페이지 이미지
PDF

“Magistrate under the operation of the “ 31st of the King; he had read the Act “ attentively, and had found in it no such authority. (Hear!/.—It did give certain powers in the control of Houses of Correction to the Magistracy, but such prisons as the castle of Lincoln, county “ gaols were, he contended, the prisons of the Sheriffs, and not of the Magistracy. (Hear, he or '/..—If this power had been given by that Act, it would have been given in plain and direct words; and if the power be not given, it was in vain to talk to that House of what this or that ławyer thought of the construction that might be put on the Act, when it was evident to any man who read it, that no such eonstruction was within the meaning of the Legislature, at the time it was enacted. (Hear, hear !/.—But as to the offence of the petitioner, it was simply this:—He had refused to be supplied with a bed by the gaoler, and wished one of his own to be brought into the prison;

this was no indulgence. He had a right to this accommodation by virtue of the 32d of George II. chapter 28, section 4,

a provision obviously made with the view

of protecting the prisoner from the rapa

city and extortion of the gaoler, who might otherwise insist upon his own price for an accommodation so indispensable.

The petitioner, however, was threatened with being turned over into the pauper's ward, in case he brought in his own bed. He was then thrown into a rootn containing seven beds and thirteen prisoners. It was in summer—the weather uncommonly hot, and the room very close. To this room were two doors—an inner and an outer grated door. One night, after the Petitioner had been sent to this room, the inner door was closed as well as the outer, and thus the usual opening “ between the room and the outer door was “closed. It is not improbable that the “ Petitioner (though it is not so stated)

“might have expressed, in strong kunguage, “his indignant sense of such an act of op“ pression directed against himself, because “he did not succumb to the extortion of “ the Gaoler. (Hear, hear !/ Be that as “it might, he and the remaining thirteen “were, innocenlas well as guilty, shut up “ in this room; the usual circulation of air “ denied them, all on account of the sup

“ posed contumely of one (hear !/, and in

“consequence of what then passed between “ the Petitioner and the Gaoler, the former “ was brought before Dr. Caley Illing

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

worth, who could not find sufficient in the statement of the Gaoler to justify the exercise of power he wished to resort to, and expressed his concern to the Prisoner that he could not punish him. (Hear!) This regret, however, could not have been of long duration, for he was again brought before this Dr. Caley Illingworth, and was sentenced, in two days after, to close confinement in a felon's cell. Here he remained eleven days and nights, and might have remained indefinitely, long, had it not been for the arrival of the intelligence of a conversation which had taken place in that House on the subject of Mr. Finnerty's Petition, complaining of abuses in that prison, on the part of the same Gaoler. On the arrival of this news, the Petitioner was immediately discharged from his cell. And here he could not help congratulating the House upon this instance, among numberless others, of the great benefits resulting from public discussion. / Hear!) He had often voted in minorities of even six and sixteen, where the discussion upon the question on which they were out-voted had, by becoming public, led to a correction of the abuses to which it related. (Hear!/ He thought that these circumstances did lay grounds for suspecting both extremely corrupt motives in the Gaoler, and most criminal connivance in the Magistrate. (Hear!) The Honourable Gentletman who cheered him would have every opportunity, and no doubt come prepared to vindicate both Gaoler and Magistrate; but he could not forget what had been stated in Mr. Finnerty's petition, and never contradicted, that one

[blocks in formation]

