HC Deb 09 April 1807 vol 9 cc284-349
Mr. Brand rose

for the purpose of bringing forward his promised motion, and addressed the house as follows:—I rise, sir, to submit to the house a few observations on a subject of great national importance, and involving in it questions of the most serious constitutional consideration. And in doing so, sir, I cannot help expressing my sincere regret that a duty of such moment had not devolved upon some member more competent to discharge it than the humble individual who in his zeal for the constitution, was heedless of the difficulties his inferiority must in such an undertaking have to contend against. But, sir, however inadequate I may prove, I have to conjure the house not to attribute the feebleness of the advocate to the weakness of the cause, but rather be disposed to conclude that, as a becoming sense of the greatness of the question and of the tribunal fills me with dismay, so should the indulgence of this house contribute to remove it. Sir, I could have wished to have staid those foul calumnies that presumed with equal ignorance and malice to prejudge and to condemn the motives that influenced the conduct of his majesty's late servants, so far as that conduct related to the unfortunate misunderstanding that led to their dismissal; and this, sir, not upon the principle of preferring any one ministry, or of adhering to any one party, but upon the great and unshaken conviction, that the unrestricted pro- pagation of such slanders, however gross or false, tend in an alarming degree to vitiate the public mind, and thus to assail political integrity in its very source; for they have but empty notions of our greatness as a people, who do not understand that public virtue is national security. I repeat, therefore, sir, that I wish such slanders had been staid, at least until the ingenuous, manly, and luminous statement of the noble lord (Howick) had gone abroad, and rendered them contemptible and harmless. Sir, that statement enabled me to form a clear and satisfactory opinion of the conduct of the late ministers, immediately previous to their departure from power; and, as I consider the question upon that part of their conduct as involving great constitutional principles, I have foregone my original intention of going at large into the general merits of their administration; and shall confine myself to a brief consideration of that conduct which has been the subject of so much discussion and to the principles by which it appears to have been regulated. I presume then, sir, I will not be thought to have stated a very hazardous proposition, when I assert, that if the law has taken responsibility from the executive, it has secured the people by attaching that responsibility to the servants of the crown Independent then of all constitutional considerations, I would ask, is it consistent with common sense or common justice to exact a written pledge restrictive of the free exercise of judgment, from those men who are alone to be responsible? Is it reasonable to expect that men should pledge themselves to act contrary to the dictates of their own judgment, when they only can suffer and be punished for that conduct of which they disapprove? But sir, when considered in a constitutional point of view, the question is only less absurd, because it is more alarming. If the crown is not responsible, and if the servants of the crown are allowed to pledge themselves to the executive, what becomes of that responsibility which is in itself the best preservative of the constitution. If the king is not responsible by law, and his ministers are not responsible by virtue of certain initiatory pledges, I would ask, where is the people's security against the evils of bad go ernment? Far be it from me to question the exercise of the prerogative; the king has an undoubted right to appoint his own servants, to select his own counsellors, to advance his ministers to dignities, or to dismiss them from his service—but I maintain that the king has not a right to restrict the range of their advice, or to controul the free exercise of their judgments. Honest men. who truly understood the public good, who were loyal to their king, and just to their country, could not listen for a moment to any pledge that when to restrain them from offering such advice as they from time to time might in their consciences think it necessary to propose. But such men were not to be compared with those political adventurers who, in their eager pursuit of power and emolument, were not ashamed, while they pledged themselves to the crown, to proffer their invalid s[...]ecurity to a deluded people. Sir, upon the responsibility of the king's servants there can be, in the house, but one opinion, and though I do not at all think it necessary to obtrude longer upon your valuable time, by attempting to demonstrate constitutional principles that may be so justly termed axiomatic; yet, when I consider how intimately the sacred duty of a privy counsellor is involved in the present question, I cannot abstain, taking it in this point of view, from submitting to you one further observation. The duty of a privy counsellor, as stated by Lord Coke, requires him to advise "generally in all things that may be to the king's honour and behoof, and to the good of his realms, lordships and subjects, without partiality or exception of persons, not leaving or eschewing so to do for affection, love, meed, doubt, or dread of any person or persons." This, sir, in my humble opinion, brings the question within the narrowest compass. Could the late ministers, consistently with the oath they had taken as privy counsellors, have subscribed the pledge required of them? Here, then, sir, will I leave it to the house. I shall not now enter into a detail of the conduct of the late administration; in my review of it, I find nothing to censure, and much to applaud. It is not for me, sir, to remind this house of their services; it is not for me to tell this house that that administration, in the hour of their dismissal, possessed the entire confidence of parliament, I have now, sir, only to thank the house for their indulgence, and to move "That it is contrary to the first duties of the confidential servants of the crown, to restrain themselves by any pledge expressed or implied, from offering to the king any advice which the course of circumstances may render necessary for the welfare and security of any part of his majesty's extensive empire."

Mr. Lambe rose

to second the motion of his hon. friend, from which at no time could he refuse to withhold his support; but which at the present moment he thought a question of vital importance to the constitution; and had his speech even been less clear, eloquent, and satisfactory, he (Mr L.) should not have ventured to obtrude at length upon the indulgence of the house: for though the subject was of the first magnitude, yet he thought the spirit of the question lay within a very narrow compass. The rumours of an intended change of administration, and which so much agitated the public mind, he for one most deeply lamented to find realized; more especially as their dismissal was said to be in consequence of their declining to abdicate a right, or rather a duty, so important as that of advising their sovereign in all public matters to the best of their judgment and consciences. He was seriously concerned to see removed from the councils of their sovereign, the men who were such able props to the constitution, at a moment when their services were so necessary and he thought that the house would be wanting to its own dignity, if it deferred to express its opinion upon such a subject. He was glad, however, that the period of adjournment gave the house time to reflect calmly and deliberately upon the subject; to impress them with the necessity of adopting some resolution, expressive of their sentiments; and he therefore trusted, the one now proposed by his hon. friend, would be carried by a larger majority, and be adopted in a more decided manner, than any question which had ever been brought before that house. The constitution of this realm required that the king in exercising the functions of government, should take the advice of the two great councils of the nation, the houses of lords and commons. but the slow progress as well as publicity of their deliberations would, in many instances, destroy that secrecy, and interfere with that promptitude and dispatch, so often necessary to the success of the measures of the government. It had been adopted as a principle coeval with the constitution, that the right and duty of both houses to advise the sovereign, might be deputed to a selection from the members of both houses, chosen by his majesty as his privy councillors, by whose advice every act of the government was supposed to be guided; and thus, as far as was possible in a human institution, to give to the free government of England all the advantages of secrecy and dispatch which belong an ar- bitrary monarchy. But what surety did the country possess, that this duty would be honestly performed by those men who could restrain themselves by a pledge to withhold their advice from his majesty, upon any occasion, however important or indispensable to the security of his majesty's dominions? What security had the country against such men giving their sovereign the worst advice, or how could the people be secure of their liberties, under the government of men, who, for the sake of possessing power, could violate their duty to their sovereign, break their oaths as privy councillors, and risk their responsibility as ministers? By such men, mischievous measures might be advised, which the wisdom of parliament could never repair; indeed, neither parliament nor the country could place any reliance on men who could pledge themselves to withhold the salutary advice tram their sovereign, which they were bound by their oaths and their duties, in all cases to give Sir Edward Coke had said, that, in the quaint language of the times, it was the wish of one of the greatest tyrants that had ever sat upon the throne of England, Henry VIII. that his privy councillors should leave all simulation and dissimulation at the porter's lodge, when they came to council. In his remark upon this, he had said, that the truth and the whole truth alone should reach the royal ear. But what was to be the security of the people of this country, if the doctrines now broached should be established? The country and the parliament might say to themselves, that his majesty's ministers were carrying on their measures for reasons known to them, but which they could not divulge consistently with their oaths as privy councillors What, however, would be the fact? ministers might be doing that which they knew to be wrong, and omitting that which they knew to be right, because, by their pledge, they would have tied up their hands and their tongues, and not be in possession of the means of fulfilling their duty, or complying with their oaths. On this ground he supported the resolution. If such a doctrine as that of the pledge required were to be allowed to pass, or to be sanctioned, the constitution would be at an end. ministers might be men of rank and talents, but by signing such a pledge, they would resign their duty as honest counsellors of the crown; and if the house were to sit silent on such a question, it would abandon that constitution which it was its pride, its duty, and its glory to maintain, to preserve, and to defend.

