§ Mr. Wardle moved the order of the day for taking into consideration the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee, who were appointed to investigate the Conduct of his royal highness the Duke of York, the Commander in Chief, with regard to Promotions, Exchanges, and Appointments to Commissions in the Army, and Staff of the Army, and in raising Levies for the Army. After which,
§ Mr. Wardle
rose and spoke to the following effect:— Mr. Speaker; I am fully aware of the difficulty of the situation in which I am placed; but I shall not trouble the house with many words before I proceed to examine the evidence which has been taken at the Bar, as well as the written documents on the table; and to comment upon those parts to which I shall have particularly to refer. My leading object from the opening of this important 4 business to the present moment, has been to obtain a fair and cool investigation of the charges I thought it my duty to bring forward against h. r. h. the Commander in Chief. I have endeavoured to avoid every thing likely to cause irritation in the progress of the enquiry, and in that course I shall most rigidly persevere. However I may feel hurt, that motives highly injurious to my character, and not more injurious than false, have been indirectly attributed to me as the grounds of my proceedings, and though I may also have thought that in the early stage of the enquiry I was harshly treated, still, sir, on these points I shall make no comment, but at once proceed to a more pleasant task, that of offering my thanks where I feel them due. To the House for all the indulgence I met with during the arduous investigation. To his majesty's ministers for the attention which they paid to my request, when exhausted by fatigue both of mind and body, in an early stage of the enquiry, I applied for one day's respite from my labours. To my hon. friend below me (Mr. Whitbread) for the manly support he afforded me at a moment when I did indeed stand much in want of it, I know not how to express my obligation! Under such a shield I sat at naught the various shafts that were levelled at me, and proceeded in conscious security. Indisposition unfortunately deprived me of the able assistance of an hon. and worthy baronet (sir Francis Burdett) who early took up the cause. I feel equally obliged to him, though I lament the loss of his great abilities. Of my noble friend (lord Folkestone) I know not how to speak. In the early stage of this important enquiry, he not only rendered me every assistance his zeal and great talents could command, but voluntarily committed himself with me as a direct party in the proceedings, and this too at a time when the danger and difficulty of the undertaking was the only theme on both sides of the House, and when public odium was held out as likely to fall on me. Vain would it be for me to say how much I feel indebted for his powerful exertions; the country, I trust, will do ample justice to his manly conduct, and appreciate the merits of his true patriotism. To many other friends I feel also much indebted. That h. r. h. the duke of York has been most ably defended, I rejoice. If his majesty's ministers and the crown lawyers thought it their duty to do so, they have acted most openly, 5 which does them honour, at least it will convince the public that nothing has been left undone in the defence to reader it effectual. But the representatives of the people ought as religiously to maintain the rights of the people, as the servants of the king do those of the crown. There is one consideration which I trust the house will not be insensible to, namely, that whatever may be due to the superior rank of h. r. h. still much is due from the representatives of the people to their constituents and the country. This, I trust, the event of this important investigation will fully justify. On the strength, the truth and justice of my cause, I rely, as I hitherto have done throughout the whole of the proceedings, and without detaining the house any longer with preliminary observations, I shall proceed to offer what I have to say on those parts of the evidence, to which I beg leave particularly to call the attention of the house. The 1st Case is the
§ Exchange between Lieutenant Colonels Knight and Brooke.
stated that he was authorized by Mr. Robert Knight to tell Mrs. Clarke, that she should receive 200l. if she would use her influence to expedite the Exchange, and remove some delays and impediments which had taken place, and that he gave their names to Mrs. Clarke on a slip of paper. Mr. R. Knight declared that he had authorized Dr. Thynne to make this offer to Mrs. Clarke; and Mrs. Clarke has likewise stated that Dr. T. made the application to her to effect the Exchange between lieutenant colonels Knight and Brooke; that he gave her the names of both on a slip of paper, neither of whom she knew: she gave the same slip of paper to h. r. h., and when the Exchange was effected she sent the gazette, with a note to Dr. T., informing him that she was going out of town in a day or two, and that the 200l. would be very convenient. In consequence of this she received the 200l. Dr. T. believes the Exchange was a good deal expedited by Mrs. C, but a fortnight or three weeks elapsed between the application and the time the gazette was sent. Mr. R. Knight thinks he went three times to the gazette office after the application was made by Dr. T. to Mrs. Clarke, and did not become acquainted with her till the Exchange was effected, when she begged of him to keep the matter secret from the Duke of York. 6 Mrs. C. further stated that she informed h. r. h., that she did not know the parties, but that they would make her a compliment: upon her receiving the 200l. bank note, she showed it to him, and thinks she got one of his servants to get it changed for her. It is very likely, she might desire Mr. Knight to keep the matter secret, but not from the D. of York. When she mentioned the business first to h. r. h., he told her they had been trying at it some time, and that he thought one of them was rather a bad subject, but he would do it.— From the foregoing testimony of Dr. T., Mr. R. Knight, and Mrs. C, it must be admitted beyond a doubt that 20Ol. had been offered to her to use her influence to expedite the Exchange, which sum was ultimately paid to her under the impression that she had exerted her influence for that purpose. The next point to be ascertained is, whether she did exert her influence, and whether the Duke of York was a party to the business. Mrs. C. says she applied to h. r. h, and gave him a slip of paper she received from Dr. T., containing the names of the parties, adding at the same time they would make her a compliment, and that she did not know them. Surely there could not be a stronger corroboration of all this than what, has been given in evidence by Dr. T., and Mr. R. Knight. Dr. T. stated he gave her such slip of paper, and Mi; Knight proved that she did not then know the parties. I must say, that in this evidence it was not necessary for the parties to have been so minute, unless they had a strong impression upon their minds as to the transaction on which they were giving testimony; for, in proportion to the minuteness with which they detailed the circumstances, the danger of contradiction is certainly greater. A general assertion was less liable to contradiction, and consequently the minuteness of the evidence is a strong proof of its correctness. Mrs. C. further stated, that when she recommended the application of the parties for the Exchange to the Commander in Chief, he said he knew the business very well, that they had been trying at it for some time; and it appeared from the documents upon the table that they had been some time endeavouring to effect the Exchange themselves, before the application had been made to Mrs. C. This was actually the case, and how was she to come to the knowledge of that circumstance, except through the Commander in Chief? 7 H. r. h. had said that one of them was a bad subject, and it actually appeared from the papers on the table that col. Brooke had only served as a cornet in a regiment of cavalry for four months, and out of the twelve years he had been in the army, he had been for seven years on half pay. Unless, therefore, there were particularly strong reasons for giving col. Brooke this advantage, it ought not to have been done, especially when it was considered that he would thus be placed in a situation where he. might have to command a cavalry regiment— a duty of great difficulty, and one that in ordinary cases could not have been expected to be very well performed by a person who had only served in the cavalry as cornet for the space of four months, and who had been for seven years out of twelve on half pay. Mrs. C. said that she shewed the notes to the Commander in Chief on the day she received them, that he was going to Weymouth that night. Mr. Knight stated that he sent her the notes early on the 31st of July, and col. Gordon has given testimony that the Duke of York did go to Weymouth on the 31st July; and he added that he generally travelled by night, so that on both these points Mrs. C. is in a peculiar manner corroborated in what she has advanced. Mrs. C. has also stated that she thinks she got the notes changed by one of the Duke's servants through h. r. h. Pierson, the butler, said, that on the night the D. of York went to Weymouth, about 11 o'clock at night, he was sent out to get a bill changed; that the Duke was present at the time; that the witness believed it was a bill of 100l.; that he tried to get the bill changed at Stevens's in Bond-street; that he had not succeeded; and that he succeeded at Byfield and Bridgeman's, the confectioners, in Vere-street. I admit that the evidence of Pierson was somewhat confused. He seemed to have been mistaken when he said that it was at Bridgeman's, and not at Stevens's, that he got the note changed. But at the same time, he certainly appeared to have spoken what was true to the best of his judgment, and with the exception of this mistake, there was every reason to give credit to his testimony, particularly as Mrs. Bridge-man recollects his applying to her to have a large note changed. Mrs. Clarke had said, that she believed that there were only two or three days between the date of the exchange and the application. Dr. Thynne and Mr. Knight spoke positively 8 to a fortnight or three weeks, and Mr. K. had said that he went three times for the Gazette. That they differed so far was clear, but on a point such as this, it was not at all surprising that there should be such a variation. It was obvious that they had stated it as a case that required dispatch, and no doubt she exerted herself to effect the exchange as speedily as possible, for if their object was dispatch, heir's was to get the money, which she might lose if the affair was not hastened; and the slip of paper to insure this point would be given to the Commander in Chief as soon as received from Dr. Thynne; and therefore between her application to h. r. h., and the parties being gazetted, there is the strongest ground to believe that at least a fortnight elapsed. There was also a variation as to the point of keeping the matter secret; Mr. Knight, however, must have been persuaded when he gave Mrs. C. the 200l. that the exchange had been expedited through her influence with the D. of York, and consequently that the Duke must have known it. If Mrs. C. therefore had desired him to keep the matter secret from the D. of York, it was telling him that she had swindled him out of the 200l.; for if she had not used her influence with the Duke, she had no claim to it, and if she had, the Duke must know it, and therefore Mr. Knight must have believed that the D. of York was acquainted with the transaction. Was it credible upon any supposition that he would have given her 200l.? That Mrs. C. required secrecy in these transactions was indeed true, as appeared from the evidence of Mr. Corri and others. The reasons for this were obvious— but it was impossible from their nature, that she could have desired secrecy, as far as concerned the knowledge of the Commander in Chief. The letter of the D. of York to Mrs. Clarke, respecting the application of general Clavering for a regiment— a letter written with a great deal of caution, proved that he was accustomed to communicate with her on these subjects. And it further proved that he was very anxious to keep his name out of question. "Clavering," he said, "is mistaken in thinking that any new regiments are to be raised; you had better therefore tell him so, and that you were sure there would be no use in applying for him." It was clear from this how much he wished to keep his name secret with respect to these transactions; but after such letters as this, Mrs. C. could not be in her senses if she had expressed 9 any fear of the D. of York's becoming acquainted with these applications. "You would do this and you would do that," was a mode of expression which clearly manifested the Duke's desire, that he should not be brought forward, and on that account, as well as for other reasons, Mrs. C. might be anxious for general secrecy; but it was absurd to suppose that she could desire that to be kept from the D. of York, which she well knew he was already acquainted with.
But there were written documents on the table of the House, which spoke as strongly as the evidence at the bar. On the memorandum by Messrs. Cox and Greenwood, of Brooke's services, there were pencil marks, first "C. L. cannot be acceded to— h. r. h. docs not approve of the exchange proposed" and afterwards "h. r. h. does now approve of the exchange." By the words "cannot be acceded to," col. Gordon said that no more was meant than that a stoppage till further inquiry could be made; he said, that if further inquiry were to be made, he should probably say "to be considered," and then he said, that he would very probably say, "cannot be acceded to." That this phraseology might be understood at the Horse Guards, I admit; but that it could be understood in the sense ascribed to it by col. Gordon any where else, I deny, unless it was to be contended that words of direct refusal implied only consideration. But as if it had been thought that the words "cannot be acceded to," were not sufficiently strong, it was added, "h. r. h. does not approve of the exchange proposed." If I had been a party in the transaction, I certainly should not have expected any further inquiry to be made, after being told that the proposal could not be acceded to; and every person asking a favour must have taken these words as a complete denial. In a subsequent document, it was said, that h. r. h. was of opinion that the services of col. Brooke could not but be favourably considered. But the services of col. Brooke were stated in the paper on the table, where it appeared that he had served four months as a cornet in the 8th dragoons; and that, out of twelve years in the army, he had been seven years on half-pay. But col. G. assured us, that the request was complied with on the ground of his services. These, however, were such as he had stated; such they were when the request was refused; and such they were when it was 10 granted. Col. Gordon did not recollect any person of whom he had made inquiries after the refusal; and when gentlemen recollected the accuracy of his memory, was not this extraordinary? I ask then, what made this officer eligible for the command of a regiment of cavalry? The situation of an officer who might have the command of a cavalry regiment was a very difficult one, and required considerable experience in that particular service, of which experience col. Brooke had but little. Col. Gordon had said, that by a rule of the Commander in Chief, no officer could be promoted to the rank of a field officer under six years service; an excellent rule, and highly honourable to the Commander in Chief, and one which would have been of essential advantage to the army if adhered to. But was it not extraordinary that one who, out of 12 years, had been only five upon full pay, should be selected for a field officer of a cavalry regiment, he having only served in the cavalry for four months? This militated against the rule, for here was an officer with the full knowledge of the Commander in Chief appointed upon five years service to a situation which, according to the rule, he could not have held till he had served six years. It might be argued, that the event had proved that col. Brooke was well worthy of the situation; that might be; I do not know col. Brooke, but probably he may have proved a meritorious officer. That, however, was nothing at all to the question, for col. Gordon could have had no strong ground for the recommendation, if ever he did recommend him, about which he appeared somewhat doubtful. Taking into consideration the whole of this case, I do contend, that no reason whatever has been shewn to satisfy the house, that the exchange was carried into effect through any other medium than the influence of Mrs. C. over the Commander in Chief.
§ Case of Captain Maling.
§ The next Case to which I shall have to call the attention of the House is that of captain Maling. With regard to this Case, although in compliance with sentiments expressed, when it was first offered to the consideration of the Committee, I consented to withdraw it, I sincerely rejoice that the Committee did not think proper to accede to that proposition, for I now conceive it to be a case as interesting to the officers of the army as any other whatever. 11 It was admitted, that at the time of his promotion there were a great number of officers who wished to purchase, and many, his seniors, distinguished for long and meritorious services, who wished to be promoted. This was admitted by col. Gordon; and it appeared that the only reason for the preference given to capt. Maling, was his unexceptionable character and assiduity. But the question was, why had he been put over the heads of so many other officers of acknowledged service as well as ability? This gentleman, though assiduous and of an unexceptionable character, had never been out of England; and I would ask, whether it was not improper, not to say corrupt, to raise him over the heads of so many officers of long and distinguished service? On the 28th Nov. 1805, capt. Maling was appointed to an ensigncy in the 87th regt. and made a captain in the Royal African Corps on the 15th Sept. 1808; so that in less than three years he was put over the heads of many very meritorious subalterns. This was admitted by col. Gordon, and that there were several subalterns in the army senior to capt. M. anxious at the time of his promotion to a company (without purchase) to purchase; and all he states in favour of capt, Maling's promotion, is that he was a very unexceptionable gentleman: still, however, I am at a loss for the military services of capt. Maling, that gave him a claim of superseding so many old officers. I am ready to admit that every Commander in Chief should have the power of rewarding brilliant services by irregular and rapid promotion, but if officers are so promoted, without having distinguished themselves by military exploit or highly meritorious services, I maintain that such promotions are acts of corruption!
§ In the progress of this investigation, it came out that there was another Maling in the office with col. Gordon, who it seems, was made a captain without any military service whatever, who never joined any regiment, and whose only recommendation was his assiduity under col. Gordon. It is preposterous and not to be tolerated, that a gentleman, for services at col. Gordon's desk, should be rewarded with military rank and honours, to the prejudice of officers of brilliant and distinguished character, who have encountered toil and peril in all parts of the globe, whilst capt. Maling has basked in the sunshine of Horse Guards favour, wielding no other weapon than his pen. I do then, Sir, 12 maintain that capt. Maling, who col. Gordon states never to have rendered any military services, ought not to be a captain in the army. I must be allowed to go further, and say that he ought not to be put on the half pay, which col. Gordon said was in agitation, for if he is, it is a direct violation of an Act of Parliament which provides that no officer who had never joined any regiment should be put on half pay. I trust the House will now see the necessity of limiting the power of the Commander in Chief in such cases as this, otherwise corrupt practices will be continued.— Col. Gordon's own Case is rather singular, I am disposed to give him full and implicit credit for his gallant services in his military profession, but I contend his military services are not of that brilliant nature to entitle him to a regiment, to the prejudice of a long list of old and meritorious officers! However lightly this subject may have been treated by the House, I hope I have clearly shewn the great abuse that has resulted, and is likely to result, from giving an unlimited power of this nature to any Commander in Chief.
§ Colonel French's Levy.
§ This Case is extremely important, and clearly shews Mrs. Clarke's decided influence with the Commander in Chief. It must be admitted, from the evidence of capt. Sandon, Mr. Corri, Mr. Dowler, Mr. Grant, and Mrs. Clarke, that pecuniary reward was offered to her for her influence, and that she received considerable sums under that impression. The next point to be considered is, whether she possessed such influence, and whether she used it on this occasion. Mr. Grant proves that col. French told him a Mrs. Clarke had procured his letter of service: Mr. Dowler proves that col. French applied to Mrs. C. for alterations in the Levy: capt. Sandon proves that he was fifty times with her on the business, and Mrs. C. says she was teased to death, and gave their notes unopened to the Duke. This traffic continued for months, and the parties continue from time to time to pay Mrs. C. money. Is it not then clear that she must have proved again and again by the use of her influence, that she possessed it? Capt. Huxley Sandon stated that he applied to Mrs. C. to procure her influence for himself and col. French in this Levy— that they were to pay her 500l. upon receiving the letter of service, and that she was to have 13 2,000l. if the Levy succeeded— that she had been paid several sums in the progress of the business. Mr. Corri stated, that he was to receive 200l. for introducing them to Mrs. C.; that she said she could recommend none but persons of character; and that it would be necessary for them to go through the regular forms at the War office; that in the month of July 1804 she had desired him to destroy her letters. Mr. Dowler spoke to the alteration in the terms, by which the number of boys was to be increased, and by which Mrs. C. for her good offices was to receive a guinea per man. Mr. Dowler had also stated, that he had advised her not to trouble herself with matters of this sort, and that she alledged as the reason, that she was forced to do it, because the Duke of York did not supply her with money for her establishment. Mr. Grant, the agent for the levy, said, he understood that it was to be obtained through the influence of Mrs. C, who was to be paid 500l. immediately. He also spoke to the alteration to be procured through Mrs. C.'s influence, and to the loan to be advanced to the Duke of York upon payment of the arrears. Mrs. C. also said, that she received 500l. and had paid them to Burkitt the silversmith, for plate, and the remainder of the price of the plate she believed to have been paid by the Commander in Chief, for he, as she imagined, had told her so. Miss Taylor stated, that the Duke of York said to Mrs. C. in her presence, "I am continually worried by col. French— he worries me continually about the levy business, and is always wanting something more in his own favour— how does he behave to you, darling?" To which Mrs. C. replied "middling, not very well;" upon which the Duke of York said, "master French must mind what he is about, or I shall cut up him and his levy too;"— bills were also drawn on the Duke of York relative to this business, and liquidated by his checks upon Coutts's house.
§ It is manifest, from this Evidence, that Mrs. C. had received from these parties, a pecuniary reward for her influence with the Duke of York; and that sums had been advanced her from the impression that she had exerted that influence with effect. The next point was, whether she actually had that influence to which she pretended. Capt. Sandon said, that he had been fifty times with her upon this business: and she said that she was teazed to death by him and col. French upon this subject, and 14 that she gave their notes unopened to the Duke of York. It appeared that they had paid her 1700l. in small sums in the course of the transaction, which they would never have done had they not been fully convinced that she actually possessed the influence over the Duke of York's mind, to which she pretended. The letters of Mrs. Clarke to capt. Sandon, I contend, afford positive proofs of her influence with h. r. h. She said, in No. 28, (Vide Mrs. Clarke's Letters in Vol. XII. Feb. 16.) "I gave the papers to h. r. h.; he read them while with me, said, he still thought men high, but that an answer would be left at his office in the way of business. I told him, if any was appointed, to give the colonel the preference— burn this as soon as read— I don't comprehend exactly what you mean by five other things, I don't think it possible." In this letter, Mrs. Clarke stated what she had done with the papers, the Duke's' remark upon them, and she pointed out where capt. Sandon would receive an answer; and it is here1 worthy of remark, that it appears from this letter, that official regularity formed part of her system as well as of that of col. Gordon's; and that she attended to the proceedings at the Horse-Guards, as well as to those in Gloucester-place.
§ It was impossible Mrs. Clarke could have made such communications to capt. Sandon, unless she actually possessed the influence over the Duke of York which the parties believed her to enjoy. In No. 31, she said, "I hope you will attend the Duke to day, as Clinton leaves him on Thursday, and he has all the writings for you in hand; he will not leave his office till six. I shall be glad of 100 guineas, if possible, this week." Here she said that Clinton was to leave the Duke on a particular day, that he had all the papers in hand, and that the Duke would not leave the office till six. She wished to send capt. Sandon to the office to attend the Duke. How could she have known these circumstances about Clinton, and the several other matters, unless she had a direct communication with the office and the Commander in Chief; and must not capt. Sandon have had positive proof of the part she took in his concerns, when he waited upon the Commander in Chief, by her appointment, to talk over the very communications made to him by Mrs. Clarke herself. In No. 39, she said, "I am told an answer is left out for col. French, at the office, and that now he has dropped three guineas per man." 15 This was another proof of the fact which he had stated; that unless she had been in the constant habit of communicating with the Commander in Chief, she must have betrayed herself to capt. Sandon, at every turn; in one instance she speaks of a fact, the truth or fallacy of which was perfectly known to capt. Sandon. In No. 11, she said, "You are to have the bounty that Pitt is to give to the line, so that every thing goes on well. I told him that I should see you at Vauxhall on Monday." — Here is a direct and official report; had it been false the event must have ruined her credit. In No. 8, she said, "The Duke told me this morning you must get on faster with your men— he has written to town for that purpose— you had better send me the exact number of all you have sent, and I will show it him." Here she called for documents as an agent to transmit them to the Commander in Chief. Could any one, after attending to the statements in these letters, really persuade himself that she could possibly have done all this without a communication on the subject with the Commander in Chief? In No. 10, she said, "she thought it best that Sandon should not come to her box that evening, as Greenwood was to be at the theatre with the Duke, and if he saw her and Sandon together he might say something about the levy business, and hurt then-future interests." In her evidence she stated, that if she and Sandon were seen together it might occasion a suspicion about their connection in the levy business, that might be injurious to them. This apprehension was very reasonable; because if any such suspicion should arise in Greenwood's mind, he might state it to the Duke of York, who might find himself obliged to put an end to the levy, or place himself in a very unpleasant predicament. In No. 6, she said, "He will do it, so let the proposals be sent in by when he gets to town, which will be as soon as you get this, for 1,000 at first. The Duke of Cambridge has already 4,000. You have not any occasion to be very particular as to their being Protestants, for I don't think it of any consequence to him: I think you had better attend him on Tuesday to ask his opinion of the papers sent in on Saturday, as I told him I had seen the proposals which you intended to alter and leave that evening." This letter related to the German levy, and it is rather extraordinary, that of the documents on the table, none could fee found that referred to that transaction. 16 Yet col. French sent parties to Germany, and this letter alone was sufficient to prove that he did so, through the influence of Mrs. C. There were other letters that confirmed this, and from the whole of them, there Could be no doubt whatever of the influence which Mrs. C. possessed over the Duke's mind; and as little doubt of his being in the constant habit of using it. From this letter it appears that she had been acting the part of Commander in Chief herself. She said she had seen the proposals, and directs capt. Sandon to attend at the Horse-Guards for the final decision upon them!
§ The next letter I shall refer to is No. 15."The Duke is very angry with you, for when he last saw you, you promised him 300 foreigners, and you have not produced one. O yes? Master Sandon is a pretty fellow to depend upon." Now in this letter she communicates a direct promise made by capt. Sandon to the Duke of York? If no such promise had been made, would she not have stood self-convicted to capt.Sandon, and who but the Duke himself could have told her of this promise? But, sir, I am aware I have proved, incontrovertibly proved, that Mrs. Clarke did possess and exercise her influence over the Commander in Chief, through the whole progress of this levy, and it is unnecessary to dwell any longer on this point But here I beg to remark, that the evidence arising from these letters, written at a moment when she had the full confidence and protection of the Commander in Chief, confirms in every point that evidence she has now given, when she enjoys neither his confidence or protection.
§ The next point was, whether he knew that Mrs. Clarke took money for the exercise of that influence. It was natural, certainly, for the Commander in Chief, had he not himself been a party, to have asked her why she took such interest in these transactions — he must have known that there could be no reason for any strong disinterested friendship for the parties, and the only answer she could give, was, the true one, that they supplied her with money. She said, that she told this to the Commander in Chief, and every circumstance connected with the case corroborated her assertion. Mrs. C. even stipulated for accommodation for the Duke himself. Another circumstance speaks strongly to Mrs. C.'s having no fear of the Commander in Chief knowing of her various money transactions with capt. Sandon; for frequent 17 as her applications in her letters to him were for money, still not the smallest caution as to the time or mode of payment! No hint even in these letters that h. r. h. must not know of the money negotiations. Could she then have been afraid of exposure to him? and does not this prove him a party? Another point was the expence of the establishment in Gloucester-place, which I hope will be kept in view through every part of the discussion. Without some such method as this for procuring money, h. r. h. must have known that Mrs. Clarke could not have supported their establishment. Then there was the evidence of Miss Taylor, as to his knowledge that Mrs. Clarke derived pecuniary advantage from this levy.—"How does French behave to you, Darling?" were his words; and when Mrs. Clarke said, "middling— not very well;" he observed, "Master French had better mind what he "is about, &c. &c." How could there be testimony more natural, more conclusive than all this? If there had been nothing else but this to prove the knowledge of the D. of Y., as to the taking money by Mrs. C, still with this alone, the proof ought to be considered as incontrovertible.
