HC Deb 09 April 1827 vol 17 cc299-343
Mr. Alderman Waithman rose

to present a Petition from certain subscribers to the Devon and Cornwall Mining Company, complaining of the transactions of the directors of that company. He observed, that the subject of the petition was one of great importance, inasmuch as it not only involved the reputation of some of the members of that House, but even, as it seemed to him, the character and honour of the House itself. The petition, too, the more deserved their attention, as it did not contain a general complaint accusing any one in vague terms, but consisted of a number of distinct facts, stated in detail. It stated, among a variety of other things, that an hon. gentleman, a member of that House, did, some time in the month of April, 1825, enter into a contract with a Mr. Teed, of Devonshire, for the purchase of certain mines in that part of the country—that the contract so entered into between them was conditional, and not absolute, and was to become void, unless the hon. member who made it should succeed in forming a Mining Company. The purchase money agreed on was about 78,000l.; and at a meeting held at the Albion Tavern, in the city of London, soon after the contract had been entered into, it was resolved to form a company for the purpose of working these mines. The resolution which that meeting passed, declared, that the purchaser had obtained possession of the mines in question, at a very reasonable rate; and that resolution was said to have been made after an accurate inquiry had been instituted into the matter; these mines being then described as very valuable. The mines thus recom- mended were to be purchased by the company, who were charged 121,000l. for them. At this first meeting Mr. Barrett, an hon. member of the House, was in the chair; and at a second meeting, held a few days afterwards, when Mr. Peter Moore was in the chair, a prospectus of the intended company was issued; a prospectus, which the petitioners declared to contain false and fraudulent representations respecting the property. Out of the gross number of shares determined to be issued, 2750 were to be reserved for the benefit of the directors, who were to lock them up in a tin box; which was only to be opened when the necessities of the company should require. Some time afterwards the directors, in order to raise the price of shares and to give them a fictitious value in the market, purchased, as time bargains, from certain brokers, one thousand shares of the company, for which they paid a sum of six thousand pounds, which was charged to the company at large in their accounts.—The facts which he had already mentioned were, in his opinion, sufficient, not only to excite the attention of the House, but to call upon them to take some decisive steps to vindicate the honour and purity of parliament; to visit with condign punishment those whom they might find to have been guilty of taking any part in this fraudulent proceeding; and to guard against any repetition of such practices.—But the circumstances he had stated were not all which were described in the petition, as affecting the honour and character of the members of that House. Mr. Wilks, the honourable member to whom he had alluded as having entered into the contract for the purchase of the mines at the time, not only agreed to sell them to the company, but received a sum of 20,000l, on account; a sum which was actually paid by a check from the directors, before he had obtained a complete and absolute interest in the property. New agreements for the sale of the mines were entered into, and the 45,000l. obtained over and above the original price, were agreed to be divided among the directors. That seemed to him to be one of the most serious parts of the petition, and certainly, if true, was a pretty strong proof of fraud to that extent. It appeared, too, that the calls due on the 2,750 reserved shares, had not been paid up; and, that they should have remained unpaid after the investment of the rest, seemed to create some degree of suspicion, that the agreement which existed between the directors, upon the subject of these shares, was fraudulent. That suspicion was strongly confirmed by the statement of the petitioners; who alleged, that the effect of this reservation of shares was, that if they came to a high price in the market, so as to afford a good profit, the directors would have been enabled to appropriate it to themselves; while, if the shares fell, the loss could be thrown on the company. Some of the directors, when informed of the transaction of the 2,750 shares, certainly had expressed the greatest astonishment, and had declared, that they were entirely ignorant of the matter; but the fact was, that not only the money had not been paid up, but that though it still remained unpaid, another call had been made on the share-holders, and actions had actually been commenced against some of them for their subscriptions.—In stating these facts, he certainly was bound to say, that among the directors there were many very respectable names; ten of them being noblemen, baronets, and members of that House. Some of the directors he was personally acquainted with, and he entertained the highest respect for them; and he did believe, that if an investigation was made into the subject, it would be found that they had committed no other fault (a heavy fault, however, as he was ready to contend) than the folly of having connected themselves with such transactions. The hon. member concluded by observing, that the petitioners prayed that the House would inquire into the claims they now made for redress, and that such measures might be adopted as seemed calculated to afford the redress they sought. If the House should not be prepared, after the petition had been read, immediately to grant a committee of inquiry, he should be the last person to press such a measure upon them; but he should certainly move, at an early period, for a full inquiry into the subject. At present he should confine his motion to the bringing up and reading of the Petition.

The Petition was brought up; and on the question that it should be read,

Mr. Alderman Waithman

requested that it might be read at full length, as it contained such important matter.

Mr. John Wilks

said, that he too was anxious that it might be read at length, as he had something to say upon it. On the question that the Petition be printed,

Mr. Wynn

requested the House to consider whether it would be expedient to adopt this course. The house of Commons was not a criminal tribunal, it was, indeed, one of the chambers of the supreme Court of Parliament, and its duty was to afford redress in cases for which the law had not otherwise provided; but he could conceive nothing more injurious to, or subversive of, the principles on which the law of the land rested, than for parliament to permit itself to determine cases for which that law had given a sufficient remedy. He knew the facts only from the petition; and, as he understood them, the charge referred to an individual who was not a member of the House at the time when the ground of complaint arose. He was accused of having been guilty of certain acts of fraud, for which he might be questioned in a court of justice; and he understood further, that proceedings at law were actually pending [hear, hear!] Was it desirable, then, that the party accused should be called upon to enter into a defence which might prejudice his case hereafter? Unquestionably the House of Commons was competent to enter into any inquiry if it were thought that the public interest gravely required it, and with a view to direct the proceedings to be made by the law officers of the Crown. If the matter, however, did not seem of such magnitude, and if it was actually already pending in a court of law, it would probably be left to the investigation of that tribunal which the parties had already selected. A necessity might exist for stepping out of the ordinary course, but it might be highly inconvenient, in ordinary eases, to require a member prematurely to enter into the merits of his case. He therefore recommended that the Petition should lie upon the table, but that no further publicity be given to it by an order for printing it.

Lord Palmerston

said, that it was a matter of perfect indifference to him how the House proceeded; but, as his name had been mentioned as one of the directors, he hoped to be allowed to state briefly and simply the nature of his connection with the company. In the first place, he had had no concern with any arrangements for the formation of the company; at the meeting for that purpose, alluded to in the petition, he was not present. It was certainly true that the hon. member for Sudbury was expected to derive considerable profit by purchasing these mines, and then selling them to the company. Of that profit he was totally ignorant, until the fact was made known to him, in common with all the rest of the community. If certain persons who were directors agreed to share with that individual any portion of that profit, he was not one of them; and he had no participation of any kind in the transaction [hear, hear!]. He had subscribed to this undertaking, believing that it was a bona fide speculation, and that there was a fair prospect it would succeed; he had, therefore, embarked a part of his money in it, and he had certainly thought that, by becoming a director, he should be able to see that the affairs of the company were properly managed. He had only attended on five occasions the meetings of the directors. This was simply the nature of his connection with the company, and from the beginning to the end of it, he had not received sixpence, but had paid up very nearly the whole amount of his subscriptions. If the persons who signed the petition had done the same, their situation would have been more honest before the world, and more creditable before the House [hear, hear!]. It was not honest for individuals to subscribe nominally to an undertaking, in which others were induced to embark on the faith of the supposition that they had paid in a certain amount of capital corresponding with their nominal subscription, and then, when they found that they could not make a miserable profit by trafficking in the shares, to attempt to withdraw themselves from all responsibility. Such, however, was the condition of the petitioners. Proceedings at law had been commenced against them, to compel them to pay up their subscriptions; and he was convinced that the main object of the petition was to induce the House to interpose its authority to screen them from those proceedings. He had stated fairly the whole of his connection with the company. He feared not to have his conduct, in this, or in any other transaction, strictly and publicly investigated. It was to him a matter of indifference how the House dealt with the petition. He would not vote at all upon the question, and would conclude by stating, that so far as he had been concerned with the company, it had been a transaction of considerable loss, without the prospect of advantage [cheers].

Mr. Powlett

hoped, that as he also had been alluded to in the petition he might be allowed to address a few words to the House. He knew nothing of the original formation of the company. He entered into it about the same time as his noble friend opposite. He had nothing to do with the purchase of the mines. All the preliminary measures were arranged before he entered into the company. When he received his shares, he paid the deposit which was demanded. He attended very few of the meetings, for he saw in the list of directors the names of two or three bankers, and of other individuals connected with eminent mercantile houses, which he considered a sufficient guarantee for the respectability of the company. He had paid every deposit when called upon, and had not received a single farthing. If any individuals had received money improperly, he regretted that his name should have been coupled with theirs. He hoped he had justified himself in the eyes of the House [cheers].

Mr. John Wilks,

member for Sudbury, rose and said:—

Sir; notwithstanding the desire expressed by the hon. member who spoke second in this debate, that the House would at once terminate any discussion which might be likely to occur, by rejecting this petition, and notwithstanding the apparent feeling of the House in favour of such a proceeding, I trust, Sir, that after the allusions which have been made to me by the right hon. Secretary at War, and by the hon. member for Durham, and after the yet more distinct allusions to myself contained in the petition, now proposed to be referred to a committee, the House will allow me to enter into a statement of facts and circumstances connected with the company under discussion. And, Sir, in making this request, allow me also to connect with it another, that the House will favour me with its best and most impartial consideration. As an inducement, Sir to this line of conduct on the part of honourable members, I beg to call to their recollection the golden rule of "audi alteram partem." I beg permission to remind them that I have enjoyed but for a short period the honour of a seat in this House; that this is the first time upon which I have drawn on their time or attention; and, above all, that the subject of consideration is personally to me of the utmost importance.

