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Law And Justice—Case Of Mr Wilberforce—Resolution

Volume 228: debated on Tuesday 2 May 1876

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in rising to call attention to two trials in the Westminster County Court on the 27th day of January last, before a jury, when verdicts for £15 5s. damages for two assaults upon boys were given against a Justice of the Peace for the county of Sussex; and to move—

"That, in the opinion of this House, it is not desirable that Reginald Garton Wilberforce, esquire, should continue on the Bench of Magistrates,"
said, that the case lay in a nutshell. The facts were not practically in dispute, and the question was whether Mr. Wilberforce had or had not shown an utter want of that tact, good sense, discretion, and sense of justice, tempered with mercy, which should distinguish a Judge. It was true that Mr. Wilberforce belonged to the unpaid magistracy; but the qualities which were necessary in a Judge were equally indispensable in our magistrates. Having to deal with the Game Laws, in which they had a personal interest, and in which they united the characters of prosecutors, judges, and executioners in their own persons it was desirable that their conduct should be above suspicion. Appeals had been made to him by several hon. Members not to pursue this matter further, partly because of the great name which Mr. Wilberforce bore and partly because he had suffered severely owing to this matter. All this would have weighed with him except for a consideration of the sole issue which was involved in the matter now—namely, whether Mr. Wilberforce was fit to occupy the position and exercise the functions of a Judge. Though he were descended from a thousand philanthropists, if his personal qualities disabled him from filling that position, he ought not to be allowed to remain there. He had to state that the working classes and the agricultural labourers of the country owed a debt of gratitude to the Lord Chancellor for his conduct in this case. The noble and learned Lord had made it known from the highest legal position in the country that the humblest peasant in the land was not to be ill-treated without calling forth a stern rebuke and reprobation from the Lord Chancellor of England. He ventured to think that if the noble and learned Lord had regarded the case from another point of view—namely, the fitness of Mr. Wilberforce to be a Judge—he would have added to his condemnation the removal of that gentleman from the Bench. The Lord Chancellor, however, had not all the facts before him. He (Mr. Taylor) had taken great pains to ascertain the entire facts, not only from the depositions, but from the personal inquiries of a gentleman in whose honour and discretion he could rely, and who had seen the lads and their father and mother, and taken down their statements. The story was simply this. Mr. Wilberforce's gamekeeper found the two lads, who were 17 and 14 years of age, digging out a rabbit's nest in a hedge. Meeting the father, Mr. Wilberforce said the case was too frivolous to send to a Court, and he suggested that the lads should be sent up to him next morning to have a good talking to and perhaps a stroke or two. The boys went up next morning, when Mr. Wilberforce took them into a stable and beat them with terrible severity, until, in fact, they were covered with blood. He was, in fact, judge, jury, and executioner, and administered a punishment of his own volition, which, as a magistrate, he could not have ordered. This case had given rise to a song—
"Let me flog him for his father"—
dedicated to Mr. Wilberforce, J.P., by the author of
"Let me Kiss him for his mother."
Mr. Wilberforce, in his statement, said that the father of the lads asked him to punish them, placing him thereby in loco parentis. That was certainly improbable, and, for his part, he did not believe it to be true; for the father said that the state of the boys made his blood run cold, and that if he had any one to help him he would go to law for redress. The Agricultural Labourers' Union did take the matter up, and Mr. Wilberforce was tried before a London jury, who, to their honour, fined him £15 for the offence. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had read to the House a statement of the case which he received from the County Court Judge and forwarded to the Lord Chancellor. He would not challenge that statement, but would content himself with saying that it took every assertion of the defendant as proved truth, and appeared to disregard the evidence to the contrary effect, given on the part of the prosecution. The Judge seemed, too, to doubt the severity of the punishment inflicted on the boys. This was remarkable in view of the fact, as proved, that scarcely any of the skin on the lower part of each boy's back remained unbroken, and that the marks of the punishment were visible fully two months after the floggings were inflicted. Two widely dissimilar views might be taken of the case. On the one hand, it might be held by game-preserving squires that the boys were rightly served; on the other, the transaction was regarded as affording a grave and serious illustration of the way in which justice might be, and occasionally was, administered by the justices in this country upon poor and defenceless peasants. It would not be encouraging to fugitive slaves to take refuge under our flag when they learned that boys could be beaten in this country in that way for hunting a rabbit. He did not believe that in any other civilized country in the