§ The order of the day being read, and Mr. Wyndham Quin attending in his place, according to order,
§ Sir Robert Wilson
rose, and spoke to following effect:—
Sir; The Petition which I hold in my hand is, that which in obedience to the wishes of this House, I withdrew on a late occasion, until the hon. member whose conduct is the subject of it—Mr. Wyndham Quin—should have sufficient notice on the subject, and should be able to attend in his place, in order to hear the allegations of the petition, and to reply to them. As that hon. gentleman is now present, it is my arduous, and I say it most unaffectedly, my distressing duty, to produce the charges which this petition makes against him. I can assure the hon. gentleman, that in the intermediate time during which the petition has been in my bands, I have suffered no partial communication to be made of its contents, calculated to prejudice the minds of those who ought to administer impartial justice on the subject. And it is but due to the petitioner and his friends, to state, that in all their correspondence and communica- 614 tions with me they have evinced the most earnest wish that no political feeling should be allowed to mix itself up with a transaction which was to become the subject of judicial decision. I regret extremely, that the report of what formerly took place in the House on that subject was so inaccurate, as to be calculated to mislead the hon. gentleman, both in the matter of charge which the petition contains, and in the course which I had prescribed to myself on the subject. When I recapitulate, as I am about to do, that which I said on presenting this petition in the first instance, the House will, I am sure, recognise the substance, and even the words, which I used on that occasion; as I shall only add a short statement of what has taken place since that period. I beg the House will bear in mind, that I am only the vehicle of the accusation against this hon. gentleman. At the same time I roust say, that after my knowledge of the character of the petitioner and of the witnesses with which he was prepared to support his allegations, and after inspecting the correspondence which passed between the parties, I should not have been justified, had I not persevered in calling the most serious attention of parliament on the subject. Sir, I before stated, that in July last the hon. gentleman was appointed custos rotulorum of the county he represents. In consequence of that appointment the office of clerk of the peace for that county fell, or was presumed by the hon. gentleman to fall, under his patronage. In Ireland, the clerk of the peace is not only an officer ministerial to the civil and criminal judicature of the country, but he is an officer charged with the care of the whole of the documents relative to the election of representatives. The value of this office is 800l. a year. The petitioner, Thomas William Grady, states that he had held it in the county of Limerick for about fifteen years; but that being much afflicted with the gout, the duties of the office had been exercised by a deputy. Soon after the appointment of the hon. gentleman to be custos rotulorum of the county of Limerick, he gave the petitioner notice—I believe in a personal communication—that he should be obliged to deprive him of his situation, but that he was disposed to allow him 200l. a year out of the salary of the office. This proposition the petitioner rejected. The hon. gentleman then went to England. He returned 615 to Ireland September, when Mr. Carew Smyth a, gentleman at the Irish bar, waited upon him in Dublin, on behalf of the petitioner, in order to ascertain the hon. gentleman's determination. The hon. gentleman, at that interview, stated Mr. Carew Smyth, that he was obliged to give the appointment of clerk of the peace to Mr. Richard Smyth, of Limerick, not for his life, but only during his pleasure, by which proceeding he should secure the payment by Mr. Richard Smyth of such annuities as he might direct him to pay; and that it was his intention to make him give the petitioner 200l. a year, on condition that the petitioner would support the hon. member in his election—not only with his own vote, but with the votes of a hundred freeholders, who were registered among his tenantry. To this Mr. Carew Smyth replied, that he did not come to argue the case with the hon. gentleman, but that he would convey the whole of the proposition to the petitioner; observing, at the same time, that he considered it to be illegal and inadmissible. The hon. gentleman said, in reply, that he did not see the thing in the light in which it was viewed by Mr. Carew Smyth; that he ought to receive an equivalent for the patronage which he relinquished; and that he was determined, in short, to have a quid pro quo. On the next day, the hon. gentleman, accompanied by Mr. Thomas Goold (a respectable barrister, the hon. gentleman's confidential adviser, and whose name I am very sorry to be obliged to introduce in this statement), waited on Mr. Carew Smyth. There the proposition made on the preceding day by the hon. gentleman was repeated. Mr. Carew Smyth urged the same arguments which he had used at the first meeting, but consented to transmit the proposition to the petitioner. After the departure of the hon. gentleman and his friend, Mr. Goold, Mr. Carew Smyth made a minute of the conversation that had passed, which minute he sent to the hon. gentleman for his approbation. The next day the hon. gentleman and Mr. Goold again waited on Mr. Carew Smyth, when the hon. gentleman delivered the minute into Mr. Smith's hands, observing that it was perfectly Correct, with the exception of two or three words, which, although of some importance, by no means changed the character of the transaction. Mr. Carew Smyth then desired, the hon. gentleman 616 to sign the minute. To this proposition Mr. Goold objected, not considering it proper that a member of parliament should put his name to a paper, the tendency of which was to diminish the emoluments of an officer ministerial to justice; but that he (Mr. Goold) should always be ready to testify the validity of the transaction. With the permission of the House, I will read this minute. It is to be observed, that Mr. Carew Smith had authority from the hon. gentleman to transmit it to Mr. Grady, so that the publicity it has acquired is no breach of professional confidence on his part. The minute is as follows:—"Mr. Carew Smyth stated, that he waited on Mr. Quin, as the friend of Mr. Thomas William Grady, to know his determination as to the appointment of clerk of the peace, Mr. Windham stated, that he determined on appointing Mr. R. Smith to that office, upon an express understanding that Mr. Thomas William Grady was to receive 200l. a year out of the profits of the office, and that on any failure or want of due punctuality in paying this yearly sum to Mr. Thomas William Grady, that Mr. R. Smith should be dismissed from his office. Mr. Windham Quin further stated, that he expected Mr. Thomas William Grady should continue politically connected with him in the county of Limerick, so long as he continued to receive the 200l. a year out of the office, but that Mr. Thomas William Grady was at perfect liberty at any time to relinquish the 200l. a year, and dispose of his interest as he pleased." Through the words "and to dispose of his interest as he pleased," a line was drawn, they having been objected to, as I have already stated, by the hon. member, and these words were substituted "and separate his political interest from Mr. Windham Quin." "Mr. Carew Smyth stated, that he would immediately communicate the above to Mr. Thomas William Grady, whom he should at the same time advise not to come to any decision till he had consulted with his father, but should request of him to come to a determination as speedy as possible, as to accepting or rejecting, the above arrangement as soon as possible, after being made acquainted with his father's sentiments, which determination should be communicated by Mr. Carew Smyth to Mr. Quin." Accordingly, Mr. Carew Smyth immediately transmitted the minute which I have just read to the petitioner, who replied, that 617 considering the proposition to be a public offence, he not only rejected it, but was determined to bring it under the consideration of parliament. At the same time a legal notice was served on Mr. Carew Smyth enjoining him not to suffer the original minute to pass out of his hands. On the receipt of this answer from the petitioner, Mr. Carew Smyth immediately set off for Adare, the country seat of the hon. gentleman's father, and communicated it to him. The matter became very public in the county of Limerick, and created so much alarm in the mind of Mr. Daniel Gabbett, the law agent to the hon. gentleman, that he went immediately to the hon. gentleman, and stated to him the indiscretion of having originated such a proposition and the serious consequences that might ensue from it. In consequence of this remonstrance, on the 9th of October, Mr. Daniel Gabbett came over to the petitioner's residence with a note from the hon. gentleman, which he gave the petitioner in the presence of a gentleman (Mr. Mansergh) well known in the county of Limerick. The note was as follows:—"Mr. Grady may vote as he pleases; and if he choose to vote against me, I will not on that account deprive him of his situation. W. W. Q." At that time the petitioner and his father made no answer to this communication, but afterwards understanding that by acceding to the proposed terms, they should be considered guilty of a collusion in and subject to the penalties attached to the original transaction, the petitioner determined to pursue the course which he has adopted; and in consequence the petitioner's father soon after, on the 15th of October, gave notice to the hon. gentleman, that it was the petitioner's intention to bring the matter before the House of Commons immediately on the meeting of parliament. After this, there was a correspondence between the parties, which did not close until the 5th of December, at which period no change had taken place in the petitioner's determination. Such, Sir, are the facts and allegations contained in this petition; which facts and allegations the petitioner says he can prove by documents, and by the evidence of respectable witnesses. He prays that the House will take the subject into their most serious consideration: that they will vindicate their own honour, secure the freedom of the elective franchise, and administer justice towards those who have been engaged in the prac- 618 tices of which his complains [Hear, hear!]