Let me, then, Sir, entreat of this House to follow me with candour and attention through the refutations, which I shall attempt, of the calumnies contained in this petition, and I then fear not the result of this discussion. I am not unaware of the difficult task which to myself I have assigned. I am not ignorant of the calumnies which have been heaped on me without, and even within, the walls of this House. I know that calumnies, oft repeated, become accredited, and that the poison of slander is not less insidious than venomous. I know that the duty I am about to perform is, however, a duty due to myself, to my family, my friends, my constituents, this House, and the country, and, therefore, Sir, though the task be unpleasing, and the discussion uninteresting, I approach it with the conviction that I must perform my duty.

I envy not, Sir, the hon. member who presented this petition, his feelings or situation this night, for I venture to assert, at the commencement of my observations, that the petition he has this night presented, is one of the most impudent attempts to deceive the legislature of the country ever made in this, or any other national assembly.

The statements contained in the petition are either in some points wholly untrue, or falsehood is so blended with truth, as to render the discovery of what is correct almost impossible. This is not the first petition which has been got up, though not presented. The hon. member who has presented this petition has admitted to me that one other was brought to him, but that it did not accord with his taste or wishes. I suppose, Sir, it was not sufficiently savoury to suit his palate. I suppose, Sir, it did not contain enough of that spice, called slander, which is so necessary, in the opinion of some members, to render a petition desirable. I suppose, Sir, that it did not sufficiently attack the conduct and character of certain members of this House, who are personally obnoxious to the worthy alderman.

But, Sir, at length, the hon. member framed a petition to his own taste, and that is the petition read at the table of this House. To obtain signatures to it every effort has been made. Public meetings have been called, at which shareholders would not attend. Resolutions have been passed by persons who, when they passed them, had no interest direct or indirect to protect; who do not, did not, and never had, held shares. Subscriptions have been proposed, but no money has been paid; a contribution of two shillings and sixpence per share was to have been made for the purpose of prosecuting the directors, but the shareholders wisely preferred retaining their money. Every plan and expedient has been adopted, and resorted to, for the express purpose of injuring private reputation, and of blackening private character. A petition was, at length, ordered to lie at Batson's Coffee-house for signature, but when sought for it was not there. No one would sign it, till, at length, the petitioners, for reasons I shall presently explain to the House, agreed to this hole-and-corner petition, no one knows where, or how, and intrusted it to the care and protection of their worthy and independent representative, the honourable alderman, who has this night presented it.

By the threat of this petition, the petitioners expected to obtain much; they said to us, if you will not obey our dictation we will petition against you. You shall be expelled from the House—or if not expelled, we will disgrace and annoy you.

Every threat and every plan of intimidation has been resorted to, but without success, and to-night the petitioners will have the satisfaction of perceiving their petition ordered to lie on the table of the House. But, Sir, what is this petition? and who have signed it? It is a petition, Sir, praying for inquiry, pending suits and actions in the courts of law and equity, and into the very matters respecting which those actions and suits are instituted. It is a petition which admits that actions are pending, and yet which solicits that the real point in issue in such actions may first be settled or pronounced upon by a committee of this House. The fact is, Sir, that the greatest portion of these petitioners are shareholders, or partners in the company, who have signed a deed—who have bound themselves to perform certain covenants, and to pay certain monies—who have actions brought against them, or if not brought against all, yet about to be brought, for the non-performance of their covenants, and for the non-payment of their contributions. These petitioners, or some of them, have pleaded to the actions that the company was got up in a fraudulent manner, and that by fraud they were induced to belong to it. To these charges the directors reply—we are not guilty, and this issue is about to be tried. Yet, although only two hours before I came to this House to day I was served with a subpœna, by the solicitors to Mr. Hammond, one of the petitioners, to appear on the 28th instant on the trial of his cause, the petitioners, with a view of defeating, justice—with a view and intention of prejudicing the jury in their favour—with a design by stratagem to succeed in obtaining that which justice would deny to them, have sent down this petition by the hands of their honourable representative, and have asked, through him, the appointment of a select committee.

Now, Sir, who have signed this petition? Thirteen individuals, one of whom desires to withdraw his name—four of whom are not, and never were, shareholders in the company—and the remaining number composed of defaulting partners, who either cannot or will not complete their engagements. Now, Sir, these nine shareholders are one-ninth in number, and no more, of the great body of shareholders. And as to value as well as number, why, Sir, the petitioners scarcely represent one-sixtieth of the capital subscribed. Nine out of eighty-one, and 1,000l. out of 60,000l. are somewhere about the proportion in number and value of these petitioners. But then the House will doubtless be told, "aye, but there are four scripholders" have signed it. This is, however, a delusion, for now there are no scripholders, and can be none. In order that this objection may be understood, it is necessary to state, that when a company is formed, after the prospectus is issued, and the necessary meetings held, the first proceeding is for the subscribers to pay into the hands of the banker a deposit of so much per share for every share they apply for, and intend thereafter to hold. The bankers, on receiving this contribution, give a receipt for the money, and this is called scrip. The deposits being paid, the deed of partnership is then prepared, and the shares regularly drawn out for the subscribers. When these steps are taken, a call is made of so much per share, and the subscribers or holders of the bankers' receipts are required to sign the deed of partnership—pay the call made—deliver in to the company the bankers' receipt, or scrip—and receive in exchange shares ac- cording to the number for which they may pay. When this formal proceeding takes place, some of the original subscribers not unfrequently finding it inconvenient to go on with the proposed partnership, and make good their engagements, prefer forfeiting the deposit paid to the bankers, and therefore decline signing the deed, and exchanging scrip for shares. This sacrifice of what has been paid, is perfectly just and reasonable, since, if persons by professing to become subscribers, or by becoming so, induce others to join, and to incur a great expense, it is but honest that those persons should at least sustain their proportion of the expense incurred, to the period they may quit the company.

Besides this, Sir, the scrip is forfeited, is valueless, exists only in name, and is mere waste paper. The parties possessing it may have acquired it by weight, at the price of waste paper, and therefore, even though they may hold scrip, or what was once scrip, they possess only the symbol or sign of what has long since been declared forfeited. And the reason, Sir, is quite obvious. The parties, when they subscribed and received their scrip, did so for the purpose of becoming partners in the company, and of paying 50l. per share for every share they subscribed for; but when the partnership deed was prepared—when the shares were ready—when the partnership assumed a legal form—and when a further portion of subscribed. capital was required to be paid, the scrip changed hands—the price fell in the market—what had cost 5l. was then sold for 3l., 2l., or 1l., and then the holders either paid the second instalment of 10l. per share, and signed the deed, and received their shares—or else, like these scrip-holding petitioners, they preferred forfeiting the deposit of 5l., and retiring from all future responsibility and payment. The parties, therefore, who in this, or any other undertaking, set up any claim as scripholders, after that scrip has been forfeited, do so in violation of every principle of law, honour, and justice. Yet four of these claimants are parties to this petition, although they have no interest to protect—no property in the company to watch over—and can be only influenced by a motive, to say the least of it, of a most suspicious and questionable kind.

And what, Sir, let me also inquire, is the situation of the nine bonâ fide, shareholders who have signed this petition? Why, the directors made a call of 5l. per share, payable in October last. Have they paid such a call? No. Is their non-payment acquiesced in by the directors? No. Actions have been brought against all or some of them. In answer to such actions, they had pleaded pleas of fraud.

The directors pity their mistaken views, and smile at their defence. The day, however, is fast approaching, when the merits of such pleas will be tried by a jury. Even this day I have been served with a subpœna, to appear as a witness in the cause of "Moore and others against Hammond," and yet this very Mr. Hammond, with his cause appointed for trial on the 28th instant, presents a petition on the 9th, praying the House to institute an inquiry into that which is the subject of legal investigation. I charge, Sir, the petitioners with a design to prejudice the jury in favour of their defence. I charge the petitioners with a design to defeat the ends of legal investigation, to poison the fountains of justice, and to obtain, not an impartial, but an unfair and partial decision. But in this, however, I feel confident they will be mistaken, for although jurymen are but men of like passions with ourselves, yet I too highly respect the character, and consider the independence of a British jury too undoubted, to fear that eventually these artifices will prevail.

The petitioners have also another object to gain. They design to defeat my claim for the balance of 70,000l. due to me for the mines purchased. I claim a fulfilment of the contract. I insist that it was a fair, legal, honourable, bonâ fide sale. I have prepared, or rather, I should say, a gentleman at the bar, of great talents, and high character, has prepared a bill in Chancery, to compel the completion of the purchase, and the payment of the purchase money into court. The bill will ere long be filed. The petitioners know this. They know that towards such 70,000l. they must contribute—but instead of pleading their poverty, or stating their inability to make good their engagements, which would be a subject of pity and regret, and not of reproach—instead, I say, of so acting, they prepare and present this petition, and pray it may be referred to a select committee, hoping thereby to prejudice the judge, before whom the case must be argued, against the validity of my claim. In this, however, I feel equally confident that they will experience disappointment, and that they will eventually be taught that valid contracts are not easily to be set aside, and that sales and purchases are matters of too grave a nature to be trifled with by individuals possessing the loose morals and principles of some members of the Stock Exchange.

If, Sir, their cause be good, there is no necessity to adopt this form of proceeding. If the matter of which they complain be of a criminal nature, let them resort to the criminal courts; if of a civil nature, to the law courts; if of an equitable nature, to the courts of Exchequer or Chancery. Or, if dissatisfied with these modes of inquiry, let them attempt to dissolve the company. Let them convene the meetings required by the deed of settlement, and endeavour to dissolve the company, and then they will discover the insignificant minority of which they are composed.

