§ The order of the day for resuming the adjourned debate, on the Conduct of the Duke of York, being then read.
§ Lord Milton
said, that on so important a question, he had felt it his duty to the public to exert himself, to come to a deliberate opinion according to the best of his ability and judgment, without being influenced by party prejudice, or any of those clamours or considerations, which, he had heard from the other side of the house, were likely to have an effect on the question. He had not formed his opinion from 541 the legal doctrines laid down in that house, by gentlemen of legal habits, still less from the doctrine of the learned judge who had spoken on the other side on the first night of the debate (Mr. Burton) and who, in his opinion, was guilty of an absurdity in laying it down, that because a witness was false in any one part of her statement, therefore, the whole of her evidence was to be swept away. If this doctrine were to be carried to as foil extent as the learned judge had laid it down, it would go to sweep away all, or most of the evidence on both sides of the question. He was of opinion that this was going too far. He had formed his opinion from those parts of the evidence, which did not depend on the testimony of any one person of a doubtful or suspicious character, but which were connected together in a chain, which could not deceive. In examining evidence of the nature of that before the house, it was necessary to attend to slight circumstances, which often confirmed the testimony of a witness even more than an apparent veracity throughout. The result of his opinion was, that his royal highness could not be safely suffered to retain his situation as Commander in Chief of the army. He could not go to the length of a noble lord near him, in saying, that he believed every word which Mrs. Clarke had said; but, at the same time, he could not agree that every part of her testimony was false. There was a flippancy and levity in the manner of giving her evidence, which took away great part of the weight otherwise due to her testimony; he was, therefore, inclined to reject every part of her statements relative to her private communications with the Duke of York, so far as they were uncorroborated by other evidence; but still there was a great deal of her evidence in which she was supported by the unimpeachable testimony of others. Thus, he was of opinion that the evidence of Mr. Dowler had been unsuccessfully assailed. The story she told as to his appointment, was not only confirmed by himself, but in a great measure by Mr. Long. He had heard a great deal about conspirators and conspiracies, but would any person say that the right hon. gent. (Mr. Long) was one of those conspirators? The only case of direct corruption, established by the evidence, was the case of Kennett—an infamous character, (he was justified in calling him infamous) and at the same time a bankrupt, from whom his royal highness was attempting, through 542 the medium of colonel Taylor, to negotiate a loan of 30,000l. or 40,000l. and who, on his part, promised, if a particular office was conferred on him, that his royal highness should be accommodated to any extent. His lordship desired the house to contrast this conduct with the conduct of the Duke of Portland, on a recent occasion, who, when an infamous wretch, (Dr. Beazley) came to him with a proposal for Church preferment, spurned the wretch from his door, and reported him to the bishop of London, his diocesan. Did his royal highness act so? No; he referred the man to Mr. Greenwood and his hon. friend (Mr. Adam). His lordship could call the offer thus made to his royal highness nothing but a bribe. If this was not a proof of a corrupt mind, he could not conceive what was. It might be said that this was not a case in point to the inquiry the house had directed to be made into his royal highness's conduct as Commander in Chief. But his lordship could not but carry it along with him into the cases of Tonyn, French, &c. The condition of the letter of service granted to colonel French and Sandon, was, that if four thousand men should not be raised within nine months, the levy was to cease; but the letter of service was not recalled at the expiration of that time, though not above 200 men were raised; and these men, who were nothing better than crimps, were even permitted to go on with the levy for thirteen mouths, within which time they only raised 219 men; he must say, that if ever there was a job, that was one. Through whose influence, too, was this done? To his mind, through that of Mrs. Clarke. Miss Taylor, too, corroborated this evidence; and, having no other direct proof of corruption in this instance, he was entitled to make use of Kennett's case, for the purpose of adding weight to it.—The evidence of Miss Taylor had been objected to, on account of her connection with Mrs. Clarke; but on this ground he did not see how it was possible to reject her evidence, without other and strong circumstances to invalidate her testimony. On the contrary, no such circumstances had transpired throughout the whole of the inquiry, and the very reason gave for recollecting at so distant a period the conversation that took place between the Duke of York and Mrs. Clarke, and his royal highness's particular expressions on that occasion, proved beyond doubt, in his opinion, the truth of her testimony. She stated that 543 the conversation took place man whom she had heard of, but never seen, and this circumstance she considered as occasioning the impression, that it had made on her memory. Of the two Addresses proposed, though they appeared in substance the same, he certainly should prefer that of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes), because the original Address contained some expressions of a nature highly objectionable. These expressions were: "That without entering into any other of the many obvious consequences which may be expected to follow, from the belief once generally established, of the prevalence of such abuses in the Military Department, there is one great and essential consideration inseparable from the present subject, which they humbly beg leave, in a more particular manner, to submit to his majesty's gracious consideration, namely, that if an opinion should prevail amongst his majesty's land forces, that promotion may be obtained by other means than by merit and service—by means at once unjust to the army and disgraceful to the authority placed over it, the effect of such an opinion must necessarily be, to wound the feelings and abate the zeal of all ranks and descriptions of his majesty's army." These were expressions that were particularly dangerous, inasmuch as they tended to convert the army into a deliberative body. He regretted that the house had not adopted the suggestion originally made by his hon. colleague (Mr. Wilberforce) by instituting a parliamentary commission, in which case gentlemen would not now have to complain that the evidence was not upon oath; they would not so frequently have heard of the injustice of finding the Duke guilty on evidence not sanctioned by an oath; those transactions too, made public, so much to the scandal of all the world, would have been avoided, and the house would have been at no loss to distinguish vi hat was credible, from what was incredible evidence; that which was probable, from that which was improbable. His own opinion was, that it would be better not to pass either Resolution or Address, but simply to have laid the evidence before the king. It might be objected that this would be throwing the whole onus and responsibility on his majesty. The same, however, would be the case if either of the Addresses was to be presented. It would be a broad hint, equal to addressing his majesty, for the removal of the Duke of York from the situation of 544 Commander in Chief. His lordship hoped the house would consider well what it was doing; that it would not be induced by threats from without doors to do too much, nor by threats from within to do too little. If the house was convinced that, under all the circumstances of the case, the Duke of York was not fit to be longer continued in the situation of Commander in Chief of the Army of this country, no person, he hoped, would be deterred from giving his vote to that effect because it was to operate against a prince, the son of the king. He confessed that he, for one, felt a great objection to any son of the king holding any responsible situation. It was impossible not to see the painful feelings of the house on this occasion; but they must not be deterred from doing their duty by considerations of that description. They must address his majesty, not to remove the D. of Y., but to remove the Commander in Chief. As Duke of York the house must be warped with prejudices in his favour; but he did not agree with a noble lord on the other side (lord Castlereagh), that if the house removed this Commander in Chief they would not be able to find a substitute. He agreed that it was an advantage to have one of the royal family placed in the situation of Commander in Chief, as they were not likely to be so mixed with parties as other subjects who might hold that office. But the other inconveniences attending such an appointment overcame its advantages. It was said, however, that if the Duke of York were removed, we would not get another person to accept of the office, or so competent to hold it with the same advantage to the army and the public service. Was England, then, so destitute of military merit, that but one individual could be found competent to the discharge of the duties of Commander in Chief? Surely some one might be selected besides the Duke of York worthy of that high trust. But, even if this was admitted, it proved nothing; inconveniences were not to be argued to determine whether or no the D. of Y. was guilty. His being a great general was no answer, and could be no reason for continuing him in his situation, if he was proved guilty of the charges brought against him. But, he would ask the noble lord (Castlereagh) whether, if it should ever be the fate of this country to maintain the present struggle upon its own shores, he considered the D. of Y. the only person who could act as Commander in Chief? The Duke of Marl- 545 borough had been removed from the office of Commander in Chief on grounds somewhat Similar; and the Duke of Marlborough was a greater general than the Duke of York is, or was ever likely to become. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought that the Duke of York would get wiser as he grew older. His lordship agreed, that if the rudiments of wisdom were once implanted in the mind, it was natural to expect that the person might grow wiser with his years; but if the rudiments of folly had taken fast root, it was, on the contrary, more natural to expect the person to increase in folly rather than in wisdom. Did the rigid, hon. gent. really expect that the Duke of York, at his age (forty-five), was to reform, merely because the right hon. gent. informed him how very wrong a thing it was in his royal highness to sin against the seventh commandment? His lordship was surprised not to have heard a single word from another right hon. gent. (Mr. Canning), who was very great on the subject when it was originally started. He hoped he would now at length come forward, and inform the house whether he attached infamy to the accuser or the accused? If on the accused, his lordship trusted he would have the candour to say so. If on the accuser, his lordship was satisfied there was not a person in the house who would agree with him. His royal highness had given in a Letter to the house, in which he declared on the honour of a prince that he was innocent. That was a phrase the like of which he had never heard before. He regretted much that his royal highness had been advised, so ill advised, as to write that foolish letter to the house, because it placed them in a situation of still greater embarrassment than before. If his lordship said that he was guilty, and to no other decision could he come, while his royal highness, on the honour of a prince, said that he was innocent, he did not see how it was possible for him (lord Milton) to get quit of the conclusion, that to his other guilt, his royal highness had added that of falsehood. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought his royal highness innocent; to him, therefore, the declaration of the Duke of York, on the honour of a prince, that he was innocent, must appear perfectly correct; he (lord Milton), however, being of a contrary opinion, found it difficult to get to any other conclusion than the one he had already mentioned.
had so long delayed giving his opinion on this important question, being anxious to profit by the Opinion of others of more experience and knowledge than himself. He did not think, however, that the case was to be tried on legal evidence, or that the house was bound by the rules of a legal court grounded upon the nicety of technical distinctions. They were bound to form their opinion from the conviction of their own minds, and whatever positive proof was wanting, were to act from their own genuine feelings and the dictates of their consciences. He came forward upon that occasion with a mind as free from bias as an hon. and learned Judge who had spoken upon a former night, (Mr. Burton) or as any hon. member who heard him: if any bias did exist, it was not of that nature against which so many cautions had been pronounced; it was in favour of the Duke of York, and against the charges; but whatever influence that might have upon him in another case, the present was so strong against his royal highness that he felt it impossible to bring himself to pronounce him innocent upon all the charges. If he found that the case of corruption was not proved; that is, if he did not find it established by evidence, that the Duke of York had actually pocketed the money, but yet had strong reasons for believing that he was under an influence, incompatible with the discharge of his duty, he did not feel himself under an obligation to separate such accusations; they were links of the same chain. After the evidence, therefore, which had been given at the bar of that house, and sifted as it had been in his opinion much too far, it was impossible for him to say that the Duke of York was innocent. He agreed entirely with the noble lord who had just sat down, that many of the charges had not been sufficiently made out, and that it was necessary to connect those that were made out with the office of the Commander in Chief. If his royal highness as Commander in Chief, condescended to make application to another department of the government, because he was to receive an accommodation for the disposal of a place in the gift of that other department, it was enough to satisfy his mind. Several opinions had been given upon the evidence brought before them, particularly that of Mrs. Clarke, the principal witness. Some said that all she uttered was true, and should be credited; others, that all was false, and should be disbelieved; but there were some 547 who took the middle, and, in his mind, the better course, and concluded, that though she might be discredited in some things, yet the general result of her testimony was I such as to entitle it to belief. He did not agree with the noble lord (Folkestone) behind him, who said, or rather (for he was not inclined to give into the construction), who was represented to have said, that all she uttered was true; he believed that the noble lord had gone no farther than to state that, taking all the evidence together, it was not false, and looking to the differences and contradictions charged upon it, it did not stand impeached in any of the material facts to which it related. Upon Miss Taylor's evidence, which had already been so much the subject of discussion, lie begged to be indulged with a few words; it was insisted upon the opposite side, that she who could not recollect to have seen col. French, could not possibly have remembered the substance of a conversation heard so long ago. But to him that did not appear surprising; a conversation of a remarkable nature might be much better remembered than the person of an individual; and he knew many people who recollected circumstances long passed with a much clearer and stronger impression than others of a more recent date. The reason given by Miss Taylor for attending to this conversation was, recollecting that there was some man whom she was never allowed to see. Many women applied to Mrs. Clarke; not women of her own profession, but women of character; and he thought it would be an injustice to Miss Taylor to cast any imputation upon her character or credibility because, in common with such persons, she was an acquaintance of that lady. An hon. gent. had said, that Mrs. Clarke had not been in the habit of conversations with his royal highness upon military subjects, or matters connected with the office: but though he was sure the hon. gent. thought so when he said so, and though he was willing to adopt his authority, when strong reasons did not prevail against it, he must say, that, in the present instance, the authority of his royal highness was to be preferred, whose letters contradicted that assertion, and established the declaration of Mrs. Clarke upon an unshaken basis. The letters relative to O'Meara and gen. Clavering, were proofs of Airs. Clarke's interference, which it was inconsistent with human nature, for his royal 548 highness not to have attributed to some interested or improper motive; and if his royal highness had not put a stop to this practice, it must have been because he made up his mind to submit to and connive at it. But, after all, he did not consider the evidence of Mrs. Clarke so material to the case as many gentlemen seemed to think. If there were no other evidence before the house than the letters of his royal highness, of which he had just been speaking, he would feel himself bound in conscience, and by every claim of justice and of duty, to pronounce him guilty of connivance at the corrupt practices with which he was charged. If in that case there was not strict legal and direct proof, it was because in such cases, such proof was not attainable, and that principle of evidence which directed that they should be satisfied with the best proof which the case admitted, was a complete answer to all the objections and complaints against the nature of the proofs before them. In his opinion, it was not necessary that the charge of corruption should be immediately connected with the Duke of York, by a chain of irresistible evidence. If there appeared to them rational grounds of suspicion; suspicion of corruption or connivance, though it did not go to the entire extent set forth in the discussion, he ought to be dismissed. That there were rational grounds for such a suspicion he was certain; there were so many circumstances, all running into each other, that he thought it impossible to resist the belief. It had been staled in contradiction to that opinion, that the conduct of his royal highness towards Mrs. Clarke, released him from the imputation of criminality. It had been asked would he have treated her in the manner he had done, would he have separated from her in anger, if what she said were true, if he were really in her power, and had committed himself by a connivance at such practices as she brought before the house and the public? What the generality of mankind would have done in such a case, whether they would have submitted to the dictates of fear, or pursued a course of bold and obstinate defiance, he would not pretend to determine; but he had the authority of a great name, and a profound inquirer into human nature, to countenance another supposition, and mark out another conduct applicable to the present case; it was the authority of Shakespeare, who, in his play of Measure for Measure, makes Angele 549 thus address Isabel—Who will believe thee, Isabel?My unsoiled name, th' austereness of my lifeMy vouch against you, and my place l' the state,Will so your accusation overweigh,That you shall stifle in your own report.And smell of calumny.Infamy, it was said, would attach somewhere; he might well say that it did not attach to the hon. member who brought forward the business; it should pass to some other quarter. The case of Kennett he considered most important; it appeared that he was recommended by the Duke to the consideration of Mr. Greenwood.—Here the noble lord read some extracts from the Evidence, in support of this assertion, and also another which he made upon the same case, namely, that the intention of procuring a place for Kennett did not go off upon the ground of his character, but from the consideration that the loan was not likely to be obtained. The next case he adverted to was that of Samuel Carter; he felt himself justified in stating, that he was not appointed from any other influence, but through that woman alone. Perhaps he might not have worn a livery, but it was certain he was in a menial capacity; application might have been made for him before, but it was not until she applied, that the commission was procured; to her influence therefore it was exclusively to be ascribed.—With respect to gen. Clavering, if his testimony were to be believed in any thing, it should he allowed that his application to her respecting military information was not the only communication he had had with Mrs. Clarke upon such subjects; for he had expressly stated, "that the reason he applied to her then was because he experienced her willingness to be communicative upon former occasions." A worthy alderman (Combe) in order to disprove the influence of Mrs. Clarke, in the case of Mr. Dowler, related a conversation to the house, in which he had asked Mr. Dowler himself the question; saying, "I have heard that it was through Mrs. Clarke you obtained your appoititmeut—I hope it was not." To this Mr. Dowler answered, "No, it was through sir Brook Watson." This was represented as a ground for concluding, that it was not through Mrs. Clarke the appointment was obtained, although Mr. Dowler himself had said at the bar, that it was. Besides he would ask, why did the worthy alderman 550 make She inquiry? Because public report, because public notoriety, had set her down as the person who procured it; and that public notoriety he considered a presumption stronger than any that could be founded upon the conversation of the worthy alderman, that Mrs. Clarke exercised an improper influence over the Commander in Chief. The member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Yorke) had observed, that it was probable sir Brooke Watson procured that appointment, as he had succeeded in procuring three other appointments, about the same time; but such a mode of arguing could never bring conviction to his mind; and be appealed to the understanding of the house, whether such an inference should have weight? He had heard the speech of a right hon. gent. opposite, who appeared to take such a view of the case, that he removed out of his sight all the prominent gigantic objects about which others were employed, and to which they thought their principal attention should be directed. He could not approve of that microscopic investigation of the littleness of the subject: he was for a general comprehensive view. The house had been called upon not to attend to popular clamour; he hoped it would not; he joined in that call as sincerely as any man; if the house did attend to it, it would forfeit its character with the rest of the world, and lose its honour entirely. But when he talked thus against an attention to popular clamour, it was a criminal attention he deprecated; it was an attention calculated to produce an improper influence upon their minds, and induce them to swerve from the path of justice. There was an attention to public clamour, or he would rather call it to public opinion, which should never meet his disapprobation. It was necessary in a free government, and for those who represented a free people, to consult their opinions, and pay them a respectful attention; and he was not a little surprised, that the caution against public clamour should originate with a right hon. gent., (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) to whom that clamour had been so beneficial, who owed so much to it, and had, together with his colleagues, built his very existence, and that of his party, upon its influence and operation. It had been insinuated from the same quarter, that the illustrious personage, whose, conduct was then arraigned, might come ultimately to the crown—such an observation was improper, it formed no part of their 551 consideration; at that moment his royal highness appeared before them in the character of an officer of the public, and in that character only had they a right to consider him. He did not wish to occupy more of the time of the house, particularly as there seemed such an anxiety to come to an immediate decision; he hoped, however, that before that decision was funned, many independent country gentlemen would deliver their sentiments, very few of whom had spoken. Though he did not agree in every word of the original motion, he agreed to it upon the whole. An hon. gent, had said, that one might be inclined to vote for one case, and one for another, and yet both be required to vote for the Address. This he had said was an objection to it, but it was the very reason why he (lord Stanley) liked it; different people might prefer different roads in going to Oxford, but that could be no reason why, when they had met there, they should not agree together. A right hon. gent. had said, that it was natural for a woman living as Mrs. Clarke had done, not to refuse any money offered to her upon the supposition of her influence; but the house was in possession of evidence, which proved that the supposition had some foundation; indeed it was so strong, that he did think the Duke of York guilty of corruption, and he was perfectly ready to vote for any measure which should inflict upon him the punishment he deserved.
§ Mr. Leycester.
