HC Deb 10 December 1819 vol 41 cc989-1004
Mr. Courtenay

rose, in pursuance of his notice, to make a complaint of a pamphlet, an extract from which had been read during the debate of yesterday. The task which he had now undertaken was of the most painful nature, and nothing but a strong conscientious feeling of its necessity could have led him to undertake it. He should, however, have been wanting to himself, and to those privileges which he, as a member of parliament, was bound to defend, if he had not, after what had passed yesterday evening, called the notice of the House to the gross and wanton attack which had been made upon it. Having satisfied his mind that it deserved the notice of the House, he would shortly state the reasons which had induced him to put himself forward on this occasion. One reason was, that he had heard the obnoxious paragraph more distinctly than any other member in the House from his proximity to the hon. member who read it. Another reason was, that he was totally unacquainted with the § party to whom the pamphlet was imputed, and not at all implicated in any of the topics which its pages contained. He therefore trusted, that the House would agree, that he had not undertaken an improper, though he might have undertaken an unpleasant duty. He fully agreed with an honourable and learned friend of his, who had spoken last night, that cases might arise in which it would be imprudent to take notice of breaches of privilege: but this certainly could not be classed among them. There was this difference between this publication and all those other publications to which his hon. and learned friend had alluded, namely—that it had been read by an hon. member to the House and had after wards been commented on by him in the course of his speech. For his own part, he must say, that he had never in the whole course of his life perused a work which contained a more direct libel on the House, or which gave more direct advice to the people, to abrogate its powers, to resume the rights which they had intrusted to it, and to make by brute force that reform in it which they deemed advisable. Honourable members could not but be aware, that for some time past, publications of the most seditious nature had been generally circulated; that language of the most inflammatory description had been employed to decry all our most sacred institutions; and that upon no subject had mores inflammatory language been used than upon the House of Commons. As yet, they had not chosen to mark the opinion which they entertained of these Calumnies, by punishing those who propagated them; but now, as a paragraph which reflected most grossly on the character of the House had been brought before them in the course of debate, it became them to bring the author of it to punishment, if they valued their privileges, and wished to prevent the neglect of vindicating them on the present occasion from being drawn into a dangerous precedent against themselves at a future period. He was sure that he need not take up the time of the House by referring to precedents, in which the House had vindicated its privileges by proceeding against authors who had aspersed its character: such cases were very numerous, and in many instances the proceedings had even been set in motion by those who were generally accounted the guardians and assertors of the people rights. Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan had both said, that the best way to uphold the dignity of the people, was to uphold the dignity of the Commons' House of Parliament, It was not merely to uphold its dignity, but also to preserve its very existence, that he now came forward in defence of its privileges. Not merely had the language of menace been used by the author of the pamphlet of which he now complained, but also language advising and recommending the people to use their physical force, in order to obtain reform in parliament. He did not know whether any members were now present who had not heard the extracts from this pamphlet read by his honourable friend last night. If there were any, he would state to them the nature of the libellous publication. After saying a great deal of the reform which, according to the writer was essential for the preservation of the people's rights, and after complaining of the departure from some of his former principles, which had marked the recent conduct of the individual (lord Erskine) to whom the pamphlet was addressed, the writer expressed himself as follows, on the state of that House:—

"What prevents the people from walking down to the House and pulling out the members by the ears, locking up their doors, and flinging the key into the Thames? Is it any majesty which hedges in the members of that assembly? Do we love them? Not at all—we have an instinctive horror and disgust at the very abstract idea of a boroughmonger. Do we respect them?—Not in the least. Do we regard them as endowed with any superior qualities? On the contrary, individually there is scarcely a poorer creature than your mere member of parliament, though in his corporate capacity the earth furnishes not so absolute a bully. Their true practical protectors, then, the real efficient anti-reformers are to be found at the Horse-Guards, and at Knightsbridge barracks. As long as the House of Commons majorities are backed by the regimental muster-roll, so long may those who have got the tax-power keep it, and hang those who resist."