“the following manner: seven to those “who could pay for, their beds, and the “remaining two to all the rest that could “not pay. (Hear !/ By an order of those “Magistrates, places and cells had been “appropriated for refractory and disorder“ly debtors. He knew not the authority under which they made such an order, ‘‘ and he spoke as a lawyer. (Hear, hear!) “He stated also, that the Gaoler of Lincoln ‘Castle had a fixed salary of 300l. a year, “independent of all other emoluments. “He stated also a case of a debtor in the “agonies of death, who died in the night “time before any one dared to disturb the “repose of the Gaoler. He did not say “that the debtor might not have died, “whether a medical man had been timely “called in or not. It had been lately said, “that the gaol was in an insurrection; if “so, it was an insurrection of complaint. But the prisoners had addressed their complaints in the humblest and the most respectful language. Such gaols and prisoners were, he contended, the Sheriff's, whose duty it was, not to ride on a caparisoned horse into the assize town before the Judge, with white staffs and trumpets sounding, but to consult the ease and comforts of his prisoners (for his they were) as far as that comfort was consistent with their confinement. Fortunately those new lights had not broken out when the -great Howard undertook the duty of Sheriff. He then concluded with moving for the Select Committee.” Here is a scene developed

facts to be proclaimed to the world!

After expressing my sincere thanks to Sir Sainuel Romilly for his conduct upon this

occasion, in which I shall, I am sure, be

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

joined by every man in England, who is

not a tyrant in his nature, or who does not thrive or hope to thrive, under tyrants; and, after having begged the reader to reflect on what a character these facts are calculated to give this nation in the world; after this I proceed to offer a remark or two upon Sir Samuel's speech before I go on to the rest of the debate. He here says, (and lie speaks as a lawyer) that the magisdrates have no right to meddle with the management of prisoners in county jails. This I lately said upon the reason of the thing; and I am exceedingly glad to see it confirmed by such authority. There are many reasons why magistrates should have nothing to do with the treatment of prisoners. In the first place, they are, in many cases, judges; they pass sentence as

Here are | preserring his superintendence and autho

well as commit; and, if their authority were to extend to the interior of the jails, they would become the finishers as well as the beginners of the law. The Justices of the Peace are numerous; they, in all cases of prisons, will necessarily be many; they are, too, a fluctuating body; some are dropping off and others coming on continually. In such a body there can be no responsibility; or, at least, it is so difficult to fix it, that the object must generally be defeated. This is not the case with the Sheriff, who is one; who is known ; and who cannot shelter himself under the vote of a majority of colleagues.— Then, again, what are, or, at least, what may be, these magistrates? Why, any man who has a hundred pounds a year (less than the wages of a butler in some families) arising out of lands, tithes, or certain offices. Any such man may be a Justice of the Peace; and, as to who are the Justices of the Peace, all I shall say is this: that they are appointed by the Lord Chancellor upon the recommendation of the Lords Lieutenant, and that the Lord Chancellor and the Lords Lieutenant are appointed by the MinisterThe Sheriff, too, is, indeed, now-adays, appointed by the Minister. Formerly he was not. He was, in former times, elected by the people. However, he is generally, as yet, a man of considerable sortune in the county; he is known ; he is conspicuous; and, at any rate, he is one and has a name, and, therefore, in so me way or other he can be made responsible, which alone is a reason quite sufficient for

rity, in this case, to those of Justices of the Peace. Sir Samuel Romilly congratitlated the House on the essect which its conversations had produced upon a former occasion; and observed, that, frequently, after having been left in a minority of six or sixteen, in the House, he had seen the object of the discussion obtained in the silent correction of the abuse complained of. I do not think this a subject of congratulation. I think it, on the contrary, a thing of which, if true, that House ought to be ashamed. What, shall a body of legislators and representatives of the people reject, at the nod of the minister, an application to redress a grievance; shall they vote almost unanimously against the request of the applicant; and shall they, when they atterwards see the minister or some of his understrappers, redress the grievance thenselves; shall they look upon this as matter of congratslation? The People, indeed,