§ In corroboration of h. r. h.' s possessing a knowledge of the pecuniary emoluments derived by Mrs. C. from the Levy, Mr. Wardle adduced the case of major Tonyn, where it was in evidence by captain Sandon and Mr. Grant, that 500l. were, on account of that promotion, to be paid to Mrs. C. Mr. Dowler saw the money paid; the person belonging to the house of Mr. Birkett proved that about the same period 500l. part of the amount of a service of plate, had been paid by Mrs. C, and the balance by the D. of Y.' s own notes. This circumstance, I conceive, is conclusive as to the D. of Y.' s knowledge of the transaction. H. r. h. must, from his granting bills only for the balance, have known that the 500l. had been paid by her; he must also have known that he himself had not given her money to enable her to pay this 500l. What was more natural, therefore, or did it not rather follow as a necessary consequence, that he should have asked her, had he been ignorant of the transaction, where, and in what manner she procured the money to pay this 500l. to account of a service of plate, for the balance of which he granted his own notes. I confess that with the full exercise of all due charity on the occasion I cannot conceive h. r. h. to be ignorant 18 either of the one transaction or of the other. That a particular accommodation was meant for an undue exercise of a right of patronage, I think the proposed loan of 5,000l. by col. French, affords a corroborative proof. Mrs. C., in her evidence, stated, that application had been made at the offices, but that it did not succeed. Mr. Grant said, that col. French had applied to him to advance the loan, and, in this he was corroborated by Mrs. C. The D. of Y., in his letter, stated, that he had no knowledge of any transaction of the kind; yet, on this subject, there must have been a communication with him; and, if it had been carried on, he must have been a principal party in it. If the loan had been negociated, it was to hare been done on proper security. To such security the D. of Y. himself must have been a party, it being obvious that the security of Mrs. C. could not have been received; and, therefore, h. r. h. must himself have appeared. The next evidence in this case, to which I shall refer, are the official documents on the table. It appeared from them, that a regular application had been made by col. French for leave to raise a Levy, to consist of 5,000 men, to be discontinued, if within the space of nine months 4,000 out of the 5,000 should not be raised. On the 13th May, 1804, the Inspecting-general, Taylor, declared the letter of service so granted to col. French to be an exception from the general rule. Again, on the 10th of Nov., when at the end of seven months not 200 men had been raised, an indulgence was given as to the size of men and lads to be engaged for that Levy; and on the 26tb of Nov. an extension of the age was made to 35 years. Complaints are in the mean time made by brigadier-general Taylor in Ireland, from which col. French endeavoured to vindicate himself; and on the 25th Jan., 1805, gen. Taylor writes a letter, to which I crave the attention of the House. In this letter, after stating a variety of charges, gen. Taylor represents it as a Levy without men: that the few raised cost the country 150l. per man. That the most improper practices prevailed in the conduct of the corps; and that when the harvest was reaped, little was to be expected. When this was the nature of the communications made to the Commander in Chief, at the distance of nine months, at which period government had said, if 4,000 men were not raised, the levy would be discontinued; whereas there were not then 200 men actually raised; when this was com- 19 municated to the Commander in Chief, accompanied by particular charges of a most infamous and detestable kind; when it was shewn that the country, overloaded as it was with taxes, was paying for this levy 150l. a man; with such a document before the Commander in Chief, was it not matter of surprise that the influence of Mrs. C., or of any other person, should have been, so strong as to induce him to allow that pernicious, system to continue for a moment? If it was not the influence of Mrs. C, what could it be that could actuate him to continue this vile, abominable levy, when only 200 had been raised, instead of 4,000, and at such an exorbitant expence? This, however, was not the course of h. r. h. He did not stop the levy, even after this document was before him, but allowed it to go on, with this gentle hint, that "unless a very considerable increase should take place in the numbers recruited, prior to the 1st of April next, he would feel himself under the necessity of recommending to his majesty to discontinue a levy so unproductive." The answer, however, communicated by gen. Taylor was, that he had formed a premature judgment on the probable success of the exertions of col. French, and that the terms of that officer's letter of service were not allowed him. What! col. French's levy had existed for nine months; within that period he had not raised200 men, although, by his letter of service, he ought to have raised four thousand; and yet, when the brigadier-general of the district represented the case to the Commander in Chief, he was to be told that he had formed a premature judgment in the case! What is the House to think, if such things as these are to be tolerated? The next document on the subject, was the letter of gen. White locke to the office of the Commander in Chief, dated 14th of April, 1805, recommending that on account of the great expence, as well as the disgraceful conduct of the noncommissioned officers, the propriety of discontinuing the levy so burdensome and unproductive. This letter also conveyed a not a bene, reminding h. r. h. of his resolution, unless a very considerable increase should take place by the 1st of April, that the levy should be discontinued. There was another letter accompanying this, from the inspecting Field Officer, stating a variety of crimes and irregularities committed by the non-commissioned officers, who were even said to be busily employed in crimping for Other corps. Then follows a 20 letter from the Commander in Chief to the Secretary at War, of the l6th of April, stating that as it appears by the returns of the joint levy, that it is not so productive as might have been expected, it was to be discontinued. This was the mild sentence of the Commander in Chief passed on the officers and non-commissioned officers, who had been engaged in the abominable practices complained of. This was his mild conduct when he was called on to do justice between the public and a man protected by his own mistress. Is there any man who hears me that can believe that such a levy would be allowed for a single moment longer, after these representations, to disgrace the service? On the 20th of April ensuing, col. French and capt.Sandon submitted to the consideration of the Commander in Chief, the continuance of the levy under certain modifications; and the answer given to the proposition was, that h. r. h. cannot give any farther encouragement to the prosecution of a levy, which has turned out so unprofitable to the public service. This was the nature of the answer given by the Commander in Chief; but I venture to affirm, that under any other influence than that of Mrs. C, such an insult as proposing on any terms to continue such a levy, would never have been suffered to pass over. Those official documents alone, I think are sufficient to convince any impartial man of the undue influence by which the levy in question was supported. Those documents afforded satisfactory proof, that the levy was continued after there was evidence of incalculable injury having been produced by its existence to the country. For every guinea Mrs. C. received in consequence of this levy, the people paid upwards of 140l. and a more destructive system in other respects was never carried on under any government. If after all this there was any man who would say that the D. of Y. did not stand convicted of being a party to this transaction, I am of opinion that there is no evidence on earth which, in the judgment of such persons, could make him privy to it.
§ Major Tonyn's Case.
§ I shall now proceed to the Case of major Tonyn. Capt. Sandon stated the agreement to pay Mrs. Clarke 500l. on capt. Tonyn's promotion to a Majority being gazetted, and Donovan produced a memorandum of that sum having been lodged in the hands of a banker. Capt. Sandon 21 also stated that capt. Tonvn began to be out of humour on account of the delay, and to threaten to take back his money. He communicated his dissatisfaction to Mrs. C, who called him a shabby fellow, and that he had better wait. That he consented to wait for a week or two longer. Capt. Sandon reported to Mrs. C. and major Tonyn was gazetted on the Saturday or Tuesday following. Mrs. C.'s evidence went to this, that she recommended major Tonyn to the Commander in Chief: that he was promoted through her means; and that she received 500l. on that account. In this she was corroborated by Sandon, who proved that the money was paid, and major Tonyn promoted. Also that he had shewn to major Tonyn a note from the D. of Y., by which he was induced to wait.— Written evidence on this point, consists principally of letters from Mrs. C. to Sandon. In one she stated that she had mentioned Tonyn to the Duke, and that he was perfectly agreeable. In another, that the Duke told her, he was so busy with the reviews on the coast, that major Tonyn could not be made for a month. He actually was not made for upwards of three weeks, and the reviews of the coast were going on at that time. In another, she tells capt. Sandon that neither general Tonyn nor his son have any influence with the Duke. That h. r. h. had ordered the major to be gazetted, but that it was entirely owing to her (Mrs. C.) The Duke also told her of other applications which were making at the same time, which she related, and which shewed that she had daily communications on military subjects with the Commander in Chief.— From another letter it appeared that there was some objection to Tonyn's appointment. There was no doubt of a regular official recommendation, but this was a circumstance, of which, at all times, Mrs. C. was perfectly aware. She said she told the Commander in Chief she was to have a pecuniary consideration. Sandon states, that Tonyn was gazetted on the Tuesday following, and it was hardly possible to figure that it was not through her means. There was not to my mind a more convincing proof than the few words contained in the note addressed to Geo. Farqunar, esq. of the privity of the D. of Y. to the whole transaction. It had been strongly urged that Mrs. C. had forged this note; but, if this had been the case, she could never have thought of unnecessarily involving herself by direct- 22 ing to George Farquhar a note to be shewn to major Tonyn. He could know nothing of the name of George Farquhar. It would have been more natural, when written for the express purpose of convincing major Tonyn, that she had some power over the D. of Y., that the card should have been addressed to herself. The circumstance, however, of its being addressed to George Farquhar, must convince any man that it was the Commander in Chief's own writing. It was to be observed, that capt. Sandon was, if not hostile to the present inquiry, at least not friendly to it: but Mrs. C. did not seem to have been at all cautious as to the entrusting this note to capt. Sandon, which she would assuredly not have done had it been a forgery. How then could she have induced the Commander in Chief to write such a note as this, but by the very statement, that his not doing so would occasion to her a loss of 500l.; as without such a note she could not deter major Tonyn from withdrawing, out of his banker's, the 500l. which he had placed there, to be paid over to her, on being gazetted.
§ Colonel Shaw's Case.
§ The next case is that of col. Shaw, in whose behalf an application had been made to Mrs. C. to procure him an appointment on the staff Mrs. C.'s evidence went to this, that she did recommend col. Shaw to the Commander in Chief for this staff appointment, and procured it for him. That the sum to be paid her was 500l. but that 200l. only were paid; and that not having received the remaining 300l. she complained to the Commander in Chief, who stated that he would put him on half-pay. Mr. Charles Shaw corroborated the fact as to the payment of the 300l. but denied that it had been made in consequence of the agreement alluded to by Mrs. C. The written documents were first, a recommendatory letter from sir H. Burrard in favour of major Shaw, the answer to which was, he must join his regiment. The 2d, a letter from sir H. Burrard in favour of major Shaw, stating that he had found a major of the 39th eager to go to Ceylon, but that he WAS himself preparing, as fast as he could, however distressing it was to him. The answer of col. Gordon was, that having twice mentioned his name and wishes to the Commander in Chief, he could not again venture to do it. In the next application ail hope of exchange is given up, and an application is 23 made for leave of absence on account of ill health. This is agreed to, but with a hint that if his health be bad, major Shaw had better retire on half pay. The next application stated the great expence of going on foreign service; and the answer was, that he must join his regiment by the first conveyance. These all went to the fact, that even under the pressure of misfortune, he could neither get promotion nor exchange. The assistance of sir Harry Burrard for either of these purposes was inadequate, his interest and that of general Archer, were insufficient to accomplish either. The last application from sir Harry Burrard asks neither promotion nor exchange. Then follows a letter gratefully accepting, for major Shaw, the situation of Barrack Master General of the Cape of Good Hope, but without one word of half-pay. The very interest, on the idea that these recommendations are all on the subject, which had repeatedly failed in procuring promotion or exchange, proves all at once, equal to raise him to the rank of colonel, and to place him on the staff, and that in the space of three days. I ask if it is probable, that a person who had formerly and repeatedly failed in all his applications of inferior importance, should all at once be able, for the same person to procure a lucrative situation, and the rank of colonel? Was it possible, I ask, to doubt, that this was rather done through the influence of Mrs. C.? I hope the house will bear in mind the probabilities and possibilities of her influence. That they would bear in mind her letters to Clavering on military, and to Dr. O'Meara on church preferments, and then say if her influence over the Commander in Chief did not allow her to shew it on far greater occasions than that of the appointment of col. Shaw. There was only one other point in this case, and that is his being put on half pay. The letter on the minutes of the committee from col. Shaw to Mrs. C. on this subject, shew, that he regarded himself as an injured and highly oppressed man; and that he attributes his reduction to half pay to Mrs. C., in consequence of his having failed in payment to her of the whole of the 1,000l. stipulated to be paid to her.
§ Case of Mr. Dowler.
§ This gentleman stated, that Mrs. Clarke first suggested to him that she could procure him a situation in the Commissary Department. Afterwards she told him that in-consequence of an application made by 24 Mr. Long, Mr. Manby must first be gazetted. He (Mr. Dowler) never took any step to expedite the business, nor applied to any other channel but that of Mrs. Clarke; that he paid her l,O00l. for the appointment; and that she told him the Duke knew of his doing so. I submit that the mention of what passed as to Mr. Long and Mr. Manby was corroborative of this testimony, and put it beyond a doubt, by shewing that Mrs. Clarke had such communications with the Duke of York. Mr. Long, too, confirmed it so far as he was concerned, and there being no vestige of any other recommendation, it must be taken that it proceeded solely from the influence of Mrs. Clarke.
§ Case of Samuel Carter.
§ Mrs. Clarke stated, that Samuel Cartel was her foot-boy; waited on h. r. h., who knew him perfectly well; that he went behind the carriage, &c. she obtained for him a commission from the Commander in Chief. He went into the army direct from her service. In this statement she was corroborated by several witnesses. A recommendation of this Samuel Carter, in Dec. 1801, had been produced from the office. To March l804, the application had never been renewed. It was apparent, therefore, it could not be on the recommendation in the year 1801, that the commission had been granted; for however well disposed the office might have been towards his application, to have given effect to it, they must have known that he was alive, and the place of his residence, which could not be the case without a fresh Memorial. It was obvious, therefore, that this was through the influence of Mrs. Clarke. The Cases of gen. Clavering and of Dr. O'Meara, shew to what extent Mrs. Clarke's influence went, and made it difficult to say where it might stop. It was no great stretch, therefore, to say, that this appointment had taken place through her means.
§ Major Turner's Case.
§ On this Case I shall only observe, that this gallant officer, who had seen a great deal of service, was impeded in his desire to sell out, in consequence of a letter from Mrs. Sinclair Sutherland, notwithstanding the recommendation of the general of the regiment. Col. Gordon had said attention would have been paid to an anonymous letter. In a case of this kind, an anony- 25 mous letter was better than Mrs. Sinclair's, for in it there might have been something; but that in consequence of a letter from such a source as this, a stop should have been put to the course of public business, that a stigma should be supposed for a moment to attach to the character of an officer formerly without stain, was unbecoming indeed. It was an honour to major Turner to have his character cleared, but dishonour just in the same ratio attached to the other party, and if the Commander in Chief will attach himself to such a woman as that, and make himself a party with her, part of the disgrace must attach to him too. There was only one other Case to which I wish to allude, and that is the Case of Robert Kennett. But I have already detained the house too long. I have exerted my self to the best of my ability to do my duty. I have stated my sentiments distinctly and without disguise; and at the same time have endeavoured to abstain from any thing which the evidence did not warrant. It would be the last action of my life unnecessarily to hurt the feelings of the illustrious person who is the object of the present inquiry; but on the present occasion I had no choice. The country look to this house to decide on the conduct of the Commander in Chief. This house, I am satisfied, will do its duty; and with whatever decision it comes to I shall be content. I therefore conclude by moving—'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, humbly stating to his Majesty, that information has been communicated to this House, and Evidence produced to support it, of various Corrupt Practices and other Abuses having prevailed for some years past, in the disposal of Commissions and Promotions in his Majesty's Land Forces— that his Majesty's faithful Commons, according to the duty by which they are bound to his Majesty and to their Constituents, have carefully examined into the truth of sundry transactions which have been brought before them, in proof of such Corrupt Practices and Abuses; and that it is with the utmost concern and astonishment his Majesty's faithful Commons find themselves obliged, most humbly, to inform his Majesty, that the result of their diligent inquiries into the facts, by the examination of persons concerned, together with other witnesses, and a variety of documents, has been such as to satisfy his faithful Commons, that the existence of such Corrupt Practices 26 and Abuses is substantially true.— That his Majesty's faithful Commons are restrained by motives of personal respect and attachment to his Majesty, from entering into a detail of these transactions, being convinced that they could not be stated without exciting the most painful sensations of grief and indignation in the breast of his Majesty: That the proceedings of his Majesty's faithful Commons upon this important subject have been public, and the Evidence brought before them is recorded in the proceedings of Parliament; and that they trust his Majesty will give them credit, when they assure his Majesty, that in the execution of this painful duty they have proceeded with all due deliberation: That without entering into any other of the many obvious consequences which may be expected to follow, from the belief once generally established, of the prevalence of such abuses in the Military Department, there is one great and essential consideration inseparable from the present subject, which they humbly beg leave, in a more particular manner, to submit to his Majesty's gracious consideration, namely, that if an opinion should prevail amongst his Majesty's Land Forces, that promotion may be obtained by other means than by merit and service— by means at once unjust to the Army and disgraceful to the authority placed over it, the effect of such an opinion must necessarily be, to wound the feelings and abate the zeal of all ranks and descriptions of his Majesty's Army: — That it is the opinion of this house, that the Abuses which they have most humbly represented to his Majesty, could not have prevailed to the extent in which they had been proved to exist, without the knowledge of the Commander in Chief; and that even if, upon any principle of reason or probability, it could be presumed that Abuses so various and so long continued could, in fact, have prevailed without his knowledge, such a presumption in his favour would not warrant the conclusion, that the command of the Army could, with safety, or ought, in prudence, to be continued in his hands:— That on these grounds and principles his Majesty's faithful Commons most humbly submit their opinion to his Majesty's gracious consideration, that his royal highness the Duke of York ought to be deprived of the Command QP the Army.'27
§ The motion being seconded,
§ Mr. Burton
rose and said: Mr. Speaker, I should not obtrude myself thus early upon the attention of the house, if it was not through the fear of being too much exhausted to deliver my sentiments at a late hour. The habits of my life, during the last thirty years, having engaged me pretty much in the investigation of criminal causes, I have thought it a duty to bestow my best attention upon, this important case. I have done so, the rather, because few persons are so unconnected as myself with the Commander in Chief, now under accusation. I never had the honour of exchanging a word with him; and it so happens that I have not in the army any relation, any friend, or even any intimate acquaintance, nor any one for whom I have ever received, or can expect to receive, a single favour. With his accuser I have had the honour of some acquaintance about twenty years, and had frequent occasion to admire the military talents and valour he displayed under the intrepid commander of a regiment that distinguished itself not a little during the unhappy rebellion in Ireland. I had also listened, perhaps too much, to the current reports concerning the object of this enquiry: I certainly, therefore, sat down to the consideration of it, without any bias upon my mind ill favour of the accused; but divesting myself of every prejudice, I determined to pursue the strict line of duty, by considering the case of the Duke of York as calmly and temperately as I would that of one of the meanest subjects in the court where I have the honour to hold a seat. Now, Sir, if I can possibly hope to be of any use in the present deliberation, it will be by stating the course I have taken towards forming an opinion, and to bring my mind to its final conclusion. In the first place, therefore, I attended the examinations at the bar so much as to acquire as good an idea as was in my power of the manner in which all the witnesses delivered their testimony. In the next place, I had read to me the whole of the evidence, from the first word to the last, and much of it more than twice, in order to compare, and re-consider, what was most material. In such a mass of evidence, so mixed, and so confounded, the next step was to clear away all extraneous matter, go as to leave the real subject of investigation open to the view; and in order 28 to this, I had first to observe what was not submitted to our consideration, and to what it was limited. Now, Sir, one thing which forms no object of our consideration, in the way of crime, or punishment, is a circumstance, which none of us can contemplate without the deepest regret. I mean the breach of the marriage vow. I trust that it will not be suspected that I am an advocate for the sin of adultery, or that I have any desire to excuse or extenuate it; but this is no tribunal for the trial and punishment of that sin against the law of God; so that, how much soever we may lament, we must be cautious not to confound it with the proper subject of our deliberations— an offence against the law of the land. This is to be sought in the report of the committee, and we must recollect the limits of its enquiry. It was not directed to enquire into the general conduct of his royal highness with respect to recommendations not being under the influence of the Commander in Chief, but was confined to his official acts, respecting commissions, exchanges, and promotions in the army; consequently another thing to be laid out of the present consideration, is all that concerns mere recommendations to offices or emoluments not in the army, nor within the Duke's patronage, otherwise than as they may tend to throw any light on the question before us.
Having thus laid aside these extraneous matters, my next step was to separate, and throw aside, so much of the evidence as is mere hearsay, or of such other description as ought not to be received on any judicial proceeding. As there is much of this, if I should be asked why I neglected to object to it, when it was offered at the bar, my answer is this: the house, or the committee, whenever it is sitting as the grand inquest of the nation, has to pursue two objects: one, to examine and record proper evidence produced before it; the other, to exert all due means of discovering and acquiring proper evidence; and this latter cannot be executed without asking questions of hearsay, and such others as may lead to the procurement of proper witnesses. It must therefore always remain a subsequent task to separate the chaff from the grain, and to strike out so much of the testimony as ought not to be received. I do not mean according to technical rules, but according to sound principles of justice.
The next endeavour was to disencumber the case from the testimony of such of the 29 witnesses as, however competent or admissible they may be, are nevertheless entitled to no belief: an investigation this, of some labour, the persons examined at the bar being no fewer in number than seventy-eight.
Of all the witnesses it is required that they should speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; but of none is it more peculiarly expected than of such as appear in the light of accomplices; and it may not be useless that I should here state, what I take to be an undeniable rule respecting persons of that description. It is, that no man should ever be convicted of any of the higher crimes, upon the testimony of accomplices, unless they show themselves worthy of credit by consistency with themselves, and unless they are continued by other evidence not simply in their history of the offence, but particularly in that link of it which connects the offence with the person accused; for without this indispensable ingredient, no man could be safe. Whenever an offence has been committed, the accomplice must necessarily know the whole transaction. If, therefore, he be desirous to accuse an innocent man, he would have nothing to do but to tell his tale according to the truth, except in the substitution of the innocent person for the guilty, and his end might be accomplished— Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.— Suppose, for instance, a murder or burglary perpetrated by two or three, one of whom is admitted king's evidence, and either to screen if friend, or to revenge himself against an enemy, he accuses an innocent person in the stead of one of his guilty companions; he has only to relate the crime just as it was committed, and in all probability he will be confirmed in many of the circumstances. The time, the place, the number, the noises, the stolen goods, and so forth, are likely to be confirmed, because they correspond with the truth; but if it were to be inferred from hence, that he spoke the truth also in naming the partner in his guilt, without evidence to corroborate that particular point of his testimony, many an innocent man must lose his life, unless he had the good fortune to prove an alibi. Once take away this cautionary rule, and the danger would be endless. I do not scruple, therefore, to assert, and I do it in the presence of many of my brethren, whom I challenge to contradict me, that every judge would -advise a jury to lay the evidence 30 of an accomplice entirely out of the case, and acquit the prisoner, if that evidence, however confirmed in the general circumstances, be not also corroborated by some unimpeached evidence, to bring the of-fence home to the person of the prisoner.
But it is not the evidence of accomplices alone, without confirmation, which ought to be disregarded; other witnesses, who are falsified in material points to which their attention has been directed, are wholly undeserving of all credit, and their testimony ought equally to be set aside. The next endeavour, therefore, was to separate those of this description. I will not go through all their names: a few will be sufficient. Sandon and Donovan, the first of whom is suffering for his prevarication, need scarcely be called to the recollection of the House; nor can Mrs. Favery easily be forgotten, who not only contra dieted herself in various particulars within her own knowledge, but was contradicted by other unimpeachable witnesses. Among other falsehoods, remember what she said as to Mr. Ellis, with whom she had lived upwards of two years— that he was a carpenter in the city, who had a lodging in one street and a shop in another; that she did not know the name of either, nor could find her way to them; that the family were nearly all dead; that he was perpetually going about to screen himself from his creditors— one time to Brighton, at another to Ramsgate, and another to Margate.— All this she afterwards acknowledged to be a fabrication of her own. You find him to be a respectable clergyman, one of the masters of Merchant Taylor's School, living in a settled abode, in circumstances unembarrassed, and never having once gone either to Margate or to Ramsgate, but only to Brighton, for the health of his children, as she well knew, and not for the purpose of screening himself from creditors. Be it also remembered, that in contradiction to her, as well as to Mrs. C, it was proved by Mr. Ellis, that Mrs. Favery was visited by Mrs. C., not once or twice only, but often, and that the manner in which they treated each other was that of persons living on term of the most intimate familiarity. Every one must so well recollect the way in which Mrs. Favery contradicted herself and was contradicted by others, and I think in no less than ten material circumstances, that I should be ashamed to enter into a further recital of them. Such is her evidence, that I will venture to say, any 31 judge would think he did a common prisoner an unpardonable injury if he stated it as worthy the consideration of a jury; so far, at least, as to affect him. Probably, indeed, he would strike his pen through it.
