ο»Ώ PRIVILEGE OF PARLIAMENT.|1845-07-26|The Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian Glamorgan Monmouth and Brecon Gazette - Welsh Newspapers Online
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PRIVILEGE OF PARLIAMENT. e do not consider it possible, by any language that could be employed, by any argument or reason that could be urged, to place in a more conspicuous matinee before the world, the odious deformity of the principle of Par- liamentary privilege than by simply quoting the following dialogue. Bear in mind, good reader, that Mr. Harlow, ihe plaintiff, simply asks permission to go before a jury of his countrymen, and prove that he has sustained a giievous wrong from a party under the protection of the House: — On the motion of the Lord Chancellor, John Harlow was called in. lie was then examined by his Lordship as follows :— V\ here do you reside !—At No. 9, Leicester-square. Have you brought an action lately against Thomas Baker ?— Yes, I have. For wh.)t have you brought that action ?--For false and mali- cious language used— ^or f'lse and malicious lanquaqe used in giving evidence before a committee of this House1. —Yes. Have you any thing further that you wish to say upon that, subject ?-The only thing I htve to say is, that I am very much injured in my affairs through it and, in point of fllct, I know that it is not true You are aware that a complaint has been made to this House of your conduct in bringing that action ?—Yes. And that a complaint has been made that it is a breach of the privileges of this House Yes. Do you wish to say any thing further upon the subject ?—I was not at all aware that it was a breach of privilege at the time the action was commenced but I hope your lordships will give ms an opportunity of seeking redress; since I have been so materially injured by that statement. By Lord CampbelI.-Do you still mean to go on with that action?—My Lord, I am not at this moment prepared to say that I will not, or that I will. You are not at this moment prepared to say that you will not ? -No, 111Y lord. By the Earl of Radnor. — Are you prepared to stite that you hav.: suffered in your business in consequence of the statement which was made before that committee ?—Yes. my Lord, and I can prove it and the statement is perfectly fuse. The Lord Chancellor.— You may withdraw from the bar, but you must not leave the House. Then followed the attorney, who was employed to bring the action, and who stated he had done so under advice of an eminent counsel. itness—"W ill YOllr Lordships allow me to say that the action was brought because I had reason to believe that the evidence of Baker was totally unfounded ? The Lord Chaiicel'iur—YVe can't hear that. Lord Brougham—We can't try the parties. Witness—I believe it to be false, inasmuch as the information was quashed; and wc can prove all that was Mated by Baller before the committee was un/rue, The Lord Chancellor-That is wholly immaterial to the pre- sent question. The witness withdrew—the Lord Chancellor gravely moved, that John Hallow has been guilty of a breach of the privileges of this House," and a debate ensued, which any person reading it without knowing the precise question, would conclude, at the very least, must relate to another gunpowder plot-so grave were the speakers. so solemn did they look, so portentous were their speeches, and so heroically did they resolve that they might as well abdicate their functions, if they could not protect Thomas Baker, ex-superintendent of police, from the wrath of the tobacconist. Lord Brougham began by declaring that the question was "beyond all comparison the most momentous one that had been m ;aced since he h id the honour of a seat in the House." The Lord Chancellor "quite agreed with his noble and learned frien t;" and Lord Campbell, in a lofty spirit of self-devotion, proclaimed his readiness to take his own share of whatever unpopula- rity" might attach to the maintenance of their privileges. Meanwhile, the "poor tobacconist," as Lord ('ampbell called him, together with his attorney, was ordered into the custody of the Gentleman Usher of the Black Hoel-- a gentleman, by the way, whose charges for taking care of you are most exorbitant. I hope," sail Lord Brougham, the House will bear in mind that the ex- penses of a committal to the custody of the Black Rod are very serious." These the poor tobacconist will have to pay, in addition to the costs of the action as far as it has gone (for soon after Black Rod got hold of him, he instructed the attorney to discontinue the aetion)-alld in addition, most probably, to what the lawyer will have to pay before he gets out of his clutches. And this enormous penalty will have been inflicted upon him be- cause he fell into the very natural error of supposing that if he was injured in his affairs, by false and malicious" statements, he had the same means of redress open to him that every other subject possesses. The Lord Chancellor insisted upon it that the attorney was more to blame than his client, and he must have known what he was