the honour • The contents of the letter are too important of writing to your lordship the 6th instant,
to hesitate about detaining him, while I as- must not prevent my acquainting you, that sure your grace of the satisfaction I know your for the present those expectations must be letter will give the king. I have lived in the given up. I trust, and am inclined to flatter most anxious expectation of some such mea- myself, they are only suspended, and that sure offering itself. Nothing prevented my they will be revived when the temper of this pressing it in this dispatch, except having re country shall have recovered its tone, and acpeatedly stated the just expectations of this quired that degree of composure which must country, I was apprehensive of giving that the give it the firmness necessary for effectuating air of demand which would be better left to a so wise and salutary a measure. Mr. Fspirit of voluntary justice, gratitude, and fore will have informed your lordship of some sight. I gave your grace confidence for watch- very unpleasant circumstances which were ing the temper of those you had to deal with, likely to have happened a very few days before and cannot express the pleasure it gives me the adjournment, the traces of which are to find that confidence justified. Bargains strongly marked in the address from the Leinand compacts may accomplish little objects-- ster volunteers, which I have this day the Great ends must be obtained by a nobler and honour of transmitting to you, but which, I more generous policy. No matter who has think, are to be attributed to a suspicion of the merit, let the two kingdoms be one, the possible effect of a negotiation. By the which can only be by Ireland now acknowaccount of the event of those three or four ledging the superintending power and supre-days, and of the timidity and jealousy of the macy to be where nature has placed ii in first people in this country, it is clear to my precise and unanubiguous terms. "I am sure I apprehension, that any injudicious or offenneed not inculcate to your grace the impor. sive measure may be prevented, but that any tance of words in an act which must decide attempts to conciliate the minds of this nation on the happiness of ages, particularly in what to any such measure as I intimated the hope regards contribution and trade, subjects most of, would at this moment be delusive and inlikely to come into frequent question. Your possible.
were not more than four or five sick in the petition, as to the facts alleged in it; and that hospital at any one time; that the provisions they have themselves visited the prison, and are sufficient, good, and wholesome, and that have found every part of it in the highest no complaints at any tiine have been made to degree of order, clean and dry, the prisoners the magistrates respecting them.
healthy, and their food good and wholesome. Your Committee have, however, to remark, Your Committee have also to remark, that that the printed regulations for the manage- from the very laudable vigilance and attention ment of the prison, have not been hung up of the visiting magistrates, it is extremely imin a conspicuous part of the prison, as is re- probable that any impropriety of conduct, or quired by the statutes relating thereto; and unnecessary severity in the gaoler, could long that the journals of the prison, as directed by have escaped their notice. the regulations, have not been fully and re- Your Committee have peculiar satisfaction gularly kept.
in being able to state to the House the result Your Committee have, besides, directed of their inquiries, as a full and direct refutatheir attention to the petition of Edward tion of the unfounded statements, and absurd Marcus Despard; which states, That he had and wicked reports, which have been indusbeen confined a close prisoner, under a war- triously circulated, with respect to the prison rant from the duke of Portland, since the 22d and its internal management: And upon the of April till the 25th of November last; that whole, your committee have come to the folhe was confined in a damp cell about seven lowing Resolutions :--1. That it is the opinion feet square, with no article of furniture, ex- of this committee, that the prison in Cold cept a bed laid on some oaken planks fastened Bath Fields is erected in a dry and airy situato the wall, and that, during the first six tion, and is well adapted for the purposes of weeks of his confinement, he had no allow its institution as a House of Correction, as ance but bread and water.
well as for those of close and separate confineIt appears in evidence to your Committee, ment and safe custody. 2. That all parts of that the circumstances of the time, and the the prison are kept perfectly clean, and that public safety, rendered it indispensably neces- the health of the prisoners has been remarksary that Edward Marcus Despard should be ably good. 3. That the attention of the makept, at the time of his commitment, in close gistrates to the general management of the and separate confinement; that the cell in prison, has been exemplary and meritorious, which he was so confined was not damp as stated in his petition ; that he was removed.