Amongst the foremost of false witnesses stands also Mrs. Clarke, the accomplice. In her testimony is to be found an absolute tissue of falsehood. I have reckoned up myself as many as twenty-eight positive assertions, in some of which she is contradicted by herself; in almost all, by other unimpeached witnesses. I will not pretend to enumerate all of them from memory, nor can it be necessary; but it will be remembered, that when she was asked whether she ever represented herself as a widow, her reply was, "Never, but in joke, except once to Mr. Sutton, at a court-martial." That assertion was clearly a direct falsehood. She gained credit with Mr. Few, by talking of her late husband. To Mr. Nicholls, she said her husband had been dead about three years. She was asked whether she ever represented herself as Mrs. Dowler, to which she positively replied in the negative: but it is proved, that to some persons she was known in the character of Mrs. Dowler, and no other. She was so received into Mr. Reid's hotel: he knew her only by that name, and heard her called by it. By that name the waiter had introduced her: she had answered to that name, and was not affronted at being called by it. The porter had carried wine to her in Bedford-Place, directed to Mrs. Dowler, which she had received without objection; and there was another instance of wine being sent to her by that name, in Westbourne-Place; nor at either was it denied that Mrs. Dowler lived there.
But above all, it cannot be forgotten that she made Mr. Nicholls believe that she was married to Mr. Dowler, whilst she was lodging at his house at Hampstead, and where Mr. Dowler actually cohabited with her, but that it was to be kept a secret, as the duke of Y. would send him abroad, if it came to his ears. I am desirous, however, to avoid tiring the House with repeating instances that must be fresh in their memory; I have only to assert, that I have in my pocket a list of twenty-eight, which any gentleman is welcome, to inspect; and the witnesses contradicting her are twenty in number. Thirteen of them are unimpeached characters. In several instances she is contradicted by two, and in some, by so many as four, if not more. Testimony such as this, like that 32 of Mrs. Favery, I am bold to assert, would not be deemed credible against the meanest of his Majesty's subjects, in any court within the realm of England. Certain I am, that sitting judicially, I should have thought it my bounden duty to declare to a jury, that so far as concerned the person accused, this testimony ought to be laid entirely out of the case.
Having thus, then, disencumbered the case of extraneous matter, not within the proper limits of our enquiry— of irrelevant, of hearsay, and of false evidence— the next step was to apply the scanty remains (for most scanty and insufficient will they presently be found) to the several charges. In doing this, it will not be my endeavour to enter into a minute detail of the evidence; that I must leave to others of stronger memory, and who enjoy that blessing of which I am bereft; contenting myself with a few observations upon the more prominent features.
It is undeniable that abuses had existed. Mrs. C. and her accomplices have confessedly been guilty, up to the present time, of many foul practices; but how are any of them to be imputed to the Duke of Y.? that is the question.
The first charge was that of Colonel Knight's Exchange. Now it cannot be forgotten that this appears to have taken place according to the regular course of official business. Upon lieut.-col. Knight's original application, it was signified to him that permission would be granted, when ever a proper substitute could be found. Lieut.-col. Brooke being afterwards proposed, it appeared that this gentleman had been seven years upon half-pay. An enquiry into his fitness was consequently necessary, and this gave occasion to some delay: but no sooner had the result proved favourable, than the Commander in Chief recommended the exchange, and it was fully completed, with all practicable expedition, in the regular course. All this was proved by the Duke's secretary, col. Gordon, a gentleman of the highest honour and integrity; and his memory, his exactness, his method and regularity, and his readiness in the product on of official papers, were certainly such as seem to excite general admiration. The charge, however, is, that 20Ol. had been given as a bribe to Mrs. C., with the Duke's knowledge, to accelerate the exchange. That the bribe was given, cannot be doubted, for it is proved by Mr. Knight, who gave it, the brother of the colonel; but where is the 33 evidence to fix the slightest knowledge or suspicion on the Commander in Chief, beyond the mere assertion of Mrs. C.? It was indeed asserted by her, that he procured the bank-note itself to be changed for her, on the night of his setting out for Weymouth, by one of his own servants. This attempt was made through the intervention of that famous witness, Mrs. Favery. Ludowick, the only servant of the Duke who ever attended at Mrs. C.'s, never got change for that note, or any other; nor ever saw, at her house, any transaction of the kind, except once, a small note, he believes about ten pounds, delivered by Mrs. Favery to a servant girl, to get changed, and that was in a morning. This attempt proving abortive, the next experiment was through Pearson, her own butler: but he, when first called, had no recollection of any similar transaction, but merely of some note, the amount unknown, given by Favery to Ludowick to get changed, about eight o'clock in a morning, some days before the going to Weymouth— a mistake altogether; and if not so, entirely inapplicable to the note in question, and inconsistent with Mrs. C.'s story. However, on his second examination, after an interview with Mr. Wardle, his recollection was refreshed. His former loss of memory was attributed to a convenient head-ache; and he then remembered, that not Ludowick, but he himself, was the person who changed the note; not with the wine-merchant, as had been said by Mrs. C., but with the confectioner; and that he presently delivered the change to his mistress, who immediately put it into the hands of his r. h.: but whether it was 100l. or any other sum, he left in uncertainty; nor is there any thing to prove, Mrs. C.'s word always excepted, that the note so changed was either the whole or any part of what had been received from Mr. Knight, much less that the Duke knew it to be so. Did she not receive numberless notes from the D. of Y. personally as well as under cover, by the hands of Ludowick? Why should it not be presumed to be one of these, when there is not a tittle of evidence against it? What is there to particularize this, as the note-received from Mr. Knight? Was there even so much as a wink, or a nod, or a significant gesture, to indicate that it was so? No, no one whatever, except Mrs. C., had fixed upon the Duke the slightest knowledge of any corrupt bargain. As to the exchange being in fact accelerated through 34 the influence of Mrs. C., the impossibility of it is proved out of her own mouth for though it be true that that meddling physician, Dr. T., cannot precisely fix the time of his first application to Mrs. C., yet Mr. Wardle tells you that she, after considering it coolly in her chamber, positively ascertained it to be on the 25th of July. Now you have only to look at the official documents, and col. Gordon's evidence, by which you will see that it received the Duke's approbation on the 23d, went to Weymouth on the 24th, had the King's fiat on the 25th, and returning too late for Saturday's Gazette, was gazetted on the 30th; so that the very first application to her was on the same day with the king's assent, and two days after the Duke had finally agreed to it. In short, it is manifest that the end was accomplished two days prior to the very first application to her. Here then is a charge, not only repugnant to the truth, but even refuted out of the mouth of Mrs. C. herself. Here too I should not omit another striking instance of her false assertions. Mr. Knight assures you of her express desire to have the matter kept a secret, lest it should come to the Duke's cars. This she has denied again and again, but it is proved again and again. She would have it believed, that her desire was to keep it a secret from the public, not from the Duke. The question, therefore, being more than once repeated to Mr. Knight, he as often emphatically affirms, that the public was never named, but that the Duke was; and that the reason she assigned was, that his knowledge of it would prove fatal to her interest. Similar requests of secrecy on her part are likewise proved at other times, by other witnesses?
I will not, therefore, occupy the attention of the House any longer with this subject, but come to another, that of capt. Maling, which failed so entirely, that it had very nearly escaped my recollection. In this case I can recognize no corruption whatever. The charge is, an undue appointment, with a view to favour a person with whom it is insinuated that the Duke was corruptly connected. It is, that during the time of capt. Maling's holding the several commissions of ensign, lieut., and capt., he was nothing more than a clerk in Mr. Greenwood' soffice, where he might still be seen at his desk, possessed of no military merit, and without ever having joined his regiment. It will be enough to remind the house, that being selected, at first, as a 35 promising young man, by the commander of his regiment, his merits were such as not barely to recommend him to his subsequent promotions, but also to the favour of a distinguished officer, gen. Frazer, who, more than once, solicited leave to take him as his aid-de-camp; and so far was he from continuing at the desk, that he has been constantly with his regiment, and generally abroad. It has been endeavoured, however, to supply this entire failure of proof, by an enquiry, whether, at the time of cant. Maling's promotion, there was not, in the army, a very considerable number of meritorious officers senior to him. But let me ask the hon. member, than whom I believe there is no man more anxious for the welfare of the army, whether he means that the power of promotion should be vested in the House of Commons, instead of the Crown? At no one period, and by no description of persons, even by the most strenuous assertors of liberty, has this prerogative been denied. It is needless to state the partialities, and I must say the corruption, that might be expected to follow from trusting that power to the deliberations of this House; nor, in truth, would this fall materially short of taking at once from the Crown, the command of the army. Upon this topic I cannot easily forget a memorable expression of the great lord Chatham: "It would be (he said) to pluck the master feather from the eagle's wing." In truth, such an attack upon the prerogative would be ruinous, and introductive of the partiality and corruption intended to be suppressed.
The next case was col. French's Levy; the charge being, that it was originally allowed, and afterwards continued, to the detriment of the service, entirely through the influence of Mrs. C., purchased by a large bribe to her with the D.'s knowledge. In this case there is, perhaps, at the first view, something more of the semblance of proof, than in any other; but the history of the transaction is sufficient to shew that nothing Reasonably could be objected to it in point either of propriety or regularity. It was not the first time that officer had been employed in a similar service; and from his former exertions, it was fairly presumable that they might be repeated with utility. His proposal was not accepted until it had been fully scrutinized and modified, considerably to his prejudice, in the usual course, by the proper officer, a gentleman by no means favourably inclined 36 to that mode of recruiting; and the subsequent alterations respecting the bounty were merely the necessary consequence of encreased bounties given to the line. But it is urged, that the Duke's knowledge of the presents made to Mrs. Clarke is in this Case proved by Miss Taylor. But who is Miss Taylor? How little credit is due to her testimony? and what are the few loose expressions which she professes to remember? Surely the evidence of Mrs. Clarke's constant companion ought to be received with great oaution. The solitary instance which she recollects, upon any military subject, or upon any other, is to this effect:— that, the Duke of York once complained that French worried him continually about the levy; and turning to Mrs. Clarke, she thinks he said, "How does he behave to you, Darling?" To which she answered, "Middling — not very well;" and the Duke replied, "Master French must mind what he is about, or I shall cut up him and his levy too." Now, sir, is it not a rule of ordinary justice, that if words are equally capable of two constructions, that sense shall be put upon them which is consistent with innocence? Indeed the opposite appears to me an overstrained and unnatural construction. To my understanding, the question obviously means, "Does he worry you, as he does me?" and to that question the answer may be true; whereas in the imputed sense, it is obviously otherwise, for he had already behaved more handsomely than she had any right to expect.— So much for the interpretation of vague words, which the witness only thinks she remembers. But let the house reflect upon the connection which is represented to have subsisted between Miss Taylor and the other parties. If she really was the bosom friend and frequent companion of Mrs. Clarke, and she was distinguished by the Duke's fondness and familiarity; and if it is equally true, as Mrs. Clarke declares, that her corrupt practices were all communicated to h. r. h., let me ask, whether it is to be credited, that this paltry evidence of Miss Taylor would be confined to a single ambiguous phrase? or whether she would not have been able to satisfy the house, by confirming Mrs. Clarke in a thousand instances?
But it is further said, and with some plausibility, that though the grant of the levy might be regular, and blameless, yet that it was continued longer than it ought, after it had failed, and after complaints 37 against it had been transmitted from Ireland. But between the time of those complaints and col. French's final discharge there elapsed only about two months— an inconsiderable time for further trial; and let me appeal to the recollection of the house, whether this was not a period that absolutely required every possible exertion to raise men for general service? The Army of Reserve and Additional Force Acts were in full operation, and these two bills had greatly enervated the powers of recruiting. I may likewise appeal to gentlemen conversant in East India affairs, whether there was not then wanting a large supply for the East Indies, which can only be made by recruits for unlimited service. So that every effort for that purpose, not absolutely hopeless, was worth the trial; yet, after the short experiment of two months, the Duke did discontinue the levy, though it was very injurious to Mrs. C.'s expectations; because, according to the evidence of some, she had still to expect more than 600l., and according to others, who speak of a guinea a man, more than 3,000l., whilst it might also be ruinous to col. French, and provoke him to bring the whole matter before the public. Let me, then, ask whether this is consistent with any idea that the Duke of York could be acquainted with the corrupt bargain?
The next case which presents itself is that of Tonyn's Majority, in which it is certain that 200l. was paid to Mrs. Clarke; but it remains to connect that transaction with the Commander in Chief: yet after all the endeavours to do so, it seems to me impossible. It is most evident that the promotion was obtained through the early recommendation of gen. Tonyn, his father, an old and deserving officer.— It is usual, I believe, as it is just and proper, to attend to similar recommendations. Due attention was paid to it in the present instance, and capt. Tonyn was consequently noted for promotion; but it did not, in fact, take place, till an augmentation in the army gave occasion to a general and numerous advancement, when the D. of York directed col. Gordon to make out a list of officers who had been previously noted for promotion. This list was accordingly prepared, without favour or partiality, to the number of about two hundred, all gazetted together, among whom were no fewer than fifty-three for majorities, including the name of capt. Tonyn. Nor was he to be found the last 38 on that list, there being as many as thirteen below him, some of them his juniors by one year, some by two, and one even by three, He himself, indeed, so thoroughly believed that he was duped by Mrs. Clarke, and considered her interference so nugatory, that he desired to have his deposit returned to him.— And this brings me to the mysterious note, which is liable on many accounts, to so much doubt, that in a case of life, liberty, or character, no judge would act so perilous a part as to advise condemnation upon such evidence. Supposing it conceded that the note is genuine, let me beg of gentlemen to read it, and see how it can be made, with any certainty, to refer to any corrupt agreement. "I have just received your note, and Tonyn's business shall remain as it is. God bless you" Why, Sir, is it necessary, or probable, that this should refer to any corrupt agreement? Would the writer have been so absurd, as to commit to paper, that which would be evidence to his own condemnation? And could it be possible that Mrs. Clarke, with all her desire to impute guilt to his royal highness, would not have recollected it, or her own note, to which it was an answer? On the contrary, she had no remembrance even of the note itself. This alone may be considered as powerful evidence that it bore no reference to the present question. It undoubtedly may, and probably does, refer to something else of a different nature, and perfectly innocent; and when I say it may, allow me again to remind the house, that in words capable of various construction, justice and humanity both require that an innocent one should be preferred. But there is another circumstance that luckily attends this note, which comes out of the possession of capt. Sandon; it is accompanied by his account of it; and if the least credit can be due to any thing derived from this nest of false witnesses, this account of his is an irrefragable proof that the note could not relate to the business in question. It will not be forgotten, that the note was produced in an envelope, bearing the Dover post-mark. What says the witness? That he received it, so wrapped up, from the hands of Mrs. Clarke herself, for the purpose of satisfying capt. Tonyn, that it was of the Duke's handwriting. Now only compare the date of this envelope (for the note is without date) with the date of the Gazette, and you will find that the note could not have 39 been delivered till five days after his actual appointment, and consequently far too late to answer its intended purpose; namely, to excite capt. Tonyn's apprehensions that his appointment would be either frustrated or retarded. Thus, then, out of the mouth of one of these associates against the Commander in Chief have you a plain refutation of one of their own charges; nor is there any other evidence to support it.
The next object of enquiry relates to major Shaw; and I believe gentlemen of the army will agree, that it was not necessary for him to apply to Mrs. Clarke. Refer to the correspondence between gen. Burrard and col. Gordon. Scarcely a month passed without a letter from the general, asking some favour for his brother officer; and nothing can be clearer than that, this was finally granted in compliance with the intercessions, I may say the importunities, of gen. Burrard. But it so happened, that instead of the appointment originally solicited, the office obtained was that of Deputy Barrack-Master-General at the Cape of Good Hope; and here it is that the accusation is changed. It is not now that this office was conferred from any corrupt motive, but that this gentleman, only because he had not paid to Mrs. C. as much as he had promised, was reduced to half-pay, when, in the regular line of his service, he was entitled to his full pay; yet you have only to refer to col. Gordon's evidence to see that this complaint is utterly groundless. It will there be found, that a very few officers, holding similar appointments on the staff, were continued on half-pay, and that was in cases in which their regiments were stationed in the same places, which allowed them the opportunity of executing their staff-appointments, without neglecting their regimental duty: but these were exceptions to the general rule, as appeared by a very considerable list of particular instances. It was, moreover, upon the express condition of being reduced to half-pay, that major Shaw accepted the office of Barrack Master: for it is stated, in gen. Burrard's letter, that he had explained the condition to the major, and that upon these terms he was willing to accept it. From the whole of this transaction it is evident that major Shaw was another dupe to the artifices of Mrs. C. That major Shaw's relation so believed, is clear from his testimony; and well he might, for if you read major Shaw's letter of remonstrance to Mrs. Clarke, you 40 will find him complaining that he was made a singular instance of reduction to half-pay, stating particular instances to the contrary, and that the custom of the army was in his favour; to which he adds, "as you mentioned." From whence it may fairly be conjectured, that she, for the purpose of extorting money, had been persuading him that other persons in his situation had been put upon full pay; that it was his right; and that he might be restored to it. In all this was he manifestly deluded. This same letter also furnishes another observation. In it he promises, that in case he should succeed in what he solicits, he would remit to her, from the Cape, 300l. a-year. Now, if it were true that the D. of Y. was the partaker in any of these foul transactions, or that he connived at them, how easy would it have been for him to find some pretence for making an exception in major Shaw's favour, or for complying with his other request, when it was to secure Mrs. C. so large an annuity. Consider also the extreme absurdity of a supposition, that the Commander in Chief should be weak enough to reduce major Shaw to half-pay, contrary to the rule of the service, by way of punishment for not paying the whole of his promised bribe, when, by so doing, he could not fail to exasperate that gentleman, and hazard his resenting it, by exposing such baseness to the public eye. In my view of every part of this charge, whatever corrupt motives may have existed in others, no man alive was a greater stranger to them than the Commander in Chief.
The only remaining charge is that of Samuel Carter; and I confess it to have been my hope that the honourable member would have yielded, upon this point, to the entreaties even of Mrs. C. If he had, he would not have been endeavouring to prop a falling case by adducing an instance highly honourable, in my mind, to the D. of Y.; and one that I should think could not be pressed into the service by any person of sentiment or feeling. Was the condition of this unfortunate orphan that of a mere outcast of society? Or, was he not the real or adopted son of a meritorious officer, who had lost a limb in his Majesty's service? When and by whom was he first recommended?—Was it by Mrs. C., or through any other, corrupt influence? No, Sir, it was by the same gallant officer, capt. Sutton, of the artillery and in the year 1801, long be 41 fore the connection between Mrs. C. and the D. of Y. The application was not only made, but he was actually then noted for consideration on a proper opportunity. It is urged, however, that the commission must have been given in consequence of Mrs. C.'s subsequent recommendation. Why so? Why should a promise, once made, require to be followed up by another recommendation? Why is it not enough that the party himself, who certainly had the opportunity, might avail himself of it, to remind h. r. h. of his original promise? But his servitude is objected. It is true, that being a boy, he went once or twice behind the carriage, when the footman was out of the way; but whether by night or by day is not ascertained. He also assisted the servants in some of the menial occupations. If this was permitted by Mrs. C, I cannot commend her; but how does it appear that any thing of the sort was known to the D. of Y., who was not likely to see him except waiting at dinner, where no servant in livery made his appearance; and we know that pages, and others of superior rank, wait upon princes of the blood, and I believe that some claim it even as a privilege. He wore no livery; he received no wages; and what was his principal occupation? It was going to school. It was proved, in truth, that prior to this, capt. Sutton himself bestowed much pains on his education; and let me appeal to his letters on the table, whether he appears to have been bred up as a servant, or whether they do not bear the genuine marks of a person educated to higher hopes and expectations? When the Duke saw the appearance of this youth, that he wanted neither education nor merit, and was worthy his protection, why was not he to be placed in the army? And I am not afraid to ask gentlemen of that honourable profession, whether many a one, of less apparent worth, has not been received into the service, and has not afterwards ranked among its greatest ornaments? God forbid that this house should so far forget its duty as to censure the appointment of such a person to a commission in the army, or that it should carry an address to the throne against the D. of Y., for an act proceeding from the purest motives—the dictates of humanity.
I beg pardon for being longer than I intended upon these charges; but to dismiss them, and to pass by cases which do not seem to lie within the proper limits of our enquiry, I resort now to a few observa- 42 tions arising out of the probabilities of the case in general.
Notwithstanding the want of a scintilla of evidence against the D. of Y., yet it is presumed that he was conusant of the corrupt proceedings, because by such alone Mrs. C. could have been enabled to carry on her expensive establishment. But surely it must be well known to many, that persons of high birth, and not in the habits of comparing income with expenditure, find it most difficult to render the one conformable to the other, or indeed to form any judgment upon these matters. It happens, in fact, that I remember to have been told, near forty years ago, by one of the preceptors of the D. of Y. and his royal brother, that though they were quick at learning, though it was easy to teach them Latin, or Greek, or arithmetic, they could not teach them the value of money. So impossible is it to inculcate this knowledge, without the daily and ordinary means of practical experience. Besides this, undoubtedly very large sums were supplied by the D. of Y.; upwards of 5,000l. in notes; and in payments to tradesmen for wine, furniture, and a variety of articles, to the amount, in the whole, of between 16 and 17,000l., and all within the space of little more than two years. Consider, likewise, the extent of Mrs. C.'s debts. If you once suppose the existence of the conspiracy, and that the Duke was a party to it, how is it probable that there should have been any distress for money, when there was a mill for making it continually at work? There were then in the army as many as ten or eleven thousand officers; numerous changes were going on every day in the year; and such is always the eagerness for promotion, that there never could exist a deficiency of persons ready to give ample premiums above the regulated price. Where then would have been the difficulty, through the management of I such a woman as Mrs. C, with her subordinate agents, to gratify her vanity and extravagance to the utmost, and to relieve her from the pressure of her pecuniary embarrassments?
Another presumption in favour of the Duke fairly arises out of the manner in which he entered into the investigation of Mrs. C.'s conduct. For this purpose he employed Mr. Lowten, a gentleman of well-known character for professional abilities; and though the result of his enquiry seems to have related only to credit which Mrs. C. had obtained from tradesmen, by an im- 43 proper use of the Duke's name, yet can it be supposed, that if the Duke was really conscious of any foul practices which might naturally come to light in the course of this investigation, he would not have stifled the enquiry at the outset, rather than commit it to a person of so much acuteness and assiduity, and expose himself thereby to immediate detection? Above all, if so conscious, would he have ventured to discard Mrs. C, to withdraw her annuity, to irritate her to the utmost, and to set all her threats at defiance?
It is another, and an obvious ground of presumption, that if the Commander in Chief had been any way disposed to corrupt practices, he would himself have been surrounded by corrupt agents. But had he not, on the contrary, fenced himself round, as it were, against the acts of designing men, by such characters as gen. Brownrigg, col. Loraine, and. the rest of his staff, too well known to need enumeration? Let gentlemen reflect upon the high honour and integrity of col. Gordon, and the intimate confidence reposed in him by h. r. h., and let me entreat them to remark the particular time when this gentleman, the avowed enemy of armybrokers, was appointed his secretary, and chosen, I may say, to be his bosom friend, and the observer of all his actions. It was in the middle of the year 1804, shortly after the very period at which the Duke is charged with having commenced his nefarious traffic. Let me ask, then, whether this is reconcileable to any principle of human conduct? and whether, if the Duke's views had been dishonourable, or had required concealment, he would ever have selected such an adviser, or would, particularly at that moment, have placed this upright and watchful guard so near his person?
I fear that I have omitted several points, but my endeavour has been to investigate this case, without fear or affection, exactly as I would have done that of the meanest individual brought before me in my own court. It may perhaps be imputed to me, that I have some wish to conciliate the favour of the crown. Against such imputations I can only say, that if gentlemen will consider my years, and my peculiar circumstances, I believe they will find very few who have so little to hope, and so little to fear, on this side of the grave. It is indeed beyond it that I have been looking —it is to that tribunal, before which we must all account fur our actions here; and 44 with that awful scene in contemplation, I am prepared to pronounce my sincere opinion, that there is no ground for any of the charges.
Allow me to add a few words upon the Address which has been just moved. It appears to me to be cruel and unjust, and inconsistent with the dignity of parliament. The Address states, (if I caught it correctly) that many corrupt practices have been proved, but without ascribing to the D. of Y. positively and with certainty, any participation in these practices, or any knowledge of them: yet the deduction it seems to draw is, that he ought to be removed from his office; and still the house seems to decide nothing, but rather to leave it to the consideration of his majesty. Now it appears to me to be cruel and unjust, forasmuch as it leaves the person accused in needless suspense; and beside being unsupported by evidence, it does not even profess to ascertain the nature or the degree of guilt imputable to him; nor, if a majority should agree to the Address, how many may do so for one reason, and how many for another, quite different, and nearly the reverse. In my mind it is also inconsistent with the dignity of parliament, because it throws upon his majesty the hard task of deciding for himself what ought to be done, instead of pursuing the enquiry to its proper determination; and it thereby acknowledges that this house is either unable or unwilling to fulfil one of its most important duties. Disapproving, however, of this Address, as much as I do, I am by no means inclined to assert that the immoral connexion which has led to so many unhappy consequences ought to pass wholly unnoticed: on the contrary, the occasion seems to require some expression of regret that the Commander-in-Chief should have deviated so widely from those habits of domestic virtue, of which his royal parent has furnished, to the blessing of this country, so bright an example.
