11 AUGUST 1838, Page 1


WHATEVER interest may belong to the proceedings of Parlia- ment, has this week centered in the House of Lords ; where one subject at least has been debated with ability and spirit. Not content with exposing the technical illegality of the DURHAM ordi- nances, and by no means averse to anticipate any merely official in- . terference of the Government, Lord BROUGHAM has introduced a bill to "declare the true intent and meaning" of the Canada Coercion Act, and to indemnify the authors and the executors of the said ordinances. This bill pronounces the ordinances illegal, but justiflablei—a form of condemning the offence while protect- ing the offenders, for which Lord MANSFIELD'S authority was cited. In arguing for the necessity of passing his bill, Lord BROUGHAM had ample opportunity of expatiating on the breach of strict law which Lord DURHAM and his Special Council had corn. muted. Very unlike the drones in Downing Street, BROUGHAM makes it but "a word and a blow :" on Tuesday he threatened Ministe with his motion; on Wednesday the bill was ready ; on Thursday he was prepared with an elaborate argument, fortified by precedents and acts of Parliament, in its support. The case sgaiust the elvernment of 4 aeada—the case of laundering iNe- gality, not ke'letea.ion or bad policy—was clea-ly made out. .* he criminal law of England was extended to Canada, by Acts -orPiTrliainent, not repea ler-formally Zr virtoaltS. I.O.4'Dutiiie-rtiand-fili-Council were only empowered to exercise the authority possessed by the suspended Legislature; their au- : thoritsonoreoecr, being_ expressl limit9ellye a clans:4'771re Megeion Act, which prolele P emmettnenC7x- sistent with those of England. Bnl1statute passed , melte reign of WILLIAM the Third, persons accused of treason were allowed time for defence, challenge of jurors, and other privileges. But all these forms have been disregarded : the Cana- -diat-Mji.ernment fulminates a decree, which either means nothing in its conditional threats, or which strains power to pass sen- te ice upon untried men, without paying the least attention to the regulations provided by law for the protection of accused persons. In the case of NELSON and his associates, Lord BRO UGH AM, speak- ing from special information' declared that they had refused to con- fess treason, and only admitted resistance to the established authori- ties, which might or might not be thereafter pronounced treason by the competent tribunals dealing with all the circumstances accord- ing to the regular forms of law : so that, if this statement were cor- rect, even the excuse for the ordinances, that the parties had con- fessed the crime laid to their charge, could not be pleaded. Again, said Lord BROUGHAM, there were two misnomers, which in those cases would vitiate the indictments ; and against one of tile par- ties who had " absconded," and who was doomed to death along with PAN sleety, there was only a charge of sedition. The ito. Justice to PAPINE AU and his comrades was aggravated by the fact that they had no warning—though the law of England, ap- plicable to the case, provides ample and long warning—of the sentence to be pronounced against them in their absence.

Supposing, however, that every other part of the proceedings had been according to law, the Governor and Council had no au- thority in Bermuda ; and whosoever should attempt forcibly to detain transported Canadians there, would be liable to an action

for false imprisonment. On this point nobody pretended to hesi- tate : the Ministers admitted that Lord DURHAM had no power in Bermuda; and Lord GLENELG offered to write to Sir ANDREW LEITH HAY with directions to set the banished men a,. liberty on their arrival.

With respect to the power of sentencing prisoners without trial, Lord GLENELG and Lord Chancellor COTTENHAM argued

that it was substantially vested in the Governor and Council, as representing the suspended Legislature of Lower Cantle. But nothing that could pass muster as proof was alleged by either in

