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House and the country had wisely and since the House had met, even with respect to consistently determined upon taking that that vital question of the Corn-laws course in behalf of Portugal, under ex- question of which it was not too much to isting circumstances, which, while it af- say, that its present condition suspended all forded a just protection to our ally, at the contracts between landlord and tenantsame time held out the surest promise of when it was remembered, that the only preventing the real calamities of war. In- thing done was to pass an Indemnity bill dependently of the real exertion which was which was done with as little ceremony as on this occasion demonstrated, he did hope an ordinary road bill---when petitions were that the moral effect of the proceeding presented from the inhabitants of oncewould be, to avert hostilities, by diffusing flourishing parts of the empire praying to the general assurance, that the policy be removed from a country in which they avowed by England was adopted and con- see nothing but despair--when another most firmed by the unanimous voice of parlia- serious and appalling question had been ment and the people. He heartily joined omitted, he meant Ireland ; after the with those who deprecated war. He fully hints, not obscurely given, that when concurred in their sense of its calamities, England should have sufficient occupation how likely it always was to impede the for the troops now stationed there, the Camarch of civilization, and to check the cur- tholics of Ireland would seek to regain rent of national industry. At the same time those rights for which they have petitioned he must repeat his perfect conviction, that in vain-when he found that unless that the surest method of preserving peace was question was met-promptly met--Ireland to maintain the national honour and good must be lost—and yet not one word had faith unimpeached and inviolate. He been said on the subject that looked like should have simply moved this adjourn-relief-when he saw all those things, he ment without observation, had he not been could not but think, that a much earlier informed, that some objection was to be period of meeting would be more congenial taken to what was called the unusual with the situation in which the country was length of the proposed recess. Now every placed.
. adjournment must necessarily depend upon the particular circumstances of each pe
NewsPAPERS AND PAMPHLETSriod when it took place; and there was STAMP Duties on.] Mr. Hume said, nothing in the present, different from the that had there been a sufficient attendance, practice observed on similar occasions, it was his intention to have called the when parliament had an earlier winter sit- attention of the House to some subjects of ting. At their next meeting it was in considerable importance connected with tended to lose no time in bringing forward the revenue; such as the duty on newsthe most important public business of the papers, advertisements, pamphlets, innation. Indeed, so fixed was this deter- surances, &c. He considered the duty on mination on the part of his majesty's go- newspapers, not only a great public injury, vernment, that his right hon. friend had but a loss to the revenue. He was conempowered him to give notice, that on the fident, that he should be able at a proper Monday following the 8th of February, he season to show, that great and most deintended to submit to the House, a motion sirable advantages would arise from a rewhich would specifically introduce the duction of those duties. He was satisfied great question of the Corn-laws.
that if government would take off twoMr. John Williams concurred with the pence-halfpenny from the duty, the revenue right hon. gentleman, that the House and would be benefitted by the increase, which the
government had come to a sound de- would be thus occasioned in the circulation cision as to the course to be pursued re- of newspapers. He was warranted in specting Portugal. He, however, certainly anticipating this effect by a reference to thought the period of the adjournment too the duties levied on newspapers in other long. The situation of the country must countries. In the United States of Ame. at all times determine the circumstances rica, where there was no duty, or but a of the case, and it was his misfortune to very small one, there were no less than differ from almost all the members of the five hundred and ninety-eight newspapers House, as to the conduct they had pur- in constant circulation ; while, according sued that session. When it was borne in to the last returns, made in 1821, the mind, that nothing whatever had been done I whole number of newspapers in çirculation in England, Ireland, and Scotland, did not throughout society. When it was conamount to more than two hundred and sidered how much was to be found in eighty-four. He trusted that these facts weekly papers besides mere ordinary news, would be sufficient to show the expediency and when it was considered how much the of adopting some modification of those quantity of such matter would be augduties. In 1797, and again in 1815, when mented, if the duty were taken off, the a new rate was levied, the effects were importance of these publications, for the found to be such as warranted the ground purposes which he had pointed out, might he was now taking. By the returns made be estimated. Amongst those who had for the periods antecedent and subsequent turned their consideration to this subject, to those years, the expectations of a con- it was a prevailing opinion, that if in a sequent improvement of the revenue were weekly publication matters of news were far from being realised. Indeed, in pro- made to form a secondary and subordinate portion to the relative state of the country part, and if the principle portion of the at the different periods to which he had publication were devoted to science, the alluded, this branch of the national finances arts, and to objects connected with general would be found to have retrograded. How- useful knowledge, such a paper would be ever, these were matters into which he found the most useful and effectual organ should be prepared to go more fully at a of disseminating information among those proper season. He would, at present, move classes to whom it was not at present acfor a return of the amount of duty received cessible. The consideration of this subfor Stamps on Newspapers, in each year, ject led him to one, in some measure confor the last thirty years.