When, Sir, the nine petitioners, who possess some interest in this company, have adopted these measures without success, then it is surely time enough for them, if they have any grievances to complain of, to come down to this House and ask for its interposition. But of real grounds for complaint they have none. Shares are unpopular, money is scarce, prices are low, persons have speculated beyond their capital, and now, because of these circumstances, and these only, the petitioners turn round upon myself, and the directors of this company, and practically say, "Although we entered into this company with our eyes open, although the mines are good, and the concern might be carried on advantageously; although we have bound ourselves to assist in so carrying it on, yet we have changed our minds, our money is disposed of elsewhere, and we will now examine into the original constitution of the company, and impute fraud, and excite sympathy, and thus endeavour to obtain relief."

This, Sir, is the real character of this petition, and these are the real motives and objects of the petitioners. Let me call the attention of the House to the twelve charges which the petition contains; and in so doing, let me beg of the House to bear in mind the charges as I proceed, and see whether to each I do not supply a clear and satisfactory refutation. Before, however, I proceed to those charges, let me call the attention of the House to two or three leading facts connected with the petition and the company. The petition sets forth, that a prospectus was printed and circulated; and that, upon the faith of this, the petitioners were induced to subscribe. This is perfectly true as far as it is stated, but the petitioners should have added that the prospectus consisted, not of a few lines or sentences hastily thrown together, or of high-sounding names, but without facts or data to support them, but that the prospectus consisted of twenty-two printed octavo pages, that it not merely supplied the names of the mines, but their locality, their mining condition, their disadvantages as well as advantages, their dark as well as their bright side of the picture, that it even set forth the written reports of the various persons who had examined and reported on the mines by name. The prospectus stated that these mines had been purchased, and that those who subscribed would subscribe to pay for them. The petitioners have omitted also to state another fact, which makes so much against them. They have omitted to state that, to which I particularly invite the attention of this House; namely, that before one single shilling of this capital was paid, each person who had applied for shares, and to whom shares had been allotted, was supplied with a printed copy of this prospectus, and allowed some days for its consideration, before they were required to determine whether they would pay or decline the shares. This I consider most important, and especially, when the clauses, as to the proposed government of the company, contained in that prospectus, are considered. In many other companies, payment was first required, and then a prospectus followed. But here the prospectus preceded the payment. In many other companies payment was first required, and then followed the names of directors and officers, but in this association the names were first supplied. In many other companies payment was first required, and then followed a statement of the proposed plan of regulation or government, but in this, payment was the last thing required, and no one was expected or invited to join it, until he had first fully satisfied himself, not only of the nature of the undertaking, but even of all its minor arrangements. Nor can individuals plead exemption from this, on any ground whatever; for this long prospectus, of twenty-two pages, was actually inserted in the public papers, besides being sent to every individual with the letter allotting the shares. The plea of ignorance, therefore, is here untenable, and no shareholder in this company can honestly and fairly seek to avail himself of such a plea.

Now, Sir, is it contended by the gentleman who has presented this petition, or by the petitioners themselves, that the allegations in the prospectus were untrue? Certainly not. Is it alleged that there were no such mines as those mentioned? No. Is it alleged that the mines are bad or valueless? No. Is it even alleged that too much money was paid or agreed to be paid for them? No. Then, Sir, is it alleged that the state of the mines, as detailed in the reports of the surveyors embodied in the prospectus, were untrue? No. Is it even alleged that the names of the directors and officers mentioned were placed there without their permission, or that they were dishonourable, or ignorant, or improper men? No. Is it alleged that the deed of partnership is objectionable, or at variance with the prospectus? No. And even if it were, the following clause at the end of the prospectus, and to which I invite the attention of the House, would answer such an objection. For so cautious, Sir, were the individuals who established this company, that there should be no possible mistake respecting it, that they inserted the following clause:—"The Company is governed by a Board of eighteen Directors, exclusive of the Chairman and two Deputy Chairmen. The affairs of the Company will be managed under a Deed of Settlement, which, when approved and signed by the majority of the Directors, will be deemed the Deed of Settlement for regulating the Company."

What then, Sir, I ask, is alleged in this petition, and what are the pretended reasons for requesting this House to appoint a Select Committee? Yes, Sir, the petition prays for the appointment of a Select Committee, as in the case of the Arigna Company. I should have thought the honourable member who presented this petition had had enough of such committees and such investigations. The honourable member who moved for that committee is welcome to enjoy the triumph of that investigation, and to congratulate himself upon its issue; but as far as I know the opinions of others, there is towards Mr. Brogden and Mr. Bent but one feeling—that of congratulation to these honourable members, who have come out of that investigation so fully acquitted.

The first charge, Sir, which the petitioners make, is, "that the annual meeting, which should have been held in April, 1826, was not so held till June!" Now, let me ask the hon. member, what injury resulted from this either to the shareholders, the directors, or the company? None. None is even alleged in the petition. But this is not the only answer to the charge. The deed of settlement required that all accounts of the company should, in every year, be made up and audited to the 31st March, to be submitted to the annual meeting to be held in April. But after some time, the directors found this to be impracticable. In consequence of the nature and mode of keeping the accounts of mines in Cornwall, one or two months must always be in arrear. Indeed, before the middle of May, the directors could not procure the accounts to the 31st of March, as directed by the deed; and therefore, as the directors were obliged either to hold the meeting in April, without the accounts being ready for inspection, or to postpone the meeting, they resolved on postponing the meeting till June. And they were additionally induced to adopt this determination, from the circumstance that the manifest object of the deed was to secure that, when the annual meeting was held, the accounts of the preceding twelve months should be laid before the meeting, but if the meeting had been held in April, the report of the directors could only have been a report of the first nine months. The meeting would, however, have taken place in May, but for the dissolution, or expected dissolution, of the last parliament; and it was then said, postpone the annual meeting until June, because, otherwise, the shareholders will inquire, Where are your noblemen, and your members of parliament? Where are your directors now? and will, perchance, infer from their absence that they have abandoned the concern.

The second charge is—"That at the meeting held at the Albion Tavern, the persons present agreed to purchase the mines of Mr. Wilks for 121,000l." This, Sir, is perfectly true, but is there any allegation that the mines are not worth the sums agreed to be paid for them? The meeting was held before the money was required from the shareholders—the mines had been examined and reported on—the reports were laid before the meeting—they were printed and circulated—the prices paid for the mines were not kept secret. As well might an individual complain that an estate was sold by auction for 70,000l., simply because it was so sold, and simply because the price was 70,000l., as for these individuals to complain that the price given was 121,000l., without stating that they are prepared to prove, by the most undoubted testimony, that it was an excessive and exorbitant sum, and not excessive or exorbitant now, but then, namely in April, 1825, since the House will recollect the price of shares in mines at that time—the standard price of copper at that time—the state of these mines at that time—and the saleable price at that time. A valuation now, when the mines have been neglected—when the machinery is getting out of order—when the water in some has been gaining ground for months—when trade is stagnant—when joint-stock companies are unpopular—when capital is scarce, and the spirit of enterprise and speculation checked; I say, Sir, a valuation now would supply no criterion, unless the valuation was made with reference to April, 1825. For, after all, the House must remember that the value of a mine, like the value of a field, is what it will fetch. Now, Sir, is it alleged that, after taking all these circumstances into consideration, and making all these allowances, the sum of 121,000l. was still excessive and fraudulent? not one syllable has escaped the lips of the worthy alderman to that effect, nor is there one word bearing upon it in the petition. Why had not these parties sent down unsuspected surveyors of first-rate character, knowledge, and talent, to report on the nature, capabilities, and probable value in April, 1825, of the mines and machinery? and why did they not present such reports to the notice of the House? I have invariably said, if you can prove that I asked too much, and that you agreed to pay too much, then establish your case, and I will make a deduction from my contract price, but it is too much to ask the House to impugn my contract, and pronounce the price agreed on to be enormous, without evidence, or without statement. I have over and over again offered to refer this to arbitration—to the arbitration of any honourable and respectable men, but the offer has not been acceded to. And as to the testimony of shareholders, some shareholders who have visited the mines, or employed persons to visit them, have reported on them most favourably. Every shareholder has also had an opportunity of inspecting them—they are in no distant land—in no trackless forest—in no desert country, or impassable mountain. They are not three hundred miles from the Metropolis of the British empire—they are situate in Cornwall—they can be easily discovered and inspected. Yet, though this has not been done by these nine petitioners, they make it a leading feature in their complaint, that 121,000l. was agreed to be paid to me for the mines. Is concealment of the price alleged? No! that was impossible. The mines were bought at a meeting openly—at a meeting held at a public tavern in the city of London—the separate prices agreed to be given for each mine distinctly stated —the prices given by me for each mine stated with equal distinctness—the value of each mine was canvassed and discussed—the reports on each mine were read—my agreements for the conditional purchase of each mine exhibited and perused—a calculation made of the profit I might realize—and then the following Resolutions adopted, unanimously, and to which I call the attention of the House. They are these—"Resolved Third—That it appears to this meeting, that Mr. Wilks, of New Broad-street, is possessed of many very valuable and approved mines, and that the reports of captain Richards, captain Teague, and captain Champion, have satisfied this meeting of the expediency of purchasing the mines. Fourth.—That this meeting therefore agree to purchase Wheal Boulton mine for 25,000l.; Wheal Nancy mine for 8,000l.; Wheal Fanny mine for 12,500l.; Wheal Crenver, Oatfield, and Chance, for 30,000l.; Wheal Abraham and Wheal Drym for 4,000l.; West Wheal Wellington for 7,000l.; Great Wheal Fortune for 11,500l.; Wheal Barnard for 11,000l.; and West Wheal Vor for 12,000l.; making together the sum of 121,000l. Twenty-sixth.—That the Directors have the power to purchase (in addition to those already purchased of Mr. Wilks) such other mines in Cornwall, or Devonshire, as they may deem eligible for the interests of the Company."

