§ Mr. Curwen
rose, and produced a Letter which he had received from an honourable officer (capt. Spedding}, to whose character he bore the highest testimony. With the permission of the house he would read this Letter. The hon. member was proceeding to read capt. Spedding's letter, when he was interrupted by
§ Mr. Whitbread,
who observed, that it had already been decided in the course of this proceeding, that to read a letter in the way intended by the hon. gent, was disorderly.
§ The Speaker
observed, that unquestionably no letter of the sort alluded to could be read, except by the indulgence of the house.
§ Mr. Curwen
stated, that the object of the letter was to declare, that capt. Spedding knew not any thing of the transactions imputed to him, and that if any such had occurred, they were attributable to his agent, and not to himself. That capt. Spedding was one of the last men who would be guilty of an action in the least degree dishonourable he was perfectly persuaded, and he appealed to his hon. colleague for his opinion on the subject.
§ Mr. Wallace
declared the high estimation in which he held capt. Spedding's character.
The Order of the Day was then read; and the Speaker having explained the state of the question, the debate proceeded.
The Secretary at War
observed, That he rose to oppose the address proposed by the hon. gent, opposite (Mr. Bankes), who had declared, that although no charge of corruption had been established against h. r. h. the D of Y., yet that the house had been just put in possession of facts sufficient to induce them to believe, that h. r. h. must have entertained a suspicion of the abuses that existed; and consequently that it was their duty to agree to a proposition, the tendency of which was, to deprive him of the command of the army. In delivering his sentiments on this subject, he felt his task considerably lightened by the conviction, that a great majority of that house were persuaded that no reliance whatever was to be placed on the testimony of Mrs. C.—(A cry of no, no ! and hear, hear!)— At least, such was his understanding of the opinion of the greater part of those whom he had the honour to address. If it were not so, if the testimony of Mrs. C. was to 361 be credited, there could be no question but that h. r. h. must be immediately condemned; but he was firmly of opinion, that in the most material parts of her evidence, Mrs. C. was disbelieved by a great majority of that house; and under such circumstances, he could not but think, that what she had asserted ought to be put wholly out of their consideration. In his opinion, there was not one of the cases that had been adduced in which Mrs. C. had not directly contradicted herself. The hon. gentlemen on the other side maintained two opinions, either that the D. of Y. had himself been guilty of corrupt practices, or that the circumstances were so glaring, that it was impossible but he must have suspected their existence in others. Both these positions he completely denied, and he trusted that the house would be persuaded his denial was not founded on light grounds. To shew that it was not so, he would enter into an examination of the various cases that had been brought forward. And first with respect to that of the exchange between col. Brooke and col. Knight. It was evident, in this instance, that Mrs. C's object was to procure money, by pretending that the gazetting of that exchange was ascribable to her influence alone. But she had evinced an ignorance of the usual course of such proceedings, which in his mind was the strongest proof that the communications between her and h. r. h. on military subjects was far from being as unreserved as she pretended. Mrs. C. observed, that she had made the application to the D. of Y. two or three days before the exchange was notified in the Gazette. Now, it was well known to those who were conversant with the details of military office, that a much longer time must elapse after the approbation of the Commander in Chief was expressed of any transaction of that nature before it could be so declared to the public. This ignorance on the part of Mrs. C was by no means reconcilable with the profession, that she possessed that undue influence over h. r. h. which had been described to her; for, in that case, would she not have made it her business to render herself perfectly conversant in all those forms and details of office by which her objects would have been forwarded? He took this opportunity, as he was speaking of official business, to defend col. Gordon from the imputation of want of candour, which had been thrown upon him from the opposite side of the house; and 362 explained, in a very satisfactory manner, the evidence which col. Gordon gave at the Bar, with respect to the usual course of military exchanges and promotions. Proceeding with his consideration of the cases which had been investigated, he adverted next to that of col. French's levy. It had been erroneously declared that the expence of that levy had been enormous, amounting to near 150l. a man; but the papers on the table undeniably proved that the expence was only something more than 40l. a man. Entering into an explanation of* this transaction, he shewed that it was conformable to the usual practice; and that the permission which col. French obtained resulted from pure motives on the part of h. r. h. He himself fully recollected a conversation on this very levy, and he was persuaded that h. r. h. the Commander in Chief had acceded to it because he thought it an advantageous bargain for the public. The very stopping of the levy was a convincing proof that Mrs. C. did not possess the influence to which she pretended; for it was her interest that it should be continued, if, as she stated, she was to receive a guinea for every man that was raised. Every circumstance afforded proof of the absence of communication between the D. of Y. and Mrs. C. on military matters; and none more so than the promotion of major Tonyn. That promotion actually took place on the 9th of August, but was not gazetted till the 18th, during the whole of which interval Mrs. C. was ignorant that capt. Tonyn had obtained his majority, an ignorance which she manifested by her solicitude. Was it to be believed that in such a case, threatened as she was by capt. Sandon, that he would withdraw the promise of the 500l.; that if she possessed the influence ascribed to her, she would not have questioned the D. of Y. on the subject? And was it not probable that h. r. h.'s answer would have been "major Tonyn is actually made, and will be gazetted on Saturday or Tuesday next?" But she did not venture on such an inquiry, and capt. Tonyn was actually a major for several days before Mrs. C, interested as she was in the transaction, was apprised of it. A more convincing proof than this of the little communication that existed between the Commander in Chief and Mrs. C, he could not well conceive. As to the case of col. Shawe, nothing could be more clear. Col. Shawe had obtained his appointment in the usual way, and with the understand- 363 ing that he was immediately to go on half-pay. It was impossible, therefore, to believe that h. r. h., to revenge the quarrel of Mrs. C, should order col. Shawe to be put upon half-pay; well knowing, as he must have done, that such was the original condition of colonel Shawe's appointment. Much had been said with respect to the mode in which major Turner's promotion had been stopped. With respect to the character of the female, by whom that delay was occasioned, it appeared to him of little consequence, and that it was unfair to assign that as a cause why justice ought not to be done. Considering the question in this point of view, he confessed that he felt astonished at the observations that had been made, and at the questions that had been put to col. Gordon upon it. Proceeding to the case of Mr. Dowler, he observed, that it had already been so ably handled, that he did not feel it necessary to trespass upon the time of the house longer than to observe, that it was impossible that could be made a matter of grave accusation against h. r. h. As to Samuel Carter, it was most probable that he would have had his commission without any interference on the part of Mrs. C. He could not help observing by the way, that this was the only instance adduced of Mrs. C.'s successfully exerting her influence for the obtaining of an ensigncy, although it could not but be evident, that there were many individuals who would have been very happy to have given her two or three hundred pounds for her recommendation. So far from her influence having been notorious, he contended, that this fact proved the very reverse. A very exaggerated statement had been made of the expence attendant on Mrs, C.'s establishment, which was trivial, compared with what it had been asserted to have been. On a general review of the whole circumstances of the case, he could not perceive that there were any just grounds to induce the house to agree to a proposition, the tendency of which was, to remove from the command of the army an illustrious individual, to whose exertions the army and the country were eminently indebted. His r. h. the D. of Y. assumed the command of that army at a period when, after a long peace, it was in the worst possible state, and required a complete and radical reform. That reform h. r. h. had undertaken; in that reform he had completely succeeded; he had made the British army what it was 364 at present; he had made it equal, in point of character and discipline, to that of any military power in Europe. With the utmost attention to the arrangements necessary for the improvement of our military force, h. r. h. had combined the utmost attention to the comfort and convenience of the soldiers, of whom that force was composed. On such grounds as those which had been adduced, grounds which to him appeared completely insufficient, he could never believe that the house of Commons would consent to a motion that would eventually tend to dismiss from his high office the illustrious individual, to whom, in his opinion, the public was so deeply indebted.
Sir Francis Burdett
began by observing, that he never rose to address the house under circumstances more painful to his feelings than the present, or more imperiously demanding the performance of his duty to his constituents and his country.
After the very ample and able manner in which an hon. member, and a noble lord who preceded him in the debate, had gone through the details of the evidence before the house, it would be unnecessary for him to offer to their notice any of those observations he had been prepared to offer, and in which he had been so splendidly anticipated. He should therefore content himself with endeavouring to draw some results from those details; from the facts which had been proved; from the commentaries which had been deemed judicious; and from the reasoning which had been thought conclusive. In inferring those results, he of course could only be supposed to be stating them as the effects produced on his own mind; and, by tracing those effects to their causes, that is, the circumstances which produced them, attempt to justify to others the impression made upon himself; and if he could not persuade them to concur with him in their vote, he did not despair of giving good reasons for his own.
But in the first place, he thought it impossible to pass over the very extraordinary treatment the hon. member had met with, who ventured to discharge his duly by bringing forward the Charges now under consideration. It appeared to him very extraordinary that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the officer of the public; the Attorney General, the public accuser; the Solicitor General, and all the crown lawyers; on all former occasions the arraign- 365 ers of public delinquents, and conductors on the part of the public of 'public prosecutions; should on this single occasion have completely changed sides, and have arranged themselves on the part of the accused, it was most astonishing to his mind that all these public officers should not only have withheld all assistance from, but to the best of their power, as it appeared to him, have obstructed and opposed the hon. member in his honest attempt to detect and extirpate most scandalous public abuses. The charges had been scarcely made, when all his majesty's public officers volunteered themselves as advocates; they forgot that they were members of parliament, they forgot that they were judges; and their eagerness to plead so far outran their patience to hear, that they appeared anxious to acquit, before they could be possibly competent to decide; they had begun with denying, resisting, and extenuating, when they ought to have recollected that they could not be supposed to judge well before they had heard fairly. The country could not expect that those who refused to hear with patience, would determine with justice; it would rather, naturally, be led to suspect, that such men had previously made up their minds, that they had prejudged the cause, and had entered into the investigation of it with a stubborn resolution to shut their ears against conviction. (Here there arose a mixed cry of order! order! hear! hear!) He was stating what impression such conduct, according to his view of it, was calculated to produce; and he would go further, and avow that such had been the effect upon his mind. It had been said that the hon. member who had brought forward these charges had embarked in a small skiff on a tempestuous sea; the sea might have been tempestuous, and for aught he knew the skiff might have been small; but however violent the tempest, or however small the size of the vessel in which he had embarked, he had fixed his eye steadily on the polar star of truth, and found her hallowed influence sufficient to light him through the perils of the deep; through the angry conflicts of the winds and waters, and to guide him ultimately to the haven of security and honour. In coming before the representatives of the people to complain of public grievances and corrupt practices, the hon. member had met with a reception as ungracious as it was unjust; he had been threatened with infamy in case of failure in the 366 proof of the corruption he complained of; he was unfairly placed in this dilemma. Infamy, it was said, must attach somewhere, either to the accuser or the accused. Did it, he would ask, rest with the accuser? or now that the evidence had been gone through, that every man is in possession of the case, was there any doubt in the breast of any man that the hon. member who had brought forward these charges, had, in the prosecution of them, acquitted himself with frankness, integrity, and honour? (Hear! hear! hear!) this being the case, then, he left the right hon. Secretary hanging on one or other of the horns of this dilemma; somewhere the infamy must rest; and if he could place it no where else, he must be content to let it rest upon his own shoulders.
The hon. and the learned Chancellor of the Exchequer had made a very elaborate, and, perhaps, a very ingenious, but certainly a very injudicious and a very weak defence for the D. of Y. That speech had received great praise, which it was not for him to censure as improper; but he did confess himself at a loss to know what part of that speech, or of its character, had any just claim to approbation. It could not be its sandour, for never was any speech more uncandid; it could not be its fairness of reasoning, for never was speech more sophistical; it could not be the comprehensiveness of its views, for never was there a. more confined view taken of any question; it could not be its impartiality, for it regarded only one side and one party; it could not be its accuracy, for it omitted many things and unstated more; it could not be its propriety, for instead of summing up as a judge, it pleaded as an advocate. What it was, therefore, that constituted the excellence of that speech, he left to those who had bestowed their praises on it to discover; unless it will be contended that the character of the advocate, in which the hon. gent, had appeared throughout this inquiry, was that which became him, and which he ought by preference to have assumed: in that case, he did acknowledge that the speech in that point of view, as a professional effort, as the speech of an advocate anxious in behalf of a client, was entitled to the praise, whatever that might he, of ingenuity: but even then it must be deemed, from its total want of fairness a weak because most injudicious defence, by totally excluding from his consideration every thing that made against the D. of Y., 367 and enlarging with scrupulous exactness on the slightest pretence for extenuation, setting up conjecture against evidence. He showed too grossly the prejudice of his own mind; his total incapacity in this instance of forming a tolerably impartial opinion; and, unless he could have excluded from the minds of others all considerations arising from the evidence, as well as from his own, it was not even the line of a wise advocate, much less of an impartial judge, which the hon. gent, had adopted. The hon. and learned gent, could not see a church by day-light, and yet he could discover a pin's point in utter darkness; he could look with eagle eye against the sun, and yet be blinded with a rush; evidence at one time can produce no impression upon his mind, and at another the slightest conjecture appears to him, in contradiction to positive evidence, most satisfactory and convincing. The hon. gent, demands too much: he j would have us at one and the same time the most incredulous as well as the most credulous of beings: he would have us obstinately resist conviction from evidence complete in all its parts, and then balance our incredulity by generously believing, without a tittle of evidence, without a shadow of proof, and indeed against proof; all those ingenious conjectures which appear to his own mind so convincing, and to mine, under the circumstances, so totally unworthy of any regard. The hon. gent, laboured hard to discredit the testimony of Sirs. C. But let any one consider the whole of that testimony, not omitting the peculiar circumstances under which she gave it, when no means had been left untried to bring out something or other against her; she had been sifted from her very cradle to the time that she stood at the bar; she came there suspected, distrusted, and discredited by the house; the Attorney General, Solicitor General, and all the crown lawyers, and indeed all the lawyers in the house, immediately ranged themselves against her; let gentlemen consider this, and then perhaps the wonder will be, that a woman in such a situation could give evidence with so much clearness, accuracy, precision, and consistency. This too was remarkable, that, unlike most of the other witnesses, you saw the worst of her at first; she could scarce command common attention; her credibility appeared more than doubtful: but the truth of her deposition was corroborated by others, and by unforeseen, unknown, unsuspected circumstances 368 of various sorts, and brought to light in a manner as unexpected; so that she ended by obtaining the credit at first refused her, as most of the other witnesses had begun by forfeiting ail claim to that credit the house was so willing to afford them. But if, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, she had told no truth at all; if those who had supported her testimony had also spoken falsely; then the undeniable consequence would be, that all they had heard at the bar was a cunningly devised fable. If that was the case, it was indeed a stupendous effort of human ingenuity: if all this were framed and got up by Mrs. C, she must indeed be a most powerful genius, who could give falsehood such an appearance of truth, who could make hostile witnesses tell their stories in the exact way that best suited the advancing and sustaining of her plot, and so contrive, that even the witnesses brought forward against her, instead of exposing her and her plot, or proving her falsehood, should also corroborate and confirm in many material circumstances her statements: and what was more wonderful, circumstances past, and of which she had lost all recollection, seemed still to be within the reach of her influence, and presented themselves when least looked for to support her plot. The Attorney General, after exhausting all his professional skill, in a worrying cross-examination of several hours, at last gave up; defeated by the superior skill of Mrs. C. in disguising falsehood, over the Attorney General in detecting it; so that Mrs. C. and falsehood were left to triumph over truth and the lawyer. Mrs. C. must indeed be a wonderful genius if she was capable of getting up such a drama as this; and he should just as soon believe her capable of writing Macbeth as of devising' such a tale, and contriving to get it supported by such evidence as the charges before the house had been. But this supposition was in itself so extravagant, that he should not have adverted to it, if it were not to show that they who were for denying Mrs. C. all claim to credit are forced to have recourse to such preposterous suppositions.