He collected from the partial cheers which had been raised during the reading of this paragraph, that there were some gentlemen in the House who entertained opinions similar to those of the author of it. He was sorry for it.—Abusive, violently abusive as it was, he did not know whether he should have called the express notice of the House to it, if it had been unaccompanied by others of a similar description. He had no objection to any man expressing as strongly as he pleased his conviction of the necessity of parliamentary reform; but he must insist upon his not directing the people to seek it by physical force; he must insist upon his not leading them to think, that such a remedy was the only remedy left them, and therefore the only course which they ought to adopt. The paragraph which he had just read to them, when considered along with the context, evidently expressed the opinion of the writer, that it was by force alone that parliamentary reform could be accomplished; for, after stating how impossible it was for the House to reform itself, he proceeded to say, in page 51, that "nothing but brute force, or the pressing fear of it, would reform the parliament.'' Would any man be found to say that two meanings could be put upon this passage? If there were no other passage in the book but this, the House would not do its duty, if it did not institute proceedings upon it: for in what situation might it be placed, if it did not take some notice of this pamphlet? Supposing that any practical effects were to result from the advice given in it (and the following of 8uch advice could lead to nothing else but scenes of confusion and ruin, which no man could contemplate without horror), with what conscience could the House proceed to punish the miserable wretches who had been deluded by this work, when it had not declared its opinion upon the work itself, though brought before its notice, or shown that it had the power to punish the sophistical writer of it? In such a case, would not any person, involved in the guilt of rebellion from following the recommendation of this pamphlet, have a right to say to the House, "You have yourselves assisted to mislead me; you are now pouring your vengeance upon me, and yet you have taken no notice of the person whose advice led me into that course of crime for which you now punish me." He had no means of ascertaining by whom this pamphlet was written; but from whatever quarter it came, it was clearly the production of a person who filled no mean situation in life, who had received no common education, and who was endowed with considerable talent.— When, then, every party in the state was calling for the punishment of the twopenny and threepenny publishers of treason, was it fitting that they should show any thing like a fear of this author, because he enjoyed a more exalted rank in society than those wretched scribblers. After ascertaining the author of this pamphlet, the House could proceed to further measures. He would now state what he thought the proper course for the House to adopt. He was desirous that the House should proceed in the most cautious and most deliberate manner; and that whatever should be done might appear not to arise from sudden indignation or individual feeling, but to be the result of reflection and mature consideration. The first step which he proposed to be adopted was, to call to the bar of the House, the individual whose name appeared upon the face of the publication, in order that they might get at the real offender. He thought it in no case proper to proceed against the printer or publisher, when the real offender could be traced. He should therefore move, that Robert Stoddart be called to the bar of the House. There were cases in which the House had immediately come to a resolution declaring that the paper complained of was of a particular character, and then called the party before them. There were other cases in which they called the party before them without having come to any resolution. Upon the precedent furnished by the latter class of cases he proceeded, because it did appear to him more reasonable, first to inquire after the person who wrote the publication, and then to pass a resolution, expressing whether it was or was not a breach of privilege. In making this motion, he hoped that no other motive would be imputed to him but a common sense of the authority of the House, and a common feeling of the respect with which it ought to be regarded throughout the country.

The Speaker

.—Does the hon. member wish the title of the publication, and the particular passages to which he has referred, to be read?

Mr. Courtenay

assented, and handed the pamphlet to the clerk, who read from it the passages quoted by Mr. Courtenay in his speech, and also the title-page, which is as follows:—"A Trifling Mistake in Thomas Lord Erskine's recent Preface shortly noticed, and respectfully corrected, in a Letter to his Lordship, by the Author of "The Defence of the People." London, published by Robert Stoddart, 81, Strand." He then moved that Robert Stoddart be ordered to attend the House on Monday next. On the question being put,

