§ Mr. Patrick M. Stewart
rose to call the attention of the House to the Petition of John Bury Dasent. He would not trouble the House with any statement, as the nature and history of the case must be fully in the recollection of hon. Members. He meant to move for the discharge of the petitioner, because he stated his contrition for offending against the privileges of the House, but principally because he expressed his willingness to come forward at any time to give fully and freely his testimony respecting all the circumstances connected with the Ipswich Election within his knowledge. He had no wish himself but that every fact should be disclosed, and that all persons who were capable of giving evidence on matters relating to such important interests should be kept within reach, that hereafter they might be made to divulge all they knew. The Motion, however, for the discharge of Mr. Dasent was supported by all the precedents of former proceedings on similar occasions; the dignity and character of the House had been vindicated, and the petitioner had already endured a longer imprisonment than had before been inflicted upon any individual who had committed the same offence. It was now time, therefore, to relieve Newgate from some of its burthens. At the same time he would keep the parties within reach, although he would allow them to have their liberty that they might discharge their duties to their families, which, in some cases, were pressing. He moved that John Bury Dasent, Esq. be brought to the Bar, in order to be discharged.
§ Mr. Gisborne
did not mean to oppose the Motion, but after the part he had taken in the business, it was perhaps right for him to state in what way the evidence bore upon the case of Mr. Dasent. He would also state the principal ground which would induce him to consent to his discharge—a ground that had not been touched on by the hon. Member. The hon. Member referred to some of the circumstances which were given in evidence before the Ipswich Committee, to show that Mr. Dasent had purposely kept 1279 out of the way of the Speaker's warrant. He must complain, too, that one allegation in Mr. Dasent's petition was not well founded, viz., that he had given his testimony before the Committee without reserve; on the contrary, he had positively refused to answer the question why it was unpleasant to him to appear as a witness. He had also said, that to give his evidence at all was optional, which, instead of being a palliation, was an aggravation, when it was recollected that he avoided being summoned by the petitioners, and had only come forward on behalf of the sitting Member, when the case of the petitioners was closed. The conduct of Mr. Kelly, also, seemed to have been distinguished by unfeeling selfishness, and he would state why he gave this opinion upon it. Mr. Kelly had put his friend and pupil, Mr. Dasent, into the witness box, not to deny that he had been guilty of bribery, but to admit it; but at the same time to assert that he was not authorized by either of the sitting Members, Mr. Kelly or Mr. Dundas. Such conduct was both unfeeling and selfish on the part of Mr. Kelly. The reason, however, why he would not resist the Motion for the discharge of Mr. Dasent was, that he found in the evidence ample ground to warrant the House in directing the Attorney-General to prosecute Mr. Dasent for bribery. After the Motion now before the House should have been disposed of, he would endeavour to show what that ground was; he would, however, not enter into that part of the question now, but allow Mr. Dasent to be dismissed, having already, perhaps, undergone sufficient punishment for his contempt of the process of the House. Mr. Dasent had himself admitted his guilt in respect to bribery, with a voter of the name of Bird, and his admission was confirmed by Bird's evidence, but he had insisted that he was not authorized by either of the sitting Members. The case, therefore, seemed to him a very clear one; he had merely stated it because some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that the House ought to have the whole matter before it anterior to the appearance of Mr. Dasent at the Bar, with a view to his discharge.
§ Lord John Russell
should, with regard to the case of Mr. Dasent, on which his hon. Friend had made a Motion, offer no resistance to that gentleman's discharge. His offence was absconding to avoid being 1280 served with the warrant of the Speaker, and for that, perhaps, his punishment had been sufficient. He was not, however, willing now to enter into the question of bribery, but merely to consider the circumstances under which the House had recently exercised its peculiar and immediate power. The charge of bribery might very properly be brought forward on a future day, and then the House might consider what course it was proper for it to take regarding a crime punishable by law. In agreeing to the Motion for the discharge of Mr. Dasent, he was only to be understood to say, that for the offence against the privileges of the House, he thought, that the imprisonment had been adequate, taking into account the admonition he would receive from the Chair. The other, and subsequent question, deeply affected the purity and character of elections, but he hoped that it would take time to consider before it came to any determination upon it.
§ Mr. Harvey
could not help thinking that the votes of the House would be more intelligible and more expressive of the truth, if, when published to-morrow morning, it were found stated in them, that at half-past five in the afternoon a process was gone through to show how contempt of the House could be made easy. Members were called upon in their judicial capacity to decide upon the case of a prisoner, when not one in ten could know any thing about the matter. Two charges had been spoken of in the discussion; first, that the petitioner, being a necessary witness before a tribunal appointed by the House, had kept out of the way that he might not be summoned; and for this, having undergone the very serious punishment of a few days imprisonment, he was to be reprimanded with all the courtesy of language the Speaker was known to possess, and then to be discharged. The second charge was, that the prisoner had been guilty of bribery, and, therefore, that he ought to be prosecuted by the Attorney-General. Of the second charge he would say nothing: it was a distinct substantive accusation which would be dealt with, he had almost said by a higher tribunal, but certainly higher as regarded its power of punishment. As to the first charge, the contempt, it seemed to him that in the degree in which the powers of the House were defective, ought to be its care to guard its privileges by the severity of 1281 punishment it was capable of inflicting. It ought not entirely to dismiss from consideration the point, Who was the culprit? Was he a person uninformed and unenlightened, who was ignorant of the obligations he owed to the institutions of his country? Was he some simple unsuspecting man who had been unintentionally entrapped into the commission of a public crime? Is he (said the hon. Member) like one of the poor men whose cases were under consideration last night, and who are suffering under sentence of transportation, torn from all the little comforts that belong to the cheerless lot of the labouring community, and which render a cottage little better than a curse? No! he is a barrister, who is presumed to have gone through a liberal course of education to fit him for the administration of the law, and to have passed through the ordeal of moral scrutiny exercised by parties who are so perfect that they are not even responsible. Moreover, he has had the advantage of being educated for the bar, under an individual clothed in the silk of distinction, and sitting in the Council Chamber of the Benchers, as one of the watchful guardians of the purity of the profession. He was the pupil of a practitioner who, from being a little shopkeeper and tea-dealer in Oxford-street, has risen to the dignity of sitting as one of the Judges of an irresponsible tribunal. Mr. Dasent was the pupil of Mr. Kelly, who has been elevated from the station I have mentioned to a rank and office that is denied to the judges of the land, where he sits in judgment upon the merits and character of every man who is a candidate to be called to the bar of this country. But now we are told that this is a case for clemency, and that sufficient punishment has been inflicted: it is important, therefore, that we should examine what is the nature of the offence. What punishment would be applied to a person similarly circumstanced before any of our ordinary tribunals? Here is an individual—a man of education giving him, it is to be presumed, a peculiar prominence of moral fitness, who studiously and confessedly avoids the process of the House. The hon. Chairman of the Committee said something about the prisoner's family alliances, and therefore appealed to our sympathies. Ignorance, if it existed, might be made a plea in a case of this sort, but ignorance is no plea for a man 1282 of this description. Mr. Dasent is a barrister; he has placed himself in a situation from which, in the career of promotion, by no very violent stretch of the imagination, he may step upon the judicial bench, and I should like to hear what he would say if, as a judge, he were called upon to pronounce an opinion upon the conduct of an unhappy individual who had disobeyed a subpœna of his court. "He would remark further," Mr. Harvey continued, "upon the manner in which Mr. Dasent had conducted himself, contending that he had committed a double offence, first, by absconding to avoid the Speaker's warrant, and next, by confessing that his own criminality had occasioned him to keep out of the way. He (Mr. Harvey) could hardly conceive a charge more complicated or more criminal. The hon. Member for Derbyshire had promised to move the House, that Mr. Dasent be prosecuted for bribery by the Attorney-General, and it was to escape from liability to this proceeding, that