The Petition was then brought up and read as follows:To the Right Hon. and Honourable the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of Great Britain and Ireland, in the present Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of Thomas William Grady, esq. of Belmont, in the County of Limerick, and in that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland.Sheweth, That the honourable Wyndham Wyndham Quin, representative in parliament for the county of Limerick (for which county he stood on three contested elections) was, in the month of July last, appointed custos rotulorum thereof, by the present lord lieutenant of Ireland, by virtue of which appointment he became entitled to appoint the clerk of the peace for said county:That in Ireland, the office of clerk of the peace is not as in England held during good behaviour, but is at the arbitrary disposal of the custos rotulorum:That the office of clerk of the peace in Ireland is more important, as more extensively ministerial to justice than in England, because in Ireland it is ministerial as well to the civil as to the criminal justice of the county:That the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, perceiving at the last general election that his popularity had considerably decreased, found it necessary to avail himself, for election purposes, of the patronage he so obtained from government, and broke up the emoluments of the said office of clerk of the peace into lots, in order to distribute the several lots among such persons commanding an influence in the county as he knew, or presumed would, undertake, in consideration thereof, to support him on any future contest, appointing them only during pleasure, in order to maintain his control over them for those purposes:That having superseded the former clerk of the peace, he appointed a person of the name of Richard Smith during pleasure to that office (the said Richard Smith having a number of freeholders at his disposal), and this appointment was made under an express stipulation with the said Richard Smith, that he the said Richard Smith should pay out of the perquisites of the said office such annuity or annuities as he the said Wyndham Wyndnam. Quin should think proper to appoint, and in default of the punctual payments of such annuities, that he the said Richard Smith was to be removed from his office; upon which terms it was accepted of by the said Richard Smith:That your petitioner and his tenantry, consisting of about one hundred registered freeholders, had hitherto supported the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin upon all his contests for the county; but the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, finding his situation as can- 619 didate now more precarious than it had been, though it expedient, if possible, to secure the future support of your petitioner and his tenantry by a deed of bargain and sale:For this purpose, on the 21st of September last, the said Wyndharn Wyndham Quin (in person), proposed to Carew Smyth, of the city of Dublin, esq., barrister at law (your petitioner's law adviser) in behalf of your petitioner, to grant to your petitioner 200l. a-year but of the perquisites of the said office of clerk of the peace, in consideration of your petitioner's putting himself and his tenantry at the perpetual disposal on all elections of him the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, subject to a power of revocation, as to the said 200l. a-year, if your petitioner or his tenantry should at any time fail in voting for the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin:That the said Carew Smyth, in behalf of your petitioner, objected to the said proposal as reprehensible; whereupon the said Wyndnam Wyndham Quin replied, that nothing could be more equitable, inasmuch as to obtain your petitioner's compliance with those terms, he the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin consented to part with a valuable portion of his patronage, and that he was determined to part, with no portion thereof without obtaining a quid pro quo:That the said Carew Smyth, to avoid all misrepresentation, suggested the necesssity of a written instrument from the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, importing the precise tenor of the contract which he the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin had thus solicited, to which the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin assented; and the said Carew Smyth having reduced the tenor thereof to the form of a minute, or written instrument, delivered the same to the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin to deliberate upon, and after mature consideration, to declare whether it fully and fairly comprised his intentions:That accordingly, on the next day, the 22nd of September, the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, attended by Thomas Goold, of the city of Dublin, esq., one of his majesty's counsel (the confidential lawyer of him the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin) came to the house of the said Carew Smyth, when the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin with his own hand delivered to the said Carew Smyth the said instrument in writing, revised and corrected, approved of, and testified by the said Thomas Goold, as the basis of that contract which; he the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin sought, establish; and comprising all the terms, conditions, and stipulations hereinbefore recited; for transferring 200200l.. a-year to your petitioner, in consideration of your petitioner's investing him the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, with an absolute dominion over the future votes and free will of one hundred freemen of the said county; and which instrument, as revised and altered and altered, by the said Wyndham Whdham Quin and the said Tho- 620 mas Goold, was to the tenor and effect following:'That the said Richard Smith was to be appointed clerk of the peace, upon an express understanding between him and the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, that the said Thomas William Grady was to receive 200l. a-year out of the profits of the said office; and that, on any failure or want of due punctuality in paying this yearly sum to the said Thomas William Grady, the said Richard Smith should be dismissed from his said office; and that the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin expected that the said Thomas William Grady should continue politically connected with him, the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, so long as he the said Thomas William Grady continued to receive the said 200l.. a-year out of the said office, but that the said Thomas William Grady was at perfect liberty at any time, upon relinquishing the said 200200l., a year, to dispose of his interest as he pleased:'Your petition humbly shows, that the said written instrument is now in the hands of the said Carew Smyth, subject to such order for production as this honourable House shall think proper to make:Your petitioner shows, that the said proposal having been communicated to him at the instance of the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, he instantly rejected the same with indignation, and feeling himself bound by every constitutional principle to assert the freedom of election, which had been thus invaded, the high privileges of the representatives of the people, which had been thus trampled upon, and the pure administration of justice in his county, which had been thus tampered with, resolved to submit the whole transaction against the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, and the said Thomas Goold, to the august and elevated jurisdiction of this honourable House:That Daniel Gabbett of the city of Limerick, esq., law agent to the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, being apprized of such your petitioner's intentions, thought it his duty to expostulate with the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, upon the nature of the proposal he had so made to your petitioner, and cautioning him of the danger he thereby incurred, recommended him to endeavour to rescue himself from the consequences, by offering to your petitioner the said 200l. a-year independent of any pledge for election service:That the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, being apparently alarmed at the aforesaid suggestions, wrote the following note to the said Daniel Gabbett, in order to its being shown by him to your petitioner; viz.'Mr. Grady may vote as he pleases; if 'he chooses to vote against me, Twill not on 'that account deprive him of his situation.'W. W QUIZ.'But your petitioner; being advised that it would be improper to meddle with the perquisites of an office, ministerial to justice, in 621 which office your petitioner had no property, and over which he had no control; and the offer itself, under the circumstances, and at the time in which it was made, had so much the complexion of a Bride to your petitioner for compounding an offence against the state, your petitioner rejected the said 200l. a-year, though now unconditionally offered:Your petitioner humbly begs leave to refer to the 1st William and Mary, c. 21, sect. 8, by which statute, the said offences so committed by the said Wyndham Wyndham Quin, and Thomas Goold, are declared to be corrupt and criminal; and your petitioner most humbly begs leave to refer to the case of reach of privilege acted upon in the last session by the late House of Commons; there it appeared that Thomas Ferguson, an exciseman of Lanarkshire, offered a place to an elector of that county upon the same conditions as in the present instance (that is to say), on conditions that he would vote for and support the interest of a certain noble lord; and there, that House asserted its high privileges, by chastising the said Ferguson:Yet the said Ferguson was not a member of that House, whose high privileges he invaded, nor the son of a peer, and hereditary pillar of that state whose best foundations he undermined, neither was he the first judicial magistrate in his county, nor an office broker in his own county court; and though he did invade the freedom of election, and the privileges of that House, he neither subverted the administration of justice, nor rendered his office instrumental to his guilt:Your petitioner therefore humbly prays, That such order shall be made for inquiring into the allegations of this his humble petition, as to the wisdom and dignity of the House shall seem expedient; and your petitioner pledges himself to prove the truth of every fact here alleged, under the peril of incurring the severest censure of this honourable House; and your petitioner humbly observes, that this his petition is not intended to bear, and cannot bear upon the merits of the last election for said county, which took place in June last, whereas all the facts here alleged were committed at a subsequent period, and in contemplation of such future election or elections, as might thereafter take place for the said county of Limerick. And your petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c. THOS. WILLM. GRADY.