the sufferers in the case, and those who
have voted in such minorities as Sir
Samuel mentioned, might be congratulated
on this score; but, according to my no-
tions, the circumstance was not at all
calculated to do honour to the House.
The only persons who attempted to
speak in justification of the conduct of Mer-
ryweather and Doctor Caley Illingworth
and the other Justices, were, as appears by
the report, MR. CHAPLIN and MR.
ELLISON, the former of whom was, as
the reader will bear in mind, the person
who brought in the famous Spilsby Poor-
House Bill, which was demolished by the
opposition made to it by Sir Samuel Ro-
milly and others; but principally by Sir
Samuel Romilly. By that Bill, certain
persons to be called Directors were em-
powered to cause the poor to be flogged in
certain cases at their discretion. But, to
return to the subject before us, Mr. Chap-
lin and Mr. Ellison, both Justices of the
Peace in the county of Lincoln, opposed Sir
Samuel's motion for a Committee; and, as
I am very anxious that the public should
have all the means of being correctly in-
formed upon every part of this subject, I
will insert the whole of what these gentle-
men said, as I find it stated in the report of
the Morning Chronicle of the 26th of June.
“Mr. CHAplin said, that he was con-
“fident that when an inquiry was gone
“ into, the result would be favourable to
the Gaoler and the Magistracy.—[We
“endeavoured to follow the Honourable
“Member, but he was quite inaudible in
“the gallery.]—He believed this petition
“would never have come into the hands of
“ the Honourable Member by whom it was
“presented, unless for the solicitation of a
“ person whom he would not name. ... (Al-
“luding, we presume, to Finnerty).”
But, pray, Mr. Chaplin, of what importance
was this circumstance? What signified it
to the merits of the case? The question
, was not, how the petition came into Sir
Samuel Romilly's hands; but whether the
allegations in it were true. This was the
question. But, one may notice here, that,
if it be true, that it required the interven-
tion of a gentleman like Mr. Finnerty to get
the petition forward, there is the greater
necessity for attending to it, seeing that the
poor oppressed creatures are supposed to be
wholly unable to get a petition forward
themselves. Mr. Chaplin ought, in jus-
tice, to have named the person who was
the cause of getting the petition forward;

for, I am persuaded, the public will look
upon it as a very meritorious act; and, if
Mr. Finnerty was the Inover, upon this oc-
casion, as he appears to have been, he has
thereby acquired a new claim to the thanks
of the country, however impatient Mr.
Charles Adams may be to hear his name
pronounced accompanied with any thing in
the way of commendation.—Lord Cas-
tlereagh spoke after Mr. Chaplin; but, I
shall notice his speech hereafter. We will
now hear Mr. Ellison, who, it appears, is
also a Colonel, and who “warmly disap-
“proved of the motion. He was per-
“fectly willing to agree that Magistrates
“ought not to abuse the powers and autho-
“rities with which they were vested; but
“he would say, that he had been twenty-
“five years an acting Magistrate of the
“county, and he had served the office of
“Sheriff, during all which period he had
“never known of any such abuse. He had
“not been an inattentive inquirer into this
“subject; nay, he would even say, that he
“ had been since last year a most diligent
“inquirer. He was convinced the inter-
“ference of the House would be produc-
“tive of no good, but, on the contrary, of
“infinite mischies. The speeches which
“ went out of the House on the subject in-
“flamed and unsettled the minds of people
throughout the country, and produced
“nothing but a spirit of discontent. He
would refer it to the mind of every wise
man who heard him, if this motion would
have any tendency to allay that wild
spirit which was now walking about.
(Laugh).--With respect to the case
mentioned by an Honourable and Learn-
ed Gentleman (Mr. Brougham), what
were the real facts of the case? It ap-
peared from the evidence given by Mr.
Evans, the surgeon who attended on the
unfortunate man, that he had been a
“hard liver, and laboured under the dis-
ease of erisypelas. The surgeon said he
left him on the night on which he died,
satisfied that from the state of mortifica-
tion he was in, he would not live till
inorning; and when he called in the
morning, he very naturally asked if the
poor man was not yet dead. Mr. Evans
complained of the conduct of Mr. Fin-
nerty, and another Gentleman, who, he
said, went so far as even to threaten to
strike"him, when giving his evidence be:
fore the Coroner. He was sure the Ho:
nourable and Learned Gentleman had
stated nothing which he did not believe:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

