§ The order for the Call of the House was, upon the motion of lord Folkestone, postponed till Monday.
§ The order of the day for resuming the discussion upon the Conduct of the Duke of York being read,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
observed, that, as the original question had been disposed of by the decision, that the house should proceed by Resolution rather than by Address, he proposed, if there were no difference of opinion, to withdraw his first Resolution, as he before stated, in order to introduce an Amendment, the main object of which would be to omit the word Charges, no one now appearing to press any charges of personal corruption or criminal connivance against the Duke of York. If, however, there was to be any debate upon that point, it might be gone into upon the second Resolution.
§ Mr. Tierney
disclaimed any intention to 647 harass the house by any unnecessary debate; but if the right hon. gent.'s proposition did not comprehend something more than he had stated, he should feel it his duty to oppose the withdrawing of the original Resolution.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
was aware, that any gentleman was at liberty to deliver his sentiments upon this subject, as well in this as in any subsequent stage of the proceeding. It was, however, seldom denied to any member to withdraw any proposition he might have submitted, in order to correct a mistake, or supply an omission; such a denial was certainly not usual in parliamentary practice. The object of his proposed Amendment was, after a narrative of the case as it appeared before the house, to add somewhat to this effect; "That the house, having appointed a Committee to examine into the Conduct of his royal highness the Duke of York upon the subject of military promotions, and the disposal of commissions in the army, had fully considered and carefully investigated the several statements in evidence before it, relative to personal corruption, or criminal connivance at corruption, on the part of the Duke of York, and finds it expedient to pronounce a distinct opinion upon the truth or falsehood of these imputations; and is therefore of opinion that there is no foundation for imputing personal corruption or criminal connivance to his royal highness."
§ Mr. Tierney
objected to the course proposed by the right hon. gentleman; for if the Amendment were received on the Journals, there would appear no ground for any further proceeding beyond that of the acquittal of the Duke of York from the charge of personal corruption and criminal connivance. That the house should have decided in favour of proceeding by Resolution instead of Address, was to him a matter of regret, because much might be conveyed in an Address which could not consistently be stated in a Resolution. The character of the Duke of York, he considered as public property, because the public were interested that a person so near the throne should not be tainted with any crime, or the suspicion of any crime. It was, therefore, in the highest degree essential to ascertain the conduct, and establish the character of a person so circumstanced. If the Duke of York should prove to have been guilty of personal corruption, a bill of exclusion must naturally follow. In an hereditary monar- 648 chy a person of corrupt and vicious character might happen to occupy the throne; but if such character were previously known in this country, parliament was armed with the power of averting the evil. For himself, he would say, that his opinion decidedly was, that the charge of corruption had not been brought home to the Duke of York: that the evidence before the house did not establish the fact. He had no objection to declare a negative to that charge. He should say, that corruption was not proved; but did it follow, that that amounted to a complete acquittal? No; that was yet to be determined. According to the opinion of the public, the case had been already disposed of. The general impression was, that the Duke of York had had a full acquittal by the house of commons (a cry of no, no!). Sure he was, that according to all he heard without doors such an opinion did prevail. Now what did the Chancellor of the Exchequer propose? Why, that the house should, by a preliminary Resolution, pledge itself to decide upon a certain part of the case before it. As far as this Resolution went, he did not object, because he concurred in the allegation, that the evidence did not bear out the charge of personal corruption; but he wished the Resolution to go farther. After disposing of the charge of corruption, as it affected the Duke of York's character, in his royal station, the house was then called upon to consider his conduct as a public functionary; and if a member of the royal family accepted a responsible situation, he was as liable to answer for his conduct in that situation as any other individual whatever who might happen to hold it. Now, viewing the Duke of York as a public functionary, could it be maintained, that although acquitted of personal corruption in the transactions disclosed to the house, there were no other matters worthy to inquire into; would the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer maintain, that there were not various circumstances and disclosures in the evidence which demanded the most serious attention of the house, as well as the charge of personal corruption in the Duke of York? There evidently were. Therefore it was necessary first to acquit the Duke of York of personal corruption; and, secondly, to consider his conduct as Commander in Chief. Had the right hon. gent. any objection to that course? If he had not, why confine his Resolution to the mere object of corruption, in order that it should 649 go out to the public, that that alone was under the consideration or within the jurisdiction of the house. But the right hon. gentleman was mistaken, if he supposed that the public could be induced to think so, or to be satisfied with such a line of proceeding. When there were two distinct questions properly before the house, why should the right hon. gentleman call upon gentlemen to give a simple Aye or No upon the whole. It was not dealing fairly by the Duke of York or the house to do so. It was something like saying to the Duke of York "we will let you off easy," but not giving him even the chance of an honourable acquittal.