§ The Petition having been read,
§ Mr. Speaker
; —Long as I have had the honour of a seat in this House, I have very seldom offered myself to your notice; and of this I am sure, that I have never done so without experiencing much pain and embarrassment. But, Sir, I should not tell the truth were I not now to say, 622 that I have looked forward With the greatest anxiety to this moment, when I might rise in my place, and declare to the House of Commons, that the charges in that petition areas ungrounded and malicious as were ever attempted to be palmed on a public assembly, or as were ever aimed at the happiness and peace of an individual. Sir, I do most unequivocally and scornfully declare, that that petition does not speak the language of truth. If the House will indulge me for a few moments, I will make a plain statement of facts. It is distinctly admitted, that the circumstances detailed in the petition have no reference whatever to the last election. After that election, I, in the exercise of the undoubted right which I possessed, removed the petitioner from the situation of clerk of the peace. Sir, I will not pretend to conceal that there was another gentleman who appeared to me have stronger claims to that situation, and to be better calculated to fill it with advantage to the public. The question has nothing to do with politics—it has nothing to do with the politics of the county of Limerick; for both the petitioner and the gentleman by whom he was succeeded, uniformly supported me from the first moment at which I became a candidate for the representation of that county. Sir, if the petitioner had been an old servant of the public—if he had been for many years engaged in discharging the duties of a laborious office, the case would have been very different. But what is the fact? It is true, that the petitioner held the situation of clerk of the peace for the county of Limerick for fifteen years. But will the House believe that he is now only three and twenty years of age, and consequently that he must have been appointed when he was about seven or eight years old! [Hear, hear!]. The truth is, that the petitioner never exercised a single function of his office. Every thing was done by a deputy—as underling clerk. I do not pretend to conceal my opinion that the important office in question ought to be discharged in person by the individual by whom it is held; and in making the appointment' which I have made of a successor to the petitioner, I did select a gentleman who could discharge, and who does discharge, the duties of that office. Sir, I have already said, that the petitioner always supported me hi my elections. Towards him, therefore, I could have no unkind 623 feelings. When he found that he was to be removed, he told me with an emotion in which I am not ashamed to say, I sympathised with him, that it would be his ruin were no other provision made for him. He even went so far as to say, that he would blow out his brains. Under the impression of this declaration, on the part of the petitioner, I was prepared to feel the full force of suggestions by persons who were interested for him that probably some provision might be made for him out of the emoluments of the successor, to his office; an idea that had not previously occurred to myself. My first step, after receiving these suggestions, was, to take legal advice, in order to ascertain, whether they could be properly complied with. Being satisfied that a compliance with them would not be against the law, I communicated to the petitioner, that I was happy to inform him an arrangement was made in conformity to his wishes; and I believe I added, that I hoped he would not now blow his brains out, as the provision, the amount of which I stated, was greater than he had perhaps entertained any expectation of. When I made that communication, I very little expected the answer that I received. "What!" said my correspondent, "I take 200l.! No. Give me 300l., and that I shall consider sufficient." Now, Sir, when I state to the House that the value of the office in question is not more than half that which in the petition it is described to be, I am sure they will think that I should not have been justified in listening to this unreasonable demand [Hear, hear!]. The petitioner says, he refused to accede to the proposition which I made to him. In a few days after the occurrence of the circumstances which I have mentioned, I distinctly understood from the friends of the petitioner, that he was completely satisfied with the arrangement which I had proposed, and with that understanding I went over in a few days, to England, abstaining from taking any decided step on the subject, until the1 petitioner should have ample time to satisfy himself with respect to the extent of his claims. On my return to lreland, I received a letter from Mr. Carew Smyth) urging and intreating me, in the most anxious manner, to allow him to wait on me in Dublin, on the subject of the arrangement respecting the petitioner. Having made up my mind on that subject, I wished for no farther discussion upon it, 624 but I replied to Mr. Carew Smyth, that I should certainly be happy to see him but that I was completely determined with respect to the subject on which he wished to communicate with me.—Not withstanding this intimation, Mr. Carew Smyth persevered in his resolution of calling on me, and the subject was discussed by us over and over again. Sir, the House is told in the petition, that Mr. Carew Smyth subsequently delivered to me, for my approbation, a minute of our conversation on that occasion. The fact is, that Mr. Carew Smyth sent under cover to me a minute (I dare say that which is quoted in the petition), and in a few hours after the receipt of it, when I had read it, and seen what it was, I took the trouble to go myself to Mr. Carew Smyth, to give it to him, and to tell him, which I did, in the presence of a third person, that it did not contain my sentiments; that I would not have any thing to do with it; that Mr. Grady was free to vote for whom he pleased; that I would make no such compact with him; that he was "free as air" [Hear, hear!]. The petitioner says I adopted that minute How could I adopt it, when I returned it? How could I adopt it unless I signed it and retained at least a copy? Sir, I gave it back to Mr. Carew Smyth, and I kept no copy of it [Hear, hear!}. The next day I went down into the country. The petitioner came to me, and said that he had been informed by Mr. Carew Smyth that I attached to the annuity which he was to receive the stipulation that he should vote for me. A neighbouring gentleman was with me, and in the presence of that gentleman I told the petitioner, that if Mr. Carew Smyth had so informed him, Mr. Carew Smyth was utterly wrong, and that he had no authority from me for such a communication I told him that he must not give credit to any such statement; that I would make no such compact; and that he was free to vote for whom he pleased. When the petitioner pressed the subject farther, I would not listen to him. And alter this. Sir I am to be brought there and accused of having entered into a corrupt bargain [Hear, hear!]!. On a subsequent day I had a communication made to me from the nearest friend of the petitioner, that the impression on his at liberty to vote for whom he pleased, that permission was capable of being construed into an impli- 625 cation foreign to its apparent tenor. I immediately replied, that I wanted not his vote; that he might vote for whom he pleased; and that if he were to vote in my very face it would not make the slightest difference. But, Sir, it is alleged in this petition, that I did this under the fear of a parliamentary inquiry into ray conduct. The House shall judge with what truth this allegation is made. I declare to them upon my honour, as a gentleman and a member of parliament, that at the period in question, I had never the most distant insinuation of such a thing. Mr. Carew Smyth never hinted it to me, nor did any one else. Sir, the petitioner says, that he rejected, with scorn and indignation (those are his words) my offer to him, and that he expressed his determination to bring the matter before parliament. He was indignant at the insult offered to his own honour and the honour of parliament! Sir, if the House will allow me, I will read the letter which I received from the petitioner in answer to the communication made to him. It is dated the 10th of October, and is as follows:—"Dear Sir; I have just had your very handsome offer communicated to me. I accept it for myself, although I must in the first instance consult my cousin, that being a compliment I must pay him.—I am, dear sir, your's, &c. T. W. GRADY."
