« VorigeDoorgaan »
of triennial parliaments does not constitute a principle of its for mation.
It was, however, positively stated in those public prints which are supposed to have authentic information, that “ Lords GRENVILLE " and GREY had received the commands of the Prince Regent to “ draw up for his inspection a list of members for a new administra" tion.” It is right the public should know the opinions of these statesmen on the subject alluded to: and for the sentiments of the former, we have only to refer to the debate just quoted. Lord Grenville observed—“ Various opinions had been circulated respect“ing the duration of parliament; FOR HIS PART HE DECLARED “ HIMSELP IN FAVOUR OF THE SEPTENNIAL BILL, as be consi“ dered the frequent appeals of ministers to the sense of the people, “ when they found members not agreeable, would tend to the em" barrassment of public business, if not something worse, a con“tempt of parliament, and the rendering of it, as an institution “ burdensome to the people."*_What renders this parliamentary logic the more curious is,—that during his lordship's own administration, which had recently been dismissed, he had effected a dissolu. tion of parliament iit order to increase his majority, although that parliament had not existed above three years. Lord Holland's observations sufficiently refute Lord Grenville’s. It is to prevent mini. ster's making an ill use of the prerogative of dissolving parliaments, and of taking the people by surprise as has been generally the casefor the past thirty years, that constitutes one principal argument for their demanding a repeal of that mosi scandalous violation of a Briton's birth right-the Septennial act, and the restoration of that right -Triennial representation, confirmed at the Revolution. As to Lord Grey, who since he was first in place, and ever since he was turned out of place, seems to have surrendered his understanding to the guidance of Lord Grenville, the same language may be applied to his conduct, which his lordship once applied to the statesinan be has lately been in the habit of panegyrising, “ the great man now no " more ;” and whom he told to his face in the house of Commons, that his public life, since he bad been in office, exhibited “ one con “ tinued tissue of apostacy.” Lord Grey has publicly avowed his sentiments on the subject of parliamentary as well as other reform, and on the subject of catholic emancipation, to be precisely those of his noble friend. Lord Grenville's sentiments on the first of these subjects we have already seen; as to his sentiments on the latter, his ill-judged, foolisha leiter to the catholics convinced that body that he had sacrificed their cause to the nonsense of the Veto. On the subject of the WAR, the last sessions afforded a complete triumph to
Lord Grey's opponent, that is, his opponent so far as it relates to the possession of place-Lord Liverpool, who made an observation similar to that made by Mr. Perceval, in the house of Commons, respecting caibolic emancipation—" That as to the PRINCIPLE of " the war, and the impossibility of making peace, he was happy to « find there was little difference between ministers and their oppo“ nonts,"-Indeed we believe, and the people in general seem to be of the same opinion, that it is a matter of comparative indifference whether Lord Grenville and Lord Grey on the one hand, or Mr. Perceval and Lord Liverpool on the other, have the guidance of their affairs; the two latter have never deceived tbem, and it will be rather difficult for the two former to play the same game over again.
We have thus laid before our readers the opinions, on subjects of great moment, of those statesmen who have recently been consulted by the Prince Regent respecting the formation of a new administration. The editor of the Morning Chronicle has taken great paiņs to convince the public that the utmost cordiality has subsisted amongst the opposition leaders, and that they repose the most entire confidence in each other. We wish he had further informed us of the grounds of this “ cordiality, and confidence;" and whether Lords Grenville and Grey had reformed their opinions, or Lords Holland, Erskine, &c. and Mr. Whitbread had apostatized from theirs: the latter it is - impossible even to imagine; we would hope the former; and the friends to peace and reform would most willingly demonstrate their joy, on the return of these or any other of our state prodigals, by killing for them the fatted calf: but we dare pot flatter our readers, that this is the case till we have some evidence on the subject. The public must, however, in the formation of a new ministry have no triling; no halting, no trimming, no time-serving. If the Prince Regent does not make substantial and radical reform, and more particularly a repeal of the septennial act, a PRINCIPLE of his new cabinet ; if this principle be pot made the condition, the sine qua non of office, his royal highness may as well put up with the present set. They, indeed, by persevering in the system of their master, “ the great man now no more,” will post assuredly ruin the country: , and any other administration which may attempt to govern by means of corrupt, septennial parliaments can never save it. Should the house of Commons obstinately refuse to reform itself, let the Prince Regent then appeal to the people by a dissolution of parliament. If the people do pot properly answer this appeal by choosing representatives of a very different description, God Almighty help the country, for nothing but a miracle can save it from utter de. struction!
The friends of this inestimable privilege bave 'of late been alternately filled with fears, and hopes, on account of certain recent events which have passed in our courts of justice, and on the attention which this most interesting subject is exciting in both branches of the legislature. One instance indeed, has occurred, which is a proof of the sad want of principle in the proprietors of public prints, as well as in their editors. We allude to the trial of the editor and proprietor of the Day newspaper, to wbich is prefixed the vaunting and impious motto we have already noticed. This paper has in general been the advocate of ministers, but in a recent instance, the Editor thought proper to take the contrary side, and to pass some severe reflections on the conduct of the military in the affair of Sir F. Burdett; for which offence a prosecution fol. lowed up by conviction has taken place in the Court of King's Bench. The Editor on being brought up io receive sentence, stated in mitigation of his offence, that “ he was not the Editor (although “ his name was, entered as such at the Siamp Office) but only a « writer for the Day, having no controul over the articles which " appeared ia it; that be received his instructions from a committee « of proprietors, who had resolved in the present instance, to adopt " the popular side of the question as likely to increase the sale of “ their paper :-that he had been urged by Mr. Harry Phillips " the auctioneer, 'not to spare the soidiers;' but as a proof of his “ own very loyal principles, he referred to another paper, the « National Register, of which he was uncontrouled editor, and “ which would evince his real principles ! Judge Grose on passing sentence, stated, “ that the court in vain looked for any thing like “ mitigation, in such an apology, which only went to inform the
court, that the defendani was one who lent kis talents to be " prostituted at the order of a committee, acting for a rumber 6 of others, whose sole motive was pecuniary interest."
