ページの画像
PDF
ePub

French sbould be the first to sue for the amendment, and the lord chan. peace, as ministers presumptuously cellor in opposition to it. The duke asserted ?

of Bedford in resuming the subject, The amendment brought forward recurred to the expressions used by by tbe duke of Bedford was strongly lord Grenville, which were, that oppose by earl Spencer, who con. "in case the constitution now oftended that in so extensive a war, fered to the people of France, waged in almost every part of the should be found likely to establish globe, it could not be expected that itself in such a form as to secure a the mercantile shipping of this coun- government that might preserve the try would always escape the vigilance relations of peace and amity, bis of an enemy, whose only and per- objections to treat with them would petual object at sea was depreda- be entirely removed." tion. It was indeed more surpri. The substance of what had been sing that his captures were so few, spoken by lord Grenville, was conwhen it was considered that we formable to the words taken down carried on nearly the whole trade of by the duke of Bedford ; but the Egrope. He gave a satisfactory ac- former declared himself of opinion, count of the naval transactions du. that it was not parliamentary to rioz the preceding season, and made make the words of a peer, utiered it appear that the mischances which in the course of the debate, a formal had beíallen the commercial fleets ground of proposing or of recalling were owing to unavoidable accidents a motion. Hereon the duke con. and not to misconduct. He justi. sented to withdraw his amendment; fied the employment of Mr. Puis. refusing however his approbation saye, as a person through whose to that part of the address which means the principal communica. asserted an improvement in the tion was kept up with France, where qituation of public affairs. The ad. he headed a considerable party of dress was then finally moved, and royalists.

carried in the affirmative. The duke of Norfolk spoke for

CHAP.

CHAP. II.

A Proclamation offering a large pecuniary Reward for the Discovery of any

Persons guilty of the recent Outrages against the Person of the King. Conference betwcen the Lords and Commons on this Subject.-A Bill for the Safety and Preservation of the King's Person and Goren ment. Debutes thereon in both Houses of Parliament.--A Bill for the Prevention of Seditious Meetings.- Debates thereon.The two Bills under Discussion in Parliament occasion a general Alarm, and much Opposition with out Doors.--In this Opposition the lead was taken by the Whig-Club.Which was followed by the Corresponding Societies and other Associations. - As well as different Bodies legally incorporated.The Ministry still persetere in their Measures.-Debates on the numerous Petitions against the tro Bills now pending in Parliament.--General Indignation against the Principles and Objects of these. The two Bills passed into Luws.

IN

N the mean time the indignities which his person had been imminent

offered to the king were a subo ly endangered. Rumours had also ject of universal discourse, and high- been spread, that assemblies were to ly reprobated by the prudent and be held by disaffected people for

moderate, as precursory of far grea- illegal purposes. In consequence ter evils than had hitherto been ex of those proceedings, it was enjoinperienced by those who vented ed by the proclamation to all magistheir discontent in this outrageous trates, and well affected subjects, manner. On the last day of Octo to exert themselves in preventing ber, a proclamation was issued, of- and suppressing all unlawful meetfering a thousand pounds for the ings, and the dissemination of sedi. discovery of any person guilty of tious writings. those outrages. On the fourth of So great had been the alarm and November it was followed by ano- , indignation, created by the treatther wherein it was said, that pre ment of the king, that as soon as be viously to the opening of parlia- had gone through the reading of ment, multitudes had been called his speech, and had left the house, together by hand-bills and adver- it was immediately ordered to be tisements, who met in the vicinity cleared of all strangers, and a conof the metropolis, where infiamma sultation held by the lords, in what tory speeches were made, and di manner to proceed upon so extravers means used to sow discontent ordinary an occasion. An address and excite seditious proceedings. to the king was resplved upon, and These meetings and discourses were a conference with the house of followed three days after by the commons to request their concur. most daring insults to the king, by rence therein. The majority agreed

in this measure ; but the marquis of wbich he produced, and which was Laasdowne accused the ministers entitled "an act for the safety and of intending to seize this opportu. preservation of his majesty's person nity to work upon the passions and and government against treasonable fears of the people, and to lead and seditious practices and at. their representatives into conces. tempts.". sions derogatory to the public lio The bill introduced by lord Grenberty, and debasing to their cha- ville was represented, by the earl of racter, in order to confirm their Lauderdale, as creating new crimes own power at the expence of the and treasons, in addition to those constitution.

already contained in the criminal A conference with the commons code of this country. It tended was beld accordingly in the course materially to enlarge ihe laws re. of the day, and witnesses were ex. specting treason, and would effect amined in relation to the outrages an alarming alteration in the very committed. Their evidence was nature and spirit of the constitue communicated to the commons, and tion. There was no evidence tbat both bouses unanimously concurredo the insulis offered to the king ori in the addresses proposed.

ginated in the meetings of the peo. On the sixth of November, lord ple in the fields near Islington, or Grenville brought forward a bill, in any other places. These meet. for better securing the king's person ings had been remarkably peaceand government. The motive he able, and those who harangued the alleged, was the necessity of pre- crowds, that resorted to them from ventiog abuses similar to those that all quarters of the metropolis, were had taken place on the opening of particularly careful to warn thema the session. He explicitly attributed against all riotous proceedings, lest them to the licentious language and ministers should avail themselves of maxims held forth in the audacious that pretext, to put an end to all meetings, which had been so long assemblies of the people. So harsh suffered, without due notice on the a ineasure as that proposed had not part of the legislature, but which therefore the least foundation in the were now arrived to such a degree unruly behaviour of those meetings, of insolence, that they required im- and were it to pass into a law, the nediale res:siction.

