§ Mr. T. Duncombe
rose to move:—That a select committee be appointed, to inquire into the grievances complained of, and the allegations contained in the petitions of George White, of Birmingham; Robert Brook, of Todmorden; James Leach, of Manchester; J. G. Harney, of Sheffield; Jonathan Brown, and nine others, prisoners in Southwell house of correction; R. T. Morrison, chairman of a public meeting at Nottingham; John Skeviugton, of Loughborough; James Arthur, of Carlisle; John Allinson, of Stockport; Samuel Robinson, of Stoke-upon-Trent, James Mitchell, of Southport; Samuel Crowther, of Halifax; William Gilipillan, chairman of a public meeting at South Shields:—the committee to report their opinion, with the evidence, to the House.The hon. Member said, that in the deep concern which her Majesty had expressed in her Speech from the Throne at the commencement of the Session, that the public peace had been most seriously disturbed during the past year in portions of the manufacturing districts, he was sure the House most fully and sincerely participated. Her Majesty on that occasion 43 was also pleased to observe, that the ordinary law promptly enforced was sufficient for the repression of the disturbances, and in that sentiment he believed that the House likewise fully concurred. But he very much doubted, if the House had been in possession of the circumstances which it was now in his power to state, whether it would have replied as it did to that part of her Majesty's Speech. He did not wish to be understood as intending to impute to her Majesty's Government the slightest intention of having on that occasion wished either to mislead her Majesty, the country, or the House, for it was his belief that her Majesty's Ministers, as regarded that sentence of the Royal Speech, had themselves been misled. He believed, that up to the present hour they did not know of the transactions and illegal proceedings that had taken place for what might be called the repression of those disturbances. When her Majesty's Speech stated that the ordinary law was amply sufficient for the purpose, it was not, of course, to be understood, and her Majesty's Government never intended it should, that they had applied to Parliament for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act or any of the Six Acts of 1819–20. But he was there to maintain that something more than the ordinary law had been put in force, and that the magistracy throughout the manufacturing districts where the disturbances occurred had administered something more than the ordinary law—that they had administered the law, if law it could be called, with partiality, cruelty, and oppression. He was well aware that in the appeal he was making to that House he was not about to address an impartial or unprejudiced tribunal. He knew he was appealing from the conduct of magistrates to magistrates themselves; for, look which way he would, he saw nothing but justices of the peace— nothing but the great unpaid ornamenting the benches of that House. He was likewise aware of the risk he was running in the statement he was about to make of bringing a hornet's nest about his ears; but he had a duty to perform, and he would not shrink from performing it, offend or displease whom he might. He brought forward this motion with no party views or intentions whatever, and he did trust, if he should make out a primâ facie case for inquiry, that there was a sufficient sense of justice left in the House to prevent any Member, or any party or association of Members, from doing their duty to the 44 public on this occasion, by granting the investigation he should ask for at the close of his speech. At different times he had presented petitions to the House, which he proposed to refer to a select committee, in order that the committee might report their opinions as to the truth of the allegations contained in them. It would be his duty to allude, not to all, but certainly to the majority of those petitions. The first to which he begged leave to call attention, as it related to what might be called the origin of these disturbances, was the petition of William Gilfillan, who presided at a public meeting of the inhabitants of South Shields. He had presented it to the House on the 3rd of March, and he had since then received various communications respecting it from the manufacturing districts. The petitioners prayed that House to institute an inquiry into the origin of these disturbances, and they certainly did so in no very qualified terms. The committee of that House who had ordered it to be printed had caused to be expunged from it certain words which applied to the conduct of individuals. The petitioners expressed their regret at the disturbances which had taken place; they stated that, they did not attribute them altogether to the distressed state of the people, but that they considered that the causes of the late outbreak were mainly owing to the inflammatory and revolutionary tendency of the speeches of the Anti-Corn-Law League. They stated that whilst their victims were suffering imprisonment, expatriation, &c., those who were the causes of the disturbances were at liberty, and they asked the House to institute a strict and scrutinizing investigation into the causes of the late outbreak. He would state the communications he had received from the manufaturing districts on this subject. But before he stated any of those communications, he would shortly call the attention of the House to the outbreaks which had taken place in the course of the last summer in the county of Stafford. In the county of Stafford he believed these outbreaks were, in the first instance, entirely confined to a question of wages between master and man When a question was asked by his hon. Friend the Member for the Potteries of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, in reference to these disturbances, the right hon. Gentleman then stated his belief that these disturbances had nothing whatever 45 of a political tendency or character. He believed that those men had very great and serious complaints against their masters. He had received statements to show that the custom of paying the wages of the workmen in kind, or the truck system had obtained to a great extent amongst the colliers and miners. That was much complained of. A man never knew what wages he had to receive on the Saturday night. The workmen were obliged to receive their wages at a public-house, which public house was generally kept by what was called a "butty." Music was provided, and the music induced the individuals to drink, and at the expiration of the evening, or rather next morning, those men who were not strong enough to withstand the effects of the liquor, were found in a state of intoxication, without a shilling of wages to receive. That state of things, and the reduction proposed to them, did exasperate the men, and there was a very bad feeling existing between the masters and the men, and the men broke out into acts of violence in July last. But at that period those disturbances were not confined entirely to the county of Stafford. In the month of August there were unpleasant symptoms shown in the cotton districts. There reductions were proposed by some master manufacturers in the neighbourhood of Staley bridge and Ashton. On the 5th of August Messrs. Bailey and two other millowners gave notice of a reduction in the wages of their workmen. A meeting took place among the operatives of that portion of the district, and they came to a resolution that if the proposed and threatened reduction were persevered in they would turn out. That meeting was adjourned until the 7th of August. Messrs. Bailey and Co. would not withdraw their notice, but the other two did. The men then came to the resolution of turning out. But they went further; for, being supported generally by the men of Ashton and the shopkeepers, they determined that all the district should turn out on the 9th of August, and that they would inarch to Manchester, and would induce the workpeople in the mills of Manchester to follow the example of the workmen at Staleybridge and Ashton. Having brought the House to the 9th of August— for that was the day when the mob of Ashton marched towards Manchester— he would proceed to describe what then took place, As the crowd marched towards Manches- 46 ter, it was met by the commissioner of police of that place, who made a proposition to them to prevent their advancing further; shortly afterwards however, on approaching the entrance of the town, they were met by the stipendiary magistrate, Mr. Maude, and the commander of the forces in that district. They might learn a good deal as to what took place on this occasion in consequence of a squabble, in a sort of paper-war, which had occurred between Sir C. Shaw, the commissioner of police, and the stipendiary magistrate, Mr. Maude, as these functionaries differed as to whether the people of Ashton should be allowed to enter the town or not. The House must be aware, that from the nature of his office Sir C. Shaw was not a magistrate, and could not act as a magistrate, his only duty being to obey the instructions of the magistrates. Mr. Maude then decided that the mob, on an understanding that no damage should be done to life or property, should be allowed to go through the town to a certain piece of ground, where a public meeting was to be held. The magistrate, with the common clerk, placed himself at the head of the mob, which was composed of 12,000 persons, which proceeded into the town, and a public meeting was held on a spot known as the Granby-row Fields. That meeting was addressed by a very intelligent man named Doyle, a Chartist, in the presence of the stipeudiary magistrate and the military commandant; in the course of his address Doyle said, that there could be no doubt of the meeting being a lawful one, the stipendiary magistrate being present, and that no one could afterwards object to anything not being done in a lawful manner as they were then acting. The consequence was, that every one was satisfied, and believed that a sanction was given by authority to their proceedings. The crowd soon separated, and proceeded to pay the visits they intended to pay before they entered Manchester, and invited the hands at the different mills to turn out. At the end of three days hardly a mill was at work at Manchester. It appeared that this outbreak was not got up for the purpose of carrying any public measure; but after this time delegates were chosen and met, and nearly all those individuals who turned out declared for what was called the Charter. With respect to this demand for the Charter, or political equality, he would only say, that these people were quite as well entitled as any other class to demand 47 what they conceived to be their political rights. On the 14th of August things had taken a very different turn from what was expected, and from that moment a degree of severity—a degree of oppression and unconstitutional proceedings of the most disgraceful kind were resorted to on the part of the magistrates towards those individuals who had engaged in the turn out. A proclamation was issued by the magistrates, as he had been informed, in which protection was promised to life and property, and in which it was stated that those who resisted the turn out and continued to work should receive ample protection; and, if he were correctly informed—and the matter could be easily investigated by the committee, if it should be granted—some of these millowners who had seen the proclamation, and had therefore resisted the mob in their attempt to enforce the turn out, were blamed by these magistrates for so resisting. Now, what was the state of the country between Colne and Burnley at this time; and what was the conduct of some of the magistrates and millowners with respect to the turn out? He had received a communication on this subject from a person of the name of Beesley, who resided at Accrington, which he would read to the House.On the 16th of August the crowd from Burnley demanded admission into Colne, and promised Mr. Folds a magistrate of Colne, that no property should be destroyed, upon which he ordered the soldiers to open out, and the town was handed over to a Chartist of the name of Mooney, and also gave him 1l. out of his own pocket, upon the understanding that life and property should be kept inviolate. Now, if the late outbreak had not been concocted by other than the working classes, would this dispenser of justice have given the town into the hands of the people, and with it money out of his own pocket, when he had a sufficient force to keep them back? I have received from Bacup, information respecting the conduct of some of the manufacturers in that neighbourhood. Mr. Brooks, of Sunnyside, I believe the son of the alderman (this information is from men who were there, and are ready to make oath upon it), said to them, when the people went to stop his works, 'that they were taking the right plan; that by such means they would be able to compel the Government to do something for them, and by no other means.' He also went round his works and showed them his boilers, whilst they drove in the plugs. He gave them every encouragement, and told them where the other print-shops were in the neighbourhood, and the people proceeded from his works to stop the others; he also 48 gave them something to eat- Mr. George Hamilton gave them food when they stopped his mill; this gentleman lives at Irwell-terrace, near Bacup, Lancashire. Mr. Whitehead gave them bread, butter, ham, and cheese, when they stopped his works. Mr. Acroyd, Bacup, gave them, when they slopped his mill, both food and money. With respect to Mr. Folds, when in the police-oflice after my arrest, 1 heard the superintendent of the police say that Mooney could not be arrested; that the magistrates had acted rather injudiciously; that they had given Mooney the power to stop the mills, and that he had done so under the sanction of the magistrates. This I can affirm.Such proceedings would certainly lead any one to suppose that the millowners and the magistrates did not object to the mills being stopped; but the moment these persons declared in favour of certain political rights, a very different course was pursued from what had hitherto been followed. On the 11th of August, he believed, the magistrates first assembled at the Town-hall respecting this movement, and they sent for Sir C. Shaw. That officer thought it to be his duty to give in a list of the names of those parties whom he considered to be the most dangerous agitators of political questions in the town of Manchester; upon receiving which, some of the magistrates present stated that they knew that these were the persons who had caused the late disturbances, and had originated the outrages which had taken place. Upon which, as he (Mr. Duncombe) had been informed, Sir C. Shaw said that this was not the case, for that he knew that the persons who originated the turnout and the disturbances were the hired advocates of the Corn-law League. This was also one of the allegations in the petition which he had presented from South Shields, and if the allegation were capable of being disproved, the committee would be a very proper tribunal for that purpose. The proceedings, however, which then took place towards the working classes were of the most unjust nature, and the petitioners were perfectly right in saying, that punishment should not be allowed to fall on the heads of those individuals who had received such encouragement, but upon the originators and promoters of these disturbances. But what was the conduct which these magistrates of Manchester pursued towards those who were supposed to be guilty of what he supposed he must call political offences? On this point he 49 would refer to the first petition which he had presented, from James Leech, bookseller and stationer, of 40, Oak-street, Manchester. It appeared that it was intended to hold a public meeting on the 16th of August, in commemoration of the memory of Mr. Hunt, for that was the anniversary of the day known by the name of the Peter-loo-day. The petition commenced thus:—That your petitioner was arrested on the 17th day of August, 1842, on a charge of sedition and conspiracy, and after being confined in a dark, dirty, and damp cell from Wednesday till Friday, was then, for the first time, brought up before the magistrates, Messrs. Foster and Maude; and, after an examination, was remanded till Tuesday, Mr. Beswick, superintendent of the Manchester police, stating by that time he should be prepared with his witnesses.Now he would ask the hon. and learned Attorney-general whether he were not correct in designating this imprisonment of the petitioner, without examination, from Wednesday to the following Tuesday, an illegal transaction on the part of the magistrates? The law was, that, when a man was arrested, he should be carried before a magistrate as soon as possible, but it appeared that this petitioner was arrested on the Wednesday, and was not carried before a magistrate at all until the Friday, although there was a magistrate sitting up stairs in the place where he was confined. It appeared that when Mr. Leech was carried before the magistrates, Messrs. Maude and Foster, they did not take the trouble to inquire into the case, but remanded him, without examination, to the following Tuesday; this, he contended, was an illegal proceeding, and he should like to see the lawyer who would say that it was not so. The petitioner proceeded to say,That good and substantial bail was offered, but was refused, on the ground that the offence was of so heinous a nature that no bail could be accepted.He begged to remind the House, that the offence for which Mr. Leech was arrested was, that a placard was posted at his door in which the people were called upon to declare for the Charter.That your petitioner then, Mr. Leech went on to state, with thirteen others, was confined in a very narrow cell, where there was scarcely room for two persons to pass each other, and where the stench arising from a privy at one end of it, along with the disagreeableness of so many being confined together in so small a space, rendered it most in- 50 tolerable and disgusting. That at night your petitioner, with three others, Mr. Charles Turner, Mr. Tinker, and Mr. Seddons, were locked up in a cell two yards and a half by two, in which there were two beds, two feet and a half each in breadth; one of these cells are usually allowed for two prisoners, though they be felons. The beds were swarming with vermin, and the narrowness of them rendered it impossible for your petitioner, with the other prisoners, to take off their clothes. The consequence was, that your petitioner, with the other prisoners never undressed for thirteen days.It appeared that the petitioner, as well as those confined with him, were remanded for thirteen days, because the superintendent of police thought proper to tell the magistrates that if they were remanded, he should be enabled to produce evidence against them at a future day. At the same time, it was clear that this man knew that there was no evidence, and that he should not be able to bring forward any evidence showing criminality on the part of these persons. The fact was, that this was done to prevent these persons being set at liberty, and they were thus confined in this disgraceful manner in defiance of the Habeas Corpus Act, which, notwithstanding the boast of the Government that the ordinary law had proved sufficient in their hands, had been virtually suspended by the magistrates in these districts.That on Sunday (the petition continued) your petitioner, with thirteen others, were paraded in the prison yard before Sir Charles Shaw, Inspector Irvin, MacMullen, and others of the Manchester police. Your petitioner was called out from the rest of the prisoners by Sir Charles Shaw, and asked if there was anything he could do to serve your petitioner; that your petitioner complained of the great hardships to which he was subjected, not being allowed to see any of his family or friends, and requested him to see Mr. Maude upon that subject, which he promised to do; that gentleman (Maude) however, refused every application made to him, and during the whole period of your petitioner's confinement, neither friend nor even legal adviser was allowed to visit him. That on the following Tuesday, August 23, your petitioner was again brought up before the above-named magistrates, and after a lengthened examination, was again put back till the Friday following, the prosecutor stating, that by that time, he had no doubt but he would be able to prove a very serious offence against your petitioner; good and substantial bail was again offered, but refused on the same grounds as before. That on Friday, August 26, your petitioner was again brought up, and after an examination of witnesses had been gone 51 through at great length, was committed to take his trial at Liverpool, but he would be allowed to go out, upon finding two sureties of 200l. each, and himself in 400l., giving forty-eight hours' notice of bail; that bail was immediately tendered in court; notwithstanding, your petitioner was put back till the forty-eight hours should transpire, and was ultimately liberated on Tuesday the 30th day of August, at four o'clock in the afternoon, being ninety-six hours in prison after the bail had been first tendered in court.Now, it was clear in this instance, that forty-eight hours was not required to inquire into the solvency of the bail; but it was determined to prolong the imprisonment in the most wanton, unjustifiable manner, for forty-eight hours longer. If a committee were granted, he should be able to prove, that it was well known to the magistrates that the bail which was offered by Leech and his fellow-prisoners could not have been better as regarded the gentlemen who presented themselves for that purpose:Shortly after, your petitioner was again arrested on a second charge of conspiracy, and after seven days' confinement in New Bailey lockups, was liberated, upon finding two sureties of 200l. each, and himself in 400l., to appear at Liverpool, and answer to the second charge of conspiracy. That your petitioner appeared at Liverpool, when the first charge upon which your petitioner was arrested, and after suffering thirteen days' confinement under the circumstances above mentioned, the indictment against your petitioner was abandoned, and, as he believes, from a knowledge the prosecutor had that his witnesses were most grossly and foully perjured, and that your petitioner had ample means to prove them so. That your petitioner has great reason to complain of the unconstitutional conduct pursued towards him by the authorities and police of Manchester; your petitioner, therefore, prays that your honourable House will be pleased to institute an immediate inquiry into your petitioner's case.The result, then was, that when they went to trial at Liverpool, the whole charge was abandoned, and thus these men were kept nineteen days in prison without bail, when it was clear, from the very commencement, that the whole charge must be abandoned. After such a proceeding, it was monstrous to talk to them of justice to these individuals. Mr. Leech stated, that he had been confined with Messrs Turner, Tinker, and Seddons. He should now call the attention of the House to the cases of Mr. Turner and three other persons, some of whom had been confined for thirteen days, and some for 52 nineteen days. Mr. Turner was a highly respectable printer in Manchester, and the supposed offence with which he was charged was the printing the placard which was affixed to the door of Leech, and for which he was apprehended. For this Mr. Turner was taken up, and confined in one of the cells of the Town-hall for three or four days before he was examined. When he was arrested, also, a very great outrage was committed with respect to two of his apprentices, who were carried away by the superintendent of police under the pretext that if the apprentices appeared before the magistrates with Mr. Turner, they could get back earlier to tell the result to Mrs. Turner. [The Attorney-General: Is that alleged in any petition.] Mr. Turner had not presented any petition to the House, but he had been requested by that individual, and by Mr. Tinker and Mr. Seddons, to make their respective cases known to the House. Turner, then, was carried to the cells, and after the lapse of time which he had already described, and after all possible impediments which had been thrown in Turner's way to get bail, he was liberated. Turner, on hearing the nature of the charge against him, and believing that he had been guilty of no offence, on his trial at Liverpool pleaded guilty to the mere circumstance of having printed the placard, and since then he had not been called up for judgment. But was this an offence of such a nature that a person merely charged with it should be locked up in a felon's small cell, with three others, and obliged to lie on a bed with another prisoner, and the place swarming with vermin? This was a most revolting proceeding towards those who were presumed to be innocent in the eye of the law. The apprentices were carried away under the pretence that they would shortly return and inform Mrs. Turner of the result; but instead of that they were conveyed to the Isle of Man and kept there until the special commission sat at Liverpool, last October, for the purpose of giving information and evidence against their employer. As he had just stated Mr. Turner, thinking that he had been guilty of no harm in printing this paper, when his trial came on pleaded guilty, and what was the result?