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HOUSE OF COMMONS.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 26. The Armorial Bearing Bill, and the Annual Indemnity Bill were read a third time and passed,
The bill for reviving and continuing the 35th of his present Majesty for establishing a court of judicature in Newfoundland and the Iands adjacent, was brought up by Mr. Ryder, read a first time, and ordered to be read a second time the next day.
HABEAS CORPUS. The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the order of the day on the bill for continuing the suspension of the Haleas iorpus A&, which being read, and it being for the bill going into a comınittee,
He moved that the speaker do now leave the chair.
Mr. Courtenay rose and said he was now about to adduce additional reasons to the w there was no necellity for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act any longer, and before he did fo, he begged leave to read the declaration made by his Majesty in April.
Whereas it appears that the preparation for the embaikation of troops and warlike stores are now carried on with confiderauke and encreasing activity in the ports of France, Flanders and Holiand, with the avowed defign of attempting the invation of his Majelly's dominions, and that in this the enemy is encouraged by the correspondence and communications of traitorous and ditaffected perions and societies of these kingdoins. .
Here, he said, was a plain and candid reafon alligned for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, but he would follow up this declaration of his Majesty upon that important occasion, and ask--whether the cale was the fame now as it was then? Were his Majesty's enemies making any prepasations for the invasion of these kingdoms? If they were, in what place, or in what manner were they making such preparations ? And, by whom were they aided and aberted in this country? He would ask one plain general question, were we now in the same situation as we were last year when the Habeas Corpus Suspension Ad was agreed 107 Had not our enemies been bafiled and discomfited in different parts of the world? Was it likely that, the French would invade this country when it was scarcely probable that they thould retain their present conquests? Had not the glory of Great Britain refounded over the whole globe? Had we not signalized ourfelves in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic ?-Molt un
doubtedly doubtedly all these questions might be easily answered ; and we owed much to the gallant and renowned Admirals, Nelson and Jervis, whose honours, although great, had scarcely kept pace with their merit; they had restored, or rather they had extended the glory of Great Britain by the vigour of her navy, and elevated it to a degree before unknown in the annals of even her triumphs. indeed they had served their country in a manner that had not yet been mentioned, although it might produce very effential advantages; they had introduced a species of parliamentary retorin in this country; being advanced into a blouse of Parliament, they might purity a vitiated atmosphere, tainted and corrupied by some blasts of aizstic - [.1 loud cry of order! order! Chair! chair!]
The Speaker reminded Mr. Courtenay that he was not (peaking to the question before the House.
Mr.Courtenay proceeded. He thought he might have been permitted to use a metaphorical expression, but he was corrected. He said he thuuid not have touched, perhaps, certainly he thonld not have dwelt upon this subject, had he not imagined that it arose naturally out of what had been said on a former debate upon this bill, and of which, in point of spirit, if not in strictncts of language, this might be called a convinuance. He must now advert to what had been said by an honourable and learned Gentleman on the last debate upon this mesure. Thai Gentleman had itated some points, as if he (Mr. Courtenay, had misreprefented some faits relative to the prison in Clerkenwell, wherein the fate prisoners are now confined. Gentlemen, in the discussion of this matter, had dwelt much on topics of general humanity, on which they thought good to declaim a great deal, and affert many zhings, one word of which he did no: deny. But he should Pow re-ailert what he had formerly atleried upon the subject. He had said that men were confined in this prison in cells without fire or candle; he had alked experienced lawyers whether they knew of any rigonr like this to any ftule prifoners in the course of the adivinistration of justice in this country? They had answered him, they did not. These
points he itated the other night in debate in that House, no one answered him in that point. What did he alert upon the subject of these prisoners? That he low prisoners fhui up in narrow cells, exposed to the severity of the weather, without fire or candle; and that if they closed ihe wooden shutter of the window, they could have no light, or fresh air. This he afferted: he now atierted it again ; and he defied any genVOL. I. 1798. Tt
tleman who had been there to refute that affertion. He called on any member of that House who had been there, 10 deny the facis alledged by him. The learned Gentleman had accused him with casting some reflections on Lerd Kenyon, in the sentence of the Court of King's Bench :pon a prit ner who was sent to this prison. He never arraigred one rif the fentences of Lord Kenyon. He had only said, he thought the manner in which the fentence was executed was
fevere. He said nothing against the juftness of the sentence irfelf; he never said a word against any of the judgments of Lord Kenyon; had he fentenced this poor prisener to seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years imprisonnent, he thould not have presumed to have said a word against the juitice of such a measure : but he thought he was at liberiy to itate wind appeared to him to be a rigoro!is mode of carrying that jultice into effect. He had experienced the truth of the lule Lord Chatham's obfervation : Touch but a cobweb in Weitminster hall, and the old spider will crawl out.” Another hon. Gentleman had said he had viñed the prison himself, had examined the natier, and that he knew the reports that had gone abroad upon is were unfoundh. If that hon. Geotleman was now in the House, le would all him if he was in this prison fince the time of palling judgment on the person to whom he alluded? or whether he was there ince the commitment of those who are under the fufpenfion of the Habeas Corpus Act? Did he vill the priton ? and was it, or was it not, in the lituation which he had defcribed? He alked that question. Now, as a corroboration of what he had formerly stated upon this inutter, he begged to read, as part of his speech, a letter froin the wife of Colonul Depard.
