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that edition were subscribed for by the trade before it was published, still the sale was very limited till the trials began; but, in the course of those trials the sale of that, and of all Mr. Carlile's other publications had been encreased to 13,000 copies. If this was the way in which the sale of works, supposed to be hostile to religion was to be diminished, it was, he would say, a very strange way. But why be so scrupulous about those works? Were the principles of religion not to be explained? Was there not to be a freedom of opinion on that very subject upon which men had the greatest personal grounds for having themselves well informed? The course which had been taken with respect to Mr. Carlile in the court of King's-bench was such as entitled him to complain. Upon the ground that the judge could not hear the Christian religion questioned by a defendant, he had been debarred of that full hearing which was his right as an English subject. The petitioner also complained of the interruption given by the court to his defence, and of the oppressive sentence passed upon him of three years imprisonment, and 1,500l. fine, and also of the still more oppressive execution of a levari facias, which took away from him all power of paying the fine, and subjected him, in default thereof, to continual imprisonment. A course so arbitrary was more worthy of the Inquisition than an English tribunal; and the only effect of such proceedings would be, to awaken a spirit of enthusiasm among the lower orders, and prepare the minds of hundreds among them for a new species of martyrdom. His own opinion was, that if the devil were put on his trial, he ought to be fairly heard, and receive no more than his due proportion of punishment. He begged the law officers of the Crown to pay particular attention to the fact, that the prosecution of this person had caused an unprecedented diffusion of the works, for the publishing of which he had been prosecuted.

The Solicitor General, in answer to the remark of the hon. gentleman, as to the interruption of the defence, begged leave to remind the House of the course taken by the petitioner. He had occupied from eight to ten hours of three successive days in his defence, after which he was convicted. He had a motion in term to set aside the verdict, which lie argued for several hours. The member for Nottingham had moved in arrest of judgment in

a speech of considerable length, after which the petitioner was heard for a still longer time in mitigation of punishment. Thus much for the conduct of the trial. The petitioner, after these various proceedings, had boasted that he would continue to publish the same works-that his wife was willing to become a martyr in this cause-that if she should be prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned, he had a sister who would take her place, and encounter the same perils and that if the same fate should overtake his sister, there were hundreds willing to run the same risks over and over again. How well he had kept his word the House would judge, when they should learn that his wife and sister and others of his agents, had been convicted and were now in prison for the offences, and that at this moment a prosecution was pending against another of his agents on the same account. As to the levari facias, the whole proceeding was according to the usual course of law. If not, Mr. Carlile had only to move the court, and the writ would have been stayed. As to his inability to pay the fine, by the statement just made by the hon. member, it appeared that Mr. Carlile had sold 15,000 copies of the work in question, at half-a-guinea each. So that, by the admission of the petitioner, the prosecution must have put much more money into his pocket than the fine levied upon him.

Mr. Lennard considered the sentence passed on Mr. Carlile as one of unconstitutional severity. That severity he looked upon as one of the signs of the times. It appeared to him that the supporters of the six acts having failed in their efforts to procure the punishment of perpetual banishment, had contrived, through the agency of the judges, to supply that deficiency by sentences which amounted to perpetual imprisonment.

Mr. Hume accounted for the inability of Mr. Carlile to pay the fine, by the fact that he had invested the profits of his former sale, in the expense of the works which were seized under the levy.

Mr. Denman observed, that the proceedings in the case before the House proved that irreligion could also produce its martyrs. Such were the effects of that re-action which the operation of the jointstock purse of the self-called "Constitutional Association" had produced. He understood that the funds of that purse were

exhausted, never, he trusted, to be replenished. The punishment he considered to be excessive. Had the judges been aware of the inability of Mr. Carlile to pay the fine, at the time judgment was passed, he was sure they never would have passed it. He trusted, therefore, that the government would interfere and modify it to the actual circumstances of the petitioner.

where a prosecution by the attorney-ge neral had been ordered during the inquiry on sir E. Impey's case, in 1788. That course it was not his intention to pursue, but he still thought he should not be doing justice to those persons whose character it was the object of the writer of the paragraph to blacken, unless some notice was taken of it. He should now therefore move that the printer of "The British Press," do attend that House


Mr. Secretary Peel said, it was admitted that the prosecutions had caused so extensive a sale of the libellous books, Sir M. W. Ridley thought, that as the that the petitioner must have been fully paragraph read by the hon. gentleman did enabled to pay the fine. But Mr. Carlile not contain any reflection upon the chawas not in prison merely for the non-pay-racter of any member of the House, alment of the fine; he was also called upon for recognizances for his good behaviour. He had, however, continued, according to his promise, up to the latest minute, to publish the offensive books. He did not He did not wish to press the circumstance against him; but certainly it formed a good ground for using precaution as to the persons who were prepared to become bound for him. As the margin of the petition contained the titles of all the offensive books sold by the petitioner, if the House should print it, they would give a publicity to them which it was, on all accounts, desirable to avoid.

