Debates anb Vrotetaings iri Vatifament.
THE STATE TRIALS IN IRELAND.
The proceedings in the prosecution of Mr. O'Connell, &c. formed the main subject of debate in the House of Commons on Monday, and oc- cupied the greater portion of the night.
Mr. Wyatt moved for the appointment of a Select Committee to in- quire, in accordance with a very numerously-signed petition presented on the 17th June, into the facts connected with the formation of the Special Jury. Mr. Wy se's speech was of great elaboration ; and added to its more particular handling of the topics made so familiar during the last six months, a pretty extensive resume of the old stock of Irish grievances. In the attempt to crush the Repeal question by force, and the sudden sup- pression of the Clontarf meeting, Government bad been misled by reports of dangerous conspiracies: they thought, for example, that the Repeal Association MU bolding correspondence with the Government of the United States. The At- torney- General for Ireland had indeed threatened a second indictment, and told the Jury that he "would undertake to establish as wicked and as foul a conspiracy as ever disturbed the empire." But no sufficient evidence had bees obtained to establish the second indictment, and it did not proceed. To these ground- less fears Mr. Wyee attributed the prosecution of Mr. O'Connell; and the mode of proceeding against him. Going at great length into the circum- stances of the trial, and dwelling much on the omission of the names of Roman Catholics from the Jury-lists and their exclusion from the Jury by challenge, he expressed his belief that the lists had been tampered with. As to the effect of the trials, they had utterly failed in the object contemplated, and had only served to exasperate still further the hostile feelings of the country, to magnify the importance of O'Connell, and to extend his influence. Lord ELIOT vindicated those persons whose business it was to form the Jury- lists.
Be conceived the House could not agree to the motion, unless they were sa- tisfied that there bad been, in the first place, a fraudulent tan pering with the Jury-list, calculated to prejudice the case of the traversers; secondly, that that tiaudnlent tampering bad produced a prejudicial effect on the defendants ; air& thirdly, that the motion was calculated to produce a useful and practical
result. These points he 'proceeded to consider in detail. To Allow that
the Jury was a fair one, he quoted the address of Mr. Fitzgerald, one of the counsel for the traversers, to the effect that " he would not in the slightest degree say the ease had *St received a fair trial from the hands of the gentlemen of the Jury." The main fact to be considered was this—Was the verdict in any respect contrary to the evidence? could the traversers deny they were present at the meetings? were not their speeches and proceedings put forth in newspapers written and printed with their sanction ? These were matters of fact on which there could be no dispute; and it would be a libel on any body of men to say they would not have returned a similar verdict with similar evidence. He could not conceive there was any just ground against the verdict from the Jury having taken the law as laid down by the Judges. As to the chal- lenge of the array, that was a question under consideration of the House of Lords ; therefore it would be improper and unconstitutional to appoint a Com- mittee to consider that question. If it was thought that fraud had been com- mitted, the proper way was to file an information against the suspected indivi- duals: but the appointment of a Committee could lead to no beneficial result, whilst it would excite expectations that, in the present state of Ireland, might have prejudicial consequences. Mr. M. J. O'CONNELL sought inquiry for the purpose of tranquillizing the people of Ireland, and of showing them, if possible, that tyranny had not worked its wantonness under the form of law.
Many particulars connected with the lost list of Jurors led to the conclusion that the loss was not accidental. According to the affidavits before the House, there ought to have been 781 names upon the Jury-list ; there were but 717 ; and from the statement of Mr. blagrath, it appeared, that whilst Messrs. Wan- chob and Jackson, the Conservative agents, had the entire lists of the twenty parishes of Dublin submitted to them, the four clerks of Mr. Mahony. were only allowed to see those of four parishes and a half. Those lists showed some re- markable facts : they contained the names on the Common Jury panel of indivi- duals who were not only qualified as Special Jurors but who were on the Special Jury-list in 1843 : there were names, which he had himself seen, of persons whose qualifications to be on the Special Jury-list were patent on the face of the list, and yet those names were omitted; it was the same, too, with the Common Jury-list. The dropped list of the parish of St. Audeon's seemed to he the greatest enigma that be had beard of since the days of fEdipus. This dropped list contained fifteen names; but in the parish of St. Audeon's sixteen persons were qualified, and were returned as such on the list ; but the list that was dropped contained only fifteen, and the sixteenth name was on the Jury-book as a Special Juror. Now, he should like to know by what power on earth short of a miracle this other name remained. He should like to know by what means, after the list was dropped, the name of "George Carrot, of I, Lower Bride Street, hotel- keeper,' ever found its way back again to this sublunary scene. Oddly enough, these accidents had worked as well as if they were designed. There were two brothers named White, both equally wealthy and occupying the same premises, whose names were on different lists. There were also instances of several sons being entered each as the eldest son of the same parents. All these circum- stances required investigation, which might be made by a Select Committee. The SOLICITOR-GENERAL complained of the course pursued in attack- ing the Government for having suppressed a most dangerous conspiracy by means of the ordinary law alone, and in endeavouring to throw sus- picion on the administration of justice by such charges. In reviewing the legal proceedings, he vindicated the Attorney-General for Ireland and the Chief Justice. He defended Mr. Eennefather's charge to the Jury ; in which he saw nothing objectionable but one expression. Hi admitted that it was unfortunate that one of the lists of Jurymen should have beets missed ; but there was nothing.in the circumstances to lead to any other sup- position than that it was accidentaL The traversers might have obviated all supposed inconvenience originating from a defective panel by applying for a trial in the county of Dublin instead of the city. But the fact probably was, they did not like to abandon the possession of an apparent grievance, which might be useful at another time. The Solicitor-General alluded to, for the purpose of correcting, a statement put forth since the hearing of the writ of error began, that the Lord Chancellor bad admitted that the list of Jurymen was a fraudulent list : the Lord Chancellor bad merely assumed that it was so for the sake of argument. No hardship had resulted to the traversers from the absence of the missing list. Mr. V. STUART said, that if inquiry were refused, it would throw Ireland centuries back, and revive the impression that a Roman Ca- tholic could not obtain justice. No one regretted more than be did the recent agitations in Ireland ; but he would rather see them in full ac- tivity than that they should have been suppressed by a trial accompa- nied by such unfortunate circumstances in the formation of the Jury. Mr. J. O'BRIEN defended the late agitation, and condemned the
trials as an attempt to suppress the expression of popular feeling. ,
Repeal was the comprehensive designation of the many wants of Ireland; and those who bad withheld from that country wise Imperial legislation had excited the popular passions and that disturbed spirit of nationality which now pervaded the land in formidable maturity. Mr. O'Connell had rather given expression to than created the national sentiment ; and he could not, if he would, have resisted the general movement. If any one supposed the late verdict would have the effect of extinguishing the spirit or of crushing the energy of the Irish people, they fearfully miscalculated. A crisis was at hand : there must be either dissolution of the Union or renovation.
Mr. GROGAN spoke against the motion. After a long pause without any other Member rising, the House divided—Far the motion, 73i against it, 91; majority against the motion, 18. The Opposition cheered the announcement.
MR. OTRISCOLL, THE IRISH MAGISTRATE.
The Earl of FORTESCUE, on Tuesday, in moving for copies of memo- rials addressed to the Irish Government recommending the restoration of Mr. O'Driscoll to the commission of the peace, recalled the attention of the Lords to the circumstances under which Mr. O'Driscoll had been dismissed from the Magistracy by Sir Edward Sugden, the Lord Chan- cellor of Ireland, for acts of indiscretion, exhibiting a want of the re- quisite command of temper. " All these charges taken together," said Sir Edward, " satisfy my mind that Mr. O'Driscoll has not at present that command over his temper and ac- tions (even when acting in a Magisterial capacity, or when appearing as defendant before the bench) which is so essential to the due administration of justice. He is advanced in years, and has recently been suffering from ill-health; and 1 should suggest to him that he should retire from the bench. If a super- sedeas should issue, it will he solely on these grounds." On this Lord For- tescue remarked, that if such a case had occurred in England,—which, he thanked God, he thought it could not, for the Magistrates here were more ob- servant of their duties, and were also subject to that control which the press exercised over all ranks in this country,—but if it were possible for a case of this kind to have occurred here, he should have been astonished if either the present Lord Chancellor or his predecessor in office, after declaring that an in- dividual from infirmity of temper was unfit to be a Magistrate, had stated that a aupersedeas should issue against him, not on this ground—not on the true and real ground—but on the-gtoindsifinga sad ill-health. Bat lie was atilt more astonished that within six months this gentleman was restored to the commission of the peace. The Irish Government had done much to impair the confidence of the great mass of the people of Ireland in the administration of the law in that country, by the sweeping removal from the commission of the peace, on the ground of political opinions, of many gentlemen well quali- fied in character, station, and property, and some of them also by much expe- rience in the discharge of their Magisterial duties—gentlemen, too, still more endeared to the great body of the people by the expression of those very opi- nions which had led to their dismissal; and he could assure the Government that they would take from the people of Ireland every inducement to obey the law, except the fear of the penalties which attached to a breach of it, if, from public favour or partisanship, they continued in the commission of the peace such a man as Mr. O'Driscoll, who had in his own person outraged the law, and who had shown a temper and spirit entirely unsuited to the Magisterial office.
