HC Deb 16 April 1875 vol 223 cc1160-88

, in rising to call attention to the Petition signed by Anthony Biddulph and others, praying for a free pardon to Castro alias Tichborne, said, that the Petition would have been signed by many other persons, including several noble Lords, but that they were prevented by the Forms of the House from addressing it on the subject. Among the signatories, however, was the cousin of the convict, a gentleman of unimpeachable position, and several persons residing in the neighbourhood of the Tichborne estates; and if he had been in this country he might have asked the present Viceroy of India to attach his signature, as he was one of those who, at the early stage of the proceedings, subscribed the sum of £5 towards a fund which was started with the view of enabling the person called Castro to prosecute his claim. Others who signed the Petition had been tenants on the Tichborne estate, but some of them, because they insisted that the Claimant was the heir to the Tichborne property, had lost their occupation. It was signed, also, by representative men, eight of the petitioners being chairmen of Tichborne Associations in the neighbourhood of London. The Petition, therefore, he submitted, was entitled to the attentive consideration of the House. There was nothing whatever contained in it to which the Committee on Public Petitions could possibly take exception. It broadly and boldly, but in respectful language, stated that in the opinion of those who subscribed their names there had been a serious miscarriage of justice, which raised by implication a charge against those who were responsible for the prosecution and for the conduct of the trial. The Petition was read at the Table and had since been printed by order of the Committee of Petitions. Each of those who signed it would, he believed, be found on inquiry to be well entitled to convey to this House his views on the subject, and not one of them could be justly styled a fool or a fanatic, or specimen of that ignorant, infatuated, and deluded multitude who, in public meetings throughout the country and by Petitions to Parliament, showed their views. The Petition was free from any of the objections successfully urged last night against other Petitions—that was to say, it did not expressly impute to the Judges who presided over this trial, misconduct; but it appeared to him that, by reasonable implication, it did put on trial the conduct of, those Judges, and all who were responsible in any degree for the administration of the law in the memorable cause, and it afforded to the House the opportunity of doing justice to all such persons and authorities, if the House deemed them to be unjustly assailed. The Petition from Prittle well had been rejected, because it stated in express terms that the Judge of the Tichborne trial had not secured for the defendant a fair trial. This Petition stated no more than they believed that the man now lying in penal servitude was innocent of the offences for which he was convicted, and, looking at the circumstances of that trial, such a statement was equivalent to the gravest and most specific charge of dereliction of duty on the part of those who were responsible to the country for originating and conducting that trial. What were those circumstances, and who were the persons or authorities responsible for that unprecedented trial? First, and in the highest degree, the House was responsible, and he laid stress upon this in order that the House might understand why it was that the vast sympathy which the people exhibited in public meeting and otherwise for the convict did not expose itself to insult and ridicule by open expression in the House. The late Attorney General, Sir John, now Lord, Coleridge, was counsel in the civil action which had terminated, not as was generally supposed, in a verdict against the Claimant, but in a non-suit. Notwithstanding that fact, however, the same hon. and learned Gentleman had taken the extraordinary course of having the defendant arrested and lodged in Newgate on a charge of perjury, and that without preliminary investigation; and, at the same time, with the leave of the House, he undertook to conduct and to pay the expenses of that prosecution. Subsequently, however, the hon. and learned Gentleman admitted the partiality, impropriety, and rashness of his proceedings by withdrawing from further connection with the matter. When called upon, however, to give an explanation of his conduct in the House, he declined to do so, throwing the responsibility upon the then Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary. He (Mr. Whalley) then applied to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer for the expenses of the defendant's witnesses, which he would be entitled to had he been examined before a magistrate; but the right hon. Gentleman referred him to the public, stating that the sympathizers with the defendant would, doubtless, find the money for his defence. That was, as he stated at the time, an outrage upon the course of proceeding and an insult to the administration of justice. At that time no less than £3,000 had been subscribed out of the pence of the working classes to enable the friends of the defendant to obtain his release from Newgate. It was necessary, in order to act as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had advised, by appealing to the public, to make explanations to them, and, accordingly, his friend, Mr. Guildford Onslow and himself held meetings for the purpose. They found, however, that upon an ex parte statement, Mr. Hawkins, instructed by the Government, had obtained their conviction for contempt of Court for addressing a public meeting in St. James's Hall before the trial. They attended the Court of Queen's Bench not to defend themselves, because they were advised that if they did it would be considered an aggravation of the offence alleged against them. The result was they escaped with the small and comparatively merciful penalty of £100 fine each. It was all very well to call the numbers of people throughout the country who believed that this man had not had a fair trial deluded and ignorant, and to characterize them as fools and fanatics. But the man had no means of defending himself, for ever since the death of his mother he had been utterly penniless, depending for his support entirely on subscriptions from the public, while he had been deprived of the aid and the protection of the law by the act of the Attorney General. His (Mr. Whalley's) own conduct in the matter had been regulated by his sense of public duty; he had declined to permit his fine to be paid by public subscription, and he could assure the House that it should never hear a complaint from his lips with regard to his own personal grievances. The question was, had or had not this man a fair trial? and it was one that was being asked by the whole English-speaking race. He knew of his own knowledge that upwards of 200 witnesses in this man's favour were unable to be called for want of funds. Yet the House stood by when men were sent to prison, and fined for their honest efforts to provide for him the means of defence of which he was so deprived, with the direct cognizance and consent of this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) demanded that this question—those charges against all concerned in this trial—should again be brought before this House, and the hon. Member for Stoke was severely censured by him for his delay in doing so. Until last night he (Mr. Whalley) shared the opinion that the hon. Member for Stoke should forthwith bring before the House the grounds upon which, with such extraordinary success, he had aroused the country to a sense of the injustice of this Tichborne trial; but that discussion and its result brought out plainly the fact this House was at present in no condition to do justice either to itself or to the question, and whether by reason of its sense of responsibility for any miscarriage of justice and waste of public money, or for any other inscrutable reason, social or political it mattered not, he could not but feel that the national scandal which that trial presented to the whole world would be greatly aggravated by any such action as would assuredly be taken at the instance of the hon. Member for Stoke. Could the House itself believe that it was at present in a fit state of mind, or adequately informed to enable it to discharge in the presence of that country and of the world