§ Counsel were called in, and the examination of witnesses on this Bill resumed.
§ Mr. Sergeant Heath felt it his duty to call the attention of their Lordships to a paragraph which appeared in a morning paper of that day, and which was calculated to excite a strong prejudice in the public mind against the case which he had the honour to advocate, inasmuch as the statements put forth in it were likely to operate so as to prevent witnesses from coming forward and tendering their evidence in such a manner as would give effect to the Bill now pending before their Lordships' House. He would say nothing further on the subject, but merely confine himself to reading the paragraph, leaving it to their Lordships to take such steps on the matter as to them should seem meet. The learned gentleman then read from the Morning Post of the day, as follows:—
§ 'Certain it is, that since the conclusion of the examination of the first two or three witnesses, he (meaning the Lord Chancellor) appears to have entertained a conviction, that the Bill must not pass; that 951 it is based on the foulest conspiracy, and supported by the foulest perjury. We must say, that in the defeat of this conspiracy, and the detection of this perjury, he has exhibited both acuteness of perception, and integrity of purpose.'
The Lord Chancellor
said, that so far as he was concerned, so far as the paragraph which the learned Counsel had read alluded to him, nothing could possibly be more unfounded than the statement therein set forth. Not only was it not true that he had expressed any opinion, but up to that time he had formed no opinion on the subject; for how could he, when he had only partially heard one side of the case? It was his invariable practice to hear both sides before he made up his mind on any case, and from that rule he should not depart on the present occasion. He repeated, that he had not formed, and could not form, for the reasons he had stated, any opinion; and a single word had not escaped him which could justify any such erroneous inference.
§ Mr. Sergeant Heath said, that he would at present make no further application to their Lordships on the subject; but he at the same time deemed it right to say, that in future he should feel it his duty to apply to their Lordships to protect the persons who came forward as witnesses in the cause from such attacks.
§ The Earl of Durham
said, that his name had also been used in the newspaper alluded to, and that all that was stated respecting him was neither more nor less than a gross and impudent fabrication. Words were put into his mouth that he had never uttered; but at present he would not deign to notice such conduct further, than to repeat, that it was not only a gross and impudent, but, he would add, a wilful, fabrication.
The Lord Chancellor
had only a word or two to add to the observations he had already made. He wished to tender it as his advice, that their Lordships should abstain from taking notice of publications of the description of that alluded to until they were so often repeated, that they could not shut their eyes to them. He concurred with his noble friend, that it was better not to notice the matter this time. The noble and learned Lord then said, that as the examination of the witnesses in support of the Bill was likely to occupy a considerable time, they should commence sitting each day at four o'clock rather than begin at an earlier hour.
§ The subject was dropped.