—why that he had not been brought up for judgment. But when the persons who were engaged in getting up the cases for the prosecution at this commission found that they could make nothing of the apprentices, and that they 53 were not necessary for the prosecution of their employer and the other persons against whom charges had been brought respecting the placard, they sent the superintendent of police to Mr. Turner, and said that he must take back his apprentices. Mr. Turner replied no, they had left his service, to the great injury of his business, and the persons who had induced them to do so were the responsible parties. Upon this, Mr. Beswick, thinking to alarm Mr. Turner, pulled out a letter which he alleged he had received from Mr. Gregory, the gentleman who was sent down by the Government to investigate the cause of these disturbances, and read it to him, in which it was stated, that if Mr. Turner did not take back the boys, that the Government would have him up to London, and proceed to have sentence passed upon him. Now he should like to see the government which would dare after this, bring up this person for judgment, because he did not comply with the orders which were alleged to have been made respecting these apprentices by Mr. Gregory, and which apprentices, by the bye, he still refused to receive. Then, with respect to the cases of Messrs. Tinker and Seddons; he thought that their treatment had been still worse. He would read to the House a statement which had been made to him on this point by these two persons. They stated:—On the 14th of August, 1842, we Isaac Tinker and George Seddou, were apprehended and taken from our beds at two o'clock in the morning by the superintendent of police, Richard Beswick, and a numerous body of special constables and soldiers. We were then taken to the Town Hall, Manchester, and after undergoing the ordeal of searching were locked up, without an hearing before a magistrate, or examination during a period of six days; that is to say, from the two o'clock on the morning of Sunday, until ten o'clock a.m., on the following Friday. At this period (Friday) we were brought before the stipendiary magistrate, Mr. Maude, when Beswick, not being prepared with evidence, we were remanded until the following Tuesday. On this occasion our able barrister, Mr. Green, proved, that the several charges of the indictment were only misdemeanor offences. The officer who apprehended us refused to show his authority for so doing. We were again remanded till the following Friday, when, no evidence being forthcoming, we were again remanded till tie Tuesday next, we were then brought up in a dose court, and our friends refused admission. Mr. Beswick again appeared, but stated that he had no evidence to adduce, although he confessed,' he had ransacked the town for that purpose.' We were now admitted to bail, to appear again in 54 a fortnight, and were compelled to find two bona fide sureties of 100l. each. At the time appointed we again appeared at the borough court, when Beswick having communicated to the magistrates that there was no evidence we were dismissed. You will thus perceive we were in prison nineteen days, and eleven days on bail. In conclusion it may be well to state that we have both been unemployed since that period, and have scarcely the chance of succeeding again. Seddon, who is a delicate man, is fast declining, and Tinker and family are suffering severely.These persons were in prison in this way for nineteen days, and there never was a grosser violation of the liberty of the subject than in this proceeding. It might be well to state that these men had been almost constantly out of employment since that period, and they assured him that there was scarcely any chance of their obtaining it again. After this, let him not he told that this was law, or anything like law, for the Habeas Corpus Act was virtually and practically repealed if such proceedings as these were to be tolerated. From the cases of Leech and his associates in the prison, he would proceed to that of Skevington. This person, in the petition which he presented to the House, stated that:—In the month of August last the people deemed it right to cease working, but were peaceable. On the day before the people struck (Thursday August 18th), the magistrates of this district commenced swearing in constables; and on the Friday, the day the people struck, they swore in the whole day—they were sworn in drinking at the public expense. A peaceable meeting was held at six o'clock in the evening, and notwithstanding two special constables endeavoured to make a disturbance the people separated quietly, intending to meet at eight the same night, but the constables being so drunk, and anxious for a riot, the meeting was given up, to show that the people were for peace. The magistrates continued at the public office, and had the attendance of policemen, pensioners, and special constables, which caused boys and girls to assemble, from curiosity, when no disturbance having taken place, the riot act was read. On the following morning the 20th of August, I was arrested at my own door, on a charge of using seditious language, about one or two hundred policemen, pensioners, and constables, with the head of the police, coming for me, and I was taken before the magistrates, Messrs. Philips and Dawson and the rev. J. Dudley. On the testimony of one constable, whose evidence was refuted by three witnesses, I was ordered to find bail to keep the peace for six months, only one hour being allowed to obtain it, Bonâ fide bail being then refused, I was conveyed to Leices- 55 ter, escorted out of the town by about 500 policemen, pensioners, and constables, and nine soldiers with drawn swords, the soldiers and four policemen going all the way with me. At Leicester I was treated as a felon, and lived on felon's fare, washed in the bath, prison dress, &c.; remaining there till the 23d of August, when the difficulties thrown in the way of bail were removed. Your petitioner further begs to state, that on the following Monday some persons were taken up on the highway, and required to find bail for having walking-sticks. On Tuesday afternoon, scouting parties were sent out, one of which found some men at the monastery, where soup is given away; they brought them away as beggars, getting here about five o'clock the same evening; and after nine, though they had been sent to bed, the magistrates had them called up, and committed for one month, and one man, because he was known to be a Chartist, to three months' hard labour.With respect to the men "who had been taken into custody, and who had been alluded to by the petitioner, he had received a representation regarding their case, from a person of the name of Warner, which he would read to the House. This paper was dated Loughborough, and stated,—John Mee and others were taken up on the 22nd of August, by the inspector and thirteen of the county police, armed with swords and cutlasses. They took them all to Loughborough police-station for safety, and in the middle of the night called them out of bed, and took them before Edward Dawson, esq., who was waiting at the governor's house. He asked the superintendent if he saw them begging? He said, 'No, but they (the prisoners) had said they were begging.' His worship said,' that would do,' and asked their names. When J. Mee told him his name, the worthy magistrate's reply was, 'Oh, I shall send you for three months to hard labour, and I am very sorry I cannot send you for longer.' 'And is your name Green?' to another. The answer being 'Yes.' Then you may go.' Without any reason whatever being expressed, the others were sent for one month each; and when they arrived at Leicester prison, the governor questioned them. He told them 'it was a very mean case, for I believe you are innocent;' and the chaplain questioned them very closely, and said, 'I believe you are innocent, because you are all in one mind, and one tale; but God was visiting them or some of their former sins.' Now, Sir, the facts of the case are these:—There is a monastery about a mile from Sheepshead, where soup is given away every day to all the poor that go; and they were in the soup room, and Father Edwards told them to Wait a minute or two, and he would bring them something to eat; and be- 56 fore they had time to bring them any, the police force entered and dragged them away. Before the police reached this hospitable building, they met two men on business, whom they seized, and asked the inmates whether these two men bad not been there begging; and they said, 'No,' 'What, not a little water?' And the reply was again 'No,' but the police themselves then had the daring impudence to beg some pears which they saw. They then asked whether the cottagers had seen many persons go up to the monastery; and they said, 'there were persons continually going up, so they could not tell who went.' All this was done without the knowledge of the inmates of the monastery; and Father Edwards says that he will give his oath they never asked for anything.'He had always understood that it was a privilege of the poor to go to and obtain soup, or other charitable donations, from an institution like the present, without their being interfered with. Was it not monstrous, then, that men under such circumstances should be committed for three months, or one month, at the discretion of a magistrate, merely because they were known to be Chartists? He then came to a case of a most disgraceful character which had occurred at Manchester, he meant that of the rev. J. Scholefield, who had been kept seven days in prison without any charge being brought against him. The fact of the rev. Mr. Scholefield being arrested in the manner in which he was, and the treatment which he was exposed to, reflected the greatest disgrace on the magistrates who treated a most respectable Dissenting minister in this way. This gentleman was arrested at six o'clock in the morning, on the 30th August, with his son, only twenty years of age, and described the treatment which he then met with, in a letter addressed to him (Mr. Duncombe). Mr. Scholefield said: —On Friday, the 30th of September, 1842, as soon as the servant opened the gates to my house, a little before six a.m., three of our police constables, Messrs. Beswick, Irwin, and Green, came into my house and sent the servant up stairs to say that I was wanted immediately. I came down, half dressed, to know the purport of their early visit. Mr. Beswick said, 'I have a warrant against you.' I said, 'Very well; I will dress and come down again directly.' I returned and said, 'What is the nature of your warrant?' He read the substance of it, being for 'riot, conspiracy, &c.' I said, 'Very well, I am your prisoner.' I was giving instructions to my son, a youth in his twentieth year, as to what he must do. 'Yes,' says Mr. Beswick, 'but I have a war- 57 rant against him also, for publishing a seditious placard.' I asked him if he had any more? He said, 'No; but before I go I must look over your papers, letters, drawers, &c.' I said, 'Very well" and ordered my daughter to open any place he might wish. He accordingly commenced his search (without legal authority, as I have since learned). He emptied one drawer of the whole of its contents; very dilligently examined the surgery; then, into my private room, where was opened for him my secretaire, portable writing-desk, drawers, &c. He was very curious in prying into things that could not really concern him, such as my deeds, banking book, &c. I said to him,' Surely there is no treason there.' Then, to the drawers and work-boxes of my daughters, in the sitting-room and bed-room, and into all the rooms in the house. They took a large parcel away with them, and which I have not as yet got back; but it is remarkable that not one document was produced, either in Manchester or Lancaster, against me. We were taken in a coach to the police office; after a while were sent for by Sir Charles Shaw, chief commissioner of police, whose term expired that very day, and he told us to go to the Borough Court, and ordered an officer to follow at a respectful distance. There we found many others. We were not there long, before we were sent from thence to the New Bailey, the county court, and, until it opened, we were, with about a dozen others, crammed up in a small cell about three yards wide and six or eight yards long, with a disgusting and offensive place at one end, sufficient to make any one sick. About one o'clock we appeared in court before Mr. Maude, the stipendiary magistrate; and Mr. Gregory, not having any charge against us ready for a hearing, we were remanded until the Tuesday following. I offered bail for myself and son's appearance; but no, my case was so serious that nothing but my person could be taken; as a favour my son was out on bail. I was thus at once cut off from all my professional and important duties, pecuniary transactions, &c, and my own son could not see me without a magistrate's order. Tuesday came, and after the examinations my son was to find bail in 200l. himself, and two others of 1002. each, and myself in 8002. and two sureties of 400l. each, with forty-eight hours' notice. My bail was tendered then, but refused; at the expiration of forty-eight hours again offered at the Borough Court, before Mr. Maude. He was about to receive it, but one of the police officers put him a slip of paper on the bench, and he then said they must make further inquiry. On this they (the bail) went to Sir Thomas Potter, and told him their case. He said he would take the word of any of them for 1,000/., and promised to meet them at the New Bailey at five o'clock, 'and we'll have him out, you shall see.' The time came, and it was done. Thus was I at liberty again, after a week's imprisonment; and since, at Lancaster, a complete acquittal, and my son 58 not prosecuted at all! The expense, inconvenience, and annoyance have been great.This policeman then took the papers of the rev. Mr. Scholefield away, and had never returned them, although that gentleman had repeatedly applied for them, and not one of these documents which had been so illegally taken from Mr. Scholefield, had been used on the trial by the Attorney-general. The result of the trial was, as was to be expected, that the rev. Mr. Scholefield was honourably acquitted. Thus, then, this gentleman had been remanded to the New Bailey prison, from: day to day, for the purpose of enabling the superintendent of police (Beswick) to get up some feasible charge before the magistrates. The next petition to which he should call the attention of the House, was that of George White, news-agent of Bromsgrove-street, Birmingham, who complained strongly of having been committed to gaol on the evidence of hired and acknowledged spies. He said—That your petitioner was arrested on the 26th day of August last, upon a charge of sedition, and was brought before Messrs. Spooner, Beale, Moorsome, and other magistrates then assembled in the public office at Birmingham, and was committed to Warwick county gaol on the evidence of hired and acknowledged spies, and others of notoriously bad character, to take his trial at the ensuing sessions.Now, if anything could be more disgraceful to a government, or a magistracy, it was the employment of spies. He did not believe that the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department was at all cognizant of, or a party to, the employment of spies on this occasion, because he did not believe, that he could have anything to do with so disgraceful a proceeding. With respect to what had occurred to George White, against whom there was nothing but police evidence adduced, when he was taken before the magistrate, the first witness produced against him was police-sergeant Davy. On being cross-examined, this witness said that he was acquainted with a man of the name of Brown and the petitioner, and that he was accustomed to walk about with them. That he always did so in coloured clothes, and that he did not think they knew that he was in the police. He was asked whether he were instructed by any one to do this, and he replied by his superior officer. On his being further asked, whether he had received any orders 59 to insinuate himself into the confidence of White and the other person, his answer was interrupted by Mr. Griffith the magistrate, who said, that the witness was not bound to answer the question. On White expressing a strong wish to ask the question, Mr. Spooner, another of the magistrates, said that he had a right to put the question, but it was in the discretion of the witness to answer it or not. On the question being again put, the witness declined answering it. Could there be the least doubt, after this, that the spy system was practised and sanctioned during the late proceedings by the local authorities of Birmingham? White, in his petition, further stated:—That your petitioner thereupon applied for leave to put in bail, which was agreed to by the magistrates, who demanded six sureties in 100l. each, and himself in 600l., with forty-eight hours' notice. That your petitioner had good and sufficient bail then present in court, who were well known to be such by the magistrates. That Richard Spooner, Esq., one of her Majesty's justices of the peace, informed your petitioner in open court, 'That he should not accept any person holding similar political principles with those of your petitioner, as bail on his behalf.'Now, he should like to know, whether a person in the situation of the petitioner, entertaining the opinions which he did, was likely to get either a Tory, or a Whig, or a member of the Anti-Corn-law League, to come forward and offer bail for the petitioner; but it did so happen that Mr. George White had bail to produce, who were not men who entertained any strong political opinions. On his offering these persons, he was told that he must give notice of bail, and the petitioner complained strongly of the treatment which he experienced in gaol, which he stated was like that of a common felon, and he had no doubt, that if the House would give him a committee, that he should be fully able to prove this. All kinds of intimidation was practised by the police towards those who signified their willingness to become bail for the petitioner. In one instance, one of the authorities of the town went to a most respectable man, who happened to be a licensed victualler, and who had offered to become bail for the petitioner, and said to him,—Your licence will be in danger on the next licensing day if you become bail for George White.In consequence of these proceedings, 60 notwithstanding good bail was offered for the liberation of the petitioner, heWas confined in solitude and cold for the space of eleven weeks, during which time your petitioner's wife gave birth to a child, and was thereby incapacitated from attending to your petitioner's business, thereby subjecting him; to serious loss, independent of the agony of mind which he had-to endure." The whole of his papers, the petitioner stated, were taken from him, and when, on his bail being at length perfected, he applied for his letters and papers to be given to him, in order that he might prepare his defence, they, as well as his other property that had been taken, were detained by order of the rev. J. Boudier, one of the visiting magistrates of Warwick county gaol. He was utterly at a loss to understand by what authority this reverend magistrate had kept back from the unfortunate prisoner the letters and papers which were necessary for him in the preparation of his coming defence. Mr. White went on to state:—Your petitioner has since applied to the magistrates of Birmingham to have his property restored. They expressed a wish that it should be delivered up, and wrote to the visiting magistrates of Warwick to that effect. That your petitioner was referred to Sir James Graham, and wrote to him on the subject, requesting that his property might be restored, or a sufficient reason given for its detention; and that her Majesty's Secretary for the Home Department refused to give it up, or state the grounds on which he withheld it.Now, Mr. White was a working man with a family depending upon his exertions, yet in this manner had he, for a period of many weeks—months, indeed— been prevented from attending to that business by which he had maintained himself and those who were dear to him. Now, that was not the only case of the same class. There was the case of Robert Brook, of Todmorden, whose petition had also been printed with the votes that morning. This petitioner complained:—That your petitioner was arrested at his own house, Back Brook-street, Todmorden, on the 5th of September last, upon a charge of sedition, conspiracy, and riot, &c, and was brought before John Crossley, Esq. of Scaitcliffe, Todmorden, and James Taylor, esq. of Todmorden-hall, when your petitioner was grossly insulted by the said John Crossley esq., and amongst the language used was the following:—' I have got you at last, and I am glad of it, and I will take care to punish you; you have given me a deal of trouble with writing to that rascally Northern Star.'61That your petitioner was required to find bail in the sum of—himself 200l., and two sureties 100l. each; and when two persons of good and unblemished character, and both men of property, and both county voters in the West Riding of Yorkshire, presented themselves as bail, the said John Crossley, esq. told them, 'he would not take their bail because they were Chartists, and said he would not take a Chartist as a bondsman, for he was determined to put down the Chartists in Todmorden,' and the constable was ordered to take me away, but through the interference of the solicitor, sent down to look into the case, your petitioner was recalled, and the same individuals taken as bondsmen.Your petitioner was again arrested, and brought before the magistrates at Manchester, whose names your petitioner does not know, and requested to find other bail to the amount of—himself in 400l. and two sureties of 200l. each, but not being able to do so, your petitioner was sent to Rirkdale, along with many more in the same situation.Your petitioner was eventually brought up at Liverpool before Lord Abinger, to take his trial, when the first case was given up, and your petitioner traversed the other, and had to find bail, himself in 200l. and two sureties 50l. each.Your petitioner complains that he was kept in prison, on account of such excessive bail being required, until the trials came on at Liverpool, when Lord Abinger reduced his bail as follows;—from himself 600l. and sureties to the amount of 600l. to himself 200l. and sureties to the amount of 100l.Your petitioner, therefore, prays that your honourable House will be pleased to institute an immediate inquiry into your petitioner's case.And well he might pray for an inquiry into his case. It was perfectly clear to him, that there had been a regular conspiracy on the part of the magistrates throughout this part of the country on this occasion. He was borne out in this assertion by the disgraceful conduct of two magistrates of Staffordshire, in the case of Mr. Arthur George O'Neil, whose proffered bail were refused by these two gentlemen for precisely the same reasons. When Mr. O'Neil was brought before these magistrates, two good and sufficient bail presented themselves; men perfectly solvent, and in respectable circumstances, town-councillors of Birmingham, for which office they must possess a qualification of 1,000l. over and above what would pay their debts. On these gentlemen presenting themselves, the magistrates, Mr. Badger and the rev. Mr. Cartwright asked one of them whether he had not taken the chair at a Chartist meeting some six months before; and the 62 other was asked, whether he had not signed the requisition calling that meeting. On their answering in the affirmative, the magistrates said at once they would not accept the bail of persons holding such opinions, and Mr. O'Neil was accordingly committed to prison, where he remained a considerable time. Mr. O'Neil's case was taken up by a benevolent individual, and a criminal information was filed against Messrs. Badger and Cartwright, who, he believed, were defended on that occasion by the hon. and learned Solicitor-General. And what was the justification they set up? They admitted the whole facts as stated by Mr. O'Neil, and they justified on the ground that the sureties proffered were Chartists. One other very extraordinary reason which was given, was a conversation which was stated to have taken place between Mr. O'Neil and one of the constables who took him to prison, or rather a conversation between the constable and a person of the name of Lance-field, who addressed him while Mr. O'Neil was with him; for all that it would seem Mr. O'Neil did was, "while eating a pork pie," as the deponent stated, to cry, "hear, hear," to some remark one of the other parties made with reference to the Chartists giving the magistrates a good deal of trouble. If hon. Members of that House, whose custom it was to cry, "hear, hear," to sentiments unpleasing to the ears of Tory magistrates, were to find themselves brought up before Messrs. Cartwright and Badger, and have their proffered bail refused, because they and their bail differed with the worthy justices in political opinions, they would find how very inconvenient such a principle of administering the law was, though their case would be far lighter than that of men not so well able to help themselves like the various petitioners to the House on this occasion. What a justification was this of Messrs. Cartwright and Badger! Had not he Mr. Duncombe seen the fact sworn to, and well attested in the proceedings of a court of justice, he could not have believed such a statement in reference to gentlemen, named as, and calling themselves administrators of the laws. Another justification put forward by these individuals was, that the lord-lieutenant, and the magistrates generally of Staffordshire and Worcestershire, when these disturbances in Staffordshire began, met together, and agreed that any persons holding a particular description of political opinions, should not be 63 received as bail in any case which might be brought before them. Now, here was a direct conspiracy on the part of the lord-lieutenant and magistrates to infringe, to violate that which had always been held to be the clear liberty, to be one of the most sacred rights of the subject, that of giving bail. And what was the opinion, upon this matter, of Lord Denman? What was the judgment of the court on that occasion? Lord Denman said,The law is clear, and is as old as the statute of Westminster, 13 Edw. 1, c. 15. Lord Coke in his commentary upon that statute (2 Just. 191), says that, to deny a man plevin, who is plevisable, and thereby to detain him in prison, is a great offence, and grievously to be punished; and Lord Hale (c. 17) adopts the same remark; and Hawkins (Book 2, c. 15), speaks of a refusal of bail, as an indictable offence. Blackstone, referring to the ancient statute (Book 4, c. 22), the Habeas Corpus, and the Bill of Rights, calls it an offence against the liberty of the subject.Lord Denman further on told the magistrates of Staffordshire:—Almost the first page of their most ordinary text books, would have convinced these gentlemen that their refusal on such a ground to receive the bail offered, was not a legitimate exercise of their office, or a proper performance of their duty as magistrates, but quite