Page images
PDF
EPUB

the King's Head Tavern in Palace-yard, on a writ de lunatico iiiqutrendo, together with the verdict of the jury there impannelled. If any one of those papers are granted, on them I mean to ground a motion for the House to resolve itself into a Committee, to take the whole matter into consideration, and that the House may afterwards give such relies thereon, as to its wisdom shall seem requisite; and as to-morrow is an open day, I hope I shall be indulged with so favourable an opportunity for my purpose.

When I reflect on the subject of my motion, on the 31st of March, I own I am both surprised and concerned that it should have experienced so little attention. For it must have been demonstrably evident that I could have no private or personal views in the business, even if I had not so pointedly disclaimed them; and that the disregard, dislike, contempt, and abhorrence with which I have heard the books alluded to, occasionally branded, are either just or reasonable, I am still so ignorant or so obstinate as not to comprehend. But when I consider the exceeding variety of tempers, dispositions, characters, and pursuits, necessarily existing among so many different persons, that I should not have found one gentleman to second me, is, I confess, a subject of extreme astonishment. For when a topic, pregnant with religious allusions, and professedly (even if we suppose it mistaken) founded on the grand basis of Christianity, claimed nothing more than a deliberate discussion, where were the promoters of the Sunday Reform Bill? When the cause of a suffering and persecuted individual pressed (though obliquely and by insinuation only) on the notice of the House, where were the meritorious defenders of Muir and Palmer? When dangers, however visionary, were announced as threatening that Parliament and this nation, where were the indefatigable detectors of the affiliated democratic societies? When imputed insanity was offered for consideration, where were the invincible bulwarks that preserved regal delirium from an intrusive regency? Alas! alas! they must all have been sick or sleeping, or peradventure on a journey.

"Well, Sir, thus my motion of that day did thus surprisingly fall to the ground; I most implicitly trust it did not wholly fail of its intended effect. Many Gentlemen, I am convinced, did read Mr. Brothers's book during the interval of the recess, and some I knew to have applied for, and received them frorrlikthe author himself, previously to that period. Wherefore, though by my former ill success I am precluded from direct application to the contents of those books,

I am I am perfectly warrantable in alluding to them as of public notoriety; and indeed few compositions since printing was first invented have excited more general attention.

"Any man who considers my former motion must at once discover that it led to those which I shall presume to offer this day ; .and I should have thought myself unpardonably negligent of my duty, whether as a legislator or a Christian, if I had suffered the business to evaporate, after once taking it up, without, at least, straining every nerve to procure some substantial redress for the persecuted individual, who is known to have been the ultimate object of my exertions.

"Had I in the former cafe succeeded, it would have been very natural, Sir, that I-should be~g of the House at large to point out any passages in the books I have mentioned, from whence the slightest tendency of a treasonable intention could be inferred. I myself know of none. That alone which had been hinted to me, or which I had any reason to suspect, as in the remotest degree liable to such an imputation, I clearly explained upon the former occasion. And the more pointedly to evince my perfect conviction of the innocence of these books, as far as treason is concerned, I here, in the face of the House, > adopt the whole of them as my own; I subscribe to every assertion in them, from the first to the last; I make myself a conscious, a willing accomplice to all the guilt contained in them—w Habetis confitentem rtum" and I desire nothing more than to be proceeded against legally, and up to final judgment and sentence upon those grounds. If now there be treason lurking in these publications, I am committed beyond all evasion, and Gentlemen know what to think of me. But I am firmly convinced no such accusation can be thought to attach, and that I am in no danger. And as I trust that hitherto, and up to the very instant of these assertions, I have ever maintained the character of a faithful subject, and true to my oath of allegiance, I (hall, for the present, venture to ■ assume it as a fact, that the writings in question, as far as they go, are not treasonable. Their author, then, must have incurred this dreadful imputation from some other circumstance. Is it offensive, is it indecent, is it unparliamentary to inquire of what nature that damning circumstance may be? —for I neither know nor have heard, nor can possibly conjecture any one.

"Last year, when various persons were taken up by similar interference of the Executive Power, we were fairly and candidly told the grounds of their arrest. The formation of a connexion with popular societies, formed on principles resembling those of the Jacobin clubs in France, and deemed to he equally subversive os all regular government, were the ollensible plea of their imprisonment.

"Here is a ground to stand upon. Here is a fact held up to the warning of every one: To be a member of a club, or at least of a certain description of club, subjects a man to the suspicion of treasonable practices. Was Mr. Brothers the inltitutor of any such club? was he even member of any club at all? I answer authoritatively—No.

"Well, but it may be said if a number of persons be collected together, even without the form or name of a club, treason may still be disseminated at such assembly. If the names of President, or Chairman and Secretary, be commuted for those of Minister and Clerk, the mischief may be "no less serious and no less apparent. For do we not know that Oliver Cromwell was himself a preacher, and subverted the constitutional government of the country by means of field-preachers? I answer, Mr. Brothers was no preacher, he never assembled nor thought of assembling any congregation whatever. He never took the lead, or named the topic of discourse, and he had neither more intention nor more appearance of calling an assembly for seditious purposes, or for any purpose whatever, beyond that of general conversation, more than you, Sir, have at your levee, or the President of the Royal Society at breakfast.