the high judicial function of which it now demanded the exercise? Could it believe that when discussing the merits of a Petition, Member after Member, without a single exception, pledged himself, whatever his opinion on other matters, to the view that the petitioners and all others who believed that the defendant had not a fair trial were the fools and fanatics, the deluded, uneducated, and ignorant mass of humanity as described? Could that House desire to exhibit itself before the world, deciding in that temper and spirit upon questions involving the liberty of an individual and the gravest questions which for centuries had arisen upon the administration of justice? Was it not enough that they should have been for seven or eight years the ridicule of all who ever heard of the Tichborne Claimant; that either they could not punish an impostor, or that they would not do justice? He was not in the councils of the hon. Member for Stoke. He and the hon. Member for Stoke formed something like a party in that House, for they seemed to be the only Members in the House who believed that the Claimant was the true man, or even that he had not had a perfectly fair trial; for if there were any other Members sharing their opinions, surely under such stress as they were subjected to, they would have the manliness to step forward to their help against the overwhelming torrent of abuse and obloquy to which he, for a long time alone, and now the hon. Member for Stoke, were exposed. It had been generally accepted that there must be in this Tichborne Case a conspiracy on the one side or the other. He could assure the House that there was no conspiracy; no, not even combination or concert, between the hon. Member for Stoke and himself. Until last night he had but once seen or communicated with the hon. Member since he first entered the House, and he had no part in his public meetings, nor was he in any sense whatever responsible for his public writings or speeches, and he shared the opinion that he should not defer bringing the whole question before the House. For himself he had been a Member of the House for 23 years, and he trusted that nothing would occur to lessen the respect and the veneration he had always felt and manifested towards it; but after what occurred yesterday, he asked himself to what avail would it be, or what other result than to place this House in direct antagonism with so vast an amount of honest, earnest, patriotic sentiment throughout the country, and also with the common sense and the traditional respect, at home and throughout the world, which had so long been the heritage of their Courts of Justice. He was, therefore, of opinion that the hon. Member for Stoke had consulted the dignity of the House in declining to bring forward his Motion until a sufficient number of Petitions had been presented to educate the House on this question. He had been in America and in other countries on this subject, and he could assure hon. Members that this Tichborne Case—ignore it as they might—had attracted very considerable notice throughout the English-speaking world, and he lamented that it should be debated by the House in the temper which he had regretted to see manifested on a recent occasion. The jury never decided the question of his guilt or innocence at all; and therefore if the question were to be considered from that point of view, the case was entitled to the greatest consideration from the House. It was impossible to deny the assertion so often made that he had not had a fair trial; but he was sorry to say that from the present temper of the House he feared the question would not, or could not, be properly dealt with. There was, undoubtedly, a strong and growing feeling that the man was Tichborne; but, apart from that, there was a conviction that he had not had all the advantages in the way of defence which he ought to have had. The Lord Chief Justice himself had said there were grave doubts in the case; and on several occasions, addressing the defendant's counsel, he asked—"Have you considered what a disastrous effect, socially and morally, would follow if, after all that we have heard from these lords and ladies and gentlemen to the effect that he is not Tichborne, the jury should find that he is?"


asked the hon. Member from what part of the Lord Chief Justice's Charge he had been quoting?


replied, that he had not spoken of the Charge; but had said that the Lord Chief Justice on more than one occasion addressed the defendant's counsel in language to that effect. In conclusion, he would make an appeal to Her Majesty's Government to devise some way to get out of the difficulty in which the question was now placed. If the object of those who demanded further discussion was to arrive at the truth of the case, that could best be done by a Select Committee, or by a Royal Commission, as prayed for in the Petition, and the Prime Minister knew how to set in motion such an inquiry. He knew also how to stop it when it was set in motion; for taking out of his (Mr. Whalley's) hands the appointment of a Committee on this subject last Session, the right hon. Gentleman did himself personally superintend the proceedings of that Committee; and when he (Mr. Whalley) brought before them charges and imputations against the Judges, as strong and specific as in the Petition they yesterday rejected, and offered to establish them, the right hon. Gentleman deemed it best for the Judges and for the credit of the administration of justice to stop the inquiry, and to cover up still more effectually the scandal, he did himself propose a complimentary addendum to the Report in favour of the Lord Chief Justice. Nor could that House say they had had no opportunity of discussing and repudiating those charges against the Judges, for he (Mr. Whalley) did himself attempt to raise such discussion. He read the Petition of his constituents, stronger in terms than that of Prittlewell, and after various devices resorted to by the friends, he presumed, of the Lord Chief Justice, the Government and the Opposition combined to count out the House. He, for one, was not afraid of inquiry or discussion, and he repeated what he stated last night—that if the Prime Minister would again appoint a Committee, he (Mr. Whalley) would, if permitted, substantiate the statements in the Petition of his constituents, substantially the same as those of the Prittlewell Petition; but if, on the other hand, the object of demanding further discussion was to discourage, by the expression of opinion by hon. Members here, the action of the public out-of-doors, he was disposed to believe that the hon. Member for Stoke exercised a sound discretion, and that it was alike for the interest of the public and for the credit of that House and for the honour of the country, that that question should not be submitted to so prejudiced and heated a tribunal until it should have been further ventilated in public meetings. He had, however, attended no meetings, and was not responsible for the action of the hon. Member for Stoke. With reference to the evidence given before the Committee of last year, he would say that if there ever was a man who deserved to be disbarred, it was Mr. Hawkins. Ladies of rank in the neighbourhood of the Tichborne estate were prevented from giving evidence by his scandalous abuse of forensic licence. The Home Secretary had refused to attend to affidavits which he had placed before him, and the Secretary of the Treasury had declined to give explanations with regard to the £55,000 paid for the expenses of the prosecution. As he had said, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had advised him, if he wished to raise funds for the Claimant's defence, to go about the country and solicit subscriptions. He did so, and he should be prepared, if necessary, to resume what had been termed his "mountebank operations," and to support the hon. Member for Stoke in his fearless agitation of this question, for the sake not merely of the Claimant, but of others who might be suffering from a miscarriage of justice. In two cases, he himself had at the last moment saved men from being hanged in consequence of a miscarriage of justice. He had now fulfilled his duty, and would only urge the House to grant the prayer of the Petition to which he had the honour of calling their attention, that they would recommend Her Majesty to grant a free pardon, or that there might, at all events, be a full investigation of all the circumstances of the case.