This was the indignation—this was the scorn which the petitioner affected to feel at my proposition! Sir, I have already distinctly disclaimed the imputation attempted to be cast upon me. I have stated, that when I said I would have nothing to do with the vote of the petitioner, a third person was present, whose evidence will bear me out in that assertion, But, if the House will allow me, I will let them into the secret history of this transaction. The ostensible object of the petitioner and his friends is evident. I will show the House what their real object is. The father of the petitioner lives at Boulogne, having some time ago quitted Ireland for reasons which it is not necessary for me to mention. On the 19th of October—and mark I have stated, that on the 10th, the petitioner wrote to me the letter which I have just read, expressive of his satisfaction. On the 19th of October I received the first of a series of threatening letters from the father of the petitioner. It is couched in these terms—
"Sir:—Underneath you have a copy of a letter written by me to a leading 626 Member of Opposition, with whom I have been the last week in London, who furnished me with extracts and precedents from the Commons' Journals, for the purpose of enabling me to proceed in the business I have undertaken, and to whose advice I have entirely committed myself I deprecate the idea of threatening, but as I have often done before to your advantage, I offer you advice. I advise you to restore my son to his office of which you deprived him, and to appoint him to it for life before the 1st of next January. I hope your answer will inform me that you mean to take my advice. It I receive no answer, I shall consider that you reject it, and act accordingly. Yours &c. THOMAS GRADY.'
The letter subjoined, and addressed to a leading member of the opposition, paints me in very black colours. It compares me to the figures of Sin and Death, standing at the gates of Hell [a laugh and cries of Name, name! in the midst of which, sir R. Wilson said, "It is clearly not myself."—A loud laugh]. Then, he says [calls of Read, read!], I shall now-read the whole of the letter, though I Had intended only to read those parts of it which I conceived to be most material in illustrating the motives which gave rise to this charge. Then he says—" That night Mr. Carew Smyth gave me a copy of the famous and memorable minute, which, when you delivered into his hands you delivered to him the death warrant of your political existence." The House would see pretty clearly from this, what were the motives which gave rise to this charge. It is not for me to say this charge originated in a conspiracy against me, for the purpose of extorting from me the office of clerk of the peace; it is for me to state the facts, and to leave to the House to draw the proper inferences from these facts. He goes on—"A member of no common note came over here to me (that is, to Boulogne), in order to discuss with me the other matter at large, and bringing me over an encouragements from the great body of the opposition." Sir, I should not do justice to myself, did I not now state to the House what was the feeling produced on my mind by such a denunciation of the hostility of the opposition towards me What meaning did this assertion convey but this?—You have made yourself obnoxious, perhaps, to the opposition members of the House, and they would gladly avail themselves of every 627 opportunity which presents itself to run you down. No, Sir, I looked with contempt on the threat, and the calumnious allegations which it conveyed against that part of the House towards which I Kan politically opposed. I had such confidence in the justice and impartiality of the hon. members alluded to, that I felt, if my life and honour were at stake, I would as soon put myself on the opposition side 6f the House, as on the verdict of a jury, or as on any body of men on earth? He then, Sir, goes on to tell me what course he intends to pursue. "I will first call the attention of the British public to the subject by letters in the public Journals. I will keep the attention of the public alive to the subject, by paragraphs from time to time; and this can be done by me with the greatest ease, without my stirring from my fire-side, in consequence of the arrangements which I have made for that purpose." At the close of this letter, my day of grace was extended from the 12th of November to the 5th of December. The House will see what, in my situation, I should have been guilty of, had I acceded to the offer of the petitioner. Where was, then, the regard for the purity of parliament, and the fear of violating its privileges, of which he boasts? The writer of this letter said he Would wait till the fifth of December, before he took any step in the business. Before I State to the House what was the step which took in consequence of this letter, allow me to observe, what step I might have taken, if I had the least cause to fear the denunciation of the writer. I his it yet my power to restore the petitioner to the situation which was the object of his wishes; and if I had the power, what course would I naturally have pursued, if I had had the slightest cause to fear the consequence of any charge which could be brought against me in parliament? But I knew that I stood perfectly clear of all grounds of charge whatever. I knew that I could put myself on the judgment of the House without the slightest apprehension. Sir, I put an end at once to this correspondence; and as I have been charged with acting under the fear of a parliamentary inquiry, I will now read the short answer which I returned to this letter—"Your letter of the 19th of October I received; but I should have answered it only by a contemptuous silence, had I not felt it possible that the person who wrote that letter was suffering at the time 628 from the effects of vexation and disappointment; and as I could hardly conceive that any serious intention was entertained of carrying into execution the design which it announced, ray pity prevailed over my resentment. But your letter of the 18th, at once opened my eyes, and it only remains for me to state to you now, as strongly as language can express it, that I defy you to the charge. I tell you that I fear you not—my only fear is, least you should not persevere in bringing forward this charge—not that I conceive there can be any merit in gaining s victory over you, for poor is that victory which is gained over a man who openly and unequivocally avows, that he is not guided by purity of motive. I again repeat, that I defy you to the charge" Having now stated the whole of my case, with your permission, I shall now leave the House. [Loud and repeated cheerings from all parts of the House.]
§ Sir R. Wilson
said, that before the hon. member left the House, he begged to assure him, that he knew nothing of the petitioner, and had never heard of the petition till one week before his presenting it. He conceived, that, in justice to himself, he was bound to state this, lest it might be supposed that any of the letters alluded to in those which had been read by the hon. member were addressed to himself. With respect to the hon. member, it was not his duty, and it certainly was not his inclination, to endeavour now to weaken the impression which he had produced on the House He had net sufficient parliamentary experience to guide him in the course of proceeding which it would now be proper to adopt; and therefore he wished to have the sense of the House on the subject. Willing to yield to the suggestions of members of more experience than himself, and to adopt whatever course was most agreeable to the House, he should in the meantime move, that the petition be referred to a committee of privileges.