General Craufurd

said, I rise, sir, with all that diffidence which a person naturally feels when he offers himself for the first time to the notice of so august an assembly as this, and that diffidence is extremely increased by a consciousness of my inability to do justice to a subject of such importance as that now before the house. But, sir, on this most momentous occasion, it is impossible for me to give a silent vote; and I am particularly desirous of explaining the motives which lead me now to differ from his majesty's late ministers with whom I used to act, and for many of whom I have long entertained the highest respect and esteem. I flatter myself, therefore, sir, that I shall experience that indulgence which the house is in the habit of extending with so much liberality to new speakers, and I will make the only return in my power, by trespassing as little on their time as possible. The present motion, sir, differs most widely from the notice that was given of it, and it contains an abstract proposition which cannot be discussed to any useful purpose, separately from its application; it has arisen immediately out of the late change in his majesty's councils. Though quite abstract in appearance, it has undoubtedly a retrospective view in this instance, and we must take it back to its source, and couple it with the causes that led to the removal of his majesty's late ministers from office, before we can properly entertain the discussion; we must not be led sway by an abstract theory from the real, though disguised object of the present motion. It is not my intention, sir, to enter upon the catholic question in general. I feel myself quite unequal to the discussion of a subject of such magnitude; I leave it therefore, in the hands of those who are far more able to do justice to it, and duly to appreciate its merits than I am, and I shall confine myself strictly to the motion before the house, and to the consideration of that part of the conduct of his majesty's late ministers, which immediately occasioned their removal from office, and which I hold to be so closely connected with that motion, as not to admit of separation. Before I enter upon this consideration, I must beg leave, sir, to make one or two preliminary observations, from which I think there can be but few dissentient voices; namely, that adverting to the deep-rooted and most conscientious scruples which have been long known to exist in the royal mind, with respect to the removal of those disabilities to which the Roman catholics are now subject; scruples that have the most religious, and I must say, the most constitutional foundation, because they arise from the most sacred doubts, as well as to the admissibility, in a religious sense, of giving such extensive latitude to the coronation oath, as in a political sense, of deviating so widely from the fundamental principles of the constitution, and from doubts too of the expediency of the measure, in immediate relation to the welfare and liberties of the empire in general, for which his majesty has, invariably, during the course of a very long reign, evinced the utmost paternal solicitude. Adverting, I say, to these circumstances, the subject of removing catholic disabilities never, in my opinion, should be brought before his majesty without the most indispensable necessity, an urgency so irresistible as absolutely to involve the safety of the empire. My next observation, sir, is, that in the supposition of such an extreme case, when it might appear quite indispensable to submit the subject to his majesty's consideration, it behoves those who may then be the advisers of the crown, to take the utmost pains to explain the matter most fully, to place it in all its views, to shew all its bearings and possible consequences, and to provoke such a deliberation upon it in the royal mind, as entirely to obviate the possibility of misconception, to make it clear beyond all possibility of doubt, that the king is completely aware of the full extent of the measure to which his consent is asked; and afterwards, if any unforeseen circumstances arise, to make an extension of the originally proposed measure necessary, another discussion and explanation equally ample and accurate, and detailed with the first, should be resorted to, in order most carefully to prevent an misunderstanding from this variation From the principles arising out of the observations, I think there can scarcely any dissent, and I shall now proceed examine how far his majesty's late minis[...]ters have been governed by them, strictly as I think they ought to have bee His majesty's late ministers, sir, inform that they considered it, after mature de. beration, to be absolutely necessary to d[...]e something in order to allay the fermentation which appeared to exist in the minds of the Irish Roman catholics; and they determined, in consequence, to request that his majesty would allow them to pro- pose to parliament the extension of the provisions of the Irish act of 1793 to the rest of the empire, and thus to make that law in England, which at present is law in Ireland. Much has been said, sir, of the injustice, the absurdity, the great inconvenience and mischief of allowing that anomaly to continue, which arises from the act of 1793 not having operation beyond the limits of Ireland. But, sir, in my opinion, this is much more speculative than real, much more theoretical than practical. No case appears to me to have been clearly made out, of such inconvenience and mischief, though this direful, terrific anomaly has so long existed; therefore, I think the correction of it not of so much importance as has been represented. His majesty's late ministers, however, thought, otherwise, and acted upon that opinion. After much discussion, his majesty was at last prevailed upon to give his reluctant assent to the proposed measure. It is not denied that the consent was positive; but it is equally certain that it was most reluctant. Now, sir, whence did this reluctance arise? Undoubtedly not from any disinclination on the part of his majesty to dispense justice throughout this empire, with the most extended, most liberal, and most impartial hand, certainly not from any want of paternal solicitude of the tenderest nature for the universal welfare, prosperity, tranquillity, and happiness of his subjects. The whole of his majesty's most benignant reign, from the first hour of it, to the present, has been one great uninterrupted proof of the contrary. But, sir, I conceive this reluctance chiefly to have arisen from a conviction that the measure was not necessary, as the inconvenience arising from the anomaly was much more speculative than real, and that infinite practical mischief might probably ensue from agitating the question of the catholic disabilities at all, because it might give rise to pretensions and claims which his majesty would find it his indispensable constitutional duty to resist. This reluctant consent being obtained, the next step was to send a dispatch on the subject, to the lord lieutenant of Ireland. Now, sir, if there can exist one case which, above all others, requires that the utmost pains should be taken to make the communication relative to it clear, explicit, and unequivocal beyond all possibility of misconstruction, it certainly was the present. I say, sir, that it behoved ministers to be more careful in wording this dispatch than any other, so that it might admit of only one possible interpretation. It was their bounden duty to take care that the dispatch kept exactly within the limits of his majesty's consent. This for the most obvious reason, any misinterpretation of it being pregnant with consequences so much to be deprecated. But, sir, instead of this, it seems that the expression of laying open "all commissions whatever," was made use of. This was certainly not illustrative of the provisions of the act of 1793, to which alone the king had consented; and how to account for such a great inaccuracy being committed by such able men, by men so versed in business, I must leave to the house to determine; I cannot. The next step we come to is, the noble viscount's notice of a motion for leave to add some clauses to the mutiny bill. In the wording of this notice, we find the expression laying open "certain commissions." This expression is, sir, in exact conformity to the bill of 1793, and consequently to his majesty's consent, but differs totally from the dispatch above alluded to, though that dispatch ought to have been literally expressive of the king's consent to his ministers proposing to this house that the Irish bill of 1793 should have force of law in the rest of the empire. The king's consent went no further; the dispatch went a great deal further; the one was limited, the other unlimited. When this dispatch was read to the committee of Irish catholics, in Dublin, they naturally caught hold of the expression, "all commissions whatever," which produced the only effect it could produce, namely, their raising at once in their minds the most sanguine expectations. But still, sir, such was their astonishment at the king's having at once given up the opinions and principles of his whole life, which had hitherto appeared to be too firmly fixed ever to be eradicated or shaken; so astonished were they at this sweeping removal of such an important and extensive portion of their disabilities, that they could hardly believe it, though the expression seemed only to admit of one interpretation, and they signify their wish for a further explanation, from the lord lieutenant. A communication to this effect arrives from the lord lieutenant. This communication, with the draft of a dispatch in answer, admitting that interpretation of the former dispatch which was put upon it by the Catholics, is sent down to his majesty at Windsor by an ordi- nary messenger, without any great pains, I understand, being taken to draw the royal attention to the novelty of the case; in short, with just as little ceremony as if it were an ordinary dispatch to a foreign minister. Now, sir, as a new case had arisen entirely different from the former, did it not behove his majesty's ministers immediately to bring on the most unequivocal explanation? Did it not behove them to state to the king that it was quite another thing to which his consent was now required? That he had originally acceded to a limited removal of restraints, but that this went to an unlimited one? If it were judged necessary in the first instance, as I understand it was, to send a cabinet minister to explain the subject to the king, was it not ten thousand times more necessary to do so now? At first, his majesty was only asked to agree to that being law in England which had long been so in Ireland; but the new proposal was to make that law now, which had never been so before in any part of the empire. The first went to laying open to the Catholics commissions from the rank of colonel downwards; this, to placing them in the command of armies. But, sir, though the personal intercession, and verbal explanation and discussion of a cabinet minister was judged necessary in the case of minor importance, a written document, sent by a common messenger, was thought sufficient, when the superior importance of the case was beyond the reach of comparison. This dispatch is returned from Windsor without any comment. What was the natural inference from this circumstance? Was it not that either his majesty did not exactly see the extent of the measure, or that he reserved his objections for a personal interview with his ministers? Could it rationally be supposed, when so much difficulty had been found in obtaining his majesty's consent to the original limited measure, to the mere correction of a legal anomaly, that upon so slight au explanation the king would at once give up those scruples, which I have before stated to have such a sacred and constitutional foundation? That he would at once agree to such an extensive diminution of the Catholics' disabilities, though he had always held it unwise to do so in a political sense, and impossible to do so in a religious sense? Could it rationally be supposed that the distinction between religious toleration and political power, which the king had so steadily adhered to, would at once be done away? Or did ministers think that a miracle had been worked upon the royal mind in their favour? Most certainly they could not attribute this wonderful change to the effect of their wisdom in argument, or the influence of their persuasive eloquence, for it does not appear that, upon this most important occasion, they had taken much pains to exert either. Would it not then have been wise, assuredly it would have been more decorous to have delayed sending the dispatch to Ireland till an opportunity occurred of having an audience of his majesty, when a verbal explanation on the subject might take place? But, no, sir, the dispatch is sent away immediately. His majesty comes to London very soon, and at the first interview with his ministers, upon the nature of the intended bill being explained to him, he gives the measure his most decided disapprobation. But, says the noble viscount, I did not understand this disapprobation as a refusal of consent, at least not as amounting to a retractation of the original consent? No! most certainly not a retractation of the original consent. His majesty has too just a value for his personal honour, and that of the crown, not to adhere most strictly to his word. But to what was this original consent given? Was it not to the correction of the anomaly arising out of the bill of 1793 not having operation in the rest of the empire, and to that alone? Had his majesty ever consented to this new measure? Certainly not; and of course it does not require much force of argument to prove, that no retractation of consent can take place where no consent has been given. His majesty [...]had agreed to make the provisions of the act of 1723 common to the whole empire. To this he adheres; but upon the new bill opening the command of armies and fleets to the Catholics, he pronounces his most decided disapprobation. By what rule the consent obtained to the original measure can be made to apply to the new one, which is so totally different, I cannot conceive. It was reserved for the noble viscount to discover that disapprobation means consent, and that the expression of all commissions whatever, means certain commissions. For him it was reserved to assimilate things that till now were considered as so dissimilar, to approach almost to the character of synonymous, terms which till now have appeared so opposite. Well, sir, the noble viscount armed with this disap- proving consent, brings this famous bill into the house: and his majesty, a few days afterwards, finding that, notwithstanding the pains he took to express his unequivocal disapprobation of the intended new measure, this disapprobation, by a most strained construction, had been taken to mean consent, is reduced to the disagreeable necessity of stating positively to his ministers, that if they do not cease to countenance this bill which goes to do away in so great an extent one of the leading fundamental principles of our Constitution, to which he never had consented, and never can consent, he will be under the painful necessity of desiring them to retire from his service.—The king, I am quite convinced, did not attempt upon this occasion, nor ever has he attempted on any other, to exert his influence over his ministers, in their individual capacity as members of parliament. His majesty has too accurate a knowledge of the British constitution, and is too faithful a guardian of it, to attempt any such thing. No, sir, he only said, you must either withdraw your countenance from the bill, or yourselves from your offices. The ministers upon this determine to withdraw the bill; and here the matter might have rested. For, notwithstanding that the king had so much reason to be dissatisfied with the conduct of his ministers in bringing forward a measure of this nature, without his consent to it being most unequivocally obtained; still, sir, the king was desirous of retaining them in office; and here, I say, the matter might have rested. But no, sir! the ministers propose their sovereign stipulations, which it was impossible for him constitutionally to consent to. Yes, sir; I do insist upon it, and I will prove it by argument, that the sovereign of this empire could not consent to these stipulations, with a due regard to the principles of our constitution. That part of the stipulations, which went to reserving to ministers a right of giving generally such advice to his majesty as the circumstances of the empire might appear to them from time to time to justify and to demand, was quite unnecessary at least, because their right as privy counsellors, and as the confidential advisers of the crown, remained unimpaired: it remained just as perfect as before they consented to withdraw their support from the bill. What good purpose, then, could such a stipulation answer? It only went to the constitu- tional right of giving their advice as long is they remained in office, and that had never been disputed. Therefore, sir, I must always think this part of the condition attempted to be imposed, quite nugatory and vexatious. But now we come to a part, sir, to which I must beg to call the whole, undivided attention of the house. They proceed to stipulate that they may have a right, whilst acting as the ministers of the crown, to go to parliament clothed with all the Consequence, consideration, and influence naturally arising from their official situations, and support, by their speeches, a measure against which they know that their sovereign has the most decided objection. Not an objection lightly or hastily taken up, but one formed upon the most mature deliberation, and after having heard the subject discussed before him for years by the most able men, and after it had frequently undergone the most ample and elaborate investigation in both houses of parliament. This stipulation, I must say, sir, was most unconstitutional: it struck immediately at that very important precaution against the too frequent exercise of that part of the royal prerogative which ought, for the most obvious reasons, to be as rare as possible, namely, the negative of the crown upon a measure which had received the sanction of both houses of parliament. This precaution I consider, sir, as arising from a most wise practice which has generally obtained ever since our present constitution took a settled form, of the ministers of the crown not supporting in parliament a measure, to which, after repeated discussions of the subject had taken place in parliament, and in that committee of the privy council called the cabinet, they knew the crown to have the most insuperable objections. Now, sir, though this is not a written part, still it has become by prescription, and certainly from every possible consideration it deserves to be as much an inherent principle of our constitution, as any other, and it is absolutely necessary towards rendering extremely rare, if not entirely obviating, those contentions between the crown and the parliament so much to be deprecated, as pregnant with the most serious danger to the welfare, happiness, and liberties of the empire. His majesty, sir, as a faithful guardian of our admirable constitution in all its purity, which he has ever shewn himself to be, and acting up to that anxious solicitude for the rights of his subjects, which on every opportunity he has invariably evinced, I do insist upon it, could not possibly consent to this most unconstitutional stipulation. I have been quite astonished to see it advanced in support of this condition, that upon many other occasions the ministers of the crown still retaining those situations, have acted as individual members of parliament in abetting great and important measures, that were not introduced into the house with the implied assent of the crown, and to see the instances of the question of parliamentary reform and the slavetrade adduced, to maintain this argument. Now, sir, can any member of this house, or any man in the world, seriously say, that those two cases and the present are analogous? The analogy at least is so distant as not to be admissible in support of any argument attempted to be founded upon it. To those questions, sir, I never heard that his majesty had expressed his decided disapprobation. Indeed I do not at all know exactly how his majesty felt disposed upon them; but of this I am convinced, that his objections against them, if any, were never so strong as not to be got over by the advice of his parliament, and that the royal negative would never have been resorted to upon those two subjects. This, I believe, was generally understood. But what was the case in this present instance? Here was a measure proposed of the very highest importance, not merely correcting a supposed defect, leaving the principle entire, but tearing up by the root a fundamental principle of the constitution; a measure, too, against which, as I have frequently said before, the crown was known to have so decided an objection, taken up on the most deliberate consideration of the subject for years, that it was morally certain the royal negative would be applied to it if it should pass both houses of parliament. If this does not mark the wildest distinction, I do not know what that term means. Almost upon every possible occasion, I am persuaded, that his majesty would sacrifice his own opinion to that of both houses of parliament deliberately expressed: but there are certain subjects which, more particularly than others, involve the great leading fundamental principles of the constitution. On these the crown is bound to exercise its own judgement, and support its own opinion, not rashly, but with due examination of the subject and mature reflection; even if this opinion should be contrary to that of both houses of parliament; otherwise, that essential branch of the legislature would be neglectful of the first duty which it owes to the country, namely, that of supporting the constitution to the best of its judgement. The crown would become a cypher, a mere dead letter of the constitution, and our legislature would no longer consist of king, lords, and commons; but lords and commons only. And further, if the confidential and responsible servants of the crown entertain a different opinion from the crown on these supposed occasions, it never can be held that the crown is obliged to subscribe to their advice, otherwise the ministers would be a branch of the legislature, and not the crown; the crown would be a mere pageant, politically defunct. I must here observe, sir, that as ministers absolutely refused to withdraw the stipulation to which I have just alluded, the king would have acted unconstitutionally in retaining them in their situations, because he could not have done so without signing a stipulation which one of the wisest principles of the constitution would not permit him to sign. The counter-condition which is said to have been afterwards demanded by his majesty from his ministers, I must think, sir, was perfectly natural, and the immediate consequence of the conduct of those ministers. Their stipulations gave rise to the other. It was certainly quite a natural feeling of the human mind to require security against the recurrence of such harassing, such afflicting attacks, from which it was well known that no advantage could arise to the country, but quite the contrary, as they would be constantly reviving the agitation of a subject, which if it cannot be agitated to any good purpose, had much better, for the most obvious reasons, lie dormant. But, sir, admitting as I do that ministers could not bind themselves by the pledge required, I must ever think that his majesty could not constitutionally admit of their stipulation, and consequently that their refusal to withdraw it could only terminate in their dismissal from office. Had they withdrawn their demand upon the crown, the pledge they complained of would have been withdrawn also; but as they refused to do so, they were virtually their own dismissers. His majesty, sir, in the whole of this proceeding has displayed the greatest forbearance, endeavouring by every means in his power to obviate the necessity of removing his late ministers; and he did not resort to that extremity, until they made it quite impossible for him to act otherwise, consistently with any regard for his constitutional duty. When I come to consider sir, the conduct of his majesty's late ministers since their removal from office, it does indeed astonish me more than I can express. This attempt, direct or indirect does not signify, it is equally an attempt. Therefore, sir, I repeat, this attempt to resist the indisputable right of the crown, this disclosure to parliament of what till now was ever considered as confined within the insurmountable limits of inviolable secrecy, this arraigning, as it were, the sovereign at the bar of parliament, to account for his constitutional exercise of the royal prerogative, is, in my mind, as reprehensible a proceeding as has occurred in this country since the Revolution; and I must say, sir, that it meets with my most unqualified condemnation. Having now, sir, discussed this most important subject with as much accuracy as my humble abilities, and total want of experience in parliament, will admit of my doing, and I am afraid quite tired the patience of the house, I must express my decided opinion, that his majesty's late ministers have not adhered so strictly to the principles which I premised, as I think they ought to have done; and though I may lament, which I sincerely do, the necessity that I am under of disapproving their conduct in this respect, as well as in many other particulars immediately connected with their late proceedings, still, sir, however repugnant it may be to my feelings to differ from those, for many of whom I have long entertained the most unfeigned esteem, and it is extremely painful, my duty is with me paramount to every other consideration, and were I to neglect the performance of it, I should forfeit that self-approbation which I value above every earthly good. In taking the part that I do, sir, I feel that I am conscientiously discharging my duty as a member of parliament. I feel that I am actuated by a just sense of what I owe of patriotism to my country, and of loyalty to my king, without the one being diminished, or the other unconstitutionally exaggerated by that extreme personal attachment which I have ever borne to the most benign, the most paternal, the best, the most patriotic of sovereigns. I feel, sir, that I am standing forward in defence of the due constitutional exercise of the prerogative of the crown against an attempted invasion, which if it were to Prevail, might ultimately cause our government to degenerate into a tyrannical oligarchy, or a factious democracy, and we might then bid adieu to that blessed constitution, the glory of England, and admiration of the world; we might then bid adieu to that enviable political existence, which is the honest pride, and forms the foundation of the conscious superiority of every Briton; we might then bid adieu to that invaluable inheritance handed down to us by such ancestors as no other people have to boast of; and we might soon be fettered by the galling despotism or tossed in the boisterous whirlwind of democratic fury. I trust, sir, that we shall avert such horrid evils, and that we shall prove by the vote of this night, that we consider the crown as now standing forward, in the most paternal, and most patriotic manner, to support the best rights of the subject, by upholding a main pillar of the constitution, the fall of which would involve the whole fabric in indiscriminate ruin. It only remains for me, sir, to say, that I shall vote most heartily against the present motion; and I must make an ample apology to the house for taking up so much of their time, which might have been much better employed than in hearing me. I cannot sit down, sir, without expressing the most grateful sense of the liberal indulgence with which the house has been so good as to honour me.

Mr. Ord ,

in the few words he had to say, should not follow the example of the hon. general, but should abstain from any discussion of the merits of the Catholic bill. Though he had supported that bill, he thought the consideration of it wholly irrelevant to the present question. He was sorry his majesty's late ministers had consented to withdraw it, but that bill did not appear to him to have any thing to do with their removal from office. It was their refusal to give a pledge not to advise his majesty upon the subject, that had caused their removal, and if they had signed that pledge, there was no disgrace and reproach which they would not have merited. Such a pledge would have made the king absolute, and removed the responsibility of his ministers. He approved of the measures of the late ministers, and sincerely regretted their removal from office. But that regret might perhaps be lighter, if they had been succeeded by men of talents or abilities. But were not their successors the dregs of a disgraced administration? Were they not the persons who had held the seals of office for a few hours, on a former occasion, in their possession, and carried them back again in acknowledgement of their own imbecility? He wished the house to consider what m[...]ight be the consequence of their administration in Ireland. If they continued tosact upon the principles of the system upon which they had come in, their measures would lead to a separation of the two countries. Such would be the cons[...]equences of the administration of those who professed to come into office as the supporters of constitutional prerogatives of the crown, and the existing establishments of the church and state.