Lord WHARNCLIFFE had no objection to produce the papers moved for ; but he thought no Parliamentary ground for their production had been made out.
The Lord Chancellor of Ireland, as well as the Lord Chancellor of England, in either dismissing or restoring Magistrates, acted quasi judicially ; and unless it could be shown that he had acted either from personal favour or political motive, there could be no ground for Parliamentary interference. Here there was no allegation of the kind. It was true that this gentleman had behaved in a manner not to be defended; but it was also true that the facts of the cases bad been exaggerated. [Lord Wharncliffe entered into the details, which for- merly appeared in our columns.] He would now come to the restoration of Mr. °Driscoll to the commission of the peace. He remained some time off the bench ; and the Lord Chancellor had no apparent intention to restore him, when an application was made to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland upon the subject by the Lord-Lieutenant of the county, backed by a memorial. This memorial was signed by five noblemen, by thirteen clergymen, by 41 esquires, and by 2,842 other persons. It stated that Mr. ODriscoll was a Roman Catholic, but that he was a favourite with persons of every creed ; that he was a man of the greatest integrity ; that his decisions had always been esteemed just ; and that his restoration would give great satisfaction. Would not such a memorial as that justify the Government in accepting it as a gua- rantee for the future good conduct of Mr. 0 Driscoll ?
The Marquis of NORMANBY said, he knew how easily memorials of this kind were got up. He had listened to Lord Wharncliffe's speech with astonishment ; and his conviction was that Mr. O'Driscoll ought not to have been restored.
How bad their consistent Government acted with regard to other parties ?— for instance, in the case of Lord Lucan ? He thought that Lord Lucan had been a very ill-used man. It appeared that, under extreme provocation, Lord Lucan had used one very objectionable expression : but he had not insulted the bench; he had not told them that they had acted towards him with great in- justice : the Government, however, had dismissed him from the commission of the peace. There was another case to which he should advert for a moment. He had formerly had the misfortune of feeling himself bound to recommend to the then Lord Chancellor of Ireland to dismiss from the commission of the peace a person of high character and station in the North of Ireland—he meant Co- lonel Verner, who had proposed one evening athast calculated to excite one Class of the people against another, and, when called upon, refused to give any explanation. But Colonel Verner was a person qualified in every way to be a Magistrate; and Lord Normanby had no hesitation in saying, that if Mr. O'Driscoll were restored to the commission of the peace, it would be most un- just to Colonel Verner that he should not be restored also. Indeed, as the transaction to which he had been referring bad occurred long since, the resto- ration of Colonel Verner would, in his opinion, be very meritorious and praise- worthy. He had been the more anxious to make these observations, as there was now about to be a change in the Government of Ireland. With respect to the noble Earl who was about to retire from the Lord-Lieutenancy of that Country, he should say, that he entertained for him the highest respect ; but it was notorious that he had been prevented by ill-health from giving to the duties of his office that attention which under other circumstances he would 'have been ready to bestow upon them. It was an unfortunate circumstance that a Lord-Lieutenant should not be able personally to discharge the duties of his high station ; as they would in that case be delegated to subordinates, and would almost necessarily be unsatisfactorily discharged. He was not prepared to say that the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland ought at present to be done away, although he thought they might look forward to the time when it could be abolished with advantage : but this he would say, that while a Lord-Lieu- tenant remained in Ireland, he would best discharge his duties by attending personally to the business of his office.
The Earl of RIPON denied that the late Lord-Lieutenant had ever neglected the personal discharge of his official duties. He would not justify the conduct of Mr. O'Driscoll, but he thought there were many palliating circumstances in the case.
The Earl of WICKLOW said, his conduct may have been severely cen- surable ; but it would be unjust to continue the degradation of a gen- tleman of high family and qualifications by excluding him from the commission.
' The Marquis of CLANRICARDE had yet to learn that any gentleman was qualified for the Magistracy by his property, if his conduct and temper were not proper to sustain the office. He believed the man bad been twice restored to the bench; and he believed on this occasion it was because of his political opinions, for there had not been a single excuse produced for restoring this gentleman. It might be that some excuse might be found when the papers were produced. There was a fact which had not been stated nor alluded to in these papers, which had been proved in a court of justice,—namely, that when Mr. O'Driscoll had commit- ted an outrage, the officer of the court would not serve the summons, and as- signed as a reason, that if he did Mr. O'Driscoll would put a bullet through him. The fact was stated in open court, and it was a proof in what light he was looked upon in the country. The Earl of BANDON, one of those who had signed the memorial from a feeling that Mr. O'Driscoll had been sufficiently punished for his errors, bore testimony to his general usefulness as a Magistrate, and said that all his neighbours wished him reinstated.
Lord CAMPBELL said, the feeling was very goodnatured ; but there was not one reason assigned in the memorial.
It was true the memorial stated that Mr. O'Driscoll bad recovered his health, but it made no mention of his temper ; it did not attempt to say he had be- come younger; nor was one of the offences alleged against him denied.
The Earl Of GLENGALL said, the case would never have come before the House but for circumstances which were unknown to many in this country.
In Ireland a system of persecution was carried on against Magistrates. A number of pettifogging attornies went about endeavouring to pick holes in their coats. Mr. 0'Di-wean was a Roman Catholic, but a Conservative and an Anti- Repealer; and on this account he was obnoxious to these assaults. It was said Mr. O'Driscoll bad also made himself enemies by declaring that Repealers
were not a class to be intrusted with arms under the Arms Bill. In that opi- nion Mr. O'Driscoll was not singular;- many of the Magistrates of Ireland en- tertained the same opinion.
The Earl of MOUNTCASHEL spoke to the like effect, and of the value of such a Magistrate " in a part of the country where gentlemen are scarce."
The LORD Casscamam. took up the vindication of Sir Edward Stag- den, with great energy. The Earl of RADNOR admitted Sir Edward's great merits as Lord Chancellor of Ireland ; but thought some blame attached to him for reinstating Mr. O'Driscoll.
A. scene of some disorder—in which Lords WHARNCLIFFE, RADNOR, LYNDHURST, and CLANRICARDE were the Interlocutors—closed the de- bate. And the motion was agreed to.
UNLAWFUL OATHS (IRELAND) BILL.
On the motion for the third reading of this bill in the Commons, on Thursday, Mr. MORE OTERRALL regretted that a measure which 80 seriously affected the liberty of the subject should be renewed without any explanation of its necessity by a Minister of the Crown. It was true the late Government had introduced the bill without making any statement ; but it was founded on the report of a Committee of the House of Lords which had been sitting for months. By the act of 1839, the possession of any letter on an illegal subject was considered proof of guilt. That law had been shamefully employed since the present Government came into power. Ile appealed to several facts to support this charge. One was a case at Armagh Assizes, in which an approver, who had been liberated on promise of giving information, stated that subsequent to his liberation he had made Ribbonmen by hundreds; that he had attended Ribbon meetings, and had concocted with hie own hand more than sixty do- cuments : and, in answer to a question by the Attorney-General, he stated that he acted under the directions of the Magistrates, after his liberation from prison. The next case was at Sligo Assizes, in 1843. Two men were pro- secuted for having taken unlawful oaths ; and the principal evidence against them was that of an approver, who admitted that he was in the pay of the Police, from whom he had received 15/. If such a state of things existed in Ireland now as in 1839, the Government would be justified in asking for a re- newal of the act for a limited time; but nothing of the kind had been alleged. The Government dared not apply the same rule to England as they did to Ireland, or they would pass a similar act to suppress the dangerous conspiracy now existing in Suffolk and Norfolk, where a vast amount of property had been destroyed by incendiarism.
Lord ELIOT expressed surprise that Mr. M. O'Ferrall should have charged the present Government with their silence on bringing in a con- tinuation-bill, when the Government of which he was a member had introduced the bill without any explanation. Surely the Government of 1839 would not have introduced a measure which had been denounced as arbitrary, tyrannical, and unconstitutional, without due consideration, and without being convinced of its necessity. He was not aware that there was any alteration in the circumstance's and present state of Ire- land which would justify her Majesty's Government in throwing aside that power which had been committed to their hands by a law introduced by the late Government. There was no comparison to be drawn between the in- cendiarism in Suffolk and Norfolk and the Ribbon Societies, the suppression ef which was the object of this bill. - Mr. BELLEW maintained that the propriety of giving such extraordi- nary powers to a Government. depended on the Ministers to whom it was iutrusted. The late Government acted according to the spirit of the Legislature : but the manner in which the law was now administered in Ireland formed a speciatspason for objecting to the renewal of the powers of the act. Mr. SHED, objected to the bill, that it furnished opportunities for the employment of informers and spies, to which the spirit of the people was most adverse. The bill had been originally limited to five years : that period had expired, and it became the duty of the Government to show cause for its continuance.