Mr. Dasent had kept out of the way. He really did not think that individuals who had committed such offences as had Mr. Dasent and his companions, were entitled to much sympathy on account of having suffered three weeks' imprisonment in the metropolitan receptacles for persons of that description. They were confined in. the governor's house, and could command all the luxuries that were obtainable at the London Coffee-house. To be sure, it might be said there was a difference in. this respect: in the London Coffee-house, people were not obliged to sleep as thick as two in a bed; but where parties had so good an understanding with each other as subsisted between these, it could not be supposed that that would put them to any particular inconveniences. If the House assented to the Motion for the discharge of Dasent, that individual would not have received as much punishment for his offence as was often inflicted on innocence itself. Who was there who had not seen accounts of miserable beings brought up before the Lord Mayor on some such charge as that of having stolen a loaf of bread from a baker's shop, probably for the purpose of appeasing hunger? On a statement being made by the officer, that the prosecutor was out of town and would return in a fortnight, or that all the evidence was not complete, with what indifference—with what an absence of feeling 1283 on the subject, in this House, or through the various ranks of opulence and distinction, was that unfortunate person "remanded till this day week;" then brought up again and "remanded till this day fortnight?" There were no sympathies for him. And if, eventually, on his being brought up, it turned out that there was no prosecutor, or that there existed no foundation for the charge, then, indeed, there was some appearance of commiseration; and it was discoverable up in a corner, in a sort of parenthesis, which told them that the Lord Mayor had presented the miserable being with a crown out of his own pocket. What, however, was the course in a case like the present? Here was an individual, who had been convicted of a grave offence; he had been under restraint for three weeks, and sympathy was all alive in his behalf; they were told that he was a young gentleman of great promise, belonging to a profession of high character, that he was most respectably connected, and that some regard should be had for the feelings of himself and friends. It might be said also,—let them see what awaited him—he was about to be handed over to the tender mercies of his Majesty's Attorney-General! To this he would say, could it be imagined that if this person were now called to the bar and discharged, they would ever hear of him in this House again? If, however, a Motion were hereafter made, to the effect that his Majesty's Attorney-General be instructed to prosecute Mr. Dasent in a Court of Justice, he could fancy the cries of "Oh, oh!" with which hon. Members would mark their sense of such a proposition. They would exclaim, "What! bring up his name again! Was he not confined in Newgate for a fortnight or three weeks? Was he not taken away from his family and Friends, and confined in the House of the Governor? Was he not in solitary confinement?" Then the noble Lord opposite, who, with his various important occupations, was too much engaged to be very alive to matters of this sort, the noble Lord would, perhaps rise from his seat, and make it a request to the hon. Member who had given notice of the Motion, that he would put it off till after the third reading of the Municipal Corporations Bill. Then, on some after occasion, probably, another hon. Member would beg to remind the hon. Gentleman that the Irish Church measure stood for this evening, 1284 and he would much consult the public interest if he would give way in favour of so important a subject; so between the Municipal Corporations and Irish Church Reform, Mr. Dasent, the offender, would make his escape. But then at the end of the session, perhaps, some hon. Member would rise to say he did so to give notice on popular grounds, in order that his constituents might understand that he was alive to these matters, that next session he should consider it his paramount duty to bring the subject forward. Well, next session it was brought forward, and what was the general sentiment? why, that it was not decent at all to renew the matter. It would be said, here was a young man of brilliant character, of high attainments, of amiable feelings, and with most respectable connections—if there should be any hon. Member who knew Mr. Dasent, and could speak to his respectability, that would be enough, that would be conclusive—but at all events it would be asked whether, in the case of such an individual, it was fair, after the lapse of a period of four months, for his name to be again brought before the public, and submitted to the vulgar gaze? It would be urged that he ought not again to be subject to vulgar imputations being cast upon him, that to pursue such a course would be inconsiderate and unkind, and the House would be implored not to visit its judgment upon the young gentleman with vindictive feelings. If he were now brought before them, it would be but consistent with such conduct, if the Speaker were to address him in these words: "John Bury Dasent, I congratulate you on the insufficiency of the power of this House to punish you to the extent that your serious offence requires, but you must understand that this House is full of indignation when it contemplates the acts of which you have been guilty. It is hoped, however, that the imprisonment you have already suffered will prove a check to you, and that you will not again be so indiscreet as to go to such a place as Ipswich, unless you are better versed in the means of escaping detection." He would say seriously, that if they were to conscientiously perform their duties as judges, let them go through the process of something like an inquiry; but if on the other hand, they were to have their dullness and the tedium of their grave business enlivened by farces of this description, he had no objection to pay 1285 for his seat and be one of the spectators, only let it be fairly understood in what character it was that they were called there. Having left the House at one o'clock this morning and got up at six, he had occupied himself in reading the evidence in this case from six o'clock till nine. At twelve o'clock he took his seat as Chairman of the Committee on Public Charities and since the Committee he had been giving his attendance in the House. He was not supposing that his industry was more signal than that of all who were about him, but he did say that he had no time to look into the evidence to enlighten him as to any judgement that he could reflect on with satisfaction. With regard to Mr. Dasent, he had never seen or heard of him till he saw the report of the Committee; it was not his wish that any man should be incarcerated for an hour; but looking at this as a judicial subject, feeling himself called on as one of 600 individuals whose duty it was to pronounce an opinion, contemplating this House as the highest court of jurisdiction in the country, and in that capacity called on under solemn circumstances for their adjudication, he must say that he thought more time ought to be allowed for investigation before they adjudicated on any one of the cases of the petitioners. If they were this evening to discharge Mr. Dasent for having evaded service of the process of the House, and if then the hon. Member for Derbyshire were to move that his Majesty's Attorney-General should be ordered to prosecute him for bribery, many hon. Members would say that the latter was another question altogether—that whether they should indict for bribery and expose to all the penalties attaching to that offence, this young and hopeful man, was a matter for very grave consideration. Would it be wise first to let the bird out of the cage, with the intention of then determining whether they should let fly at him? If the House were prepared to adopt the Resolution of the hon. Member for Derbyshire, and to effect that his Majesty's Attorney-General was to prosecute Mr. Dasent for bribery, then he should say, let that individual by all means be instantly let out of custody; but if, in the first place, they determined that he should be reprimanded and discharged, then he would venture to say that they never would come to the resolution that this person was to be prosecuted 1286 for bribery. It would be said, that there were two charges against him; one was that he had evaded the process of the highest court of judicature in the kingdom and the other was, that he had committed an offence which exposed him to statutable penalties. With reference to the punishment Mr. Dasent had suffered, he would ask, was not every witness bound to attend a Court of Justice under the severest penalties? It was nothing to say-that they had unseated the late Members for Ipswich, because the whole weight of the case might have fallen upon this state of things. If the question was to be disposed of in a spirit of whining sympathy then it was only for them to say to Mr. Dasent that they had not the power to detain him longer—that they regretted the interruption that had occurred to his domestic comforts, and the other inconveniences he had sustained—that he would depart from the Bar, carrying with him. the admiration of the House—that they trusted that during his incarceration the keeper of Newgate had shown him every delicate attention, and that if he ever should find his way into that House again, they would afford him an excellent reception, since he had shown by his ingenuity that his qualifications were considerable. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by saying, that though not acting on his oath in that House, he felt imposed upon him the higher obligation of being called on honourably to discharge his duty and he was actuated by that feeling when he called on the House to adopt a different course from the one which had been, proposed.