—The right hon. gentlemen, by forcing the house to say something distinct and positive, were exposing the Duke of York to pain and injury, and, therefore, he regretted their conduct; for his royal highness was entitled to regard, not merely from his rank and connexion, but from the kindness and good nature ascribed to his character, and which, as far us lie had occasion to know his royal highness, he thought really belonging to him. Indeed he fully agreed with an hon. member on a former night, that no person could be more pleasant and agreeable to communicate with than the Duke of York, and of course he would with the utmost reluctance take any step that was likely to give him pain. But he had a great and important duty to perform—to take care that a high public office, peculiarly essential to the public safety, should not be filled by a discredited or incapable person. All that respected this description of duty, the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer kept entirely out of view. He would call upon the house for a distinct acquittal respecting the charge of corruption; but it did not seem his intention (nay, he believed it was not) to submit any proposition upon the other parts of the case. He should have preferred an Address to a Resolution upon the whole, because the acquittal, which alone the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to have in view, might be incorporated with other sentiments, which he and others, who thought with him, entertained upon this subject. If, indeed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer succeeded in his plan —if after all that had gone abroad—after the manner in which this business had been every where discussed—after the heated mind, the angry sentiment that prevailed —after hearing or seeing a decision one way or the other from every mouth that spoke, 650 and every pen that wrote upon the subject, was it to be maintained that that house alone should be precluded from declaring an opinion upon the whole of this extraordinary case; that, except with regard to personal corruption, nothing of decision should be expressed by that house? Was such the way in which the house of commons proposed to do its duty, and to satisfy public opinion? He hoped he was as little the slave of public opinion as any man, but he would not hesitate to declare, that were he to follow the course chalked out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which fell so far short of public expectation, he would be ashamed to look the public or his constituents in the face. The course thus prescribed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was objectionable in his judgment, not only for the reasons he had mentioned, but because it proposed to go too far one way, while it would not go far enough another. It, in fact, not only did not propose the removal of the Duke of York from his office, but in effect requested his majesty to continue the Duke of York in office, while it expressed a hope that he would follow the example of his illustrious father. Sure he was, that the right hon. gentleman's candour would not dispute the fairness of this inference, that the Address he recommended to follow the adoption of his Resolution of acquittal, conveyed a hint, and something more, to his majesty, that it was desired by that house to continue the Duke of York in the office of Commander in Chief [here there was a nod of assent from the Treasury Bench.] Then, said Mr. T. this is the distinct admitted view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.—The right hon. gentleman here proceeded to animadvert upon the Letter addressed to that house in the name of the Duke of York, which Letter was, he would say, the production of the cabinet. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, that the hon. mover of the enquiry under consideration had got his Address drawn up by cooler heads than his own; and he would state that the Duke of York had got his Letter drawn up by weaker heads than his own; he would, indeed, add something worse, if it were not unparliamentary to express it. The Duke of York was, he was persuaded, too manly to subscribe that Letter, if he were aware of the base, unworthy and mean purposes to which it was to be applied. It was easy to conceive that his royal highness would have been promp to declare his innocence upon a vital point; 651 but why not declare that at first; why declare it upon the "honour of a Prince," for the thing had no meaning. The "honour of a Peer" would have been intelligible. By what flourishing member of the Cabinet, then was the former phrase introduced? He did not know who had the controul of the flourishing department, but it was most probably the Secretary for Foreign Affairs (A laugh). But as to the expression of regret, that a connection should have ever existed which led to the implication of his royal highness's name in such transactions, he would call that as it had already been described, a whining supplication at the bar to deprecate judgment; It was as much as to say; "I have fallen into bad company, I admit, yet let me off this once, and I shall never do so any more"; but he would venture to say, that this passage was drawn up intentionally to form the substratum of the proposition which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced his intention to bring forward. That was the main use of this letter, combined with the undue influence which it was expected to operate. When the Duke of York was decoyed to sign such a letter, he was sure that his royal highness did not know it was to be made the ground of a request for his continuance in office. For it was impossible that the Duke of York should condescend to retain office upon such terms—upon the confession of misconduct, his declaration of contrition, and the promise of repentance. No, the Duke of York could not, when he signed it, have been aware of the meaning and object of this Letter, or that it could have been designed as the groundwork of an Address for his continuance in office.