said, that, as he was specially responsible for the advice which must be tendered to Her Majesty in all cases where persons were convicted of crime, he hoped the House would allow him to say a few words on this subject. It was not his intention, however, to follow the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) in all the matters he had laid before the House on the present occasion. The hon. Member had undertaken to call attention to a Petition signed by Anthony Biddulph and others, praying for the pardon of Castro alias Tichborne. Now, although the House rejected a Petition last night on one particular ground, it had shown by the expression of opinion it then made that it would not too nicely scrutinize the language in which Petitions were couched when it related to a grievance which ought to be brought under the notice of the House. With regard to the Petition now before the House, he had no objection to make to one part of its prayer; but he had an objection to make to the speech of the hon. Member for Peterborough, because, although the hon. Gentleman had undertaken to call attention to the Petition, he had not alluded to a single paragraph in it, and none of the allegations made by the hon. Gentleman as to this trial were to be found in the Petition, from one end to the other. The hon. Member opposite had entered into the question of the origin of the prosecution by the late Attorney General, to the trial before the late Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, to the Government payment of expenses, and to the fact that the expenses of witnesses for the defence, though promised by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, were not paid—although a large sum had been paid to the witnesses for the defence. The hon. Member also said he was told by the Government that he must go about the country, and that because he did so he was convicted in his absence for contempt of Court, and he and Mr. Onslow were punished for doing what they believed to be their duty. There was not a single word about these matters in the Petition. What the Petitioners did refer to was this. They stated a number of facts, or rather, alleged facts, and they said—"If facts like these should tell in the defendant's favour, they ought to be preferred to mere probabilities which tell against him." In effect they said—"If the law of evidence had been entirely changed and hearsay evidence admitted, the result might probably have been different." The Petitioners said—"The facts now mentioned by your Petitioners are only a few out of many which have come to light since the trial;" and then they proceeded to Pray your honourable House to advise Her Majesty to grant the defendant a free pardon, or, in the event of your feeling that you cannot accept all these statements as true merely on the assertion of your Petitioners, that you will advise Her Majesty to appoint, without delay, a Royal Commission to inquire into their truth. For his own part, he strongly objected to a Petition praying that a Royal Commission should be appointed for the purpose of re-trying a case which had been heard by a Judge and jury. It was a proposition that could not be acceded to on any grounds. The hon. Member for Peterborough said that this case had not been tried by a jury, and that trial by jury was never intended to apply to a case extending over many months. Did the hon. Member think a Royal Commission would be much better? If the complaint were that the defendant had not been pardoned, he (Mr. Cross), and he alone, was responsible for the advice he had tendered to Her Majesty in this matter, and his hon. Friend knew perfectly well what course of action ought to be taken if, in the opinion of the House, he was wrong in giving that advice. He had paid attention to every Petition which had been presented in reference to this case. The hon. Member had stated that the defendant had not been treated in some particulars like other prisoners; but he (Mr. Cross) had invariably given directions that no difference should be made for or against that man in any shape, and that he should be treated in precisely the same way as other prisoners. If, on the other hand, the complaint was that there had not been a fair trial in the case, that the Judges and jury had been corrupt—that the Judges should be removed on account of the way in which the case was conducted—then, again, the remedy was plain. That House had stated that it would receive Petitions for an Address to the Crown to remove Judges; but he was bound to say that no Judges ought to be called upon to sit on the Bench and go on day after day administering justice while charges of the gravest possible description were hanging over their heads. It was our duty, if we had a charge against a Judge or any other person, to bring forward that charge directly with all our force—just as in a case of Privilege in that House, there must be no delay in bringing forward the case. He (Mr. Cross) must demand from the hon. Member for Stoke, if he meant to proceed with his Motion, that it be brought on immediately. He appealed to both sides of the House whether it was not the positive duty of the hon. Member for Stoke, if he was not prepared to proceed with that Motion, to take it at once off the Order Book of the House. The hon. Member said he was not prepared, because he had not got Petitions in his favour; but he had no right to leave his Motion on the Order Book until he got Petitions. He ought to know that it was his bounden duty to take it off. If, eventually, he got Petitions, he knew perfectly well that he had the power of putting it on the Order Book again. He (Mr. Cross) maintained it was due to those eminent Judges who had fairly and uprightly tried this case, in whose honesty, fairness, and purity, he believed most heartily, and who deserved and, he believed, had the perfect confidence of the country, that the Motion should not be allowed to remain on the Order Book of the House, unless the hon. Member was prepared at once to follow it up. He did not think that he ought at the present moment to detain the House further, except to say that, if the hon. Member for Peterborough thought he (Mr. Cross) was wrong in having advised the Crown that a free pardon should not be granted in this case, he was perfectly ready at any time to be answerable for his conduct to the House if the hon. Member chose to bring it before the House.