§ Mr. Patrick M. Stewart
said, that the hon. Member for Southwark, who had just resumed his seat, had misstated the Motion he had made. He had before said, that he wished the House to limit the punishment to the crime of which Dasent stood convicted, and he did not think it necessary to anticipate the punishment which he would probably receive for another alleged crime. The crime of which he was convicted was simply an evasion of the summons of the House, and when he came to look to the precedents, he found that the punishments for similar offences had seldom equalled, and had never exceeded, the punishment which Dasent had undergone. His Motion was simply that this person should be called to the Bar; he was anxious that Dasent and all the other offenders should 1287 be held within the dominion and power of the House till inquiry had been made into every part of the case, and justice was satisfied. Such was the course pursued in the Camelford case. Dasent having declared that he was ready at all times to give full information to the House, he felt himself justified in making this Motion. He agreed that further proceedings ought to be adopted, and he heard that they were to be. He never meant that the punishment of Dasent for crimes unproved should be limited by the Motion now made.
§ Mr. Montague Chapman
said, that if Dasent had been guilty of corruption on the largest scale, the observations of the hon. Member for Southwark might have been called for, but as his offences were limited in number he thought the hon. Member had pressed very severely on a very young man. He did not wish to indulge in what the hon. and learned Gentleman called whining sympathy; but he thought that any sort of whining sympathy was preferable to language so severe as that which the hon. and learned Member had used against an individual whose case he was confessedly unacquainted with Dasent and Pilgrim had offered to come to the Bar and state fully and frankly every thing that might be required of them. Under these circumstances he should support the Motion of his hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that Dasent, according to his own confession, evaded the service of the process of the House, under most aggravating circumstances. He had admitted himself, that he had evaded giving his evidence so long as it was wanted for the general purposes of justice, but he did come forward when he thought his evidence might be of service to his own particular friends. The hon. and learned Member for Southwark had adverted to the manner in which courts of justice visited a party with punishment who previously withdrew himself from the service of the process of those Courts. If an individual neglected to attend to give evidence in an action, the party who subpœnaed him as a witness might proceed against him by action to recover all the costs in the suit, and damages to the extent to which the party had lost by his absence. That was one mode. The other was, whether a party suffered by a witness's absence or not, if the Court chose to proceed against him by attachment, he 1288 was subjected to interrogatories at his own expense; and if judgment were given against him, an attachment issued, and there he remained in prison, sine die, unless he compromised with the party at whose instance the attachment was issued. Now he begged to ask, what was a fortnight's confinement, as compared with the punishment for such offences in a Civil Court?
§ Mr. Walter Campbell,
having been a Member of the Committee, was bound to say that he thought there were mitigating circumstances in the case of Mr. Dasent. He would therefore support the Motion.
§ Mr. Hardy
said, it appeared that Dasent had taken an active part in the illegal practices which had been discovered in the course of this investigation; and if the House should be of opinion that he absented himself in order to avoid criminating himself, they would treat him as other individuals were treated, who absented themselves to escape detection. If he absented himself to obstruct the course of justice, and to screen others, the House would treat him with greater severity. He should feel it is duty to vote that the Attorney-General be instructed to prosecute Dasent for the graver offence; and he should vote for this Motion on the understanding that the House would take that course.
§ The House divided, when there appeared for the Motion 190; Against it 141; Majority 49.
|List of the NOES.|
|Adam, Admiral C.||Butler, Hon. Pearce|
|Alston, Rowland||Buxton,T. F.|
|Angerstein, John||Byng, Hon. George|
|Astley, Sir J., Bart.||Cavendish, Hn. C. C.|
|Bagshaw, John||Callaghan, D.|
|Baldwin, Dr.||Cavendish, Hn. G. H.|
|Bannerman, Alex.||Chalmers, Patrick|
|Baring, Francis||Chichester, A.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Clive, Edward B.|
|Barron, H. W.||Codrington, Sir E.|
|Barry, Garrett S.||Cowper, Hon. W. F.|
|Bellew, Richard M||Crawford, William|
|Bewes, Thomas||Curteis, Major|
|Biddulph, Robert||Dalmeny, Lord|
|Bish, Thomas||Denison. Alex.|
|Blake, Martin J.||Denniston, Alex.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Divett, Edward|
|Brady, Denis C.||Dunlop, Colin|
|Bridgman, Hewitt||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Brodie, Capt. W. B.||Elphinstone, H.|
|Brotherton, Joseph||Evans, Col. De Lacy|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. D.||Evans, George|
|Bulwer, E. L.||Ewart, William|
|Burdon, William W.||Fergus, John|
|Finn, William F.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Fitzsimon, Nicholas||Oswald, James|
|Folkes, Sir Wm. Bt.||Parker, J.|
|Gaskell, Daniel||Parrott, J.|
|Gillon, William D.||Pease, J.|
|Gisborne, Thomas||Philips, M.|
|Gordon, Robert||Philips, C. M.|
|Goring, Harry D.||Ponsonby, Hon. John G.B.|
|Grosvenor, Rt. Hon. Lord R.||Potter, R.|
|Grote, George||Ramsbottom, John|
|Guest, Josiah J.||Roche, W.|
|Hall, Benjamin||Roche, D.|
|Hardy, John||Rundle, J.|
|Harland, W. C.||Russell, Lord C. J. F.|
|Harvey, D. W.||Ruthven, E.|
|Hawes, Benjamin||Scholefield, J.|
|Hawkes, Thomas||Sheil, Richard L.|
|Heneage, Edward||Smith, Benjamin|
|Hodges, Thos. L.||Speirs, Alex. G.|
|Hume, Joseph||Steuart, Robert|
|Humphrey, John||Strutt, Edward|
|Hutt, William||Stuart, Lord James|
|Jervis, John||Sullivan, Richard|
|Johnston, Andrew||Talbot, J. H.|
|Kerry, Earl of||Thompson, Col. P.|
|Lemon, Sir C., Bart.||Thomson, Rt.Hn.C. P.|
|Lister, Ellis C.||Thorneley, T.|
|Loch, James||Trelawney, Sir W.L.S.|
|Lushington, Charles||Tulk, C. A.|
|Lushington, Dr. S.||Villiers, C. P.|
|Mackenzie, J. A. S.||Wakley, T.|
|Macleod, Roderick||Walker, C. A.|
|M'Cance, John||Warburton, H.|
|Maher, John||Ward, H. G.|
|Mangles, James||Wemyss, Capt. J.|
|Majoribanks, S.||Westenra, Hon. H. R.|
|Marsland, Henry||Wilbraham, G.|
|Martin, John||Williams, Sir J.|
|Maule, Hon. Fox||Williams, W. A.|
|Milton, Viscount||Wilson, Henry|
|Mostyn, Hn. E. M. L.||Winnington, Captain H. J.|
|Musgrave, Sir R. W.|
|Nagle, Sir R., Bt.||Wood, M.|
|O'Brien, Wm. S.||Wood, C.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Wrottesly, Sir J., Bt.|
|O'Connell, Daniel||PAIRED OFF.|
|O'Connell, Morgan||Pelham, A.|
|O'Connell, J.||Norreys, Lord|
§ Mr. Hawes
