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rast acquisition of power, that relating to treason, certain offence's would accrue to minifiers from fuch. liad been omitted that ought to be a law, would enable them to strain considered and punihed as such, the words and actions of individuals they ought in such case to be deinto treasonable nyanings, when- clared and enacted to come within ever they were inclined to exercise that meaning, in order to put men on vengeance on thole who were ob- their guard, and prevent them from noxious to them. For these rea- committing what they wouki their soos, whoever valued the constitu- know to be criminal. The question tion of this country, must consider was then pul, and carried for the this bil! “ as one of the leverest and printing of the bill. most dangerous to the rights and On the tenth of November, 'the liberties of the people tliat fiad ever second reading of the bill was been introduced.”
mwvéd by lord Grenville, who obIt was alerted in reply by lord lerved, that the leditious speeches Grenville, that it was owing to the and treatonable libels, circulated in firmness of parliament, that the fediti- the meeting that had been held ous principles imported from France, near Copenhagen-house, three days nud induftriously propagated in Eng- only before the opeving of the preland, had been successfully refifted, feni lellions, had, in the opinion of and the constitution protected a- all reflecting people, pronipted that gainst the malevolent deligns of its audacious pirit which infulted the domestic enemies. When the pro- perfon of the lovereign, and bid devilions of the intended bill came fiance to the legillauire. The purinto examination, the necessity of pofc of the Bill, he said, was to proadopting it would be rendered ina- tect the king from fimilar outrages, nifelt; nor would it prevent the and to punill treasonous proceedpeople from holding legal meetings., ings. No punishments would be None but evil-dispoled persons enačied by the bill for crimes not could luffer by the enacting of luch already acknowledged delerving of a law.
them ; its fule intent was to include In answer to thefe allegations, treasonable publications and dilthe duke of Bedford, after declaring courtes among them, as being no his disapprobation of the bill, ex. lets criminal in their consequences. pressed in strong terms his perfua- li was high treason to devise the fion, that while it fiill remained in king's death; to conspire against their power to meet together, the bis perfon and government, as fpepeople would every where allemble cified in the bill, amounted thereto testify their arerlenels to to gla fore to a degree of criminality that ring an infringement on their free- evidently mcrited the fevereli chatdoin, in to explicit and refolute a tilement, whether such conspiracy manner, that he could not think the confified in levying civil war against house would consent to a bill lo him, or in encouraging foreign visibly repugnant to the feelings of enemies, by publications, writings, Englímmen.
or (peeches. The provisions of the It was observed on this occalion bill were conformable to the prinby lord Radnor, that is in the old ciples admitted in the acts of Eliftatutes of the reign of Edward III. zabeth and Charles II. and were as fimilar as circumstances would per- liberty of the subject. Before lo mit. Difficulties having arisen in dangerous an innovation should be the construction of the laws relating fuffered to pass, parliament ought to treason already in forces the in- feriously to weigh its certain content of this bill was to explain and sequences against the mere allegafix the meaning of thote laws. It tions of its necessity. The pretence would not prohibit any act or meet of the bill was the security of the ing, allowed to be legal, but only king's person; but, were the laws provide a more suitable punishment in being any ways deficient in that according to the degree of crimi- relpear? The duke then adverted to *palty, than that ordained by the the times, from which the ministry laws' in force, as in various cases, had borrowed their present prohotwithftanding criminalty was evi- ceedings, the reigns of Elizabeth dently proved, an apposite punish- and Charles II, but was it not an ment had not been enacted. On infult to the understandings of Enthese grounds he moved the second glidhmen, to speak of such times as reading of ihe bill.