nected with it; but in the absence of the Mr. Brougham seconded the motion, Attorney and Solicitor general, and conand hoped that his hon. friend would sidering the thin state of the House, and persevere in his praise-worthy exertions. the advanced state of the session, he scarcely The hon. member had with great constancy felt himself justified in alluding to the suband assiduity devoted his time and energies ject. He meant the law of libel at present. to many subjects of importance and utility, Some sessions ago he had brought forward but amongst all the measures on which he a motion which had for its object the had exercised his zeal and his abilities, amendment of that law, and after some hardly any was, in his opinion, of greater discussions on the subject he was allowed interest, in all its bearings, and of more to bring in a bill, which was read a first general advantage, than the present. The time; but, in consequence of the late measure to which his hon. friend had period of the session, and owing to the called the attention of the House was one great opposition which the measure met of importance, whether it was considered with in certain quarters, it was dropped in reference to the advantageous effects for that session, and he had never revived which it was calculated to produce upon it, in consequence of the known hostility the revenue, or with relation to the still with which the measure was regarded by more enlarged benefit, of which it would those whose opposition was sure to lead to be the source, by the diffusion of informa- its defeat. The object of that measure was tion amongst the people. He did not, to counteract the effects resulting from the however, mean, by what he now said, to law of libel, as that law was at present commit himself as to the course which he administered. And, if instances were should feel it his duty to adopt, when such wanting to prove the necessity of altering an inquiry should be entered into. The the law by a legislative enactment, the subject was one which demanded much cases which had lately occurred in Westdeliberate examination. From the im- minster-hall would furnish unanswerable pression which was at present predominant arguments in favour of the interference of in bis mind, he should feel disposed to that House to effect the desired object. draw a distinction between the daily and When he introduced the motion to parliaweekly newspapers. The revenue might ment to which he alluded, he then stated afford to make an experiment in the one what he since had occasion, in several case, which it might not be able to do in instances, to observe and comment onthe instance of the daily publications. The that it was one of the greatest instances of weekly newspapers might, he conceived, be injustice and oppression that men were rendered most valuable channels for the subject to a prosecution by indictment for dissemination of science and intelligence merely publishing that which was well known to be true. A prosecution by in- criminal, to give notice to the opposite side, dictment bore doubly hard on the defend of the line of defence meant to be adopted, ant, because it deprived him of the advan- and to give in evidence the truth, not that tage of pleading the truth of the libel in it might be pleaded in all cases as a justijustification thereof. In an action at fication, but that in all cases it might common-law the truth of an alleged libel weigh with the jury, in order to show the could be pleaded in justification of the motives by which defendants were actuated libel itself, but in case of an indictment, [hear, hear.] the individual was deprived of the power Mr. Secretary Peel said, that the subof proving the truth of that for which he ject which the hon. and learned gentlewas indicted, and punishment followed his man had thought proper to introduce conviction, as if every word of the libel without any notice, was too important to with which he was charged were as abso- be considered now. He should therefore lutely and substantially false as it could decline to give any specific answer to the have been proved to be directly the reverse. hon. and learned gentleman at present. Persons unacquainted with the law of libel If, however, upon a due consideration of as it was administered at present, could the subject, it should be found to be one hard oring themselves to believe, that if deserving of that inquiry which was so a man were to publish of another that he strongly urged, he should be willing to was convicted of felony, he was liable to be attend to the suggestions thrown out by tried by indictment, and the jury must the hon. and learned gentleman. find him guilty, although he had in his The motion was agreed to. After pocket, at the trial, the copy of the record which the House adjourned to the 8th of the conviction, as he (Mr. Brougham) day of February. absolutely had in a late case, in which he was professionally engaged, and, in which
HOUSE OF LORDS. his client was found guilty, notwithstanding that the document by which his justification
