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land from France should provide them- , sic merit of any measure which was selves with a passport from the secretary brought forward, than vague obsevations of state. This clause was novel only from on its popularity or unpopularity in the its mildness; for in the act of king Wild country. Even on that ground, however, liam, passed in the best of times, and by he was willing to meet the right hon. genthe most declared and best known friends tleman, and could with confidence assert, of the constitution, it was made infinitely that in every circle of which he had know. more penal in anatural-born subject of the ledge, it was spoken in terms of univerking to return from France to England with sal approbation. In corroboration of out leave. The then circumstances of the what he had said, he begged leave to intimes justified the rigour of the act of form the House, that he had, since this William ; and the present state and prin. bill was in agitation, received a letter ciples of France would warrant a much from a surveyor, stating, that had not stronger measure than that which was to be such an act as this been likely to pass, he enacted by the clause in question. Every was engaged to go over to France, there part of the bill was simple, very little of to survey some lands which were to be it was new, and therefore there could be purchased by British subjects; but at the no occasion for delay.
same time he did not wish to allege speThe Attorney General said, that in the cific facts in support of a plan which was division of the clauses of the bill on which founded on the more broad and permathe right hon.gentleman had commented, he nent basis of general policy. If the Nahad thought proper to stigmatise some of tional Convention had distinctly confessed them with the epithet of tyrannical. It that the means of carrying on the war. would certainly be doing injustice to him were to arise from the sale of lands, surely self, as the author of that bill, if he suf. a clause which prevented Englishmen from fered such an imputation to remain on the parting with their money on the security principles on which it was founded. The of such lands, was a deprivation to France same provisions which were contained in of the means of carrying on the war. As the present act, were adopted at the era to the charge which had been thrown on of the Revolution, and when the sole government of having libelled the people question between this country and France of this country,' by the implications in related to our right to fix the succession which they had involved them by the terms to the throne of these kingdoms; and our of the present bill, he had flattered himself ancestors on that account, had deemed it that that subject had been dropped long proper to pursue similar measures with since. It had been said at the beginthose which were at present adopted. ning of the session that the loyalty of And, at the present crisis, when the very the people of England was libelled by existence of the constitution was endan- the preparations of government, and he gered, could that be thought tyrannical did not imagine that the charge would which was then considered as justifiable ? have been renewed on the present occaWith regard to the prohibition of British sion. It was a fact that the most dangersubjects to return from France without a ous doctrines had gone forth; doctrines, passport, if any such restraint was requi- the operation of which could not be site, and abundant proofs of its neces- checked but by declaring them liable to sity might, and had been adduced, the the penalties of treason. At the period way in which it was imposed was of a most of the Revolution, the doctrine that the unobjectionable kind." The party landing king, lords, and commons could not rein Great Britain, though he might have gulate the succession of the crown, had been refused a passport by the secretary been declared to be treason; and were not of state, might easily obtain his freedom the same or more dangerous doctrines by giving proper security to any neigh- held out at this moment? The measures bouring justice of the peace, and, finally, which government had adopted had met by appealing to the courts at Westmins with the approbation of nine tenths of the ter, obtain exemption from any kind of people without doors, and of a considerrestraint. And though particular hardship able majority in that House; and, when might possibly arise, yet the plan itself those measures had been disapproved, was perfectly defensible, on the difficul- the gentlemen who disapproved them had ties which had arisen from the singularity been the only libellers; they had been the of existing circumstances. Nothing was libellers of the majority both of that House more absurd in determining on the intrin- and of the people without doors. He next contended, that the clause prohibit. | temper, by insisting on providing a remeing insurance, was neither impolitic nor dy. This was like a physician saying to ineffectual. It might be asked, since a person who knew himself to be well, many of the facts specified in the bill “ You want physic,” or, “ You must be were treasonable by the statute of Ed- bled to-day.” If the answer was, “ I am ward 3d, why make them so again? To well, I do not want your assistance';"' this question he should only reply, that then the doctor would affect a resolute the repetition had not been made without tone, and insist on bleeding
his patient tothe sanction of many examples on similar day; and if he did not then find himself ill, occasions.