§ Mr. Curwen
rose, and spoke to the following effect:—Sir; It is with great regret I rise to offer myself to your notice; nothing but an imperious sense of duty should have induced me to occupy a moment of the time of the house, a sense of their former indulgence should prevent my trespassing upon their time.—During all the eventful period which I have sat in parliament, I never witnessed a transaction in which the interests of the coun- 45 try were more deeply concerned, nor has there been any occasion in which the country had, from one end of it to the other, felt so strongly. Upon most of the questions discussed within these walls, whether as to policy or as to the propriety or impropriety of the conduct of ministers, it was natural for gentlemen to take very different views of the question, according as they were disposed to give more or less weight to the different statements brought forward, it was impossible to be agreed upon the points which should decide their judgment; not so in the present case, the evidence was before them, out of that we cannot, nor ought to travel. The evidence was equally before the country, and every man would draw his own conclusions. It was a momentous period for the house, and much of its credit was at stake, in the way in which it should decide the question. The shutting our eyes to the disgraceful scenes which were brought before us, would not hide them from the country. We have a duty to perform, and however painful, it is impossible to shrink from it. The unanimous wish and feeling of every individual in the kingdom was, that h. r. h. should come out of this inquiry fair and uncontaminated. It becomes every member of the house to divest himself of every undue influence, and to decide the question without reference to situation, influence, or consequence. In replying to the learned gent., I shall neither follow the commencement, or the conclusion of his speech. Why the hon. gent. should think it necessary to contend for the purity of his motives, or that he was exempt from influence, or from hopes of any kind, is not for me to decide. In the best times of the house such was not the practice, whether any thing in latter times had occurred to call in question the motives of members in this house I know not: for myself I shall make no professions, the propriety of my vote must and ought to depend upon the arguments assigned for it, and upon those and my conduct for twenty-five years, I shall rest it; it is the less ambiguous text, and I shall never be disposed to substitute vague professions in its place. The eyes of England are upon us, and every man, as he values his country, should make up his mind, however painful and delicate the task, to discharge his duty to the people, firmly and conscientiously.—Sir, it is not necessary to prove the actual participation of the D. 46 of Y. in the corruption: if there had been evidence produced, proving that great and shameful practices of corruption had prevailed in that department for many years back, I contend, even admitting his innocence as to the knowledge of such practices, still his very ignorance of them was more than sufficient proof that he was an unfit person to fill the high responsible situation he now holds. But is it for a moment denied, that the existence of these abuses has been satisfactorily proved? There was no doubt left in the mind of any man as to that point, and what then was the strongest defence set up for him? that though such transactions might have taken place, he was ignorant of them, so that his defence admitted his incapacity, for surely it was his duty to have detected those abuses, to have extirpated them from the army. I will say then, that the defence resorted to, proved that the D. of Y. (even admitting his innocence on the score of corruption) was remiss in the discharge of his duty, that in justice to the army, in justice to the public, he ought to be dismissed from it. My habits will not permit me to follow the learned gent. through all the statements he has made, nor to argue it as a counsel, but I trust, plain common sense, honestly applied, will enable me to form a judgment upon the question. The learned gent, who spoke last, has said a good deal upon the nature of evidence coming from an accomplice; why, no doubt, it was not so unquestionable as that of witnesses not implicated: but where, he would ask, were they to find witnesses, or how come at proof of corruption, but from accomplices,—how, but from those who were themselves engaged in corrupt practices; it cannot be expected to find proof in this, what is seldom proved in any case of corruption, that the money can be traced into the pocket of the party. But was there nothing corroborating that sort of evidence? I do confess I am astonished at the very partial and circumscribed view the hon. gent. has taken. When the charges were first brought before them, I do believe there was not a man in that house who did not wish from his soul they would not be proved, but now, after the evidence has been gone through, how few are there present, who could from his conscience say with the learned and hon. gent., that in that evidence there were no grounds for those charges.—The first case of Knight I shall not argue farther, than 47 to shew the opinion which must have prevailed before the party would have been inclined to have sacrificed 200l. for Mrs. C's influence. As to Mrs. C's evidence, it is not very relevant to my view of it, I shall not therefore contend whether she has been guilty in twenty or any number of prevarications; but I must observe, if the house expect to find consistence and probity in witnesses, who have been engaged in such nefarious transactions, must have lost sight of all principle of honour and honesty, it would be miserably deceived. But were the house to establish as a principle, that no information should be received from those who stood suspected, and who, to excuse themselves, should fly to every subterfuge, corruption might proceed fearlessly. I most heartily concur in the honourable sentiment expressed by the learned gent., in favour of the hon. member who brought this forward. The situation of an informer was not enviable to a man of honourable feelings, as the accuser was represented to be, and it must have been a painful task to mix with persons engaged in practices so very disgraceful.—I have listened with great surprise to the arguments of the learned gent. upon the second case (col. French's levy) and what was my astonishment to find, the main and principal jet of the question entirely overlooked. The hon. member can find no guilt, nothing to raise suspicion—how was it possible for him to overlook gen. Taylor's letter, who stated roundly, that every man raised by col. French cost. the country 150l. That this had been reported and known to h. r- h. the Commander-in-Chief for five months, and no steps taken upon it; why so overlooked? Two hundred men in nine months! could h. r. h. have been deceived on this point?—was it all a mistake on his part, owing to a deficiency of education, to his not having been taught to count, as the learned gent, seemed so gravely to deplore? The learned gent asked, would they have foregone the profit of a guinea a man, by putting an end to this levy, if h. r. h. had actually been a participator in the profit? I reply to that, it was impossible after the representation of gen. Taylor in Ireland, and the general in England, to continue, and what but a supineness or indifference the most culpable, could have induced h. r. h. to have suffered this to have slept! Does there exist a parallel case? what but a corrupt motive, or a disregard of public 48 duty, can account for such conduct? This transaction would alone justify the removal of h. r. h. What is the conduct of h. r. h. when at best he does act?—He dismisses col. French and capt. Sandon with a civility that justifies every suspicion: he either did not believe the guilt, or he felt he durst not explore it. The learned gent, had, indeed, set up a defence for h. r. h., that it was found impracticable to teach him the value of money. If this be the fact, sir, I want no stronger argument to justify me in stating, he ought not to be employed in any official situation: finance was the sole and main spring of government, and that ultimately every thing was decided by it. Unfortunately experience has shewn us, that those who wanted finance wanted every thing. Let me appeal to every member of this house, come he from what quarter of the kingdom he may, do not all ranks feel the pressure, and bend under the weight of taxation? Shall it then be said, as an excuse which might be tolerated, that the Commander in Chief is not able to comprehend or to appreciate the cost to the nation of the service. This, indeed, may afford a tolerable solution of many of the idle and wasteful expeditions which have cost the country such sums, and for which we have reaped nothing but disgrace. The next charge, the most momentous and important, is that of major Tonyn, and how has the learned gent, treated it? He has spoken of that note which has created so much interest, as the mysterious note which is entitled to little or no notice, and ought not to be supposed as bearing upon this case. I never saw a paper more destitute of mystery, and had the hon. gent. seen it he would not have applied to it such an epithet. Has he forgot, sir, the indefatigable pains taken to destroy the credibility of that note; to establish it as a forgery? Has he forgot the feeling and impressive manner with which col. Gordon gave his evidence? Was there a member in the house who did not participate in the feelings of that hon. officer; who was not affected by his emotions, and felt for his situation? The answers which as a man of honour, he felt himself bound to give, were given in a manner as if they drew drops of blood from his heart. The evidence of hon. gen. Hope was such as carried conviction to every mind, and the hon. and learned gent, below me, had spoke of it in a way that left no doubt. Two of the clerks of the bank corroborat- 49 fed the. note being h. r. h. 's handwriting. Did the learned gent, know it was. upon office paper? Here then sir, I must without reserve, however painful, say, that this note, in my opinion, carries complete proof of h. r. h. lending himself and being a partner in the corrupt and abominable practice. I cannot refuse giving this evidence complete credit, and that that letter was written for the sole purpose of preventing the money from being returned. Sir, if in one instance I find him compromised, it goes a great way to sanction the belief of his being privy to all the rest; having this as a basis, other things, light in themselves, become important. The evidence of Miss Taylor in French's levy, bottomed upon this, is entitled to weight, and must fairly be applied as corroborating h. r. h. 's. knowledge of the transaction. Was a man capable of countenancing or conniving at corruption fit at any time to hold any the humblest post under the government, but at such times as the present, was the second subject of the realm to be allowed to fill the most important office under the crown, after he had given with impunity such an example to the people of England? It would be a vain and dangerous attempt to try to narrow great and judicial inquiry, within the petty limits of legal nicety. Are we to be driven from the grand object of national investigation? —To detect, trace, follow up, and point out corruption, appear when and where it might, however qualified, however disguised, however sanctioned, this is our object. This is what our constituents will expect, and have a right to expect from us. We are not to be driven from it to search for legal distinctions, or lose ourselves in desultory discussions upon forms. This is not an Old Bailey case. We, as representatives of the people, are not to be deterred from condemning what is criminal, by being told we are travelling out of the record. Where there is criminality, where there is corruption, I will not stop to examine the intricacies of the laws of evidence, or to square opinion with opinion, or charge with proof, but expose it at once, without waiting to ascertain from learned gentlemen, whether it lay within the record or not. I will therefore open my ears to every charge of corruption, and I cannot here sufficiently express my astonishment that the learned gentleman who has so long, and, no doubt, ably, as he. has gone into the charges, should have wholly overlooked the evidence of general Claver- 50 ing and his letters. Did those letters tend to prove no long and habitual intercourse upon the subject of the corrupt bartering of promotion? The learned gentleman says, that had he to direct a jury, he should have drawn a pen through the evidence of captain Sandon. Here, sir, I must say I lament when I see a character that gives much weight in whatever falls from him, arguing rather as an advocate, than as an unbiassed member of parliament. I say, sir, it was with astonishment I heard him argue from that, evidence, which he observed he should have felt it his duty to draw his pen through. Sir, I should disdain to use any influence, if I possessed it, to bias the opinion of any gentleman. I feel the duty a grievous one; public character is public property; whoever destroys it destroys the security by which we hold every blessing we possess. It will be in vain for any man to hope that he will escape, if the miserable scenes which have afflicted the Continent, were to desolate this country, those that participated in the plunder, and those who had opposed it, would equally fall victims.—Sir, those who are the real friends of the crown will serve its interest by proving themselves enemies to corruption. The proving to the nation, that no rank, no situation, will screen a culprit, will do more to unite the nation, and will tend more to the security of the country, than a victory, however brilliant, over the despot of France. It is idle to disguise, that the country does believe great corruption to exist, nor is this house free from suspicion. Ardently do I hope the decision of this night may lead to dispel those suspicions. Sir, the next case is that of col. Shaw, and here it is with astonishment I must again observe upon the learned gent.'s argument, that there could be no corruption, for if there had, col. Shaw would have been restored to full pay; the learned gent, has no recollection of any part of the case which bears against the conclusion he wishes to draw, he intirely overlooks that the vengeance which fell upon col. Shaw, was from his not keeping his promise with Mrs. C, and the kind of vengeance shews clearly what the transaction had been. The learned gent. observes, that it is not becoming the house to go out of the record; we, who are, or ought to be, the natural guardians of the public purse, are not to inquire into what even relates to it. Sir, I will accede to no such doctrine, it becomes the house to listen to every instance of corruption, 51 From these transactions we learn, what was the real state of the intercourse between Mrs. C. and h. r. h. the D. of Y. It is argued, that the information was surprised and drawn from him in unguarded moments: is that conclusion borne out for him? The learned gent, certainly overlooks the evidence of a witness, whom, I lament to say, I must include in the description so properly given by the learned gent., of too many of those who have come before the house, and which has lowered the dignity of the house; sir, gen. Clavering tells us, that he learned from Mrs. C., what it would have been highly wrong in the official people to have communicated. Now, sir, to shew how familiar these subjects were, though the absence of the Commander in Chief was but for a few days, yet this forms a part of a letter, and we find it replied to as a matter of course. Sir, I verily believe that traffic went to a degree, little probably in the contemplation of the house. The learned gent. observes, with some triumph, that this was a mill which might have been perpetually at work, and from which such a supply might have been drawn, as would have prevented the difficulties we heard so much of. I must tell the hon. member, it resembles more of a windmill, it was not at all times and seasons it could work, it required the outward forms at least to be preserved. We are told that col. Gordon kept a watchful eye, that caution was needful, and official forms could not be dispensed with: but, sir, we have seen how easily they could be complied with. The letters of Mrs. C, for instance; from the intercourse, had these been false, they must at once have demonstrated the fraud, yet no one but what is complete of the kind. Is the case of Dowler deserving of no notice? and what must we say when we find no sentiment of disgust or repugnance by h. r. h., when such a woman as Mrs. C. recommended Dr. O'Meara for church preferment. When we see h. r. h. prostituting his character in promoting such views through such a channel, sir, not all the acuteness and reasoning of the learned gent. can divert my mind from such flagrant proofs of corruption and undue influence. Sir, it is the conduct of the Commander in Chief that sets up his evidence, and justifies my belief of the corruption. The case of Carter, which has been so feelingly urged by the learned gent., however it does credit to the heart, eannot be defined to consist with the duty 52 we owe the people of England. Are these times, sir, to screen delinquency? I should indeed have thought the hon. mover of the question culpable, could he have withheld any instance of abuse of power. I am sorry for the individual and if his subsequent conduct has proved him worthy of the appointment, it would be illiberal to advert to him how he came there, but this is no excuse to those who placed him in that situation. That men are raised, and properly raised from low situations, and without injuring the honour of the army, but how, sir? by their interest? is that the case here? It proves, sir, that the Commander in Chief is subject to those weaknesses that ought to incapacitate him from holding such a situation. Sir, in looking at the expenditure at Gloucester-place, I am very willing to agree with the hon. and learned gent., that men in situations of h. r. h., may not be perfectly conversant in the scale of expence, but the learned gent, has entirely overlooked, that disagreeable consequences perpetually arose, which forced the consideration of expenditure and resources upon h. r. h.: nay, sir, they are represented so strong, that Mrs. C. was obliged to pawn her jewels, and can it be supposed, that a lady of that description would undeck herself of such baubles, which were her only distinction, and for which, reputation, character, and every thing was sacrificed. Sir, I cannot suppose h. r. h. could be ignorant, that the expenditure more than doubled the allowance, and some means must be resorted to, to support and continue it. I cannot suppose him insensible to the feelings that must arise in every man's mind, he could not wish to continue partaking of what must involve this woman, and which she had no means of discharging. This strengthens my belief of his r. h. being privy and consenting to the practices which were resorted to, to make money. Sir, I have now discharged the most painful duty that Was ever imposed on me. I feel in common with every hon. gent, the situation of the aged monarch on the throne; is there a parent who is not sensible what must be his feelings and affliction in pronouncing judgment against a child? I hear it said, there is a conspiracy against the illustrious House of Brunswick, that it proceeds from the machinations of jacobinism. Who are the best friends of the jacobins? Those exalted characters, who, forgetful of their high stations, justify the representations. Reform abuses, and you 53 will have no jacobins to fear. It was not the jacobins that befriended Buonaparté, no, sir, it was the abuses which indisposed the people. Remove these and you will have the heart and hand of every man in the country with you. Sir. I beg pardon of the house for detaining it so long: the grounds of my opinion are before the house and the country, and to them I appeal for the vote I shall give in support of the motion before the house for the removal of h. r. h. the Duke of York.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer.
—Mr. Speaker; The attention which I have felt it my duty to give to this most important case, during the whole progress of the enquiry, made me anxiously desire to seize the earliest opportunity of submitting my opinion upon it to the consideration of the House; and I should, Sir, unquestionably have presented myself to your notice, as soon as the hon. gent., who opened the debate, sat down, if I had not seen my learned friend (Mr. Burton) prepared to address himself to the house, under circumstances which could not but make me as desirous to give way to him, as they must have made the house anxious to hear him. I felt, sir, that his situation, so perfectly unconnected with party, his judicial character, his experience, his years, every, thing, in short, which does exist in him, and which I am sensible is wanting in myself, entitled him justly to the previous attention of the house. If I had intervened, and disappointed his wish to deliver his opinion at that time, the fatigue and exhausture arising from a protracted debate, might possibly have, disabled him from addressing us at all, and the house would have had to lament the loss of all that light and instruction, which it has derived from his speech; a speech, sir, which I will venture to say, considering the nature and object of our enquiry, and considering the weight and authority of my learned friend's opinion upon such a subject, was one of the ablest, most impressive, and most seasonable, which could possibly have been offered to our attention.
Although my learned friend has anticipated many of those topics, on which I should otherwise have thought it my duty to have troubled the house at considerable length; yet the great variety and importance of the materials on which our judgments are to be formed, will, I fear, still oblige me, however desirous of confining myself within the narrowest limits which 54 the extended nature of the subject will admit of, to trespass to a great extent upon the patience and indulgence of the house. I should, therefore, be guilty of as great imprudence with a view to the interests of the cause, as of injustice to the house, if I were to waste any time in apology or unnecessary prefatory observations. I will, therefore, endeavour to bring the attention of the house directly and immediately to the important subject and substance of the question.
In order to do this with any useful effect, it is necessary that gentlemen should cast back their recollection for a few weeks; that they should recall the manner in which the question now before us was originally introduced, and compare it with, the state in which it stands at the present moment. I entreat the house, Sir, to lend its patient attention to this review; I will afterwards proceed to explain the light in which the case presents itself to my mind; a light, which if it be the true one, will lead, us to the adoption of sentiments and proceedings very different, indeed, from those which have been proposed by the hon. member, who stands forth the accuser of the Duke of York.
The house, Sir, will recollect, that when, the charges were first brought against h. r. h., they were opened as charges of GROSS CORRUPTION. The hon. gent, undertook to prove, and personally pledged his character to this house that he would prove, that h. r. h. had been guilty of BASE, PERSONAL CORRUPTION;—not, that he had been guilty of any neglect of his official duties; not that he had been deficient in that attention, which their importance and their extent required; not, that he had been guilty of moral irregularities, of indiscretions, or of any offences of a more private nature, or of a minor character; but the charge against the D. of Y., was a charge of CORRUPTION; corruption, base and infamous in any man, doubly base and infamous in one of so exalted a character, and so eminent a station. It was on that ground that the hon. gent. recommended this enquiry to the house, and it was on that ground that the house adopted it. Upon such a charge, Sir, when once made against such a character, I cannot doubt but the house will feel it their indispensable duty, to pronounce a direct, a decided opinion.—Is he, (aye or no,) upon the charge of corruption, guilty or not guilty?—that is the question proposed to us,—the question 55 from which we cannot shrink—the question which we must decide.
Such a charge having been brought against any individual,—the highest in the kingdom or the lowest, no matter which; a charge involving every thing dear and valuable in honour, in interest, in life; a charge, which, if proved, must condemn him to misery, degradation, and infamy for ever; would it not be due to any one, and is it not due to the D. of Y.; nay, is it not due to the public; is it not essential to the honour and character of this house, —that they who have distinctly received and entertained such a charge, should as distinctly and unequivocally dispose of it? To the public, Sir, it is unquestionably due: for if the view of the hon. gent. (Mr. Curwen) who spoke last, is correct; if there are abuses existing, such as those which are described by him, and which are charged by the hon. mover of this enquiry; it is the important, the essential duty of this house to hunt out those corruptions, to drag them forth to public view, and to public resentment and, bringing the guilty authors of them under the lash of those laws which they have violated, to subject them to the punishment and disgrace which they have so justly deserved. But what is the course which the hon. gent, prescribes? He made his charges openly, fairly, and manfully: does he support them fairly and manfully to their conclusion? The address which he proposes appears to me to be no less inconsistent with the manner in which the hon. gent. preferred the charge, than the adoption of it would be disgraceful to the house. Can it be gravely proposed to us; that we should conclude our long and laborious enquiry into this important subject, with an opinion which we affirm with hesitation, and almost retract as soon as we affirm it? Can it be seriously intended that we should state, not that, in plain language, the accusation of corruption is specifically established,—not that it is impossible these corrupt practices could have existed without the knowledge of the D. of Y,; but, as if the truth or falsehood of that allegation was a matter of indifference, that, whether they existed without his knowledge or with it, it amounts practically to the same thing; the conclusion must be still the same; and this house must equally in either case address the king to remove him!
Can the hon. gent., can any man in this house, really think it consistent with our 56 character, thus to leave this great question of corruption, this question of such high guilt or innocence, undecided? It might be true, indeed, that after acquitting h. r. h. of the charge of corruption, after absolving him from that base, despicable, and detested crime; we might yet find some instance of neglect of duty, some circumstance marking a want of attention to the interests of the public, some offence of a lighter dye, more or less, even of a public nature, which might appear still to require the censure of this house, and still to call for his removal from office. But would this address be a proper mode of proceeding in such a case? Shall we, if in our deliberate opinion h. r. h. is not guilty of corruption, act as the hon. mover would recommend us? Would the house in the case of any individual, will it in the case of the son of our sovereign, a servant of the public, who has so ably and so usefully served his country during the fourteen years in which he has presided over the army; who has done so much for the comfort of the soldier, and for the interests of the meritorious officer; who has improved the condition of that army; who has brought it to a state of discipline and perfection unprecedented in any period of our history; who has made it, as it now is, the dread of our enemies, and the admiration, of the world; will the house, I say, sir, act against him upon the principle of this address? against him especially, who is proved by such unanswerable testimony to have adopted such strenuous measures for the suppression of those very abuses which he is accused of having connived at; who has devoted so much attention to the reformation of the system which he is charged with having abused; and whose regulations have in every instance tended to preclude, beat down, and destroy those very practices, the commission and concealment of which are charged against him, as his crimes? Will the house, against him, proceed upon the principle of this address, and, leaving it matter of doubt whether they find him guilty or not guilty of the main charge, insist upon his removal without ascertaining the grounds of it? Is it not due to this royal person, would it not be due (I repeat), to any man, is it not essentially right in itself, that you should not thus dismiss him from the high and important posts which he fills? Leaving doubtful in his own mind, doubtful in the mind of his friends, doubtful to the present age and to the latest posterity, 57 whether the offence of which you thought him guilty, was some neglect of office, more or less excusable from the weight and multiplicity of the business which belonged no it, or the grossest and basest corruption which ever degraded a public character, or dishonoured a man. I say, sir, the grossest, and basest corruption, which ever degraded or dishonoured a man; for there is no character of infamy which can be given to the offence, if proved, that I would not be ready to ascribe to it; there is no character of degradation or disgrace, that does not attach to it. There is nothing, no,-nothing that belongs even to the witnesses who have appeared at your bar, which would not be virtue as committed by them, when compared with the crime Of the D. of Y., if their evidence against him is true. But if the crime of the accused personage would be so greatly aggravated by his rank; are we not to take into consideration also what is due to him, or rather what is due to the public, on account of that rank? Let us recollect who it is that we are called upon to dismiss from our bar and send forth into the world with a doubtful character; let us recollect that it is a person not only high in office and in rank., but one whose birth places him so near the crown, that events, however much to be deprecated, yet quite within the reach of possible, nay, almost probable occurrence, may one day call him to the throne itself. Shall we then, with such a possibility before us, leave it doubtful and uncertain, whether this high personage has or has not, in the opinion of this house, been found clear of all public guilt, or has been disgraced by the lowest and most infamous corruption? I am sure there is not an honest or just feeling in the house, that will not go along with me in condemning and deprecating so unfair, so timid, and yet so dangerous a course; a course which would, for ever disgrace and destroy the character of this house in the eyes of the country. The charge is unquestionably one of the most serious that has ever been submitted to the consideration of parliament. And shall it, upon such an occasion, upon so solemn, so important, so momentous an occasion, be said, even if those who introduced such a charge, shrink from the task of executing their full duty upon it, that this House has shrunk from it, and that our proceedings were marked with the mean endeavour to dispose of it by a measure framed with complicated ambiguity, or rather with an insidious alterna- 58 tive, as if for the mere purpose of picking up some of the straggling votes of those who, not agreeing with the accuser as to the nature and extent of the offence, may yet concur, from any other motives, public or personal, in desiring the removal of h. r. h. from his office? If the hon. gent, had continued to be actuated by that feeling which originally impelled him to come forward in this business, he would certainly never have proposed to the house the address which we have heard from him. The hon. gent, has yielded to other counsels, or he would not thus have frittered down his charge. "Whether his offence amounts to corruption or not, let the D. of Y. be removed," is no language of his! No, sir, if that hon. gent. had consulted his own manly feelings on this subject, he would have scorned to offer such a proposition to the house. But the hon gent, has mixed himself with others in counsel; he has advised with cooler heads, heads that mean more than he means, and more than they will let him know. I can hardly be suspected of any solicitude to go out of my way to compliment the hon. gent., but I must declare, in fairness to him, that I have too high an opinion of his honour and his spirit, to believe that this measure, which he has proposed, is his own.
Sir, I am almost ashamed of having pressed with so much earnestness, and at such great length, the impropriety, and. as I conceive, the positive absurdity, of the address as moved by the hon. gent. But the importance of taking a right view of it, seems to me to be so great, that I trust it may be received as my apology.