world could such an outrage be committed in the name of justice. Nor did he believe that in England it would be possible to commit an outrage of the kind upon any other than a member of the peasant class, which had no representation in the body which made and controlled the administration of the country's laws. How many men in that House had high-spirited lads who would not think much of hunting a rabbit, or robbing an orchard, or even stealing a bird's nest; but he would not give much for the skin of a magistrate who dared to treat one of their boys as these lads had been treated. The other day a schoolmaster was sentenced to five years' penal servitude for beating a boy. It was quite true that one of the blows hit the boy in the eye and deprived him of sight, but the schoolmaster was to a certain extent in his right, whereas Mr. Wilberforce was altogether out of his right. When the case came to the knowledge of the country it created a very unpleasant feeling—a feeling intensified by the fact that it was only discovered by mere accident a month after the events had occurred. The feeling, so intensified, was increased by the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary when the matter was brought before the House. The right hon. Gentleman had no word of reprobation for the conduct of Mr. Wilberforce, who, in his opinion, had only committed an error of judgment. It was with surprise that the country heard such terms applied to a flogging which had caused the blood of two peasant boys to flow down their backs. In addition to using the words to which he had referred, the right hon. Gentleman took upon himself the functions of an advocate, when he said he was empowered to express the regret of Mr. Wilberforce at what had occurred—expressions of regret which were altogether absent from the subsequent correspondence in which Mr. Wilberforce took part. It was clear that the right hon. Gentleman held one of two opinions. He either thought the course taken by Mr. Wilberforce was the ordinary and habitual act of a county magistrate, or he thought the unpaid magistracy of the country had a sort of vested interest in the seats on the Bench, from which they could only be removed in cases of gross and flagrant illegality. The right hon. Gentleman had two voices—one an official and the other a private voice. In his official capacity, he defended every act of injustice committed by magistrates and brought before Parliament; in his private capacity he would be the last man to commit the acts which he defended. The right hon. Gentleman said that this act of Mr. Wilberforce was not done in his official capacity, but the Lord Chancellor held a different view. These lads were not of age, and they were not able at the bidding of Mr. Wilberforce to contract themselves out of the law. He had never uttered such a slander as to say that this was an average instance of the way in which justice was administered by unpaid magistrates, though his own opinion was in favour of a stipendiary magistracy. The Lord Chancellor condemned the conduct of Mr. Wilberforce and conveyed a grave censure, and it was a great pity that the friends of Mr. Wilberforce did not advise him to retire from the Bench, for it was clear that in future his judgments could not be regarded as either impartial or just. Had Mr. Wilberforce's conduct down to the time of this occurrence been perfectly pure and impartial, it was necessary for the due administration of justice that the so-called justice he meted out should be believed in by the community which had to submit to it. The Lord Chancellor in giving his reasons for not removing Mr. Wilberforce from the Bench stated that the injured lads had received substantial compensation for the pain they had suffered. That fact, however it might be an atonement for the past, could not in any way affect Mr. Wilberforce's fitness to be a Judge. The Lord Chancellor had also referred to the deep regret that Mr. Wilberforce had expressed for the course he had taken; but he was in a position to show that this gentleman, after having in cold blood severely and brutally flogged these poor lads, had persecuted both them and their father by using his great influence in the district to prevent them from obtaining work, and thus to drive them from the neighbourhood. He would read, in corroboration of his statement, a letter from the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the National Agricultural Labourers' Union, and he would, in conclusion, warn the House against their allowing it to be supposed that not only was there, in some cases avoidably and in others, unavoidably, one law for the rich and another for the poor, but that even where such inequality in the law was avoidable, it was right in their opinion that it should exist. Had this outrage been committed upon any squire's or tradesman's son, or upon the son of any man who possessed a vote, the perpetrator of it would not have been allowed to remain upon the Bench for a single month. Under these circumstances he appealed to the House and to the country Gentlemen to show by their vote that they repudiated such conduct as that of Mr. Wilberforce as altogether exceptional, and as not being in accordance with the standard of justice which was recognized throughout the country. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Resolution.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That, in the opinion of this House, it is not desirable that Reginald Garton Wilberforce, esquire, should continue on the Bench of Magistrates."—(Mr. P. A. Taylor.)