Mr. Whitsked Keene

expressed his regret to be forced to vote on the question, but felt compelled to vote against the motion, because he thought it amounted to an issue between his majesty and his late ministers, at the bar of that house. The Catholic bill is wholly irrelevant to the question; but as it had been introduced into the discussion, he should say upon it, that though he was a friend to the most unlimited toleration, he would not consent to any grant of power to them.

Mr. Wharton

objected to the motion on two grounds; the one, the words in which it was couched; the other, the line of argument which the hon. seconder had taken. He could not compliment the hon. gent. on his discretion in intimating, that although ministers ought not to consider themselves as under the controul of the king, they ought to consider themselves as under the controul of White Boys of Ireland. The hon. gent. by whom the motion had been seconded, seemed to ground his support on the idea, that when noble lords and gentlemen were called to the councils of his majesty, they had no power to retreat, but must continue in office whether they would or not. Another point on which he opposed the motion was, that it was incompatible with the wisdom of the house to entertain the discussion of any abstract proposition whatever. Many abstract propositions might be considered incontrovertible, except when they were applied to new cases; and surely no case could be more new, than that an administration should lend its weight in parliament to measures which had not only not received the concurrence of the king, but to which his majesty had expressed an absolute repugnance. He would suppose a plain and possible case he would suppose that, many years ago, some hon. gent. had moved an abstract resolution, that in any way to restrain the commerce of his majesty's subjects would be injurious to the country, and that it was the duty of parliament to prevent such an attempt. Such a proposition would have been good abstractedly considered, and yet had not the legislature recently restrained and abolished one of the most important branches of commerce? No abstract proposition was more true, than that it was highly criminal in subjects to take up arms against the sovereign. But suppose that another king James the Second were to arise, would they not be justified in doing so? Any unconstitutional measure of the king to restore popery, would justify what would otherwise be unjustifiable. Supposing that the king might have ministers, who, by advising that papists, acknowledging the power of a foreign potentate, should be admitted to the highest offices of the state, should tacitly declare the immediate ancestors of the king usurpers; surely in that case his majesty would be perfectly right in requiring from such ministers a promise that such advice should not be repeated.

Mr. Fawkes

declared that, in his opinion, the question was simply whether or not we were any longer to adhere to the British constitution. Under all the circumstances of the case, he thought that his majesty's ministers had acted discreetly in withdrawing the Roman Catholic bill; but he must at the same time say, that in abandoning the bill, they had paid all the deference that was due to the scruples of an august personage, to whose feelings the bill was repugnant. Had they proceeded one step further, had they signed any pledge for their future conduct, had they ceased for one moment to be the unfettered advisers of their sovereign in the present state of the British empire, they would have been lost beyond all hope of redemption to all sense of decency and shame, and have acted in the most unconstitutional and unjustifiable manner. The responsibility of ministers was the security of the privileges of this country, and distinguished it from every other. If those ministers were no longer free agents, where was this responsibility to be found? If they tied themselves down to give that advice to the crown which should be only palateable to it, in what a state of danger might the country be speedily placed! He was astonished, he was terrified at the language of the present day upon this subject. Such was not the language which prevailed at the time of our great deliverer, when the great councils of the nation recommended to him to dismiss his Dutch guards, and when a refusal on his part might have reproduced those scenes which had once deluged the country with blood. The responsibility of ministers was one of the best safeguards of the constitution; and, at once destroyed, though the mace might lie on the table, still the essence of the constitution could not be said to be preserved; if the great land-marks were once gone, we should in vain look for the constitution. It was impossible to recollect the conduct of the august personage alluded to, without sentiments of gratitude and veneration; but on a question so vitally important as the present, he would not compliment away the constitution; he would not surrender that glorious inheritance which had been left to us by our ancestors, who in former times, filled these benches with so much honour to themselves and advantage to the country. He felt himself obliged to the hon. gent. who had brought forward this motion, for having afforded him an opportunity of recording his sentiments. During the short time he had had the honour of a seat in the house, he had given his feeble support to the late ministers, because he conceived they understood and pursued the interests of the country. He could not, without sentiments of gratitude, reflect upon what they had done, to lighten the burthens upon the shoulders of the people. The abolition of the slave trade was another measure which demanded his approbation. Their intentions to bring the population of Ireland and Scotland into the service; their measures of retrenchment and economy, the advantages of which were hourly felt in every department of the state; their disposition to heal the wounds of Ireland, and to conciliate the affections of that important part of the empire; all these were irresistible motives with him for giving them his support. The extraordinary change which was the subject of such general regret, would however not be unattended with some advantages. The country would learn from it, who they were among its representatives who would never abandon their own characters, or the people's rights. Though the late administration had lost their power, still they might say with the gallant Frenchman Francis I, "We have lost every thing but our honour." This was a consolation which ought and wouldsupport them. For himself, he had nothing to fear and nothing to hope from any administration. It was a matter of perfect indifference to him, by what set of men the affairs of the country were administered, so they were well administered. There was, he would admit, much shrewdness, great dexterity, and considerable talent among the present administration. But as to those great and commanding qualities which should characterize the government of a country, maintaining the pre-eminent situation that this did, they were removed from their predecessors to an incalculable distance. So thinking, he could not give them his support.

Mr. Osborn

would detain the house but for a very short time. He would leave to others who were better qualified to discuss it, the propriety of the measure, to the rash introduction of which the late ministers owed their dismissal. For himself, he was determined to give every assistance in his power to the maintenance of that constitution in church and state, in the principles of which he had been educated, and upon the religious observance of which he conceived the best security of that constitution to reside. Seeing no necessity whatever for the recognition of an abstract principle of the nature proposed, he would endeavour to get rid of it by moving, "That the other orders of the day be now read."—The original question and amendment having been read by the Speaker,

Mr. Bastard

observed, that the misconception with regard to the nature and extent of the measure brought forward by the late administration arose, as he understood, from the most imperfect explanation afforded his majesty by those ministers. He wished to know the precise grounds upon which the difference between them and an august personage arose. He never approved of the discussion of abstract propositions; and sooner than entertain that proposed by the hon. gent. who opened the debate, he would vote that the other orders of the day be now read.

Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald

said, he did not rise to consider the merits of the Catholic measure, though it was one, he confessed, of the first importance, and consequently entitled to every attention from the imperial legislature. With respect to the question immediately before the house, it was said in the course of debate, that the declaration of his majesty's ministers went the length of violating the prerogative of the crown; but surely that declaration must have been hastily read, or very much misunderstood by those who made such a statement: for his own part, he did not see any thing whether in the declaration made by the late ministers to his majesty on the catholic bill, as it had been improperly called, or in the resolution proposed that night. What was the extent of the declaration which had thus alarmed the minds of gentlemen? What, he would ask a British assembly, was its object? Merely to preserve to the servants of the crown, who were also the responsible servants of the people, the liberty of exercising their judgements in the discharge of a duty imposed on them by the solemnity of an oath. Was it for a rigid observance of this sacred obligation, that the late ministers were to be censured; was it for maintaining their character, their honour, and independence, that it was deemed proper to withdraw from them that confidence which had entrusted to them the administration of public affairs? He was certain that, on an unprejudiced consideration of this most important subject, it would be admitted that their conduct did not merit the treatment it had experienced. But did they persevere in the Catholic measure? No; for as soon as they discovered that it was extremely objectionable to the royal mind, they consented to withdraw it. A deep sense of duty and particular regard to his majesty's feelings had induced them to yield to the bent of his inclination; but after having submitted to the royal consideration this measure, which they thought of the greatest magnitude, being one, in their opinion, which involved the interest and security of the empire, and having after wards withdrawn it from deference to his majesty, what more could they have done to give satisfaction in the highest quarter? Could it be believed that a pledge had been required of them at the very moment when they had given such strong proof of their high respect for his majesty's opinion? This, however, they declined to do, because such a pledge would be, in their estimation, a departure from every honest principle, a violation of their oaths as his majesty's counsellors, and an infringement of the constitution. If they had not maintained their honour unsullied, they must surely for feit all claim to confidence, and receive what they would undoubtedly merit, public indignation and censure. This being the case with respect to the declaration of the late ministers, he would ask, whether we could, with any pro- priety, be called on to repose confidence in those who succeeded them? He did not mean to say, that his majesty's present ministers had given any such pledge as that required from the late ministers: but what was the fair inference? Unquestionably, that they were ready to do what their predecessors in office had declined. He candidly confessed that he was unwilling to place any reliance on such men, under the circumstances of the case. He did not see any ground on which they had entitled themselves to the confidence of the country, whether he considered the motives which had induced them to come into office, or whether he looked to the effect likely to be produced by such an administration. Here the question naturally suggested itself, what influence could such a change produce in Ireland? That unfortunate country was in the enjoyment of perfect tranquillity, and greatly attached to its government. If he were to refer to the sentiments of Ireland respecting the late ministers, he could not more strongly instance them than by stating the support given to them by a right hon. member (Mr. Grattan), whom he should not attempt to panegyrize. That right hon. gent. possessed the confidence of his countrymen, and he approved of those ministers. With respect to the state of Ireland generally, he was sorry to observe, that a total ignorance of it existed in England. He regretted to see, like wise, that an apathy prevailed which might lead to the worst consequences. He was aware that this topic was unpalatable to many, and indifferent to more. For this, and other reasons, he did not wish to dwell upon the subject, but he could not dismiss it without asking whether it was of any importance to this country to have the support of 4 or 5 millions of people to co-operate in the present struggle against the common enemy? [A cry of hear! hear!] Engaged as Great Britain was against the most enterprising and dangerous enemy, she had ever contended with, it must be of the utmost consequence to her to receive the support of such numbers in the moment of difficulty. The enemy was menacing the world with his numbers, and always boasting of his population: was it, then, at such a moment and under these circumstances, consistent with sound policy to damp the ardour, and repress the generous feelings, of as brave and determined a people as any in the world? He left it his duty, to submit these considerations to the house, however unpleasant they might be to any one in or out of [...]if, from th firmest conviction that the principles of exclusion would be attended with the worst effects in Ireland. On all these grounds, he heartily supported the original motion.

Sir Thomas Turton

stated, that the original proposal of ministers went no farther than to make the act of 1793 valid in England. When they departed from this intention, it was their duty to explain it to his majesty; but did they do so? Did the noble lord explain those sweeping alterations, the tendency of which was to repeal the Test laws, as far as they regarded the army and navy? As to ministers claiming any merit for having abandoned the measure, he thought they would be more entitled to the praise of consistency and the support of the house, had they persevered in it. As it was, it looked as if they meant to claim for themselves all the merit of having introduced the measure, and of casting upon their sovereign the obloquy of its rejection. What, in fact, was the nature of the pledge, as it was called, required from them? They stipulate with their sovereign, that they shall be allowed to express their sentiments fully and freely upon a particular measure, when it shall come under consideration. To this he assents, but requires, at the same time, that he shall be no more importuned on a subject which is disagreeable to him. He says, in fact, 'You may do this,—but, when you have done so, let me hear no more about it.' An allusion had been made to the conduct of king William, on a particular occasion. If the hon. gent. who made it, had carried his researches a little further, he would have found, that that great prince had been so teazed by his ministers, that he actually meditated the abdication of the throne. Gentlemen who made appeals to the house and the country, would also do well to say something in favour of the prerogative. Several allusions had been made, in the course of the debate, to the system pursued by the late ministers with respect to Ireland. Did it follow that these salutary measures were to be abandoned? If they were conciliating, if they tended to secure the peace and tranquillity of that country, that would be of itself a sufficient inducement to the present administration to walk in the same path. Some political prophecies had been uttered in the course of the evening. To such predictions he paid but little attention. He generally found, that those who pronounced them, meant to act upon them, and that, having contributed to bring about the very evil which they affected to deprecate, they then came forward and claimed merit for their political foresight. The real question before the house was, whether the sovereign was or was not to be supported in the fair exercise of his prerogative, against an aristocracy which had the presumption to endeavour to dictate to him? No one would be happier than himself to see all religious and political animosities subside; but he would not, by rash and inconsiderate speculations, hazard the edifice of the constitution. He would wish to amalgamate and identify with each other the different nations of which the empire was composed, but he would not compromise the safety of the most important part of it.

Mr. Curwen

declared, that he was not disposed to pay any fulsome compliment to his majesty's late ministers; but he sincerely thought, that, for their manly, firm, and independent conduct, relative to the pledge that had been demanded of them, they were entitled to the thanks not only of that house, but of every independent Englishman, who had the least spark of British freedom in his breast; as they had, as far as was in their power, maintained, unimpaired, a great principle in the constitution of Great Britain, namely, that the ministers of an English monarch being responsible to parliament, should not, upon any account whatever, or at any risk, agree to refrain from giving their sovereign such advice, as in their opinion was most conducive to the interest of the empire, and the liberal character of the first magistrate of an independent people. They had most virtuously resolved, that they would not [...]tie up their own hands from doing any act, or bind their consciences against giving such advice, as, in their judgment, any future circumstances might in justice demand of them to give. If the house were not to support them in such a free and manly line of conduct, they might expect, hereafter, to have ministers who would be subservient to the nod of any monarch; parliament might hereafter be disgraced, by becoming the instrument of the most base and wicked ministers, and the sovereign, instead of having the honour and the strength of being the king of a free people, who lived in their hearts, might, in future times, become the absolute monarch of a slavish and enervated people, who would not have spirit to defend their own rights, or maintain his honour.

Mr. Tuffnell

thought that the late uncalled-for change in the council of his majesty could not fail of making a deep impression onour allies, and of raising the expectation of our enemies, and this at a period when a firm reliance had been entertained on the assistance and the co-operation of Great Britain in the common cause; for, could any one assert that either at home or abroad, the slightest confidence could exist in the permanence of the present administration. The right which the crown possessed of appointing ministers, was undoubted, but it was necessary that the ministers appointed by the crown should possess the confidence of both the aristocracy and the democracy of the country. To what extent might not the principle of restraining ministers from proposing any one measure go? It might be productive of the most incalculable evils. The new administration seemed to emulate the giants, who, when they were overthrown and touched the earth, recovered their strength: for it was not long since they had doubted their power to carry on the government of the country, and since that time their attempts at opposition had been repeatedly defeated.

Mr. Fuller

contended, that this was just a question between one set of ministers and another. As to the pledge demanded by his majesty, if any minister had advised the abrogation of the Bill of Rights, or the dissolution of Magna Charta, he should like to know whether the king would not have been justified in demanding from them a promise to refrain from such advice in future, and, if their word was not to be trusted, to demand that promise in writing? Forty years ago, such advice as had been given to his majesty, would have been impeachable. He remembered the time, not 30 years since, when lord North gave up this point, and sent to Ireland 70,000 stand of arms, which had since been used in rebellion against this country. Some people said, that the late ministry had done great things. He thought the great family of which it was chiefly composed, had been always very full of theories, and no family had been better paid for their theories. By the first theory we lost America; by the second, the election act, a most contemptible court had been produced; and by the last and most fatal, the slave trade had been abolished. He insisted on it, that the Americans acquire by that measure the traffic in 170,000 hogsheads of sugar annually, 170,000 hogsheads of sugar would be annually lost to this country. He knew that the king and all the royal family almost were adverse to this measure. [Here the cry of order! order! increased considerably, and the Speaker reminded the hon. gent. that this subject had been already disposed of, and had not the least connection with the question then before the house.] The hon. member then proceeded: Very well, sir; I may not perhaps be perfectly in order; but this much I will say, that I entirely disagree with the hon. member who has made the motion now before you, and disapprove of all that has since then been urged in support of it.