The case of Mr. Finnerty is accompanied with such extraordinary circumstances as will doubtless give rise to much discussion, and we trust will make a deep and abiding impression on the people, It appears, that on a criminal information being filed against him by the Attorney-General for a libel against Lord Castlereagh, he suffered judgment to go by default, which in general is construed as an acknowledgement of guilt ; but on his being brought up to receive sentence, he stated, that bis reason for so doing was the remark of the Lord Chief Justice of the court : “ that the truth of " the libel would not be admitted as an extenuation of its guilt.2 Mr. F. added, although he considered himself as precluded from defending himself oa trial, ke now in mitigation of punishment offered to prove the truth of all he had uttered of bis prosecutor The very interesting proceedings on this occasion will be found in
, yet it is not forward by counsela man in such as the ad
our Miscellany: We cannot but lament that Mr. Finnerty suffered judgment to go by default, for although the Lord Chief Justice might not have considered the evidence produced to prove the truth of the charges brought against Lord Castlereagh as doing away the guilt, yet it is not probable he would have prevented that evi, dence, when brougùt forward by counsel, from being laid before the jury: but it is often very difficult for a man in such a situation, to know what to do, and he can scarcely avoid following the advice of counsel. However, from the extracts read, from a few of the FIFTY afidavits offered by Mr. F. almost all of wbich were rejected by the court, some judgment may be formed of the mass of evidence in existence, proving the enormities of the system pursued in our unfortunate sister kingdom, Ireland. As for. Lord Castlereagh, bis character as a borough intriguer in England, and as the grand supporter of the torture system in Ireland, is equally famous; we should suppose there are scarcely to be found two opinions on the subject.-A subscription has been opened for Mr. Finnerty, which we trust will be suitably encouraged.
The Prince Regent has we perceive been much employed in exer. cising the amiable prerogative of MERCY. Sixty reprieves have been given to different criminals convicted of capital crimes; and when we consider the horrible nature of our penal code, written as it were, like the laws of DRACO, in blood, it is not improbable, that bis royal highness has by this exercise of the regal prerogative, prevented sixty legal murders from being added to the black catalogue of our numerous crimes. Would not the further exercise as it may respect those who are suffering the severe sentence of the law for publishing their opinions, be equally desirable? Surely the fipes and long imprisonment such persons undergo is more than their offences can possibly deserve. The Prince Regent, by remitting the remainder of their punishment, would perform an act nobly popular, and additionally merit the gratitude of every friend of his country.
A noble triumph has been gained for the press by the verdict in the case of the printer and proprietor of that excellent and spirited weekly paper-the EXAMINER. The libel complained of by the attorney-general consisted of an account of various sentences of court martials inflicting the disgraceful and severe punishment of flogging, administered, as it appears, in a manner peculiar to the British army. The article was headed--ONE THOUSAND LASHES! and the details of the execution of the various sentences were followed by the strictures such a subject naturally demanded. The jury after two hours consideration brought in their verdict--NOT GUILTY. The records of this important trial shall be preserved in our Miscellany... · It must afford great pleasure to the friends of justice, liberty, and humanity, to find that the intolerable grievance of ex officio informa
tions is shortly to undergo a discussion in both houses of parliament. If there were no other instance to produce of the unjust and arbitrary ... bature of these proceedings, that of the editor of the ExAMINER would be sufficient. Mr. Hunt has had three of what are called criminal informations filed against him. Two of them were withdrawn, the third has been tried ; and in all, the innocence of the ag. grieved party is demonstrated; and yet, besides the loss of time, the trouble, and the harass of mind, the 'unavoidable consequence of such prosecutions, or persecutions, an expeuce has been incurred of three hundred pounds! In short, an attorney general by possessing this arbitrary power, has it in his power at any time to ruin an innocent man; and the use, for we suppose we must not say the abuse, which has been made of this power in modern times, demands the serious consideration of the legislature. Lord Holland has increased the debt of public gratitude due to him, for the notice he has given on this subject. '
FAST DAY. That annual national mockery offered to heaven, commonly termed a Fast Day is about to be repeated. A correspondent whose letter appears in our present pumber, seems to be of opinion, that even the clergy of the established church are not bound to observe the day, and that the laity in paying no respect to it, but following their business as usual on other days, have a right so to do, as the King's proclamation has not the force of law. Should there, however, exist a doubt on this subject it can only apply to the members of the established church. But we cannot, expect that the clergy should hazard the least risk of disobeying their superiors : indeed there is the less occasion for it on their parts: for although some of them disapprove of the war, and of the fast prayers made for them, yet they can with as little scruple repeat them, as they can subscribe articles which they do not believe, which we are firmly persuaded is the case with every clergyman who has thought seriously on the subject. But the case is different with protestant dissenters; and how it is possible for them to shew respect to this day of national hypocrisy, by attending divine service in the customary way, we know not. If their ministers dare to be faithful, and reprobate national sins, and more especially. that chief of our na, Lional sinshe present UNJUST and UNNECESSARY WAR, then let them keep the Fast; but if they shrink from duty under the pretence that it would not be prudent, let them seriously reflect that their conduct is equally inconsistent with the character of an honest man and a sincere christian, and adds to our national guilt ! Harlow, Feb. 27, 1811.
. B. F.