ページの画像
PDF
ePub

them? With respect to the ala bill was then read a third time, and leged fact, that privately stealing passed. from the person had been more On April 2nd, Lord Holland in frequent since the repeal of the the House of Lords moved the ora capital punishment annexed to it, der of the day for the second read. be denied that the mere increase ing of the above bill. The short of committals proved that this was debate which this motion occa. the cause, since it might be attri- sioned produced nothing new in buted to the general increase of point of argument, except the crime, and also to the fact, that lord chancellor's question. Was it since the alteration of the law, anencouragement or a discouragepersons were less averse to prose- ment in the eyes of a man of comcute. The lord chief justice, whose mon sense to commit a crime, that authority had been so much re. instead of being hanged if he comferred to on this head, had given it mitted it, he could at the most be as his opinion that the crime was only transported? an argument, increased before the passing of lord Grenville observed, that if this act. Many instances might be good for any thing, amounted to adduced to show, that in conse- this, that it would be advisable at quence of the rigour of laws, men once, for every offence, however were never prosecuted upon them. trifling, to enact the law of Draco. This was remarkably the case with Lord Ellenborough on this occaregard to the punishment of deathsion pronounced a splendid paneenacted against bankrupts secret- gyric on the laws of England; and ing their effects: although the of on a division, the bill was thrown fencewaswell known to be extreme- out of that House by 26 votes ly common, there had been only against 15. All the ministers, lawfour prosecutions of it within half

a lords, and bishops present, voted century. Sir S. made some remarks against the bill. on the maxim quoted by a mem- On April 5th, sir Samuel ber, “ Nolumus leges Angliæ mu. Romilly moved the committari," and showed how defective ment of a bill to take away the laws would have remained, corruption of blood as a consehad it always been acted upon. He quence of attainder of treason or concluded with the words of the felony. The bill having passed present master of the rolls, “ that through the committee, sir S. R. when the law was such as to be no having moved that the report be longer executed from its repug. received to-morrow, proceeded to nance to the manners and senti- state his views respecting this mea. ments of the community, the time sure. There were many persons, was come to repeal that law, and he said, who confounded corrupto substitute others more mild and tion of blood, and forfeiture, wheremore effectual."

as no two things could be more The House then divided upon distinct. Forfeiture was always a the third reading of the bill, when punishment inflicted for an ofthe numbers were, For it, 72; fence; corruption of blood was Against it, 34. Majority 38. The

a consequence of the feudal law.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

If the latter was intended for å served that he had been accused of punishment, it would be punishing having a system ; which was true, the innocent for the crime of the if by having a system it was meant guilty, and that sometimes at the that, enacting or repealing one distance of half a century, Cor- law, you considered the effect it ruption of blood prevented a man would have on other laws. It had from being a link in tracing a pedi- however, been objected against him gree from oneremote relation toan- in another place, that he had not other. Could it be asserted that at proceeded more systematically; 80 thepresentdaythis extravagant sub- impossible was it for one who intlety and refinement should enter discreetly set himself up for a leinto the penal code of this country? gislator to provide against all obJustice Blackstone had in many jections. He made some farther parts of his Commentaries ex- remarks on the inconsistency of pressed himself hostile to this prac- the present law; and to the argutice. Further, the law was une- ment which had been advanced, qual in its operation, for in Scot. that upon his principles we ought land it was made to apply only to not to punish the guilty at all, be. . cases of treason by the act of cause their fate affected their relaqueen Anne, and in England the tives and friends, he observed, that county of Kent is excepted from it did this only indirectly and inits operation. Should such an evitably, whereas corruption of anomaly be suffered to continue? blood punished the innocent di.

Mr. Yorke, in opposing the mo- rectly and voluntarily, and the tion, avowed that he was one of guilty only by means of a distant those who were prejudiced in fa- sympathy. And why not carry vour of our ancient laws, at least this reasoning a little further, and so far, as not to acquiesce in any inflict actual punishment on the alteration of them until some strong relations, as had been formerly case was made out to convince him done. of its necessity. He further made In conclusion, the House divisome remarks on the atrocity of ded, when there appeared, against the crime of treason, and the use receiving the report, 55; for it, of holding up the terrors of the 43. Majority 12. The bill was law against it.

therefore lost. Some other members who spoke Still zealous for his bumane obon the question tooksimilar ground, ject, notwithstanding disappointnot without strictures on the appa- ments, sir Samuel Romilly, on rent intention of the hon. mover April 9, moved that the House to alter the whole system of our

should resolve itself into a comcriminal laws. Some of them sup- mittee on a bill for altering the ported the bill as far as it went to punishment in cases of conviction do away corruption of blood in for high-treason ; which being cases of felony, but would not complied with, and the clauses of agree to its abolition in cases of the bill being agreed upon, he treason.

moved that the report should be Sir S. Romilly, in his reply, ob- received on the 12th.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Frankland objected to the reported. On a division, the numbill generally, and moved that the bers for the original motion were report be received this day six 60; against it, 73. The bill was months.

therefore thrown out by a majorThe opposition which epsued ity of 13. turned entirely upon the ordinary Sir Samuel Romilly declared objections against change in the his intention of bringing it forward laws, and therefore need not be at a future period.

