Page images

the error of the hon. alderman, but move Mr. Creecey said, that he had seen counthat it be taken into consideration, with a sel waiting in the lobby not an hour ago : view to propose Monday as the day. and upon this information general Gas

General Tarleton observed, that though coyne expressed his hope, though the he was as desirous of popularity as any counsel could not be so well prepared as man, yet he would not compromise his the importance of the case required, that duty on that account. He thought him the house would allow him to expunge the self bound to declare, that the majority word • Thursday, for the purpose of inof his constituents were averse to mea- serting now.' sures that served only to embarrass go

Mr. Whitbread adverted to the course vernment.

which had been taken with respect to these Mr. Sheridan said, that the hon. general petitioners, and contended that they had a had fallen into a greater error than his hon. right to be heard in a manner that might friend. The third reading of the bill stood be efficacions. They ought therefore to for this day; and according to the pro- be heard now, unless ministers would agree posed plan of proceeding, the measure to postpone the third reading of the bill. might be out of the power of the house | These merchants were the most compebefore the petition was presented. He tent in England to give information on asked, in what situation would the house this subject. The right hon. the Chan, be placed, in case the evidence should cellor of the Exchequer might say that this convince the house that the measure was delay was vexatious : to him it might be a wrong one?

so; but it was the duty of those who The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke to thought the measure a bad one, to support order, and the Speaker concurred with every thing which tended to procure ad him, that the question then was merely, ditional information on the subject ; and, whether counsel should be heard in sup- besides, it was of no importance that the port of the petition ?

bill should pass immediately. He conGeneral Gascoyne observed, that his con cluded by moving, that counsel should be stituents who were in town had only got heard now, instead of Thursday. the petition that morning, and had had no Lord Castlereagh said, that the principle time to instruct their counsel so fully as and the spirit of the rule of the house for they wished to do. It was their desire bad any petition being received against a that their petition should go hand in hand tax bill; and the bill for carrying into with that of the American merchants; effect the Orders in Council was a tax bill, and as the consideration of that petition and ought not to be delayed for this petihad been postponed, he thought himself tion. The petitioners might have two reacting in conformity with the wishes of medies. There was a clause in the bill his constituents, when he proposed a fu- permitting it to be altered or repealed in ture day. In allusion to what his col- this session, and petitioners might have league had said about popularity, he re that remedy if they made out a case suflimarked, that when a number of respect- ciently strong to induce the house to think able merchants of Liverpool put a petition that eligible. The house might also apply into his hands, he thought it his duty to to his majesty by address to forbear acting present it, and not only that, but to pro- upon the bill. The bill might therefore cure them a hearing as soon as possible. proceed, and the petitioners be heard on He then proposed Monday, but being told the day most convenient for them. that both this and the two following days Mr. Ponsonby could not but admire the were pre-occupied, he chose Thursday as advice given by the noble lord to the the day for hearing counsel.

house, which was to proceed to pass a meaGeneral Tarleton again said that he was sure which might be proved to be a very desirous of popularity. If it was a sin to foolish one, before hearing what was to be covet honour, he was the most offending said against it, and then address the king man alive.

to make it a mere nullity. This would Mr. Sheridan, though sorry to interrupt not add much to the respectability of the the colloquy of the two colleagues, insisted character of the house. upon

the awkward situation in which the Sir A. Piggot argued, that the petitioners house was placed by the proceeding, and ought to be heard before the passing of observed, that counsel must have been in the bill, because they ought bonâ fide to structed when the first petition çame, and to have such a hearing as would be efficaought now to be ready,

cious. No inconvenience would result

:- 59

[ocr errors]


from the delay of the bill, as the trade was then put, and an amendment moved, was in the mean time carried on by that it be read a third time on Monday licences.

se’nnight. Sir W. Scott rose, and began Dr. Laurence adverted to the awkward to speak on the merits of the measure; situation in which the house would be but was called to order by Mr. W. Smith, placed by the mode of proceeding pro- who said that this was only a question of posed by ministers. Though their object time; and in this he was supported by the professedly was to starve the continent, Speaker. After some conversation, the yet they were in a hurry to give freedom house divided, upon deferring the third to the trade to it. They had long slept reading of the bill till Monday se'nnight. over this measure without assembling par- Ayes -