the contrary.This was the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice of England with reference to the conduct of this lord-lieutenant and his magistrates They pleaded ignorance of the laws, forsooth, as an excuse; how would such a plea be received from a poor working man, who might far more justifiably offer it? What effect would his saying he did not know that what he had done was contrary to law have upon the magistrates? Why, none at all; they would read him an additional lecture, and send him to prison for several months, there to work hard, and turn the tread-mill. It was a very different thing with lord-lieutenants and magistrates of counties; let them behave ever so grossly, let them violate the liberty of the subject in however flagrant a manner, and not the slightest notice was taken of them. At all events, he had not yet heard, though he should be most delighted to hear it, that her Majesty had been advised to strike these magistrates from the commission of the peace. He trusted, however, that the Government would not fail to take into their consideration whether such persons ought any longer to be entrusted with 64 the administration of the laws of this country. When he saw the lord-lieutenant and magistrates acting in this manner in Staffordshire, it was not to be wondered at that the same conduct should be observed in other cases which had been brought before the House, such as those of White, Brook, and the rest. There were other petitions from Messrs Robinson, Arthur and Allinson. He would not detain the House by going through these petitions. They complained of a very great grievance, and he was sure that if hon. Gentlemen would carefully read these various petitions, and inquire into the subject, they would be satisfied that there was ample ground for these complaints, and that it was essential an inquiry should be made into the conduct of the magistrates; and that it was full time to provide some security that such outrages upon the liberty of the subject should not again occur. There was another case to which he would now call the attention of the House, and this was a petition in reference to certain proceedings at Nottingham, and in the House of Correction at Southwell; and certainly he could not compliment the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, the Member for South Nottinghamshire (Colonel Rollestone) for the views of justice upon which he had conducted the administration of the law on that occasion, on the bench of the Quarter Sessions at Nottingham. What did Jonathan Brown, and other petitioners complain of? It would appear that that district, at the time of the general excitement, partook of the prevalent agitation; but there was this marked difference in respect to what took place at Nottingham and its neighbourhood, that there was not one single act of violence committed, not a single stick or stone used, not a single pane of glass broken. On one occasion, however, some persons did collect at a place in the neighbourhood of Nottingham, at the distance of two miles from that town, to the number of between 400 and 500; they assembled in consequence of a notice which had been publicly issued, that on that day several cart-loads of provisions, which had been subscribed for among certain benevolent persons, would there be distributed to the poor. One or two parties had visited the same place two days before, and no damage whatever had been done: but, on the occasion of these poor persons going to 65 the place to receive the promised provisions, of which they stood so greatly in need, they were surrounded by a body of police, and the whole 400 or 500 persons, without any rhyme or reason assigned, were marched off to the House of Correction, at Southwell, no Riot Act having been read, no act of violence whatever even attempted. When they were lodged in prison, before they were brought up for examination, they were visited by a sergeant of the 45th regiment, and by a non-commissioned officer of the 60th Rifles, by whom they were asked if they would not enlist; the parties saying—If you do, you will get plenty of meat and drink, and get out of your troubles; if you do not, you have got into a terrible scrape, and you will smart for it.This was the first time that he had heard of a house of correction being turned into a crimping house for her Majesty's service. The men, however, one and all refused, saying they had done nothing wrong. Some of the magistrates and police were present at the time. Having this immense number of men in the House of Correction, the officers there were puzzled to know what to do with them. They were accordingly desired to class themselves according to their townships; they were then called over, one after another, and as the policeman said "No," or "Yes," to A or B and so on, A or B was sent away or kept, and of the 500 who had been arrested, but 29 were detained. On these 29 being brought before the magistrates, he believed, that the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Rolleston) said the bench was determined to make a severe example of some of them, and therefore he committed them for trial. They complained, that the observations of the hon. and gallant Member, the committing magistrate, would operate prejudicially against them, and asked to be tried before an impartial and unprejudiced jury at the Assizes, and not at the Quartet-Sessions. They were told to make their application to the Secretary of State for the Home Department; they made that application, and to it, he believed, the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir. J. Graham) returned no answer. The consequence was, that the men so committed, were brought for trial before the Court of Quarter Sessions in October last. The hon. and gallant Gentleman charged the grand jury as if great violence had been exhibited; and that the jury would have 66 little difficulty in the matter, as the evidence was so clear. Again, the manner in which the trials of these men were conducted, was entirely contrary to the spirit of the Jaw; and to this point he not only begged the attention of the House, but that especially of the law officers of the Crown, In the first instance, four men were put upon their trial, and when the verdict had been found against them, the same four men were again placed upon their trial with nineteen others, charged upon an indictment alleging an offence on another day? and yet on this second trial, the evidence applicable to the proceedings of the previous day was admitted. Now, he was sure, that this was contrary to every sense of justice; but this was not all. The prisoners claimed to be tried by a different jury; and though there were plenty of jurymen in court, this was refused. But the matter did not stop there. Of the nineteen or twenty already tried and convicted, some were again placed at the bar, with nine or ten others, for trial on a third indictment. These again remonstrated, and asked for a fresh jury to be sworn. That was refused—again the same evidence was brought forward on the third as on the first day, and the petitioners complained, that the hon. and gallant Member, the chairman of the Quarter Sessions, in summing up on the third day, adverted to evidence given on the first, and not laid before the jury in the case they were then engaged in trying. Their counsel had been then obliged to leave for Derby, but he believed Mr. Brown, the solicitor who defended them, reminded the chairman, that in summing up, he had adverted to evidence given on the first trial, but not brought forward on the third. He believed, that the answer given by the hon. and gallant chairman of the Quarter Sessions was this:—"I may have done so; I am not quite sure what I have done." But the consequence was, that those twenty-nine individuals had been found guilty by the jury, and had been sentenced, some of them to six months' imprisonment, and others to imprisonment for a shorter period. They had petitioned Parliament. True it was, that the hon. and gallant Member, had visited them since in the House of Correction, and had told them, after sentencing them, that if they would express contrition for the offence they had committed, he would intercede for them with the Secretary of State, and get them liberated. This offer these men had de- 67 clined, declared that they had done no wrong to anybody, and that they were determined to take a different course, and bring the whole case before the House of Commons. They had now done so. The whole course of the proceedings of which they complained might be "justices' justice," but he was sure, that before a judge of assize, there would have been some difficulty in getting a conviction upon evidence which no judge would have admitted. He had now done with the law part of the case; but he wished next to call the attention of the House to what he considered as one or two gross outrages committed upon the lives and liberties of the people at Halifax, at Preston, and at Blackburn. With respect to the proceedings at Halifax, he would call the attention of the House to the petition of Samuel Crowther, which to day had been printed with the votes. He, however, understood, that at Halifax a very strong feeling prevailed that the whole conduct of the military on the occasion there was totally unnecessary and uncalled for. The petitioners stated, that before the military were called upon to clear the streets at Halifax they were made drunk; and at Blackburn the people seemed to think that the military had some compunction in acting against their starving fellow countrymen, and hence this system was resorted to, and at Halifax it appeared the military were kept at the Norfolk arms—that they were visited by the gentlemen of the town, who gave them money to expend in intoxicating liquors, in order, as it was said, "to keep them up to the mark." At Halifax all sorts of illegal arrests were made by the military, and though the parties were liberated, they had never from that time to the present been brought up for examination, nor had they been made acquainted with the grounds upon which they had been arrested. Preston, he believed, was the only place at which loss of life had occurred; but if he was not very much mistaken, if an inquiry was instituted, it would be found that the opinion of most persons in Preston was, that when the military did act their services were totally uncalled for and unnecessary. Of course the military were not to blame for acting under the authority of the magistrates; but when the firing took place the people were very much exasperated by the conduct of police. Stones had been thrown chiefly by boys, and at last, to the great astonishment of the well disposed persons 68 standing in the street at the time, the military opened out and in sections began firing on the people. This was according to an account he had received. The beholders were astonished, because they never thought the soldiers would fire, and many of these bystanders, who stood laughing at the contest between the boys and the police, were in almost as much danger as those who were shot. The soldiers could have driven the people back by a charge if they had not been ordered by the magistrates to shed blood. It was the universal opinion of the people of Preston that never was there a more diabolical act committed than this. Even where the thickest of the contest with stones was going on not a pane of glass was broken, but one was broken by a musket-ball, fired by the soldiers. From the few persons fired at, and the number shot, it was plain that every shot was intended to take effect; thirteen persons were wounded, of whom four had afterwards died. Now, he thought that the Government ought to satisfy itself that this loss of life was absolutely necessary at that time. In a letter which had been sent him on the subject, the writer distinctly stated, that at the time the magistrates sent for the intoxicated soldiers, horse and foot, to clear the streets, and spare neither man, woman, nor child, there was not the slightest breach of the peace apprehended by any one but the authorities; and the writer went on to remark:—If such proceedings as these are not calculated to goad on a peaceable people to acts of violence, I do not know what is. To see the soldiers cutting and bayonetting, in all directions, at peaceable and inoffensive people. Persons passing along the streets, no matter what busines they were upon, were driven before the soldiers at the point of the bayonet or sabre, from one street to another, till opportunity of escape offered; scores were cut with swords, and pricked with bayonets, and some of them very severely.They had talked about an inquiry into the Manchester massacre which had never been granted; but he knew from the speeches of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), that he himself thought that loss of life at Manchester totally unnecessary and uncalled for; but on that occasion there had been much more reason for such a measure than there could have been at Preston in order to disperse a mob of some 400 or 500 boys and women. At Blackburn there had been still less reason for the military acting. The conduct of the magistrates 69 there, if what he (Mr. Duncombe) had heard were true (and he believed it was rather within the mark, and that he should be able to prove it, if investigation took place), was such, that in the opinion of the reflecting and sober-minded inhabitants of Blackburn of all parties, never did men exhibit themselves so disqualified for the office they held. It appeared that on the 15th of August a body of men went to the mill of a Mr. J. Eceles there, and the parties in the mill had fired at the mob, and in so doing an officer in command of the soldiers was nearly shot. The military then took into custody those who had tired from the windows, and escorted them away in a coach. A great crowd followed after the coach, and by groans and shouts exhibited their disgust at those who had fired on them; but these execrations had been directed against those in the coach, and not against the police or the military. Whilst they were shouting an officer turned round and told them if they did not desist they would be fired upon. After this three or four stones were thrown, and this had so exasperated Mr. Feilden, the magistrate, that he had ordered the troops to fire, and five of the crowd were wounded, but none mortally; no thanks, however, to the perpetrators of the wounds, as the result would show. The persons fired at were within two yards of the points of the soldiers' muskets. Two persona had their eyes shot out, two were shot through the leg, one through the thigh, and one young woman had five balls through her body. The soldiers at this time might easily have put the people back with their bayonets. He did not blame the military for firing; they were bound to obey the magistrates who told them to do so; but would they tell him that this magistrate was justified, because stones were thrown when the people were dose to the muskets of the soldiers, in ordering the military to fire on them! What had happened afterwards in consequence of this? On the following day, the 16th of August, some of the people had gone to a mill for the purpose of turning out the hands; but few workmen were in the mill, and those were armed. On the mob presenting themselves at the gates, fourteen armed men fired upon them, and wounded several; and, on the mob leaving the premises, these armed workmen—not troops—had run out into the street after them, and followed them for a quarter of a mile, still firing upon them. From the example 70 set to them the day before, these men thought they could do anything with impunity. The soldiers, too, had been regularly served with ale by the inhabitants, and never was such an instance before on record of soldiers, under such circumstances, having been served with bread and cheese and ale at a time when they ought to be most cool. The magistrates, also, were riding up and down through the streets armed, in order to show how fit they were for their situations. Mr. Montague Feilden, was riding about armed with a cutlass and a pistol, another magistrate rode about armed with a truncheon and a horse pistol, and their clerk accompanied them armed in a similar manner. Did ever any one hear before of magistrates riding about a town armed? If this were not enough to excite the inhabitants, it was impossible to imagine what was. Then there was a case of gross outrage at Halifax, on the person of Samuel Crowther. The case was thus stated to him in the letter of a correspondent:—In going (on their return to the barracks) by the Smithy-stake, the soldiers passed through a narrow causeway, which leads to the barracks. Samuel Crowther, a nail-maker by trade, who resides in King-street, when the soldiers had passed, went out to look for one of his children that was out of the House—he was within a few yards of his House when he was shot! Feather, the constable, was with the soldiers or standing by at the time he fired; there were not half-a-dozen persons in the street at the time. Crowther was in the army ten years prior to 1816, belonged to the Artillery, was at the battle of Waterloo and many other engagements prior to that, was then discharged with 5d. per day pension, in addition to which he could work at his trade before this misfortune happened, but has never been able to work since; he had 2S per week from the parish for six weeks, they would then relieve him no longer; he is now obliged to live on his pension, or be a burthen upon some one else; he is fifty-four years of age; he is a married man, and has a wife and small family. The above is strictly correct; I have it from Crowther himself, he says he thinks he shall never be able to work any more.Now it was to be observed, that in the particular part of the town where this poor old man lived, there had not been the slightest disturbance, and therefore the act in question appeared to be an instance of mere wanton outrage. Mr. Bingley, the reporter for the Leeds Times, and Mr. Hall, of the Leeds Mercury, were eyewitnesses of the circumstances, being within two yards of the victim at, the time of 71 the occurrence, and were prepared to prove the facts as they appeared in the newspapers at the time. That account in the Leeds Times ran thus:—The affair took place in King-street, which is in the vicinity of the barracks and police office. A small number of the Hussars, who bad been clearing the streets, turned up the bottom of King-street, and, after proceeding a few yards, were filing into a street called Nelson-slreet, which runs out of it. At the time that Messrs. Bingley and Hall were approaching the top of King-street, an old man, named Samuel Crowther, a nailmaker, was coming towards them, apparently to go to his own residence, which was only two or three yards distant. At this period there was not the slightest disturbance in the streets, and, indeed, there were not, it is believed, twenty persons in the space betwixt the top of the street and the soldiery towards the bottom, a distance of probably nearly one hundred yards. All the soldiery had disappeared along Nelson-street, except one man who paused and looked in the direction of the persons above-mentioned, and then levelled his musket, and appeared to take a deliberate aim at them. Not the slightest alarm was felt by either Mr. Bingley or Mr. Hall, who, seeing no cause for violence, apprehended none, and regarded the action of the soldier as, simply, a piece of bravado, and looked at him, with perfect unconcern. The soldier, however, fired, and immediately the old man staggered and reeled in the direction ef his own door, but made no outcry. Mr. Bingley exclaimed, 'The man is shot!' or some such expression, but Mr. Hall, who had previously seen him in a fit, replied that he was only in a fit. In a few moments, however, a number of women rushed out of the House, exclaiming that the man had been shot, and on entering the House, which was crowded with women uttering loud screams, the old man was found lying on his back on a bed up stairs, with a wound in his abdomen, his shirt was saturated with blood, and he was writhing with agony. Messrs. Bingley and Hall immediately went to procure the attendance of a surgeon. On calling afterwards, it was understood that there was but little chance of recovery. At the time the shot was fired, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Hall were only about a yard from the man who received it. A more deliberate piece of butchery was never witnessed.The poor man was carried to the infirmary where he remained for eighteen weeks. He was now incapable of work, yet from the time of the outrage up to the present moment not the slightest inquiry had been made into the matter. No committee of the town's people had investigated the matter. No witnesses had been examined; nor was any thing done to elucidate the transaction. Some London newspapers 72 referred the matter to Leeds, which might be one reason why no inquiry took place; but there could be no doubt or mistake about it for what said the Bradford Observer? That paper said:—Murder, or What?—On Tuesday afternoon, whilst Mr. Samuel Crowther, a respectable nail-maker, and aged pensioner, was standing at his own door in King-street, watching the Lancers pass by, one of the advanced guard having passed him forty yards, at the corner of Nelson-street, turned round, and shot the brave disciple of Wellington through the body.He took that from the Bradford paper. There was no doubt, then, that it was true, no doubt; the House could not doubt that the man had been wantonly shot; that he had been seriously wounded; that he was even now in a sinking state; that it was impossible that he should ever resume work. It could not be supposed that these facts, and such facts as these, did not make a profound impression on the minds of the working classes. It could not be supposed, that they did not excite heart-burnings and discontent, and give rise to an opinion that no justice could be obtained for the working classes. They felt these things keenly, and they would continue to feel them. What must be their feelings, he put it to the House, with regard to Crowther? Let the House test the feelings of the working classes by their own. What happened in this town only a short time ago, when an amiable gentleman was shot in the streets, the victim of assassination? The whole town was thrown into a state of excitement, and the people called aloud for the blood of the maniac, who had committed the atrocious crime. He was confident that more doubts still would be thrown by the public on the administration of justice, that the working classes would feel still more mistrust; if the events at Halifax, which he had brought before the House, and while proceedings in the north were not strictly investigated. The local authorities of Halifax had neglected their duty in not bringing the offenders in this case to justice; and the House would equally neglect its duty if it did not institute the investigation demanded. He hoped, however, that the House would concede the inquiry, and so lessen the strong feeling which now prevailed amongst the working classes, that no justice could ever be obtained for working men. They said, that there was one 73 law for the rich, and another for the poor, and if the House wished to disabuse their minds of this impression, it would grant the committee he asked for. The petitions he had presented were not, indeed, public petitions; they were the petitions of individuals; but they were members, and not unimportant members of the body politic. They had a claim to consideration if wronged; they had a right to demand redress when aggrieved; and these individuals looked with anxiety to the decision of the House on this night. On this occasion he would go further and say that, amidst all the hardship and privations to which, unfortunately, the working classes had been subjected during the last six months, they had looked forward with hope—indeed, he might say, that it was their only hope—that they should obtain justice from the Legislature—that a day of retribution would come, that inquiries would be made into their grievances, and that their wrongs would be considered and redressed. He believed he had made out his case; and if the House believed he had, it was the duty of Members, as humane men, as honest men, and as wise legislators, not to withhold the investigation demanded. He thanked the House for its indulgence; he thanked the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), and the hon. and learned Attorney-General, for the attention they had paid to his statement. It bad been necessarily long; it had been, he was afraid, wearying and painful and, with these acknowledgments he would conclude by making his motion.
seconded the motion. He thought that the excessive bail which was demanded in these cases, particularly at Dudley; and the excess was proved by the circumstance that the Lord Chief Baron had reduced the bail to one-third, was of itself sufficient to justify the House in instituting an inquiry. In his opinion the demand for excessive bail was contrary to all law, and contrary to all justice. Was that the way, he would ask, to put down Chartism? He remembered that a late Attorney-general, now a noble Lord, after a petition had been presented to this House, signed by 1,500,000 persons, by Mr. Attwood, had boasted, in a speech at Edinburgh, that he had put down Chartism. But was that done by making the masses discontented? He believed that the only way to put down Chartism was to give the people their rights, and do them justice; and that there 74 was no other way to put it down. He thought it was impossible for the House to refuse the inquiry. There was no other alternative, except the ministers of the Crown chose to dismiss all the magistrates. Either they must grant the inquiry, or they must dismiss all the magistrates involved in the transactions. It was most unjust and improper in them to refuse bail to men on account of their political opinions, or to make them find excessive bail. The magistrates who did that were utterly ignorant of their duty, and unfit to be in the commission of the peace. He should like to know if a demand of 600l. bail and six securities for the appearance of a working man was ever heard of before? It appeared to him to be very ridiculous to have a combination to put down principle. It was right that these people should entertain their own opinions as well as others, whether they were right or wrong. He had great pleasure in seconding the motion.