(

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“but there was not one thing which he had said which was not disproved by the fact. ** The Honourable Member then went into ** the case of the Petitioner, who, he said, “ had been confined, because he had dis“turbed the rest of other persons in the “gaol; and he was set at liberty on his “promising to abstain from such conduct “in future. He regretted that a Committee was to be appointed. He would lay * claim to as much humanity and philan“ thropy as the Honourable and Learned ** Gentleman could possibly possess; and ** it was rather unfair in that Honourable “Gentleman to suppose, that nobody was “possessed of humanity but himself. He “wished to vindicate the conduct of the “Magistrates of Lincoln from the imputa“tions which had been thrown out against “ them in that House.” Now, as he wished to windicate the conduct of the Justices of the Peace of Lincoln, why did he express his sorrow at the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the grounds of the petition preferred against those Justices? How is it possible to windicate their conduct without inquiry? If, indeed, the motion had been to censure their conduct at once, a simple negation might have been enough, as a prelude to a vote against the motion; but, the motion was for inquiry, and, that being the case, to vote against the motion was, surely, not the way to accomplish the Colonel's wish of vindicating the accused parties. If it was true, that all that had been advanced would be disproved by the fact; why did Mr. Ellison wish to keep those facts from being inquired into ? He says, that he has been a Justice himself in the county for many years; that he has made diligent inquiry into the treatment of prisoners in the jail; and that he has known, and does know, of no abuse. Why, then, did he so “warmly oppose inquiry?” It is not usual for the friends of the innocent to oppose their being put upon their trial. But, he says, that the interference of the House will do great mischief; that the speeches made there inflame and unsettle the minds of the people; and that he leaves it for wise men to say, whether this motion will have a tendency to allay that wild spirit that is now walking about. Really, Mr. Ellison, are you so afraid of the effects of a motion relative to the treatment of prisoners in the jail of Lincoln And especially when you are so very sure, that all the alleged facts will be disproved. It appears to me, who, to be sure, am not a Lincoln Justice; but, to me

it appears reasonable to suppose, that an inquiry which should shew that the allega

tions against the Jailer and Justice Doctor.

Caley Illingworth and compeers were false; to me it appears, that such an inquiry, so far from tending to do mischief, by inflaming the minds of the people, must of necessity tend to a precisely opposite effect. I must, however, here be understood as having in my eye a real inquiry; an inquiry where all the evidences shall be called and examined; not a sham inquiry; not a smothering inquiry; not a base cheat under the name of an inquiry. I must be understood as meaning an inquiry of the former kind, and such as will, I trust, now take place; for, otherwise, I must confess, that the inquiry would tend to inflame the people, and to do great mischief instead of good. What Mr. Ellison may mean by “ the WILD. SPIRIT which is now walk“ing about,” I do not know. But, if there be any wild spirit at work, is it, I would ask, likely that it should be allayed by a refusal, on the part of the House of Commons, to inquire into the grounds of so serious a complaint as that made by the petitioners in this case ? Would such refusal tend to allay a wild spirit? The spirit of which the Colonel speaks is, I suppose, a spirit in opposition to the present system of public measures; but, does the Colonel suppose, that this spirit would be rendered stronger by the parliament's listening to a petition complaining of most enormous abuses? If this be Colonel Ellison's notion, I must say that I wholly dis

sent from it. Mr. BRouch AM followed Col. Ellison, and what he said was of great importance. The subject was an unfortunate debtor who was said to have died in Lincoln jail for want of medical assistance, owing to the door of his prison not being suffered to be unlocked. This is the case alluded to in the speech of Mr. Ellison, who, it will be perceived, contradicted what Mr. Brougham had said upon the subject on a former occasion. In answer, therefore, to Mr. Ellison, Mr. Brougham said, that “what he had said was, that “an improper delay occurred in the pro“curing medical assistance, and that the “presumption was, , had no such delay “taken place, that the result might have “ been more favourable, and that the proof