—This expression of regret, the right hon. gent. observed, was followed by a passage deprecating a decision against him, and calling for trial if not acquitted. That passage the right hon. gent. had no doubt issued from the office of a special pleader, it was so dextrously contrived—it deprecated the idea of condemnation without further trial, but it expressed no objection whatever that acquittal should follow the trial that had taken place. He had heard it observed, that it would be unjust to condemn any man without trial, or upon the evidence taken at the bar of that House, and an impeachment was called for if there were a doubt of guilt. But would any man say, after the experience which our history presented, when disputes prevailed between the lords and commons, when acquittal 0was certain where it was the 652 object to punish, but most particularly after recent cases, which all must remember, and which it was therefore unnecessary to mention, would any man say, or was it to be understood, that because it was not proposed to impeach, no proceeding should be taken? It was argued, that nothing decisive should be done in that house, because the evidence was not examined on oath, but he would appeal to the judgment of any man, and particularly to the experience of any lawyer, whether the truth had not been fully elicited from every witness examined in the course of this inquiry; at least, whether any truth had escaped discovery in consequence of the omission of an oath. This omission was not, in fact, any objection to the validity of an investigation at the bar of that house. The powers of the house had been called inquisitorial. They might be so; but where could such powers for the public benefit he vested with so much safety as in the representatives of the people. He had heard of rules of evidence, but he should be sorry to see the judgment of that house fettered by any rules in a case of this nature. For he should deem rules inconsistent with the object of their inquiry. He was glad that he was not bound by any thing but his own feeling when coming to the decision of this case. It was much to be regretted by him, and others who thought with him, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer persisted in pressing the question to a dry aye or no. Suppose any persons should answer in the negative, then it might be asked of the right hon. gent. "what have you done for the Duke of York?" For himself, he would declare, conscientiously, before God, that he did not think personal corruption was proved against the Duke of York; but he was much afraid there were others who, conscientiously, thought very differently. Did, then, the right hon. gent, forget that the verdict of a Jury in this house was not like that of an ordinary one? The numbers were known and told here. Suppose that in a minority on this case names and numbers should appear dryly and distinctly to say "no," how would the right hon. gent. feel, or how would the friends of the Duke of York feel towards him? There were many who would pronounce generally in favour of the Duke of York in an Address, for instance, who could not do so if called upon to decide with respect to each particular case, and yet the Chanceller of the Exchequer, sensible as he ought to be of this, was pursuing a course which would justify the 653 call for a decision upon each case separately. Any member might say, "you think the Duke quite innocent upon the whole, but what think you of this particular case or of that?"—If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were so tenacious of the character of the Duke of York as he professed, he ought to have suggested to his royal highness—he ought to have felt himself, that it was infinitely important to the public service, particularly at present, that no one should hold any high office to whom the public could attach even doubt or suspicion (a loud cry of hear! hear!).—Whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer would press his second Resolution or not, in the event of this Amendment being disposed of, he could not pretend to know. But he was ready to say, that he could not vote the direct negative of that Resolution in its present shape; and that was one of the disadvantages attendant upon the mode of proceeding preferred upon the recommendation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. For many things could be put into an Address, which could not be put into a Resolution. If the right hon. gent. pressed his Resolution, he was sure that he would provoke a discussion likely to be very disagreeable to the person who was the subject of it. He would find that there were many degrees, and shades of doubt, and difference upon the point with regard to which he would ask for a decided negative:—"I am perfectly willing," said Mr. T. "to vote that corruption has not been proved against the Duke of York; but no man living has a right to sift my heart, and ask, 'is nothing unpleasant passing there?' I cannot say that, and therefore I cannot vote for the right hon. gent's. Resolution."