Mr. Plunkett (attorney-general for Ireland)

considered this question as important in the abstract; but tenfold more imperious when viewed in connection with the late measure which was supposed to lead to the dismissal of his majesty's servants. The hon. baronet (sir T. Turton), who had spoken, had asserted, that the resolution went to attach blame to his majesty. He was most anxious to deliver himself, and those who concurred in opinion with him, from such an imputation; for he had, the highest respect for his majesty, and believed him to be utterly incapable of doing any thing of himself which was not called for by the interests of his people; and, therefore, those who had secretly advised him, had done a double injury; first, in inducing his majesty to believe that he was acting contrary to the interests of his people; and next, in persuading him to demand an unconstitutional pledge. Those who had led the Father of his People to believe that such a pledge was proper to be demanded, and who persuaded him that the Protestant establishment was in danger, had taken upon themselves the responsibility. The house had yet to learn how the Protestant establishment was endangered. He would keep that point in view in what he had to say, for as he was firmly persuaded that the safety of the empire depended on our connection with Ireland, so, he was convinced, that our salvation depended no less upon the stability of our Protestant establishment; and therefore he was an enemy to every thing that could have a tendency to injure that establishment. If there were grounds for apprehension on that score, nothing could be more proper than to ring an alarm on the subject; but, on the other hand, nothing could be a greater crime than to ring such an alarm when there were no real grounds for it.—He would not say that they who rung this religious alarm, asserted what they knew to be false; but he must say that they shewed a want of discretion which completely proved their incapacity to hold the reins of government. In answer to this clamour, it might be sufficient for him to say, that the measure had been abandoned; but he wished shortly to call the attention of the house to the measure of 1793, because he apprehended the extent of it was not well understood. The measure did not merely apply to Irish catholics, but to all Catholics, who might exercise their commissions in Ireland. By the act of union there was no separate establishment for Ireland, either in the army or navy, and therefore by the existing law after the union, it was competent for any catholic in Ireland to hold any commission in the army except that of general on the staff, and in the navy any commission whatever. The addresses therefore which had been attempted to be procured, were contrary to the existing law. Where was the danger stated to be imminent? In Ireland: and yet there where the danger was said to be most pressing, powers were granted to the Catholics which it was not thought fit to allow them in any other place. The alarm was rung through the country; and if it had been confined to placards on the walls, pointing out the terrors of the Pope and the dreadful evils of popery; if it had been confined to the introduction of choruses into concerts of ancient music, and the singing of catches and glees in favour of the constitution in church and state, the matter might have been passed over. But no one serious thing had been attempted. The peace of the University of Dublin had been disturbed by a person for whom he had great respect. The person he alluded to, was the chancellor of the University (the duke of Cumberland), who endeavoured to procure a petition from this seminary against the bill brought into the house in favour of the Catholics. When his first letter was not attended to, he wrote a second; and he was sorry to say that in that letter the royal duke had conveyed an insinuation, too plain to be misunderstood, that the only way for the university to recommend itself to his favour was to present such a petition as he required. [Loud and repeated cries of hear! hear!] He was sorry he could not state the exact date of that letter, but it must have been written either after the measure was a abandoned, or before. In the one case, it could only be considered as a party manœuvre in favour of the new ministers; in the other, it must have been the effect of secret and unconstitutional advice. This would come home to the feelings of every member. Religion was not to be used for the purposes of party clamour. It was valuable for its own intrinsic merits; it was valuable as a code of moral instruction; it was valuable in promoting the purposes of order and good government, and all the virtues and social charities of life. It was therefore equally criminal and impolitic to trifle with it and make it a stalking-horse. He called on those, therefore, who had always professed themselves to be the friends of true religion; upon those who were its friends, not in name only, but in reality; upon those who considered it as something too valuable in itself to be reduced to the degraded character of a party engine; he called upon them on the present occasion to shew their conviction of its truth, and the soundness of its doctrines—He would now proceed to call the attention of the house to the pledge which had been demanded of his majesty's late ministers. He would not enter upon the general question which had been already so ably treated. He would not enter upon the danger to the constitution of having secret whisperers about the throne. He would not consider the novelty of having secret advisers to counteract the measures of the public and responsible advisers of the crown. He would not enter at length into the consideration of the mischief that must result from separating the interests of the crown from those of the people, but proceed immediately to consider the pledge with a view to the state of Ireland. If there was one subject more than another which ought to engage the attention of his majesty's ministers night and day, it was the state of Ireland. The general state of Ireland was this; since the commencement of his present majesty's reign, the Catholics had received a succession of benefits, and they were sensible of it. They had gained wealth, rank, and consideration in the community. It might be said, that they ought now to be contented. [Hear! hear! from the ministerial bench.] But it was not in human nature they should be contented. Could they be so, when it was so natural for them to desire to be admitted to all the benefits and privileges of the constitution under which they lived? What was the state of the priests in Ireland? They were a body unpaid by and unconnected with government. They were, therefore, subservient to the wishes of the higher orders, and to the passions of the lower. As to the peasantry, who bore an enormous proportion to the rest of our population, they were in an unfortunate situation, from causes peculiar to themselves; which he would not enter upon. Whether a remedy could be well applied at present he could not say; but this he would say, that it was impossible that things could continue as they were. They might be better or they might be worse, but they could not remain in their present situation. People might shut their eyes, but they might as well attempt to overturn the laws of gravitation as to think that things could continue as they were. For the truth of this he might appeal to a right bon. gent. (Mr. Elliot), who was well acquainted with the state of that country, and who had been compelled to abandon a measure which he had in contemplation for strengthening the Protestant establishment, on account of the situation of the Catholics. Was such an exclusion heard of in any other instance? Every corporation, and even the most trifling bodies, had the right to petition the crown and to claim the advice of ministers; and wag this large body of our fellow subjects to be totally excluded? This was not only a novelty, but a most alarming appearance in our constitution. Nothing but an act of divine power could keep things as they were. If the Catholics were told that they had no hope from the crown—if they were told that they could not proceed to state their wishes and their grievances in the constitutional way, they would do it in an unconstitutional way. What an hon. baronet (sir T. Turton) had said, with respect to political prophecies, was, he conceived, equally unfounded and unparliamentary. He had said that those who uttered these prophecies, had the wish to accomplish their fulfilment. He (Mr. Plunkett) was ready to meet whatever obloquy he might experience on account of his prophecies. He denied the inference drawn by the hon. baronet. He had in Ireland pledges too dear to trifle with the peace of that country. He owed the deepest gratitude to the crown for the confidence which had been reposed in him; he had no feeling of hostility with respect to the present administration—he was under no pledge to the late ministry—he had only the desire to do his duty, and he declared that he regarded the situation of Ireland with a degree of terror and alarm which he could not find words to express. Gentlemen did not seem to know that there were fiends and demons in Ireland who watched for every opportunity of disturbing that country, and if the people were denied access to the crown, they would be thrown into the arms of the wretches to whom he alluded. The danger might not be immediately felt; but it was threatening, although it might be secret. It was not when it actually arrived that we were to consid[...]er the means of overcoming it; the means of preventing it ought to be considered beforehand. A momentary calm ought not to lull us into security, for the calm would be deceitful. He felt that we were walking per ignes suppositos cineri doloso. If the impression should go forth among the Catholics, that the persecuting spirit was to be revived; if such a line of distinction was to be suffered to exist between the two countries, the very existence of the nation, he was persuaded, would be in the most imminent danger, and the state would be shaken to its very centre. He had now discharged his duty, and whatever might be the consequences of a want of conciliatory measures, that reflection would afford him some consolation.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Perceval)

agreed most completely with his right hon. and learned friend, that nothing would be more contrary to the freedom of debate in that house, or to a full and open discussion of the different questions that might come before them, than the maxim, that political prophets wished to accomplish the evils which they foretold. He agreed that the consequences which might be dreaded from any measures, ought to be freely stated. But when he allowed that freedom to others, and put the best construction on their motives, he had a right to expect that similar freedom should be allowed to himself, and that his motives should receive the same liberal construction. If he, therefore, however erroneous his opinion might have been, thought that the measure lately introduced; a measure which the late ministers represented as so essential to the welfare of the nation, and which they had notwithstanding this abandoned—if he thought that it was pregnant with danger to the constitution, it ought not to be imputed to him that he had attempted to raise an unnecessary alarm, or that he had only party objects in view. He had stated before, and he now again stated, that the measure appeared to him to be attended with extreme danger to the established religion. He had stated before, that the measure would not have the effect of rendering the Catholics content with their condition; that it would lead to other objects, and that it would not stop short till it had brought Roman Catholic bishops to the house of lords; [hear! hear! from the opposition;] that certainly was the impression on his mind at the time. The arguments of the hon. and learned gent. who had just sat down, afforded some colour to this opinion, for he said that it was not in human nature that they should be contented, unless admitted to all the honours and privileges of the constitution. From this it was clear that he was correct, in stating, that the measure alluded to would not have removed discontents, and would therefore fail in its object. In answer to the arguments of the noble lord (Howick) opposite, he had stated that the Catholics would not be contented with that measure, and nothing short of an equality, in every point of view with the Protestants, would satisfy the Catholics. That was his impression, and on that he had acted, and he was ready to maintain by argument, his view of the question, at a proper opportunity. He would not now enter upon it. But the arguments of his hon. and learned friend, would have had more force if the measure had not been abandoned; how and why it was abandoned altogether, had not been stated, but it ought to be considered by whom it was abandoned. But, as it had been abandoned, it did not form the most material part of the present question. This therefore, was not the period for its discussion. The hon. and learned gent. had made an animated appeal to those who had always professed themselves to be the friends of religion; but he could not conceive how there could be any thing unconstitutional or improper in procuring addresses in favour of the Protestant religion, by those who thought the measure was calculated to undermine that religion. [A cry of no! no!]

Mr. Plunket

here rose, and expressed his regret at interrupting the right hon. gent., but what he had said was, that i[...]n was unconstitutional and improper to use his majesty's name to procure addresses of this sort merely for party purposes.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

in continuation, observed, that no apology For the interruption was required, because it was better to interrupt him, than to allow him to go on under a mistake. He agreed that it was improper to make use of his majesty's name for party purposes, or to influence discussions in that house, as had been done on the present occasion, in a manner absolutely unprecedented. The endeavour to procure addresses in this case was not unconstitutional, but he was extremely desirous to come to the question. As to the merits of the late ministry, his opinion of their measures had been stated on different occasions. But he could not confine himself merely to the words of the motion. The proposition was itself one which would be generally admitted; but it must be taken in connection with other circumstances, and especially the dismissal of his majesty's late ministers. It was not the expression only that was to be considered, but the implication, for it must be implied that the dismissal of the late ministers was an act deserving of censure. The implication was clear when the motion was coupled with the statement of the noble lord (Howick) relative to a pledge required and refused, and the consequent dismissal of the ministers; but more particularly so when the words respecting the impropriety of granting a pledge, "either expressed or implied," were considered, which must be understood to apply to the present ministers. [Hear! hear! from the opposition.] He was glad that he had distinctly understood the nature of the motion, but he wished that the hon. gent. who had opened it had stated that and not left it to be implied. However, if he understood the question, it would appear extraordinary if he should be debarred from considering it with a relation to circumstances, and as implying a censure on the crown. But it was impossible, in justice to the sovereign, if he was to be called to the bar, and arraigned. [a loud cry of hear! hear! order! order!] that the question should be considered without a reference to circumstances. He felt himself under great embarrassment on this occasion. They said that his majesty was not censurable, but his advisers. Now, it was contrary to the fact, that his majesty acted in this case, in consequence of any advice; he denied that any advice was given him on this point;—[hear! hear!] He did not mean as to the dismissal of the ministers, but as to the pledge. He would afterwards maintain the propriety of requiring that pledge; but as far as he knew and believed, no advice had been, in fact, given on this point. But he approved of what had been done, and was ready to be responsible for it; though he was obliged to state the fact exactly as it was. As to secret advisers, he asserted, there were none such while the ministers continued in office; when they were dismissed, his majesty had, of course, consulted others.—Now, in considering this question, with a view to the circumstances, he would take three periods into view; first, when the assent was given to the bill; second, when the bill was brought forward; and third, when it was withdrawn. As to the first, the important part was, what must have been the understanding of his majesty when he gave his assent to the bill. His majesty could only have had in contemplation the extension of the Irish act of 1793 to this country. That appeared from the reasoning of the dispatch sent to his majesty, which went to the anomaly of having such an act in the one country and not in the other, and to the pledges that had been given. The words "any military commission," must have been understood as applying to that reasoning, as it was afterwards thought necessary, in bringing in the bill, to add the word "appointments." His majesty had withdrawn what had been considered as a reluctant assent to the additional provisions of the bill, and stated that nothing would induce him to go one step farther than the act of 1793, hoping, at the same time, that this would relieve him from all further trouble on this point. But it was not his majesty only who understood the measure in this way. Even the person who was to propose it, laboured under the same misunderstanding, and it was not clear that they themselves intended to go farther, for the Irish chancellor of the exchequer, in answer to a proposal for adjourning the second reading of the bill for two days, on account of the absence of Irish members, said that there was no particular occasion for the attendance of the Irish members, as they were already acquainted with the measure. But this was not all, for no less than three cabinet ministers refused to concur in the measure, when they understood the extent to which it was to be carried, he meant lords Sidmouth and Ellenborough, and the lord chancellor. The lord chancellor was not even summoned to the council, and thus the particular adviser of the king's conscience was excluded in a matter with respect to which it concerned him to be thoroughly informed. It was known from the first authority, that the person who was to procure the king's assent did not understand the ex- tent to which the measure was to be carried. But this was not all; even the Irish secretary had his doubts about it, and under these circumstances it was quite clear, that his majesty had only the act of 1793 in contemplation. Here therefore, he would close the first period, having established this, that his majesty was certainty not apprised of the extent to which the measure was intended to be carried. The next period was that in which the bill assumed the form in which it was brought into the house, when a reluctant assent was understood to have been given to it. And here when the Irish dispatch was received, it was ascertained that the design of the Catholic petition had not been abandoned on account of this measure. It was ascertained how the demands of the Catholics grew out of the relaxation of the laws respecting them. It was supposed that this would content them; but it was understood from the Irish chancellor, that it would not, and that there were two or three other particulars which they required. They wanted to be sheriffs, to be admitted to corporations, and to be king's council. This being the case, in the communications with his majesty, a proper explanation was not given, and though there was no intention to deceive, yet there was a highly blameable negligence on the part of ministers. His majesty, however, being averse to the bill, they attempted to amend it, and then agreed to withdraw it. And here commenced the third period. It appeared to him, that those who objected to a general pledge, overlooked the violation of the constitution on the part of ministers. They had recommended the measure as indispensable; they said that not an hour was to be lost, and yet they agreed to withdraw it, and this they called "a sacrifice of private feelings to public duty." It was the oddest sacrifice of private feelings to public duty he had ever heard of, to abandon a measure winch they had represented as indispensable that they might not be obliged to abandon their, places. How did the crown and ministers stand on that occasion? they introduced a measure which they considered as essential to the welfare of the state, and then consented to withdraw it. Who was to be responsible for that? If the minister was compelled to act contrary to his judgment, this brought in the sovereign as the responsible person. The king never stood in such a situation. Ministers stated that they would declare on the Catholic question that their sentiments remained the same as ever, and this thr[...]ew the responsibility on the sovereign. Was that constitutional? However, as to this, the sovereign only expressed his regret—but ministers further stated, that they would from time to time bring the subject before him. They were to do this, though they knew that this was not a common opinion, which he might change, but a rooted principle, which he would never abandon. He was perfectly ready to admit, that ministers ought not to advise his majesty contrary to their judgment, but their duty was not to fetter the prerogative. Ministers need not have made these statements to his majesty, for they might have acted upon the principle without them. But this was, in fact, requiring a practical pledge from the sovereign, that he would not dismiss them for urging this measure upon them, and therefore it was necessary for him to have a pledge that they would not harass him. He accordingly exacted it, and they refused, for the reasons stated in the minute of council. Now, in what situation would this pledge have placed them? They could go on till circumstances occurred which should, in their apprehension, render it their duty to submit the claims of the Catholics to his majesty, and then they might resign, for his majesty did not stipulate for the eternity of his ministers. It was also proper to attend to the point on which the assurance was required. The king had a right to say they should not come to him with counsels contrary to his coronation oath. He thought that the tendency of this measure was to destroy the Protestant establishment in Ireland. It was not by the Bill of Rights only that the Protestant establishment was provided for; it was also secured by the articles of Union with Scotland and Ireland, and by various other provisions. They might call these the darker ages, and talk of bigotry; but it ought to be recollected, that it was to these ages that we owed our liberties and the Protestant establishment.—The right hon. gent. then adverted to the impolicy of the declaration, that these concessions were necessary to allay the disturbances in Ireland, because it held out concessions as the reward of disturbances. Every thing that they desired, had been given to the lower orders already. The higher orders, it was stated, were already loyal; but it might be said that the concessions to them would encourage them to conciliate the people; but if they wanted this spur, he would not give much for their loyalty. He denied that he was ever animated by a persecuting spirit. On a former occasion he had only stated, that in case extraordinary powers should be necessary for ministers, he would not oppose them, and warned them, that cases might happen where present lenity might be ultimate cruelty. He thought that the conduct of administration to the Catholics ought to be conciliating, but firm; as concessions only served to keep Ireland in an unsettled state. There was only this alternative, either to establish the Catholic church in Ireland, or to preserve the Protestant establishment in its full strength. With respect to the pledge, which it was insinuated that the present ministers must have given as the condition of their coming into office, he could assure the house that his majesty's present ministers had come into office unfettered by any pledge whatever.