"Mr. Brothers was generally at home a few hours in the morning. Inclination, curiosity, example, occasional belief in his predictions, induced other persons to call upon him, and he was never denied to them. Members of Parliament and ladies of quality have met there without blame and without offence. Sometimes he -was civilly treated, and very often connived at, and not seldom abused; but he was uniform, calm, obliging, moderate, and consistent withal. In this parr, therefore, of his conduct, I am totally at a loss to discover any outline of the traitor; and if others more quicksighted than myself, have seen deeper into particulars, 1 hope it will be communicated to the House this day for general information. Arguing, however, from deep personal knowledge of him a6 far as it goes, I assert with no less boldness of his way of living than of his books, that no treason whatever can be detected in cither.

"It follows that if there can be no treason there must he much infinity about him; for something undoubtedly we must njfumt n.r thf raufe originally of his .arrest, and hitherto of his imprisonment. Now, Sir, by what telt (hall we try him on this head? I sincerely hope not by the investigation at.thc King'i Anns Tavern, sot if the proceedings which I

mean mean to move for are fairly brought forwards, as, doubtless, they have been, I am sure I (hall prove the evidence on that head to have beeri completely insufficient and nugatory. ,

** Now, Sir, if the bobks I formerly moved for lay at present upon your table, I should desire neither more nor better evidence than common consent to evince to the satisfaction of every reasonable man, that the writer leave not the Uightest tincture of insanity about him.

"I would ask, what is the object profesicdly proposed ,\}j those books f—the restoration of peace. From one end to the other, in every pagei and in every sentence, we may' visibly trace this one grand prominent feature. Sometimes it is urged on the score of political advantage—sometimes on

Srinciples of religious duty. Here it is recommended by a rifcing picture of its beneficial consequences—there contrasted by a terrific display of the calamities of war. Theauthor shifts his arguments, anil diversifies his representations} to suit every species of understanding, and accommodate himself to all the various classes of his readers —and is this madness? Is that versatility of thought and sentiment, which in! all other writers is deemed one or the first essentials of genius, to be wantonly and unfeelingly misconstrued, as the wanderings of deranged intellect, because it may not exactly suit the', temper of the times? Forbid it every principle of virtue and' justice—forbid it every spark of humanity and philanthropy !. In proof of what I have here faintly attempted to describe, I might appeal to a thousand passages, scattered over every part of Mr. Brothers's works; but I will produce only one. It is ift the 41st page of the second book, and a more striking example of sound abilities, and correct imagination, I am well persuaded could no where be selected from Demosthenes, or Cicero, or any other of the best human authors, ancient or modern. This is a comment on the 27th verse, 7th chapter, of Daniel.

w In what I have taken the liberty to state to the House' on the present occasion, I hope, Sir. I stiall not be so widely* misunderstood, as if I endeavoured to throw an odium, or set up an accusation against any of the members of Administration, of any other persons of respectability whatever. I have no such intention. If spies and informers, basely stabbing a man's fair fame in the (lark, have misled the candid, arid Unsuspecting minds of liberal Gentlemen, let us unmask' their hypocrisy, and rescue their victim from unmerited punishment. If medical pretenders, relying on visionary theories, or with a deep-laid plot of systematic villariy, have con-spired to cry down a man's intellect, and to rob him of hea

Vol. III. H ven'j

ven's choicest; inheritance—his sanity of understanding—let us expose their ignorance, or chastise their depravity by effectual interference. All I wist) is to procure redress for ai> undeserving sufferer, as I deem him, or to gain some conviction of the justice of his sufferings; and that this, Sir, is not an easy matter, or a matter attainable through any regular official channel, I hope to make fully evident; nor indeed do I know of any channel but that of the inquisitorial authority of this House, by which the relief I feck, which Gentlemen will allow must necessarily be prompt, if we would have ic efficacious, can possibly be obtained.

"The person in'question, is a suspected traitor in the power of the Secretary of State—as a lunatic lie is immediately; under the care of the Lord Chancellor. If I apply to Chancery, I must naturally expect to be told, he is a State prisoner under warrant from Government for treasonable practices. If I refer to the Secretary of State's office, I (hall Kave the fame answer as that which was given to another friend of his: That he is not properly understood in that department but as a lunatic, is to be sent to some hospital, where, fertuips, by leave of the governor, I may be permitted to see him. Between those two Noble Personages, while I am bandied about like a shuttlecock, Mr. Brothers may be transferred to a third or a fourth department; whither all my industry may be exerted in vain to trace him. All I require, therefore, is to discover with precision, whether this Mr. Brothers be a traitor or be a lunatic. He may possibly be neither, but it is morally certain he cannot be both. I neither wish to palliate any crimes he may have committed, nor to screen him from any merited punishment of the law.

"A sew words more, Sir, and I have done. I have caused to he delivered at jhe door a printed paper, written, I confess, partly on another subject of personal controversy, though bearing immediately also on my present motion. I most sincerely apologize for its intrusion, and I hope I shall be forgiven when I mention that it is done precisely for the purpose of taking shame to myself in having there inserted a proposition which is not warranted by fact. As far as that assertion poes, I can fay nothing in my own defence. I admit it to be false, and alk pardon for its insertion. I have there said, that " the verdict of lunacy was brought in at the very meeting before ever the person to be decided on was examined at ally' and I now know that his examination was previous to the verdict. They had only made up their minds to it before fhey saw him. / eat my wirdi.

"Now

« PreviousContinue »