—lie would not agree to the right hon. gent.'s Resolution at all, unless an addition was made to it, pledging the house to go further—unless, to adopt the Chancellor of the Exchequer's own words, there was a security that the house would come to a distinct substantive opinion upon the whole of the case.—If the right hon. gent, had no objection to his addition, he had no objection to the right hon. gent.'s commencement. He was anxious that the public should understand, that so far from then-supposed impression being right—so far from the case being closed, the discussion was only beginning afresh, and in a different form of proceeding. He also wished it to be understood, in order to guard against mistake, that it was still competent to any member to propose an Address in lieu of a 654 Resolution, notwithstanding former decisions. [Some indication of doubt being expressed from the Treasury bench, the right hon. gent. insisted upon his proposition.] He did not mean to propose any such Address himself, but he trusted that no proceeding would be carried which should preclude the house from considering the whole of the case, why the royal character of the Duke of York, as a person so near the throne, should have been acquitted; he trusted that he would not be allowed to escape the censure which ought to attach to him as Commander in Chief, in which situation he was open to censure as well as any other individual in the same office.—No one was more sensible than he was of the salutary regulations introduced into the army by the Duke of York; of the improvements which under his auspices had taken place in its discipline and general management. He was also sensible of the general kindness and conciliation of his disposition and manners, and that no person departed from his presence dissatisfied with his conduct. It was, therefore; with extreme regret that he saw his royal highness placed in the situation in which he then stood, that he felt himself obliged to pronounce that his royal highness could not remain in office without great inconvenience to the public service. From all that had transpired, the removal of the Duke of York became essentially necessary. It was generally and justly understood, that that removal would follow the disclosures which had been made in that house. Indeed, the resignation of his royal highness ought to have preceded those discussions. Had ministers duly regarded his royal highness's feelings and character, they would have followed the precedent respecting the Duke of Marlborough. In that case, the Commissioners of Public Accounts reported to the house that the Duke had improperly received 63,000l. from the contractors for bread for the supply of the army on the continent, upon which Report the house instituted an inquiry. In consequence, her majesty in council declaring the cause, and her wish to prevent the operation of undue influence pending the Inquiry, thought proper to order that the appointments of the Duke of Marlborough should be resumed. If the friends of the Duke of Marlborough had succeeded on that occasion, nothing would have appeared on the Journals but the removal of the Duke of Marlborough. Now, what difference existed between the case of the Duke of Marlborough and that before the 655 house, to prevent ministers from attending to it. For all the additional publicity, for all the extended debate which had taken place upon this question, and its consequences, the Duke of York had to thank his friends, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer's management.—The right hon. gent. concluded with expressing his wish, that the Amendment of the Resolution which the Chancellor of the Excequer proposed to withdraw, should include something to this effect, "That there were various other circumstances and transactions disclosed in the Evidence respecting the conduct of the Duke of York, upon which the house felt it expedient to declare an opinion." This or something of the same nature, he desired to have added to the Resolution relative to^ the personal corruption, or otherwise he should feel it his duty to oppose it; because, without some such security for a proceeding upon the whole of the case, neither the house nor the country could or ought to be satisfied.
thought that it should be well understood, that if the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer was prepared to withdraw his Resolution, it would be then competent for any honourable member to propose to whatever was to be substituted in place of that Resolution, an Amendment of any kind, proposing any thing short of a censure for corruption; or if the Resolution of his right hon. friend was to be persisted in, he hoped he should then be allowed to move the Amendment he had already taken occasion to read to the house. He did not think that it was altogether fair to omit the word "charges" in the Resolution, after the right hon. gent. had used it in his argument; for though some of the graver kind might be truly said to be abandoned, still he thought there were others which could not be overlooked, and to which it was the object of his amendment to have reference. He could not conceive, why, when the public was under a mistake as to the actual state of their proceedings, the house should not clear up that mistake by coming to some specific conclusion. The right hon. member then urged the advantage of burthening the house with as few divisions as possible, and said that now the right honourable gentleman's Resolution was to be withdrawn, the house would be open to the proposition which he had taken the liberty to state to the house on a former night.
