§ SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN
said, he rose to bring under the notice of the House a petition from the borough of Derby, which he considered deserving the serious attention of the House. The petition set forth—That at the last election for the borough of Derby, Michael Thomas Bass, Lawrence Heyworth, and Thomas Berry Horsfall, Esquires, were the candidates; that at the said election an organised system of bribery was resorted to, and successfully carried out, for the purpose of procuring the return of one of the Members, and which did procure, the said return; that the right hon. William Beresford, a Major in the Army, and a Member of the Most Hon. Privy Council, and Secretary at War, and now a Member of that hon. House, was a party to such bribery, and did himself send, or cause to be sent, to the said borough an agent for the purpose of carrying out the said scheme and system of bribery; and the petitioners therefore prayed that the House would institute a full and searching inquiry into the whole of the case; and they prayed this the more earnestly, that the right hon. Gentleman had openly and publicly declared that those who had been instrumental in bringing the bribery to light had been guilty of a foul and scandalous conspiracy, and had resorted, for the purpose of carrying that conspiracy into effect, to falsehood and subornation of perjury. Under these circumstances, the petitioners were 718 most anxious that the inquiry should take place without loss of time, so that the truth might be made to appear manifest, and it might clearly be seen whether, on the one hand, they had been guilty of the foul and nefarious practices which had been ascribed to them, or whether, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman had been guilty of an infraction of the law, nearly affecting not only the interests of the borough with which they were connected, but of the people at large.He had been requested to bring this petition under the notice of the House, and having consented to do so, he trusted that in discharging the difficult and distressing duty thus cast upon him, he should not give the right hon. Gentleman, whose name was brought in question, reason to complain of any want of candour, fairness, and moderation on his part, or of the absence of what was always due from one Gentleman to another, however they might happen to sit on opposite sides of the House. He would now proceed to state the facts of the case as they had been stated to him. At the last election for the borough of Derby, the Members who had represented the borough in the previous Session of Parliament, Messrs. Bass and Heyworth, were opposed to Mr. Thomas Berry Horsfall. Mr. Horsfall, it was stated, was a merchant and resident of Liverpool, and at that time a political stranger to the borough, but he had married into a family named Cox, several members of which were established and carrying on various occupations in Derby, and were consequently possessed of considerable influence in the borough. One of these gentlemen was a solicitor, and father to a Mr. Cox, in partnership with a Mr. Fountain as wine merchants; another Mr. Cox was at the head of large lead-works, and it might make a matter for future observation, that it was in the house of this Mr. Cox that Mr. Horsfall, during his election, took up his residence. Up to the last election, Derby had been considered quite a stronghold of the Liberal party; but just before that election rumours became rife that a different result was about to be effected by the introduction by the Conservative party of bribery money into the borough. Several of the more ardent and less prudent of the adherents of that party openly declared that money would not be wanting at the election, and this intimation turned out in the sequel not to be without foundation. While this was going on, information was conveyed to Mr. Moss, a solicitor at Derby, 719 and who was acting as chairman of Messrs. Bass and Hey worth's committee, that bribery was in course of perpetration, and details of the bribery accompanying the information, precautions were at once taken to verify the fact. At the same time he was bound to say that the information thus received by Mr. Moss came from a tainted and suspicious source, and was only valuable in so far as it was verified by subsequent discoveries. He had better at once state to the House how this came to pass. There was an attorney of the name of Flewker, residing in Derby, who had been, at many former elections, an active agent on the Conservative side. It appeared that before the last election this Mr. Flewker had become discontented with that party in this way:—Having been at the general election (1847) an agent for the Conservative candidate, who was defeated, he had got up a petition against Messrs. Strutt and Gower, the successful candidates, had carried that petition to trial, had been successful, and had unseated those Members. In effecting this object, however, he did that which was the usual accompaniment of such proceedings—he incurred considerable expenses, and found himself at the close of the affair out of pocket to the extent of 700l. or 800l. He applied, naturally enough, to his political friends at Derby to reimburse him this amount, but he could get nothing from them but idle excuses, and, accordingly, nothing making men so sore as the being kept out of their money, Flewker, when the last election came, peremptorily refused to act as the agent of the Conservative candidate, or to take any part in the contest. A correspondence ensued between Flewker and Mr. Lewis, the chairman of Mr. Horsfall's committee, which the latter subsequently wished to have printed in the local newspaper, the editor of which, however, refused to insert it, not wishing to publish anything that might lead to discussion among the party. Flewker continued in this state of mind until the eve of the election, when a person of the name of Radford, also an attorney, one of the most thoroughgoing partisans of the Conservative party, made a last effort with Flewker, and calling upon him, communicated to him the important secret that decisive arrangements had been made for securing the election by means of money, and that a stranger had arrived in the town who "was to do the trick." This stranger, he further stated, was at the County 720 Tavern, and Flewker was requested to go to the County Tavern and see this stranger, and satisfy himself that the arrangements making by the stranger for executing the task he had to perform were such as were calculated to effect their object. Mr. Radford added, that as it would be otherwise difficult to obtain access to the stranger, he would give Flewker a card, which, on being shown to the stranger, would satisfy him that all was right, and at once secure Flewker's admission. On the card was the address—"Mr. T. Morgan, Chester." Flewker having at last consented to act, proceeded to the County Tavern, showed the card to the servant, and, after some demur, was ultimately admitted to the stranger, to whom also he showed the card. Some allusion was made to the stranger's (Morgan's) coming from Chester, to which he replied, "I don't come from Chester, I come from Shrewsbury; Mr. Frail sent me." Flewker, who had before had communications with Frail on election matters, asked Morgan if he had any letter from Frail? Morgan replied, "that he had no letter from Frail, but that he had a letter with him which Frail had given him to bring there." He then took out the letter, and showed it to Flewker, who, intimately acquainted with the handwriting of the Secretary at War, at once exclaimed, "Why, this is Major Beresford's writing, I know the writing perfectly well, and see it is signed W. B.!" Nothing further passed at that time between Messrs. Flewker and Morgan. Flewker went back to Radford, and said, "Why, this man does not come from Chester, he comes from Shrewsbury." To which Radford replied, "It's all right; and we've told him when the thing's done we'll give him 100l." Morgan, in fact, had himself informed Flewker, at the interview which had just taken place, that this money was promised him. Radford next requested Flewker to take on himself a mission of considerable importance, and that was, to proceed next morning to Nottingham, to see there a man of the name of Hibbert, who had considerable weight in electioneering matters, and who had organised a considerable body of men, who acted under his command at elections, who looked to him for their pay, and would not acknowledge any other leader. There was at Derby an attorney of the name of Huish, who acted at the late election as agent for Mr. Horsfall, under the direction of Mr. Horsfall's confidential solicitor, of whom 721 more would be said by-and-by. Huish and Radford had, a few days before, sent a person of the name of Simpson over to Nottingham, to an attorney of the name of Bowley, to secure the services of Hibbert. When Bowley discovered from Simpson's conversation what was going on, and what was about to be done at Derby, he thought it better not to mix himself up in the matter; and he bad advised Huish himself to see Hibbert, and get him to come over to the Derby election. But, inasmuch as no answer had come from Hibbert up to the eve of the nomination day, and as it was remembered that some misunderstanding had taken place on a former occasion between Huish and Hibbert, and that Hibbert declared himself to have no reliance on Huish, Radford asked Flewker to go over to Nottingham, and make arrangements with Hibbert to accompany him back to Derby, and bring over his men. Flewker accordingly went over next morning to Nottingham, and saw Hibbert, who told him that he had received a letter from Huish, but that, had the thing rested with Huish, he should not have attended to his request, seeing that he had no confidence in Huish, but that, as be now had Radford's promise, he would come. He, however, was not able to get over until late in the day. Flewker while at Nottingham got into conversation with a Mr. Cox, to whom he told what was going on at Derby. Now, Cox, who was a great Liberal, hereupon made the best of his way to the town-clerk of Nottingham, from whom he procured an introduction to Mr. Moss, at Derby, the chairman of the Liberal committee, to whom he then proceeded with a statement of the information he had so collected. Flewker, on his return to Derby, went to inform Radford that he had brought Hibbert over with him. He found, on reaching Radford's house, that Radford was not at home, but at Messrs. Cox and Fountain's, the wine merchants. On arriving at Messrs. Cox and Fountain's, Flewker met Radford coming out of the house, in company with a Mr. Lunn, a cattle-dealer; Lunn separated from Radford, and then Flewker told Radford what had taken