Sir, when I came down to this House this evening I did not intend to speak upon this question. I had not read the Petition which was presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley), and it was only a few minutes before he brought on this Motion that I was first favoured with a view of it. I do not think it is a Petition that I could have laid great stress upon, and I candidly admit that it is open to some of the objections which have been raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. Nevertheless, this House has never been too technically fastidious about the language of Petitions, and I hope it never will be, because Petitions are the expression of the wishes of the common people, who are accustomed to express themselves in common language, and who should not be required to get a special pleader to draw them up. Now. Sir, the plain aspect of this country upon the unhappy Tichborne Case is perfectly unparalleled in the annals of our history. There is no more law-abiding people in the world than the English nation. There is no other nation in the world that from long custom and from family recollections have a greater respect for the Bench than they have; but when we find millions of our English fellow-people, actuated by one strong and powerful impression that justice has failed to be performed at a late trial, certainly I think the matter deserves our most earnest attention. A statesman would look upon the present circumstances of our country with very great care. I have gone through the length and breadth of this land, through England, Wales, and Scotland—I have been summoned to various large localities, not by any desire or action of my own, but on requisitions made to me signed by thousands and thousands of people, all of which have been couched in nearly the same language calling upon me—["Speak out!"] I would speak louder if I was able; but, unfortunately, I am not able. ["Oh, oh!" and "Order!"] My object must be to make myself heard by as many of you as there are here, and if I fail that must be my misfortune, not nay fault. That language conveys only one universal idea on the part of the thousands of signers, that there has been a failure of justice in the late trial, that that unhappy man whose life has exercised the curiosity of the world for so many years has somehow or other been dealt differently with from all other prisoners that have been tried within human recollection. With regard to this point, I am sure a statesman might very well pause before he ventured to taunt the great common people with such opprobrious epithets of contumely and contempt as have been lavished upon our countrymen of late. If they are under a delusion, it is a delusion shared in by millions, and one that no statesman ought to pass by or can afford to despise. The more they are immersed in clouds of delusion, if they be ignorant and infatuated, as is falsely pretended, the more likely is their delusion to end in a terrible way. Therefore I say that to treat them as scoundrels and to treat them with scorn, is undoubtedly not the right way to deal with that large and mighty section of Englishmen. I have gone amongst these people. I have conversed with them. I have addressed them, and I have seen women weep, and tears in strong men's eyes as they talked of that terrible trial. [Laughter.] Gentlemen may laugh, but it is true. I have seen such feeling pervading thousands of the masses as I have read have pervaded the masses previously to a revolutionary outbreak. I honestly and firmly believe that if one half the Members of this House could bring themselves to realize the spectacles that I have observed in the greatest centres of industry in England and Wales and Scotland, they would hesitate a very long time before they persevered in the course on which they now seem desperately bent. Gentlemen—["Order, order!"]—I humbly beg pardon. I do hope the House will make allowance for a new Member. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department has very pointedly addressed me to-night upon the question of the Motion which stands in my name. I did not have an opportunity last night of explaining fully to the House the reasons that persuade me that I ought as much in justice to the unhappy man whose claim I advocate as in justice to the House itself to postpone that Motion; and I certainly did not think when I sat down, without any opportunity of reply, that I should have been made the subject of so cruel and ungenerous an attack as was made upon me by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham. The right hon. Gentleman made an allusion to my character as if it were a bad one. [Mr. BRIGHT: You are mistaken.] I am glad to hear that I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, and will at once retract the observation I made; for, to some extent, the right hon. Gentleman is deserving of gratitude at my hands. The House will remember that on the second night when I entered this House I gave Notice of my Motion. Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a man to give a Notice which I did not mean to follow up. I very soon saw, however, that for reasons which I could not and cannot understand, I was treated as a sort of Pariah or outcast in this House. I am not ashamed to say that I stand on an equality as regards honour with any man in this House, and therefore I do not deny that I felt most keenly the treatment which I thought so ill-deserved. No man has undergone a more terrific ordeal of revengeful punishment than I have. I have been expelled from my profession—turned out of it, as if I had been guilty of crime. I have been ruined at a time when I have no means of recommencing another profession, and that solely on the ground, as was alleged by my persecutors, that I was connected with a newspaper which they do not admire. Upon my professional honour in the course of the trial my bitterest enemy had not dared to lay his hand; and I may well complain that for an offence which I consider no offence at all I have been driven an outcast from society—I will not say in my old age, but at a time when it is impossible to recommence life. Sir, I saw the feeling against me that pervaded this House when I entered it, and there was a full and mighty manifestation of the same feeling last night. I had not been more than two or three days in this House when the hon. and learned Member for Poole (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) denounced me before his constituents as a man guilty of the basest crime, as one who had called a witness whom I knew to be false, and then I demanded redress from the House, and you know what I received. Again, a fortnight or so ago two hon. Members got up at one of their farmers' dinners in Stafford, and one of them said that I was in the House of Commons, but that I was such a character that I would not be admitted into any London Club. Another hon. and learned Gentleman, a member of my own former circuit, said that I was expelled from the Bar, because I was a disgrace to it. If I or those who may be said to represent my views are a little intemperate when language of that kind is used with reference to me, I think some little consideration might be shown me, bearing in mind that I never alluded to one of those three hon. Members in my life so as to justify them in dragging me before the public; as they did. Last night an hon. Gentleman whom I never saw before got up publicly in this House of Commons, and charged me with going about the country diffusing palpable lies, and no hon. Member called him to Order for it. I sat and listened to it with silent scorn. You, Sir, of course, as the guardian of the dignity of this House, felt it your duty to do so, and the hon. Member retracted, but did not apologize. With insults such as these heaped upon my head without any provocation—["Oh, oh," and Laughter]—with insults such as these, sanctioned and re-echoed as it were by Gentlemen such as are now applauding these sentiments from day to day, how can it be expected but that I should make some sort of reply? Why should I be taunted because I do not bring this unhappy man's case before this Assembly? If I do not receive common justice from some hon. Members here, how can I expect this man, against whom a lowering crowd of prejudice presses, will receive justice when I simply advocate his cause? It is not merely for my own sake, but his, that I postponed that Motion. I entered this House with the greatest reverence and veneration for all its ancient traditions of glory and honour. I am anxious that there should be no impairment of those illustrious traditions; but if I bring that man's case now before this Assembly, which I hope will pardon me for saying is prejudiced and prejudging, what will be the inevitable result? Why, that I should make a lamentable failure. As far as I know, I can never twice bring before the House the particular Motion which I mean to place before it. [Mr. BRIGHT: Not in the same Session.] The right hon. Gentleman tells me, not