" Soire mention inqving hos en made in the Newspaper repora, of the Houle of Com 175 ithiire 10 :he treatment of Cilonal Dipart in the New Prilon, I think it necefiary to fire, that the Colonel was crnared pear feven months in a damp cell, not téven fest square, winout exher Fore or candie, chair, iable, knie, ferk, a glazeri vinder, or even a i cok to read. I made feveral apprications in person to li. Wickan, Under
Secretary of S:zte, and by letter to the Dikecí titrici ali to no surpuie. Abont the 20 of last month he was teruk ved 10 a 1p in wita a fore, but not until his feet were ulcerstert byr fra. Prtleisuri of this ft terrent lippai o the locurable 91:. Laulf, or soun kee, Fiq. who visited the Colonel in prilon, and at whole inarcticn he was ro
ftate these facts without the Colorei's knowl’g?", even his gacler will bear witness that hapelles male any complaint of his irratirent, tow. ey-fivere it was.
The Coorel ferved his Majelly thiry years, and all his family are now in the amy.
CATHERINE DESPARD. Berkeley square, December 23, 1798.
It was very true that when he saw the colonel, he made no complaint to him. He asked the colonel if he had been in the fame Gituation as forne viher pertons were in that prison on the authority of the fufpenfion of the Habeas Corpus Act? He said he had been, but that he had been removed out of it by the humanity of Mi. Reeves. If these things were not thus--I he was not to believe the letter of Mrs. Despard, nor to rust to the evidence of his own fenses, but that both were decaptions upon him, all he could buy upon the matter was, that it was very extraordinary. He knew Colonel Derpiird 30 years ago, he was then in the forvice. But an hon. Gentleman had asked, if he had any fympaily with prisoners of this defcription? To which he antiveied, that he had no particular sympathy with pertons of this defeription ; but he confeffed, lie tult fome sympathy with every fellow-creature who appeared to him to be treated with inhumanity. If the persons who were confined in this prison, ur.der the authofity of this A, were guilty, let them be tried, and condemned; but if they were not guilty, let them be acquitted: at all events let them have a trial. To general declamation upon probable guilt, or suspicion of guilt, he paid no regard ; nor did Christian rancour, or religious facetiousness affect him: if there was any thing to be urged against these men, let it be specified: any man who demanded this, demande d nothing but justice; ant ar.y man who exerted himself 10 obtain that justice, deserved efteem for such exertion. At the time when this matter was first mentioned, he did no believe ihat his Majeity's ministers knew it; but it now appeared that application was inade for Col. Despard without effect, therefore ministers must have known it. He had said, he was sure they did not hrow it. He begged pardon of the House for having led it into that miliake; but he believed that was the only instance in which he imposed upon the House. But some Gunsleinen had infilted that these things could not be as they were related ; an hon. Genteman (Mr. tilberforce) had displayed much religious facetiouincis, tempered with Christian rancour, on the subject. He had trim unphantly asked, Whether it cuid be b lieved that such atrocious inhumanity had been exercifed? The alleged facts were the best refutation. Yet, said Nir. Courtenay, if we are to believe a ceriain Christian moraliit, (contidering the depraved state of human nature), all inis is very probable. “ That prosperity,” says he, “ hardens the heart; ihat unlimited power is always abused, instead of diffusing human hap
piness; that our nature is corrupt; that the imagination of our hearts is continually evil; that we have to contend not only with our natural depravity, but with the power of darkness, the evil spirit whose dominion is so general as to entitle him to the denomination of the prince of darkness.”—He observed, that a worthy magistrate had Rated, that the prison which he alluded to was not originally designed for perfons of this description, and that their being sent there was matter of ncceflity; but if it was neceflary to send them to this place, there was no necessity of treating them with inhumanity when they were in it. Why could not a proper house be hired for this, as for any other purpose? Did gentlemen believe that the people of this country, who afforded 30 and 40 millions a year for the public fervice, would begrudge 3 or 400 for the maintenance of prisoners? Was it to be supposed that the Joyalty of a people, who are to the number of 300,000 in armis in defence of their country, would be affected by the expence of a few hundreds of pounds for such a purpose as this; and, indeed, for the purpose of common humanity? Did any one suppose that the people would obscure their lustre, and tarnith their glory, by meanly with-holding a small sum of moncy to support a few prisoners ? He said, that in his opinion the complaints of abuse of the power given to government by this act, might logically be urged against its renewal. He had stated these facts because he believed them to be true; but if they Mould be proved to be false, he should be very happy to retract thein.
The Attorney General faid, that the hon. Gentleman had alluded to what he had said in a former debate. He certainly did complain that such respet was not paid as ought to have been paid to the Court of King's Bench in taking notice of the case of an individual of the name of Sinith for publishing a libel called “ the Duties of Citizenship.” He made fome observations on that case, and he would repeat, that the Court of King's Bench did not order Smith to be fent 10 iliat prison until after they had been well affured that it was a fit and proper place to receive him. They did it in the exccution of an important duty which they owed the public, and which duty they discharged conscientiously; and the hon. Gentleman who talked so much of cruelty, would give him leave to say, that he knew of no crucity fo haríh as that of a member of parliament endeavouring to call forth the public indignation on persons who stand in a fituation of great dit ficulty as well as importance, without examining the case on