about but Lord Brougham remarked that it was hardly fair to expect he or any one should be acquainted with the pri- vileges of the House when nobody knew them except- ing his noble and learned friend and two or three others." Let not Parliament deceive itself. The nation has no sympathy with privileges, which in their exercise operate as a denial of justice to the subject; and whenever it shall meet with a man who will boldly, in his own per- son. try the issue of Law v. Privilege," it will find itself fighting the battle single-handed, with the assured cer- tainty of discomfiture. We cannot conclude these observations without a tri- bute of very sincere praise to Lord Brougham, whose speech oil this occasion was worthy of his best days as an advocate, whether pleading at the bar of that house, 01 elsewhere, for the rights and liberties of the subject, and worthy of even the greatest constitutional lawyer that ever opposed himself to the inroads of irresponsible power for defeating the administration of justice. We will quote one passage only. After asserting boldly and broadly those privileges of Parliament which are neces- sary to its very existence, and to enable it to perform its duty, lie thus described the act they were about to com- mit Here is a case of a civil right which attaches to an individual; it is a right vested in an individual; it arises out of a wrong and a grievous injury indicted on that individual on a complaint in which we have been informed, for we must take the whole toge- ther, that his character has been falsely and maliciously slan- dered by some other person that he has been greatly damnified by this slander, and that for this same slander he has sought redress, as by law he may, by bringing an action against the party so injuring him. V. hat are your Lordships now called upon to do To pronounce that the action thus brought is a breach of the privileges of this House. On Tuesday, the melancholy farce was brought to a close. Both the culprits (?) humbly petitioned the august assembly to be forgiven, for presuming to have recourse to the law of the land, and expressed all possible contrition for having committed such an inexpiable offence. I have been grievously injured in my trade and character, said the poor tobacconist," by the falsehoods and calumnies of one of your witnesses, but pardon my ignorance in supposing 1* had a right to seek redress be- fore the legal tribunals^of my country I now promise to withdraw my action, and submit, tn becomes me, to the injury I have sustained. Whereupon the Lord Chancel- lor, an equity Judge, and speaking in the name of the highest Court of equity in the kingdom, a Court of ulti- mate appeal, humanely, justly, mercifully announced, that the offender might"go about his business after satis- fying the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod for his trouble in having kept him in custody four-and-twenty houis. And this is-PRIVILEGE OF PARLIAMENT John Bull. -4 THE FRENCH IN ALGERIA. It is no exaggeration to say that the whole civilized world will read, with horror and disgust, the narrative contained in the Alchbar of Algiers, giving an account of the massacre of 500 human beings by a French officer, Colonel Peltssier, under circumstances which impart to the crime an almost unparalleled character of barbarity. The mind recoils from the contemplation of five hundred men, women, and children, an entire tribe of Arabs, taking refuge in a cavern from their ruthless invaders, and being there slowly burned to death, or suffocated, by Hinging into the entrance of it blazing faggots-the time required for the consummation of the bloody deed ex- tending from the morning of June 18th to one o'clock of the night of the 19th. 0 During that awful period of slaughter, the groans, the cries, the shrieks, the supplications of the miserable vic- tims were appalling—but they had no power to stay the savage mandate that had gone forth. That mandate, we are told, was given by one man (be his name for ever infamous!)-Colonel Pelissier--but butcher as he was, let us not forget that there were other butchers to execute his inhuman will. Such another monster could not be found among our own countrymen but of this we are convinced, that had an English Pelissier issued a like command to English soldiers, every man who received it would be a mutineer. If he could have accomplished the hellish deed alone-well and good -possibly (thouah that is doubtful) his men would have left him to do so; but we are as satisfied as we are of our own existence, they would not have done it for him. And then, to hear the French Minister of War, Marshal Soult, when interro- gated upon the subject in the Chamber of Deputies, ex. pressing his" personal disapprobation" of the atrocious act, and when he perceived that this frigid phrase was received with astonishment bordering on disgust, going a little further, and declaring that he "sincerely deplored it." Really He positively could not approve of, and actually did deplore, the butchery of more than five hun- dred human