« AnteriorContinuar »
ing these circumstances, it appeared Lords, a proposition of some impor. desirable, that the present Northern tance, having for its object to prevent Circuit should be divided into two se- arrest in cases of libel before the findparate circuits, one comprehending ing of an indictment. He had eviWestmoreland, Lancaster, and Cum- dently in view at once the case of Mr berland; the other York, Northum- Hone, and the circular letter of Lord berland, and Durham.
Sidmouth. His Lordship began by Mr Taylor being thus fortified by expressing his surprise, that on the the opinion of the committee, brought first mention of this bill, a decisive opiforward, on the 26th May, a motion nion against it should have been given for an address to the Prince Regent, by the Lord Chancellor, in a manner humbly requesting, that the benefit of so opposite to his usual character. By an assize twice in the year should be nature a man of talents, from educa. extended to the northern counties, and tion a scholar, and bred from his very engaging to make good any expence youth in the study and experience of which might be necessary for this pur- all its possible transactions, nobody pose. Lord Castlereagh, however, ob- could be better qualified to decide in served, that any change in the admi- that forum with the same rapidity as nistration of justice was too serious a he did the other day here on the submatter to be made precipitately; that ject now before us-yet how often does admitting the evil to exist, great dif- he there pause, and re-pause, consider, ference of opinion prevailed as to the and re-consider—and why? From the remedy which might be most advan. justest and most amiable of all motives tageously applied to it. Time was ne- —He even runs the risk of sometimes cessary for consideration ; and he beg- appearing undecided and dilatory, raged the honourable gentleman in the ther than mistake the rights of the meantime to withdraw his motion. Mr meanest individuals, in the most inconBrougham concurred in this recom- siderable concerns, whose interests are mendation. He thought that such a in his hands. He denied having any measure should receive the concurrence wish to protect those who made a of all the three branches of the legis. trade of defaming the government. “I lature ; that the judges ought to be consider, and always have considered, consulted, and that time for consider- a systematic defamation of public meaation was absolutely necessary. Mr sures and public men as a very great Taylor complained that he had been calamity. Libels of that description formerly told that the House should must always more or less exist in a free wait till the facts had been stated; the country, but they can only be kept facts had now come, and he was again under and rendered odious by the dedesired to wait till some other oppor- termined support in Parliament of the tunity should occur. Did the noble acknowledged principles of the conLord and the honourable gentleman stitution, and by a liberal and manly opposite recollect, that if they adjourn. confidence in the good sense and affeced this question, the next circuit would tions of the people.” He admitted be left exposed to the same evils and that there were decisions in favour of inconveniences, the same denial of jus- the practice arraigned; but, said he, tice ? He finally, however, agreed to “ I have always had a feverish jealousy withdraw his motion.
upon this subject, and a great horror On the 2d of June, Lord Erskine of that kind of law commencing in acbrought forward, in the House of knowledged usurpation, but growing
up at last into such practice, by in- fectionate people, by constantly adcautious decisions, and negligence in hering to the free principles of our parliamentary revision, as to make it constitution.” dangerous to root it out without the The Lord Chancellor expressed a direct authority of the statute. When hope that bis noble friend would not open to two constructions the courts persist in pressing the measure, at must indeed decide, but when open to least in its present form ; for though one only the statute is then a solemn it was evident from the arguments ad. record of the law, which ought always vanced, that his intension was to limit to be conclusive authority in the teeth its operation to the case of libels, its of any number of decisions which may enactments would extend to prevent oppose it.” His Lordship then made arrests before conviction in all cases a survey of the most eminent law au- whatever. The House would do well thorities, endeavouring to prove that to consider seriously before they agreed they were in his favour upon this point. to a law declaratory upon this subject, He condemned the conductof ministers without taking any opinion of the in prosecuting writings on the pre- judges to assist them. That House, tence of irreligion, when the real mo. which was the dernier, would not suretive consisted in the attacks contained ly resort in all cases of law to make a in them on their own measures. “ The new enactment without first having government of God, and the sacred
some question argued in the courts betruths which support it, cannot be un- low to shew the necessity of their indermined or overthrown ; but the go- terposition. When the House found, vernment of man must be supported, that between the time of Queen Anne or it will fall. No man can hold in and the present period, there had been higher detestation than I do any irre- 128 cases in which the judges in the verence to the sacred Scriptures, nor Court of King's Bench, as magistrates, to the sublime offices of our church, had held to bail in cases of libel, would which are built upon them through- their Lordships at once declare the out; but unless the law had declared practice illegal, and proceed to declare such publications to be specifically li. against it? The libels to which his bels, it became difficult to maintain an noble and learned friend had referred, intention to ridicule them, when the were the grossest he had ever seen. obvious and palpable intention was, to Their blasphemy was in itself sufficient ridicule the political state. I have no to constitute them libels. Lord Harddifficulty in saying, as a general ob- wicke, when Attorney-General, had servation, that I consider systematic maintained the same doctrine. He had and indecent attacks upon Parliament declared, that the Christian religion and the administration of government was a part of the law of the land, and or law as great evils and calamities. that an attack upon it was therefore All abuses may be exposed, and all to be regarded in the nature of a libel. the principles of our constitution vin- The bill which had been introduced dicated, without even the risk of the by his noble and learned friend had author's being questioned as criminal. always appeared to him to be open to Libels, however, of this description this objection, that it was impossible have always existed, and ever must, to say, whether in any two counties more or less, in a free country ; but in England, they could get the rethe surest way to put them down in spective juries to agree in opinion as England is, to render them odious and to what was libel and what was not. disgusting to an enlightened and af. He earnestly hoped his noble and learned friend would not persist in call supported by Earl Grey and Lord ing upon their Lordships to adopt such Holland, and opposed by the Earl of a measure as this without some better Liverpool. On the vote being called, reasons than had yet been urged in its it was negatived by a majority of thirtysupport.