The petition was ordered to lie on the table.

BREACH OF PRIVILEGE-COMPLAINT AGAINST "THE BRITISH PRESS."] Colonel Barry rose for the purpose of calling the attention of the House to an article in a newspaper respecting the pending inquiry into the conduct of the sheriff of Dublin. He felt reluctant to propose the bringing a printer to the bar of that House; but the object of the paragraph to which he alluded was so obviously to impede the course of public justice, that he felt obliged to notice it. The obscurity of the paper in which it was contained might have induced him to pass it by in silence, were not its wickedness and falsehood such as to make it unfit that, even upon the limited number of the readers of that paper, such an im. pression should be suffered to remain. He then proceeded to read an article from "The British Press," animadverting upon the conduct and character of the Orange party in Ireland, and commenting upon the evidence given at the bar of the House. The hon, member proceeded to read a precedent from the Journals of the House,

though its insinuations were injurious to the characters of others, enough had been done in the notice which had been already taken of it. As those individuals, who, some how or other, obtained a knowledge of the proceedings of the House, had in general abstained from commenting upon the inquiry, he would suggest to the hon. gentleman the expediency of withdrawing. his motion.

Colonel Barry had no objection to adopt the course recommended, if the House were of opinion that the article which he had read was an instance of gross injustice. He did not wish to bring the House in collision with those people. "But unless something be done," said the hon.. member, "the press will become our masters, instead of we being theirs."

Mr. Wynn said, that witnesses and even culprits charged in that House were under its protection. He, however, thought, in the present instance, that sufficient had been done to prevent a repetition of the offence.

Mr. Abercromby observed, that if the newspapers refrained from making any comments upon the inquiry now in progress, they would be better employed. With respect to the article just read, he had no hesitation in saying, that it was a highlycoloured statement. He was, however, happy to have that opportunity of stating, that since he had become a member of that House, there was no instance in which he had received such a multiplicity of newspapers, pamphlets, and other writings, all coming from the other side, and containing statements that were most exaggerated with respect to the conduct of the attorney general for Ireland. He requested the hon. member to consider, whether, under all the circumstances, it would be advisable to engage the House

in a contest, which it was not probable that they could speedily get rid of. There were other publications which contained statements fully as bad on the opposite side.

Mr. Secretary Peel said, he would advise his hon. friend not to proceed further. Much consideration was certainly due to his wounded feelings, but he should recollect that his character was proof against any attack of the kind. When the liberty of the press was so abused, its licentiousness became its own correction; for it was the natural consequence of gross and disgraceful exaggerations to lessen the credit of the source from which they pro


The motion was then withdrawn.

SHERIFF OF DUBLIN-INQUIRY INTO HIS CONDUCT.] The House having again resolved itself into a committee to inquire into the Conduct of the Sheriff of Dublin, sir R. Heron in the chair,

Mr. Joseph Henry Moore was called in ; and further examined

By Mr. Jones.-Was there not a person examined, who offered evidence as to the person of one of the rioters, which evidence he was not suffered to give, because he did not know the person of the rioter at the time of the riot having been committed?-No such thing took place.

Was there a man of the name of Ryan examined before the grand jury?-[The witness was ordered to withdraw.]

Mr. Plunkett said, that before the committee proceeded to examine the witness on points involving the performance of his duty as a member of a grand jury, they ought to decide the general principle of the capability of dispensing with the obligation of his oath of secrecy. A grand juryman was sworn not to divulge the counsel of the king, or of himself or fellows. The examination now about to be entered upon might put a grand juryman in a situation at variance with that oath. As to the power of absolving the witness from such obligation, he would express no opinion, but would leave it for the committee to determine.