It appeared that, whenever anything was done by the Whigs which had a tendency to Liberalism and good government in Ireland, the present Govern- ment studiously refrained from patronizing it ; but whenever the Whigs un- fortunately set an example in favour of restriction upon the freedom of the people, that was made a measure for Tory imitation. Mr. SMITH, the Attorney-General for Ireland, repudiated the em- ployment of spies. If after a man had given information to the Police, he was sent bark among the people to entrap persons into the commission of crime, there was not a person in the House more ready than himself to denounce such conduct as most unwarrantable and most unjustifiable; and he would most distinctly say that the Law-officers of the Crown ought not to use any such information. But the case of an informer was altogether different.
Sir ROBERT PEEL also made a distinction between spies and in- formers, and condemned in the strongest language the employment of the former.
As to spies, if any Government employed a man in order that he might in- vite persons to commit crimes by entering into secret societies or otherwise, all he could say was, that the members of that Government deserved to he ex- posed to as severe a punishment as the parties whose conviction they had en- deavoured to obtain. Nothing could be more dangerous or disgraceful, or more calculated to weaken the arm of justice. In the case of informers, he was most ready to allow that the utmost caution ought to be observed ; after an informer had thus recommended himself there had certainly existed a disposi- tion to continue him in employment. The man of course wished to make himself of importance, and to show his value; and it was necessary, therefore, for Government always to be on its guard against false information. These were the principles on which Miniaters meant to act ; and all subordinate Police-agents in Ireland ought to know that they never would for a moment countenance any attempts to incite to crime. The predecessors of the present Ministers had brought in the present bill; and when they were at any time charged with indifference to the peace of Ire- land, the late Government said, "Look at the act we passed against unlawful oaths." When it was stated, that it had been introduced in consequence of the report of a Committee of the House of Lords, they repelled the imputation indignantly, and maintained that it had lung been in contemplation—that it was their own spontaneous act ; and they therefore claimed all the credit due for the measure. Well, they got the credit of it ; it remained in force for five years ; and now the present Ministers proposed to continue it for one year more. What was the consequence ? That a number of flaming patriots started up on the other side of the House, and charged Ministers with tyranny and oppression towards Ireland. Coder these circumstances, it became necessary that the truth should be known ; and the truth was, that in 1839 this very bill was permitted to pass through the House of Commons without a single word from a single soul.
The amendment was ultimately withdrawn ; and the bill was read a third time, and passed.
CHARITABLE BEQUESTS (IRELAND) BELL.
Lord WHARNCLIFFE moved, on Tuesday, the recommittal of this bill, into which the Government had introduced several amendments, for the purpose, if possible, of rendering it more satisfactory to the Roman Ca- tholics in Ireland ; though it was difficult to say what would give satis- faction in that country at present. The constitution of the Commission bad been altered; and Lord Wharncliffe admitted, that as originally constituted it had been a very clumsy body. The chief amendment was the introduction of an entirely new clause, to re- medy other objections that might be made. The bequests in Ireland for Roman Catholic purposes had increased immensely since the passing of the Emancipa- tion Bill. There was one Roman Catholic Bishop who had in trust, almost in his own power, one bequest of 55,000!., and another of 35,0001. Since the begin- ning of this year, there had been bequeathed altogether for charitable purposes in Ireland, above 30,000/. ; of which 6,5234 was for Protestant purposes, and 23,4771. for Roman Catholic uses. As the proportion of bequests, then, for pious and charitable purposes connected with the Roman Catholic religion, was in Ireland in a very enormous proportion greater than on the part of the Protestants, there would be great injustice and impropriety in leaving to the decision of a Board of which the majority were Protestants, matters affecting the discipline of the Roman Catholic Church in the first instance. He there- fore proposed, that when any question arose concerning the doctrine, discipline, or constitution of the United Church of England and Ireland, or of any body of Protestant Nonconformists, it should be submitted, in the first instance, to a Committee of five, who should be the Protestants on the Board ; and when any question arose respecting the doctrine, discipline, or constitution of the Roman Catholic Church, it should be submitted to the five Roman Catholics on the Board, who would give a certificate of the facts relating to the case to the Committee at large, on which they would then act.
The Marquis of NORMANDY, Lord BEAUMONT, Lord CAMOYS, the Marquis of CLANRICARDE, and Lord MONTEAGLE, expressed their sa- tisfaction at the proposed amendments ; which were agreed to. DISSENTERS CHAPEL BILL.
In the House of Lords, on Monday, the amendments of the Commons in the Dissenters Chapel Bill were taken into consideration. The LORD CHANCELLOR defended the principle of the bill from the anticipated attacks of the Bishop of London ; and expressed his approval of the principal amendments, which he explained. Their objects were, to render the provisions of the bill more explicit towards the General Baptists and the Wesleyan Methodists, to extend the signification of places of worship to any " meeting house for the worship of God," and to specify that the limitation of twenty-five years was to be taken from the com- mencement of the writ calling the title to possession in question. In protest- ing against the charge that the promoters of the bill wished to encourage Uni- tarianism, he said that the measure was intended to relieve the whole body of Dissenters. A great part of the opposition to the bill proceeded from the Dis- senting body—from those who a short time ago complained of their grievances, but would now withhold from their brethren that toleration they had received themselves. He applied to them the following remark by Mr. Burke, spoken during a debate on a similar question: " If, instead of going into the depths of the Divine counsel, they turned to kbe mild moderation of the Gospel, they' would meet their own condemnation—' Oh, thou unworthy servant, I forgave thee all that debt because thou deairedat me ; shouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee ?' "
The Bishop of LONDON protested against the bill, on the doable ground that it was opposed to the rules of equity as regarded charitable trusts, and to the principles of religion.
He felt that on such a question he was justified in offering a pertinacious opposition, for the purpose of giving further time for consideration. One of the effects of the bill would be to bar the relators in the great cause which had been tried in Ireland, which was almost equal in importance to the Lady Hew- ley cause in England. He objected to the precedent which the words "meet- ing-houses fur the worship of God" would establish ; for until now those words had not been used except in reference to the religious worship of the Church of England. It had been assigned as a reason for this measure, that the other House of Parliament, which represented the feeling of the people, bad sanctioned it by large majorities : but, without intending any disrespect to that assembly, he denied that the House of Commons represented the religious feelings of the community ; and he contended that the great majority of the religious portion of the people considered the bill as alike opposed to truth, equity, and religion. He moved that the amendments be taken into considera- tion that day three months.
The Bishop of DURHAM supported the bill ; not because be had any sympathy with Dissenters, but because he had sympathy with the rights of conscience and the rights of property. Lord BROUGHAM exposed the inapplicability of the Bishop of Lon- don's amendment to the present stage of the bill.
If it were carried there must be a conference with the Commons ; and if they did not persist in their amendments, then the bill would pass with all its im- perfections on its head as a matter of course, because it had gone through all its stages. It was only on the assumption that the Commons would persist in their amendments, some of which were admitted by the Reverend Prelate to be improvements, that the object of destroying the bill would be effected. The general principle of the bill, he maintained, was alike applicable to all Dis- senters, and it was only extending to the possession of chapels the well.esta- blished principle of limitation which existed in reference to all other kinds of property.
The Bishop of NORWICH admitted himself to have become a convert to the propriety of passing such a measure, as soon as his mind was freed from the prejudices raised against the bill by the misrepresenta- tions of its opponents.
The bill had been described as the Socinian Chapels Endowment Bill, and not as a bill for the relief of Dissenters generally : it was under that misappre- hension he and a large body of the clergy and laity had opposed it, who now deeply regretted having signed petitions against the bill. He joined the Lord Chancellor in protesting against the charge of having any desire to support the doctrines of the Unitarians : he considered it a libel on the Government to suggest that they would advise her Majesty to consent to a bill contrary to the religious doctrines of the Established Church, which it was their duty to pro- tect ; but he now found there was no such principle embodied in the present measure. If be opposed such a bill, he should find himself in a dilemma as to the title to his own preferment. It bad once belonged to those who were not Protestants—nay, to men who held doctrines widely different from those which Protestants considered essential. It had been said that if this bill passed the tears of Protestant saints would flow like rivers : but might not a bill of a simi- lar kind cause the tears of Catholic saints to flow like rivers I Were he to con- sult his interest and his prejudices, he might be disposed to oppose the measure. His interest would lead him to oppose it, because by doing so he knew he should agree with a large body of his fellow-suljads with whom It was agreeable to him to find himself concurring. His prejudices would lead him to oppose the measure, because, he would confess it candidly, there was no religious sect to which he was so hostile as to the Unitarians and Socinians. But men were commanded to administer impartial justice to all; and on this account he felt it to be his duty to support to the utmost of his power this bill, and he was grateful to the Government for having brought it in.