Zeal of the present Age for difusing Knowledge.-Committee on the Educa,
tion of the Poor.-Mr Brougham's Bill of Inquiry into the Abuse of Charitable Funds.-Allerations in the Lords.-Bill for the Erection of New Churches-in the Commons—in the Lords.
The present age may justly boast began its labours with an inquiry into of the great exertions made by it for the present state of education throughthe diffusion of knowledge, even among out the country, and the funds already the lowest classes of society. With existing, applicable to that object. the exception of Scotland, and a few This inquiry, after being continued of the protestant states in the north through two successive sessions, was of Germany, the benefits of the art of expected to be brought to a close in printing did not, till lately, exist for the course of the one now sitting. the great mass of the people. The In the investigation of the above expence of teaching, upon the old important subject, Mr Brougham took system, even the elements of reading, the lead, with those comprehensive and was nearly beyond their reach. The enlightened views, and with that eager methods of Lancaster and Bell, with and impetuous activity, which always the efforts of the extensive associations characterize his public proceeding. and establishments, bad done much to On the 5th March, he moved the replace the first principles of knowledge appointment of the committee which within the reach even of the hum- had carried in the inquiry. At the blest individuals. Still something was same time, he gave some outline of the wanting, on a national scale, to com- views, which, from previous researches, prehend districts and objects that lay they had been led to entertain. They beyond the reach of voluntary exer- were of opinion that assistance ought tion. Some parliamentary measure to be given by the public towards the was wanting ; some aid from the ge- erection of schools in different places neral funds of the society, not indeed where it might be deemed advisable to to defray the whole expence, the ef. have them, but that the principle of fects of which would have been alto- granting a permanent income either to gether injurious, but to facilitate the government or to any society, for the first establishment, and reduce the support of schools, ought not to be cost to an easy and tempting rate. sanctioned ; that where there was a Parliament, however, very judiciously want of the accommodation of schoolhouses and houses for teachers, means transport itself from place to place ; for supplying that want ought to be its powers were limited ; and to bring furnished by the public, either by way witnesses from different places throughof loan, or otherwise, according to cir. out the country to London, would be cumstances. It was the opinion of attended with great inconvenience ar.d the committee, that a moderate sum expense. If commissioners or agents of money was all that would be want. were appointed for this business, one ed for this purpose. In Ireland, sel journey to the different places would dom less than 40,0001.a-year had been do, instead of bringing witnesses from voted for the charter schools ; yet, all the different parts to London. In either from carelessness or misappli- many places abuses existed, of which cation, these schools were productive no knowledge could be obtained till of very little good. They received persons went to the spot. It was now 40,0001. from the public, and from the two years since this matter had at. bequests of individuals they had an in. tracted the public attention, and hardcome of nearly 20,0001. more. Their. ly a day had passed during that time whole revenue might therefore be ta- in which he had not received, from ken at nearly 60,0001. a-year. The one place or other, an account of some House would be very much surprised misapplicat
misapplication—of someschools found. to learn, that from this income of be- ed two hundred years ago perhaps, tween 50 and 60,0001. a-year, not for which purpose lands yielding a more than 2500 children were edu- considerable revenue were bequeath. cated. Now, with an income of be- ed, while in some place only a few tween 5 and 60001, the Hibernian children were taught, and in another school society in London had institu
It was not generally known, ted and now kept up. 340 schools, that the income of the funds bequeathwhile the charter schools, with an in- ed for this' purpose amounted to become of 60,0001. only kept 33 schools. tween 2 and 300,0001. A sum like The Hibernian school society educa- this, if fairly employed, would go a ted 27,000 children, while the charter great way indeed. schools educated only 2500 children Mr Peel observed, that the Irish with nearly six times their income. charter schools were greatly improved There existed throughout the country since the last report in 1808. The chillarge funds, which had been bequeath- dren in the charter schools were clothed ed by individuals for all purposes of and entirely supported, as well as edu. charity—and particularly for the edu- cated, and the average expense of each cation of the poor. Those funds had, child was calculated at 141.a.year. in many cases, been grossly misappli- After a short conversation, the fol. ed; often, no doubt, from ignorance lowing committee was appointed : of the best method of employing them. Mr Brougham, Sir S. Romilly, Sir J. In cases beyond the scope of the com- Mackintosh, Mr Bennet, Mr R. Gor. mittee it had come to their knowledge, don, Mr Babington, Mr Butterworth, that schools richly endowed in many Mr J. H. Smyth, Mr J. Smith, Mr parts of the country, had fallen into Wilberforce, Mr Lamb, Sir W. Curentire disuse. For the purpose of in- tis, Sir J. Shaw, Sir F. Burdett, Mr vestigating the subject, another tribu. C. Calvert, Mr Barclay, Lord Ossulsnal ought to be instituted, besides a ton, Sir R. Fergusson, Sir H. Parnell, committee of the House of Commons. Mr Holford, the Marquis of Tavis. A committee of the House could not tock, Sir T. Ackland, Mr Alderman