§ Mr. Peter Moore
thought, that as a charge injurious to the character of the hon. member had: been brought against him, he ought to have an opportunity of clearing away the imputation; and he therefore conceived that an inquiry into the circumstances of the case should be ordered. He did not wish to enter into the subject—he could not do better than imitate die example of his hon. friend, who had said fee did not wish to weaken 629 the impression made on the House by the speech of the hon. member. He should therefore second the motion.
said, that if the allegations of the petition were true, there had been committed one of the greatest breaches of privilege which it was possible to commit—if they were false, this was one of the foulest and most wicked conspiracies that was ever yet brought before the House. It was the duty of the House to hold the petitioner bound to prove his case at the hazard of the severest censure the House could possibly inflict on him; and it was also the duty of the House to inflict the severest censure on him, if he failed to prove his case. He did not wish to trust himself in this stage of the case with expressing any opinion on the subject. reeling himself placed in the situation of a judge, he wished to defer expressing his opinion on the case, till he knew how far that case could or could not be established. It was hardly necessary for him to mention to the House, that when a charge of this nature was met by the fullest and most ample denial, they owed it to the member against whom the charge was brought to give him an opportunity of justifying himself in the eyes of the public—and they owed it to themselves to see, that that enquiry should be conducted in the most solemn manner. He should feel it as highly desirable that this case should be heard at the bar of the House. In the last case of the same nature, namely, that of Mr. Paul against the late Mr. Sheridan, this was the course which was adopted. In the first place, if this case were referred to a committee of privileges, it would be necessary that all the other numerous committees which were sitting, should suspend their sittings, while the committee of privileges was sitting, in order to ensure a sufficient attendance of members; and that alone formed a strong ground of objection to such a course. He conceived, therefore, that the case should be heard at the bar of the House. It was befitting the character of the House, and the character of the person accused, that this charge should be met as publicly as possible. He hoped the House would investigate the subject in a most scrupulous and ample manner, and under that feeling, that they would hold the petitioner bound to prove his allegations. If these allegations were not substantiated, he ex-posed himself to the severest censure. He suggested, 630 therefore, to the hon. mover, that it would be more advisable for him to withdraw his motion, that this case might be heard at the bar of the House. The House would next fix the day most convenient for hearing parties and witnesses. From the distance, some time would be required to bring forward witnesses, and the bringing them here would be attended with considerable expense. He should again repeat, that if the charges were unfounded, the House ought to protect the characters of members from being wantonly sported with. He should therefore move, "That the matter of the complaint be heard at the bar of the House."
§ Sir Robert Wilson
said, he would withdraw his motion, and second the one moved by Mr. Wynn.—This being agreed to,
observed, that it would be proper to appoint as early a day for this as would afford time to bring over the witnesses. Perhaps to-morrow fortnight might be convenient; or it might be proper to ascertain first, whether this time would allow the hon. member (Mr. W. Quin) time to bring forward his witnesses.
conceived himself bound in justice to the hon. member, against whom the charge was brought, to state his conviction, which be believed was shared by the House, that there never was a case which, primâ facie appeared so completely unfounded. There were the best grounds for presuming that this charge attached not the slightest particle of imputation on the hon. member. He had never heard a case which explained itself so fully in every respect. He thought the House would agree with him that nothing more was wanted, than the latter part of the hon. member's statement to prove the justice of his assertion in the beginning of it—that there was not a single sentence of truth in the petition. This, he thought, had been fully proved by the letters which had been read. Those, letters showed so clearly the motives of the parties, that it was impossible for any one who looked into them, not to see that these motives were no other than to extort from the hon. member the office of clerk of the peace for the county of Limerick, and that the purity of parliament was the last thing in their thoughts. The House were putting the hon. member in a situation of discharging what was due to his own honour, though there was not one who heard him who was not convinced 631 that he had defend himself against a charge in with there was not a portion of truth They would go to the inquiry with a feeling that there never was a case that had more the appearance of being completely groundless.
thought that the day proposed would be too early for bringing over the witnesses, and might be very inconvenient, particularly to Mr. Goold, who was of the king's counsel.
did not think that Mr. Goold was personally affected by the charge. He would only be summoned as a witness. He proposed that the day should be fixed for Monday fortnight subject to alteration.
said, he had a few words to offer in reference to what had fallen from the noble lord and an hon. gentleman on his side of the House. He was far from wishing to weaken the impression made upon the House by the statement of the hon. member, and he only rose to say, that the letters were evidently written at a moment when the writer was in a state of great irritation, and subsequently to the decision of the hon. member. He also rose to state, that there was no gentleman at the Irish bar who bore a more respectable character than Mr. Goold. His reputation ought not to be affected by the present case. The only parties were the petitioner and the hon. member, and it was due to the petitioner, that no imputations should attach to him on account of the letters of his father.
in explanation said, that he had stated it was evident that these letters were written to extort from the hon. member a certain office. He apprehended this was a most important circumstance. The office at the time was not legally granted to another person, and the object of the father was, to extort it for his son. The inference he thought pointed very strongly to a conspiracy against the hon. member.
wished to know if the hon. member had any proposition to submit for bringing over the witnesses earlier.
believed that an earlier day Would be more convenient. He suggested, therefore the appointment of on day se'nnight,
§ Sir John Newport
stated, that the circuits in Ireland would all commence between the 8th and 10th March, and it would be more convenient to Mr. Goold 632 to attend before the commencement of the circuit.
§ Sir N Colthurst
observed, that on account of the circuits the witnesses ought to be summoned either for an early day or for a day after the 59th of March, when they would be over.
§ Sir J. Newport
thought, that unless Mr. Goold explained what he knew justice could not be done to the hon. member.
§ Mr. Tierney
did not perceive that the question, if he rightly understood it, really depended upon the evidence of Mr. Goold. Mr. Goold was also engaged in extensive business, and could not attend there without much inconvenience to himself and to others. He knew nothing of that gentleman; but he could not see why he should on this occasion be called away from his business. The member who had spoken last; had said, that Mr. Goold would make any sacrifices; but why should he make any sacrifices?
§ Sir John Newport
read from the petition the several parts of the transaction at which Mr. Goold had been present and assisting, in order to show the importance of his evidence.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that until he had heard the statement read by the right hon. baronet, he did not know how far Mr. Goold was implicated. He considered the situation of that gentleman one of peculiar delicacy; he had acted in this instance as a professional man, as the counsellor and adviser of Mr. Quin. In that capacity he was charged by the petitioner with an act which certainly would amount to a breach of the privileges of the House; and, indeed, the charge does not stop here—it went further, and amounted to what would appear an act of bribery. In that case, he thought the House might compel the attendance of Mr. Goold to answer the petition.
conceived that his attendance ought to be ordered, and it would be for the House to exercise their discretion how far he was bound to answer the questions put to him. He regretted that Mr. Quin had not returned to the House as he wished to obtain the name of the writer of the letters, that he might be ordered to attend. Indeed he was 633 doubtful whether a counter charge of breach of privilege ought not to be preferred against him.
Mr. S. Bourne
said, he understood that the writer of the letters was now within the reach of the House, and a summons ought therefore to be served on him instanter.
thought it was the duty of the House to call on the writer of the letters as an offender himself.
§ Mr. Holmes
stated to the House that he had just seen Mr. Quin; that he was anxious to have Mr. Goold as a witness, and that he released him from any professional obligation to secrecy.
The matter of the complaint was then ordered to be heard at the bar of the House on the 8th of March. Mr. S. Bourne then moved, that Thomas Grady be ordered to attend at the bar of the House on Monday se'nnight.
thought it might be advisable that the writer of the letters should be ordered to attend at an earlier period.
said, that the hon. member for the county of Limerick had stated to the House the substantive fact of having received letters from Thomas Grady threatening him with a parliamentary inquiry, if he did not bestow a certain office on his son. He submitted, that this was a substantive breach of the privileges of the House. He now tendered to the House the letters containing the subject of this charge against Grady, and when the House were in possession of the letters of Grady, he should then move that he be summoned forthwith to attend at the bar of the House to explain the said letter.
