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disaffection, and in some parts lt was giving the learned gentleof the information he believed man time to pause, it was affordthat even the word sedition was ing him a locus pænitentiæ,-it found. Would it be believed, was offering him time to revolve except by persons who had seen in his own mind what he ought to the informations, that this third do, it was furnishing him with libel, which was selected for pro- room in which to turn round, mit secution, was a mere repetition of was giving him a period in which the second, which the jury had a man might say to himself, found a libel upon the king, but “ This won't do." But no, the not upon his ministers, and which learned gentleman spurned the they had recommended to the opportunity for reflection thus merciful consideration of the kindly thrown in his way, and he court ? It contained, and pretty said boldly and at once, nearly in the same language, all to go on, my lord, with the next that had been said in the second case.” The case was called on libel, as to his Majesty's not being accordingly; and he must repeat, able to exhibit himself to his that it was, as far as the king was people at places of public amuse- concerned, a repetition of the same ment. In finding that the second libel, on which, though the jury libel was a libel on the king, but had declared it to be a libel, no not on his ministers, and in re- judgment had been, or would be, commending the author of it to pronounced by the Court. It mercy, the jury had told the Court, would have been quite as well,and not only the Court, but also perhaps much better-if the Attorthe Attorney-general, that prose- ney-general, instead of proceedcutions for similar offences should ing with that case, had put his not be continued. Such a verdict brief into his bag, and had said as they gave-was a verdict with that he would consider till next a farthing damages, or rather a morning whether he would bring nonsuit to the plaintiff

, and no it to trial or not. A verdict was verdict at all. Could any man, given, on the third information, who was not acquainted with the against Mr. Alexander, and was event, have believed that any At- not accompanied by any recom- a torney-general would have pro- mendation to mercy. But though ceeded with this third information, that was the case, he would deafter the castigation which he had clare it to be quite unprecedented received for bringing forward the that an Attorney-general should second ? The jury, which tried proceed upon a new information to the second information, retired for try the same identical matter three hours, to consider their ver- which he had already tried upon dict; and whilst they were retired, a fornier one. That was done in and before the next case was call- this case, in breach of all the milded on, lord Tenterden was stated ness, fairness and impartiality, to have said, “What do you in- which on former trials had charactend to do now, Mr. Attorney?" terised former Attorney-generals. He would not say, that that Butthe filing of thatinformation, he speech was a hint to the Attorney- further maintained, was an usurpageneral of what he ought to do; tion of the powers and privileges but it was something very like it, of the House of Commons. The

alleged libel began with narrating labour, and he was in consequence certain proceedings in the House; decidedly of opinion, that when it stated, that Mr. Secretary Peel the privileges of that House were had been seen to smile, while an- invaded by any newspaper, the other member was describing the House ought not to delegate the distress of the country, and then vindication of them to any other proceeded to animadvert on this party. For more than a century supposed delinquency. He (sir there had been no instance of Charles Wetherell) did not mean such a mode of proceeding-and to say, that there were not in this it could not be made a practice, publication, many coarse, rude, for, while it was dishonouring to impertinent, and undeserved ex- the House, it was oppressive to the pressions, applied to the right hon. individual, and necessarily most Secretary ; and if Mr. Peel had partial. If Mr. Alexander had come down to the House next day been summoned to the bar of the to complain of them, and had House in June, 1829, instead of moved that Mr. Alexander should being dragged into court for punbe brought to their bar, in conse- ishment in January, 1830, the case quence of them, he did not mean would have been disposed of long to assert that the right hon. gen- since, at least so far as the quantleman would not have acted right- tum of punishment was concerned. ly in pursuing such a course, and It was true, that at that time there that the House would not have was no Attorney-general in being, acted rightly in taking up his — but there was such a lawcomplaint, and in leaving Mr. officer as the Solicitor-general ; Alexander to be reprehended by and in Wilkes's case it had been the Speaker. This libel was pub- ascertained, that when there was lished on the 16th of June, and no Attorney-general, it was comthe House of Commons was not petent for the Solicitor-general prorogued till the 24th. No com- to exercise all his functions. plaint, however, was made to the Shortly afterwards an AttorneyHouse respecting Mr. Alexander's general was appointed, who, as conduct, and this part of the libel soon as he received his appointwas therefore nothing more than ment, started with these prosecua mere individual attack upon the tions. If that officer had a right conduct and character of the right to file ex officio informations for hon. Secretary. Assuming, then, libels published against members that this publication was a libel,- of that House, for their conduct and for the sake of argument he in the House, he must have a was ready not only to admit that right, and making himself, as he point, but also that Mr. Alexander did, the vindicator of the priviwas liable to be punished for it by leges of parliament, it was his that House,-he contended, that duty, equally to protect all. But when a member was attacked in a would it ever happen, that he public newspaper for his conduct would put forth his official powers in that House, the Attorney-gene- against a libel, in favour of the ral had no right to take the vindi- government, on the parliamentary cation of that member's conduct conduct of any of its habitual into his hands. He had investi- and troublesome opponents? The gated that point with considerable Attorney-general would protect