models fit to be copied; but even It was acknowledged by the the precedents alluded to in thole duke of Bedford, that every man times would not authorise ministers ought, in dury, w abhor the treat. to follow them. Those enacted in ment offered to the king, and queen Elizabeth's reign were diearnestly define the punishment rected against the bulls issued by of the guilty; but the bill before the Pope, and those that were the houle did not tend to procure adopted mder Charles II. paffed more safety to the person of the immediately after the restoration, sovereign, than the laws already when it was thought indispenfible existing. There was no fuficient to protect him by the strongest proof that the outrages committed fences againft the fanatic rage of were connected with the meetings thofe who had opposed it. To which they were attributed; and The duke of Bedford was warmly though minifters declared them- feconded by the earl of Lauderdale, telves continced of this connection, who represented the actual fufferthat was not fufficient to induce the ings of the people, as the causes of houfe implicitly to coincide with the outrage offered to the king. It their conviction. When the habeas- was not astonishing, he said, that, corpus-ađ was fufpended, a felect among a hundred thousand indivia conimittee was appointed to invel duals casually allembled, forty or tigate the necessity of such a mea- fifty of them íhould be prompted, by Yure, and the proceedmgs on that the feelings of distress, to express occasion gave them at least an ap- them in that outrageous manner. pearance of deliberation ; but the oppressive and cruel laws were prefent meafure required certainly contrary to the disposition of the truch more confideration. It was people of this country, and tended not the temporary Tulpenfion of an to render them averse to the goact. It was the 'enading of a law vernment that framed them. The
entirely new to the spirit of the statutes of Edward III. were made sunfti'ution, and which was une at a time when the power of the deniably an abridgement of the crown was very great; yet the de
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finition of what was to be accounted defance of all law and government.
fuaded that measures might eafily
The ftatule against After other peers had delivered treasor in the reign of Elizabeth their opinions on the subject, the served as a precedent to that under duke of Bedford concluded it, by queen Anre, and ought not to have faying, that the reafonings against been spoken of as unfit to be imitated. the bill had met with no adequate The laws enacted to the fame pur- answers; they stood upon confiitupose under Charles II. were point- tional ground, and though they ed at the republican party at that might be out voted, they could not day, which, like the same party at be refuted. The bill added nothing the present, consisted of sworn to the personal safety of the king, enemies to monarchy, and of con- but increaled the power of the fequence to the lovercign that wore crown in a most unconstitutional the crown: if it was deemed necef- degree; he would therefore oppose sary then to protect him from their it, as a direct attack on the liberty fury, it was no less indispensible now, of Englishmen. Should it unhappily that principles of the most rebelli- pass' into a law; 'it would prore & ous nature were openly circulated in fatal an infringement on the consti
lution, that the public would soon these rights ought to be kept within · be sensible of the change effected in their intended limits, and it was the its condition, and lament, when too duty of parliament to prevent their late, the spiritless acquiescence of becoming inftrumental in the subthole who, forgetting their own dig- version of the established governnity and interest, as well as that of ment. The rights of the people the nation, had sacrificed it to un- doubtless ought to be respected, but justihable motives, or personal views. it was equally indispensible to obOn putting the question, it was car- viate their abule. The question ried in favour of miniftry by seventy- before the house was, to ule Mr. nine votes against eight.