in the same Session; but with the greatest respect and deference to him, I fancy if he knew what my Motion was, he would not doubt the observation which I have made. I myself feel confident that I never can bring it forward a second time, and if I cannot do so, what a terrible load of responsibility will be upon me! Should I then depart from that which, in my own conscience, I believe best for the man, and lose a chance which once lost is lost for ever? I feel confident I shall be beaten. I feel equally confident that the people of England will not accept that defeat. But I feel as sure as that I stand in the presence of this illustrious Assembly that the morning that follows the rejection of my Motion will carry dismay through England. [Ironical cheers and laughter.] Sir, Nero fiddled while Borne was burning, and I have heard and read of statesmen who danced upon volcanoes. I know there is a volcano in this Kingdom which may merge it at any moment in utter fire and ruin. Therefore I repeat what I said, that the morning which follows the rejection of my Motion will carry dismay and rage throughout the United Kingdom. What will be the result of that dismay and rage? Will it be to elevate the character of this great Assembly in public opinion? Will not the great masses of our countrymen say that, as the Court of Queen's Bench, which tried this man, prejudged his case, so the House of Commons prejudged his case also, and I do not envy those hon. Members who are chary, and rightly chary, of the glory and honour of this House, if they are prepared to accept an alternative such as that. I can tell them it is perfectly sure to come. I can tell the House that upon this subject the people of England are determined and serious beyond all other subjects that ever I saw; and if I am appealed to by thousands and thousands of our countrymen, if I am summoned by requisition to all the great centres of industry in this Kingdom, I shall be compelled to tell them the reception that I have met with here. I shall be compelled to give them my real opinion, that this House met to adjudicate upon a case which it was determined to reject; that this House had apparently set its mind, and was determined to listen to no reason, no argument, but was resolved to let a prisoner die in Dartmoor without redress. I may be wrong in that impression; but the result of the debate on my Motion will make the world know whether I am right or wrong. If, under these circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and the statesmen near him think that the honour and reputation of this House will be sustained by my bringing on that Motion, I am ready to bring it on whenever they please; I am as prepared now as I was on the second day of my entrance; but I respectfully warn hon. Members to beware of the consequences of its rejection. ["Oh, oh," and Laughter.] They may laugh, they may sneer—[Increased laughter]—they may indulge in such an ebullition of feeling as they now exhibit, but I wash my hands of the consequences. I shall now address myself to the Petition before the House. Paragraph No. 3 says the Lord Chief Justice testified that most of the witnesses were respectable people, and so forth. With respect to that, it is contrary to true law—not sham law or Judge-made law—that the Judges should give suggestions to the jury on evidence. It is a maxim as old as Magna Charta that the jury shall act on matters of fact, and the Judges on matters of law. When a Judge goes beyond that, he travels out of his province and usurps the province of the jury. If, therefore, it be substantiated before a Commission or any other tribunal that the learned Lord Chief Justice has, in this case, mainly relied upon supposition and hypothesis, I say that that alone justifies the interference of the Home Secretary. I want, therefore, to know if the right hon. Gentleman thinks this case differs from others, when, upon information received subsequently to conviction, he has become persuaded there has been a failure of justice and advised the Crown to remit the sentence. All I ask of him in the present instance is, that he should set his mind to think if it is possible that so many millions of the people of England can be mistaken in their views of the case, and if it would not be advisable for him seriously, cautiously, and carefully to investigate, with the view that he may at once satisfy his own conscience, and at the same time satisfy the reason and judgment of so many millions of his fellow-countrymen. The people of this country are not the only people who are dissatisfied with the result of this trial. The people of Germany almost unanimously believe that the Claimant has not had a fair trial. This fact is one of great concern, for in all matters of jurisprudence there are no people more competent to give a reliable opinion than the people of the great Teutonic nations. If they then have made up their mind that justice has not been done, it is a serious matter to take into consideration. A short time since the Countess De Civry was brought to trial, and after careful investigation, convicted by a jury, but subsequently the right hon. Gentleman became convinced that that lady had been wrongly convicted, and advised Her Majesty to grant her a free pardon. If then a jury such as that—for nowhere can you get better juries than in the City of London—was wrongly convicted after an investigation of only 24 hours, the right hon. Gentleman can hardly with much force throw in my teeth the verdict of the jury in the case to which this Petition refers. The 8th section of the Petition states that 18 witnesses were examined at the trial who swore that they saw and knew both Orton and Castro in Australia, and that they were distinct individuals, while only one witness was examined to prove that Orton and Castro were one and the same person, and that since the trial that witness has been convicted of bigamy and sentenced to six months' imprisonment. I always understood that the sentence passed upon that man was one of 12 months' imprisonment, and therefore I am surprised at this allegation in the Petition, that the sentence was only for six months; but the mistake is probably owing to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman, for some reasons which have not been made known, has remitted one-half the man's penalty. Another witness from Australia who swore that Orton and Castro were the same is Mrs. Jury, and she has since been convicted of robbery and sentenced to six months' imprisonment. Here we have two important facts stated—that two of the most important witnesses for the prosecution, and who were complimented both by the counsel for the prosecution and by the Lord Chief Justice as witnesses of value and respectability, have turned out to be fit occupants of one of Her Majesty's gaols. I would have thought that facts like these would have weighed with the Home Secretary, who has had more judicial training and more legal training, as everyone who has read his excellent book on law must be constrained to admit, than any of his predecessors in that high office. The 15th paragraph of this Petition states that Dr. Wheeler, a surgeon in the Navy, who was absent from this country at the time of the trial, has made an affidavit that he knew both Castro and Orton; that the latter were earrings and was pockmarked, and that he admitted he was a ticket-of-leave man, and had been convicted of horse-stealing, thus confirming an important part of the evidence. Again, it states that it has been sworn that at the age of 18 Orton was 5 feet 9 inches high, while the prisoner is only 5 feet 9 inches at the present time. The 24th paragraph of the Petition is the only other portion of it to which I would now refer. The great and powerful point laid hold of by the prosecution was that no man of the Osprey ever turned up to confirm the story told by the Claimant; but it was most conclusively proved that a ship called the Osprey did bring a shipwrecked crew into the port of Melbourne, and it is just as reasonable we should doubt the existence of the Bella, because no person connected with that vessel bad turned up, as that we should doubt the existence of the Osprey. In conclusion, I have to thank the House for the attention with which it has listened to me, and I most cordially join in the prayer of the Petition, that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will either himself re-consider the case, or else issue a Commission to ascertain if the country has been guilty of the awful crime of punishing an innocent man. I am certain that if he can bring his mind to the conclusion that this is a matter for deep and serious investigation, and that if after going through that investigation he comes to the conclusion that justice has not been done, he will release this man, he will do an act which will crown his name with honour, not only in the present, but in the future, and which will earn him an undying title to the regard of his fellow-countrymen such as no other statesman ever enjoyed.