It now, Sir, becomes my duty to explain to the house, the course which appears to me to be the most proper to be pursued on the present occasion. In the first place, Sir, I conceive it to be absolutely and indispensably necessary that we should come to a direct decision upon this question, whether the evidence against the D. of York, does or does not establish against h. r. h. the charge of personal corruption, or connivance at corruption? I add, "or connivance at corruption," because no man can entertain a doubt, that, in point of moral guilt and turpitude, it would be, especially in such a case as this, the same thing whether h. r. h. be guilty of direct corruption by his own acts, or, of knowingly permitting it to have been practised through, his means by Mrs. C. I shall therefore tender an amendment to the hon. gent.'s 59 Address, converting that Address into a Resolution, which shall declare decidedly the sense of the house upon the question of guilt. This Resolution, whatever should be the fate of it, will leave us at full liberty to determine what course it may afterwards be proper to pursue — a course which must naturally be governed by the nature of that opinion which the house shall form and pronounce on the substance of the charge. If they should think the D. of York guilty of corruption, I cannot hesitate for a moment to believe that they will think it necessary to impeach him. But though they may think him not guilty of corruption, there may be other matter discovered in this evidence, which will call for notice and animadversion; and which may, in the opinion of some persons, call even for punishment.
But if it were possible that the address of the hon. mover could be adopted, what would then be the duty imposed upon his majesty? What would his majesty under such circumstances be compelled to do? —Would he not have to do this?—Not to enquire himself whether the alledged abuses and corruptions existed; not to say whether the removal of the Duke of York from his high office, would be sufficient atonement for his offence; but, to direct his Attorney-General to institute a publick prosecution against him. But, Sir, is there any man in this house who would consent to impose upon his majesty such a duty as that of directing the Attorney-General to prosecute the D. of York at the Old Bailey or at the King's Bench? Is there a man in the house, who would wish to impose on his majesty so painful a sacrifice of his parental feelings? And are we to adopt an address which might lead to such a course, "out of delicacy and respect," as the hon. gent. expresses himself, to his majesty? But independent of considerations so delicate, would it be justifiable, would it be consistent with the dignity of this house to impose upon the king that duty which, from whatever motives, we are afraid, or decline to perform ourselves? shall we leave to his majesty to say that which we ourselves have not the courage to pronounce? Clearly not. On the contrary, if the conclusion to which this house shall come upon these charges, is, that the proof is sufficient for this house to entertain them, the result ought to be, and must be, to send them ourselves, to the bar of the house of lords; and, by the constitutional and appropriate pro- 60 ceeding of impeachment, to put the D. of York upon his defence, and upon his trial.
In my judgment, sir, the D. of York is not guilty of corruption or connivance. This is the opinion which in my judgment, we are imperatively called on by the justice of the case, to pronounce. If that judgment is correct, we ought to say so; we ought to declare unequivocally, that this house sees no ground for charging h. r. h. with corruption, or with connivance at the practices which have been disclosed at our bar. Such, sir, is the opinion which, after the most deliberate and most anxious consideration of all the evidence, and all the circumstances of this important case, I have conscientiously formed in my own mind. I will now proceed to explain to the house, the grounds upon which that opinion is founded:—
I ought however, before I proceed farther, to state as a justification of some early expressions of my own on this case, that I certainly did, (I do not hesitate, sir, to confess it,) I certainly did come to the examination of the conduct of the illustrious person, now under accusation, strongly influenced by that desire which the hon. mover of the address himself expressed, and which he now says he believes to have. been universal in this house, that h. r. h, should be exculpated and cleared from every imputation of blame. But, I must say further, that I came to it with every prejudice against the truth of the accusation. I have certainly long cherished the opinion, and still, cherish it, that whatever may be the opinion of persons out of doors—whatever may be the language of pamphlets and libels, published and circulated with malicious industry, for the infamous purpose, not merely of destroying the character of h. r. h., but, through him, of exciting sentiments hostile to the family on the throne; (the effects and prejudices of which libels, are now operating strongly against h. r. h., both within this house, and out of it), I say I had formed the opinion, notwithstanding these attempts to poison the public mind, that there never was a period in which there was less ground for the suspicion of personal corruption in persons, either illustrious by birth, or exalted by rank, office, and station, than the present moment. The age has its vices, no doubt, and persons in high rank are not exempt from them. But the vice of pecuniary corruption in the higher ranks of society is not (on 61 my conscience I state it) the vice of the present clay. [Hear, hear!] I am glad to find that there appears to be a general concurrence in that sentiment; but, sir, let me ask, if gentlemen concur in this opinion, and do think that such is no more than the fair testimony due to public characters; that such is the honest result of their observation on the conduct of public men at this day, is it fair dealing towards public men, or towards the public itself, for any object of popularity, or any purpose of party, to give countenance to the idea, that the abuses falsely charged against public men in these vile publications, do actually exist? Sir, I do contend that nothing can be more mischievous, than to give to the false, slanderous, jacobinical publications, so profusely and malignantly disseminated, that sort of encouragement which the honourable gentleman who spoke third in this debate has done by his speech. I am confident that the hon. gent, has no other ground of evidence for his assertions, than what is contained in those libellous pamphlets and publications themselves, the malice and venom of which, such assertions as his must necessarily inflame and extend, These prejudices, which I have thus avowed, were undoubtedly strong in my mind; and as they were strong generally in favour of any public men, so does it appear more particularly improbable to my feelings, that such charges could apply to one in so peculiarly elevated a station as that of the illustrious person now the subject of our enquiry. I never could bring my mind to believe, that for so mean and despicable a consideration (for the whole amount of Mrs. C's iniquitous gains, according to her evidence, does not much exceed two or three thousand pounds), h. r. h. should have lent himself to this base conspiracy against the public interest and the interest of the army; that he should have assisted Mrs. C. with the power of his official situation; that he should have become a partner in her infamous scheme; that he should have so humbled and degraded himself, as to have rendered his rank, and influence, and authority, subservient to her designs; and that he should so far have forgot what was due to his birth, his family, his own character, and to the public, as to have told this abandoned woman, (for such is her evidence,) pointing out to her these corrupt practices as the sources of pecuniary supply, that" if she was 62 clever, she could never want money;" and that he should have done this for the purpose of feeding and supporting the expence of their adulterous connexion! [Reiterated acclamations of Hear, hear!] Sir, I hardly understand that cry—Is it that any hon. gent. imagines that, in using an epithet to characterize the unfortunate connexion between h. r. h. and Mrs. C., in appropriate language, I have inadvertently slipped into a censure which I should wish to retract? Does any hon. gent. who hears me defending h. r. h. from a charge which I feel to be false, imagine, that I am therefore here to defend vice, Or to palliate it with epithets that may disguise its character? Nothing, sir, can be farther from my intention! I lament, I deplore as deeply as any man can do, the errors, the moral guilt into which, in an evil hour, h. r. h. suffered himself to be plunged, by his infatuated attachment to this most profligate woman. I will not, out of delicacy to him, withhold any censure which it may be due, and becoming for an individual in this house to pronounce upon it. But surely, sir, it is not inconsistent with that sentiment, and with that determination, to suppose that he cannot have been guilty of such a departure from the duties of his public station; that he cannot so far have forgotten the consideration of every thing dear and valuable to a person of his exalted birth, (for the higher a man rises in society, the more must he feel the value of character, and the importance of public opinion,) as to have so degraded, so debased himself as to have become the willing instrument of Mrs. C. and her associates. Under this impression, I confess, that every prejudice in my mind was against the idea that h. r. h. could be personally implicated in the practices pointed out by these charges. I certainly had the means of knowing that corrupt practices did exist, with regard to the sale of offices, though not by persons in office, or in government, but under the assumed and pretended authority of government, I had recently directed my endeavours to detect and to pursue them in one instance, in which I had been furnished with a clue to them. I knew there were low and mean persons, who, pretending to possess an influence in disposing of public employments, civil and military, carried on a lucrative traffic by means of the delusions they held forth to the public. But I knew at the same time, that, at least as far as respected those civil offices and pla- 63 ces under government, with which I had any means of being particularly acquainted, their pretensions were wholly false; and I did consequently believe that such would, eventually, and in proof, turn out to be the fact in the case of the D. of Y.; I thought that h. r. h., whatever might be disclosed in the course of the enquiry, would be proved to be as far from having been personally concerned in any of the transactions relating to such corrupt practices, as I am myself. To return however to the charges.
There are two very distinct questions, upon which the opinion of this house must be pronounced. The first question respects the guilt or innocence of the D. of Y.; and the next, the proper mode of our proceeding, after having decided upon that question. These are two questions in their natures perfectly different. The one I take to be a question of a purely judicial description, upon which we are bound to give our judgment with all the conscientious severity of judges; the honour, the justice of this house requires that it should, according to the true impression made by the evidence upon our consciences, decide the question of guilt or innocence; but as to the other question, it involves many grave considerations of political expediency, which the house, if it duly regards the interests of the public, must take into its consideration. Supposing the house should decide, as I think it must, that h. r. h. has not been guilty of corruption or corrupt connivance, it must still upon the next question, contemplating what is due to the interests of the public, consider what ought to be the degree of censure with which it should mark its displeasure, at the transactions which have been exposed, and what practical measure it shall in consequence adopt.
Trusting that the house will keep in mind these two questions, and the plain distinction which exists between them, I think it will be useful, with a view to simplify and disembarrass our enquiry, distinctly to admit those parts of the case which I conceive to be indisputably proved,—That h. r. h. had formed a most intimate and unfortunate connexion with Mrs. C, cannot be denied, and must ever be lamented; that Mrs. C. was, during the continuance, of this connexion, concerned in most corrupt transactions cannot be doubted; and that she has continued in the practice of them ever since that connexion was dissolved, is also clear, and 64 ought never to be forgotten; the question in dispute is, whether h. r. h. was privy to these transactions? did he authorise them? did he countenance them? did he connive at them? These are the questions which we must determine.
It must be further admitted, that if Mrs. C.'s evidence be believed, there is nothing wanting to the complete conviction of the royal duke—the case, as against h. r. h., is indisputably established in all its deepest aggravation. If her evidence be credited, it is not a case of neglect of duty, it is not a case of any minor fault, it is not a case even of connivance on the part of the D. of Y.; but it is a case of the basest corruption in his own person,— corruption of the foulest nature, originating in himself. If she can be believed, it must be admitted as a matter of direct proof, established by her evidence beyond the possibility of doubt, that the D. of Y. and not Mrs. C, was the first adviser of these most criminal and disgraceful transactions: it must be taken as proved, that this royal person, the son of our virtuous and beloved monarch, was so abandoned and lost to every sense of what his duty and his station prescribed him, that when his mistress represented to him her pecuniary distresses, he pointed out these practices as the. means of relieving them; he told her that, "if she was clever, she could never want money;" that" her influence was greater than that of the Queen;" and that by the judicious employment of that interest, she would preclude the necessity of recurring to him.
It is evident, therefore, that the examination of the guilt or innocence of the D. of Y., must open with the examination of the credit which is due to Mrs. C. There may possibly be doubt in some minds, although I hesitate not to declare that there is none in mine, of the innocence of h. r. h. though the evidence of Mrs. C. be not credible; but there can be no doubt of his guilt, if she is believed. An attentive consideration, therefore, of all the various circumstances which affect the credit of this very suspicious witness, is our primary and indispensable duty.
In the first place, the house will not fail to observe, that Mrs. C. presents herself at the bar in the questionable character of an accomplice, or rather as a principal in the guilt which she is called to detect. Upon this point, sir, I need do no more than refer to what has been so well and ably stated, by my honourable and learn- 65 ed friend (Mr. Burton) behind me. You have been told by him, that, as an accomplice, you ought not to confide in her testimony, or to give the least credit to any thing she said, unless so far as she may he confirmed by the evidence of other witnesses, whose characters are not open to that suspicion of falsehood, which necessarily must attach upon her. Upon the point of confirmation, though a point of infinite importance to be well understood in such a case as this, it cannot be necessary for me, after the manner in which the subject has been treated by my hon. and learned friend, to go into any length of observation to guard the house against being misled to suppose, that they find Mrs. C.'s evidence confirmed, so as to give credit to it against the D. of Y., because parts of her story are substantiated by other evidence. That her story may be, and is, true, in respect of the corrupt practices, as far as she is concerned in them, is already admitted: those parts therefore, may undoubtedly be confirmed without difficulty, but such confirmation cannot advance the case one step against h. r. h.: they might have existed whether the D. of Y. knew any thing of the facts or not. The points on which confirmation is wanting, and on which it must be had, before you can convict h. r. h., are those which I contend rest to this minute unconfirmed, upon her unsupported assertion alone;—that the D. of Y. authorised, that the D. of Y. knew of her practices. For as my learned friend has truly said, if a man has committed murder in the company of another person, and chooses to charge an innocent man with the offence, which was committed by himself and his companion, he will tell truly all the circumstances of the murder, only substituting the innocent man for his guilty companion. His evidence of the circumstances attending the murder, might be correct and true, although as far as respected the party accused of having perpetrated the crime, it would be false. The circumstances of the murder might all be so accurately stated, that they might be capable of confirmation, and if such conformation was to be supposed to substantiate the evidence of the accomplice, it would bring the proof of guilt home to the individual charged, who yet might be entirely innocent, and every fact which really affected the prisoner (however the other circumstances might be confirmed) would rest unconfirmed and 66 unsupported by any evidence but the accomplice's. The confirmation, therefore, that in such cases must be required, is a confirmation of those circumstances which bring the fact home to the person who is charged with it. Apply this to the case of the D. of Y. Is it not obvious, that, if these corrupt transactions were practised by Mrs. C. without the knowledge of h. r. h. she must have pretended to have influence over the D. of Y.; that her conduct, that her conversation, that her correspondence must have been framed to impose, both upon her instruments and upon her victims, the belief of that opinion? Proof then by other witnesses, or by other means, of such circumstances of conduct, conversation and language, would be no confirmation of that part of the story which affects the D. of Y. Those circumstances would be true upon either hypothesis; they are perfectly equivocal as to the main question in dispute: they therefore may be indisputably proved and confirmed, and yet the evidence applying the knowledge of them to the D. of Y., may be utterly, absolutely false, and fabricated by the witness herself.
In regard to the evidence of Mrs. C, I might say, for my own part, that I never, in the whole course of my professional life, saw a witness in a court of justice, who appeared to me so wholly unworthy of credit as Mrs. C. All the circumstances under which she presented herself, compel me to withhold my belief from her. The story she came to detail, and her general character as connected with the transactions to which her evidence related, her manner, her contradictions, her detected falsehoods, made her a witness the least entitled to credit that I ever saw. And here I cannot help noticing an expression that fell from a noble lord (lord Folkestone) upon the subject of Mrs. C's evidence, namely, that in his opinion (so I understood him to state) Mrs. C. was an extremely credible witness. Now, sir, if, after the noble lord had had the opportunity of seeing Mrs. C., of hearing her give her evidence, of tracing her through all the parts of that evidence, of observing the manner in which she was endeavouring to bring her charges to bear upon the D. of Y., and of representing all she did to have been under the direction of h. r. h.; if, after perceiving what could not have escaped the attention of the noble lord, that she was obliged to confess, that subsequent to her separation from h. r. h., she 67 was still carrying on the same practices, that she was now making use of the name of the Duke of Portland —with whom she had not the slightest acquaintance, as she had formerly of the Duke of York; and that she had the astonishing effrontery to say in this house, that Mr. Maltby was her duke of Portland; if, after the noble lord had had such an abundant opportunity of understanding the real character of this lady, he could from any cause have been so taken, so imposed upon by her manner and deportment, so won, so fascinated with her blandishments and her charms, as to give implicit credit to her evidence, ought he not to have some little more of consideration for the D. of Y.? After all this proof of her deceptions, the noble lord is still willing to rely upon her; the Duke of York unfortunately trusted her, when he believed her to be honest, and had had no such opportunity of detecting her character. Cannot the noble lord under such circumstances find some charity for an individual who had the misfortune, the ever-to-be-lamented misfortune, of falling into the snare of such a woman? Cannot he conceive, that while she was enjoying his affections, and while he was persuaded to think well of the worthless object on which they were placed, he might be innocently misled by her into statements of which she meant to take advantage; that she might occasionally decoy him into conversation on military subjects, pick up little things of no possible importance, which h. r. h. might, without any violation of public duty, have published at Charing-Cross; and that all this might have happened without affording any proof that h. r. h. was acquainted with the purposes to which the information thus procured from him, was to be applied? Or is it possible that there can be in the noble lord, or in this house, such a want of candour or of charity, as to condemn h. r. h. of this infamous crime, because in some of these conversations h. r. h. might have told her, without conceiving that he was doing that which was likely to be in the least detrimental to the service, either when major Tonya's business was likely to be gazetted, whether col. French's levy was to go on, or any other circumstance of a similar nature in point of importance, which she might wish to communicate to those whom she meant thereby to deceive?
Permit me now, Sir, to collect all the circumstances of her story, and to examine 68 what it is, as we have it from herself, and from the other evidence before us. She represents herself as having lived under the protection of h. r. h.; that he prepared a house, and set up an expensive establishment for her in Gloucester-Place: so expensive, that he was not able, without these criminal practices, to provide her with the means of supporting it; that he gave her to understand she might raise money by the sale of commissions, only regulating her conduct by an ordinary attention to prudence, in her manner of doing it; that she did dispose, for money, of military promotions to a very considerable extent, with his assistance; that he afterwards discarded her, and engaged to settle upon her an annuity of 400l., which annuity he subsequently withheld; that she was irritated by his desertion, of her; that she threatened to expose him if he did not comply with her terms; and finally, that she has brought him here for the purpose of exposing him. This is the story which is before us, most of it from herself, the rest unquestionably proved by her own letters, and by other witnesses. The story does not tell very well for herself, and does not sound very probable; it exhibits her as a woman of very immoral and impure character, who, having been connected with his royal person, and having been a participater with him to the extent she tells us, in all the crimes with which she charges him, was discarded by him for no reason! Her pension was withheld from her on no just grounds! Does this appear probable upon the face of it, nay, I had almost said, does it appear possible? Is it possible to suppose, that for no sufficient offence on her part, for no other cause than what may be attributed possibly to mere caprice, he should have dismissed her from his affections and society; that he should have settled an annuity upon her which he afterwards did not pay, and that he should have turned her off in a manner so naturally calculated to excite her utmost resentment, if she had all those transactions to disclose, and possessed the means of exposing him to the infamy that belongs to their disclosure?—Yet, sir, all this improbability we must believe, and we must believe it upon the evidence of Mrs. Clarke, or we cannot be of opinion that h. r. h. is guilty.
An accomplice sometimes is, or appears to be, actuated by a sense of remorse for the crime which he has committed, and 69 disposed to make what atonement he can by his evidence for the crime which he confesses and detects: but Mrs. C. comes here as no penitent; she is not inspired by any public feelings which might justifiably have actuated her to disclose to public justice, scenes such as those she has described; on the contrary, urged by sentiments of rancour, hatred, resentment, and malice; with no other object than to disgrace h. r. h.; at the expence even of herself, she diseloses a scene of corrupt practices, which it evidently appears she has continued to carry on to the present day (and for this part of her evidence we have the words of the hon. mover of this enquiry himself): she is, up to the time of this very enquiry, carrying on the same traffic! If she is to be believed, it appears that she put into the hands of that hon. gent., within these few weeks, letters of recommendation to be signed by other hon. gentlemen, with a view to obtain military preferment; that he gave her promises of assistance, though he said his influence would not be of any avail, as he was in the opposition. Within a short time she put into the hands of gen. Clavering, for the purpose of procuring military promotion, a letter purporting to be signed by a Mr. Sumner, of the Temple, when, as far as we have any proof, there, is no such person in existence. This is the sort of witness on whose evidence we are called upon to give up the character of the illustrious person accused, and to consign him to public infamy and execration! But this is not all: you have in this, an abundant caution against surrendering up your judgment upon the evidence of a witness, whom you see impelled by such motives, and to such an object: But have you nothing else? You have the presumption in favour of the person accused; not merely the presumption of general innocence in favour of the party under accusation, till conviction, but you have the presumption of innocence arising out of the conduct of h. r. h.; out of conduct which may, perhaps, not be entirely approved. I lament extremely, that h. r. h. did not provide a larger annuity for Mrs. Clarke, and I think, that what he did give her, should have been unconditional. But although I lament these circumstances, yet I must be allowed on this occasion, and in this part of my argument, to take advantage of them; for there arises out of these circumstances, a great and insur- 70 mountable presumption in favour of the D. of Y. I ask whether any thing can be more inconsistent with common sense, than that h. r. h., in parting with a woman who had been a participator with him in such deep guilt, should dismiss her in a manner which must, have sent her forth with every sentiment of resentment and indignation against him? No man having any particle of common sense could have done so; and out of this conduct, therefore, there does grow a most irresistible presumption in his favour. I repeat that I lament that a better arrangement was not made for Mrs. C. when this unfortunate connection was broken off; but I am confident the house will agree with me, that h. r. h. having, from whatever circumstance, thought himself called upon to stop the annuity, and Mrs. C. having threatened to expose him if he did not comply with her requisition of renewing it, it was impossible, after such a threat, for h. r. h. to recede from his determination. to have done so would have been most hazardous to his honour. After the letter addressed to Mr. Adam by Mrs. C, it was quite impossible for h. r. h., having any consideration for his character, to yield to her demands, if he felt innocent: on the other hand, it is equally impossibly that he should not have yielded to them, if guilty. Had h. r. h. been conscious that this woman really was possessed of these secrets, the exposure, of which must necessarily involve his ruin, can it be for one moment imagined that he could have discarded her without first making some attempt, at least, to secure her silence? But perhaps it may be said, that h. r. h. relied or upon her goodnature, or upon her honour, as his security, that she would not divulge them. Did he so? She tells him plainly that she will divulge them. She says in her letter to Mr. Adam, that if h. r. h. does not give her the annuity of 400l. a year, and pay her the arrears, she will publish every circumstance that was ever communicated to her by him, and every thing that has come under her knowledge during their intimacy. Surely then, if the D. of Y. is endowed with the smallest possible share of common sense, he must have yielded to her demands, unless, as the fact was, he felt secure in the consciousness of his own innocence, He braves the charge, he defies the exposure which she threatens; although he must have known, that many of the circumstances attending his unfortunate connection must come before the public, he is content that the whole his- 71 tory of their private intimacy shall meet the public eye, rather than suffer his chater to be compromised by yielding to such threat: He braves the utmost effects of her resentment and malice, rather than do that by which, if he had done it, he would indeed have put himself completely into her power. Had he been so weak as to have regarded her menaces, (and many an innocent man under similar circumstances, might have done so), how would her story then have told? How strongly would the payment of her annuity have confirmed it? It would then have been said, that after discarding her for some reason which he deemed sufficient, and which, for the purpose of the argument of his accusers, would then probably have been assumed to be sufficient; he had, for some reason, which would have then been deemed also equally sufficient, refused to pay her the stipulated annuity; that he had declined to do her justice, upon the mere merits of her claim; but, that when she threatened the. exposure, which he must know whether it was in her power or not to make, then he began to be alarmed, then he thought it convenient to purchase her silence, then, from the fear of having his guilt disclosed, he acquiesced in demands which, as his former refusal had demonstrated, no sense of justice had impelled him to regard. Such would have been the inference drawn from the conduct of the D. of Y., had that conduct been the reverse of what it was. I put it then to the house, whether candour and justice do not require that the direct contrary inference should be drawn from the conduct which h. r. h. did pursue?
To pass now, sir, to another point. It is impossible, in estimating the weight which belongs to Mrs. C.'s evidence, not to notice that total want of a proper sense of the situation in which she was placed, which was so strongly marked by the whole of her behaviour at our bar: Her sarcastic insolence, her playful pleasantry; as if there was nothing in her evidence that weighed heavy upon herself; her general cleverness and versatility; the art and wit she displayed in answering those questions which she thought proper to answer; the most unblushing effrontery with which she disclosed things which would have abashed the boldest witness; the mode in which she was continually evading the questions which she wished to avoid; presenting new topics to the examiner; misleading him; turning him beside his object; and at last, when pressed and 72 driven to extremity, sheltering herself in a total forgetfulness.