The Attorney General
said, the hon. Member for Finsbury had thanked his right hon. Friend and had thanked him for the attention with which they had listened to his speech, but he always listened to the statements of the hon. Member with profit and pleasure, and on this occasion he felt a deep interest, both as to the persons concerned in the administration of justice, and in the conduct of the Government of the country. Apart from all personal considerations, he had listened with great respect to everything which had fallen from the hon. Member in his address to the House; but at no given time, within six months perhaps, were the objections so strong to the motion of the hon. Gentleman as at present. He would state to the House why it must not grant the hon. Gentleman's motion for a committee, why it never granted such committees, and he would state reasons why the House should not vote with the hon. Member. The House had no means of giving any redress whatever. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who seconded the motion complained of the excessively heavy bail taken. But if excessive bail had been taken—if the parties held to bail had suffered any illegal or unconstitutional treatment—their proper means of obtaining redress was to apply to the law of the land. They should go before courts where the evidence and examination could be taken on oath; where the men accused 75 could vindicate their conduct; where a jury, if they were criminally indicted, would find them guilty if they deserved it, and the judge could sentence them to punishment; or, if civilly prosecuted, the jury could return a verdict of large damages if the prosecutors had illegally been exposed to the smallest inconvenience. It was a mistake to suppese that a proceeding by a committee of that House, for the purpose of procuring redress, was in any degree the correct or constitutional course If they had a committee, it could examine no witnesses on oath, and was not competent to correct any errors, or redress any wrongs. When the hon. Gentleman made his statement, and said that the case called loudly for inquiry, he should like to ask, as the hon. Gentleman had brought many individuals before the House, which of the score of cases did he mean—which of the individual cases did the hon. Member select—as worthy of the consideration of the House? If he might judge of the individual cases, he would give his word to the House that there was not the slightest pretence to justify an inquiry. There were none of the individuals brought before the House by the hon. Gentleman whose case would justify the statement that had been made. He would not undertake to follow the hon. Member for Finsbury through the whole of his statement; he should confine the observations he should submit to the consideration of the House, to the authentic information in his possession, and he believed that he should satisfy the House that there were no circumstances to justify the House in concurring in the motion of the hon. Member. He would first say of the motion, that it was somewhat ill-timed. Nor did he think that the persons in whose behalf inquiry was prayed, were judiciously selected. He would mention their names, as he found them in the notice of the hon. Gentleman's motion, and in the exact order in which they were put down. There was George White, of Birmingham; he did not state with entire certainty, but he believed that this man was subsequently convicted before Mr. Baron Gurney. The next was Robert Brook, of Todmorden, an individual who had undoubtedly been convicted at Lancaster. The next was James Leech, who had been convicted at the same county assizes; there was J. G. Harney, of Sheffield; and he also had been convicted 76 at Lancaster; Jonathan Brown and nine other persons now in Southwell gaol had all he presumed been convicted, though they complained of their treatment, he believed, since their trial [Mr. T. Buncombe: 'prior to their trial'] The next was R. T. Morrison, of whom be knew nothing; and then came John Skeffington, of Loughborough, but of John Skeffington he knew nothing, though there was a James Skeffington who had also been convicted at Lancaster; Jame Arthur, of Carlisle, who was a member of the executive council; John Allinson, of Stockport, the next in succession, was acquitted, and it was remakable that in his petition he did not state the nature of the circumstances on which his acquittal depended. He was not undefended, and being charged with being one of the Chartist delegates who had issued the proclamation, Mr. Arthur, was able to show that he was not present at the meeting at which it was agreed to. The rest of the individuals named by the hon. Member were persons from different parts of the kingdom. The hon. Member had gathered together some seven or eight different cases, embracing many persons, and proposed to blend them all in one enquiry. He might say that there were a score different transactions taking place at different times, and in different counties, some of them having no connection with the others, which the hon. Member proposed to send before the committee. As he had stated, he was prepared, judging from the authentic information which he possessed, and of which he did not doubt the correctness, to show that none of these transactions were proper for the investigation of a committee. He would show the House, without going into a committee, on evidence taken on oath — he would satisfy the House, from the nature of the cases to which the hon. Gentleman referred, and from the evidence brought before the court in Lancaster—that the statements in the petitions were not true. With respect to the latter part of the observations of the hon. Member for Finsbury, where the hon. Member alluded, as one means of throwing blame on the authorities, to the unfortunate necessity for calling out the military, he must say in common, he was sure, with the great majority of his countrymen, and in common with the Government, he lamented the circumstances which made that step necessary. 77 For those who had suffered he felt the deepest sympathy; but there was no occasion for a committee to ascertain those facts; nor was it necessary to ensure the sympathy of the House. If he were to judge from the statement of the hon. Member with reference to the transaction at Halifax, he should say that the circumstances could hardly have taken place as described, and he would tell the hon. Member why he said so. The feelings of the people of this country were not obtuse they were acutely sensible; and if the case as described were true, it was not a case for a committee, it was a case for a grand and a petty jury—it was a case to bring the man to trial who had fired at the individual in question, and had committed a great crime. Refer that case to a committee of the House! Why there could be no difficulty in finding out the individual who had fired the piece, and in having him arrested and brought to trial. He asked the hon. Member why he would refer such a case to a committee? [Mr. Duncombe said it was not taken up by the competent authorities.] If so, if the magistrates would not act, the grand jury was sitting, and a bill, if there were any foundation for a bill, might be obtained. Let the parties go before the grand jury and prove the facts, and no doubt the man would be put on his trial. That he was a soldier, gave him no exemption. He was amenable to the law though a soldier, as a constable was amenable to the law, and to the law recourse should be had. If half what had been said by the hon. Member were true, the man was not the proper subject for an inquiry before a committee of that House, but he should be tried before a jury, and be made to answer with his life to his country for this outrageous and atrocious act. Whether the case were so bad, be should probably enable the House to judge by the evidence, on oath, given at Lancaster, which would show that similar charges to that, at Halifax relating to Preston were destitute of foundation. The hon. Member for Finsbury spoke of the fury of the soldiers at Preston, and accused them in firing, of much unnecessary cruelty. Their conduct had bees spoken of in language which bad been meat improperly used. At the trial, at which not a defendant complained of the facts brought forward by the Crown, not a single defendant out of ten or twelve who spoke fat themselves, or by their counsel 78 —he was speaking from his general recollection, having recently cast his eye over the report of the trial—not one of the defendants on his trial denied that the witnesses for the prosecution gave a correct account of the transaction. The leading counsel for several of the prisoners was his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Sutherlandshire; and he did not state to the court and the jury that the evidence given was such as they could not rely on; but he stated, not only that the evidence he had heard was correct, but the language was appropriate. His hon. and learned Friend stated distinctly to the court and the jury, that after the evidence which his hon. and learned Friend went minutely through, he could not say that the language used by his client was appropriate and defensible. It would be recollected that the executive council of the Chartists had issued a large placard, on which they said,Englishmen, the blood of your brothers reddens the streets of Preston, Blackburn, and Halifax, and the murderers thirst for more!—I be firm, be courageous, be men.In speaking of the transaction at Preston, in the address of the Chartists to the Chartist public, they said that they were peacefully and lawfully assembled, and that they had been fired upon while peacefully "agitating for the charter." That was their expression: now let him state the facts on the deposition of the commanding officer. That gentleman had under him about seventy policemen, and about the same number of troops, and these forces were hemmed in, in front and rear, by the crowd in the streets, white two parallel streets, with houses, were on each side. The mob consisted of many thousand persons, and they assailed the soldiers and the police both in the front and rear, by throwing stones over the houses. The commanding officer, on his oath, stated that it was necessary, for the safety and protection of the police force and of his own men, to fire; that the multitude continued to press upon them, and hem them in more and more, and would not give way, large heaps of stones were collected for continuing the assaults, and under such circumstances, the officer, for the safety of his men, considered that the order to fire was necessary. After that evidence had been given, not one of the Chartists repeated such language, as that contained in the placard; and, as he 79 had stated, their leading counsel gave up the passage as one that could not be defended, for the conduct of the military was not open to the attack that had been made upon it. Another passage in the address of the delegates to the Chartist body was to this effect:—Let union and peace be the Chartist watchword. We counsel you against waging warfare against any recognized authority, while we believe that the moral strength of an united people is sufficiently powerful, when well directed, to overcome all the physical force that tyranny and despotism can command.And then continued the passage—Their blood has been shed, while peacefully agitating for their rights.Let the House see what was meant by this peaceful agitation. That peaceful agitation consisted of an assembly of ten thousand people, hemming in the military and police, and having great facility for attacking them by the two parallel streets. It was clear that the officer refrained as long as he could, and abstained to the utmost from adopting the course, he had at length adopted. He had called the attention of the House to this particular case which had been established in a court of law, and the House might infer that the statement of the hon. Member in the other transaction be had referred to was not better founded. He begged that the House would compare the statement made by the hon. Member for Finsbury with that which he (the Attorney-general) had the means of making, and then in the exercise of a candid judgment, form its own opinion of the other transactions referred to by the hon. Member for Finsbury. With reference to the motion, he had adverted to the singular infelicity—if indeed it was only bad luck—which had caused the hon. Member for Finsbury to select the present most unfortunate moment for bringing this subject forward. He (the Attorney-General) was now called upon within a very short time of the period when these parties were to be called up for judgment before the Court of Queen's Bench—he was called upon in the House of Commons to comment upon their crime, and to state the leading facts of the case. He did this with the greatest reluctance. He was averse from alluding to them in any way that might seem to aggravate their offence, but his public duty compelled him. He should have been ex- 80 tremely glad to have escaped from the task, but the performance of his duty to the Government and the magistrates, his respect for the peace and the institutions of the country, obliged him to make remarks that he would have willingly postponed till after the sentence. But that was not all. There was, another trial now going on at Stafford, implicating other individuals connected with the outbreak in Staffordshire last year. That trial had now reached the sixth day, and by the last account the speeches for the defence were only about to begin. It was impossible to speak of the delegates and to speak of these transactions, impossible to discuss the question which the hon. Member had brought before the House, without adverting to what took place at Manchester on the 17th of August last year. The hon. Member had called attention to the cases of Leech, Turner, Scholefield, Harney, Seddons, and others. Some of them had not petitioned, and some petitions came from other persons who had no connection with the trials. He would refer to the circumstance of Turner, who had been brought forward as the printer of the placard. The hon. Gentleman stated, that Turner had committed no offence; but he would lay the facts of the case before the House, as they were deposed to in evidence, and let the House decide whether he had committed an offence or not. Application was made at the assizes of Liverpool to him the (Attorney-General), as conducting the prosecutions, to know whether he considered it necessary to proceed against Turner with any view to his punishment. Turner admitted, at the same time, that he was the printer of the placard, but he represented, that it came to him in the way of business, that it came in a hurry, that he did not know its contents, that he never read it, that he exceedingly regretted ever having printed it, and in that merciful consideration which the public prosecutor, not alone, he would say, in this case, but which the public prosecutor generally took, and moved by some representations that were made to him as to the man's circumstances, while, as no knowledge of the contents could be brought home to him beyond the putting them in type, nor any connection with the meeting or with any violence could be brought home to him, it occurred to him, that it would be in accordance with the general principles upon which 81 the prosecutions were conducted from first to last, that if he would plead guilty, and enter into his recognisance to come up to receive judgment when called upon, so long as be conducted himself with propriety no proceeding should be taken against him, and accordingly Turner did plead guilty, and entered into the required recognisances, and through his counsel expressed himself much obliged to the judge, the counsel for the Crown, and every one connected with the prosecution, for having remitted the proceedings against him. That was the termination of Turner's case. Now, if he understood the hon. Member for Finsbury correctly, the hon. Member said that Turner was guilty of no offence. Here was the case of a man who was described to the House as a guiltless person, who had publicly pleaded guilty, and who had submitted to the law; and who had acknowledged his offence, and yet the hon. Member said he had committed no offence at all. Was it to be said, that Turner now declared that he had pleaded guilty to having published the placard, but in doing that he had been guilty of no offence? Was that the mode in which, when the mercy of the Crown was exercised, it was afterwards to be taunted; and could any one in that House, or out of that House, conceive that such was the proper feeling to be manifested, by one who had been brought before the tribunals of their country, and who thus proved how little worthy he was of the leniency with which he had been treated? But, so far as he was concerned, such conduct should have no influence upon him. It would not, in the least degree, induce him to call Turner up for judgment. As he had stated once before in that House, the principle he acted upon was this, not only at Chester, and at Liverpool, but at all other places, that they wished to find a pretest for dealing mercifully with the people. The Crown said, "Let there be shown to us any case for mercy—of youth, of inexperience, of previous good character or conduct—let the accused bring any excuse which might show they were not willing parties to the outrages that had been committed, and the Crown will be ready and willing to listen to it, and to extend, as far as it is right to do, mercy to all such parties." But then he observed, that Turner properly enough, was not a petitioner to that House. He then, 82 had a right to say that the use of Turner's name was wholly unauthorised by that individual, and a misrepresentation was made of his conduct on this occasion, in thus bringing him before the House of Commons. He said that, because he could hardly believe that, the man who had made use of the language which Turner had used elsewhere, and through his counsel, would now come forward, and venture to declare that he had been guilty of no offence. [Mr. Duncombe had read Turner's statement.] He had not seen that statement, and this he complained of as an inconvenience in the present mode of proceeding. The hon. Gentleman presented petitions — these petitions he had read, and he came there prepared to answer them; and then when he came to answer them, the hon. Member pulled out of his pocket a variety of papers, the accuracy of which was not confirmed on oath, and for the truth of which it was impossible that the hon. Member himself could be responsible. It was, he said, a new proceeding in that House for any hon. Member thus to be collecting letters from individuals scattered over five or six counties, and who it was evident were not well disposed to the peace of the community, and certainly not well disposed to the established law, it was not, he said, usual, under such circumstances, and with such statements, to ask that House to grant an inquiry into the conduct of any magistrates. He now passed to the case of Leech. Leech was the chairman of the executive council of the Chartist delegates, and Leech was connected immediately and directly with the preparation and printing of this address, which originated with one of the defendants, and concerning whom he could not be silent—that was a man of the name of M'Douall, if he mistook not an orator at Depford on some occasion. This man had been convicted at Lancaster, of the highest offence charged in the indictment. It was M'Douall who had prepared the placard; it was proved to be in his handwriting; and it appeared from the evidence to hare been concocted before the 17th, probably it was on the 15th; he thought that it was in the hands of the printer on the morning of the 16th of August. And here he felt very great regret in being compelled to mention the name of another person; but, as far as he could, he would avoid saying anything 83 which might do that person an injury. Mr. Feargus O'Connor, M'Douall, and several other Chartists, met at Mr. Scholefield's chapel, on the night of the 16th of August. It appeared that the address of the executive Chartists had been previously prepared and finished. It had been settled; but a suggestion was then made by Mr. Feargus O'Connor to alter it. He was, however, then too late to make the alteration, and therefore it was allowed to be printed in the shape in which it had been originally agreed upon. But Leech was the person at whose house M'Douall had corrected the press. He did not know positively, but be believed that, he had seen the very copy of the placard, which had been posted in front of Leech's house, and there was another copy of it found within his shop. The other person named by the hon. Member was Mr. Scholefield; he was the gentleman in whose chapel the meeting had taken place, and the question was, whether Mr. Scholefield was aware of the object of the meeting for which he had lent his chapel on the 16th, the day on which it was proved by the son of Mr. Scholefield that the persons met at that chapel. It had been publicly announced, but then, there was no meeting for that purpose, which had been the avowed object of the parties coming to Manchester, which was something with respect to a commemoration or a monument relative to Mr. Hunt. On the 17th of August the placard came out. At the meeting on that day there were also Harney, Allison, Brooke, Arthur, and several others, to the amount of forty. They assembled, and made speeches, the character of which might be known when he said they resembled the speech of the man named Cooper, who was now under trial at Stafford. The resolutions adopted at the meeting of delegates on that day he had then before him. Those resolutions, together with the executive address, had been published, and the object of the prosecutions at Lancaster was to show the people that persons who in secret conclave prepared addresses, having for their object to influence labourers to desert their work were legally mixed up with the mischief produced, and could not retire and shelter themselves from the consequences by pleading that they had not been guilty of open acts of violence. And let him here point out the state of Lancashire, Cheshire, 84 and Staffordshire, at the time the proclamations were issued. If there was not open rebellion, which God forbid, certainly if ever there was a moment of singular peril and danger, it was at the moment that this outbreak originated. Why, it was in evidence that a man named Billing, who went from place to place to make Chartist speeches, boasted that he had addressed upwards of 300,000 persons. No less, too, than 170 mills had been stopped. "Oh!" but then it was said, "the motto was 'peace, law, and order,' and the mills were stopped in many cases by the master's consent." Why, "peace, law, and order," in some cases the violence of the mob went the length of the shedding of blood. But the fact was that this "peace, law, and order" matter had led the people into a great mistake. They thought that by the absence of physical force there would be no breaking of the law. They supposed that any demonstration of physical power was moral force; that persons marching with weapons, calculated to intimidate others, was moral force; that provided they did not break a man's head, that they did him no personal harm; that there was an absence of personal violence, there was merely moral force. He could show this to be their opinion from the language of one of the defendants. In one case it was proved that a mob assembled, they called to a bricklayer, who was employed, to cease work—that they would not permit him to work. The man replied, he was determined to go on with his labour, and they then said they would bring more with them, and see if he would do it. They did, then, come again; they brought more men with them; and, when the man saw a large mob collected, he felt obliged to obey their bidding, and he ceased working. The defendant in that case thus cross-examined the witness:You say that I told the man not to work? Yes, you did so. Did I do any injury to any man, or was any property destroyed? So far no man was injured nor property destroyed.Thus, then, they conceived that men could assemble in great numbers, and dictate to others, that they should not work until the Charter became the law of the land, without committing any offence. Now, It was his opinion, and he expressed it in that House without disguise—it was not only his right, but it was his duty to express that opinion; and he affirmed that every man who moved about from place 85 to place, joining mobs, for the purpose of stopping labour, and by intimidation to bring about a change in the laws of the country, was guilty of high treason. He defied any Member on either side of the House to contradict it. The question as to how we should proceed was, indeed, in the first instance a question of doubt. At the time Leach was carried before the magistrates, they supposed the charge against him to be one of high treason, and actually in Staffordshire there was an