§ Mr. Barham
considered, that those gentlemen who had voted for the Resolution, had been obliged to do so, because they could not agree to cither of the Addresses proposed. He was one of those who could not bring himself to think that immediate degradation and eternal infamy were no punishment. He could not consent to inflict punishment for an ambiguity, or to pronounce judgment upon an alternative. It was sufficient for the character of the Duke of York, that the Charges of corruption or connivance were not proved. Although his royal highness might not be guilty of corruption and connivance, yet he might be guilty of great misconduct, so as to render him unworthy of trust. It was, therefore, better not to dismiss the subject without expressing an opinion upon the whole of the case. He did not approve of an Address full of flattery. It was an act of justice due to public opinion, that this house should express their sentiments in a manner most likely to meet the objects which all had in view. In the first place, he thought it right to state in the Address, that the house were of opinion that corrupt practices did exist. But that in lieu of the Address, proposed by the right hon. gentleman, it would be more unobjectionable if it was to go forth that this house were of opinion, that his royal highness had not participated in the corruption, or been guilty of the connivance at it. That was all that could be necessary for the Duke of York, and must be satisfactory to the public. It would be an injustice to his royal highness to deprive him of the votes of those, who could go thus far and no farther. He had rather kill a man outright, than mercifully inflict a lingering death; he had rather stab him in open day, than insinuate into his body a poisoned dagger. He liked open conduct, and therefore was desirous that the house should decide so far upon the guilt or innocence of his royal highness, as to say, boldly, whether they conceived him guilty or not of the charges exhibited against him; and if they decided in the negative, then to state that there was enough in the evidence to warrant them to submit the propriety of his being removed. This would afford the royal personage an opportunity to give in his resignation. If an Address should be voted, he trusted that it would not have the semblance of flattery, but that the commons of Great Britain would roundly and unequivocally speak their sentiments. 657 Therefore he most especially objected to that part of the Address proposed, which went to contrast the conduct of the son with that of the father. He believed there was not a father in that house that did not agree with him in that sentiment; as he also could anticipate the agonies which such a contrast must excite in the sovereign's mind. According to the best consideration which be could give the whole subject, he thought the opinion of the house night be readily comprised in a few words. First, it should state, (if an Address should be regarded as the most suitable procedure) that, from the evidence before them, corrupt practices appeared to have existed respecting military matters. Secondly, that they were not proved to have existed by any participation or connivance of the Duke of York. But, thirdly, that sufficient had appeared in that evidence to shew that his royal highness had permitted undue influence to be exercised over him, and to influence his conduct as Commander in Chief, whereby promotions were obtained in the army through a connection in itself immoral, which he had formed; which corrupt transactions had existed, to the great injury of the army, and to the scandal of his majesty's subjects. Something to that effect, he thought, should be adopted, and to a course following that principle, rather than either the Resolutions of the right hon. gentleman or either of the pro-, posed Addresses, he should give his support.
§ Mr. Cartwright
was of opinion that the house should come to a decision on all the charges, particularly those that related to corruption and connivance, and that it should be done rather by way of Resolution than Address.
§ Sir H. Montgomery
could not help expressing his surprise at the inconsistency of those gentlemen, who wished that the house should pronounce a specific opinion upon the question of Aye or No. In an early stage of the proceedings, they objected to pronounce upon the evidence without due inquiry, and now they are called upon to declare the innocence of the party accused. For his own part, he was prepared to come to a vote of guilty or not guilty, and he did not conceive it to be the duty of the house to express their opinion of other matters, which were not charges. He preferred Resolutions to an Address, because in the former the house could express the grounds on which they came to their de- 658 terminations. The whole country was ringing with the abuses committed in the department of which his royal highness was at the head. He trusted that these abuses would be inquired into and corrected before they came to a specific vote on the Duke of York's guilt or innocence.
§ Lord William Russell
observed, that he should not now go into the subject, but said he could not approve that a line should be chalked out by his majesty's ministers, as to what should now be the course of proceeding adopted by that house. Certain allegations or charges had been brought before them, and they knew best in what manner it would be fitting to dispose of them. With regard to the existence of abuses and corrupt practices, no man in; that house could have a rational doubt upon his mind, and it was equally true that the Duke of York, whether knowing or not knowing, was an accessary to those abuses, because they happened where he ought to have had a paramount controul. Now, it was by no means material to the question of the existence of abuses that the Duke of York was innocent of them; still their existence was more than enough to give the country a right to demand and expect that the house should look to those abuses, and speedily and efficiently remedy them. Some of the good old practices of parliament were getting into disuse: formerly it was the custom to propose, that, previous to any Vote of Supply, that house should inquire into the State of the Nation, and redress its grievances. He wished, if that good old custom was not to be revived, at least that its principle would, in the present instance, be applied; and that the house would think with him, that the speedily remedying the gross public abuses which had prevailed, was an object than which none demanded a prior investigation. Yet when abuses were in the present instance proved to exist, they were called on to do justice to the Duke as a paramount duty; but sent there, as they were, for the people, was there any subject, however exalted, that had any paramount claim on them in particular more than another?
