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The Prince Regents Message

4th July 1812

On Saturday a Message was sent from the Prince Regent to both Houses of Parliament, stating, that he had ordered to be laid before them copies of the Information received by his Majesty's Government relative to violent and dangerous proceedings which had taken place in certain counties, and inviting both Houses to adopt such measures as might be necessary to secure the lives and property of the peaceable and loyal inhabitants of the disturbed districts, and to restore order and tranquillity. On Monday the Documents referred to in the preceding Message were laid before Parliament —they were enclosed in a green bag and sealed up— and on the same day an Address of both Houses was voted to the Regent, thanking the Prince for his gracious Message, and assuring him that they would immediately proceed to the adoption of such measures as appeared calculated to restore tranquillity and order. A Secret Committee was then formed in both Houses, to whom was entrusted the examination of the sealed papers, and who were empowered to send for such persons or papers as they might judge necessary. It may be proper here to remark, that the Committee, though nominally chosen by ballot, was in reality constituted by the Ministers, as the list of the Members chosen by ballot exactly agreed with that which was previously handed about in the Ministerial circles. Administration have not yet stated any outline of the measures they intend to submit to the consideration of Parliament, but it is generally feared, that they intend to propose either the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, or the establishment of something very much approaching to Military Law. We trust, however, that so alarming an innovation upon the rights and the liberties of the people, will not, at present, be resorted to. The evil complained of, though sufficiently alarming, is not of that magnitude as to require or justify the placing of so great a power in the hands of the Crown, or rather in the hands of the Ministers and their adherents; a power so liable to be abused, and the abuse of which may produce evils more dangerous and alarming than those it is intended to remedy.

This reasoning acquires additional strength, from the consideration, that the outrages which this measure is intended to prevent, are on the decline, and have, of late, seemed rather the operations of a band of common robbers, than the result of any plan connected either with the professed object of the Luddites, (as they are termed) or with any political object, and the future depredations of which might be prevented, by the establishment of a vigilant police, aided occasionally by small parties of military. And we trust, that when the full effect of the repeal of the Orders in Council is felt, there will not be left even a vestige of the outrages which have been so long and so justly complained of. We make this observation, of course, without any precise knowledge of the in- formation which Ministers may have upon the subject, but it may fairly be presumed, that if it is very important, they would not have been so tardy in laying it before Parliament.

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