—I cannot agree with the noble lord who has just sat down, that his royal highness's letter has placed the house in so distressing a situation of restraint. It may sharpen the pain of his royal highness's own feelings, in case he should be found guilty; but I have not observed it has softened the asperity of the noble lord's remarks under the gallery (lord Folkestone) nor damped the vehemence of the hon. gent.'s declamatory eloquence upon the floor, (Mr. Whitbread) nor has it influenced the opinion of the noble lord himself, unless it could be supposed to have drawn from him the very candid declaration at the close, that he would not impute to his royal highness the acts of Mrs. Clarke after the cessation of all intercourse between them.—From the course of argument adopted by several gentlemen, I should think, the true nature of the question is by no means understood. The Address on which we are now to vote declares, that there is no ground on which 552 to charge his royal highness with personal corruption, but that the abuses proved, could hardly have existed without exciting his suspicion; and even if they could be presumed to have existed without his knowledge, (substituting knowledge for suspicion) still the command of the army could not be properly continued in his hands, &c. The question on which the house should be called upon to vote, ought to be plain, simple, and intelligible; and decide clearly, whether his royal highness is or is not guilty of the charge, Aye or No. By the Address proposed, whoever votes for it, substantially says this, "I acquit him of "personal corruption; but I suspect he "must have suspected Mrs. Clarke's cor-"rupt practices, or I suspect that he must "have known them." What obscurity and confusion in the terms! which do you suspect? that he suspected or that he knew? From the vote upon the journals upon such a question, nobody can ascertain.—If he suspected, it is connivance; if he knew, it is direct corruption. You acquit him of corruption in the first part, and you say, "but you suspect him of it" in the last part. Resolve at once that he is guilty, and he may have an opportunity of defending himself, like every other British subject, by a legal trial: whereas, by acquitting him of the guilt, but adding you suspect him of it, he can have no trial. You fix an indelible stigma upon his reputation that must last for ever; you inflict the wound, and wrest from him the remedy—a proceeding without a precedent in the history of parliament, or of any court whatever where the name of Justice was ever heard of! A more unfair, a more flagrantly unjust, a more cruel attempt against the honour of his royal highness, the most hostile ingenuity could not have devised. It has been observed by my right hon. and learned friend, the late Solicitor General (sir Samuel Romilly) that the house are not bound to condemn or to acquit, because there is no charge. If he meant they are not bound in the same sense in which a jury, impannelled and sworn, is bound to try an issue upon record, I concur in the observation: but the house is bound upon every principle of justice; and though, it is true, there is no technical charge on paper, there is a charge in fact, made publicly in the house, on which a long examination of witnesses has taken place, and though not in parchment upon the table, it is in the minds of all men, from one extremity of the kingdom to the other, 553 wherever a newspaper can gain admittance. And are we to be told there is no charge? There is a charge, upon which a direct decision is as necessary for the honour of the party, as if it were embodied in the most formal record that a special pleader could deposit on the table. Under a persuasion then, that the house will never permit so dangerous an example of injustice as the adoption of this Address, the next question that will be submitted to the house by my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is the plain and simple question that every body can understand; is he, or is he not, guilty of corruption and connivance? The case stated against his royal highness by Mrs. Clarke, is, that she received money for procuring military commissions, not only with his knowledge, but by his original instigation, for their mutual advantage. It must be admitted universally, if in this case it were necessary to resort to such a maxim, that to substantiate such a charge, the evidence must be clear and satisfactory; and also that the principal witness is Mrs. Clarke. If she speaks truth upon the point in question, the charge is proved: upon her veracity it depends; it being always understood, though in the arguments on the other side, it seems always to be most industriously forgot, that the question is not, whether his royal highness permitted her to apply to him at all upon military matters, which is not denied, but whether he was a party by instigation, or even by connivance, to her pecuniary traffic. Upon her credit therefore, much of the debate has necessarily turned. It is not the character of an accomplice, or of a prostitute, that, in my judgment, necessarily renders her incredible, but the course of prostitution in which she has lately lived, must inevitably tend to loosen every sense of moral duty, and the practices she has been engaged in, receiving money for promotions in which, in some instances at least, it is demonstrably proved she had no concern, representing her influence upon the Duke of York much greater than it was whilst she had any, and pretending to have a great influence on the Duke of Portland, as well as on his royal highness, when it was clear she had not the least interest with either, and this confessed by herself, without the least symptom of contrition or of shame, exhibit a species of swindling, and a systematic course of imposition, of which the very basis is artifice and falsehood.—This is the gene- 554 ral character she appears in. Then, as a witness against the Duke of York, is to be added, the character of a discarded mistress, with revenge rankling in her heart at supposed ill usage, as proved by colonel Macmahon, having threatened repeatedly to expose him, if her terms were not complied with, as appears in her letters to Mr. Adam and also in her declarations to Mr. Knight a very short time ago, and then positively denying that she had ever said so, though of the veracity of Mr. Knight there can be no doubt. With such objections to the credit of a witness, if you were to stop here, if such a witness were not confirmed by other testimony, there is not a judge in any court, of justice, who would not close his book and say, No jury can safely rely upon evidence like this.—But, does she redeem her credit by her subsequent testimony and conduct? To omit all the observations to her discredit arising from her demeanor so palpable to every body, her denial upon the first day's examination, of her having seen Mr. Wardle the very day before, though she had seen him in a particular manner at three distinct periods of that day, twice for a considerable time together, is so manifest a falshood, that had she given the same evidence upon oath in a court of justice, she would probably have been instantly committed for wilful and corrupt perjury; if a prosecution had been carried on, she must infallibly have been convicted, and the pillory would probably have been the result of that conviction. And, this is the person of whom the noble lord (Folkestone) has said, in which he has been followed by the hon. baronet, (sir Francis Burdett) he thinks her one of the fairest witnesses he ever saw in a court of justice! In so late a stage of the debate. I will allude only to the cases wherein she positively states, she has obtained promotion from the Duke, and received money for it with his knowledge, the utter impossibility of which has been so distincly ascertained—and would refer only to the endless variety of contradictions to her testimony, both by herself and others, that have been so fully detailed by others; but it is necessary to notice the very extraordinary observation upon the effect of those contradictions made a night or two ago by my hon. and learned friend the late Solicitor General, whom I understand to say, that these contradictions ought not to have the same weight as if they bad been on oath. I have not observed, that the 555 same remark was made upon the criminating evidence; and yet if it is to weaken the effect of one, is it not to weaken the effect also of the other, exactly in the same proportion? Upon what principle of justice or common sense is it to be said, I believe the evidence of a witness to prove a charge, though not given upon oath, but I will not believe in the same degree the contradictions to that evidence, for want of that important sanction. They must both be upon the same footing: the same diminution of credit upon that account, applies equally to both; and if so unjust and unfounded a distinction were suffered to prevail, the doors of this house ought to be closed for ever against all witnesses, and the bar destroyed, at which testimony, on so false a principle, can be given. On the credit of Mrs. Clarke, there is one more topic, which does not seem to have been sufficiently adverted to: When her statement, against his royal highness, was first heard, one naturally felt a difficulty in believing there could be so malignant and depraved a mind, as to fabricate a charge, in which there was no truth, to destroy the reputation and honour of the Duke of York for ever. But, when she is discovered in the course of her examination, scattering about her scandal and her groundless imputations without reserve, intimating of one witness, that he had forged a letter from the Duke of York, of another, that he had stolen something from her house, of a third, that she supposed he had been bribed, of Mr. Wilkinson a respectable solicitor, that he had bribed him, and above all, when we find her, upon a demand being made upon her for a debt by Mr. Nichols, answering that demand by a deliberate charge in writing, that he had forged a will, all without a pretence of truth, the difficulty alluded to is removed. We see a person in the habitual practice of making false charges, a mind hardened to it; and we find in the present charge an instance, only more seriously persevered in, of what to her is no very extraordinary occurrence. Under these circumstances, to attach the least credit to a word uttered by Mrs. Clarke against his royal highness, unless on the confirmation of other credible and distinct evidence, would be acting in the most important cause against the most exalted personage, directly contrary to the principles and practice adopted by every court of justice in the most trifling case against the meanest subject; principles not 556 founded on any technical rule of law, but on the eternal basis of sound reason and substantial justice, and the wisdom and experience of all past ages. The next question, then, is, in what respect is the testimony of Mrs. Clarke confirmed? And here the attention of the house should be particularly called to the nature of the confirmation that is required, which seems to be still so miraculously misunderstood, even by my hon. friend, the late Solicitor General, after all that has been said upon this subject: and even he, as well as others, still refer, as a confirmation, to the letter about gen. Clavering, and other evidence of the like nature, especially such as she did not know was in existence, till the time of its being produced. All this certainly confirms her evidence as to her being permitted to apply to him on the subject of military matters, which is not denied, but is no confirmation whatever as to his knowledge of her pecuniary traffic, which is the real question in dispute. Permitted application may be wrong; but permitted corruption is most criminal. There is nothing dishonourable in the one; there is every thing that is infamous in the other. The most upright man may be led easily into the first, who would shrink with horror from the last. These letters prove permitted application, on which there is no want of confirmation; they do not prove any knowledge of corruption, on which there is. Upon this point, the only confirmatory evidence suggested, is that of Miss Taylor and the note respecting Tonyn: both of them suspicious in their nature, and at best equivocal in their meaning. The last, indeed, has been nearly given up: it can only be forced into the service upon this point, admitting it to be the Duke's writing, by the evidence of Sandon; and his account of it, which alone makes it at all applicable, is rendered morally impossible by the date, and his own account of the envelope. As to Miss Taylor, she remembered the words spoke near four years ago, and remembers also, her repetition of the same, words to Mrs. Clarke, when she came to enquire about it only three weeks ago: and yet declares she does not remember one more word of the conversation which then passed between them, so material, in order that the house may see whether these words were not suggested or varied by the ingenious dexterity of Mrs. Clarke, so as to make them capable of the construction that has been put upon them: But the words 557 of themselves, convey not the least idea of any thing pecuniary. "French is perpe-"tually worrying me about the levy! how "does he behave to you, darling?" What is the natural and plain meaning of these words? Why, certainly, does he worry you in the same manner? It may prove the Duke's knowledge of her having been applied to by French about the levy, but has no reference at all to any thing pecuniary. It is not, indeed, inconsistent with his royal highness's knowledge of the money, but it is, at least, equally consistent with his total ignorance of it, and his knowledge only of French having applied to her. The words, in their plain meaning, import nothing but the latter: you arrive only at the former by the evidence of Mrs. Clarke. It is her evidence alone, that can give them the construction, that is to confirm her; what is it, then, but confirming her by herself. It is not unimportant to observe here, that the words, stated in the public prints to have been proved by Miss Taylor, are, "darling, does French behave handsomely to you"? words, most materially different from the truth, that would certainly imply a pecuniary transaction, and would be therefore an important confirmation of Mrs. Clarke; and upon this very scandalous misrepresentation of these important words on this most important point, opinions have actually been formed against the Duke, which were instantly changed, when this falsehood was corrected. What respect is due to the public opinion that may be formed upon misstatements such as this; and in a cause, too, where the superficial outline of the case against the Duke upon the evidence of Mrs. Clarke, is plain and intelligible to all; but the falsehood of it is to be detected only by a minute attention to dates and circumstances, and by an accurate comparison of different parts of the evidence, that must be brought together for the purpose; for which the many who read it in the papers, have neither the leisure or the means. Upon the conclusions drawn from the expenses of the establishment, it is sufficient to refer to the explanations that have been given, and particularly to the satisfactory observations, made upon it by the right hon. gent. (Mr. Windham) last night, with whose admirable speech, in most parts of it, I perfectly concur. Though I was sorry to hear it prefaced with a general assertion, that there were different rules of evidence in the courts, for different classes of the community; to which, nothing 558 but his want of knowledge upon the subject could have led him; and for which assertion, every man who has been in the habit of attending the courts of justice will concur in saying, there is not the least colour or pretence. Upon the Duke's knowledge, therefore, of corruption, Mrs. I Clarke remains intirely unconfirmed; and unless her evidence on this point is to be believed under such a variety of objections, one half of which would have utterly discredited any ordinary witness in any court of justice, the proof of his royal highness's knowledge of corrupt practices has entirely failed. But, besides this, it is disproved, as far as it is capable of being disproved, and much more effectually than the nature of the case gave any reason to expect, from a variety of circumstances appearing upon the report; in this view it is material to advert once more to the Letters to Mr. Adam. In the first she says "he is more in my power "than may be imagined:" In the second, "that she has drawn up the case in paper, "and has fifty or sixty letters that will prove "the whole." Of this whole, the Duke's knowledge of the corruption (if it in truth existed,) must have formed the principal ingredient; and yet not one of these fifty or sixty Letters is produced in which there is a word that proves it. Then, the gross improbability of her story as to the Duke's original suggestion and knowledge of every corrupt act, strengthened as it is, by his positive directions at the very time given to col. Gordon to sift all corrupt practices to the bottom, on whatsoever it might fall, his direct defiance of her threats and malice, when their effect, if he had been conscious of any guilt, could so easily have been stopped; his forwardness to court enquiry in the most public manner; the total want of all evidence of knowledge except from Mrs. Clarke, either from letters or conversation; her repeated injunctions to her confidants,; proved by Corri and others, to keep all pecuniary transactions a secret from the Duke, that his discovery of it would be her ruin and disgrace; the case in which the impossibility of his knowledge, in contradiction to her statement, has been so satisfactorily made out, are all circumstances that form such a body of negative evidence against the truth of Mrs. Clarke's unconfirmed account of what passed in secret between them upon this point, that a mind not anxions to find out guilt where there is no proof of its existence, and not in the habit of substi- 559 tuting groundless suspicion for positive testimony, one should have imagined could not have resisted the conclusion of his royal highness's perfect innocence upon the charge; and as to myself, so convinced I am, that there is not only no proof of guilt, but no ground whatever to believe or to suspect it, that were I now to pronounce the last verdict I should ever give upon my most solemn oath, I should lay my hand upon my heart, and most decidedly declare; "Not Guilty." Whether, supposing him acquitted of all corruption or connivance whatsoever, his permitting her to have access to him upon military matters in the way that has been proved, is a sufficient ground for removing him from his office, is not the question at present before the house. I will only say, much as this unfortunate connection is on all accounts to be regretted, yet thinking the house ought not to interfere in it at all otherwise than as it might be injurious to the public service, finding that it has long ceased, that whilst it lasted, the instances of such access were so few, the injury to the public nothing, and the appointments uniformly proper and unexceptionable (that of Carter is not worth mentioning) it does not in my judgment form any rational ground for such removal. After the information that has been given of the unexampled order and regularity of the Office, his royal highness's unremitting attention and singular industry in discharging all the duties of it and the admitted important benefits derived to the military establishment from his excellent administration, I have no scruple in declaring that in my estimation of his royal highness's merits in that department, he stands much higher at the close than at the beginning of the enquiry. I should feel great regret, if in compliance with the popular opinion, founded as I am convinced it is in misrepresentation arid mistake, it should be thought expedient, as a right hon. gent. (Mr. Windham) has suggested, that, for the public benefit, the public must be deprived of the benefit of his services.
§ Sir T. Turton
rose, amidst a considerable cry of "question! question!" and trusted that the house would for a short time indulge him with their attention, as it was far from his wish to occupy their time unnecessarily. The reason he had not presented himself earlier in the debate, was, because he had been wailing to see whether any of those gentlemen, to whose knowledge and experience he looked up, would take 560 the same view he had of the course that house ought to take on the occasion. He felt himself the more strongly induced to offer himself at the present moment, as he could not give his vote for either the original Address, the Resolution, or the Amendment proposed to the house. It had been always a doubt with him, whether that house could with justice agree to such an Address as would not alone affect the life or liberty, but throw disgrace on the character of any individual, of whatever rank, particularly as the evidence on which that Address must be founded, could not have he sanction of an oath thrown around it. In the Roman Senate an oath was required even from Cato, whose probity was proverbial. The house ought to pause before they passed such a sentence of disgrace on he character of any individual. In this opinion he was the more confirmed by the sentiments of that great constitutional lawyer, Mr. Justice Blackstone, who laid it down as the law of Parliament, that the representatives of the people cannot act as Judges on charges of high crimes and misdemeanors; they were the party injured, and consequently cannot try; they can only determine whether the offenders were such as should be brought before the Peers. The representatives of the people were the accusers, and the house of Peers the constitutional Judges. They were told, however, that the amended Address did not pass sentence upon his royal highness, but merely advised his removal from office. But, he would ask, did not this milk and water Address go at once to degrade his royal highness to the lowest possible state? It did not even allow him the benefit of a trial by his peers, that invaluable privilege, which was equally the birthright of the meanest as of the highest subject. What was it, he would ask, which had raised the character of this country so high in the eyes of the world? It was that equal even-handed Justice, which visited alike "pauperum tabernas regumque turres." But this Address went to visit his royal highness with the vengeance of that house, and to pronounce the severest sentence without the accustomed forms of trial. The exalted rank of the illustrious individual whose case was under consideration, he totally removed out of his view, but if that elevation of rank conferred no privilege, neither did it deprive him of any, which as a British subject he ought to enjoy. To him, therefore, belonged the right of a full and fair trial by a competent 561 jurisdiction. It was a matter of Parliamentary history that the Commons did exercise its privilege of coming to resolutions upon the conduct of persons holding responsible situations. They had done so, not alone in the case of lords Somers, Halifax, and Oxford, but in a much more recent period, in the case of lord Melville. But these cases differed essentially from the present, in this, that they were heard in their defence. If, therefore, they were to adopt the address, they would take from the Duke of York that which the meanest subject, even the lamplighter at their door, possessed, the right of being heard before he was judged. Still, he would ask, was not such a course in the present case punishment in its utmost extent? Did it not tend to leave a stain upon the character of his royal highness, which, perhaps, no change of circumstance or of time could remove? As to the letter which his royal highness had sent to the house, he would not deny that it had tilled his mind with considerable apprehensions if his royal highness were guilty; though he could not but consider it on the whole as a legitimate appeal to their justice. There was, in his mind, a great deal of British spirit and feeling in that letter, if it came from a conviction of innocence, and the wish which it contained was founded on the principles of eternal justice. The Amendment proposed to the original Address, had only taken off the roughness of the latter, and smoothed its asperity; it bad gilded the handle of the dagger, but the point was not the less piercing. It said that his royal highness must at least have had some suspicion of these corrupt transactions. Now, this was quite equivalent to knowledge, and though it said that the actual corruption had not been brought home to him, yet it recommended his dismissal. He observed, that there was a great deal too much complication in the entire affair. Too many cooks, he said, in general spoiled the broth; and he found that out of doors the business was dressed up by worse cooks than even within. He could not think that either the original Address, or the subsequent Amendment of Mr. Bankes, were adequate to the object which the house should have in view. The former possessed the ferocity of the tiger, and the latter the fawning of the spaniel. He could not account for the influence which led his noble friend (lord Folkestone) to vote for such an Address as the original one. He had been the companion of his solitary journies through the deserts of 562 Hindostan; and he was thoroughly convinced of his firmness and manly spirit. The Address gently stated what no one had denied; why then, he would ask, was not that statement acted upon in the subsequent part of the Address? He did not conceive it was fair to punish corruption and negligence in the same way. In the management of 410,000 men, and such a sum as 23,000,000l. some neglect might have occurred; but abuses were of quite a different nature from neglect. It was not right, he said, that their opinions should go forth in so ambiguous a manner. The house should come to a decision on some one particular point. An hon. and learned judge, early in the debate, had insisted much on legal precedents and jury cases. He would feel inclined to try the case on a legal principle, and if he could not clearly connect the crime with the accused person, he would disregard the entire case. The hon. bart. then proceeded to say, that he should be very brief in the few comments on the evidence of the different persons examined. He hoped the house was tired of the eternal repetition of the name of Mrs. Clarke, and he could assure them that he was so. He had one observation, however, to make on the Letter shewn to major Tonyn, and which purported to be from the Duke of York. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he first brought it under the consideration of the house, had said, that if the Note was in existence, and turned out to be a forgery of Mrs. Clarke's, it would shew that her testimony was riot entitled to the smallest credit whatever; but if, on the contrary, it proved to be the Duke of York's hand writing, then it would form a material presumption on the other side of the question. Now, it appeared to him that there was not the smallest evidence of the forgery of the letter, and this formed a very important presumption. The hon. bart. then proceeded to make a variety of strong and pertinent observations on the case of col. French's levy, and contended, that the mode in which it took place was highly disgraceful, and detrimental to the service. The abuses connected with that levy, and the very improper delay which took place before it was put a stop to, though so strongly denounced by general Taylor, had made a strong impression on his mind, and concurred in proving to his satisfaction that the conversation between his royal highness and Mrs. Clarke, as reported by Miss Taylor, was true. It was not 563 merely sufficient for the Duke of York to have put an end to this levy because it was unproductive, col. French ought to have been called to an account for his disgraceful conduct; and the only reason which he could assign for his not having been brought to such account, was the undue influence which Mrs. Clarke exercised over the mind of his royal highness. As to the stigma, which had, in the course of the debate, been, in his opinion, most unfairly cast upon the legal profession, he must beg leave to say, what he was sure all the crown lawyers might with equal justice say, what Cicero had said on the trial of Verres, that he would much rather defend than accuse. Upon the whole, however, from the manner in which this discussion had gone on, from the ample and candid examination of evidence which preceded it, he deduced a consolatory reflection that whatever the decision of the house might be, which be hoped would be in concurrence, not with popular clamour, but popular feeling, the country would do justice to its representatives and repose confidence in their integrity. It had been said, that the eyes of the people were turned upon them upon this occasion. Such he thought to be always the case, but he cared not for himself, if the eyes of Argus were upon every part of his conduct. He trusted that he should continue to satisfy his constituents, and he would now declare that he could not, consistently with his sense of honour and probity, vote for the hon. gent.'s (Mr. Bairkes) Address, which insinuated much, but charged nothing; nor for the original Address, which required too much. Agreeing therefore, with neither, he would reserve himself for the vote upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Resolution, upon which he should propose an Amendment, containing a distinct charge, to form the ground of an ulterior proceeding. Tins Amendment, he said, would be to the following effect: "That it is the opinion of this house, after the most full and most attentive consideration of the evidence which had been adduced, that there is ground for charging his royal highness the Duke of York with the knowledge of the corrupt practices which had been proved at the Bar."