§ Sir James Hall
was proceeding to comment upon the evidence, when symptoms of impatience appearing in the house, the worthy baronet good humouredly observed, that he could take a hint as readily as any one, and that he understood the present one so well, that he wished merely to be allowed to state his view of the evidence in general; 659 with that statement he would conclude, and it should he in one sentence, simply this, that from his view of the evidence, there did not appear to be sufficient grounds to enable them to give a verdict either of Guilty or of not Guilty; and therefore he could not assent to the motion which had been proposed by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. C. Adams
rose, merely for the purpose of explaining the grounds on which lie bad voted. It was with the greatest regret that he felt himself obliged to give a vote against any branch of the royal family, but an imperious sense of duty compelled him to declare, that he thought enough had been proved at the bar to justify the original Address.
said, that the full conviction on his mind, after the most diligent perusal and consideration of the evidence, was, that it would not warrant an opinion that the Duke of York was guilty of corruption, or of participation in corruption, or connivance in corrupt practices. After declaring this to be their opinion, as he thought the house must do, it would he deserting their duty if they did not come to a decision upon the other matters developed in the course of the investigation. There were two parties before the house, the Duke of York and the country, and justice must be rendered to both. They were called on, in justice to the Duke of York and to the public, to pronounce a sentence upon him for the crimes committed against society.
§ Sir William Curtis
as an honest man intended to vote upon the question. He had considered the case fully and fairly, and was of opinion that the Duke of York had not been guilty of any corrupt practices whatever. There were documents upon the table, which shewed that to be the fact, and he therefore thought it to be his duty to support the proposition of his right hon. friend.
§ Sir Mark Wood
said, that he never had received nor ever expected to receive a favour from the Duke of York. The vote he had given he gave from the most disinterested and unbiassed motives. He had been influenced solely by a sense of common justice to his royal highness. The hon. bart. then commented on what bad fallen from the right hon. gent. (Mr. Tierney), who thought there was no corruption or connivance, and yet had something to censure, to which he could give no name or description.
Mr. Maurice Fitzgerald
(knight of Kerry) from the importance of the question before the house, should not feel satisfied with himself, if he gave a silent vote on the occasion. No hon. member of that house could stand clearer of any connection with the royal family than himself, jet no person would more keenly feel for the degradation of any part of that family than he should; but there was a duty which he owed to the public, and that duty obliged him to say, that the royal Duke did not appear to stand, by any means, clear of the charge of connivance, if not of corruption. He had felt it his duty to vote for both the Addresses; but in doing so, he declared that no hon. member who had voted in either of the Majorities against those Addresses could possibly have felt greater pain than he would at the disgrace or degradation of any branch of the illustrious family to which the royal Duke belonged. He objected to the Resolution of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because it was professedly to end in an Address, supposing he had no objection to the matter contained in that Resolution. He had voted for the Addresses, because he approved of the matter, though he thought an Address was not the most desirable mode of proceeding, and that for two reasons; one, that he did not think that house was to call in the aid of the crown to do that which they were sufficient to do themselves; and another was, that an Address on such a subject did not appear to him to be the best mode of consulting the feelings of a sovereign and a father; yet even with those disadvantages he was compelled to vote for the Addresses in preference to the Resolutions of the right hon. gentleman. As to all that had been said with respect to out-door influence, he was far from being disposed ever to let any popular cry have any undue influence on his vote in that house. But however he would resist the popular impression, he could not remain insensible to the general feeling of the nation, and therefore disliked the Resolutions that were to follow the first of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer because, if adopted, they would disappoint the expectations of the public. He lamented the mode of proceeding which had been adopted, as it had brought matters of great scandal forward, which had an effect upon the public mind, and obliged the house to come to a decision on what ought never to have been brought under their cog- 661 nizance. It would have been better for ministers to have met the original Address by the previous question, or to have, given it a decided negative, than to have had recourse to the circumstantial course they had resorted to.