Perhaps, Sir, I may be allowed to make a little explanation. The hon. Member for Stoke has used language which showed that he had been somewhat pained by the observations I made last night. I observed to him at the time, sitting close to him, that he was entirely mistaken in the impression he had formed of what I said; but another hon. Member of the House has since told me that, having read one of the reports in the papers, he had come to the same conclusion. I have not read any of the reports, and do not know exactly what the error was; but what I intended to say last night was this: that if a Member of this House had made charges—and I refer to charges like those made by the hon. Member, and embodied in these Petitions, against the Judges—had brought forward a Motion and postponed it from day to day, and had given no intimation of when he intended to bring it forward, that, in the interim, by the various moans at his disposal or supposed to be, he was exciting strong feelings amongst the public, or a portion of the public calculated, as I said, to destroy their confidence in the administration of justice, which I hold to be a great misfortune, and he failed to bring forward proofs and refused to substantiate charges, then in that case he himself would be guilty of conduct not less criminal than that which he charged upon the Judges. Now, Sir, up to this time, if the hon. Member were now to fix a day for his Motion I should not condemn him for having for a very undue period put off the proof which he has offered to the House; but, if it is deferred, I think I am entitled to say that the hon. Member is not doing that which he can reconcile or commend to himself, and I am sure he is not doing that which will be commended by the great body of his countrymen. Now, I have not—I take the House to witness if I have—said a word against the hon. Member for Stoke. I am conscious, as he is conscious, that he came into this House, and has been in it under unusual difficulty, and I have felt that it was my duty, as it was entirely my inclination, to greet him with all the respect that is due to the Representative of a great constituency and a Member of this Parliament. Sir, the hon. Member has moved a little, as I think, in his observations, from the position which the House understood him to occupy last night in this way. He has conveyed to the House tonight that his Motion would be directed especially to the case of the person whom he defended in the late trial, and that his object would be to induce the House to induce the Government to take some steps for re-trying the case, or for liberating the convict from his confinement. If that is all, it would not matter very much whether the Motion was brought on now or a month hence. [Dr. KENEALY: I was only referring to the present Petition.] I beg pardon; what I said was based upon the postponement of the original Motion. All I am urging is the great harm done to the public and the great injustice done to the Judges, if the charges against them are insisted upon, should an unnecessary delay be allowed to take place before an attempt is made to substantiate the charges. Now, I must beg the hon. Gentleman and the House to recollect, what he must be conscious of, that, whatever these charges are, whether they are true or false, they can receive no kind of support, by way of evidence, from the Petitions which will be presented. The Petitions may come in in great numbers, they may show the strength, or it may be the universality of the belief that the charges are true, but the House, when it comes to decide the question, will not decide upon the averments in the Petition, or of the belief of the petitioners, but upon its own consciousness of what is right and just, having heard the statement of the hon. Member and of any others who may support him, and the statements of other hon. Members which may be made in opposition to his case. Therefore, so far as the charges against the Judges go, the fact of the Petitions not being presented which may be expected—it may be during the next three months—is no kind of answer to the claim that the charges should be proceeded with and the question be determined. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in his speech to-night has made an appeal, as I made an appeal, to the hon. Member for Stoke, urging that this question of the character of the Judges should be brought to issue at some early period, and I will ask the right hon. Gentleman if he cannot undertake to say that an early day, whatever day may be convenient to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke, the Government would give him one of their days, in order to discuss what he may be prepared to bring forward. I tell the hon. Member with the greatest sincerity—and I hope he will believe it—that I make this appeal to him with no feeling of opposition to him, or with the view of putting any difficulty in his path in regard to anything that is honest and right, but it is because I am sure that in all parts of the country where statements that I think are incorrect, and unjust, and exaggerated to an extraordinary and incredible degree, are made to thousands of persons who have no fair opportunity of correcting them from their own investigation and their own knowledge, a great and real injury is inflicted upon the Commonwealth. The hon. Gentleman is not callous—he cannot be callous to the appeals which are made to him in this House to bring forward the Motion which stands in his name on the Paper. His speech tonight has been one which must show to the House how much it might gain if the hon. Gentleman abstained from some things which we think extravagant and ill-advised, and devoted himself to the public service and the service of his constituents as a Member of this House. His speech is one to which I have listened with great interest, and it only leads me to lament the more the course which he has taken under the aggravation to which he points, an aggravation which will justify great allowance for him. I say I am only sorry that he should not be able to get rid of, if it were possible, the sense of injury under which he acts, and become one of the 650 Members of this House who in the main, I believe, are honestly endeavouring to do their duty to those who send them here and to the country at large.