place. Radford next said there was a house opposite, the County Tavern, much frequented by people on the other side of the question, and which it was expedient to watch. Flewker hereupon proceeded to the County Tavern, and, on his way passed in the street the Mr. Lunn whom he had just 722 before seen in company with Mr. Radford. Soon after he had reached the County Tavern, and was with Morgan in his room, Lunn came in and said he had a few words to say in private to Mr. Morgan. Flewker withdrew, and, upon returning to Morgan's room, was told by that person that Lunn was a friend of Radford's, and "had brought the needful." A conversation then took place as to their security from observation and detection in the room they occupied, and Morgan explained that the room had a double communication—one of which led, by a back staircase, into the stableyard—and, upon showing the double communication to Flewker, the latter person quite concurred that the place was safe. While Flewker was with Morgan there came in a person named Rice, familiarly known in the town as "Spring Rice," who brought a list of persons supposed to be not inaccessible to pecuniary considerations. Mr. Morgan, it appeared, had previously complained that two similar lists with which he had been furnished were not numerous enough—were not "winning lists"—whereupon Rice had said that these lists were not the right lists, and that he would procure a right list. He (Sir A. Cockburn) gave all these names and all these details that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beresford) might have the full case before him, so as to enable him to confront Flewker with the other witnesses when the proper time arrived. So terminated the events of the evening of Wednesday, the nomination day. On the morning of Thursday Flewker went again to Morgan at the County Tavern, who asked him to go to Radford and tell him that he had not sent enough horsenails, adding that Radford would know what was meant, and that it was urgent more horsenails should he transmitted forthwith. The door of Morgan's room was guarded by a man, who allowed none to enter the room without giving a sign and password, the same being to place the forefinger of the right hand on the upper lip, and say, "It's all right, Radford sent me." On reaching Radford's house, Flewker was informed by the servant that Radford was not well, and had not yet got up; whereupon Flewker desired the servant to go up to Radford, and tell him that the man at the County Tavern wanted more horsenails, and must have them immediately. While he was giving this message to the servant, in came Mr. Cox, the attorney, father to Cox of the firm of Cox 723 and Fountain, the wine merchants, who heard the message so given by Flewker, and himself desired the servant to take up a message from him to Radford, that he must see him without delay, and that he must get up immediately, so that he might see him. The servant brought down word to Flewker that the horsenails should be sent. About two hours after that, Flewker met Mr. Radford, who told him that it was all right, and that the money had been sent. All these circumstances were communicated by Flewker in the course of that morning to Mr. Cox, of Nottingham, who was no relation to the Cox's of Derby, and by Mr. Cox to Mr. Moss, the chairman of Messrs. Bass and Heyworth's committee. He was not there for a moment to defend the conduct of Flewker. He was betraying the confidence of his party, no doubt of it; and he (Sir A. Cockburn) was not there to deny or to disguise his motives—motives of which it was impossible to approve—vindictiveness and cupidity; for he had stipulated for money in the event of his evidence being made use of. But the House perfectly well knew that it often happened that crime was arrested and offenders were brought to justice by means of information given from motives of which it was impossible to approve. The evidence of an informer, a spy, or an accomplice was justly viewed with suspicion and distrust; but no prudent man would hesitate to avail himself of such information, in order to prevent the perpetration of crime, nor, if he were by such means put upon the track of guilt, would he disbelieve the evidence when he took the offender flagrante delicto. Having received that information, Mr. Moss, after communicating with Messrs. Bass and Heyworth, and receiving their sanction to the course of conduct he was about to pursue, called in the assistance of the police; and a police-sergeant, attended by two or three of his men, dressed in plain clothes, having been furnished with all the particulars and with the necessary signal and watchword, proceeded to the County Tavern. They made their way to the room to which they had been directed, and they found the door guarded by a man the was a stranger to them. The man first put out his hand to prevent their going in, but, on making the signal and pronouncing the password, he opened the door and admitted them, not knowing that they were officers of police. They there found the man Morgan, whom they apprehended. They found upon him 724 265l. in gold, and 40l. in notes, and on the table before him was a book, in which were entered the names and numbers on the register of the voters, and against those names and numbers were figures indicating the sums received by the voters. They further found upon him a letter to which he must now call the attention of the House. It was in the following terms:—A good and safe man, with judgment and quickness, is wanted immediately at Derby. I suppose that yon cannot leave your own place; if not, send some one whom you can trust in your place. Let him go to Derby on receiving this, and find the County Tavern, in the centre of the town. Send this card to Cox, Brothers, and Co., Lead-works, as coming from Chester. That will be enough.—Yours, "W. B.Monday.The police also found upon him two cards similarly worded, with the address of "Mr. T. Morgan, Chester." The man, being apprehended, was taken away in custody, to be brought before the magistrate on the following morning. He made no secret of the business on which he had been engaged. Apprehended thus, with the proofs of his guilty purpose around him, he made no disguise about the matter, but admitted freely that the book contained the names of voters who had received sums of money from him. "After all," he said, "it was but a small affair;" and he spoke with considerable contempt of Derby, saying, "Derby is but a poor place, your voters are satisfied here with two or three pounds a-piece; in Shrewsbury a vote costs twenty times as much." One thing, he thought, must be perfectly clear upon this statement—namely, that the man Morgan had been at the time engaged in corrupting voters at Derby by means of bribes. That was a point on which he thought there could not be on the mind of any reasonable man the slightest shadow of doubt. Then came this far more important and far more painful question, "How far, upon the evidence of that letter, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War was to be considered as having been accessory to the work of corruption?" That letter had been sworn to be in the handwriting of the right hon. Gentleman. It was found in an envelope addressed to Mr. John Frail, clerk of the course at Shrewsbury, which had on it the impress of the seal of the Carlton Club, which he thought went some way towards showing that it was a genuine letter. In addition to that, the right hon. Gentleman, having spoken out upon this 725 subject, had never for a single moment, as far as he was aware, denied the genuineness of the letter; and, therefore, for the purpose of the present discussion, he assumed it to be the genuine handwriting of the right hon. Gentleman. If so, how far did that letter implicate the right hon. Gentleman in the proceedings at Derby? One thing could not fail to strike every person upon the most casual observation, and that was that the man went to the place where he was found committing the bribery by the direction and at the instance of the person to whom the letter was addressed. The second thing that struck one was, that the letter contained a series of directions, and it would be found that Morgan, the briber, complied with all the directions given by the right hon. Gentleman, even to the most minute particular. The letter directed that a man should be sent from Shrewsbury to Derby immediately upon its receipt. The letter was dated Monday, and he found that on the Tuesday morning Morgan was on the platform of the railway station at Shrewsbury, and that he proceeded by the first train to Derby as fast as the railway could carry him. The next direction was, that he should find the County Tavern, in the centre of the town. Upon Morgan's arrival at Derby he proceeded to the County Tavern. There he established himself, and the County Tavern became the scene of action where the bribery was actually carried on. He was next directed to send his card to Cox, Brothers, and Co., Lead-works. Upon this point he (Sir A. Cockburn) had the statement of the landlord of the inn, which had been given with considerable reluctance, for the man was a strong partisan, and was by no means willing to give information if he could avoid it. Nevertheless, he stated that no sooner had Morgan established himself at the inn than he handed to the landlord a card to be conveyed to Messrs. Cox, at the leadworks. That card was given by the landlord to the hostler, by whom it was conveyed to Messrs. Cox. Lastly, the letter directed that the card should bear the address of Chester, and upon the card (which he held in his hand), which was the card that Mr. Radford had given to Flewker, and which in all probability had been sent from Messrs. Cox, at the leadworks, to Mr. Radford—on that card was the address of Chester, whereas Morgan, in point of fact, lived at Shrewsbury. The House would perceive, therefore, that every one of the 726 directions contained in the letter had been most minutely followed by Morgan. There was another thing which they could not fail to observe, which was, that it was quite impossible that letter should have been written by the right hon. Gentleman without previous concert with parties at Derby. The right hon. Gentleman could hardly be expected to know anything of a second or third-rate house at Derby, like the County Tavern, or to know that it had facilities for carrying on such work as this; but Mr. Radford was a great frequenter of the County Tavern; he spent most of his evenings there, and was on terms of familiar intimacy with the landlord. Again, it was idle to suppose that the writer of that letter would direct the man to send his card to Cox, of the lead-works, who was nearly connected with the sitting Member for Derby, without some previous concerted arrangement