indictment found against one party for that offence, though the Government afterwards thought it best not to proceed upon that charge. The judges at Liverpool, too, distinctly stated, that in law the crime with which the prisoners were charged was high treason, and some of them commended the lenity of the Government for adopting the milder course which they had taken. The parties then met in Manchester, having for their object originally a procession, or something in connection with Mr. Hunt's monument, and having also met, as it was stated, and as he believed to be the truth, for the purpose of making some attention in the constitution of their society, and the correction of some illegality belonging to it; but then, in Manchester, they abandoned the intention of having any meeting at all, they publicly gave notice of their abandonment of that intention; and they met in Mr. Scholeield's chapel, on the night of the 16th, and the morning of the 17th, for the purpose of concocting an address to the public. He might now be allowed to state the nature of the address. There were five members of the executive council: — Leech, the chairman; Archer, the secretary; M'Douall was another, so was Campbell, and there was another name that did not occur to him. This address then was put forth on the 17th of August, at a time when thousands upon thousands of people were meeting together; when 100,000 persons were going about different parts of Lancashire, Cheshire, and Staffordshire, compelling those who were desirous to work to abstain from labour, in order that the Charter might become the law of the land. The address commenced with this reference to the strike:—Brother Chartists—The great political truths which have been agitated during the last half century hare at length aroused the degraded and insulted White slaves of England to a sense of their duty to themselves, their 86 children, and their country. Tens of thousands have flung down their implements of labour. Your taskmasters tremble at your energy, and expecting masses eagerly watching this the great crisis of our cause.He did not feel that he could be justified in taking up the time of the House in reading the whole of this document. He should, therefore, call their attention only to parts of it. It proceeded:—Nature, God, and reason, have condemned this inequality.The inequality which existed between those who laboured and those who paid for labour. He could assure the House he did not mean to keep back anything that might be material in favour of these parties. The proclamation went on:—Nature, God, and reason, have condemned this inequality, and in the thunders of a people's voice it must perish for ever. He knows that labour, the real property of society, the sole origin of accumulated property, the first cause of all national wealth, and the only supporter, defender, and contributor to the greatness of our country, is not possessed of the same legal protection which is given to those lifeless effects, the houses, ships, and machinery which labour have alone created. He knows that if labour has no protection, wages cannot be upheld, nor in the slightest degree regulated until every workman of twenty-one years of age and of sane mind is on the same political level as the employer. He knows that the Charter would remove, by universal will expressed in universal suffrage, the heavy load of taxes which now crush the existence of the labourer, and cripple the efforts of commerce; that it would give cheap government as well as cheap food, high wages, as well as low taxes, bring happiness to the hearthstone, plenty to the table, protection to the old, education to the young, permanent prosperity to the country, long-continued protective political power to labour, and peace, blessed peace, to exhausted humanity and approving nations; therefore it is that we have solemnly sworn, and one and all declared, that the golden opportunity now within our grasp shall not pass away fruitless, that the chance of centuries afforded to us by a wise and all-seeing God, shall not be lost; but that we do now universally resolve never to resume labour until labour's grievances are destroyed, and protection secured for ourselves, our suffering wives, and helpless children, by the enactment of the People's Charter.This was put forth at a time when it was proved by evidence that there were thousands in not lets than fifty, aye, a hundred, parts of the country, seeking, by threats, by intimidation and violence, to stop the operations of labour. Evidence 87 could be laid before them, from which they might judge, what was the object of those parties, when this very paper was published by the Chartists themselves. The next passage referred to the blood shed at Preston, which he had already quoted. It said further:—Countrymen and Brothers, centuries may roll on as they have fleeted past, before such universal action may again be displayed; we have made the cast for liberty, and we must stand like men the hazard of the die.All this, it was to be observed, was addressed to men assembled in thousands. It proceeded:—Let none despond. Let all be cool and watchful, and, like the bridemaids in the parable, keep your lamps burning, and let your continued resolution be like a beacon to guide those who are now hastening far and wide to follow your memorable example. Brethren, we rely upon your firmness; cowardice, treachery, or womanly fear would cast our cause back for half a century. Let no man, woman, or child break down the solemn pledge, and if they do, may the curse of the poor and the starving pursue them—they deserve slavery who would madly court it. Our machinery is all arranged.What, he asked, was the meaning of that? It continued,—Our machinery is all arranged, and your cause will in three days be impelled onward by all the intellect we can summon to its aid; therefore, whilst you are peaceful, be firm; whilst you are orderly make all be so likewise; and whilst you look to the law, remember that you had no voice in making it, and are, therefore, the slaves to the will, the law, and the price of your masters.And in a passage which he had passed over, he found this expression:Peace, law, and order, have prevailed on our side;That is, they had stopped the entire labour of men—they had stopped it, not by appealing to men's will or inclination, but to their fears, and threatened violence when persons declined to comply with the demands made on them. The proclamation said:Be firm, be courageous, be men. Peace, law, and order have prevailed on our side— let them be revered unto your brethren in Scotland; Wales and Ireland are informed of your resolution; and when a universal holiday prevails, which will be the case in eight days, then of what use will bayonets be against public opinion?Now, he would ask the House, he would 88 ask either side of the House, for this was not a question of party, but it was a question of the public safety. It was a question whether the institutions of the country were to be permanent, or to be prostrated by mischievous machinations of this description. One sentence more, and he had done, and let the House mark the conclusion of the address. It was this:—All officers of the association are called upon to aid and assist in the peaceful extension of the movement, and to forward all moneys for the use of the delegates who may be dispersed over the country. Strengthen our hands at this crisis. Support your leaders. Rally round our sacred cause, and leave the decision to the God of Justice and of Battle.He would ask any Member of that House —he would ask the hon. Member himself, if, in the disturbed state in which Lancashire, Cheshire, and Staffordshire were at that moment, he would put his hand to a document like that! What was the construction which any fair, any candid man would put upon it? But the House was hardly yet in the possession of all the facts, which would enable it to come to a just judgment with respect to these cases. He particularly requested their attention to a resolution, which the delegates had come to on the 18th. It was to this:—Resolved, That we, the delegates, in public meeting assembled, do recommend to the various constituencies which we represent, to adopt all legal means to carry into effect the people's Charter. And further, we recommend that delegates be sent through the whole of the country, to endeavour to obtain the cooperation of the middle and working classes, in carrying out the resolution of ceasing labour until the Charter be made the law of the land.What, too, he asked, was the meaning of that? He had no doubt, as to what was the real history of the address and resolution of the Chartist delegates. So far, indeed, from having a doubt on the subject it had been made a matter of evidence. They came not to Manchester for the purpose of turning the strike to the account of the Charter. They came to Manchester for an entirely different purpose. But when they came there, seeing what was the state of the public feeling, they thought that there was afforded to them a "glorious golden opportunity." They conceived it right, for their purposes, to take advantage; and accordingly as they had put it forward in their placard, if all Wales, 89 Scotland, and Ireland, had followed the example which was set by Lancashire, the effect would be a general confusion in the country. There was, too, in aid of such an object, a placard issued of this description:—Run for gold—labour is suspended—public credit is gone—paper is worthless—every sovereign is now worth thirty-shillings—run, middle classes—run for gold.He believed that their impression was, that if this state of things could be got to spread from county to county, they would succeed in carrying the Charter by dint of the confusion they would create. At the trial of these men, those who had the management of it had been careful to avoid giving any opinion as to the policy of advocating any political doctrines, however extreme they might be. They did not say that it was a crime to publicly speak in favour of universal suffrage, or to consider that the other points of the charter were better adapted for the administration of the affairs of this country than the form of Government at present established and in operation. Such representations were not made by those who attended in behalf of the Crown. He did not mix himself up with the question of the Charter or with the question of the Anti-Corn Law League. He had endeavoured to conduct the prosecution abstracted from all political considerations. If the hon. Member for Finsbury would collect evidence against any body of men who were conspiring against the public peace, he should consider it his duty to give the matter his most urgent attention. It was his duty, on the part of the Crown, to ascertain whether the statement was fairly proved. He would call the attention of the House to what had appeared in a paper called the Northern Star, on Saturday, the 20th of August. On that occasion, the 20th of August, forty delegates had assembled, and nearly every one addressed the meeting, and for the conduct of the meeting the chairman of the delegates issued regulations. Among these there was one to the effect that no one should make a speech of more than five minutes' duration. He would remind the hon. Member for Finsbury of another regulation, which it would be well for him to bear in mind. It was agreed that no delegates should occupy more than two minutes in reply. At the meeting to which he had referred a shorthand writer attended and took notes 90 of the proceedings. In the pocket of Brook was also found a note of the debate, which in every respect confirmed the statement of the person whom the hon. Member for Finsbury would call a renegade reporter. That reporter was not sent to the meeting by those engaged in the prosecution on the part of the Crown, hut, having attended and taken notes, he volunteered his evidence. He (the Attorney-general could not conceive why such evidence when offered should not be received, notwithstanding the party might have broken faith with those with whom he had been politically connected. He should like to know if at a meeting like that, when treasonable doctrines were broached, when opinions were stated, and a course of policy suggested which, if carried into effect, would inevitably prove dangerous to the safety of society,—if at such a meeting a person attended and heard such treasonable views promulgated, and did not disclose the fact, how were they to arrive at any knowledge of the circumstance? This short-hand writer was confirmed by Brooks as to the speech of Cooper, and he was sorry to be obliged to refer to that man as he was now on his trial; but it was essential that the House should know, by means of that speech, what the parties meant by this address, for that speech left it no longer a matter of doubt, nor even of surmise, much less of suspicion. Cooper appealed to God that the time was come when the people ought to be represented—that now the people should be prepared to fight, and he was prepared to fight, be the danger what it might, and the consequences to himself what they might. Men who had since been tried were present when that scene occurred, and when Cooper made that statement, and no one turned him out of the meeting—no one denounced him. He believed that he had been cheered—that his spirit had been praised, as well as the manliness of his declaration, and on the following day the placard, which he had read was posted all over Manchester, and not less than seventeen different mobs were endeavouring to carry the Charter and make it the law of the land. He had next to refer to an address, which appeared in the paper belonging to the body—the Northern Star of the 20th of August. This address observed that that strike, which was intended to effect a repeal of the Corn-law, had been made to sustain the 91 Charter, and it concluded by counselling those engaged in the strike in abstaining from all destruction of life and property. He admitted that there had been a remarkable abstinence from the wanton injury of property and the wanton attack upon life. It was not the first time that he had done homage to the spirit that prevailed at that time—it was not characterised by extreme violence; but then it was his duty, also, to show what were the intentions of the parties. They said,We will have the Charter; we mean to go from town to town, and from mill to mill, to turn out the workmen; and if they do not come out, then we will make them,It might, indeed, be said, as it was said by the defendants and their counsel on their behalf, that all they meant to do, whilst they preserved property and abstained from an attack on life, that peaceably they might have a general suspension of labour, and that such would have the desired effect. And yet those who said this had published paragraphs, which showed that he had put a just construction on their conduct. Under the head of Chorley, it was mentioned that 8,000 men had entered the town, and succeeded in stopping all the work in two hours, that a great number had gone to Preston, and stopped all the mills—that in Bingley several thousands had stopped all the mills without any difficulty, there being no protective force; that every thing was quite at a stand-still, and nothing was to be seen bat the families of the unemployed workmen going through the streets. Similar statements were made concerning Stafford, Manchester, Dewsbury, Halifax, Leeds, Huddersfield, and other places; in these, where there was no protective force to guard the mill owners, everything was obliged to yield to the demands of the mob. Under these circumstances, was it possible for the House to doubt, but that the persons engaged in these violent proceedings were doing that which was nothing short of high treason. If the conduct of these men did not amount to high treason, he was unaware of the proper meaning of the term. They were engaged in a great combination, a combination carried on by means of intimidation, and force, and violence. They went from place to place intending, by means of intimidation, force, and violence, to produce great changes in the laws and constitution of the country. Such conduct did amount 92 to treason. But what was the course taken by the Government? It was, in the first instance, to institute inquiries, and where individuals were found actively engaged in these combinations to arrest them. In the first place, Leech was arrested, and afterwards Turner, the printer of the placard which he had referred to, and the person at whose house the address of the executive council had been corrected. Could they have been passed by? If the prosecution had been for high treason, Leech must have been arrested. And he must refer much of the apparent severity of the magistrates to an impression very generally abroad that the offence which had been committed was high treason, and that it was likely that Government would deal with it as such. But Government determined otherwise. They thought that it would be better to adopt, the most mild and moderate course, to satisfy those persons who were minded to obey the law that they should be protected by the law, and, as far as possible, to assure those who had broken the law that they were liable to punishment, and that some of them, at all events, should not escape. With respect to the conduct pursued towards Leech, he had been astonished to hear the statements of the hon. Gentleman opposite. The hon. Gentleman had said that, whether that man's conduct was illegal or not, there was no evidence to prove it; and finally, that the charge had been abandoned against him; and Leech himself stated,That your petitioner appeared at Liverpool, when the first charge upon which your petitioner was arrested, and after suffering thirteen days' confinement under the circumstances above mentioned, the indictment against your petitioner was abandoned, and, as he believes, from a knowledge the prosecutor had that his witnesses were most grossly and foully perjured, and that your petitioner had ample means to prove them so.He did not know whether the witnesses had been perjured or not, but he knew this, that at Liverpool the indictment was found upon which Leech appeared at Manchester, and so far from the charge having been abandoned, he was convicted on the clearest evidence. It was admitted by himself that the placard had been proved to have been stuck up on his house. It was also proved that it was at his House that M'Douall had corrected the proof when the placard was printed; and it was also proved by one of the books, 93 respecting the taking away of which a special complaint was made, that Leech was one of the members of the executive council. He was sorry to detain the House so long with these details, but the hon. Member for Fiusbury had made special complaints with reference to the treatment experienced by the petitioners. First, there was White, who had been convicted before Mr. Baron Gurney. He was the first person named in the motion. Then there was Brook who was convicted at Lancaster, and who was proved to have had in his possession the minutes of the meeting of Chartist delegates. Next came Leech, a member of the executive committee and chairman of that body—then Harney, one of the delegates, who had been also convicted. There were also Brown and Robinson, and Allinson, who bad been identified as the chairman of a Chartist meeting—these were all the persons he had to do with. He might mention here that the paper of resolutions of delegates which he had read was signed by Harney at the bottom. But to continue—these persons were all who had been convicted, and sentence had not yet been passed. They were to appear on the first day of the term to receive the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench for the offences of which they had been found guilty. And this was the time which the hon. Member for Finsbury selected for making a charge against the magistrates who had committed these men. It would be safer for the public peace, and much better for the offenders themselves—it would be much more constitutional, and in accordance with the discreet exercise of the undoubted powers of this House, if the motion for inquiry had been postponed until it had appeared in what way the judge and jury deliberating upon it had decided Cooper's case, and also until the Court of Queen's Bench had disposed of the persons awaiting its sentence. Under these circumstances, he must say that, having the means of showing that the offence was actually committed—an offence which did appear to him to be one of the most high and the most grave of any known to the law—he must say that he was not surprised at the severity of the interference complained of as having been exercised by the magistrates. So far as he knew, these gentlemen had done no more than was their strict and absolute duty under the peculiar and painful cir- 94 cumstances in which they were placed. He thought it but right to mention one thing more; so far from the parties complaining of having experienced extraordinary severity on the part of Government, he was not sure that complaint ought not be made of him for the part which he had taken in the trials, and on the part of those whom he represented there, as having scarcely exhibited that degree of severity which in such cases it was proper to enforce. He assured the House that he made this statement with reluctance; but the facts were these:—It appeared to him of the greatest importance that, having found forty-eight delegates exciting and urging the working men to continue their unlawful proceedings, to persevere in a course of violence and intimidation—it did, he repeated, appear to him that it was proper that they and the public should know that those who advised crime, when that crime was executed, should be put on a similar footing with its perpetrators; and it therefore seemed to him to be necessary to indict those parties—the advisers and the perpetrators together—to show that after the commitment of the crime the former were amenable for its consequences, and liable to the same indictment under which the actual perpetrators were charged. But in adopting that course he was necessarily compelled to abandon — and he did it with reluctance—the charges made separately against the leaders of these misguided men—charges which, if proved, would have subjected them to far more severe punishment than did those upon which they were actually tried. The offence which they had actually been convicted of was conspiracy, an offence punishable by fine or imprisonment, but by nothing more. No such modes of extra punishment as the treadmill could be resorted to in such cases; but whilst he was prosecuting individuals, many of whom occupied stations of considerable respectability—for he admitted the respectability of Scholefield, who had a chapel; Leech, who was a bookseller, Turner, the printer, and some others, he thought it right, while prosecuting these men, to put their names into the same indictment as that under which was ranked the names of the working men, to give them all a common trial and a common fate, and thus, so far from being exposed to a greater degree of harshness by this mode of proceeding, the 95 effect of it was that the indictment was carried by writ of certiorari to the Court of Queen's Bench, and that the prisoners were thus liberated from prison, in order to enable them to appear, and that all recognizances were immediately at an end. At this moment the parties in question were under no recognizances to appear before the Court of Queen's Bench. Could such a course be spoken of as a harsh one. Or, what right had the parties to complain, when detected in the commission of an offence of the gravest aspect—of one which threatened the maintenance of the public peace, they had yet, instead of being indicted for high treason, been only tried for the minor offence of creating unlawful combinations and assemblies? yet, forsooth, these men, when it was thought necessary to bring them to trial, were to turn round and say, as Turner did, "You have already let me off; you have declared that the publication of the placard was no offence at all;" or as another man had said," Why, you only try me for conspiracy at last." Yes, it was true they were only tried for conspiracy: but the crime of which they were guilty was that of high treason. He thought that there was no foundation for the motion, so far as he was able to appreciate the grounds on which it was made; and he must say; in the language of the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, that without in the slightest degree questioning the power of the House, to institute an inquiry like the one sought for, and to make the most searching inquisition into the misconduct and bad motives—if there existed misconduct and bad motives—on the part of any government—yet that for the House to accede to the motion before them would be to encourage all those who were banded together to violate the law, and afford the greatest discouragement to all those who were disposed to admit its sway, and join in paying to it a quiet and peaceable obedience.