said, he deeply regretted that it should be necessary for him to state in that House again the facts of a case which had been already deliberately decided by the highest judicial authority in the land, and that the hon. Member opposite had thought it his duty to make to the House a statement which must necessarily be an ex parte one. When the hon. Member first rose, he stated that he was merely going calmly and dispassionately to lay the facts of the case before the House; but he would appeal to hon. Members on both sides of the House to say whether the hon. Member had not imported into his statement the feeling and animosity which he invariably exhibited against certain classes in this country? Had the hon. Member taken the trouble to go impartially into the real facts of this case, he would have found ample reason for not again bringing it under the consideration of the House; but he could not resist the temptation of bringing forward a charge against a magistrate. It was against such persons alone that the indignation of the hon. Member was ever raised, because however aggravated and however brutal might be the assault, if it were committed by those who occupied a lower position in life no notice of it was ever taken by the hon. Member. He must at once take exception—and in this he should be supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary—to the statement of the hon. Member that had this case been brought before the magistrates of the district, justice would not have been done with regard to it. [Mr. P. A. Taylor denied that he had made the statement the hon. and gallant Baronet attributed to him.] He (Sir Walter Barttelot) having carefully taken down the hon. Member's words, was exceedingly glad to hear that he retracted them. If there was one thing that the House of Commons liked and that Englishmen liked, it was fair play, and he would appeal to the House whether the hon. Member had allowed Mr. Wilberforce fair play; and if there was another thing which the House and that Englishmen disliked it was to see a man kicked when he was down, and he would again appeal to the House whether the hon. Member had not kicked Mr. Wilberforce over and over again, although he had been absolutely unable to prove anything against him. The hon. Member had contented himself with reading extracts from reports of the trial; but he (Sir Walter Barttelot) should be able to show the House beyond dispute that no cruelty whatever had been used by Mr. Wilberforce towards these boys. All that he had done was to administer to the lads a flogging such as Eton boys received; and, in fact, a sensational case had been got up out of the flimsiest materials. The full particulars of the case were these. On the 1st of March, 1875, these boys committed the offence in question, and their father, being sent for, was requested by Mr. Wilberforce to punish them. He replied that he could not flog them himself in consequence of his hand being injured, and he requested Mr. Wilberforce to punish them for him. Mr. Wilberforce, who throughout was actuated by a kindly feeling, and who did not wish to send the boys before a bench of magistrates—not that on which he himself sat, as had been stated—at first declined to punish the boys, but at the father's request he at length undertook to do so. The boys came up the next day and received an ordinary flogging. To show how little they suffered from the punishment they had received, he might state that on the very afternoon that they were flogged they walked up the South Down, a very steep hill, and picked up wood all the afternoon; that the next day they did the same thing, and that the third day they walked to Petworth, a distance of 11 miles, there and back, which they could not possibly have done had they been treated with the brutality alleged by the hon. Member. The chief evidence that the hon. Member adduced as to the condition of the boys was the statement of the father, a man named Ayling, whom he unhesitatingly asserted to be a man of bad character. Against the statement of Ayling, the father, and the boys, must be placed that of the aunt, who declared that she had seen the lads shortly after their punishment, and that their backs were only a little red. A great number of other people also saw the boys and gave similar testimony as to the slightness of the punishment. If these boys had been treated so brutally as was alleged, were there not people enough who would have said—"This is a most brutal case; let us get a summons against Mr. Wilberforce?" Nothing, however, was done until June or July, when Messrs. Shaen, Roscoe, and Massey, the solicitors to the Agricultural Labourers' Association, sent a letter to Mr. Wilberforce, saying—