The Earl of RODEN implored their Lordships not to pass such a bill ; which would be a blot on the statute-book, and occasion them ultimately deep regret.
When he sat on the other side of the House, some eight or nine years ago, he opposed, in common with the noble and learned Lord now on the Wool- sack, and other noble Lords now surrounding him, a measure of spoliation which contained the Appropriation-clause—C" Hear, hear!" and laughter from the Opposition benches) ; and little did be think that he should live to see the day when the noble Lord on the Woolsack would introduce a bill far more objectionable and spoliating: for the measure which he re- ferred to went merely to take Church-property, for objects certainly not im- mediately connected with the Church, but still not much opposed to it ; whereas the object of the present measure was to spoliate persons of property, and ap- ply it to the propagation of what individuals conceived to be a dangerous heresy and directly opposed to the objects of the donors. If the measure was carried, the country must bow their heads and lament the uncertainty of man.
Lord Corms:neat defended the third clause in the bill, putting a stop to pending suits, which he bad introduced on the third reading.
Such a provision, he contended, was not only justified by the equity of the case, but it had been sanctioned by many precedents, some of recent occur- rence, on which actions had been stopped by legislative enactment He main- tained that this bill bad nothing to do with religious doctrines, but was founded on clear principles of equity acknowledged in dealing with all kinds of property. It dealt only with property ; and its sole object was to put con- gregations—that was to say, multitudes of persons who met together for religious purposes, no matter whether they were mistaken in their views or not —but its object was to give them that protection which if, instead of being multitudes of persons congregated together, it had been an individual, the law would bare already afforded. It was only a question whether persons in possession of property for twenty-five years should or should not be protected. in the possession of such property where there was no trust declared by the donor. if the law were to take its course, difficulty would arise from the cir- cumstance that the parties now in possession had frequently enlarged the property, so that a considerable portion of it did not belong to the original founder.
Lord TErsatim contended, that if some of the original endowers of these chapels were to see the proceedings and the nature of the " wor- ship " which took place there, they would rather have been burned to death at Smithfield, than have left their money to be applied to such purposes.
The Earl of GALLOWAY and Lord Lyrrxrrosr also opposed the bill, and supported the Bishop of London's amendment.
Their Lordships divided—For the amendment, present 27, proxies 14, total 41 ; against it, present 100, proxies 102, total 202 ; majority against the amendment, 161. The Commons' amendments were then agreed to, and the bill only awaits the Royal assent to be law.
POOR-LAW AMENDMENT BILL.
The House of Commons met on Saturday at twelve o'clock, and went into Committee on the Poor-law Amendment Bill. The discussion was confined to the educational clause, and to the combination of parishes or unions into school-districts. The debate was chiefly remarkable for personalities. Colonel Woon commenced by objecting to the centralization-system of education, and to the removal of children from the influence of their parents. Sir JAMES GRAHAM explained, that it was intended to restrict district-schools to a diameter of fifteen miles, so as to allow parents an opportunity of visiting their children : it was not intended, for that rea- son, to carry the system into rural districts, otherwise it would be ne cessary to extend the area, and thus to place the children without the convenient reach of their parents. Sir James enforced the advantagei of large schools in preference to the workhouse-schools, which could not be efficiently managed.
Many Members took part in the conversations that ensued on con- sidering the education-clause ; and there were two divisions : in one, the numbers were 103 to 26 ; and in the other, which took place on the motion of Mr. BORTHWICK to expunge the clause, the numbers were 107 to 1.
The bill was again considered in Committee on Monday morning ; when the 36th clause, providing asylums for the houseless poor, was carried, after long discussions.
Mr. CHRISTIE objected, that it was not sufficiently extensive, and wished the rural districts to be included. Sir JAMES GRAHAM ex- plained, that by a provision in the 51st clause, the expense of relief to the casual poor would be defrayed by the whole union, and not by particular parishes : this arrangement would protect paupers from being sent from pillar to post as heretofore. Colonel WOOD objected to asylums for houseless poor, as they would be the means of covering the country with trampers : he suggested that the casual poor should be sent for a night's shelter to the Police-station. Sir JAMES GRAHAM took up the cause of the houseless and destitute, and condemned the suggestion of treating poverty as a crime. Humanity and economy combined to recommend the plan of providing asylums for the really destitute. Mr. R. COCHRANE also deprecated " the monstrous propo- sition " of Colonel Wood. Mr. T. DUNCOMBE objected to the clause, because such a provision was not suited to the administration of the Poor-law, and was more fitted to be introduced as an amendment to the Vagrant Act. Oa a division, the clause was carried, by 83 to 6.
The other clauses were postponed, in the absence of Sir James Gra- ham, who had been summoned to attend a Committee of the House of Lords.
On Wednesday morning, the consideration of the bill in Committee was resumed. Sir JAMES GRAHAM proposed an amendment in the clause relating to the powers and duties of District Boards, to the effect that they should elect a clergyman of the Church of England as chap- lain to each asylum. A proviso at the end of the clause gives permis- sion for any licensed minister to visit the school or asylum, at the re- quest of paupers dissenting from the Established Church. - The amend- ment was agreed to.
Mr. S. O'BRIEN moved an amendment in the clause relating toliS., trict-schools, for'the purpose of throwieg such schools open to other children than those of paupers. Sir Jeans Gramm objeated, that
such an extension of the plan would be an unfair competition with the National and the British and Foreign Schools ; but he consented so far as to consider the matter on bringing up the report. In discussing the clause for regulating admission into the asylums, Sir James Gitsnam stated that the union workhouses would not be re- lieved from any obligation to relieve the casual poor by the formation of asylums ; also, that it was his intention to bring in a bill to fix the law of settlement. To meet an objection urged by Mr. HENLEY, Sir JAMES subsequently moved amendments having the effect of postponing the subject of removal.
The bill was further considered in Committee on Thursday, at the morning sitting, and again at night ; when all the clauses and sche- dules were agreed to, and some additional clauses were added to the bill by Sir JAMES GRAHAM. Mr. BURROUGHES proposed a clause to the effect that the Guardians be empowered to grant relief to widows with children although not residing within the union or parish in which they may have a legal settlement. Sir JAMES GRAHAM opposed the clause : it was supported by Mr. SPOONER, Mr. G. BANKES, Mr. TArros EGER- TON, Colonel Rom..Etrrox, Mr. BROTHERTON, and Mr. WAKLEY. On division, Sir James Graham was left in a minority—For the clause, 49 ; against it, 48 ; majority against the Minister, 1. The other clauses and the preamble were agreed to amidst much cheering.
In the House of Commons, on Tuesday, Lord PALMERSTON delivered a long and carefully-elaborated speech on the slave-trade and its dip- lomacy ; ostensibly for the purpose of moving an address for " A return, showing the total number of African Negroes landed for the purposes of slavery on the islands and on the continent of America, from the year 1815 to the year 1843, both inclusive ; distinguishing the number so landed in each of those years, and distinguishing also the number landed in each year on the territory of each separate state or power, so far as the same can be made up from documents in the possession of her Majesty's Govern- ment."