support of this assumption. Lord COTTE NH AM wished tiv: House to believe that the Euglish crit"—rTgaTa7—v becaide—ornone effect after the establishment of a represe_titative gvernmejit erovinee, in 17 91 ;:6111jeleugkahaw any. Wee _ na egislaTuire to seperseik Ihat laweeand therefore his argument nd to this—that there is no criminal law at all in Lower Canada! And, even then, the ureleibitory clause in the Canada Coercing 1311{, before mentioned shoul vernor an ouncil of the laws of _n1nnL_ e leeDle attempt to Slelend the Government of Canada hav- ing failed, the question arose, whether it was necessary, or politic. to pass a measure, which must have the effect of injuring Lord DURHAM very materially, in the opinion of the people whom he was sent to rule. It was noticed that Lord BROUGHAM, in his bill, admitted that the conduct he so strongly condemned was justifiable, and therefore sanctioned a perseverance in it. Such being the case—the present effect, noless than tbe admitted intent ion, of Lord DURHAM'S proceedings being good—was it worth while to undermine his authority and encourage naalecontents by a formal condemnation of one irregular act ? To this appeal no sufficient reply appears to have been made, except the danger of the ag- grieved parties commencing prosecutions. The Duke of WEL- LINGTON and Lord LYNDHURST intimated that they would be satisfied if Ministers would engage to annul Lord DURHAM'S acts: but Lord MELBOURNE, probably perceiving that this would be equivalent to an open quarrel with Lord DURHAM, did not give the required assurance. It was safer to bestow upon the House a few of the saws, his stock in trade, kept ready for all demands ; and to hint that any mischievous consequences which might ensue, ought to be laid to the charge of those who consented to arm Lord DURHAM with extraordinary powers and then restrained him when he used them. In this way, said the Premier, a trap was laid for the Governor of Canada. The Duke of WateeNGTON took these observations to himself; and, with unusual animation of manner and form of expression, threw back upon Ministers the responsi- bility. of the deeds of their own Governor and their own Council; protesting at the same time against the ungenerous use to which Lord A/FT nnuttris turned the support he had given the VOlierr.• thc:.^ hour of need. The Duke declared that Lot,. BIOUGHAM had made out his case; and followed up his declara- tion by voting for the second reading of the bill. Finally, the Ministers were beaten, on a division, by 54 to 36. It is easy to impute factious and personal motives to Lord BROUGHAM in pressing this subject on Parliament. Such corn- plaires come with little propriety from the men who, by their ma- nifest unwillingness to defend Lord DURHAM, encouraged the really factious and paltry attacks on him, while as yet he had com- mitted no informalities, and was entitled to be upheld in the re- sponsible exercise of the powers that belonged to him. Lord BROUGHAM, whatever his motives may be—and it is of litt7e im- portance whether they are patriotic or spiteful—has a case which is very fit to be brought before the Legislature; for it really involves important considerations, not only ia reference to the immediate consequences, but the effect which may hereafter be produced, when the acts of bold DURHAM'S Government come to be scanned by the colonists. The argument of Lord MELBOURNE, that such questions as this ought not to be mooted against a man in Lord DURHAM'S position, is altogether invalid in the present case. The ordinances were not like an irregularity which ended of itself. They were doubly faulty ; for, whilst perfectly inoperative for the objects of their author, they carried evil consequinces in their train. The silence or inaction of the Peers, would not have insured corre- sponding quietude amongst the persons banished to Bermuda— they would have sued out their habeas corpus, and then brought their actions, though every lord had been dumb. And there was this further evil—an evil, indeed, still likely to spring up : sup- posing (a very possible case) that the Canadians were disap- pointed with Lord DURHAM'S suegestions, or with the measures founded upon them—that Canada was again in a critical state, dissatisfied and ripe for revolt—would passing over these irre- gularities quietly, have prevented the banished from return- log? Had they so returned, could they have been hanged, or even deputed, without such a manifest straining of the law as would have exalted them into the ranks of martyrs, and inflamed dissatis- faction perhaps to insurrection ? And were they allowed to re- main at large, the example of such men braving the Government with impunity, must have given a shock to authority and an en- couragement to discontent. From this last consequence, indeed, we are nut yet free : as soon as Lord GLENELG'S letter arrives at Ber- muda. Dr. Meson; and his compatriots may take a passage to Canada, pardoned but not punishable by Lord DURHAM'S ordi- nances, unless the Lords think fit to pass an ex post judicio law. The effect of Thursday's vote upon Lord DURHAM himself may be guessed at. The Premier said it was a direct condemnation of his

conduct. Should the Governor-General view

he will probably demand his recall. His influence in Canada must be seriously injured; and he must already have discovered his mistake in lending himself to the embarrassed Whigs; who are consoled for the attacks his proceedings have provoked, by the knowledge that the business reputation of a formidable rival has been at the same time damaged.

The Tory Lords unwisely adhered to their nine-pound franchise for the Irish Municipalities ; thus giving Ministers an excuse for rejecting an unpopular bill, and providing them with a

small capital to trade upon hereafter. Very courteously and quietly did Lord JOHN RUSSELL, on Thursday, move to postpone the subject till next. session ; when he flatters himself that at length the two Houses will agree upon a franchise. Great pro- gress, he professes to think, has now been made towards a settle- ment,—that progress consisting in advances of Whigs to Tories, rather faster perhaps than the latter have retrograded. In the next session, Lord Jona! RUSSELL will probably bid another pound, and thus come up to the lordly price. In the mean while, he hopes that a modicum of popularity may be acquired by the agitation of a fresh measure. After the display of this session, it will be surprising if any portion of the public—always excepting the Irish jobbers—can be made to feel or show any interest on the question, as long as it is managed by the men who have brought it to the present ridiculous pass. Two good bills have been thrown out by the Lords this week,— one for improving Prison Discipline, noticed elsewhere ; the other for putting the Post-office under the management of a Board of Commissioners. On the latter subject nothing new is to be said : the establishment in St. Martin's-le-Grand will continue a nest of jobbing as long as the great mercantile body fails to exert itself with the requisite vigour and perseverance for Post-office Reform.