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Lord Castlereagh then rose and said, « The Prince Regent, acting in the that after the communication which name, and on the behalf of his Majesthe House had just heard, combined ty, thinks it right to inform the House with the recollection of his uniform of Commons, that having taken into conduct, there could be, he appre- his consideration the eminent and dishended, no difference of opinion as to tinguished services of the Right Hon. the great merits of the Speaker, or as Charles Abbot, during the long and to the propriety of accepting his re- eventful period in which he had filled signation. From the able, dignified, the situation of Speaker of that House, and conciliatory manner in which he has conferred upon him the dignity of had discharged the arduous duties of a Baron of the United Kingdom, by his office, at once reflecting the high- the title of Baron Colchester of Col. est credit upon his character, and af. chester, in the county of Essex ; and fording the utmost satisfaction to the the Prince Regent recommends to the House, all who heard him must re House of Commons to enable him to gret the resignation of that highly make such provision for Charles Lord respected and universally esteemed in. Colchester, and for the heir male of dividual. The loss, indeed, of such his body who may next succeed to the an officer, he felt, no doubt in com title, as shall, under all the circummon with the House, it would be ex. stances, be judged just and reasontremely difficult, if not impossible, able.” adequately to supply. The noble lord It was argued by Mr Wynne and concluded with proposing an adjourn- others, that this ought to have origiment until Monday, when probably nated in the House, where his labours he would be authorised to make a could be best appreciated. It was at communication to the House, which last agreed to by Lord Castlereagh, would mark the estimation in which
to postpone the consideration of the the Speaker was held by the illustri. message till Thursday. ous personage at the head of govern On Thursday, June 5, Lord Case ment, and which would enable the tlereagh, after some prefatory encoHouse to proceed at once to the elec- miums, moved the thanks of the House tion of another Speaker.
to Baron Colchester, for the zeal and The motion of adjournment was ability with which he had discharged agreed to.
the duties of his station in parliament, On Monday, June 2, the House Lord William Russel rose with exproceeded to the choice of a Speaker treme reluctance to oppose this vote. in the place of Mr Abbot, now Lord No man could be more sensible of the Colchester. After an amicable con. general merits of the late Speaker ; test between the friends of Mr Man. but he could not forget the memorable ners Sutton and Mr Charles Wynne, speech made by him at the bar of the the choice fell upon the former by a House of Lords on the failure of the majority of 160; the numbers being Catholic question; nor the motion of for Mr Sutton 312, and for Mr Wynne a noble friend of his (Lord Morpeth) 152.
on that subject. On that occasion On Tuesday, June 3, Mr Sutton, 117 members of that House had voted the new Speaker, took his seat in the their censure on the Speaker; and the chair, after having received the royal public would not be able to understand approbation in the House of Peers. the reason why the House now una
Lord Castlereagh brought down nimously applauded him. It was also the following message:
a bad precedent, to see that Speaker
who was the first to make the crown anxiety, that Lord Colchester should a party to the proceedings of that enjoy a pension of 4000l. for his own House, the first also to be made directe life, and 30001. for a successor, to
ly a peer on his removal from that commence from the 1st of April last. · chair.
Mr H. Sumner moved that the first The motion was then agreed to, sum should be 5000l.; and Mr Lamb. with a very few dissenting voices. ton moved that it be limited to 3000L
Lord Castlereagh then moved an Both these amendments were negativaddress to the Regent, that he would ed, and the original motion agreed to. be pleased to grant some signal mark of favour to Lord Colchester; and
The following circular letter had that whatever expence should be in- been addressed by Lord Sidmouth to curred, that House would make good the lords lieutenants of counties, dathe same.
ted 27th March 1817. Mr Tierney had heard that it was “ My LORD-As it is of the greate intended to grant 4000l. a-year to est importance at present to prevent, Lord Colchester, and 20001. a-year to as far as possible, the circulation of his heir male. He had since heard blasphemous and seditious pamphlets that was wrong, and that 30001. a and writings, of which for some time year was to be granted to his heir. past great numbers have been sold and He wished to know if that was cor. distributed throughout the country; rect.