A great deal more than appeared to him to be necessary had been said about the laws of evidence; he would make on this point but one remark; the most general rule of evidence, with which every one was acquainted, was that in every case the best possible evidence should be produced, and it must depend upon the nature of the case; 369 for the law compels no one to an impossibility. In matters which are from the nature of them secret, the same sort of evidence cannot he expected as in plain open transactions; the same proof cannot be expected of corruption as of the signing of a deed or transmitting an estate. He wished them to apply this general rule to the case before them, and to say whether they had not now before them the best possible evidence the nature of the case admitted. (Hear! hear!) Putting now out of the question the credibility of she witnesses, lie asked what more could they expect to have heard on those Charges than they had heard already? He would say for his part, that there had been much more direct proof than he had thought could have been possibly produced. Let the house consider that all evidence must be according to the nature of the case. And did they in the present expect to have it proved that the money had been actually put into the hand of the D. of Y.? Impossible! Did they think that if the D. of Y. had been in the habit of those corrupt practices that he invited witnesses to the knowledge of them; or held levees and days of audience to give them notoriety? Would he not rather use the most circumspect caution, to avoid the possibility of proof, and baffle justice, should he at any time be questioned for such practices? Taking all these things into consideration, the evidence before them did appear to him the best possible the nature of the case admitted, and went far beyond what he could have believed it possible to have adduced. He did not believe that it would have been within the scope of possibility to have brought these charges home personally, as they were, to the Duke; and it was with pain he saw too convincingly in the Duke this open and apparent shame.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer had begun his speech in defence of the D. of Y., by an appearance of candour, very usual with the gentlemen of the long robe, making thereby an impression in their favour; and, which is also professional, losing sight of it entirely the first convenient opportunity. He begun by saying, (which is, as he believed he now found, true,) that nothing was more mischievous to any cause than to be betrayed into overstatements; and having laid down this position, the learned gent, through his whole defence commits the very fault he set out with deprecating. The learned gent sees nothing in any of those cases, or in all of them together, to 370 excite a suspicion against h. r. h. the D. of Y.; and alone maintains that Mrs. C, though she made people believe so, had in fact no influence with the D. of Y. He admitted to that learned gent, that Mrs. C.'s evidence ought Jo be received with the greatest caution; but it. could not he rejected when corroborated by unimpeached testimony, as it unfortunately was by that of Miss Taylor. Here are two witnesses to one fact, both competent, one unimpeached; How many more would gentlemen require to one' fact? It was marvellous to him that they could have had such proof upon such a subject. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his usual ingenuity, had attempted to explain the words deposed to by Miss Taylor in an innocent sense, and at the same time to show that she was not to be believed. Now if the words admitted the innocent explanation attributed to them by the right hon. gent., it went strongly to corroborate the truth of Miss Taylor; for, had she paid no regard to truth and had framed the words to the occasion, is it to be believed that she would have used words of dubious import? If her object had been falsely to fix a charge of corruption on the D. of Y., would she not have used words which could admit of no doubt, as to the crime she intended to impute? Would she have left it ambiguous, or to be explained away by the learned gent.? Is this the method of a false witness? But Miss Taylor spoke the truth, neither more nor less; and as to what the words might be thought to imply, she left that to others to determine. If this was to be looked upon as a fabrication, why did she not fabricate something more suited to the purpose? In telling a falsehood of that kind they showed more courage than ingenuity; and, indeed, if this business before the house was a concerted scheme, they must be the boldest women that ever lived. The hon. gent. distrusted his own arguments: first he attempts to prove the evidence is not to be believed; and having laboured that a great deal, and most unsuccessfully, he then proceeds to explain away the meaning and the application of it. Now to do both was unnecessary, it not inconsistent; for if the witnesses were unworthy of credit, why should he think it necessary to comment upon their evidence? and if their evidence did not apply, where was the necessity to disprove their credit? But the hon. gent, found it as difficult to prove the witnesses unworthy of all sort of credit, as 371 he did to show that their evidence, if true, did not apply. But if, against all evidence, Mrs. C. is to be supposed to have originated all these charges, and to have, of herself, trumped up all these stories, she certainly was the prodigy she had been represented: but he did not think so exaltedly of her power, as to suppose her capable of effecting impossibilities, of originating in her own fancy the charges now before the house; and, more marvellous still, the evidence which had substantiated them. The house could not avoid seeing there were stubborn facts established; some not at all depending on the testimony of Mrs. C.; some upon her testimony corroborated by that of others, together with circumstances and documents which could not lie. These could not be shaken by the sophistry or the reasoning, however ingenious, of the learned gent.; the evidence was clear, corroborated, and unquestionable, and not to be brought into doubt by the very questionable logic or various hypothesis of the hon. gent. By admitting nothing that made against the D. of Y., not even the existence of the influence of Mrs. C, in order to get rid of the charges altogether, and to dear h. r. h. completely, he had shown himself, however ingenious his defence might be thought, an unwise advocate: it rendered the whole glaringly weak; and by putting all upon the same issue, both those parts which were defensible and those which in the mind of every other person admitted of no defence, the whole fell to the ground together.
A learned judge, (Burton,) who spoke before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, also laboured hard to show, (and as unsuccessfully as the learned gent, who followed him,) that Mrs. C.'s testimony ought not to be believed. The learned judge had stated that, after a scrupulous attention to the evidence, this was his conviction; for she had contradicted herself 28 times. If that had been the fact, it would certainly have been a very formidable objection; and he had listened to the learned judge in the expectation of having pointed out to him these 38 contradictions; but how was he disappointed in the learned judge contenting himself with only pointing out two, and those of do moment in themselves, and not contradictions of herself, but of other witnesses; one, that she had once passed for a widow: another, that she had represented herself as Mrs. Dowler: and which were not proved to be otherwise 372 than she herself had stated; and if they had, would not have signified a single straw! The contradiction of one person by another, especially in circumstances of mere memory, of little moment, and long past, could never affect the credit of any witness; and indeed, as in the instance before us, these contradictions were often more apparent than real, and two persons with the strongest disposition to speak truth might vary in their testimony.
It was singular in Mrs. C. that you say the worst of her at first; she came to the bar in that situation, and which was the most discreditable thing about her, the situation in which she lived with h. r. b. the D. of Y.; and every attempt that had been made to diminish her credit further, had only served to place it in a more advantageous point of view.
With regard to another most important witness, Miss Taylor, she was altogether unimpeachable; she had been attempted to be impeached because she was an illegitimate child, which only furnished an additional suspicion of the weakness of the defence, even in the opinion of those who had undertaken it; and of the unfairness of the means which had been resorted to in order to give a colouring to the case favourable to the Duke of York.
The learned Judge had, upon rules of evidence never before, he believed, heard of, peremptorily declared the whole of the testimony inadmissible: documents and all were set aside, as not weighing a feather against the character of the D. of Y. In this manner the whole was got rid of; and it was obvious that by this method there would be no very great difficulty in getting rid of any charges, however well established by evidence.
There was another right hon. gent., the member for Cambridgeshire; but before he came to him he must say a few words respecting what had fallen from the Attorney General. His reputation for ability as a lawyer was so high that he paid him particular attention, and listened to his observations with the greatest solicitude; he had looked to have his mind informed by his legal knowledge, or at least to have had some luminous points discovered by the acuteness of his understanding: but nothing of the kind; the learned gent, seemed to be quite overpowered by the weight of the case; he seemed to be hampered at every step, and subdued, as it were, by the evidence presenting itself to his mind, every 373 time he attempted to raise an argument in defence of h. r. h. It called to his mind an anecdote of the famous Mr. Dunning. A friend applied to him for advice in choosing a counsel, and asked which he thought the best man at the bar for him to choose, as he wished to employ the most able. Mr. Dunning replied, 'before I can answer, you must let me know your cause:' it happened to be a very bad one. "Oh, (says Mr.Dunning,) for such a cause as that you must employ the worst counsel you can possibly find: pick out the greatest fool at the bar: for a man of sense is so hampered with a bad cause, his mind can never go along with it, and he never makes any thing of it: but a fool hardly knows whether he is right or whether he is wrong; a bad argument is as convincing to his mind as a good one; he gets confused and confuses others; never places or sees the prominent features of the case in their true light; and having great zeal at the same time, he makes an appearance of something like a good defence." This appeared to me the condition of Mr. Attorney General upon this occasion: he was a good lawyer in a bad cause: he was perplexed in the extreme; and so hampered by his legal science, and ability, and good sense, that at the last he gave it up altogether. It put him in mind of what he had seen in the country; A poor ass on a common with a great stiff thistle: he takes it in his mouth and puts it out again; then puts his nose to it and pricks his nose; then he paws it a little; then gets hold of the stalk and nibbles the stalk a little. At length, having turned and twisted it about for some time and made his nose sore, he looks wistfully at and abandons it altogether. Mr. Attorney did not, however, abandon easily his client; though heavily loaded, he staggered on and toiled over many a dreary waste; over 'many a frozen, many a fiery Alp, and many a region dolorous:' till at last, quite overpowered, like Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress, be got fast set in the Slough of Despond, where he left h. r. h. up to his neck in mud, and all the placemen, pensioners, and antijacobins in England will never be able to pull him out. Finding his situation thus hopeless, he ended by an appeal to the compassionate feelings of the house. This he thought by no means a time for such an appeal. But it was of importance to mark the circumstance, because it afforded another proof of the impossibility of making out any thing like a 374 reasonable defence of the D. of Y. against the weight of evidence now on the table.