§ Lord F. Egerton
rose to call the attention of the House to some of the allegations made by the hon. Gentleman opposite with respect to a certain locality. He referred to the town of Preston. Now, as. it happened that he had been there in the performance of a public duty, he felt compelled to trouble the House with one or two remarks upon what they had heard with respect to that town from the hon. Gentleman opposite. He had been sur- 96 prised to hear that hon. Gentleman state that it was the general opinion of the respectable portion of the community at Preston that an unjustifiable, needless, and wanton outrage had been committed by the military upon the people. Now, no man was more averse to violent measures than himself—no one more averse to outrage or bloodshed; and it was because he thought that no greater reproach, no graver imputation could be laid upon the character of an individual, in the discharge of a public duty, than that he had from rashness, or imprudence, been led wantonly and unnecessarily to have recourse even in the suppression of riot and outrage to that most terrible means—an appeal to arms—it was from that feeling that he could not allow the assertions which had been made to pass uncommented upon, and without assuring the House that the necessity for the measures taken had actually existed, and that the magistrates of Preston had been, by the assertions made with respect to them, exposed to as much injustice as could well fall upon public servants in the performance of a public duty. What were the circumstances of the case? He could corroborate every word stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, with respect to them, but that hon. and learned Gentleman had omitted to state one thing; he had omitted to say, that near the street where the parties encountered each other, there was a canal from which had lately been landed a boat load of stones, not of common stones, but of paving stones, which furnished missiles for the use of the rioters. He had also omitted to state that for years, almost from time immemorial, the large town of Preston had been more free from disturbance or riot than any other town of its size in England. And he must say, that, much as on any occasion, he should regret an unnecessary display of military force, he should, with reference to these past transactions, regret it still more deeply; for if he had been in the House when the noble Lord, the Member for London had spoken in eulogy of the people of that part of the kingdom, he would have confirmed his observation with reference to the general absence of a sanguinary disposition, or a spirit of wanton violence. But, with reference to the case of Preston, he would call attention to the fact, that the mayor and magistrates, 97 in calling out the small forces at their disposal, did not do so with the immediate intention of averting outrage from themselves, but for the necessary purpose of protecting those who were peaceably going to their work, who were anxious to go there, but who were threatened by that spirit of violence and disturbance which, he was sorry to say, had subsequently extended to other parts of the country. The mayor had no force in Preston, and he was obliged to send for military to Wigan, and it was an unfortunate circumstance that the force he was enabled to raise was so small—he said it was unfortunate, because it was really a misfortune that a force should be displayed of too little strength to intimidate the guilty, and the presence of which would, therefore, merely serve to provoke further aggression. Now, what was the situation of the small body of military present? They were hemmed in before and behind with parties armed with paving stones. The chief constable had been knocked down, one soldier had his arm broken—he was not sure whether the mayor had not also been hit; but it was the decided conviction of every cool and impartial person present, that if the mob had closed in front and rear—he did not say that the destruction of the soldiers and constables would have ensued, for he entertained a better opinion of Englishmen than for a moment to listen to such a supposition; but he did say, that a catastrophe would have ensued, which no one could contemplate with any degree of tranquillity; that the authorities would have been laid prostrate and trampled upon by the mob. True, there were women and boys, and girls in the front of the people, and it was part of the policy of a mob to put persons of that description forward; but when the hon. Gentleman opposite inquired why, instead of firing, the soldiers did not make a charge with bayonets upon the people, he could not say that he considered the plan thus suggested as the more humane of the two. It was, in fact, a purely military question; but he would put it to all military gentlemen, whether there was an expedient more likely to produce loss of life, in a painful manner, than attempting to disperse a mob of great physical force by means of the bayonet. Nothing could be more dangerous, even to a disciplined force; and should the charge succeed, it would only be by means producing far 98 more bloodshed than if the course taken had been that of firing. He must say, too, that the firing was conducted with great coolness, after deliberate reflection. It was not adopted until a full time of necessity had arrived, and it was a fact, that those shots which did unhappily tell—a circumstance, the necessity of which he deeply lamented, took effect upon those who were most active in promoting the riot. It was his belief that those who had instructed the hon. Gentleman opposite in the details which he had given, had grossly misinformed him as to the state of public opinion with reference to the magistrates who had been concerned; and that they had omitted to disabuse his mind of many incorrect statements. Men of greater respectability than the magistrates of Preston did not exist. They were men of great humanity, and were unwearied in their attentions to the wants of those more immediately under their jurisdiction; and he felt that, if he had omitted to notice the observations of the hon. Gentleman with respect to them, that he should have omitted to perform a duty which chance, more than connection with them, had imposed on him?
§ Mr. Pakington
wished to call the attention of the House to the statement of the hon. Gentleman opposite with reference to the magistrates of Dudley. The hon. Gentleman, in talking of Mr. Badger and Mr. Cartwright, had stated that they had been guilty of conspiring with the Lord-lieutenant against the liberties of the people, and that they were therefore unfit to hold the commission of the peace. Now, he would say, that he knew no gentlemen more fit in every respect to hold the commission of the peace, or more fitted in every respect to do their duty with propriety and advantage than the gentlemen alluded to. What had been the nature of the charge against them? In point of strict law, they were certainly guilty in refusing bail upon the ground on which they declined accepting it. But the persons aggrieved had appealed to law—they had applied to the Court of Queen's Bench for a criminal information against the magistrates, and what was the result? The hon. Member for Finsbury had already moved for and obtained the papers connected with the case. He had a copy of the judgment pronounced, and he would read a passage bearing upon the subject before the House:— 99The complaint is not that workmen assembled to devise means for bettering their condition, but that others took advantage of their quarrels with their masters, and finding vast numbers unemployed, ignorant, and disaffected, sought to incite them to every kind of outrage. Not that the discussion of public grievances had been intemperately conducted, but that tumultuous assemblies, rendering all discussion impossible, led to speeches and conduct which must have been expected to lead to violence, outrages, outbreaks, conflicts with the lawful authorities, almost certainly to bloodshed, and very probably to universal pillage. Whether or not these meetings having been held in the immediate neighbourhood of Dudley is of small importance; they had been held in other quarters, producing their natural results, and were rapidly extending. It is sworn that near Dudley, in a population of half a million, persons were expecting to follow this example, and in this state of things the meeting in question was announced. It was observed on the argument, that few deeds of violence were actually committed in that district, and those by no means of a formidable character: if that be so, we have no doubt, when we regard the materials, and the instruments of mischief that were preparing, that that Circumstance is to be ascribed to the vigilance, the spirit, and real humanity with which the magistrates enforced the law, as her Majesty's proclamation enjoined them. We think they are entitled to the gratitude of their Sovereign and the country for their conduct, and we are of opinion that they would have deserted their duty if they had not committed O'Neill for trial for the part he was proved to have taken at the meeting, which they most properly dispersed on the 26th August.Yet in spite of all this the hon. Gentleman opposite said that the magistrates should be dismissed from the commission. He was aware that an error had been committed by them, but the opinion which had led them to commit it, they honestly entertained, and if they did entertain a doubt on the stringency of the law on the subject, there were good grounds for making them believe that under existing circumstances—in the peculiar position of the country at the time—they were consulting the public safety by not taking bail from persons connected with those who were agitating and disturbing the country. The application to the Court of Queen's Bench was dismissed, on the ground that although the magistrates had committed a legal error, yet that at the time they had no idea of perpetrating any injustice. As soon as it became known in the district to which these gentlemen belonged, that the hon. Member for Finsbury intended to come before the House of Commons with 100 a complaint relative to their conduct, a public meeting was called, and he held in his hand a copy of the address voted at that meeting to Messrs. Cartwright and Badger. The address acknowledged the deep and lasting sense of obligation felt by the meeting to the magistrates, to the military and yeomanry, and stated that the preservation of the life and property of those signing the document was mainly attributable to their exertions. He need only add that this address was signed by 135 of the most respectable bankers and merchants of the town of Dudley, and at the bead of the list he observed the name of Lord Ward. He himself had been present at many of the conferences held between the magistrates and the Lord-lieutenant of the county, and had never witnessed more temperance, combined with judicious firmness than he had seen manifested upon those occasions. This was not, he believed, the first occasion on which the hon. Gentleman opposite had been unlucky in the selection of a course to be adopted. It was a very poor return to men who had, in a great crisis, discharged their duties with zeal and with great activity—it was a poor return to such men, for a Member of the House of Commons to stand up and attempt to hold them up to public scorn, and to reproach them for conduct for which they were well entitled to public gratitude.
§ Mr. Fielden
said, that the point on which he agreed with the hon. Member for Finsbury was as to the indefensible conduct of the magistrates in refusing bail, or in fixing the amount of bail so high as to render it impossible for a poor man to procure sureties. This was the main subject of the hon. Member's complaint, and its justice had been admitted by the hon. Member who spoke last. The hon. Member for Finsbury made no complaint of the conduct of the Government in the prosecutions, but only of that of the magistrates. The conduct of the Government had been lenient, that of the magistrates unconstitutional and harsh; not to say illegal. The Government had been praised, and had taken praise to itself for its leniency towards the offenders, and why should not the magistracy be blamed for their severity, when it was admitted to have been unjust? What were the circumstances under which the disturbances broke out? The petitions and remonstrances to this House had long been treated with contempt—the House which 101 ought to have protected them would do nothing for them. They considered themselves aggrieved and neglected. The Attorney-general had stated, that the movement had not originated with the Chartists. It was at first a question of wages and of work. Many were out of employment, and those who were in work were labouring at such reduced wages, that starvation was staring them in the face. There was one case brought before the House which was of a peculiarly distressing nature. (We understood the hon. Member to refer to the case of White.) Was this proper treatment of a man, who, as he had no bad intention, ought to hare been put down with all possible humanity? And after all, what had been the conduct of these men, that they should be so unequivocally condemned. What is the grand object for which they combined? To obtain a voice in the making of the laws. I hare seen a great many movements in ray days for the purpose of obtaining some share in the Government of the country, and the men who joined in and led them used language just as exciting as any imputed to these men. And these, be it always recollected, were working men. What does Leech say? This, let me observe, was a man of excellent character. I never heard a ward to his disparagement. He is a Chartist, it is true, and as such must be called and treated as a criminal. But what is his defence?We are charged, (said he), with wishing to destroy machinery. Why, should we destroy the work of our own hands? But this much I maintain—that it is our duty to take care that machinery does not destroy us.In fact, he maintained nothing more than that it was necessary to shorten the hours of factory labour, so as to make it compatible with the life and comforts of the working people—so as to enable their children to receive that education which you now so loudly urge on Parliament as essential to the salvation of the country. How could you expect anything else but some civil convulsion, when you invariably denied all redress of the grievances of the people, and then crowned your humane consideration for their wants by passing the new Poor-law? If you had never passed that law, we should never hare heard of an outbreak in the north. Is it not preposterous to deny the working men all legitimate means of obtaining relief, awl, when they furiously break out into 102 acts of insubordination, to justify the conduct of magistrates, which, in my opinion, was clearly unjustifiable? I was myself a witness of some of these proceedings. A large multitude of these working men came over to the works of myself and brothers. But before they arrived, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Crossley, and an officer of dragoons, came to me and assured me, that if we wanted protection, it should be afforded. Those gentlemen said, the mob was coming to pull out the plugs, and stop our works. The leader soon came up, as was the case in so many other places. I asked, "what is it you want?" The reply was, "we want twelve hours' wages for ten hours' work." I said, "I am ready to agree to that." I then assured the magistrates and officers that these men only wanted a reasonable change, which I was willing to concede; and that as for the protection of my works, if my people were not able to preserve them, I should never appeal to the magistrates and military. Well, they went through the vale and stopped all the mills; but not. a single offence did they commit against life, and not a single injury did they commit against property. When they arrived at Halifax, however, they met the troops, and then ensued that heart-rending scene which has been described. Why, it is notorious in Halifax that the representation which my hon. Friend has given is true. No person doubts the fact of the man being shot in the manner described. And such severity as this is attempted to be defended, instead of your calming the public mind by assuring the people that you will listen to their complaints, and use your utmost efforts to redress them. I think it would be a much better course if the House endeavoured, by the appointment of a committee or by some other means, to ascertain whether the people had not reason to complain, and pledged itself to the most strenuous efforts to remove the evils which afflict the great mass of the community. But if the people are to be left in their present condition, and to be treated in the manner which they have been, I say then you must prepare for another insurrection, as the time is not far distant when the people must be again driven to violence. The labouring people must be supported. They must live by their labour, or you must supply them with the means of subsistence. It is an old saying that "hunger will break through stone walls;" and though you may trample on a hungry 103 people once or twice, at last you will find their power too great for you. I should recommend this House, then, not to delay turning its attention to the real state of the working classes, and doing something to remove the prejudices which prevail in their minds against the governing power. Depend upon it no decision of this House can put down the organization which has been formed for getting some power over it. And what are the instruments which the people think will secure that object? Universal suffrage, annual Parliaments, and vote by ballot. While Chartism consists of these demands, it will go on in spite of all your severity, and I say it ought to go on. The more frequently you reject the just claims of the people the nearer do you bring the time when they must, be conceded. I feel great pleasure in supporting my hon. Friends' motion.
opposed the motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury, and bore testimony to the honourable manner in which Captain Connolly conducted himself in his district in Worcestershire. And, with respect to the magistracy, he asked, was it not necessary that they should use the utmost precaution in order to prevent mischief when men like O'Neill were moving about the country exciting the minds of the people? Had they not acted with the greatest vigilance and activity the most serious consequences would have ensued. During the whole time that the yeomanry were out, acting under the directions of the magistrates, which was sixty-one days, he was proud to say that not a single individual, man, woman, or child, was injured.
§ Mr. W. Patten
confirmed the statement of the noble Lord (Lord F. Egerton), and expressed his belief that the hon. Member for Finsbury was totally and entirely mistaken with regard to the feeling of every class of the community in Preston. He believed that the general feeling on the part of the inhabitants was, that the magistrates, and more especially the magistrate who superintended the movements, exercised the greatest forbearance; indeed they pushed it to the utmost, before any order was given to fire upon the people. Another part of the hon. Member's accusation related to the magistrates of Blackburn; and he stated what he (Mr. Patten) had never heard until to-night—that the magistrates, whilst in the discharge of their duty, were guilty of irritating the 104 people. It was possible that he might be mistaken upon this point; but he certainly had heard the opinions of persons in authority, and of others who were there taking part in the suppression of the disturbances, with respect to the conduct of the magistrates. The words used by a person who was present, and superintended the whole of the proceedings on that occasion, were, "It is impossible to speak too highly of the forbearance and discretion of the magistrates." But that was only the opinion of one party. He had reason to know also that the opinion of other classes in Blackburn was diametrically opposed to that of the hon. Member. He believed the magistrates acting there received credit even from many of those who held different political opinions from them, for having exercised great discretion and forbearance. The hon. Member had spoken of Mr. Crossley, of the neighbourhood of Todmorden, who was accused in one of the petitions of having refused bail to a prisoner on account of the bail offered being Chartists. Now, at the time this took place, there was an impression among some magistrates, and in common with his hon. Friend (Mr. Pakington) he owned that it was an error on the part of these magistrates, that the crime for which the parties brought before them would be accused would be high treason, and that, therefore, it was necessary they should be very particular in looking at the bail. Though this was undoubtedly an error, there was a remedy against the magistrates for any transgression they committed; and he did not think this accusation against them would justify the appointment of a committee of inquiry. Judicial proceedings had been taken in similar cases, and matters would not be mended by instituting inquiry in this particular case. With respect to the magistrates of Lancashire generally, whilst it was impossible to speak too highly of the conduct of the poorer classes in Lancashire during the disturbances, yet he must say that Lancashire was in such a perilous situation by the proceedings which took place, that every forbearance should be exercised towards these magistrates, though they had transgressed to a greater extent even than the hon. Member had imputed to them. Looking at the very perilous situation in which not only that county but a large part of England was placed at that time, he i thought it was a subject for congratulation 105 to observe the happy manner in which the country was extricated; and he was sure that instead of disapprobation praise would be allotted to the magistrates who had been so fortunate as to put an end to the disturbances. He would oppose the motion because he did not think the hon. Member had substantiated the charges which he had brought against the magistrates.
§ Mr. G. W. Wood
should feel that he was not doing justice to those magistrates whose characters were assailed by this motion, if he did not make a few observations upon it. Those observations should be confined to the conduct of the magistrates in that part of Lancashire with which he was connected—the southern division of Lancashire. The charges against the magistrates were, that they refused to take bail, demanded excessive bail, delayed to investigate the charges against the prisoners, and that the prisoners experienced great inconvenience and discomfort in their confinement in gaol. The two gentlemen against whom the hon. Member's attack was principally directed, were Mr. Foster, the chairman of the Manchester Sessions, and Mr. Maude, a stipendiary magistrate. He believed the charges against these gentlemen were totally unfounded. It was true that the prisoners were confined longer than was usual in ordinary cases; but this was not an ordinary case, and they were not detained longer than was necessary to inquire into the charges against them. With respect to the refusal to take bail, the plain answer was that the magistrates did not think it their duty to admit to bail till they had completed the examinations, and known what would be the nature of the charges which would be preferred against the prisoners. If this House should decide that they were culpable in pursuing that course, he should be bound to abide by that decision; but his impression was, that the discretion exercised by the magistrates was a wise and sound one. Then as to the charge that the bail was in some cases very large, he had to observe that he had communicated with the two gentlemen already named, and it seemed that the fact was, that a very strong impression prevailed in the minds of the magistrates that the parties alluded to might be guilty of high treason—at least there were circumstances in their conduct which might lead to the supposition that they might be arraigned on such a charge. Under these 106 circumstances it was the duty of the magistrates to see that, while the bail was not more than the parties could afford, yet it was enough to secure their appearance in court should the Government think proper to indict them for treason. As to the discomfort and inconvenience which the prisoners suffered in confinement, he must say that there was the utmost desire on the part of the magistrates to afford every convenience to the prisoners. The gaol was a very large one; it was at the time occupied by many prisoners and in the course of a few days many hundred prisoners were sent there for safe custody, and it was, consequently, exceedingly crowded; but the prisoners were exposed to no inconvenience beyond what was inevitable. So attentive were the magistrates to their health and comfort, that, as the weather was warm, and they feared some disorder might break out in consequence of the crowded state of the gaol, they whitewashed it, and gave up the chapel to the accommodation of the prisoners. That was no ordinary time. There was a universal suspension of labour, during which the utmost anxiety prevailed for the protection of life and property, and he was happy to bear his testimony to the praiseworthy conduct of the bulk of the community in abstaining from violence. But, notwithstanding this forbearance, the universal suspension of labour could not but excite great alarm. The extent of the suspension was, probably, exaggerated to some extent in the proclamation which the hon. Member had read, but to his knowledge the statement was substantially true. Throughout the district in which he lived all labour was suspended, and it was said by the rioters that nothing should be allowed to work but the sickle to cut the harvest and the mill to grind the flour for the bread of the people. The magistrates took every measure for the preservation of the peace according to the means at their disposal. He could bear testimony to the manner in which they had discharged their duties in his portion of the county. From morning till night they were in attendance for several weeks in rotation, in the Town Hall of Manchester, and every moment of the twenty-four hours when any one wanted their advice, they were ready to afford it. For many days they were totally occupied in receiving applications from manufacturers seeking for protection for their works, and 107 asking for advice as to the course which they ought to pursue. At one period they were engaged from nine o'clock in the morning till nine o'clock at night, in receiving such applications, tendering their advice, communicating with the general of the district as to the best means to be adopted for the protection of property, and swearing in special constables. He was very glad to bear testimony to the remarkably good feeling which was exhibited on the part of large bodies of workmen to protect the property of their masters. He believed that he himself swore in more than 500 individuals as special constables. Many came with their masters to him in the Town Hall, others came to him at his own private house. He did not swear in any under the compulsory powers which he possessed as a magistrate, but distinctly told them that he would not swear in any man as a special constable who would not assure him that it was his own voluntary act, and undertaken solely through a desire to protect his master's property. Some were afraid that they would be obliged to protect property at a distance, and belonging to parties who were unknown to them, but expressed the utmost readiness to do what they could for their own masters. That was the statement which he took the liberty to make to the House in answer to the charges of the hon. Member for Finsbury. If the magistrates were not enabled to investigate the charges immediately on the apprehension of the prisoners, yet as soon as by the arrival of a large military force the peace of the country was secured they gave their most assiduous attention to investigating the charges. Individually, he had not the slightest objection to the motion of the hon. Member, and to show that he did not shrink from inquiry, he should vote for it. He must guard himself against its being supposed that he thought the hon. Member had made out a case for inquiry, or had brought forward the motion at a fitting moment, or, so far as the bulk of the parties was concerned, had come forward on behalf of aggrieved and innocent individuals. He did not support the motion on either of those grounds, but because he, for one, would not shrink from inquiry. The verdict of the juries did not show that the individuals who appealed to the House had any right to complain. As to Mr. Foster and Mr. Maude, be must say, as their characters 108 could not be so well known to the Members of this House as they were to the community among whom they resided, that no men enjoyed more fully than those gentlemen the respect of all classes and all parties in Manchester. He believed that the imputation cast upon them by this motion would not meet with the slightest support.