I have thought it my duty to consult Mr Vansittart had no objection to the law servants of the crown, whether state that 40001. a-year was intended an individual found selling, or in any to be proposed to Lord Colchester, way publishing such pamphlets and and 30001. a-year to his heir male. writings, might be brought immedi
On Friday, June 6, the Speaker ac. ately before a justice of the peace, quainted the House, that he had re under a warrant issued for the purpose, ceived a letter from Lord Colchester, to answer for his conduct. The law in acknowledgment of the letter com officers, having accordingly taken this municating to him the resolution by matter into their serious consideration, which the thanks of that House had have notified to me their opinion, that been voted him.
a justice of peace may issue a warrant Lord Castlereagh stated at the bar to apprehend a person charged before the answer of the Prince Regent to him upon oath with the publication of the address respecting the late Speak. libels of the nature in question, and er, which recommended to the House compel him to give bail to answer the to enable his Royal Highness to be charge. stow an adequate provision,
“ Under these circumstances, I beg The Chancellor of the Exchequer to call your lordship's attention very moved, that it be referred to a com- particularly to this subject; and I have mittee of the whole House on Monday to request, that if your lordship should next.
not propose to attend in person at the On Monday, the House resolved next general quarter sessions of the itself into a committee, on the answer peace to be holden in and for the counto the Prince Regent's message. ty under your lordship’s charge, you
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, would make known to the chairman after briefly adverting to a pension of of such sessions the substance of this 30001. granted Mr Speaker Onslow, communication, in order that he may proposed, for his great labour and recommend to the several magistrates
act thereupon, in all cases where any clear and indisputable. He hesitated erson shall be found offending against not, therefore, to describe the measure ze law in the manner above mention as most unconstitutional and danger1.
" I beg leave to add, that persons Lord Ellenborough contended, that Ending pamphlets and other publica, the course followed by Lord Sidinouth ons in the manner above alluded to, was strictly regular, and endeavoured would be considered as coming under to shew that it was supported by the he provisions of the hawkers and ped- very authorities which had been quoirs' act, and be dealt with according. ted against it by Lord Grey. He , unless they shew that they are fur. conceived that such a power was indisished with a licence, as required by pensable for the security of the counhe said act.
try, and that if it did not already exist, « I have the honour to be, &c. it ought to be communicated without
“ SIDMOUTH.” delay. To this letter were subjoined opi Lord Erskine expressed the highest ions to the above effect, signed by respect for the legal knowledge of he Attorney and Solicitor General, Lord Ellenborough; but did not conW. Garrow and S. Shepherd. ceive that the doctrine now advanced
Earl Grey on the 12th May brought by him could be borne out by the his subject before the House of Lords. practice in cases of libel. During the His lordship, after reading the letter French Revolution, a time when much and the opinion of the judges, obser- danger was apprehended from sedived that at present he meant only to tious practices in this country, every move for the case upon which the cire part of it was inundated by libels. cular letter had been founded; which, Whatever evidence was brought for. if granted, might be the foundation of ward during that period, at the Old future proceedings. The question was, Bailey, upon the subject of those libels, whether any justice of the peace may referred to such as were actually pubbe called upon by any common infor- lished. There were libels tried there mer, to decide at once what is or what at that time, collected from all parts of is not a libel, and upon his sole judg- the country; and in no one case was a ment and authority commit or hold to person held to bail after an arrest by a bail the person accused. His lord- justice of the peace. The Society for ship then referred to the opinions of the Suppression of Vice never proceedHale, Hawkins, Camden, and other ed against any person arrested and held eminent lawyers, in order to shew, to bail by a justice of the peace for the that no justice of the peace could pos. publication of a blasphemous libel. sess any such power. After bringing The question now was, how the comtogether an amount of evidence which mon law stood upon the subject. The he contended was quite irresistible, he noble lord read a passage from Lord strongly censured the conduct of the Hale, to prove that a justice of the Secretary of State, in issuing this cir- peace could not hold to bail for every cular. Such a direction to the magic offence within the cognizance of a strates, not being a general exhortation session. They were here upon the to vigilance and care, but a specific plain law of the land. If the Secreinstruction as to the manner in which tary of State considered the case 80 they were to interpret the law, would clear, what necessity was there for tahave been a high" offence against the king the opinions of the law officers of constitution, even if that law had been the crown? Surely the miserable crea
tures who went about hawking these dictment. The conduct pursued by šeditious or blasphemous papers could the noble viscount was most destrucnot be looked upon as guilty of libels, tive to the harmony, and fatal to the and held to bail by every magistrate safety of the country. who may think proper
to arrest them. Lord Sidmouth should think him. This was never the case, even during self inexcusable if he should attempt the French Revolution. The judges to strengthen the arguments already themselves, without a jury, had not adduced by the highest authorities by power to decide as to what was and any observations of his own. When what was not a libel, and yet that he had the satisfaction of hearing it power was now given to every magis. proclaimed in that House, that the trate, without proof-without judge measure which he had thought it his or jury. His lordship afterwards said, duty to adopt was conformable to the " I'he press had better be thrown in- opinion of the highest legal authority to the fire, than the power of com- in the country, (the Lord Chancellor,) mittal be given to every justice of the and of the Lord Chief Justice of the peace.”