The hon. member for Cambridgeshire did not go quite the length of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; for he gave up some part of the defence to save the rest; still, however, he carried his partiality in favour of the D. of Y. to a most singular excess. He thought the evidence the worst possible, and had no doubt (and here he stands alone in opinion, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer does in some other parts of the case equally undeniably proved,) he had no doubt that the Note respecting Tonyn was forged by Mrs. C. Now the evidence to prove this Note to be the handwriting of the D. of Y. was so complete and so satisfactory to every impartial mind, that one could not help suspecting that no reasoning nor evidence could have any effect upon a mind that still had no doubt even but that Mrs. C. had forged the Note so miraculously discovered respecting major Tonyn. It must be a vain task, after this conviction expressed by the hon. member for Cambridgeshire, to endeavour to make him see this case in any other light than that in which he regarded it at the commencement of the proceedings. Mrs. C, being, as the right hon. member said, so very clever at imitating hand-writing, could easily imitate that of h. r. h; this he considered as fully sufficient for him to come to the conclusion that she had forged Tonyn's Note. But let it be remembered, that, with all this facility of imitating handwriting, it could not be shown in a single instance, (notwithstanding all the assertions to the contrary; and that, as it was contended, neither disposition nor ability were wanting,) that Mrs. C. had ever made use of these talents, or exercised them, for any advantage to herself: that she had never raised money, which she was accused of, in the D. of Y.'s name. The truth was, (for he would do justice to all parties,) that cases had come before them which made Mrs. Clarke appear to have been actuated by a principle of honesty which really was surprising in a person in her situation. When she importuned the D. of Y. for money, it was always to pay the poorer trades-people or the servants: she made no purse, saved no money, but paid it away as fast as she received it; so that, whatever might be thought of Mrs. C. in some respects, it was impossible not to think well of her in others: but if only witnesses were credible who were faultless, there must be 375 an end of the whole administration of justice. But the hon. member for Cambridgeshire had had recourse to arguments that entirely excluded all considerations of justice whatever, and reduced it to a question of political expediency. The hon. member had argued upon the consequences that would attend our decision if unfavourable to the D. of Y., that we must follow it up with a bill of exclusion. Was this to remind us of the possibility of the D. of Y.'s coming to the throne? or of the fate of those persons who had formerly done their duty to their country upon something of a similar situation? Now he did not agree with the hon. member as to the consequences he thought unavoidable; not to mention the little probability of the D. of Y.'s ever coming to the throne: he saw no reason, whatever might be the vote of this night, for following it up with a bill of exclusion. Btu if this argument is good for any thing, why was it not sooner produced? Why not have saved us from our present situation, by at first stopping our proceedings? and prevented our sitting here, hi mock deliberation, without any power of decision? But be the consequences what they might, it was now his duty, and that of every member of that house, to lay aside all consideration of die consequences, and decide from the honest conviction of their own minds, upon a full and impartial view of the evidence. But the right hon. member for Cambridgeshire soon destroyed his own argument, and fell into contradictory reasonings, as those are liable to who defend a bad case; for that which suits one part of the case won't suit another, and they frequently end by confuting themselves. As the hon. member, soon afterwards, in answer to an hon. gent, on this side of the house, who thought it very improper to have princes in situations of responsibility, because, in point of fact, they were not, like other persons, responsible, replied, "Look at the D. of Y., look at our present proceedings; the D. of Y. is but a subject, and equally responsible as any other person." Now, sir, these arguments can't stand together, one subverts the other; both can't be good. The arguments of the gentlemen who defend this case, like Cadmus's men, are no sooner produced than they destroy one another. The hon. member for Cambridgeshire won't believe a word of Mrs. C.'s testimony: and yet it is singular that all those who came to discredit it only proved how little claim 376 to credit they deserved themselves; and those who were called to disprove her evidence only corroborated it the more, like Balaam's curse; "Balak said to Balaam, 'I called you to curse mine enemies, and behold thou hast blessed them altogether'." If she had no truth in her, she had a singular power of extracting truth from those who never spoke truth before, and who came with a determination not to speak it. Then a great deal of the testimony of these prevaricators was very important. But the legal gentlemen with their professional astuteness wished to put all that evidence quite out of the question, on pretence of the witnesses having told falsehoods, and therefore not in any thing to be believed. By this trick the D. of Y. would be exonerated from a great deal of very weighty evidence; but the fallacy was too gross, and this testimony could not be so easily got rid of: for it must be observed, that all the prevarications were to cover the D. of Y.; they came to the bar with a fixed purpose to conceal the truth, so far as it was unfavourable to h. r. h.; and then what was the conclusion? not, as the legal gentlemen would persuade us, that their testimony ought not to be believed; but that in whatever it stated against the D. of Y., and which bad been extorted by cross-examination, it ought the more to be believed. This was stronger evidence than it' it had come from a plain fair honest witness, and would so be considered in any court of justice in the world. "(Hear! hear!)
With regard to Mrs. C, it ought not to escape notice that many of the most material of her answers were accompanied with the means, if false, of detection; an error she would unquestionably have avoided, had she been giving false testimony. For instance, with respect to some of the transactions in which Donovan had been engaged, she referred for confirmation to Donovan himself, stating at the same time that she believed he was prepared to deny them; Well, Mr. Donovan was called, and he actually did deny ail knowledge of any such transactions; a circumstance destroying all idea of collusion; and continued to deny, till at last, with great difficulty, the truth was extracted from him, confirming her deposition. So in many instances, which must occur to every one who has attended this examination, Mrs. C, in most material points, not only spoke distinctly and fully, but furnished the clue to her own detection, if she had been a false 377 witness. Justice was to be done on all sides; and the house ought not to be deterred by the situation in which she stood from doing her that justice to which she was fairly entitled: (hear! hear!). In truth, there was more evidence in this case than would be sufficient to hang any man charged with any crime. But it was singular that the legal gentlemen argued that there was no evidence, and that the character of Mrs. C. destroyed her credit: but on trials of blood, which go to the extirpation of whole families, the crown lawyers entertain very different notions on this respect. In cases of high treason they can maintain the evidence of spies and fellows whose oath no man would take even for a groat, as unexceptionable witnesses, when supported by other circumstances; and even with such witnesses they elude the law, and maintain and rule that it is not necessary to have two of them to prove one fact. But here they can see no evidence, he was not surprised at their feeling some asperity with respect to Mrs. C., who seemed to have deprived them of all their abilities. She stood at the bar like a potent witch; and no sooner did the sable band encounter her, than their faculties seemed to be withered, as it were, by the wand of an enchantress; she routed the whole troop, horse and foot and chariots, they and all their Memphian chivalry.' But finding themselves thus routed, they endeavoured to turn their defeat into au argument in favour of their cause. If they, with their united ability, were unable to withstand the power of this formidable enchantress, how was it to be expected that the D. of Y. should have been able to defend himself against her magic spells? The legal gentlemen were all in amazement at the power of Mrs. C. in baffling their skill, and she was at the same time decried as the worst of human beings, and as a prodigy of wit, genius, and understanding: she had always an answer ready, and such an one as they least of all wished to hear. Recourse was had to miracle to account for all this, without considering that it was easily and naturally explained, though it had escaped the cunning of the lawyers, by supposing that she spoke the truth, the simplest and easiest of all explanations; but then that would not have suited the defence, of course it never occurred to the gentlemen of the robe. Mr. Attorney General verily believed he had got a witch at the bar; but still returned to the attack, 378 and still retired baffled, vexed, and defeated. He knew not what to make of it; he never met with such a witness before; and yet all the art she used, and which so foiled the learned gent., was speaking truth: her only weapon was truth, most simple, although the most powerful. It always puzzles a lawyer; he never knows what to make of it: it is like the red rag to the viper, it extracts the venom from a lawyer's tooth.
In opposition to all the evidence on the table, the house had offered to them the honour of the D. of Y.; this had made great part of the defence. It gave him pain that that honour should be placed in such a situation, as its being so placed compelled him to discharge the most irksome part of his duty, by analysing its value, and estimating its worth. An honourable and learned gent. (Mr. Adam) and friend of the D. of Y. had stated in evidence, that h. r. J), never corresponded with Mrs. C. on military subjects; she said he did, and her testimony was confirmed by the documents on the table. It was also staled that once, when she ventured to mention such subjects, h. r. h. had severely reprimanded her for daring to do so. Unfortunately for the honour of a prince, all this, and much more, was confirmed by unquestionable documents lying on the table. The learned gent. (Mr. Adam) had explained away great part of his evidence, and had been contradicted in very material parts of the rest. The learned gent, at first stated (and he could not help remarking on this conduct, which was similar to the conduct of most of the defenders of the D. of Y. from the commencement of this inquiry,) he had stated, before Mrs. C. was called, that there could be no truth in the charges she was adduced to support, because the circumstances could not have happened without? his knowing something of them, having the management of the affairs of h. r. h. Now this he did not think a fair proceeding: it was evidence against the witness, tending to prejudice the minds of those who were to judge before she appeared, and was unduly adding to the unfavourable situation she must be placed in when she did appear; it was giving evidence against it he cause before the trial; it was putting the gloss before the text. The learned gent. should have heard the text before he offered us his commentaries upon it. The learned gent, had in his evidence first stated that the D. of Y. never corresponded with Mrs. C. on milita- 379 ry subjects, or very rarely; and immediately after be corrected that statement, and said never, leaving out very rarely: now this appeared to him a contradiction. It is true the learned gent. explained it, and the explanation struck him as very singular. The learned gent. said, that, when he stated in his evidence that the D. of Y. never, or very rarely, corresponded with Mrs. C. on military subjects, he stated the impression on his mind, but that he immediately corrected; and when he stated that he never did, he stated the fact. Now he confessed it was beyond his comprehension to conceive the possibility of having an impression on the mind, and the fact in the mind at the same time, and that the impression should be contrary to the fact. This he had no doubt must be as stated, but he owned that it was beyond his power of comprehension to take in. The learned gent, had also given us to understand that Mrs. C. had given the D. of Y. offence by improperly making use of his name to raise money, which was directly contradicted by Mr. Lowten. Now, Sir, when these inaccuracies were observed in the testimony of gentlemen perfectly well acquainted with the world and its business, it was hard that Mrs. C. should be so severely treated, and her evidence swept away on account of some little mistakes about unimportant matters, which, in his mind, only corroborated the rest of her testimony, by proving it not to be a got up, false tale, as had been represented, without a shadow of reason.
The learned gent, commenced his speech with the common professional trick of making a very fair statement, laying down very fair premises, and then, without making good one of them, coming whip round to his conclusion, trusting to want of memory or attention for not being detected in the trick.
The learned gent. (Mr. Adam) began his speech by stating that he should, (as he called it,) take all the evidence from under this case except Mrs. C.'s, and hoped that if he did that, and left the case standing upon Mrs. C.'s evidence alone, we should agree with him that the D. of Y. ought not to be judged guilty of the charges brought before the house. He had assented to this proposition, and would have been happy to have acquitted h. r. h. in case the learned gent, could have made out his proposition; he had listened to him with great assiduity and curiosity, because, however he might wish it, he could not believe it was 380 within the ingenuity even of the learned gent. to make good his proposition; but he must say that his disappointment had been much greater than even his attention or curiosity. For the learned gent. so far exceeded the usual practice of the profession to which he belongs, that he no sooner promised us what he would do, than he forgot every part of what he had promised; and so far from taking from under the case all the evidence except Mrs. C.'s, he attempted to take away no evidence but hers; and after a few ingenious remarks upon the improbability of its being true, and a considerable number of remarks upon himself and his own conduct, he left the whole case, like his learned brother, Mr. Attorney General, just as he found it, and all the evidence, and Mrs. C.'s into the bargain, standing upon its legs as straight as ever. Yet the learned gent. could not believe that the D. of Y. could have corresponded with Mrs. C. on military subjects because it was contrary to common sense; but this was no ' argumentum ad absurdum.' Why, sir, said he, the whole conduct of the D. of Y. is contrary to common sense in this business, (hear! hear!), and would have been thought incredible, had it not been for the complete proof, which could leave no doubt of the fact on any impartial mind.
The hon. baronet then adverted to the evidence of col. Gordon, which had been spoken of in terms of such high commendation; it had been called a most able evidence, and was said to have been the admiration of the house. Now he was really at a loss to guess at the meaning of able as applied to a witness, unless it implied the skill of steering so near the confines of falsehood as to avoid truth, and yet escape detection; if this was their opinion whose admiration was so much excited by col. Gordon's testimony, he thought the gallant Colonel would be less flattered by the admiration of those gentlemen than by his want of it. But really, with respect to evidence, he did not know of any distinction, except as it was true or false. Col. Gordon's evidence had been highly praised for its extreme precision, it was a paragon of accuracy and correctness: he must say that in carefully looking it over it did not strike him at all in that light. When he first saw the gallant Colonel at the bar, with his red box and packets of papers and references, and all that theatrical display, and the anxious choice of words in order to be quite accurate in his answers, as it seemed to him, 381 so as to leave no doubt as to his precise meaning on every point, he did imagine that any evidence from such a witness, so well prepared to afford the house the most minutely exact information, would have been complete at first; would have required and indeed admitted of no explanation; that it would have been impossible to have uttered a word without altering the meaning of the witness. When he was asked whether the rules and regulations made for army promotions were observed, he answered 'Invariably;' but on several cases being mentioned wherein these invariable rules had been varied, he explained his meaning when he said invariably' to have been 'generally, excepting particular occasions;' in other words, excepting when they were varied: and the witness became afterwards as unprecise and cautious in his answers as he had been before precise and peremptory; and lie always qualified his replies with 'saving exceptions,' 'errors excepted, as in merchants' accounts.' He did not pretend to say that col. Gordon had any intention to mislead, or speak any other than what he conceived to be the truth, any more than the former witness, upon whose evidence he had remarked; but he did say that, if it was fair to make all these allowances for gentlemen so conversant with the business of the world, and so seemingly accurate, it was unfair to blot out Mrs. C.'s testimony, for want of an invariable and minute correctness required from no other witness. Mrs. C. was certainly as much entitled, or more, to every allowance of this nature, for the facts to which she spoke were infinitely more various and more complicated; whilst the distance of time when they had taken place, though it had not impaired the accuracy of her memory in material points, must necessarily have occasioned some mistakes in the less important circumstances. His wonder was, that she could recollect so many minute particulars of so many intricate transactions as she did. But though the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. member for Cambridgeshire could not believe Mrs. C.'s nor any of the rest of the testimony, nor even major Tonyn's note to be the hand-writing of h. r. b. (which was fully proved, observe, by the best possible evideuce,) yet they could believe it to be forged by Mrs. C, of which there is not a tittle of evidence nor even a shadow of pretence. They can also believe that Mr. Donovan, capt. Sandon, Mr. Maltby, Mrs. Hovenden, and the 382 whole crew of intriguers who have appeared at the bar, were the dupes of Mrs. C.: she had no influence to sell; and these poor unsuspecting souls, who appeared, however, to have less of the dove than of the serpent kind about them, much less of the innocence of the dove than of the guile of the serpent, were induced to give her their money for nothing: she swindled them, poor gentlemen, out of their money; sold them a bargain; representing herself as possessed of an influence which never existed; and, what must put the matter beyond doubt is, that they themselves tell you so. They never believed she had any such influence, although they gave their money for it; nor indeed ever had any concern in such transactions There's Mr. Donovan is as peremptory as col. Gordon. He is asked if he was ever engaged in these affairs, 'Never,' he replies; but at last conies a long string of 'errors and exceptions.' The Chancellor of the Exchequer, therefore, and the hon. member, were as credulous on the one hand, as they were sceptical on the other. All these witnesses, in endeavouring to confound Mrs. C, had confounded themselves: even col. Gordon's testimony, which had been relied on as contradicting Mrs. C.'s, was quite consistent with it. He had declared that the rules of office were usually observed, so said Mrs. C, so that colonel Gordon and his official correctness appeared as a mere mask, a vizor with a nose of wax, which the D. of Y. might twist whichever way he pleased. Mrs. C. had never denied all this regularity and correctness of office, but, on the contrary, had always insisted that the D. of Y. took care of having everything done according to official form.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer had seized upon the case of Samuel Carter, as a sort of set-off favourable to the D. of Y.; as a small piece of this vile matter capable of some polish, which might admit of a varnish; and he certainly had made the most of it, and elaborately varnished it over; but the misfortune of it was that this finished piece of workmanship could by no skill whatever be made to fit the case of h. r. h. If there was any praise due on account of Samuel Carter, it belonged not to the D. of Y., but to Mrs. C. Whereas all the impropriety of the appointment belonged to h. r. h., so that the learned gent, (he begged pardon for calling him the learned gent., but when one had once known a gentleman as a lawyer, it was as difficult to 383 get rid of the impression of his being always a lawyer, as it seemed to he to those gentlemen to get rid of their professional habits,) so that the right hon. gent, could not have made a more unfortunate choice of a subject to bestow his labour and pains upon than the one lie had chosen; for all the praise he had bestowed on that transaction went to benefit Mrs. C. and to diminish the bad opinion which might at first have been conceived of a person in her situation.