Sir Francis Burdett

said, it appeared to him, that the House never appeared in a more odious view, than when it exercised its privileges in a manner repugnant to the general feelings of the country, and in a manner by no means calculated to satisfy justice. If the present motion was agreed to, that House must appear to the public at large in a very extraordinary view. A few nights since, an inquiry which the whole country demanded, an inquiry undeniably within the inquisitorial functions of the House, was refused, as not suited to the character and powers of that House. But now, all allowed that this was within the province of the House—this invidious, judicial, exercise of its functions. When the real inquisitorial functions of the House were to be exercised, at the desire and for the protection of the people, the House was voted to be an unfit place, and it was so voted by those who on the present occasion would vote the House into a court of justice. It must appear extraordinary, that the House should be now called upon to exert functions which they had been lately told could never be judiciously or usefully exerted. The House had been told, that they were not qualified to sift truth; that they could not stir one step in a judicial inquiry without covering themselves with disgrace; that no public benefit could result from the exercise of such functions. Such was the reply, when the whole country called for the exercise of functions which could be constitutionally and beneficially exercised. But now it was thought proper to institute a judicial proceeding, although no evidence was before them, no evidence could be fairly before them, and truth could not be investigated. Now it was proposed to assume the power of defining laws, and the most difficult and vague of all laws—the law of libel, without giving the accused any possibility of equal trial, or any possibility of obtaining justice. He thought the doing of such an act as this would excite the greatest feeling of disgust throughout the country, and the strongest sense of injustice. Even supposing, for the sake of argument—and it was only for the sake of argument he could suppose it—that the passages cited were a libel, still the mode of proceeding now proposed was unjust and repugnant to every man of just and honest feelings in the country. The House was to be the judge in its own cause, and to punish at its pleasure. Whether the charge was true or not, was not the question; but any proceeding against this publication in the mode proposed, could only lower (if lower it could be) and disgrace the House in the eyes of the country. He was surprised that the hon. and learned member should have chosen such a strange mode of proceeding, and should not before proposing to ascertain the offender, have called upon the House to say whether any offence was committed. From the Reading of a passage, no one could say whether it was a libel or not. It might be borne out by the context. He believed it to be exceedingly true, that a borough-monger was as despicable, as low, as any human being could be. But if detached and unconnected passages were taken from any writer, they might appear libels or breaches of privilege. Mr. Burke had written many passages more degrading to that House than the passage now quoted. Lord Chatham had Said, that that was a corrupt House, subversive of all Jaw and order, and of liberty of every kind. Indeed, there had not been a great or eminent man for many ages, who had not characterized that House in worse terms than those now in question. The privileges of that House had been originally granted for the purpose of enabling members to maintain the rights of the people. They had been intended for the protection of members against the officers of the crown, and against being called before the privy council to answer for doing their duty in that House. But to exercise their privileges in this way, was a monstrous perversion of their nature and object. Selden, generally distinguished as the learned Selden, said, that "members of parliament were as great princes as any in the world. Privilege of parliament was, no man knew what; but under this they could exercise all power. The doge and senate of Venice exercised no power over their own people, which parliament could not exercise over all classes of people." Thus Selden pronounced the power of parliament worse than the greatest, and proverbially the most odious, tyranny which existed in the world. Having read the pamphlet, he could by no means agree with the hon. and learned gentleman in the construction he put upon particular passages. It contained nothing which recommended the subversion of that House. The passage now brought under the notice of the House, instead of being a breach of privilege, admitted of the very contrary construction. What did prevent the people from pulling out the members by the ears? The passage quoted said, it was "force" that prevented them. What did the House say it was that prevented them? What did the bills say, which were now passing to the general disgust of the country? [Hear.] Did they not say, that it was absolutely necessary to have recourse to brute force? [Hear, hear!] This was the very argument used by the House itself. If this was so—and he believed it was—they must admit that it was more through fear than any attachment to them, that they were protected. This was no more than what was said by every advocate for the present measures. This was the argument founded upon the papers upon the table; and by coercive measures alone was it proposed to make the people yield to their authority. Yet the House would now consider it highly penal to say so! The House had declared their conviction that force alone protected them, in so many ways, that they could not be misunderstood. The author of this pamphlet, whoever he might be, had said no more. He should content himself at present with opposing the motion for calling the printer to the bar, till they had themselves determined whether the passage was or was not a breach of privilege. He protested against the House turning itself into a court of justice, as it was most unfit to decide in its own cause, by which proceeding it would take the law into its own hands, and preclude all means of defence or fair trial.