Many years had elapsed since those investigations had taken place, which, by laying bare in all their hideous deformity the disgusting atrocities con- nected with the prosecution of the slave-trade, brought round the minds of men, in England at least, to pursue that guilty traffic no longer. These details had been well nigh forgotten ; and although all men had a general no- tion that the slave-trade was a cruel thing—that it was barbarous to tear men by violence from their homes, their families, and their country—to transport them by force across the sea, and doom them to pass the remainder of their short lives in painful toil under the lash of a foreign tyrant,—although these things were known and felt by all, yet he believed there were few who, at this time of day, could form to themselves any adequate conception how intense was the suffering and bow extensive was the cruelty of which the slave-trade was the cause. It was difficult to arrive with any degree of certainty at a cal- culation of the number of Negroes who were annually landed on the continent of America for the purpose of being there consigned to slavery. The returns for which he was going to move would furnish some information; but that in- formation could only be afforded from our Consular Agents, from our Slave- trade Commissioners, and from our Naval Officers. The Governments of the countries in which these Negroes were sold permitted no return. Those Go- vernments were bound by the engagements of treaties with us to prohibit the slave-trade to all their subjects, and to punish those who contravened that pro- hibition by severe penalties. But those Governments—namely, Spain and Brazil—notoriously set those engagements at defiance : they permitted the slaves to land—nay, even in some instances they derived a revenue from them. Therefore, all accounts must be in some degree conjectural. One thing, however, we might be sure of—that they must fall exceedingly short of the actual truth. What then were the number', which, it had been calcu- lated, were annually imported into the islands and continent of America ? " Mr. Bandinell, in his able work, compiled from official documents, and comprising the most valuable information, collected with the greatest industry and accuracy, calculated the number of those annually landed at from 120,000 to 130,000. Sir Fowell Buxton, in his interesting and valuable work, says they are 150,000 at least. But whether you take the latter number or the former, what an enormous amount of human misery and crime does the simple statement involve ! When we look at an abstract and general statement, the mind is apt not to embrace in all its details the extent of the fact so com- municated : but let any man consider what 150,000 people are—let any person who has seen a large army collected imagine what a space 150,000 men must cover—or let any man imagine that he saw that number collected together on a plain, and was told, as they passed, that they were travelling fast towards their doom—that that living mass of human beings were about to meet a painful and premature death in es ery variety of bodily and mental torture. But if told that this was not a single instance, but that every year the same spot of ground was trod by an equal number of human beings who looked forward to the same melancholy end, could he fail to invoke the vengeance of Heaven on those who were the authors of such enormities ? And what a condemnation must he pass on those who were able to prevent such enormities, if they should neglect the means of doing su at their disposal ! But any man who should suppose that the number of Negroes landed on the coast of America was the full measure of the human victims annually sacrificed to the avarice and cruelty of—I will not call them Christian men, but men belonging to a Christian nation—would be far indeed from the truth. It is calculated—and I believe not without good data—that for every Negro so landed two others have perished in the previous stages of the slave-trade. So that you must multiply the number landed by three to arrive at the total number swept away annually by this nefarious traffic. It is well known the Negroes are not collected in the immediate neighbourhood of the place from which they embark. They came from a great distance—from the interior of the country. Some of them are captives taken in war ; in war stimulated and brought about through a thirst for gain acquired by the sale of the captives ; but the greater number are supplied by that slave-hunting and man-stealing which prevails all over the interior of Africa. The way in which that practice was conducted was this: when the time of year came about for trading to the c '1st, the caravan was sent on its journey, and some peaceful village, whose unsuspecting inhabitants were buried in that repose which nature kindly bestowed on man to fit him for his useful occupations and innocent en- joyments, found itself surrounded by armed ruffians. The huts were set on fire; their inhabitants, when roused from their sleep, were enveloped with flames ; and, if they endeavoured to escape, their assailants were before them. Some attempt flight—some resistance—all fail. Those who resist are over-
powered and made slaves. Sometimes the village to be attacked is situated on a hill, and the acclivity affords some kind of defence. Some fly to the moun- tains, some to the caverns. Fires are lighted at the months of the latter, and those so sheltered have to select between suffocation within or captivity with- out. The wells and springs are also quickly seized ; and those who have fled to the hills are driven by the torments of an insatiable thirst to come down and barter their liberty for a few drops of water. Then comes the selection. The hale and healthy of either sex, and the children above six or seven, are taken off. The aged and infirm, the infants at their mothers' breasts, and the children under six or Seten,are murdered. To maintain them would be much too costly ; to leave
them to perish of hunger, too cruel even for slave-hunters : they are accord- ingly despatched ; and they are the least to be pitied. The caravan sets out with their remaining friends and relatives, men, women, and children : half- naked, barefooted, they walk along, driven by the lash. The strong are re- strained from flight by chains; and thus in hundreds and hundreds they march under a burning sun through the passes of the mountains. Some drop down dead; others, unable to keep up, are left behind to perish of hunger and thirst, or become a prey to the wild beasts of the desert. Multitudes perish in that way ; and travellers who have visited the interior of the country state that you can trace the passage of the caravan by the hundreds and thousands of bleach- ing skeletons along the route. They come to the place of embarkation. They are often days and weeks awaiting the arrival of the vessels. Deaths ensue. Among such numbers disease breaks out, aggravated by the previous march and want of food. At length the slave-ship arrives, and the captain lands. He chooses those whose health is in such a state as to enable them to outlive the passage and become profitable. Those who are of weak and sickly appearance he rejects. Those whom he selects embark ; those ahem he rejects are put out of the way on the spot, or left to perish of famine and disease. I is reckoned that whatever number is embarked, an equal number is sure to peri-b on the march and during the period of detention previous to the voyage. For every five hundred that set out for America fire hundred have already been sacrificed.' The orator went on to describe the horrors of the voyage in a crowded slave- ship ; the sacrifice of life by suffocation; the throwing overboard of the dying with the dead, and, in cases of springing a leak, throwing the live slaves over- board to lighten the vessel. By these various atrocities, it was calculated that at least two Negroes perished for every one landed in America. Whatever number might be landed, you must multiply that number by three to arrive at the total number of human persons swept from the population of Africa only by this detestable slave-trade. All the other crimes committed by mankind from the creation of the world to the present time would not equal the slave- trade in extent of sacrifice of human life.
Lord Palmerston set forth the efforts made by the late Government to sup- press this hideous traffic. Treaties had been negotiated with France, making mutual concessions of the right of search. A treaty had been negotiated with Spain, which gave all the power the Spanish Government could give. At- tempts were made to form a similar treaty with Portugal ; but the slave-traders of Lisbon were too powerful; and it was found necessary to obtain from the British Parliament the powers which Portugal had denied. Our exertions on the coast of Africa and the destruction of the barracoons disheartened the slave-traders of Cuba and diminished the number of their imports. In the year 1838 there were landed in the Brazils 94,000 slaves, and in Cuba 28,000— making a total of 122,000; in 1840, there were landed in Brazil only 14,000, and in Caba 14,700—making a total of 28,700 instead of 122,000, or a diminution of no less than 93,300. Further treaties were negotiated by the late Govern- ment for the suppression of the slave-trade : Austria, Russia, and Prussia, had been induced to join with France in such a treaty; and when the Ministers were going out of office, the treaty was so far ready for signature that only a few days were required for its engross- ment. Had the late Government continued in power, these their measures would before now have produced most satisfactory results. Ilost of those ad- vantages had been lost by the present Ministers. Owing to their delay, France had refused to ratify the treaty; Lord Aberdeen's letter disapproving of the attack on the barracoons encouraged the slave-dealers ; the" Ashburton capitu- lation" with the United States was another retrograde movement ; whilst the plan of blockading the coast of Africa, which was now proposed, was practically impossible. Much had been said about the "good understanding" established by the present Government between this country and France; but up to this time the fruit had not been worthy of the tree. " The only important result has been that popular right in Spain has been tram On, and that military despotism has been established in its stead. If the„ vernment would permit me to give them a word of advice as to their ' good un erstanding,' I would say to them, ' Strive to set free the slave, instead of seeking to enslave the free.' When united in a just cause, England and France have a power that is irre- sistible." Spain, Brazil, and Portugal, the countries that now carry on and encourage the slave-trade, might be compelled by the combined remonstrances of France and England to adhere to the treaties for suppressing it. When Sir Robert Peel accepted office, he stated his principal motive to be the desire of earning posthumous fame : but such fame was only to be acquired by con- ferring benefits on his country, or on mankind. his own supporters prevented him from serving his country; he must look therefore for acquiring posthumous fame to his efforts to serve mankind. He could not free commerce from restric- tion; he could not bestow education on the people; neither could he give equality to the six millions of Roman Catholics in Ireland; he could not take any important part in European questions, for England had, under the guidance of the Foreign Secretary, ceded the commanding position she held during the late Government, and had been contented since 1840 to follow in the wake of every foreign power. There was still, however, a field in which the right ho- nourable Baronet might distinguish himself—he might abolish the slave-trade. In this he would not be thwarted by his unruly supporters, and would have the whole country at his back. " if he and his colleagues do that, they will have the eternal gratitude of posterity. But if it should hereafter be truly said, that during the time the right honourable Baronet held his office the slave- trade had reared again its gigantic head, and that that most horrible of all crimes had been reestablished under his Ministry, then I venture to assure the right Honourable Baronet and his colleagues, that they will moat assuredly have acquired a fame that will he posthumous, but it will be a fame compared with which oblivion itself would be infinitely preferable."
Sir ROBERT PEEL contrasted the insignificance of the motion for papers, the production of which was not to be opposed, with the mag- niloquent oration now delivered, which it had taken the rhetorician so much pains to compose and commit to memory.