We then came to a case which did seem a little to stagger the mind of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dr. O'Meara, the right hon. gent, did not like to look at it; it shook his faith; so he contented himself with saying it had nothing to do with military promotions, and tried to shuffle it over; any how get rid of the doctor. He was not surprised at the right hon. gent., seeing the part he had taken, wishing to keep this case out of sight, for it was a most important one, and weighed heavily on every part of the charge. But it had nothing to do with military promotions! so much the worse: who can say what was the extent of Mrs. C.'s influence, when they consider this case; or what can be said of the common sense of the D. of Y.? What sense of propriety or common decency could h. r. h. have had when he corresponded with Mrs. C. on such a subject? Well, Mrs. C.'s recommendation was attended to; the Rev. Divine presents himself; his credentials from heaven in one hand, and from Mrs. C. in the other; and is introduced by h. r. h. to the presence of the King, to expound the Gospel; to set forth the beauty of holiness; to lash vice and immorality, fornication, and all other deadly sin. Why, here was a picture of profligacy and hypocrisy that might startle even the mind of a libertine, with whom any sense of propriety and decency remained. (Loud cries of Hear! hear!) This case bore hard upon every part of the charge; it answered every part of the defence; the improbability, the common sense, the character of the D. of Y.; What arguments can be drawn from these topics that can weigh a hair after this?
Then with regard to the case of col. Shaw, the hon. member for Cambridgeshire had said that the whole had been conducted according to official regularity and at the recommendation of sir H. Burrard; but at all events it proved the general impression on the army as to the influence of Mrs. C.; here was col. Shaw's 384 testimony, what did he think? What was the impression throughout the army.
The Secretary at War had endeavoured to shew that there was nothing wrong in the conduct of h. r. h. towards major Turner; but he never could do away the Duke's having listened to the application of such a person as Mrs. Sinclair Sutherland, and of having in consequence interrupted the views, whatever they were, of major Turner, and not being able to do it away he had endeavoured to justify it. Now here was no excuse for the Duke, no weakness, no frailty, no attachment, and he could attribute it to nothing but a total absence of all feeling of justice and of all care for the welfare and happiness of an officer. Mrs. Sutherland's letter said "major Turner de-"peuds on Greenwood to get it done, but "I depend upon you that it shall not," and says "she hoped h. r. h. would not refuse "her such a trifle." This she called a trifle; to interfere and interrupt an officer's views, whatever they may be, (in this case resignation), this woman considers a trifle; is it possible to suppose when she asks this as a trifle, that she had not been in the habit, during her favour, of asking things of much greater consequence? He knew nothing of military matters, and had no acquaintance with military habits; but if officers in the army were to be harrassed and injured by such persons as these, and liable from information derived from such impure sources to be called to account not for any breach of military duty, but on charges of such a description and from such quarters as this, he must say that he could conceive no situation of life more base, abject, and contemptible than that of officers in the army, and it was high time that some remedy should be applied to such an evil. Here is a meritorious officer, of long service, excellent character, and a gallant gentleman, injured and insulted by Mrs. Sinclair Sutherland, because h. r. h. thinks it a small favour to do injustice to an officer on such a request and on such an account; major Turner felt himself so cruelly injured, and having come to a knowledge of the quarter from whence the secret shaft was levelled at him, that, full of indignation at such unworthy treatment, it appeared he had written to I col. Gordon, threatening, like major Hogan, to expose this scandalous conduct of the Duke towards him. It was, too, odd enough that the complaint against him was his having behaved ill to a lady; what 385 the Commander in Chief could have to do with this he could not imagine, and he should have thought h. r. h. was not the person to set himself up as a rigid moralist in that way. What had been his conduct to the woman who had appeared at the bar? He had separated from her, not, certainly, because she had taken money for commissions; but how had he behaved to her? He had cast her off, fulfilled none of his promises, left her in debt and distress, and threatened her, if she complained or troubled him, with the pillory. This she had proved, because she had put it in the power of her enemies to disprove her assertions, if false, by producing Taylor the bearer of the threat; they had not done so, and her statement must therefore be considered as proved. It quite confounds the understanding that the D. of Y. should threaten with pillory, and leave to misery and want, the woman with whom he had so lived, to whom he had written the letters on the table; his excessive affection and tenderness could alone mitigate the severity of censure upon his folly: bat no, she was shaken off like an old shoe, and threatened with infamy; here was immeasureable folly, but no tenderness, the fault without the excuse. Where was the honour of a Prince? the honour of Mrs. C. induced her to offer to sacrifice her annuity if the Duke would pay the debts, his debts as much as her's be it observed, but this was refused; Where then was the honour of a Prince? The annuity was no mighty settlement, considering the terms on which she had lived with h. r. h.; it was not performed; and when required, the answer was, You have no bond, noble 'gal demand:' and there was the honour 'of a Prince!' He knew not what were the component parts of the honour of a Prince, or in what it differed from that of another man; whether truth and justice, which were the essence of the honour of another, were no ingredients necessary in the honour of a Prince: if so, h. r. h. might still possess the honour of a Prince, but it would not weigh a feather in opposition to the evidence before the house, and it was the most worthless pledge that could be offered to the consideration of the house. Now then let us consider the honour of a woman no better than Mrs. Clarke. Mr. Few, an upholsterer, was called to discredit Mrs. C.'s testimony, by proving that she had passed herself off for a widow; but the learned gentlemen who managed the de- 386 fence for h. r. h. were as unfortunate in this as in all their other attempts to discredit Mrs. C.: whether she had or had not passed herself of for a widow signified little, but Mr. Few proved no such thing; but he did prove in favour of Mts. C. as high an act of honour and honesty as any one ever had to boast of; she cause not here with honour on her lips, but she has shown it not ostentatiously or purposely, but accidentally, and from the testimony of her enemies, in her actions. The witness Few brought an action against her for goods delivered: he was foiled, she being a married woman: having no legal remedy or redress, and being exasperated, he did all he could to expose and injure her; held her out to the public as an impostor; he placarded her through the streets in her neighbourhood. Well, and what return did this bad woman, this malicious, revengeful, unprincipled harpy, as she has been called, make to this conduct in Mr. Few? Why, with an honour, and integrity, and principle, which would have added lustre to every situation in life, and have hardly been found in any, as soon as she had the money she went and paid the debt to Mr. Few. This was the honour of a woman supposed by some, on account of her situation, to be devoid of all good; here was an act of pure honour, no legal claim, no possible compulsion, nothing but her own honesty, honour, and sense of justice, no hope, thought, or wish even that it could be made known. Here then is a complete act of honour on the part of Mrs. C, and he wished that a parallel instance could be produced on that of the D. of Y. H. r. h.'s honour,' the honour of a Prince, 'rose from this discussion, like Banquo's ghost, 'with ' twenty mortal gashes on its head;' each one a death to reputation.
The next case that attracted his attention was that of Kennett, and it had this in it particular, that it indisputably proved itself; the documents were full and convincing; and a gross and flagrant act of corruption it undoubtedly was. This had nothing to do with Mrs. C.'s testimony, and could not be covered by railing at the witnesses; it might, indeed, be disposed of like Dr. O'Meara's, by saying it had no reference to military matters, but this would never satisfy either the house or the country. All the cases had a mutual bearing upon one another; they could not be considered, as the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had chosen to represent them, as 387 separate and standing alone, it was the whole together which the house bad to determine upon; it was such a variety of facts and evidence coming from different quarters, all rushing irresistibly to one point. From this case of Kennett it appeared that the D. of Y. was actuated by a greedy desire of getting money, by any means; he accordingly undertook to recommend this man of infamous character, a fraudulent bankrupt, to an office under government, for the sake of a loan. The documents as to this case were complete, and were alone sufficient to call for the decision of the house against the D. of Y.: was there not complete proof, that, in order to obtain a loan of money, the Duke condescended to write to Mr. Pitt, to obtain for this worthless and contaminated man a place, as the price for procuring for h. r. h. the money to assist him in his present exigency? (Hear! hear!) Do you not call this corruption; direct, plain, pecuniary corruption? and if so, can you maintain that it is not proved against h. r. h.? The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who denied that Mrs. C. had any influence with the D. of Y., also asserted that there never was so little corruption in any country as in this at this time. He seemed to think the reign of Saturn and the golden times were returned, or that we had recovered our primitive state of innocence as before the fall: that we were in Paradise regained. The gentlemen who could believe the one proposition might easily believe the other, but he must beg leave to deny both. All the learned members of that house agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer; they seemed to consider money and corruption as synonymous terms; but in this, as in all other parts of this case, he hoped to be able to show how egregiously mistaken all the learned gentlemen were. He knew not the reason, but it did appear that there was something in that house fatal to lawyers: whether there was something in the air, or what it was he could not tell, but in that house the lawyers lost all their abilities as soon as they got there; their talents forsook them; the plainest objects became to them invisible, and they got bewildered in the plainest paths: as in other places they made intricate seem straight to others, so here they made straight seem intricate to themselves. But, Sir, whatever nice distinctions the lawyers may be inclined to make, they will never persuade men of common sense that corruption means only 388 money, and that because they think it not-proved that the D. of Y. took so many guineas into his own hand, that therefore he is not proved guilty of corruption; nor can they persuade them to believe with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that there never was a period when corruption in this country existed less than at the present time. But, whatever the legal gentlemen may chuse to say, there was no necessary connection between corruption and money: money, indeed, was one of many means of corruption, but far, very far, from the only one; nay, it was, perhaps, the weakest and least mischievous. But corruption was not money, nor did it apply to any particular thing, but to the moral motive of the mind; it consisted in a dereliction of duty, from any improper bias, no matter what. With respect to the corruption of the times, so far from not exceeding that of any former period, it seemed to be boundless. With the East and West Indies, and other colonies, increased in all their establishments; with places for ministers to dispose of in every corner of the world, military appointments beyond all former example, all the honours of all the professions, and pecuniary advantages without end in the power of ministers, from the intolerable load of taxation under which we groan; with all this, and a great deal more, could we say there was no corruption? Were not the necessary expenses of government so great, that of necessity there must be corruption in the state? Were not men by the cruel pressure of the taxes reduced almost to ruin? And were they not obliged to look up to government, in order to get back, to maintain their families, some part of that properly, the produce of their own industry, and so severely exacted to supply the cravings of government? (Hear! hear!) Were not the people obliged to part at once with a teuth of their income, in addition to all their other privations? and had not government the power of making and marring fortune, both in the collection and the expenditure of this intolerable revenue? But the Chancellor of the Exchequer says there is no corruption: to be sure we do not now, said sir Francis, receive money in the lobby previous to a vote, nor have we, sir, as at some former periods, when we have the honour of waiting upon you, sir, and dining at jour table, the good fortune to find rive hundred guineas under our plate. (Hear! hear!) No, that was not the species of corruption now carrying on: 389 he wished to God it was as open, as palpable, and as base, few would then, perhaps, be found to be guilty of it; they would be shocked at the bare-faced corruption of a ruder age: but, unfortunately, corruption now wore a more pleasing aspect, assumed a more agreeable shape, and won the most averse. It was now gilded by the name of Office, and to get large sums of money was called serving the public, and in this way was greedily snatched at by one who would have been, perhaps, ashamed to have taken the bare money into his hand. In the case before us, perhaps, the D. of Y. was not proved to have taken the guineas into his hand, but that had nothing exclusively to do with corruption, which, as he before said, consisted not in the money, but in the motive, in the corrupt bias of the mind from its duty, and from truth and justice. This was the corruption which had been proved beyond contradiction at the bar of this house against h. r. h. the D. of Y. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was therefore quite mistaken, and totally misconceived the meaning of the term, when he asserted that corruption never existed so little as at this present time.
No observation had hitherto been made upon a circumstance which appeared to him very material, because it identified Mrs. C. and the D. of Y. in money transactions, and that was, h. r. h. having applied to Mr. Comrie, Mrs. C.'s solicitor, to raise him money. It showed that Mrs. C. and h. r. h. conferred together on money matters, that it was looked upon as a common concern; that he acquainted her with his pecuniary embarrassments, and looked to her aid and assistance for relief. This made a strong impression on his mind, though it did not appear to have struck any other gent. in the same forcible manner; but it had great weight with him, and he could never divest himself of it in reflecting on any part of the case: it gave a tinge and colour to the whole. A loan also had been proposed from col. French; and in short, in several instances the same feature was seen, a constant want of pecuniary relief, giving irresistible force to the whole of the evidence upon the case. It struck him with astonishment, nor could he imagine how it could possibly come to pass, seeing the great appointments of h. r. h., favoured beyond, and circumstanced better than even, the heir apparent to the crown, how it could happen that h. r. h. the D. of Y. should have reduced himself 390 to so low a condition, as to have recourse to such unworthy means as had been exposed before us, to extricate himself from it.