Mr. Bankes

said, he had heard the hon. baronet's speech with considerable pain, and had felt doubtful whether it was not his duty to have interposed in the course of it. He could not conceive how they could be a House of Commons, how they could act as representatives, or how they could perform their part in the legislature, if they did not protect themselves from libel and insult. The hon. baronet had referred to the demand for inquiry lately made, at least by a part of the people of England, and to the refusal of inquiry. The House upon that occasion had exercised a discretionary power. No argument could, in the present case, be founded upon that. Whether the House had done right or wrong then, their conduct afforded no argument now. He had taken no part in that discussion, more from accident than any other cause; but the House had the power of instituting an inquiry if it chose to exert it. Its powers were less adequate to the purpose than those of any of the courts below; but it might have exercised its powers. It had been said by those who were for inquiry, that it might be conducted at the bar; that it might be referred to a committee, or that the attorney-general might be instructed to prosecute. He knew not what course the hon. gentlemen meant to adopt: whether he proposed that the House should be judge in its own case, than which nothing was more common in the best times; or that the attorney-general should be instructed to prosecute, which was also common: whatever course might be adopted, he would ask even the hon. baronet, whether the House were not fit to judge of the merits of this case. He had never read a grosser libel. It was a libel tending to produce revolution and anarchy [Hear, hear!] tending to excite physical, or, as the writer called it, "brute force." It was a direct incentive to pull the members out by the ears, to lock the door, and to throw the key into the Thames. The hon. baronet said, the House would be guilty of great injustice, if it adopted the proposed proceeding, and assumed such powers. But the privileges of the House existed for the defence of the people, and for the protection of the people. That House could not exist without maintaining its power and authority. The hon. baronet and his friends thought the present constitution bad, and wished to new-model it. God forbid that they should have any hand in the new modelling of the constitution. It should be his object, while he had a seat in that House, to resist the new modelling of it by such hands. That constitution, under which we had grown up and flourished, was said by the hon. baronet to be inconsistent with justice: but he must say, that if the public mind was to be worked upon by such gross and seditious libels, that House, the constitution, and the administration of justice, would soon be overthrown. His best endeavours should be always exerted to avert such a crisis. Libels like that now before them endangered not only the usefulness, but also the existence of the House: but the greatness and the dignity of the House had been maintained, ought to be maintained, and, he trusted, would still be maintained, against the new sect which had risen up amongst us, and whose object was anarchy and desolation.

Lord John Russell

thought the question now brought before the House the most ill-advised, and the most imprudent that could possibly have been brought before them. When there were so many seditious libels throughout the country—when in the papers on their table was found a resolution, that after the 1st of January, 1820, no obedience ought to be paid to parliament, why should this passage be selected for the judgment of the House? If notice was to be taken of every libel, why was there no notice of the resolution he had mentioned, of similar resolutions at other meetings, of the "Medusa" and the "Republican," every one of which was an offence against the privileges of the House? But the House had the power of prosecuting all libels, either by itself or by the attorney-general; and it had the power of passing laws to prevent or to punish the repetition of those libels. But, to cull out one of the many seditious libellers, and to be satisfied with passing bills respecting the rest, was a measure which did not become the justice of that House. The privileges of the House had been intended, as the hon. baronet had truly said, to protect members against violations of justice which might be committed by the officers of the crown. But cases of privilege were now-little else than complaints of libels in, newspapers. Extraordinary cases might call for the notice of the House; but they ought never to be noticed unless they should be such as the House could not pass over. The passage now brought forward had appeared in a publication out of doors, among many others at least as objectionable. To save time, he would move as an amendment, that Robert Stoddart be called to the bar on the 18th of January next.

Mr. Douglas Kinnaird

said, that as only an isolated passage had been read from the pamphlet, doubts might reasonably arise in the minds of hon. members, who had not read the tract from which it had been taken, as to whether it was or was not libellous [A laugh]. Having read the whole of the pamphlet himself, he should take the liberty of stating, that he was satisfied in his own mind, that, looking at the entire context of the passage complained of, any conclusion might be drawn from it, rather than that come to by the hon. member on the floor; namely, that it was meant as an excitement to rebellion, and that its object was, to instigate the people to pull out the members by the ears, lock up their doors; and fling the key of the House into the Thames. What was the real meaning of the passage? That fear of the laws, and hot love, restrained the people. It was a proposition that might be stated of any law that was not mild, but coercive. That was his impression. If that impression—namely, that fear, not love, restrained the people—was not supported by reasons and arguments, it was only an unfounded conclusion, not a libel.