What became, Sir, of these Resolutions? Were they secreted? Were they deposited in some iron box, as a document unfit for public inspection? No such thing, for let me trouble the House with nearly the last Resolution, which runs thus:—Thirty-first.—That the foregoing Resolution be entered in a minute book, to be called 'The Proprietors' Minute Book,' and be signed by the chairman, and that a copy of the minutes be sent forthwith to each absent director." But it may be asked, were the Resolutions so entered, and copied, and distributed? Unquestionably. The Resolutions were entered in the Proprietors' Minute Book by a clerk of the company, and that Proprietors' Minute Book was open for the inspection of the shareholders, at the offices of the company, and was laid on the table to invite inspection.

Further, did I attempt to conceal that I was the vendor to the company? Did I introduce any other name? Did I hide the transaction, or hesitate to avow it? No. The Resolution I have already read must, I should think, have satisfied the House upon this point. Further, let me call the attention of the House to the fact, that three of the individuals, from whom I purchased some of the mines, became directors. I refer to Mr. Teague, Mr. Carne, and Mr. Reynolds. If I had wished to secret the circumstance, that I had made a profit on my purchase, or even to secret the exact amount of profit., should I have adopted this line of conduct, to introduce three gentlemen to the board of directors, fully cognizant of the facts? But though I concealed nothing in my proceedings, the worthy alderman, who has presented this petition, has been far less candid and open. I asked for an inspection of the names attached to this petition, and that individual has thought fit to refuse them [no, from Mr. Alderman Waithman]. The hon. member, Sir, denies this, and, as he denies it, I will show the House what that denial is worth. Sir, I applied, in the first instance by letter, to the hon. member, for a copy of this petition; at first he refused it, and said he had consulted some members, who said it was unusual; he, however, afterwards promised to consult the Speaker. In a few days he wrote me a letter, stating he would admit me to peruse the petition at his own house, before ten o'clock in the morning. This step I declined, preferring to inspect it at the Vote-office. But what did the hon. member leave there? Not the petition, but a sheet of paper, professing to contain a copy of the petition, but without a single signature attached to it. I then applied to the hon. member for an inspection of the names. And did he comply with my request? Certainly not. I now, therefore, Sir, as an English gentleman, call on the hon. member to retract, as he is bound to do, his most improper and unparliamentary denial [hear, hear]. I therefore repeat, Sir, the observation which I just now made, that the charge of concealment attaches not to me, but to the worthy alderman.

But further, Sir, with reference to this second charge, I beg to ask, what must have been my opinion of the mines, the purchase, and the probability of success, when I state, that myself, and my then partner, Mr. Verbeke, took two thousand shares in the company, and have actually paid 30,000l.? All those shares are now mine, and I have not parted with them. Was this like the conduct of an individual who was cajoling or deceiving others—to place 30,000l. in it himself? And let me also add on this topic, that at the meeting where these mines were purchased from me, all the agreements, documents, reports, surveys, whether good or bad, were produced by me, examined, considered, and discussed: and that what was done by those parties, and acquiesced in by the shareholders, was so done deliberately, calmly, and with due consideration. Nor should I omit stating to the House a circumstance, which, at least in my opinion, is entitled to much weight. One of the shareholders, a Mr. Johnston, in the early history of the company, expressed strongly to the secretary his opinion to be unfavourable, and he declined for a long time exchanging his scrip for shares. But in August, 1825, he attended on the secretary, stated that he was a holder of seventy scrip receipts; that he had, on previous occasions, intimated his intention of forfeiting some of the scrip from unfavourable reports which had been circulated; that he had then, however, satisfied himself of the good management of the company — of its great utility — of the benefit which must ultimately result to the shareholders when all the mines were in full work. He further stated, that he had delayed paying the call until he had satisfied himself by inquiries of men connected with mining in Cornwall, and able to give a correct opinion. He then stated, that he had learned that the company was entitled to the greatest confidence, and would prove an advantageous means of investment. On two mines, namely, "Wheal Fanny," and "Wheal Fortune," the gentleman further pronounced very high opinions, and expressed his perfect satisfaction with the undertaking. Now, Sir, this was the testimony of an individual, much prejudiced at one time against the company, but who afterwards satisfied himself that his former opinion was erroneous, and then had the manliness and honour to state the result of his conviction.

It has, however, been urged, Sir, by some persons out of this House, that whilst those who attended the meeting have certainly no right to complain of the price given for the mines, those who did not attend have such right. Now, Sir, to this proposition I cannot possibly assent. Those who did not so attend were in no way prejudiced. First, because no deposits had been paid when the meeting was held. Second, because no prospectus was issued till after the meeting, and, therefore, persons were not asked to subscribe to purchase mines, with the names or nature of which they were unacquainted, since all these facts were detailed in the prospectus. Third, because the resolutions adopted at the meeting were open to the inspection of all parties who did not attend the meeting. Fourth, because those resolutions were entered in the Proprietors' Minute Book, kept open at the office, for the inspection of the proprietors at all times. Fifth, because the parties had abundance of time between the period when the prospectus was issued, and the deposit required to be paid, to make all necessary inquiries: and sixth, because the nine persons who have signed this petition, and in fact all the shareholders, had months in which to make inquiries, and remove doubts, if any they entertained, before they exchanged their scrip for shares, and became formally partners.

For the reasons I have now stated, I therefore submit to this House, with a feeling of the most perfect confidence, that the second charge follows the fate of the first. And I again protest against the conduct of these petitioners, who venture to insinuate the price agreed to be given for the mines at the time as excessive, without daring expressly to charge so; or without adducing, or offering to adduce, one tittle of evidence to support the proposition.

The third charge contained in the petition, is—"That the directors made a reserve of two thousand seven hundred and fifty shares." Now, Sir, those who make this charge, are either ignorant or not aware of the resolutions establishing this company. If ignorant, they should have informed themselves; but if aware, then they have no excuse to offer. Why, Sir, by the seventh resolution of the meeting at which this company was originally formed, the directors were expressly empowered to reserve as many shares as they might think fit. In pursuance of such resolution, the directors did reserve some shares, but though originally to the number mentioned in the petition, yet subsequently only to the amount of six hundred. On the 13th of April, seven thousand three hundred and twenty shares were allotted; on the 26th of April, eighty; and afterwards to myself and partner, two thousand. Thus, if all the shares allotted had been paid upon, nine thousand four hundred would have been issued instead of ten thousand, the total number of shares, and a reserve of six hundred only would have been made. Nor, Sir, does it affect the statement I have now made, that all the nine thousand four hundred shares so allotted were not paid upon. This was no fault of the directors, but only of those persons, principally connected with the Stock Exchange, who applied for shares in all proposed companies, as soon as even their titles were announced, and then who either paid or not, according to whether the shares came out at a premium or not. The question is, what shares were allotted that might have been paid upon? and my answer is nine thousand four hundred. Thus much for this subject of complaint.

The fourth charge is—"That the directors bought up one thousand shares at a premium, and paid for them 6,198l. 15s." In order, Sir, that the precise nature of this allegation may be understood, allow me to remind the House that the one thousand shares so bought up for 6,198l. 15s. had first of all been paid upon by the persons to whom they had been allotted; and that the sum so paid, being 5l. per share, was 5,000l. The real question, therefore, is whether the difference between the 5,000l. and the 6,198l. 15s. being 1,198l. 15s., was or was not honestly and properly laid out, it being so expended in premiums and commission paid on the one thousand shares purchased in the market? for the House will clearly understand, that although the petitioners would mystify this matter, it is a most simple transaction. It would appear from the petition as though 6,198l. 15s. had been lost or sacrificed; whereas, the total loss was 1,198l. 15s., being the sum paid for premiums and commission.

Now, Sir, the object of the directors in making this purchase was fair and bonâ fide. The directors were told by individuals connected with the Stock-exchange—"Your prospectus is too long—your statements too minute—your information too specific. This is not the kind of thing to take in the market. Depend on it your shares will not be paid on. We advise you to buy up the shares and abandon the undertaking." The directors were further told—"By your candour, your ingenuousness, your concern will fail—mystery, hard names, and unknown geography, are better suited to the Stock-exchange than mines in Cornwall — worked by Englishmen — with English capital—under the sanction of English laws—and subject to English tribunals. Depend on it it will not do." The directors perceived that there was some tardiness in payment, and they resolved, for a short time, to adopt the advice given—to buy up the shares—to divide the loss among themselves—and to resign the undertaking. It was at this period the order was given. What was its effect? The shares rose in price. In one day they were purchased—a great body of the applicants for shares came forward and paid upon them—and the company instead of being abandoned, was established.

Now, Sir, did the directors, in adopting this measure, do it with the intention of forcing up the market? Certainly not. Was this their object? This may be best answered by referring to their conduct. When the shares were at a premium, did the directors sell their shares? Did they take them into the market to profit thereby? No such thing. They sold. not one single share—they did not offer to do it. The shares originally taken by them, with but few exceptions, they still retain. Some of them have increased their original number, and all, even now, feel assured that the mines only require a fair expenditure of capital upon them to be remunerative to the share-holders. And let me further ask of the worthy alderman, did the directors gain by this transaction? Was it not a loss to them? Did not the directors, officers, and their friends, possess by far the greatest portion of shares? Was not any loss, therefore, a loss to them as well as to the other shareholders. The object was bonâ fide—the intention was honourable and just. By it the directors sought not to profit—and did not profit—but sustained a loss—and yet, at the expiration of two years from the transaction, though it was well known and publicly talked of at the time, these petitioners come forward to upbraid the directors in the petition now on the table of this House.