With respect to the evidence, it is too, too full. The circumstantial evidence is so strong as almost to be sufficient of itself to produce in any ordinary case a conviction: the documents are also so strong as to be sufficient of themselves without any positive oral testimony: and the oral testimony is so strong and so direct as to be, if credited, sufficient for conviction without the support of the circumstances or the documents before us. But all united seized upon the mind with the force of demonstration. But the learned lawyers saw nothing in all this. He could not account for the dimness of their eyes upon this occasion: but when he called to mind how sharp-sighted they were upon others, where humbler subjects were concerned; when, as he had said, spies' and informers' oaths, and 'trifles light as air appeared to them strong as proofs of holy writ;' he could only account for the dimness of their organs by the unhappy influence, he had before observed that that house had upon the members of that learned profession. How different was their language now, when h. r. h. the D. of Y. was concerned? No circumstances, however strong, could excite a suspicion; no documents, however undeniable, could cause a doubt; no evidence, however positive, was sufficient; nor could all together weigh against the character of h. r. h. the D. of Y. Here was a body of evidence which would, in old times, have rendered a jury, if they had given a verdict against it, liable to a writ of attaint. To oppose to all this, there was no defence, or such a defence as only strengthened the charge. The learned gentlemen had caught at straws and hairs, and with the cunning of the profession had dwelt only upon trifles, leaving the essential parts of the charges altogether untouched. They had produced no evidence, when it would have been easy for them to do so, to rebut the testimony against the Duke. A learned judge, he mentioned it only to show the shifts and tricks of learned gentlemen in a bad cause, a learned judge (Burton), who spoke early in this debate, after many elaborate observations upon other trifling matters, dwelt for near half an hour on the testimony of Mrs. Favourite, to prove she was not entitled to credit; But what necessity for this? Whoever asserted she was? The hon. member who brought forward these 391 charges had too much sense to rest any thing upon her testimony; he never once mentioned her name. Why, who ever thought of believing Mrs. Favourite? Who ever expected her to speak truth? He hardly knew how she came there; but supposed she was summoned by the gentlemen on the other side; but she had a sort of patent place for lying, and she lied like a lady's maid. What then? nothing depended upon it, and her name was never mentioned except by the learned judge.
Nothing then, he said, remained for a show of defence, except the character of h. r. h. the D. of Y.: and here he could not help lamenting the injudiciousness of the defence, which imposed upon him, and compelled him to so painful a part of his duty as he had to perform in answering that part of the case. Since the famous bill of exclusion of the Duke of York, afterwards James II., from the throne, a more import ant question than the present had perhaps never been discussed in that house, and involving in its discussion so essentially the character of a prince. He said, again, he trusted the scandalous proscription and fate of the supporters of that measure would not on this occasion deter any member of that house from honestly performing his duty to his country. In this great question, the rank and birth of the D. of Y., though great in themselves, sunk into nothing. It was not the D. of Y., but the justice of England, which was to be considered: whether or no every man in the country should or should not be impressed with a belief of its existence in the land, depended upon their opinion of the uprightness of their decision. We had had opposed to this the 'honour of a prince.' He answered; the honour of the king, the honour of the nation, the honour of the throne, the fountain of justice, whose streams are not to be polluted or obstructed by any consideration so slight as the honour of a prince, appeared before them: that which demanded their consideration was the justice of England,—the people of England expected justice at the hands of their representatives. (Hear! hear! hear!)
Much had been said to warn members against being swayed by popular influence. He admitted this to be a case to be determined without looking to the right or to the left; without any regard or consideration but of justice alone: but he could not help observing, that of all unnecessary warnings, that appeared to him to be the 392 most so: for he did think that, of all influences supposed to prevail in that house, popular influence was that against which they had the least occasion to be warned. It was that of all others the least suspected to prevail. There were indeed other sorts of influence which it might be supposed by some to be more necessary to guard against. It was suspected, out of this house, that wealth, power and emolument, and the hopes of wealth and power, and all those low interested motives which operate upon the minds of ordinary men out of this house, and even of members of this house when not within its walls. He said, it was generally suspected by those out of doors, who were not so well acquainted with the purity of our motives as we are who have the good fortune to sit within these walls; who do not know, as we do, that all motives but those of pure disinterested patriotism are shaken off in the lobby, when we shake the dust from off our feet, and are not brought into the house with us. He said, that persons out of doors, who do not know, as we do, that nothing but pure patriotism and honour, and love of our country determine our votes, such persons are suspicious that our vote upon this occasion may be influenced by those ordinary motives, which, out of this house, influence in common affairs of life ordinary men; and do look at us therefore with jealousy, fearing, from the rank and interest of the party, that we shall not do justice. But he was persuaded the people wanted nothing but justice: they had no desire to see the D. of Y. or any body else oppressed. The people of England had always been distinguished throughout the world for their love of justice; and if they looked with any jealousy to the conduct of the house upon that occasion, it was only from the suspicion that justice would not be done: and so convinced was he of that being the case, that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would but get up, before we come to the vote, and request of those gentlemen on the treasury bench with him, and others around him who hold offices of emolument under the crown, or whose immediate relations do; if, said sir Francis, he would but rise and request of those persons to have the goodness to follow him out of the house, before we come to the vote, I have no doubt but that vote, though probably of a thin house, would nevertheless give more satisfaction than any vote from the time of the Revolution down to 393 the present moment. The people would be completely satisfied, whether the D. of Y. was acquitted or otherwise; because they would believe that honest justice had been done. (Hear! hear!) The defenders of h. r. h. had condescended to employ on his behalf the last resource of a desperate cause, an appeal to general character. But here, unfortunately, they as eminently failed as in every other part of their case. Tine regulations, it had been asserted, were made in the army. We had seen that those regulations, like elastic bands, could be made to fit all h. r. h.'s purposes: but even adulation had not pretended that a single feather from the eagle's wing adorned h. r. h.'s crest, nor would this over be otherwise:For 'tis highest Heaven's commandThat vicious aims should sordid paths pursue,That what corrupts the heart, should curb the hand,And virtue's faithless foes be false to glory too.Whether he considered the circumstances, the documents, the proofs, the defence, or the character, all with one accord compelled him to decide, that in his opinion the Charges were completely substantiated against his royal highness the Duke of York.
The Master of the Rolls
said, that he had wished much to hear the evidence canvassed and commented upon before he expressed his opinion, and, with that view, had delayed offering himself to their attention until that moment. There were many parts of the ingenious speech of the honourable baronet in which he agreed. It should be his endeavour, in what he had to say, to discharge his duty with impartiality, and to assist in the promotion of their common object, the discovery of the truth. He agreed with the hon. bart. that ultimately, every man should vote according to his conviction, and should do all in his power that that conviction should be right; else it would happen, as Doctor Johnson had said, that strong party principles would produce wrong convictions, and that would countenance the charge, that though the conviction was produced, it was not come by honestly. He admitted it was desirable that their minds should be perfectly unbiassed and upright, in the investigation; that they should be equally removed from popular prejudice upon the one hand, and from considerations of rank and exalted station upon the other. Such were the sentiments with which it became that 394 house to pronounce its decision. It appeared to him, that there were two questions before them; first, whether the charge of personal corruption against the D. of Y. was well founded, and if so, what steps they should pursue in consequence? And secondly, what opinion they should entertain of the evidence in support of these charges? Supposing it to be the prevalent notion that the D. of Y. was guilty of personal corruption, the question then was, whether they should pronounce the judgment, that he was unfit to be at the head of the army? He could conceive cases in which the house might refuse to pronounce any opinion, but he could not conceive any case in which it would be justified in pronouncing an ambiguous opinion. He felt it difficult to know what the house would be at. He wished the hon. gent. had not driven them to the necessity of coming to a decision upon that point. He agreed in the definition which the hon. bart. had given of corruption, to constitute which the receipt of money was not essential; any improper motive, any undue influence, was corruption. With regard to the Amendment which had been proposed at the last meeting by his hon. friend, he had this to say of it, that, by its striking a sort of medium, it might obtain a majority of votes, though it only expressed the sentiments of a minority of that house. He wished that the hon. gent. had set out with proposing a simple Resolution, which would bring the fact before them at once. Supposing, then, that it was necessary for them to pronounce a direct judgment upon the criminal part of the charge, he would consider what grounds they had upon which to rest it. He was not aware, that in any former case they were similarly circumstanced as in the present. In ascertaining the credibility of witnesses, they should consider with attention the circumstances under which the testimony was given, and a very prominent circumstance for their consideration, was, whether the testimony was given under the obligation of an oath. A Roman tribunal had refused to take even the testimony of Cato without the sanction of an oath, and certainly they had had persons at their bar not much akin to the Roman or Athenian virtue, and they were called upon to decide whether they would take the unsworn testimony of such witnesses against any of their fellow subjects? The testimony of such witnesses, he allowed, might justify them in putting a man upon his trial, and 395 he imagined that the reason why it was not thought necessary to give the house of commons the privilege to administer an oath was, that their inquiries were supposed to be directed to ascertain the grounds of accusation, preparatory to the institution of a subsequent trial. Every one agreed as to the necessity of ascertaining the credibility of Mrs. C. If she were not believed in all, her evidence was only circumstantial—a species of evidence inferior to that which was direct. If Mrs. C.'s evidence was admitted in all its parts without exception, it brought home the charge against the D. of Y. in its most aggravated circumstances; for, by her evidence, it appeared that he not only knew, but authorised and recommended the traffic in commissions; that he did so to save his own pocket, and cast the expense of her support, from himself, upon the nation. He was a little surprised to find the Address so worded as not to rest upon the evidence of Mrs. C. The language of it was, that it was to be presumed, not that it was directly proved. A noble lord had said, that he believed her testimony altogether; it was not inconsistent with that belief that he should be willing to vote for a stronger measure. The hon. gent, who spoke second in the debate had said, that Mrs. C.'s evidence required corroboration, and in that opinion the hon. bart. himself agreed. If her testimony were suspicious, if there were a doubt upon their minds whether it was true or false, that was enough to prevent them from acting upon it; it was not necessary to prove that it was actually false. There were many circumstances to be taken into consideration in weighing the credibility of witnesses, the character in which they appeared, the motives by which they were influenced, whether malicious or otherwise; and by those tests was Mrs. Clarke's evidence to be decided. He allowed that there were many parts of her testimony true; that the only questionable part was that respecting the private conversations with his royal highness. Such testimony as that, however, was always to be doubted. A judge, in charging the jury, always pointed it out as necessary to be regarded with grave suspicion; if it were not regarded with peculiar jealousy, no man's character could be safe; but the rule was, that if, from other circumstances, (as there could be no direct refutation of it), there was ground to suspect its falsehood, even though it was not sufficient to establish a contradictory proposition, that 396 ground was fatal to such testimony. Where ever, also, any testimony was improbable in itself, or unlikely to be true, then it received a degree of contradiction from that very circumstance. Now, this woman came forward after several unsuccessful attempts to procure a compromise with h. r. h. She had also been contradicted by herself, though he did not mean to dwell upon these contradictions. Certainly, site could not be thought a witness above suspicion, and although the letters in which were mentioned the names of Clavering and Tonyn proved that she had communicated on military matters with h. r. h., yet they were far from proving any thing like corruption. It was evident that Mrs. C. came forward under angry impressions, and a witness so coming forward, could not be perfectly credible; that is, could not be unsuspected. To what extent, then, was Mrs. C.'s testimony corroborated? As to her influence over the D. of Y., it was proved sufficiently; but in connecting him with her corrupt dealings, Miss Taylor's was the only corroborating evidence; others could only go to establish the fact of certain appointments having taken place; she alone went to prove the incitement of corrupt motives. The evidence given by Miss Taylor certainly went to prove corruption, and he was far from saying that her credit had been impeached by the witnesses produced for that purpose; but it struck him, that it was hardly possible that her memory was correct. But her evidence was of the weakest sort; it was a narrative of a conversation; nor could they be quite sure that that confirmatory aid was true; it struck him at first, that Miss Taylor might not have recollected the conversation distinctly; that the conversation respecting col. French must have had some reference to a former transaction; for col. French, as appeared, had fulfilled every iota of his engagement. Mrs. C.'s answer, therefore, saying, "middling, not very well," could not apply to the transaction of the Levy. So far from acting otherwise than well, he was actually in considerable advance; as instead of the 500l. the original sum, he had paid 850l. He could see a reason for this conduct. Col. French might have believed that it would be necessary for him to appeal to her influence again, and on that account might be more willing to submit to her demands; and the probability of his being obliged to call upon her again, was strengthened by the circumstance of 397 the Levy turning out to be unsuccessful.—The inference which he drew from all this was, not that the confirmatory evidence of Miss Taylor was false, but that it was not strong enough to prevent doubt, and that doubt must lead to acquittal.—With regard to the promotions themselves, if they had seen them given in great numbers out of the regular course, without any regard to merit, and if money had been given her for these appointments, it would be very fair to say, that the money so given was the cause of these promotions. If the instances were numerous, the probability would be increased that the D. of Y. was cognisant of them, and that he had been influenced by corrupt motives. But the fewer the instances, the less the probability of her influence, and the Duke's guilt. If, as a judge, he had been addressing a jury, under such circumstances, he would declare, that there were not grounds sufficient to justify their verdict; if he had great doubts of Mrs. C.'s evidence, he would say that he was not able to come to a decision, but he would say that he had grounds for standing neuter, or calling for a farther investigation. It was a contradiction in terms for a man to say that he was uncertain whether he believed her evidence or not, and yet act as if he did believe it. Here they had only a few cases in which money had certainly been given, but it did not at all appear that they would not otherwise have taken place. There was nothing irregular in them. There was, however, reason to conclude, that Mrs. C. had these applications brought to her by her agents, and being aware that they would not meet with any opposition, she was able to promise that her influence would be successful.