said, he should be one of the last persons in that House to complain of the good faith or of the good intentions of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley), or, in some respects, perhaps, even of the hon. Member for Stoke; but when the hon. Gentleman complained of his treatment in that House, and described himself as a martyr or a Pariah, he (Mr. Waddy) desired to state broadly and boldly, and in the most uncompromising manner, that the treatment which he had received was far kinder than he had any right to expect, considering the language to which he had committed himself with regard to that House before he came into it. There was a Paper pretty well known with which the hon. Member's name was indissolubly connected; and sooner or later it might perhaps be the duty of some hon. Member to ask the hon. Member for Stoke, whether it was with or without his consent that, week after week, it was publicly stated that The Englishman was edited by himself, and whether or not it was true that a paper containing the most scandalous statements with regard to hon. Members of that House and which bore his name was, in reality, edited by a Member of the British House of Commons? It was all very well in the presence of the Speaker to speak "with bated breath" and in reverential terms of that House. Of course, one would not pretend to doubt the perfect sincerity of the expressions now used; but what was the language published in connection with his name a short time before he entered the House? In a letter stated to have been addressed by himself to the people of Manchester, and signed Edward Vaughan Kenealy, there occurred this passage— We have no man in Parliament with courage enough or knowledge enough to meet the Speaker when he dares to say that he will not receive the Petitions of the people. We have no man to complain of the violated laws and outraged institutions of our once free country. Everything in that House and in the newspaper Press savours of falsehood, bribery, servility, and corruption, and I can hardly conceive any great nation that has sunk into a more degraded condition than we have. To stem this torrent which seems likely to sweep us all away headlong is the object which I have now in view. I wish to arouse the whole Kingdom to a just indignation at the conduct of the three Judges, of Cross, and of Brand the Speaker. I wish to test whether the old English spirit still survives. On the same page the House of Commons was spoken of as— A House of corruption, bowing down like a body of footmen, or spaniels, or beaten, frightened curs before Speaker Brand, when he dared to refuse Petitions from Englishmen, contrary to the Bill of Eights and all our ancient laws from time immemorial. He (Mr. Waddy) ventured to think it was not with the best possible grace that the man whose hand, at all events, presumably, penned those passages should come to that House two or three weeks afterwards and complain that Members were not over anxious to associate with him. Still, let it be said that when any hon. Member came into that House, however far he might have forgotten himself before, it was their duty and their practice, until he challenged their memory, to try and forget what he might have said before his election. Therefore, with that reminder of what might have slipped the hon. Member's recollection, he passed to the Petition he wished them to deal with. It was a Petition, the purport of which was that a man who, on the statement of his own case, was disbelieved by one jury—and, on the statement of the case against him, was convicted by another jury—who, on the statement of his own counsel, was a man whose imposture, assuming it to have been one, was almost the most venial part of his character—that that man having been at last safely committed to prison, the House ought to be called upon to recommend Her Majesty to let him loose on society. Not that there had been any slip or mistake in the trial, but that, without any fresh trial, that man should be pardoned and released, for some reason which he had not yet been able thoroughly to comprehend. The only reason given for it that night was the somewhat strange one from the logical mind of the hon. Member for Peterborough, that the man should not have been convicted, because his trial took so long a time. According to that argument, no criminal, however vile or guilty, if he could call one or two hundred witnesses, could ever be convicted, because his trial would last so long. Those who, for reasons best known to themselves, had been agitating the country, could not have a bonâ fide expectation that that sentence would be reversed without rhyme or reason. The hon. Member for Peterborough told them the House was responsible for the excitement and the uncomfortable feeling abroad in the country in regard to the convict Orton; while the hon. Member for Stoke said there was a flame in the country which they ought to take care not to spread. Did that language come well from the lips of the firebrand, and were they to be asked to do what they verily believed to be contrary to justice, in order that the flame, which he had done his best to kindle, might be allayed? [Cheers. Mr. WHALLEY: Oh, oh!] He was delighted to find there was actually one man besides the hon. Member for Stoke who disagreed with him (Mr. Waddy); but he was also delighted that the majority of Members of that House would agree in opinion as to who was chiefly responsible for setting the country aflame. Somebody was to blame for this, and the man was he whose voice they had heard in the House that evening; because for a long time past, by such means as he had already mentioned, that man had been permitted, unfortunately without contradiction, to set on foot and keep on foot throughout the length and breadth of the land a system of misstatements, exaggerations, and slanders that was perfectly shocking to every right-minded person. [Mr. WHALLEY: What are they?] He had not the slightest objection to describe them, though if he did not feel that the matter was becoming too serious to be laughed down, he would not help to give notoriety to the slander, ribaldry, and rubbish which were to be found in that wretched publication. Was it a right thing that there should be published from week to week a print in which the Judges of the land, the Speaker of the House, hon. Members on both sides, anybody and everybody who did not happen to take the fancy or suit the taste of one particular person, should be constantly slandered in the most vulgar, scurrilous, and defamatory style? [Mr. WHALLEY: Why do you not prosecute him?] That was not a question for him (Mr. Waddy) to answer, but if the hon. Member only exercised ordinary patience he would find that he was going to ask it. If he were asked to say how this excitement and confusion were produced in this country he would direct attention to this notice in The EnglishmanLet no time, therefore, be lost in organizing the great Hyde Park demonstration, and the meeting of delegates. Let not an hour be wasted in preparing and signing Petitions. In the same print, a late Member of that House, now one of Her Majesty's Judges was constantly called by a nickname that was intended as an imputation of fraud and forgery; three of Her Majesty's Judges were almost incessantly defamed; Her Majesty's Solicitor General was treated with contumely and insult; the right hon. Gentleman who had spoken last was treated in the same style, and, indeed, no reputation was sacred enough to be respected. While all that went on unchecked, no wonder there were confusion and trouble in the country. He had said almost everybody was defamed; but he must do stern and strict justice. There was one remarkable exception. The volume he held in his hand, which would appear to be written by one person, contained the following:— A man so highly gifted, and uniting in himself numerous accomplishments of the highest order, to an undaunted courage and a generous philanthropic disposition, will not find his equal in the whole of that Assembly at St. Stephen's. Deeply learned in the knowledge of the Constitution, it will be hard to point out a rival to him in this respect; experienced as a lawyer, he