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than a month. Mr Frankland Lewis July next. He confidently believed only moved an amendment in the pre- that Parliament had given the country amble, by which it might be stated, a sacred pledge, which nothing but that the delay was to enable the Bank the most urgent necessity, such as a to make the necessary reduction in the general failure of the Bank at least, amount of their notes in circulation. could tempt them to forego. He conMr Canning opposed the amendment, sidered the measure as a mere boon and as implying a reason which did not ex- mark of indulgence to the Bank of ist ; and, after some discussion, it was England, to pay their creditors in negatived by 88 to 21. Mr J. P. notes depreciated five per cent below Grant then moved, that the period of the nominal value. He was confident resumption, instead of 5th July, 1819, that the principal, the sine qua non should be fixed at six weeks after the cause of all our calamities, arose from meeting of the next session of Parlia- the extensive issue of bank paper, and ment. This being objected to by Mr the ruin consequent on the depreciation Vansittart, Mr Tierney moved the of that issue. "To that, more than to 20th of March next, which, however, any other cause, must thousands in was negatived by 88 to 27.
every rank of life, in the highest cirOn the 19th May, after a short con- cles of commercial and agricultuversation, the bill was read a third ral enterprize, and the lowest sphere time, and passed.
of laborious earnings, attribute the The bill having now gone through sufferings they had so grievously exthe ordeal of the House of Commons, perienced. To that was to be ascribed had not much to dread in its passage the tears and wants of families reduced through the Lords. When, however, from comfort to dependence, and the its commitment was moved by Lord distress, which, embracing all orders, Liverpool on the 26th May, a debate from the highest to the lowest, had of considerable length ensued. The almost ground to destruction the midonly novelty consisted in the promi- dle classes of society. The pretence nent part taken by Lord Grenville, now urged for a farther suspension had who reprobated the principle of the never before been heard of. Because bill more forcibly than any of its form- foreign princes were raising loans in er opponents. Even at the commence their own countries, the renewal of ment of the last war, he thought it a cash payments in this was to be farther matter of great impolicy to acquire, suspended! He denied that the late not a facility of supplying the wants loan in France of fifteen millions had of the country, but to burthen it with produced the effect attributed to it by a dreadful difficulty, to which its re- the noble Earl : neither the raising of sources could not be equal but by the that sum, nor indeed of any sum in greatest sacrifices. Satisfied as he was the present year, could have had the then, and confirmed as he was now, effect of altering the exchanges, or of that there never had been a more fatal raising the price of gold, at least to measure than the commencing and con- the extent asserted; for it was nototinuing the suspension of cash pay- rious and obvious to the most superfiments to which he alluded, he looked cial, that where payments were to be with the greatest anxiety to the time made by one country to another, they when we should be again free from were made in that commodity which that clog. He was one of those who it best suited the interest of the counfondly credited the promise, that all try paying to send. The proportion restriction should cease on the 1st paid in gold was exceedingly small
bel and could have no effect on the coin re. to the bill, and afterwards, that the
quired for circulation. The measure restriction should continue till either was also opposed by the Marquis of gold or silver should be made exclu
Lansdowne, Lord 'Lauderdale, and sively a legal tender of payment, or a Lord King; and when it came to the the relative value of these metals proBarote, Lord Lauderdale moved that the perly adjusted. Both amendments were berrestriction should expire in six weeks negatived. Lord Holland moved, that Bav1 after the meeting of the next session the restriction should cease in the event der of Parliament. The amendment was of gold falling to 31. 17s.6d. an ounce, 9.30 negatived by 22 against 9. The Earl which was also negatived. Lord LauBez of Lauderdale protested against the derdale protested against the rejection my second reading. At the third reading, of his amendments. The bill was read
on the 27th, he moved a new preamble a third time, and passed.
Sir Samuel Romilly on the Act against privately Stealing in Shops.-Sir J.
Mackintosh on Bank Forgeries.-Cotton-factories' Bill.–Chimney Sweepers Regulation Bill.- Conviction of Offenders' Bill.- Alteration in the Game Laws.--Mr Taylor's Motion respecting the Northern Circuits.—Lord Erskine on Arrest, without Indictment, in Cases of Libel.
Nothing does more honour to the of the criminal were to be the objects present spirit of the British public in view. Questions may arise wheand of its legislature, than the active ther, as often happens to human in. exertion bestowed upon questions, not experience, some of the arrangements connected with the power and influ- made with these benevolent views ence of the country and of its rulers, may not tend to defeat the very obbut with the concerns of private life, jects for which they were intended. and the general well-being of society. When our leisure admits, we may perThis attention is not directed only to haps attempt to point out some such. the brilliant and conspicuous members, One thing, however, seems certain, but, with a great preference, to the that some diminution of the punishmeanest and most outcast portions of ment of death, so indiscriminately inthe social system ; those whom the ficted by the early law of England, pride of a former age was wont to is indispensably called for. Even suptrample under foot. It has extended, posing the ancient rigour eligible in even in a peculiar manner, to those itself, modern humanity refuses to exwhom the world and its law had hi- ecute it ; the law is rendered nugatory, therto placed beyond the pale; who, and the criminal escapes altogether. having committed offences against so- To remedy this evil bas, both in the ciety, were considered as its natural present and preceding years, been the enemies, to be crushed in whatever study of several eminent statesmen, mode might be deemed most effica- who have justly merited the esteem of cious. It was now inculcated, that the public. Some elements of faction justice ought no longer to wear a vin- may have mingled with their zeal; and dictive aspect ; that the severity of some may have been tempted to exformer enactments ought to be sof- tend the popularity thus acquired by tened ; that not vengeance, but the se- other less legitimate methods. Gecurity of society, and the reformation nerally speaking, however, we find on such questions a laudable confusion of case was accompanied by circumstances parties and political antipodes often of great aggravation) executed. So ranged closely by the side of each that, of 1228 individuals tried, 342 other.