Mr. Grattan

said, the bill which was the immediate cause of the dismissal of his majesty's late ministers had his entire approbation, as he thought thereby we should have combined the physical with the intellectual force of the empire. The question now under the consideration of the house might very properly be divided into two heads; first, the conduct of the late ministers in respect to the Catholics; secondly, their conduct relatively to his majesty. The great object, as to the Catholics, was, that the bill lately brought into the house by the noble lord near him, had been promised to Ireland more than 13 years ago; and the particular reason was, that the Irish officer in England might be on a similar footing with the English officer, and it was certainly no more than justice that it should be so. The right hon. gent. had said, that the objection had been attended to and remedied by the mutiny bill; but that in fact was not the case, and it was certainly very wrong to have left the Irish officer, in case of his coming into this country, liable to the penalty of 500l. for attending his regiment in defence of it; and a still further and more galling dissatisfaction, that he could not bring any suit, nor be entitled to that protection of the law, of which every other description of persons equally enjoyed the benefit. The second objection was that of the common men, who were rendered liable to the greatest difficulties and severest disabilities. They were compelled to go to church, and prohibited from attending mass, by which we made the Protestant religion the tormentor of the Roman Catholic soldier and his own religion the engine of his punishment. For his own part, he was free to own he did not possess that agonizing foresight which could see the ruin or the church in our having a Roman Catholic staff-officer; and he feared, if we continued to proceed on that idea, we might avoid dangers that were only imaginary, but should certainly incur those that were real. The bill, was part of the national defence, and the question was, whether they should continue to impose disabilities, which operated not merely on the Roman Catholics, but greatly to the disadvantage of the whole empire. The objections stated by the right hon. gent. were stronger as to the principle of the bill, than to the bill itself. He seemed to think that the principle of the bill tended to subvert and overturn the established church. In this he differed with him altogether, for he considered the principle of the bill as calculated to soften and mitigate the asperity of religious prejudices, to amalgamate and blend the jarring opinions of men professing different religious persuasions, and to unite them all in one common bond of union, so that they might act together freely and heartily in the defence of the whole empire. To effect this would, in his opinion, secure the established church on the most permanent foundation, by a union of all men of all religious opinions, without which he feared the empire could not be long preserved. The principle of the bill went to give the Catholics of Ireland a participation in the defence of the country, by enabling them to enjoy commissions in the army and navy, and to shew them that they were in future to be placed on a more liberal footing with regard to the law. The right hon. gent. had argued, that it was not in human nature for the Roman Catholics to be contented with what was granted them by the bill; but the fact was, the right hon. gent. mistook human nature, substituted for it a casuistical argument, and then debased human nature to make it subservient to his own casuistry. The right hon. gent. had talked of the Roman Catholics wanting to establish high ranks in the orders of their religion, and to have magnificent bishops. How they were to do this he could not tell, unless they were to get the French to make Irish bishops rich, who had already made French bishops poor. The right hon. gent. and others had said, that the Roman Catholics in Ireland were dissatisfied. As to that, he would not deny that they might be so at particular periods of time. He had known them to be sometimes satisfied, and sometimes the contrary. They where satisfied, he said, when the administration was such as pursued a system of lenity, and did not harass them with disabilities; they were dissatisfied when a contrary conduct was observed towards them. In 1793, they were highly satisfied with what was done in their behalf. He would not say they were so at another period, when they had been persecuted for no greater offence than the great and mighty crime of presenting a petition. There was an instance on record, where two men in the county of Wexford were, for the crime of presenting a petition, indicted and brought to trial; and when the witnesses came to be heard against them, the judge declared from the bench that every one of them ought to be prosecuted. If they were to treat the Catholics of Ireland in the way they had been treated by the late ministers, they would be greatly satisfied. He would not say they would be altogether satisfied without power, but they would be so far satisfied as to fight the French, which is what is very much to be desired. By conceding to them the advantages they would have derived from the late bill, it gave them what he might call with the poet—"the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war." It made them in some sort congenial with ourselves, and thereby gave them an enthusiasm which they could not, under the present circumstances, be supposed to possess. The Catholics, he said, had been remarkable for their loyalty; in proof of which, he cited the preambles of the act of the 14th of the king, and several others, which went to that effect. It had been said that we ought to be careful in preserving the acquisitions of the church, and that by favouring the Catholics we should injure the church. His answer to that was, that formerly when the Protestants were engaged against the Catholics, the disputes were altogether between themselves; but now the French were engaged against the whole, and against that common enemy all had to contend. If they were joined with the Catholics, there was every favourable prospect and probability that they would conquer; if, on the contrary, they fought without them, and should be beaten in the battle, they would not be beaten by the Catholics, but by their own prejudices; which deprived them of their assistance. These circumstances required the most serious and attentive consideration. It had been said that his majesty had been deceived as to the nature, operation, and extent of the bill in question. He was at a loss to find out how this could be. It appeared that on the 2d of Match, the ministers sent all the clauses in the bill for his majesty's perusal, and they were afterwards returned to them without any objection. The bill was then given up; so that there could be no deception of his majesty on that point. With respect to the pledge, it was impossible they could accede to it, without incurring the greatest disgrace. They must have renounced the principles of the whole of their former life. They must have relinquished the office of counsellors and the high character of statesmen, and have become the mere creatures of salary. If tied up not to present their opinions to the king, they would have given up what former ministers had never done; for many privileges had been granted to the Catholics, which they had petitioned for at various periods of time and been denied, but which privileges had, at a subsequent period, been granted to them. For this, various reasons might be assigned, according to the different circumstances of the times. He would suppose a French army should be landed in Ireland: would it not be natural to suppose, that privileges might then be granted which had previously been refused? Ministers, in pledging themselves not to bring the case of the Catholics under the consideration of his majesty, would have forfeited their duty as officers, and their principles as statesmen. He entirely approved the conduct of the late minister, because he thought it that of a great statesman. He had seen the effects of a former administration, whose conduct had been different towards the Catholics against whom the press in Ireland was continually loaded with points and paragraphs, which were good composition, but bad sense, till they stung and goaded the people almost to madness. If we joined issue with the Catholics, we should fight against ourselves. If we would do well, we should keep in mind that there is but one enemy, which is the French; and that our best defence against that enemy was our own unanimity. He well knew that the Catholics of Ireland did not dislike the Protestant people of England; and he hoped the English people would not insult the religion of the Irish Catholics. He admired the ministry for the mildness of the conduct they had pursued in consequence of the insurrections which had occurred in the West of Ireland. It had been productive of the happiest effects, by putting a speedy end to them, without applying to the military for their assistance. He had before admired lord Hardwicke for a similar proceeding, who, instead of letting slip the dogs of war, had sent forth the judges into the different disturbed counties; and put an end to the disturbance by the fair, impartial, and equal hand of the law. If he were to say how he thought Ireland ought to be treated, he would advise that the utmost leniency should be observed. He would make tolerance the rule and guide of his conduct: he would tell the Irish Catholics, what he hoped the vote of that night would assure them of, that they had not only a root in England, but a root also in that house; and by those means, he had no doubt, that whatever might be the event of the question, the two nations would be united as one, and the integrity of the empire established.

Dr. Duigenan

began by stating that it had been said by several honourable gentlemen on different occasions, that the greater part of the army and navy of this country consisted of Irish Catholics. He denied such to be the fact; and insisted that those Irishmen who were in our army and navy, were mostly Protestants. It had also been said, that there were 4 millions of Catholics in Ireland; but this statement was equally fallacious with the other: for the whole population of that country amounted to only three millions and a half. The Protestants were in proportion to the Catholics, as two to three in number; and in property, to fifty to one. The house had been told, that the Roman Catholics would be satisfied if it gave them the advantages of serving in the army and navy, as intended by the late bill. He would tell the house when the Roman Catholics would be satisfied: if Ireland were given up to them, and they were suffered to plunder and destroy all the property in it, they might then perhaps be content. They had at all times, and on every occasion, evinced a marked inveteracy against the Protestants; and in the insurrection of 1798, they had, at the very outset of the business, so prepared their schemes, that they actually destroyed 5000 Protestants in cold blood, in the course of a short time. They had burnt 180 in one barn, and committed every act of cruelty that could well be imagined. Many of them had been confined in prisons for a length of time; and after being liberated, had been found to be the most active abettors and supporters of the very next disturbances that had happened. According to the late minister's late bill, these men might be commanders-in-chief of the army, and admirals of the fleets of this country, whose daggers were yet red with the blood of their Protestant brethren. It was impossible to admit Roman Catholics to any portion of civil power; for they had a temporal power mixed with their civil and ecclesiastical establishment, which they lodged in the hands and supremacy of a foreign power, who was at this time under the rule and direction of Buonaparte, who nominated the bishop, and he the priest. There was at this moment an army in Ireland in the pay of Buonaparte. Gentlemen talked of conciliating the higher orders of the Roman Catholics. Who were the higher orders? He knew not where to find them. He was sure there were not forty Roman Catholic gentlemen in Ireland of 1000l. a year each. In order to make those concessions to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, which were intended to be given by the late bill, there must be a repeal of the Test act, and of any other acts against the Catholics. Yet gentlemen went on to say, that this would not endanger the established church. What had already been the consequence? When the account of this bill arrived in Ireland, the Roman Catholics called a public meeting; and a Mr. Keogh laughed to scorn the whole of the measure, as not containing enough of concession; and in menacing terms, declared they would have all, or none. If the powers given to lord Cornwallis, to lord Hardwicke, and to the duke of Bedford he believed also, were continued, and proper powers by them delegated to the magistrates, he would engage there would be no rebellion, in Ireland. There had been menaces of rebellion, but there would be none. The lower orders of the Roman Catholics who had been guilty of disturbances, had neither leaders. arms, nor property. He knew them well. He had lived all his life in Ireland; and had been in every part of it. If a French army were landed in Ireland, he believed they would join it, to a man. There had now been an impudent convention-demand, nay, a direct menace, in case their petition was not complied with. This he considered to be the consequence of the concessions intended to be made to them, by a noble lord, not in that house, whose administration, he always thought, meant to subvert the Protestant religion.—

Lord Howick rose

to order. He said, the honourable and learned doctor had, if he understood him right, stated that there was a noble lord, not in that house, who had endeavoured to subvert the protestant religion, a crime of the greatest magnitude; and he called on him, if he were a man, to name that noble lord, that he might be arraigned at the bar of the house, and brought to that punishment which his crime deserved.

Mr. Plumer

desired, that if the hon. gent. knew of any noble lord who had been guilty of so great a crime, he would name him, as he thought it was his duty to do.

The Speaker

said, he apprehended that every member had a right, according to the order of that house, to deliver his sentiments in such terms as he should choose, provided he did it with decency; and that he was not bound to name whom he alluded to, nor to make any excuse, but such as he might think proper to make.

Mr. Horner

said, if it was not too late, he would wish the words to be taken down.

The Speaker

said, that in cases when any thing had intervened before it was desired to take down the words, it was too late to make such a motion.

Mr. Sheridan

wished to know whether he had rightly comprehended what the hon. and learned doctor had said. He understood him to say, that a noble lord, a privy counsellor to his majesty, had attempted to subvert the Protestant religion. The honourable and learned gent. ought, therefore, to name him, that he might be proceeded against as such a crime deserved.

Lord Howick

apprehended the order of the house was made for the purpose of conducting the debates with decency and decorum; and therefore, that the name of a member of that house was not allowed to be mentioned in the discussion of any subject under consideration. If that was the case, he looked upon it as much more disorderly to mention the name of a member of the other house, as it might be the means of creating animosities between the two branches of the legislature. He thought, therefore, he was strictly justified in calling upon the hon. and learned doctor to name the noble lord he had alluded to; for such was his high respect for that noble personage, that he could not sit still, and hear such a charge made, without taking the notice of it he had done.

Mr. Secretary Canning

conceived that the question of order had been decided by the chair, and that whatever imprudence there might be in the expression, it was not so disorderly as to authorize the call which had been made for the name of the noble lord alluded to.