Thursday, February 8, 1827. could have been clearly made out was Corn Laws.] The Earl of Liverpool ready to be produced; but could not be gave notice, that he would, if nothing in used in evidence, according to the rules of the interim should happen to make it law. As far, therefore, as the conviction necessary to put off the motion to a furwent, the document was of no use to his ther day, on Monday se'nnight, bring client; and even some doubts were enter- under the consideration of their lordships tained, whether it should have any weight the subject of the Corn-laws. with regard to the punishment, which by The Earl of Lauderdale wished to know the sentence of guilty, was awarded. There the nature of the proposition intended to were doubts, legal and learned doubts, as be brought forward, and he would tell the to whether the punishment for the crime noble earl his reason for so wishing. When of which his client was found guilty, should the people of this country were about to be abated or not, notwithstanding that the express their opinion on the subject of any justification which he was prepared to alteration in the Corn-laws, it was remake, but could not make at the trial, was commended to them, by the friends of urged in mitigation of the alleged offence. ministers, to refrain from any expression The subject was of such deep importance of disapprobation until such time as the that he could not resist the opportunity of proposition which ministers intended to broaching it once more, in the hope that submit to parliament should be made it would be taken up by one whose exer- known. Now, he thought that, after the tions to purify and make simple some of propositions were made, not only the two the existing laws had done him infinite Houses, but the public ought to have time credit. If the consideration of the law of to examine, and express their opinion libel should come within the inquiry of that upon them. If they had not time for individual, he would find, by referring to this, they would be entrapped into a the bill which he had, on a former occa- measure which, he would say, was one of sion obtained leave to bring in, that the the most important, both politically and most accurate and useful intormation was economically, ever agitated. embodied in the provisions of that bill, the The Earl of Liverpool said, he felt the leading principle of which was, to allow importance of the subject as much as the defendants in all cases, whether civil or noble carl did, and should never think of calling upon parliament for any opinion, by their bitter hostility to the just claims upon it on the day on which he should of their Catholic fellow subjects, and for bring forward his proposition.
that hostility alone they were defeated in The Earl of Lauderdale said, he one week on their own ground. In Louth, wished that the country should have suf- the Catholics had defeated the oldest polificient time to express its opinion: The tician in Ireland. In the counties of noble lord must see that what he had Dublin and Westmeath, they had also stated did not meet his objection, because been victorious; and in Armagh, which he had prefaced his observations by say- was the very cradle of Orangeism, they ing, that the adherents of ministers had had completely triumphed. Mr. Brownrecommended that no expression of pub- low—who had seen his error, and after lic feeling should take place, and told the voting against the Catholics, now voted people to wait until ministers should bring for them-was opposed by the whole force forward their proposition, and then there of the Orange party-was carried triumwould be time enough to give their phantly through by the Catholic freeopinion. This proceeding put him in mind holders. It was the fashion to abuse the of an anecdote told by his father-in-law. Catholic priests for their interference; but As he was stepping into his carriage, his were not the clergy of the Established coachman came up to him, and said, Church as bad? He was sorry the “ As I know, Sir, that you like to be con- bishops' bench was so empty, or he would sulted, I think it right to inform you that say more on this subject. Did not our I was married yesterday.” Now, the two parsons brawl without mercy? The CaHouses of parliament were to give their tholic priests lived with their flock; they decision on the noble lord's proposition attended to their wants, administered to first, and the country was to be consulted them in sickness, and consoled them on on the subject afterwards. What he wished their death bed. The noble Viscount then distinctly to know was, whether the noble read an election address, calling on the earl intended to allow sufficient time for Catholics not to vote for any man who the public at large to express an opinion. supported the Test; as by that means they
The Earl of Liverpool really did not virtually voted against themselves, and adknow what the noble lord's calculation of mitted that their own religion was idolasufficient time might be. All he could trous. Two years ago his majesty had say was, that after he had submitted his been advised to recommend parliament to proposition to their lordships, he should put down the Catholic association, and a allow a reasonable time to intervene before law had been made for that purpose. But, he called upon them for their decision had they succeeded ? He would answer,
No. The thing was impossible. The As