—The house should observe her general declarations in contradiction to her specific charges against the D. of Y.—The learned member in adverting particularly to the evidence of Mrs. C., observed further, that she had stated in her evidence, that she had not begun to traffic in military commissions till she found herself in distressed circumstances; but it appeared that ill Feb. 1804, she had used her influence, as she pretended, for col. French, and that that gent.'s offers had been then made to her. This, however, was the very period when it appeared also that the D. of Y. had by no means remitted in his expences towards the support of the establishment at Gloucester-place. If, therefore, the contributions of h. r. h. at this time 398 left no pretext whatever for recurring to such means of supporting the establishment, Mrs. C.'s evidence must have been erroneous, or she must have begun her traffic of this description before any necessity in the judgment of the D. of Y. could have existed of recurring to such extraordinary means of maintaining her establishment. The great pretence on the part of Mrs. C. was, that she had no other means of supporting her expensive establishment; hut it appeared that at the time when she received and accepted of the application from col. French, the expences allowed by h. r. h. had by no means proved deficient, for instead of the demands made on the Duke that year having diminished, it appeared that he had paid very considerable sums. Yet it was alledged by Mrs. C. that the Duke was at that time in distress, and that he could not find the means of defraying the expences of the Gloucester-place establishment. Had this been really the case, was it not probable that the Duke would have asked of Mrs. C. what the sums were that she received on this account? If h. r. h., from his necessities, had been obliged to recur to such means of raising money, was it not highly probable that he would have taken an account of such sums? But, as there was no such evidence before them, as it appeared, on no testimony they had received, that the D. of Y. made any account of the sums so received by Mrs. C., was it not the natural inference to be drawn, that he had no knowledge of the sums so received? That he not only did not wish to participate in the sums so raised, but was entirely ignorant of them? The truth was, it did not appear in evidence that h. r. h. ever did know of those practices. There was nothing in the evidence relative to the levy of col. French that shewed that the Duke had any knowledge of the transaction. Had he granted her any power, or permitted her to have any influence on the subject, it must have appeared on the face of the documents; particularly as she appears to have been in the habit of preserving all such letters as she received from h. r. h. With respect to col. French's levy, there was not a single circumstance that brought home to the Duke any corrupt influence, or any influence whatever exercised by Mrs. C. as to that case. Whatever her pretensions might be to obtain favours from h. r. h., it did not appear that any of the circumstances attending that levy might 399 not have wry naturally taken place without any interference on her part, and that the whole was not the result of the official arrangements. That she used false pretexts in support of her supposed influence was not to be doubted. If the appointment or promotion, respecting which she was applied to, took place directly, and without any delay, it was all very well; no doubts would be suggested with respect to her influence; but if, on the contrary, these appointments did not immediately take place, she appeared to have had always some salvo ready to account for the delay, and some means to create expectations of its speedy accomplishment. This fact was remarkably verified in the promotion of maj. Tonyn, which had occupied some months. It appeared that she had always some answer in readiness, should the promotions or appointments she promised not have taken place. She appeared also to have studied so far the characters and connections of the persons applying, that she was always able to assign some causes of the delay, or to anticipate what objections might be offered against them. For what reason were they to believe that major Shaw's promotion was effected by her influence, when a delay in that business had taken place from 1804 to 1806, according to her own statement? There were, in fact, many instances in which it appeared, that she had failed in her application, and if the other applications to her had succeeded accidentally, why should they not believe that they had taken place independently entirely of her means? Mrs. C. had besides stated, that the amplications made to her had always been submitted to h. r. h. for his advice or approbation, while at the same time there appeared an evident contradiction to this statement in the exchange between cols. Knight and Brooke, during the negociation for which she had admitted that h. r. h had said, that the latter was a bad subject The same had, in fact, taken place with respect to col. Shaw, in speaking of whom Mrs. C. stated, that h. r. h. had said that he had always told her he was a very bat man. Had the Duke been consulted it the first instance, as pretended, and had his advice been taken, as was pretended to be uniformly the case, h. r. h. would have left no room for such a remark as this which appeared to him to be an evident inconsistency in the testimony of the wit ness. They were not, therefore, to sup pose that the success was owing in this case 400 to the influence of Mrs. C.—He called upon gentlemen wishing to investigate this subject, and to sift it to the bottom, to compare facts, and he had no doubt but that they would find sufficient reason to believe that all this might have taken place without any influence on the part of Mrs. Clarke; while, at the same time, she might have had such information, and she might have been acquainted with such circumstances as to make her persuade others that her influence was the immediate cause of these events. With respect to the immorality of the conduct of the D. of Y., he thought it was the only feature in the enquiry, that could be brought home to him; but they were not sitting there to pass sentence on the morality or immorality of private life; it was the public character only of h. r. h. they had to judge of; though, at the same time he admitted, that ostensible public situations ought to be an additional inducement to private virtue, and a strict observance of the moral duties, as the conduct of such men was likely to become the model of the conduct of many other classes of the people. This rigid observance of duty was, indeed, a price that the higher classes of people had to pay for their rank and advantages. In the eye of the law, certain immoral practices were penal, but he did not wish the house to reserve in its own hands an arbitrary power, so indefinite; or if they did wish to exercise such a moral power, why confine it to one man, why not extend the same moral censure to all ranks of men in employment? Was a man to be expelled the house of commons, because he had been discovered, in any instance, to be an adulterer? Was a public man to be removed from office merely because he had transgressed the strict laws of moral obligation? In this case they might institute an enquiry against every public man, and attempt to displace every minister on the ground of his immorality. It was only his public character, however, he believed, that they were called on to consider, with respect to a public man, and whether he had performed the duties reposed in him as a public character, that they had to enquire.—If any charges brought against a man in his public situation are proved to be inconsistent with those duties he owed to the public, and to disqualify him for his public and official situation, the charges then became of most grave and serious importance, and were matter of investigation and enquiry for the house; but if the charges were 401 merely of a moral nature, and did not affect the public character of the person accused, that house, he contended, had no right to interfere. The D. of Y. might be allowed to have acted immorally; but unless it could be proved that he had acted criminally in his public situation, the house could not plead a right to bring him to an account. If the D. of Y. was not convicted of having been guilty of any breach of his public duty, they could not pretend to displace him on the ground of any private immoralities, as any member of the house might, in that case, be with equal propriety expelled, as the D. of Y. removed from his office on such grounds. Though he acquitted the D. of Y. of all corrupt practices in his public capacity, he did not pretend to deny that he might have permitted Mrs. C. to speak and write to him on military subjects. (A loud cry of Hear! hear!)—He would admit this, he said, against the Duke, but at the same time he denied that any improper result had taken place in consequence of that permission. H. r. h. permitted Mrs. C. to write to him on these subjects, but was not at all guided in his public conduct by such applications made on her part. No such circumstance had as yet been brought home to h. r. h., and it was necessary not only to prove that Mrs. C. had been permitted to speak and write on such subjects, but that certain results had taken place in consequence of such a permission. It was evident that gen. Clavering had not succeeded in his application; and major Touyn had been so long unsuccessful, that he was on the point at last of withdrawing his deposit. And, as had been stated by his right hon. friend (the Secretary at War) was actually a major many days before she knew any thing about it; even at the very time when she was threatening that his promotion should be stopped It appeared, however, that Mrs. C. had always a pretext in case of her promises proving ineffectual, and that in the several cases in which she interested herself, she always particularly enquired into the interest and circumstances of the person applying to her. This appeared particularly in the case of gen. Clavering, of whose circumstances she had gained so much information, that she found means of applying to the humanity and feelings of h. r. h., and learned as much as enabled her to operate on his good nature. Was not this a proof that she believed that her influence—that her application alone 402 was not sufficient, and that other circumstances were necessary to have any effect upon h. r. h.? Had her influence been sufficient alone, or had an assurance of her being to receive money been deemed sufficient, would she have taken so much pains to ascertain what were the circumstances that might most likely give weight to her recommendation? In the case of gen. Clavering it was likewise to be observed, that h. r. h. might not be displeased that a person of his respectability should apply to her, and therefore wrote to her explicitly on the subject of his application. But from this correspondence, however explicit, there appeared nothing that warranted them to entertain any idea of unfair or corrupt means. Gen. Clavering was an old acquaintance of h. r. h., which would no doubt give farther weight to the mentioning of his application, and induce the Duke to take notice of it in the manner he did. From all the evidence that had come before them, and in nil the different lights in which he could view this enquiry, and the result it had led to, all that could he said in this opinion was, that the D. of Y. had not been sufficiently cautious, that he had allowed Mrs. C. to believe that she had some influence over him, though it appeared, at the same time, that he had never acted on this principle. From this want of caution on the part of h. r. h., they were to consider the pretences that Mrs C. made to influence, and the facility with which she made others believe that such an influence really existed; though, at the same time, there was not a single case in which they could convict h. r. h. of acting under this influence, much less of knowing that she received any pecuniary advantages from it, and least of all, (it was necessary to add) that he had ever participated in those pecuniary advantages. He did not believe there was a man that could draw such a conclusion from the evidence before them. That evidence might have made different impressions on their minds, according as they were more or less disposed to think favourably or unfavourably on the question; but certain he was, that no man could see ground sufficient in the evidence before them, to condemn h. r. h. of corruption in the exercise of his public duties, or to impute to him corrupt or pecuniary motives. Were it a question of life or death, he was certain that there could be only one opinion; and why should they, on vague and unsatisfactory 403 grounds, deprive h. r. h. of his character and public credit, when it must be felt by all that such evidence could not be admitted in a more serious enquiry? The house, he thought, had done every thing in their power to come at the truth, and he had no doubt that the country, convinced of their zeal and endeavours to get at the bottom of the charges alledged, would readily go along with them in their decision.
Sir Samuel Romilly,
in rising to address the house, declared that it was not his intention to follow his hon. and learned friend into many of the observations which he had introduced into the speech he I had just finished. The subject under consideration he saw in a different point of view, from every person of the profession to which he belonged, who had expressed his sentiments upon it. It was, therefore, incumbent upon him not to give a silent vote upon the question, but to state to the house the reasons which, in his mind justified the vote he meant to give. He trusted the house would allow him, not to go into all the cases to comment upon the whole of the evidence, or even to endeavour to add much to the forcible observations which had already been submitted to the house, an endeavour to which he felt himself unequal, but to point out those parts of the evidence which had most weight with him in deciding his opinion. It was impossible for him, upon comparing these parts of the evidence, upon calling to mind the character, the conduct, and demeanour of the witnesses who had been examined at the bar in the progress of this business; upon weighing all the circumstances both of their testimonies, and their bearing upon the question under investigation; upon such a general view of the subject, it was impossible for him to assent to the proposition of his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That proposition went to call upon the house to vote, what in his conscience he could not assent to, namely, that there was no ground of charge against h. r. h. the D. of Y., on the score of corruption, or connivance at corruption. But before he made any observations upon that proposition, or stated the reasons why he could not concur in it, he begged to say a few words upon the subject of the original Address which had been moved by the hon. member who had instituted the proceeding in that house. That Address contained a prayer to his majesty that he would be 404 graciously pleased to remove the D. of Y. from the command of the army. To that an Amendment had been moved by his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, substituting two Resolutions for the Address, the first of which called upon the house to decide upon the guilt or innocence of the D. of Y., and the next Resolution affirmed, that there was no ground of charge of corruption or connivance at corruption against h. r. h. To this Amendment another Amendment had since been moved, to leave out the whole of his right hon. friend's Address, having the same objects as the former one, though not proceeding upon the same grounds, but praying for the removal of the D. of Y. from the command of the army. That was the state of the question; and upon all the consideration which he could give the subject, his opinion was, that the Amendments ought to be negatived, and the original Address adopted. As to the question whether they ought to address his majesty to remove the D. of Y. from his command, he should say, that he could not conceive a case in which the house of commons could address for the removal of a public servant from his situation, if not upon the evidence which they had then before them. He was not able to collect from the speech of his right hon. and learned friend who had just spoken, in what way he meant to vote upon the Amendment of his right hon. friend; but from the tendency of his argument, he should apprehend that he meant to negative it. As the evidence had not been fortified by those sanctions which his learned friend deemed so necessary for a just decision, he supposed he would be inclined to a middle course, between the alternative of guilty or not guilty, and the Resolution which went to acquit the Duke altogether.