Notice being taken that Mr. Wyndham Quin, in the course of his speech, stated the contents of a letter received by him, and signed by Thomas Grady, the said letter was delivered in and Mr. Quin having stated that he had received the said letter, it was read as follows:Boulogne Sur Mer, 19th Oct.Sir;—As I have received no answer to my letter, delivered to you by Mr. C. Smyth, I presume you don't mean to answer it, but even that shall not divert me from the course I wean to take in the business; underneath you have the copy of a letter written by me to a leading member of opposition, with whom I have been the last week in London, who furnished me with extracts and precedents from the Commons Journals, for the purpose, and to whose advice I have committed myself; I 634 think it right to assure you that I have not, and shall not, communicate upon this or any future step with Mr. C. Smyth, much less with any body else on the other side of the Irish Channel; I deprecate any idea of a threat, but as I have often done before to your advantage, I offer you advice; I advise you to restore my son to his office, of which you deprived him, by an appointment for life before the first of next January, and by your answer to my letter to inform me that you mean to take my advice; no answer I shall consider as rejecting the advice, and it will be unnecessary for you to write, if you determine upon rejecting it; your answer, or your no answer, will be here, or will not be here, the 12th of November, and to save you further trouble, and me further delay, I think it right to observe, that the suggestion of any middle term will not fall within the scope of my advice.—Sir, your obedient servant,THOMAS GRADY.Copy Letter.To—— &c. &c. &c.——and here, sir, give me leave to add, that besides assailing the hydra of corruption in the aggregate, he should be attacked in detail, by bringing into public contempt individual instances of public men, who have been not only notoriously corrupt in parliament, but who, by means of the patronage they obtain from the minister, in consideration of their corrupt support, carry the system into their respective counties, debauching and demoralizing the whole mass of society in their districts; it is true the minister may throw the shield of his majorities over them, one after another, but then the individuals will be exposed and detected, until by frequent examples of the sort, every moral and reflecting man in the community shall raise his voice and demand a reform.To furnish the friends of their country in parliament with the means of commencing the sessions by such an exhibition, I shall here state some facts, and afterwards supply proof of the facts I so state—I will state the case of a representative in parliament for a southern county in Ireland, who became a member of the Commons in 1806, who attached himself with more than common diligence to the opposition until the year 1815, but who then finding that free but barren field no longer worth the cultivating, indented himself to the proprietors of a richer, ranker, and more productive soil; who, during the intervening space of three years, has gleaned from that soil, though indeed his hands have been sullied by the baseness of his drudgery, a viscounty for his father, the promise of an earldom, the patronage of his county, and the office of cust. rot., to which, pursuant to the tenor of his indentures, he has been lately appointed by the present lord lieutenant of Ireland; the patronage of which judicial office, namely, the clerkship of the peace, 635 (an appointment ministerial to justice), he has since been publicly hawking through the county, and offering to sell it in lots by inch of candle, for votes at the next election; at the late selection he was barely returned, having been Opposed by a young gentleman strongly connected, highly popular with an interest daily increasing, but whose most important registry was not then mature, in contemplation, therefore, of what he must have to encounter at the next election, he finds it necessary to avail himself of the patronage of his high judicial office, by practices as profligate as they are public.The office of clerk of the peace, in his nomination (an office material and ministerial to justice; in Ireland peculiarly so, where it involves the administration, not only of criminal, but of civil justice), he has broken up and sold, and offered to sale, in fractions, bargaining with every lot of office for a certain number freeholders, and this he has done with so little decency or discretion, that a written article for that purpose is at this moment in the bands of a professional gentleman of the highest integrity, ready to be exhibited in parliament, and proved against him, upon any order of the Commons to that effect.On the 21st of September last, he made a proposal to this effect to the professional person above mentioned, in behalf of that gentleman's client, who has upwards of one hundred registered freeholders on his estate in that country; the professional gentleman, shocked Sit a proposal which imported the breaking up an office ministerial to justice, and selling a lot of it to the amount of two hundred pounds a year, for the votes and constitutional privileges of a hundred freemen, objected to the. conditions thus annexed to the grant; to which the cust. rot. replied, "that it was the only patronage he had in right of his office, and that he could not part with any portion of that patronage without a quid pro quo;" to prevent mistakes, it was then agreed, that the proposal and the terms should be reduced to writing, which was accordingly done; the cust. rot. kept the written instrument for several hours, to revise and correct it, then returned with it to the professional gentleman, and with his own hands delivering it (having made some slight alterations in it during his absence) to the professional gentleman, declaring, that it precisely expressed his intentions as to the grant he proposed to make, and as to the considerations he insisted upon for making that grant, requesting that the professional gentleman should keep the original, and send a copy to the party the party rejected the corrupt conditions with indignation, and thus the transaction became public.Gracious God! when or where will the system end? Government gives him patron age in consideration of the corrupt support he gives them he sells that patronage (involv- 636 ing the ministry of justice) to persons, who having bought it, will have a right to sell it at a rate of extortion to the poor suitors of his own county court; the electors, thus bribed, must give him their corrupt support to return him again into parliament, where he again corruptly supports the minister, the source of all this profligacy; the tide of corruption thus circulating, like the blood in a state of fever, forcibly, but unhealthful, from the heart to the extremities, and from the extremities back again to the heart, inflaming but relaxing, tumifying but infecting every vein and artery in the political organ!!! Hitherto the system worked under ground, but now it stalks abroad, terrific, in the fair face of day; hitherto it skulked within the recesses of its own pandemonium, but now it stands hideous, horrible, and revealed, at the open portals of the constitution; like Death and Sin at the gates of hell! Hitherto it was conducted by the agency of a third person, but here is the act committed by the principal himself; invading the freedom of election, violating the high privileges of the House Of Commons, subverting the administration of justice, and betraying the government he supports, by furnishing its adversaries with the most luminous document of the system if acts upon that has ever yet risen in judgment against it.In the very last session (this very cust rot. then sitting in the House) lord Archibald Hamilton preferred a complaint for breach of privilege against Thomas Ferguson, an exciseman of Lanarkshire, who had offered a place to an elector of that county on conditions of his voting for, and supporting the interest of lord Douglas; the whole House took it up; the minister, ashamed of the charge, avowedly refused to meet it; they ordered the delinquent to their bar; he. was forced to confess his own guilt, but denied all privity or participation with lord Douglas; they committed him first to the custody of the serjeant at arms, and afterwards to New gate. And if the House had not thus asserted its privileges, it would have been no longer a House of Commons.But the guilt of poor Ferguson was venial, compared to the enormity of the present transaction: Ferguson was not a principal; Ferguson was not an educated man; Ferguson was not a member of that august House whose privileges he thus invaded; Ferguson was not the son of a peer, nor the hereditary pillar of that state whose foundation he thus undermined; Ferguson was not the first judicial magistrate in his own county, nor an office broker in his own county court. Ferguson did certainly invade the freedom of election, and violate the high privileges of the House of Commons, but he neither made his office auxiliary to that purpose, nor subverted the administration of justice. In short, third is no analogy in the extent of crime, and there can be none in the extent of punishment.637How the present House will vindicate itself, whether by expressions, or address to the Prince Regent to remove the cust. rot. from his office, I shall not presume to suggest; but I pledge myself to have the charge brought before it with effect, and irresistibly proved.THOMAS GRADY.Commons Journals, May 18th, 1818. "Mr. Wynn this day moved the House, That an humble address he presented to his royal highness the Prince Regent, praying that he would remove Thomas Ferguson from his office of surveyor of customs in the county of Lanark, as he had been found guilty of an act to subvert the freedom of election, and had been declared guilty by that House of a breach of its high privileges.But the majority of the House, including many of the opposition, were of opinion, that it would be inexpedient to carry the punishment further against such a wretch as Ferguson; and this their opinion they founded upon the three following just and equitable reasons: 1st, Because Ferguson's guilt was not proved by a third person, but unconstitutionally extorted from his own confession, upon his examination before the committee; 2nd, Because to carry the punishment any further against such a wretch as Ferguson, would be beneath the dignity of the House, whose more rigorous chastisement should be reserved for more exalted delinquents; and 3rd, Because it did not appear that Ferguson had rendered his office instrumental to the breach of their privileges.Now those reasons by which Ferguson was saved from an address to remove him from his office are conclusive against the present delinquent; because, first, his guilt will be proved in due course of law, and not extracted from his own; confession; second, because he is the very thing that the House expected to punish in the case of Ferguson, and were disappointed in not finding, namely, an exalted delinquent; third, because he has made his office the source of his corruptions, and notoriously instrumental to the breach of their privileges.The precedents on this point are numerous upon the Journals, I have extracted a few: in 1702 the House addressed the crown to remove the bishop of Worcester from his office of lord almoner for corrupt interference in an election, and he was removed. In the same year, and for the same offence, the mayor of Winchelsea was taken into custody, and by address was removed from the office of surveyor of customs. In 1705, William Bursted, for the same offence, was taken into custody, and by address removed from the office of receiver, of customs. In 1741 the sheriff of Devon was, for the same offence, taken into custody, and by address removed from the office of receiver general of that county. In 1747 William Phelan was, for the same offence, taken into custody, and by address re- 638 moved from the office of inspector of customs. Such, therefore, is the "lex et consuetude parliament!," and it will be for the custos rotulorum, in the present instance, to plead some patent of exemption from the established usage of parliament, and the recognized law of the land; and perhaps the House may be of opinion, that a corrupt candidate is not the safest depositary in the world for the county records, comprising the registry of its freeholders, and all the muniments of its representation.