He would re

liberty of conferring together, so cur, on this occasion, he said, to long enjoyed by the English, and precedents framed in approved which they justly considered as their times, the reign of Elizabeth, and indubitable right, would be radithe commencement of the reign of cally destroyed, and with it the Charles II. He entertained no firmest support of public freedom. doubt tbat the house coincided with The intent of ministers, in adopting bis opinion, that a remedy ought in- so unprecedented a measure, was stantly to be applied to the danger clearly to silence the complaints of that threatened monarchy, in the the nation against a war that had wack so daringly made on the involved it in so many calamities, kang's person. In order more ef- and which they were determined feciually to obviate so great an evil, to carry on in defiance to the gebe would move the passing of a bill, veral inclination to peace. The VOL. XXXVIII.

[C]

vast

vast acquisition of power, that relating to treason, certain offences would accrue to ministers from such bad been omitted that ought to be a law, would enable them to strain considered and punished as such, the words and actions of individuals they ought in such case to be deinto treasonable meanings, when- clared and enacted to come within ever they were inclined to exercise tbat meaning, in order to put men vengeance on those who were ob on their guard, and prevent them noxious to them. For these rea. from committing wbat they would sons, whoever valued the constitu. then know to be criminal. The ques. tion of this couniry, must consider tion was then put, and carried for this bill" as one of the severest and the printing of the bill. most dangerous to the rights and li On the tenth of November, the berties of the people that had ever second reading of the bill was been introduced.''

moved by lord Grenville, who obIt was asserted, in reply, by lord served, that the seditious speeches Grenville, that it was owing to the and treasonable libels, circulated in firmness of parliament, that these- the meeting that had been held ditious principles imported from

imported from , near Copenhagea-house, three days France, and industriously propogated only before the opening of the preir. England, had been successfully sent session, had, in the opinion of resisted, and the constitution protec- all reflecting people, prompted that ted against the malevolent designs of audacious spirit which insulted the its domestic enemies. When the person of the sovereign, and bid deprovisions of the intended bill came fiance to the legislature. The purinto examination, the necessity of pose of the bill, he said, was to pro: adopting it would be rendered ma. tect the king from similar outrages, nifest; nor would il prevent the and to punish treasonous proceed. people from holding legal meetings. ings. No punishments would be None but evil-disposed persons enacted by the bill for crimes not could suffer by the enacting of such already acknowledged deserving of a law,

them ; ils sole intent was to include In answer to these allegations, treasonable publications and disthe duke of Bedford, after declaring courses among them, as being no his disapprobation of the bill, ex less criminal in their consequences. pressed in strong terms his persua. It was high treason to devise the sion, that while it still remained in king's death; to conspire against their power to meet together, the his person and government, as spepeople would every where assemble cified in the bill, amounted thereto testify their averseness to so glar. fore to a degree of criminality that ing an infringement on their free- evidently merited the severest chasdom, in so explicit and resolute a tisement, whether such conspiracy manner, that he could not think the consisted in levying civil war against house would consent to a bill so bim, or in encouraging foreign visibly repugnant to the feelings of enemies, by publications, writings, Englishmen.

or speeches. The provisions of the It was observed on this occasion, bill were conformable to the prinby lord Radnor, that if in the old ciples admjued in the acts of Elistatutes of the reign of Edward III. zabeth and Charles II. and were as

similar

similar as circumstances would per. subject. Before so dangerous an mit. Difficulties having arisen in innovation should be suffered to the construction of the laws relating pass, parliament ought seriously to to treason already in force, the in- weight its certain consequences : tent of this bill was to explain and against the mere allegations of its fis the meaning of those laws. It necessity. The pretence of the bill would not prohibit any act or meet. was the security of the king's pering, allowed to be legal, but only son; but, were ibe laws in being provide a more suitable punishment any ways deficient in that respect? according to the degree of crimi. The duke then adverted to the times nality, than that ordained by the from which the ministry had bora laws in force, as in various cases, Towed their present proceedings, the notwithstanding criminality was evi- reigos of Elizabeth and Charles II. dently proved, an apposite punisb. but was it not an insult to the unment had not been enacted. On derstandings of Englishmen, to speak these grounds he moved the second of such umes as models fit to be reading of the bill.

copied; but even the precedents alIt was acknowledged, by the duke luded to in those times would not of Bedford, that every man ought, authorise ministers to follow them. in duty, to abhor the treatment Those enacted in queen Elizabeth's offered 10 the king, and earnestly reign were directed against the bulls desire the punishment of the guilly ; issued by the Pope, and those but the bill before the house did that were aopted under Charles not tend to procure more safety to lI. passed iminediately after the the person of the sovereign, rhan restoration, when it was thought i the laws already existing. There indispensible to protect him by was no sufficient proof that the out. the strongest fences against the rages committed were connected fanatic rage of those who had opwith the meetings to which they pused it. were attributed; and though mi The duke of Bedford was warmly nisters declared themselves cone seconded by the earl of Lauderdale, : vinced of this connection, that was who represented the actual suffernot sufficient to induce the house ings of ibe people as the causes of implicitly to coincide with their con. the outrage offered to the king. It viction. When the babeas-corpus was not astonishing, be said, that, act was suspended, a select com- among a hundred thousand indivimittee was appointed to investigate duals casually assembled, forty or the necessity of such a measure, and titly of them should be prompied, the proceedings on that occasion by the feelings of distress, to ex. gave them at least an appearance of press them in that outrageous malj. deliberation; but the present med ner. Oppressive and cruel laws were sure required certainly much more contrary to the disposition of the consideration. It was not the tem- people of this country, and tended porary suspension of an act. It was to render them averse to the gothe enacting of a law entirely new vernment that framed them. The to the spirit of the con titution, s'atutes of Edward Ill. were made and which was undeniably an at a time when the power oti the abridgment of the liberty of the crown was very great; yet the de.

[ C 2 ]

finition

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »