extended, in its operation or construction, to any of his Majesty's subjects resident in these kingdoms.” On the order of the day for receiving the report of the Bill, Mr. Luttrell rose, and spoke with great asperity against the Bill, and the framers of it; said it was not only arbitrary and ambiguous, but replete with danger to every individual in this country; and in its present form and extent directly contrary to the intentions avowed by the noble lord (North) and his coadjutors, when they brought it in. He said the more he heard it discussed, the more he was convinced of its importance to the public, and of the many unconstitutional designs and mischiefs couched under it. Mr. Serj. Glynn spoke warmly agains the Bill; and insisted, that if it passed in its present form, no man, however innocent, loyal, or virtuous, could say how long he should be out of a loathsome dungeon. Mr. For was against receiving the report. He said no man was safe an instant, should the Bill pass into a law. It would arm the most profligate of the human species; and give them a power over the best men in the nation. No man would be safe under it, unless one could suppose that a country magistrate understood more law, and was more sagacious; or a trading justice had more honour and equity in him, than the chief justice of Chester, (Mr. Morton.) That gentleman was of opinion, that the Bill gave the powers now attributed to it; and if so, it was clear, the Bill meant something very different from what it was said to import. Mr. Powys moved a clause, “That nothing therein contained shall be construed to be piracy, but what is committed on the high seas.” This clause, if agreed to, he apprehended, would be the means of quieting the minds of a great number of innocent people, and of removing those terrors which must be suspended over their heads, should the Bill pass into a law. B an Act of George the 1st, it was enacted, that trading or corresponding with pirates, shall be adjudged felony, without benefit of clergy, according to the statutes of the 28th Hen. 8, c. 15, and the 11th and 12th Will. c. 7, so would bartering, dealing, furnishing them with stores, &c. Now, if before it was declared by this Bill, that the depredations committed by the Americans, on our trading vessels and our property at sea, was piracy; it should appear or be made a ground .# suspicion or accu

sation, that persons in this country had actually corresponded with America, and that such correspondence should be deemed piracy within the statute, it would follow, that many of his Majesty's loyal subjects might, by construction of law, coupling both statutes, in such a manner as to give them the desired effect, be deemed pirates, and be liable to suffer the pains and penalties of death, as convicted pirate felons. He presumed that was not the intention of administration; nay, it could not be the intention, because they had so repeatedly disclaimed it; yet as nothing now remained to be proved, but that the present statute, having reference to that of George the 1st, was capable of such an explanation, it would be proper to guard against such a dangerous possibility. He therefore desired that the statute of the 8th of George the 1st, c. 24, might be read; by which it appeared, that the ground of jealousy was fairly stated, and the inference clearly made out. Lord North, after affirming that no such construction of the law was ever meant to be made, acquiesced in the amendment, he said, to remove every object of jealousy that could be entertained on that head. The clause was accordingly agreed to. Mr. Powys next observed, that by the Bill, in its present form, any man was liable to be apprehended, on suspicion of having committed high treason in America, though he had never been in America, nor perhaps out of his own parish. He said, this power of general commitment had a most dark and dangerous aspect. To clear up this point, he had a clause to offer, j would put matters on a proper footing; if ministers really meant what the title of the Bill imported, and what had been so often declared by the hon. gentleman who moved the amendment the preceding day, they could not decently refuse it. A person never out of England, could not be guilty of high treason committed in America. If not guilty of high treason in America, but perhaps in Great Britain, why not hold that language in the Bill; and add, “ or in Great Bri

tain?” Besides, it would be preposterous

to continue the Bill under the name of a Bill, to secure or detain, on suspicion,

ersons guilty of committing high treason in America, when, by construction of law, it was meant to include Great Britain. He therefore moved the following clause: “That no person shall be secured or detained, under, or by virtue of this Act, for

high treason, or suspicion of high treason, | Act, would constitute one complete of. unless such person shall be charged to fence. The fact might not be criminal, in have been locally resident in his Majesty's the first instance, and become criminal af. said colonies or plantations in North Ame- terwards, from its consequences, and yet, rica, at the time he shall be charged with, by a fair and justifiable construction of or suspected of committing high treason.” law, be deemed one complete act. He

Mr. Cornwall quoted several cases, in was of opinion, therefore, that the clause which persons had been charged with acts would destroy one of the main purposes of of treason, committed in one place, though the Bill, and could never answer any purit afterwards came out in proof that said pose of protecting the innocent, though it treason had been committed in another. might effectually serve tbe purpose of Such was the case of the publication of skreening the guilty. the imputed libel of the seven bishops, in The House divided on Mr. Powys's sethe reign of James the 2nd. It was cond clause ; For it 14; Against it 49. proved at the trial, that the petition was drawn up at Lambeth, in the county of February 17. On the order for the third Surry, at the archbishop's palace, and the reading of the Bill for suspending the publication was in the council-chamber or Habeas Corpus Act, drawing-room, at St. James's, where the Mr. Dunning said, he had a clause to petition was presented. The offence was propose, which lie trusted would appear charged to have been committed in Surry, of singular importance to the House ; though, in fact, the publication, which and which, he hoped, would meet with could only constitute the offence, was the approbation of a considerable majority. committed in Middlesex. The exception It was of infinite importance itself, but was, therefore, taken by the bishop's became still of greater, in the reception counsel, as a ground of justification, that it was likely to meet with from a certain no such offence was committed; for that set of men, who on the present occasion the writing the petition in itself, was an thought fit to differ from their friends. innocent act, that it was the publication The clause would, to borrow a phrase from that constituted the crime; and that, con- a celebrated political writer, prove a test sequently, the defendants ought to be dis- or trial of spirits, whereby the public at charged. Yet, he said, the court were large, would be enabled to decide on the unanimous, that the writing the libel at political principles of the learned gentle. Lambeth, and publishing it at St. James's, man who framed the Bill, and his other constituted effectively but one act, on learned friend near him (the Attorney and which the plea was over-ruled. Mr. Solicitor General.) It would besides Cornwall dwelt, likewise, a considerable shew, whether those gentlemen were setime, on the case of lord Preston, early in rious, or whether the different conversa. the reign of William the 3rd. There it tions they held within these walls, for some appeared that treasonable papers and cor- days past, ought to be held in the light of respondence found on his lordship, were the ingenious exercises of ingenious men, composed in London ; that he was endea. willing to shew their talents in the science vouring to escape to France, but was taken of parliamentary controversy, the chief aboard a smack, or fishing vessel, hired excellence of which consisted in a knack for the purpose, down near the Nore, on of giving words and phrases, any interthe coast of Kent; when the vessel being pretation but their natural and obvious searched, the treasonable papers were one. The clause he had to offer, would found concealed, as his lordship bad not appear as matter of record, that would time to destroy them. His lordship was admit of no qualification whatever. It indicted for an offence committed in Mid would bring the friends of the Bill to dlesex, though the publication, or dis- the bar ; they must either leap over it, covery, was manifestly in Kent. A si- or flatly and directly refuse it. The promilar plea was offered, but it was over. fessed father of the Bill (the Attorney ruled on the same ground; that the writ- General) had, as he conceived very proper. ing and publishing was all one act. In ly, given it the title of a Bill for appre. the present case, therefore, he contended, hending and committing persons chargthough the offence might have been com- ed with or suspected of committing high mitted here, by a person who had never treason in America, or on the high seas, been out of this kingdom, yet its opera. or of the crime of piracy. The preamble tion in America, within the words of the of the Bill spoke the same language, and

such every body, both within and without doors, supposed the Bill to be intended, till it came to be examined, unless such as were in the secret. He had himself fallen into the same error; but when it came to be debated on the second reading, he was astonished to find the title of the Bill, and the preamble likewise, totally at variance with the first enacting clause; for it was manifest, that any man, though never in America, or on sea, might be imprisoned by the Bill, for suspicion of crimes, stated specifically to have been committed in America, and on sea; nay, more, that it might be in the power of the most ignorant or servile trading magistrate, to order a warrant to apprehend, and follow it immediately with another, to commit the person so apprehended to any place of confinement known or specially appointed within the wide circuit of his Majesty's dominions, in any one of the four quarters of the globe. He should not take up the time of the House, in giving a history of all the disputes and altercation on the amendments proposed or rejected in the course of the preceding week. The conduct of his learned friends was however curious. They did not directly deny the inferences now drawn, particularly towards the latter end; they dealt chiefly in general assertions; they explained what the law was before the present Bill was brought in, and insisted that the Act was intended to apply only to the punishment of certain specific offences; but the whole code of criminal jurisprudence was not to be broken through, merely to satisfy the doubts of speculative men, who argued upon possibilities, that never were in the contemplation of those who were convinced of the necessity of the present measure. Sweeteners were likewise added, to render the whole more palatable; the virtues of the sovereign, and the integrity of his servants, were balanced against such idle delusory fears, in order to still the apprehensions of those who might think the American war a very just and necessary war, and yet look upon the Bill to be a very bad Bill. Such, as well as he could recollect, was the obvious import of the Bill, and the general conduct of those who brought it in, and were intrusted with carrying it through the House. A great parade was made in the committee, of an amendment moved by an hon. gentleman, (sir Grey Cooper); but the Bill, as to the material point, that of contradicting the title and preamble, still re

purposes. that the title and preamble of the Bill were

mained the same. On the report, the language of administration seemed to be somewhat softened; but was so only in words. They said, generally, that both sides of the House meant the same thing; that they only differed about the means; and that, if the effectual operation of the Bill was secured, they were totally indifferent as to the mode. To bring them then to a test of their sincerity, he had framed a clause that would prove totally unobjectionable, if they meant what they pretended; if they did not, then a refusal on their part, would prove what he had all along suspected, but which he hoped to be mistaken in, that is, that the present Bill, under the popular pretext of punishing treason in America, was really designed to lodge a dictatorial power in the crown; which power, both in point of precedent and exercise, would enable ministers to effect schemes of the most pernicious and unconstitutional complexion; while in the first instance, it would annihilate, at least suspend, all the fundamental functions and legal powers of the constitution. He therefore moved the clause in the following words: “ Provided also, and be it hereby declared, that nothing herein contained is intended, or shall be construed to extend, to the case of any other prisoner, or prisoners, than such as have been in some one of the colonies beforementioned, or on the high seas, at the time or times, of the offence or offences, wherewith he or they shall be charged.” Mr. Cornwall said, it was at no time the desire of administration to seek for unconstitutional powers; or if they should obtain them, to employ them to oppressive He contended strenuously,

not at variance with the first, or any other enacting clause. The whole Bill was meant to punish offences committed in America, or on the high seas. If by any criminal correspondence, or assistance from hence, it should reach people not locally resident in America, he presumed, the most zealous opposer of the Bill in that House, would not wish to defeat its operation. It was directed only against the guilty; and if an innocent person should suffer a temporary inconvenience, it must be on the ground of general good, which, since he ever heard anything of government, he always understood to be a sufficient plea for desiring new and extraordinary powers. However, as the learned gentleman had expressed such a jealousy

of the Bill in its present amended state, , rather to have been, “ out of Europe,” and such anxiety for the liberty of his fel- than “ out of the realm,” if the former low-subjects, which he seemed to think so words, moved by my honourable friend, much depended on the fate of the present “ in some or one of his Majesty's colonies clause, he should in turn put a test to the before-mentioned, or on the high seas," learned gentleman, in order to be con- were rejected. But why, Sir, are words vinced whether his intentions correspond- so clear and explicit to be changed, unless ed precisely with his declarations. He for some dark purpose, which dares not be then moved, that the words “ in some or avowed ? one of the colonies, or on the high seas,” | This new clause, Sir, has happily narbe left out, and that there be inserted in- rowed the objects of the Bill, but in no stead thereof, “ out of the realm ;" and degree narrowed the proofs, or the nature that at the conclusion of the clause, as of the evidence necessary. I shall thereoriginally moved, there be added, “ or of fore give the Bill my hearty negative, for which they shall be suspected.”

I will never consent to increase the enorMr. Wilkes. I cannot continue silent, mous power of the crown, at the expence while the fate of so important a Bill as of the freedom of the subject. I will not the present is depending before this House. arm ministers with an unconstitutional Administration at first brought in this power, dangerous to the people. In the Bill, in a form which gave a very general preamble to the Bill, it is said, “ Many and just alarm, to the city, to the nation. persons have been seized and taken, who If it had passed in that form, in my opi. are expressly charged or strongly susnion the whole kingdom would have been pected of such treasons and felonies, and put under an interdict of law. The per- many more such persons may be hereafter sonal liberty of every man in this island so seized and taken :" in the first enacting had been precarious and insecure, depend clause of the Bill, and throughout, the ing solely on the will of the minister. The word “ strongly” is omitted, and the spirit of the Bill, in its original state, was slightest suspicion may warrant the com. oppression and tyranny through every part mitment. The words are, “ All and every of the empire. In this state the Bill has person or persons, who have been or shall continued till this day. By the patriotic | hereafter be seized or taken in the act of zeal of an hon. gentleman of the law (Mr. high treason, committed in any of his Ma. Dunning) a clause has just been offered, jesty's colonies or plantations in America, and adopted by way of rider, as it is called, or on the high seas, or in the act of piracy, in this stage of the Bill, which gives peace or who are or shall be charged with, or of mind and security, in soine degree, to suspected of, the crime of high treason, every subject resident in this kingdom. committed in any of the said colonies, or Persons under this description are at on the high seas." It is therefore appalength declared not to be the objects of rent, that a mere pretended suspicion, or this Bill. I speak of the clause, Sir, even foolish credulity, or determined villainy, as pretended to be amended by an hon. in a wretched, ignorant, niercenary tool of gentleman on the Treasury.bench (Mr. a ministerial magistrate, may still render Cornwall.) His words, however, Sir, s out the objects of this Bill, who are the inhaof the realm," are too loose and ambigu- bitants of above half the empire, liable to ous, by no means descriptive enough of imprisonment, and imprisonment without the persons, who are declared by adminis. | bail or mainprize ; for that cruelty was tration not designed to be the objects of still determined to be exercised by the the Bill. The Bill is professed to relate committee, notwithstanding the humane only to treasons committed in North motion of my worthy colleague, to leave America, by persons actually resident in out those obnoxious words. There is not that quarter of the globe. Gentlemen, a syllable in the Bill of the degree of prohowever, on a tour of business to Ireland, bability attending the suspicion. The or of pleasure to France or Flanders, or Bill, greatly amended as it has been, does even on a fishing party on our own coasts, not even now require an oath, nor that beyond low-water mark, are acknowledged the parties should be heard in their own to be “out of the realm," and may be justification, nor confronted with the wit. brought within the Act, even as it now nesses, nor does it mention that two wit. stands. An opening is still left for public nesses should be deemed necessary for the or private revenge and oppression to ope- colourable ground of a commitment for so rate. The expression, therefore, ought high a crime as treason in America, as is

the law in other cases within the kingdom. Is it possible, Sir, to give more despotic wers to a bashaw of the Turkish empire? at security is left for the devoted objects of this Bill against the malice of a prejudiced individual, who, if he is prosecuted afterwards for so flagrant an abuse of power, will certainly be indemnified, probably rewarded, by a most arbitrary administration ? Actions may indeed be brought against the offender, but we know all damages recovered, however great, are p. by the people, not by the party. 2ven in the case of petit treason, by an express Act of Edward 6, no person can be convicted, but on the oath of two suf. ficient and lawful witnesses, or confession, willingly without violence. So careful, Sir, were our wise ancestors of protecting the liberty of the meanest subject. This case, Sir, demands our strictest attention and vigilance from what we daily experience of the conduct of those underling officers of every minister, who traffic and deal out justice, under the colour of legal o: There is now, Sir, actually in Newgate, an American merchant, named Ebenezer Smith Plat, who stands committed so lately as the 23d of last January, charged with high treason at Savannah in the colony of Georgia in North America. He is committed by the well-known justice Addington, and, as I am informed, was not allowed to see any of the witnesses against him, nor even to hear their affidavits read. He had before been tried on the same charge, at Kingston in Jamaica, and acquitted. I never saw him, but I have read an attested copy of the warrant of his commitment. }. is charged generally with high treason, which I take to be an illegal commitment. I do not pretend, Sir, to a deep knowledge of the law. I have only the attentive reading of a private gentleman. I build my legal faith on some known and approved authorities, a Blackstone, a Burn, and a very few others. Those authors agree, that every warrant of commitment ought to set forth the cause specially, that is to say, not for treason or felony in general, but for treason in compassing the death of the king, or levying war against his majesty in the realm, or counterfeiting the king’s coin; or felony, for stealing the goods of such a one to such a value, and the like. A court may then judge, whether the offence is such, for which a prisoner ought to be admitted to bail. If then a justice, living in the capital, under

the immediate eye and direction of ministers, is guilty of such an illegal commitment, what is not to be dreaded from the base engines of power, in the more remote counties? Is it possible, Sir, for too great caution to be used, by enforcing in the body of a Bill, which is to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, the necessity of an oath of two witnesses to the charge, and of their being confronted with the pri. soner? The case of Plat, Sir, gives us an instance of another violation of the law, an evasion of the Habeas Corpus Act, that holy statute, which ministers hold in abhorrence, and are allowed in England to evade with impunity, in America to suso: for very near a twelvemonth. The history of it is this: Plat was first confined to the Antelope for three months, then removed to the Boreas for four weeks, then carried on board the Pallas, and in her brought in irons to England. On her arrival at Portsmouth he was removed on board the Centaur for three weeks, then to the Barfleur. On the 4th of January, an Habeas Corpus was obtained, directed to the captain of the Barfleur; but before it could be served, an express was sent from the Treasury, by their solicitor, and Plat was removed again to the Centaur, before the Habeas Corpus could arrive at Portsmouth. The return to the Habeas Corpus was thus eluded, but on his friends’ being determined to sue out another, Plat was at last sent to the capital, and in the illegal mode, which I have stated, was committed to Newgate. I speak, Sir, in the hearing of many gentlemen, who ought to contradict me, if I have advanced a single circumstance not founded in truth. Can ministers, Sir, who are capable of thus trampling on our most sacred laws, be too narrowly watched, too deeply suspected, too strongly guarded against 2 Do we not owe it to the people to demand every security from the sanction of an oath, the number of witnesses, the confronting of them with the prisoner, the hearing him in his own justification, and other circumstances, of which not the least trace is to be found in this criminal, arbitrary Bill? Is the personal liberty of the subject to rest on the mere pretended suspicion of a man, who acts under orders of a professed ministerial agent, ever ready to make his court to power by the sacrifice of public virtue and innocence, whose incapacity perhaps can only be eqnalled by his meanness, and sordid lust of gain :

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