Pili's own words, Whether the On the same day, Mr. Pitt moved pretire of the monent did not rein the house of commons, that the quire an instant remedy.” A preroyal proclamations, in consequence cite and acknowledged power was of the late riot, should be taken into wanted in the magistrate to disperse consideration. He grounded his such meetings as threatened dif. motion on the necessity of prevent orders. ' This power indeedi ought, ing such insults being offered to the not to extend to meetings held for Sovereign, as he had experienced on lawful purposes, but only to authe opening of the fession. He pre- thorite him to watch over the profumed every loyal subject would ceerlings of any, large assembly, unite with biin on this occasion, and whatever might be the object of that methods would be taken to ob- those who allembled. To this inviate those causes from whence the tent, notice thould be given to the outrages proceeded, which were the magistrate previously to the intendfactious meetings of difaffected peo- ed meeting; he should be emple, wherein leditious discourses powered to be prefent, and if it were constantly held, and principles appeared of a feditious tendency, to maintained utterly subverfive of seize the guilty on the spot; 10 obgood order and obedience to go- ftruct him should be made felony; vernment. The pretence of these and if the meeting did not disperse meetings was to petition the legif- at his command, the penalties prolature for rights withheld from the vided in the riot-ac should be in people; but the real motive was, flicted on the refractory There to promulgate opinions inimical to was, acided Mr. Pitt, another species government, and calculated to bring of meeting, consisting of persons it into contempt. If the executive who attended public lectures on power were not invested with fuf- political subjects; the kcurers were ficient authority to controul these men notoriously disaffected to gomeetings, they woula finally en- vernment, and the docirmes they danger the existence of the state. delivered were calculated to instil. It was, he acknowledged, the in- the rankest principles of refiftance dubitable right of the people to pass and relellion to the ottublifhed their judgement upon ministers and powers. In order to obviate this their mealures, and freely to express effectually, the act against litorderly their sentiments on all political lub- houtes !hould be goor lied to mulings jects, as allo to petition the different of this kind, whenever “ they exa branches of the legislature ; but ceeded, by a number to be stated
and circumstances called for regula- pored by it to infuse such terror into: tions apposite to the dispositions of the focieties fo long obnoxious ito men at difiurent periods. The pret them; as would deter them, at once, lent temper of men was matkied by from ever daring to relame the proprecipitation and temerity, and secution of their designs, and thus ought to be reprelled accordingly, to cruth, at one blow, all attempts Proceedings that bordered on fedi ard ideas to effect any reform in tion ought certainly to be opposed parliament, or to remedy any of with finnets and diligence. Were the abufes' and grievances so long magiftrates, int farcire cafes, to ex- complained of by the nation' at : ceed their powers,' they would cer- large.!!! tainly be called to a ferere accounts: The i hill was opposed by Mr. in a comtry wherojaries had thein Maurice Robinson, as separating themselves to tenacious of the libes the interests of the king from thote: ties of their fellow.fubjects, and of the people, and setting them, where the Spirit of liberty animated, as it were, in opposition to each lo marifetiy, the legislature ittelf, other. The king, as father of his as to indice it to declare tipole very: peaple; wawas ind justice bomid to juries competent judges whether a treat them with paternal care, and publrcation Djould be deemed a not to permit minifters, on the prelibel, os
biedis vilist text of contultirg his personal digdr. Halhed acknowledged the nity; to render their condition worte; propriety of the first proclamation, than ever it had been, by punishing otering an amplo rewardifor the the many for the offences of a few, flowevery of thote who had infulted hurried into the commifiion of their the bon, but totally difapprowed of delinquencies by the preflures of aut clamation; in coincidence hurger and want. No evidence with which the bill had been had been produced to countenance brots inter into the house. The mit: the ministerial affertion, that the behaviour of the populace, the 'ati riets were caused by the popular htmed, proceeded from the lente allemblies, held in the vicinity of of their leciings, and ought not in the metropolis. ; The clear and equity, to be attributed 10that well-known purpose of these meetmeening of tire people, three days ings was to petition for peace and before, which had not exhibited reform, i the endeavours to obtain the leatt bgn of a riotous disposition, which could udt, by any legal conand had parted as perceably as it ftruaian, be deemed acts of fedihad met." The nitorable lituation tion. of the rioters, almagh not'a juftifi- The bill was supported by Mr. cation) ought to weigh" with those alderinan Enfrington, asa meafure, who reflette! to what irregularijies' without which they person of the men miglir be driven when they lovereign would be continually esto wafited bread. But tlie, jo veternovi pored to the insults of the uleit poof ministers to men who had oppota pulace, who would become the ed their mealnres, with herciani- more daring and outrageous when cy dirt determinatielt, was the real they faw that parlament: palied by motive that prompted them in the unnoticed the criminal infolence of formation of this bill. . They prow which they had been gaiity. Miere