sociation were the representatives of CATHOLIC EMANCIPATION.] Viscount opinions, and it was impossible to put Clifden, in rising to present the first one down opinions. If the Irish amounted to of a great many petitions which he had five millions, they constituted one fourth to present from the Catholics of Ireland, of our whole population : if they amounted felt himself bound to address a few ob- to seven millions, they were one third ; and servations to their lordships. He begged it was impossible to change or subdue, the in particular to call their lordships' atten- opinions of so large a body of men. The tion to the great alteration which had Irish House of Commons, in 1793, when taken place in the circumstances of the ministers were frightened out of their Catholics within these two years. Since senses, which some of them seemed not the question was formerly before their yet to have recovered, resolved to put an lordships, they had roused themselves, end to the penal code'; they resolved, also, and become sensible of their strength. to put an end to the Catholics. They In one week, the Catholics of Waterford then passed the famous Convocation act, had defeated and disgraced the most which only allowed the two Houses to opulent Protestant family in all Ireland. meet by a special clause. But, had this There were two other families more opu- put down the Catholics ? No. They had lent; but they did not reside in Ireland, gone on increasing—had acquired power and were rather English than Irish. The and talents---and were now conscious of members of this family were gentlemen of their strength. As to the complaints unblemished character, but distinguished against the Catholic priests, he could not
see why they should not interfere at elec- | cause, and for his own sake, as he was tions, when our own clergy disgraced desirous, for his guidance in this great themselves by raising the cry of “No question, to have had some communicaPopery." That cry had, however, lost its tion with that right hon. gentleman. It power. The people of this country had had become a matter of such pressing nemore vital interests to attend to. They cessity-of such hourly growing importwere groaning, in the twelfth year of peace, ance—that no consideration should induce under a debt of 800,000,0001., and an ex- him to delay bringing it before the House penditure of 50,000,0001. He trusted to at the earliest period that public conveGod that the Catholic question would come nience would permit. In saying this, howup again this session from the Commons. If ever, he felt that he could not then untheir lordships persisted in withholding their dertake to name any precise day; though concurrence, they would render themselves he would state, that the impression on his the laughing-stock of the country. Even mind, as well as on the minds of the petithe Holy Alliance had not ventured to tioners was, that no further delay should embark upon religious questions. There take place than was absolutely necessary. were in Europe one hundred millions of peo- The Petition was then brought up and ple, free from such exclusive laws. It read; setting forth, should be recollected, too, that a com- “ That the following is the case of the munication with Ireland by the means of Petitioners : they are deprived of all parsteam was now easy; and that France ticipation whatsoever in the framing or looked with delight upon the spirit of dis- amending of the laws by which their prounion that prevailed in that country. perties are regulated, and on which the Three hundred and eighty men from security of their lives and characters deBedlam could not behave worse than pend; they are deprived of almost all share their lordships would do, if they persisted in the administration of the laws by which in refusing the Catholic claims. He would their properties are regulated, and on ask, if it was likely there ever would be an which the security of their lives and chaend to the discussion of the question, but racters depend: they are totally deprived by granting the Catholics their rights. of all participation in the highest and most He was far on his journey to the other important functions in the administration world ; but woe to those who came after of those laws : they are excluded from the him, if this question should be left un- office of sheriff, an office the importance decided.
of which in rendering the administration Ordered to lie on the table,
of justice impartial or unjust, pure or cor
rupt, the cause of blessings or the source HOUSE OF COMMONS.
of misery, cannot be exaggerated, and can
scarcely be adequately described ; they are Thursday, February 8.
totally excluded from all municipal offices CATHOLIC EMANCIPATION GENE- in all the corporate towns and cities in IreRAL PETITION OF THE CATHOLICS OF land; they are stigmatized by being exIRELAND.] Sir F. Burdett then rose to cluded from the councils of their sovereign; present the general petition of the Ca- and they are degraded in their native tholics of Ireland. This duty, he said, land, not only by the practical exclusion he was anxious to lose not a moment in from many, and in truth nearly all, other performing, but he would not avail him- offices, but much more so by the haughty self of that opportunity to make any pre- and insolent superiority which is naturally liminary remarks with reference to the ge- excited in the minds of the unjustly-faneral question. He would content him- voured few over the equally unjustly-exself, therefore, with shortly expressing his cluded many: that the alarm created in regret at the absence of the right hon. the minds of the self-interested portion of Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Had that the ascendancy in that country, lest their right hon. gentleman been present, he unjust monopoly should be destroyed by should have been happy to have consulted the humanity and wisdom of the legislawith him as to the future steps to be taken, ture, has a natural tendency to produce, in furtherance of the important measure and is daily producing, an envenomed prayed for by the petitioners. He was spirit of hostility, towards the Petitioners, sorry, he repeated, for the right hon. gen. threatening them even from the lips of țleman's absence, both on account of its those who ought to preach charity and