All this, sir, must be present to the memory of the house; the house cannot forget it, for they cannot forget the impression which it made upon them at the time: Perhaps, sir, they might wish to forget, but they cannot but remember how indulgently they tolerated her jokes; how they seemed to forget her vice in her wit; and be almost reconciled to her infamy, by her manner of displaying it. I dwell upon these circumstances as a caution to ourselves against being misled, to give credit to such a witness. But, sir, beyond this, let the house in candour and in justice, well consider, if this cleverness was able to impose upon us in public so successfully, what must have been its effects in private? This art and ability which we have witnessed so successful amongst ourselves: how must they have enabled her to practise on the credulity of a person, not yet apprized, as we all are, of her worthlessness; and biassed and prejudiced in her favour by the affection which, he unfortunately indulged for her? How easy must it have been for such a woman as Mrs. C, without any principle of honour or virtue to guide or to restrain her, to impose upon the unsuspecting generosity of h. r. h.? Can we imagine any thing of deception which such a woman as this, under such circumstance, was not equal to accomplish? How many, how frequent must have been the opportunities of which she might have availed herself, (and how few would she suffer to escape her?) of looking into his letters, and suggesting topics of conversation? Can any one suppose, that if at any time it was her object to obtain a knowledge of any military matter, which there was no public reason to conceal, that she would not, with all the facilities afforded by the confidence reposed in her, aided by her own art and dexterity, easily obtain the information which she wanted? The hon. gent, asked, how was she to have had her information, but from the D. of Y.? Let me ask in return, when we see before us the nature and extent of the information which she procured, why should the D. of Y., unless he suspected her object, have the least desire to withhold it? No man living can say, that in any one instance in which it can be seen that she obtained it, that here was any one reason of public duty that required it to be concealed; and let me ask again, whether there is any man who has seen this woman 73 at the bar, who will say that, if he had been so weak, so imprudent, so unfortunate, and so immoral, as to attach himself to her society, she might not, without almost any effort of that dissimulation and cunning, which nevertheless must always have been at hand, have obtained from him a knowledge of many things which he might even have desired to have kept secret? Who is there, the most prepared to fling the first stone at the D. of Y., who feels such confidence in his own strength, who will lay his hand upon his heart and say, that in similar circumstances with the D. of Y., he might not have fallen into her snares? That she might not have drawn from him, without any knowledge or suspicion of her corrupt object, I will not say a secret of state, but such trifles as I have already alluded to? For what are the facts, the disclosure of which is to convict the D. of Y. with connivance at her practices? The time when major Tonyn was to be gazetted; whether his business was to go on; and whether second battalions were to be raised instead of new regiments: this is the nature, nay this is the extent of the information which is proved to have been procured from the D. of Y. And is the communication of such unimportant facts as these, to the limited extent, especially, to which even that communication has been proved, a violation of public duty, upon which we ought to found so serious a charge? Or does it afford any ground to infer any connivance whatever on the part of h. r. h.? I have dwelt, sir, so long upon this circumstance, because I am confident, that, when the evidence and facts of this case are examined and understood, that this sort of communication is the whole of the case against h. r. h.; and if the house should be of that opinion, and should feel that such communication was no more than the necessary and inevitable consequence from the existence of the unfortunate connexion with Mrs. C.; the whole offence of h. r. h. will resolve itself into that connexion. In saying this, sir, I do not mean to justify, to defend, to mitigate the moral offence of that connexion.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, that there is no man in this house, who, upon a retrospect of every thing that has passed, within his own memory, in any way bearing upon the offence of adultery, would feel more ready than myself to admit that h. r. h. has, by this impure connection, inflicted a deep wound upon his moral character. There is no man who can feel himself, 74 though not led by principles as I profess to be, yet, compelled by consistency, to reprobate such an offence in stronger language, or with severer animadversion than I do. I am one of those individuals, who some time since wished that the legislature should enact a law, declaring adultery a crime. There is nothing in the character of the present times, nothing that has appeared in the records of parliament, or courts of justice, that has in the least altered my opinion upon this subject; on the contrary, every thing that has passed, and is passing before us, in the present session, in this house, and at the present time out of it, has tended to strengthen and confirm the opinion I always have entertained on it. When the bill to which I allude for making adultery a misdemeanour, came down from the other house of parliament, it had my warmest wishes for its success. I do sincerely wish at this day, that the measure I then supported, had succeeded, and that adultery had been made, as, in my deliberate judgment, it deserves to be made, a public crime. But it will be recollected how the proposition, when it came to us from the house of lords, was received in this house. The house will not fail to remember in what manner it was rejected on its principle. It was then argued, that such a measure could only have originated with some fanatical puritans, who plumed themselves upon their own superior virtue. Those enlightened and virtuous persons, as I thought then, who saw that this destructive crime was, with alarming progress, undermining the very foundations of civil society; those wise legislators, who proved their wisdom and their policy by introducing that measure, with the most benevolent views, alarmed as they were at seeing the frequency and prevalence of this offence, and marking the ravages it was making upon the peace and happiness of families, and the shock which it was giving to virtue and morality, the precepts and laws of which it seemed to set at defiance; those persons wore stigmatized as puritanical reformers, and too austere censors of the public morals. Unhappily such arguments, or rather such reflections, prevailed; and this house rejected the bill. But what will be our consistency? How shall we be able to reconcile our then conduct, with our present, if now that we have an illustrious individual brought before us, whose offence, (great as I may admit it to be in a moral view,) is that which this house re- 75 fused to rank as a misdemeanour; if now, I say, advantage is to be taken of its higher character of enormity, and is retrospectively to be punished in the case of this royal person, with a severity, and to an extent, which the deliberate judgment of this house, in its legislative capacity, refused prospectively to affix to it! Let us at least attempt to be consistent in our conduct. Let us not put legislation and judicature so at variance. Whatever may be our desire of punishing the offence of adultery, let us not, by our sentence against an individual, mark that as a crime in him, which we have refused to declare one by our statutes. Let us not, because it occurs in the instance of a person high in rank, visit this crime with public punishment, after having, upon mature consideration, (however erroneous and impolitic in my own opinion,) determined that it should not exist as a public offence. If we do mean to punish it, let us at least give notice to all men of the law under which they are to live; but, above all things, let us not so widely mistake our duty now, as to resolve, because we have failed in performing it on a former occasion, that we should, by way of atonement for our remissness as legislators, make up for it in our judicial character, and heap upon the head of this royal duke the effects of that resentment and indignation which have been excited by contemplating the excess of a crime which our mistaken lenity has increased and encouraged.
Another ground, sir, on which the evidence of Mrs. Clarke is liable to the greatest suspicion, arises out of the material contradictions, and proved falsehoods with which it abounds. I shall not now enter into them all; many of them will be more properly observed upon, in the course of my examination of the particular cases before us; but there are some leading contradictions and falsehoods in her evidence, so obvious and palpable, that it is fit I should draw the attention of the house to them, in the first instance.
One of these contradictions relates to the fact which she most positively denies, but which is incontestibly proved; that she was desirous of keeping these proceedings a secret from the Duke of York. The fact has been established by several witnesses. In the first case, the exchange between Brooke and Knight, you will find the proof of Mrs. Clarke's desire, to insist upon an inviolable secrecy. Dr. Thynne begins 76 by saying, "When I first spoke to Mrs. Clarke, she seemed to suppose there were some difficulties in the way, and she spoke a good deal about secrecy, and the danger she should run if this ever transpired." That is the evidence of the first witness. Mr. Knight's evidence is to the same effect, or rather is still stronger. He says, "She did entreat me to keep it a secret, lest it should come to the Duke of York's ears." He is asked, "Was the fact which Mrs. Clarke desired should be kept secret from the Duke of York, the receipt of the 200l. which you sent her?" His answer is, "Yes—she requested that the whole business might be kept secret." The next question put to him is, "Did she express herself particularly, during the conversation, as to the transaction itself?" His reply is, "As to the transaction itself?" Then towards the end of his examination, he is asked, "What expression did Mrs. Clarke use, that you now recollect, which enables you to state that it was not from the public, but from the Duke of York himself, that she wished it to be kept a secret?" He says, "She begged that it might be kept a secret from the Duke of York—I do not know how to shape my answer in any other way."
But Dr. Thynne, and Mr. Knight, are not the only witnesses upon this part of the case; capt. Sandon speaks to the same facts; Mr. Corri, Mrs. Corri, and Mrs. Hovenden speak to it. Her conduct, her anxious direction to Mr. Corri to burn all her letters without delay,—and her practice in requiring Mrs. Hovenden to return all her letters, absolutely prove her anxiety on this point. Now what says Mrs. Clarke? She is asked this question, "Do you recollect expressing a wish lest it should come to the ears of h. r. h. the Duke of York?" she immediately answers, "Oh no! never." "Or any thing to that effect?"—" Nothing like it." There are such a number of witnesses who positively contradict Mrs. Clarke on this part of the case, that I am sure there is no person, who hears me, who would venture to say, that their testimony does not outweigh that of Mrs. Clarke.
But, upon this evidence, I admit the hon. gent, has made a very fair remark. He observes, that it was impossible that Mrs. Clarke should require secrecy in the sense here suffered, and with the professed object of keeping the transaction from the D. of Y. Her undertaking to these people being to use her interference and in- 77 fluence with the D. of Y.; it would mar her own plot; it would be inconsistent with her own story. She wished these persons to believe that she would immediately apply to the D. of Y.; could she then be so absurd as to betray an anxiety that her interference should be kept a secret from the D. of Y.? This, sir, would indeed he true, if it were believed, that she let those persons know that she told h. r. h. what money she was to procure for the influence which she engaged to exercise;—but if the fact was, as I believe it, that she had no such influence, that she used no such influence, she would necessarily be anxious to avoid any part of the transaction transpiring, lest it should reach the ears of h. r. h.: but what she pretended to these witnesses, was that it was the pecuniary interest which she had in it, which she wished to keep concealed from him. In that sense, it was entirely consistent with her story, and essentially necessary for the security of herself.
The next point in which she is contradicted, respects her threat to expose the D. of Y, and to this I request the special attention of the house, because here it is, that we are enabled to trace her motives, and discover the resentment and malice, which prompt the whole of her conduct. Mr. Knight says, that when he called on her some time after the exchange had been effected, she told him that unless she could bring h. r. h. to terms, she would expose him in the manner she was endeavouring to do by her evidence. When Mrs. C. was asked the question, she said she never told any body so, except Mr. Adam. She recollects something respecting her letters to Mr. Adam; but she distinctly and positively states, that she never did say to Mr. R. Knight, that if h. r. h. did not come into her terms she would expose him. Now I ask the house, whether the credit of Mrs. C. is to be set up against the credit of Mr. Knight? He has no motive whatever which can possibly influence him to invent a falsehood; while on the other hand, she has every motive to induce her to do so. The fact stated by Mr. Knight, cuts up and destroys her testimony, and therefore she denies it. Upon this part of the case, then, there is a distinct contradiction; by a witness whose testimony it is impossible any candid or impartial mind, can fail to prefer to the testimony of Mrs. C. There are a variety of other contradictions in the evidence of 78 Mrs. C., with regard to minor circumstances; but I do not think it necessary to go into them. I will merely refer to the circumstance of her denying that her husband was of any trade, in which fact she is pointedly and distinctly contradicted.— Mr. Whitbread intimated across the house, that this was mis-stated.)—If I am guilty of an over-statement, sir, it is, I can assure the house, unintentional. I am sure that over-statements never can do good in any cause, which is heard before intelligent judges; they not only do not impose where they are introduced, but they cast suspicion over the whole case. The correctness of this statement therefore being called in question, I must, for my own vindication, go into it, with a particularity and at a length which I did not intend: this contradiction stands thus in the evidence.
Mrs. Clarke is asked, What is your husband?—Her part reply is, he is nothing but a man. What business?— No business. Was he never in any business V No, his father was a builder; he lives at Kettering, in Northamptonshire. Was not he a stone-mason. No, he was not—he lives at Kettering with his younger brother—that is all I know of him. Now, surely this house must be aware what was the evidence of Mr. Stowers in opposition to this testimony of Mrs. C. Mr. Thomas Stowers's evidence is as follows:— Did you know Mrs. C. before she was married to Mr. C.: I did not. Did you know her after she was married? I did. Do you remember the time when Mr. C. was married to her? I never knew the time. What business did Mr. C. carry on? When I first knew Mrs. C. by being wife to Mr. C, he was not in business just at that time; he was a young man What business did he afterwards carry on? That of a stone-mason. Was that soon after his marriage? I cannot speak to that. I did imagine he was married so soon as he had an acquaintance with this lady Did he carry on the business of a stone-mason, while she was living with him? He certainly did. For how long?— Not less than three or four years. Was she living with him all that time? As I never visited them I cannot under take to say she lived with him all that time, but I conceive she lived with him a principal part of the time. Had they any children? Not less than three. 79 "Were those children born during the time he was carrying on the business of a stone-mason? Some of them were. Where did Mr. C. live at the time you are speaking of? The first part of the time he lived in chambers at Hoxton— then he was not in business as a stonemason. Was Mrs. C. with him at that period? She certainly was. How long did they live there? As I did not visit them, I cannot speak positively —I know it was net less than one year, and I should imagine not more than two. Where did they live afterwards? I don't know of their living any where else, till they went to live in Golden-Lane, where he carried on the business of a mason. When was this? V— He commenced there somewhere about 1794-, and he lived there about three or four years. Had Mr. C. a stone-mason's yard there? "— He had. At the first place he lived at? In Charles-Square, Hoxton, he lived on his fortune—he had no business? Did you visit at his house? I never did visit him at any time where ever he lived. Did you know Mrs. C. by sight? Yes, I did. Did you know when Mrs. C. parted from her husband? No, indeed, I did not. You have no guess when she parted from her husband? No further than it was after they quitted Golden-Lane, I understood. Do you recollect who told you so? No; public report. You know nothing about the matter, of your own knowledge? I do not. Where do you yourself live? In Charter-House-Square.
Now, does the hon. gent, mean to say, that is not a positive and direct contradiction of Mrs. C.? The witness knows that she had two or three children. It matters not whose children they were: They were born of her to Mr. C, while they were living in Golden-Lane, where he was at the time carrying on the business of a stone-mason. And yet she positively states, that he never carried on any business. Now, sir, is not this a most palpable contradiction of evidence?
It may be said, perhaps, that the fact was not material, and that the witness did not consider herself bound to be very exact in her evidence upon such a point. The witness probably was taken by surprise, by a question to this fact, which in her own judgment was not material; she had therefore probably not framed her mind to these questions; but, suspecting that 80 they were put to elicit something from her evidence, of the effect of which she was not aware, and which she did not wish to have disclosed, she met it by a denial of the fact.—But, if upon a point on which a witness has not prepared herself, though it may perhaps be thought of no great importance, you perceive the witness answering contrary to the truth,—what reliance can you have, that she will be more scrupulous, in her answers, upon points which are important; or, that you will have a better security of hearing the truth from her, in matters on which she must come prepared for the questions, and determined as to the story she is to tell?
Another occasion on which Mrs. Clarke is positively contradicted, is, in that part of her evidence where she denies ever having gone by the name of Mrs. Dowler. Upon this point she is contradicted by her. Hampstead landlord, Mr. Nicholls, and more particlarly by Mr. Reid. All the circumstances of her evidence upon this part of the case, must be in the recollection of the house; but this, sir, is a contradiction in which not only Mrs. Clarke, but Mr. Dowler also, is most materially involved, and, therefore, I feel it necessary to bring it particularly under the consideration of the house. It must not be understood, that I am not ready to admit that there might be fair excuse, both on her part and that of Mr. Dowler, for their wishing to conceal some of the circumstances which the questions, if truly answered, would have disclosed. That they should have answered them therefore, with great reluctance, was natural: but it is not the withholding of the truth of which I complain, but the falsification of it, and that for the purpose of giving a different character to Mr. Dowler's evidence. The house cannot but recollect the manner in which Mr. Dowler was introduced, and particularly that part of his evidence which relates to his appointment in the commissariat. The fact came out as if by accident, as if to the surprize of the examiner. The hon. gent., the mover of this enquiry, had closed his examination of Mr. Dowler; the witness appeared to be retiring from the bar, when up gets the noble lord (lord Folkestone) and apparently anxious to know something of the history of the witness, as possibly his credit might depend upon it, he asks what situation he is in; and finding that he is in the commissariat, pursues his question 81 to learn by what means he obtained his situation: he answers, he bought it for 1,000l. of Mrs. Clarke, who procured it for him, through the D. of York. This witness, it must be remembered, is the gentleman who the moment before had told us, how strongly he had remonstrated with Mrs. Clarke upon the impropriety and danger of her conduct, in procuring money by such means! And all this examination was so managed, that it might appear as if it was undesigned; as if the noble lord had not heard every syllable of the story from Mrs. Clarke or Mr. Dowler, before; as if the mere dint of his happy questions had extracted this fact from an unwilling witness, who would fain have retired from the bar without having disclosed any thing upon this subject. After this, Mr. Dowler is cross-examined, and great part of his cross-examination would be most material to be attended to, if what I am about to observe was not fully sufficient to destroy his credit, and with his, the credit of Mrs. Clarke at the same time.
It became material, when he had stated the fact respecting the purchase of his office, to learn what communication he had had with Mrs. Clarke. Let me entreat the attention of the house to this part of Mr. Dowler's examination.
"You arrived from Portugal on Sunday last?"—"Yes." When did you see Mrs. Clarke since your return from Portugal?"—"On Sunday last." "Have you seen her since?"—"I saw her just now in the witness-room." To stop here for a moment, what would the house understand from these answers? Undoubtedly that the witness had seen Mrs. Clarke only once, since his return from Portugal, until he met her in the witness-room. But this is not all; his examination goes on. "Was any body with Mrs. Clarke when you saw her?"—"I waited upon her to request that I might not be called upon as a witness, seeing the circumstance of Colonel French's levy in the newspaper; I saw her address in the newspaper." "What conversation passed between Mrs. Clarke and you, when you called upon her?"—"I lamented the situation in which I found her placed, as to the notoriety of this; that I had always told her, I was fearful it would become known; and she said, the D. of York, to the best of my recollection, had driven her to it by not paying her debts, and not being punctual in the annuity, as she termed it, that she was to receive from 82 him." "She told you that the D. of York had driven her to this proceeding by not paying her debts, and not being punctual in the annuity that she was to receive from him? "—"I do not know that she said he had driven her to it; my conversation was as short as possible; merely to request that I might not be called upon."
The house will now bear in memory, that it is incontestibly proved, that the very night of Mr. Dowler's arrival in town, Mrs. C. found him out, came to his hotel, and passed the night with him; and with this fact in their minds, they will have to determine what credit is due to Mr. Dowler's testimony, when he gives us to understand that he had only seen her on the Sunday; that his only anxiety was to find out where Mrs. C. lived, to request that he might not be called as a witness, and that he only knew where to find her, by seeing her direction in a newspaper; and that his conversation, when he did see her, was as short as possible, only to request that lie might not be called upon.
Is it not manifest, that the story, and all the particulars respecting the purchase of the commissariat, might have been framed between Mr. Dowler and Mrs. C, at the midnight scene at Reid's hotel? We perceive how much it was the object of the witness, to disguise the truth, to have it supposed that he had seen her but once for a moment, since his return from Portugal, and then for the express purpose of preventing his being called as a witness; and is it possible to conceive a greater falsification of the truth? and can you look at these circumstances and say, that you would whip a dog upon the evidence of such a witness? Let him stand as fair as he can from the character of the hon. gent. who gave him so good a character just after he had convicted him of a falsehood; let him, after having quitted the stock exchange in a way which it is generally understood throws a blemish on a man's character, yet be considered as coming to our bar as immaculate as he may choose to represent himself; still, if we find him thus false in his testimony, acting or assuming a false character, before us; if we find him representing himself as a person dragged to your bar, as an unwilling witness, wishing you to believe, that those facts are reluctantly extorted from him, which he unquestionably comes forward most willingly to divulge; if you find him attempting to impose upon you, by stating, that he went to Mrs. C. to request she 83 would not bring him forward, when if he had not wished to be brought forward, he had nothing to do but to keep out of her way; when you find him so conducting himself, is there any man amongst us, who can say, or who can think, that his evidence ought to be relied on? or, that all these misrepresentations can have been made for the purpose of supporting the truth? No, sir, it is not of the character of truth to require, or to admit of such support. Besides this, sir, the falsehood in question bears most importantly on the fact itself. It was fabricated to disguise from the house the opportunity that existed for that previous concert between Mr. Dowler and Mrs. C, by which they might agree upon the facts which they were to relate, and upon the manner of relating them. The Importance of this concealment can best be judged of by supposing that this concert between Mrs. C. and Mr. D. had not been detected. How should we then have had this part of the evidence pressed upon us? Should we not have heard it said, that Mr. Dowler's arrival from Portugal just at this time, was something almost providential, an almost supernatural interference to confirm the testimony of Mrs. C.? It might, indeed, have been considered as confirmatory evidence of no small weight, if it had passed as they wished to represent it; but detected and exposed as it has been, I feel confident, that it must produce the direct contrary effect.
So far applies to Mr. Dowler: the house will now attend to Mrs. C. Mr. Dowler having been examined at much length, the house was anxious to proceed to the immediate examination of Mrs. C. before she could have the opportunity of knowing what Mr. Dowler had stated: but no; Mrs. C. was too much exhausted to bear the fatigue of examination, that night. The next day she tells us, "that she had seen the papers, that it was therefore useless to ask her, how long she had known Mr. Dowler, as she might agree with him." And she does agree with him in that, in which I have shewn that he spoke false, on being asked, "How often have you seen Mr. Dowler since he arrived in England?" "Once, and the other night, till he was called in here; I have not seen him since." "Then you have seen Mr. Dowler but twice since his arrival in England?" "Certainly not" Now, sir, after such contradictions, if Mrs. C. was not an accomplice, but stood wholly unconnected with any part of the transactions to which she 84 speaks, her evidence could not be credited. But when it is recollected that she is an accomplice, or rather a principal; detected, falsified as she is, how can we be deliberating upon the question of assigning to infamy and disgrace, upon such evidence, the illustrious person who is the object of our enquiry?
I regret, extremely, sir, the length to which I have been obliged to extend these more general observations upon the evidence before us: I will now proceed to apply myself with more particularity, to the several cases which constitute the grounds of charge against h. r. h. If there is any thing in the general observations with which I have troubled the house, they establish this proposition; not that Mrs. C.'s evidence is inadmissible, not that it is to be wholly put out of our sight, but that it is not to be credited, except when it is con-finned: a proposition, which will be further established by the observations against her veracity, which will arise out of the examination of the particular cases, in succession. If, therefore, the house mean, as unquestionably they do, to do justice to this very important subject, they will look to these different cases, without allowing their judgment to be influenced in the slightest degree by Mrs. C.'s testimony. And if they will discard from their consideration, all the improbable and inconsistent testimony which has been given by this abandoned woman, and bear steadily in mind, that discredited as she is, she ought not to be believed at all, except when she is confirmed by other evidence; then, sir, my deliberate, my conscientious judgment assures me, that there is not a single circumstance which will be found to afford the slightest ground for charging h. r. h. either with corruption or corrupt connivance, in any of these transactions.
With regard to the case first in order, I mean that of col. Knight and col. Brooke, the hon. gent. who spoke last, did wisely, in passing over this case without founding upon it any observations against h. r. h; because it is a case which is not only not made out against the D. of Y., but which is most strongly and conclusively made out against Mrs. C. I must request the particular attention of the house to the many important observations which this case affords, because, if I do not most grossly deceive myself, an accurate examination of it will do more to detect the infamous falsehoods of Mrs. C.'s invention against the D. Of Y, and to place the course of her 85 fraudulent transactions in its true light, than any one of the charges which have been brought before us.
In the case of col. Brooke and col. Knight, it appears that the application for their exchange had been made in the usual course of office; that Mr. Knight applied through Dr. Thynne to Mrs. C. to expedite it; that, on the promise of her assistance, it was agreed that she should receive 200l. when the exchange should be effected; and that she did in fact, upon its appearance in the gazette, receive 200l. from Mr. Knight. Now, Sir, as to the service which Mrs. C. rendered for this gratuity, it is quite clear, that the exchange for the furtherance of which she received that gratuity, was completed before she made any application on the subject. Her own evidence states the application to have been made to her "two or three days before it took place, or a couple of days." She denies, indeed, that she told the hon. gent., Mr. Wardle, that she applied on the Thursday, and that it was gazetted on the Saturday; but in this she is distinctly contradicted by the hon. gent. himself, Who states his distinct recollection of the statement to him, that it was petitioned or applied for on the Thursday, and gazetted en the Saturday. Now Thursday was the 25th of July. It did appear in the gazette on Tuesday the 30th, and it is proved by col. Gordon, that the Commander in Chief approved of the exchange, and that it was submitted to his majesty, who approved of it at Weymouth, on the 26th; that it was therefore actually determined upon before Mrs. C. pretends to have made any application on the subject. This evidence of col. Gordon is put out of all possibility pf dispute, by the production of his letter to Mr. Huskisson, dated on the 23d July, in which col. Gordon explains to Mr. Huskisson, that h. r. h. could not allow Mr. Huskisson's brother to exchange with col. Knight, because he had already determined that the exchange should take place with col. Brooke.
But to obviate this palpable demonstration of Mrs. C.'s falsehood, the hon. gent. is obliged to give up her veracity in that part of her testimony, in which she states her application to have been made only two or three days before the business was completed, although this is a point on which he recollects her to have been positive from the beginning. The hon. gent. argues the case in this manner: he says, "We have had two witnesses, Dr. Thynne 86 and Mr. Knight, who both tell us that the application was made to Mrs. C. ten days or a fortnight before the exchange was in the gazette." Seeing then the want which Mrs. C. had for money, we must suppose, she made the application to the Duke immediately; and that consequently she must be mistaken, when she states that she made the application on the Thursday, and that the exchange appeared in the gazette on the following Saturday. But to support this argument, the hon. gent. assumes, that Mrs. C. did make the application to the Duke; and 2dly, that she made it immediately after Dr. Thynne applied to her. But I deny both these facts; and what becomes of the argument of the hon. gent., upon the supposition that she made no application to h. r. h. on the subject at all? This I contend to be the most probable supposition; I disbelieve her altogether on this part of the case; and I am confident, that we have no evidence but her own (which, unconfirmed, ought not to be believed), that she did make any application. How then will the fact stand upon this hypothesis? That Mrs. C. knew the business was in a course of official application, and that when it succeeded, she was to be paid for expediting its success. She invented, therefore, all the circumstances of her interference, and particularly the date of her pretended application, for the purpose of shewing, that she did, in fact, fairly earn the money, and that this exchange, which had been depending for some time in the office without success, when once she interfered, was completed immediately. The exchange was suspended by the words written by col. Gordon,—"Cannot be acceded to: H. r. h. does not approve of the exchange proposed." But, col. Gordon says, h. r. h., after enquiring into col. Brooke's fitness, thought proper that the exchange should go on. The event then took place, and Mr. Knight, who was weak enough to suppose it was effected through the influence of Mrs. C, gave her the 200l. for her interference.