every ministerand ministerial mem- demning the smiles of Mr. Peel in ber, and would vindicate the pri- that House, such a punishment vileges of parliament, in so far as was an invasion and usurpation they might be violated through of the privileges of the Comthem ; but if a member belonging mons. So, too, was it, if he were to the opposition were libelled, confined for inflaming the people and applied to the Attorney- against the House of Commons; general to protect him by an in- but if he were confined for an formation, Mr. Attorney's answer aggregate of libel, formed out of would be,“ I cannot file it, unless the three separate libels on the you previously obtain the consent King, the House of Commons, of the Cabinet.” Would any and some right hon. member, he gentleman, who had the honour (sir Charles Wetherell) must think, of a seat in that House, degrade with all fair persons, that it was himself and his character so far wrong to confine Mr. Alexander as to solicit that consent? The for four months on this third intest of the propriety of such an formation, when the jury recomarrangement is this :-Could such mended him to mercy on the a system exist and be carried on second, and the Attorney-general with impartiality? It would be was afraid to bring him up to reridiculous and contemptible to ceive the judgment of the Court argue that it could. He there- upon it. In one word, therefore, fore asserted, that this new-fangled he contended that it was intolerprivilege of the Attorney-general able and tyrannical that any man was nothing else than an usurpa- in the realm should first protion of the privileges of parlia- . secute an individual for a private ment. But the publication was libel, exposing him to vexation, said to have been likewise a libel putting him in hazard, and renon the legislature as a body-to dering him obnoxious to all the have stated that the House of consequences of judicial imputaCommons had not sufficiently at. tion; and afterwards, in the chatended to the distress of the racter of Attorney-general, insticountry, and to have influenced tute a public prosecution, upon public feeling, by throwing in the failure of which (supposing dangerous stimulants to exag- the bench were occupied by partial gerate the mass of unrelieved dis- and unjust judges) he might retress. He denied, that the sup- vert to the private and original posed libel could bear any such prosecution. Such a state of construction ; but were it other- things, if the House attended to wise, every objection, which lay the feelings of the public, should against an Attorney-general vin- not be borne ; and he thought dicating, of his own accord, the the House ought to come to character of an individual mem- some declaratory resolution, by ber, were doubly applicable to his which their privileges might be officially taking up the cause of the better understood, and by which whole House of Commons against a an Attorney-general might be presupposed libel, of which the House vented, without the consent of the itself had not thought it necessary House, from taking out of the hands or prudent to take any notice. If Mr. of the House the prosecution of a Alexander were confined for con- libel on one of its members ; for,

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in consequence of the Attorney- motion was brought forward in general's proceedings, the libeller that House for an inquiry into his might be subjected to tenfold the conduct, not for having filed an ex punishment which would have officio information with the sancbeen inflicted on him, had he been tion of the Court, but for having filed brought before the bar of the House. one after a grand jury had thrown

The Attorney-general answered out a bill. How did that eminent to the charge against him connect- individual defend himself? There ed with the first libel, viz. the were certain cases in this country having substituted an ex officio in- in which the like thing had been formation, in place of the pri- done ; but Mr. Plunkett wanted vate prosecution, that he had no precedent in this country, bedone nothing but what was legal, cause he possessed one in Ireland, and nothing that could produce the particulars of which he stated hardship or oppression to the de- as follows:-In October, 1811, fendant. All that had been done the Attorney-general for Ireland in regard to the private application indicted a person for writing a letwas, that the Court had granted a ter, in which he charged sir E. rule to shew cause why a criminal Littleton with having received a

a information should not be filed. sum of money for the appointThe information never was filed, ment of an individual to the office nor meant to be proceeded in. But of barrack-master.