122 liament to carry it into effect, and yet now Majority they grudged the delay of a few days. The question being then put, that the bill

Mr. Morris was anxious to promote any be now read a third time, proceeding, which would afford an oppor Sir William Scott entered into a learned tunity of being more fully informed on discussion


the law of nations, which this measure, which seemed to be founded being in its nature conventional, was no on French principles, and would be at longer binding than when the rules of this tended with the greatest mischief to all convention were adverted to by all parcivilized nations.

ties concerned. When they were departed Mr. Windham condemned the proposed from by one party, the other was left to mode of proceeding, on account of its pal- the guidance of natural justice; and by the pable absurdity. It was exactly this : laws of natural justice, retaliation was authat the house should decide first, and hear thorised as an essential part of self-defence. the objections afterwards. It resembled The right of retaliation the learned judge a police bill

, which provided that a party shewed to be limited only by the extent of might be whipped, and then allowed him the annoyance which called forth the exthe right to appeal to the session. The ercise of it. If an enemy restricted himnoble lord said that the spirit of the bill self to the ordinary mode of warfare, then precluded petitioning against it. But it it was incumbent upon the other belligehad no spirit, it was all letter; two grains rent to carry on hostility under the same of wheat in two bushels of chaff; two restrictions, but if he resorted to unusual grains of finance, in two bushels of trade. modes of warfare, then it was competent The trade was the spirit, the finance was for his adversary to pursue him even to only incidental ; and yet the noble lord neutral ground. The right was unquestalked of petitioning being contrary to its tionable; the only question was, the pruspirit, and objected to the delay of a few dence of exercising it. The learned judge days!

then proceeded to apply the general docMr. Stephens said, that there were two trine that he had laid down, to the preparties in this question. There were not sent situation of this country, in relation only the petitioners but the public who were to France and the other powers of Europe. deeply interested in the bill. The petition He shewed that the French decree was appeared to him to be brought forward for intended to cut us off from all communino other purpose than to create delay. cation with the other European states; The hon. member very successfully re that it had been acted upon; that the inplied to the last speaker.

terpretation of M. Decrès was wholly Lord H. Petty, Mr. Adam, and Mr. unauthorized; that this exposition stood Pole Carew, supported the amendment. formally contradicted by a decree of the The latter, however, professed himself a supreme court of prizes at Paris ; and that decided friend to the bill, bụt thought it if there were any exceptions made to its due to the petitioners, now that they had general operation, those exceptions would put themselves in the proper form, to hear only prove, that the government of France what they had to say.

now was, what it had been always, even in The question being loudly called for, a its best times, fluctuating and capricious. division took place : Ayes 66 : Noes 99: He further contended, that even if it was Majority against the Amendment 33.- not acted upon, which rested with the The petition was then ordered to be taken other party to prove, it was nevertheless into consideration on Thursday,

an injury, because it was an insult to the [ORDERS IN. Council Bill.] The ques-country; which, in the opinion of an emiţion that the bill be read a third time, nent person now no more (Mr. Fox), men

rited more to be chastised than any other a species of injury whatever. As to the li measure of the Orders in Council, he asserted that it was merely following up the principle which had been adopted in the Order in Council of Jan. 1807, and founded upon the doctrine which had been so ably maintained in the note of lord Howick to Mr. Rist; and even though the authors of these official papers chose to disclaim them, still he would maintain the tenets which they set forth. Upon the morality of the measure, therefore, there was no doubt. The question of its policy was more complex, and of its effects it was impossible to speak with certainty. He should lament exceedingly, if it should have the effect of producing any irritation in the American government. But he hoped, that they would not only look to the act, but to the causes of the act, and that it would be viewed not as a measure of hostility against America, but against France. The present bill had his most decided support.