“of the contrary was thrown on the other

“ party. When Mr. Evans was before “ the Coroner, he stated, that his being “called an hour sooner or later would have “made no difference;—but, before Mr

[graphic][graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Evans gave this evidence, how stood the fact 2 He now held in his hands a docunicht signed by twelve respectable persons, prisoners sor debt in the Gaol of Lincoln, of whom no doubt Mr. Finnerty was one. And here he would observe, that all that Mr. Finnerty had stated respecting a nuisance in the Gaol was proved in the event to be completely accurate, notwithstanding all the assertions to the contrary, made with so much solemnity by the Honourable Members for Lincoln. It so happened, that when they examined the sewer a great part of it was found not to be in a perpendicular direction, as had been stated, but to run in a shelving manner under that part of the prison where Mr. Finnerty was confined. Now, though he sound Mr. Finnerty's name among this number, he was inclined to attach some credit to the document. There were among them several other very respectable persons, and he would particularly mention Mr. Drakard, of whom all that he knew reflected the greatesu honour on his character. He would say of him, that he was not a seditious author, but an honest and respectable tradesman, who was punished for an article which he did not write. Another gentleman, of whom he had heard very savourably, was a Mr. Marris. It appeared from this document, that in a previous conversation with Mr. Evans he gave a persectly different account from that which he afterwards gave before the Coroner. It appeared, also, that the Coroner behaved throughout in a manner which was completely reprehensible, and treated the evidence in particular in a very unbecoming way. The sort of persons whom he insisted on putting on the Inquest were the workmen whom he employed about the prison. [Hear !] When one reflected on his conduct throughout this business it was impossible not to be struck with the propriety of the observations made by Judge Blackstone on the great powers vested by the Constitution in this officer, and the very low hands into which the office generally came. In directing the Jurors to bring in their verdicts, the Coroner stated that they must either find the prisoner died by the visitation of God, or find a verdict of wilful murder by the gaoler. He would admit of no verdict which should state the case as it really took place. This #####!, ho w o now making was con

4 * * *

oxy,

*>

“firmed by three of the Jurors themselves, “who, in a certificate signed by them, “which he held in his hands, expressly “state, they wished to bring in a verdict “ of “ died by negligence of the gaoler; “but on its being put to them by the Co“roner that they must either bring in a “verdict of wilful murder, or by the vi“sitation of God, they were obliged to “relinquish their wish. He had several “other documents, but it was unnecessary “at present to enter upon them.” After this, Sir FRAN cis Burpent, in a speech of some length, expressed his hope, that the inquiry would be a real inquiry, and not such an one as he had witnessed upon a former occasion. There are two points belonging to this subject, which are particularly worthy of attention. Lord Castlereagh observed, that the practice of receiving such petitions ought not to be indulged, because complainants ought to resort first to all other modes of legal redress. Sir Samuel Romilly answered to this, that the Justices of the Peace, whom the petitioner would naturally apply to for protection, were charged with being accomplices with his oppressor. But, further, does Lord Castlereagh mean to say, that no one shall apply to parliament while the law offers him any mode of proceeding against his oppressor? If so, the poor man can have little chance of redress. How, for instance, was a pennyless debtor to go to law with Merryweather and Doctor Caley Illingworth 2 How was he to bring his action of trespass, which would, perhaps, have cost him a hundred pounds, and might not have been brought to trial for a year? In cases between man and man, to be sure, the party injured must have recourse to the law; but, this is no such case; here is an individual on one side, and, on the other, Justices of the Peace and a Jailer; that is to say, a portion of the judiciary and executive branches of the government, against which it is not to be supposed that the purse of any individual is sufficient to contend, and to protect the people against any abuse of authority in which branches is one of the first, and, indeed, the very first duty of the parliament, and especially of the Commons’ House of Parliament. Lord Castlereagh is reported to have said, that “par“liament would place themselves in a “DEGRADED situation,” if they were to encourage the making of the complaints of individuals to them to the neglect of seeking legal redress. Ah! my Lord Cas

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
« 이전계속 »