has taken the highest honours of the Bar; as an orator, impartial scholars have pronouced passages in his ever memorable speeches during the great trial to be equal in sublimity of thought and refinement of expression to the loftiest efforts of Burke or Chatham; as an editor, by the very power of his name, he has obtained such a circulation for his journal as was never before attained in the same space of time; as a poet, he has supplied materials for the productions of a whole host of fledglings that now appear among us; as a linguist, it would form a long list only to mention the names of the languages he is the complete master of. To write a most beautiful stanza in English, to translate it into "Welsh, Irish, French, Latin, Greek, and Hindustanee, is to Dr. Kenealy one of the easiest of all tasks. Most of the editors of the daily papers would be inflated with unendurable conceit if they only knew as much of literature as the learned doctor has forgotten—the very remnants of his garments would make them a splendid suit of clothes in comparison with which their present attire would seem beggarly. Such is the man, then, those noble Englishmen have returned for Stoke-upon-Trent, undaunted by the spleen of a Lord Chief Justice. There was much more of the same sort, but he really could not go on with it any longer. The serious part of the matter was, that it was believed by hundreds and it might be thousands of deluded people; and that alone made it worth while to quote such rubbish in the House of Commons. How long was that kind of warfare to continue? Not only were the acts of public men challenged, but the attempt was made to deter them from doing their duty and make them wretched by threats of dragging into public light the absurdities or the follies of their earlier days. Weapons were brought to the work of journalism and the strife of politics more like the scalping knife and the tomahawk of the savage than anything else; and if public men did what they thought to be their duty, they were to be reminded of "domestic circumstances" If a public man did not choose exactly in all ways to bow down to the editor of that odious publication, there was to be something discovered in some strange and unheard-of fashion, or invented, which should do duty to bring him into discredit. It had even been said—he did not know, or care to inquire, how truly—that some of those who were attacked in that print, and of whom stories had been narrated or darkly hinted, were unwilling to come and face the light of day, because those stories might have been based perchance on something or other that had been extracted in hours of friendship in bygone days. If that were true, these slanders were written by a hand which had received benefits from the very man on whom he tried to heap ignominy and disgrace. But if it were true, he believed every one in that House would join him in saying that in comparison with that infamy even falsehood itself was venial. The hon. Member for Stoke said he should postpone his Motion for a time until he had received more Petitions. By what means? By continuing to spread this poison throughout the country? It was more and more necessary, therefore, for the House to insist on the Motion being brought forward. It was no longer the case of the wretched convict Orton; it had not been the case of the wretched convict for some time past; it was the case of those to whom they were accustomed to look up to with honour and reverence. In conclusion, he should ask two different questions from two different people. First, he would adopt one remark of the hon. Member for Peterborough, and he would turn to the Government Bench and ask "Why do you not prosecute?" He affirmed distinctly that the country expected it, and said it was high time. In this country people might go on for a time trampling decency under foot, but a time must come when a snake, however contemptible a snake, deserved to be killed. In the name of the country, of justice, and of everything dear to England, he called upon the Government to bring it to a short and speedy issue. There should be a criminal information filed against the person responsible for the abominable slanders and the wretched defamations of character of which there seemed to be no end. And, in the last place, he would ask a question from the hon. Member for Stoke. For any high-minded Englishman and a Member of the House of Commons to submit to have his name connected with these vile, scandalous libels was almost incredible; and while he hoped the Government would take speedy action in the matter, the House of Commons was entitled also to call upon one Member to say aye or no "Have we among us the man responsible for this vile work?


said, as one who had endured a criminal prosecution himself, he begged the House, under the spell of the burning speech to which they had just listened, not to order a criminal prosecution. He believed the hon. Member had greatly exaggerated the feeling of the country; and he therefore asked the House not to be hurried away or to rush into such a false step as that suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple—such a proceeding must have a very bad effect in any case.


said, he had heard the speeches of the hon. Member for Stoke last night and that evening, and he yet shrank from attempting to substantiate those charges which, left as they were, must be felt by every right-thinking man in the country as offensive—to wit, against the Judges of the land and the administration of the law of the land. To defame that House would be a trifle. To defame the Crown would even more be a trifle, by comparison, in his (Mr. Macdonald's) estimation; but the law of this country was that which bound one man to another—which gave us repose and confidence the like of which no other country possessed. Men who went about defaming those institutions so sacred were guilty of the vilest offence known in the country. Not a moment should be lost in proving such charges to be true or false. If true, let them be established; and if false, as he believed they were, let no more be heard of them. He knew the people of the country as well as the hon. Member for Stoke—his (Mr. Macdonald's) knowledge was not based upon an imaginary grievance, but extended over 25 years—and he affirmed positively that no such feeling as the hon. Member had described was in existence. Let them have the "abyss," if there was one. He did not fear for the effect of the slanders on high and upright persons, but he did fear that the law and the administration of it might he brought into contempt by such writings as the hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Waddy) had read to them. He read in the paper the other day a speech of the hon. Member for Stoke, in which he said that on his arrival in the House 300 Members would cry out at his terrible presence. When he did come, however, nobody appeared to be frightened or alarmed; but now the hon. Member was here, he called upon him to bring forward his charges. If he did not bring them forward, then the Government must take some strong step to give to the people a feeling of confidence that they should not tolerate these slanders any longer.


said, he must deny that he had used some of the expressions which the hon. Member for Stoke had imputed to him. As a Member of that House—and he was sure that those who felt most strongly with regard to the hon. Member's conduct were animated by the same sentiment—he desired that there still might be a locus penitentiæ for the hon. Member. He hoped that the advice of the hon. and learned Member for Barnstaple (Mr. Waddy) with regard to a criminal prosecution would not be accepted, and in that view, he would appeal to the hon. Member for Stoke to leave the course which he had pursued, to abandon the phantom idea he had taken up, to endeavour to occupy in that House the position of the Representative of a great constituency, to employ his talents for the honour of his country, and not to force Her Majesty's Government to that which would be so deeply to be regretted—the criminal prosecution of a Member of that House.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till Monday next.