Debate in the Commons on the Report on the 25th November, into a room with a fire in it, and glazed windows; that although from the Secret Committee relative to Se. for the first six weeks of his confinement, he ditious Societies.] April 19. The House had only the prison allowance for persons having resolved itself into a Committee of committed for re-examination, yet that during the whole House, to consider of the the whole of that period he was supplied with Report* which, upon the 15th of March provisions sent in by his friends, or procured last was made from the Committee of for him at a reasonable rate in the prison. It Secrecy, the Lord Mayor in the chair, is also alleged in the petition, that his health
Mr. Pitt rose and said :--Sir; It is not was materially injured; but that certainly does not appear from the evidence before your time in the observations I am about to
intention to take up much of your committee, for he has never applied for medical assistance; and his only disorders seem make: for the report of the secret comto have been, after the fullest examination on mittee is full of such convincing proofs, this head, a return of rheumatism contracted and the facts before you speak so plainly abroad, and occasionally chilblains on his feet. and forcibly, that it would be useless to It is stated in the petition, that he was not recapitulate or to make any comments on allowed to walk in the garden; but it appears any part of that report, the
whole of which that he had permission to walk in a court; must have impressed conviction on the and that, after the first two months of his con mind of every man in the House. I shall finement, he was permitted to walk a part of the day uninterruptedly with his wife in an therefore confine myself to stating the outopen part of the prison, adjoining to and com- line of two bills which are become necesmunicating with the garden, and distinct from sary from the statements contained in the the court of his cell.
report, and which, should the House Your Committee do not think themselves think proper to adopt them, will, in my called upon to state a variety of other circum- mind, prove effectual to check the present stances which have come under their consi- danger. I shall take itforgranted that there deration; but they are anxious to refer the House to the evidence in the appendix, to are not two opinions in the House with prove how much it has been their wish and respect to the propriety of enforcing the endeavour to fulfil the objects of their appoint- measures of salutary precaution, which ment; that they have examined the persons mentioned by Edward Marcus Despard in his * For a copy of the Report, see p: 579
have hitherto proved such powerful bar- fatal object. Yet, believing that many riers against the malignani, perfidious, weak-minded individuals have been drawn and destructive spirit of conspiracy. We into the snares that were perfidiously laid find, upon the report of the committee, for them, I propose only the necessity of enabling his majesty to remedy. After the mass of guilt which apprehend and detain the persons of the appears on the report, we should be justi, conspirators; and it cannot be denied that fied in proceeding with greater severity. the measures which have been already But it will, I trust, be sufficient for us to taken for that purpose have been followed provide against future guilt. It will, I by the most beneficial effects. But it must hope, be sufficient for us to set a mark not pass unnoticed, that independently of upon that House into which the pestithe report of the committee, facts have lential breath of Jacobinism has entered. come out of so dubitable a nature, and so I mean to hold out a warning to prevent dangerous in their tendency, as would have the infection from extending, and at the justified us in enabling his majesty_to same time to let the benefits of an amnesty continue those salutary precautions. The operate in the most salutary manner. object of my first motion will therefore But while we act with this indulgence, a be, not only to continue to his majesty light summary punishment should be the power of securing and detaining per- inflicted on the offenders. I therefore sons accused of treason and sedition, but submit that whoever shall continue to be to render that power more effectual, by a member of such societies, after a certain making it adequate to the necessity of the day to be named, shall have a small fine circumstances which have arisen, and may inflicted on him upon conviction before hereafter occur. I mean, Sir, that we a magistrate. There must, however, be should give to his majesty the power of degrees of guilt in the cases of individuals. transferring from the metropolis to any I therefore wish to give an option with part of the
kingdom the persons detained respect to the recovery of the penalty, or for treasonable and seditious practices. to proceed against the offender in a court Both in this country, and in the sister of record, leaving it to the discretion of kingdom, one of the leading features of the court to punish him by fine, imprithe conspirators has been, to continue the sonment, or by transportation. There conspiracy during the imprisonment. They are three societies already too well have, in the place of their imprisonment, known-the Corresponding Society, the been industriously occupied in preparing United Irishmen, and the United Englishthe materials of sedition, and in providing men, but as it is impossible to guard means to diffuse the spirit of insurrection against all the various shapes and forms With a similar view, I wish that his which treason may assume, it will be nemajesty should have the power of