"We are instructed to inquire whether you are prepared to express regret at your conduct on that occasion, and to pay some reasonable compensation to the boys for the injuries injuries inflicted on them,"
and adding that in default an action would be commenced against him. Mr. Wilberforce having taken no notice of that letter, nothing more was heard of the matter until, in January last, an action was brought against him in the Westminster County Court. The hon. Member for Leicester had no right to abuse the learned Judge who tried the case, for he had all the facts before him, and was in a much better position to judge of them than was the hon. Member. The latter part of the learned Judge's letter was not open to the censure he had passed upon it. If Mr. Wilberforce had allowed any one to defend him but himself he certainly would have got off. Mr. Wilberforce was fined £10 for the assault on the elder boy, and £5 for the assault on the younger. But why only £5 in the latter case? Mr. Wilberforce moved for a new trial; the new trial was granted, but they compromised matters when the case of the second boy came on, on condition that no criminal proceedings should be taken against any of the witnesses. What did that show? That their testimony could not be credited. More than that, the world outside would judge that Mr. Wilberforce, when the case was tried at Westminster, had not committed the gross and evident assault described by the hon. Member for Leicester. What happened after this? The hon. Gentleman asked a Question in that House. They all knew what asking a Question in that House meant. The hon. Gentleman might, perhaps, have one of those iron hearts that felt nothing—he put the Question, and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary answered it. He did more. He referred the whole case to the Lord Chancellor; and the Lord Chancellor had written a letter on the subject, for which the hon. Member said he would be for ever grateful. If he was grateful for that letter, why did he bring this case forward now? If the Lord Chancellor, having given his eminently legal mind to the subject, had written a letter upon it, the hon. Member might rest assured no opinion of his would be worth anything as against that of the noble and learned Lord. It amounted almost to persecution that a man, after having been arraigned in this way, should have the present Notice kept upon the Paper by being put off from time to time, instead of having been brought forward as early as possible. Did he think that nobody had any feeling but himself?

explained that he had never postponed the matter, except from inability to bring it on on account of the state of Business.

The hon. Gentleman had not brought it on, because he feared that he should not get a long hearing late at night; but, still, such a Notice should not have been kept upon the Paper one hour longer than was necessary. He would go one step further. The hon. Member said Mr. Wilberforce was not worthy to sit on the Bench when he could act in this way as a Judge. But Mr. Wilberforce was not acting in a judicial capacity. He asked the father of the boys to punish them; he never proposed to send them to gaol—he did not say—"Will you go to gaol or shall I flog you?" He said nothing of that kind. He asked the father to flog them, and the father gave his consent to his flogging them. He was in no way acting as a Judge in the matter. He now came to another point. The hon. Member for Leicester said Mr. Wilberforce gave the man immediate notice to leave his house. What were the facts? The house in which Ayling lived was for sale in June. No doubt the agent the hon. Member sent down had seen the house—it was a wretched place. Mr. Wilberforce, having bought it, was naturally anxious to put it in repair, and he gave the man notice. No action was then pending. The clergyman of the parish called on Mr. Wilberforce and said the grandmother of these boys was bedridden and would not hear of being sent to the Union workhouse; whereupon the notice was withdrawn, with permission for the old woman to remain there as long as she lived. She died in December. Notice was not given till March. But the family never paid rent, and they absolutely refused to go out, being backed by the Agricultural Labourers' Union. The man never worked for Mr. Wilberforce, but both Mr. Wilberforce and the late Bishop had allowed him to go into their covers and cut brier stems, which he sold to gardeners in the neighbourhood. That was what the hon. Member called persecuting this man. Mr. Wilberforce never said one word to prevent him getting employment. A deputation from the Labourers' Union went to Petworth and tried to vilify the memory of the late lamented Bishop Wilberforce. They also visited Graffham, but that visit ended in nine times nine cheers for the squire. He did not say that Mr. Wilberforce was not to blame in the first instance. He committed a great error—he might say a grave error of judgment—but it had been more than punished by what he had since undergone; and, looking to the character of that Assembly he could not doubt, whatever their politics might be, they would fairly, dispassionately, and honourably acquit a man when they believed him to be innocent.

said, that the issue now before the House was a very simple one—namely, whether Mr. Wilberforce after what had appeared in relation to this case, should be permitted to retain his seat on the Bench. Every hon. Member who had read the Papers relating to the case would be at no loss to understand the warmth displayed by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor). He thought the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot) would to-morrow be sorry for having brought so serious a charge as he had done against Ayling—he said he was a man of bad character. This, too, was said of an absent man, who could not defend himself. He would not follow such an example. The hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex said that a great deal had been made out of a little; but the hon. and gallant Member could not do away with the fact that the Lord Chancellor, in the exercise of his functions, had passed on Mr. Wilberforce one of the gravest censures he could pass on a magistrate without removing him from the Bench. The hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex had doubted this piece of evidence, and doubted that, and had tried to make out that the boys had not been so seriously punished after all. But all that was retrying the case after it had been adjudicated upon by the Lord Chancellor, or it was contending that the Home Secretary had not accurately furnished him with the facts on which the Motion was founded. He should confine himself to the Lord Chancellor's letter to Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Wilberforce's reply to his Lordship, and his Lordship's reply to Mr. Wilberforce's letter; and he said that from those documents a very strong case could be made out in support of the Motion of the hon. Member for Leicester. The Home Secretary, as a part of his duty in the matter, laid the whole statement of the facts before the Lord Chancellor; at least, they must assume that he did so, and it was not alleged that he had failed in that duty. The result of the Lord Chancellor's deliberations on the case was such that it was really useless for the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex to endeavour to excuse Mr. Wilberforce's conduct. The Lord Chancellor said he had read the case with great surprise and with great regret, and he said to Mr. Wilberforce—