The Hon. Mr. Ryder
said, he would not unnecessarily detain the house by replying to many of the arguments of the hon. baronet; at the same time, he was ready to allow, that the alteration in the resolution of his right hon. friend, proposed by that 564 hon. baronet, was much more manly and honourable, and, in his opinion, if adopted, would be more satisfactory to the country, than the Address proposed by his hon. friend opposite (Mr. Bankes). He not only agreed with some of his learned friends, that the evidence of Mrs. Clarke should be entirely laid out of consideration, in deciding upon the question before the house; but contended, that any one of the objections which had been so justly stated to her credibility ought, in his mind, to induce the house not to listen to her testimony. Taking them collectively, he maintained, that in a court of Justice it would be the bounden duty of the Judge to tell the Jury, that it was impossible to give credence to such a witness; nay, further, that it would be his duty to commit her for perjury. Adverting to the testimony of Miss Taylor, he expressed his decided opinion, at the risk of any obloquy that might attend the avowal, that the improbability of that evidence was so great, as entirely to destroy her credibility. In order to believe Miss Taylor, the house must believe that the Duke of York had acted against a principle on which, if Mrs. Clarke were to be believed, he had uniformly acted, by making Miss Taylor privy to such a transaction. This was a great improbability; and the next improbability was, that if Miss Taylor was present at the conversation respecting French's levy, she should never in any other instance, however frequent her visits to Gloucester-place, be present at any other conversation on a similar subject. To these improbabilities was to be added a third; that Miss Taylor, who professed accurately to recollect a conversation which took place about four years ago, was yet unable to relate what occurred in a conversation with Mrs. Clarke not more than as many weeks since! To prove this, he read a part of the evidence of Miss Taylor, and contended, that if the principles upheld by some of the hon. gentlemen opposite, with respect to testimony, were adopted, guilt in many instances would be triumphant, and innocence condemned. He appealed to the house whether any security existed against the most infamous charge by the most infamous accuser, unless the credit of such accuser were to be ascertained by the examination of collateral circumstances? If, indeed, that sort of cross-examination were discarded, a plausibly-constructed story would be alone sufficient to attach the 565 imputation of guilt to the fairest character. The conviction of a witness in a single falsehood ought, in a considerable degree, if not entirely, to discredit the testimony of that witness in other cases. He denied, that from the Note of the Duke of York respecting major Tonyn any unfavourable inference could he drawn, when the contradiction between the date of the postmark on the envelope of that note, and the appointment of major Tonyn in the Gazette, was considered; and he also denied, that from the mention made by the Duke of York in one of the letters to Mrs. Clarke of gen. Clavering, that inference could be justly drawn which it had been attempted to deduce. At the same time he was willing to allow that it would have been more proper had his royal highness, in that letter, reminded Mrs. Clarke of the first conversation, which by her own evidence he had with her on military subjects. This letter was, however, evidently written with carelessness, and by no means deserving the serious character which had been imputed to it. The conduct of his royal highness, both before and since the termination of his connection with Mrs. Clarke, had certainly been such as to induce the strongest presumption in his favour. If the Duke had endeavoured to bribe Mrs. Clarke, for the purpose of getting from her the letters which might tend to criminate himself, and of securing her silence; if instead of redressing the abuses of the army he had encreased them; if instead of surrounding himself with honourable men such as col. Gordon, he had reposed confidence in such individuals as Donovan and Sandon; if, instead of demanding the fullest inquiry into his conduct, he had shrunk from any investigation, then indeed it might have been said that there were strong presumptions of his royal highness's guilt; but when the direct reverse of all these suppositions was true, he could not conceive by what sort of vile revolutionary logic the manly and honourable conduct of his royal highness could be perverted into an evidence of his criminality. He wished to hear it accounted for how it happened, that with all the industry that had been used in the search, aided by that person who must be the best informed on the subject, no other cases of alleged corruption bad been brought forward than those which had been produced; or how it happened, that out of the 50 or 60 letters from his royal highness, which Mrs. Clarke said she had in her possession, 566 only two could be offered in evidence, as tending to prove the connivance of the Duke of York, in Mrs. Clarke's corrupt practices. After alt the industry which had been used, after all the revengeful malice of Mrs. Clarke, nothing could be proved against him except indiscretion. With respect to the acquaintance which Mrs. Clarke possessed with military subjects, that was in his mind sufficiently accounted for by the intimacy which was known to have existed between Mrs. Clarke and Mr. Ogilvie the army agent, before her connection with the Duke of York.—Acquitting, therefore, as he did, his royal highness of any participation or connivance in, or suspicion of the corrupt practices of Mrs. Clarke, his next consideration would be, what was the most proper step for the house to take, should they concur in that opinion? Any further proceeding on their part should not be judicial, hut legislative and political. The question they would have before them would be, whether the moral guilt which had been proved against his royal highness was such as ought to induce them to address the Crown to remove him from his situation. On the best view that he could lake of the subject, he thought, that unless the house felt itself called upon by the imperative demand of justice and duty, they ought not, directly or indirectly, to take any step tending to remove his royal highness from office. To the duties of that office his royal highness had shewn himself perfectly competent. Under his auspices the British army had flourished beyond ail example. There was one point however, on which he felt himself, in some degree, qualified to speak with confidence, and on which it might, perhaps, be expected that he should speak, namely, the administration of military justice. He solemnly declared, that in every communication which, in the discharge of his official duty, he had had with his royal highness, respecting Courts Martial, &c. his royal highness had evinced the strongest solicitude for the welfare, the interests, and character of the army; and that he was ever anxious to administer straightforward and impartial justice without looking either to the right or to the left. He felt also, that he should not do justice to his predecessor in office, if he did not state, that the sentiments of that predecessor in office, on this subject, completely corresponded with his own. He spoke in the presence of those who were 567 among the friends of that predecessor, and who knew his opinions. When his predecessor was compelled by his ill heath to quit his office, he assured him (Mr. Ryder), that he would experience considerable satisfaction in finding his royal highness the Duke of York to what he found him to be. The expectations which he had been led to entertain were invariably and completely realized. He called upon the house to look not only at the existing army, but at those establishments at Marlow and Wycombe, by which that army would be supplied with able officers, and be still improved in its constitution and character, fie called upon them to look at the Military School established at Chelsea, originally founded for the orphans of soldiers, and the advantages of which had since been extended to the families of soldiers who were fighting in the cause of their country. The number of children educated at this school amounted to 1,500; rescued from poverty and vice, trained to habits of industry and virtue, and destined ultimately to the augmentation of that army in which their fathers had acted so brave a part. Judging from his own feelings upon the subject, he could easily conceive, that in the midst of the pain and anxiety which the present question must cost him, his royal highness would derive the sweetest consolation from reflecting on the permanent and extensive establishments which had been instituted under his auspices and had grown under his super-intendance, for the benefit of the service entrusted to his care. He could not, there fore, from any thing that had appeared before the house, persuade himself to vote for the removal of so active, so just, so benevolent and so meritorious an officer.—The hon. and learned member then proceeded to compare the addresses, which had been proposed, and contended, that if the hon. bart.'s (Sir T. Turton) amendment was rejected, which he conceived it would be, and if the resolutions of his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer were rejected, which he conceived they would not be, the Address originally proposed would be preferable to the others, because it was more manly and more honourable. He here read the Address proposed by Mr. Bankes, and asked what it meant? He should be obliged to his hon. friend for an explanation of it. The whole tenor of his hon. friend's speech had led him to expect that the conclusion would be very different from what it was. Did his hon. friend acquit the Duke of York of corruption and 568 of connivance in corruption, or did he condemn him? Was it to go forth to the country, that the house of commons declared, not in direct words, it was true, but by implication, that a high crime and misdemeanor had been committed, and yet followed that declaration by no legal punishment? Was there a single instance on the records of parliament of the house of commons sitting in judgment on such a gross crime as that imputed, and supported by such testimony, abstaining from giving any direct opinion, aye, or no, on the guilt or I innocence of the party accused? Many hon. gentlemen had expressed their hope, that the proceedings of the house would be satisfactory to the country. For his part, if the house should adopt the proceeding recommended by his honourable friend (Mr. Bankes), aware as he was of the importance to the house of the opinion of the public, and aware as he was, that unless the house enjoyed the good opinion, of that public, they could comparatively do but little good, he yet hardly knew how to entertain a hope that that proceeding would be satisfactory to the public; because such a satisfaction would betray in the public such a disregard to justice and to every thing most dear to Englishmen, as must ultimately end in an injury to the Constitution itself. To those who dwelt so much upon public opinion, which he valued as highly as any man, he would put it, whether it was possible that public opinion could call upon that house to surrender its functions by violating justice, and in so doing endangering the constitution. They libelled the public who thought so. What, he would ask, would be the natural question of any body of constituents to their representatives, "have you acquitted or convicted the Duke of York?" and what must be the answer of those who should vote for either of the Addresses? If the Duke were guilty, a simple removal was an inadequate punishment; whilst if innocent, either of the Addresses proposed too much. The charges brought against his royal highness the Duke of York had been so clear, that he that ran might read. The evidence was perfectly intelligible. If the house, by inference, should find his royal highness guilty, the people would ask why no punishment followed? It could not be answered that his royal highness's removal from office was punishment, because the Address proposed by his hon. friend, distinctly stated, that whether there was ground or 569 not for the charges that had been made against him, his removal was a prudent and adviseable measure. By the adoption of such a measure it might be said that the house put the Duke of York in a better or in a worse situation than they would put any other individual. If they conceived him guilty, they would refrain from punishing him as they would any other individual; if they conceived him innocent, they would refrain from proclaiming that innocence, as they would proclaim that of any other individual. In either case, they would consign him to irretrievable infamy without trial. They would be guilty of a double injustice, first to the individual, next to the public. Whatever, therefore, might be the opinion of the house with respect to the conduct of the Duke of York, he trusted they would negative the Address proposed by his honourable friend opposite.
§ Earl Temple
next rose, amidst loud cries of question! question! He began by observing, that he had withheld his opinion on this most important subject, until thus late in the debate, because it was precisely that kind of question on which it was impossible to form a judgment without the most ample discussion. After having heard the different bearings of the evidence sifted and examined by persons of great talents and acquirements, he thought that he would be the better able to bring his mind to a decision on this great subject, one perhaps as important as ever engaged the attention of parliament.—It was a question wholly unconnected with party feelings and party prejudices; and however at other times he might be proud to consider himself as attached to a party, this was an occasion on which he could allow no influence of connections, no party consideration to bias his decision. He confessed that he had never risen with feelings of such real anxiety and pain, as those by which he was then opprest. The eyes of the nation were stedfastly fixed on the house of commons at that moment, and the fate of the country might eventually depend upon their decision. The house had not to determine in what family the right of the crown should be vested; they had not to determine by what constitution the people would best be governed: their attachment to the family in possession of the right to the crown was daily increased by their encreasing affection for the virtuous and venerable individual, by whom the throne was filled; their attachment to the existing sonstitution was daily increased and clearly 570 demonstrated by the sacrifices which they themselves made, and which at their instigation the people had made, to maintain it inviolate under circumstances most fatal to every constituted authority in the world.—But the duty which the house had to perform was not less important than those to which he had alluded, although it was more painful and unpleasant. It was not to consider whether the confidence which had hitherto been placed in the royal family of the country, should be maintained unshaken, but whether one individual of that family was worthy any longer of sharing in that confidence. If it should be determined that his royal highness's conduct had proved him unworthy, there would still be a choice of difficulties. The house would have to decide whether they would hurt the feelings of their sovereign, by stating the opinion which they entertained of his son, or whether, by forbearing from such a statement, they would forfeit the confidence which their country reposed in them. That such should be the duty of the house of commons, must be to the house at large, as it was to him, a subject of most serious and unfeigned regret. For himself, he most deeply lamented it. He would with satisfaction have shed his blood, drop by dropt to have prevented such a necessity; but the cup was poured out, and must be drank; the shaft had flown, and must take its course. He had heard it repeatedly said, that the house had dealt unfairly by his royal highness in the course it had pursued, and that they were preparing to condemn him without trial. A noble lord, and after him and an hon. gentleman, had asserted, that he was judged and decided upon, in his absence. It had been alledged, that from the Duke of York was withheld the privileges belonging to the meanest of the king's subjects, to have the evidence brought against him examined on oath. But if this objection was taken, it ought not to be taken in the present stage of the business; it ought to have been advanced at the commencement of the investigation, when those by whom it was now brought forward were cautioned on the subject, and when the mode of proceeding by trial or by impeachment was recommended. It would be too much to allow the asserters of this objection to take the benefit of the course originally adopted at their suggestion, and then to take the benefit of the objections that might be urged against that course. In the Letter which his royal highness had 571 been advised to write to the house, but which he (lord Temple) deeply regretted he had written, and which he sincerely wished with his hon. and learned friend, could be blotted for ever from their recollection and expunged from their Journals, his royal highness objected to the evidence against him being received without the sanction of an oath; but as in the former case, so in this, he contended, that his royal highness ought to have made that objection at the commencement of the inquiry, and that not having done so, he had no right to make it at the conclusion. Numerous complaints had also been made of the prejudices that existed on the subject of this investigation. That prejudices existed with respect to the charges against his royal highness, he most willingly allowed. In some of those prejudices he confessed that he participated. It was natural that those, who in their own persons, or in their families, had received obligations from the royal Duke, should be prejudiced in his favour. It was natural that those, who contemplated the benefits that had accrued to the army during the administration of his royal highness (benefits which he admitted to their fullest extent,) should be prejudiced in his favour. It was natural that those who felt as he did at the opening of the business, and who could not believe that the facts then alledged could possibly be substantiated, should be prejudiced in his favour. Of such prejudices no man need be ashamed. Unquestionably there were also prejudices of a different description; prejudices inseparable from the publicity of the course of proceeding that had been adopted in that house; but those prejudices could not now be urged in bar of judgment, by those at whose recommendation that course of proceeding had been preferred. He lamented that such prejudices should have taken so strong and general a hold on the public mind, as it was impossible for them to disguise from themselves they had done. He completely coincided in opinion with the right hon. gent. opposite, and with the hon. bart. (sir Tho. Turton) who had spoken from the same bench with him, that it was incumbent on the house to come to a specific decision on the charges of corruption, criminal participation and connivance; and he lamented that the Charges were not of a more specific nature. It was much to be regretted that they had not been produced on the table. The accusations against the Duke of York had been ori- 572 ginally made in the preliminary speech of the hon. gentleman behind him; evidence had subsequently been heard at the bar; and out of that evidence the charges had arisen. It was the bounden duty of the house to determine on all the Charges that had been preferred, not only on those of corruption, or participation, or connivance, but on the misconduct of his royal highness in permitting such a woman as Mrs. Clarke to interfere in military matters, and to make recommendations for military preferments to him, to which he allowed himself to listen. On all these accusations it was the duty of the house to decide. But, did he therefore think that they were to be decided upon in the mass? That they were to be decided upon without distinction? Certainly not. Whether the mode of proceeding by Address, or the mode of proceeding by Resolutions, should be ultimately adopted by the house, he should take good care before he voted to ascertain on which specific charge he was called upon to vote; whether on the charge of corruption; on the charge of participation; on the charge of connivance; or on the charge of permitting Mrs. Clarke to interfere in the official duties of the Commander in Chief. The question, however, then before the house was, not whether these separate charges were to be amalgamated into one, but only whether the house should proceed by Address or Resolutions. For his part, he conceived that the former, as it was the mode most consistent with the dignity of the house, would also be most conducive to the substantial ends of justice. It appeared to him, that the first and second Resolution of the right hon. gentleman, if according with the sense of the house, might be embodied in an Address; and he I conceived, that in such a form, they would be equally efficient in point of justice to his royal highness. The first Resolution proposed by the right hon. member was, that the house should decide. There would be no objection to make that part of an Address. The second was, whether his royal highness was or was not guilty of corruption. Again, there would be no difficulty in interweaviug that in an Address. In short, it appeared to him to be just as easy to put the substance of the Resolutions in the shape of an Address, as in the form proposed by the right hon. member. In voting, however, for the motion of the hon. gent, near him (Mr. Bankes), he begged to 573 be distinctly understood, not as lending himself to the support of the Address proposed by that hon. gent., but as merely declaring his opinion, that whatever might be the judgment of the house on the subject before them, they ought to proceed by way of Address rather than by Resolutions. On the main question of corruption, of participation in corruption, or of connivance at corruption, he agreed entirely with the right hon. gent. opposite. He did not think that his royal highness the Duke of York had been proved by the evidence at the bar to have been guilty of either corruption, participation in corruption, or of connivance at corruption.—The evidence by which the charges of corruption, of participation in corruption, and of connivance at corruption, were endeavoured principally to be supported, was that of Mrs. Clarke. Mrs. Clarke's testimony, he was ready to say, came before the house under every circumstance of doubt and suspicion. She was self-accused, self-convicted: her character was self-blasted: she had no claim to credence except what she might establish by the mode and circumstances of her conduct under examination. If the question on these specific charges, or on any other indeed, were to be wholly decided by her evidence, it would not have the smallest weight with him. In pronouncing his opinion, he should discard it wholly from his consideration, and have no difficulty to make up his mind upon the subject.—The chief witness by whom Mrs. Clarke's evidence was corroborated, was Miss Taylor. His right hon. friend near him (Mr. Windham), had said last night that there was this difference between Mrs. Clarke and Miss Taylor, viz. that the character of the former was bad, but her testimony good; while the character of the latter was good, and her testimony bad. From this distinction he dissented altogether. His right hon. friend was of opinion that Miss Taylor had been tutored; that she had rehearsed her part before she appeared at the bar. He did not believe that to have been the case; he believed her evidence to be perfectly correct; he believed that she had not rehearsed her part. Had she been tutored, she would have learned more; she would have been taught a tale which would have better answered the purposes of her instructors. Had she rehearsed a part, it would have been a part of more importance. If she were privy to a conspiracy, would she not have come for- 574 ward with a detail of facts and circumstances that would have struck much more home at the Duke of York than the evidence she gave? While he admitted, however, that her evidence was in his opinion free from suspicion, he contended, that it by no means went to convict the Duke of York of corruption. "How does French behave to you, Darling? "could not, in his mind, be perverted to mean "How does he pay you? "If the Duke of York was corrupt, he either made Miss Taylor a party to his corruption, or he did not. If he did make her a party, was it credible that this was the only phrase of the kind which Miss Taylor would have recollected his royal highness to have used in her presence? If he did not make her a party, was it credible that he should have uttered even this single phrase before a female in whom he placed no confidence, and who, for ought he knew, might, and probably would, relate what she had heard? But although Miss Taylor's evidence did not go so far as to convict the Duke of York of corruption, it fully convicted him of permitting Mrs. Clarke to interfere with his official duties, and to recommend her friends to his notice as Commander in Chief.—He would proceed, however, to the next evidence that had been adduced in support of the charge of corruption, which was the large establishment at Gloucester place, and the deduction, that as Airs. Clarke evidently expended six times her allowance, his royal highness ought to have known that she must have had recourse to improper practices to make up the deficiency. This he could not allow. In judging of the characters of others we must not always be guided by our own. A banker or a merchant who kept regular accounts would, perhaps, not easily understand how the Duke could be so irregular; but for his part he would rather conclude his royal highness guilty of extravagance than corruption; he would rather conclude that his royal highness conceived he was running in debt than that he was aware of the stratagems of his mistress to procure money by corrupt means. Nor was this in the slightest degree improbable. The establishment at Gloucester-place was certainly very splendid and very magnificent, and if pecuniary affairs had gone on smoothly and regularly, it might have been urged that his royal highness ought to have known that such splendour and such magnificence could not be maintained with the sums which Mrs. Clarke received from him. 575 But what was the fact? That his royal highness frequently saw Mrs. Clarke in great distress: that he found she was compelled to pawn her jewels: that there were repeated executions in the house: that she told him several times that she was in danger of complete destruction. Under such circumstances, how could his royal highness imagine that she resorted to undue means to support her establishment, when it was continually evident to him that the expences of that establishment were not defrayed? If any one should say that the Duke of York ought to have been more regular in his payments, and that he ought to have seen that the expences of the establishment in Gloucester-place were actually defrayed, he would readily admit the justice of the observation.—But the fact was, that his royal highness had never paid any attention to his own pecuniary affairs, and therefore could not be expected to attend much to the pecuniary affairs of another. He believed him profuse, but he did not believe him corrupt. He acquitted him wholly of corruption, of participation in corruption, or of connivance at corruption; but he believed him to be highly guilty and deeply criminal in allowing Mrs. Clarke to interpose with his official duties; in permitting her to make recommendations to him to which he listened, and by this permission, to allow her the semblance at least of his authority for her malpractices. The corroborated evidence of this fact was to him conclusive; it was spontaneous; it was unpremeditated; it was not intended to be brought forward; it was found by accident, but it afforded the most convincing proof of the existence of the crime.—With respect to French's levy, it must be allowed on all hands, that it was a most ruinous bargain for the public: it was obtained without any statement of circumstances; without any military recommendation; without any due inquiry into the circumstances of the case. What was the fair deduction? That it originated in another recommendation, and when connected with the other testimony, it was clear that that recommendation was Mrs. Clarke's. As to the case of Dr. O'Meara, the way in which his royal highness had permitted a man, who professed to have a call from God, but who listened to the dictates of Mammon; who professed to be a minister of purity, but who was the base attendant on an adulteress, at the recommendation of that adulteress to approach him for the 576 purpose of being introduced to his father, and with the further view of procuring a bishopric, was most strongly to be reprobated. In this act his royal highness forgot his duty, his Tank, and his situation.—In the case of Kennett it was also evident that his royal highness the Duke of York had exerted his influence improperly, with a view to obtain for a man, with whom he was negociating a loan, a post under government; and in the case of Elderton. it was evident that he had given him a paymastership on the recommendation of Mrs. Clarke. Nor was the conduct of his royal highness as it regarded general Clavering less reprehensible. In his letter to Mrs. Clarke on the subject, he desired her to tell gen. Clavering that there would be no use in her applying for a regiment for him, because it was not intended to raise any new regiments, but only second battalions to the existing corps. What was the evident deduction? Why, that if it had been intended to raise any new regiments, Mrs. Clarke might have applied. If his royal highness had done his duty, instead of the answer which he made to her, he should have said, "I am sorry that Clavering has applied through you; I was not aware that he was acquainted with our connection; I hope he is not. But if he knows any thing of it, let him know this, that this is a point on which I will never suffer you to interfere." But his royal highness had not done so, and from this, as well as from other circumstances which he had stated, the inference was that he had been guilty of permitting Mrs. Clarke criminally to interfere in military transactions.—Adverting to the sentiments expressed last night by his right hon. friend near him (Mr. Windham) he declared, that were his opinions so evenly balanced as those of his right hon. friend, he would wholly acquit the Duke of York. He would not employ himself so long in splitting hairs, and then, with half an hair, strangle the character of that illustrious individual. But, thinking as he did, he was now compelled to declare, that he did not consider the Duke of York as worthy to retain the situation of Commander in Chief. If he were allowed to approach his royal highness, he would advise him to resign his office. If ministers did their duty they would recommend to his majesty to advise his royal highness to resign his office. Unless they did so, they would fail in the sacred obligations which they owed their sovereign. The most urgent motives for; 577 his resignation would meet his royal highness at every corner and at every step. The time was, perhaps, approaching, when the independence and existence of Britain might he fought for on British ground. The successful event of such a contest must in a great degree depend upon the confidence which the country reposed in the individual entrusted with the chief command of our army. Could his royal highness suppose that he retained that confidence? If so, the sentiments that were staring in every eye, and ringing in every ear, would speedily undeceive him. There was no alternative for him therefore, but to resign his office. In retirement, in fulfilling his duties as a prince, in completing that reform assurances of which he had thought proper to convey to the house of Commons, his royal highness the Duke of York would find opportunities for recovering the confidence and affections of the people. In times of peril like the present, he was compelled to repeat, that the Duke of York was not a tit person to retain the command of the British army. He felt that he had done his duty in thus giving his decided opinion; but the gratification which that feeling afforded him would, he feared, be no excuse to the house for the fatigue to which he had subjected them (hear! hear!) He trusted that the house would do their duty, and he would conclude with the apothegm of lord Burleigh, "England can never be ruined while its parliament continues to do its duty."