The noble Lord had exhibited some inclination to deliver that speech at an early period of the session. On the 11th of March he gave notice of a motion for an address to the Queen of a bolder scope than this—namely, not to sanction any modification in treaties fur the suppreasion of the slave-trade. " Week after week of the session passed, and the noble Lord postponed his motion as they passed, always promising to bring it forward, but as often shrinking from the fulfilment of his promise, as he observed among those around him symptoms of disapprobation of the course he was about to take; and ultimately the noble Lord was relieved from his notice by the House counting out on the night when he was to have brought it forward. The noble Lord, 1 must confess, appeared to me to be greatly relieved when his dilemma was thus terminated ; for, notwithstanding the perseverance with which he constantly renewed the notice of his motion, he had the good sense to abstain from bringing it forward at last, though unwilling to lose the speech which he had prepared for the occasion. The noble Lord, in my opinion, pursued a much wiser course, by not provoking the opinion of the House on a question raised by himself with, respect to the Royal prerogative ; and the consequence was, that we have now reaped all the advantages which we should then have derived from listening to the noble Lord." Sir Robert fully agreed with Lord Palmerston in his abhorrence of the slave- trade ; though be thought he had overstated the numbers landed annually in America—perhaps 100,000 was nearer the actual amount. The two countries mainly responsible for all the crimes and misery produced by the slave-trade were Spain and Brazil. With those exceptions, there was a hearty desire in every Christian government to cooperate in extinguishing the dreadful traffic in men. It would, however, be hopeless to obtain perfect success unless Spain and Brazil cooperated. If the dictates of justice and humanity were inopera- tive in those two countries, he hoped they might be induced to alter their course from the fear of retribution. A strong and a growing feeling existed among the slave-population, of which an example had recently occurred in Cuba, not to submit to slavery, but to prefer death. Sir Robert adverted to the strictures of Lord Palmerston on the present Government. The non- ratification of the slave-trade treaty by France was to be ascribed entirely to difficulties occasioned by the late Government, who had irritated the French people by entering into a treaty with the other powers of Europe, from which France was excluded, for settling the affairs of the East. The order against the destruction of the harracoons on the coast of Africa bad been issued because such an act was found to be contrary to the law of nations ; and it was better to show the people of Africa our respect for the law than to act on the sugges- tions of wild justice. Sir Robert defended the plan of blockading the coast of Africa, by referring to various naval authorities. Captain Mabson, Captain Tucker, and Captain Denman, were all of opinion that it was better to blockade the coast of Africa than to cruise about Cuba or Brazil. But these were not the only opinions on which the Government acted : "The authority to which they referred this point was the honoured authority of my right honourable friend (Sir George Cockburn); and who, I believe, having seen the statements of these naval officers, took time, as his habit is, to consider the subject, and not to give a precipitate opinion : and upon that opinion we came to the con- clusion, not that we should inevitably suppress the slave-trade, but that there would be a greater chance of doing it by un increase of ships on the coast of Africa than on the coast of Cuba or Brazil." Having answered the main points urged by Lord Palmerston respecting the slave-trade, Sir Robert alluded to the charges made generally against the Go- vernment of succumbing to foreign powers, and of being overborne by their unruly supporters. As to Spain, he denied that there was any foundation fur the imputation that the Government bad joined with France to enslave that country. It was true, they bad not interfered to support Espartero; but to have done that, would have been to intermeddle in the domestic affairs of a foreign country, which Sir Robert thought no power was justified in doing. In useful measures of domestic policy, the present Government might bear fa- vourable comparison with their predecessors. Sound principles of trade bad been carried farther into operation than by any former Government. It was not till 1841, when the noble Lord's Ministerial existence was in peril, that the magnificent declarations of commercial "liberation " were heard. Sir Robert vindicated himself from the charge of dealing unfairly to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, by reference to his share in currying Catholic Emancipa- tion. Aa to the education of tbe people, the opponents of the Ministry were those who obstructed a measure for accomplishing that object. ". I do not recollect that there was any other point referred to by the noble Lord which I have omitted to notice, except the noble Lord's peroration, which I think was the main object of the noble Lord in making his speech. 1 think the noble Lord admires it very much, because he would have hardly made such a trumpery motion as this for papers, which I assure the noble Lord I gave directions to be furnished as soon as I saw his motion, were it not for that peroration. I really think I have shown that the noble Lord has not one single ground for his accusations against the Government : but then, the noble Lord had only that ground for the peroration of the speech he intended to have made in March. (Much laughter.) He had prepared it at that time, and had since been repeating it to himself, and did not wish to lose the opportunity of des herring it. The noble Lord took for the foundation of his peroration some- thing which I said two years ago—that those who consented to make the sacri- tbce office imposed, and who had to undergo the toils of it, looked not to the power which they exercised, or the pecuniary reward they might receive, but to the hope of establishing a claim to the gratitude of their country by their services. But the noble Lord said, I have cut off, by proceeding in my pre- sent path, many of the avenues to fame; for as to increasing the commerce of the country, or 'loosing commercial enterprise from the shackles that bound it,' it was impossible for me to do it, on account of the parties with whom 1 am con- n ected. Yet we have, at any rate, done a great deal more than the noble Lord, or than he ever contemplated until his expiring moments, when it was necessary to make a desperate effort to secure a reputation by becoming a Free-trader, and releasing commerce from the shackles that bound it.' (Laughter.) Again, the noble Lord said, there is still an avenue open to permanent distinction—an effectual measure for the suppression of the slave-trade. I assure the noble Lord, that the Government are resolved, if that be the only avenue by which they can hope to acquire lasting reputation and permanent honour, they will not neglect the opportunity that avenue affords them. They feel deeply impressed with the importance of the subject. But our position as to the slave- trade is peculiar. In any attempt we make to suppress the slave-trade we must endeavour to suppress it by means recognized and sanctioned by the law of nations."
Sir CHARLES NAPIER inquired what were the instructions given to British cruisers in case they met with a slaver carrying American colours?
Sir ROBERT PEEL objected to answer the question ; the United States having refused to make known the instructions given to their cruisers. Me added, however, that there was a cordial understanding between the English and American commanders off the coast of Africa. Lord PALMERSTON made a general reply to the speech of Sir Robert Peel ; and reminded him that be would have been unable to carry his boasted removal of commercial restrictions had it not been for the sup- port of the Opposition. The returns moved for were then ordered, with some others added by Sir ROBERT PEEL and Mr. HUME, including all the places to which slaves are imported.
THE SECRET COMMITTEE.
Mr. T. DUNCOMBE, on Thursday, called the attention of the House of Commons to the proceedings of the Secret Committee on Post- office espionage.
On Saturday last, he was summoned before the Committee, and was asked whether be was prepared to prove befere the Committee certain charges which he had made in his place in Parliament ? He stated that he was so prepared, and by evidence. He was then asked to repeat the charges he had made in Parliament. He did so. The charges were these,—first, that the letters of Foreign Ministers had been, and were at this moment, opened; that unscru- pulous use had been made during the last two years of the secret power which was conferred on the Government of opening letters under particular circum- stances; that a roving commission bad been sent into the country in 1842 fur the purpose of opening letters; that letters of certain individuals bad been opened, and he believed be was in a condition to prove that his own let- ters bad been opened. He also stated that fifty or sixty of Mr. Mazzini's letters had been opened since Christmas last ;that eke letters of Stolzberg, the Pole, had been opened; and that those letters, as well as other letters of fa- . asigners, had been opened at the instigation of Foreign Powers. He described to the Committee the mode in which he believed the process of opening letters was carried on at the Post-office; and be also said he could prove the exist- ence of " the Secret or Inner Office," where these deeds were going nn. Having done this, the Committee asked him to furnish them with the list of the wit- nesses by whom he proposed to prove those charges. He said, be bad the list of his witnesses in his band, and was ready to give it to the Committee on the condition that when the parties were examined be should be present at their examination ; because, having been termed in his place in Neb.4 ment the accuser of the Government, he was then ten times more the ac- cuser, after he had repeated to the Committee the charges which be had made in Parliament. When he proposed being present at the examination of his witnesses. the Committee stated that they thought they bad not the power to give him that permission. In that opinion he fully concurred ; and he then made a formal application to the Committee, that they might apply to the House for permission to enable him to be present at the examination of the witnesses he intended to produce, be being bound to secrecy as to their exami- nation and their evidence. He was then ordered to withdraw; and the Com- mittee having deliberated, he was informed, on his return, that they did not intend to make such an application to the House. He had no reason to com- plain of the manner in which he was treated by the Committee : on the con- trary, thei manner was most indulgent to him, and rather coaxing, seemingly wishing to induce him to deliver up his list of witnesses ; which be firmly but respectfully declined to do. except on the conditions he had mentioned. It was then suggested to him that he might put one member of the Committee, in whom be had confidence, in the same position as his own with regard to the witnesses. His answer was, that be had equal confidence in all the members of the Commit- tee ; but he did not think any member could do justice to the ease without a breach of his duty, because if he gave him the list and told him the points on which the witnesses would speak, and the witnesses did not come up to what he said they would, that member would be guilty of a breach of duty in commu- nicating the fact to him. Some of the witnesses would repeat to the Commit- tee what they had stated to him; but he was well aware that there were cer- tain witnesses who would give their evidence most reluctantly, and who would not, most probably, be called by the Committee; and if they were not called, the Committee would not really interfere with the merits of the question. This Committee, all the members of which were named by the right honourable Ba- ronet opposite, was a tribunal appointed to investigate certain charges and ac- cusations against the Government : but the Committee, all of a sudden, by their course towards him, turned round and became a tribunal for trying his veracity and his accuracy ; and they wished to try his veracity and his accuracy with regard to statements which were made behind his back. In point of fact, in- stead of their being a tribunal to try the Government, they had converted themselves into a tribunal to try his credibility : not that he was unwilling— on the contrary, he was perfectly ready—to submit his credibility to the Com- mittee in the presence of witnesses, who, he maintained, would establieb every thing he bad stated in the House: but it was impossible, after taking all the trouble and pains that were necessary to make himself master of the subject, that any member of the Committee could examine the witnesses as he could examine them, knowing the subject as be did. The exclusion of lawyers from the Committee was a auspicious circumstance; and he felt confident the public would not be satisfied with such an investigation as could be undertaken by a Committee of gentlemen unacceustomed to examine witnesses and not ad- painted with the circumstances. The public did not want a report contain- ing antiquarian and historical researches on the subject: they wanted to know by what means the Government maintained the power, and under what cir- cumstances it had been exercised by this Government and the last Government. They were to have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth placed before them; and he maintainedothat the truth could not be brought before, them, and could not be ascertained, unless he was present at the examination of those eitnesses.
