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went on to state, that his own ca reflected any
discredit on his former was by no means too favourable a occupation. Several other persons specimen of the class of persons took part in the debate ; when, it who were his contemporaries in the being understood that the benchers same employment. He could re. in Lincoln's Inn would revoke their collect about eight or nine of them, law, Mr. Sheridan withdrew his and of these he did not know one, motion, whose subsequent conduct in life
Mr. Lethbridge's Notice of a Motion resfecting Sir Francis Burdett-Debate
on Privilege Debate on Mr. Brand's Moticn for Adjournnient-Debate on Sir Francis Burd:ti's Motion respecting Captain Lake-Debate on Sir Francis Burdett's Letter~ Division on the Resolutions and commitments of Sir Francis to the Tower---Letter from Sir Francis Burdett to the Speaker Eramination of the Sergeant-at-Arms-Opinions of tbe Attorney-General. Debate on Sir Francis Burdett's Letter resumed Lord Ossulston's Question respecting tbe Verdict of Wilful Murder against a Life-Guardsman.
ARCH 26th. Mr. Leth- its privileges, it is my intention to an honourable baronet, now in his A member wished him to defer place, wherher he acknowledges a it until the discussion upon the certain paper, sigred by his name, Scheldt expedition was over. The which, with certain arguments upon paper upon which the complaint the same subject, have appeared in originated, he could lay befure the a work pretty well known, I mean huuse the next day. Mr. Cobbett's Register?"
Mr. Lethbridge stated, that he Sir Francis Burdett.-"The paper would the next day lay the paper of alluded to was signed with my which he complained before the name; it is almost needless, house, and then appoint the day for therefore, for me to say, it was print- the discussion of his proposed moed with my authority, and that the tion. arguments which were affixed were Lord Folkestone contended, that drawn up by me."
as it was a question of privilege it Mr. Lethbridge.-“ I thank the superseded all other motions, and honourable baronet for the frank- ought to be ciscussed immediately. ness with which he has answered Lord Temple considered it the my question ; and I have now only usual practice for the house to reto give notice that, considering that ceive the complaint in the first in, publication as a high insult upon stance, and then to fix the period ihis house, and a gross violation of for the discussion.
The speaker observed, that the ground that no discussion was alusage in such cases was, first, if the lowed upon the mere giving of a member against whom it was in- notice. tended to prefer a motion of com- The speaker answered, that the plaint was absent, to move for his noble lord, upon a question of priattendance upon an appointed day. vilege, was strictly in order. The If he was present, then it was op- house tolerated upon such occasions tional with the honourable member a discussion, which, as it led to no intending to prefer such complaint, decision, might more properly be either to state it now, or at such termed a consulting upon future day as he deemed mosi com- which it would be most expedient patible with the general disposition, for the house to pursue. of the business before the house. The chancellor of the exchequer
Ms. Lethbridge said, that not remarked, that when the matter of knowing whether the honourable complaint was before them, the baronet would be in his place or house would then be best able to not, he had that day come down to decide upon its own impression. It the house with a determination of was possible that as the honourable moving for his attendance. How. member (Mr. Lethbridge) had no ever, when he saw the honourable reason to know that the honourable baronet in his place, he felt himself baronet would be in his place, he bound in common courtesy to state did not perhaps come down so preto him his intention of bringing the pared with his intended motion as subject before the house.
he otherwise would be disposed to Sir Francis Burdett denied that do. The course he had pursued the honourable member had ac- was highly proper ; first, in giving quainted him with the subject of his notice to the honourable baronet, motion. As he had unequivocally where it was so highly due; and answered his question, it could not next, when so serious a complaint, be considered intrusive on him (sir to the house at large. Francis) to ask the honourable
Mr. Charles Wynne thought member to state the nature of that there would be less interruption his intended motion.