The Lord Advocate
(of Scotland), who rose amidst a tumultuous cry of "Question! question!" began with observing that he was well aware of the just impatience of the house to come to a vote; but he hoped for their indulgence for a few minutes. He seldom rose in that house, and never but when impelled by a sense of duty. He felt himself called on to give an opinion on this important question. With all the attention that he had been able to pay to the evidence, the conclusion which he drew from it was, that his royal highness had neither been guilty of corruption, nor criminal participation, nor connivance; and that he had in no one instance abused the power he possessed as Commander in Chief, of giving away military commissions. This was a conviction that he derived from a minute, unprejudiced, and conscientious review of the different charges, and the evidence by which they were supported. [The house became here so clamourous for the 578 question, that the hon. member could no longer be heard]
§ Mr. Wilberforce
then rose, and began by stating, that he deferred to the latest opportunity his intention of offering to the house his sentiments on the present most important question; because he confessed, that it was his uniform and anxious wish to hear all that might be said upon the subject upon either side, according to the various views that different minds might be severally disposed to take of it, before he ventured to state his opinion, that he might see it in every light, and in every shape, that it could, perhaps, possibly appear in. With this view he had, from the very commencement of this discussion down to that moment, devoted his fixed and undivided attention to every part as it passed successively under his observation, both with respect to the evidence, and the variety of commentary that evidence had called forth; because it was his wish, as it unquestionably was his duty, to avail himself of every possible advantage, that could enable him to come ultimately to an opinion at once impartial, and correct. And in the first place, before he proceeded to observe upon the case itself, he could not help adverting to the impression he felt at the time when the charges were first brought forward. Here he must frankly confess, whatever may be the shame of the acknowledgement, that he had his full share in participating in those prejudices in favour of the accused which had been felt and acknowledged by others; for the charges did appear to him to be so extremely improbable, that the hon. member who had originated them must forgive him when he said, that he not only felt it extremely difficult to believe that they were founded in fact, but was almost satisfied that they could not be substantiated. The result, however, of the investigation, upon his mind, had been such as to shew, that though he could not altogether get rid of those prejudices, he had not suffered them to interfere so far as to bias his affections, or influence his judgment. In the view which he took of the question, it appeared obviously to divide itself into two parts. The first and grand one was, whether the Duke of York had been guilty of corruption, or of participation in the corruption of others, or of criminal connivance at that corruption, and in what degree. The next was, as to the course, which, as members of that house, it would be proper for them to resort to, upon a full consideration of all the matters and practices 579 that had been disclosed in the evidence before them. As to the first part, as far as related to tire criminal connivance of the Duke of York at corruption, or his participating in that corruption, he could not help staling, that it did appear rather astonishing to him, that his royal highness could have been wholly without suspicion of the nature of the corrupt transactions which were proved beyond a doubt to have taken place. Was it not somewhat strange, that the Duke never received any intimation of such transactions, from any of his numerous military friends or acquaintances? and was it not still more so, that the Duke only, should never have once heard that a very prevalent idea of corrupt abuses in army promotions had gone forth, and was very generally credited? These things were not done in a corner. The charges had been open and avowed; and, whether founded or unfounded, groundless or malicious, they certainly had not been urged either ambiguously or latently. These charges had made their way into print; they had appeared expressly in pamphlets, which, though they might never have met his royal highness's eye, had excited a lively attention on the part of the public, were very industriously circulated amongst military men, and therefore must have been necessarily very generally spoken of. And yet were they, in defiance of such strong probability, to conclude, that the Duke atone was unconscious of what he himself was most interested in, and what occupied the attention and tilled the conversation of every other man? But even supposing that a close attention to the important and arduous duties of his office, had prevented the Commander in Chief from coming at the knowledge of these transactions himself, yet he most undoubtedly must have been informed upon the subject by his friends, whose communications he could not fail to have received with the attention they merited. On the supposition, therefore, that, as had been proved by the evidence at the bar, the army patronage had been corruptly disposed of, and, according to the general notion, that the same corrupt interference had been extended by the Duke of York's mistress to the other public departments of the state, it was clear that his royal highness must also have known the circumstance. It was impossible, that, with his education, his royal highness could have been ignorant that the mistresses of princes were in every instance the 580 sources and the means of corruption. He must have known, if at all acquainted with history, that this had been unfortunately the case in France, and even in this country, at no very remote period of its history. It was a notorious fact, that the mistresses of princes usually kept a sort of shop for the sale of the favours of the crown. But, if it was true, as bad been staled by his right hon. friend (Mr. Yorke), that Mrs. Clarke had lived with an army-agent or broker before she went to live with the Duke, and that her antecedent experience had enabled her successfully to carry on her corrupt practices; he must observe, that this circumstance should, above all others, have put his royal highness upon his guard against her artifices and corrupt views, because he must have known what were her old habits, and that on any favourable opportunity she would not fail to indulge them. His royal highness was aware that Mrs. Clarke was often extremely distressed; he must have been sensible, that the prospect of relief would have encouraged her to engage in this criminal traffic; that she was open to the temptation, and was likely to avail herself of it whenever an occasion should be afforded. It appeared too, that she had been in the habit of applying from time to time to his royal highness for his patronage, in favour of persons of various ranks and professions, whom she did not even know. When the house considered all these circumstances separately, and afterwards weighed their accumulated effect, gentlemen must be astonished that they should never once have excited the suspicion of his royal highness. There did appear in the evidence of Corri a circumstance that he could not help thinking also went to shew how unlikely it was that the Duke could have been wholly free from suspicion of her practices; where Corri stated, that a few months before the connection was broke off, Mrs. Clarke had ordered Corri to burn all her letters and papers, and acknowledged that the Duke had heard something which had transpired, and that he was very angry, and that they might be brought before the house. This circumstance shewed, that some suspicions had then been excited as to some facts, which may have come to light, and flashed conviction upon the mind of his royal highness. His royal highness, however, seemed not to have been aware of the opportunity he enjoyed to consult those excellent and honourable men by whom he 581 was surrounded, as to the means to prevent Mrs. Clarke from imposing upon his weakness by rendering his attachment to her person subservient to her corrupt practices. On the contrary, he appeared to have kept them in the dark upon these subjects; and there was one circumstance to which he would particularly advert, to shew that this had been uniformly the case. When he received the letter from Mrs. Sutherland, requesting that the resignation of Major Turner might not be accepted for some time, in order that a lady, to whom he was represented as having behaved ill, might know where to find him, he put that letter into the hands of col. Gordon, finding it necessary to satisfy him as lo the ground of the delay, as if it had been a letter from a perfect stranger; and col. Gordon had even stated at the bar, that he had not at that time any knowledge that the contrary was the case. It was not then necessary to state how that point stood. The house was aware now, that an intimate connection had previously subsisted between his royal highness and this Mrs. Sutherland; in short, that she had been his mistress. From this circumstance therefore, they must see that, blinded by his affection or partiality for this lady, the Duke sunk the circumstance of his previous knowledge of her on the occasion; and instead of making an explicit communication of the fact, rather kept col. Gordon in the dark: that individual, who of all others was most likely to rescue him from the dangerous precipice upon which he stood, and to save him from the abyss into which he was ready-to plunge. It appeared, also, from the evidence, that though col. Gordon had enjoyed the confidence of the Duke of York, so far as the execution of the duties of his office was concerned, for which that able officer seemed so well qualified, he did not possess so much of his confidence as would enable him to discharge the office of a friend, that faithful monitor, whom princes so much want, but so seldom meet with. Certain it was, as had been stated by col. Gordon in his examination, that he had never even seen Mrs. Clarke until he saw her at the bar of that house; and in every thing that related to the immoral connection between her and the Duke of York, that gentleman appeared to have kept a dignified distance, such as became his just and honourable mind. But before he should make the observations he intended upon several of the cases, he begged to say a few 582 words upon one fact, and an important one too, namely, the very different circumstances in which those who were prosecuting, and those who were defending these charges, were placed. It had well been stated, in his very able speech, by the noble lord, (lord Folkestone) that the defence had been conducted and supported by all the legal authorities of the government, by persons who possessed the means to find out, and the power to compel the attendance of any witnesses whom it might be necessary to examine; and it had been assisted throughout by the influence and weight of wealth, of rank, and property. The inference that resulted from all this was, that if any unfavourable impressions existed against the Duke of York, it was not because all the witnesses had not been called, whose testimony might have been necessary for his defence, or effectual for his justification. All the witnesses that could have been of any service to that purpose had been examined; and if no more had been called, it was only because those who conducted the defence, and were his most zealous advocates, omitted to do so, lest they should injure the cause they espoused.—Before he should go into an examination of the separate charges, he begged the house first to consider what was their nature, and how they were to be proved. The charges were such, that they must be proved by the Duke of York, by Mrs. Clarke, or by the agents in the transactions to which they referred; for there were no others who could give information, as it was not to be expected that the parties benefitted would tell what so intimately concerned themselves. The fact then was, that with regard to all these sources of information they bad ample proof, as well in the letters of his royal highness, as in the evidence of Mrs. Clarke, confirmed by the unexceptionable corroborations of letters, which she never thought could have been produced at the time of giving her evidence, and by those who were benefitted by, as well as the agents in, the transactions, whether they were to be considered the confidants, or rather the dupes, of Mrs. Clarke. And here he must observe, respecting the evidence of Mrs. Clarke, and the corroboration of it by these letters, that her main testimony was fully confirmed, notwithstanding all that had been said, as to her having contradicted herself, and being contradicted by others. An hon. friend had, in speaking of the truth of the evidence 583 given at the Bar, expressed himself in the same manner, as he would, if applying his observations to the members of that house, viz. that there would be no difference in the evidence stated at the Bar, and evidence given upon oath. Unquestionably there ought not to be any difference, as the truth ought in either case to be spoken, and he hoped that there would not be any difference of that description in persons of any character in life. From the beginning, however, he had his doubts as to the mode of inquiry proposed to be adopted, and had even anticipated the consequences and inconvenience, which had resulted, when it was stated that there would be a difference between the testimony of Mr. Clarke at the Bar and upon oath. But he would ask whether Mrs. Clarke had not been received differently? whether the manner in which she had been examined at the bar, had not produced a great deal of that pertness and flippancy in the answers which had been so much commented upon and so justly condemned? Though he was confident that Mrs. Clarke was not a witness to whom he should give any great degree of credit, yet when corroborated so unexpectedly and extraordinarily as she had been, in cases, which appeared the most romantic on their being first mentioned; he could not withhold his credit from her testimony. The case of O'Meara, for instance, appeared at first to have been only the creature of her imagination; so also had it appeared impossible to believe her statement respecting general Clavering, and yet both had been afterwards confirmed by the production of unknown or forgotten documents, in a most extraordinary manner. He should next mention some small matters of confirmation, which though small were not unimportant, both because it was impossible to put them out of the question, and because it was often from such circumstances that the most correct opinion was to be formed of any complicated transaction. When Mrs. Clarke had been asked how she had made her request to accomplish the exchange for col. Knight, she answered that she had given to the Duke of York the names of the parties upon a slip of paper, which she had previously received from Dr. Thynne. It appeared from the evidence, that, unknown to her at that time, Dr. Thynne had also stated that he had given to Mrs. Clarke a slip of paper containing the names of the parties. These coincidences in small matters often amounted to more cogent proof 584 than resulted from more important parts of evidence. It had likewise been said by Mrs. Clarke, that, whenever the Duke of York was with her, she never suffered a livery servant to attend. It appeared that Samuel Carter did attend his royal highness, but it afterwards came out by mere accident, and not at all with a view to confirm her former testimony, that he never wore a livery. But the greatest thing of all, that confirmed the testimony of Mrs. Clarke, was the production of the Duke of York's letters to her, as well as the production of the Letters, of which she had no idea that they existed, and the Note which had been so much disputed. He was ready to give every credit for their candour and impartiality to those, who, in commenting upon the evidence, did not appear to have sufficiently attended to these documents; but gentlemen should recollect, that when they were acting as judges, they should not have forgotten to have summed up all the evidence. It was very material to keep these Letters, and especially the mysterious Note in view, in considering how far the testimony of Mrs. Clarke was corroborated, because it appeared from them that there had been a long and habitual interference on the part of Mrs. Clarke in military matters. And when gentlemen contended, that the evidence of Mrs. Clarke was not to be believed, it was impossible not to suppose that they would have felt themselves bound to endeavour to shew, that these documents contradicted her testimony. He would ask the right hon. gentlemen whether, when they supposed at first that these letters found in the possession of Mr. Sandon, and the letttrs procured from Mr. Nichol, afforded the best means to invalidate the testimony of Mrs. Clarke, they can shew why, with all their sagacity, research, and power of inquiry, they had yet left these documents entirely out of the view they had taken of the question? He should next say a few words with respect to the arguments which had been drawn from the consideration of the expence of the establishment, of Gloucester-place. For himself, he could never bring himself to believe that the Duke of York had looked to the money arising from the corrupt Disposal of army promotions as a supply for his expenditure. As to the statement made by Mrs. Clarke at the bar, that the Duke of York had told her that if she was cunning, she never need ask him for money, and that she had more power than the 585 queen, he begged pardon of the house, but the thing was in itself so improbable that he could not give credit to it. The Duke might, he could suppose, have done something short of this. Mrs. Clarke, it appeared, had been in great distress, and teazed and hunted by her tradesmen; and it was probable that under such circumstances the Duke of York might not have exerted himself with sufficient jealousy and vigilance in watching the proceedings of Mrs. Clarke, to prevent her from pursuing her corrupt practices. He would admit, that with the large income which he possessed, he might not have calculated with accuracy the expences of that establishment. With respect to the case of col. Knight, the chief importance of it was, that it proved that there had been a generally prevalent persuasion that promotions in the army could be obtained by corrupt means; and nothing could be so injurious to the service and army than that an opinion should prevail, that what ought only to be the reward of merit or services, could be obtained by the base and mean artifices which, as appeared, were resorted to.—As to the case of Mr. Dowler, which was a very important one, though he could not believe that that gentleman, who was proved to have had an intimate connection with Mrs. Clarke, had paid her 1,000l. for procuring him his place, he thought it manifest that she had induced the Duke of York to procure that place for a man whom she loved better. He never could suppose that the appointment had been obtained through sir Brook Watson, his habits and those of Mr. Dowler having been so opposite. Mr. Dowler was the son of a man who had been for fifteen years a member of the Whig Club, and the constant opponent of sir Brook Watson in his own ward. It was not to be supposed then, that he would have provided a place, and in his own office, for the son of that gentleman; at least it would require great credulity to believe that fact. But when he had been appointed, sir Brook Watson did not interfere, though he sent him abroad the following day. With regard to col. French's levy, there was something exceedingly suspicious in it; he would not go into it, but the evidence had been in a great measure confirmed by the letters. Though he did not apprehend that his royal highness had any corrupt motive or criminal participation in the transaction, still it was something astonishing, in his 586 mind, that it had not excited, at least, the suspicion of the Duke of York. If he had not been blinded by his attachment to that woman, it was impossible that he should not have suspected, if not known, the corrupt practice that was carried on. For the actual state of the case on that head, they bad to look to the evidence of Miss Taylor, confirmed by the notes which had been found in the bureau of Sandon, and which shewed, that a continual correspondence existed between him and Mrs. Clarke, who, whether he was or was not her dupe, had cunning enough to persuade him, that she could forward his projects in military matters with the Duke of York. If he was not her dupe, he was, however, advancing her money all the time, and must consequently have believed her to have had some influence with his royal highness to effect his purpose. Few things had struck his mind more forcibly than the circumstance that gentlemen, having once taken up one side of this question, allowed themselves to suppose, that the words mentioned by Miss Taylor to have been spoken by the Duke, had actually been spoken, and that they could have been spoken with very innocent effect. Supposing, then, the words to have been actually spoken, why should they have been addressed to Mrs. Clarke, or what other meaning could they have had, but "what money was she getting by the "levy?" What else should she have to do with French's levy? Considering, therefore, only the internal evidence of the thing, and that Miss Taylor could not remember conversations which had occurred more recently; considering also, that Mrs. Clarke had a communication with Miss Taylor upon the subject, in which she might easily, and without Miss Taylor's being aware of it, alter her conception of the expressions; he did not think that this evidence was enough to fix the Duke of York with privity in the corruption, or participation in the profits. As to the case of capt. Tonyn, he could not suppose that the note, which bad been so much the subject of comment, could have been fabricated by Mrs. Clarke; or that she would run the risk of detection in the course of a cross-examination. Though he admitted that capt. Sandon was not to be believed, vet when he considered that he had, on his arrival at Portsmouth, given the same account to col. Hamilton, of the note, that he had given at the bar, he was ready to conclude that he had told only the truth. The 587 case of captain Turner shewed clearly the consequence of a Commander in Chief listening to such persons as Mrs. Clarke. The resignation of that officer had been suspended on the suggestion of a woman, whose application ought to have been instantly spurned at and rejected. When the Duke of York could bring himself to entertain such an application, it appeared to him that he would have submitted to, and granted much more, under the influence of the fascinations of a woman to whom he appeared to have been most strongly attached. The situation of the Duke was like that of a man, who after neglecting his affairs for some time, was afraid to look into them, conscious of his situation, but endeavouring to blind himself to it until he deceives himself into a fatal misapprehension of his real condition; every man that was at all conversant with our nature must know how easily we can deceive ourselves when we earnestly wish to do so. He could not, however, positively say that the Duke actually knew of the corruption. In this he had frankly slated his view of the subject; he had only to add, that nothing of all that had been said during the discussion, squared exactly with the impression upon his mind. He acquitted the Duke of York of corruption; but he was of opinion that he could scarcely help suspecting the corrupt practices which were going on. Though the illustrious personage might not have had a distinct knowledge of the corruption, he must have had not only a suspicion, bat a general idea of its existence, though not so clear and definite as to amount to knowledge. This was a species of impression which persons who were at all acquainted with the human mind must be aware of; and when he considered the attachment his royal highness had to this woman, he thought it extremely probable that he might have been actuated by such a feeling, and sensible of such an impression. —In voting for the Amendment of his hon. friend, he should vote for the acquittal of the Duke of York of corruption as far as he could. He preferred this Amendment to either the original Address, or the Resolutions of his right hon. friend, (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) but of these two, if he had no alternative, he should prefer the original Address. But the gentlemen opposite, appeared to him to have adopted a strange course. In consequence of the evidence, they called for a direct decision of the question of corruption or no corrup- 588 tion. They found fault with the Amendment of his hon. friend, because he had not introduced something stronger into it, which they could more easily induce the house to reject. These gentlemen were old soldiers, and could not be at any loss for parliamentary expedients. He too had some experience in these matters, and should have profited little by his long acquaintance with the practice and forms of parliament, not to perceive the drift of such a suggestion. The most manly course that the house could adopt, would be that which was most consistent with its duly, and with justice. They should go no farther than their duty demanded. Glad indeed, should he be, if it was possible for the house to come to a decision favourable to his royal highness, but that the evidence rendered hopeless. They were not to be considered cruel for placing the Duke in the situation in which the question before the house placed him. It was not that house, or any proceeding in it, but those friends who should have informed his royal highness of the corrupt practices that were going on, and neglected it, that had brought his royal highness to the dreadful situation in which he then was placed. With regard to all that had been said of the evidence, as to the general improbability of its character, that had no influence upon his mind. No man would say that the Duke of York recollected the letters which had been produced. This was likely enough to arise from that looseness of mind, of acting, and of feeling, which appeared in the conduct of his royal highness. It had been said that the whole was a plot; but he must say, that there appeared nothing in the evidence to shew any trace or feature of such a plot. Most of the witnesses were upon bad terms with Mrs. Clarke, and yet their testimony corroborated her statements. Her evidence was also supported by the documents which had been produced, though at the time of giving her testimony she could have had no idea of their being in existence. Besides, both Dowler and Sandon, whom she could not have expected to attend to confirm her testimony, arrived suddenly and unexpectedly from the Continent, and corroborated her statements by their testimony; but particularly the production of the notes which had been written, at the time of the transaction, and of the existence of which she was not aware, most strongly confirmed her evidence; and all these considerations, 589 taken together, had the effect of doing away all idea of a plot. He was ready in a great degree to admit the force of the argument which was founded on the choice which the Duke made of the persons immediately about him, such as colonels Gordon, Brownrigg, Calvert, and others. He admired the conduct of colonel Gordon when he was first examined about the mysterious Note. He shewed at that time the greatest dignity, simplicity, and determination to do his duty; and upon an occasion which shewed the utmost triumph of principle and honour, he conducted himself with the same ease as if it were one of the ordinary transactions of his life. He regretted, however, that when the Duke of York placed about him men of such honour, he had not requested them to watch, and give him notice of any abuses which might occur of the nature of those which were now laid to his charge. Although he could entertain no doubt of the truth of the testimony of so many high military characters, with respect to the attention which his royal highness paid to the duties of his office, yet he thought, that one of those high authorities (Sir Arthur Wellesly), had gone a great deal too far, when he thought that the thanks which were paid to those who won the battle of Vimiera were due to the Commander in Chief for giving them such an army. The cause of that victory was not merely owing to the measures of the Commander in Chief, or any other individual. It was owing to the soldiers of every class who participated in that victory. The soldiers of this country were men of strong bodies and independent minds. This independence of sentiment they derived from being possessed of equal laws, and from the benefits of the British Constitution, that gave a peculiar character of manliness and freedom to every class of the community. Its principles pervaded all ranks, and of its good effects it might be said, "Magno se corpore miscet." He could not avoid thinking, that if the house were to pass a Resolution which altogether avoided the question of corruption, it would be generally supposed by the public, that such silence proceeded merely from political motives. He thought the house should not appear to shrink from the constitutional duty which they had now to perform, and he, for his part, felt himself bound to vote for the motion of his hon. friend (Mr. Bankes), as coinciding most with his views and feelings. He certainly did, in his mind, 590 acquit the Duke of York of any real knowledge of those transactions, of any direct corruption or participation in it; but still he could not, under the impression of the evidence, say, that he could conceive that his royal highness could be utterly without suspicion on the subject. After the scenes which had been disclosed at the bar, and exposed to the country and to all Europe, it was absolutely necessary that the house should express its sense of these abuses; and the motion of his honourable friend he considered as wise, prudent, moderate, and just. He thought, moreover, that it was necessary to make some reparation to public morals and decency, and that the public safety required that the house should communicate to his majesty, that in their opinion, the command of the army could be no longer with prudence or safety confided to the Duke of York.—It was customary in that house to call things by very soft and gentle names. That which used to be called 'adultery,' was now only 'living under protection.' It was in this way that when religion and social order were attacked in France, we heard of 'a mother without being a wife.' The applying those delicate expressions to acts of immorality, was striking at the root of the morals of this country. The house had been now sitting, day after day, in the consideration of those transactions, and in tearing of the veil which covered them. If, when they were now laid bare, the house was to abstain from passing an opinion upon them, they would do an irreparable injury to the morality of this country. It would be found throughout the page of history, that religion and morals were the best preservers of States, and that when they were upon the decline in any country, it was a sure prognostic of that country's approaching fall. He would not say that the charges were of that nature that it was absolutely necessary to bring forward; but when the house had been compelled to take notice of them, he did not see how they could avoid coming to that conclusion which was impressed on their minds by the evidence which had been stated. He should read an extract from an author who was not considered either as a religious or moral authority, but who was eminently distinguished for political knowledge and sagacity. Machiavel had stated, that "the rulers of all states, whether kingdoms or common-wealths, should take care that religion should be honoured, and all its ceremonies preserved inviolate, for 591 there was not a more certain symptom of the destruction of states, than a contempt for religion and morals." As to the slight censure conveyed in the Resolution of his right hon. friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), he really thought it would have been better not to have touched upon the subject at all, than to touch upon it so lightly. It seemed as if the laws of courtesy were more to be attended to than the laws of God. As to the confidence that was expressed in his royal highness following for the future the illustrious example set him by his royal father, that was an extraordinary degree of confidence, for which he would be glad to know the grounds. The noble lord behind him, in adverting to the influence of mistresses, had naturally turned to the time of Charles the second. This called to his recollection the circumstance, that when Charles H. conducted himself improperly in Scotland with respect to a loose female, a deputation from the Kirk was sent to remonstrate with him. Their spokesman, Douglas, having left the rest of the deputation at a considerable distance, went up to his majesty, who expected a severe lecture, and merely said to him, "When next your majesty " pleases to indulge yourself in practices "like these, you should shut the window "shutters, and avoid scandal." He thought that even such advice as this would be better than the courtly flummery which had been proposed by his right hon. friend's Resolutions. Even the slight regret expressed in his royal highness's letter, was not for violating the laws of religion and morality, but for a connexion which had, in its consequences, exposed the name and character of his royal highness to animadversion. This was referring his conduct not to the known rules of religion and morality, but to the fashionable and fanciful ideas of modern honour. The Address of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was, in this respect, a mere echo to the letter, which ought never to have been received, and which had better be forgotten. In the just tribute to his majesty he heartily concurred. To him every man in the country was under the deepest obligation, as his example had perhaps contributed more to retard the decline of morality than any other circumstance. He wished that this example might produce its proper effect on all the members of the family. The more they looked to that example the more they would consult their own 592 honour. Upon this occasion the house should not listen to their feelings, but to the evidence. They should consider what would be the language of any other judges, who, in the execution of the duties of their office should be called upon to consult their feelings, instead of attending to the evidence. He felt that he had a solemn but a painful duty to perform; and he could not conceive how, after all that had been disclosed, the house could believe that the command of the army could be any longer safely confided to his royal highness. Supposing the case to be according to the mildest interpretation of his friends, that the Duke had no knowledge or suspicion of the transactions, but was completely deceived and blinded by the woman whom he passionately loved and entirely confided in, that would be reason enough to call for his removal from the command of the army. It was not at a time that all the continental nations were broken down by the armies of France, that this country should have a Commander in Chief who was liable to be blinded and duped by a woman (Hear ! hear!) It was well known that Buonaparté succeeded as much by his intrigues as by open force, and if he found that we had a Commander in Chief who was duped by his mistress, it would be easy for him to gain an ascendancy over such a woman, in order to command the most important secrets of the state. He could buy over such a woman, not only for a sum of money, but by promising to make a duchess or a queen of her. This was a game which Buonaparté had always played. Whenever gen. Wurmser resolved upon a sally from Mantua, he always found that the French had perfect information of his intentions. The more innocent and the more unsuspecting the Duke of York was described to be, the more danger was there that the enemy would find out if any body had influence over him.—There was still another consideration which he felt it his duty to state. That house had been always considered in a peculiar degree as the guardians and stewards of the public purse, and bound to take notice of the waste of money applied for public purposes. The luxurious and profuse expenditure of the establishment at Gloucester-place would be read with pain by the heavily-burdened cottager in all parts of the country. Whatever now takes place in higher life, is soon known in every circle of society, but the transactions which were now under con- 593 sideration had acquired an extraordinary degree of publicity, and the public could not avoid feeling that this profusion was supplied from their money, which bad been granted for different purposes. As to the public opinion guiding the determination of that house, it was a principle that be should not contend for; but he reminded the house that their strength was in the strength of the people, and that it was from this force of public opinion that government, which were somewhat popular in their form, had the greatest energy and vigour. The house would probably this night divide upon the question, whether an Address to his majesty, or a Resolution, such as that proposed by his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be agreed to. He hoped that no consideration, even of the delicacy of the subject, would prevent them from discharging, to the utmost, the duty which they owed to their country.