Mr. Grenville

said, it was impossible for him to believe, till he heard it from the chair, that the hon. and learned gent., after the charge he had made against a peer of the realm, should not be obliged to name that noble lord to whom he had alluded, that he might be proceeded against as the nature of his offence required.

The Speaker

said, that being now called upon to declare his opinion, he would state it according to the best of his ability. As he understood the order of that house, it was not allowable to mention the name of any member, as it might tend to create altercation, and to interrupt the harmony and decorum of debate. He always understood, however, that it was competent to any member of that house, in the course of his speech, to allude to the transactions and conduct of any public minister of this country, so as he did it in decent terms; and that in so doing he was not obliged to name the party, nor did he thereby commit any technical violation of the orders of the house.

Dr. Duigenan

admitted that he had spoken with too much warmth on the subject; but if he had used any harsh expression, he was sorry for it. As well as he recollected, he had used the words, "a noble lord not in this house." Now it would be recollected that there were many noble lords who were not members of either house. Having made this apology, he should not occupy the time of the house any longer.

Sir Samuel Romilly

said, he should leave to the noble lord opposite (lord Castlereagh) to state to the house, what had been promised to the Catholics of Ireland, and to assign, if he was able to do so, his reasons for now abandoning them: he had no desire to revive any animosities on account of religious differences of opinion. The question now before the house was one which involved most important constitutional doctrines: it was highly interesting to the people at large, and as interesting to the sovereign himself as to any of his subjects. It was, however, a question which, although it contained an abstract proposition, was necessary to be brought before the house, because it referred to a principle which had been recently acted upon. The true question before the house was, whether or not it was constitutionally justify[...]able, or rather whether it was not a high crime and misdemeanour, in any minister in the confidence of his majesty, to subscribe to a pledge that he would not offer any advice to his majesty which might appear to him to be essential to the interest of the empire. He conceived that if any minister should give such a pledge to the crown, it would be a high crime and misdemeanour in such a minister to give it, and that the house would neglect its duty, and betray its trust, if it did not impeach such a minister for giving such a pledge. He could not help thinking that this was a matter of more importance to the king, in another point of view, than to any of his subjects; for if his counsellors were to pledge themselves not to advise his majesty upon any particular subject, when it might happen that it was their duty to offer him advice; the most alarming effects might be produced from that pledge. A question more important to the crown than the present was hardly possible to be conceived: indeed, the doctrine he had heard that night led him, from the great respect he had for the understandings of the gentlemen who maintained it, to suspect that all he had for merly heard concerning the proper privileges of a member of parliament, all he had heard of he duties of a confidential adviser of the crown, all he had read, and all he had hitherto been thinking of the principles of the constitution, and ail he had read on constitutional authorities, had been entirely wrong; for he had always understood the doctrine to be, that the king could do no wrong; and he had understood that maxim to be one in which the security of the public, and that of the honour and dignity of the crown, were united, and a maxim on which both these points materially depended; for, by this sort of pledge, the whole nature of the responsibility of state affairs would be taken away; there would be no security against the most traitorous intentions of irresponsible advisers; for ministers would not be answerable, and could not be answerable, for any advice which they did not give; and they could not give that which they stood pledged to withhold. This matter was the more alarming, when he learnt from the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer, that he thought there were cases wherein his majesty acted without any advice whatever. Now, without meaning to involve his majesty in any kind of censure, this doctrine went to charge his majesty with the greatest censure. But the right hon. gent. said that the present motion went to bring his majesty to the bar of that house.—[Hear! hear!] There was no desire whatever to include his majesty in any censure tom what had been done; nor had this motion any such tendency; on the contrary, it bad a direct tendency to protect the king, and to support the maxim that he could do no wrong; which could never be done by allowing any of his ministers to enter into a pledge not to offer him advice upon any given subject. Indeed, he could not help thinking there was much novelty in the doctrine of the right hon. gent., who had taken on himself to say that there were acts in which his majesty exercised his prerogative without any advice whatsoever; and this he appeared to speak from certain knowledge on some particular points. The words of the right hon. gent. were "that to the best of his knowledge and belief, the king had no adviser upon that point of requesting the pledge—that he did not believe the king had had any adviser; and that he did not think the country would believe the king had any adviser upon that point."—Now, he had always understood that there was no exercise of the prerogative whatever, in which the king had not some adviser; that even in calling certain persons into his councils, he must have some adviser. Unquestionably his majesty might call any man in the kingdom to his councils, or he might make a confident adviser of a man whom the house had declared they had no confidence in, or even a man whom this house had declared to have been guilty of a gross violation of the law. [Hear! hear!] His majesty might call into his councils such a man, and the law said, that the king can do no wrong; but those who advised the king to take such a step were responsible to this house and to the country. His majesty might call in to be his adviser a person against whom certain Resolutions had been entered on the Journals of that house—a person who had been brought to trial; who had been acquitted indeed, but so acquitted, that not any of his numerous and powerful friends had ever yet attempted to offer to this house a motion to rescind those resolutions from the journals. His majesty might call to his councils such a man, who had indeed been acquitted by a majority of his peers; but who could not return to that house without looking at the countenances of those who sat near and opposite to him; and, from the association of ideas, read in those countenances the words they (and there were 52 of them) had uttered of him, "guilty upon my honour."

Mr. Jeffery rose

to order. He conceived the hon. and learned gent. was making an allusion equally personal with that made before by the learned doctor, and that he ought to name the name to which he had alluded.

Mr. Ward

conceived, that by an analogical deduction from the decision of the chair, in the case of the learned doctor, the hon and learned gent. was perfectly justified in the allusion he had made.

Sir Samuel Romilly

proceeded. He observed that, by the constitution of the country, the choice of his ministers was undoubtedly vested in the king. He might call to his councils whom he pleased, but that act must be done by advice, and the adviser must be responsible. If it was allowable for ministers to exclude themselves from giving advice on any one subject, they might extend the same exclusion to others. They might bind themselves not to give advice as to the policy of peace or war, on commerce or finance till they left themselves no duty to exercise. It was, however, of the greatest importance to his majesty that the doctrine of responsible advisers should be strictly maintained. History had unfolded the evils of a contrary principle having prevailed. No man entertained a more sincere veneration for the throne than he did, and he only wished to support those principles upon which its true security rested. The hon. gent. who moved the previous question, was of opinion that the present ministers had entered into no pledge not to give his majesty advice on the subject of the Catholics. Now, as the late ministers were dismissed because they refused this pledge, the present ministers were placed in this dilemma, either the pledge was implied, or they had deceived his majesty, for it was not pretended that his majesty had any objection to his late ministers, except the difference of opinion which occurred on this subject. If the former opinions of the present ministers were referred to, it would be found that some of them had resigned because measures similar to the bill which had been withdrawn could not be carried. He deprecated the exciting of religious animosities in the country. He had seen, with regret, a declaration of his right hon. friend (Mr. Perceval) in a country paper, which he thought had that tendency. He pronounced an eloquent panegyric on the virtues of his right hon. friend whose worth and sincerity he well knew; but he begged him to consider what dreadful consequences might result if he should unfortunately succeed in reviving religious animosities in the present period.

Mr. Bathurst

regretted much that a question should be introduced to the consideration of that house which necessarily brought into discussion the personal conduct of the sovereign. The proposition stated by the learned gent. who had just sat down, that there was no act of the crown without responsibility, was no doubt correct, generally speaking, but yet there were some exceptions to that proposition, and among the first that must be admitted, where his majesty had no advisers. Such was the case when he had removed his ministers; and unless the exception to responsibility be allowed in that case, the king's prerogative of choosing his own ministers must be nugatory. Now, as such changes were liable often to occur, he could not but deprecate the idea of making his majesty's motives of action in those instances a matter for investigation in that house, and still more did he deprecate the public statement of his majesty's private confidential communications with his ministers, particularly as individuals. It was monstrous, then, to say that his majesty could not in any case act without advice, for in cases of this nature where he differed from his ministers, he had no advisers, and re- sponsibility could not be said to attach to any one. When his majesty demanded the pledge referred to, and which pledge no minister ought to subscribe, he did not differ from his ministers, and it did not appear that he had any advisers, nor did it follow of necessity that he had. He repeated his regret that a question of this nature should be submitted to the house, because it inevitably involved the discussion of the conduct of the king, whose name could not, consistently with the practice of the house, be introduced on any such occasion. This was the first instance he had ever heard of, in which the personal conduct of the sovereign was so exposed to discussion in that house. But it was stated, that the proposition before the house was a truism. He would admit that, as every man must; but, then, could gentlemen suppose that such general admission exempted them from shewing, that there was any necessity for that house publicly to resolve in support of that truism? There were in this case two questions to be considered; first, whether there was any need for adopting this truism, and secondly, what consequences were likely to follow from its adoption? As to the first, the necessity stated was the personal conduct of the sovereign, and upon such a ground he could not assent to the motion. Although the right of the noble lord to explain his conduct in the transaction which led to this motion might be admitted, still, the propriety of making that explanation the ground of a parliamentary proceeding might be consistently denied. For himself, however, he could not but say, that he regretted the explanation had taken place, and the reasons which produced this regret, urged him also to deprecate the publication of several private documents, which ought never to have been brought before that house or the country. They were, indeed, such documents, and the paper read by the right hon. chancellor of the exchequer, was of that description, for the production of which the house could not consistently address his majesty. It would be indecent to demand a communication of such papers from the king, as had been on this occasion most improperly laid before the public. But, to revert to the question of responsibility, and to the consequences which might follow from an acquiescence in the motion before the house: suppose his majesty should be called upon by an address of that house, and he put it, as one consequence of this motion, to state by whom he had been advised to demand the pledge alluded to in the debate, or to dismiss his late ministers; and that the answer to such address should be, that his majesty had no advisers in either case; what then would follow? Why, that blame would fall on a quarter to which, according to the constitution, no blame ought to be imputed. Thus the maxim, that the king could do no wrong, might be exploded by the effects of this motion. For he could not say where the operation of the object, which this motion appeared to have in view, might terminate. The whole question as to the exercise of his majesty's prerogative might be thrown open. After a resolution of censure upon the dismissal of the late ministers, another censure might be pronounced upon the appointment of the present, and thus the prerogative would be extinct. But looking to that prerogative, which must be exercised by the sovereign alone, as essential to the constitution, because essential to preserve the power and importance of the monarchy, he could not assent to a motion, which had a tendency to, or at least threatened consequences, which might shake its security. Under all these circumstances, the right hon. gent. felt himself bound to dissent from the motion before the house; and this must be considered to him a duty of some pain. For towards the noble lord on the opposition bench, and his colleagues, he entertained the most unfeigned public and private respect, and he sincerely believed that in the part they had acted, which he was compelled to regret, their only object was to set themselves right with the public. But when such explanations as had been made in this affair, must turn upon matters of private conversation with the king, he could not help expressing his sorrow that they should take place. He would, however, be always ready to bear testimony to the honourable motives which actuated the conduct of the gentlemen on the opposition bench, for whose character he felt the highest respect. With the gentlemen who occupied the treasury bench he had no connection whatever, although for some of them, no doubt, he entertained a friendship, but in this instance he was influenced solely by the considerations be had stated, and a sense of the importance of the question under discussion, in which sense he had no doubt the house would concur with him.

Sir Peter Murray (in a maiden speech)

said, that he fully agreed in the just and constitutional sentiments which the house had just heard. But before he proceeded to animadvert upon the motion before the house, he thought it necessary to advert to the remarks of the hon. and learned gent. (sir S. Romilly) with regard to a subject which that hon. and learned gent. had chosen to bring under consideration, although not at all connected with the motion. That hon. and learned gent. began his speech by deprecating any deviation from the question before the house, and still more any rancorous remarks, such as he ascribed to the hon. and learned doctor (Duigenan). Now, he would appeal to the house, whether that learned gent. was less devious than the learned doctor, and whether he exhibited a spirit less rancorous? The hon. baronet contended that it was not necessary to move the rescinding of the resolutions of that house, with regard to the noble lord (Melville) referred to by the learned gent., after he had been acquitted by the tribunal before which he was tried, any more than it would be to propose expunging an information at law from the record after the subject of that information had been acquitted. Such a proceeding was neither usual nor necessary. But the indifference manifested for the verdict of that high tribunal, before which the noble lord alluded to had been acquitted, proceeded from the same spirit of party which would treat with disregard the conscience of the king. This acquittal, however, ought to make a greater impression, if the circumstances were taken into consideration under which it was obtained. That illustrious person (Mr. Pitt), who was the friend of the accused, was no more, while, on the other hand, the party was in power who were his active and implacable enemies. At such a time the noble lord was brought to trial; all the influence of power was exerted against him, and that power industriously engaged in abetting and taking advantage of the false impressions of the case which had been spread abroad; still the noble lord was acquitted. But the learned gent. was surprized, that not withstanding such acquittal, the noble lord could endure the recollection of "guilty upon my honour," which must occur to him in the house of lords. Were there not, however, other words to be recollected there also? Was the word "guilty" alone that upon which the learned gent.'s recollection could dwell? were conviction, punishment, and persecution, the only things that could saitsfy his ears? The learned gent. must remember, that the noble person alluded to, heard that result at the tribunal, under considerations which must be satisfactory to him. But the learned gent. had insinuated that which had been said before, namely, what signified an acquittal, where so many of the judges voted for conviction? What, however, would those gentlemen say if the converse of the proposition were taken in an opposite event? Suppose the majority of the lords had voted for the conviction of the noble person accused, and a number equal to the minority on that occasion, had voted for his acquittal, would those gentlemen allow the friends of the noble lord to say, "what signified a conviction where so many respectable lords voted for acquittal?" He was sure that they would not listen to such a proposition, and why, then should they expect that their mode of putting the converse should be attended to? That the noble lord's acquittal should do away any allusion to his case in the shape of reflection was but the language of justice, and he was persuaded that in maintaining it he was acting in unison with the candour and liberality of a British house of commons. With regard to the question before the house, the hon. baronet maintained, that when gentlemen on the other side talked of their own vindication, they meant evidently the crimination of the other party, and that party was the king; and to sanction their views would of course be to subvert the constitutional maxim, that the king can do no wrong. This maxim was indeed acknowledged by these gentlemen, but the tendency of their argument was this—that the king could do no right but with them. Indeed, from the whole tenour of their recent conduct and observation, they had placed their sovereign in such a situation before the country, as to induce an opinion that he was a man of no intellect whatever, which, by-the-bye, was an exhibition only to be made by a party, if such a party there could be, who wished to usurp the power of the sovereign, and govern the country in his name. But he believed these gentlemen had found their sovereign quite a different person, from the judgment and firmness which his majesty had evinced upon this, as well as upon many other occasions.

Sir S. Romilly ,

in explanation, said that he did not mean in the least degree to reflect upon the determination of the peers on a recent trial. He only intended to call to the recollection of the house, that there had been objections both to the form of the articles, and to the manner of the proof, and that 52 lords had said upon their honour, that lord Melville was guilty.