For himself, he wished to state shortly the ground on which his vote was founded. The question then before the house was not, whether h. r. h. was or was not guilty. No such question had been submitted to their decision. No choice had been given to the house. The Amendment of his right hon. friend gave the opportunity only of pronouncing that h. r. h. was not guilty. Here it would be necessary for him to say a few words upon the preliminary question, whether the house was bound in this instance to decide whether h. r. h. be guilty or not? It had been said that as they had entertained the charges, they were 405 bound to decide upon the guilt or innocence of h. r. h., in order that posterity might know, when they should see the Charges on the Journals, whether h. r. h. had been acquitted or not. But he must remind the house, that no charges had been formally preferred against h. r. h. in writing. The lion, member with whom this investigation originated, had, in his opening speech, not brought forward charges, but slated facts; and upon such facts being stated as were highly disadvantageous to h. r. h., the house had appointed a Committee, not to consider specific charges, but to investigate the Conduct of h. r. h. the Commander in Chief, as to the facts alleged.—Upon this subject, the argument of the noble lord (Folkestone) under the gallery, on a former night, was unanswerable. If charges there were, where was the record of them? It was no where to be found, and posterity would in vain look for a trace of their existence, if the question were to rest where it then was. But it was argued that, as the facts had been stated to the house, they were bound in justice to h. r. h. to decide upon them. Yet in the Letter of h. r. h., so far from calling for a decision, he deprecates a decision, and desires that they may refer the matter to another tribunal. (Hear, hear, hear!). In that unfortunate Letter, which proceeded from the very worst advice that had ever yet been given to a person in the situation of h. r. h., there were several passages highly objectionable, to which he should not then more particularly allude, but there was one part to which he was anxious to direct the attention of the house, in confirmation of what he had just stated. The Letter itself, he wished he had the power to expunge from the Journals of the house, and to blot out from the memory of all its members. (Hear, hear, hear!). The part to which he alluded was this:—'My 'consciousness of innocence leads me confi-'dently to hope that the House of Com-'mons will not, upon such evidence as they 'have heard, adopt any proceedings preju-'dicial to my honour and character; but if, 'upon such testimony as has been adduced 'against me, the House of Commons can 'think my innocence questionable, I claim of 'their justice, that I shall not be condemn 'ed without trial, nor be deprived of 'the benefit and protection which is afforded to every British subject by those 'sanctions, under which alone evidence is 'received in the ordinary administration of 'the law.'—(Hear, hear, hear!) 406 Did the hon. gentlemen mean to insinuate by their cheering that h. r. h. deprecated that decision which they were called upon to make? A decision must mean a determination or declaration of Guilty or Not Guilty. But the only alternative afforded to the house in this case, was the alternative of acquittal. If gentlemen meant by decision to determine whether or not h. r. h. should be sent to trial, he should concur with them; though he must observe, that it was a new meaning for deciding in a judicial sense to say, we shall decide whether the case shall go to another tribunal to decide upon it. If they were to pursue the course pointed out in the Letter, the first proposition for them to consider would be, whether or not, upon all the evidence which they had before them, they could take upon themselves to say, that there was no ground of charge of corruption, or criminal connivance, against h. r. h.? He could not see why the words "Criminal Connivance," had been introduced at all into the Amendment, unless it was with a. view to the particular impression which existed on the minds of some few members of that house. But the real question was, whether the house could say, that there was no ground of charge against the D. of Y.? It was a painful duty to declare his opinion; but painful as it was, he could not but add, that he could not say there was no ground of charge, or that he disbelieved all the evidence which had been produced. He knew that strong objections had been urged against the credibility of the testimony; but he had considered it all diligently: he had endeavoured to take into view all the arguments on both sides; and he was then prepared to state to the house the strongest points as they struck him upon the most attentive examination of the whole of the evidence. He was ready to admit that Mrs. C., the principal witness, had been influenced by resentment; that she came to the bar of that house still entertaining that resentment; that she had been contradicted by witnesses of credit, and had contradicted herself; and yet he would state some reasons why he thought her testimony to be, in the main, entitled to belief. He would allow that her testimony was not to be credited except when confirmed by other testimony, and, in order to shew how far that was the case, he should state, according to his view of the case, the true estimate of Mrs. C.'s testimony. Ah objection had been taken, and 407 too much insisted on by his learned friend (Mr. Burton) on a former night, against her evidence, as being that of an accomplice. But, what was the true weight of an objection founded upon the consideration of her having been an accomplice, or how had she been an accomplice? It was alleged that she had influence with the Commander in Chief; that she exercised this influence by recommending persons for military promotions; and that she was guilty of the immoral act of taking money for such exercise of her influence. What was there in the immorality of such conduct that could go to render her testimony invalid in a case of the highest public importance, and concerning a person of the very highest rank in the state? He, for one, believed that there were many men, who might incur a similar degree of immorality, and yet would suffer any extremity rather than bear false testimony. There was nothing in the act, however it was to be condemned, to vitiate the credibility of the evidence of the guilty party.
Here he should beg the indulgence of the house, whilst he briefly stated the rule of evidence upon tin's head. The truth was, that the evidence of an accomplice would be received against a prisoner in a capital case; the evidence would be left to the Jury to determine upon the credit due to it, and the prisoner might be convicted. This was evidence, however, which ought seldom to he resorted to, and should always be left to a Jury, with a strong direction and observation against its credit. The case winch had been quoted by the noble lord under the gallery on a former night was perfectly in point. In that case the parties had been convicted upon the single testimony of an accomplice. A similar case, reported in the same book, occurred the following year at the Old Bailey, in the case The King against Durham. A conviction took place upon the evidence of an accomplice, and upon reference to the Twelve Judges, the conviction was confirmed as legal. The case in which the evidence of an accomplice ought and would have little or no weight, was, where he was an accomplice in a crime, a conviction for which would have rendered him an incompetent witness. (Hear, hear!). Now Mrs. C. was not under any such imputation, and consequently, though her evidence was not to be credited, unless confirmed by other testimony, still she was neither an incompetent witness, nor to be lightly discredited.
408 As to the contradictions which had been so much dwelt upon, in the comparison of Mrs. C.'s testimony with that of others, and with different parts of her own, with the exception of that respecting the 200l. Bank note, and one or two others, he thought they were all immaterial, not undoubtedly as to her credit, but as to the facts charged against the D. of Y. In Courts of Justice where the opportunity of cross-examination gave the means of finding out and sifting all that a witness knows, and of making him contradict himself if he meant not to give honest testimony, if he should contradict himself in circumstances not material, it would not set his evidence aside, though it would impair his credit. But in such a case the witness calls God to witness his statement, and stakes his salvation on his veracity. In the examination, however, before that house, the declaration was not made under the same circumstances; nor was the immorality the same in a contradiction at their Bar, and a contradiction upon oath. Mrs. C., he was ready to admit, had given evidence which was exceptionable; but he contended, that she had not shewn any disregard of truth or falsehood. Much had been said of her fascinations: but he must confess, that her first appearance at the Bar had made an unfavourable impression upon him; which, perhaps, might have arisen from his want of sensibility. Her manner of giving her evidence was not guarded, as it would if she came to give studied testimony. She gave her testimony with a levity and impropriety of conduct which shewed that she was not misrepresenting the truth. No doubt she had been encouraged in this course by the notice the house took of her replies, by sometimes laughing at them, which she seemed to construe as approbation. But whilst the carelessness of her manner shewed the sincerity of her evidence, the knowledge that if she prevaricated she would be sent to Newgate, a visitation of which she had been sometimes reminded, operated as a sanction to make her tell the truth. The difference was obvious between her manner of giving evidence and that of Messrs. Donovan and Sandon, who obviously meant to give such testimony as might be beneficial to their own interests. (Hear! hear!).
He had made these general observations in order to shew that the objections to Mrs. C.'s testimony, though considerable, were yet not of weight sufficient to destroy her testimony entirely. The evidence she had 409 given was such as he had never either heard or read of in any judicial proceeding. She had come to their bar, supported only by the testimony of Miss Taylor, and stated cases which at first appeared incredible, not knowing of the existence of one set of documents which were afterwards produced and confirmed her evidence, and not being allowed to inspect another set of documents which she knew to be in existence in the possession of Mr. Nichols. She knew, however, that these documents would fall into the hands of Mr. Lowten, or Mr. Wilkinson, and consequently be produced, and this circumstance had given her confidence in her truth, and the correctness of her communications. It had been said, that the whole of her case had been produced at once; but the house must recollect, that there were some cases which she did not mention: that others had resulted out of the inspection of the papers, and one case had been produced by accident. However, the contents of all the documents, as well of those found in Sandon's bureau, of whose existence she was ignorant, as of those which she knew to be in the possession of Mr. Nichols, corroborated her testimony. She had, unquestionably, felt resentment against the D. of Y. and came to the Bar, knowing that she laboured under the disadvantage of being supposed to be influenced by it. There was not however, any thing in the evidence to shew that this charge had been brought forward in consequence of that resentment. For his own part he could not bring himself to reject her evidence, even upon points not corroborated by other circumstances. When first his attention was directed to some parts of the conduct imputed to the Commander in Chief, he hesitated long before he could give credit to them. It did however, now appear to him, that, from what they had learned on other points, not immediately connected with military transactions, there was a very good ground for believing. It was with regret that he was compelled to mention them; they had indeed been already submitted to this house by the noble lord (Folkestone) under the gallery, with that degree of talent which all must admire, particularly when united to that pure and unadulterated honesty which so strongly marked the public life of that distinguished nobleman (Hear! hear! hear!).
There were two points particularly so irresistibly strong in the evidence as to render it impossible for him to say, that there 410 was no ground of charge against the D. of Y. One of these points was the evidence of Miss Taylor; the other was the Note respecting Major Tonyn. The evidence of Miss Taylor had been much objected to; but during the whole of the examination, he had not perceived any thing that could invalidate her testimony. The circumstance of her having had children intrusted to her care was in favour of her credibility. At least, it was an evidence of good conduct and general reputation, and amounted to a testimony of so many persons as confided their children to her care, in favour of her credibility. What had since happened as stated by the noble lord (Folkestone) in the removal of these children, was an additional evidence to her credit, by shewing that she had been confided in. She had had no interest in giving false testimony. He could not imagine what interest she could have to give false evidence against the D. of Y. Her connection by alliance with Mrs. C. was not strong enough to induce her to such conduct. What interest, then, could influence a young person at the bar to give such false testimony, except they were to imagine she had been bribed, and was a suborned witness? Would any court of justice say under such circumstances, that she was so hardened in guilt, and so steeled against remorse, as to conduct herself in such a manner? and was it to be supposed that before the assembled representatives of the nation she had, or would have, borne false testimony against the son of the King? It was really impossible that she could have been guilty of such enormity. If credit then was to be given to her testimony, the house would observe what would be the consequence. Miss Taylor had stated that she heard the D. of Y. ask Mrs. C. at the time he remarked that col. French was teazing him, "How does he behave to you, darling?" If the Commander in Chief meant by that question, as his learned friend had argued, to ask only whether col. French was teazing her as he did himself, why had he not directed her to shut her door against his applications? But why should the D. of Y. have known at all that col. French saw Mrs. C.? (Hear, hear, hear!). Why ask her, how does he behave to you? Could any body suppose that that expression had any other but one meaning, viz. Is he liberal to you? Does he supply you plentifully with money? In getting the money, Mrs. C. might very 411 well tell the D. of Y. she wanted it for the purpose of removing the difficulties of which she was in the habit of complaining to him. It had been said that col. French had given to Mrs. C. much more money than by agreement he was bound to do; but that was nothing to the question. The payment of the money, and the privity of the Duke to the transaction, as proved by Miss Taylor's evidence, were the principal considerations. As to the discredit affected to be thrown on Miss Taylor's testimony to this fact, in consequence of the conversation having taken place four years ago, and of the improbability of any distinct or perfect recollection, particularly of conversation, after such a lapse of time, he need only observe, that what passes in the presence of superiors generally makes a deeper impression than what passes amongst equals, and that the nature of the conversation was such as to be tenaciously remembered.
The next point in the evidence to which he should refer, was that about the Note respecting Major Tonyn, and a most important part it was. In his mind, there could be no doubt that this Note had been written by the D. of Y. If he were acting as a Judge under the same sanction of an oath as Judges do, and to decide whether the life of a fellow creature was to be sacrificed upon such evidence as that, he could not have the slightest hesitation in deciding. All the gentlemen well acquainted with the hand-writing of the D. of Y. proved it to be his hand-writing, except gen. Brownrigg, who, when pressed, said only, that he did not believe it to be the Duke's hand-writing, but that he would not swear that it was not. (Hear, hear, hear!). If the D. of Y. himself saw the Note, he was sure he would be as much surprised at the sight of it as Mrs. C had been, but would allow it to be his own hand-writing. All the gentlemen, too, who were experienced in the distinction of hands, and had been examined at the bar, concurred in the same testimony.
But here he must beg of the house to reflect upon what it had done in calling upon such evidence to be examined at the bar. Never had evidence of this description been countenanced in a court of justice. One instance, indeed, had been stated by the noble lord under the gallery, (lord Folkestone) when such evidence had been introduced into a court of justice, but then it was for the purpose of proving 412 whether a particular paper was the handwriting of a particular person, but never to prove that it was not. What, he would ask, would be the consequences of such a pernicious precedent? A man need now, if that principle were to be acted upon, only produce a different paper of his own hand-writing, to vacate an instrument of his own execution, by calling such witnesses to prove the difference of the hand-writing. What and how much more mischief might not the precedent do in criminal cases? He had, when the proposition was first made for calling these gentlemen to the bar, opposed it in limine, and he repented that he had not taken the sense of the house upon the question. If he had pressed his opposition to a division, he was confident that he should have had with him on the division all that numerous class of gentlemen in the house who had had a professional education. If they were to believe that Miss Taylor and Mrs. C. had been engaged in a conspiracy, and that Mrs. C. could forge the D. of Y.'s hand-writing, let them but recollect what means they would have possessed to accomplish their diabolical purposes. This Note had been sent from the Horse-guards, and Ludowick Orramin had said, that he was frequently in the habit of carrying Notes from that place to Mrs. C. This Note was not like the letter respecting gen. Clavering; it was a note upon business, and imported what had been done in consequence of a note to which it was the answer. "I received your Note, and Tonyn's business shall remain as it is." What could be the meaning of this Note, unless that the Duke had stopped the promotion of Tonyn in consequence of Mrs. C.'s Note? This circumstance was so strong that, giving full weight to all the objections that had been urged, he could not vote that his royal highness had not been guilty of corruption, or connivance at corruption.