Mr. Secretary Canning
rose and spoke as follows: —However I may differ on many points from my lion, friend (Mr. Wilberforce), who has last addressed the house, I cordially agree with him in the sentiment which lie expressed at the conclusion of his speech, that in the vote to be given this night the character of this house is deeply implicated. And if I have taken a different view, from that which he has taken, of the nature of the vote, in which this house ought to agree, I trust my hon. friend will believe that, in my view of such a subject, I am guided equally with himself, by a sense of what appears to me to be most consistent with the character of the House of Commons, and with the tit discharge of its duty to the Country. I have listened with the most patient attention to the whole of this debate; distinguished as it has been not more by the unexampled length to which it has been protracted, than by the ability with which it has been conducted on all sides: and, having yet taken no part in the discussion, I may venture without impropriety to say, that whatever the decision of the House may be, the attention with which the question has been discussed cannot but be as satisfactory to the country, as it is creditable to the house itself. I have deferred till this late period of the debate taking any part in the discussion, because I was desirous of collecting the opinions which had been formed by other members, and of comparing my own judgment with the result of their de- 594 liberations. I agree with my hon. friend, (Mr. Wilberforce,) that no question ever was proposed to this house, upon which, both in the discussion and in its ultimate decision, it was more incumbent upon us sedulously to banish from our view every thing foreign to the merits of the case before us. If there was a man in the house from whom I more confidently anticipated such a sentiment than another, that man was my hon. friend. I have therefore waited for his speech with peculiar anxiety. I looked to him not only for the most accurate deductions and inferences from the evidence, and the strictest and most logical reasoning upon it; but I expected to find this information in the speech of my hon. friend wholly unmixed with other topics; pure, and untainted by any thing like prejudice or passion; and uninfluenced by any of those contrivances and managements which sometimes I am afraid are to be suspected in the votes and divisions of the House of Commons.
I felt assured I should not find any disposition in my honourable friend to compromise one jot of his own sincere and settled opinion for the purpose of obtaining a single stray vote in favour of the Proposition which he might think it his duty to support. I was confident that he not only would not profess for himself, (what he has however not scrupled to impute to others,) the practice of any parliamentary tactics on this occasion; but that he really would not feel himself at liberty to act the part of a parliamentary tactician; that he would feel this to be an occasion upon which, if upon any other, he could not possibly consent to collect votes by agreeing to any mode of proceeding not suitable to the subject, or to any form of Address, expressing any other than the distinct opinion which he himself conscientiously entertains. Still less could I expect to find him agreeing to an address to which no other character can fairly be ascribed than that it expresses no opinion at all.
My honourable friend tells us that he feels deeply the great duty imposed upon bun in the decision of the present question: I have no doubt that he does so. But how is it that he can possibly conceive that duty to be properly performed by adopting an Address, which if it is intended to express an opinion, and to guide, as the opinion of this house ought to do, the opinion of the country, must from its own indistinctness manifestly fall short of its own object?
595 What is the amount of the statement of my honourable friend? It is that, after a careful consideration of all the conflicting presumptions of this case, he does not feel himself capable of pronouncing a decisive judgment upon the most substantial points of it: he is not prepared, he says, to give a decided negative as to the question of corruption or connivance. (Mr. Wither-force intimated dissent). Then I have misunderstood my hon. friend: then he is prepared to give a decided negative upon the question of corruption or connivance! (Mr. Wilberforce again intimated dissent). Then it seems he is not prepared to give any decided opinion at all! Ami this is the state in which lie finds himself at the close of this protracted discussion; this is the result of a Debate of six days; this is the conclusion to which my honourable friend comes after a consideration more ample and detailed than was ever given perhaps to any subject in parliament. One of the most enlightened and experienced men among us; one who has perhaps the largest number of persons looking up to his opinion as the rule by which to regulate their own, professes, at the end of this Debate, that he is wholly unprepared to pronounce a judgment upon the main question of guilt or innocence, and in point of fact is ready to content himself with declaring no opinion at all.
The view which I take, and which I deem it the duty of the house to take, of this most grave and painful subject certainly is of a very different nature. In a case of charge so weighty and so complicated as this is, I have ail along thought that it was incumbent upon us to discriminate not only the different matters of charge, but the different shades and degrees of criminality; but above all, to discriminate what has been really established, from what has been only insinuated or inferred, or imputed, without just ground; and to separate such parts of the charge as are of our cognizance and jurisdiction; on the one hand from matter not politically punishable, though morally to be regretted and blamed; and on the other hand, from that which is of so grave a character of crime as to be fit to be referred to the decision of some less summary tribunal.
All the general reasoning therefore of my honourable friend, which does not apply itself to the specific allegations of the charge, all his exhortations and adjurations to come to a right vote upon this question, 596 are lost upon me: not because I differ from him in sentiment and feeling upon many points of this case, but because I do not think it, as he appears to do, altogether a question of sentiment and of feeling; because I do not think with him that we are to look to impression and effect out of door, but to substantial justice.
My honourable friend may think me very absurd and self-willed for not seeing things in the same light with him. But once aware of this radical difference in our original view of the subject, he has no right to be angry with me for not coming to the same conclusion with himself.
Thus, when my hon. friend asks "Will there not rest a foul scandal and shame upon the house of Commons, if, as moral men, we do not come to a decision which will disgrace the Commander in Chief, for those scenes of immorality and indecorum which this disgusting investigation has unveiled to us?"—I answer, that I feel, as sincerely as my hon. friend, what is due to considerations of morality. There is no difference between us as to the principle. But I do not think, with my hon. friend, that it is upon that principle that we are now called upon to act; and I may perhaps doubt, a little more than he does, how far it has been the province of this house to enter into considerations of this kind, or how far it would be beneficial that we should now assume that province for the first time.
When I state this, however, as my humble opinion, do not let my hon. friend suppose that I am therefore less sensible than himself of the value of those great principles of morals upon which the preservation of civilised society depends, by which the moral order of the world is held together; or that I do not consider a neglect of the precepts of religion, and an habitual laxity of private conduct, as having a tendency to sap the foundations of a state. My opinion merely is, that no practical advantage can result from our entering here into the consideration of these subjects. I doubt whether the precepts of religion or morality are to be best inculcated by the votes of the house of Commons. Our censorial jurisdiction appears to me to apply almost exclusively to actions prejudicial to the state in a political point of view. As such, the conduct of the Commander in Chief, or any other public officer, is a proper subject for the animadversion of the house of Commons. But I must persist, even after all that I have heard from my hon. friend, in doubt- 597 ing the advantage, perhaps I might even say in apprehending the danger, which would arise from our diverting our inquisitorial powers into this new channel: and I must at all events warn the house against the injustice of doing so, in the way which my hon. friend now recommends; against escaping from the difficulty of a decision upon points of fact, into a general declaration of principles of morality.
Is the Commander in Chief guilty of the practical political misconduct, of the malversation in office, laid to his charge? If he be, say so. That is the duty and the undoubted function of the house of Commons. Is he innocent of this political crime? If he be, you are bound to say so; and to say it clearly and intelligibly.
Can my hon. friend mean to argue that the immorality of the Commander in Chief's private conduct precludes the affirmation of his innocence of political crime?
If that be my hon. friend's opinion, I am confident he stands nearly alone in it: and that he will find, when he comes to vole the address itself which he is now so anxious to persuade the house to determine upon adopting, that he has been, though not the practiser, (which he certainly cannot have been) at least the subject, of a parliamentary trick; and that having gone with the framers and supporters of the address as far as is necessary for their purpose; that is, just down to the point where his own favourite paragraph, his own particular contribution upon morality begins—he will be left with that contribution upon his hands. My hon. friend may depend upon it that his moral paragraph has been relegated to the very end of the Address for no other purpose than to allure him to vote through the preceding parts, with a firm determination on the part of those who want the assistance of his vote so far, to cut off that paragraph without mercy when he arrives at it.
I cannot but feel that this house has a different, in some respects a more painful course to pursue, than that which my hon. friend recommends: a course, which avoiding all compromise, and all circuitous and complicated considerations, must lead them directly to the decision of the direct question of guilt or innocence.
There are two addresses before the house. For the address of the hon. member who brought forward the question I cannot vote, because I do not agree with the averments of it; but certainly I should have 598 less difficulty in voting for that address than for the address supported by my honourable friend.
Is it wise or fair when you have before you questions all indeed of misconduct, but differing in their degrees; some calling for punishment, some for animadversion, and some more fitly perhaps the subject of silent regret, than cither of punishment or of- animadversion: is it wise or fair to take an indistinct view of all these questions at once, and give, as it were, an average decision upon them? Is it just to the person who is the subject of this inquiry? is it respectful, is it kind, is it humane to that other personage to whom those Addresses are to be carried, deeply interested as he must be in the result both as a Sovereign and as a Father? Is a decision of such a nature consonant to the justice, or creditable to the character of Parliament?
First, as to what is due to the illustrious person whose conduct is the subject of this inquiry.
And here let me guard against an insinuation which is too often thrown out, as if there were intended to be some claim set up for particular forbearance towards this illustrious person, on account of his station; as if it were intended or attempted to prevent the house of commons from inquiring into his conduct. I have seen no such thing attempted. I believe no such thing to have been intended in any quarter. And I trust, that whatever the decision of the house may be, there will not be fastened on the house itself or on any member of it a suspicion of having acted upon such views.
But when we are cautioned not to take into consideration the rank of the Commander in Chief in the course of the inquiry or in mitigation of punishment; let us be sure that these considerations, so cautiously to be abstained from in favour of the Duke of York, be not suffered to operate the other way.
My hon. friend has spoken of the times in which we live; my hon. friend is in the habit of viewing these times with a philosophical eye, of comparing the present with the past. Let him tell me whether upon comparison with any times of which he has ever read, he will say that the peculiar bent of the disposition of the present times is to exalt the high at the expence of the low? will he tell me that the current of public prejudice does not run precisely the other way? I think my hon. friend will agree with me, that if there are any who allow weight 599 to the consideration of the rank of ins royal highness as exempting him from punishment, there are many, many more, whose feelings are the more acrimonious against him on that account, and who consider him as, on that account, the more desirable victim.
I must entreat the house therefore to look not to one side of this question only: that is all that I desire. All that it is right to ask on behalf of the Duke of York is that he should have no favour, but no prejudice; that he shall be considered on a par with the meanest subject of his father; that he shall not be excluded by his rank from all those protecting presumptions which the ordinary course of law affords to every person under accusation.
What then is the situation of his royal highness? Charges have been preferred against him:—No, not Charges I am told, because not reduced into writing. To whom that is attributed as a fault, if to any one, I do not know: Charges however, it is said, there are none; they are only Accusations.
These Charges then, in the shape of Accusations, not reduced to writing, but preferred in the manner in which they have been preferred, impute to his royal highness the Commander in Chief the foal and degrading imputation of direct personal corruption, and of wilful and criminal connivance at the corrupt practices of others.
True it is that in searching for evidence of these graver matters you find evidence of milters of comparatively lighter moment; not free from blame, God knows, but blame of a very different description. You have developed scenes of misconduct, of the existence of which there can be no doubt, and which I neither can, nor would attempt to justify. But if in endeavouring to obtain the proof of the facts alledged against his royal highness you have not been able to prove those facts, but have proved something different, something less, does it follow that if he is innocent of the great offence the lesser ones are to preclude him from acquittal?
It is said however that there is no Record of this inquiry; no specific entry on our Journals which renders a specific sentence of acquittal or condemnation necessary. Posterity, it is said, will know nothing of our proceedings but from our Journals; and there is therefore no injustice done to the Duke of York in leaving such a Charge without an answer. Is it possible to urge this argument seriously? 600 If it might be true in former times that the forma! acts, the recorded transactions of Parliament, and those alone, would go abroad to the world, or descend to posterity, blasting the name and character of a man accused,—are we therefore to be told that the case is the same now? that now, when, by those modes of dissemination of which we are all aware, the knowledge of all that passes in this house is extended in a few hours to every corner of the kingdom, and by degrees to the remotest parts of the world; that there is now no unfairness, no cruelty, in leaving such Charges unrefuted, because not formally entered upon record? Is there any man who can satisfy himself, in the present times, to set up this technical plea in defence of such substantial injustice?
So much for the record, even if the fact which is taken as the basis of the argument were true. But is there not after all a record? is there not that record which, when in the most distant time or country our proceedings shall be road, will plainly indicate the nature of the Charge, at the same time that there will be to be collected from our proceedings that condemnation, which, if we intend to pronounce it, surely we cannot intend to conceal?
What appears on the record? It appears that the house referred to a Committee of the whole house, "to investigate the conduct of his royal highness the Commander in Chief, with regard to promotions, exchanges, and appointments to commissions in the army, and the staff of the army, and in raising levies for the army."
What further will appear, if this Address, if either of the two proposed Addresses, shall be voted by the house? Why, that the house, after receiving the report of their Committee, are of opinion that "corrupt practices have prevailed" in the disposal of promotions, exchanges, &c. &c. in the army.
With whom is that disposal? Why, with the Commander in Chief. Whose conduct were the Committee to investigate in respect to this disposal? Why, the Commander in Chief's, the Duke of York's.
It is clear, therefore, that the Duke of York will appear, on the face of these proceedings, if we shall vote either of the Addresses proposed, to be found guilty of corruption: and yet, gentlemen who are prepared to vote for these addresses, profess themselves at the same time ready to 601 allow that there is nothing of corruption in his royal highness's conduct. Are they, or, are they not, ready to allow this? They must come to this averment or this denial. But to say that there can stand upon the Journals of Parliament such a reference to a Committee followed by such an averment of the existence of corrupt practices, and that, nevertheless, you have not framed any distinct charge, and therefore are not bound to give any distinct decision, is a course of proceeding as contrary to common sense, as to common justice. A vote founded on these pretences will produce all the effect, without plainly pronouncing the sentence, of a condemnation. If you pass this address, it is impossible that your country and posterity should consider his royal highness otherwise than as having been judged guilty of these charges, of charges the most criminal and degrading.
But it is admitted that these charges are false—(Some member said No.) I am glad to hear that it is not so admitted; I am glad to find that there is in some quarters at least an impatience of being supposed to admit what this address is, by its supporters, pretended to imply; because I presume that those who feel that impatience will insist upon having their real meaning fairly and unequivocally explained by their vote. They will agree with me, not in their decision undoubtedly, but at least as to the manner in which alone their decision can be properly taken. They will call for a plain intelligible question. They will not be contented with a speech of charge and a vote of compromise; a speech which insinuates guilt, and a vote which only avoids affirming innocence, and leaves the guilt to be collected and inferred. They will be for au "aye" or a "no" upon the questions of "corruption" or "connivance."
My hon. friend, however, who moved this amended Address, (Air. Bankes) is anxious to have it understood that he does not mean to affirm personal corruption or criminal connivance: yet he adopts from the original address the affirmation that the abuses, stated to have existed in the disposal of commissions, &c. (into which the committee was appointed to enquire,) have in fact been proved to exist.
Now this is, in any case, an incorrect statement, be the fact what it may; be it true or not true, that the Commander in Chief was privy to the gross frauds practised by his mistress and her accomplices. If he was privy to them, the statement is in- 602 correct because it is imperfect; because it still leaves it to be matter of inference and conjecture whether the Duke of York knew any thing of them or no. If his royal highness was not. as my hon. friend (Mr. Bankes) thinks he was not, privy to them, then the statement is incorrect in a much more Vagrant degree, because it does not negative an inference which is acknowledged to be untrue. It is not true in my hon. friend's view any more than in mine, that there is any link which connects the Duke of York with these transactions. It is true, in my view and in his, that corrupt practices have been discovered. But the expressions of his Address do not convey that simple proposition only they convey a great deal more. The proposition conveyed by these expressions, implies, not only the existence of these corrupt practices, but their existence as connected with the matter referred to the Committee, that is, with the conduct of the Commander in Chief.
I am not pressing this argument against those who maintain the propriety of the original address. They do mean to assert that the connection between the Commander in Chief and those corrupt practices is proved. The objection to their address therefore is of a different sort. But to those who agree with my honourable friend in denying this extent of guilt, who agree with him in imputing no more to the Duke of York than the blame of not having suspected the practices of his mistress, or that, perhaps, of having in one or two instances listened, not corruptly, but imprudently, to her intreaties, I say to them, that this Address does not express their own meaning. It expresses much more than they mean; much more than they maintain in argument, or than they are willing to declare that they believe.
On the other hand, when I address myself to those who, like the noble lord opposite me, (Folkestone,) consider as proved, not only something of imprudence and negligence in the Duke of York, not only something that throws a shade of suspicion over his conduct, but direct, gross, personal corruption, I must ask whether, in voting, as I understand them to be prepared to do, for the Address of my honourable friend, they can conceive themselves to be taking a fair, open, manly way of expressing, their opinion?
From the noble lord, as little as from my hon. friend, (Mr. Wilberforce,) could I 603 have expected such a sacrifice of his own opinion, for the sake of acting or voting with others. The noble lord is not always so conceding and so conciliating: but even if he were in the habit of coming to such a compromise of opinion in any ordinary cases, I would ask him whether it is fair to do so in a case like this; in a case of criminal accusation? In such a case, the parties who agree in some middle point, and sacrifice their own opinions to such an agreement, do injustice to their country, as well as to the person upon whose guilt or innocence they have to decide. That person has a right to claim that such a compromise shall not be made at the expense of the justice which is his due; and the country has a right to expect that such a charge of guilt, once publicly imputed, shall either be distinctly proved, or unequivocally abandoned.
I should have hoped, that, from these considerations peculiar to the case, as well as from his more usual and ordinary practice, the noble lord would not, in this instance, have shrunk even from that unity of vote with which we have sometimes seen him perfectly contented; that he would not have become so suddenly gregarious in a case where, to vote alone, voting conscientiously, would be more honourable than to give up one particle of opinion to compromise and management.
Will the noble lord contend that this Address conveys his meaning? He certainly will not. He means much more than it conveys.
But then there are considerations of prudence and expediency, it seems, which recommend this Address to the noble lord, and which this Address recommends to the house. The house of commons, it is said, is a high court, not bound by the ordinary rules which are obligatory (most happily they are so) on inferior courts of justice. This is a court, where we despise the established forms of evidence, under an impression, no doubt, that they were contrived to hide the truth; though in other courts of justice it must be confessed those forms are found, by experience, to be not inadequate to the detection of the deepest-laid frauds, to the confusion of guilt, and (what I hope the noble lord would agree in considering as a nobler purpose) the vindication of innocence under false accusation. But however we may claim the privilege of differing from other tribunals in the forms of our proceedings, do not let us arrogate the 604 right of deciding upon other principles than those of truth and justice!
