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and through it the mercantile said he, necessitas suprema ler, and credit of the country, were in it was necessary to examine how danger from the payment of old the question of the issues stood. notes, and fractional sums, how. It was in 1817 that the notices ever he might blame the Bank were issued under which the payfor their improvidence, he should ments were made, and the drain have felt it necessary to protect had gone on without answering the country from the consequence any other purpose than to enable of this imprudence.
the chancellor of the exchequer Lord Castlereagh said, that if to make a speech, to say that the measure had been brought cash payments were virtually reforward simply for the conve. sumed. In the last year he had nience of the Bank, or for the brought in a bill for continuing support of its credit, it would the Restriction act; and at that have been unfit that it should time he saw with his eyes wide have been disposed of in the way open the drain which was then now proposed. But they might going on more rapidly than at any be assured that the credit of that time since, yet took no step to body was so high, that there stop it. What was the time when would not have been any ne- this alarm first came upon him? cessity to have interposed be. Why, no sooner than this day at tween the Bank and its creditors, twelve o'clock. For his own part, except for public convenience. till yesterday, he should no more The hon. and learned gentleman have thought of the committee had fairly said, that the question making such a report, than of before the House was a balance their doing the most improbable of inconveniences; but he trusted and extravagant thing in the the facts would support the mea- world. The House at large were sure proposed. To-morrow or in the dark from knowing too the next day the dividends would little ; he, on the contrary, was be in a course of payment; and in a difficulty from knowing too if the measure were not carried much, as a member of the secret through as fast as the forms of committee, and was continually parliament would admit, notice afraid of letting some of his knowwould be given to all holders of ledge out. But to mention a fact notes of an early date to carry that was no secret : what had them for payment. He hoped, been the conduct of the Bank? however, that the House would Their whole object, it was said, concur in speedily carrying the was, to resume cash payments. measure.
They lived in the hope of it, and Mr. Tierney affirmed that this the delay was misery. It was was one of the most important not, however, to such a degree measures that could be brought as to induce the Court of Dibefore parliament; and if one rectors to come to any resolution thing surprised him more than on the subject ; and so quiet were another, it was the extraordinary they, that no conversation had composure with which the propo- taken place between the governor sition had been received. Of this and the chancellor of the exchehe gave several instances ; but, quer for the last three months.
What was the reason for so ra. The Chancellor of the Eschepidly passing this measure? Why, quer said, that when the proper merely from a mysterious recom- time arrived to enter upon the mendation from the committee, details of this subject, he should that the adoption of such a mea- be prepared to show that there sure was necessary to enable the was no inconsistency whatever Bank to resume cash payments at between the principle of this bill, some time-it was not stated and the principle which governed when. It was said, on the part his other arrangements on this subof the Bank, that they did not ject. He only regretted that the ask for this measure.
But it was
measure had not been earlier intro. for the House to consider whether duced. The fact was, that hopes it would allow, upon such a sug- had been entertained last year gestion, all its usual forms to be that the state of exchange might suspended, of the necessity for have come round, and obviated which it had no evidence what- the inconveniences complained
of. Lord A. Hamilton conceived The House having resolved itthe measure to be only a conti- self into a committee on the Bank nuance of the system of restric- Restriction acts, leave was given tion; with this difference, that to bring in the bill. The House when such a measure was pro- having resumed, the bill was read posed before, some grounds were a first and second time, comstated for it, and these grounds mitted, and reported. On the were discussed, but at present it motion that it be read a third was to be carried without any time, Mr. Gurney made several discussion of its merits.
observations tending to disapprove Several members spoke on each of it. side of the question on this de. In fine, the bill was passed. bate. At length,
Sir James Mackintosh's Address respecting the Criminal Laws.--Trial
by Battle Abolition Bill.- First Report of the Secret Committee, on the Expediency of the Bank resuming Cash Payments.- Proceedings in both Houses respecting the Claims of the Roman Catholics.
March 2, in rising to address cies of crimes, a committee was the House of Commons concern- appointed “to examine into and ing the system of Criminal laws, consider the state of the laws rebegan with noticing some con- lating to felonies, and to report cessions made by the noble lord to the House their opinion as to (Castlereagh) which would tend the defects of those laws, and as much to narrow the grounds of to the propriety of amending or difference between them, in so repealing them.” The persons much as both were agreed that of whom
the committee were then the state of the criminal law in composed were Mr. Pelham, Mr. this country called for investiga. Pitt. Mr. G. Grenville, Mr. Lyttion, and that a select committee tleton, Mr. C. Townshend, and would be the proper course to Sir Dudley Ryder. The first pursue in it. Proceeding then to resolution in which these distinthe narrower question, which was guished persons "; agreed, was, a comparison between the noble “ that it was reasonable to exlord's system and his own, he pro- change the punishment of death ceeded to show that in accord- for some other adequate punishance with the usage of the House, ment. A bill was brought in, he should propose that the House founded on the resolutions of the itself should nominate separate committee: it passed this House, committees; whereas the noble but was thrown out in the House lord proposed that the committee of Lords. In 1770, another alarm, which had been named, should occasioned by the increase of a again nominate three committees. certain species of crime, led to Sir James found no difficulty in the appointment, on November giving his own proposition the 27, of another committee, of superiority to that offered by the which Sir Charles Grenville, Sir
William Meredith, Mr. Fox, He next inquired into the ex. Mr. Serjeant Glynn, Sir Charles amples which the House of Com. Bunbury, and others, were memmons afforded him by their former bers. That committee was occuproceedings, and he began with pied for two sessions with the that of 1750, when, in consequence subject, in the second of which
they brought their report to ma- Having (said Sir James M. turity. It passed the House of concluded my general remarks, Í Commons, but was thrown out by will now enter into a few illustrathe House of Lords.
