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Mrs. MARY ANN CLARKE was called in, and addressed the
Committee as follows: I feel myself so very unwell, and so very much fatigued, that it is impossible for me to be examined this evening ; I have been waiting here eight hours, and I am quite exhausted with the fatigue; my feels ings have been very much harassed during the time.
[The Witness was directed to withdraw. [The Witness was again called in.) [The Chairman informed Mrs. Clarke, that it was the pleasure
of the Coinmittee that her examination should proceed, and that a chair should be provided for her accommodation.
(.Urs. Clarke.) The chair will not take the fatigue off my mind.
[The witness was directed to withdraw. Mr Yorke said, that unless the witness was examined that evening, she would have such opportunities to communicate with the other witnesses, that he thought, if it were in the power of the house, she ought to be commita ted to the custody of the Serjeant at Arms, with orders to deny her access to any person whatever.' It was of the greatest consequence that either the one or the other of these plans should be adopted; and he thought the wit. ness should be called in, and have the option given her.
Mr TVilliam Wynne doubted whether such an order as that proposed could be given, till the House was resumed, and that therefore till then the Chairman could not make the communication.
Mr. Rose agreed with the last gentleman ;-but Mr. Yorke though there might be precedents of the Committee's making such an order.
The Speaker was not aware of any such precedent; but said that the house had full authority to act as emergencies might require. There had not been an examination like the present since the reign of Queen Anne, and therefure if there were any precedent upon the subject, it might be too ancient for the house to act upon.
Mr. Sheridan ibought, that if the witness were examined in an ill state of health, she might afterwards say, that her answers were not such as her more fresh and vi. gorous mind might have suggested. He deprecated the idea of locking her up in solitude in a strange place,
and because she was excused from examination. He did not see why all the other witnesses should not be confined in the same way; and thought, that to single her out might look like the effect of party. The Committee would recollect, too, that to-morrow was the Fast-day, and that it was not unlikely she might remain in confinement till next Friday. She had already, too, had ample time to have made any communication with the last witness but one ; and the first question the right honourable gentleman should have asked her would have been, had she had any conversation with Mr. Dowler since he had been ex, amined. The right honourable gentleman thought that the measure of her commitment would be harsh and unreasonable.
Mr. Wardle produced the note he had received from Mrs. Clarke, before she had entered the doors of the house that evening, which ran as follows:Clarke very much wishes to see you, as she feels herself extremely indisposed."
Mr. Croker thought that a communication between the witnesses might have taken place, and that it was absolutely necessary to examine Mrs. Clarke that evening.
Mr. Adam said, that in a cause of so great importance, and in the conduct of which the eyes of the nation were fixed on the committee, the committee ought to be guided by their soundest discretion, and that that discretion ought to take into consideration, in a proper degree, the public opinion. If the evidence of the witness in ques- . tion ought not to be influenced by communications witli other witnesses, so it ought not to be given under a state of mind, to the productions of which she might afterwards object. The Committee were therefore in this di. lemma; and as they could not accomplish their desire of preserving her from communication, the honourable and learned member thought that the committee had better postpone her examination, and allow the fact of her intercourse with other witnesses to go to her general credit; and it would affect the whole of her testimony.
Mr. Canning agreed with the honourable and learned gentleman as to the difficulty under which the committee Jaboured; but thought that one or two questions, as to the fact of her communication with other witnesses, might still be asked her to-night; and these might be made so short as not to affect the most delicate state of health and
spirits. If these questions were not put now, the committee would recollect there were other modes than personal communication, through which the witness might learn the proceedings of the house.
Mr. Whitbread could not see any reason for asking the questions now in preference to any other time, nor what end could be answered by it. He cautioned the commit. tee against any hasty determination upon the evidence before them; and thought an attendance on the house of eight hours a sufficient plea for the illness of any woman.
WILLIAM DOWLER, Esq. was again called in, and examined by
the Committee, as follows: Since you quitted this bar, have you had any communication with Mrs. Clarke ? Only to offer her refreshment, as she is very unwell; 1 procured a glass of wine and water for lær, which I put beside ber.
Have you communicated to her the substance of what passed here during your examination ? No.
How long were you in the room with Mrs. Clarke ? I imagine five or ten minutes :the gentlemen withdrew from the room for some time, and I was absent at the time: I was in the room perhaps five or ten minutes.
Did you give Mrs. Clarke any intimation whatever of what had passed in this House? She asked me the names of the gentlemen by whom I had been examined; and I answered that I did not know them.
What other persons were present in the room? The whole of the witnesses, I believe; she was unwell, and several gentlemen gathered round her, and asked her whether she would take refreshment.
How many witnesses are there attending ? When I say all the wit, nesses, I suppose there were eight or nine in the room, I cannot speaks positively.
Were you apprised that you ought not to have any communication
[The Witness was directed to withdraw.
leave to sit again.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9.
List of Witnesses examined.
W. STURGES BOURNE, Esq. (a Member.)
Mr. WHARTON in the Chair.
Mr. Wardle moved the order of the day for the house to resolve itself into a committee for further inquiry into the conduct of his Royal llighness the Duke of York.
Mr. Forke wished, previously to the house resolving into a committee, to explain the grounds of his recommendation, on a former night, that a witness should be detained in the custody of the Sergeant at Arms, to prevent communication with other witnesses already examined, or to be examined, on a subject of so much import
The right honourable the Speaker had, on that occasion, given bis opinion upon the subject, in opposition to what he felt it his own duty to propose ; and he now thought the house acted wisely in following that opinion. What he himself had proposed he conceived to be founded on parliamentary usage, although he then spoke generally, without being able at the moment to refer to particular precedents. He had since, however, made more minute research; and although gentlemen seemed before to think he recommended something which was novel in parliamentary proceedings upon such cases, he was now enabled to refer them to precedents upon the journals of the house, and in times to which the house had been in the habit of looking up with veneration, namely, those shortly subsequent to the Brunswick accession. He then moved, that the clerk might refer to the 18th volume of the journals, and the proceedings which took place from the 121h to the 17th June 1715, from which it appeared, that the house, on the representation of Mr. Walpole, chairman of a secret committee then sitting, had deemed it proper to order that Mathew Prior, Thomas Hardy, and several other persons, should be taken into close custody of the Sergeant at Arms, and there detained during the pleasure of the house, in rder to prevent them from withdrawing themselves, and to secure their evidence before the secret committee, touching the matters then under inquiry. And the said Mathew Prior having refused to be examined before the sail secret committee, he was ordered to be detained in close custody; and a petition baving been presented by Mr. Prior to the house, complaining of the hardship of such detention, no order was made upon it until the 20th of September following. The next precedent to which he would refer the house for proof of wbat their ancestors 'had done in similar cases, was in the 21st volume of the journals, on 15th February, 1731, when the house had ordered a number of persons to be taken into close custody, who, it was apprehended, were about to withdraw themselves from giving testimony. The necessity of such proceedings, however, must always de. pend uporr circum tances : the house must in its own discretion judye whether, under those of the present case, it was eligible to follow the precedents he had stated : at all events hc hoped he had shewn that his proposition was not unparliamentary.