This, I humbly conceive, is what we do, if we adopt the Address proposed by my honourable friend. This Address submits to his Majesty, "whether, even if it can be presumed that abuses so various and so long continued could have prevailed without the knowledge of his royal highness, the command of the army can with propriety, or ought in prudence, to remain any longer in his hands." What should we say of a judge, who, in summing up the evidence on the trial of a culprit, should state to the jury this? "The evidence before you does not appear to prove the guilt alledged in the indictment; but it may not be prudent to say so. If, for other reasons not before yon in evidence, you are of opinion that it is expedient the man should be hanged, you will take into account those prudential reasons for gelling him out of the way, and frame your verdict accordingly?" This is, in substance, the language of the Address: this is, almost without disguise, the language of those who support it. They have told us plainly that they do not think it expedient to come to a vote, a direct affirmative or negative vote, upon the plain question, "Guilty or not guilty of corruption?" Even my honourable friend who spoke last, in that part of his speech where he alluded to parliamentary tricks, seemed to think that this call for a direct vote upon the principal charge was one of those tricks: a trick which he was determined to defeat. A trick, to call for decision upon a charge! A trick, to put an accused man on his trial! In what vocabulary shall we find words to describe the others functions of parliament, if the performance of this, one of our highest duties, the ascertainment of guilt or innocence upon a grave criminal accusation; if the endeavour to perform this duty strictly and conscientiously, is to be branded as a trick and a delusion?
The Duke of York has been accused of personal corruption; of wilful connivance. True it is, that he is assailed by minor charges; but will any one say, who loves justice, who thinks reverently of the laws of the land in which he lives, who remembers that in this land "no man is to be found guilty but by the judgment of his peers," and that even a person accused of the most heinous crimes has the right "to be presumed not to be guilty, till he is proved and pronounced guilty." Will any man, who knows that he has these for his 605 birth rights, and who prizes them as they deserve? will any such man be induced by any eloquence, by any ingenuity, or by the weight of any authority whatsoever, to consider a call for decision upon a charge, before punishment is inflicted, as nothing but a trick of parliament, nothing but the tactics of a party?
It is on these principles that I do call upon you for a decision: principles, the fair operation of which were never denied to any man before. I ask for no partial favour for the Duke of York, beyond that which is due to any other subject in the kingdom: but let it not be said, that in the first case of the sort which the house of commons has had to decide, it has made a precedent unfavourable to the party accused for no better reason than because the party accused was of the highest rank, and because justice done to him might therefore have been misrepresented as partiality! How any gentleman can have made up his mind to consent to a general lumping Address, condemning, by a comprehensive censure, without sentence, without reference to the proof of facts, to the gradations and degrees of blame, or to any just apportionment of punishment; and how, in agreeing to such an Address, any man can fancy that he is discharging conscientiously the duty imposed upon him on this occasion, does pass my understanding.
It is also beyond my comprehension, that those who profess to think the Duke of York "not guilty" of the heavy crimes laid to his charge, should support an Address recommending his removal; and that they should not consider even his removal enough, unless accompanied and embittered by such expressions of censure as this Address contains. I do not say that these gentlemen state an opinion which they do not hold with great sincerity; but if I were to adopt their view of this subject, and contend that immoral practices, and a loose life in certain particulars, even if not accompanied by political misconduct, disqualified for public situation, and called for parliamentary censure, I am afraid I could recur to many cases to which such a rule would have most inconveniently applied; cases, which would have deprived the state of some of its ablest servants, and this house of some of its brightest ornaments. If I were to permit myself to adopt what I think the unfair and unbecoming exaggeration of my hon. friend (Mr. Wilberforce,) and represent Buona- 606 parté as having these loose ladies in his pay, and laying snares, through them, for the statesmen of England, I might, perhaps, ask my honourable friend where his vigilance and suspicion have slept all this while! and whether, if every man in public situation, who was not altogether as chaste as himself, became, on that account, an object not only of constitutional jealousy, but of animadversion and punishment, he would not feel that he had a most painful duty upon his hands, and such as would, in the faithful execution of it, render the debates of this house so many questions, not of public interest, but of personal character?
But is any man prepared to say, that the moral guilt alone, without reference to political consequences, is a ground for condemnation at this tribunal? If so, it is ground for a legislative measure: it ought not to be proceeded upon merely by an Address to the King, confining itself to-this particular instance. This new sera of legislative morality ought to commence with a written and a general law; a law, which, to be just and fair, according to any analogy with other laws proposed to this house, must be warning and prospective and general; not retrospective and vindictive and of individual application. The present case cannot even be comprehended in such a law. The Duke of York could be brought within its operation only by a special clause; a sort of privilegium; not very just in its principle, nor, as British law, much approved in practice. But at ail events, frame your statute, before you proceed to act, as a house of parliament, for the first lime, upon views of morality; highly creditable, indeed, to those who entertain them, but never, till now, considered as the foundation of a parliamentary proceeding.
But whatever opinion may be entertained upon the subject of the moral impropriety of the Duke of York's connexions with the woman whom we have seen at our bar, is there any man who thinks that personal corruption stands only in the same degree of criminality; that there is no shade of distinction between the moral guilt, which is admitted, and the political guilt, which is denied? My honourable friend himself has almost avowed that it is not on that principle that he calls for a vote of general and undiscriminating censure: he has almost told us that he does so, because he apprehends that if the house come to a distinct vote on the first 607 and great charge, it will infallibly absolve the Duke of York on that charge; and such an acquittal once pronounced, he apprehends that all attempts at any further proceeding will be nugatory. Now, sir, in the utmost sincerity of my heart, I declare that I have no such view, in urging the house to come to a fair and manly decision of the main question. I do think that, the grave charge of corruption having been brought forward against the Duke of York, it is the duty of the house to dispose of that charge before it entertains the consideration of any incidental matter: but, that charge being once disposed of, I am far from meaning to say that there will not remain much matt r well worthy of separate discussion; much, worthy of blame, perhaps of reprehension; but of lighter moment, certainly, that the charge itself, than the corpus delicti of which it is or duty first to dispose. To that discussion I am prepared to bring a mind as unbiassed, and a judgment as little tinctured by prejudice, as that of my honourable friend himself, or of any man who agrees with him in opinion. Let us he moral, be censorious, be severe, if we think it necessary; but let us first be just.
So far from this (the obvious and only regular) course of proceeding, precluding ulterior consideration, we know, to a certainty, that when this first and principal question shall have been decided, we shall have the opportunity of discussing the o her points separately, in their turn. The right hon. gent. (Mr. Bragge Bathurst) has a resolution to propose, which will bring this subject fully under our view; which will call upon us to pronounce a distinct opinion as to the degree of blame attaching to the conduct of his royal highness the Duke of York, independently of the graver charges, and after they shall have been disposed of. Undoubtedly the course proposed by the right hon. gent, is the true practical course to be adopted by the house. I shall differ with him as to his resolution, indeed, in its present form: but his course is right. If there is to be censure, that censure is more fitly to be expressed in a resolution than in an address; and for this reason, that there, indeed, you do spare the feelings of the Father, (as some gentlemen profess it to be their wish to do, even in this amended Address,) not by carrying up an Address to the throne, respectful in its form, but stabbing to the heart in its contents; not by desiring the Father to form his own judg- 608 ment on the imputed misconduct of his son, but by keeping, as we have a right to do, that decision in our own hands, and pronouncing our own judgment on a matter of our own cognizance and jurisdiction.
The right hon. gent. (Mr. Bathurst) who is to propose this resolution, tells us that it is not his intention that it should produce the removal of the Commander in Chief front his office. I certainly think that, if such a resolution as he has in contemplation should be carried, the Duke of York's removal is pronounced. But even so, the course of the proceeding is right. The mode of resolution is the fit mode for conveying a censure, the effect of which is to be removal.
But in any case, in all cases, in any or in all modes of proceeding, this question of acquittal or condemnation upon the greater charges must take place, and must, in justice, precede even the examination of the less criminal matter of enquiry. To this justice, I say, the Duke of York, in common with every accused person, is entitled.
"Oh, (but it is said,) those only are entitled to this justice, who have not, by their own act, disinherited themselves of the rights and privileges of the British constitution." The Commander in Chief, it seems, has done this: he has written a letter, sir, through you, to this house, in which he has presumed to dictate to the house the mode of proceeding, and contumaciously to assert his innocence, and call for trial. True, sir, he has written a letter: he has, in that letter, not dictated, but taken for granted, the same course of justice, in his own case, which is applicable, and is uniformly applied, to all his fellow-subjects, tie has asserted his innocence. If that be denied, he has called for trial. What is there In all this, to deprive him of the right of being tried, to justify the condemning him unheard? Look at the meanest prisoner at a bar, who waits the decision of his jury on an accusation of the foulest felonies: what is the course with respect to him? His crime is stated to him: he says he is "not guilty." If he omits this plea himself, it is pleaded for him. In him this plea is not considered as contumacious; it is not considered as abdicating his right to a trial. On the contrary, the felon is then asked how he will be tried. He replies, "by God and his country." In the felon, this is not considered as dictating to his Judge. But in the Prince to call for a trial, is, it seems, a species of contempt of court, a re- 609 bellion against the supremacy of the tribunal before which he is arraigned, such as not only subjects him to punishment, but deprives him of the light of being tried. Is this equal justice? Will an lion, gent., (Mr. Whitbread,) who spoke, the other, day, with great ability and great warmth on this very topic of the equality of the rights of princes with those of ordinary men, will he suffer patiently, will lie consent to, and concur in effecting, the gross inequality which this argument would establish, to the prejudice of the person now under our consideration, only because he is a Prince? But the honour of a Prince" appeared to that lion. gent, a most offensive expression. Why so? The "honour" of a peer is a regular and purely technical form of affirmation: why not the "honour" of a prince? But the hon. gent, told us that the honour of a prince had been thus put in competition with the word of a prostitute, and that, being compelled to decide between them, he had felt himself obliged to believe the latter. "The Duke of York," said the hon. gent.," has aggravated his case, because I am thus put in a situation of the greatest difficulty and delicacy. I cannot condemn him of the crime with which he is charged, without condemning him, at the same time, of falsehood, vouched upon his honour." This was the substance of the hon. gent.'s argument. Was the like ever heard? A man is accused of a crime; he protests his innocence; and his protestation is contended to be an aggravation of his offence, because you cannot afterwards affirm his guilt, without contradicting his plea of innocence! And this is a case of difficulty and delicacy, forsooth, to the hon. gent, and his friends! O, this delicacy! it stands much in their way!
But, sir, what is there in this Letter of his royal highness not only so reprehensible, as it has been represented; but what is there so unusual or extraordinary? It must be admitted on all sides, that the Duke of York might have come to the bar of this house, and have stated verbally his denial of the charges exhibited against him. Every person accused before this house, peer or commoner, prince or peasant, has this right. It is the daily practice. But his royal highness, we know, by the rules and practice of another house, to which he owes obedience, must have asked permission to come here in person; and the House of Lords might—I do not say that they would—but they might—have refused that permission. To 610 have asked it would at least have been to give up the opportunity which he wished to seize, and to put himself wholly into their bands. Now I will ask any reasonable and candid man, if the Duke of York had done this, and if the House of Lords had prohibited his attendance, would not tin's very proceeding have been turned against him? With what taunting acrimony would it not have been said, "Why did he go to his peers with a whining story? We all know how jealous their noble natures are of the privileges of their own house, much more of the "honour of a prince;" and well must his royal highness have known that they would never suffer his personal appearance at the bar of the House of Commons. If he had any thing to say to the house, why did he not say it in a way that could not have been forbidden or intercepted by the caprice or pride of the house of lords? Could he not have addressed a letter to you, Sir, which would have answered every purpose, and been liable to no objection from the peers?"—Such would have been the language, if his royal highness had adopted the course of personal appearance. This difficulty it is probable that his royal highness foresaw. He therefore endeavoured to avoid it. He escaped from the possible objection of the house of lords, by addressing a letter to the house of commons: — and we see how that expedient is now turned against him. At all events, if it be an offence—if there be any thing disrespectful to you, Sir, or to the house, (and I protest I can see nothing, I have heard nothing, that is so)—if there be any thing inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution, (and if there is any such thing, I have not even heard it surmised); I should think, that to a man in his royal highness's situation some allowance might have been made; some venial error in judgment might have been overlooked. In all other courts, in all the tribunals of this country, in those of every country upon earth, such allowance would be made. Is it reserved for the stern justice of the house of commons to make a mere informality in the plea of innocence fatal even to innocence itself;—to ground on that error alone, (if error it were,) condemnation without trial, and punishment without proof and without mitigation.
At this late period of the debate, and in the exhausted state of the house, and of the topics belonging to this subject, it is a great relief to me, and it will, I have no doubt, be felt so by the house, that I do not find 611 myself called upon to go into any examination of the detail of the evidence which is accumulated upon your table. That has already been done, with distinguished ability, by many who have preceded me; and as my opinion concurs, in general,—indeed in almost all material points, with the exception only of one, (which I shall take occasion to particularize,)—with that of my right hon. friend, (the Chancellor of the Exchequer,) I do not think it necessary for me to add any thing to what has been so fully and so ably stated by him upon that part of the subject.
Upon the view of the evidence suggested by the speech of my right hon. friend, what appears most incontrovertible and most important is this; The only link that connects the foul transactions which have been developed to the house with his royal highness the Commander in Chief, is the testimony of the offender herself.—That this testimony has received partial confirmation from collateral and circumstantial evidence; that many statements which were at first sight thought incredible, have been confirmed, either by the testimony of others whose veracity is not questioned, or by letters produced by herself, or accidentally discovered, I readily allow; but nothing, independent of her own testimony, has proved the privity of the Duke of York.
My hon. friend (Mr. Wilberforce) dwelt much on this part of the subject, and particularly on the almost providential detection (as he would have it to be) of the Letters in possession of capt. Sandon; which Letters, he says, (rather incorrectly,) have been carefully evaded by all those who have spoken in defence of his royal highness. Does he know how many there were of those Letters? Let him refer to the printed volume of evidence. There are forty-two. Does he know how many of these were commented upon yesterday, in great detail, with laborious particularity, and with convincing clearness, by my hon. friend, (Mr. Croker,) the effect of whose commentary was so completely satisfactory as to make it worse than useless to follow him? Why, exactly thirty-one. This is surely a complete answer to the charge, that these Letters have been studiously left unnoticed. But neither is it true that these Letters, or any accidentally-discovered evidence, has gone to confirm the testimony of the principal witness and criminal, in respect to the privity of the Duke of York. It is incontrovertibly true that the charge of the Duke 612 of York's privity to Mrs. Clarke's corrupt practices rests on the testimony of Mrs. Clarke alone. I say her "corrupt practices" for with respect to her interference, without rebuke I cannot deny, and have no wish to excuse, the fact, that the Letter respecting gen. Clavering affords a decisive proof: but of corruption, or of the knowledge or suspicion of corruption, there is no proof at all; nor any thing that can, by the most uncharitable inference, be taken for proof.
The other piece of evidence which is thought to corroborate the testimony of the accusing witness, on this point, is the note respecting Tonyn; and this is the particular, with respect to which (as I have said) I entertain a different opinion from that declared by my right hon. friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer.) He thinks that Note a forgery. I certainly believe that Note to be genuine. After the most impartial consideration of what has been said for and against its authenticity, I am convinced (in my own judgment) that it is the Duke of York's Note. But I think, at the same time, that a most exaggerated importance has been given to this Note. The doubts of its authenticity, and the attempts to disprove it, may, perhaps, have contributed to this exaggeration.
If I am asked, how I can explain this Note innocently, I answer frankly, that I cannot explain it at all. I do not pretend to understand to what it refers. It is without date; it is an answer to a question, or a letter, which is not forthcoming; it contains three hurried lines: and in this total obscurity, and absence of any grounds of reasoning, or even of conjecture, I see nothing extraordinary in the not being able satisfactorily to explain it. The witness herself did not pretend to know any thing about it; nor, I dare say, would his royal highness.
But, sir, I must protest on behalf of all who are, or may be, public men, against an inference of guilt from such want of explanation. Any man who knows what it is to be in a situation to receive twenty, and write perhaps a dozen letters in a day, many of them from and to persons of whom they have no personal knowledge, will feel with me, that if a note, of which they may have neglected to keep a copy, is to be produced against them years after it was written, and they are to be called upon either to deny their hand-writing, or acknowledging it, to account for the contents, they may any day in the year most innocently and inadvertently write their own condemnation.
613 Why, sir, it happened to me to find among my papers, a very few days ago, the copy of a letter addressed by me to a lady, in these words:—"Madam, I have received your valuable present, and have only to assure you, that you may depend on my discretion."—This letter was written not long ago—since this inquiry began; but at the moment of finding if, I was so utterly unconscious to what it related, and to whom, that I am very sure, if it had been to be used against me ten years hence, it might (if inability to explain it were a sufficient evidence of guilt) have been absolutely conclusive against my honour, or perhaps my life. I could not help fancying to myself the process by which I should thus have been proved guilty. My lion, friend (Mr. Wilber-force) has told you that Buonaparté keeps ladies in his pay to corrupt the ministers of other courts. Well; here is a letter from the Secretary of State for foreign affairs, written on such a day to a lady, acknowledging a 'valuable present;" i. e. a bribe —a manifest bribe—and assuring her that she may "depend on his discretion." The very language of crime and confederacy! Now what could this be for? The treasonable intention is plain enough, but to what was it applied? Why, about that lime peace was concluded with the Ottoman Porte, as much against the expectation as against the interests of Buonaparte. Buonaparte was naturally anxious to learn the contents of the treaty; and, "See here," would my hon. friend, (Mr. Wilberforce,) or those who reason like him, exclaim "see here, the letter to the Lord Mayor, announcing this Turkish peace, just two days before the date of this most providentially-discovered letter." According to the reasoning applied to this note against Tonyn, here would be my condemnation complete. "A bribe was offered to the Secretary of Stale, of 10,000l. to betray the articles of the Turkish treaty to Buonaparte. The lady avows she offered it; and here is the copy of a letter found in the Secretary of State's drawer, which proves his acceptance!" Here then would be conviction, and punishment of course would follow.
Now, Sir, what was the real history of this letter? and who was this lady? This lady, sir, was a poetess, who did me the honour to send to me, but upon condition of my keeping her secret, her poem—"An Ode to Vaccination." This was the "present" which I acknowledged; and this was the "discretion" en which I assured her she 614 might depend. But ten years hence I should not have recollected this. In ten or five or two years, in all probability, I should have forgotten both the Ode and the lady: and if so, there would not have been wanting those who, according to this new mode of reasoning upon evidence, would have voted me guilty of high treason, and carried up an address to the throne for my removal.
Sir, I trust, if that note respecting Tonyn, because unexplained and unexplainable, is to operate the weight of a hair in judgment against the Duke of York, inferior courts of justice will not learn their inks and construction of evidence from us, the Commons of Great Britain.
Again then, I say, sir, there is nothing in these hidden treasures, the letters discovered in Sandon's possession, which, like the talisman in the Arabian Nights, were supposed to shed light around them, and open to view the darkest recesses of iniquity; I say there is nothing that goes to supply the link which is wanting, in the whole concatenation of evidence, to fasten the knowledge of the corrupt practices of Mrs. Clarke upon the Duke of York. In many instances, as in the case of Spedding, these papers, so accidentally, so providentially brought to light, directly contradict and disprove her statement.
But then, it is said, a witness who is incredible in some respects, is not so in all; therefore his testimony may still be believed, where it is corroborated by others. It will not be contended, however, that an incredible witness, such as Mrs. Clarke is allowed to be, is to have the whole of her evidence believed, because her testimony is accidentally strengthened in some parts: she is credible only where her evidence is confirmed. One gentleman, indeed, of great talents and eminence, the former Solicitor-General, (sir S. Romilly,) expressed an opinion, which, if he does entertain, I hope he will be found to be the only man who entertains it, "that a witness who is detected in giving false testimony, in one particular, at the bar of the House of Commons, is not so much to be distrusted, as to I the remaining part of his testimony, as a I witness who trips when upon cath; that perjury, indeed, affects not only that part of a witness's testimony which is proved to be false, but the whole; but that an unsworn falsehood vitiates only the part so falsified, and leaves the remainder as worthy of credit as before." Such I collected to 615 be the hon. and learned gent.'s doctrine; and a doctrine more monstrous in morals, or more destructive of the jurisdiction of the House of Commons, it would not be easy to devise. That a witness who speaks falsely when not on oath, is not thereby rendered wholly unworthy of belief, when the sanction of an oath is applied to him, is an intelligible proposition: a man might be ready to say, what he would not swear: but to maintain that he who is proved to have said one thing falsely, is not therefore liable to be suspected of saying another thing falsely; that he is to be believed in the remainder of his testimony, as if he bad not been detected in falsehood in a part; is a proposition which it will require something more than the single authority of that hon. and learned gent., (however he may pride himself on that singularity,) to maintain.
The main questions, therefore, to which you must come, are these: do you believe Mrs. Clarke's evidence, or do you not? Or do you see reason to think that there is a mixture of truth and falsehood hi it? There are but these three possible decrees of credit. Do you believe this woman altogether? She affirms corrupt knowledge and participation to the fullest extent. Believing this, you cannot refuse to bring the Duke of York to trial. Do you not believe her? Say so; say so by your vote; by a recorded sentence. Are you in doubt? Do you find it difficult to determine bow much to believe? how much to reject? That is precisely the case for further inquiry. "To be once in doubt is to be once resolved." Institute such inquiry as shall convert your doubts into certainties; and probe the matter to the bottom.
The evidence of Mrs. Clarke is true, or it is false, or it is partly false and partly true. Are there no means of sifting such evidence? Are there no sanctions, sacred in the eves of God and man, by which truth and false-hood can be discriminated? Have those sanctions been applied to this testimony? They have not. Dave you the power of applying them? Not of yourselves, but by reference to another tribunal. Can any honest man doubt, then, that such ought to be our course, rather (ban to confound the false and the true in a compromise of injustice, and to come to a conclusion which may be wrong either way, but can by no possibility be right?
But if the proof is deficient, what is the preemption of guilt in his royal highness 616 the Duke of York? Your Address affirms "that there were corrupt practices with respect to promotions, &c. in the army." It does not affirm that the Duke of York was cognizant of them: but it more than insinuates that he was, that be must have been so. What is the ground of this insinuation? These corrupt practices were carried on by a firm consisting of the Duke of York, Mrs. Clarke, col. Sandon, Mr. Donovan, and so forth. In 1806 this partnership is dissolved. The Duke of York goes one way; Mrs. Clarke and her associates the other. Are the practices continued after this separation? Yes. Br whom? By Mrs. Clarke and capt. Sandon. And yet you prosecute—whom? The Duke of York. You never hear of the Duke of York's mal-practices, except ill connection with Mrs. Clarke's name; of Mrs. Clarke there are abundant malpractices, wholly unconnected with the name of his royal highness: and yet you think it just to punish in him, not in her, the guilt of that which you do not even show him to have known.
