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had not taken up a few persons, who, by their influence, or by the ramifications of extensive connections, might be dangerous; but he had gone, as it were, with a drag-net through particular counties, taking up whole classes of men. He believed the secretary had acted hastily, and in a manner which he would not have done, if it had not been a cabinet system to take measures of vigour. Alarm had been the daily bread of the administration; and nothing was to be done but to keep alive the idea that danger was imminent, and that insurrections hung over our heads. They had now better information than they had last session. They had not to proceed upon hints in the dark, or on the impression which might be produced on any respectable gentleman in the committee, but on the result of long judicial proceedings.” He next adverted to the spy system in the manufacturing districts, and more especially to the infamous artifices of a miscreant named Oliver, a government spy, who had been sent down in the character of delegate from a club of London conspirators, which never was in being. Mr. Bragge Bathurst, one of the Sidmouth party, who has quartered himself upon the public as a placeman, or a pensioner, for near half a century, and was chiefly remarkable for the whimsical licence with which he used the word “ therefore” as a mere expletive in speech, said in reply, that as to Oliver, he had been only 66 accidentally,” or “ incidentally,” present at the treasonable meeting of which the proceedings were disclosed
The report of the secret committee of the house
of lords was presented, on the 23d of February, by the duke of Montrose. After a review in detail of the matters to which the secret papers referred, it concluded as follows: “ On the whole, therefore, it has appeared to the committee that the government, in the execution of the powers vested in it by the two acts before mentioned, has acted with due discretion and moderation; and, as far as appears to the committee, the magistrates in the several disturbed districts have, by their activity and vigilance, contributed materially to the preservation of the public peace.” The duke of Montrose, on the 25th, brought in a bill of indemnity, which, after a fruitless and fatiguing series of debates and divisions, was passed on the 5th of March by a majority of 93 to 27. Ten peers recorded their dissent in a protest, which remains a valuable and ably written historical record.
The secret committee of the commons, having made their report in the same spirit as the lords, the attorney-general introduced a bill of indemnity on the 10th of March. Mr. Lambton, after some observations of great force and severity, moved an amendment, consigning it to that day six months. The amendment was negatived by a majority 190 to 64, and the bill read a first time. read a second time on the following day, by a majority of 89 to 24. The chief discussion took place upon the order of the day for committing it on the 11th of March. Several petitions, complaining of grievous oppression during the suspension of the habeas corpus, were presented to the
house. The allegations of the petitioners were in some instances grossly exaggerated, distorted, or false. A person named Ogden neutralised the justice and compassion really due to any oppressions which he endured, by a scandalous and disgusting falsification of his case. He complained of an afflicting infirmity brought on by his “ ponderous irons," his “excruciating tortures" during sixteen hours of neglect and solitude in gaol, and “ an hour and forty minutes” under a surgical operation, described by him with disgusting minuteness; when, in point of fact, and upon his own confession, it turned out that he was cured in prison at the public expense, and with the utmost humanity, of an infirmity under which he had been suffering for twenty years. Mr. Canning, in discussing the allegations and veracity of these petitions, exposed the case of Ogden to the derision of the house, and was loudly cheered. In the newspapers next day no two versions of what he said precisely coincided. One version, from its alliterative point, was seized upon out of parliament, and made the ground of fixing upon him the charge of ridiculing the sufferings of a fellow-creature. The turn given to what fell from him wounded Mr. Canning, a man of humanity and spirit, most deeply. An anonymous pamphlet, in the form of a letter to him, contained the following words:
“ The power, almost absolute, which has been, and may again be placed, in your hands, may make you a respectable victim; and be assured, sir, that if ever I should be a prisoner of state, and, after being maimed by your gaolers, should be assaulted by
your jokes, I WILL PUT YOU TO Death with the same deliberation as I now give you this timely warning. This is no idle, although it is a defensive, menace; nor is the resolution confined- to one individual ; — IDEM TRECENTI JURAVIMUS.”
Mr. Canning addressed to the care of the publisher, for the anonymous author, a short and very explicit private note. It would be unjust to the taste and temper of Mr. Canning to give the solitary words of challenge in this note, without the introduction :
“ I received, early in the last week, the copy of your pamphlet, which you (I take for granted) had the attention to send to me. Soon after, I was informed, on the authority of your publisher, that you had withdrawn the whole impression from him, with the view (as was supposed) of suppressing the publication. I since learn, however, that the pamphlet, though not sold, is circulated under blank
I learn this from among others) the gentleman to whom the pamphlet has been industriously attributed, but who has voluntarily and absolutely denied to me that he has any knowledge of it or its author.
“ To you, sir, whoever you may be, I address myself thus directly, for the purpose of expressing to you my opinion, that you are a liar and a slanderer, and want courage only to be an assassin. I have only to add, that no man knows of my writing to you, and that I shall maintain the same reserve so long as I have an expectation of hearing from you in your own name.” The pamphlet was a puerile imitation of Junius;
and, on that account, ascribed to sir Philip Francis, the person to whom Mr. Canning alludes as having disavowed it. The author, still burlesquing Junius, refused to unmask. Whilst,” said he, in an anonymous reply, “Mr. Lambton is a “dolt and an idiot ;' I am content to be a slanderer, liar, and assassin.” This was an adverse, not a parallel, case; Mr. Lambton was not « content." The circumstance alluded to was this :- Mr. Canning had used the words “ dolt and idiot” in the course of replying to a speech of Mr. Lambton. The latter instantly rose in his place, but was anticipated by the former, who as instantly gave such an explanation of what he said, as no gentleman could refuse to give or to accept.
The author of the pamphlet has done better things, and, if not redeemed his error, at least laid claims to a mitigation of reproach. Many persons were of opinion, that Mr. Canning transgressed the bounds of dignity and moderation in his extreme resentment; but an impatient sensibility of honour under obloquy and injustice is one of those weak
if weakness it be – of well constituted minds, which divide opinion only upon the question whether it should be excused or applauded.
The susceptible temperament of Mr. Canning was also acted upon, at this period, by the false position in which he had most unfortunately placed himself. It was an error to continue, after the death of Pitt, embarked with his surviving crew. Pitt, had he lived, would accord to Canning's unpatronised ambition and genius the due share in the public