rose to move that Mr. Pilgrim be called to the Bar, with the view to his being discharged. He said, all that the House had to consider in the case of that individual was, the act of his absconding to avoid the service of the Speaker's warrant; they had nothing to do with the conflicting statements of opposite parties. He did not think that it was necessary for him to enter minutely into the circumstances of the case, but that he might safely leave it to the clemency of the House. The individual in question stated in the petition which 1290 had been presented yesterday, "that whatever improper acts he may have committed, with reference to absenting himself to avoid the service of the Speaker's warrant, or with reference to the said election at Ipswich, such acts were not committed by him for his own personal or private advantage, or for the purpose of violating the privileges of the House. Nor did he commit them after any due or mature deliberation or consideration of their nature or effects; but that the petitioner was induced to commit such acts at the instigation, or by the instructions, of his then employers, the said Messrs. Sewell, Blake, Keith, and Blake, or of the said Fitzroy Kelly, Esq., or his confidential friends and agents at Ipswich and London. That the petitioner well knowing the great intimacy between the said Messrs. Sewell, Blake, Keith, and Blake, and the said Fitzroy Kelly, Esq. (who is steward of Norwich), and relying upon their superior knowledge and skill, and also upon the standing in society of these several Gentlemen, the petitioner did not hesitate to obey any instructions given by or originating from them; that the petitioner begs most humbly to assure the House, that he disclosed to the said Committee all the facts then in his recollection relating to the matters under investigation, but from the agitation experienced by the petitioner during his examination before the Committee, occasioned by his appearance there in custody of the Norwich gaoler, upon the charge of felony preferred against him by Messrs. Sewell, Blake, Keith, and Blake, and by his feelings caused by the public gaze and observation in and about the Committee Room, the petitioner's memory did not enable him to state to the Committee the fact of the payment to him by Messrs. Sewell, Blake, Keith, and Blake of the sum of twenty pounds towards the expenses of his absence, and of the fact of the petitioner having, at the request of Mr. Thomas Moore Keith, written to him the note, in order to give a colour to their consenting to the petitioner's absence." It appeared, then, that Pilgrim was only a clerk, acting on behalf of other parties, and he did think that it was beneath the dignity of the House to visit him with punishment. Moreover, as that individual was willing to give every information in his power at the Bar of that 1291 House or elsewhere, he did not think that the cause of justice would be better served by discharging him than by subjecting him to any severe punishment.
§ Mr. Hume
seconded the Motion, and said, that there was a distinction to be made between this case and that of Mr. Dasent, which had last occupied the attention of the House. Mr. Dasent had been acting on his own responsibility; but the individual whose case was now before them, was an old and faithful servant, who had only acted in obedience to the orders of his employers. As an agent he was guilty, but his guilt did not go to the same extent as that of an individual acting on his own responsibility and his own knowledge. He would not say any thing now upon the Question of the bribery; that would be better deferred until hon. Members were placed in a situation to judge of it correctly by having read the evidence.
§ Mr. Wodehouse
did not rise to oppose the Motion but simply to perform an act of justice towards Messrs. Sewell and Blake, in stating that they most distinctly denied the truth of Mr. Pilgrim's statement in reference to the permission which he alleged to have been given by them to him, for absenting himself, beyond the journey to Ipswich. He had lately had a conversation with Mr. Money their cashier in which he learnt that the 201. advanced by him to Pilgrim had been advanced totally without the knowledge of any one of the parties of the firm. He begged to repeat, that such was the case, and that the cashier had been in the habit of advancing to Pilgrim small sums of money, as he had done in this instance, without the knowledge of any of the parties in the House. With reference to the observation which had been made by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Wason), that Mr. Keith had seemed to him to be more guilty than Mr. Blake, he begged to say that he had that day had a conversation with Mr. Clipperton, who had given him some information of an interview which he had had with Mr. Keith on the 2nd of April, from which it appeared that Mr. Keith had called to know where Pilgrim was, and that when he had been satisfied on that point, a conversation arose about some papers that Pilgrim had left. He contended that the hon. Member was not justified in the insinuation which he had 1292 thrown out against Messrs. Sewell and Blake. He (Mr. Wodehouse) would state on their part, that they were perfectly ready to submit the case, so far as their conduct was concerned, to the House in any way which might be thought proper.
§ Mr. Gisborne
said, that no man of common understanding could read the evidence given before the Committee without coming to the conclusion that Mr. Blake knew perfectly well of Pilgrim's absence.
§ Mr. Rigby Wason
alluded to the denial of the hon. Member for Norfolk, of his assertion that Mr. Keith was more guilty than Mr. Blake, and said that the hon. Member had attempted to refute his assertion by saying that he had seen, not Mr. Keith, but Mr. Clipperton. If the hon. Member had taken the pains to read two pages of the evidence given by Mr. Keith before the Committee, he would find a full justification for its being said that Mr. Keith knew that Pilgrim was going abroad for the sake of avoiding the service of the writ. Would it not be extraordinary that the managing clerk of such an establishment should be allowed to absent himself for a period of some length without the knowledge of his employers, and without exciting any inquiry on their part? It was said that the statement of Pilgrim was contradicted by that of Messrs. Sewell and Blake. The case was not so. The material part of Pilgrim's assertion that he had received the 20l. remained untouched. Mr. Keith said that he had received it from the cashier; and then Messrs. Sewell and Blake said they knew nothing of the transaction excepting what they had learnt from the cashier. Was it then that they had brought the charge of embezzlement against Pilgrim on account of that 20l.? No such thing; that charge had been brought for a sum of between 2l. and 3l., and referred to a period of two or three years since. He trusted, therefore, that the House would not be misled into the belief that the statement of Pilgrim was contradicted.
§ Lord Stormont
did not think it fair towards Messrs. Sewell and Blake that the statements made concerning them should go forth without comment. The hon. Member asked whether it was on account of the 20l. that the charge of embezzlement had been brought? Cer- 1293 tainly not. Pilgrim drew that sum from the cashier on account, and it was only subsequently to his going abroad, and from the circumstance of his employers having to inspect some of his papers in consequence of that absence, that they discovered the embezzlement. Pilgrim stated in his petition that he had received the money from Mr. Keith; that was denied, and it appeared now that he had received it from the cashier.
§ Lord Stormont
remarked, that Messrs. Sewell and Blake, in their petition, declared that Pilgrim received the money without their knowledge. He (Lord Stormont) begged to add, that Messrs. Sewell and Blake were persons of the highest respectability. He should like to hear any Gentleman in that House say that they were not. Would that hon. Member who cheered him say that they were not? Their characters were not thus to be taken away in that House by such cheers. Those Gentlemen were known to be engaged in extensive business in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridge, Lincoln, &c, and not a shadow of a doubt existed as to their high respectability. If any imputations were to be made upon it, he trusted that they would be made in a direct manner.