that, on the card being sent there, certain things were to be done. He next turned to the letter with the view of seeing whether it threw any light upon the object for which that man was to be sent from Shrewsbury to Derby, and for which all that machinery was to be set in action; and the first thing that struck him, on looking at it with the view of ascertaining the animus of the writer was to inquire for what legitimate purpose was a stranger to be sent all the way from Shrewsbury to Derby, a distance of seventy miles? If there were any legitimate purpose for the presence of "a safe man, with judgment and quickness," at Derby, was no such man to be found among the agents and friends of the Conservative cause at Derby or the neighbouring towns? Why was a man to be despatched all the way from Shrewsbury? The experience of many places where systematic bribery had been brought to light, must have made the House pretty well acquainted with the fact, that when wholesale and systematic corruption was to be carried on in a borough, a stranger was always selected to do it. The presence of a stranger excited less suspicion, and, if they could only succeed afterwards in cutting off the trail, detection became in most cases unlikely, and in very many impossible. Now, was any artifice resorted to for the purpose of cutting off the trail in this case? Here arose the most painful question, which one could not avoid asking, "Why was a false address assumed on that occasion?" For any legitimate purpose, they did not want any false address whatever, and a false ad- 727 dress given by a person not a stranger would not do. But here there was both a stranger employed, and a false address given by that stranger. Supposing, for a moment, for the sake of the argument, that the person who was required must be a stranger, he need, if the object were legitimate, give no false address; but, if it were desired after the work was done to out off all possibility of following him up, then a false address would answer the purpose. So here, he could not help asking for what legitimate purpose was this man directed to assume a false address? They all knew, however, that nothing was more common than for guilt to seek to shroud itself in secrecy, disguise, and falsehood. These, indeed, were its ordinary concomitants and its most unerring indications, and, therefore, he said that if the right hon. Gentleman had been subjected to unjust suspicions, he had brought it entirely upon himself. Now, looking at all this combination of circumstances, he would take the liberty of putting a case. He had himself assisted in the administration of justice. He saw around him hon. and learned Friends who belonged to the legal profession. There must be many hon. Gentlemen in that House who, in their respective districts, assisted in the administration of the Criminal Law; and to all of those he ventured to put this question: Take the case of a man apprehended flagrante delicto in the perpetration of crime, and upon him is found a letter which directed him to go to a place where that crime was in course of being committed, which directed him what he was to do when he got there, which directed him to put himself into communication with persons who might fairly be supposed to have an interest in the work he was about to do, and which further directed him to assume a disguise; then, if on a criminal trial the question were asked whether the person writing that letter were accessory to the crime, what would it be the duty of the Judge to say? It would be his duty to say that such conduct, unanswered and unexplained, was cogent and weighty evidence for the jury of the complicity of the writer with the guilt of the principal. Observe, he said only, if "unanswered and unexplained." Heaven forbid that he should say that this case did not admit of an answer or an explanation! All he said was, that it was a case which demanded inquiry. His long experience had inspired him with a deep con- 728 viction of however bad appearances might be, that a case which, primâ facie, appeared unanswerable, irresistible, and overwhelming, might yet, by the introduction of new facts, and by the admission of new light, be made to assume the complexion and character of innocence. He did not say that that was not the case here; but he did venture to say, and no man could gainsay it, that this was a case which required an answer, which called for an explanation, which demanded a sifting and searching inquiry, and that without such an inquiry neither the public mind out of doors nor that House could be satisfied. Here he should have left this case but that there were peculiar circumstances connected with it which would justify him in entering somewhat more into detail, and made it necessary for him to trespass on the attention of the House a little longer. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beresford) had spoken out upon this subject, and had openly declared, at a meeting of his constituents, that all the facts which had thus been brought to light were the result of a base conspiracy, of artifice and fraud, and that the case against him had been sought to be supported by falsehood and perjury. He had heard also, in all quarters, and he believed it to be true, that the friends of the right hon. Gentleman had everywhere declared (whether with his authority or not he was not aware), that the letter found upon Morgan, albeit a genuine letter, was one which had reference, not to the election of 1852, but to some prior election; that it was written at a time when the right hon. Gentleman was not fettered with the responsibilities of office, and with which it would be unfair and ungenerous to seek to visit him now. If that hypothesis were true, he perfectly and cordially concurred in the inference to be drawn from it; if it were an old and stale transaction, it would be ungenerous and unworthy of the House to rake it up at this time. Having heard these things, when applied to on the part of the petitioners to bring the case before the House, he had felt it incumbent upon him to institute the best inquiry which the materials at his disposal enabled him to make, in order to satisfy his mind whether there was any foundation for saying that a conspiracy existed against the right hon. Gentleman, or that the letter in question had reference to some prior election. He had felt that to be incumbent upon him, not only from a sense of what was due to the 729 right hon. Gentleman, but of what was due also to himself; because he said with most unfeigned sincerity that nothing would occasion him greater mortification or more lasting regret than to feel that he had been made, however innocently on his part, the instrument of a base and scandalous plot to bring an unfounded accusation against the right hon. Gentleman. He had found upon inquiry that the materials were not wanting to guide him in the investigation which he felt bound to make; for, naturally enough, the charge of conspiracy against those parties made by the right hon. Gentleman had put everybody in Derby upon their mettle. Mr. Flewker having been charged with suborning evidence, everybody was anxious to have additional light thrown upon the matter, and additional information was speedily at hand with the view of settling the question whether not that letter had reference to the last or to some prior election. He found the inquiry very much simplified by this. It appeared that the right hon. Gentleman had been in correspondence with Mr. Flewker on a former occasion, and he was very soon enabled to satisfy his mind that that letter could not by any possibility have reference to any election prior to 1848, for, in the first place, it appeared perfectly clear that the right hon. Gentleman had not in any way interfered in the election for Derby at the general election in 1847. Moreover, it was made perfectly clear to demonstration that Frail, who was called on to interfere by that letter, was a total stranger to the borough of Derby, as far as electioneering matters were concerned, until 1848. Messrs. Strutt and Gower having been returned at the general election of 1847, a petition was presented against that return on the meeting of Parliament, and the right hon. Gentleman appeared to have been applied to to give his assistance towards forwarding the object of that petition: and he found him writing to Mr. Flewker, November 21, 1847, in the following terms:—Ashbury-park.Dear Sir—I received your letter in London yesterday, just as I was starting. I should think it a good thing indeed to unseat Mr. Strutt for Derby; but I fear that I have not the means of accepting your proposal, as I have not funds at my disposal, just after the expenditure attending a general election, to pay the costs of the petition. If you get up a case, and a subscription for the purpose, I can promise a subscription of 100l.; but I cannot do more. I will speak to Colvile, if 730 he is in town, when I get there on Tuesday.— Believe me, yours truly,Nov. 21." "W. BERESFORD.So the matter rested until February 17, 1848, when the right hon. Gentleman wrote as follows:—Feb. 17.Dear Sir—I am very glad to hear so good an account as you give of the prospect of success in the Derby petition. I shall be glad to give you any assistance in my power when the case comes on—Yours truly,W. BERESFORD.Now came an important letter. It seemed that the right hon. Gentleman, being unable to contribute more than 100l. towards the cost of the petition, thought he could render valuable assistance in another form, and that was by sending down Mr. Frail to assist in getting up the petition. He alluded to this to show that the letter found upon Morgan could not apply to any election prior to 1848, because until February, 1848, Frail was a stranger to Derby. The letter of February, 1848, was in the following terms:—Dear Sir—I have an agent who is skilled in all election matters, and understands every manner of scheme with regard to petitions. He will be in Derby next Monday, and will bring an introduction from me. You may trust him most implicitly, and you will get some very useful hints probably from him respecting your petition.—Yours truly,WILLIAM BERESFORD.77, Pall Mall, Feb. 25.Now, it was perfectly clear from this letter that it referred to a person who was a complete stranger at Derby. It adverted to the necessity of an introduction; it dealt with him as we deal with a stranger, for whose capacity and trustworthiness, in a matter of some moment, we felt ourselves called upon to vouch; and, accordingly, the letter did vouch for the individual in those respects. Now, who was that individual? The next letter showed. It was a letter of the same date as the last—the 25th of February.—and was addressed to Mr. Flewker, to whom it was presented by Mr. Frail two days afterwards:—Dear Sir—The bearer, Mr. Frail, is the person I wrote to you about.