Mr. Wynn maintained that the House was entitled, in the discharge of its highest functions, to call on grand jurors to answer such questions as might be deemed -necessary. This had been decided in the case of sir John Fenwick. Sir John had absconded, in consequence of a serious charge that had been brought against

him; and the House could not proceed to his expulsion, until proof of that charge was laid before them. For that purpose it was found necessary to examine some of the grand jury before whom the bill of indictment had been preferred. He insisted that the case of admiral Byng, which had been adduced on the opposite side, was not relevant, and that the act of parliament for regulating the proceedings of Irish grand juries, did not oppose any obstacle to the inquiry.

Mr. Abercromby stated it to be the opinion of Mr. Fox, that when the House acted in the capacity of a court of inquiry its powers ought to be as large as possible. He then went into an explanation of the act for the regulation of the proceedings of Irish grand juries, which bill did not relate to viva voce examinations, but to indictments found upon written depositions. He contended, that neither the bill as drawn up by Mr. Horner, nor a particular proviso which had been added to it, went against the right of the House to dispense with the obligation of a grand juror's oath, for the purposes of public jusbenefit of the public at large, and the tice. An inquiry of this kind was for the committee had a right to call before them every person who could give them information, and oblige them to answer fully and entirely.

Mr. Secretary Peel said, the present was a question of very great difficulty. No man felt more strongly than he did the necessity of granting to the House the most extensive power for carrying on an inquiry of this description, and no man was more ready to admit that they were not, in their proceedings, to abide by the rules of a court of justice. There was, he conceived, only one case to which their authority did not apply, and that was the present case precisely, which was one of conscience. First of all, they placed individuals in a situation in which they were compelled to do certain acts. The grand jurors were obliged to take an oath, "not to divulge their own counsel, the king's counsel, or the counsel of their fellows," and then the House turned round and demanded of them to violate that oath. Was there, he would ask, any power in that House to release men from so solemn an obligation? Or, if there were, was it prudent, when the force of such an obligation depended altogether on conscientious feelings, to compel men to act in contradiction to those feelings? Might not the

members of the grand jury appeal, on this subject, to a higher authority than that of the House of Commons? Might they not appeal to the authority of the whole legislature? In 1819, that House was party to an act having for its object the regulation of Irish grand juries. Gentlemen knew that the grand juries of Ireland had two distinct functions to perform-those of finding bills, and of money présentments. By the act of 1819, grand juries were allowed to divulge matters relating to presentments; but the other part of their oath, with reference to the concealment of evidence given on bills of indictment, remained binding on them. This plainly showed the light in which the legislature viewed the subject. Every grand juror swore to conceal the evidence given before him, "So help him God," or, in other words, he said, "may the divine protection be withheld from me, if I disclose what is stated in evidence." Could that House compel him to divulge that which he had thus impressively sworn to conceal? Suppose the House thought they could do so, and the individual answered "I know not what your construction may be, I feel myself bound by the oath which I have taken, and no interpretation of others shall induce me to violate it," suppose the witness made such an answer, would the House commit him? In that case, the conscientious observer of an oath would be committed, because he entertained a religious abhorrence of its violation. A committal on such a ground, would be the worst exercise of that power which belonged to the House in cases of ordinary contumacy, and he doubted very much its policy. If they were not prepared to commit a witness who was convinced that no power on earth could relieve him from the sanction of an oath, then they ought to consider whether they must not leave it to the witnesses whom they called, to determine whether they would answer or not. There could be no other alternative, and the House ought to pause before it placed itself in that situation.

Sir J. Mackintosh said, the question was, properly, whether an individual could be absolved from the sanction of an oath annexed to civil services of state, or the pure administration of justice, where the service was not for his own advantage, but was a duty imposed upon him. The right hon. gentleman opposite denied that any human authority could dispense with