de. cessary to define those societies, the taining in this country those who have members of which are to be subjected to been confined in Ireland in consequence the proceedings now proposed to be inof the suspension of the Habeas Corpus stituted against them. I will therefore act. But it is not enough to confine our observe, that their peculiar characteristics selves within the line of preservation are contrary to every engagement prewhich has been marked out by the neces. scribed by the constitution, by morality, sity of the case. We must proceed still and religion. They are bound together farther. We are involved in a contest by ties of secrecy, and are connected by for every consideration that is most oaths, which not only conceal the names valuable to us, and it is our duty to make of the leaders from the knowledge of goprovisions suited to the case from time to vernment, but also from their associates time. In taking this general view of the themselves. I wish that societies conquestion, it is therefore one great and cealing themselves by such methods, leading object to prevent the existence of should be liable to similar proceedings as those societies, as detailed in the report those against the societies which I have of the secret committee. Societies which, expressly named. But, this is not suffihowever differing in name, have but one cient: and it will be found requisite to common end the subversion of the accompany this measure by provisions constitution, and the diffusion of the prin- against the owners of public and private ciples of anarchy, They were all equally houses who shall harbour such societies, engaged in the common cause of ruin, These provisions will complete the first and their aim was directed to the same part of the plan. The second object will be, to prevent the existence of other so-1 is but a measure of common right to let cicties which are evidently calculated to the name of the author or publisher be corrupt the morals and vitiate the under- affixed to the publication, that any person standing of the community. I mean who shall be injured may know to whom debating societies, in which questions are he is to look for redress. But in order to agitated little suited to the capacity of make the measure effectual, and prevent the audience, and which operate to loosen the press from becoming an engine of the foundations of morality, religion, and corruption and innovation in the hands of social happiness. In a former session factions who are ready to circulate cheap measures were adopted to prevent the de- publications, adapted to inflame and livery of political lectures but attempts pervert the public mind, it will be neces. have been made to elude them by deli-sary to keep a general register, not only vering historical lectures, which, by of the presses used by printers, but of misrepresentation and the force of erro- those in the possession of private persons neous inference, are rendered equally It is also my intention, to oblige persons dangerous. With this view of the subject, in the first instance, to register the types, I trust there can be no objection to extend and the names of the persons to whom the proposed provisions to all societies they are sold, that a knowledge of all the where money is taken for admission : and parties may be more easily obtained. I that none shall be held unless licensed by must also observe, the names and lieences a magistrate, and liable to his inspection. to be changed as often as the property is I now come to the third head, which is the shifted. There may exist a necessity for most important, as it relates to the liberty the adoption of farther precautions; it is of the press.
We cannot too highly not for me to anticipate them, but as far prize that sacred liberty when we consi. as I have stated, I think the remedy adeder that it has been instrumental in bring. quate to the evil complained of. I shall ing our constitution to that envied perfec- conclude with moving, “ That it is the tion which it possesses. Yet it must also opinion of this committee, 1. That leave be admitted that when abused, the most be given to bring in a bill for further fatal consequences have ever resulted from continuing for a time to be limited, and it. It has been the great principle of the rendering more effectual, an act, passed constitution that the liberty of the press in the last session, intituled, " An Act to should flourish, but it is also clear from empower his majesty to secure and dethe nature of the principle itself, and for • tain such persons as his majesty shall the security of the press, that the author or suspect are conspiring against his perpublisher of every work should be son and government.' 2. That, leave amenable to the laws of his country. be given to bring in a bill for the more This doctrine is founded on the nature of effectual suppression of societies estabjustice, for every one must be responsible lished for seditious and treasonable purfor the act which he commits, and, rea. poses, and for prevention of other treasoning this way, we only place the author sonable and seditious practices." or publisher in the situation of those who Mr. Tierney said : -The right hon. know that their conduct ought to be re- gentleman has not dwelt long on the regulated by the laws of the country to port of the secret committee. I am not which they are subject. With respect to at a loss to guess the reason why he did publication addressed to the higher not; for a report less supported by classes, this species of libel, so common evidence, I believe, was never made to some years ago, has greatly declined; but, this House. I am ready to admit that unfortunately for the liberty of