said, that his wish now was, as he understood the writer was within reach, that he should be called instanter to the bar. Whatever he felt as to the offence which the letter constituted, it was not his wish to take any further step against the writer at present, than, after ascertaining the authenticity of the letter attributed to him, to take some measures for securing his attendance when the transaction should be examined. He only abstained from taking any other step, because if any steps were taken to punish this offence, it might seem to indicate a wish to obstruct the further examination of the breach of privilege first complained of.
§ The Speaker
said that some care should be taken in the manner of proceeding. The letter having been delivered in by a member, and he having stated that he had received it, the next step before the supposed writer was called to the bar, was, that the House should, decide on the character of that letter, namely, whether it was or was not a breach of its privileges.
said, his intention had been merely to examine Mr. Grady whether he acknowledged having written the letter, before the House pledged itself to an opinion as to its contents. However, as the Speaker had given a different opinion as to the proper course of proceeding, he should withdraw his motion, for the purpose of substituting another.
§ Sir J. Newport
observed, that as the letter in question was without address, before the House proceeded to act on it, it was necessary not only that they should, see the propriety of the course, but that they should be able to record their reasons. The first step therefore was, in some manner to verify the fact that the letter was addressed to the member in question: they had then to declare whether the letter in question was a breach of privilege. He hoped the House would not come to a decision rashly; for though, after what they had heard, the impressions 639 on their minds was very strong, it was desirable that they should proceed on grounds which would bear to be recorded. He hoped that the whole transaction would be cleared up; but he trusted, for the honour of the House, as well as of the hon. member, that they would take no unadvised proceeding.
believed that every member would agree with him in thinking, that what had fallen from the hon. member for Limerick was of the last importance for its consideration. He could not understand, from what had fallen from the right hon. baronet, whether or no he meant to dispute that this paper, which was enclosed in an envelop, and folded in the usual form, could be considered as a letter. But was it possible to doubt either the nature or the object of that fetter, addressed as it was to the county member and custos rotulorum? and containing such a passage as this: "I advise you to give this place to my son;" could the House entertain any doubt as to the threat intended to be conveyed by it? He hoped, however, that gentlemen Would not now enter into a discussion of any thing but what was already before them. As the writer of the letter was at hand, and immediately amenable to the call of the House, he trusted this opportunity would not be let slip of examining him as to the fact of having written it. It was evidently addressed to the hon. member, in his capacity of custos rotulorum; and he could not see what alternative they had but to come to a decision on that particular point. It was clearly intended to influence the political conduct of a member of parliament. He could not consider the passage he had referred to as friendly advice, but as a threat; and, indeed, if it were not a threat, and by consequence a breach of privilege the matter ought never to have come before them.
§ Sir John Newport
said, he had never thrown out a doubt that the letter Was intented for the hon. gentleman. It was in the light of a letter that he wished the House to consider the paper; but all he had said was, that it was not, in point of fare, property addressed to any one. He again expressed his hope, that the House would, not proceed hastily before it proceeded further in the business.
understood the right hon. baronet to entertain in his own mind, a doubt as to the destination of the letter. 640 The hon. member who had produced it to the House, had stated that fee had received it. He would therefore ask any one, if this did not of consequence prove that it was meant for him? The context proved the same thing, and its whole tenor went to operate upon that hon. gentleman's feelings.
considered this letter, of itself, but particularly as connected with the circumstances before the House, to contain sufficient evidence of its destination. It was laid on the table by an hon. member, and declared to have been delivered to him. It was, he thought, a threatening letter, intended to influence his conduct as a member. The first, step, to be taken, therefore, was, to ascertain, its precise character. Non constat that it, was written by Mr. Grady, but the fair presumption was, that he was the writer He should imagine that there, could be no objection to have him before the House If, indeed, it was not clearly a question of a breach of the privileges of that House, there could be no necessity, for it to proceed in the matter.
§ Mr. Quin
trusted, that the House would do justice to his motives in having brought this subject to their notice. It was the farthest from his wish, and most, foreign to his intentions, to adopt any course which should be the means of that House, visiting any individual with censure or with punishment; all that he, wished was to perform that duty which he considered to be incumbent upon him.
thought the chain of evidence in this case was clear and connected; and he viewed it, more particularly after what had fallen from the hon. gentleman opposite, as a high breach of the privileges of that House [cries of Move, move!] It was evidently a threatening letter and he therefore should move "That the writing and sending of the said letter to the hon. Windham Quin, a member of the House is a high breach of the privileges of this House."
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that as all such questions were of paramount delicacy, it appeared peculiarly necessary that no misstatement should go forth as to the grounds on which the House came to a decision—and his reason for particularly wishing those grounds to be clearly and particularly stated was, because he did not find any threat held put against the hon. member in his present capacity. There was still, in his opinion one of the gros- 641 sest branches of parliamentary privilege that over came under the considerations of the House of Commons comprised in this charge. It was of no consequent whether the hon. gentleman were a member of this House or not—the gravamen of the charge was, that the power of parliament would be exerted to induce a gentleman to do a parliamentary privilege. In the first place, there was a threat, that the great constitutional power of petitioning parliament would be prostituted to the base end, that of compelling a gentleman to do an act, which he conceived to be improper— and, with respect to this part, in mattered not, as he had before said, whether the individual to whom this threat applied was or was not a member of parliament. In the second place, there was a breach of privilege (through of late years It had not been much insisted on), that of libelling a member of parliament, in his situation as member. There was this, besides, to be observed, that by sending this letter to the hon. gentleman, the writer had committed one act of publication, and, by having previously shown that letter to another individual, he was guilty of a second— each of which was a breach of the privileges of parliament. On all these grounds, he felt that his was clearly a breach of the privileges of the House, and he had conceived it necessary, for his own satisfaction, to state what were his views on the subject.