The Fifth Charge is one connected with that to which I have just drawn the attention of the House, it is—"That the purchase of the one thousand shares was for fictitious purposes." This, Sir, I pronounce to be untrue. If only a thousand shares had been paid upon, the thousand shares would have been thus bought up—the loss by the premium, &c. would have been sustained by the directors, and. the company would have been abandoned. But the result was widely different. The persons to whom shares were allotted, and who were unconnected with the Stock-exchange, thought better of it than those individuals, and many thousand shares being paid on, the company was continued. But what became of the one thousand shares so purchased? Were they afterwards sold? No. Were they misappropriated? No. Are they still in existence, and in possession of the company? Most assuredly. If the directors had sold them again, and made a larger profit than the 1,198l. 15s., and had divided that profit, or had divided any profit, and charged the company with the loss, then the object might have been fictitious, and the directors might have been blamed; but no such event occurred, and no such conduct is imputed.

There is also another answer to this objection. In the deed of settlement which these very petitioners, who are shareholders, have signed, is contained a clause expressly empowering the directors to buy up shares, and either to cancel or resell them, or to retain them for the company. This deed, so signed, was not executed hastily, or without deliberation, by the petitioners, but after mature consideration; and yet, although this deed contains in it a clause expressly authorizing the purchase of shares by the directors, these petitioners object to a purchase made on the very same principle by the directors, simply because it was made before the deed was signed. If the shareholders by the deed had not adopted the principle, they might have found fault, but having adopted it by signing the deed, I submit to this House that their complaint is both frivolous and vexatious.

The Sixth Charge made by the Petitioners, is—"That I was not entitled to the Mines when I sold them at the Meeting held at the Albion Tavern." This statement is untrue, and the petitioners well know that it is so. I had at that time agreed, in writing, with the agents of the parties belonging to the mines to purchase them for certain sums, and had stipulated in what manner I should pay for them. In consequence of these agreements I received possession of the mines; at the meeting in question I produced these agreements. I sold my interest whatever that interest might be—I had an equitable, as well as legal interest, and that interest was purchased from me. But then it is urged that the agreements under which I held were only conditional, that is, that they contained a clause making them void, unless within a given time I established a company or partnership to work them. This clause was proposed by the vendors, and not by me, but whether by me or by them, it appeared a fair and reasonable one; for the vendors inquired—Do you intend to work these mines yourself? I replied, certainly not, but that I proposed to sell them to a company for the best price I could procure, and what the mines were worth. They then stated that by the terms of the leases, and the custom of Cornwall, the mines must be worked within a given time, and as it was not my intention to work them, but to sell them to a company who would work them, they must require the contract to be at an end, unless the company should purchase them within a given time. To this I assented, and the original agreements were so prepared. When, however, the company purchased the mines of me, the conditional agreements were cancelled, and absolute ones entered into—and at this moment actions are pending against me to recover the sums agreed to be paid by me, thereby demonstrating, that I was really the purchaser, and afterwards the bonâ fide seller; and that there was no trick or understanding upon the subject; but that it was an every day mercantile proceeding. And let me add, in confirmation of this, my explanation, that if such were not the real state of the case, then there would have been no occasion for second agreements; or, if entered into at all, they would have contained the same conditional clause in favour of myself. But no such thing. I took the risk upon myself, and upon that risk, and agreement, the parties look to me for the balance due to them for the mines.

And now, Sir, with respect to the real question, whether I was or was not entitled to the mines when I sold them? Let me remind the House of a fact, which may have escaped its recollection, that at any rate the company has been in the possession of the mines for nearly two years—that it has worked the mines—that it has received the produce of the mines—that such produce has been sold, and many thousand pounds actually received by the company—that even the title deeds of the mines are in the possession of the bankers of the company—and that the company will not allow me to copy or inspect those deeds. It does then appear that I had something to sell, and that something real and substantial has been purchased. The company has been in undisturbed possession and enjoyment of nine mines, with all the machinery, stock, and produce, for two years, and on paying the balance of the purchase money it can have at once a legal title and conveyance, in which all necessary parties will join, of all those mines. Can I now convey? Can I now make out a good title? Unquestionably. Have the parties tendered their money and required it? No. Have they not prevented me from tendering a conveyance, by refusing me the inspection of even the title deeds, at the same time that they have refused to pay for the mines they thus occupy and enjoy? Then, Sir, instead of complaints coming from the worthy alderman and his Stock-exchange adventurers, I am the party aggrieved by the conduct of the petitioners and the company. My situation at the present moment is this—I have bought mines, and the parties are proceeding against me for the balance of the purchase money. I have sold mines, and the parties to whom I have sold them will not pay me for them, but yet are proceeding against me to pay a call of 5l. per share, on the shares held by me. "Hardship" indeed! Yes, it is a case of hardship, but it is hardship to myself. The Sixth Charge therefore, I submit to the House, is unproved, unsupported, and baseless, and like the rest, is only made to excite prejudice, and defeat justice.

The Seventh Charge contained in the petition, is—"That I gave but 78,500l. for the mines, and that I have sold them for 121,000l.!" And what matters it, Sir, whether I gave 100l., or 100,000l. for the mines? The question is, what were the mines worth? were they worth, when sold, the price agreed to be paid? Were the representations made as to their names, character,.size, tenure, capabilities, products, history, and past operations, or future prospects, false or exaggerated? nothing of this kind is alleged, nor could it be stated with even the semblance of truth. Is it, Sir, alleged that I purchased these mines as a director, or a solicitor, or officer to the company, and then that I sold them at an advanced price, keeping back the profit? Why, Sir, this could not be, for I agreed to purchase the mines before a meeting had been held, or a resolution adopted, before one farthing had been subscribed, a prospectus issued, or a syllable respecting such a company uttered or written. If it had been otherwise there might have been reason for complaint. It then might have been said—"as agent, or director, or solicitor to the company, you were bound to buy for the company, at as low a price as possible, and had no right whatever to seek for or to expect a profit," and this, Sir, would have been a fair and reasonable proposition. But it is too much to expect that, whereas I purchased the mines in February or March, and then sold them in April or May, I should, for no reason whatever, sell them at the very same price which I gave for them, and thus run all the risk of the purchase, and then all the risk of the sale, for no other object or purpose than to establish a company. Such an expectation would have been most absurd, and such a line of proceeding upon my part, would have been most unmercantile and extraordinary. I bought them to sell again. I bought them because they were represented as great bargains. I bought them because I was informed that I could sell them again at a profit. I bought them not without inquiry, investigation, or surveys; but after due deliberation, inquiry, and examination. And how did I sell them? Openly and publicly, at a meeting held at a public tavern, at which many persons were present who had proposed to hold shares in a company to work them. I produced my agreements. One gentleman, who had gone down at my risk and expense to visit and inspect the mines, attended the meeting, and afforded much information. All reports, papers, and documents were laid open. They were all printed in the prospectus. The prospectus was advertised, printed, and circulated. No one subscribed a farthing towards the capital without all this prior information being supplied to him. All this was acquiesced in and approved for twelve months, until at length a call was made, and then these petitioners pronounced the company a fraud, and by false and artful statements for a period imposed upon the public press, and upon the country at large. But that time is gone by. Delusion and hypocrisy are now about to be unmasked; and I tell these shareholders, I tell the House, and I tell the country, that these very petitioners, who now complain, were aware of all the facts of which they complain at the time, and before the time they became original proprietors. But now, when shares are unsaleable, when all mining speculations are depreciated, and when at any sacrifice of honour or of principle some parties are desirous of getting, rid of both their moral, legal, and equitable responsibility—now it is, Sir, that the charge of fraud is brought forward, and attempted to be imposed upon this House.

And there is another circumstance connected with the charge I am now considering, to which I wish especially to direct the attention of this House. It is stated, Sir, that I have sold the mines to the company for 121,000l., and that I purchased them for 78,500l. But has the company paid me this 121,000l.? No. Has it paid me the 78,500l.? No. It has paid me but 54,000l. out of the 121,000l., and yet the petitioners complain. Have these petitioners, or has the company, tendered to me the difference between the 54,000l. and the 121,000l., and required a title or conveyance which it cannot procure? No such thing. Well, then, has it offered the difference between the 54,000l. and the 78,500l, which it admits I am to pay for the mines? Is this 24,500l. tendered or offered? No. Is it said—"You must take the price you gave for the mines, and that we will pay, and you must merge all your profits?" Nothing of this sort has been proposed or offered. But I have offered repeatedly to leave the whole question, both as a gentleman and a merchant, to the arbitration of any competent, honourable, and respectable arbitrators. This proposition, however, has been disregarded, and the transaction pronounced a fraud! Fraud! there was no fraud in it. Let the contract be narrowly looked to, let it be examined, and it will be found to be an open bonâ fide transaction. I do not, Sir, object to inquiry, I challenge it; but I deprecate an inquiry in this House. There are competent, legal, and equitable tribunals. To one of them I have appealed, to another the petitioners have appealed. In both I feel confident that justice will be done; but till justice is refused no appeal can be necessary to this honourable House.

The Eighth Charge which the petitioners make in their petition, is—"That I have received 54,000l. on account of the 121,000l." And pray, Sir, let me ask the hon. member what the company has received in return? Has not the company been in possession of the mines for two years? Has not the company been in possession, and still continues in possession, of the machinery, amounting to very many thousand pounds? Has not the company worked the mines for two years? Has it not raised, and sold, and been paid for more than 10,000l. worth of ores? Has it not possession, also, of the title deeds? Is it, Sir, I ask the House, a subject of complaint that in return for mines, machinery, and ores, for possession undisputed and undisturbed, as well of the property as of the title deeds, that part of the purchase money has been paid? Surely the House will not be deceived by such allegations. And then, Sir, let me also ask the hon. member who has presented this petition, what has become of the 54,000l. I have received? Why, Sir, 30,000l. I have paid back into the funds of the company. With one hand, I received 54,000l., with the other I put back 30,000l. And this, Sir, is one of the many examples which I could give the House of the fair, and unbiassed, and candid, statements contained in this petition. And then, Sir, it will be recollected, that besides the 30,000l. thus invested, I have paid two instalments on my purchase money to the individuals of whom I purchased the mines. In addition also to such payment, I am the holder of scrip, now forfeited, to a considerable amount, which I purchased in the market, and I have expended large and various sums of money in expenses, gratuities, and payments for services; and I may truly add, that at this time I have paid away, connected with this company, several thousands of pounds more than I have received.