Lord Nugent

begged to say three words Hi explanation of the vote he meant to give. He should vote for the original motion. He concurred so far with his noble friend behind him, as to think that his majesty's ministers had criminally neglected their duty, in not instructing the attorney-general to prosecute other libels perhaps more atrocious. But that was no reason why he should not vote for the present motion, when he saw the privileges of the House so outrageously attacked in the face of the country. The hon. member who had last night mentioned this publication had ascribed it to a particular individual. He would not do so, but he would say that it bore internal proofs, in its style and mode of reasoning, that it proceeded from the pen of a person who was a worthy victim for the House to strike. The motion was not for committing to the custody of the sergeant at arms, or to Newgate. The spirit of the object was, after ascertaining from the printer who the author was, to direct the attorney-general to lay both the law and the facts before a jury of the country. He was not willing to give up the privileges of the Houses connected, as he believed them to be, with the rights and liberties of the people. These were not times in which those privileges ought to be surrendered or qualified. He was aware of the obloquy, and misrepresentation to which he should be exposed by his conduct on this occasion; but if he were not prepared to suffer obloquy and misrepresentation in the discharge of his duty, he was not qualified to do that duty. So long as they were there, in a House constituted as that was—he would that some of them were there on other terms—but so long as they were there, they must support their dignity and their privileges.

Mr. Courtenay

said, that his sole object at present was, to call the publisher to the bar. He did not pledge himself afterwards to any particular line of conduct.

Mr. Wilberforce

said, that although he had been many years a member of that House, he was not well acquainted with privileges or precedents, but he was led by instinctive feelings to join in censuring what attacked the substance of dignity and authority in parliament. The passage now read appeared to him a gross and scandalous libel, not only against the privileges, but against the existence of the House. He had seldom been more surprised than when he heard an hon. member say that any person might doubt whether this passage was a libel or not. It was the nature of the moral faculty, as well as of our natural feeling, to doubt the existence of a weaker ingredient, when accustomed to a stronger ingredient. It might be so with the hon. member, who was perhaps so much accustomed to strong libels, that he doubted whether this was a libel. The hon. member had explained his meaning by saying, that it was only an assertion that fear restrained the people more than love. Mr. Hume, in one of his celebrated essays, had remarked, that "all government was founded on opinion, opinion of interest or opinion of right." It would have been absurd to suppose that Mr. Hume should have been called to the bar of the House for that expression. But all depended on the terms used, and the tendency of the language. If it were said, that the passage contained nothing but the truth, it must at least be admitted that the truth had been very boldly expressed. The expression was, that the members of that House might, on a certain supposition, be dragged out by the ears. He could not conceive a more plain and open incitement, couched in grosser language; he could imagine no words more likely to produce the effect of carrying the doctrine which they imported into execution. A disposition to insult the House was too easily infused, and if it was treated with mildness, would only gain strength and become inveterate. He had, indeed, heard of a story which represented that a threat to kick a person down stairs ought to be understood only as a hint of disapprobation. It certainly appeared to him, that there were strong grounds for the House animadverting on this subject, though he was by no means decided as to the most eligible course of proceeding. It evidently was not a case with regard to which the House ought to recede from the vindication of its dignity: for no distinction in favour of this particular case could, he thought, be made out. The hon. member had, in fact, conceded that the publication was libellous. Now, what difference was there between a prosecution, and a carrying of the law into effect? Still it was uncertain which was the most expedient mode by which the House ought to maintain its authority, and assert those privileges which were not established for its own sake, but for the interests of those whom it represented. But wherever it was possible consistently with those privileges, he deemed it more advisable to address the Crown, praying that it would direct the attorney-general to institute a prosecution. The only question with him was, whether this case was within that general rule, or whether it did not call upon the House to mark its displeasure, by the exertion of its own powers. He was sure that he was influenced by no personal feelings in what he now said; and he was equally sure that a great part of the people took an interest in the credit of that House. This was at least the impression made on his mind by all he had seen and heard; and he recollected that at the time when he represented the county of York, and was known to entertain sentiments favourable to a moderate reform, the majority of his constituents differed from him on that subject. They did not, however, wish him to defer implicitly to their opinions; for they knew that he would not be a slave; no, not even to the county of York. No doubt could exist in his mind upon this point—that it was the duty of the House to vindicate itself from contumely and outrage. He was willing to distinguish between loose and unguarded expressions, and those which appeared to convey an advised and deliberate meaning. He would not refer to the name of the supposed author; but when he heard it said that the context might lead to another construction of the passage, he could not help observing, that the hon. member who urged this consideration would hardly have been so wanting to the defence which he undertook, as not to read that context, if he thought it would really assist his argument. His not doing so was, in fact, a presumption against him. It gave him sincere regret to find language of the same kind addressed almost every day to those who had no means of avoiding the delusion, and principles disseminated which would tend to the overthrow of all that was venerable amongst us. They who so addressed themselves to the public had no intention of becoming martyrs to their own doctrines: their love of liberty was not so ardent as to expose them to any serious peril; but, whilst they kept themselves within the boundaries of safety, they inflamed and incited others to give a loose to the worst of passions, exhibiting all that was contemptible for baseness, with all that was odious for wickedness, and trifling with the security as well as the greatness and renown of their country.