—Yours, truly,W. BERESFORD.He thought that these letters showed conclusively and beyond a doubt that up to the 25th of February, 1848, Frail was a total stranger in Derby, and had never previously intermeddled with the election affairs of that borough. The next letter was dated the 3rd of March, 1848. He begged the House to observe that he was 731 now showing the relation which existed between Mr. Frail, of Shrewsbury, and Mr. Flewker, of Derby, and the leading agents and partisans of the Conservative party there. The letter was dated, as he had said, March 3, 1848, and was as follows:—Dear Sir—I have endeavoured to see Mr. Golville, but I find he is in the country hunting, probably near Atherstone. I will speak to him whenever he comes up to town. I have seen Mr. Frail, who gives me a good account of the case that can be made out against the sitting Members. I have requested him to give you every assistance in his power, and attend to anything that the Derby party desire to be done. I shall be happy to assist you also when the Committee sits.What this meant he (Sir A. Cockburn) did not altogether know.The great matter to be looked to is to collect funds and to keep the case quiet till it is brought before the Committee.—Yours, truly,WILLIAM BERESFORD.77, Pall Mall.The next letter was from Mr. Frail himself, and was important, because it showed that he had now put himself upon a footing of intimacy with regard to the electioneering and political affairs of the borough of Derby. That letter was written from Carlisle. It appeared that an election was at that time going on in the ancient city of Carlisle. An election petition had been presented against the return of one of the hon. Members who had been returned at the general election of 1847. That petition was successful; and consequently another election became necessary in order to fill the vacant seat. Now, it appeared that Frail was sent down there, if not by the direction, at all events with the concurrence, of the right hon. Gentleman, for the purpose of lending his assistance in the election at Carlisle. He found him writing thus to Mr. Flewker:—Carlisle, Saturday.My dear Sir—I have only just received your letters this day. I am much engaged with the election; it will be over on Tuesday, and I hope to be in London on Wednesday. I have written to London for you; arrangements must be made for the lodgings of your witnesses, &c. This shall be attended to without delay. If you can get Andrews and Alexander do, if not, Byles.Messrs. Andrews and Alexander were two very distinguished Members of the Parliamentary bar, and the other was Mr. Serjeant Byles, one of the most distinguished barristers in Westminster Hall, but probably better known to hon. Gentlemen oppo- 732 site as the author of a work entitled The Fallacies of Free Trade. He (Sir A. Cockburn) was very sorry for his learned and esteemed Friend. He considered him, indeed, to be a very ill-used man, to have been induced to step aside from his ordinary avocations and indulge in profound lucubrations which had now been left high and dry, with nobody to read the book he had produced, unless it were the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln (Colonel Sibthorp), for whose consistency on this subject no man had a greater respect than he (Sir A. Cockburn) had; and he would suggest that his learned Friend should dedicate the second edition of his work to that hon. and gallant Member, if it should ever reach a second edition. But there was one most significant part of the letter to come. It was signed at the bottom "John Frail," but above that were the words, "Yours, in great haste, very sincerely, William Nixson.—King's Arms Hotel—My best wishes to Mr. Hibbert or Thompson, not Johnson." This showed, he thought, very plainly, that Mr. Frail had gone under the name of Nixson at Carlisle, when he was attending to electioneering matters there; and there a postscript says, "My best wishes to Mr. Hibbert or Thompson, not Johnson." It was evident from the P.S. that this gentleman also had been undergoing a change in his patronymic, and that Mr. Flewker had written the disguise Johnson instead of Thompson, which Mr. Frail takes this opportunity of correcting. This would give hon. Members some insight into the way in which proceedings were conducted when a certain class of politicians were engaged in carrying on delicate matters connected with elections, or in getting up petitions against sitting Members. The next letter was of the same date as the last. It was from the right hon. Gentleman to Mr. Flewker. It evidently referred to Frail's stopping at Carlisle for the purposes of the election there, and was in these words:—Dear Sir—Mr. Frail has been out of town on very important business for four or five days, and that is the reason why you have not heard from him. I do not think that he has got your letter. I think he will be able to get to Derby on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, but not before. I have sent to speak to a gentleman from Derby, and will give him any direction I can that may be serviceable. I regret that Frail is out of town.—Yours, truly,W. BERESFORD.Saturday,—(1848.)Now, this correspondence appeared to establish the position for which he had used 733 it, namely, to prove that the right hon. Gentleman having had nothing whatever to do with the election at Derby in 1847, and that Frail having been a total stranger there until 1848, it was quite impossible that the letter in question could have reference to the Derby election of 1847. But there was a subsequent election in 1848, and he was ready to admit, that looking to the position of the right hon. Gentleman, and looking to the footing on which Mr. Frail stood with regard to election matters, it was quite possible, nay probable, that the right hon. Gentleman might have been referred to furnish "a safe and discreet man" for that election, and might have had recourse to Frail as one whose emissaries and agents would be readily accepted in the borough as coming from a person in whom the party had confidence. Well, did the letter in question refer to that election? The petition of 1847 having, as he had said, succeeded in unseating one of the sitting Members, a new election took place for the purpose of filling the vacant seat. The writ was issued on Thursday, the 24th of August, and the election took place on Friday and Saturday, the 1st and 2nd of September. Now, did the letter apply to that election? The way to test that was to look at the letter, and see whether the circumstances to which it referred quadrated with the circumstances of the election in 1848, and not with the circumstances of the election in 1852, or whether they quadrated with the circumstances of the election in 1852, and not with the circumstances of the election in 1848. In the first place, it would be observed that the letter was addressed to Frail, who was asked immediately to send over a man to Derby, and this request was made upon the assumption that Frail was so much occupied at home that he would be unable to leave his "own place." The first question he had to ask was, what were the occupations of Frail? And, second, what could be the occupation requiring his presence at Shrewsbury which could be within the knowledge of a party who addressed him from London? Now, the fact was, that Frail was a man who was in no business at all. He was originally a hairdresser, but had retired from business many years ago. He was now attached to two pursuits, and two pursuits exclusively—horse-racing and electioneering. He was a person who was very much on the turf. He did not mention this with the view of casting any disrespect on Mr. Frail, but mere- 734 ly as a matter of fact. The House would observe that he was addressed as "the clerk of the course at Shrewsbury." Now, was anything going on in September, 1848, at Shrewsbury, or its vicinity, in the shape of horseracing, or other turf engagements, which would confine Frail to his "own place?" Nothing of the kind. The Shrewsbury race took place in the spring and in November. There were, therefore, no races at Shrewsbury at that time. Well, was there any electioneering going on? None whatever. Both the seats at Shrewsbury were full, and there was no election going on, either there or in the neighbourhood, which could render the presence of Frail necessary in Shrewsbury. But the best proof of all that there was nothing to detain him at Shrewsbury was the fact that he did go to Derby at that time. It so happened that that was the time of the Derby races, and Frail, it seemed, made his appearance there in a jockey costume. He was seen there in that dress. He called upon Flewker, and stated that he had taken an interest in the unseating of the sitting Members, and that he was desirous that the Conservative candidate should be successful; and he wished to know if he could be of any use; but he was informed by Flewker that his services were not wanted, as there was no money passing. Whether this was owing to the fact that his (Sir A. Cockburn's) hon. and learned Friend the Member for Falmouth (Mr. Freshfield), being then one of the Conservative candidates, had a strong aversion, as he (Sir A. Cockburn) was sure he would have a strong aversion, to all kinds and degrees of corruption, or whether it was owing to the fact that there were two Conservative candidates in the field when only one of them had the slightest chance of success, he knew not; but at any rate Mr. Frail was in formed that on this occasion there was no money stirring, and he withdrew, no doubt to his own great disgust. But now he would turn to the election of 1852; and he would ask, was there anything in 1852 to keep Mr. Frail at home? Unquestionably there was. There was a contested election at Shrewsbury at the same time as at Derby; and, not only was there a contested election, but an election under peculiar circumstances, which required the presence of an active man like Mr. Frail, who had been the life and soul of the elections there for a series of years, in a more than ordinary degree. The contest, it appeared, 735 sprang up at the last moment. The election was to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the election at Derby was to take place on the Wednesday and Thursday. The contest at Shrewsbury, he believed, had sprung up on the previous Friday, so that all was bustle and turmoil there. Frail was, therefore, necessarily confined to his own place by the election proceedings then going on. The right hon. Gentleman was quite right, then, in supposing that Frail was on that occasion unable to "leave his own place." But that was not all. There was another circumstance which appeared very significant. The writer of the