§ The resolution was agreed to nem. Con. Mr. Courtenay then moved, "That Thomas Grady do attend this House forthwith."
Mr. Thomas Grady
being called to the bar, and the letter being shown to him he was asked, "If the said letter was in his hand writing!" to which he replied, "that his eye-sight had been very defective for the last fifteen years, and that by candle-light he could not form an opinion whether the said letter was or was not in his hand-writing; and he could not say whether he wrote the letter or not".
§ He was ordered to withdraw.
then observed, that as the witness had professed that he was unable to read by candle-light, the House would perhaps indulge him by having the letter read to him. It appeared that he had heard the letter read before, but of this the House could take no notice.
Mr. Martin of Galway,
said, that the point was, to identify whether that letter 642 Was the writing of Mr. Grady or not. Now, as Mr. Grady had said, that he could not, be candle-light, speak to that point, he could not see how the reading of it would enable him to give a decisive answer to the question.
being again called in, the House directed the letter should be read to him; and the said letter was read accordingly. And Mr. Grady being asked, "whether he recollected writing such letter?" he replied, "that when he read the letter containing the proposal of Mr. Wyndham Quin to his son, he was much agitated, and conceived it to be in the highest degree corrupt; that under this impression, he wrote twenty or thirty, or perhaps forty sheets on the subject; not one of which he published. He wrote something as long as the letter, and of that nature, but cannot say he wrote that." And being then asked, "whether he sent the letter, or any of those sheets, to Mr. Wyndham Quin?" he replied, "that he did not recollect any thing of that sort in the shape of a letter; what he wrote did not go out of his own bureau; he wrote much of that character, but speculative rather than as a letter; he did not send the letter to Mr. Wyndham Quin; he wrote under agitation, in the nature of essays, not any letters." And then he was directed to withdrawn.
said, that as the case now stood, Mr. Grady denied, in effect, any acquaintance with the letter before the House. He had admitted that he had written much of a speculative nature on that subject; he had not denied, absolutely the character of the writing, but he had declared his inability to read it by candle-light. It appeared to the noble lord, therefore, that the proper course would be, as this was a case of breach of privilege to detain Mr. Grady in custody till he could read by a more favourable light than the House at present afforded.
§ Mr. Brougham
begged to remind the House, that they were not obliged to look to the answers of Mr. Grady alone for evidence, provided they could elicit it from other sources.
Then Mr. Quin, being examined in his place, said, "that he has known the hand-writing of the said, Mr. Grady for upwards of 15 years; and he is sure that the letter produced is in the hand-writing of the said Mr. Grady." And being asked, "whether he had the cover of the letter in his possession?" He said, "he had 643 not, because on the receipt of the letter finding grew when he opened it, that there was not any writing in the inside of the cover, be threw the cover under the grate; but that, if it was meant to ask him if the hand-writing of the direction of the cover was Mr. Grady's he could, without hesitation, take upon himself to say that it was."
then moved a resolution, that Thomas Grady, by writing and sending the letter in question, had been guilty of a high breach of the privileges of the House.
§ The Speaker
suggested that the resolution ought to be divided into two parts; first a resolution that Thomas Grady did write and send the letter; and next, that by writing and sending it, he had been guilty of a high breach of the privileges of the House.
§ The question on the first resolution, "That it appears to this House, that the said Thomas Grady did write and send the said letter to the hon. Wyndham Quin, a member of this House," being put.
§ Mr. Brougham
wished to state the grounds on which he should vote in the affirmative. It was true, the witness had said that he had never written such a letter to Mr. Quin, although he had written some matter in the form of essays upon the subject; and it also appeared from his testimony, that he had never sent such a letter to the hon. member. On the other side, it was stated by the hon. gentleman, who was not to be looked at all as a party to this proceeding, that it was the hand-writing of Mr. Grady, and that he had known it for 15 years; the cover enclosing it was in the same hand-writing, and it had been sent to him by the post. Upon the whole, therefore, he thought that there was no reasonable doubt about the matter, and that the case was as clearly made out as was necessary; the inevitable presumption was, that Mr. Grady had sent the letter, although he had not made any. such acknowledgment. He said that Mr. Quin was no party to this question, because the letter before the. House had nothing to do with the truth or falsehood of the main charge contained in the petition. The story was certainly most improbable, and it had received the, most direct and ample contradiction; but still it might be all well found and still the same reason would exist for proceeding now against Mr. Grady. Two 644 breaches of privilege had in fact been; committed, but one was almost of every day occurrence—too frequent to be provided against.
said, that no jury in England could hesitate to find a man guilty, of sending a libel upon such evidence; the testimony of Thomas Grady was of no consequence, for a more shameless prevarication had never been witnessed. He was glad that it would not be necessary on a future day that be should be called before the House, it would be impossible to rely upon one Syllable he uttered.
observed, that if any gentleman entertained, a doubt that the first letter was sent, it would be as well to as certain whether the second fetter was received to which the first alluded.
Mr. Alderman Wood
remarked, that although it appeared that the letter complained of was the writing of Mr. Grady there was no proof that was sent or caused to be sent by him to Mr. Quin.
observed, that if a letter proved to have been written by any individual, was received by the individual to whom it was addressed, it was in law concluded that such letter was sent by the writer, and in this instance it was proved that not only the letter itself, but the envelope was the hand-writing of Thomas Grady.
The Resolution was agreed to; as was also the following: "That Thomas Grady, on having written and sent the said letter, is guilty of a high breach of the privileges of this House." It was then ordered, "That the said Thomas Grady be, for his said offence, committed to Newgate; and that Mr. Speaker do issue his warrants accordingly." On the motion of sir Robert Wilson a variety of witnesses were ordered to attend the House on the 8th of March.
Mr. Alderman Wood
observed, that as it was desirable to furnish the House and the country with every possible information with respect to the case of Mr. Quin, in order to form a correct judgment upon the subject, he felt it his duty to move that the letter of Mr. Grady, together with every other document or statement laid before the House respecting the transaction, should be printed.
did not see the necessity of adopting this motion, as the letter and statements alluded to would appear in the minutes which were printed for the inform- 645 ation of the members of the House, and not for that of the public, as the worthy alderman appeared to think.
Mr. Alderman Wood
repeated his opinion, that the proposition which he had submitted ought to be adopted.
§ The Speaker
observed, that the letter alluded to would appear in the votes, which were printed for the information of the members, but he felt it right to apprize the House, that as there was no short-hand writer present at the time the prisoner was examined at the bar, the substance of his answers only, as they were taken by the clerk, would appear in the votes, and not the questions and answers, as they were put in the regular way.
said, he had not joined in the vote of commitment. He thought the proceeding unusual if not extraordinary and severe: at least the House had proceeded with some precipitation, and it might have been better, perhaps, for the dignity of its own proceedings, if it had restrained itself from sending an unfortunate individual to prison, until the impression produced by the statement of the boa; member had in some degree subsided. He was very anxious that the country should not lose any part of the evidence given at the bar, and tending to justify the commitment.
Mr. Alderman Wood
added, that he had not joined in the vote, because he really was not fully possessed of the facts, act having entered the House until late.