CHAPTER CHAPTÉR II.

any time,

Sir Francis Burdett's Motion for a Regency Bill. Parliamentary Pro

ceedings respecting the Princess of Wales. N February 23d, a motion was O.

tions of royalty were,

for

, brought forward in the House to cease, one of the three branches of Commons, by sir Francis Bure of the constitution would be abrodett, which, if not of present poli- gated, and a dissolution of legal tical importance, touched upon a government would ensue. Both curious and interesting point of the these principles, he thought were constitution, and appears to have unnecessarily and unwarrantably made a more serious impression departed from at the period referon the House than might at first red to. In 1810 this mischievous have been expected. The hon. precedent was followed; the usurpbaronet, in his introductory speech, ation was renewed, and a fiction after premising that he regarded it was resorted to, creating a phanas an imperious duty to call the tom of royalty, in order to elect

, attention of parliament to a sub- and appoint an executive magisject of the greatest magnitude, said, trate. As a further usurpation of that it appeared to him that violent power, restrictions were placed encroachments had been made on upon the person selected to possess the true principles of the constitu- some of the prerogatives of the tion, by those measures which had crown, all of which were bestowed been adopted in consequence of by the law for the benefit of the the unfortunate malady under people. His object was, to prevent which his majesty is labouring. on future occasions this lawless asThe first of these was in 1788, sumption of authority, and to dewhen it had been determined that stroy that pretence of necessity, the heir apparent to the crown had which in fact never existed, beno more right to the government cause many legal remedies remainof the nation than any other sub- ed. He did not mean to tie down ject. The steps taken at this pe- the House to any distinct proposiriod were justified on the plea of tion, but simply to provide against necessity ; but in his opinion there any interruption in the exercise of were two principles which go- the royal authority in the event of verned the whole of this question: the death of the Prince Regent 1st, That the powers and preroga. during the continuance of his Matives annexed by the common law jesty's malady; he, however, did to the crown descend by heredi- not hesitate to state, that in his tary succession, and not by elec- view, it would be right to give to tion: 2ndly. That its powers are the regent powers as uncontroled never suspended ; for if the func- as those belonging to the king

'

[ocr errors]

himself. Further, he should pro- many solid reasons for avoiding all pose that the powers now exer- discussion on the subject. cised by the Prince Regent, should, Mr. Brand, in supporting the in case of the death or disability of motion, gave his reasons for not his royal highness, be exercised concurring with the last speaker in by the heir to the crown, the prin- either of the grounds he took for cess Charlotte of Wales. He then opposing it ; its not coming reanticipated, some objections that commended by the crown, and its might possibly be made against being unnecessary. He could not vesting such a power in the prin- believe that it was essential to cess, and also replied to the plea have the recommendation of the that might be urged against the crown before the House entered necessity of such a regulation at upon the discussion of a question present; and he concluded with of such vital importance to the moving, " That leave be given to state ; and he thought that it was bring in a bill to provide against a point of great magnitude, and of any interruption of the exercise of commanding necessity. There was the royal authority, in the event ooly one life between us and the of the death of his royal highness recurrence of the former diffithe Prince Regent, during the con- culty; and under such circumtinuance of his Majesty's malady,” stances the bill ought undoubtedly

The motion was seconded by to be received, and the remedy lord Cochrane.

proposed by the hon. baronet, or Mr, Bathurst highly approved of some other, to be adopted. the open and candid manner in Lord A. Hamilton and Mr. which the hon, baronet had sub. Wynn spoke to the same purpose. mitted his motion to the House ; The latter, however, thought that but he brought arguments to prove the more eligible mode of attainthat the consideration of such a ing the object would be, to refer topie was at present unnecessary, the consideration of the question and that it might safely be left to to a committee of the House. the two Houses of Parliament to Mr. Ponsonby allowed, that such provide for such cases when they measures as that now proposed should occur. As to the right in should generally proceed from the the heir of the crown to exercise government; but there might be the royal authority in the event of cases in which, if parliament was an interruption of the regal func, moved to the consideration of tions, that was a question which them, it was fully competent to might now be considered as at determine them, even though goTest, since no doubts had been vernment might be unwilling to raised concerning it during the offer the subject to its attention. progress of the last regency bill. The contingency itself did not apAnother objection to the motion pear to him so improbable as to was, that in his opinion it could some gentlemen, considering the not be received by the House un- state of bis Majesty's bodily health, less it came recommended by the which rendered it not unlikely that erown. On the whole, he saw he might live many years, though

« 前へ次へ »