§ Mr. Patrick M. Stewart
thought, that the petition of Messrs. Sewell and Blake did not coincide on material points with the evidence taken before the Committee. He would give one specimen, which was quite conclusive. In the petition, Mr. Keith stated "that after an admission by Pilgrim, of the truth of the charge of embezzlement against him, and earnestly imploring forgiveness, the said Thomas Moore Keith dismissed him from the employment of the firm, and told him distinctly that they should be obliged to prosecute him, and as soon as he set his foot in Norwich, they should apply to the Mayor for a warrant for his apprehension." In his evidence given before the Committee, Mr. Keith says that when he was at Calais, tie did not recommend Pilgrim to come 1294 home: he says distinctly "I recommended him not to come home, in order to spare my uncle's feelings." In the letter, alluding to the friendly writ, written by Clipperton to Pilgrim, there is a distinct expression of Mr. Keith's anxiety for Pilgrim's return; and yet, when Mr. Keith was brought before the Committee, he made the statement he had just read. He (Mr. Patrick M. Stewart), therefore, protested against its being allowed by the House, that any petition coming from Messrs. Sewell and Blake, however respectable those individuals might be, should invalidate one tittle of the statement of Pilgrim; there were discrepancies between that petition and the evidence, quite sufficient to hinder him from attaching such weight to it; although, indeed, he might not be inclined to place the fullest reliance on the assertions of Pilgrim.
§ Mr. Charles Barclay
admitted, that it was their duty to look not so much to the respectability of the individuals concerned, as to the weight of the evidence; but he contended, that Messrs. Sewell and Blake were in nowise implicated.
§ Mr. Blackstone
observed, that it appeared that Keith had had a communication with Pilgrim; and though, during their interview, some acts of bribery were mentioned, Keith said, that he knew nothing about such matters, and advised Pilgrim to consult his own adviser, Mr. Jay, on the subject. He must also be permitted to say, that Pilgrim's character was not in the eyes of his employers perfectly untainted before the transaction occurred out of which the recent prosecutions were instituted against him; for it appeared in evidence that he had at a very early period of his life, committed himself though his employers had consented to overlook his offence. His subsequent conduct naturally recalled to their mind a circumstance at the outset of his career in life which could not be considered but as a reproach on his character.
§ Mr. Harvey
remarked, that in his opinion the House had nothing whatever to do with a matter of dispute, whether of a civil or a criminal character, between the firm of Messrs. Sewell and Blake and their clerk. The House had already consented that Mr. Dasent, the Barrister, should be dismissed. On what ground could they refuse to accede to the same 1295 Motion with respect to Mr. Pilgrim? Could any one suggest any reason, or state any circumstances, why a similar course to that pursued with regard to Mr. Dasent should not be observed in the case of Pilgrim. On the contrary, even though the Motion with respect to Mr. Dasent was negatived, he thought he could show good grounds why Pilgrim should be discharged. What was the position of these two persons? One was a Barrister, a person qualified to hold situations from which a man of loose morals or questionable integrity should, if possible, be excluded. Who was the other? A humble clerk? They had heard many attestations of the respectable character of the firm of Messrs. Sewell and Blake. If he (Mr. Harvey) were called on in that House after an experience of twenty-five years, to vouch for the accuracy of the testimony which had been borne to the characters of these gentlemen, he should not hesitate to say, that he never knew or heard of any men more worthy of being designated truly respectable. Indeed, the character of their clients fully justified their reputation. But by the degree in which their character was exalted should the conduct and reputation of Pilgrim be judged. If this man were desirous of offering himself as a clerk, and were to present himself for that purpose to any office in London, could he bring forward a stronger recommendation than that he had been a confidential clerk for a period of thirty years in a most respectable House. It was certainly marvellous, passing marvellous, that this individual should be engaged as a confidential clerk for thirty years, and at the end of that period sent, not at his own desire, but in consequence of the affectionate note written by Mr. Kelly, the King's counsel, the silk-robed man of the Middle Temple, calling on Messrs. Sewell and Blake to send over a confidential person—an epitome of himself—from that fountain of purity, Norwich, in order that he might check some of the exuberance of practices which might be considered as having an illegal tendency, and covering as he should have done with the mantle of almost judicial distinction, the proceeding of the election of Ipswich, to give it a certain air of immaculacy, and assist in devising a mode of conducting that election in a cheap, legal, and judicious manner. The man, it should be borne in mind, did not seek this employment. Mr. Kelly wrote, not 1296 to the clerk of thirty years standing; but he desired that his "Friend," Mr. Pilgrim, should act as he had described. He was to do every thing which the delicacy and peculiarity of the situation called on him to perform. He asked the House, then, after they had passed a Resolution to discharge a man highly learned in the law, who had undergone a severe course of study, which imposed a special obligation to eat two days in the week, or five consecutive days, his commons at the Middle Temple: when a man, he repeated, of such high legal reputation had been discharged by the House, could they hesitate to dismiss a poor lawyer's clerk, who had a salary of but 30s. a week. There had, however, been attempts made (he would not say that studied statements had been used) to blacken the character and prospects of this humble individual. He hoped that on this part of the question he should be allowed to mention that he had received a vote from Mr. Pilgrim, of whom he had never heard before the presentation of his petition to that House, claiming an interview with him, in the presence of his (Mr. Pilgrim's) attorney, and from what passed he was satisfied (without meaning to offer any opinion as to his guilt or innocence) that this Gentleman only panted for the occasion to be placed on his trial, when he was confident he should be able to rebut the charges that had been preferred against him.
§ Lord Stormont
begged to say that, from all he had heard of Mr. Pilgrim, at Norwich, he believed him to be a most respectable man.
§ Mr. Wodehouse
was most desirous to be understood, in the few remarks which he had addressed to the House, as not wishing to oppose the discharge of Mr. Pilgrim, but merely to defend Messrs. Sewell and Blake from the imputation which appeared to be cast on them.
§ Mr. Hawes
contended, that the hon. Member for Wallingford (Mr. Blackstone) had very unfairly stated the evidence as given before the Committee, with respect to the character of Mr. Pilgrim; for it had been admitted that the Members of the firm by which he was employed gave him the most active support when he stood a candidate for the Coronership, although this event occurred long subsequent to the time of the Commission of the offence with which he had been charged.
§ Mr. Charles Barclay
observed, that if 1297 page 464 of the evidence were referred to, it would be seen that Mr. Pilgrim acknowledged his having committed the recent offence urged against him.
An Hon. Member
The same impression was certainly on his mind as that which had been expressed by the hon. Member for Wallingford; for he did not think that the offence of stealing the stamp had been altogether forgiven; though from Mr. Pilgrim's subsequent good conduct it had gone out of the recollection of his employers.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Mr. Gisborne
felt bound to oppose the Motion of the noble Lord. He should do so on what he considered strong grounds. The first was, that it appeared that the Messrs. Sparrowe and a person of the name of Gross, having been partners and agents for Mr. Dundas, the son of Mr. Gross wrote to one of the Sparrowes, who was on the Continent at the time the Ipswich Election Committee first assembled, saying, "Do not move an inch until further orders, as they may go into a scrutiny." This must have been written with the cognizance of Mr. Sparrowe. There were abundant other grounds on which the discharge of Mr. Sparrowe might be fairly resisted. He would only mention one. It must be clear to any person who had dispassionately read the evidence, that Mr. Sparrowe was at the bottom of all the bribery and corrupt practices which had taken place at Ipswich; though, from the caution with which he had acted, it might be a matter of doubt whether guilt could be legally established against him. He should, therefore, oppose his discharge, for the purpose of allowing the Attorney-General and other Members of that House skilled in the law, time to determine whether a prosecution for bribery could be successfully maintained against him.