the press, the committee have stated nothing but it has lately been degraded and abused what appears to them to be right; but for the purpose of calling the attention of feeling how very liable to failure, their the lower orders of the people to objects judgments must be, I am justified in of discussion of the most mischievous ten- doubting the soundness of the conclusions dency, objects which are not calculated they have drawn. I do not know the nafor their understandings, and which are of ture of the testimony that has been given all others the most liable to be attended to them, for they have kept that out of with dreadful effects. I wish to make it view ; I therefore must be pardoned, if I impossible that any publication should be withhold my assent to the mass of that circulated without attaching the responsi- report until I am made acquainted with bility to the author or publisher of it. It the nature of the evidence on which it is
founded. I need not say that I therefore him. To endeavour to seduce the army withhold my assent to the measure pro: or navy from their duty, is prohibited also posed, because that measure is founded under pain of death. Now I say, that on that report. But supposing the report coupling all these things together, the into be justified by the evidence, that fluence of the crown is greatly increased. would not be a reason for adopting the The laws already in being are adequate to measure proposed. The present laws of every good purpose of government. Is it the land are sufficient for the purpose of then too much for me to pause before I removing all the evil of which the right assent to the granting of this new power? hon. gentleman complains. I agree that I voted for the suspension of the Habeas government ought to be strong, but I Corpus act the year before the last be defy any man to point out to me a period cause I thought there was ground laid for in the history of this country, when go. suspecting that there were traitors in the vernment was so strong as it is at this country; but now I am called upon to hour. With the exception of France, vote for the continuance of the imprisonwhat government ever possessed stronger ment of those of whose innocence I am measures against sedition than the present induced to think favourably since; they government of this country? They have have been imprisoned a year without being all the powers of seduction, and the ter- brought to trial. I cannot agree to this. rors of punishment that can be devised. But there is a case in which a man was Let gentlemen who doubt this, consider confined in a solitary cell, with no means what is the present state of the influence of sheltering himself from the rain but by of the crown; and let them compare it excluding the light. By whomsoever this with what the influence of the crown was was done, it was an inhuman exercise in this country in former times. The of discretionary power. In 1793 several present government, or rather a much persons suspected of high treason were weaker one, has been found sufficient for taken due care of without any of this the safety of this country for upwards of rigour. To send to a penitentiary house 100 years, with no other help than that a man against whom there is nothing of an occasional suspension of the Habeas proved, but. who is only suspected, is Corpus act. That suspension, govern- monstrous. When men like colonel ment have had the benefit of now for a Despard are sent to such a place, and are considerable time. They have also the torn from society and their friends, it is two bills against treason and sedition. Do enough not only to affect their health, they not provide, that to levy war, and but to overpower their faculties. Had I to attempt to overawe the parliament, known that any such abuse as this would is high treason ? Here is the prin- have been allowed, I never should have ciple of security which the right 'hon. voted for the suspension of the Habeas gentleman has stated to night. But he is Corpus act. With respect to removing not contented; for he says, that measures persons to distant parts of the country, I of law should be adopted against all can conceive cases in which that may be conspiracy; which seems to me to be necessary. If the gaols be insecure, or if only saying there should be no conspiracy. there be any apprehension of an insurrecWhy, the law has said that long ago. tion in the capital, then government ought The law now upon this matter sub- to have the power to remove prisoners : jects every conspirator to punishment. but is that the case? What is it, then, The oaths which these conspirators are you want-close confinement, without said to take are already declared unlawful. light, to those whom you only suspect, Is it a connexion with the French that you but do not choose to try? They say, that fear? To prevent any person from at- much mischief has arisen in Ireland for tempting to establish it, the laws are suffi- svant of due caution with regard to pricient as they stand. Traitorous conspi- soners : to which I answer, that the negracy, with France is punishable with lect of the government of Ireland is no death; nay, to embark with an intent to excuse for injustice in the parliament of go thither, is death. Administration England, nor any reason why we should have gained strength by the late regula- impose new hardships on those who are tions, with regard to newspapers: the innocent; for until they are tried, they proprietor is made liable for every thing are all supposed to be innocent. As to that appears in his paper, and a great the second bill, it is of a description, the facility is given to any procedure against thought of which gives me infinite pain.