to the business in which the house Lord Folkestone considered it was about to engage, in bringing contrary to every precedent of par- the complaint forward now, before liament to delay, even for an hour, the discussion was commenced, the discussion upon this grave and rather than on the next day, when serious charge. Had, indeed, the the house would probably be in the honourable member kept his im- very middle of the debate. pression of the honourable baronet's · Mr. Lethbridge persevered in conduct in his own breast, then his notice for the next day, and the there might be some reason for the conversation dropped. postponement. But it was impos
March 27. Mr. Lethbridge rose, sible, in his opinion, to agree to pursuant to the notice which he such suspension, after the house had had given when he last addressed been told that it was highly insult. the house. In rising to address ed, and that its privileges were them again on his subject, he felt grossly violated.
great pain and reluctance, more General Gascoigne called the than he had ever felt on any public noble lord to order, upon the occasion. He was now to preter a
complaint against a member of the of imprisonment in the house of commons of the united kingdom, commons," published in Mr. Cobfor a violation, a gross and novel bett's Register of the 24th March, violation, of the privileges of that was read by the clerk of the house. honourable house. He should not After the reading, lord Folkestone now go further, than by laying on rose to order. The' honourable the table the ground of the charge mover (Mr. Lethbridge), on his as admitted and authenticated by calling the attention of the house the author; he had marked certain to the paper which had been just parts of the document on which he read, had offered nothing of which founded the complaint which he they could fairly take notice. had then the honour to, prefer. That paper, after an hour and a
The speaker wished to know half occupied in reading it, suppliwhether ihe honourable membered no peculiar charge ; it must be desired that the whole of the pub- for the honourable mover to make lication, or only the distinct parts, out the charge, for nothing could should be read.
be more informal or absurd than to Mr. Lethbridge regretted the ne- call on his honourable friend (sir cessity of taking up the time of the Francis Burdett) for an answer, till house, when other business of more, he had heard something more defi. or at least of equal, importance nite than the general contents of was before them ; but the manner that voluminous publication. of reading was indifferent to him; Mr. Lethbridge, in reply to what he had marked the passages, but had fallen from the noble lord had no objection to the reading of (Folkestone), would only remind the whole.
the house that he had professed Mr. H. Sumner thought that himself ready to point out the pas. the reading of the whole was un- sages on which the complaint was necessary; the convenience would raised. He had stated that he naturally be best consulted by the marked those passages, but he had paper being read only as connected not thought it proper to press his with the charge. Ít rested with opinion on the house, lest it might the honourable mover to select the be said that his complaint was supparts with which the house was ported by garbled documents. He concerned.
intended, from the beginning, to Mr. Speaker: - The form of adopt any line which the house parliamentary usage must be that thought proper to choose for him, which the parliament shall adopt; because he had brought forward that form is, in instances like the the matter only as affecting the present, that the whole complaint house; he had no motive of persobe heard, and then the answers nal hostility; he stood forward which the accused has ready for his there out of respect to the country, exculpation. The accused then and as the representative of as inwithdraws, and the mover of the dependent a body of men as any in charge brings forward his proposi- Old England, He would now protion, founded on the matters which ceed to state these passages which may have been submitted to the he had marked. The first of these house.
was onc in preamble of the ada The “Address and argument of dress, containing the following exsir Francis Burdett on the power traordinary language:
« The house of commons having encroachments upon the rights and passed a vote, which amounts to a liberties of Englishmen.” declaration that an order of theirs The next passage was from that is to be of more importance than part of the publication which was Magna Charta and the laws of the entitled the Argument. land, I think it my duty to lay my “ Had not I been prevented, by sentiments thereon before my con- indisposition, from being present stituents, whose character as free- when the house of commons passed men, and even whose personal safe. by vote a sentence of imprisonment ty, depend in a great degree upon of Mr. Gale Jones, I should have the decision of this question; a endeavoured to show, that, under question of no less importance than the false notion of privilege, they this: Whether our liberties be still were exercising a power, and comto be secured by the laws of our mitting an act of oppression,ill suit. forefathers, or be to lie at the abso- ed to the character of guardians of lute mercy of a part of our fellow- public liberty, and destructive of the subjects, collected together by first and most important object of means which it is not necessary for the constitution, viz. the personal me to describe.”