§ Colonel Rolleston
was understood to say that he would consider the allegations in the petition presented by the hon. Member only so far as he was concerned. The charges against the magistrates were—first, that the tribunals before which the prisoners were charged were partial and prejudiced; second, that the trials were conducted in a manner contrary to law and to a proper regard for justice; and third, that the prisoners were guilty of no offence against the law of the land or the constitution. But what was the proof of these charges? And what was the conduct of those parties who were so guiltless of offence against the law of the land or the constitution? In his neighbourhood two agitators had been for some weeks previous to the outbreak lecturing the people on every topic which could inflame them. One of these, a man of the name of Clarke, the very week before the outbreak, addressed the people in an inflammatory speech, calling on them to assemble in great numbers for the purpose of carrying forward their measures. Another placard called on the people to assemble, and exhorted them to cease from labour until they should obtain the charter. So long as they were peaceable they were not interfered with, but when they resorted to violence, the magistrates were requested to interfere, and active measures were then taken for putting an end to these meetings, by which every branch of trade had been interrupted. The hon. Member for Finsbury complained that the trials had been conducted in a manner contrary to law, but the hon. Member must be aware that the prisoners had the advantage of the assistance of some of the most eminent men at the bar, by whom their interests were, no doubt, most efficiently protected. The outbreak, it must be remembered, was not confined to persons belonging either to the town of Nottingham or the county of Nottingham, but amongst the mob were persons from Derbyshire and other places, which plainly showed that it was of a most serious nature, and that 109 the magistrates were perfectly justified in taking Wrong measures for its suppression.
said, that from all he had heard that evening, he should at once have pronounced an opinion, that the magistrates had not exceeded their jurisdiction; but he had heard nothing yet in answer to his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury, who had simply confined his motion to an inquiry into the subject. He was very much afraid that this, as in most other cases, was made a party question. An hon. Gentleman on that side got up and asked for an inquiry, and immediately all hon. Gentlemen on the other side resisted that inquiry. His hon. Friend began his statement by a good-humoured allusion to the unpaid magistracy, and as one of that body, if his hon. Friend had asked for an inquiry into his conduct as a public magistrate, and had given notice of that intention, he would have gone round to every individual in that House, and entreated him to support that motion. It was an injustice to the Gentlemen whose names were brought forward that this inquiry should not be granted; and for that reason, for the reason thatHe who filches from me my good name, Robs me of that which not enriches him, But leaves me poor indeed.he should support the motion of his hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Brotherton
said, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Duncombe) in the first place stated, that the outbreak had arisen on a question of wages, encouraged by the Anti-Corn-law League; that after that the question took a political turn, and that those persons who were connected with the Anti-Corn-law League and the magistrates changed their conduct, and became harsh and severe towards those persons whom they had previously encouraged to do what they had done. In the next place, the hon. Gentleman stated, that the magistrate, Mr. Maude, contrary to the wish and opinion of Sir C. Shaw, permitted the mob to enter Manchester, when it might have been prevented; and in the next place he stated, that Mr. Beswick, the superintendent of police, after, wards, without any warrant or authority from any one, arrested the Rev. Mr. Scholefield, and behaved in a very harsh manner. Those were the charges brought ferward by the hen. Gentleman. Now, 110 as to the origin of these outbreaks, it might have been a question of wages. They all knew, that there was great distress in the country at that particular time. They knew that the manufacturing districts were in a most deplorable state. It was said, that the wages were reduced by the members of the Anti-Corn-law League, in order to bring about a repeal of the Corn-laws. He would ask those who wished to impute any harshness to the manufacturers, whether the wages were reduced by Tory, Liberal, or Anti-Corn-law League manufacturers alone? They were all under the necessity of reducing their wages, and they could not avoid it. The distress arose from a want of employment, and that must have led to a reduction of wages. The master manufacturers must have reduced wages, or become bankrupts. He was told, that the first reduction was among the Conservative manufacturers. There was then a turn out, but what was the consequence? The workmen no longer acted upon their old principle. He was old enough to remember a great many turn-outs among the operatives, but they never adopted such an unwise plan as upon this occasion. Their plan was, to turn out at one mill, or in one district, and let the rest who continued in employment support them. By those means they compelled the manufacturers to pay them the wages they were seeking for, who came into their terms on account of the great expense the mill-owners must be at in keeping up their mills, while they made nothing by them from their machinery standing idle. If, then, this had been simply a question of wages, that would have been the plan they would have adopted. It was one which their own common sense would have dictated. But they knew, that some years ago, the operatives were told, that they should have a holyday, and that that general holyday should bring about the Charter. One of the leaders of the Chartists had always been in favour of that principle—that there should be an universal cessation of labour, in order that they might obtain the Charter. Hence that which was in its origin a question of wages, was made a political matter, it became a Chartist question, and upon that principle different persons proceeded to the different towns to stop the mills, in order to obtain the object they had in view. Those persons entered Manchester 111 on the 9th of August. Complaint was made against Mr. Maude for permitting them. He believed, that the learned Attorney-general fell into a mistake in stating, that Mr. Maude met the mob entering the town, and conducted them in, although he could have prevented them from entering. That he entirely denied. It was without foundation. He was well acquainted with the locality, and be must inform the House of this fact. From Ashton to Manchester there were two roads parallel to each other. Sir C. Shaw knew very well that a meeting was held at Ashton in the neighbourhood, and that it was the intention of those persons to come to Manchester to stop the mills. He was commissioner of police, appointed by the Government, and, no doubt, was in the confidence of the Government, and had acquainted them with the state of the neighbourhood. He withheld all information from the magistrates of Manchester. Mr. Maude, the stipendiary magistrate of Manchester, knew nothing of the state of Manchester, or the surrounding district up to the morning when the great crowd entered the town at nine o'clock. Sir C. Shaw wrote to Mr. Maude that morning, to acquaint him that those persons were coming to Manchester, and that it was necessary to have the military and police to prevent them. Sir C. Shaw took the police out on the Ashton road, but he took them on the wrong road. On that road he met a party, but he had not with him a force sufficient, and he permitted them to come into the town. Another party had gone by the other road, and before Mr. Maude could come to the place where the military were, the mob, to the number of several thousands, had advanced a mile into the town, and had turned out several mills before Mr. Maude came to meet them in Pollard-street, near Ancoats-lane. When he came there it became a question of prudence how he should act, and Mr. Maude acted in such a manner as entitled him, in his opinion, to credit for discretion, humanity, and forbearance. The result was, that not a life was lost, and there was no injury to property to any extent. The magistrates, in fact, acted wisely in not offering that resistance which might have brought about those results which they were so anxious to prevent. He spoke from his knowledge of the town, and his conviction that it would have been the most unwise to at- 112 tempt to drive the mob back. The commissioner of police—being the Government officer—not having communicated that information to the county magistrates, or to the borough magistrates, that he might have given, he was of opinion that the charge against the borough magistrates of Manchester could not be sustained. On the contrary, he thought they deserved credit for the manner in which they had discharged their duty on that most important and trying, occasion. Now, as to the third point—the conduct of Mr. Beswick in arresting Mr. Scholefield without, as the hon. Member for Finsbury alleged, having any warrant. [Mr. T. Duncombe: Searching his papers without a warrant.] That Mr. Beswick searched Mr. Scholefield's papers without a warrant, and treated him with great severity. Now, with reference to this charge, it appeared that Mr. Beswick having received orders over night sent a message in the morning to Mr. Scholefield, requesting to see him; that he permitted that gentleman to take his breakfast and to prepare himself, and that Mr. Scholefield made no complaint whatever with regard to his conduct towards him. So satisfied, indeed, was he as to the manner in which Mr. Beswick had treated him, that he had since called upon him to thank him for his conduct, and to express his satisfaction that he should have been the officer appointed to discharge the duty. With regard to the conduct of the people, be must say, that in general they had, in his opinion, behaved in a praiseworthy manner—that the population of Manchester had done credit to themselves by the forbearance they had shown on all occasions. He thought highly of them for it. While he would use every effort in his power to obtain for them their rights—to get for them the means of employment and food—and to bring about that state of things that was calculated to promote their happiness and welfare—he would at the same time never lend his sanction to anything like physical force, or to the accomplishment of any object, however proper it might in itself be, by improper means.
§ Lord Ingestre
could not allow the discussion to close without saying a few words in defence of the conduct of the two magistrates of Stafford who had been referred to by the hon. Member for Finsbury. Those magistrates had direct and positive evidence of the existence of a common 113 fund at Birmingham, and that the person whom they committed was connected with that fund. They considered that in committing him they were restraining one who would be a firebrand in the district, and that they were thereby preventing him from doing further mischief. They had distinct evidence that language of a most exciting kind had been used by the individual in question. Here was an extract from the affidavit that was before those magistrates:O'Neill was addressing the multitude. I hold a paper containing my notes of what he said, which I took down directly afterwards. He said 'Was this a time, when trade was reviving, for masters to reduce the wages? I have myself been a close observer, and I know that trade is improving. I know by inquiries at the carriers and at the railroads; the banks are more free in their discounts, they are relaxing the screw. I consider the governed as in one large room with an air-pump; when the pump is first applied, the inconvenience is not generally felt; at last some one near the window feels the want of air; he goes to the window, and finds a Duke of Wellington with his great sword, who prevents him from opening it; he goes to another and finds an Archbishop of Canterbury, who keeps out the air with his surplice; he goes to another, and finds a lawyer, who stops it with his wig. The whole system is corrupt, the House of Commons is rotten, and what does it care for the misery of the people? Sir Robert Peel is a man of the most callous heart, and he, with the Duke of Wellington, for the purpose of butchering the poor Chinese and Indians, must levy an income-tax; was this tax paid by the workmen? Not directly; it was put on the masters. In this neighbourhood there are 70,000 workmen, and the masters having to pay 7d. in the pound for income-tax, take off 6d. per day from their workmen, so that they make a good profit of it.' He called on the meeting to stand out still longer. He said,' I am sure you can do so for six weeks; the price of iron is rising; some descriptions of iron rose 1l. a ton yesterday. The iron-masters cannot do without coal: if they would remain out the masters would come to; the colliers are nearly all out. In South Wales they, as well as the ironmen, have struck. In Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire they are out. I have the pleasure to tell you that next week they will be out in Derbyshire, where I have been endeavouring to effect it. Only yesterday I had a deputation of three colliers from the Moirapits, who assured me they would immediately strike, as would those at Clay-cross. The most important of all was, the people had no voice in the representation of the country, and no good would happen until they had. The Charter had been drawn up by a committee, consisting of some Members of the House of 114 Commons and some working men.' He mentioned the names of some individuals, whom I do not remember. In speaking of the House of Commons, he inquired of what it was composed. 'Of lawyers; did they care for the people? Of cut-throat gentlemen; I mean the paid military; do they care for the people? Of fox-hunting gentlemen? do they care for the people? I have declared, and I do declare, that I owe no allegiance to the Government: it is an usurped Government. I am a Christian and a man of peace.'On O'Neill's person was found the following paper:Englishmen! the few remaining liberties which a tyrannical oligarchy has left to the enslaved people have been this day forcibly taken from you in Birmingham by an armed power. In vain does the British Constitution declare, that every subject has a right to petition the Queen on his grievances. The Government, through the magistrates, have denied that right, and have, in opposition to every principle of justice and of the Constitution, prevented a meeting called for the purpose of peaceably memorializing the Queen, having first brought into the town an armed power to enforce their unjustifiable and unconstitutional proceedings. We issue out our solemn protest against such undisguised tyranny, declaring, that if such an encroachment on the rights of. Englishmen is submitted to, there will be no longer freedom for any class, tyranny preserving its power only by abridging the liberties of all. We record it as our deliberate opinion, that the ruling power has taken away the just and constitutional rights of the people, and that circumstances have now arisen in which the Government has no rightful claim to our allegiance. Passive resistance on our part is not only a right, but a sacred duty. We resolve not to obey the Government by service them in any capacity. We resolve not to recognise them as our Government. We, therefore, refuse to pay all taxes.By order of the committee,ARTHUR O'NEILL, secretaryChristian Chartist Church.Now, he put it to the House whether the magistrates had not acted from right motives in not allowing such a man as this to go about the country exciting the people? He admitted that those gentlemen had committed an error. A court of law had decided that they had done so, and the magistracy were ever ready to bow to decisions of the courts of law. He thought this motion most ill-timed and ill-advised. It could not be regarded in any other light than as seeking to cast a stigma on the magistrates, who, for the manner in which they did their duty during the disturbances, deserved the grati- 115 tude of the country. He therefore opposed the motion, and he should not imitate the course of the hon. Member for Kendal, who spoke against the motion and meant to vote for it, but he should vote as well as speak against it.
§ Mr. R. Scott
thought there were some parts of the conduct of the magistrates which greatly wanted defence. On the morning before O'Neill was tried, when the magistrates were proceeding to their judicial business, there was a crowd in the street, and although no disturbance was created, the magistrates, immediately before they proceeded to the court, went to their window and read the Riot Act, a proceeding which he considered wholly unjustifiable. Another case which appeared to him to have been conducted in a manner very discreditable to the magistrates, was that of an individual named Cook, who exhibited in his window a placard, signed "A. O'Neill," announcing that a public meeting was about to be held within a few days. That placard he (Mr. R. Scott) did not think contained anything which called for a prosecution. The meeting itself might be improper, and not fit to be held. It was prevented and he would not deny that the magistrates of Birmingham did their duty in preventing it. O'Neill was committed on account of what was contained in the placard; and the person named Cook was committed for exciting the people to seditious meetings. When the trial came on he was indicted not for sedition or treason, but for stopping the Queen's highway, by having in his window a placard which induced persons to stop and read it. That was the grave and serious charge upon which this individual was detained in prison for several weeks. He thought the learned Attorney-general had made no answer to the statement of the hon. Member for Finsbury. There were a great number of cases which called loudly for inquiry. The country might judge of the prosecutions instituted by the magistrates, but there could be no proceeding by action or indictment against them by the public. Individuals, indeed, might have their recompense for injuries done to them, but the public at large could have no remedy for the infraction of the liberties of the people, except at the hands of that House. He admitted that every allowance ought to be made for magistrates placed in such difficulties as arose on that occasion; but when they proceeded to a 116 breach of the laws, and did actions which tended rather to break the peace than to preserve it, he thought the House ought to take their proceedings in the several cases detailed into their most serious consideration. With respect to that part of the country with which he was connected (South Staffordshire) it was highly to the credit of the people, that when they struck for wages, they refused to join the rioters, and there was not the slightest ground for bringing against them anything approaching to the charge of high treason.