§ Mr. Freshfield
begged to be allowed to call the hon. Member for Derbyshire to order. The hon. Member was attempting to prove, that because it was a doubtful question whether Mr. Sparrowe was guilty of one offence (that of bribery), the House should inflict a greater degree of punishment on him for a charge which was then under the consideration of the House.
§ Mr. Gisborne
resumed. The jurisdiction of the House was not restricted within the limits to which the hon. Member, by whom he had been called to order, would confine it. It could not be questioned that their jurisdiction extended to the consideration of the case of those who had been reported as guilty of bribery.
§ Mr. Gisborne
allowed that the hon. Member was right; but if anyone who read the evidence could doubt of Mr. Sparrowe's moral guilt, he (Mr. Gisborne) neither desired nor expected that he would join in the support of his Motion, upon which he certainly relied with some confidence. He should certainly resist the Motion that J. E. Sparrowe should be discharged.
Sir George Clerk
contended, that it had been admitted, that Mr. Sparrowe was not charged with any acts of bribery; and the hon. Member for Derbyshire having agreed that two persons, against whom distinct acts of bribery had been proved, should be discharged, maintained that Mr. Sparrowe should be kept in custody simply because his (Mr. Gisborne's) impression on reading the evidence was, that he was morally guilty of bribery. This he considered was an unfair mode of proceeding, because he was prejudging a man on a charge on which he might hereafter be brought to trial.
§ Mr. Montague Chapman
observed, that the case of Mr. Sparrowe was very different from the cases of which the House had already disposed. When before the Committee he had shown no disposition to give full evidence on the subject; and in his petition he had not expressed any readiness to come forward at a future time and give further testimony.
§ Mr. Warburton
was also of opinion that the case of Mr. Sparrowe and the remaining cases were very different from the cases already brought before the House. In the former, the charge was for absconding to avoid the Speaker's warrant; and the persons so charged appeared before the Committee. Of the other parties, three never appeared before the Committee. The two avowed agents for the sitting members, of whom Mr. Sparrowe was one, and Mr. O'Malley aided and abetted the others in keeping out of the way, and 1299 must be considered highly criminal for so doing. There was, therefore, a great difference between the two cases which had been disposed of, and those which remained to be disposed of.
§ Mr. Law
expressed his hope, that whatever conclusion the House might come to, it would not be founded on the argument of the hon. Member for Derbyshire. That hon. Member must have strange notions of what ought to be his conduct in a judicial capacity. The individual whose case the House was considering had been charged with bribery; but the guilt of that offence had not been brought home to him. That being the case, the hon. Member for Derbyshire used this irresistible argument: "I suspect a man of a crime which I cannot bring home to him; he has been convicted of one of a lighter description; although we cannot convict him of the first offence, let us, in punishing him for the second, recollect our suspicions that he is guilty of the first." The hon. Member for Westmeath had alleged as a reason for punishing Mr. Sparrowe, that he had not expressed in his petition any desire to afford further information in future. Now, Mr. Sparrowe had been twice examined before the Committee; and, notwithstanding; his conduct with respect to the Speaker's warrant, there was nothing in his testimony which laid him open to suspicion in other respects. He (Mr. Law) was not aware that the Committee had stated so; and, therefore, accustomed as he was to Courts of Justice, and to the principles by which those Courts were guided, he could not allow suspicion in his mind to fill up the void which the absence of proof occasioned, but must in charity presume that Mr. Sparrowe was innocent. The hon. Member for Bridport had asserted that Mr. Sparrowe's offence was a grave one, as he had abetted the others to abscond. But the hon. Gentleman ought to have stated what the nature of that abetting was. It consisted simply in a knowledge—a guilty knowledge, if the hon. Gentleman pleased—that it was the intention of those individuals to abscond. Let the House consider what kind of guilt this absconding was. The guilt consisted in agreeing to withdraw, lest some future petition might be presented to some future Committee, and at some future period the warrant of the Speaker might be issued for their attendance. Now this was an offence which, 1300 if committed, not by several persons in concert, but by only one person, would at law be no offence at all. The House had, however, determined that it was an offence, and he had too much respect for the House to question the propriety of its decision. He would, therefore, merely repeat that all that had been brought home to the individual whose Case was under consideration was, that he had been guilty of knowing that the other parties intended to abscond; and he trusted, therefore, that no undue severity would be manifested towards him.
§ Mr. Patrick M. Stewart
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down was mistaken with regard to the opinion of the Committee respecting Sparrowe, who had been three times examined, and with whose information the Committee were far from being satisfied. He wished the hon. and learned Member had applied his judicial mind to alter the impression which had been made on the Committee upon this subject. It appeared by Mr. Sparrowe's statement, not that he had merely a bare knowledge, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had intimated, but that he had an intimate knowledge of the departure of Arthur Bott Cooke, and a knowledge of the departure of Pilgrim. In no way in his petition did Sparrowe offer to come forward and give further evidence on the subject. In his decided opinion, therefore, a better and more satisfactory petition ought to be presented by the individual in question before he should be entitled to his discharge.
§ Mr. Jervis
did not think that the explanation of the hon. and learned Gentleman made the case at all better. Whether agent or friend, Sparrowe's conduct in aiding and abetting individuals to keep out of the way, in order to avoid being served with the Speaker's warrant, was equally culpable. But it was impossible to believe that he could have done that which he did merely as a friend. If any one thing tended more than another to show that the House was not in a condition to discharge Sparrowe, it was the speech which had been made by the hon. 1301 and learned Member; for he (Mr. Jarvis) was sure that the hon. and learned Member would not have asserted that the individual in question answered satisfactorily to the Committee, if he had read the evidence. The hon. and learned Member for Chester here read an extract from the evidence, by which it appeared that after Mr. Sparrowe had repeatedly declared that he had no recollection that the purpose for which Cooke was sent out of the country had been discussed between him (Sparrowe) and Clipperton before Cooke left Ipswich, he said, in answer to a question if he did not believe that it was so discussed, that he believed it might be; immediately after which the following questions and answers occurred:—'Do you not believe it was? When I say I believe it might be, I mean I believe it was; but I do not recollect it.—Then, Sir, at the time that Cooke left Ipswich, you knew the purpose for which he was going abroad? Yes." Was not such evidence as this a fair ground for opposing this person's discharge? And how could it be asserted by any one that his answers were perfectly satisfactory to the Committee?
§ Mr. Hume
To show that the Committee had expressed dissatisfaction at the manner in which Sparrowe had conducted himself, he referred to a passage in the minutes of evidence, where it appeared that after two or three evasive answers, on being asked on his solemn oath, if he had the least doubt that Cooke committed bribery in Ipswich, Mr. Pollock objected to the question, and the Chairman said, "The Committee are not satisfied with this not recollection,' and ' not of his own knowledge.'"
stated, that the evidence of Mr. Sparrowe made a very unfavourable impression on the Committee.
§ The House divided, on the Motion that Mr. Sparrowe be brought to the Bar and discharged. Ayes 127; Noes 168; majority 41.
§ Mr. Warburton
thought this case worse than those of Dasent and Pilgrim, for they did give evidence before the Election Committee, whereas the petitioner Bond had taken care to give none at all.