security of the subject.” The next passage to which he The next passage was that comwould call their attention was that mencing in the following words: one in which the address talked of “ Founded on such a basis, fortia, the place of imprisonment:
fied by such authorities as I "all “If they have the absolute pow. have occasion to appeal to in the er of imprisoning and releasing, progress of this inquiry, I have litwhy may they not send their prison. ile doubt of being able to convince ers to York jail, as well as to a every impartial mind, that the house jail in London? Why not confine of commons, by proceeding to judge.' men in solitary cells, or load them ment-passing a sentence of imwith chains and bolts? They have prisonment-issuing a warrant of not gone those lengths yet; but commitment-has gone beyond its what is to restrain them, if they are prescribed limits, acted in a manner to be the sole judge of the extent inconsistent with the ends of the of their own powers, and if they are institution, and violated the fundato exercise those powers without mental principles of the law and any control, and without leaving constitution of the land.” the parties whom they choose to The next passage was : punish any mode of appeal, any “ By proceeding thus they have means of redress ?”
exercised a juridiction not vested “ That I deny,” says Mr. Leth. in them, a jurisdiction beyond bridge.
the limits of king, lords, and comThe next was from the conclusion mons, while Magna Charta remains of the address, which terminated unrepealed; and repealed it never in these words :
can be till England shall have found “ In doing this, I shall do all her grave in the corruption of a that now remains in my power to.
house of commons.” wards the correction of this, as I The next obnoxious passage was deem it, most enormous abuse of that subsequent to the speaker's power, and most dangerous of all warrant:
Let this instrument, this thing, itself from a series of unjust and szi generis, be contrasted with the unjustifiable aspersions, and punish description of the properties of a the violation of their privileges in legal warrant. Does it not evident. what manner might, to their wisly appear, that this piece of unseal- dom, appear most fitting. ed paper, signed by the speaker, by Sir Francis Burdett said, that the whichi an untried subject has béen lionourable member (Mr. Lethoutlawed, bears no feature of lega. bridge) must point out the nature lity ; and that, from the commence of the charge. There was to his ment of this proceeding, in its pro. (sir Francis's) mind no charge in gress, and to its conclusion, there the extracts which had been read is not one step that has not been from his address to his constituents. marked in a peculiar manner' with That address contained all of ardisrespect for the laws; a disrespect gument that he knew on the subin which all the parts have been ject, and he could now add nothing wonderfully consistent throughout, to those arguments. The address in constituting the most unlawful was his. The arguments which it act the mind of man can possibly contained were his; he was ready conceive?"
to see them subjected to the niost Mr. Lethbridge now called the rigorous inquiry'; but till he should attention of the house to a passage, hear from the honourable member which he thought would of itself something in refutation of his prinsubsiantiate all complaint ;--it was ciples, he could not undertake their this:
defence. Was it to be supposed “ But no wonder, when they have that the simple act of arguing on so entirely departed from the ends the powers of the commons was a of their institution, as was offered crime? Would not the house ento be proved by Mr. Maddocks, and dure even an abstract doubt of acknowledged by themselves in the their powers? This doubt was the never-to-be-forgotten morning of whole of the charge hitherto adduthe 11th of May, 1809, when from ced; if a stronger one lay behind, it being the lower or inferior (for it is must be brought forward before he the same sense, one being an Eng- could be expected to meet it by an lish, the othera Latin word) branch answer. He was willing to abide of the legislature, they have become by the fact and argument of that the proprietors, by burgage tenure, paper; he would stand the issue : of the whole representation, and in but if it were even the pleasure of that capacity, infiated with their the house that he should now with. high-flown fancifulideas of majesty, draw, he was ready to withdraw. and tricked out in the trappings of Mr. Speaker-" This is the form royalty, think privilege and protec- of proceeding; an honourable memtion beneath their dignity, assume ber states his complaint to the house; the sword of prerogative, and lord the honourable member who is the it equally over the king and the object of the complaint is then heard people.”
in reply; he admits, or repels, or These were the specific passages denies the statement. It is the cuson which the complaint was found. tom that he should then withdraw, ed: on these he stood, calling upon and it becomes the part of the hothat honourable house to vindicate nourable mover to submit a motion,