The grand the Court, by granting leave to file jury to whom the bill was prefera criminal information, had de- red, ignored it. Another bill was clared its opinion, that the case prepared, and sent before another was a fit case for filing anex officio grand jury. This bill was likewise information.* Was not this much thrown out, and then, in the month less strong, than to file an inform- of November following, the Attoration, after having tried in vain ney-general, who was Mr. Saurin, a grand jury? When a grand Mr. Plunkett's predecessor, filed an jury ignored a bill, they refused to ex officio information. Mr. Sauattach to the publication any such rin had never been called upon questionable character as should to explain the grounds of his promake it a fit subject of inquiry; ceedings. The difference between but when the Court granted leave that and the present case was very to file an information, the Court striking. He had not filed an ex did declare that to be the charac- officio information after a grand ter of the libel. If it was legal, jury had thrownout the bill, but then, to follow up the former, after the Court of King's Bench had, much more must it be legal to fol- by its sanction, shown that the case low up the latter by an ex officio was a fit one for being proceeded information.

Some years ago, against ex officio. He was still at when the present lord Plunkett a loss to see where the oppression filled the office of attorney-general existed in Mr. Alexander's case. for Ireland, it happened that a The supposed danger of a double

trial was imaginary. Whether This was an admission of greater Mr. Alexander had been convictabuse of law, and a more flagrant viola- ed or acquitted on the ex officio intion of justice, than the most bitter enemies of sir James Scarlett had imputed formation, he could not have been to him,

tried again for the same offence,

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from whatever quarter the attempt argument against it was pointed. might be made.

The Attorney- It was not maintained that an general further mentioned, that so Attorney-general exceeded his far from Mr. Alexander finding duty in prosecuting ex officio a fault with the ex officio proceed- libel against the king; and both ing, he, in his paper, and his judge and jury had declared the counsel before the Court, had publication in question to be such blamed the prosecutor for not a libel. So far there seemed to adopting that very mode, and had be no ground for blame. The jury represented him as a person afraid indeed had found that it was no to come forward on his own re- libel on ministers :—but suppose sponsibility-anxiously shielding they had given a general acquithimself under the sanction of the tal, was there no precedent of an Court. His reason for changing ex officio information for a libel, the mode of proceeding was, that even on the king, being followed he found the information, as ori- by an acquittal? Sir Vicary Gibbs ginally framed, was not author- prosecuted Mr. Perry for such a ised, in one of its counts, by the libel: the defendant was acquitnature of the proceeding which ted, both judge and jury declaring had been adopted. The gentle- the publication to be no libel; yet no man who drew it up had consi- man had proposed to bring before dered that the libel, although per- the House the conduct of sir Vicary sonally aimed at the lord chan- Gibbs in filing the inform ation. cellor, did not rest there; but that To the third information, the it also cast an imputation upon first objection had been, that it the Solicitor-general, that by some ought not to have been tried after corrupt means he had attained to the verdict, and the recommendaa situation amongst the king's ser- tion to mercy, in the second. That vants. It was likewise considere was not the case. The jury on the ed, that the libel cast the imputa- second trial had retired, and the tion on the whole government, of third trial was over before they denot preferring men to office upon livered their verdict. The second the ground of merit, but from the objection was, that the proceedcorrupt motive of private gain. ing of the Attorney-general was He concurred in this view. an usurpation of the powers of thought the case ought to be put the - House of Commons, which upon that ground, and the libel, ought to be left to deal with libels therefore, assumed a higher form on itself and its members for their of malignity, in which it ought to conduct in the House. Now, he be stated to the jury. Under those had always understood, that the circumstances, he had no hesita- great objection entertained by the tion in adopting the course of public to such a mode of proceedproceeding ex officio, particular. ing was, that the House made itly as he had been invited to do self both accuser and judge, and so both by the defendant and his judge, moreover, in its own cause; advocate.

and, assuredly, there was no want As to the second information, of precedents for the course which for a libel on the king and his mi- he had adopted. Lord Eldon, when nisters, the Attorney-general said, Attorney-general, had proceeded that he could not see at what the ex officio against persons who had


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