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HOUSE OF LORDS.
MONDAY, MAY 11.
ASSASSINATION OF MR. PERCEVAL.
The House of Lords had finished hearing counsel in an appeal case, and were proceeding with the reading of some private Bills, when a bustling noise, as of a number of people in confusion, was heard without doors. The business was interrupted, and a few moments of silence ensued in the House; all the Peers, of whom a considerable number had assembled to proceed with the evidence on the Petitions against the Orders in Council, looking towards the doors. Presently a cry was heard, “ Mr. Perceval shot-Mr. Perceval shot.” A gentleman, connected with one of the Par-, liamentary offices rushed in in the utmost agitation and alarm. Most of the Peers came to the bar, and the officer mentioned was instantly surrounded both by their lordships and those without the bar, all making the most eager inquiries. The account he gave was, that he was standing close by Mr. Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons, when a pistol was fired at Mr. Perceval, who uttered a cry of “ murder,” staggered two or three paces, fell on his side, and then rolled on his face. The officer then came away, but be said he believed that “ Mr. Perceval was dead.” No doubt could be now entertained as to Mr. Perceval having been shot at; but a gleam of hope still appeared, that he might only bave been severely, not mortally wounded. Some of the Lords, upon the first mention of the circumstance, had rushed out to ascertain the fact : they were now followed by most of the rest, bardly any except the Lord Chancellor and three of the Bishops remaining behind. These continued their inquiries at the bar: but the
person who brought the intelligence could state no additional circumstance, though also assailed with questions by those on the outside of the bar. The Lords who had gone out at length began to return. The eyes of those who remained were rivetted on the countenance of him who first approached, and hope vanished. Their lordships crowded together near the woolsack, and continued for a few minutes in earnest private conversation : a call of " seats, seats," followed, and the Lords sat down.
The Lord Chancellor then addressed them. “I am not certain, my Lords (he said) whether what I am now about to suggest is in exact conformity with the orders of your lordsbips' House ; but there may be occasions when a rigid adherence to orders, established for the convenience of ordinary business, may lead to the greatest disorder. I have just been informed of a most melancholy and atrocious event which has happened in the lobby of the other House. In this situation I feel it my duty to apprise your lordships, that I shall take care to give the proper directions 10 the officers, that none go out of the doors of this House of Parliament till we have been fully satisfied that they have not the means of doing farther mischief.” This was understood to have reference to a determination, that those below the bar should be searched by the officers as they went out, so far as to ascertain whether they had fire-arms; but this precaution seems afterwards to have been considered as unnecessary, and the resolution was not persevered in. Their lordships continued their private conversation near the woolsack for some time longer, while some went out and others returned at intervals. The fact of Mr. Perceval's death now appeared certain; and the question, what proceeding it was fitting for the House to adopt under the circumstances, was next considered. Some mention was made of a Message from the House of Commons. It was then stated that
the House of Commons bad adjourned ; and it was suggested this might be the most proper course for their lordships. Previous to adjourning, however, it was agreed on all bands that it would be proper to address the Prince Regent, to express the sentiments of the House on the melancholy and borrid occurrence. No one doubted the fact of the assassination; but to found upon it such a proceeding as that of an address, it was necessary to bave it established in a formal manner.
There was some doubt as to the mode in which this should be done. At length there was a second call of " seats, seats," and their lordships resumed their seats on the benches.
The Duke of Cumberland then rose, and said, having seen Mr. Perceval wounded and dead, I think fit to communicate this fact to your lordships, that you may take such measures upon it as to your lordships shall seem proper.
Lord Ellenborough. Where did the noble Duke see this? The Duke of Cumberland.I saw Mr. Perceval lying
dead in a chair of the Speaker's Chamber, off the lobby of the House of Commons, with a surgeon and several other persons standing by him.
Lord Ellenborough.-- We still have no evidence how Mr. Perceval came by his death-whether by fire-arms, or in what other manner. All we know from this is, that he is dead, in the Speaker's Chamber.
Lord Liverpool suggested, that the declaration of one of their lordships upon his honour as to his belief of the fact, might be sufficient ground for the address; but after a few words from Lord Holland, it was agreed to call witnesses to the bar, and the bar was immediately clearey for that purpose.
Mr. Taylor, one of the door-keepers of the House of Commons, was then called to the bar, and examined by the Lord Chancellor, who had left the woolsack, and taken his seat at the Committee table.
Q. What is your name? A. Taylor.
Q. You are an officer belonging to the House of Commons, are you not? A. I am, my Lord.
Q. What do know in relation to Mr. Perceval? state what you know to the House. A. My Lords, I saw Mr. Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons: I saw a pistol aimed at him, and at the same instant I saw the fire: and immediately after I saw Mr. Perceval fall.