Dr. Laurence entered into an extensive view of what was the law of nations, as expressed by the best writers on that subject, and as it was to be deduced from the uniforin practice, not only of this country, but also of France, Spain, Holland, Sweden, and other countries, from the earliest period. From these authorities he shewed, that the Orders of the 7th of Jan. were justified by the established usage and avowed concurrence of all civilised nations, on the principle that one belligerent had an undoubted right to prevent a neutral from lending herself to another belligerent for the purpose of carrying on her coasting trade. But, with respect to the Orders of the 11th of Nov. he maintained, that though they were professedly founded on a principle of retaliation, they were not actually so founded; as it was not what was expressed by ministers, an acquiescence in the orders of the enemy (if such had been the fact), but an adherence to the cause of the enemy, which was the legitimate ground of measures of retaliation.

Mr. Stephens asserted the necessity which called for the Orders in Council, a necessity, in his opinion, so imperious, that it would have justified measures even of a 'more extensive nature.

Mr. Ponsonby argued, that the Orders were absurd, and incapable of being carried into execution,

Sir C. Price stated, that he had brought

and for the prevention of that misery, and terms; and as to arrest, it was, generally those numerous ill effects, which resulted speaking, the best means of producing a from long continued imprisonment for payment or a composition of the debt, debt. The noble earl explained the ob- and did produce that effect in five cases jects of his bill, as relating to arrest on out of six. The creditor was more fremesne process, and imprisonment in ex- quently an object of compassion than the ecution, in both of which the intention debtor, from the frauds practised on him. was to shorten the duration of imprison- He was decidedly hostile to the bill, and ment; in the former, by compelling the thought it ought not to go to a committee. plaintiff, where the writ was issued in one Lord Holland combated the objection of term and returnable in the next, to declare innovation. To hold that every thing which in the term of the return, and to proceed fell from judge Hale must be correct, was to trial in the succeeding term; and in rather paying too high a respect to the the latter, by releasing the debtors at cer- doctrines and opinion of that learned judge. tain specified times, at the quarter sessions, If bis lordship recollected well, judge Hale on assigning over their property in pos- had been hostile to the repeal of the laws session and reversion, and also rendering against witchcraft ; and indeed, the doctheir future property liable. The latter trine of the noble and learned lord went mode was the principle of the cessio bo- to this, that no alteration whatever, in our norum introduced into the Roman law by law or practice, ought to take place; in Cæsar, and subsequently, after a long ex- fact, that their lordships and the other perience, adopted by Justinian. A similar house ought not to meet for the purposes law had long prevailed in Holland and in of legislation. He hoped as opinions of Denmark, where it had been found equally celebrated men were to be quoted, he might efficacious. His lordship stated a variety be allowed to notice the opinion of a justly of instances, in which persons imprisoned celebrated man, and who in the latter for small debts had experienced a great years of his life, at least, could hardly be aggravation of their imprisonment by the suspected of favouring innovations. That costs with which they were charged; and able and enlightened man was well known instanced many cases where prisoners to have been peculiarly partial to the were unable to raise the money necessary general principle of the measure now proto obtain that relief to which they were posed by his noble friend. Another great entitled by law. Thus, out of 700 annu man, Dr. Johnson, had also expressed ally released by the Thatched-house so himself decidedly on this subject, and deciety, there were, on the average, about clared that imprisonment for debt ought 130 who were unable to pay the expences not to be suffered, unless for the purpose of suing for the allowance under the lords of compelling a surrender of the debtor's act; and about 50 who, though super- effects. As to the evils resulting from the sedable, were unable to raise the money present system, they were so numerous, necessary to sue for their supersedeas. and at the same time so apparent, that it He condemned generally the principle of was hardly necessary for bim eren to placing a debtor at the mercy of a creditor, allude to them. One striking proof of who might indefinitely imprison him ; the absurdity of the present law was to and trusted their lordships would agree to be found in the frequency of insolvent the proposed alteration in the law. acts. If the legislature were not aware