rose, and spoke nearly to the following effect: Sir; After the able and ample manner in which the present business has been already discussed, I am most unwilling to trespass on the patience of the house; but the peculiarity of my situation will, I trust, plead my excuse, and gain me your indulgence, while I state shortly what I have felt sensibly upon the present most important question. It gives me great satisfaction to hear that the army has been in such a state of progressive improvement since his royal highness the Duke of York assumed the chief command, and I am glad to be enabled to bear my testimony to the many wise and salutary regulations which have been introduced into the army under the auspices of the Commander in Chief. I shall, at all times, have great pleasure in joining in all encomiums paid to that royal person as far as I believe such encomiums to be just and merited. This is as much my duty, as it is my inclination; for I am among the many who have reason to be thankful to his royal highness for personal favours, and for more than a merited portion of his consideration, and therefore it was with deep and heartfelt regret that I was compelled to think of him, as I must have thought, when I voted as I did vote. But, Sir, all such considerations must necessarily yield to that imperious sense of public duty, which, in this place, is our first duty. Deciding as I have done, so opposite to my original wishes, and what adds to my regret, so opposite to the sentiments of my brother officers, I have, however, not decided hastily. I have read the evidence with care, with an anxious wish to come at the truth, lie where or against whom it might. I have weighed it with mature deliberation — listened to the long-and various commentaries upon it with attention, and trust I may now venture to say, that I have decided with impartiality. It is not my intention, Sir, to offer any observation now upon that evidence, it has been already in too able hands to leave any thing for me to say, but the impression it has made on my mind is, that the Duke of York is extremely culpable. Throughout the country a cloud of suspicion has been collecting, and it has settled upon his character; while that cloud 662 remains, until it has been dispelled, my opinion is, that it is not for the honour of the Army, that the chief command should remain in the hands of the Duke of York. (Hear, hear!)
§ Lord H. Petty
paid a tribute of applause to the fair and manly manifestation of his opinion by the gallant general. It was the general opinion of the house that the right hon. gent.'s motion was unnecessary, if not objectionable; and the only difference was, whether it should be negatived or withdrawn. He could not consent to put the special circumstances of this case upon the records of the house in official characters; the house was to look to nothing but official duties; and never to be influenced by personal considerations. He objected therefore, to the motion of the right hon. gent., as being a foundation for limiting and confining their future views of the subject, and trusted, that the house in official characters would recognize nothing but the official character, without looking beyond that to find the son of a king, or any other person. He did not object to the motion being withdrawn, but would rather wish it to be negatived.
§ Mr. Cripps
justified the Duke of York and col. Gordon from some imputation that had been thrown out on a former night, relative to keeping back a letter.
Sir John Mowbray
said, he had never received any favours from his royal highness, but he could not help thinking that if the army were to lose him as Commander in Chief, it would experience a loss almost irreparable; any resolution therefore that went to justify his royal highness in the eyes of the public should have his support.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
then desired to know, whether it was the pleasure of the house that his motion should be withdrawn? Although he rather wished to have it withdrawn, yet he begged not to be understood as unreasonably pertinacious against its being negatived. He requested it might be recollected that there was some advantage in withdrawing it, because it might be supposed to contain an idea which he did not intend to convey. His reason was this, that when he first made the proposition, it was misunderstood, and he had endeavoured to explain and take away the obnoxious part the moment he was aware of the circumstance. It was therefore to prevent misrepresentation that he was anxious to withdraw his motion altogether; if he was allowed to withdraw it, he would 663 propose another, which better expressed his meaning; if not, he must move an Amendment so as to leave no room for misrepresentation. (A cry of withdraw! withdraw! from ail quarters. The Resolution was accordingly withdrawn.) The Chancellor of the Exchequer then proceeded to propose an amended Resolution, on the subject of the guilt or innocence of his royal highness as to the charge of corruption and connivance. He would not enter upon the grounds of this Resolution at any length now, as he had sufficiently explained himself before. It had been thought that he intended to convey a censure on the mover of the Inquiry, when he said that there were no grounds whatever for the charges. In order to obviate this, which he by no means intended, he would propose a Resolution, stating, that there was no ground of charge against the Duke of York; that was, that there was no ground of charge that could warrant any farther proceeding of that house. The words he would submit were, "That it is the opinion of this house, after the fullest and most attentive consideration of all the evidence reported to this house from the Committee of the whole house, appointed to investigate the conduct of his royal highness the Duke of York, that the said evidence affords no ground for this house to charge his royal highness, in the execution of his official duties as Commander in Chief, with the personal corruption alleged against him in that evidence, or with any connivance at the corrupt and infamous practices which are therein disclosed."