Mr. Whitbread ,

after complimenting the candour, moderation, and manliness with which the question before the house had been treated by his hon. friend who introduced it, observed, that from the various and contradictory sentiments which had been delivered, in the course of the debate, upon the subject to which the motion referred, it was essentially necessary that the house should come to some declaration, as to what the constitution was upon this important point. It appeared that a very gross misunderstanding did prevail upon the subject of the constitution and religion of the country, from what the house had heard of the one from the right hon. gent. below him (Mr. Bathurst), and of the other from the right hon. gent. on the opposite side (Mr. Perceval). Some doctrines had indeed been advanced in the course of this debate, which, if not exploded, the power of the house of commons was gone, and religious toleration but an empty name. The right hon. gent. below him had told the house of certain times when the king could act for himself without advisers, and that as constitutionally he could do no wrong, no responsibility could attach to such actions. Now, this was a doctrine against which he must enter an immediate protest. For so contrary was it to the fact, that there was not a moment of the king's life, from his accession to his demise, that there was not a person constitutionally responsible for his actions. This was the doctrine which he and his friends maintained, and when gentlemen deprecated the consideration of the personal conduct of the king, it should be recollected by whom that personal conduct was brought into discussion. It certainly was not by his friends, but by those who asserted, that the king acted for himself and without any advisers. But this was a proposition which he would never admit: and the house of commons which should acquiesce in the establishment of such a doctrine, would declare itself a nonentity. The right hon. gent. below him had stated, that the king had no advice when the pledge was required. This assertion was also made by the present ministers. Thus they who professed so much reverence for his majesty, disclaimed any concern or advice in one act of his to which all agree that no minister ought to subscribe, and thus leave him naked and exposed altogether; withdrawing that support which they owed him; that is, in other terms, they declined to become responsible for the conduct of their sovereign. But the constitution would not allow them thus to decline and shelter themselves from responsibility; for, having accepted the offices from which his friends near him had retired, because they would not subscribe that pledge, these hon. gentlemen incurred the responsibility which they manifested so much anxiety to avoid; for a very good reason indeed, because the pledge itself was such as no man could venture to defend. After some further animadversions upon the question of ministerial responsibility, and dilating upon the necessity of enabling members by some declaratory resolution to state to their constituents what responsibility really meant, about which, after the doubts it had been involved in by this debate, their constituents would naturally be anxious to enquire, the hon. gent. proceeded to observe upon the explanation which the house had heard of the conduct of the late ministers. That explanation, which was in his mind perfectly satisfactory, and which was strengthened by what had been said this night by the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer, was imperiously called for by the misrepresentation of their conduct and views, which had been so industriously circulated by the publications of a pseudo "Protestant," in a morning paper, who had evinced as much bigotry as ever prejudice had ascribed to a Catholic, and particularly by the manner in which the minutes of the cabinet had been communicated to the public. These considerations, combined with the address of the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer, to his constituents, tending as they did to calumniate their own character, but still more to revive the cry of "No Popery," which had produced such calamitous scenes in 1780, rendered the explanations referred to peculiarly desirable, and he had no doubt of their having had a most salutary operation. With regard to the conduct of the right hon. (not "learned") gent., for he was no longer "learned;" it appeared that he held himself forth as the champion of the church, proclaiming that he had quitted his profession to save it from danger. If the right hon. gent. really felt so much anxiety for the interests and safety of the church, how, he would ask him, could he feel in his present company? One of his colleagues, the noble minister for the war department (lord Castlereagh), was pledged to promote the claims of the Catholics whether in or out of office, though that noble lord knew the danger which might arise, and as the old story went, that "the Catholics, might again wash their hands in Protestant blood." What Christian charity must the right hon. gent. have, under such circumstances, to associate with such a colleague! But there was another instance in which the right hon. gent. did not feel quite so much alarm as to the Catholics, or so much objection to their advocates, and that was during the administration of Mr. Pitt, who was also pledged to the Catholics. At that time, however; it did not suit the right hon. gent.'s convenience to raise the cry of the church is in danger. Reverting to the pledges of the noble lord (Castlereagh), the hon: member alluded particularly to the paper circulated by the Irish government, which explicitly pledged that noble lord to support the claims of the Catholics. [Lord Castlereagh across the table—Never, never so pledged.] The hon. gent. resumed and stated that his observation was founded on general rumour. If, however, the noble lord did not sign such a paper, the rumour must be groundless. But it was to be recollected, that although existence of such a pledge had been often asserted in that house, it never was contradicted before, and certainly Mr. Pitt never disavowed it; and he, as well as lord Cornwallis and the noble secretary of state, were understood to be included in it.—The hon. member again took notice of the right hon. gent.'s endeavour to raise the cry of the church in danger, even after the bill was dropped and the danger had cased.—[No, said Mr. Perceval, across the table, for the bill is still before the house.] What! continued Mr. Whitbread, does the right hon. gent. return to his ancient profession, to bring forward a special plea? The bill was laid down by his noble friend, and no one had manifested the least inclination to take it up. Therefore it had been abandoned; although still, technically, before the house.—After some remarks upon the right hon. gent.'s predilection for politics, and his preference of that line to the profession to which he had been brought up, the hon. member proceeded to comment upon the coronation oath, and refuted the idea, that to concede farther to the Catholics would involve a violation of that oath, by stating, that long after that was settled, Catholics had seats in that house. The right hon. gent. had talked of the Reformation, but if the principles for which he contended had been formerly maintained, that reformation would never have been accomplished. He (Mr. W.) was as zealous a Protestant as any man, but it was no part of his faith to consign thousands to a premature grave; and to persecute, in any form, was not the religion he professed: Did the right hon. gent. remember the flames which only a few years ago spread destruction in the capital, and did he mean to circulate his advertisements, to revive the expiring embers? The question as applied to lord Melville, was not, if he, being acquitted, was admissible to the royal councils, but if he, with the resolutions of the house of commons against him, could be consistently placed in that situation of confidence. If this introduction of his lordship was advised by the present ministers, they had advised that which was extremely disrespectful to the house. When it was proposed to address the throne, praying that his majesty would dismiss lord Melville from his presence and councils for ever, Mr. Pitt said, that it was giving unnecessary pain to an individual already sufficiently afflicted, since, as long as the resolutions of the house remained on the journals, he could not be received into the confidence of the sovereign. He (Mr. W.) put this situation to an indignant house, and to an indignant people. What prospect of advantage parliament could have with ministers acting under such discordant principles upon a matter of vital importance, he would leave to others to determine. It had been said, that this was not intended as a solitary vote. No doubt it was not: it must be followed up, and quickly too, by other resolutions. It had been objected that the house should interpose on this occasion. But it was neither unusual nor unconstitutional for it to interfere, and give its advice to the crown in affairs of such high importance. He entertained a high respect for most of the members of the late administration; but whatever might be his opinion of them, the question was not now who should be minister, but how we should best uphold the British constitution.

Mr. Rose

said, that at the time the pledge was demanded from his majesty's late ministers, there could be no responsible advisers. If then, there were no advisers, what were those who supported the motion doing, but trying his majesty's conduct at the bar of the house? [Loud cry of question! Question.]

Lord Howick

observed that the impatience which was exhibited to come to a decision, would induce him to occupy as little of the time of the house as possible. Some things, however, had passed, which he thought himself bound to notice. The allusions which had been made to lord Melville, he maintained, were not foreign to the discussion. The hon. baronet under the gallery (sir Peter Murray) had called the late administration a faction: what part of their conduct deserved that appellation, he would leave it to the house and the country to determine; but he defied the hon. baronet to produce any instances of power exerted against lord Melville: If it were decent to enter into an examination of the proceedings on that trial, it would be easy to shew, that a great majority of the peers, holding office voted for the acquittal. With regard to the motion, he had never heard language more unconstitutional than that which had been introduced into the present discussion. He agreed with his hon. friends, that there could constitutionally be no act of the crown without a responsible adviser. He also concurred in the opinion that there had, on the recent occasion, been secret advisers, and that much pains had been taken to poison the royal mind. He had reason to believe that the measure alluded to had been the result of advice. Indeed, he did happen to know that advice had been given, and this was a time in which he felt it to be his duty to speak out plainly. On the Saturday before the pledge was required, lord Eldon had an audience of his majesty; what passed at that interview, he did not pretend to state; that, he would leave the house to conjecture. He must also observe, that before he had liberty to state that a new administration was forming, lord Eldon and lord Hawkesbury had been sent for to Windsor. Lord Eldon and lord Hawkesbury were, then, the responsible persons. He had introduced the Catholic bill, in the hope that the advantages it was calculated to produce, would have been obtained without exciting any of those animosities in the country, which by artifice had been called forth since the question was agitated. But when he found, that, instead of producing union, it was likely to disunite, he withdrew it. These considerations, and the misapprehension which had unfortunately occurred, afforded a sufficient vindication of his conduct with respect to the bill; but he pressed it on the recollection of the house, that the introduction of that bill was not the ground of the dismissal of his majesty's ministers.—He stated, that the late administration had in contemplation some arrangements respecting tithes, which was a constant subject of irritation in Ireland; but he was afraid that any proposition of that kind would have been represented as another attack on the established church. Even by the hon. gentlemen on the opposite side, the members of the late administration were acquitted of any intention to deceive his majesty—an accusation which had been made against them in the public prints of this metropolis; but if they had been guilty of that fraudulent intention, that would not have rendered the demand of the pledge a constitutional proceeding. It was acknowledged that there was no other ground for dismissing his majesty's ministers but their refusal to give the pledge in question. This, then, was sufficient to authorize the adoption of the motion, for it was the practice of the house to proceed upon notoriety much less evident than the present case afforded.—An hon. gent. had argued, that it was somewhat extraordinary that discontents should exist amonst the lowest orders of the Irish Catholics, and yet the boon proposed was intended for the higher orders. But to this he would answer, that the reason why the great mass of the Catholic population in Ireland had not come forward of late years to furnish its quota to the military service of the country, was because the higher orders were not allowed their rank in the service, and that, in consequence, their influence was withholden from recruiting for that service. A learned doctor (Duigenan) had denied the fact of any deficiency in the recruiting service being felt on this account; for that three-fourths of the army raised in Ireland were actually Protestants. If this statement were true, it went in support of the measure proposed; for if, out of the military raised in Ireland; three-fourths were Protestants, and one-fourth only Catholics, where the proportion of population was exactly the contrary way, it was proof irrefragable that the Catholic population of Ireland did not furnish its proportion to the public service. He was willing to give credit to a right hon. gent.(Mr. Perceval), when, for the part he had taken on this subject, he disclaimed all illiberal motives; but yet, from his avowed junction with parties out of doors, and the language of advertisements and hand-bills addressed to his constituents at Northampton, it would appear that some little exertion had been made by him to raise a cry of religious rancour in the country. No man admired more than he did a man of truly religious principles, because such a man must be disposed to inculcate amongst his neighbours and fellow subjects all the feelings of mutual toleration, charity, and benevolence: but of all the mischievous characters which infested human society, that man was the most to be detested, who, with religion on his lips, and rancour and intolerance in his heart, sought, for purposes of personal advantage and temporal interest, to excite amongst his fellow subjects fanatical hatred and bigoted dissentions. He did not say that the right hon. gent. had done so, but he was totally at a loss to conceive how he could reconcile it to any views of duty, to give any encouragement to religious rancour, which could have no other effect but to disturb the peace and distract the energies of the country. The noble lord then proceeded to remark upon the opinions which had been held by Mr. Canning and lord Castlereagh, and particularly by Mr. Pitt, on the subject of the Ca- tholics, and shewed that there was no more reason now, than in 1801 or 1804, to raise the cry of the church being in danger. He then made some remarks on the formation of the present ministry. Besides their coming into power upon unconstitutional grounds, and virtually under the pledge their predecessors had refused, they were persons totally unequal to the present state of the country. He shewed that the duke of Portland had, when head of the Whig party, been the most strenuous advocate and promoter of concessions to the Catholics. In 1789 particularly, he had shewn this, and recommended to the Whigs of Ireland not to accept places but on condition of gaining those objects. His grace had also said to lord Fitzwilliam and to the late lord Ponsonby, that one great object he had in view in joining Mr. Pitt was, to facilitate those concessions to the Catholics, Yet now had this same duke of Portland accepted office on the avowed ground of opposing the Catholic claims: and it appeared that by his interference a petition had been obtained from the university of Oxford, before even the Catholic bill had been proposed in parliament. The person who, it was understood, was to take the lead in this house (Mr. Perceval), had evinced such a degree of intemperance on various occasions, particularly in attempting, by unseasonable speeches, to embitter disputes in a train of amicable negociation, that he could not think the interests of the nation likely to be promoted under such a minister. When the language of the right hon. gent. with respect to Ireland, expressed at the opening of the session, was called to mind, it must strike every man how unfit such a man was, at such a crisis, to suggest proper measures for the administration of that country. Upon the whole, his lordship considered the new ministry formed upon such unconstitutional grounds, and so inadequate to their, functions, that if the motion should have the effect to remove them, it would produce an effect at which the country would have reason to rejoice.