Sir G. Clerk
said, that the former petition presented by Mr. Bond explained why it was he had not been before the Committee, He left his home before any petition respecting the return had been presented to the House; but he returned on the 20th April, whilst the Committee were still sitting, and was known to be at home by all his neighbours: so that had it been thought necessary to have his evidence, he was ready to attend to any summons served upon him. On the 22nd April he had occasion to come to London, and in the coach with him was the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. Wason). That hon. and learned Gentleman asked him whether he was going to London to give evidence in obedience to the Speaker's warrant; for that if he were, he could inform him that his attendance was unnecessary—that part of the case to which his evidence would relate being closed. It should be remembered, also, that Bond was not charged with bribery, but simply with evading the service of the Speaker's warrant, and that he did so guiltily was by no means clearly established. At all events, his punishment had already been very severe; for being in a humble situation of life, he had been unable to pay the gaol fees for private accommodation, and had been confined in the same ward with a felon who was under sentence of transportation for fourteen years. Surely the House would not allow him to remain longer in so painful a situation.
§ Mr. Wason
said, that since the right hon. Member for Edinburghshire had had the indiscretion to make the statement the House had just heard, he (Mr. Wason) would inform the House of a circumstance connected with it which would not otherwise have passed his lips. During the whole of the proceedings, Mr. Clipperton, the agent of his opponents, had repeatedly said, that he should put the petitioners to every shilling of expense he could. Knowing this, he (Mr. Wason), when he travelled up in the coach on the occasion alluded to with the agent Bond and Bristo (the Bailiff of the Borough), he began the conversation by asking the Bailiff whether he was going to London with him, and his answer was, Yes, for that it was at the expense of the petitioners. He (Mr. Wason) endeavoured to show the injustice of this, as the witness had been examined on the first day; but the answer was, that 1303 he had not been formally discharged, and should go, because it was at the expense of the petitioners against the return. He (Mr. Wason) then turned to Bond, and said, "You, I hope, are not going to London at our expense, for the Committee has reported against you, and your evidence will be immaterial." This was all that passed, and fortunately there was a professional person present, besides the Bailiff and Bond, who heard the conversation. If the Question went to a division he should vote for the discharge of Mr. Bond.
§ Sir Broke Vere
said, that there was nothing in evidence against Bond, except that he had absented himself from home to evade the service of the Speaker's order, for which offence he had been confined for a fortnight in Newgate, in the same ward with a convicted felon, from his inability to pay the gaol fees. Considering the limited extent of his guilt, he thought this should be considered a sufficient punishment, and that the House should now temper justice with mercy.
§ Mr. Patrick M. Stewart
said, that if it had been thought necessary for other petitioners who had been examined before the Committee to give an assurance in their petitions that they were ready to give evidence on the subject, much more so was it necessary in the case of a man who had not been examined at all. The precedent so often referred to in the Camelford case was again in point here. The petitioner there staled that he had been ill; that he had suffered greatly by his imprisonment; and that he should be ready to attend at any time with a full determination to give evidence. A similar pledge or offer should be exacted from Bond, Clamp, and Clipperton before they were discharged.
Sir George Clerk
thought the parties referred to would give an assurance such as the hon. Gentleman mentioned when they came to the Bar.
§ Mr. Hume
wished it to be remembered that these three men came before them after the trial, in which their evidence might have been of value to the public, was over. They might, perhaps, have given important evidence relative to the bribery in which they were engaged, and they now came before the House for pardon without even professing willingness to make the communication, to avoid making which they committed the offence laid to their charge. He hoped, therefore, that the Motion would be withdrawn till Mon-1304 day, when the parties would be able to present another petition.
said, that what was put by his hon. Friend the Member for Middlesex as supposition, was in his mind matter of certainty. Those men would not have been sent out of the way if they had not been able to explain something which the others could not. If Pilgrim alone had been able to state all the facts, he alone it would have been necessary to send away. The House could protect these persons against any ill consequences to themselves from the evidence they gave, and they ought not therefore to be discharged till they had disclosed the facts within their knowledge.
§ Mr. Jervis
said, that the submission of the other petitioners went the length of waiving the privilege of self-protection in the answers they gave.
Sir George Clerk
begged to observe, that there was no distinction between the present case and that first brought before the House.
§ Lord John Russell
thought, that the fact of Mr. Dasent having been examined before the Committee did make a difference. He would not say what ulterior steps should be taken, but with regard to the Question before them, if it came to the vote, he should be against now discharging this person.
§ Viscount Howick
said, that before the Motion was withdrawn he thought it right that a clear understanding should be come to with regard to the course they should hereafter pursue, in order that as little time as possible should be consumed in the discussion of this case. If, therefore, the hon. Baronet merely withdrew the Motion now for the purpose of making a similar Motion on Monday, he thought it would be more conducive to the convenience of the House if the hon. Baronet would now move that Bond be brought to the Bar on Monday next. By this means they should be able then to decide, without a fresh debate, whether the time for discharging Bond had or had not arrived. For his own part he was not sufficiently acquainted with the case to have formed a very strong opinion respecting it; but as far as he could judge he was disposed to say that on Monday next Bond should be discharged. He drew a very decided distinction between this case and, the 1305 cases of those who were the agents and contrivers of the withdrawal of Bond and others.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, that if the distinction was so clear, he for one should be quite willing to spare the House the trouble of considering the case on Monday, by discharging the petitioner to-night. For the sake of keeping him in prison three or four-days, it was not worth while to postpone the matter. Indeed that course would only be justifiable upon the supposition that it might then be thought desirable to keep him in confinement a great length of time after. If, however, he was not now to be discharged, it was desirable that information should be given to the House, in a subsequent petition, respecting one or two points referred to in that now before the House. Indeed, upon one of these points it would be proper for the House, if it had the power, immediately to act, by making an order, which should relieve the petitioner immediately from what he considered a very great hardship. He stated in his petition, that he was confined in the same ward with a convicted felon. Now, if an order to change his place of confinement could not be made, he hoped the gaoler of Newgate would take notice that it was the general feeling of the House that a person committed to his custody, even for the high offences of corrupting the purity of elections and violating the privileges of that House, should not be confined in the same cell with felons. He thought this was the general feeling of the House. He said nothing about the different situations in life of the parties thus thrown together, but it must be quite clear that men such as Bond, Cooke, and Clamp ought not to be compelled to sleep in the same room with a person convicted of felony by a jury of his country, and lying in prison under a sentence of transportation. The other point to which he wished to call the attention of the House was this, that Bond Stated in his petition that his health was impaired by his imprisonment. Now, if this was the fact—and it could be established on the testimony of any medical man—it would go far with him to support the Motion to have the petitioner discharged.
§ Mr. Thomas Attwood
hoped, the House would discharge him that very night. The man had done wrong, but he had acknowledged his error, and had been 1306 punished in a way which, he thought, fully satisfied the justice of the country. Indeed he might be inclined to say that the petitioner had already been too severely punished. It should be considered that he and his associates had been brought up under all the vices of the old system, without thinking hardly that what they did was criminal. He would repeat, that before the passing of the Reform Bill corruption at elections was hardly thought any crime at all. It was practised by the great Lords of the country, was scarcely ever punished by the Courts of Justice, and had not any criminality attached to it in the eyes of many.
§ Sir John Wrottesley
wished the matter to be postponed, in order that he might have time to read at least a part of the voluminous evidence which had been laid before them respecting it.