Q. Did you hear the report of the pistol? A. I did.
Mr. Taylor's evidence being so directly to the point, their Jordships did not think it necessary to examine any more witnesses. The Lord Chancellor again took his seat on the woolsack, and
Lord Radnor moved a resolution, " That an humble Address be presented to his royal highness the Prince Regent, expressive of the horror which this House feels at the atrocious assassination of Mr. Perceval, in the lobby of the House of Commons; and to pray that his Royal Highness would take the speediest and most effectual measures for bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice.”
Earl Grey seconded the motion. He said a very few words, in a low tone of voice, as if overpowered by his feelings; concluding with this—" that he most completely and heartily concurred in the motion.”
The motion was unanimously agreed to. It was immediately proposed and agreed to, that the Address should be presented forthwith, by Lords specially appointed for that purpose. Lords Grey, Fitzwilliam, Winchilsea, Mulgrave, Chichester, Radnor, Holland, Bathurst, Ellenborough, and others, were then appointed to go up with the Address forth with. Tbese noble Lords went out immediately for that purpose, and the House adjourned.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
MONDAY, MAY 11. Mr. Brougham moved the Order of the Day for going into a Commitire on the Orders in Council.
The House then went into a Committee, Mr. Babington in the Chair. The first witness called was Robert Hamilton, manufacturer of earthenware in Staffordsbire.
Mr. Brougham bad closed his examination, and Mr. Stephen was in the course of his cross-examination of the same witness, when about a quarter past five o'clock the report of a pistol shot was heard in the House and gallery.-It did not at first interrupt the business of the House. A rush was beard between the door and the bar, and cries of order. A whisper ran round that somebody was shot. The assassin was seized near the fire in the lobby. He made not the slightest resistance, but avowed himself as the perpetrator-said that his name was John James Bellingham, ship-broker, of Liverpool—that he had been travelling in Russia, in the service of Government, and that Mr. Perceval stood in the way of his remuneration, and that thus he had avenged himself.-Mr. Perceval was in company with Lord F. Osborne, and immediately on receiving the ball, which entered the left breast, he staggered and fell at the feet of Mr. W. Smith, who was standing near the second pillar. The only words he uttered were, “Oh! I am murdered !” and the latter was inarticulate, the sound dying between his lips. He was instantly taken up by Mr. Smith, who did not recognise him until he had looked in his face. The report of the pistol immediately drew great numbers to the spot, who assisted Mr. Smith in conveying the body of Mr. Perceval to the Speaker's apartments; but before he reached them, all signs of life had departed.Mr. Perceval's corpse was placed upon a bed, and Mr. Lynn, of Great George-street, who had been sent for, arrived, but too late even to witness the last symptoms of expiring existence. He found that the ball, which was of an
unusually large size, had penetrated the heart near its centre, and had passed completely through it. From thence the body was removed to the Speaker's drawing-room, by Mr. Lynn and several Members, and it was laid on a sopha. The horror and dismay occasioned by the assassination of Mr. Perceval, prevented any attention from being paid to other persons; and it was not until the right honourable gentleman was raised from the floor that a person belonging to the Vote-office exclaimed, “ Where is the rascal that fired ?” when a person of the name of Bellingham, who had been unobserved, stepped up to him, and coolly observed, “ I am the unfortunate man.” He did not make any attempt to escape, though he bad thrown away the pistol by which he had perpetrated the horrid deed, but resigned bimself quietly into the bands of some of the byestanders. They placed him upon a bench near the fireplace, where they kept him, and all the doors were closed, and the egress of any persons prevented. When the assassin was interrogated as to his motive for this dread hil act, he replied, “ My name is Bellinghamn ; it is a private injuryI know what I have done- it was a denial of justice on the part of Government.” At this time the prisoner was in no legal custody, but was surrounded by many Members, who insisted that he should be taken into the body of the House, The criminal was however previously searched, to which he made no resistance, and upon his person were found a steel pistol, loaded, about seven inches in length (the fellow to ihat with which he had effected his fatal purpose, which had been secured) with a short screw barrel, and a bundle of papers folded like letters. Two messengers, Wright and Skelton, then conveyed the prisoner to the bar of the House of Commons, where the utmost confusion and anxiety prevailed. The Speaker had quitted the chair, the House having resolved itself into the Committee on the Orders in Council, but on bearing the afflicting intelligence, he returned and resumed his seat. Order having been restored, General Gascoigne said in an audible voice, “ I think I know the villain," and walking up to the assassin, and looking in his face inquired, " Is not your naine Belling, ham ? He returned no answer, but by shaking his head, and stood afterwards motionless, and apparently composed, resting bis bands upon the bar, and looking directly forwards to the chair. The Speaker then proposed in a firm voice, that the criVOL. III.-1812.