letter directed that a man should be sent from Shrewsbury to Derby "immediately" on its receipt. Now, this letter was written on Monday, and on Tuesday morning Morgan was seen to start for Derby. How did this agree with the circumstances of the election in 1848? The election in 1848, he begged the House to observe, did not take place on a Wednesday and Thursday, but on a Friday and Saturday; so that there was not the same necessity for an immediate and hurried departure as if it had been earlier in the week. And, accordingly, instead of going immediately to Derby, Frail did not make his appearance there until Thursday, the day of the races. It thus appeared that all the circumstances of the election in 1852 quadrated with the exigencies of the letter, whereas with the circumstances of the election in 1848 they did not at all quadrate. Besides, it was plain that if the letter was written with reference to the election in 1848, it could not possibly be made to apply to the election in 1852, except by means of some great, villanous, and abominable conspiracy. He asked the House, then, whether they could discover the remotest trace of a conspiracy or plot in the matter, or whether all the proofs he had adduced did not point in the opposite direction? In the first place, he would ask, if there was a conspiracy, who were the conspirators? No doubt he should be told that Flewker was a person capable both of hatching and concocting a plot of this kind, and of carrying it into execution. He (Sir A. Cockburn) was not there to defend or palliate in any degree the conduct of Flewker; but let every man have his due. It appeared to him that there was a great difference in point of turpitude and atrocity between a man who, having become possessed of a guilty secret, reveals it—however dishonourable his con- 736 duct in that respect may be—and the conduct of a man who should have the wickedness and inconceivable audacity to frame and concoct a scheme of fraud and villany for the purpose of making the innocent appear to be guilty, and entailing upon them the consequences thereof. But he (Sir A. Cockburn) would assume that Flewker was a man capable in point of immorality and boldness in conceiving such a plot. It would be remembered, however, that one man did not make a conspiracy; because, although one man might conceive a scheme of this kind, it required the cooperation of other men to carry it into effect. Besides, he begged to ask, even if they gave Flewker the credit of being able and willing to conceive such a scheme, what could be his motives for seeking to injure the right hon. Gentleman? The right hon. Gentleman had made him no promise. He told him fairly that he could contribute no more than 100l towards his subscription; and, having paid that, Flewker had no further claim upon him, and had never pretended that he had the slightest shadow of a claim against him. But he would assume, for the moment, that in his desire to do injury to the party, Flewker forgot that he had no ground of dislike to the right hon. Gentleman personally, but that, in consequence of the high position of the right hon. Gentleman as a Minister of the Crown, he was willing to include him in such a charge. The House, on the other hand, however, should consider the position in which Flewker had placed himself. He did not rest his statements on his own testimony; he vouched for a number of persons in support of them; he vouched for a number of the partisans, agents, and friends of the Conservative candidate; he vouched in particular for Frail and Morgan. Could it be supposed that Flewker would shut his eyes to the fact that detection, exposure, disgrace, and punishment would be the inevitable consequences of such a plot? He begged the House to considor this, too:—Here was a man whose irritation had arisen from the circumstance that he had lost 700l. Could they believe that he would intrust a stranger like Morgan with a sum of 400l., with which he might start immediately, and whom he could never call to account for it without the perfect certainty of the expesure which must follow? But he should assume that Flewker was capable of conceiving the villany, that he was willing to execute it, and that he was dead to all 737 prudential considerations in its pursuit, Still, as he had already said, one man alone could not have carried the scheme into execution. He must have had confederates. Who were they? He was afraid that if the idea of a conspiracy was entertained, his hon. Friend the sitting Member (Mr. Bass), and his late colleague (Mr. Heyworth) must be included in it, as well as Mr. Moss, the chairman of their committee, a gentleman who had been for the second time chosen to fill the honourable office of chief magistrate of the borough. All of these must in that case be considered conspirators, because they had all availed themselves of the information obtained from Mr. Flewker, and acted upon it. But he should not stop to vindicate the character of those gentlemen from that aspersion. His hon. Friend's (Mr. Bass's) character spoke for itself. But, even making them a present of the supposition—so far as concerned those gentlemen—that was not all, because, in order to establish a conspiracy, it would be necessary to include the whole body, or at least a large number of the agents and partisans of the Conservative candidate. And here he would beg to ask a simple but pertinent question. If it was a conspiracy, how came the letter in question into the hands of Morgan? The letter was addressed to Mr. Frail, and yet it found its way into the hands of Morgan. On what rational hypothesis could this be accounted for, unless upon the natural supposition that it had been given by Frail to Morgan, in order to go to Derby and do the required work? He knew it had been said that the letter was given by Frail to Flewker, and that it had been placed by Flewker in the hands of Morgan in order to establish the present case. In his (Sir A. Cockburn's) opinion, nothing could be more improbable; and, to set the matter entirely at rest, he craved the attention of the House to the following circumstances. He thought he could make it clear to the mind of every one that the letter must have been delivered to Morgan at Shrewsbury, and not at Derby. On the back of the letter he found in pencil a few words in a handwriting the same as the entries in Morgan's book, and which there was no doubt was Morgan's handwriting. These words were "Stafford, Lichfield, Burton-on-Trent, Derby." Now, these were places at which a man travelling from Shrewsbury to Derby would have to change carriages. There was no direct communication between Shrewsbury and Derby, and 738 a person travelling between the two places must avail himself of several railways. A stranger going for the first time, therefore, from Shrewsbury to Derby would naturally be expected to ask for information as to the mode in which he could best travel, and particularly as to the places at which he would have to change carriages; and that, having obtained that information, he would write it on the back of the document which he intended to take with him to Derby. Accordingly, he (Sir A. Cockburn) found that Stafford was the first place where a person travelling from Shrewsbury to Derby would have to change carriages; Lichfield, the second; Burton-on-Trent, the third; and then came Derby. Had the letter been delivered to Morgan after he had arrived at Derby, he would not, in the first place, have needed to ask any information with respect to the change of carriages; and, in the second place, if he had, the names of the stations would have been placed exactly in the reverse order in which they were found in the document, not from Shrewsbury to Derby, but from Derby to Shrewsbury. He thought that this fact—in his opinion no small one—was a very significant one, as showing satisfactorily to every impartial mind that the letter must have been delivered to Morgan at Shrewsbury, and not at Derby. If, then, the letter was delivered by Frail to Morgan, and if the allegation of a conspiracy was still to be maintained, what was the consequence? If was impossible to conceive a conspiracy such as had been suggested except with the concurrence of Frail. Now, Frail was a man of whose electioneering morality, no man, perhaps, could entertain a worse opinion than he (Sir A. Cockburn) did. He believed him to be a man who was familiar with every scheme, artifice, and device which could be practised for working out corruption at elections. But, at the same time, nothing could be so abhorrent to his mind as for a single moment to distrust the perfect fidelity of Frail to the party for whom he had so long acted. No man knew bettor whether Frail was to be trusted than the right hon. Gentleman. From the election of 1847, throughout all the elections that had since taken place, and the petitions consequent upon those elections, Frail was the confidential agent of the right hon. Gentleman in the exercise of those delicate and mysterious functions which were necessary, he (Sir A. Cockburn) supposed, in the superintending and managing of the 739 election interests of a party. And the right hon. Gentleman had declared that Brail was a person in whom the most implicit confidence might be placed. The right hon. Gentleman not only knew that Frail had been engaged in all the elections that had taken place in Shrewsbury for some ten or fifteen years past, but he knew he had been employed in the same way in various other parts of the country. He knew, therefore, that Frail was a person whose fidelity and zeal to his party had never been excelled. He (Sir A. Cockburn) might appeal to many hon. Members to confirm the statement. He was very sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not present, and still more sorry for the cause of his absence, for he intended to have called him into court, and asked him to vouch for the perfect trustworthiness and zeal of Mr. Frail. He (Sir A. Cockburn) did not believe that, as regarded trustworthiness, fidelity, and zeal for his party, Mr. Frail's character would be in any danger of suffering. It might be asked why Frail had given the letter to Morgan at all? Why, the contest for Shrewsbury was one which required all the activity and energy of Mr. Frail, and he, having received the letter on the Monday evening, or early on the Tuesday morning, and having to send some one to Derby immediately, was it not probable that, being so hurried, instead of writing to himself, he said to him, "Take that; you have only to show that letter to the agents at Derby, and they will perfectly understand who you are, what you come for, and what you are to do?" He had done with Mr. Frail, and he now came to Mr. Morgan. Could it be suggested that Morgan was in this conspiracy? Who was Morgan? Why, he was