The next question was, Whether the house of commons should vote an Address to his majesty for the removal of h. r. h. from his command, upon even a suspicion of what had been proved in evidence. If they were to go to an impeachment, that would be a tardy proceeding, and in the mean time the minister would remain in his situation. The house had in the last instance, respecting the first lord of the Admiralty (lord Melville) carried up Resolutions to the throne, and procured his removal, though not for any act done in his 413 office as lord of the Admiralty, but in an office which he had held many years before. He would admit, however, that the proceedings against that noble person had been founded upon depositions taken upon oath before parliamentary commissioners. But if the house could not proceed to address his majesty for the removal of a public servant, against whom such proofs could be brought, without the power of examining witnesses upon oath, if their inquisitorial powers, in pursuance of which they had the authority to enquire into abuses in all departments of the state, and used to appoint committees for that purpose, though that was now become a form, should thus be rendered nugatory for want of power to examine witnesses upon oath, it was time to amend the law of parliament, and apply to the other house to agree in passing an act to render the powers of the Commons efficient to their object.
It had been said that the D. of Y. was to be considered in the same light as the meanest individual in the country; but had he been treated as the highest peer? Suppose the case to have happened to any peer of the land, who might have been Commander in Chief, and that the same facts had been proved against him, would not that house have addressed that he should be removed from his command? A right hon. gent. (Mr. Yorke) had said that they could not punish a prince of the blood if not determined to alter the succession. Why, that circumstance of the connection between the illustrious sovereign on the throne, and the object of this proceeding, rendered it impossible for them to pursue the same course as in the case of any other subject. There was no person within their walls, who would more strongly deprecate any improper influence upon the sober and correct judgment of this house than he would; but he must at the same time observe, that it highly became them, if they should differ from the well judging and well-informed out of doors, who would strictly discuss their decisions, and appreciate their motives, to feel within their breasts that the judgment which they may pronounce should be such as their conviction warranted and their conscience approved. (Hear, hear!). "Let" us recollect," said he, "that it was we who created this public agitation; that it was we who granted to the accused that publicity, which his defenders in this house so strenuously demanded; (hear, hear!); that it was we 414 who sent by every day's post our proceedings upon that subject to be canvassed in every corner of the kingdom. With this recollection, and with the knowledge of what the effect has been, is this house now to be desired to turn a deaf ear to the opinions of the public." Certainly, the house was not to be biassed in its judgment; but the house should reflect on what the consequences might be if the judgment of the house should differ from that of the public on this occasion.—He would be the last man to admit that that house should bend improperly to public opinion without its walls But high as their attachments were to the throne, he thought, that nothing should be dearer to them than to maintain the character of that house. If once the opinion should prevail that the house of commons had heard of corruptions existing in the state, and heard of it with indifference; if ever such an impression should go forth, and they should lose the confidence of the people, if they should on any occasion appear to be inattentive to the interests of their constituents, and the minds of the public should be alienated from parliament, if ever that fatal time should arrive, no man could tell the consequences. Never had he given a vote with more reluctance than he should that night; he had sincerely wished from the begining of this inquiry that the Charges should prove unfounded, and it would afford him the highest satisfaction now that the investigation was brought to a close, if he could conscientiously say that no grounds of charge existed against the D. of Y. His hon. and learned friend, (Mr. Burton) had attested the sincerity of his vote, by an affecting allusion to his infirmities and age, and the consequent impossibility that his vote should be influenced by any considerations of interest or any views of ambition. For his own part he could say, that, though he was not labouring under the same affliction with his hon. and learned friend, yet lie looked forward both for himself and those connections to whom he was strongly and tenderly attached, for future prosperity, and whatever might be the result of the present question, he should ever have the heartfelt satisfaction to know, that he had no advantages to expect from the vote which he should give that night.
§ Mr. H. Smith
regretted that, in these resolutions there was no proposition which would bring the house to a distinct vote of aye or no upon the accusation. He admitted that 415 the house had full powers to proceed to the extremity of judgment, and even to inflict punishment; but lie did not consider that the sort of ex parte evidence given was sufficient to induce the house to believe there was that sort of connivance at corruption in the D. of Y. to justify their inflicting censure or punishment. From the weight of evidence, it appeared to him the D. of Y. ought, to be put upon his trial, in other words, to be impeached, in order to enable him to redeem his honour which he had pledged to the house upon his innocence, and that if he was found guilty, he ought to be punished.
The Solicitor General
conceived it his bounden duty to state to the house the reasons upon which his opinion was founded. The house, he observed, had three questions to determine in this case: First, Whether the D. of Y. was guilty? 2dly, To what extent? and 3dly, Whether any and what proceedings should be taken in consequence? In his opinion, the Amendment proposed by the hon. gent, on the floor (Mr. Bankes) was more objectionable, while it professed to be milder than the original Address; as it asserted a connivance at the abuses disclosed in the evidence, relative to the disposal of commissions, which connivance, had it actually taken place, must, both in morality and law, be deemed criminal: this criminality, too, aggravated by the grossest hypocrisy; such disposal of commissions being a direct breach of the regulations promulgated by the Duke of York himself.—The propriety of deciding upon his right hon. friend's resolution, in the first instance, was, he thought, obvious for this simple reason, that all, or at least nearly all men professedly concurred in acquitting the D. of Y. of personal corruption. That, then, being the declaration which his right hon. friend's motion called for, he saw no good reason for objecting to it, and after its adoption, the house would be competent to determine upon the expediency of any subsequent proceeding, whether for removal or not. To send up any address to his majesty relative to the D. of Y. including the charge of connivance, would in his judgment, be most severe and unjust, particularly when the nature of the evidence was considered. It would be an act of cruelty to pronounce an irrevocable sentence upon the illustrious accused, which would be worse than death; it would be to affix an infamy to h. r. h.'s name and 416 character amongst the present and future generations; it would be in fact more merciful to stab him at once to the heart. If the charge of foul corruption was thus fixed upon him, how could he appear in the army, or hold up his head in society? The Address he conceived inconsistent in a very glaring point of view, because, if the D. of Y. were guilty, the Address proposed too little, and if innocent it proposed too much. The learned gent, defended the D. of Y.'s Letter to the house, which he asserted to contain no more than this reasonable requisition "do not condemn me without a fair trial," and could any constitutional Englishman reject such a request, whether made by a Prince or a peasant? What did he ask more than what the terms of the Great Charter prescribed, That no man should be condemned unheard; without being furnished with the Charges against him; without being allowed the opportunity of appearing to defend himself? The Prince, therefore claimed nothing more than the privilege granted to the most humble subject in the land, and this he claimed from that house of commons, which upon this occasion thought proper to assume the judicial character. Upon the impropriety of such an assumption of blending the legislative and judicial character, the learned gent. quoted the authority of Judge Blackstone. But having assumed the judicial character, he called upon the house to be influenced by judicial principles and proceedings, and to attend to those rules of evidence which formed the barriers of our rights and the protection of our lives, liberty, and property. Attending to these rules he maintained, that there was a great deal of the evidence which ought to be laid entirely out of sight, in forming the opinion of the house, and particularly that of Mrs. C. This woman was, in fact, upon her own description of herself, not at all entitled to belief, as she stated that she belonged to a profession whose very business and profit was deceit and imposition. Her trade was lying; and she had, it appears, become so skilful in the art, that she succeeded in imposing even upon army-brokers who were proverbially so dextrous in that course; for she persuaded them to believe that she had an interest with the D. of Y. long after that interest notoriously ceased, and also with the Duke of Portland while upon a little inquiry, it turned out, that her Duke of Portland was Mr. Maltby. Here the learned gentleman 417 entered into an analysis of Mrs. C.'s testimony respecting the various transactions from the year 1804 up to 1808, and the moment of her examination. In June 1808, she wrote to Mr. Adam, threatening the D. of Y. if he did not comply with her demands. She endeavoured afterwards to tamper with Donovan and Sandon, in order to bring them over to her party. In July she writes to Mr. Adam, stating that she has given up her papers to persons who were as stubborn as the D. of Y., and more independent, and who would expose him. Yet, after all these menaces this woman was said to be a reluctant witness. Up, indeed, to the very moment of her examination, she was guilty of imposture, by pretending to have a promise of Mr. Wardle's influence to procure her the signature of general officers, in order to obtain some commissions: and this the lion, member himself denied. With regard to the assertion of a noble lord (Folkestone), that the establishment at Gloucester-place must have cost from 20 to 25,000l. a year; that the D. of Y. must have been aware of its extravagance; and that he must, of course, feel the necessity of supporting it from the sale of commissions, Mrs. C., indeed, states that six months after she went to Gloucester-place, she felt her embarrassments. Now, he would ask was it probable that if, at that time, in 1804, the D. of Y. meant to sanction the cause of Mrs. C., to join in her trade, colonel Clinton just going out of office, such a character as col. Gordon would have been selected to succeed him? Was it not rather more likely that some pliant accommodating person, fit to promote the views of the firm of the Duke and Mrs. C., would have been appointed? The improbability of such a contract between the Duke and Mrs. C. was still more manifest from the very arrangements of office. We find col. Gordon at the outset declaring open war againit those very army brokers through whom Mrs. C. operated. We find a clause introduced against them into the Mutiny Bill, upon the proposition of the D. of Y. himself. Yet, with all these precautions, some gentlemen would assert, that the D. of Y. connived at the proceedings of Mrs. C.! But he would ask, whether any impartial man, capable of examining probabilities, could subscribe to such an assertion. What still stronger served to prove the improbability of the D. of Y.'s connivance with Mrs. C., was the circumstance of his requesting his learned 418 friend (Mr. Adam) to make inquiry in 1806, as to the conduct of this woman. If h. r. h. had been really implicated in such criminal connivance, if he were so much in the power of Mrs. C., would he venture to offend her by such a proceeding? Would not the advice of his friends have naturally been, do not expose yourself to this woman's resentment—do not provoke her—you have committed yourself with her in the business of army promotions. But no such thing took place—the inquiry into Mrs. C.'s character took place, and the result was her dismissal. Could arty man believe such a proceeding likely, if the duke did not feel confident that he was not in the power of this woman, that he had no connection with her upon the subject of military promotions, if he were not conscious of his innocence. From that consciousness alone, indeed, could the eager wish proceed which be felt, and his friends expressed, the moment the charges were announced, that they should be probed to the bottom; that the fullest and most public inquiry should take place upon every part of them. Taking the whole of these circumstances into consideration, and combining them with the D. of Y.'s disregard of Mrs. C.'s frequent menaces, he put it to the house, whether such conduct on the part of h. r. h. did not furnish strong presumptive proof of conscious innocence; whether it was not the conduct naturally to be expected from an innocent man? for, if guilty, such conduct must betray a total want of common sense.—After stating that a Mr. Mont, who was not called to the bar, and to whom lord Folkestone had alluded, could prove that Mrs. C.'s husband appeared from his cash books to have been employed as a mason, although alleged by Mrs. C. not to have followed any trade, the learned gentleman proceeded to vindicate the mode of examination pursued by his right hon. and learned friends. That mode appeared to him to have been most unjustly censured. If a witness stated that which could not be directly contradicted, how, he would ask, was the credibility of such witness to be determined, but from inquiry into collateral circumstances? If such an inquiry had not been gone into, how could the character of Sandon and Favery have been ascertained? Gentlemen on the other side took that course of inquiry with respect to Nicholls. That witness was asked, whether he had not forged a will, and been separated from his wife, al 419 though there was not a word of truth to warrant the questions. But yet an outcry was raised when his learned friend asked a witness, whether she knew where her father or mother were. Such questions were, indeed, said to be cruel; really, this seemed to him most extraordinary, that all should be tenderness and delicacy on one side of the house, while on the other side, there should be an unlimited license! He thought the questions put by his right hon. friend perfectly correct, and in no case more so than with regard to Miss Taylor, who was a witness whose testimony, whatever obloquy might attach to would conscientiously say he did not believe. The reason upon which he ground ed his disbelief, the learned gent, stated to be, first, the accuracy with which she contrived to remember words uttered above four years ago, although these words never occurred to her recollection, until within three weeks before her examination, when called upon by Mrs. C., to prop up whose evidence she was brought to the bar. Indeed, if she had succeeded in recollecting it sooner, it is improbable that the hon. mover who has been so active in his inquiry upon this subject since the publication of Hogan's pamphlet, would have omitted in his opening to mention her name amongst his list of witnesses: Secondly, her never remembering Mrs. Favery to have gone by the name of Farquhar, although she had known her ten years, within which time that woman was proved to have borne that name: Thirdly, her saying that she did not know her father once bore the name of Chance, though he was, as a stock-broker, frequently called by that name; and also her hesitation to answer as to her father's residence. With respect to her testimony to the conversation between the D. of Y. and Mrs. C., so far from concurring with gentlemen on the other side as to its probability, he thought quite the contrary—for if the D. of Y. could be capable of so loosely talking upon such a business in the presence of a third person, the natural presumption was, that h. r. h. would have gone further, that he would have been more explicit: that he would have asked Mrs. C. what money she had received from French; what addition had been made to the common stock, and what prospect was to be entertained of further emolument. The learned gent, concluded with an appeal to the candour, justice, and constitutional sentiment of the house, not to vote 420 for any Address to his majesty which would pronounce ah irreversible sentence, which would doom to everlasting infamy an individual to whom the opportunity of a fair trial had not yet been afforded.
§ Adjourned at half past three o'clock on Tuesday Morning.