"You had the right, if you thought the case deserving such serious treatment, of sending the boys before the Bench of Magistrates, but you had no right to use the threat of sending them before the Bench as the means of inducing them to submit to personal chastisement, and it was, above all, unseemly that you, the complainant against them, should hold yourself out to the neighbourhood as combining the position of complainant with the influence of a member of the County Bench of Magistrates, and with the office of inflicting punishment which was to be the alternative of a sentence of the Court.
"The Lord Chancellor is willing to believe that you were misled into thinking that the father had the right to delegate to you the power of administering a chastisement which he might himself have properly inflicted; and he observes that you have, through the Home Secretary, expressed your deep regret for what has occurred, and that a substantial compensation has been made in the action already referred to.
"These considerations induce the Lord Chancellor to think, after much hesitation, that he will be justified in not removing, in the present instance, your name from the Commission of the Peace, but he feels it his duty to record, and to communicate to you, his grave censure of what has taken place."
That was the decision of the Lord Chancellor, and if he found that Mr. Wilberforce had admitted his error and expressed regret for it he should not be speaking now. But he did not find one word of regret from beginning to end of the correspondence. So far from that, Mr. Wilberforce entered into a defence of his conduct; and on the 3rd of March the Lord Chancellor again wrote him, stating that he had read his letter, in which he defended his conduct, and that, having done so, he saw no reason for altering the decision to which he had already come. He (Mr. Fawcett) said then that the regret which the Lord Chancellor supposed he had expressed, and which was the reason of his not removing him from the Bench, not having been expressed by Mr. Wilberforce, and there being no admission whatever of an error of judgment on his part, they had no alternative but to declare that he ought not to be allowed to remain upon the Bench. For those reasons he should support the Motion of the hon. Member for Leicester.

said, he very much regretted the manner in which the hon. Member for Leicester had brought the Motion forward, as he had mixed up with the question really at issue matters very much calculated to set one class against another, whereas, if he had confined himself to the simple facts of the case, leaving the House to draw its own conclusions from them, it was very possible he might have found a majority to support his views. The outcry against the unpaid magistracy was, he thought, a circumstance very much to be regretted, because their decisions would in general contrast not unfavourably with those of stipendiaries, and to appoint stipendiaries everywhere would throw a considerable charge on the public revenue. Having heard both sides of the case, he was bound to say he thought Mr. Wilberforce had acted in a very unseemly and injudicious manner, and he was under the strong impression that a person who could be guilty of such injudicious conduct was not fit to remain in the Commission of the Peace. No doubt, when flogging the boys he was not acting as a magistrate; but because he was a magistrate he should have been more careful how he acted. Even if the father had asked him to chastise his sons, he should have said that it was no business of his to flog the boys. He felt, under these circumstances, that Mr. Wilberforce ought not to remain on the Bench; and it was, therefore, his duty, however reluctantly, to give his vote in favour of the Motion of the hon. Member for Leicester.

