Imatges de pÓgina

trates, to which he had alluded, would ferve to fhew what had been the conduct of fome of the prifoners, and the neceffity there was to watch them with care. It appeared in these minutes that it was ftated by the Chaplain that two of the perfons confined in this place, Burkes and Smith, had behaved fo ill at church, had fo openly expreffed their contempt of the worship, that he proposed that their attendance thould in future be difpenfed with. These minutes likewife contained the meffage of Lord Kenyon on the occafion alluded to by his learned friend (the Attorney General), and teftified his Lordship's approbation of the conduct of the Magistrates, and the management of the prifon in the highest terms. It was fo very important, now that the fubject was under difcuffion, that the mifrepresentations which had gone abroad fhould be thoroughly corrected, that he hoped the Houfe would forgive his dwelling upon it with fome minuteness of detail. What then was the fituation of the facts in the cafe. On the one fide there was the evidence of the minutes of the proceedings of the Magiftrates in superintending the state of the prison, and on the other, the accounts which gentlemen had received from the parties themselves. They had proteeded to inquire into the fituation of the parties confined in the fame manner as Don Quixotte examined the galley flaves on the crimes which had reduced them to that fituation, and no doubt the onc as well as the other would endeavour to reprefent themfelves as fuffering without juft caufe. If, however, the evidence of the parties themselves was to be taken, it would be neceffary to take their evidence both ways. Mr. Smith's authority was quoted for the hardships he suffered; it would be neceffary then, as fometimes was feen in law cafes, to produce Smith verfus Smith. It appeared that Smith himself entertained no great idea of the motives which induced fome gentlemen to intereft themselves about him, and imputed it rather to a wish to bring the matter as a motion before the Houfe of Commons than from any regard to him. It. appeared alfo, that though Mr. Burkes, in an intercepted letter, complained that he was dying for want, the minutes of the Board ftated that on his coming before them, they found it necessary to recommend to him cleanlinefs in his perfon. The fame Smith too, in a letter to his wife, ftated that he was in a better fituation than the could imagine, that he reflected against the ufe that had been made of fome things he had stated, and particularly difapproved of the comments of those who ftiled the prison a Baftile. All these facts and confeffions clearly proved that the honourable gentlemen oppofite had been impofed on, and that, from too credulously liftening to the information they received, they had brought a serious

charge against a very worthy and honourable fet of Magiftrates. This inftance, however, should not only teach gentlemen not to take up their opinions fo lightly on fuch fubjects, but it ought to teach the public to diftruft representations given on fuch partial authority. It was of great importance that falfe impreffions should not be given; for it was extremely difficult to root them out. To prove afterwards that they were falfe does not correct the evil they have produced, or ferve as an antidote to the poifon they have diffused. The credulity of the honourable gentlemen themselves could not be accounted for but in this manner; after what they have faid, too, of the dangers which threatened the country-after conviction had flashed on their minds from what had paffed here and in Ireland, it was matter of wonder that they were not overwhelmed with remorfe and confufion for what they had formerly maintained; it was matter of furprise that their minds were fteeled against the incontrovertible evidence of facts, and it could only be imputed to the early bias their minds had received. For his own part, he trufted that he was not the laft to feel what was due to fuffering, but at the fame time there were feelings of another kind which ought not to be overlooked. He never could forget the faying he had read early in life of that great and good man Lord Hale, an ornament not only to the profeffion of the law, but to his country. When asked how he felt when he pronounced fentence of death on a criminal, he replied, "That he felt for the fituation of the prifoner, but he felt likewife for the country." He begged leave to recommend the example of Lord Hale to gentlemen on the other fide of the House. They feem to be tremblingly alive to the fituation of thofe who were taken up on fufpicion of the greatest crimes; but they did not feem to be alive to the danger of the country. They ought not to be fo ready to lend themfelves to those who abused their credulity.

There was another point on which he felt himself obliged to make a few remarks. He had often heard things which had been said with much mirth and pleasantry here, which were afterwards repeated with moft mischievous confequences elsewhere. An honourable Baronet talked of the Baftiles which were erected in this country. The practice of giving these names, however, was of the moft pernicious tendency. Every one must recollect, that those who had formed themselves into focieties in this country for the purpose of following in practice what they admired in France, adopted the names of every custom and establishment to which the new state of things in that country gave rife. These men acted well and wifely for the purposes they had in view. They were wife children in

their generation. They knew, that if they could bring the names into ufe, they would prepare the way for the things. Shakespeare, the great master of the human heart, in his play of King John, represents the fondness of the mother as dwelling on the pretty words of the child

"Grief fills the room up of my abfent child,
"Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
"Repeats his pretty words, puts on his looks."