he would put him in a strait waistcoat toMr. Sheridan said, that as to the bill morrow. With respect to what the chanbeing in some parts of it tyrannical, that cellor of the exchequer had said upon part of the subject had not been fairly Whigs and Tories, he did not know any treated by the advocates for the bill; they person so well fitted to prove that a man said there was no evil in it for which there might affect to be a Whig, and yet be a was not a remedy. If a man came from Tory in his heart: he did not know a man France, and was taken into custody for who had greater reason to feel what he not complying with certain capricious dis said upon that subject, or to understand tinctions, he might apply to the secretary it better. If the right hon. gentleman of state to be discharged, and he should meant any thing by what he had said on have his liberty. How? If the secretary that subject, he meant to convey a sentiof state pleased, but not otherwise. ment, and establish a doctrine the most Could any thing be more tyrannical than pernicious to public liberty; namely, that such a measure? As to the libel on the public profession of principle was altoge. people of England, that they were many ther a piece of delusion upon the people. of them disposed to sedition, that the pre- This was done by the minister with a view sent times were full of danger, and that of bringing all public spirit into conthe bill was only a mitigation of the law tempt, to destroy all distinction between of treason as formed by the founders of the friends of freedom and the friends of the Revolution, there was the most gross despotism, and to build his own power misapplication—at the time when the al- upon the ruin of both. But whatever be terations were made in the act of Edward might think, there was too much good 3d, there was indeed reason to app:ehend sense in the people of this country to be sedition and rebellion ; that was a law in imposed on by such stale attempts; they consequence of the petition of the people began to see the difference between their praying for it, and it was carried against friends and those who wished to deceive the influence and in direct hostility to the them. Ministers began to feel that the crown. It was matter of astonishment to story of seditions, and all the trade of the him, that gentlemen could gravely say alarmists, began to flag, and therefore that there were treason and sedition in this bill was brought in to revive the delu. this country; that there were the same sion ; but the people might be said to be reasons at this day for the bill, as there like those who had been sworn at Highwas at the time of the revolution; that gate—they never would take a counterthe present moment required the same feit while they could have the reality. restraints, as when there was a plot. Mr. Pitt said, that with respect to the against the safety of the state. He was insinuation of the hon. gentleman upon sure the charge of sedition on the peo. whigs and tories, if any abandonment ple of this country, was a foul calumny of principle was ascribed to him, or the atupon them. Let the attorney-general tempt to subdue all principle in political produce his proofs. Let him tell that considerations, it was an imputation House that he would take up one man in which he disdained. He held not the the kingdom for treason. Let him name principles of some persons who had lately one man whom he suspected. Let him called themselves whigs, but the princicharge one man with a seditious view. ples of liberty settled at the Revolution. But whenever these questions were asked, Mr. Whitbread thought the conduct of instead of showing the existence of the ministers in the present instance highly evil, ministers contented themselves with indecent, and strenuously urged the proproducing a remedy. Did we ask for priety of deferring the commitment of the proof of sedition? Look at the alien bill, bill. was the answer. They proved the dis- The question being put, that the words
“ to-morrow morning,” stand part of the country, by insinuating that they were question; the House divided :
favourable to the cause of the enemy? TELLERS.
As both the title and preamble were
founded on false principles, he proposed Mr. Rose YEAS
.} 127 Mr. Serjeant Watson
that the whole should be postponed; and
if any law were necessary, which he de. Noes S Mr. Whitbread
nied, something less objectionable might Vajor Maitland
be introduced. So it was resolved in the affirmative. The Solicitor General observed, that
every treasonable act contained in this March 22. On the order of the day bill was of that nature by the existing laws for going into a Committee on the bill, of the country, and the sole object of the
Mr. Fox implored the delay of a day or bill was accurately to ascertain the natwo before they went into a committee. ture of such acts. According to the true The measure was fraught with so many spirit of the statute of Edw. 3d the framers evils, that the most mature deliberation of this bill had come to the House for a was necessary. If the country were suf- legislative exposition of the old law, raficiently apprized of its dangerous and un- ther than leave to judges the power of constitutional tendency, he entertained putting a judicial interpretation upon it. no doubt but it would meet with universal | The second clause, preventing the purdetestation. He could not resist express- chase of lands in France, was clearly ing his indignation at the precipitancy treasonable ; and it was impossible to say, with which so extraordinary a measure was that selling naval and military stores to the enforced.