said, he had no fault to find with the temperate speech of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), and he wished he could say the same of the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor). He was not there to defend Mr. Wilberforce's conduct. He never had done so, and he did not mean to do so then; but, with regard to the general body of magistrates, he did not believe that there were a set of men who discharged their duties so well or more honestly than they did, with a sincere desire to do justice; and. he did not believe—and he hoped he never should believe—that by defending the general body of the magistrates, he was attempting to screen an individual in any particular case. He would appeal to the House whether he had not on more than one occasion since he had been in office expressed his strong displeasure at certain acts done by magistrates in individual cases when brought under his notice, nor would he ever hesitate to do so. He first heard of this case a few days before a Question was put upon the Paper; but it appeared that it had been known much longer to the Agricultural Labourers' Union, who ought to have communicated the facts and made their complaint to the Secretary of State immediately they were in a position to do so. If they had been in earnest and believed they had truth and justice on their side they would have made the complaint immediately the facts came to their knowledge. He had heard that night for the first time of the attorney's letter read by the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter Barttelot).When the Notice of the Question in February last was placed upon the Paper he had to consider to whom it was best to apply for information, and he applied to the Judge of the Westminster County Court as the most independent witness for that purpose. That learned Judge was a very learned, right-minded, and straightforward person, notwithstanding the language that had been used towards him by the hon. Member for Leicester for the letter he had written, and he must say that he could not conceive any motive that learned gentleman could have for in any way misstating the facts. He also wrote to Mr. Wilberforce enclosing him a copy of the Question, his answer to which had been placed upon the Table. It was true that that letter did not in terms express any regret; but when the Question was put to him (Mr. Cross), he stated publicly that he was authorized by Mr. Wilberforce to express his deep regret for what had taken place. That gentleman called upon him about half-an-hour before the meeting of the House, and after hearing his statement he (Mr. Cross) gave him his views on the matter in a way that he was not likely to forget for some time to come, and it was then that Mr. Wilberforce expressed his regret, and gave him authority to state them to the House. The letter was immediately forwarded to the Lord Chancellor, and everything that he (Mr. Cross) knew about the matter; and he would, remind the House that Mr. Wilberforce had received in the first instance a severe rebuke from the Secretary of State and also a letter from the Lord Chancellor, which he ventured to say no gentleman in that House would like to receive. He could hardly understand a letter stronger short of dismissal than that written to him by the Lord Chancellor. Neither of them for a moment thought of defending Mr. Wilberforce's conduct in any shape or form; but they considered after that rebuke it was not absolutely necessary to go to the extreme length of removing him from the Commission of the Peace. He very much regretted the letter that was written by Mr. Wilberforce to the Lord Chancellor; but in it, although he did not express his regret for what had happened, he stated—"I have written this letter not to defend what I admit to be an error of judgment." Inquiries had been instituted as to whether any charge had been brought against him before or since; the result was that there had been no other charge against him. Therefore he did not think it necessary to trouble the Lord Chancellor further in the matter. Under the circumstances he hoped the House would be of opinion that the Lord Chancellor, acting in his judicial capacity, had exercised a wise and sound discretion in giving to Mr. Wilberforce a severe and well-deserved rebuke, and that having done so he was not bound to go further. He hoped the House would reject the Motion, and that this inquiry and discussion would act as a warning, not only to Mr. Wilberforce, but to every other magistrate.

said, he would not imitate the language of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) in what he had to say on this Motion. This was not only a grave charge against Mr. Wilberforce, but, if the Motion was carried, it would be a Vote of Censure on the Lord Chancellor, who had twice considered the subject, and if he had erred he had erred in too severely censuring Mr. Wilberforce, who had acted very unwisely in what he had done. It was a very common practice for parents to allow their children, when brought before magistrates charged with an offence, to be flogged rather than that they should be sent to prison. He was surprised that the hon. Member for Leicester, who appeared to be an eminent member of the Society for the Protection of Human Beings from Cruelty, should continue to torture a man who had received the severest reprimand which a gentleman could possibly receive from high officials. It appeared to him that the boys had not half the flogging which he had in his early days; and he believed he should never have sat in the House of Commons unless he had been so well flogged as a lad. The House would bear in mind that this case occurred in March, 1875, and he was sorry to find that the hon. Member for Leicester had, by means which he would not describe in this place, but which he would out of the House designate as "claptrap," got up a case that it might appear to-morrow in the Leicester papers; and he was sorry that the hon. Gentleman had used un-Parliamentary language towards a Home Secretary for whom hon. Members on both sides of the House entertained the greatest respect. He would advise the hon. Member in future to take counsel from the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) and bring forward his Motions in more temperate language. A more paltry, trumpery case had never been brought into the House of Commons since he had sat there, and the punishment awarded to Mr. Wilberforce had been enough, and more than enough.

said, he should vote against the Motion. Mr. Wilberforce had been already sufficiently punished. He had had to pay damages, and he had been gibbetted in the Press and in that House.

in reply, denied that he had used violent language against the unpaid magistracy, for he believed that the conduct of which he had complained was utterly repugnant to the feelings of the unpaid magistracy. Neither was it his intention to use any disrespectful or un-Parliamentary language towards the Home Secretary; and, if any such language had escaped him, he begged to apologize for it.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 19; Noes 100: Majority 81.