Lord Ellenborough condemned any at that there was something peculiarly offentempt to innovate upon a long established sive in continued imprisonment for debt, law, without taking a clear and compre- why should it pass these acts of insolhensive view of the whole of the bearings vency? All suspensions of any established of the question. This had not been done law were to be reprobated, and it was inin the present bill, which had been drawn finitely preferable that the law should be up (not, of course, by the noble earl) with at once repealed, than that it should be a great ignorance of the law, and with repeatedly violated. Surely, it would not provisions which could not be carried into be said that these insolvent acts were effect without great injustice and injury: passed merely as a matter of convenience, His lordship went through the different and that one set of persons - were liberated clauses of the bill, for the purpose of solely for the purpose of making room for shewing that they were wholly inadequate another. The number of persons at preto their proposed object. A plaintiff was sent confined for debt in the metropolis, at present obliged to declare within was stated-as-being: by no means comapa

ratively great. He begged it to be re to inquire into the present state of the marked, however, that the Thatched House Affairs of the East India Company." society was not a national institution ; of Mr. Creerey rose, not for the purpose of course, any relief granted by them did not opposing, but of supporting the motion ; proceed from the benignity of our laws, convinced as he was that it was only by which had thus provided a partial remedy a committee, that the situation of the East for a great evil. It was calculated that India Company could be properly investhis society liberated 700 persons annually, tigated ; and that the statements of the who, but for this institution, must have different budgets had been delusive from formed an addition to those at present beginning to end. He asked, whether it confined for debt, and from the best com was the intention of the right hon. gent. putation his lordship could make, would that the committee should confine their inincrease that number to about 10,500. quiries to the financial and commercial His lordship did not pretend to be, by any state of the company, or that they should means, so well qualified as his noble and extend their investigation to its territorial learned friend, to judge what would be the concerns ? best mode of giving effect to the measure Mr. R. Dundas replied, that it was his now proposed; he could not, however, wish that the inquiries of the committee abstain from expressing his surprise and should be the most comprehensive, though concern that those noble and learned per- he did not imagine that they would consons, whose peculiar province it was to sider it necessary to investigate the whole endeavour to render the law of the land as system of Indian policy under the different unexceptionable as possible, should shew governments for many years past.-— The so great reluctance to bring forward a bill motion was agreed to, and a committee of which might meet their own ideas on the 21 members appointed. subject.

[ORDERS IN Council Bill.] The order Earl Moira replied generally to the ar of the day was read, for resuming the adguments of lord Ellenborough, when the journed debate on the Orders in Council house divided on the question for the bill. second reading : Contents 5: Non con Mr. A. Buring spoke against the bill. tents 9 : Majority 4.—The bill was ac He thought it was unjust as to neutrals, cordingly thrown out.

and inexpedient as a measure. The chief ground taken by ministers was stated in the preamble to the Orders in Council, to

be, that the government of France had Friday, March 11.

issued certain decrees. The question was, [East INDIA COMPANY's Affairs.) Mr. how far we were justified in making neuR. Dundus rose, pursuant to notice, to trals suffer for this. No retaliation could, move for the appointment of a Select in his opinion, be justified on the principle Committee, to inquire into the present state assumed by ministers, that neutrals must of the Affairs of the East India Company. take the consequences of the retaliation He stated, that the same causes which which had become necessary on the part created the deficit which existed last year, of this country. Mr. Armstrong, the still continued to operate, and that there American minister at Paris, had applied was a deficit now to a very considerable to the minister of marine in France, on the . amount. He wished, therefore, that a subject, and was informed by him that the committee should be appointed to investi- Decrees were not to be acted upon with gate the cause which had produced, and respect to America. No better authority which tended to perpetuate this deficit, could be applied to; and it was not necesand to suggest the most proper remedy to sary for him to enquire farther. We had, apply to it. Advices had been expected therefore, rashly cast away the Amefrom the noble lord who now presided . rican trade. He answered the arguments over the affairs of India, which might be that had been urged on the subject of useful in guiding the inquiries of the com- premiums on insurance; he thought that mittee, but none had been as yet received. we ought to have waited another month to He thought, however, that the documents see how the Americans would act, and to which the committee might have access was of opinion, that if the doctrine of miwould be sufficient to enable them to make nisters was admitted, it would be imposa report on the subject. He concluded by sible that neutrals could carry on any trade moving, “That a committee be appointed whatever.


« PreviousContinue »