French was not aiding and assisting his The House having resolved itself into majesty's enemies. The third and fourth the Committee,
clauses were both justifiable and expediMr. Grey said, that before such a billent, on the grounds of general security had been introduced, some proofs ought to the country and safety to individuals ; to have been given, that the country was and though ministers might be upbraided endangered by the traitorous correspon as being the supporters of arbitrary power, dence now alluded to. In his opinion it by a body of men who arrogated all pub. was totally unnecessary, as the 25th Edw. lic spirit, patriotism and virtue to them. 3d tended to prevent every overt act, selves, yet they would go on undaunted which generally, in times of public emer- in their career, while they were conscious gency, was deemed treasonable. Both of consulting the defence and prosperity the title and preamble of the bill were false. of the nation. According to his ideas, The first ran thus : “ A bill more effec- insurance of enemies ships in time of war tually to prevent, during the war, all trai. was aiding and assisting his majesty's enetorous correspondence with, or aid or as- mies ; and as far as he could view the sistance being given to, his majesty's ene. matter, the title was perfectly consistent
This certainly implied that there with the preamble were among his majesty's subjects some The Attorney General defended the dangerous mal-contents, who aimed at the preamble. In adopting it he had followed subversion of the government of this coun- the example of lord Somers, and some of try, and the complete overthrow of our the greatest men that ever were in this constitution. This allegation he would country. In every act of this sort, it was totally deny, till he saw proofs to the con- necessary that it should admit of a more trary. As to the preamble, it was equally general interpretation than could perhaps fallacious. It declared—“Whereas it is be wished, if the evil could be otherwise expedient more effectually to prevent trai- sufficiently guarded against. For intorous correspondence with, or aid or as- stance, in the present case, it might no sistance being given to, his majesty's ene- doubt be true, that some persons going mies, during the continuance of the pre- from this country to France, or returning sent war." This undoubtedly implied hither, might have no improper intention that the 25th Edw. 3d was not sufficiently whatever, yet, as other persons might strong. He was of a contrary opinion, probably go there, or return from thence, and thought it well calculated to prevent for purposes hostile to this country, it beall traitorous correspondence. If that act came necessary, in order to guard effecwas considered weak and insufficient, why tually against these, to make a general renot say so? Why libel the people of this gulation, prohibiting all persons either from going to France, or returning from till the different clauses were discussed, thence, except under such regulations as and stated that, in his opinion, the House may be consistent with the safety of the had already decided upon the necessity state.
of the bill as well as its principle, by givMr.Hawkins Browne said, that although ing leave to bring it in. there were some gentlemen who had dif- Mr. Fox was against postponing the fered from him on the subject of the neces- preamble. The hon. gentleman who spoke sity of the present war, and who had sup- last but one, had quibbled on this preamposed it might have been averted by negoci- ble in a most extraordinary manner, and ation, yet now that we had been so unjustly had been obliged to state it unfairly in attacked, and were actually at war, he had order to support his deduction : he had hoped that every gentleman would unite asked whether it could be denied, that it in supporting such measures as might was expedient to prevent corresponding be necessary to the carrying on that war with his majesty's enemies, &c.; but the with vigour and effect. The grand question words of the preamble were, that it was in his opinion was, “ Whether we should expedient more effectually to prevent have any king, any constitution, or any such correspondence, &c.; and he would government at all?" Were he enthusi- ask, whether, without any knowledge of astically fond of republicanism-were he the insufficiency of the existing laws, or the maddest zealot that had ever admired of any extraordinary urgency, the House Harrington's Oceana, he would at this time would think it right to enact such dreadful defend ihe British constitution against the provisions as some of those which comnew system. God forbid that we should posed this bill? Gentlemen talked of ever have a government imposed upon us what had been done at the Revolution. by France ! He went on to state the Let them follow the example of those who danger arising to this country from the acted at that time, by adducing evidence principles and objects of France in the of the necessity of the measure. Upon present war; its evident intention to in the principle now asserted, if a handful of terfere in the internal polity of this coun- men, however insignificant, or however try; and his abhorrence of the idea of small in number, should happen to enterour receiving, what he might otherwise tain opinions subversive of the established reckon a benefit, if imposed on us by the constitution, this alone would be held power of France: because the constitu. sufficient to justify the investing governtion spurned all foreign interference. Had ment with the most arbitrary powers, he been a Jacobite, he could not have though there existed, in fact, no real brought himself to have received from danger. An hon. gentleman had said, such influence, the establishment of his that if he were a Jacobite, he would not favourite king.