I have now conducted the House through eight of the charges made against myself or the directors in this petition. I now arrive at the ninth, and there are I believe, but three more [a laugh] and to this ninth I especially invite the attention of the House. The Ninth Charge is, that "it was agreed when the company was formed, that I was to divide a portion of the profits among the directors, and that I have divided a part of such profits." Now, Sir, in the first place, I deny this statement. I deny it positively, and in the face of the country. When I sold the mines, or before I sold them, I said not and wrote not one word upon the subject of division of profits. I sold the mines for my own profit, for my own advantage. I retained both in law, and in equity, and in honour, and I still retain an absolute and indisputable right to the sum for which I sold them. And as to present division of profit! why, Sir, at present there can have been no profit to divide. The mines cost me 78,500l. I have received but 54,000l. for them, and therefore the large sum of 24,500l. is due to me even to make up the cost price, and there cannot be one farthing of profit until that sum has been first paid. But, Sir, whilst I make this statement, and challenge any one to dispute its accuracy, yet I undoubtedly admit that there were individuals, and some too subsequently directors or shareholders, who, by the sacrifice of their time, and the most important assistance which they rendered in the formation of the company, entitled themselves, in my opinion, to some remuneration from me. One of those individuals had visited Cornwall, had inspected each mine, had collected together the reports of the parties best qualified to judge of the nature and value of the mines; and others of those individuals had devoted a considerable time, taken from their lucrative professions or pursuits, for the purpose of inviting and obtaining attention to the proposed measure, and for the purpose of establishing among themselves and their friends the proposed company. But for the assistance, advice, time, and exertions of these individuals I could not have suc ceeded; and as they proved their own opinion of the excellence of the concern by investing their own capital in it, to some. I presented gratuities in money—to others. in shares—and to others in money and shares.

But whether money or shares, or both, they were my own absolute property. I could have either presented them or not as I thought fit. I could either make the gift small or large as I might deem proper, as such gift or presentation was no condition precedent to the purchase of the mines; but on the contrary, the mines had been long purchased before I proposed to make any gift or remuneration. To the gentlemen I so remunerated, I said—"You have materially and efficiently assisted and served me—you consider me bound to make you some present or reward—I also feel that I should do so," and I did it accordingly. This, Sir, was my language to the parties, and theirs to me. All was perfectly spontaneous on my part, and all that I have so given has been to me absolute loss.

Before, however, I dismiss this part of the subject, I deem it right to state, that to only one gentleman, who is now a member of this House, did I present any such gratuity. To neither the right hon. viscount, the member for Cambridge, the hon. member for the county of Durham, or the honourable the sitting member for the county of Dublin, did I make any present, or offer any remuneration, and for this obvious reason, that they had rendered no service, and were therefore entitled to no reward. I did not indiscriminately bestow money or shares on all or many persons. Those entitled to be paid or rewarded have been, and to those who were not entitled, I have offered nothing. I am not therefore, Sir, ashamed to state, that I did make such gifts, or pay such remunerations, because the company is a bonâ fide company, established in a bonâ fide manner, conducted on bonâ fide principles, and tending to a bonâ fide result. This, Sir, is no bubble — no scheme—the transaction was as open as day, and as to those who attach any criminality in honourable payment for honourable services, I can only say I pity their want of understanding, and confess myself no supporter of their code of morals. I have been, Sir, thus explicit upon this charge, because I understand that it is the one upon which the worthy alderman places the most reliance, and upon which he hopes to obtain an appointment of a select committee.

The Tenth Charge made by the petitioners, is—"That the persons who said the mines were worth 121,000l., were interested in saying so." Be it so, though it was not so; but be it so. What then? Did they state falsely? I shall be glad to know where the allegation is, that the mines are not worth that sum. What was the opinion of the deputation who inspected the mines? They reported—"That all the mines which have been purchased are advantageous, and highly beneficial purchases, and are mines in which the capital embarked cannot fail of being profitably employed." What was the opinion of Mr. Johnston, whose name and matured opinion in favour of the company I have already adverted to? What was even the opinion of one of these petitioners often expressed at the office of the company? Why, that it was an excellent and promising undertaking. What is the opinion of some of the most experienced miners now. Why, that even now one mine, "Wheal Fanny," may be worth all the money. What was my own opinion? I have already referred to this, by showing that I thought it so good and desirable an undertaking, that out of 54,000l. received, 30,000l. I have embarked in the company, by taking two thousand shares, and paying 15l. per share. And then, Sir, as to the allegation itself, that all were interested in praising the mines who did praise them, I deny it. To say nothing of the individuals I have before mentioned, I state that Mr. Sim was not interested, that Mr. Richards was not interested, that Mr. James Thomas was not interested, that Mr. Vivian was not interested, and that Mr. Champion was not interested, and yet I state, that all of these parties have more or less borne their testimony to the excellence and capabilities of the mines. I therefore contend that this charge is unfounded and untrue.

The Eleventh Charge contained in the petition, is—"That the number of the Directors and Auditors has not been completed." Now, Sir, though no prejudice is alleged as resulting from this omission, if there be such an omission, yet I will show to the House that there is no ground for complaint. The original prospectus contained the names of twenty directors, and four auditors; and it stated that one more director would be added to make the number complete. Was this step taken? undoubtedly it was. Then was there any deviation between that prospectus and the deed? None whatever; except, that the deed supplied the name of the remaining one, thereby making the number complete. Two years have now rolled away, and how stands the list now? Two have died—four have retired—and fifteen continue. But why, it is asked, have not the six vacancies been filled up? For this reason, and for this reason. only, because these petitioners, and their confederates, at the first annual meeting, when the vacancies ought to have been filled up, contrived by noise—uproar—affected astonishment and indignation—by threats and other illegal and dishonourable means, contrived, and have ever since contrived, to blind the shareholders to their true interests—to impede—nay, to stop the proceedings of the company, and to injure, and well nigh ruin one of the most promising undertakings ever established in the county of Cornwall. And yet these petitioners, who, nearly twelve months ago, first commenced these attacks, and who have continued them ever since, now come forward to this House, and make the non-election of directors, to fill the vacancies, a subject of attack, though such non-election is exclusively attributable to them.

The Twelfth and Last Charge made by the petitioners, is—"That some of the Directors have ordered actions to be brought for calls due on Shares." This measure has been adopted by them since I ceased to have any connection with the company, further than a shareholder. But provided the deed has been duly signed, and the call duly made, and the proceedings duly taken, it is a measure which, I have no doubt, the directors are prepared to vindicate. The deed which regulates the company provides, that the directors may from time to time make calls at their discretion; and this deed the nine petitioners entitled to be heard have signed. But this is the sore place—this is one of the real reasons why the petition is presented; but "let the galled jade wince—our withers are unwrung." The deed also not only provides for the making of calls, but for enforcing them when duly made. I pronounce here no opinion as to the validity of this call, but if it be valid, then the petitioners, like myself, have bound ourselves to pay it; and I am willing to allow, and ever have been willing to allow, and have offered to allow its amount to be deducted from the balance of nearly 70,000l. in which the purchasers of the mines are indebted to me. If the call had not been enforced, this House would have heard nothing of the petitioners, or this notable petition. Until this call was enforced, I alone was blamed; the right hon. Secretary at War was praised almost to adulation; but how soon was the blessing succeeded by the curse—how soon the cheer followed by the groan—when these petitioners found that that noble lord, and the other directors, had ordered the call to be enforced!

Before I conclude my reply to the allegations of these petitioners, there is one sentence in the petition, to which I have omitted to refer, but which gives some insight into the bitter and personal intentions of these individuals. It is this, and to it I invite the attention of the House. The petitioners state, as a ground of complaint, that some of the directors in this company have been connected with myself in two companies, called "The Welsh Iron and Coal Mining Company," and The Welsh Slate Copper and Lead Mining Company." Now, Sir, although this petition professes to be the petition of shareholders and scripholders in "The Cornwall and Devonshire Mining Company," and to pray an inquiry into the formation and management of that company, yet the cloven foot is now to be seen. It is not to the measures, but to the men that they object; not on the score of principle, but of feeling; not of honour, but of malice. To annoy, vilify, injure, degrade, is their object. They hope to excite a prejudice against the company, and all legal proceedings connected with it. And then, because they felt the impotence of their own case, and the hopelessness of all their malicious accusations, really to relieve them from their covenants and promises, they seek for other accusations as connected with other companies, and hope thereby to effect the object they so much desire.

This, then, Sir, is the petition which has been nearly twelve months in preparation; which, when produced, contains not one real charge of either fraud, or fraudulent conduct; which is signed by nine shareholders out of eighty-one; which represents about one sixtieth part of the capital subscribed; which is designed and intended only to defeat, and not to assist, the ends of justice; and which is both the most ignorant and malicious document to which my attention, or, I will venture to say, the attention of the House has ever been directed. What, Sir, is the prayer of the petitioners? First, "That this House will take all matters into consideration." It has now done so. Second, "That the House will institute an inquiry." No case is made out to require it. And Third, "To adopt such proceedings as the House shall think fit." The only proceeding, I trust, which the House will adopt, will be to order it to lie upon the table, and not even to consent to print it. This is a point which I shall certainly urge on the attention of the House, and if necessary, press a division.