Mr. DUNCODIBE, having been reminded by the SPEAKER that he had not made any motion, moved that it be an instruction to the Committee to admit him to be present at the examination of such witnesses as he might think proper to produce.
Lord SANDON, as Chairman of the Committee, explained the reasons which had guided their decision not to admit Mr. Duncombe. The House bad already decided that he should not constitute one of the Committee ; and to have admitted him would have been to stultify that de- cision. Mr. Duncombe would in that case have become virtually a Member of the Committee without any responsibility. The Committee conceived they were as capable of examining witnesses as the Member for Finsbury ; and the report, which would be shortly made to the House, would show whether or not the matter had been fully investigated.
Mr. HUME said, that in the whole annals of Parliament, no instance, he believed, could be found where a Member coming forward as Mr. Duncombe had done, to make a charge against a public department, had been excluded from the Committee.
The witnesses examined were official persons, who could but speak to certain, facts, and could have no cognizance of the circumstances with which Mr. Dun- combe was acquainted. What then would be the consequence if they refused him permission to be present ? The Committee would come to a resoluthin that the charges were borne out, or that they were not borne out ; and the public, knowing that Mr. Duncombe had not had an opportunity of substan- tiating his charges, would laugh at the verdict. As an act of fairness to that Member, as a duty they owed to themselves, and as a satisfaction to the people at large, he required of the Government, not by any act of theirs to refuse per- mission to the honourable Member to substantiate the accusations he had made. If they did, he warned them of this—that Mr. Duncombe would be obliged to ask permission to substantiate his charges by the evidence of witnesses at the bar of the House—(Loud cheering from the Opposition)—a measure which be was sure that, for every reason, the Government would be moat desirous to avoid.
Sir ROBERT PEEL defended the constitution of the Committee, and took credit for the unreserved manner in which the Government had tendered information. He advised the House to adhere to its previous resolution, not to admit either the accuser or the accused as a member on the Committee.
Mr. LABOUCHERE recalled the circumstances of the appointmentof the Committee, and the principle on which it had been decided to ex- clude lawyers, and all persons connected with the Administration, with the accuser and the accused. He at the time thought that a fair mode of appointing the Committee ; but he since regretted his vote, when he saw those principles 'altogether departed from on the Committee of the House of Lords.
That Committee, instead of having no Ministers and no lawyers connected with it, consisted, among others, of three Ex-Ministers and three Ex-Chan- cellors. (Cries of "Rear, hear 1 " and laughter.) When he heard of the appointment of such a Committee as that, he must say that he regretted the vote he had given on the previous occasion. He felt that he had assisted to set an awkward precedent,—a precedent which went, in fact, to this, that be- cause a Member bad been bold, honest, and energetic in eliciting facts, he was therefore to be excluded from forming one of a Committee of inquiry into those facts. He doubted if the public would not be disposed to arrive at the conclu- sion, that in that House they bad only adopted a peculiar principle in order to shut the doors of the Committee-room upon Mr. Duncombe. (Vogferests cheers from the Opposition-benches.) Sir &MEET PIM, amidst leanical cheers, laughter, and cries of "Ohl " objected to the irregularity of referring to what had taken place in the other House of Parliament, which could be no precedent for the House of Commons. He remarked, however, that Lord Radnor, who brought forward the subject in the Lords, was not on the Com- mittee in that House.
Mr. VERNON Satira contended that circumstances had considerably altered since the committee was appointed, and that it now became de- sirable Mr. Duncombe should be added.
It was all very well for the right honourable Baronet to tell them, "Oh ! we've done all we can : we've put the Committee in possession of all the evi- dence in our power; nothing whatever has been withheld." But the public would know better. (Cheers from the Opposition.) They would know that something had been withheld; that the honourable Member for Finsbury had stated himself to be possessed of important information, which the Committee bad not elicited, and had not reported on. He adduced the case of the Com- mittee appointed to inquire into charges of bribery preferred by Mr. Roebuck, of which that gentleman was Chairman, as sufficient precedent for admitting Mr. Duncombe on this. He moved, as an amendment on Mr. Duncombe's motion, that his name be added to the Committee ; and, that there might be no partiality, he would add also the name of Mr. Sutton, the Under Secretary.
Mr. Oau, O'CoNNOR Don, and Mr. STRUTT, as members of the Com- mittee, corroborated the statement of Sir Robert Peel that the Govern- ment had given them the fullest information. Mr. STarerc suggested that great inconvenience and delay would result from the addition of any member to the Committee after having proceeded so far on their inquiries.
The SPEAKER objected, in point of order, to put a question which had already been decided by the House. Mr. V. SMITH therefore withdrew his amendment.
Mr. T. DUNCOMBE made further explanations in reply. He knew that the witnesses he wanted to call had not been called; and there had recently been, at the instance of the Government, a very searching inquiry in the Post-office, and almost a persecution, to prevent information being given. That being so, he was bound to protect his witnesses; and he Lad no hesitation in saying that this business must be examined through all its different ramifications, from the letter-carrier to the person who opened and resealed the letters and committed the forgeries. They must carry it through all the different steps to satisfy the public ; and he knew the noble Lord and the Committee had not. He still declined to give the list, which he held in his hand: but he was ready to go before the Committee of the House of Lords, and make the same proposal to substantiate all the charges he had made. They bad no right to say that he refused facilities for investigating the charges: he was ready to afford every facility: but some of his witnesses were subordinates in the Post-office, and they might lose their situations unless he was present to protect them. Mr. Duncombe asked Sir James Graham, had not his letters .been opened? If not by Sir James's authority, he knew they had been opened by some other persons in office. Sir JAMES GRAHAM reminded Mr. Duncombe, that he could not, with any regard to his sense of duty, answer in the House.
When the Committee was appointed, he pledged himself, as far as be person- ally was concerned, to state the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and be must now assert, on the word and honour of a gentleman, that be had to the utmost degree, and, without the slightest reservation, mental or eitherwitte; fulfilled that pledge. He had been three days under examination before the Committee : his examination was not finished; and the House would, after what he had stated, be qualified to judge whether or not he was justified in refusing to give any reply to the question of the honourable Member.
Lord SA.NDON promised, on behalf of the Committee, that if Mr. Dun• ,00mbe intrusted his witnesses to the care of the Committee, they would receive the protection to which they were entitled. The House divided on Mr. Duncombe's motion—Ayes, 51; noes, 141; majority against the motion, 90.