informed that Morgan was Mr. Frail's confidential man in all Frail's electioneering transactions. It appeared that Mr. Frail managed the registration not only for the borough of Shrewsbury, but also for a portion of the county, and that he employed Morgan, who was a valuer, to serve the requisite notices. Morgan was also a man who might be called as a witness in the registration court, when it was expedient to raise or to lower the value of property above or below 10l. Morgan was a man who was perfectly well known at Shrewsbury to be devoted to Frail. Was it likely that this man, if he had been selected by Flewker, would have lent himself to his betrayal? Even supposing 740 they could believe this of Frail and of Morgan, they had other difficulties to encounter, because, no sooner did Morgan arrive at Derby, than he was taken up by the agents and friends of Mr. Horsfall. According to the statement of the landlord of the County Tavern, ha sent his card to Messrs. Cox, who could not desire to betray the relative and candidate whom they had induced to come forward on that occasion. If the letter had been written with reference to a former election, it must still have been written after previous concert with Messrs. Cox. If the concerted arrangement was not in 1852, but in 1848, would not the suspicions of those gentlemen have been roused when they received that card? But what did they do? They handed over the card to Mr. Radford to act upon it; and here the importance of the connexion between the candidate and Messrs. Cox became manifest. If that card was part of the machinery of a conspiracy, they would have had their suspicions aroused, and would have frustrated the scheme at its very commencement. He next turned to Mr. Radford. He was quite sure it would not be denied that Mr. Radford was one of the most stanch and zealous partisans of the Conservative party in Derby, and the landlord stated that the moment Mr. Radford was made aware that Morgan had arrived at Derby, he (Mr. Radford) at once proceeded to the County Tavern, and had an interview with him. He (Sir A. Cockburn) thought it could hardly be supposed that Radford was in the conspiracy. They then found that Mr. Hibbert and his men went over from Nottingham, and a stranger was found guarding the door when the police entered and arrested Morgan. Who was this stranger? One of the men who came over with Mr. Hibbert from Nottingham by the desire of Messrs. Huish and Radford, the undisputed agents of the candidate. So that they had Mr. Frail, Mr. Morgan, Messrs. Cox, Mr. Radford, and this stranger, all implicated in the transaction, and independent of any matter resting on the testimony of Mr. Flewker—because he (Sir A. Cockburn) did not trust the evidence of Mr. Flewker at all, except so far as it was corroborated and confirmed by facts and occurrences, in which the parties might be confronted with Mr. Flewker, to his discomfiture and shame, if in their evidence they proved them to be untrue. He would now apply a test which, to his mind, must be quite con- 741 clusive. He was quite sure there was not an hon. Member on either side of the House who would not agree with him that the test he was about to propose would be most efficient. Now, if there had been a conspiracy—if all those circumstances which had been brought to light were fictitious and fabricated, the result of an organised system of fraud and villany—what did they suppose would have been the conduct of the responsible agents of the candidate, Mr. Horsfall, at the time Morgan was arrested, and when these transactions were exposed? Did they suppose that Mr. Horsfall's agents would have come forward to protect and defend this man? If this man, unauthorised and uninvited, had introduced himself, and assumed the garb and disguise of a party for the purpose of treacherously betraying them—if they were conscious of their own innocence and his infamous plan—would they not at once have denounced him as an impostor and conspirator with whom they had nothing to do—one whom they repudiated and held up to public odium and execration; or did hon. Gentlemen suppose that they would have come forward to throw the shield of their protection over him, and to defend him against the consequences of his crime? Now, what was the case? Morgan was arrested on the Thursday; he was taken to prison, and no one had access to or communication with him, nor did he communicate with any one until he was brought up the next day before the magistrates. Then a very important personage made his appearance in the court, Mr. Forshaw, a solicitor of Liverpool, who had accompanied Mr. Horsfall from Liverpool, and who acted as his confidential agent and adviser, and exercising general superintendence during the election. That gentleman was present in the hall when Morgan was brought up for examination, and there was also present another attorney of the name of Sale, who, as he (Sir A. Cockburn) was informed, had acted as a subordinate agent in the course of the election. Morgan was without any legal agent or adviser. Mr. Forshaw, who, as he had said, was in the hall, called Mr. Sale aside. They had a private conversation for a few minutes, and then Mr. Sale rushed from Mr. Forshaw up to the table and announced that he was the professional adviser of Morgan. When the magistrates intimated their intention of remanding Morgan, Mr. Sale said, "I hope, gentle- 742 men, you will take bail. We are provided with bail to any amount." Now, did this tally with the possible suspicion of any conspiracy or plot which might have for its object the betrayal of the Conservative party? Well, the magistrates remanded Morgan for a week, and before he was again brought up, succours had arrived from a new quarter. No sooner were the facts he (Sir A. Cockburn) had mentioned made public, than the greatest consternation, naturally enough, arose in the minds of Mr. Frail and his Conservative friends at Shrewsbury. Their man was taken; he was in the hands of the enemy, and was about to be consigned to the clutches of the law. Accordingly two attorneys—one was not enough—were immediately despatched from Shrewsbury, one of whom was upon an intimate footing with Mr. Frail, and the other was clerk of the peace for Shrewsbury, to use their best efforts to defend Morgan, and to get him out of the difficulty; and when, notwithstanding the exertions of these gentlemen, the magistrates committed Morgan, but intimated their intention to take bail, two Shrewsbury innkeepers were ready to offer bail. These innkeepers, he was told, were both stanch friends of the Conservative party, and at the house of one of them the freemen were wont to congregate at elections, when a little delicate work was very speedily done. Now, he would put it to any reasonable man whether, upon such a state of facts, be could for a single moment entertain any belief in the existence of a conspiracy? If there had been any conspiracy, was it to be supposed that the agents of the Conservative candidate for Derby would have come forward to defend this man Morgan; or was it credible that the people of Shrewsbury, who were devoted partisans and adherents of that political party, would have given their aid to Morgan if they had known him to be an impostor, a conspirator, and a villain? And yet that was the only hypothesis upon which the facts which had been brought to light would not lead to the conclusion which was most naturally to be deduced from them. He (Sir A. Cockburn) had now gone through the details of this case, and he had done so for a twofold purpose: firstly, to justify himself, in order that it might be seen that he had not rashly or inconsiderately brought the case before the House; and, secondly, to put the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beresford) in possession of the whole case, both with regard to 743 facts and argument, which could be brought forward against him. Unquestionably, if he (Sir A. Cockburn) had been conducting this case as an advocate at Nisi Prius, he would have rested upon the primâ facie case, waiting for the answer of the party charged, and reserving his reply, or evidence of additional facts which might be adduced; but he did not think in such a case as this that that would be a handsome or liberal proceeding. He thought it was much better to bring all the facts at once to the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman—to mention the names of all the parties implicated in these transactions, that the fullest and amplest opportunity might be afforded for a refutation of the statements. Now what, under these circumstances, was the course which the House ought to pursue? He thought it was impossible to contend that an inquiry ought not to be instituted; and he was happy to say, that in that respect he was given to understand the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beresford) concurred with him. He was happy, also, to find that his hon. Friend the Member for South Devonshire (Sir J. Y. Buller) was of the same opinion. He was bound to do the right hon. Gentleman the justice of saying that, from the very commencement of these proceedings, he had demanded a full inquiry into the circumstances; and that, in the speech which the right hon. Gentleman addressed to his constituents at Braintree, on the 2nd of July last, he said this charge was the result of a conspiracy, and that nothing would deter him from insisting upon a full investigation. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman had said, that unless some steps were taken by the parties who made the charges against him, he would himself, in his place in Parliament, move for an inquiry. Now, that was manly and straightforward conduct. He (Sir A. Cockburn) was aware it had been said that an inquiry would be premature, inasmuch as there was a judicial inquiry pending on the conduet of Morgan, and also an Election petition. These circumstances did not, however, in his mind, outweigh the necessity for a real inquiry. As to the judicial inquiry pending on the conduct of Morgan, it was a circumstance of every-day occurrence that, two parties being implicated in the same transaction, the principal was apprehended and. tried at one place, and the accessory at another. Again, as regarded the Election petition, so far from the inquiry prejudicing the decision on that petition, it would ra- 744 ther be an advantage that the defendants should not be taken by surprise, but be in possession of the evidence they would have to meet. He entertained this opinion strongly, and he spoke feelingly, for really a man might almost doubt the reality, of his own existence when he found with what charges he was, under such circumstances, assailed. He did not, therefore, think that any inconvenience would accrue to the person placed in the position of a defendant in the matter of the Election petition, if the inquiry which he now proposed should be instituted. He considered that if this were the case of a private individual, it might well be left to the ordinary tribunals, but when the person charged was a right hon. Gentleman, a Member of the Government, a Member of the Privy Council, and a Member, also, of that House, the case appeared to him to assume a very serious aspect, and one which it was neither beyond the province nor beneath the dignity of the House to investigate. He could not but think, therefore, that an inquiry ought to be instituted, and he hoped the House would be of the same opinion. As to the form in which that inquiry should be carried on, he was entirely in the hands of the House. He would suggest the appointment of a Select Committee for the purpose, but the mode of its constitution and selection he would leave entirely with the House. He believed they would be able to find hon. Gentlemen of impartial judgment who would conduct such an inquiry, and who would ascertain whether there had been an infraction of the law on the part of Gentlemen whose position—where the House was visiting poor voters with severe punishment—rendered it impossible that their misconduct could be overlooked.