Mr. Douglas Kinnaird

said, that the reason he had abstained from reading any part of the pamphlet was, because he would not presume to read the whole of it to the House, without which a fair judgment of its object could not be formed. The passage which had made such an impression on the House was only an incidental one, not contributing to the author's main or professed object. He did not profess to institute an express examination into the state of the House of Commons, but only entitled his pamphlet "A Trifling Mistake," &c.—The hon. member was prevented from continuing by cries of "Spoke, spoke!"

Mr. Hume

rose, amidst continued calls of "question!" and symptoms of impatience. He said, he was sorry to differ from many hon. members as to the best mode of proceeding in this case. In the case of the complaint made last session, by the right hon. the president of the board of control against an individual for misrepresentation, the House passed a resolution declaratory of the offence, before they called the printer to the bar. He was aware that he was addressing an impatient House, and should therefore merely add, that he thought the course which the House seemed disposed to pursue was erroneous.

Mr. Wynn

was perfectly ready to agree to the original resolution, and at once to state his opinion that the language in question was a gross and glaring libel, and a direct incitement to the use of violence against the House. He should not follow the hon. baronet through all that reasoning which consisted in a denial of their privileges, and the reiteration of an argument which the hon. baronet had already carried into the courts below, and subsequently into the other House of parliament. The House of Lords had confirmed those privileges though he did not mean to admit that they had not before stood on ground sufficiently firm. With regard to the relation of this passage to the context, he must say, that having read the pamphlet, he thought the farther that context was examined, the more necessary would it appear that the dignity of the House and the authority of the law should be vindicated in this instance. He would now merely read part of the concluding passage, which seemed to him to contain an open incitement to violence and to a resistance of the law.—The hon. member then read the following extract from page 52:—"My determination, for one, is fixed: if those who have the power attempt to deprive me of the inalienable right of meeting my fellow countrymen, by letting loose a soldier at me, without the warning of an act of parliament, I will resist him if I can; if they do give me the warning of an act of parliament, I will break it if I can. I consider the object exactly the same, the injustice equally calling for resistance; the mere additional ceremony is not worth the statute-paper; the time, the means, the occasion, must of course make part of the prudential question, which every man must determine for himself, and concerning which I do not wish to be his prompter." Could any man of common sense doubt the import and meaning of this passage? He must confess he could not concur with the argument in favour of a prosecution. Upon this subject he adhered to the principle maintained both by Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke, whom he regarded as the greatest authorities on all points of constitutional law—that the House lowered its tone, and weakened its authority, whenever it sought assistance from other courts. As to the objection, of the House acting both as accuser and judge, what was there strange in that? Was not every court invested with an authority to issue process, and if not obeyed, to treat it as a contempt? Had they not power to compel a party in such a case to answer interrogatories? and was a power exercised by all the minor courts in the kingdom to be denied to the supreme court of parliament? He knew that some persons thought it better to let such offences pass unnoticed; but, for his own part, he doubted the policy of thus manifesting their contempt. If the courts of law were charged with injustice and partiality, or if the judges were openly accused of acting with no other motive than that of currying favour with the court, would not the libellers be punished? Could their functions be discharged, or their authority maintained, if such attacks were suffered to be made with impunity? Why, then, should the privileges of that House, which were held on behalf of the people, be alone subjected to insult and invasion? The House must recollect the many errors and atrocities to which a breach of their privileges had led. How often had parliament been misled by giving way to an influence out of doors. The attainder of lord Strafford was procured by means of placards distributed about the streets. He agreed that they ought now to put out of view the individual reputed to be the author. But his supposed rank and situation might become important matters to be considered. The offence had, it was clear, not been committed unadvisedly, and the circumstances, to which he had just referred constituted a strong ground for separating tin's from the great majority of such cases.

Lord Nugent

observed, that he had been misconceived by his hon. relation who had just sat down. What he had said was, that he did not think it always expedient to pursue the same course, and that there might be cases in which the House might act incautiously in trusting to the Crown for directing a prosecution.

The question was then put, and the original resolution being carried, Robert Stodart was ordered to be in attendance on Monday next.