Mr. Secretary Canning rose ,

amidst a loud call for the question from the opposition benches. He was not surprised on a motion brought forward for the purpose of turning out an administration, that those who supported it should wish to drown by clamour what those ministers had to say in their defence. But however reluctant he might be to trespass on the time of the house at that late hour, and, in the exhaust- ed state of the house, he should not be deterred by clamour from offering what he had to urge in his vindication. The noble lord's speech seemed to place him in a state of retrospective responsibility for counsels which he could not be acquainted with, and for that dismissal which was the consequence of his own suicidal act. If he were to follow the course that had been pursued up to the speech of the noble lord, he should contend, what had not been denied on either side, that this question was an issue between the king and his late ministers. This was the first instance since the time of Charles, that a sovereign had been brought to the bar of parliament. The late ministers had by their own acts rendered their dismissal unavoidable, and he denied that he or any of his colleagues had given any counsel on the occasion, or had intrigued for the purpose of getting into their places. On the contrary, they had laboured to prevent the confusion that ensued from the measures that had been adopted. In whatever way the bill should be disposed of, he did not think it desirable that a change of administration should take place in consequence of it. But, when his sovereign was without a ministry, and had called upon him for his services, he did not conceive himself at liberty to withhold them. Nor did he lament the part he had taken. As to the circumstances that caused a change of government, he did not think that there was any intention to deceive his majesty. He should not impute bad motives to any man; but though there was no intention to deceive, there was too much misunderstanding in the progress of that transaction. When his majesty had declared that he would not go a step beyond the act of 1793, it ought to have excited the attention of his ministers, and they should then have distinctly explained what was meant to be conceded by the measure. For his part, he should prefer granting to the Catholics what was refused by the bill, and withholding what the bill conceded. He would sooner give the civil distinction than the sword. As to the call of the noble lord upon him, he should answer, that he did wish to form his conduct on the model of that great man, his late right hon. friend (Mr. Pitt). The noble lord had assumed that he was of the same opinion with himself on the subject of this bill, but the noble lord had no right to judge of him but from his public votes in parliament. He had given but one vote on his ques- tion, and that was in 1804, with Mr. Pitt, against the Catholic petition. But the conduct of his late right hon. friend, when he went out of office, because he could not carry the great measure he proposed, could not be better illustrated than by comparing it with that of the late ministers. The right hon. secretary here called the attention of the house to the stipulations claimed by the late ministers, that they should be allowed to recommend one policy, whilst they pursued another. The terms upon which they wished to hold their offices were, that they should be allowed to propose measures, that they might afterwards abandon them. The yearly moving of the question would have the effect of making an unfair division of the popularity and odium. The odium would be great, and all fall upon the crown; the benefit would be small, and that the Catholics might have; but the whole of the popularity the ministers were to have. The noble lord had told him of the majority he should have, and of the vexatious motions that were to follow. But why waste his majorities? If sufficient to carry vexatious motions to embarrass his majesty's government, they would [...]àà fortiori be sufficient for the relief of his majesty's subjects; the noble lord ought, therefore, to carry his original measure. It had been said that no notice had been given of an exculpatory statement till atter several partial publications had taken place; but this he denied.—The noble lord, said, the right hon. secretary, has chosen to insinuate that the king had in fact some secret adviser, and that the communication between his majesty and those who are now in his councils, began much earlier than we are willing to avow; and he instances lord Eldon's visit to Windsor (I think on the Saturday se'n-[...]night preceding the change) as a proof of this secret communication. I would not accuse the noble lord of wilful misrepresentation, but I must ask him plainly, in the face of the house, does he not know what was the cause of lord Eldon's visit to Windsor? Does he or does he not know, that previous to his going to Windsor, lord Eldon waited on lord Grenville, and communicated to him distinctly the subject of his intended interview with the king, adding, at the same time, a solemn assurance, that he would mention no other subject to his majesty. The noble lord may insinuate that lord Eldon did not keep his word. I believe he did, and at least I may safely leave it to the house to determine, whether he conduct of lord Eldon, such as I have described it, affords fair grounds for a presumption of insincerity and falsehood? And I will add, sir, that nothing but the extreme delicacy of the subject itself, upon which alone lord Eldon went, and upon which the noble lord must know he went, to communicate with his majesty, prevents me from satisfying the house, by a distinct disclosure of it, how very far removed it was from any thing of a political nature. I know not whether it is intended to extend these insinuations to other members of the new administration, but as expressions have dropped from many gentlemen, on the other side of the house, which appear to convey that charge of intrigue and secret cabal, I think it right to say distinctly for myself, and I say it with equal confidence for my right hon. friend (Mr. Perceval) near me, and for the noble duke, who is at the head of his majesty's government, that not only we have not to answer for any secret or unfair attempts to obtain the situation we now hold, but that we did, each according to our measure and opportunities, exert ourselves fairly and honestly to prevent the mischief which might be apprehended as likely to attend a change of administration in the present circumstances of the country. If when the king was left without a ministry, and the country without a government, we have not hesitated to obey the call made upon us, we were not, however, so rash, so presumptuous, or so blind, in the pursuit of objects of ambition, to the real dangers and difficulties of the times, as to labour and intrigue for so perilous a succession. For myself, I confidently aver, that on the first intimation which I received, from authority which I believed to be unquestionable, of the strong difference of opinion subsisting between the king and his ministers, I took the determination of communicating what I had learnt, and I did communicate it without delay, to that part of the late administration, with which, in spite of political differences, I had continued, and with which (so far as my own feelings are concerned) I still wish to continue, in habits of personal friendship and regard. I communicated it for the express purpose, and with the most earnest advice and exhortation, that they should lose no time in coming to such an explanation and accommodation on the subject as should prevent matters from going to extremities. And it has been no small satisfaction to me to find, in the correspondence which I have since had an opportunity of reading, that as the first attempts at explanation, on the part of ministers, appear to have been made on the day subsequent to my making this communication, my intention to do good, though not ultimately successful, was at least not wholly without effect. Precisely of the same sort was the conduct of my right hon. friend (Mr. Perceval) towards that part of the government with whom he had opportunity of communication. With respect to the noble duke at the head of the administration, I can state with full confidence, that the first intercourse which he had with his. majesty on this occasion, was taken advantage of on his part, not for the purpose of inflaming differences, and incurring or precipitating a change, but of advising and anxiously recommending a full and amicable, and, if possible, a satisfactory explanation.—I venture, then, fearlessly to appeal to the house, whether we can be justly charged with having taken any undue advantage of the circumstances which led to the late change. Our only crime in this respect is, that when the difference between his majesty and his late servants became irreconcileable, and when it was obvious that the administration must go out, we would not consent to join with them in pushing our sovereign to the wall, by reducing him to the alternative of taking them back upon their own terms, to be at their mercy, or of leaving the country without a government.—But, sir, when I contend that we are not responsible, and cannot, in common sense, be held to be so, for acts which were done many weeks before our coming into office, let it not be supposed, however, that I should feel any reluctance to take my full share of responsibility for that part of the king's conduct which is connected with the correspondence between his majesty and his ministers. Far from it. I should indeed be proud to be associated, in any degree, to his majesty's share of that correspondence. And painful as the whole of this discussion has been, painful as it must be to every man who values not the forms only, but the essence of our constitution, to see the king brought here, as it were in person, to be judged at the bar of this house, it is some consolation to reflect, that from the bar of the house of commons there still lies an appeal to the tribunal of the country. It is a great consolation to every loyal mind to feel, that in proportion as the sovereign has been made most unconstitutionally responsible in his own person, he must inevitably become personally better known to his people. And when that people shall see their sovereign, full as he is of years, and labouring under heavy afflictions, yet retaining, in the vigour of a green old age, soundness of judgment, a promptness and vivacity of intellect, which have enabled him to contend singly in this painful controversy against the united talents of all his ministers; when they shall see him displaying powers as fit as those of any of those ministers, or of any other man that hears me, for the discussion of the most perplexing questions, and the conduct of the most difficult affairs; perhaps, sir, I say, when all this shall be made manifest to the people, and when by this manifestation, all these sinister and disheartening rumours, which sometimes accident and sometimes industry propagates through the country, shall have received their decisive confutation, perhaps it may fairly be doubted whether the inconvenience, the hazard, and the unconstitutional tendency of this wanton and unjustifiable arraignment of the personal conduct of the king, may not be more than compensated by the advantage of this display of his personal qualities. And while we regret that those qualities should have been put to such a trial, the country will rejoice in the hope which arises from the manner in which that trial has been sustained, that, after having for near half a century watched with unceasing care and paternal anxiety over the interests and happiness of his people, he may yet, under the protection of Providence, add to that length of life, and to that series of labours, many, many years more, of care and anxiety certainly, but of protecting and efficient care, and of anxiety vigorous and active for the benefit of his people.—For the advice of restoring lord Melville to his majesty's councils, I am ready to take my full share of responsibility; but I think that such a recommendation would have come with a better grace from the hon. gent. (Mr. Whitbread) and his friends, who conducted a late prosecution against that noble lord to a fortunate acquittal. I shall only trouble the house with one word more. Whatever may be the issue of the division of this night, or of the series of divisions with which, if successful, it is to be followed; his majesty's ministers are determined to stand by their sovereign, even though circumstances should occur, in which they may find it their duty to appeal to the country. [Loud cries of hear! hear! from every part of the house.]

Lord Henry Petty

observed, that however that house might be attacked, however it might be threatened, whatever unconstitutional language might be used towards it, he relied on the manly constitutional spiritand understanding of the house, that no such intimidation could induce it to surrender a constitutional principle. There was not one single member on the other side of the house that had answered the arguments of his. noble friend (lord Howick). A great constitutional wrong had been done, and the house would act consistently with what was due to its own character, by declaring with firmness its sense of that wrong. The only mode by which gentlemen on the other side defended the question on their side, was by a repetition of the mis-statements, which had already been repeatedly contradicted and disproved. He now again stated, that the proposition of any new measure, connected with the Catholic question, if circumstances should render it expedient to make such proposition, was, by the declaration of his majesty's late ministers, to be submitted to his majesty. An hon. gent. on the other side, however, had put a hypothetical case, and supposed that another king James might happen to ascend the throne, who would make this measure the means of subverting the Protestant establishment in this country. To this he answered, that if such a king were to ascend the throne, it would then become the duty of ministers to give manly, constitutional advice, however it might be repugnant to the feeling of the then king. But, if it were once admitted as a principle, that a king had a right to demand of his ministers a pledge, that they would not again trouble him with any advice connected with that subject, then truly would the Protestant establishment be in danger. For his own part, although he believed that the motion of his hon. friend would be carried that night by a majority, he did not believe that, had the Catholic bill been persevered in, the influence of the late government exerted at that time could have secured its adoption.—The question being loudly called for, the house divided on the amendment to the original motion, namely, that the other orders of the day be now read. While the opposition members were in the lobby, lord Howick requested their attention: he stated that there were two motions before the house, the first, that the other orders of the day be now read, upon which they were then dividing, and upon which it was pretty certain they should be in a majority; the second would be upon the original motion. Should they, as he trusted they would, negative the first, and carry the original question, it would then be perhaps necessary to propose an address to the throne, to meet the threat which had been thrown out that evening—a threat unexampled in the annals of parliament.—The result of the division was,

For Mr. Osborn's amendment 258
For the original motion 226
Majority for Ministers 32
List of the Minority.
Althorpe, Viscount Dundas, Right Hon. W.
Anson, Col. G. Doyle, Sir John, Bart.
Anstruther, Sir J. Bart. Dickenson, W.
Adam, W. Davenport, D.
Antonie, W. L. Euston, Earl
Atherley, Arthur Ebrington, Lord
Aubrey, Sir J. Bart. Eliot, Right Hon. W.
Blackburne, J. Elliot, Hon. G.
Bruce, P. C. Eden, Hon. W.
Barclay, Sir R. Bart. Erskine, Hon. H.
Baring, A. Forbes, Lord
Baring, T. Fitzgerald Right Hon. M.
Baring, H. Flemming, Hon. C.
Barnett, J. Ferguson, R.
Butler, Hon. T. Fawkes, W.
Butler, Hon. C. Fellowes, R.
Bligh, T. Foley, T.
Bennett, Hon. H. G. Foley, Hon. A.
Benyon, R. Foljambe, F. F.
Barnard, S. Francis, Sir P. Bart.
Bouverie, E. Fremantle, Capt.
Biddulph, R. M. Frankland, W.
Brogden, T. Folkestone, Lord
Byng, G. Grenville, Right Hon. T.
Brand, Hon. T. Giles, D.
Bewick, C. Grenfell, P.
Bradshaw, C. Greenhill, R.
Bradshaw, R. H. Grattan, Right Hon. H.
Bunbury, Sir C. Graham, T.
Brooke, T. Gower, Lord G. H. L.
Cooper, S. Heathcote, Sir G.
Combe, H. C. Herbert, Hon. W.
Cavendish, Lord G. Hibbert. G.
Cavendish, G. H. C. Herbert, Hon. c.
Cavendish, Wm. Hippesley, Sir J. Bart.
Coke, T. W. Herbert, H. A.
Colborne, N. W. R. Hume, W. H.
Cooke, B. Henderson Sir J. Bart.
Curwin, S. C. Hamilton, Lord A.
Creevey, T. Hamilton, Sir H. D.
Corry, Right Hon. T. Honywood, W.
Calvert, N. Horner, F.
Campbell, G. Howard, Hon. W.
Cornwall, Sir G. Bart. Howard, H.
Carew, R. S. Howarth, H.
Colclongh, G. Howick, Right Hon. Lord
Campbell, Lord J. D. Hughes, Col. W.
Denison, W. J. Hurst, R.
Dundas, Col. C. Jarvoise, J. C.
Dundas, Hon. L. Jekyll, J.
Dundas, Hon. C. Jackson, J.
Johnes, Col. Plummer, J. W.
Knox, Hon. T. Prettie, Hon. J. A.
Kempe, T. Parnell, H.
Kensington, Rt. Hon. Lord Power, Rich.
King, Sir T. D. Bart. Portchester, Lord
Knight, R. Porter, General
Lambe, Hon. W. Poyntz, W. S.
Latouche, Col. Praed, W.
Ladbrooke, R. Pym, F.
Langston, T. Quin, Hon. W.
Lambton, R. J. Ramsay, Hon. S.
Lawrence, Dr. Raine, J.
Lemon, Sir W. Bart. Rancliffe, Lord
Lloyd, J. Ridley, Sir W.
Lloyd, Sir E. Bart. Romilly, Sir S.
Lismore, Lord Roscoe, W.
Loveden, E. L. Russell, Lord W.
Lyttleton, Hon. W. H. Robarts, A.
Leach, T. Steward, Hon. M.
Lushington, T. Skene, G.
Lubbock, Sir T. Bart. Savage, F.
Liddell, Sir J. H. Bart. Sawbridge, M.
Mackenzie, Major Scudamore, R. P.
Madocks, W. Shakespeare, A.
Maitland, Lord Sharpe, R.
Markham, Admiral Sheridan, Right Hon. R. B.
Middleton, Sir W. Bart. Shelley, H.
Milbank, Sir R. Bart. Shipley, Colonel
Miller, Sir J. Bart. Spencer, Lord R.
Milner, Sir W. Bart. Stanley, Lord
Morpeth, Lord Stanley, T.
Moore, P. Symonds, T. P.
Moore, Hon. L. Smith, J.
Martin, H. Smith, S.
Matthew, H. M. Tighe, W.
Mosley, Sir O. Bart. Taylor, A.
Maule, Hon. W. temple, Lord
M'Dowall, W. Thistlethwaite, T.
Morris, E. Templetown, Lord
Mostyn, Sir T. Tower, A. W.
Mahon, Lord Townshend, Lord J.
M'Donald, T. Tuffnell, Colonel
Monson, Col. W. Tierney, Right Hon. G.
Nugent, Sir G. Bart. Trevannion, Mr.
Newport, Sir J. Vane, Sir F. Bart.
Neville, Hon. Mr. Vernon, G.
Noel, G. N. Vansittart, G.
Northey, W. Walpole, Gen.
O'Callaghan, T. Ward, J.
Ogle, Hon. H. M. Wentworth, G.
Ord, W. Wharton, J.
Ossulston, Rt. Hon. Lord Whitbread, S.
Ponsonby, Hon. F. Wickham, W.
Primrose, Rt. Hon. Lord Williams, O.
Paxton, Sir W. Bart. Wilson, B.
Peirse, H. Windham, W.
Plunkett, C. Woolmore, J.
Pelham, Hon. C. A. Wynne, Sir W. W.
Pelham, Hon. G. Wynne, C. W.
Percy, Lord Wynne, H.
Petty, Lord H. Warren, Sir J. B. Bart.
Phillips, Mansel Calcraft, J. Tellers
Piggott, Sir A. Fremantle, W.
Plumer, W. Total - - 228
The following members paired off:
Courtney, J. Henderson, A.
Fitzpatrick, G. Ferguson, G.
Smyth, Right Hon. J. Smith, G.
Western, C. Astley, Sir J.
Taylor, C. Williams, Sir R.
—Adjourned at half-past six on Friday morning.

Back to