SIR JOHN YARDE BULLER
When the hon. and learned Gentleman first brought forward this matter, he thought it was necessary inquiry should take place; and having listened to the statement which he had now made, he was fully convinced the House ought to agree to the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman to inquire into this case. He was quite satisfied no other course would satisfactorily clear up the charges which had been made, and therefore it became his duty to second the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. As he made no opposition to the Motion on the part of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford), and he knew that his right hon. Friend was most anxious the inquiry should take place, he could not anticipate 745 any opposition from any portion of the House. But he was anxious that, with the full statement—and, he was hound to say, the fair statement—of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the case should go before the Committee unprejudiced and unprejudged. He meant unprejudiced by any exciting debate in that House. He should avoid anything of the kind himself. He should not make any comment on the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He was perfectly content the case should go before the Committee on that statement, and he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman, that, be the Committee large or small, if well selected, there could be no doubt that they would calmly, and with the greatest care, sift the whole question, and help the House to come to a just decision. He should say no more on that occasion than that he begged to second the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a Select Committee be appointed to take into consideration the matter of the Petition of Inhabitant Householders of the Borough of Derby [presented 22nd November], and to report thereupon to the House.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
said, it was impossible to deny the extreme importance of the question now brought before the House, and as all appeared unanimous to have the matter investigated by a Committee, it would ill become him to offer any opposition to the Motion for inquiry moved by his hon. and learned Friend, and seconded by the hon. Baronet opposite. At the same time he was most anxious, from the importance of the question, to look at it, not merely as it affected the right hon. Gentleman accused, but as it affected the privileges of that House and the ends of justice, not to allow this proceeding to be taken without entering his protest against this being drawn into a precedent. The House would remember this petition was presented at the commencement of the Session, at a time when an election petition was pending which must necessarily come before Parliament. He believed for the last half century it had been the endeavour of that House and of every great statesman to remove from the jurisdiction of the whole united body of the House all matters relating to elections. With that purpose Mr. Grenville's Act was passed, and to improve it Sir Robert Peel introduced the existing Act of Parliament, removing from the general consideration of the House, where party feeling too 746 much prevailed, all matters relating to elections, to the more impartial tribunal which a Select Committee under the Act was presumed to afford. This was a petition which, among other statements, contained an allegation that a general system of bribery was carried out at the late Derby election. That must be a question before the Committee, and if that system was proved to have existed, the election must be void. There certainly were some precedents on this subject, but none, that he was aware of, exactly similar to the present. A Committee on which he had the honour of serving had to inquire into the interference of a noble Peer in the election of Stamford, and in 1835 or 1836 there was a Committee to inquire into the conduct of Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Raphael with reference to the Carlow Election. In those instances, there was no election petition pending. In 1819, to refer to an older case, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the conduct of Mr. Gwyn, who was charged with having abused his power as Lord Lieutenant of the county of Limerick, in the election for that county, but no election petition was pending in that case. There was, however, a still older case, more nearly resembling the present. It occurred in 1806, when a Gentleman who had petitioned against the return of Mr. Sheridan accused him, by petition to the House, of tampering with witnesses. On that occasion a Committee was appointed, but there were a great many who objected to it, and certainly, looking back to the proceedings of that inquiry at the bar, it was not encouraging of the course they were now pursuing. The late Lord Grey, then Lord Howick, and a Minister of the Crown, if he mistook not, said—Since the passing of the Grenville Bill the House had abstained from hearing at the bar evidence which might defeat the ends of justice before a Committee, and he trusted the House, in inquiring into the question of tampering with the witnesses, would shut out questions affecting the merits of the election.The subsequent proceedings showed how difficult it was to prevent the entering on the whole matter of the petition. Another most distinguished person, the brother of the illustrious author of the Grenville Act, Mr. Thomas Grenville, said in the same debate—A precedent might be established which might be attended with much inconvenience and much mischief hereafter. It was impossible to keep the two objects distinct, and no doubt, under the Grenville Act, the Committee would be competent to do justice in this case by making a special re- 747 port The House ought not to interfere with a jurisdiction so nearly identified with that which, by a solemn act, it had taken out of its own hands and delegated to a Committee.In that case it was possible to distinguish between tampering with the witnesses and the allegations of the petition; but here it was impossible, because the gravamen of the charge, the most serious allegation of this petition, was, "that at the said election an organised system of bribery was resorted to, in defiance of the laws of the land, and to the great scandal of your petitioners." That was the case of his hon. and learned Friend—that the organisation existed at the prompting of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beresford). If, then, this Committee should find the right hon. Gentleman guilty of this great offence, it would establish the fact of bribery at the election, and make the election void. Was that not prejudging the very question on the election petition; and ought not that very question to be referred to an Election Committee? His hon. and learned Friend (Sir A. Cockburn) said, the defendant to the election petition had the advantage of the whole case being disclosed in the charge against the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War. He (Mr. Wortley) said the House ought not to give any advantage to either party coming before it. But another thing well worth consideration was this—that if they established the precedent, they might have petitions of this nature got up for the mere purpose of gaining information, to be used afterwards on the trial of the election petitions, and that information extracted from witnesses not upon oath, and at the expense of the country. He had now done his duty in bringing the subject before the House, and he trusted, in consideration of the privileges of the House and of the ends of justice, they would reflect and pause before they at once agreed to the appointment of the Committee now asked for.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he would assuredly have opposed the Motion had he thought that the privileges of that House would be interfered with, or the rights of individual Members in the least degree infringed upon, by acceding to the appointment of the Committee, or had he thought that any constitutional right would he violated by the concession of that Committee. His right hon. and learned Friend who had just sat down ought to recollect that the power of that House to inquire into bribery and corruption at elections his independent of Statute Law; and 748 that, notwithstanding Statute Law, they were invested with authority to make such inquiry as they should think fit for the purpose of putting a stop to all corrupt practices alleged to have been committed: and further, he should bear in mind that it was the duty of the House to entertain any charges which might be brought against any of its Members, and particularly against one who was a member of the Government. He did not give any opinion of these charges, but when they were brought in such a manner as to make it incumbent on the House to investigate them, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would, he thought, agree with him in holding, that certainly there would be no violation whatever of any constitutional privilege, either as regarded individual Members, or as regarded the House itself, in acceding to the Motion. If a sufficient case were made out for referring the matter to a Select Committee, he did not consider that any inconvenience would arise from such a course. It was impossible, after the statement of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Southampton (Sir A. Cockburn), to deny that, supposing no inconvenience were to arise from the concession