take the part even of his favourite moMr. Anstruther asked if, when gentle- narch, if imposed on him by the power of men objected to the preamble of the bill France. For his part, if the constitution as containing an absolute falsehood, they which he so much venerated was to be meant to dispute that it was expedient to destroyed, he did not care whether its prevent the corresponding with, or giving overthrow came from France, or origiaidor assistance to, his majesty's enemies? Dated at home. He would support minisfor nothing was asserted in the preamble ters in carrying on the war, but he would except that it was expedient to prevent not agree to undermine the constitution ; these three things. It had been said, and he could not give his concurrence to however, that the preamble ought to be the proceeding one step farther in the postponed till the facts were proved, and, present bill without evidence of some if the preamble stated any specific facts, great and urgent necessity. It had been he should perhaps agree to this. The bill hinted, that inconveniences had arisen was one of prevention, and the merit of during the American war, from improper it was, that it came in at the beginning of intercourse with the enemy; for his part
, a war, before any correspondence with he had never before heard of it, and he the enemy had taken place, or any aid or was sure no such thing had ever been assistance had been given them. He then proved. He believed that, during the war vindicated the general principle and se- which began in 1756 and ended in 1760, less veral clauses of the bill.
restrictions had been imposed than in any Mr. Powys said, that it was the uniform other war, and he would submit it to practice to postpone the preamble of bills gentlemen, without any observation, whc. (VOL. XXX. ]
[ 2 R]
ther this had been attended with any bad acted for the security of the nation at consequences.
large. The same policy was afterwards Lord Beauchamp thought that no paral. adopted by the ministry who followed ; lel could be drawn between the war of 1756 and their political sagacity was much ap: and the present. This war had peculiar plauded. With regard to whig and tory, features belonging to it, which set at de- if properly understood, he hoped that fiance all attempts at comparison with neither of them could be considered as an former wars. In every former war the enemy to the country. A whig was, in countries engaged respected the constitu- his opinion, a person who agreed to the tions of each other; but in this, our ene- constitution of king, lords, and commy seemed satisfied with nothing less mons; but who, on any public misunderthan the complete destruction of our standing, would adhere to the aristocracy whole political establishment. The bill and democracy of the country, rather appeared to him a necessary measure, than yield to the monarchy. A tory was and therefore he saw no reason why they a person who acted upon a contrary princishould postpone the preamble.
ple, by favouring, on all occasions, the Mr. Burke rose in defence of the bill. prerogative of the crown. Those who He said he rejoiced that, in times of pub- believed that the constitution was amply lic emergency, the ministers and the legis- secure without the present bill, argued lators of this country reverted to the sa- on false principles. The constitution lutary principles of our ancestors. This alone could not defend itself. It required was undoubtedly the best mode of dis- all the manly efforts of those who were its charging their duty to the country : and guardians to repel every storm which mewhile they adhered to this, maxim, no naced its overthrow. No period had ocperson need apprehend that the constitu- curred in history more detrimental to its tion would not be taken care of. The vital principles than the present; and gopresent bill had, he said, been condemned vernment merited applause and gratitude with much acrimony by the gentlemen in proportion to their vigilance and actiwho led the opposition phalanx; but al vity.--Some gentlemen had condemned though he had listened with the greatest administration for their remiss conduct; attention, he had not heard one argument but they ought to recollect, that a little which could prevail upon him to alter his rest from the fatigues of business was at opinion, that the regulation now introdu- times requisite. Sleep, the sister of death, ced was neither unwise nor unconstitu- was as necessary to the body politic as to tional. They had been lavish of their the body natural. Sleep was a cessation censure, because they asserted that the of all our faculties. It was a relaxation measure wanted precedent; but, when which infused into the vital stamina a new they made this assertion, they did not portion of health and vigour, and enabled recollect, or, what was almost the same all the members to exert their various thing, they did not choose to recollect, functions with a greater impulse and efthat in several periods of our history si- fect. I therefore rejoice, said Mr. Burke, milar precuations had been adopted by that ministers are aroused, and predict the government for the time being. He the happiest consequences from their would not overcharge their memories with energy. From their resolution and acinstances from remote times, but con- tivity I anticipate the overthrow and tent himself with producing one which humiliation of the enemy; and have occurred in the year 1688, when a happy no doubt but that the warmest congraRevolution took place in this country-not tulations will follow their enterprise and a revolution stained with blood and infamy, success. You are now at war with an as that lately adopted in a neighbouring enemy who has waged war with your conkingdom. To convince them of what he stitution, and who has been but too sucnow advanced, he affirmed, that the very cessful in establishing among you a dannext chapter to the Bill of Rights contain- gerous domestic faction [Here there was ed an act empowering king William to take an interruption of No, no!]. Gentlemen up and imprison all suspected persons. may now deny the assertion, but at a fuThe people of those days, who were jea- ture period I will name them, to their lous of their rights and liberties, were not confusion, though not to their shame.heard to murmur against the proceedings Every kind of government, whatever may of government, but suffered the whole to be its organization or structure, implied pass in silence, fully persuaded that they and required that a man should surrender