§ The Earl of Harrowby
begged to present a Petition to their Lordships, which he thought was entitled to their attention, coming, as it did, from able and respectable gentlemen, and couched as it was in proper and respectful terms. It was signed by the Chairman and Secretaries of the "Hunterian Society," meeting in Aldermanbury, on behalf of its several members. It set forth the great importance of the question, and that, so far back as 1828, the present Petitioners had ventured to call their Lordships' attention to it; that the state of the law loudly called for the consideration of their Lordships; that, as the law now stood, subjects could not be procured for anatomists without exposing the parties to prosecutions for misdemeanors, or prompting those parties to the commission of crimes which it was revolting to human 133 nature to reflect on; that it was quite impossible for students, surgeons, and others, to attain expertness in, and the requisite qualifications for, their professions, without having opportunities to dissect human bodies; that in consequence of the state of the law, and of particular occurrences, the obtaining of subjects had become almost impossible; that the impediments thus thrown in the way of most important studies threatened to be most serious to society: and that they therefore prayed their Lordships to institute inquiries, to ascertain whether any remedy could be applied to the evils and difficulties apprehended by the petitioners. This subject was of great importance in connexion with recent events, and he therefore wished the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack would inform him, whether his Majesty's Ministers contemplated the proposition of any inquiry, or the introduction of any measure on this subject?
The Lord Chancellor
felt it to be his duty to state, that the subject appeared to him to be one, the difficulty of which was equalled only by its importance. However, he thought, in the present excited state of the public mind, it would be as well to avoid all discussion on the subject, and that it would be especially wise to delay any legislative measure regarding it till that excitement had abated.
§ The Petition was read.
§ The Earl of Harrowby,
in moving that the petition do lie on the Table, remarked, that in presenting this petition he considered he had only performed his duty; but that, with respect to its prayer, which was for inquiry, he had no intention of originating any motion on the subject.
§ Petition to lie on the Table.