So these gentlemen might have used these " pretty words," and put on thefe" pretty forms," in order to fhew their affection for French principles. He did not much like a ludicrous ftory, but as it tended to illuftrate a serious argument; he remembered, however, an election in a large city, where several perfons came to the poll, and voted for Citizen such a thing, and against the other Candidate, who was a banker. Some of the mob proposed that they should go and fack the Baftile, and let out the guineas, from a confinement more rigorous, probably, than that which an honourable Baronet had defcribed to be the imprisonment of the old Baftile. Gentlemen might thus fee in what light their metaphors may be taken up, and with what purposes they may be connected. regard to the measure before the Houfe, there was ground enough for the understanding of every man who impartially viewed the state of the country, and recollected late events. Those who have thought that there was danger; who think ftill that the danger is not entirely over, would not relax their efforts, or deprive the Executive Government of those means by which they had been enabled to provide for the fafety of the country. He was happy that the present opportunity had occurred of removing the false impreffions which had arisen on this fubject, and he hoped that those gentlemen, who must see they had been deceived, would come forward and confefs that they had advanced this very ferious charge without fufficient grounds. It ought never to be forgotten that men, who expose themselves to fufpicion, muft often incur the difadvantages of guilt. Men, therefore, fhould be cautious how they gave occafion for fufpicion. The fafety of the State required that we should regard it no less than the cafe of individuals. It was a falfe compaffion which felt only for individuals' hardships, and was callous to the general dangers of the country.

Mr. M. A. TAYLOR faid, when he came down to the Houfe he had no idea that the debate would have taken the turn it had. The great thing was, that every idea of the prifoners being ill treated was entirely removed; and he had no difficulty in ftating,

that His Majesty's Minifters had, as far as he was able to judge, exercised the difcretion entrusted to them in as kind and as tender a manner as poffible. When he meant to fuggeft doubts respecting the propriety of fufpending the Habeas Corpus Act, it was on this ground, that a cafe had not been made out fo ftrong as to induce him to fupport the motion. Would it not be a prudent measure to fend to a Select Committee the grounds upon which Ministers conceived that a fufpenfion ought to take place? After paying a compliment to the mildness and moderation with which the Attorney General discharged the duties of his office, he faid, that in the profecution and punishment of libels there had been no harshness. He alfo thought it right to fay, that libels had been circulated with a view to gain men from their allegiance. As to Citizen Smith and others, he had seen most of their publications, and more diabolical ones, in his opinion, never exifted. But ftill there was in the hands of the Attorney General the power to profecute, and in the hands of the Court the power to punish; he therefore conceived that there were not grounds for the fufpenfion of the act. When it had last been fufpended, there exifted a dread of invasion, and then it was right to adopt fuch a measure; that dread, however, remained no longer.

Mr. ELLISON faid, he should certainly give his vote for the bill, because he thought the circumstances of the country rendered it necessary to veft thofe powers in the Executive Government; and he was the more inclined to fupport it, because it was admitted on all hands, that the powers with which Minifters had been already trufted, had been well exercifed. He had no doubt but that if statements could be obtained from every Magiftrate in the kingdom, it would appear that prifoners of every description were treated with humanity. He had himself the honour of acting as a Magistrate in two counties, and as far as his obfervations extended, he could make that affertion without the danger of contradiction. He knew perfectly well that the jails were infpected regularly by the Magiftrates, who did not walk through the jails with the cold feelings of jailers, but they went to see that the prifoners had proper accommodation and good treatment-to fee that they were employed in work, and that they were not allowed to drink too much. He wifhed the honourable Baronet, who seemed to think the prifoners were treated with feverity, would affift as a Magiftrate in the county in which he refided, and then if he faw any improper practices, he would have an opportunity of correcting them.

Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL explained: he faid, the honourable Baronet seemed to fuppofe that his object, in fupporting

the measure, was for the purpofe of keeping men in confinement. So far from being influenced by fuch an unworthy motive, or confidering the measure as an act of feverity, he really looked upon it as an act of mercy, being done with a view to prevent others from being involved in the fame fituation. But he would put it to gentlemen, and he would call upon them confcientiously to declare, whether

[Here the Speaker faid he fhould confine himself to explanation.]

Mr. Attorney General fubjoined, that he was going merely to state, that the trials at Maidstone, and the confinement of those now in prifon, arose from the fufpenfion of the Habeas Corpus A&t having been fuffered to expire.

Mr. Alderman COMBE thought that five-and-twenty men, which he believed was the number now in prison under the act, could not, if let loofe on fociety, do any harm in the present state of the public mind. The fpirit of the country had been tried, and was now proof against every effort of fuch a body to poison or pervert it. He therefore could not confent to the continuance of this reftraint, as, from the ftate of the country, he faw no neceffity for parting with what he confidered the great bulwark of our liberty.

Mr. WESTERN faid, that as no grounds had been stated to the Houfe to fhew the neceffity of this measure, he could not fupport it. He thought there never was a period in which the domeftic fafety of the empire was in lefs danger than it was at prefent. But though he could not confent to the renewal of the fufpenfion of the Habeas Corpus, it was not because he thought Minifters had mifufed the powers with which they had been entrusted; on the contrary, he thought they had ufed them with great moderation.

Mr. Chancellor PITT perfectly agreed with a worthy Magiftrate who had spoken very lately in the debate, that a great and fortunate change had taken place in the fituation of the country; but while he expreffed the warmest fatisfaction at hearing it stated from al quarters that the fituation of this country, both with respect to its foreign and domestic affairs, had been fo greatly improved, he could not but remind the Houfe, that this change, which was now fo ftrongly felt, and fo univerfally acknowledged, had only been obtained by the adoption of those measures, by a perfeverance in that fyftem which fome of thofe gentlemen who now exulted in our fafety, had reprefented as calculated to produce difafter abroad, and to deftroy the Conftitution at home. He had heard gentlem.en talking of, and reprobating the treasonable attempts of men, intiVOL. VII.

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