§ Mr. Patrick M. Stewart
was sure that the House would agree with the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland on the expediency of shortening the discussion as much as possible; but the plan proposed by the noble Lord would not obviate the objection which many entertained to the discharge of the petitioners, on account of their never having been examined at all. What he would suggest, therefore; was this, that on Monday the petitioners might, if they thought fit, present other petitions, expressing their readiness, as the others had done, to attend at any time to give their fair and unreserved testimony to the House. That being done, the House might perhaps feel itself justified in applying to them a sentence similar to that which had been agreed to be passed upon the first petitioners who had been before them that night.
§ Mr. Wilks
said, that it appeared to him that all the House had now to do was to determine upon the petitions already on the Table. He should not think it discreet for the House to pledge itself directly or indirectly as to the future course of its proceedings. One great objection to the discharge of this petitioner, and of those who stood in the same situation with him, was, that they had not made those communications to the House which had been made by three of the petitioners, whom it had been agreed should be liberated after receiving a reprimand. If, in any petition to be hereafter presented Mr. Bond and his associates should put themselves in a 1307 situation different from that which they now occupied, and cleared away the darkness in which the House was now involved with respect to their conduct, the House would then be able to determine what measure of justice should be meted out to them.
§ Mr. Williams Wynn
said, he could not see what valid objection there was to allowing the Motion to be withdrawn, when all the hon. Mover wished to do was to bring it again before the House on Monday with fuller information.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn.
§ The Speaker
wished to know whether it was the desire of the House that Mr. Pilgrim and Mr. Dasent should now be called to the Bar and be reprimanded?
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
said, that he had given notice of his intention to move the House on behalf of Mr. O'Malley, whose case was essentially different from that of any of the other petitioners. In the first place, he was not at all concerned in the Ipswich election.
§ The Speaker
said, he had gathered the wish of the House to be, not to proceed further with these cases that night.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
said, that he was prepared to obviate that objection, for he had in his hand a second petition from Mr. O'Malley, which he would now beg to present.
The petition was accordingly presented, read, and ordered to be printed, and to be taken into consideration on Monday next.
§ Colonel Perceval
then said, that before any further steps were taken in these proceedings, he trusted to the courtesy of the House to be allowed to draw its attention to an occurrence which took place in the presence, he believed, of all whom he had now the honour of addressing. He did so, not for the purpose of directing any special attack against the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, but that the House might draw a just conclusion from the circumstances of the case. When he, in the discharge of what he thought his duty, stated that which had come to his 1308 own knowledge, the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite rose—
§ Mr. Aglionby
rose to order. He understood the Motion before the House to be that two individuals should be brought to the Bar to receive the judgment of the House. What possible foundation that could afford to the gallant Officer to bring forward another question, respecting another person not before the House, and upon a matter which took place on a former night, he (Mr. Aglionby) was at a loss to conceive.
§ The Speaker
said, it certainly appeared to him that upon a simple Motion that two persons should be brought to the Bar of the House for the purpose of being discharged, it was extremely inconvenient, not to say irregular, to interpose any observations upon a different and a separate subject.
§ Colonel Perceval
knew it to be his duty and it was always his inclination to pay the respect due to the Chair. But he put it to the Speaker and to the House at large, whether it was the custom of Parliament to refuse a Member an opportunity of explaining circumstances which, if left unexplained, might tend to lower his character in his place in that House. The hon. and gallant Officer was proceeding to make some further observations which the general confusion rendered inaudible. At length.
§ Lord John Russell
interposed, observing, that he should be the last person in the House to deny the right (whatever the irregularity of the opportunity chosen might be) of any Member to rise for the purpose of giving an explanation upon a point in which his personal character was concerned; but he would only put it to the discretion of the gallant Officer, whether he thought the present was an opportunity upon which the House was inclined to enter into the discussion of such a subject as that he was endeavouring to bring forward; and whether he would not deem it more advisable to avail himself of some other opportunity more in accordance with the orders of the House and more in accordance with the business before it.
§ Colonel Perceval
again rose, and was again received with cries of "Order!" As he had before said, he felt it to be a 1309 duty he owed to himself, inasmuch as that his character in respect of the truth of a statement made by him in that House had been impugned. He was ready to sit: but this much he must say—that this was the first time, in the whole course of his parliamentary experience, upon which he had ever known the courtesy of the House withheld from any Member who asked the House to hear him on a personal question.
§ Lord John Russell
thought that the hon. and gallant Officer, after the observation he had just made, could not have heard a single word of what he (Lord John Russell) had stated. He (Lord John Russell) stated, that he should be the last man to refuse to any Member of the House an opportunity of making a statement upon a matter in which his personal character was concerned; but he asked the gallant Officer whether, upon reflection, he did not think he might take a better opportunity than the present for making such a statement. He certainly had not the least intention, and did not express any intention of refusing the gallant Gentleman the ordinary courtesy of the House, or of depriving him of the opportunity of making any statement he might deem necessary. He merely put it to the gallant Gentleman, as a matter for the exercise of his discretion—he did not ask the House to refuse to hear the gallant Gentleman.
§ Colonel Perceval
If it be the wish of the House that I should not go into a statement which is necessary to the vindication of my own honour—[cries of "No, No!"]—The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, to come to the point at once—
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose to order. He wished to call to the attention of the House the business upon which they were then engaged. They were discussing the case of two individuals adjudged by the House to have been guilty of an offence against its privileges. Now, if there was any occasion on which more than another the House, acting judicially, was bound to abstain from the discussion of any topic which might excite warm or angry feelings, surely it was upon such an occasion as the present, when the Speaker, as the organ of the House, was about to pronounce the opinion of the House with respect to the conduct of individuals who were upon the point of appearing at the 1310 Bar. He did not wish to deprive the gallant Officer of an opportunity of making a statement in vindication of his own character; but he really thought that the present was one of the last occasions on which he should attempt to occupy the attention of the House.
§ Colonel Perceval
said, that if he thought the statement he proposed to make would be attended with any effect, such as was surmised by the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, he (Colonel Perceval) should be the last man to persist in making it. No person could be more reluctant than he should be to say anything or to take any course that could tend to prejudice the House, or any individual Member of it, against the parties who were about to appear at the Bar.
§ Messrs. Dasent and Pilgrim were brought up to the Bar.
§ The Speaker
addressed them and said:—"John Bury Dasent and John Pilgrim, this House has found that you have been guilty of the crime of violating one of its most important and most valuable privileges, by absconding, for the purpose of avoiding the duty of giving that testimony which you were bound unquestionably to give, for the purpose of the due administration of justice. It must be unnecessary to any class of persons in this country to enlarge upon the importance of, at all times, yielding a prompt and willing obedience to those privileges which this House holds for the benefit of the people, and as their representatives. It must be, least of all, necessary to enlarge upon the nature of that offence to a gentleman whose professional habits and education must have made him more peculiarly acquainted with the nature of those obligations which are imposed upon all classes to contribute to the furtherance of public justice. You have, however, both of you, made that atonement which is in your power, by an expression of your sorrow and your contrition for the offence of which you have been guilty. This House has taken your petitions into its favourable consideration; it has dealt with you with all the mildness consistent with their sense of justice, and I have now to acquaint you that you are discharged, upon the payment of your fees."
§ Messrs. Dasent and Pilgrim withdrew.