But, Sir, there is another circumstance which has been introduced by Mrs. C, into her account of this transaction, which requires particular notice. We must trace the history of this 200l. Mrs. C. was to receive 200l. for using her influence with the Duke; she tells us, that she told h. r. h. she was to receive "a compliment," and she did receive as the fruit of her labour the sum of 200l. Her evidence is that it was paid in a note of 200l. that is in 87 one note. She is asked, "Did the Commander in Chief know from you the amount of the money you had received?" Her answer is, "He knew the amount, because I shewed him the note; and I think that I got one of his servants to get it changed for me, through h. r. h." And, in the next page of her evidence, she is asked, "What time of the year was it?"—"H. r. h. was going down to Weymouth on the night that I changed the note, which was the reason that I got the note changed; my servants could not get it changed, and his servant got it changed for me." The fact of changing this note becomes the subject of further inquiry. Ludowick Orramin, who is proved, not only by himself, but by Pierson the butler, to be the only servant ever permitted by h.r.h. to come to Gloucester-Place, denies having changed that, or any other note. To contradict his evidence, Mr. Pierson is called by the hon. gent. I am sorry to be under the necessity of dragging the house through the detail of Mr. Pierson's evidence, but it is much too important a part of the case to be left imperfectly stated. He was Mrs. C.'s butler. He recollects the time when she went to Worthing, and the Duke to Weymouth, in 1805. He is asked, "Whether he recollects Ludowick, the servant, who used to attend the Duke, being ordered by the Duke, on an evening about that period, to take a note out and get it changed?" He answered, "I DO NOT." "Do you recollect any servant being ordered by the Duke to get a bank note changed?" His Answer is, "I recollect Mrs. Favorite, the house-keeper, bringing down a bill in the morning, and Ludowick going out and getting it changed, and coming back and giving it to Mrs. Favorite again, and she took it up stairs." "Do you recollect any servant being ordered by the Duke to get a bank note changed?"—"No." "Do you recollect any servant taking out a bank note to be changed?"—"Yes, I do, on a morning." "Did you hear him ordered to do so by any body?"—"The housekeeper gave him the note, I saw her give him the note, and he took it out." "Do you know the amount of the note?"—"No, I do not." "Do you recollect what order she gave, in what words?" "No, I do mot, in particular, what order she gave, but she gave him a note, and he was to go and get it changed." "Are you positive that that note was not given on the night, and the change brought back in 88 the morning?"—"I am positive, I saw it given." "Was h. r. h. the D. of York in Mrs. C.'s house at the time this note was given to Ludowick to get changed?"—"Yes, he was up stairs." Now, I trust the house recollects that the fact in Mrs. C.'s evidence, which this witness was called to confirm, is, that the identical note of 200l. which she received from Mr. Knight in the morning of the 31st of July, was changed by the Duke's servant, on the night of that day, on which h. r. h. left town for Weymouth; Mrs. C. leaving town at 4 o'clock on the following morning for Worthing. But this witness knows nothing of the note changed on that or any other night; he recollects only the changing of a note on some morning, the amount of which he does not recollect, but which could not by possibility have been the note which Mrs. C. speaks of; and therefore, Pierson's evidence, instead of confirming Mrs. Clarke's, as far as it goes, contradicts her. He is asked, "How long was it before Mrs. C. went to Worthing; was it the day before, or two days before, or three days before?"—"I do not recollect exactly, but it was a short time before she went to Worthing." Now, if it was not on the very night before she went to Worthing, it could not have been this note; and if it was not this very note, it could be nothing to the purpose of this enquiry. Then he is asked, "Was it in the morning of the same day that h. r. h. went to Weymouth, that Ludowick took the note to be changed?"—"It was some morning a little time before."
But this gentleman, Mr. Pierson, tells us, upon his being called again, that he had had the head-ache, when he was first examined, that it affected his recollection; and that an explanation of his evidence is therefore necessary. Before I proceed, however, to the examination of his further testimony, I must refer to what Mrs. C. tells us respecting him. She is asked this question, "On the first day of your examination, you stated that a bill of 200l. which you received from Mr. Knight, was sent from your house to be changed by a servant of h. r. h.; how do you know it was taken by a servant of h. r. h., and not one of your own servants?" She says, "I believe that I did not state that it was h. r. h.'s servant who took it, but that h. r. h. had something to do with the changing of that note."
Now, the fact is, that she did positively state, (as may be seen by reference to her 89 examination,) "That her servant could not get it changed, and that his, (the duke's servant) did get it changed." But, since her first examination, Ludowick had been examined; and knowing his evidence, she was accordingly obliged to manage her own, in some degree to meet his, as well as to introduce the evidence which Mr. Pierson was to give upon his second examination. She adds, "And on Saturday or Monday morning, I do not recollect which it was, when it was raining very hard, I believe it was Monday, I heard where my butler lived, and I went into York-place, and sent my footman to fetch him out. He came out without previous knowledge of who called upon him; and I asked whether he recollected any thing particular the evening that h. r. h. was going to Weymouth, and myself in the morning to Worthing. He asked me to what point? I said about a bank note. He said, perfectly 'well. He had been trying all over the neighbourhood to get change for a note; that it was a very large note, he supposed a 50l. note; that he came into the parlour, and said, that he could not get change for it, and then h. r. h. said, Do go to my wine-merchant's in Bond-street, Stephens's hotel, and get change, and tell them where you come from. That on this same night he had called at Byfield's, the confectioner's, and tried there, and they could not do it; and that he' went and saw Stevens's partner; it being very late, Stevens was not there, that he got change for it there, and that was the whole. But I told him he must come and speak about it, that a summons would be sent to him. I spoke to him the other night in the room, I do not know whether before he was examined, or afterwards, and he told me that he had called on Stevens in Bond-street, and that they would not give him any information about the note, which I believe he did not state in the house."
This conversation, in York-place, she says, passed between her and Pierson before he was called to corroborate her story, and she so far imposed upon the hon. gent. as to induce him to believe, that, if Pierson was called, he would substantiate what she had stated. He is called; when, instead of his saying it was a note for 200l. 100l. or 50l. he knows nothing of its value. He was examined as to a note changed at night; he denies it, but recollects there was one given to Ludowick, to be changed in the morning. When he first came, his 90 head-ache had so deranged him, that he talked only of a note which Ludowick went out in the morning to get changed, and brought back again. He comes again. His former evidence was read over, and he was addressed in this way: "Is there any part of that evidence on which you wish to make any observation, or alteration, or any addition?"—"No alteration. On the night that the D. of Y. went to Weymouth, about 10 o'clock at night, I was sent out to get a bill changed; I went out and got it changed, and brought it in, and I returned it to Mrs. C, she looked it over, and said it was all right. The D. of Y. was present when I gave the bill to Mrs. C, and received it from Mrs. C." Such is the recollection of this witness upon his second examination, and this he calls no alteration of his former evidence.
It is here necessary to observe, that the evidence of this witness, upon his second appearance, as far as the hon. gent.'s examination was concerned, would have closed with the answer to the first question, namely, "the D. of Y. was present when I gave the bill to Mrs. C, and received it from Mrs. C.;" and if his evidence had closed here, every thing respecting the amount of the note, and the place where he says he got it changed, which gave the means of shewing that even this evidence, so far from confirming, contradicted Mrs. C, as to the identity of the note, (which is all that is important upon the subject of it,) would have been sunk; and every thing that enabled us to falsify his evidence, by proving that he did hot get it changed where he said he did would also have been lost to the truth of this enquiry. What follows in his evidence is upon the cross-examination. "Have you spoken with nobody about it?" "With nobody, I have not spoken to any one." He afterwards says, that he met Ludowick in the Park, who observed, that one of them must be mistaken, but he could not say how it was. He is asked if that was all that passed between you arid Ludowick? His reply is, "It was all that passed between him and. me, except he said, that I must make a mistake; that there was a bill brought down one morning in his presence, of10l. by Mrs. Favorite, and given to a girl to go out and get changed, and he thought I must have made a mistake about that bill." He does not then proceed to aver that he did not make a mistake, but he leaves Ludowick's observations unreplied to, and it 91 must therefore be considered hi fairness, that he admits that observation as a correction of his former evidence. He is asked, "Did not you make a communication to Mr. Wardle, or speak to him to say that you wished to alter your evidence? "I called upon Mr. Wardle, and told Mr. Wardle about the bill that I received from Mrs. C., and went and got change for, and returned that, night, in the presence of the D. of Y. I told Mr. Wardle that I had done that" "What was the amount of the bill you got changed" "I think 100l. but I am not certain." If Mrs. C. were to be believed, he told her it was 50l. "Where did you get the bill changed?" I got it changed at Mr. Byfield's and Mr. Bridgman's; Mr. Bridgman and his wife changed it for me, confectioners in Vere-Street." This gives us another circumstance. Mrs. C. says he told her, that he got it changed at Stevens's hotel, but that he had called at Mr. Stevens's and he could get no information from them;" he then, finding that Mrs. C. had told us, that Mr. Stevens recollected nothing of the circumstance, comes with an altered statement, and asserts, "that it was Mr. Bridgman and Mrs. Bridgman, and not Mr. Stevens, who changed it for him." But here he is equally unfortunate, Mrs. Bridgman is called and contradicts him; for she states, although he did come on some night (without being able to ascertain even the period of the year) with a note, yet she did not change it; she adds, that she did not see the note, therefore knows not the amount of it, but believes he told her it was for 100l. This, sir, is the history of the note, and upon the whole, what is the fair result of that history? That there is not a single fact, stated by Mrs. C., respecting the changing of this note, which was capable, of being disproved or confirmed, which is not disproved, either by the context of her own evidence, or by the evidence of some other witness. If indeed it had been otherwise, and Mrs. C. had been Confirmed in this fact, of a 200l. note having been changed, and by the Duke's own servant, it would still have proved nothing, as to h. r. h.'s knowing that she obtained the money from Mr. Knight, as a reward for her interference. We should even then only have had her word, as to h. r. h.'s knowing whence she obtained it; and but for her word the note might have been one which h. r. h. himself might have furnished her with for the expences of her journey. But though the confirmation of 92 these circumstances, would have proved nothing against the Duke's innocence; the disproof of them is conclusive against her veracity. Unless not only a note, but a note for 200l. was changed, her evidence is wilfully false. Taking all the circumstances of her evidence together, you see her varying and fashioning her story to the other evidences as she understands it. Before Ludowick was called, she had been positive the Duke had given it to one of his own servants; after he had been called, she withdraws that assertion.
As to Mr. Pierson's evidence, a more extraordinary testimony was never given. In his first examination he does nothing to confirm Mrs. C.; but he rather brings into question the accuracy of Ludowick: he is called again, he sets up Ludowick's evidence, but he destroys his own; and in no alteration of his story does he confirm Mrs. C. I contend, therefore, that there is a plain contradiction and disproval of that material fact in her evidence, which was introduced for the purpose of fixing upon the D. of Y., the knowledge of her having received the money on account of the exchange between col. Brooke and col. Knight. Is there not then in this case, pregnant decisive evidence of Mrs. C.'s having invented a false fact for the purpose of gratifying her malice and revenge, for the purpose of destroying the character of the D. of Y.? I repeat, sir, with confidence, that the fair result of this case is, not only that Mrs. C.'s evidence is not intitled to the slightest belief, but also that h. r. h. had no knowledge of her corrupt conduct in this transaction. For it appears, first, that the exchange was completed before she interfered; and secondly, that the circumstance relative to the note, which she, as it were, appeals to, as confirming her assertion, that the Duke knew of her corruption in this transaction, is disproved by the very witness who is called to support it. She is therefore utterly disgraced and discredited by this story. If there was nothing else against her testimony, but her confutation in this case, she ought not to be believed in any other. Having thus once clearly detected an accomplice, by such inconsistent evidence in the act of endeavouring to fasten upon the accused a participation in her guilty practices, I cannot but feel confident, that it is impossible the justice and penetration of the house can be so over-reached and deceived, as to suffer any unfavourable impression to attach upon h. r. h., upon any evidence which comes from so polluted a source.
93 I scarcely know, sir, whether it is necessary to advert to the observations made upon the wording of col. Gordon's memorandum, upon the original application for this exchange.—He tells us that, by the words, "It cannot be acceded to," nothing more was meant than it was not to be acceded to, at that time, but that it was kept open for further enquiry?—but gentlemen choose to understand this memorandum of col. Gordon's, made not as a record of office, but a private memorandum for his own use, better than he understands it himself; yet it is clear that it was not meant as a conclusive refusal; nay, it was clearly understood by the parties themselves, not to have been finally rejected; for Mrs. C. was applied to; she was not to procure what could not be had without her,—but to expedite what was delayed (as appears by the evidence both of Dr. Thynne and Mr. Knight) on account of col. Brooke's services appearing not to warrant, without further enquiry, the exchange in his favour; but when the enquiry was made and proved satisfactory, the exchange was completed. And here we have an observation made by the hon. gent., which serves only to shew the precipitancy with which his prejudices lead him to seize any observations, which promise to be unfavourable to h. r. h.;—he arraigns the fitness of col. B. for such a commission as not having been of standing sufficient, according to the regulations of the army, to hold the rank of a field officer; yet if the hon. gent. had only looked at the very paper by which he learned the length of col. B.'s services, he would have found that the fact of this officer's appointment to the rank of major, had actually, taken place before the D. of Y. came into the office of Commander in Chief. Of that offence, therefore, I trust, the hon. gent. himself will agree that the Duke of York is entitled to be acquitted.
I have troubled the house long enough, I fear they will think too long, with this case; but I cannot yet leave it without observing that this was the first case which Mrs. C. brought forward; that in this case we were referred to dates and circumstances, which dates and circumstances completely refuted her. It will be seen that, in the subsequent cases, though she was not more successful in establishing her charges, yet, as if warned by her failure in this, she would not furnish us with the same means of refuting her; and from this time she particularly forgets all dates.
94 It would now be in order for me to proceed to make some observations on capt. Maling's Case, if I thought that any were necessary. But this case, it will be recollected, the hon. gent. distinctly gave up, as wholly failing him. He now, indeed, has thought proper to return to it, and it has occupied a considerable part of his speech; but I am sure I should be wasting the time of the house, if I were to say a word upon it. The hon. gent. was wholly mistaken in all the particulars of it; and if he had been correct, if it had appeared in proof, that capt. Maling had been serving at Mr. Greenwood's desk, as the hon gent. stated, instead of being with his regiment, as it was proved; still it would be utterly impossible to connect his promotions with any charge or any suspicion of corruption.
Passing by, therefore, as unworthy of further notice, capt. Maling's Case, I now come to the Case of col. French's levy; a case which peculiarly requires the attention of the house, because it is in this case that there exists the circumstance of confirmation from Miss Taylor's evidence, which has appeared to make so much impression upon some gentlemen.—The hon. gent., (Mr. Curwen,) who spoke second in the debate, on the other side of the house, when observing upon the evidence of Miss Taylor, stated, that whatever might be the objection applying to Miss Taylor's evidence, yet when once a suspicion was raised against the D. of Y., it let in her evidence; and upon the ground of the previous suspicion, her evidence acquired a degree of strength which otherwise would not have belonged to it. The hon. gent. must give me leave to observe, that this is the most perverse reasoning that can be adopted. The suspicion raised against the D. of Y., by Mrs. C.'s evidence, requires the testimony of some unsuspected witness to confirm it: Miss Taylor is called as such witness; and then the hon. gent. conceives that Miss Taylor's testimony, instead of confirming the ground of his previous suspicion, derives from that very previous suspicion, the only support by which it can stand itself. And yet, sir, this evidence of Miss Taylor, I will venture to assert, is not only the strongest, but the only confirmatory evidence, which the whole case affords to Mrs. C.'s assertions of the D. of Y. being acquainted with her corrupt practices. We shall presently see what weight belongs to it.
95 That col. French's levy went through all the regular forms of office, and was submitted to gen. Hewitt, the inspector-general of recruits, is admitted to be true, and, therefore, I need not trouble the house by referring more particularly to the official documents; but we have it unquestionably in proof, that Mrs. C. received considerable sums of money, both from col. French and capt. Sandon, on account of her supposed interference with the Duke, in favour of the levy; and Mrs. C, as usual, gives us to understand, that the D. of Y. was informed that she did so. The important part of the case is the conversation at which Miss Taylor is supposed to have been present, and which is urged as the confirmatory proof of the Duke's knowledge of Mrs. C.'s corrupt advantage from this levy. It appears to me, sir, I confess, that, unless there is somewhat of a previous prejudice in our minds, such as the hon. gent. alludes to, preparing them to believe the evidence of Miss Tavlor, there is a good deal in that evidence itself which should induce us to withhold our belief. I will not dwell upon the circumstance, that her father went by the name of Chance, and carried on his business, as a broker, in Change-alley, under that name; and yet she, though living with him, at a few miles distance from thence, at the time, says she never knew that he went by that name: this is, indeed, not very probable, and I confess I cannot believe it; others perhaps may believe it, because there seems to be something in this case, which makes gentlemen disposed to believe what, I am confident, they would not believe in any other case: but putting that Cut of the question; who is Miss Taylor? how is it that she represents herself? She represents herself as having been for the last ten years, a most intimate friend of Mrs. C. Does that intimacy give this house any high opinion of her character? does it make her a more unsuspected, a more credible witness? Further, she has been relieved by Mrs. C. in her distress; she has been recently dependent on her charity. But then it is asked, because she is acquainted with Mrs. C., and because she has been relieved in her distresses by her, does it follow, that she is not to be believed as a witness? I do not say or contend that it does; but I do contend, that it furnishes the occasion of some suspicion, of some hesitation, before we surrender up our belief to her testimony, as an unsuspected witness. We have, it must be re- 96 collected, one contaminated witness before us, whose evidence is impeached, and requires to be supported and confirmed. Is it then, let me ask, from an old intimate friend and companion of that witness, and in a state of dependance upon her bounty, and therefore most likely to be under her influence, that such support can very satisfactorily be obtained? Is not the evidence of Miss Taylor under such circumstances, rather in want of support and confirmation itself, than capable of giving support and confirmation to Mrs. C.? She has, for years, lived, and is still living, in habits of strictest intimacy with Mrs. C. a person of notoriously vicious principles, of depraved character, and loose habits of life; but what is most deeply to be lamented and condemned is, that so connected and so associating with one of the worst of her sex, she has set up a boarding-school; professing to educate young ladies in virtue; the guardian, the pattern, the instructress of their morals! Is not this, sir, sufficient of itself to impeach her credit? Is not such a profession, assumed by such a person, a standing fraud practised upon the community? To judge of the quality of such conduct, let any gentleman imagine what his feelings would be, if, having been led to intrust his own daughters to her care, to receive their education, to be instructed in those principles of duty which he would wish to be instilled into their minds, he had discovered that the school-mistress to whom he had intrusted them, was the companion, the visitor, the friend, the dependant, of Mrs. Clarke?—Gentlemen seem to be noting down my words, as if they conceived me to be saying something that was harsh and unfeeling; and we are told, that the cross-examination of Miss Taylor has been most unbecoming; that proving herself to be illegitimate, and her parents to be in poverty, has ruined her school, removed her scholars from her, and brought upon her her creditors. Sir, Miss Taylor was brought here as a witness, whose testimony was to confirm Mrs. Clarke, and to establish, falsely establish, as from my conscience I believe, the charge of infamous corruption, upon the D. of York; it was necessary to know who Miss Taylor was; what were her connections, what her habits of life. In tracing these particulars, it turned out that her parents were not married, that they had for some time been going from place to place, changing their habitations; and though undoubtedly no- 97 body would contend, that a witness was not to be believed because, she was not legitimate, or because her parents were in distressed circumstances, yet I would ask any man, if the examination had turned out otherwise, and if she had appeared to be, as she would have done but for this cross-examination, the daughter of respectable parents, in circumstances of credit, we should not have heard her credit enhanced, from being so respectably connected; But this cross-examination has ruined her school, and involved her with her creditors! I am sorry, and I feel as much as any man, for the distress of any fellow-creature, Miss Taylor as well as anyone else; but I cannot believe, that her cross-examination ruined her school; it was enough to ruin her school that she appeared as the friend and companion of Mrs. C, and I confess, I cannot bring my mind to lament that Miss Taylor's business as a school-mistress to young ladies is put an end to. I have some feeling for the parents, I have some feeling for the children; my feelings are not wholly absorbed by Miss Taylor. But supposing this event to be more to be deplored than I think it is, and that it had been occasioned by this cross-examination, what then? is that examination, therefore, to be condemned? What, sir, are we to be sitting in judgment in a case like this, and to reserve all our feeling for the witnesses, and to have none for the accused? Is the hon. gent. to be at liberty, in pursuit of, what he thinks, justice, to found the charge of corruption against h. r. h. upon the evidence of this witness; is he to be applauded for so doing, and am not I to have equal liberty to repel the charge? Am I to be condemned, if, in the pursuit of what I, with equal sincerity, think and feel to be, the cause of justice; I shew who that witness is, what her connections are, and why we ought to pause, at least, before we implicitly believe her? Sir, I should feel that I was disgracing myself in the eyes of this house and of my country, if from any principle of false delicacy, of morbid sensibility, as I should consider it, I were to abstain from that conduct, as well as from that language, which the justice of the case requires; I should be relinquishing, I should be betraying the cause of the illustrious person whom I think totally innocent of the offences attempted to be charged upon him, by a conspiracy of malicious wickedness and falsehood, if I did not express 98 myself in terms, which I consider applicable to the conduct and character of those whom I can view in no other light, than as infamous conspirators against his honour and his character. I am sure there is no rational and unprejudiced mind, that will think I am guilty of any impropriety in making these observations.
But supposing the character of this witness to be as unexceptionable as I conceive it the reverse, what is the sort of evidence she gives? Precisely that which we expect to hear from a witness, who comes to speak to a particular fact, with respect to which she has been tutored and prepared. She states the dry fact to which she is particularly interrogated, and knows nothing more. Her memory is quite accurate as to what she wishes to remember—it is a blank as to every thing else. She tells you that about four years ago she was present at a conversation, in the course of which, the D. of York made use of the words he is supposed to have used respecting col. French's levy: she recollects nothing else of their conversation, which passed in her presence: she never mentioned the conversation to any one, from that time till within three weeks or a month before she was examined, when she was asked about it by Mrs. C.: she forgets how Mrs. C. introduced the subject; she forgets whether any one was present, though it was but the other day; she does not recollect any one circumstance that has occurred lately, though she has so distinct a recollection of this scrap of a conversation which passed four years ago. Is it possible, that any thing can be more suspicious than such testimony? nay, sir, is it possible that there can be any thing less credible? Would it not render suspected the most unblemished witness? Can the house feel justified in fixing the charge of corruption on the D. of York, upon such evidence, from a witness connected with Mrs. C, and dependent upon her, as Miss Taylor is? Consider, sir, how extremely improbable it is, that the D. of York should have used these words, at least in the sense in which he is made to use them, in the presence of this woman: how unlikely it is, that he should be so indiscreet as to have put himself so far in the power of Miss Taylor, in whose presence, as appears from her own evidence (Mrs. C.'s,) h. r. h. does not appear to have conversed before upon any subject relative to military transactions. I know some gentlemen think Miss Taylor 99 ought to be believed, because it is imagined that if the conversation had been invented it would have been more pointed, and it would have more distinctly referred to the pecuniary profit which Mrs. C. was deriving from col. French. But, sir, this only shews that Mrs. C. knows better how to instruct a witness, than the gentlemen who so criticize the evidence. The difficulty of believing that the Duke said these words in her presence, remotely as they refer to the corrupt transactions of Mrs. C, is very great: but it would have been wholly incredible, if they had more directly alluded to them. No one could have been imposed upon to believe h. r. h. so unguarded, as plainly to allude to such transactions in the presence of a person who admits, that he never before mentioned such subjects in her presence, and who, Pierson the butler says, never was admitted into h. r. h.'s presence at all.
But what was the conversation? "I am continually worried by col. French; he worries me continually about the levy business, and is always wanting something more in his own business." 'Turn-ning to Mrs. C, I think he said' "How does he behave to you, darling?" 'or some such kind words as he used to use; that was all that was said. Mrs. Clarke replied,' "Middling, not very well." 'The Duke said, "Master French must mind what he is about, or I shall cut up him and his levy too."' Now, sir, is this probable, is it possible? If the Duke asked the question in the sense in which it is understood, would Mrs. C. have answered, "Middling, not very well." Would that have been her answer, if the question related to money? The whole engagement with her, was, that she was to have received 2,000l. if the levy went on and succeeded; and, much as it had failed, she had at that time received 1,300l. She would naturally have been desirous of preserving, not of cutting down the levy; she would have cherished the means of future emolument, and not foolishly have broken this golden egg. Col. French had given her more money in proportion to the men he had raised, than he had engaged to give her; and of course, if she had understood the question of h. r. b., as referring to money transactions, she would have said, "He behaves very well to me, whatever he may do with regard to you; to me, at least, he keeps his faith."
From the observations which I have made on Miss Taylor's evidence, it may 100 well be doubted, whether any conversation passed upon the subject of col. French's levy in her presence, but it never can be believed upon such testimony, that she could have been present at a conversation so unguarded, and so improbable, as she describes; if any passed at all, how easily might words be introduced, or suppressed, which may have altered the whole effect of it; and that Mrs. C.'s friend, Miss Taylor, is capable of having so altered it, and that it is more probable that she should have done so, and concerted that alteration with Mrs. C, than that the Duke should, in her presence, have used such language with such meaning, I certainly do, myself, believe.
