§ Lord Wynford moved, that the Order of the Day for the further consideration of the petition of Thomas Bittleston be read.
§ The Order of the Day and the Petition were read.
§ Lord Wynford moved, that Thomas Bittleston be brought to the Bar of the House in custody of the Usher of the Black Rod; and that, having acknowledged his offence, and expressed his regret for it, he should be reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor, and discharged, on payment of his fees.
§ The Motion was carried.
The Lord Chancellor
addressed him in the following terms:—Thomas Bittleston, you have acknowledged that you are the publisher of a composition which this House has unanimously pronounced to be a gross violation of its privileges. You have acknowledged that you had the superintendence and control of the paper in which the publication of that composition was made, and that you could have prevented its publication, or have altered its composition, if you had so thought fit. You have since presented a petition to this House expressing your regret for the grave offence you have committed, and you have thrown yourself on the mercy of this House, praying that in administering the justice due to itself, and due to the King's subjects at large—for its privileges are the privileges of those subjects—it would be pleased to temper that justice with mercy. The House has listened to your prayer, and has directed me to reprimand you at the Bar of the House, and to order that you be discharged from 1066 the custody of the officer on the payment of your fees. If any other person than myself had been the individual against whom the violation of the privileges of this House had been committed, I should have been disposed to dwell at greater length on the unparalleled enormity of this offence; nor am I to be deterred by a false delicacy from giving that offence its proper appellation, merely because I was the individual against whom it was directed. It was an offence directed not against the man, but against the office—not the office of a Peer in his Parliamentary capacity, but against a Peer in the exercise of his judicial office—the highest office which any of the King's subjects can exercise; and if such an offence could be passed over without animadversion and due punishment, there would be an end to the judicial authority which this House administers to twenty millions of the King's subjects living within the United Kingdom, being the highest Court of Justice in this kingdom. Nevertheless, enough has been said to express the unanimous feeling of reprobation entertained by this House with regard to the composition of which you have acknowledged yourself the publisher; and let neither you nor any other person who hears of this, flatter himself, that if such an offence is repeated, the lenity of this punishment will be suffered to form any the slightest precedent for visiting again with the same lenity any after offence of a like kind. You are hereby discharged from the custody in which you now are, on the payment of your fees.
§ Mr. Bittleston retired.