Let me now, Sir, apologise to the House for the great length of time which I have already occupied in my defence, and in the defence of the directors and managers of this company, to this petition. Let me also thank the House for the patience which it has evinced, and for the courtesy I have received at its hands; for I cannot but feel how uninteresting to the House must be the detail with which I have felt it my duty to trouble it [hear]. I have endeavoured to avoid unnecessary prolixity, but the attack made upon me, and the strong feeling which my peculiar situation could not fail to excite, have betrayed me into a length of statement which I did not intend, and which to me has been most unpleasant. My motive, in rising to address the House, was to expose the real nature and object of this attack. I have no wish, Sir, to copy the example of the hon. gentleman who has brought forward this petition; but in addition to the reasons why this petition has been presented, which I have already supplied, I could, if the forms and order of this House would permit, but which they will not do—I could, I say, show that there may be motives actuating certain individuals which I could expose, if permitted so to do. I dare say an honourable member will not wholly forget the proceedings before a certain committee of this House, as to the Equitable Loan Bank, nor the charges there made. Whether at any proceedings which there occurred, the hon. member, who presented this petition, has taken umbrage, it is not for me to say, though I may entertain some suspicions. I hope, however, the hon. member will endeavour, in any discussions on this subject, to keep his mind free from certain preconceived notions and opinions. I hope that the excellent invocation which is offered up to Heaven at the commencement of each day's proceedings in this House—"That all animosity and prejudice should be banished, and that we should judge of the business on which we may be called to decide, without malice or any improper feeling," will be attended to by the worthy alderman, and that such good advice will not be lost upon him.

Let me now ask the hon. member who has presented. this petition, what good has it effected, or can it effect? Mischief it must and will produce, but good it cannot. Can the shareholders derive any benefit from this discussion? Can the House dissolve the contract for the mines? Certainly not, that must be the work of a jury. Can it set aside the deed of partnership? Certainly not. Can it relieve the petitioners from fulfilling their covenants? Certainly not. Can it pay the calls for the shareholders? That it will not. Can the House restore money paid by the shareholders? or can it place the mines in the same situation in which they were when the mines were purchased? Certainly not. Will these nine petitioners place the mines in the same excellent and improving condition in which they were when the company purchased them? Oh no. This is not the object or intention of the petitioners. I am then, Sir, astonished how these individuals who break every engagement, and violate every covenant made by them relating to this company, can have the conscience to prepare, and sign, and present, this petition to the House.

But not only can no benefit result from this discussion, or from the appointment of a Select committee, but much injury must ensue. In the first place, Sir, this discussion is likely to produce injury by lowering the dignity of the House. This House has other business of far more importance to transact—of far greater moment to be considered—than the disputes among the members of a trading. company. Such discussions may suit the dignity of a common hall, or a court of aldermen, but they are beneath the dignity of this House. I expect, Sir, that we shall, ere long, have petitions presented from creditors of members, or debtors to them, from the turf, the gaming house, and the shop; and that instead of occupying itself about the affairs of the greatest nation in the world, the House of Commons will be occupied in discussing the claims of an upholsterer, the statements of a black leg, or the affairs of honour, love, or intrigue, in which men of family and fashion are sometimes involved. I call upon the House, at this commencement of a new æra in the House of Commons, to oppose this petition, and the unconstitutional and oppressive proceedings which its supporters desire to be instituted.

Secondly, any proceedings, with reference to this petition, will be an unwarrantable interference with private affairs. For civil injuries there are civil remedies. Ample laws, and an abundance of courts, have been provided for the investigation and settlement of all such matters. If disposed to avail myself of such an argument, but which I am not, I might urge, that at the time the proceedings complained of took place, I was not a member of this House—nay, for more than twelve months afterwards, I was not a candidate; and singular, therefore, would it be for this House to interfere with all the private transactions and concerns of private individuals before members of this House. I claim the privilege of a British subject—the privilege of being accountable only to the ordinary tribunals for my conduct as a private individual [hear, hear!]. I say it with respect and deference, but with firmness and decision, what right has this House to interfere, and take cognizance of transactions which occurred eighteen months at least before I became a member of the House? If I have committed wrong, I am liable to the courts of law or equity. With so many, and so efficient, and sufficient correctives of morals and conduct, what necessity exists for dragging in the extraordinary interposition of this House. The object cannot be, and is not, the furtherance of justice; but it is intended only to harass and annoy, not myself only, but other members of this House, and to prejudice them in the public estimation.

I contend, thirdly, Sir, that this will be establishing a precedent of the most dangerous kind. Such a course as this is unprecedented. I have always understood, that the usual answer given to petitions of this sort, as well by his majesty's ministers, as by gentlemen on the opposite side of this House—"Why come to this House? Why not resort to the ordinary tribunals? The courts of law and equity are open to you. Apply there." What is said then in other cases I claim for myself now. The petitioners have admitted that actions are pending, and let those actions and other legal proceedings try and decide these questions.

The inquiry sought for would be also, fourthly, unjust to myself, and to the plaintiffs in the actions depending, relative to the calls. To myself, as I claim the fulfilment of the contract, purchasing from me the mines, and to the plaintiffs in such actions, since it would not only be casting a severe reflection upon them, but it would in a measure necessarily tend to frustrate the ends of justice, by fettering the advocate, and prejudicing the jury.

What grounds then, I ask, has this House to proceed upon? Is it not clear that the object of the petitioners is to defeat justice, and to send forth partial statements to the public. And whilst I am upon this subject, I cannot but refer to the most improper manner in which the proceedings of the Arigna committee were from time to time reported, or half reported, to the public. During the progress of that inquiry, ex parte statements of the evidence, not given by way of question and answer, but most partially, were inserted in some newspapers. Lest the same practices should again be resorted to in this House, I call upon it to protect its members by defeating this attempt.

I now call, Sir, upon the hon. member who has presented this petition to withdraw it; I call upon him on grounds of public duty, and public justice; I call on him who is so violent an advocate in theory for the liberty of the subject, the trial by jury, and all the popular rights; I call, Sir, on the hon. member to prove that he is in practice what he is in theory, and to withdraw his petition. But lest the hon. member should be deaf to this call, I now, Sir, call upon the House to refuse this petition, to refuse its reception; or if they proceed so far as to order it to lie on the table, I call on the House not to order it to be printed. I ask of the House, at least, to wait till after the decision of the Courts of Equity and Law, already, or about to be, appealed to. When their calm and dispassionate, and final decision shall be known, it will be then time enough to listen to the petitioners; and whenever that period may arrive, I shall be found at my post to meet the alderman and his petitionary constituents. I am aware that the petitioners, actuated by private feelings and personal animosity, would never be satisfied with any thing short of the expulsion of myself and other members from this House. But in this design they will not be gratified; the accomplishment of this wish will be denied to them; for I know, and am assured, that this House will not suffer these defaulting petitioners to carve out to themselves their own judgment. I shrink not from inquiry, but let it be a fair, a legal, a constitutional, a full inquiry. If the House should think fit to proceed with this investigation, surely it would require the best possible evidence, and where can it find such evidence but in that given upon oath and sifted before a British jury.

Let me now, in conclusion, beg pardon of the House for the length of time which I have occupied in this discussion. Let me thank the House again and again for its attention, its candour, its indulgence. My statement has been not less irksome to myself, than I fear it has been tedious to others, but it was wrung from me by my accusers, and I have discharged my duty. I felt that I was put upon my trial, and now I have met and confuted my accusers. Let them enjoy the harvest of their anxieties, their toils, their industry, and their malice: the satisfaction of seeing their petition only received: let them see it remain unprinted, and its prayer refused. Let the House arrive at this conclusion, and it will support the laws of the country, the dignity of the House, and the true interests of the people.

Mr. Bankes

said, he had not stopped the hon. member for Sudbury in many of the topics which he had unnecessarily introduced into his speech, only because the hon. member had so deep a personal interest in the question. The short point for consideration was, whether this petition should be printed? There could be no doubt as to the receiving it. But if the hon, gentleman who had presented it moved to have it printed, he should oppose the motion.

Mr. G. Robinson

contended, that the House were, in consistency, bound to go further. They had already entertained a petition, the result of which was before them in the able report then lying on the table. They could not, therefore, refuse to entertain this petition. On the discus- sion of the charges against the directors of the Arigna Mining Association, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs had advised the hon. alderman not to make the inquiry general, but to confine it to some particular case; and if, in that instance, the charges were sustained, the House would be justified in proceeding to another; though, he believed, the right hon. gentleman did not expressly pledge himself to support it, unless a strong presumption of abuse was manifest. In this instance, if the hon. alderman pressed the inquiry, he would support it; and he would state the grounds of his support. This was a charge not against the hon. member for Sudbury alone, but against several members of the House; and, though he was perfectly satisfied that the noble lord, and other hon. members, who had been connected with this company, needed no justification, yet he felt, that, after what had been said outside of that House, and considering what was actually within the cognizance of the House, it was necessary, not to their justification with that House, or with the country, but for the sake of their own feelings, as their names had been mixed up with these transactions, that some inquiry should take place. The hon. member for Sudbury had argued, that inquiry was unnecessary, as proceedings were pending in the courts, and that it would be mischievous, as it would unavoidably prejudice those cases. If he thought that an inquiry by that House would have the effect of sapping the foundations of justice, or of precluding the parties accused from using those means of justification to which they were entitled, he would be the last man to stand up and support it. But, in consequence of some opinions that had been expressed by the learned lord in whose court these proceedings were pending, it appeared, that, whatever might be the result of them, it would not go to decide whether this was a fraudulent transaction, but only whether some of the parties should have their money back again, or whether it should remain in the hands in which it was at present lodged. If that court would not pronounce upon the allegations of fraud, how could the hon. member for Sudbury fancy his character vindicated, when, in fact, no opinion would be given respecting it? He was surprised at the course pursued by that hon. member, in alluding to the proceedings regarding other companies. The hon. member should have remembered, that the hon. gentleman concerned in them had courted and demanded that inquiry from which he shrunk. Allusion had also been made by that hon. member to some proceedings which had been instituted to recover the money paid as subscriptions towards the Cornwall and Devonshire company. He knew none of the subscribers or directors, but he must say, that, after what had transpired, they were fully justified in withholding their payments, when it appeared from the statement of the hon. member himself, that all that was already advanced would be lost; and that, give what they might, they would never get one shilling back. As he had supported the inquiry into the Arigna Mining Association, he would, for the same reasons, support this inquiry also. When he found attacks made upon members, not only out of doors, but within their own walls, he felt that the character and dignity of parliament called aloud for inquiry.