But my hon. friend (Mr. Wilberforce) has told us that Dowler's case is a clear case; that it is clear this man did receive his appointment through the Duke of York's influence: and he gives a curious reason for this assertion. My hon. friend is, and wishes to be, distinguished, in the House and out of it, for his peculiar freedom from prejudices: but however uninfluenced by those prejudices himself, he does not conclude as charitably of others. "It is impossible," he says, "that Dowler should have been appointed by any other person than the Duke of York, because the other person to whom his appointment is attempted to be attributed, Mr. Commissary Brook Watson, differed from Mr. Dowler's father in politics!" The political differences of Mr. Commissary Watson and Mr. Deputy Dowler! Why, sir, what an opinion does my hon. friend form of mankind! When from those lofty heights, from that clear and serene atmosphere of philosophical indifference from which my hon. friend looks down upon the cares and the turmoils, the broils and the controversies, of this nether world, in which we men of business are versed and agitated, I can well conceive with what compassionate contempt he must regard those petty conflicts to which we are exposed, and from which he himself is free. But never did I conceive that my hon. friend could think so ill of us, 617 as to imagine that we had no guide or motive in our whole conduct but political animosity. If to employ men of another party be a presumption* of guilt in the employer, I am as guilty as any man: and the fault, or the virtue, be it which it may, which I have occasionally practised myself, I know not why Mr. Brook Watson should not have practised, in the case of Mr. Dowler; sprung though he were from the loins of Deputy Dowler, the most hostile, in political opinion, to the worthy Commissary himself.Dwells such a mighty rage in little men?or is it possible that my hon. friend can have meant gravely to state this as the reason which operates upon his mind to convince him of the Duke of Yolk's share in this appointment? Sir, the whole of this matter was new to me; the whole of this scene of high life below-stairs in politics; upon which my hon. friend lays so much stress. I did not know what were the politics of the worthy Deputy: but this I certainly did know, that Mr. Commissary Brook Watson had a wooden leg; and if the Deputy had not one, I confess this accidental difference would have appeared just as conclusive to my mind, against the appointment of Dowler's son, as that which my hon. friend has so solemnly proclaimed and exaggerated. As a proof of guilt in the Duke of York, either of these surmises would be precisely of equal value.
But my hon. friend tells us that all the world knew of this connexion; that it was matter of notoriety that the Duke of York was living in this state of disgraceful concubinage with Mrs. Clarke. I do assure the House, in the most solemn manner, that I did not know it; and that the first time that, to my recollection, I ever heard the name of Mrs. Clarke, was in this house, from the lips of the hon. gent, who is the accuser upon this occasion. I may be giving a great proof of my ignorance of what is going on in the world, by this declaration: but upon my honour it is true; and that of which I was ignorant may have been equally unknown to others.
This utter ignorance it was, coupled with the utter disbelief which I felt, of the Duke of York's submitting to the sort of traffic imputed to him, (a feeling which I should entertain in its full force, if I were to hear the same charges to-morrow brought against any honourable gentleman on the opposite benches,) that extorted 618 from me, on the night when the hon. gent, opened his charges, those expressions of indignation which I have so often, in the course of this debate, been called upon to retract or to explain. Sir, I have nothing to retract on that score; nothing to explain: but I have something to deny.
I did say that "infamy must rest somewhere", but I did not say that it must rest "either on the accuser or on the accused". I affirm this with confidence; not only from my recollection of the words, but from my recollection of what was the state of mind in which I spoke, and what the scope and purview of my statement on that occasion. I hare, besides, endeavoured to correct and confirm my own recollection, by reference to others, by reference to certain records which it would not be regular directly to name, but which I must describe, as well as I can, without naming. Suppose, sir, there were daily to be published accounts of what passes in this house, multiplied perhaps to the number of ten or a dozen, and suppose I were to find my words stated, according to my own recollection of them, in ten or eleven of those accounts, and stated, as the noble lord and those opposite recollect them, by only one of those reporters, and that one notoriously a decided enemy to me and to those with whom I act; should I not be warranted in considering the many which agreed in confirming my own recollection, as better authority than the one which contradicted it? Should I not be warranted in doing so, more especially if I should find, at the same time, another part of the same speech cautiously omitted in that one, and accurately detailed in almost all the others? I refer, sir, to what I said, in the same speech, about the liberty of the press. I said, that the libels on the Duke of York had been so frequent and so flagrant, "as almost to make good men hesitate whether the licentiousness of the press was not more mischievous than its liberty was beneficial". I said this, it is true; but in the same breath I added, "The hesitation, however, can be but for a moment: the blessings of the liberty of the press are so clear and so acknowledged, as far to outweigh the mischiefs of its abuse. The evil is transitory, but the good is immortal". Now, sir, if in this part of my speech also I were to find the sentiment omitted which qualifies the expression of doubt, but the doubt itself carefully recorded; if I should find this omission in one record only, and 619 that one the same in which the other part of my speech was misrepresented; and if I were to find both the omission and misrepresentation made in that same record the ground of invective and invidious comment: could I fail to be confirmed in my own recollection of my own words and meaning? or could I doubt for what purpose both had been intentionally disfigured?
The noble lord (Folkestone) who has so loudly called upon me for retractation and apology, spoke, no doubt, on the supposition of what he conceived to be true: he will now, I hope, believe me, and correct the impression under which he spoke. The 'infamy', which I anticipated, was to light, where light it will, whatever be the issue of the present question, on that accursed combination whose practices we have seen developed at our bar; a combination, of which the hon. gent, has been, I hope, the unwilling and innocent instrument; and of which his royal highness the Duke of York has been, unhappily, both the dupe and the victim.
But it is said that I gave to the hon. gentleman the odious title of 'accuser'. And if I have so stiled him, where is the blame? Is the title false in fact, or dishonouring in its application? The fact is clear. The merit depends upon the motive. The noble lord, however, complains of this title, as given to his honourable friend, only perhaps because he thought it given to him exclusively. The noble lord is jealous of his share of the merit: he wishes to come into a society and partnership of the glory earned by his honourable friend. The noble lord is welcome to his full share. But yet, whatever be the result of this inquiry, I confess I cannot offer the honourable gentleman my congratulations. Of the motives upon which he has acted I do not presume to judge. They may have been, and I dare say they were, pure and honourable. With the conduct of the honourable gentleman in this house, since the commencement of the inquiry, I am not disposed to quarrel: but still I cannot congratulate him. I cannot concur in the opinion that he has done a great national good. Much rather do I agree with the hon. gentleman, (Mr. Bankes,) whose proposed amendment is now before us, that whatever the issue may be, much irrepara rable mischief will have been done; more at least than we can hope to see remedied. Whether, with a view to contingent good, it was right to bring forward these charges, 620 is matter of judgment and conscience which I have no doubt the hon. gent, weighed well, before he brought them forward. Not only ought he, in my opinion, to have sifted, anxiously and jealously, his own motives, so as to be sure that nothing of personal feeling, of resentment, or of dislike, entered into them; but he ought to have decidedly made up his own conviction that the proportion of evil to be produced by this proceeding was not greater than that of the good which he could hope to do. The legitimate end of punishment is prevention: but here the crime was confessedly at an end, at least in the person whom he proposed to punish. I should not myself think that the abstract benefit to be obtained by punishment, as such, without a view to its consequences, could have such a value in any man's eyes, as to make him feel it his duty to drag every past-gone transgression into open day, for the sole purpose of visiting them with punishment. Redress public evils with a diligent zeal, and with a careful hand. But whether the consequences of such an investigation may not be to produce public evils of a far greater magnitude than those which you punish, is a considerat on to which I wish the hon. gent, had given its due weight before he embarked in this undertaking. Now it is too late. The house has no option.
I am aware, Sir, that the opinions may expose me to much misrepresentation. I shall hear my self reported to have said, perhaps, that the transgressions of princes are to be overlooked, defended, or rewarded. I care not for such misrepresentation. I am conscious of the integrity of the motives which dictate my opinions: and looking to the consequences of this inquiry, which may be such as to shake this great empire to its foundation; and comparing that possible danger with the degree of good which any the most sanguine moralist can conceive to arise from the abstract, consideration, of punishment inflicted, and misconduct exposed, to no visible practical purpose; I cannot help declaring, that while I am willing to give the hon. gent, due credit for the sincerity and goodness of his intentions, I cannot consider him as a great public benefactor. I must add. Sir, that if thanks shall be proposed to the hon. gentleman, as I understand is in the contemplation of some persons, I shall stand forward, and I trust I shall stand forward not alone, (though alone I would do 621 it) to endeavour to induce this house to reject such a proposition.
Having stated what occurs to me, Sir, upon the Addresses proposed for our adoption, so far as regards the persons who is the object of the charges, I would next lake the liberty shortly to consider them "as they respect the person to whom they are to be presented.
Here, Sir, I have a radical difference of opinion with the supporters of both the Addresses. If the sentiments which they contain ought to be adopted at all, they ought, in my opinion, to be adopted in the shape of resolutions. Whether the sentiments ought to be adopted is not so much the subject of discussion now. We are now discussing the first step to be taken; the shape in which our proceeding shall be framed.
My right hon. friend, indeed, (the Chancellor of the Exchequer,) has it in his contemplation to propose an Address after his Resolution. With his views of the subject, this seems perfectly natural. Intending, if he can, to induce the house of commons to acquit the Duke of York, and dismiss him with a censure, but not a disqualifying one, it is natural he should wish to carry such an acquittal, with such a qualification, directly to the throne. The acquittal must be soothing to the feelings of the individual to whom it is thus communicated, and the censure is no more than that in which parental feeling may be expected to concur: but if you mean removal; if you mean punishment; if you mean to say that your confidence is forfeited for ever; why address these sentiments directly to the ears of a father, when every practical purpose can be equally answered by expressing them in a form less personal, and far less unkind?
I know, Sir, that in the language of parliament I must not advert to considerations which in every other case, and before every other tribunal, would be thought worthy of some attention. The venerable age, the infirmities, and the virtues of the royal person whose heart is to be torn by this Address, are surely not to be overlooked in the question of the mere form of your proceeding. I do not say, God forbid! that these considerations should warp the decision; but surely they may be allowed, blamelessly allowed, to operate upon the manner of pronouncing it.
It was stated some nights ago, with as much truth as eloquence, that we owe to 622 the sovereign now upon the throne not only that allegiance and duty to which his high functions entitle him, and which the institutions of the country prescribe and consecrate, but we owe to him, eminently and individually, gratitude for the preservation of those institutions themselves. Who but must recollect the time when the minds of men in this country were unsettled by the first shock of the French revolution, and when the wildness of theory and speculation put to hazard all the establishments of the state? Who but must recollect that at that most agitated and alarming period, when the frame of our constitution, the whole fabric of our laws, and the authority of parliament itself, were threatened to be jostled out of their order, and laid in ruins, that even then, amidst the conflicts of passion, and the schemes of change, the throne was kept steady by the virtues of him who filled it; and that while every thing else, however venerable, was endangered, the monarchy was worshipped in the person of the King?
Of such an individual would you not wish to spare the feelings? This Address itself professes to intend to do so. With what delicacy—
§ Mr. Tierney
said he rose to call the right hon. gentleman to order, conceiving he was using the King's name to influence the house.
. Sir, the hon. gentleman has interrupted me, perhaps not improperly. I feel no resentment for the interruption. Unquestionably the argument is one not easy to manage in perfectly strict conformity to the rules and orders of the house. The right hon. gent, has a right to enforce those orders: but then I entreat the house to observe in what a situation he places me. This Address, indeed both Addresses, and the mode of proceeding by Address, have been defended on the ground that it was proper to proceed in the manner least injurious to the feelings of the King. The Addresses themselves contain this sentiment; The supporters of the Addresses have recommended the adoption of them on this ground. But when I proceed to examine the truth of the statement on the faith of which we are called upon to vote; when I presume to enquire how far the Address is consistent with the professed purpose of those who framed it; how far they have executed their own intention, and secured their own object; I am stopped by the right hon. gentleman, who tells me that I 623 am out of order. The Addresses are praised because they are so tender of the King's feelings: but when I venture to describe those feelings, and to probe this professed tenderness, I am told that I travel on forbidden ground, and that you, Sir, and the house, must not hear me! Is this just? With this topic, however, I have done.
But if the Addresses are not framed to my taste and feelings, I confess they are still less framed to my understanding. The reference to the Committee was, as I have already observed, to investigate the conduct of his royal highness the Duke of York in respect to promotions in the army, & c: this, therefore, is the object to which the statements of the Address ought to have been directed; not generally to abuses in the army, but specifically to the conduct of the Duke of York. Is it a correct execution of this purpose, to carry up to the Throne a general complaint of abuses in the army, avoiding altogether a distinct report on the question of the Duke of York's criminality or innocence in respect to those abuses? Yet such is the tenor of the Address, as originally moved; nor does the amended one get rid of the objection. Is this doing your duty by the country or by the King? Do you not desert that duty, if, such a reference having been made to you, you do not clearly speak out upon the specific point so referred? Does it not become you to inform his majesty, in the first paragraph of your Address, whether you consider, not merely the fact of abuses existing to have been proved, but the Duke of York's privity and participation? You shorten and lighten your own task, to be sure, by shifting this burthen from your own shoulders upon those of the King. I beg the hon. gentleman's pardon; I am here in order. I now speak not of the king personally, but of the King, in his political capacity; as he is to act upon this Address, and to act, of course by the advice of his ministers, upon it. Now as one of those ministers upon whom the responsibility of that advice is to fall, I do claim of the justice and good sense of the house, that they will speak out their judgment plainly. As this Address is framed, I protest I know not how the King's ministers are to advise his majesty to act, or what judgment they are to understand it as conveying.
Your Committee have sat six weeks, examining evidence; you have been sitting a week debating upon the report of the evidence. The first important point to be 624 decided is, whether the charges against the Duke of York are true or not? And when you come to your Address, you frame paragraph after paragraph, one may read page after page, and not a word, directly, of the Duke of York; no more than if his royal highness's name had not been brought into question. At length one finds that "it is the opinion of this house that the Duke of York" is guilty of corruption? No. That the abuses stated to have existed, are his abuses? No. That he encouraged and protected them? No; no such thing: but simply that they could hardly have existed without his knowledge. And is even this opinion, far short as it is of an imputation of wilful guilt, stated positively, and without doubt or qualification? Nothing like it. This statement is helped out with an alternative, and even this alternative to be of a piece with the rest, is expressed as doubtfully as the statement. Even if the Duke of York could be supposed not to have known these things, still—still what? Still he ought to be dismissed from his office? No, not precisely that—something like it—but not quite that. Still what, then I Why, still "it might be matter of doubt how far he could prudently be continued in his office". Of doubt with whom—doubt, by whom to be resolved? One should have thought, by those who entertain it: but no such thing The doubt is entertained by the House of Commons: the solution of it is submitted to his majesty. This is the sum of the Address, and this is an Address that purports to be restrained and mitigated by motives of respect and attachment to his Majesty! These are your plain speakers! This is the honest, upright, downright, straight forward line of conduct which is so loudly recommended to you, with no slight intimation that if you do not adopt it, your functions as a House of Commons, will fall into contempt. Why, Sir, if we wish to fall into contempt for the very reverse of these fine qualities, for shabbiness, for shuffling, for dereliction of duty, for not knowing our own meaning, or not having the sense or the courage to express it, we have only to adopt the Address now in question. If we wish to place the King, the constitutional King I mean, the King's advisers, in a situation in which they cannot do their duty, because they cannot collect what ought, or is intended to be done, this Address is an admirable expedient for that object. For any other object it is wholly unintelligible.
There is a passage in a preceding part 625 of the Address, which, if I had met with it, not in an Address proposed to this house, but in an anonymous handbill, I should have said was intended to produce serious mischief. I mean that part of it which begins with the words "Without entering", &c. and concludes with stating that such an opinion must "necessarily wound the feelings, and abate the zeal, of all ranks and descriptions of his Majesty's army". Now, in the probability of any mischief being produced by this passage, I do not believe: I do not believe that the army are disposed to look minutely and jealously into such matters as these, and to measure their allegiance, their loyalty, and their zeal, by the result of this enquiry. Even the promotion of Samuel Carter, which was made out to be so flagrant a case at the beginning of this business, but which all parties now seem pretty well contented to lay aside, or to consider rather as an instance of good-nature than of criminality, will, I firmly believe, produce none of those effects upon the officers of the army which were predicted from it. They will no more feel themselves degraded by Samuel Carter's commission, than the noble lord over the way, who wears a coronet earned by public services, would feel his rank degraded, because he may hear that persons have in former times been admitted into the peerage by favour or corruption, through the intrigues of a court, or the venality of a mistress. The army is too sound, thank God! to be affected by such suggestions; and in the state of the army, as it now stands, the merits of the Duke of York are written in characters which record his honour.
But "the opinion of the house is, that the abuses could not have prevailed, to the extent in which they have been proved to exist, without the knowledge of the Commander in Chief". So, then this, after all, is the extent of the crime which the addressers are prepared to impute, at the close of the investigation; it is that which even they do not say has been proved. They do notaver the Duke of York's privity; they only think it very odd that he should not have been privy.
If that is not the extent of their meaning; if I wrong them; if the framers and supporters of this Address mean to say that so much, though no more, is satisfactorily proved; let them say so plainly. Let them aver plainly that as far as it went to influence exercised over the mind of the 626 Duke of York, the accusation was true; but that the accusers have failed in the other part of their original statement, that of criminal connivance. Let the hon. gent, himself, the original accuser, do this, if he is contented to be party to this opinion; which he must be, if he votes for this Address.
I can conceive cases in which to he a public accuser may be a duty: but I can conceive no case, in which having been induced, by a sense of duty, to prefer, against any individual, charges affecting his honour, his character, and every thing dear to man, and having failed in proving them, I should hesitate to avow in the face of the world, to avow, and to rejoice in, my failure.
Not such, however, are the feelings of those who framed the first of these Addresses. The positive charge of actual criminality is dwindled down, in their own view, to a mere suspicion that there may have been a want of due suspicion, on the part of the Duke of York, of the practices of other persons; yet even that change, that total shifting of the ground of accusation, and the doubtfulness of that accusation, altered as it is from the original charge, is not to benefit the Duke of York: for then comes the saving alternative, "even if upon any principle of reason or probability it could be presumed that abuses so various and so long continued could in fact have prevailed without his knowledge, such assumption in his favour would not warrant the conclusion that the command of the army ought to be continued in his hands". Now as matter of curiosity, will any gentleman show me' where, in any statement intended to be submitted to the consideration of reasonable men, there is to be found such a proposition as this, "We are inclined to believe him to be guilty: but even if we could suppose him innocent, that would not prevent us from thinking him deserving of punishment; and therefore at all events punish him, we beseech you". I do not ask if this be justice: I ask if it is common-sense. I do not ask you to amend it, for it is unamendable. Let in stand on the Journals as a proof of what the movers of the business would have done, if the good sense of the House of Commons had not prevented them: as the first, and, I trust, the last instance, of an Address of alternatives, in which the King is called upon to come to the same conclusion from opposite premises, and to deal out punishment alike 627 to guilt or innocence, the guilt or innocence of his son!
So sensible is my hon. friend (Mr. Bankes) of this fault in the Address of the original mover, that he has been under the necessity of preparing one of his own: but he has unluckily suffered it to be so inoculated with other matter than that which properly belonged to it, that it retains nothing of the character of precision which my hon. friend's mind would have imparted to any composition exclusively his own. As it is, from the mixture of different opinions he has produced a confused species, a sort of mule, which, to the ill qualities belonging to the ignoble race from which, in part, it comes, appears, by the pertinacity with which it is defended, to join the obstinacy peculiar to the mulish nature. This Address of my hon. friend sets out with the same fault as its parent, that it descants generally upon the abuses in the army promotions, not upon the Duke of York's share in them. These abuses might have existed if the Duke of York had never been born. The question referred to the Committee was the conduct of his royal highness the Duke of York, in respect to them. My hon. friend would report that the abuses have existed; but then he is compelled, by his view of the case, to add, that "it is highly satisfactory to this House to find no ground, in any of these proceedings, for charging his royal highness the Commander in Chief with personal corruption, or participation in any profits derived through undue means.
Well, Sir, if this be my hon. friend's opinion, I cannot, will not, despair of making him see how idle and unjust it is to persevere for one moment in support of his own Address. Does not my hon. friend know and feel that his Address, if carried, is, equally with that of the original mover, of fatal consequence to the Duke of York's character, and that it makes him a miserable and degraded man for the rest of his life? That if the innocence of his royal highness, in respect to the foul and criminal part of the charges against him, be as clearly ascertained as my hon. friend admits it to be, it is the duty of those who pronounce this judgment, in framing the verdict of acquittal, to do it in the manner that may give the most perfect satisfaction to all those who are- interested in the decision, that shall leave nothing in uncertainty, nothing to be mistaken or misrepresented?
Do not let me be misunderstood as saying, 628 that, this acquittal once pronounced, it would be the less the duty of the house to proceed to a distinct consideration of what would still remain behind, after we have disposed of the corpus delicti charged against the Duke of York. That consideration is matter of separate question. It is matter important enough to engage the undivided attention of the house. But the criminal charge being to be negatived, it is not ingenuous, it is not just, to involve the clear acquittal upon that main point with matters which are dubious; and which, though important enough in themselves, are comparatively of far less importance.
If you are to pronounce the acquittal upon the main charge; if that acquittal is deserved, yon have no right to clog it, and to diminish its value by the mixture of an imperfect censure upon the inferior allegations. It is due to the person arraigned to pronounce unequivocally, as to guilt or innocence, upon the criminal matter charged, before we descend to refinements and shades of culpability deserving of reprehension, if you will, but not to be mixed with the substantial issue on which the Duke of York is tried.
In some respects my hon. friend's Address is more unjustifiable than the original one; in respect to its mixture and confusion of charges. The original Address insinuates corruption and connivance, but concludes, upon negligence at least, supposing connivance not proved. My hon. friend finds two or three shades to interpose between connivance and mere negligence; just as in the time of Robespierre, a scale and graduation of suspicion were invented for the cases of persons whom he wished to condemn. There were first the criminal, then the suspicious persons; and then there was a third class, not actually suspicious, but suspected of being so—soupçonnés détre suspects.