§ Sir James Graham
Sir, I venture to offer myself to your notice because I think the House will expect me to address a few words to it before this debate is brought to a conclusion. I must say, I think that the hon. Gentleman who has just sitten down is singular in his opinion that the answer of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-general, to the speech made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Finsbury is unsatisfactory. I am sorry the House was not more full when my hon. and learned Friend addressed it, because I assert with confidence that a more full, complete, spirited, and satisfactory answer never was given to any charge than the answer made by my hon. and learned Friend. The allegations of the hon. Member for Finsbury have been discussed seriatim by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, who are competent themselves to give evidence on every charge. The Lancaster case was disposed of by the Attorney-general. The Dudley case has been satisfactorily disposed of—notwithstanding what has fallen from the hon. Member who has just sitten down—by my hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich. But the case does not rest on his single statement; my hon. Friend relied on the judgment delivered in the Court of Queen's Bench by the Lord Chief Justice of England. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Walsall to say that a charge of this kind must be investigated, and that it is necessary to bring cases like those on which the hon. Mover delights to dwell before committees of the House of Commons, in order to have justice done. The very case of which so much has been said, has been carefully investigated and sifted to the bottom—every par ticular of it has been examined. It was heard before a single judge—Mr. Justice Patteson, who hesitated very long before he would grant a rule for a criminal in- 117 formation. His first impulse was not to grant it. For the sake, however, of having that important question sifted thoroughly, he consented to grant it. It came on upon motion before the Court of Queen's Bench. The case was fully argued, and the judgment of the Court was pronounced in the terms read by my hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich. I will not weary the House by quoting the precise expressions. It is true that costs were awarded, but on the express ground, as stated by the Chief Justice, that the magistrates were wrong in their law. The rule being that no criminal information shall be granted by the Court where the animus of the magistrates is held to be pure, the Chief Justice stated that the magistrates had to act in circumstances of great public danger; and it being the opinion of the Court that they had acted in the midst of that danger firmly, honestly, and with the purest and best intentions, the Court positively refused to grant a criminal information; but at the same time it being admitted that the magistrates ware wrong in law, costs, as I have said, were awarded. Where, then, is the necessity for investigating this matter before a select committee? The case has already been fully examined. Doubt, if doubt there'were, as to the law, has been cleared up by the highest judicial authority. But said the hon. Member for Finsbury, the magistrates were dismissed with censure by the Court of Queen's Bench. I positively deny that assertion. So far from imputing censure, the concluding sentence of the judgment gave praise to the magistrates. The Chief Justice said,The opinion of these magistrates was hastily adopted in a crisis of real danger, and most probably from deference to a general resolution. This induces us, in conformity with the rule by which this court has regulated its practice, to decline interfering by a criminal information, and we discharge the rule; but as the conduct of the magistrates was such as to justify the application, they must pay the costs.I repeat my assertion, that with respect to the animus which dictated the proceedings of these magistrates, the Court of Quean's Bench, so for from censuring them, discharged them without any imputation whatever discrediting their conduct. In point of law they were undoubtedly wrong, and they were, therefore, ordered 118 to pay the costs. The law is now quite clear on the point. Before this case, it might have been a matter of doubt whether the circumstance of an individual holding strong political opinions in connection with an insurrectionary movement, was a sufficient ground for refusing to receive him as bail, on the part of an insurgent, whose violation of the law he had countenanced and encouraged beforehand. My own understanding of the law always led me to believe, that the decision of the Dudley magistrates was improper; but any doubt which existed on the subject has been cleared up by the judgement in the case. It is needless to refer to the three cases which were tried at Lancaster. The petitioners are, first, the printer of a placard which my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-general has pronounced to be a document which, if not treasonable in its character, might be considered as bordering on the very verge of treason, when coupled with the overt acts which were committed, and this person pleaded guilty. The second petition is from the chairman of the executive council from which this placard emanated, and who was convicted; and the third petitioner, who was acquitted, is the individual in whose chapel were held the meetings of the executive council, by whom this dangerous, and seditious, if not treasonable, placard was issued. So much, then, for the Lancaster and Dudley cases. I now come to the case affecting the hon. Member for the county of Nottingham (Colonel Rolleston), who has given a most clear and distinct explanation to the House; and the House must remember that this statement does not rest on any doubtful authority, but that the hon. Gentleman was himself a witness of all the transactions referred to in the petition. The House must bear in mind that though all the prisoners were included in the same indictment, and were arraigned together, and pleaded to that indictment conjointly—in order to afford them a more fair trial and to give them an opportunity of separate justification, they were classified and tried separately. One jury, however, had them in charge; they pleaded to one jury; and my hon. Friend had no choice, but to try them by the jury before whom they were arraigned. Then an imputation has been thrown upon my hon. Friend, because, he, being the committing magistrate, also presided at the trial; but 119 a more monstrous proposition cannot be advanced than that it is not competent to a magistrate to commit a person for trial and then to preside at the trial of such a person at the quarter sessions. The committal is made upon an ex parte statement, and the magistrate is called upon to consider whether there is ground for placing the accused upon trial; but, when the prisoner is tried by a jury, the magistrate hears, not only the accusation but the defence. It is indeed, a case of every day occurence that a magistrate, having committed on an ex parte statement, is at the sessions favourable to the acquittal of the prisoner. I have long had the pleasure of an intimate acquaintance with the hon. Member for Finsbury who has brought forward this motion; and knowing the clearness of his intellect, I am much surprised at the course which he has taken with reference to this subject. During your absence from the House last night, Mr. Speaker, at the close of the discussion in committee of supply, the hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone made an observation which struck me as being extremely just. The hon. Gentleman said, that monomania was the order of the day, and he illustrated the remark by an allusion to the hon. and gallant officer the Member for Brighton. Whenever the Poor-laws are mentioned the hon. and gallent Member for Brighton seems to have in his minds' eye that terrestial paradise—that Gilbert union in West Sussex—which he paints in such glowing colours, and to which he has extended his especial protection. When an assistant Poor-law commissioner is mentioned, the mind of the hon. Member for Knaresborough is haunted by images of Mr. Mott, and by recollections of the Keighley Union, and straightway he goes off at score and indulges the House with a detail of the oppression to which the poor in the north of England are exposed. I have always considered that the hon. Member for Finsbury was a Gentleman of strong understanding, that his mind was unclouded by any vulgar prejudices, but it appears to me that the hon. Member is not quite free from monomania. The hon. Gentleman seems to me to be possessed with the idea that all the judges of the land are necessarily wrong—that all: the magistrates are monsters of tyranny and oppression—that juries cannot do their duty—that Chartists are models of innocence, the purest, the kindest, and 120 gentlest, and most virtuous of mankind ! This is the extraordinary delusion under which the hon. Member seems to be labouring. At that eventful period, at the commencement of last autumn, to which such frequent reference has been made to night, I had, amidst much peril and anxiety, an opportunity of forming a judgment as to the manner in which the magistrates of this country discharge their duties; and I should be betraying my trust if I neglected to state to the House that, if happily this kingdom then escaped the imminent and serious clanger of an insurrection of a most formidable character, widely spread, and threatening not only property but life—if this country escaped such danger without much loss of life, without the infliction of serious injury upon property, its escape was mainly attributable to the support which her Majesty's Government received from the magistracy. It would be invidious to allude to any particular instances, but two have already been referred to by the hon. Member for Finsbury—those of the Lords-lieutenant of the counties of Stafford and Worcester. The Lord-lieutenant of Staffordshire was not in England at the commencement of the disturbances, but he hastened his return and was at his post before the danger had passed away; the Lord-lieutenant of Worcestershire was in town at that period, and at my request, at the short notice of two hours, that noble Lord went down to his county to discharge his official duties for the preservation of the public peace. It may, as I before observed, be deemed invidious thus to allude to particular cases, but, as the hon. Member for Finsbury mentioned the Lords-lieutenant for Staffordshire and Worcestershire. [Mr. T. "Duncombe had referred only to the Lord lieutenant for Worcestershire.] Very well: then I will say, that from the commencement of those disturbances I received no more active and efficient support from any individual for the maintenance of the public peace than was rendered by the Lord-lieutenant of the county of Worcester. I should be ashamed, after a debate which I must say has been entirely on one side, to go at length into various points which are involved in the discussion, but there is one with respect to which I think it my duty to notice what has fallen from the hon. Member for Finsbury. The hon. Gentleman has asserted—and as a military man I am sure that the hon. Gentleman 121 must have asserted it with pain and with much hesitation—that drink was given to the soldiery at Halifax, that they were intoxicated before they were called upon to act, and that a breach of military discipline ensued from such intoxication. Now, until the hon. Member made this assertion, I never heard such a charge mentioned, either in this House or out of it; and with all respect for the hon. Gentleman, I must declare that I cannot place credit in the statement. The officer in command of the district in which Halifax is situated is a gentleman of the highest merit and of extensive experience—an officer who maintains among the troops the strictest discipline—General Brotherton; at the head of the army of this country is an officer pre-eminently distinguished by his military talents, but in no respect more distinguished than by his invariable, never-flinching determination to maintain the most severe discipline; and I am perfectly satisfied, that if any such accusation as that which has been advanced by the hon. Member for Finsbury, could have been substantiated, it would not have remained a secret until this time; but the military authorities would have instituted a most strict investigation on the subject, and it would not have been reserved until this evening as a topic of agitation and complaint. 1 must be allowed to observe, that the hon. Gentleman in dealing with the case of Preston, has received on a matter of fact an answer so conclusive, that it throws some shadow of doubt on his allegations with respect to what occurred at Halifax. The hon. Gentleman also expressed doubts as to whether the troops were justified in acting with decision at Blackburn. It is a disgrace to this country to make the declaration, but the fact shows the lamentable and dangerous extent to which the insurrection had spread, that for two or three days during the month of August, the town of Blackburn might be considered as in a state of siege. The troops durst not venture in small bodies beyond the precincts of the town; mobs of 12,000 or 13,000 persons entered the place from the neighbouring districts; the authorities at length interposed, and several prisoners were apprehended, and when they were about to be removed, an attempt was made to rescue them. [Mr. Duncombe here expressed his dissent.] I say, an attempt was decidedly made at a rescue. The 122 hon. Gentleman himself said, that the troops were so pressed, that when they fired, they were within two yards of the crowd, and he questioned the humanity of the proceeding, stating that they ought to have used the bayonet instead of the musket. Under such circumstances, can the House doubt what was the actual position of the troops? I will merely remind the House, that this little band was composed of thirty men only; on every side they were exposed to danger; surrounded and pressed upon by the populace, their position was one of most imminent peril; yet, until the word was given, not a shot was fired, and even then, when the firing began, they did not fire in vollies, but by single files, in order to prevent effusion of blood. The discharge was kept up for a short time, and it had the effect of checking the multitude, and the soldiers were able to effect a retreat in their presence—in the presence of a mob, not only overpowering in numbers, but evincing, I am sorry to say, contrary to the usual character of English mobs, a most sanguinary disposition, and armed with dangerous weapons. One of the hon. Members for Finsbury is a coroner. That hon. Member will not, therefore, set up a committee of the House of Commons as more fit to try a question of this nature than a coroner's jury. Now in the Preston case there has been an inquisition, a judicial investigation — and what has been the verdict of the jury? Not one of murder, but of justifiable homicide. Then, with respect to the conduct of the mayor. I assert that the mayor behaved with the utmost courage, he was present during the whole of the proceedings, when the troops were attacked, and when they fired, and he exercised his civil authority, not ordering the firing to commence till the danger had become imminent, and causing the firing to close when the danger had been overcome. By the conduct of that chief magistrate the effusion of human blood was stopped, and I may state that the town was satisfied with the conduct of that officer; for if I am not mistaken, the mayor has received the thanks of the citizens for his conduct. I believe I have now gone through the principal charges which have been brought forward by the hon. Gentleman, and I can only repeat that which has been so ably and forcibly put by my hon. and learned 123 Friend, the Attorney-general.—I can only appeal to the House to consider how dangerous motions of this character are—motions brought forward under the semblance of maintaining justice, but which directly interfere with the fair and equal administration of justice. Never has that been more strikingly illustrated than on the present occasion. Some particulars have been reluctantly wrung from my hon. and learned Friend, in the course of the debate, relative to the conduct of one particular person at the time when the delegates broke up, and sought to carry out their designs; and my hon. and learned Friend has been compelled to state to the House that a speech of a most treasonable character was made by one individual who at this moment is upon his trial before a jury at Stafford, for acts growing immediately out of the transactions which form the subject of the motion. The principal persons whose names have been brought forward are now awaiting the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench. The judges of the land will have within a fortnight to consider what punishment should be awarded to those persons, convicted, as they have been by a jury of their country, of the offences laid to their charge. It has been most painful to my hon. and learned Friend to make a statement which may have the effect of aggravating that punishment. It is inexpedient to call upon the Government and the House formally to give an opinion upon the subject. It is inconsistent with the equal and temperate administration of justice. At all events it would have been better to postpone the motion for the present. I agree with the hon. Member for Kendal, that the motion is ill-timed; and moreover with him I contend it is not supported by facts nor sustained by argument. At the same time I must say that the Government having received from the hon. Member for Kendal, in his magisterial capacity, most efficient assistance in the county of Lancaster, and having derived considerable benefit from his indefatigable zeal and exertions—agreeing as I do with the opinion expressed by the Lord Chief Justice of England, that the magistrates of the country generally, without reference to party feeling, or strong political prepossessions, gave during the recent disturbances their cordial co-operation for the maintenance of the law, and for the security of property—entertaining 124 as I do a high opinion of the hon. Member for Kendal, in his magisterial capacity, I still must say, that if any thing could shake my confidence in the judgment and firmness of that gentleman, it is, that having declared the motion not to be sustained by facts and arguments; having expressed the opinion that in point of time it was inexpedient to bring it forward, he still, from some sensitive fear that, in resisting the motion, his motives might be misunderstood, should have expressed his intention to vote for it. That the hon. Member should have thus expressed himself, I confess fills me with astonishment. In spite, however, of the example set by the hon. Member for Kendal, I hope that all hon. Members of this House, without regard to party considerations, will have the firmness to differ from that hon. Member, and, by their votes, mark their sense of the inexpediency of motions of this kind, by placing the hon. Member for Finsbury in a very small minority.
§ Mr. G. W. Wood
begged to explain that it was solely on the ground that his own conduct was impeached by this motion that he voted for it.
§ Mr. Muntz
did not approve of the conduct of these people; he could not excuse their conduct; but at the same time he could not excuse the conduct of the Dudley magistrates, when they acknowledged that bail ought to be taken and yet refused to take it from regard to the politics of the parties. If the Queen's Bench had not shown those gentlemen by its language that the magistrates could not do so with impunity, he should have voted for the motion; as it was he should oppose it.
Mr. Villiers Stuart
had to state on the part of Sir Charles Shaw, that he was most anxious to have an inquiry, and from his acquaintance with that gentleman he must say he believed, if an inquiry were granted he would come out of it with honour to himself.
§ Mr. Ainsworth
from his acquaintance with the circumstances, could say, of the magistrates of Preston, that their conduct was most exemplary in very trying and difficult circumstances.
said, that the hon. Member for Finsbury had stated that the troops at Halifax had spirituous liquor or beer given them to drink, to make them do their duty. Now, there was no duty so painful to a soldier as to have to suppress 125 disturbances in his native country, and he thought that the House would agree with him that no blame could be east on the troops for their conduct on that occasion. The hon. Member ought to be more guarded in his language, because few things, were likely to be more painful to a soldiers feelings than the imputation the hon. Member had made.
§ Mr. T. Duncombe
, in reply, said, that in spite of the caution of the hon. and gallant Member, he roust repeat he had been informed that the soldiers had been supplied with money, which they had spent in intoxicating drinks. He had stated that in the case of Blackburn beer and cheese had been supplied beyond the rations to which soldiers were entitled. That the inhabitants of the town had a right to do so, he was not there to dispute; but still the case bore the appearance that the military called out had received in one place money, which they had expended in intoxicating drink, and in another place had been furnished with rations beyond the usual allowance to soldiers. The hon. Member for Birmingham seemed to think that the present motion was directed against the magistrates of Staffordshire, and said, that if it had not been for the proceedings before the King's Bench, he should hate voted for it. That case, however, did not come within the some of his motion, That case had been disposed of by the Court of Queen's Bench. The rule bad been dismissed, and the magistrates had been compelled to pay costs, and he contended, in spite of what had been said by the right hon. Baronet, that the conduct of those magistrates had been censured by that court. He was surprised, when the right hon. Baronet had read a portion of the learned judge's words, that he did not also read the part to which he had alluded in the early part of the evening. For the satisfaction, therefore, of such Members as might not have beard what be had quoted, he would again read what had been said by Lord Denman:—The law is clear, and is as old as the statute of Westminster, 13 Edward 1st., c. 15. Lord Coke, in his commentary upon that statute (2 Institute, 191), says that' to deny a man plevin who is plevisable, and thereby to detain him in prison, is a great offence, and grievously to be punished; and Lord Hale, c. 17, adopts the same remark; and Hawkins (4, c. 15), speaks of ft refusal of bail as an instable offence. Black stone referring to the ancient statute (book 4, c. 22), the Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights, calls it an 126 offence against the liberty of the subject. If, then, such refusal took place from improper motives, it might be treated as a criminal offence, and made subject to an indictment or information.Now hon. Gentlemen might think the magistrates were entitled to the gratitude of the country, but he stood upon Lord Coke's opinion, upon Lord Hale's opinion, and Lord Denman's opinion, that those two magistrates were guilty of an indictable offence against the liberty of the subject in this country. He was convinced that the country were of a different opinion to the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Baronet had said that nothing was more satisfactory than the speeches which had been made against his motion; that nothing could be more satisfactory than the speech of the hon. Member for Droitwich—that nothing could be more satisfactory than the speech of the hon. and learned Attorney-General, and, of course, also, he supposed, that nothing could be mote satisfactory than the speech of the right hon. Baronet himself. But he asked the right hon. Gentleman, if he fancied that a question like the present, which interested millions of the working classes, was to be disposed of in the manner he had attempted, or that he was to be put down by a bad joke about monomania? He might be a monomaniac, but he might venture to say that his monomania, on this question, was participated in by almost every person out of doors. In the manufacturing districts, at all events, the people felt with him, that an inquiry was absolutely necessary into the whole of these transactions. Any one might have supposed, by the speech of the Attorney-General that the motion he had submitted, was one of approbation of the placard which had been alluded to, whereas it had nothing whatever to do with the persons tried at Lancaster. He had made no complaint of the manner in which those prosecutions had been conducted by the hon. and learned Gentleman or the Government. Those trials had nothing whatever to do with the case before the House. And therefore the learned Genleman might as well have not inflicted upon the House a speech, well adapted for the case, recently before him at Lancaster, but totally inapplicable to the cases he (Mr. Duncombe) had brought under its notice. What he complained of was, the conduct of the magistrates in refusing bail to persons on account of their political opinions, and he complained of those ma- 127 gistrates imposing and inflicting excessive bail which was tantamount to a refusal of bail altogether to a working man. He complained of persons having been put in confinement for five or six days before they were carried before a magistrate; and then, after having been at last examined, being remanded, and ultimately liberated, there being no charge against them, the magistrates well knowing that no charge could be sustained, and Mr. Beswick well knowing that he could not procure evidence, though he was ransacking the town of Manchester for it. That part of the case had not been answered by the Attorney-general. He denied altogether the statement that had been made with regard to Leach. The case went to the assizes at Liverpool, and was abandoned. Leach was again arrested in September, and was kept in prison seven days. He was then tried at Lancaster the other day, and for the latter offence he was convicted. That had nothing to do with the conduct of the magistrates on the former occasion. He had no doubt he should be left in a small minority; but he should be satisfied in knowing and feeling that that House would be in turn in a small minority in the opinion of the people of this country. The House divided: A yes 32; Noes 196: Majority 164.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Martin, J.|
|Bannerman, A.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Pechell, Capt|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Plumridge, Capt|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Scholefield, J|
|Bowring, Dr.||Scott, R.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Collins, W.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Currie, R.||Villers, hon. C.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Wakley, T.|
|Duncan, G.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Williams, W.|
|Elphinstone, H.||Wood, G. W.|
|Ferrand, W. B.||TELLERS.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Duncombe, T.|
|Hatton, Capt. V.||Johnson, Gen.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ackers, J.||Arbuthnott, hon. H.|
|Acland, T. D.||Arkwright, G.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Astell, W.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Attwood, M.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Baring, hon. W. B.|
|Aldam, W.||Barrington, Visct.|
|Alford, Visct.||Beckett, W.|
|Allix, J. P.||Bell, M.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Goring, C.|
|Beresford, Major||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Greenall, P.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Greene, T.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Borthwick, P.||Grimston, Visct.|
|Botfield, B.||Halford, H.|
|Bradshaw, J.||Hamilton, W. J.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Broadley, H.||Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Broadwood, H.||Hardy, J.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Hawes, B.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Henley, J. W.|
|Buck, L. W.||Hepburn, Sir T. B.|
|Buckley, E.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Bunbury, T.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Busfeild, W.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Hodgson, R.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Cholmondeley, hn. H.||Hope, G. W.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Hornby, J.|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Houldsworth, T.|
|Clive, Visct.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Hussey, T.|
|Collett, W. R.||Hutt, W.|
|Colquhoun, J. C.||Ingestre, Visct.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Irton, S.|
|Copeland, Mr. Ald.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Cripps, W.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Johnstone, H.|
|Darby, G.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Jones, Capt.|
|Dawnay, hon. W. H.||Knatchbull. rt. hn. Sir E.|
|Denison, E. B||Knight, H. G.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Knight, F. W.|
|Dodd, G.||Lawson, A.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Legh, G. C.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||Lockhart, W.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Lyall, G.|
|East, J. B.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Maclean, D.|
|Eliot, Lord||McGeachy, F. A.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Mahon. Visct.|
|Escott, B.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Marshall, W.|
|Fellowes, E.||Marsham, Visct.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Martin, C. W.|
|Fitzmaurice, hon. W.||Master, T. W. C.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Masterman, J.|
|Follett, Sir W. W.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Gill, T.||Mordaunt, Sir J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E||Morgan, O.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Glynne, Sir S. R.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Murray, C. R. S.|
|Gore, M.||Neeld, J.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Neville, R.|
|Newdigate, C. N.||Smith, A.|
|Nicholl, rt, hon. J.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Norreys, Lord||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Packe, C. W.||Stanley, Lord|
|Paget, Lord A.||Stanley, E.|
|Pakington, J. S.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Palmer, R.||Staunton, Sir G. T|
|Patten, J. W.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Peel, J.||Stuart, H|
|Polhill, F.||Strutt, E.|
|Pollington, Visct.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Pollock, Sir F.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Praed, W. T.||Thornhill, G.|
|Pringle, A.||Tollemache, J.|
|Pusey, P.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Rolleston, Col.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.||Turner, E.|
|Round, J.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Sandon, Visct.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Scarlett, hon. R. C.||Young, J.|
|Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Shaw, rt. hon. F.||TELLERS.|
|Sheppard, T.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Shirley, E. P.||Baring, H.|
§ Adjourned at half-past twelve.