kingdom—when he found that it was The Lord Chancellor objected to conformable to the opinions of the the production of the opinions of the greatest text writers on the law, and judges, which would, he thought, be also to the recorded practice of all in several respects a bad precedent. the most eminent law servants of the He was clearly of opinion that the crown, both before and after they had whole proceeding was legal, and de- attained the highest judicial situations fended it by the authorities of Mr –he felt it would be presumptuous in Northey, Lord Hale, Lord Hard. him to attempt to add any weight to wicke, Sir John Willes, Arthur Hill, this mass of dead and living authoriSir Dudley Rider, and Lord Mans- ties; but though he did not think it field. He contended that the quota essary to detain their lordships with tions from Hale and Hawkins by no any remarks on this point of discusmeans warranted the inference drawn sion, yet there was another point on from them. Blackstone he considered which he should think it a matter of as a laborious and useful compiler, but great self-reproach, if he could not by no means very high authority. He vindicate himself to their lordships. was now in the decline of life, and he It seemed that he stood before their declared, that he should feel deep re- lordships charged with having used gret in his retirement, if he could think his best endeavours to stop the prothat the measures which he had deem- gress of blasphemy and sedition. To ed it his duty to advise or support had that charge he pleaded guilty; and trenched upon the just liberties of the while he lived he should be proud to country; but, on the contrary, he be- have such a charge brought against lieved sincerely that they had been him. He knew that efforts unparal. essential to the preservation of the leled had been made to carry into every constitution.
village and cottage in the manufactu. Lord Holland spoke strongly in ring districts the poison of these sedifavour of the motion, contending that tious and blasphemous doctrines. He the House ought to be guided by the had himself seen the effects of these legislature, not by the opinion of any pernicious doctrines on some of these Attorney or Solicitor General. He misguided men ; and had heard from contended, that the only legal mode some of them, while under examinaof proceeding against libel was by in- tion, the free confession that it was the
fluence of this poison that had taken bail, or sent to prison, on the oath of nem away from their regular duties ; an informer. No newspaper, in any hat up to the time of their being as part of the country, could criticise ailed with those publications, they the conduct of ministers, or render itad been industrious and well-affected self obnoxious to some busy magisnembers of society; but that them- trate, without the danger of exposing elves, and hundreds of their unfortu. its author to imprisonment and exlate neighbours, had been corrupted pence, without trial. The tyranny of y the insidious principles dissemina- the reign of Charles II. could not be ed by these itinerant hawkers of sedi- greater than this.—The motion, how, ion and blasphemy. Never was there ever, was negatived by a majority of 2 period, till the present, when blas- 157 to 49. phemy was so completely enlisted in On the 9th of July, Mr Wilberforce the service of sedition. A greater brought forward a motion on the sub. number of persone could read now ject of the slave trade. He described than at any former period; they were the manner and extent in which this better informed; they were collected horrible traffic was still persisted in. more in large bodies, especially in ma The Hon. Gentleman said, he was nufacturing towns; there was also, he afraid that even a great many Ameriwas sorry to say, more ale-houses. can subjects, and much American
proBesides, these publications were very perty, had been embarked in the slave cheap, almost gratuitous; and the se trade. It had also been greatly carditious and blasphemous dealers were ried on in the colonies on the coast itinerant, in order to disseminate their near Goree, since they have been remischievous wares more widely. Such stored to the French. There was reabeing the case, the magistrates be son to believe that in one Dutch colocame alarmed, and applied to him ny, the slave trade had been favoured (Lord S.) for instructions. It was by one individual very greatly. As to said that the proceedings ought to be Sweden and Denmark, no complaint by indictment; but this could not be, could be made. But Portugal, not. till the next quarter-sessions; and by withstanding our favours, had carried that time these wandering venders
on this infamous traffic to a great exmight have removed to another quar- tent. All, however, sunk in this scale ter of the country.
compared with the devastations of Earl Grey declared that every thing Spain, whose conduct in encouraging he had heard only tended to confirm so infamous a traffic, he spoke of in him in his original opinion. He called the most glowing terms of indignafor law, and they gave him authority; tion. In places where schools had he called for deliberate discussion, and been established, and efforts made to they gave him bare assertions. The induce the chieftains to supply their motion, however, was negatived by a wants by peaceful industry and legitimajority of 75 to 19.
mate commerce, the Spaniards labour. On the 25th of June, the same sub. ed to persuade them to return to their ject was brought before the Commons old habits of selling their subjects, and by Sir Samuel Romilly, who contend. making war upon their neighbours ed that no more dangerous power was The Spanish ships were crowded beever assumed by any servant of the yond all precedent. In one instance crown. By the command of any ma- it had been stated, that of 540 negroes gistrate, a person might be held to embarked, 340 had died. By a paper