beings, where there existed no necessity for the death of one Imagine—it is an outrage upon the national character to do so—but just imagine a British officer to have committed thisfouldeed, & when the walls of Parliament rung with indignation, the Duke of Wel- lington coolly rising, and calmly declaring, that for him- self, personally, he certainly disapproved of it—indeed, he might say, he deplored it. His country would have disowned Him. When we first read the account in the Alchbar, we imagined it stood alone in the annals of military crimll- thai it was unparalleled. But no. It has a precedent and since it has, we rejoice to add, that it, too, is fur- nished by France—not by any other nation. InSimondi's History of the Italian llepublics, there is an account of a vast cave, called the Grotto of Masano, or Longara, in the mountains at whose base Vicenza is situated. Here, on one occasion, six thousand unfortunate beings had retired with all their goods the women and children were at the back of the grotto, and the men guarded its entrance." They had sought this refuge to escape from the enemy. A Captain of some Ftench adventurers, named L'Herisson, (continues the historian) discovered this retreat, a-id with his troop made vain efforts to penetrate into it; but foiled by its obscurity and its windings, he resolved to suffocate all within it. He tilted with faggots the part he had occupied, and set fire to them. Some nobles of Vicenza, who were among the refugees, now entreated the French to make an exception in their favour', and to let them ransom themselves, their wives, and children, and all of noble blood. But the peasants, their companions in misfortune, exclaimed that they should all perish gr be saved together. The whole cavern was now in names, and its entrance resembled the mouth of a furnace. The adventurers waited till the fire had finished its terrible ravages, to enter the cave and withdraw the booty which they h id purchased by such horrible cruelty. All had perished by suilb.-ation, except one yotin; man, who had placed himself near a chink through which a little air had reached him. None of the bodies had be 'u disfigured bv the fire; but their attitudes sufficiently indicated the agonies they had undergone before death. Several women were delivered in these torments, and their infants died with them. When the adventurers brought nark their booty to the camp, and recounted the mode of their obtaining it, they excited universal indigna- tion. The Chevalier Bayard went himself to the cavern with the Provost Marshal., and caused him to h 'ng in his presence, and in the midst of this scene of horror, two of the wretches who had kindled the fire. The Chevalier Bayard—sans peur et sans reproche — was the glory of a chivalrous age for his noble and gene- IOUS qualities. He was not a Soull. We wish there had been a Bayard in the French army in Algiers, to hang up Pelissier in the midst of his scene of horror," of which we find the following description in the letter of a correspondent, of the Herahlo, a Madrid paper, who was present at it. We regret we cannot make room for the whole. After describing the progress of the burning, and when the flames had subsided- I went (says he) towards the cavern, with two officers of Engineers, an officer of Artillery, and a detachment of from 30 to 60 men. At the entrance we found several animals dead, and already in a state of decomposition. We reached the entrance of the cavern over a layer of ashes a foot in depth, and from thence we penetrated about thirty yards into the interior. Nothing can give an idea of the' dreadful spectacle which then presented itself. All the bodies were naked, and in a position which indicated that they must have suffered the most horrid convulsions, and the blood was running from their mouths :n consequence of putrefaction having begun. But the most horrible sight of all was to see children at the breast who had died from the most horrid suilbcation, and their bodies lying about amongst those of sheep and other animals. In spite of all the exertions of the officers, the soldiers could not be prevented from searching the bodies to possess themselves of all the jewels they could find. The number of bodies amounted to from 800 to 1000. The Colonel would not our report, and sent other soldiers to reckon the bodies. GOO were taken from the cavern, without counting those which were heaped one upon the other, nor the children at the breast—nearly all hidden in their mothers' clothes. The Colonel was horrified himself at the result—he dreaded chiefly the attaehs of the newspapers, which would not fail to criticise so deplorable an act. On the evening of the 53d, we advanced our camp about half a league further on, as we were driven away from the spot by the infectious stench, and abandoned the place to the ravens and vultures, which had been for some time hovering round, and which may be seen even from our camp, carrying away large pieces of human flesh.-Ibid. °

DEATH OF EARL GREY.

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