tive details. Among these, we Sir James M. now said, that it shall take no notice of the least was upon these precedents that important articles, but go directly he had formed, and that he brings to those which constitute the forward, his motion. But he main purpose of the eloquent must first mention what his ob- speaker's address. ject is not, in order to obviate The real state of the case ( said the misapprehensions of over- he) is, that in the first or highest zealous supporters, and the mis. class of felonies, the law has been apprehensions of desperate oppo. executed in every case; that in nents. “I do not propose to form the middle class it has sometimes a new criminal code. Altogether been executed; and that in the to abolish a system of law, ad- lowest class it has not been exe. mirable in its principle, inter- cuted at all. To correct this woven with the habits of the anomaly, so injurious, and so subEnglish people, and under which versive of the great purposes of they long and happily lived, is a criminal jurisprudence, is the proposition very remote from my object that I have in view. notions of legislation. Neither For the sake of clearness, the is it my intention to propose the hon. and learned member divided abolition of the punishment of the crimes against which our death. I hold the right of in- penal code denounces capital flicting that punishment to be punishment into three classes. that part of the right of self. In the first, murder, and murdefence with which societies, as derous offences, or such as are well as individuals, are endowed. likely to lead to murder, such as Nor do I wish to take away the shooting or stabbing with a view right of pardon from the crown: to the malicious destruction of on the contrary, my object is to human life, on which the law is restore to the crown the practical invariably executed; in the seuse of that right. The main part cond, arson, highway robberies, of the reform which I should pro. piracies, and other offences, to pose, would be to transfer to the the number of nine or ten, on Statute Book the improvements which, at present, the law is carwhich the wisdom of modern ried into effect in a great many times has introduced into the cases. On those two divisions, practice of the law. One of my he admitted, for the present, that objects is, to approximate them: it would be unsafe to propose any to make good men the anxious alteration. Many of the crimes supporters of the criminal law, comprehended in them ought to and to restore that zealous at. be punished with death; and he tachment to the law in general was persuaded that a patient and which has distiguished the people calm investigation would remove of England among the nations of the objections of a number of the world."
well-meaning persons who are
of a contrary opinion. But look- expressly directed by the law for ing from these offences at the offences, which, in the adminishead of the criminal code, to the tration of the law, are never more other extremity of it, he saw a severely punished than with transthird class of offences, some con- portation, either for life, or for nected with frauds of various limited periods. On this subject, kinds, but others of the most fri- he took occasion to pay an affectvolous and fantastic description, ing remembrance to the late Sir amounting to about 150 in num- Samuel Romilly, with whom lie ber, against which the punish- fully concurred in thinking, that ment of death is denounced by the punishment of death ought the law, although that punish- not to attach by law to any of ment is never at present exe- those offences for which transcuted. There can be no doubt portation is a sufficient punishthat these capital felonies should ment. In this case, he joined his be expunged from our Statute- late friend in the conviction, that book as a disgrace to our law, the balance of advantage is deand as creating a false opinion, cidedly against the continuance much more sanguinary than it has of the existing system. ever been rendered in practice. The House (said he) will still There are many more capital fe- bear in mind that I do not call lonies of a similar nature, which for the abolition of the punishare the relics of barbarous times, ment of death, but only in those and which are disgraceful to the cases in which it is rarely, and character of an eolightened and ought never, to be carried into thinking people. For such of effect. In such cases I propose
I fences, punishments quite ade- to institute other milder but more quate, and sufficiently numerous, invariable punishments. Nothing, remain, which the wisdom of the in my opinion, can be more injulegislature may order to be in- rious than the frequency with flicted.
which the sentence of death is The debateable ground on this pronounced from the judgmentsubject (Sir James Mackintosh seat, when it is evident, even to goes on to say) is afforded by a those against whom the punishsort of middle class of offences, ment is denounced, that it will consisting of larcenies and frauds never be carried into effect. In of a heinous kind, though not ac- all nations, an agreement be. companied with violence and ter- tween the laws and the general ror. I do not propose, in any feeling of those who are subject degree, to interfere with the dis- to them, is essential to their efcretion of the judges in deciding ficacy; but this agreement beupon any crime to which the comes of unspeakable importance punishment of death ought, under in a country in which the charge some circumstances, to attach; of executing them is committed, but to examine whether or not it in great measure, to the people is convenient, upon the whole themselves. I know not how to view of the subject, that death contemplate, without serious apshould remain the punishment prehension, the consequences that Vou, LXI.