only had been capitally convicted (the On the 25th February, Sir Samuel juries either acquitting the 886, or Romilly moved for leave to bring in finding them guilty of stealing to a a bill to repeal so much of the act less amount), and only one person exeof the 10th and 11th of William III. cuted! Was this a state of the law as took away the benefit of clergy which it was desirable to continue ? from persons convicted of stealing to In these cases the principle was, to the amount of 5s. in any shop or ware- enforce the law only in cases of pecu. house. The identical bill for which liar aggravation. There were other he was about to move, had passed the cases, as fraudulent bankruptcy and House of Commons four times ; twice forgery, in which it was the principle in that Parliament, and twice in its always to put the law in execution, predecessor; and, on the last occa. unless under circumstances of peculiar sion, he might say unanimously; not extenuation. The consequence then a single word having been uttered in was, that although not a year passed opposition to it. It had always, how. without a number of fraudulent bank. ever, been stopped in the other House. ruptcies, there had been, in the course He began with observing that the law, of 85 years, only four capital convic. in its present state, had for some time tions for this offence. In forgery, back been completely a dead letter. the vast multiplication of cases had From 1805 to 1817, a period of 12 at length induced the necessity of years, 655_persons had been indicted abating somewhat of the originál rifor the offence under consideration. gour. A discretion in this respect Of these, only 113 had been capitally was lodged with the Bank of England, convicted, and of those 113, not one which, he believed, was judiciously had been executed; 365 of the 655 and humanely exercised. But the conhad been found guilty by the juries sequence was, that the uncertainty of before whom they were tried, of sim- punishment which this occasioned, deple larceny, by which the capital part stroyed all the advantages that might of the charge was taken away. It be supposed to result from the sevewas evident, therefore, either that these rity with which the law was generally 365 persons had been improperly char- enforced. The fact was, that forgeged with a capital offence, or that the ries had greatly increased. Nothing juries, influenced, no doubt, by feel- could be more certain than that if the ings of humanity, had, in 365 cases, sanction of the law was insufficient to violated their oaths. He would also prevent the crime, it was calculated to meation how the case stood with re- produce the worst effects. There was gard to the act making it capital to not only the loss of lives, but the desteal to the amount of 40s. within a terioration of moral feeling, which dwelling-house. Within eight years such exhibitions were calculated to down to 1816, no less than 1097 per occasion. sons had been tried for this offence. The motion of Sir S. Romilly being Of these, 293 only had been capitally seconded by Mr J. Smith and Sir J. convicted, and not one had been exé. Newport, leave was given to bring in cuted. In 1816, 131 more persons the bill. had been tried, of whom 49 had been At the third reading of the bill, on capitally convicted, and one (whose the 14th of April
, the Attorney-GeVOL. XI. PART I.
neral moved an alteration of the pre- He did not mean to blame the jury, amble, which set forth, that extreme although he could not adopt the lanseverity was calculated to obtain im- guage of Judge Blackstone, who had punity for crimes. To this principle pronounced such verdicts, “ pious perhe did not object, but he objected to juries.". The jury were driven to the the consequences of such a declara- dreadful alternative of acting in option of it. It might mislead men into position to the awful oath they had a supposition that punishment ought taken, or of handing over a fellow-beto be proportioned to the precise de. ing to the last punishment, for a crime gree of moral turpitude." He con- which had not been regularly connecttended, that severity ought to regarded with such a punishment. The not only the moral turpitude of the change in the value of money appearoffender, but the peruicious conse- ed to him equally an unquestionable quences of his offence. There were ground in reason for the alteration. crimes which might be committed with Mr Wilberforce warmly supported a degree of moral depravity, far short the measures of Sir S. Romilly, passof that which prompted offences of a ing at the same time a high panegyric venial character, but which on account on the benevolent exertions of Mrs Fry of the consequences, merited next to in reforming the class of female primurder, the greatest of all crimes, the soners in Newgate. The amendment Severest punishment. He objected al. was then negatived, and the bill passed. 80 the clause referring to the change When, however, on the 3d June, it in the value of money, which seemed was brought before the Lords, it exto establish the principle that every perienced the same inauspicious fate part of the law connected with such as before. Being opposed by the a variable circumstance should like- Chancellor, it was negatived without wise undergo an alteration.
debate and without a division. Sir S. Romilly could not agree to A still more important subject was an amendment, which went to expunge brought before the House by Sir the very principle of the bill, a prin- James Mackintosh. The great and in. ciple founded on long experience. He creasing numberof convictions and exementioned an instance which had taken cutions
for forgeries on the Bank had place at the last Old Bailey sessions, excited a deep interest throughout the in consequence of a belief which had nation. Public opinion was shocked gone abroad that pardon was never to by their frequency, and called loudly be extended to servants who had stolen for some remedy.' Such was the task from their masters. A person of the undertaken by this eminent statesman. name of Milwood was tried for having On the 25th February, he moved for stolen property to the amount of an account of the prosecutions for forseveral hundred pounds from his mas. gery for 14 years before and 14 years ter. The evidence was conclusive, and after the restriction of cash payments the jury convicted him, but they found at the Bank in 1797, and also for the him guilty of stealing to the value of number of convictions and executions 39 shillings. Could any man doubt at each period. After a short converthat the jury, in this case, returned sation, the amount was ordered, both such a verdict in consequence of the with regard to the forging of notes, statement in the newspapers, of the and the counterfeiting the coin of the resolution of the judges that death realm. should follow upon a verdict of guilty These accounts being laid before of stealing to the value of 40 shillings? the House on the 21st April
, Sir J.