But this Case is supposed not merely to furnish proof of corruption against the D. of Y.; the hon. gent. contends, that it manifests that gross neglect of duty, which incapacitates h. r. h. from any longer filling his high office. It is imputed to him as a high offence, that after it had come to his knowledge, that every man raised by col. French cost the country 150l., he should still have permitted that levy to go on. Now, sir, it should be recollected, that the whole of this inquiry originated out of a complaint made, not against col. French, but by him. In his letter of the 15th January, 1805, he complains of gen. Taylor's persevering hostility to his levy: on the 19th Jan., this complaint is referred to lord Cathcart, by a letter from col. Gordon; this brought from Ireland gen. Taylor's defence of his conduct, in a letter of the 8th Feb., from col. Kirkman, in which, undoubtedly, many great complaints are made against col. French, and in which, the amount of the expence per man is stated at 150l. But, it does appear, whatever may have been colonel French's conduct, and the ill success of his levy, in other respects, that he was so far well founded in his complaint, that he had not had the benefit which he was entitled to, under his letter of service. On the 20th Feb. col. Gordon returns the Duke's answer to the report, in which answer full credit is given to the motives of gen. Taylor; but col. Gordon adds, "It certainly appears, that a premature judgment had been formed on the probable success of the exertions of col. French, and that the terms of his official letter of service were not allowed him. I am further commanded to transmit to you, a copy of a letter which the Commander in Chief has instructed the Inspector-Gene- 101 ral to write to col. French; and should it hereafter appear, that with every reasonble facility, col. French should fail in the engagement he has undertaken, it is the intention of h. r. h. to communicate to that officer, that his levy should be discontinued."
The letter inclosed was dated the 2nd Feb. in which gen. Whitelocke acquainted col. French, that, "unless a very considerable increase shall take place in the number recruited prior to the 1st April next, h. r. h. will feel himself under the necessity of recommending to his majesty, to discontinue a levy so unproductive." Although some more men were recruited, as appears by the return from Ireland, yet that number was not sufficient to justify its continuance. On the 11th April a complaint was made to the inspector-general of the recruiting service, of the misconduct of the temporal Serjeants belonging to the levy in the London district; and on the 16th April h. r. h. writes to the secretary at war to discontinue this levy. These, sir, are the facts and the dates of this transaction.
The fact which the hon. gent. principally adverted to, as that which should have occasioned the immediate discontinuance of the levy; namely, the cost of 150l. per man; that fact, sir, would, in my opinion, justly induce a prudent person rather to try the levy a little longer, than to give it up just at that time. Why? because the whole, or at least a great part of all the expence of the machinery, if I may so express myself, for carrying this levy into effect, had already been incurred. The appointment of the Serjeants and non-commissioned officers had taken place; the expence of these appointments occurred at the commencement of the levy, and before it could proceed. Now, suppose that the levy, instead of being stopped at the end of twelve months, had been closed at the end of one month, there can be no doubt that the ratio of ex-pence to the public, in proportion to the men raised, would have been infinitely greater. There is nothing therefore, in this case, which shews the D. of York to have neglected the public interest, in continuing the levy after he had been informed of the expence with which, up to that period, it had been attended.
It is supposed, that the D. of Y. shewed a considerable, degree of tenderness to col. French, and that he must have done 102 so through the influence of Mrs. Clarke. Now, let us see how this stands. On the 2d of Feb., notice is given through gen. Whitelocke, of h. r. h. having taken the subject into consideration; and let any man refer to the language of gen. Whitelocke's letter and then let him say, whether there is any thing in that letter which shews any improper disposition to indulge col. French? It will always be recollected, that it was owing to the expence of the recruiting Serjeants, and so few men having at the time been raised, that this levy appeared to be so disadvantageous to the public. H. r. h. determined, on the 2d of Feb., to discontinue it, if a very considerable increase should not take place within a limited period. On the 11th of April, a formal complaint is made by the Inspector-general of the recruiting service for the London district, and within a very short time afterwards, gen. Whitelocke communicates to col. Gordon, that he had been disappointed in his expectation with respect to the levy, and he desires it should be given up.
But what is the language of the letter of h. r. h. on the subject? It seems the D. of Y. is to be presumed to be guilty, because he did not express himself in terms of more violence. Is there any thing which the D. of Y. could have said, that could have given a stronger complexion to his disapprobation? Or, was there anything that called upon him to have recourse to more violent measures, or to adopt a different character of expression, from that which is to be found in his letter to the Secretary at War? It is dated on the 16th of April, 1805, and is in these words:—"Sir, as it appears by the return of col. French and capt. Sandon's joint-levy, that it is not by any means so productive as might have been expected, and as the inspector-general of the recruiting service has represented, that the conduct of the whole of the temporary Serjeants of that levy, now in the London district, is highly improper and detrimental to the service, I have recommended to his majesty, and his majesty has been graciously pleased to approve of this levy being forthwith discontinued, agreeable to a clause of the letter of service to that effect; and I have therefore to request, that the necessary information may be given to col. French and capt. Sandon accordingly. I have ordered a communication to be made to the commander of the forces in Ireland, and to the inspector-general of the recruit- 103 ing service on the subject." These are the expressions—in my opinion the appropriate expressions—in which the D. of Y. announces his determination to discontinue the levy. Is there any thing in this language, that should induce the least suspicion of the D. of Y. intending to favour col. French? Ought not the suspicion rather to be the other way? If the D. of Y. was conscious that col. French and capt. Sandon, knew that he had been corruptly pocketing 1,300l. of their money, would he have turned them adrift in this manner? Would he not have given them some compensation for being deprived of the profits of this levy, which profits were to furnish 2,000l. to the D. of Y. and his mistress? It may, perhaps, be thought, that after the complaints which were made against this levy, the scandal of continuing it would have been too notorious; that it was necessary therefore on account of the public opinion, and the feeling of the army, that it should be discontinued. But still some promotion, some advantage in another shape, might have been afforded to those concerned in it; and I do put it to the candour and good understanding of every man who hears me, whether, if the D. of Y. had been sensible, that he was participating in the corruption of Mrs. C. and that those persons must have known of it, he would not have done something for col. French and capt Sandon, with a view to the alleviation of their disappointment? whether, in short, he would have cut down their hopes at once, and have turned them forth, in a manner to provoke them by the natural impulse of their irritated feelings, to afford the means of his detection, and to expose his corruption? Yet it is true, that after this levy was discontinued, there was an application on the part of col. French and capt. Sandon, for a modification and renewal of the levy. They wished for an opportunity of making the trial again; but the D. of Y. positively refused his consent; and I must leave the house to determine, whether this was the conduct of a man who had any cause to fear the displeasure of the persons whose applications he refused? With respect to the report of gen. Taylor, it is fair to observe, that the officers of the army dislike this mode of recruiting for general service, as contra-distinguished from regimental recruiting; yet it is materially essential to many parts of the service, especially for the East-India Company's service, that it 104 should go on; and the difficulty of procuring men at the time we are alluding to, being considered, no one will be disposed to deny the necessity which existed for thus recruiting men for general service.
It was natural that col. French, who appears to have, been successful in a former levy, should have offered, and that his offer should have been accepted, to raise a number of men by general levy at this particular period; and the offer having been accepted on given terms, it was necessary and essential to justice, that col-French should have the opportunity of making his exertions, with all the advantage which the Letter of Service allowed to him. Upon the whole, then, I feel confident, that as upon a due examination of this case, there is no ground for imputing to h. r. h. any knowledge of Mrs. C.'s corrupt practices; so neither does it furnish any ground whatever for imputing to him any criminal neglect of the interests of the public.
The next Case which was brought before us, is the Case of Major Tonyn; and I cannot help observing, that there is no one Case amongst ail the charges, in which the whole progress of the transaction appears to be more demonstrably uniform, regular, and official: originating in a most respectable and natural source of application, and effected under circumstances in which the idea of the influence of Mrs. C, or of any one else, is most clearly and satisfactorily negatived and excluded. It arises not only out of the recommendation of a general officer, but that general officer the father of maj. Tonyn. It was well and favourably received, but for a time was not successful. At length it succeeds, but when? and how? Does it succeed on Mrs. C.'s application? Unquestionably not. Col. Gordon tells us, that when it was in contemplation that there should be a great increase in the army, not less than fifty battalions, "I received orders," he says, "from the Commander in Chief, to prepare a list of the senior officers of the army, of each rank, and to take their names from the book of recommendations where they had been noted." In consequence of this command he did prepare a list: maj. Tonyn's name was upon it: there were fifty-three appointed to majorities; among them were twenty-nine captains of the years 1791, 1795, 1796, 1797, and one of 1799: capt. Tonyn was of the year 1795, in which year there were only six captains, senior to him in the service.
105 The only delay which occurred after this list was made out, was, a delay which arose out of the nature of the case. Maj. Tonyn's appointment went on with all the rest; it was part of the general arrangement. Any measure which should have had for its object either to forward or retard the promotion of maj. Tonyn, would have affected the progress of the whole, it appears indisputably, that any application to Mrs. C, must have been quite unnecessary on the part of maj. Tonyn. If he did apply to this intriguing woman, in consequence of her falsely pretending and inducing him to believe that she possessed the means of influencing the Commander in Chief, it only shews that he was weak enough to be grossly imposed upon by her. For it is incontestibly proved, and a fact which does not admit of the remotest possibility of doubt, that his promotion would have taken place, and did actually take place, without any other application than that of his own father. Can then this house, upon the evidence of such infamous witnesses as have appeared at its bar; can it, upon any evidence it has heard, suppose for one moment, that h. r. h., having determined upon the promotion of maj. Tonyn, upon such clear grounds, could have lent himself to the disgraceful purpose of fabricating a note to induce maj. Tonyn to believe that he would either retard or accelerate his promotion, according as maj. Tonyn did or did not leave the sum of 500l., in the hands of his agent, for the benefit of Mrs. C.? Is it within the scope of human imagination to suppose, that if he could have been so base as to have done this, he should have committed himself by a written note, to make himself appear an instrument in such a transaction?
This note, from the manner in which it was first kept back by capt. Sandon, and at length extorted from him, has naturally excited much attention; and these circumstances have possibly given it an importance which would not otherwise have belonged to it. It is said to have been written by the Duke of York himself, is directed to Mr. Farquhar, the name by which h. r. h. frequently addressed his letters to Mrs. C, and it is sealed with his seal. The words of it are, "I have received your note, and capt. Tonyn's business shall remain as-it is. God bless you." As to the proof of the hand-writing, it does not rest, certainly, on Mrs. C.'s evidence alone. Those most conversant in h. r. h.'s 106 character of hand-writing all think it very like his hand: one only (General Brownrigg) says he does not believe it to be his. But still I think we have strong and pregnant evidence to induce us to pause, before we do conclude that it is his hand-writing. The house is too well aware that there is such a thing as forgery, as successful forgery; but, in order that the forgery should succeed, it is necessary that the person whose object is deception and fraud, should be able closely to imitate the hand-writing, by which the fraud is to be effected, and the parties to be imposed upon; unless the forgery is well executed, it can impose on no one. Is the house not aware that Mrs. C. has had the infamous audacity to boast at its bar of the dexterity with which she can imitate the hand-writing of others? how she has admitted that she could imitate the Duke's. Does it recollect to what a dangerous extent this abandoned woman is gifted with the faculty of adopting her hand-writing to the style and manner in which others write? Does it advert to the very important circumstance that she had the letters of the D. of Y. constantly before her; and that if it was her intention to write a short note which should have every appearance of his hand-writing, how easy it was for a person of her ability to execute her design? That among the notes of h. r. h. which she has given in at the table, there appears one or two in which the very words in this note about Tonyn are introduced; that she had only to look at the words, which would answer her purpose—that she had only to select and copy those particular notes which would furnish her with a pattern to imitate? Can the house contemplate all these facilities which Mrs. Clarke possessed in so eminent a degree, and not entertain even more than a doubt, as to the fact of this being the note of the D. of Y.? It does stand undoubtedly in evidence as a piece of paper, on which there is handwriting to a small extent similar to the hand-writing of the D. of Y. The contradictions in the evidence, as to the fact, ought to make one pause. I am ready to admit, that upon the testimony of the witnesses, who have been called from the Bank and Post-office, to state their opinion of the authenticity of this note, the balance of the evidence is in favour of its being the hand-writing of the D. of Y.; but is it not possible that the witnesses may have been deceived by the closeness of the imitation? There was a doubt in the 107 minds of all the persons who were acquainted with the hand-writing of h. r. h. Gen. Brownrigg does not think it is his hand-writing; and the result, I think, fairly is, that the question is so far involved in doubt and obscurity, as fully to justify this house in hesitating, before it comes to any conclusion upon its authenticity; as however, I cannot disguise from myself, that it does appear that the impression of the house upon the direct evidence seems to be in favour of the authenticity of the note, it is necessary to examine the collateral evidence which we have upon the subject of it. Capt. Sandon, when he was at length brought to admit the existence of the note, says, that it was given to him to shew and prove to capt. Tonyn, that his promotion would not go on, unless he paid the money. "I took the note" he says, "and produced it to maj. Tonyn with that message"—and he then says, he was induced to wait three or four days, and Mrs. Clarke got her 500l.—In another part, he gives a direct contrary interpretation to it,—he is asked, "Do you recollect the purport of the note?"—"No, I entirely forget what it is." (The note was read.)
"Hearing the purport of this note, state how this note, which mentions a stop to the business, could possibly encourage maj. Tonyn in the idea of its going forward?"—He says, "Does it not say it is to go on; the contrary, it says it stops; it still remains as it is." "How can it then encourage the gentleman in the expectation of its going on?"—"It was then going on, and I should imagine, it was meant it should go on."
"What do you understand by the expression, it shall remain as it is?."—"I really do not understand it, I must confess."—This is Mr. Sandon's account of the note.
As to Mrs. C.'s understanding of this note, if it was a forgery, she would not be very ready to acknowledge any recollection of it; and she tells us, she has not the slightest recollection of such a note; that she was so careful of the notes she received from the Duke of York, that it was impossible for her ever to have let any paper of his come into the hands of capt. Sandon.—Now it must be recollected, that at the time when Sandon tells you this note was used, Mrs. Clarke was in danger of losing the money:—Could she have forgotten that circumstance?—If she had written to the D. of Y. respecting maj. 108 Tonyn, for the purpose of securing the money, and had received this note in answer, and authorised Sandon to shew it, is it possible she should not have recollected it?—The house may not be disposed to lay any stress upon the evidence of a witness who has disgraced himself, like capt. Sandon; but it is all we have upon the subject. If we do not refer to his evidence, we have nothing to refer to;—Mrs. C. cannot help us, or will not help us, which comes to the same thing; and capt. Sandon further tells us, the note was to prove to maj. Tonyn, that if he took away the money, he would lose his promotion; and then again, that it was to make him believe it was going on.—The note, without external circumstances to explain it, is wholly unintelligible; the circumstances with which we are furnished by the witnesses, increase rather than remove the difficulty of understanding it. If you cannot refer to any evidence which is to prove when the note was used, or for what purpose it was written, you may let your imaginations loose; you may guess, or invent, any explanation of it; but that will not be proof, it will be mere conjecture; and it is not upon conjecture that this house will convict the D. of Y., or any man whatever, of corruption.
But these observations only shew, that capt. Sandon's explanations and history of the note are not satisfactory,—I will now shew the house that they are impossible. Capt. Sandon tells you, that the note, when he received it from Mrs. C, was wrapped up in the cover of another letter; that, some days before maj. Tonya's promotion was in the Gazette, he shewed the note to maj. Tonyn; and that he, in consequence, did say he would wait some days longer. Now, sir, this is impossible. Maj. Tonyn's promotion was gazetted on the nineteenth of July, 1804; but the cover of the other letter, in which capt. Sandon says he received the note from Mrs. C. has the Dover-post mark of the twenty-second of July. It is therefore utterly impossible, that any note which he received from Mrs. C. in that cover, could have been shewn by him to maj. Tonyn before he was gazetted.
Connected with this note, it is necessary to refer to a letter from Mrs. C to capt. Sandon, which appears among capt. Sandon's letters, in page 378 of the printed evidence;—that letter appears to have been written by Mrs. C. from Weybridge, on the Thursday preceding the Saturday, 109 when the promotion of capt. Tonyn took effect; the letter has these words in it: "He has ordered him (capt. Tonyn) to be gazetted, and is fearful it will be done ere he can stop it; he will be at the office tomorrow, and, if not too late, will stop it. He assured me it was entirely owing to me that he thought to do the best, by putting him where two Majors had left, Astlett and Bligh, and he would of course be two steps higher. I hope to see you to-morrow, when you will be able to give mc the answer from Tonyn. I shall be in town about five."—Now, sir, this information, which she pretends to give, is false. There was no regiment from which majors Astlett and Bligh had been removed. It must have been therefore mere invention to impose upon Sandon and Tonyn, or both for the moment, to induce them the more readily to believe that she had been instrumental in procuring the appointments from the Duke. But how can you apply this letter to the note in question? The words of the note are, "I have received your note, and Tonyn's business shall remain as it is."The letter which I have just read, from Mrs. C. to Sandon, was written on Thursday the 17th; it was sent by the Twickenham post, and received in town the same evening; and she says in it that she is to be in town at five o'clock the next day. The D. of Y. was to go to the office on Friday, to try and stop the promotion. It is not stopped. If this note then was written at this time, "it shall remain as it is," must mean that it should go on. But this would be inconsistent with the supposition; for if he went to the office under a promise to stop it, and found he could not, that it was too late,—he would have said, "but it must remain as it is,"—not, "and it shall;" the language of the note implies giving effect to the wish which he was desired to execute. But suppose we ascribe this to a little inaccuracy of language, yet if, in consequence of his own promise made to her in person at Weybridge, he was giving her an account of his inability to perform it, he never would hare begun by saying, "I have received your note;" he would have referred to their conversation at Weybridge, and not to a note which upon this supposition, could never hare been written.
All the evidence, therefore, which we have the means of applying to this note, leaves it wholly unexplained; not only does it not afford a clue to understand it, 110 as capt. Sandon would explain it, but it is utterly inconsistent with that explanation; if we are to endeavour then to interpret it by conjecture; if we are to let our imagination loose upon the subject, without either written evidence or parole evidence to assist us; we may invent an interpretation which may render it perfectly innocent. Mrs. C, wanting to impose upon capt. Tonyn, may have pretended to the. Duke that he was an old friend of hers, and that she had seen him, and found that he had heard some story which had alarmed him, lest the promotion which h. r. h. had promised him was to be stopped, and was extremely anxious about it. "If there is no ground for this a arm, merely write me a short note about it: if you only say that his business shall remain as it is, it will be sufficient."—The Duke, on the receipt of her note, may have returned the answer in question.—And I do call upon the house, in all fairness and in all justice, if they are to help out this evidence by their imaginations, to do so in any manner but that which shall convert it by conjecture into the proof of guilt.
But whatever may be the meaning of this note, that it should have been twisted into a proof of a criminal participation on the part of the D. of Y. in Mrs. C.'s corrupt practices, that it should have been taken up with that impression by the hon. gent. who spoke last, does indeed astonish me. That, if it is the hand-writing of the D. of Y., it does afford evidence of his having received a letter from Mrs. Clarke, upon the subject of capt. Tonyn's promotion, and that he had answered it without reproving her, for writing to him upon such a subject, must undoubtedly be admitted: But what crime, public or private, is there in such a circumstance? Knowing, as the Duke must have done, the regular course through which that promotion had been obtained, could he by possibility have suspected that, by telling her that the business should remain as it was, he could be furnishing her with any means of practising any fraud, or procuring any pecuniary advantage? Unless the prejudices of my mind disable me from forming a correct judgment, I am confident that this Case is utterly destitute of every thing which can constitute a charge against the Duke of York.
There still remain, sir, other Cases, on which I feel it to be my indispensable duty to observe; I confess indeed, that I feel rather exhausted. (Adjourn, adjourn, was 111 called out by many members.)—If, sir, it is the sense of the house, that I should not proceed at this time, but that we should adjourn, I certainly am ready to accede to its wish; but at the same time, I should be able to go on, if that should be its pleasure.—(No! — Adjourn, adjourn !) I should, sir, at all events, before the house rises, be desirous of stating the view which I take of the question, and the course which I should recommend to be pursued.
According to what I have said, I should think it absolutely and indispensably necessary, under all the circumstances of this case, that the house should decide expressly, the question of guilt or innocence. I should propose therefore, as an Amendment to the hon. gent.'s Address, to leave out all of it, but the word "that," for the purpose of converting his motion for an Address into a Resolution. I would then propose a Resolution expressive of the sense of the house, that they should so decide the question—as follows:
"That, charges having been brought forward in this house, against h. r. h. the D. of York, imputing to h. r. h., the crimes of personal corruption in the execution of his office of Commander in Chief, and of criminal connivance at corrupt practices with respect to the army; and this house having referred the said charges to the investigation of a Committee of the whole house; and having carefully considered the evidence collected and reported by the said Committee, this house feels itself called upon to pronounce a distinct and direct opinion, upon the said charges of personal corruption and criminal connivance."
I would then propose a Resolution expressive of our opinion, that there is no ground to charge h. r. h. with the crimes imputed to him, in the following words:
"Resolved, That it is the opinion of this house, after the fullest and most attentive consideration of all the evidence reported to this house, from the Committee appointed to enquire into the conduct of h. r. h. the D. of York, that there is no ground for charging h. r. h., in the execution of his official duties, as Commander in Chief, with the personal corruption alledged against him in that evidence, or with any connivance at the corrupt and infamous practices which are therein disclosed."
If, Sir, the house should agree to this Resolution; if they should think that the evidence before them justifies the conclusion 112 which I draw from it on the charge of corruption, something more, however, will, in my opinion, be still necessary, in respect of what is due to the character and the feelings of this house. We ought not to pass by unnoticed, that which we have had proved at our bar; and which, as we cannot but lament it most deeply, so we ought not to omit to express our sense of it. The hon. gent., indeed, from the address which he has moved, appears to be of opinion that even if there has been no corruption on the part of h. r. h., yet that we ought to press for his removal. Now, sir, there I differ most entirely from the hon. gent. When I consider the services of the royal duke; the services which he has for so long a period been rendering to the army of this country: when I consider that we cannot reasonably hope that the country could be supplied with an officer who would be able to perform all the important functions of that high situation so usefully to the public as h. r. h.; I do think that we should be doing an act of great injustice to the country, if we were to remove him, unless under circumstances which rendered his removal necessary.—But address, to remove him, I admit we must, if his conduct has been criminal. But if there has been no corruption in his conduct, no connivance at the corruption of another, no official guilt; we may express our concern and regret at all those circumstances relating to Mrs. C.'s connection with h. r. h., in such a manner as may be consistent with what is due to our own characters, without necessarily bringing upon the public the loss which his removal from office would occasion. But it is obvious, that, if to prevent his removal be an object which we ought to look to, we must so express ourselves as not to render his continuance in office impossible. The mode in which I conceive we may obtain this object, is, by adopting an address to his majesty, which shall first inform him that we have come to a conclusion of our enquiry and are satisfied of the innocence of his son;—in the following terms:
"That an humble Address be presented to his majesty, humbly representing to his majesty, that in consequence of serious charges against the conduct of h. r. h. the D. of York, in the office of Commander in Chief of his majesty's army, his faithful Commons thought it their indispensable duty, without loss of "time, to enquire into the same in the most 113 "solemn and public manner; and that, after the most diligent and attentive consideration of the evidence, by which those charges have been attempted to be supported, his majesty's faithful Commons, considering the deep and lively interest which his majesty must naturally feel, in any enquiry into the conduct of a person in so high and responsible an office, as that of Commander in Chief, more especially when that person is so nearly related to his majesty; have felt it their duty to lay before his majesty the following resolution, expressive of their opinion upon this enquiry."
Then, after inserting the resolution which I have read, expressive of our conviction of h. r. h.'s innocence, I would propose that the Address should proceed as follows:
"And his majesty's faithful Commons think it their duty further to state to his majesty, that whilst this house has seen with satisfaction, in the course of this enquiry, the exemplary regularity and method with which the business of the Commander in Chief has been conducted under the direction of h. r. h.; and also the many salutary and efficient regulations which have been introduced into the army, during his command of it; some of which regulations have been specially directed to prevent those very abuses, which have in this enquiry been brought under the notice of the House of Commons; they could not but feel the most serious regret and concern, that a connexion should ever have existed, under the cover of which, transactions of a highly criminal and disgraceful nature have been carried on, and that an opportunity has been afforded, of falsely and injuriously coupling with such transactions the name of h. f. h., whereby the integrity of his conduct in the discharge of the duties of his high office has been brought into question: that it is, however, a great consolation to this house, to observe the deep regret and concern which h. r. h. has himself expressed on the subject of that connexion; as from the expression of that regret on the part of h. r. h., this house derives the confident assurance, that h. r. h. will henceforth invariably keep in view that bright example of virtuous conduct, which the uniform tenor of his majesty's life, during the course of his whole reign, has afforded to all his subjects, and which has so "much endeared his majesty to the affection 114 of every rank and description of "his people."
Such, sir, is the course which I should recommend to the house, instead of the Address proposed by the hon. gent., to remove h. r. h. from his office: and having thus put the house in possession of what I intend to submit to it, I shall now yield to its impatience, and I move, sir, that we do now adjourn.—Adjourned.