of a Committee, a case for inquiry had been primâ facie made out; and, as his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, by the voice of his hon. Friend behind him (Sir J. Y. Buller), had courted an investigation like that which was asked for, it was due to his right hon. Friend to concede an inquiry) which under these circumstances he had a right to claim, with the view of setting himself right with the House. Further than that, he (Mr. Walpole) would not go. He would not prejudge the case in one way or another; but, with respect to the manner in which the proposed investigation might operate on the Election Petition, it should be remembered that, while, as regarded the sitting Member, there would be some inconvenience, yet the inquiry before the Select Committee ought not to bind the Election Committee in regard to the claims preferred before it. No doubt it was in some respects a choice of evils, but the lesser seemed on the whole to be that to which they were now asked to submit; for the inconvenience which might happen to the sitting Member could not be so great as that which would result from refusing this inquiry to his right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, since he, in point of fact, would be no party to any Election petition, and the inquiry before the Election Committee would not be under his direction or control, nor would his right hon. Friend 749 have any mode of interfering to defend himself. He would say no more at present; for, as the matter stood, the discussion of it was much to be deprecated, as the House ought to keep its mind perfectly open and unbiased till the result of the inquiry should be reported. The only suggestion he (Mr. Walpole) should offer with reference to the appointment of the Committee was, that the nomination of Members to serve thereon should be left to the choice of the Committee of Selection.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he was glad to find the right hon. Gentleman agreed in the appointment of this Committee, and that he did not submit the case on the argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. S. Wortley), who opposed the appointment of the Committee. It appeared to him (Lord John Russell) that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Walpole) had taken a more constitutional view of this matter than the right hon. and learned Gentleman who preceded him. If any specific case of bribery could be alleged against a person holding the high office of Privy Councillor, and it was only to be inquired into by an Election Committee, he thought the Grenville Act would be a great evil, as barring the House from the performance of one of the greatest functions it could perform, and which ought not to be set aside. With respect to the appointment of the Committee, any suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) ought to be attended to. It was only due to the right hon. Secretary at War, that if there was to be inquiry it should immediately begin, and be conducted to its close as soon as possible.
§ MR. HORSFALL
said, he quite agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir A. Cockburn) that the sitting Member could not be injured by any clear statement of fact in that House, and he did not complain of any statement of fact, but he thought he had a right to complain of some statements which the hon. and learned Gentleman had made, and which were not facts. He acquitted the hon. and learned Gentleman of intentional misrepresentation; but when the hon. and learned Gentleman relied on one statement which related to him (Mr. Horsfall) as an important link, connecting the sitting Member for Derby with the transaction, and on another statement as making the impossibility of a conspiracy conclusive, he thought It only right he should endeavour to point out that the hon. and learned Gentleman's chain had a broken link in it, and that the 750 conclusion he had drawn was by no means satisfactory. The hon. and learned Gentleman had relied on the fact that he (Mr. Horsfall) was staying with his excellent and worthy friend Mr. Henry Cox, as showing that he (the sitting Member) was a party to the transaction alluded to in the petition, because Mr. Henry Cox was one of the firm of Cox, Brothers, and Co. He begged to set the hon. and learned Gentleman right on that statement. Mr. Henry Cox was not a partner in the firm at all. The hon. and learned Gentleman adduced it as most conclusive against the possibility of conspiracy, that Mr. Forshaw, his (Mr. Horsfall's) solicitor, attended before the magistrates upon the examination of Morgan. Mr. Forshaw attended, not to defend Morgan, but simply at his (Mr. Horsfall's) request, to see that nothing was said or done which was prejudicial to him (Mr. Horsfall). Having said thus much, he did not mean to enter into the circumstances of a case which would so speedily come before a Committee; but this he must say, that highly as he valued a seat in that House, and still more highly as he valued that honour in connexion with the borough of Derby, he should consider it dearly bought if he could participate directly or indirectly in such proceedings as those which had been alluded to.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that as there seemed to be no objection to the appointment of a Committee, he would merely offer a suggestion as to the mode in which that Committee should be constituted. It had been said that this duty ought to devolve on the Committee of Selection; but he thought that it would be more properly discharged by those who were appointed under the Speaker's warrant at the General Committee of Elections. The Committee of Selection was quite a different body.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he begged to explain that he meant to have said the General Committee of Elections.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he was glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman was of that opinion, as there was the greatest necessity for the selection of impartial persons to form the Committee, and the best course would therefore be that they should he named by the General Committee of Elections. Probably it would be advisable, also, that the course should be taken in this case which was adopted at the Carlow Election Committee, namely, that two Members, the one representing the petitioners, and the other representing the right 751 hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beresford), should serve on that Committee, but without voting, in order that the accusations on the one side, and the defence on the other, might he fairly and properly brought before the Committee. He should suggest, therefore, that the Committee should consist of five Members, that it should be appointed by the General Committee of Elections, and that two Members of the House should sit on it as assessors, but without the power of voting.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that it was desirable that the Committee should be appointed by the General Committee of Elections, and also that the number of the Members composing the Committee should be five. But he differed very much with him in the suggestion which he had made, following the precedent of the Carlow Election Committee, in 1836, that one Member should be chosen by his hon. and learned Friend (Sir A. Cockburn) on the one hand, and one by the right hon. Secretary at War on the other, for the purpose of acting as assessors to the Committee. He was quite sure that if Members were so selected, they would be precisely what the old nominees were, and that they would be advocates, and not assessors. [Sir C. WOOD: They are not to have votes.] That was precisely the ground of his objection. He wished they had votes, and then they would feel something of the responsibility of Judges. He must say that he did not think it at all a desirable thing that Members should act as advocates in a case where a very grave and serious charge had been brought against a right hon. Member of that House.
§ SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN
said, he must say, with every possible respect for his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, that if this inquiry was to be left to five Gentlemen, uninformed as they must be on the whole matter until they met in Committee, it would be better that the inquiry should not be commenced at all. His hon. and learned Friend said, that the representative Members would be advocates of the parties; why, they were intended to be advocates. Unless his hon. and learned Friend meant to say that the administration of justice was impeded by advocates, and that cross-examination had no efficacy, he did not see why this valuable instrument for the discovery of truth should be shut out. He thought that these two Members should have no voice in the deliberations of the Committee, but that they should be 752 entitled to attend and put questions, unless it was intended that counsel should be heard before the Committee. This was an accusation met by a counter-accusation of a most outrageous and scandalous conspiracy. It was, therefore, necessary that the matter should be investigated with the greatest degree of vigour.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
said, he would not take a division on the question, but he hoped that this peculiar case would; not be drawn into a precedent.
SIR JOHN YARDE BULLER
said, that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford), who had withdrawn from the House, had left it to him (Sir J. Buller) to act for hint in his absence, and, speaking for himself, he would say that he would rather hear counsel than a nominee Member.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he had not the slightest objection to the appearance of counsel before the Committee, but he felt a very great objection to Members of the House appearing in that capacity.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he should be glad to know what opinions the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department held on this point.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he had no objection at all to the hearing of counsel by the Committee; on the contrary, he should rather prefer it, and he agreed with his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General in thinking it very undesirable that Members of the House should act as representatives of the parties before Committees.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Instruction to the Gentlemen named on the General Committee of Elections, to select a Committee of five Members, to whom the said Petition be referred, and who shall have power to send for persons, papers, and records, and that the parties have leave to appear by themselves, their Counsel, or Agents.