I am far from desiring that any man should consider his opinion as pledged, by the vote of this night, not to examine diligently into those parts of the case of which the vote of to-night does not dispose. I do not consider my own as so pledged, by the vote which I shall this night give. But in attempting to evade the graver charge which you must, in justice, decide, by the interposition of his confounding and generalizing Address, my hon. friend puts an impediment in the way of what I consider as the plain course of justice, which I must try 629 to remove by my vote, before I can come to any second Resolution. The subject of the first Resolution, and a Resolution it must be, is "Guilty or not guilty of corruption, or criminal connivance?
It is very line to talk of taking a comprehensive view of a case. A comprehensive view is a very right view to take, when by being comprehensive, it does not become indistinct: but to walk in twilight when you may walk in broad day, is a choice no way intelligible on principles of reasoning, and no way defensible on principles of justice.
Sir, I have said that our course should be, not by Address, but by Resolution. I should say, with little qualification, that the course recommended by the lion, mover, and adopted by my bolt, friend, is unprecedented, lie will not find instances of decision by Address as the result of inquiries in the house of commons, except in cases where either some previous proceeding, such as an examination by commissioners, had taken place; or where some ulterior proceeding, such as legal prosecution or impeachment, were in contemplation.
It has been said, indeed, that if there is any thing unjust or inconvenient in the mode proposed, ministers are answerable for it; for that we advised and encouraged the examination at the bar. Sir, I can distinctly state for myself, because I am sure I stated it on the first night on which the bon. gentleman opened his proceeding, that I was for examination at the bar, because I thought it would lead, and ought to lead, to an impeachment, in the event of impeachable matter being discovered. But if you had told me that you would content yourselves with such evidence as this, the sweepings of the streets and the stews, and that upon such evidence, unsifted and unsanctioned, you would propose, at once, a summary proceeding; most undoubtedly I should have "been the first to object to an examination at the bar, instead of being one of the first to recommend it.
I considered the house as sitting in its inquisitorial capacity, and looked, without jealousy or apprehension, on its exercise of that capacity in its widest extent, because I looked to subsequent investigation of the evidence by more formal and strict jurisdiction: but I did not think that by restoring you, Sir, to the chair, we should at once become Judges instead of jurymen, and proceed to sentence without further trial.
Even now I do not repent of the proceeding, because whatever the determination 630 of the house of commons shall be, it will evince, I am sure, an upright intention. But equally sure am I, that such decision can be but one of two: either to dismiss the charge (the criminal charge, I mean) against the Duke of York; that is, not to find the bill; or if there be ground for criminally accusing him, to carry up that accusation to another tribunal, where it may be heard without prejudice, under the sanction of law, and with all the forms as well as the substance of justice; where that which is false, in the testimony which we have heard, may be effectually separated from that which is true.
The proceeding by Resolution is that which has been adopted in almost all instances, in good limes, from that of the Duke of Marlborough down to the last instance, in the case of Lord Melville. Of Addresses, not either preceded by some examination where the evidence was taken on oath, or not founded on previous Resolution, I have not found approved instances. I have found instances enough to show that the other is the approved parliamentary practice. Why then should we depart from it on the present occasion? Why are we to do this I Because, forsooth, there is a public expectation awakened of some immediate and sweeping act of wrath and vengeance on the part of the house of commons; and in your eagerness to gratify that expectation, you must refuse to listen to the voice of justice and reason, and to follow the recorded practice of good times!
I would fain persuade you to adhere to sound precedent. But according to some doctrines of this day, you must shut your ears to every thing that I, or any one in my situation, can say to you. For we have heard from an hon. baronet, (sir Francis Burdett), whose usual practice it is to impute to persons in office all sorts of corruption and incapacity; but we have beard it not from him only; he has been followed by one of the greatest landed proprietors among us, (Mr. Coke), a gentleman who seems to think that he derives from his landed property a degree of authority which property alone, however great, cannot confer,—that what comes from any man in office, on this or any other subject, is not to be attended to; that it is worth nothing. Sir, from whatever quarter such sentiments proceed, I hear them with scorn. They disgrace only those who utter them; and show only what it is that they who are capable of im- 631 puting base motives to others would themselves be, if they were in official situations.
But however I may despise such sentiments, I cannot hear them without regret; because I know that property, in times like those in which we live, has need of all the protection which good order and good government can give it; and I think it but ill pleads its own cause, and but ill provides for its own security, when its possessors endeavour to instill into the minds of the people a distrust, not of this or that individual, but of the whole class and description of public men. The hon. gentleman who uttered this sentiment may fancy himself safe, in the extent of his possessions, from ah the inconveniencies attending popular commotion; but let him not think that the destruction of the authority of government, and the degradation (if his opinion or his exertions could effect that degradation) of ail those who, by their habits and their education, are qualified for public life, or by an honourable ambition are led to en gage in it, however it might conduce to the aggrandisement of his individual importance for a time, would in the end secure the stability of that property on which he founds his pretensions to pre-eminence.
I have now nearly done. I hope I have done my duty, I have not contended: I am the last man who will contend, that any preference ought to be shown to the illustrious person upon whom we are sitting in judgment, on account of the rank to which he is born. But I think as we deal with him, posterity will deal with us. They will judge us fairly and favourably, as we deal towards him with scrupulous justice. But justice, be it remembered, excludes intimidation and popular clamour on the one hand, as much as it excludes favour and prejudice on the other.
I will add but one word more. An hon. and learned gent, (sir S. Romilly) spoke of revolution and civil war as possible events to arise from (I know not precisely what) causes which exist in the present state of this country. I feel the time and the situation in which we are placed to be awful in the extreme. But I do not conceive that the question now before us has, in the most exaggerated view that can be taken of it, any thing to do with apprehensions of revolution. The house of commons has exercised its undoubted authority over a case and a personage of the highest importance and interest to the public. In that I see nothing that leads to 632 revolution. If, indeed, it were attempted to be argued that every man of high station, once accused, must be sacrificed, because a revolution would be the consequence of his acquittal; if such a doctrine can be maintained and adopted here, then indeed we are farther gone, than I had apprehended, in the road to that very evil which the hon. and learned gent, professes to wish to avoid. But I trust the hon. and learned gentleman's fears (for menaces I will not call them) are visionary.
Whatever our decision shall be, I fear not for the character of the house of commons. The confidence which I feel in this respect does not proceed from indifference. I deem as highly of this branch of the constitution as any man. I think it would be difficult to point out the individual who must, from every motive of education, of personal feeling, and, I hope, not dishonest ambition, be more sincerely interested in the honour of the house of commons; in the maintenance of its honour in the eyes of the country; and of its power, its preponderance in the balance of the state. But I would not flatter the house of commons any more than I would offer adulation to my sovereign. I would not betray either into an abuse of power, by encouraging either to mistake power for right. The house of commons, acting upon this principle, would be a despot; and a despot whose tyranny would not he less intolerable than that of a single tyrant. It is not every tiling which the house of commons can do, that it therefore ought to do. It is not because it has the power to sweep from his station whomever it may choose to sacrifice to its displeasure, that it would be justified in condemning the Duke of York either against evidence or without trial; in condemning him principle than that who equally to the meanest individual; or by any other process than that of impartial and dispassionate justice.
amidst a violent cry of "question", and "spoke", from every part of the house, rose to speak in explanation, and addressing the Speaker, said: I shall not detain the house many minutes; but, Sir, the personal allusions that have been made by the right hon. gent, who has just sat down, I find it impossible to pass over in silence. In an early part of the debate this night, I endeavoured to set him right with respect to the motive by which I have been uniformly actuated in my conduct on 633 this important question, but the right hon. gent, did not avail himself of my suggestions to correct his misconceptions, With respect to the supposed assertion of the right hon. gentleman, of the charge of infamy attaching to the accuser or the accused, in what I said, I argued on the supposition that such an expression had escaped the right hon. gentleman. As, however, he has so pointedly disclaimed and disavowed the expression, my observation must naturally fall to the ground. I, however, beg leave to say, that it was not upon any document that! I founded the presumption of his having used the expression; hut upon what I thought I had heard with my own ears. It however appears, from the statement of the right hon. gentleman, that I must have been mistaken, and therefore I shall not notice the subject further at this time than to express my surprise and regret, that the right hon. gentleman did not take an earlier opportunity of making this disavowal. On the subject, Sir, of the insinuation which the right hon. gentleman has made, respecting transactions that took place before those from whom I derive my existence were born, it would be affectation in me to pretend that I do not understand the force and tendency of this allusion. The house shewed, by the general laugh which followed, that it was generally understood. That allusion, Sir, has been grounded not on any fact that has been proved, but on mere rumours, the truth of which those most interested and most desirous to discover the truth have never yet been able to ascertain. He has thrown out these insinuations, either to influence my conduct, or to attach some blame upon myself. If the motive be to influence my conduct, and that too by the allusion to transactions which took place before those to whom I am indebted for my existence, were born, I beg leave to ask the house in what view my conduct ought to be influenced by transactions, in which I thus had, and could have, no concern? If the object be to attach blame to me, I will only say, that we are told, that the Almighty visits the sins of the fathers upon their children to the third and fourth generation, but that I did not expect, that even that right hon. gentleman would have arrogated to himself such a power. I will leave it to the house to judge, not only of the fairness, the candour, the liberality, of the right hon. gent, but even of the decency of—[Here the Speaker interfered, by stating with great mildness, that he would put to the noble 634 lord the propriety of desisting from the course of explanation he was pursuing, as it certainly had for its object direct personality against the right hon. gent.—Much tumult ensued, and the Speaker expressed his hope that the house would interpose in such a manner as to express its opinion.]—Lord Folkestone resumed: Sir, I will merely add, that I will put it to the judgment and moderation of this house to decide upon the fairness; the candour; the liberality; the decency; and the justice, of the personal allusions made by the right hon. gentleman.
Although desirous, Sir, of delivering my sentiments on this most important subject at an earlier period, I have hitherto forborne to present myself to the house, from the anxiety manifested by so many gentlemen to take a part in the debate; and at this late hour, I shall not think of troubling the house at any length; but there are some points in this important question, which I cannot pass over in silence, and to which I request the short attention of the house. Before I proceed to the delivery of my opinion on the case under consideration, I cannot but take the opportunity of expressing my satisfaction at the very judicious speech with which this motion was brought forward, and in which there was a total absence of personality; with a very manifest and prominent desire of entering into a calm, cool, and dispassionate consideration of the question. Indeed, I do hope and trust, that it is out of the power of any person, either within or without this house, to impute the smallest appearance of party spirit to the manner in which this important question has been discussed. The right hon. gent, who spoke last (Mr. Canning), assumes it as a position, that it is necessary to proceed by Resolutions instead of an Address, in justice to the Duke of York; because this house ought to come to a particular decision on the accusation. Now, on what principle this argument is founded, in a case in which the conduct of a public officer of such high consideration is implicated—where he has found precedent, or principle for proceeding by Resolutions rather than by an Address, I do profess I am totally at a loss to comprehend. No charge whatever is made in this case, which is merely a corn-plaint made by a member of this house with relation to the conduct of a public officer; and the house, as I conceive, is perfectly at liberty to adopt what form of proceeding it 635 pleases. But the right hon. gent, says, that if we proceed by way of Resolution, and should, upon the question being put, adopt any such Resolution as might be proposed, it will be competent to any member to proceed subsequently by Address, by which mode of proceeding we should be able to examine the conduct of the public officer so accused, without disqualifying him in the first instance. There is, says he, in this case, a distinction that ought to be preserved; for the measure proposed, being that of the removal of an officer of high consideration, this house ought not to compromise its opinions, but should strictly adhere to a separate consideration of the Charges, or rather Accusations against the Duke of York. Sir, if that course were to be pursued, the house could not come to a determination on the merits of the case in six weeks, nor perhaps in as many months, for in every part of the evidence, so much difference might be found to exist, that every individual member of the house might, by possibility, have to offer a distinct proposition. It is perfectly clear, that a very considerable number of the members of this house are of opinion, that the public officer, whose case is under consideration of the house, ought to be removed from the important situation which he now holds. That he ought to be removed, I have not the smallest doubt; although I am not t this moment prepared to come to a vote that his royal highness has been guilty of what is called personal corruption: for of this charge or accusation of personal: corruption I do feel disposed to acquit him. But, Sir, I feel it impossible to say that there is the smallest reason to believe that the Duke of York had no knowledge of the foul and infamous transactions which have been brought to light in the course of this inquiry. Sir, when my learned and hon. friend who sits on the same bench with me (Mr. Adam) was examined as a witness in his place in this house, he told us that he had questioned the Commander in Chief minutely and specifically, when the subject of that mysterious Note respecting Tonyn's promotion, which was so unsuccessfully attempted to be proved a forgery, was submitted to him, whether he had ever corresponded with Mrs. Clarke on the subject of military promotions? to which he answered, that he never had corresponded with Mrs. Clarke on such subjects. And this the Duke of York asserted, and re-asserted, 636 both to col. Gordon and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He even declared, that he had never more than one conversation with her on the subject of military promotions, which conversation was very soon after the commencement of their connection On that single occasion the Commander in Chief admitted that Mrs. Clarke did speak to him on the subject of military promotions, but he instantly informed her that it was a matter of so much delicacy, and was so utterly improper for him to hear, that he particularly requested she would never again, upon any account, revive that subject; and finally, that he never afterwards had any communication with Mrs. Clarke on the subject of military promotions. Here, then, Sir, we find from the statement of the Commander in Chief himself, that at the very commencement of his association with Mrs. Clarke, he was perfectly aware of the impropriety and inadmissibility of her interference in military promotions. Now, Sir, is it not most extraordinary that we find by proof, which is not capable of being disproved, that the Duke of York did actually hold intercourse, in several instances, with Mrs. Clarke on the subject of military promotions? on that subject, of the impropriety of which his royal highness had expressed so correct an opinion to her at the commencement of their cohabitation I ask, then, how any man who considers these circumstances can believe that the Duke of York had no knowledge of the various transactions which have been laid before this house I As to Tonyn's note, I think it cannot, now enter into the mind of any man seriously to doubt its authenticity. As well might gen. Clavering have questioned that of the letters in his own handwriting; as well might be questioned the authenticity of the letters of his royal highness from Sandgate and Weymouth. Sir, I do not believe in the personal corruption of the Duke of York. I do not believe that there was any thing like pecuniary participation; but I do say, that it is not possible for any man seriously to reflect on this note, accompanied by all the circumstances of Tonyn's case, without a full conviction that Mrs. Clarke exercised that interference in military promotions which was inconsistent with the propriety of the important office held by the Duke of York, the existence of which interference he had directly and unequivocally denied to my learned and hon. friend, to col. Gordon, and to the 637 Chancellor of the Exchequer. But, Sir, independent of this case, which I think must be admitted oh all hands to be irrefragable proof of the interference of Mrs. Clarke, there is the very strong, and, in my apprehension, disgraceful case of Kennett. Let any man read the correspondence relating to Kennett, the letters he wrote to various persons connected with the Duke of York, and the various answers to those letters, and say whether there is not ample evidence of improper interference? This negociation, this disgraceful traffic, I know, Sir, was coupled with a solicitation for an office of some value, the Collectorship of the Customs of Surinam; and in a letter, not that relative to the Loan of 70,000l. which was negotiating, but in another letter of the 16th Sept. 1804, Kennett expresses his anxiety for the Collectorship, after all reasonable hope might have been supposed to be extinguished; he says, in that letter, "that the gentleman from whom he desired the Collectorship still flattered himself with the hope of getting it, and if that object could be effected he would advance to any amount". Now this letter was addressed to col. Taylor, and the substance of it was stated to the Duke of York. Yet we do not find that after this glaring and direct proposition the correspondence was discontinued. There is not, it is true, in this case, any evidence of direct and completed personal corruption; but combining this transaction with the different letters, and other transactions before the house, it is quite impossible that this house should pronounce by their vote, that the Duke of York had not any knowledge of these transactions.—The right hon. member who spoke last warned the house with great seriousness against suffering the loud and petulant cry of popular clamour to govern or influence the proceedings of the house of Commons. In this sentiment no man, Sir, can-agree more heartily, more sincerely, or more cordially than I do. But it must be recollected, that this case is one in which, of all others, the educated and well informed part of the community are perfectly capable of drawing correct conclusions, and of forming rational and proper decisions. You have daily issued to the public at large, authenticated copies of all the evidence and proceedings in this case. And the well informed part of the community, persons of birth and education, forming in this kingdom no inconsiderable number, are not only capable of exercising the 638 functions of Jurymen, but are actually, many of them, in the constant, and a great proportion in the frequent, habit of executing that duty: that class of people to whom I allude are all more or less connected with the exercise of the office and duty of a Juryman; they are accustomed to weigh, consider, and compare evidence, and are as fully capable of forming a correct judgment, as you are.
What danger, then, can arise from a certain degree of deference or attention to the opinion of the public on a case in which they have the whole of the evidence before them— and in which it is not possible that we can possess any superior information on the facts which are the ground and foundation of our decision? That the patience of the house, after the succession of so many exhausting debates, should be almost worn out, does not surprise me. I beg pardon of the house for detaining them so long, and will now very shortly conclude. On the subject of our not deferring to popular clamour, I trust that the decision of this house will not be in opposition to the general sentiment of the public; for it were vain to expect its sanction of our proceedings, if they are contrary to the good sense of the people. Sir, although I despise that which can be correctly termed popular clamour, and am resolved that my conduct shall never be influenced by any such principle —and that I never will suffer it to interfere with my judgment—I cannot but express to this house my opinion, that there never was a period in which it is so material to the peace and happiness of this country, that the house of commons should be deemed to do that which is right in the eyes of the nation on this important occasion. The confidence of the people in the house of commons is imperiously necessary—but there is yet one thing more—and that of no inferior importance—that the people should think us honest, and that we should really be so.
The question was then loudly called for, and the strangers were ordered to withdraw.
While the Noes were in the lobby, Mr. Perceval addressed them. He observed, that it was likely there might be several divisions to night. The first merely regarded the form of proceeding. The second would dispose of Mr. Wardle's Address. If it should be negatived, he should then move the second of his Resolutions, having waved the first. The effect of this Resolution would be, to declare the opinion of the 639 house on the innocence of the Duke of York. Having succeeded in it, he should move that the farther proceedings be adjourned till Friday. He begged, however, that gentlemen would not leave the house, as it was desirable that the main question should be carried this night, and he suspected there might be several divisions.
§ On a division the numbers were—
|For Mr. Bankes's Amendment||199|
|Majority against the Amendment||95|
§ A second division afterwards took place on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment on Mr. Wardle's Address.
|For the Amendment||364|
|For the original motion||123|
|Majority in favour of the Duke of York||241|
§ The consideration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Resolutions was then adjourned till Friday.
§ Adjourned at half past six o'clock on Thursday morning.
|List of the Minority|
|Adams, Charles||Horrocks, Samuel|
|Althorpe, viscount||Howard, hon. William|
|Antonie, W. Lee||Howard, Henry|
|Astell, Wm.||Howorth, Humphrey|
|Aubrey, sir John, bt.||Hughes, William Lewis|
|Bagenall, Walter||Hume, William Hoare|
|Baillie, Evan||Hurst, Robert|
|Baring, Thomas||Hussey, William|
|Baring, Alexander||Hutchinson, hon. Chr. H.|
|Bastard, John Pollexfen||Jackson, J.|
|Bewicke, Calverley||Jacob, William|
|Biddulph, Rt. Myddleton||Kemp, Thomas|
|Bradshaw, hon. Aug. C.||Kensington, lord|
|Brand, hon. Thomas||King, sir J. Dashwood|
|Brogden, James||Knapp, George|
|Browne, Anthony||Lambton, Ralph John|
|Byng, George||Langton, William Gore|
|Calcraft, John||Latouche, John|
|Coke, Thomas William||Latouche, Robert|
|Colborne, N. WhiteRidley||Lefevre, Charles Shaw|
|Combe, Harvey Christian||Lester, Garland|
|Cooke, Bryan||Lloyd, James M.|
|Craig, J.||Lloyd, sir Edward Pryce|
|Creevey, Thomas||Longman, George|
|Curwen, John Christian||Lyttleton, hon. W. H.|
|Cuthbert, Jas. Ramsey||Madocks, Wm. Alex.|
|Daly, rt. hon. Den.Bowes||Mahon, viscount|
|Dickenson, William||Markham, John|
|Fellows, hon. Newton||Martin, Henry|
|Ferguson, R. C.||Maule, hon. Wm.|
|Fitzgerald, rt. hon. M.||Maxwell, William|
|Foley, hon. Andrew||Milbanke, sir Ralph|
|Foley, Thomas||Mildmay, sir Henry|
|Folkestone, vise. (Teller)||Milner, sir Wm. Mord.|
|Goddard, Thomas||Moore, Peter|
|Gordon, William||Morris, Robert|
|Grenfell, Pascoe||Mosely, sir Oswald|
|Halsey, Joseph||Mostyn, sir Thomas|
|Hamilton, lord Archibald||Neville, hon. R.|
|Hibbert, George||Noel, C. Noel|
|Honeywood, William||Ord, William|
|Horner, Francis||Ossulston, lord|
|Parnell, Henry||Talbot, R. Wogan|
|Peirse, Henry||Taylor, Charles William|
|Felham, hon.C.Anderson||Taylor, William|
|Pochin, Charles||Thomas, George White|
|Poreher, Josiah Dupre||Thompson, Thomas|
|Portman, Edw. Berkeley||Tighe, William|
|Prittie, hon. Fran. A.||Townshend, lord John|
|Pvm, Francis||Tracey, Cha. Hanbury|
|Ridley, sir Matth. White||Turner, John Frewin|
|Romilly, sir Samuel||Vaughan, hon. John|
|Seudamore, Rich. Philip||Walsh, Benjamin|
|Sebright, sir John S.||Wardle, Gwyllim Lloyd|
|Shelley, Henry||Western, Charles Callis|
|Shelley, Timothy||Wharton, John|
|Shipley, William||Whitbread, Samuel|
|Smith, Samuel||Wilkins, Walter|
|Smith, John||Williams, Owen|
|Smith, George||Winnington, sir T. E.|
|Staniforth, John||Wynu, sir Wat. Williams|
|Stanley, lord||Wynn, Ch.Wat.Williams|
|Symonds, Thos. Powell|
§ Sir Francis Burdett was so unwell, as to be compelled to leave the House previous to the division.