the obligation. He did not recollect any instance of such a doctrine having been laid down, even in papal times, when the church in the name of religion, but frequently to its abuse, imposed laws, and assumed the direction of all the affairs of society. When religion lent its sanction to civil offices, and enforced the obligations imposed by magistrates and the law, all the theologians casuists and moralists with whom he was acquainted, agreed that so soon as the competent authority which imposed the obligation thought proper to dissolve it, the influence of religion ceased with the existence of that obligation which it was called in to enforce. If that were not the true doctrine, what must be the consequence with respect to the oath of allegiance? The people of this country took the oath of allegiance to James 2nd, and afterwards to William and Mary. The latter oath was, of course, a positive repeal of the former; but, were they on that account to accuse the people of England with having committed gross perjury? No; the oath of allegiance was but a promissory oath, from which a man might be relieved under extraordinary circumstances. No man could be relieved from an oath of testimony; because that was direct and immediate, and could not, therefore, be applicable to this case; but the oath of allegiance being promissory, was not binding longer than the original duty of allegiance. What was to be said of oaths which the clergy of England had broken, with regard to the see of Rome? Were the statutes of the Reformation founded in perjury? Were Cranmer and Tillotson, and other great divines liable to such an imputation? Were the founders of our mode of religion at the Reformation, and its protectors at the Revolution, grossly ignorant of the sanctions of religion and the obligations of law? He would not weary the House by going into the argument of the marriage oath; but he might be permitted to say, that that was another instance in which the sanction of religion was added to civil duties, and ceased as soon as the temporal obligation was dissolved by law. As to the manner in which the House was bound to treat witnesses who had religious scruples, that was a question of tenderness to conscientious feelings, and was very different from the question of the right of the witness to refuse to answer. It was not incompatible with the maintenance of the power of the

House to be tender to the religious impressions of individuals. No one would deny that the state had a right to exact oaths from the society called Quakers, as well as from all other subjects, but it was equally true, that it was wise and becoming to consult their conscientious scruples, and relieve them from an oath, It was his opinion, that if any juryman called to their bar should conceive that his oath was not to be dispensed with, he ought not to be examined; for he thought no witness ought to be questioned who was not content to be thoroughly examined.

Mr. Wetherell entirely concurred in the opinion, that no court ought, on light grounds, to interfere with the scruples of religious persons, in the construction of an obligation. But, what was the case here? Let them not confound in one common sense, civil and religious obligations. What was the nature of the oath in this case? It was strictly an obligation for the performance of a civil duty: it had, certainly, from its nature, two aspects-one a religious, the other a civil obligation: but, in what sense did the religious part become involved? Why, to give effect to and to enforce the civil. It was, in fact, a pledge coram Deo, that the civil duty should be duly discharged. The true construction of such an oath, then, was that which aided the civil obligation. What was the principle which governed the construction of an oath? Some principle was actually necessary; for otherwise, as there were two parties -the one imposing the oath, and the other contracting it-they might clash with each other in their respective construction of the obligation. The principle long established was this-that the oath should be construed in the sense of the party administering it, and according to the terms he imposed. The hon. and learned gentleman then quoted Dr. Paley in illustration of this principle, that, as the oath was intended for the security of the party imposing it, it ought to be taken according to his avowed construction. With respect to the application of this principle to the particular case, if he were to hazard an opinion-for he would not venture to go further-he almost felt disposed to say, that the oath of secrecy of a grand juror was only intended to operate until the party was put upon his trial; for then, of necessity, the information previously given became public,

and the motive for secrecy no longer existed. Writers, he knew, were obscure upon the subject, and he would only venture to hazard an opinion. In application of the principle which he had already stated, he would ask, by whom, and for whose benefit, was the oath of a grand juror administered?-by the state, and in furtherance of the purposes of justice. Was it not lawful, therefore, for the state to say-" We, who administer the oath, release you who took it from the obligation it imposed." Why? Because the purposes of justice, which rendered that oath necessary, now require that you should, in the particular instance, be released from the secrecy which it imposed. If parliament had not the power of conferring this release, what an absurdity to have given them the right of entering into an unlimited power of inquiry? If the oath were inexpiable, then their inquisitorial power could at any time, where a grand juror was concerned, be stopped by what was called a scruple of conscience. The indissolubility of this oath, and the privileges of parliament, could not exist together. And, could the legislature have ever meant, or contemplated, that they should come in contact? The only question, then, respecting this oath, was, quis imposuit, et quo animo? His answer was, the state imposed the oath, and the quo animo was in furtherance of justice. The oath, then, must be considered with reference to its real purpose, and the state which regulated that oath must have reserved to itself the power of removing the bond of secrecy when the interests of justice required further information. But then he might be told that a severe religionist might say, My scruples are so strong, that I must have an act of parliament to exonerate me." To such a man he would reply, "How will an act of parliament remove your scruples? If they are sincere, you will stand just the same, as regards your conscience, after the act of parliament as you do before?" Let those who were severe religionists remember the university oaths which they took, and the manner in which they qualified that taking. Why, in the university of Oxford, of which the right hon. secretary was so able a representative, nine-tenths of the gowns-and-caps-men who walked about that city talking English, and who stayed out of bed after nine o'clock every evening, were in the daily habit of com


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