Mr. D. W. Harvey

said, that the imputations conveyed by this petition involved an important principle; namely, under what circumstances, and at what period, that House should entertain charges, of whatever kind, against its own members. The right hon. the President of the Board of Control had stated it as his opinion, that the proper period, and the only time, for the House to exercise its high prerogative was, when all other means of inquiry were extinct. If there were any charges against the hon. member for Sudbury, criminal or otherwise, as long as the courts were open those courts, certainly, were the fit places to investigate them. This case was distinct from that of the Arigna Mining Company, which had immediate reference to an hon. member who then filled a distinguished situation in that House. The present question might assume the requisite degree of importance, if, indeed, the hon. member for Sudbury were likely soon to attain official eminence; or if, in the disturbed state of the administration, he should be called to succeed lord Liverpool; and certainly, if the hon. gentleman did not possess the talents, he had, at least, the moral strength of that distinguished individual [laughter]. The hon. gentleman had relied chiefly, and perhaps wisely, upon the success of his actions; for, though nobody doubted his professional dexterity, there were not a few who had ventured to impeach his integrity. He was not aware, before that evening, that the character of a solicitor was one clothed with peculiar delicacy; nor that the courts were backward in entertaining charges against them, nor very deeply affected when they heard of them. The hon. gentleman was undoubtedly right in maintaining his seat until he was deprived of it by some legal judgment. No affidavits had yet been filed against him. When the rolls were brought into that House, from which it should appear that his name had been disgraced, be would then become a disgrace to that House, and should be instantly expelled: but he ought not to be run down by a mass of assailants, who, if their shares had been profitable, would equally have nauseated him with their applause. Other hon, members were implicated in this petition; and he confessed, that, if it had borne as hard upon the noble lord (Palmerston), that would have been a good foundation for inquiry. It had afforded the noble lord an opportunity of vindicating himself triumphantly from the imputations attempted to be cast upon him, and of satisfying the House that he was totally untouched by them. Another thing should be borne in mind, with regard to the hon. member for Sudbury. His faults might be numerous. He knew not that the fact was so; for he really was not acquainted with the hon. gentleman. He did not disclaim him on the principle generally adopted, because it might be convenient to repudiate him, but, honestly, because he had no private knowledge of him. Whatever were his faults, however, the hon. gentleman had appealed to a numerous constituent body, whose duty it was to inquire into his character; and, unless the House supposed that the electors of Sudbury were a base and profligate set, who chose the hon. member as a real representative of themselves, their object must have been, in selecting him, to vindicate their purity. If they, indeed, thought that he had since so misconducted himself as to reflect discredit upon them, let the doors of the House be thrown open to a petition from them. Let the hon. gentleman's constituents complain if they had reason. But if they had knowingly returned an individual damnified in reputation, and blemished in character, they had no right to show their faces before that House. With respect to this petition, he saw no purpose it could answer, but that of anticipating the ends of justice. The hon. gentleman had admitted, that when he was legally convicted of fraud, it would be justifiable, immediately on the production of the record of his conviction, to turn him out of that House, and return him to his constituents. In that opinion he entirely concurred. He did not wish to press hard upon the hon. gentleman, who had been called on to reply to a number of charges of one kind or another, and who, in making so long a speech, had probably said many things, which, on reflexion, he might wish to retract. With every allowance for the circumstances of the hon. gentleman's situation, he was bound to say, that the hon. gentleman had not cleared himself from any one of the charges brought against him. He acknowledged that he had bought this estate for 78,000l. and had sold it to the company for 121,000l.; yet he refused to complete the purchase. At the same time, proceedings were pending against the shareholders, to compel them to pay up the remainder of their subscriptions; he himself owing instalments on one or two thousand shares. For his part, he heartily wished the hon. member for Sudbury a good deliverance, whether he was in the courts of law or in the criminal courts. As to the courts of equity, they could neither of them hope to live to see the end of the suits there. If the result of the inquiry proposed by the hon. alderman should be, to ascertain that the hon. member for Sudbury had acted in a manner unworthy of the character that should belong to the possessor of a seat in a House of Honour; if he was driven, in his defence, to have recourse to legal pleas and technicalities, his constituents ought to have an opportunity of expressing their sentiments. If the defence should fail altogether, he would follow the suggestion of the hon. member himself, and move for the production of the record of his conviction, as the foundation of ulterior proceedings against him in that House.

Mr. Alderman Waithman rose

to reply. He contended, that if ever there was a case that called for investigation, it was this. The petitioners were men of high and well known integrity. He had before mentioned the name of Mr. Hammond, only to remind the House, that that gentleman was related to a namesake who had long and justly enjoyed the confidence of his majesty's government, and that relative stood not higher, in the estimation of those who knew him, than the petitioner himself. It had been asked, why only a few of the shareholders had signed the petition? The fact was, that some of the shareholders, on finding out the fraud practised upon them, had refused to make any further payments; in some cases actions had been commenced against them to compel them to pay the future instalments; and in other cases, similar actions were threatened. The petitioners were not in either of these situations. But, really, it mattered nothing what was the character or number of those who exercised their constitutional right to petition that House. The poorest man in the land had the same right, and was justified in using it at his discretion. The question was not what were the petitioners, nor what were their motives, nor what were his motives in bringing the case forward. He cared not what the hon. member for Sudbury might say. I know, continued the hon. alderman, he has no right to charge me with feelings of personal hostility. He knows that I did not exercise any particular severity towards him, when he was brought before me, on a particular occasion. He then felt and expressed himself indebted to me. He of all men living has no right to complain of my conduct. I do not wish to say any thing harsh; but from what I have seen of him, he is the last man alive whom I would trust myself with for five minutes, except in the presence of a third person [cheers, and cries of "Order!"].

The Speaker.

—Any member of this House, who uses such language as that towards another member, is decidedly out of order. Whatever the honourable alderman may think, common decency requires that he should adopt a different form of expression.

Mr. Alderman Waithman.

—I have expressed myself strongly; but I submit myself to your correction. The hon. gentleman has charged me with dealing unfairly by him. Now, the fact is, that I deferred the presentation of this petition for a week, in consequence of a letter I received from him, in reply to a communication I made to him. Yet he complains that I shewed him no courtesy. After this instance of his candour, I repeat I should be afraid to say any thing to him but in the presence of a witness.—The hon. alderman stated, that he had also sent the petition, with the names of the petitioners, to Mr. Mitchell, of the Vote-office, desiring him to shew it to any member who might wish to see it. He contended that the hon. gentleman opposite had, upon his own shewing, made out a strong case for inquiry. It was said that the directors had made no profits. The fact was, that the shares in this transaction had never risen in the market as the shares in some other schemes. He begged to call the attention of the House to the Welsh Iron Company, in which large profits were made.

Mr. John Wilks.

—I rise to order. The hon. alderman is alluding to another matter, in which it is impossible that I can have an opportunity of replying.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

maintained, that the Welsh Iron Company was mentioned in the petition, and that it would be more creditable to the hon. member if he did not seek to throw impediments in the way of discussion. The hon. member for Liverpool had been applied to to become one of the directors of the Welsh Iron Company, but that hon. member refused to lend his name to the scheme, lest it should induce others to engage in a speculation which he could not control.

Mr. John Wilks.

—I rise to order. The hon. member states, that this is mentioned in the petition. Here there is an issue between us. The petition lies on the table; let the House decide.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

resumed. The hon. member for Liverpool refused to lend his name to the scheme, and he did Something more. A check was sent to him——

Mr. John Wilks.

— I rise to order——

The Speaker.

—The hon. member is new to this House; and it will be better if the hon. member relies a little upon others, to see that the House is not in a state of disorder.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

resumed. A check for 100l. was inclosed to the hon. member for Liverpool; but that hon. member sent it back to the person who inclosed it. He would not take up the time of the house. All he wished for was, that an inquiry should be made into a fraudulent transaction, in which the character and conduct of members of that House were implicated. There was another member of that House, Mr. Barrett, who had, he believed, participated in the money. That gentleman, he believed, had brought no action. He asked the House then, upon public grounds, to go into an inquiry involving the character of their members. In the last parliament, bills had passed that House for the purpose of sanctioning these fraudulent schemes, in which members had a direct interest. The last parliament had, he might say, disgraced itself in the eyes of the public; and he called upon that House to do something to vindicate its own character, and show the public, not only that they discountenanced such fraudulent transactions, but that, if any of their members were implicated in them, they were ready to go into an inquiry to establish the purity of their character, or to enable the House to take steps to purge itself of members who ought no longer to hold a seat in it. He might have brought down many petitions on the subject, if he had not thought it better in the present stage of the matter to discourage petitions. The sum of 14l. was lost upon every share in this transaction; and he had seen a poor man that morning, who had lost every shilling he had in the world by embarking in it.

Mr. John Wilks.

—Name him.

The Speaker.


Mr. Alderman Waithman

resumed. Another unfortunate man, who had been ruined by this fraudulent transaction, had cut his throat, and left a wife and eleven children destitute. The wife of another man, who had been ruined by it, had become insane. He was in possession of a number of similar distressing cases.

Mr. Wilks

trusted the House would not allow this libel upon himself and other hon. members to be printed and circulated, pending a legal inquiry into the truth of its allegations.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

said, he was entirely in the hands of the House as to future proceedings, having no personal feeling whatever beyond a desire to see justice done. He would not, however, press his motion now for printing the petition, but content himself with giving notice, that soon after the recess he would move that it be referred for the consideration of a select committee.