Mr. HOME, on Tuesday, moved an address to the Queen to appoint a Commission to inquire into the state of the tidal harbours of the United K in gd om in respect of depth of water and other circumstances affect- ing the navigation. Many harbours, formerly capable of receiving ships of large dimensions, could now scarcely admit boats ; and the evil was going on from day to day to an ex- tent of which he had had no idea until his attention was directed to it. Sir Robert Peel had instituted an inquiry which had led to the formation of har- bours of refuge where there were no natural harbours ; and he trusted that. that inquiry would be extended by a Commission to tidal harbours. The law was not defective, because it had given a power to the Admiralty to prevent encroachments on harbours ; but for the last two centuries, encroachments had been allowed till many of those harbours which formerly received ships of large -dimensions were now entirely shut up. It was well known what was the state of the Cinque Ports in former days. In the reign of Charles the Second, a 64 gun ship could enter Rye; but latterly, until 1819, scarcely a boat could enter. It was the same with Newhaven and Southwold. In the latter case, twenty- four clergymen were appointed Harbour Commissioners; and there was scarcely a harbour where proper Commissioners had been appointed. They were gene- rally parties having local interests connected with the land, who enclosed the land over which the tide flowed, and thus prevented the scour of the river. In fiouthwold upwards of 3,000 acres were enclosed, and 30,000,000 tons of water were excluded from the harbour. Similar effects had been produced at the bar- hours of Wells and Clay, in Norfolk, and at the mouth of the Exe. He be- lieved that these evils arose from a desire on the part of the Admiralty not to, interfere unnecessarily. He quoted from a report made by Mr. Samuel Nichol son upon the river Medway, also reports from alesers. Rennie and Walker, in order to show that the inquiry was absolutely necessary. Any one going down the Channel must see hundreds of vessels spreading all along the coasts. What would become of them, in case of a war, if they were shut out of our rivers in consequence of these bars and encroachments.? if they were unable to take shelter in our harbours and our rivers, every one of them would be picked up by the enemy. To maintain this proposition, he quoted largely from the evi- dence given by the Duke of Welliugton.hefore the Shipwreck Committee of 1843. The Prince De Joinville had the sagacity to see what was the weak point on the English side in case of a war: he urged his countrymen to in- crease their steam navy, because, by doing so, in case of a war with England they would be enabled to harass her commercial navy, and so weaken the con- ' fidence of the English people in their insular position as would greatly advance idle interests of France. 61r. Hume did not think there could be any opposi- tion to his motion. If the evil was allowed to go on, and if the encroach- wients were still permitted, our harbours would be lost in the same manner as the Port of Sandwich had been, and then their loss could never be repaired. He would have our whole coast parcelled out and placed ander the superintend-, -woe of public officers. He was ose who deeply deplored the encroachments; end embankments which had been made in the Thames ; and he opposed the embankments for "the new Houses of Parliament, on that ground. Many thought that by narrowing the stream they would deepen it, but in that Slesir were in error ; it was the great volume of water which operated. The Govern• went must not allow any municipal officer to usurp their authority : if the Lord Mayor were the conservator of the Thames, the Admiralty must be the conservator of the Lord Mayor, so as to see that no injury should arise to the public from his carelessness.
Sir ROBERT PEEL, with acknowledgments to Mr. Hume for directing the attention of the public to a subject of so much national importance, willingly assented to the motion ; though be begged it to be understood that he did so assent in reference to the mercantile view of the question, and without any reference to the warlike consideration suggested.
As he understood Mr. Hume, all he wanted was, that there should be on the part of the Crown a searching inquiry into the matters alluded to; and he promised that that should be done. It must, however, be understood, that all he consented to was a preliminary inquiry : if ulterior measures were to be taken, the Parliament must be consulted again. He would propose a Com- mission of two or three professional men, and at a very limited scale of remu- neration. These particulars he mentioned lest the fact of a Commission issuing should lead to the expectations which the very name of a Commission generally excited.
In reply to a question put by Captain PLUMRIDGE in seconding Mr. Hume's motion, Sir ROBERT PEEL said he believed the first report of the Commissioners on Harbours of Refuge might be expected soon after the 1st of August ; but he would be very sorry to hurry them.
MR. WAILLEY AND MR. WODEHOUSE. In the course of the Poor-law dis- cussion, in Committee, last Saturday, Mr. WAS.LET, having attributed the incendiary fires in Norfolk and Suffolk to the ignorance of the people, Mr. WODEHOUSE said pointedly, " there was no one more capable of giving an opinion on ineendiariana than the honourable Member for Finsbury." No reply was made at the time ; but when the Speaker resumed the chair, Mr. WAKLEY claimed the attention of the House, and with great emotion repu- diated the insinuation, which was founded on his action against the firs- insurance company when his house was burnt down. That case was thoroughly investigated in a trial before Lord Tenterden; every farthing of damages he claimed was awarded to him by the Jury ; and he invited the most search- ing scrutiny into the whole transaction, or into his whole course of life. Mr. Wakley's appeal made a deep impression on the House. Mr. WODE- moose offered a very formal and stinted apology ; merely saying, that as Mr. Wakley had stated there was no circumstance in the transaction which had not been satisfactorily explained, he was hound to believe him. The House was silent, and not satisfied. On Monday, however, Mr. Woneisousn made a further and ample apology; stating that he had acted under an erroneous im- pression, and, iu effect, begging forgiveness. Sir ROBERT PEEL said, this de- claration must be considered as a. complete reparation to Mr. 1Vakley's injured feelings ; and that as the explanation was in accordance with the unanimous feeling of the House, he hoped it would be put on the records of the House as a public declaration. Mr. \VAKLEY expressed himself fully satisfied.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND MELCIERISTIE. On Monday, Mr. CHRISTI'S apologized for expressions he had used on a former night touching the Duke of Richmond's conduct as Chairman of the Committee on Gaming. Lord ARTHUR LENNOX spoke warmly about honourable Members making charges they could not substantiate ; and said it was incumbent on Mr. Christie, " as a man of honour and a gentleman," to have taken an earlier opportunity of making the explanation. Mr. CHRISTIE asked Lord Arthur to explain what be meant. Lord ARTHUR was for some time reluctant ; but after many cries of " Order!" and " Chair!" he concluded the affair with " If 1 have said anything personally offensive to the honourable Member, I beg to retract it."' ECCLESIASTICAL COMMISS/ON. An address, by the House of Commons, for an account in detail of the sums of money received and expended by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England, was agreed to on Tu.sday, on the motion of Mr. E. DENISON. Sir JAMES GRAHAM, in giving his consent to the motion, said he could not consider the funds placed by Parliament under the control of the Commissioners to be under the control of Parliament.
ECCLESIASTICAL ENDOWMENT BILL. A bill was brought in on Monday by Sir Ronear PEEL, to amend an act of last session, the object of which was to appropriate 600,0001. for the purpose of providing stipends tbr clergymen who should be appointed to certain churches to he erected under the provisions of this act; the maximum allowance to be 150/. Up to the present date, there had been 240 applications to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for appoint- ments under the act ; 34 appointments had been gazetted, and engagements had been entered into with 134 persons. Those who were appointed bad the care of districts containing a population of 130,000 persons ; and provision was made for districts with a population of 500,000. The sole object of the present bill was to relieve such clergymen from the usual fees.
CIVIL AND CORPORATE OFFICES. The House of Commons, on Tuesday, granted leave to Lord SEYMOUR to bring in a bill to facilitate admission to civli and corporate offices. Under former acts, such facilities had been given to various classes of Dissenters ; and the object of the present bill was to extend the principle to other classes of Dissenters than those now embodied, and also to Jews.
METROPOLITAN BUILDINGS BILL. This bill went into Committee of the Commons on Tuesday morning; after opposition by Mr. HAWES, Mr. Maela EINNON, and Mr. TUFFNELL, who regarded it as an unnecessary interference with private property, as calculated to increase Government patronage, and to diminish the franchise. The Earl of LINCOLN defended the bill. It had bee* drawn up with great care, after consulting the most eminent architects and other persons likely to know the effects of the measure ; who were of opi- nion it would materially conduce to the health, cleanliness, and general im- provement of London. The House divided on the question for going into Com- mittee—Ayes, 39 ; noes, 5; majority, 34. Several clauses were agreed to. On Wednesday, the remaining clauses and the schedules were carried, after further divisions.
DETACHED PARTS OF COUNTIES. A bill intended to remedy the incon- veniences to which some counties are subjected by having parts of other coun- ties embedded in them completely detached, was read a second time la the Upper House, on Thursday, on the motion of Lord HATHERTON. Tax FIELD GARDENS BILL was committed pro forma in the Commons on Wednesday, with the understanding that no further progress could be male with it this session.
GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS BILL. On Thursday, Mr. GLADSTONE informed the House of Commons, that in consequence of communications which he had recently had with several gentlemen who were opponents of this bill, he had agreed to make certain alterations in it, chiefly of omission, which would not at all impair the value of the measure. By doing this, he believed he had en- tirely removed the objections which had been entertained against it. He fixed the Committee on the bill for Monday.
ART-UNIONS. In the House of Lords, on Thursday, the bill for legalising Art-Unions was read a second time, on the motion of Lord MONTRAOLE. He stated that the bill gave, in the first place, an entire indemnity fur all proceed- ings that had taken place; and, secondly, sanctioned the continuance of all Art Unions to which a Royal charter might be granted, or whose rules might 'Beet with the approbation of the Board of Trade. In either case, he proposed that they should be regarded as legal bodies. He proposed that the bill should tome into operation from January next.
REDUCTION OF DUTY ON FOREIGN BOORS AND ENGRAVINGS. Mr. GLADSTONE obtained leave on Thursday, in a Committee on the Customs Acts, to bring in a bill " to reduce under certain circumstances the duties pay- able upon books and engravings."
GREECE AND Russix. In answer to a question put by Mr. B. COCHRA NE tin Monday, Sir Ronnwr PEEL stated, on the authority of accounts received from Sir E. Lyons, that Russia had resumed her political relations with Greece. The suspension laid upon political intercourse between the Governments had been removed, and their diplomatic arrangements were now placed upon the same footing as before the revolution. Ile had great pleasure iu stating that this bad been the voluntary act of the Russian Emperor.