—The house would observe that the words here went merely to express that there was no ground of charge against the Duke of York; meaning, that there was no such ground as would justify the house in proceeding any farther with these charges, by carrying them 1o any other tribunal, and consequently that they were not proved. But the right hon. gent. over the way (Mr. Tierney) asked, how he could be called upon to say that there was nothing unpleasant passing in his mind on this subject? Surely this would not imply, that there was nothing unpleasant passing in the mind of any gentleman, nor preclude him from any subsequent expression of such a feeling, if he should think proper to resort to such a course. A right hon. gent. (Mr. Bathurst) seemed to think that many votes, in favour of his royal highness, as far as respected personal corruption, would be lost by not 664 proceeding by Address. But why might, not gentlemen vote for a Resolution as well as for an Address, if the sense was the same. If the right hon. gent. meant that an Address might be framed so as not to negative the charge of corruption, he had only to answer that he would not purchase unanimity on such terms. He should think that he had acted most unfairly by the house and the public if he had not proposed a distinct Resolution on that point. He should hope, then, that those who thought that there was no proof to charge his royal highness with personal corruption or connivance would readily vote for this Resolution. Those who were of a contrary opinion of course could not vote for it. A right hon. gent. (Mr. Windham) with whose conclusions he agreed in many instances, said that there might be a connivance without being greatly criminal. There might, perhaps, be cases in which this might hold true, but in this case he rather thought that there could not be an innocent connivance. The sort of connivance alluded to was perhaps a blind negligence. But if there was even that degree of connivance, he could not see how the house could say that his royal highness was not guilty. If on the application of Mrs. Clarke the Duke of York suspected her corrupt motives, and yet granted the commissions solicited, then he was an active party. However, as far as he had examined the evidence, there appeared no more ground for this than for any other sort of knowledge of these corrupt practices, and therefore, he thought, that the house ought to pronounce a distinct negative upon the charge of connivance. With respect to the termination of the proceedings, the right hon. gent. (Mr. Tierney) had stated his opinion, that the house ought to have proceeded by Address. Now, when he desired to proceed by Resolution, he also proposed subsequently, to move an Address. That Address might, perhaps, not go the length that some gentlemen might think advisable: but still it was open to amendment. He had from the first declared, that they ought not to stop here, but that it was incumbent on them to do something more on the serious matters that had been disclosed. It had been said that an Address would be better than this Resolution, but he was of opinion that the decision of corruption or connivance was better put in a Resolution, because if carried in the affirmative it would serve as a ground on which the house could go to trial, and ul- 665 terior criminal proceedings. He admitted that he did not agree with those who thought that there was any reason to remove his royal highness from his situation; but still the idea of proposing an Address, proved that he did not mean this Resolution as a termination of the proceedings. He denied that there was any inconsistency in his proceeding. If the determination should be that there was corruption on the part of his royal highness, then it would be for the house to consider, whether there was not reason for sending him to a subsequent trial. But, whatever might be the result of this motion, it was not inconsistent with any other motion of a more general nature on the other grounds in the charges. When the house came to consider the Address there could be no obstruction whatever to the proposition of an Amendment. The right hon. gent. (Mr. Tierney) understood him correctly, when he said, that he, if the Louse concurred with him, would not, on the other grounds, decline the services of the Duke of York as Commander in Chief. He had no wish whatever to disguise this feeling, although he was sorry that there were several who were prepared to negative the charge of corruption, who would not go with him to that extent. The Duke of York had, for a period of sixteen years, tilled an important office with credit to himself, and more benefit to the country than almost any other who could have held it. Of this the statement of the hon. general over the way (Ferguson) was a proof, who admitted the great advantages which the army had derived from the Duke of York, although his sense of duty compelled him to vote against him on the present occasion. In the present critical times, when so much depended on the army, it was an object, undoubtedly, to retain his royal highness in his present situation. That this advantage might be counterbalanced by other circumstances he was prepared to allow; but this, gentlemen would have an opportunity of considering, in the motion for an Address. But in the vote to which the house was now coming, nothing of that sort was involved, and in that gentlemen might perfectly concur, without being at all bound to concur in the Address which would follow. The Resolution being put,
The Hon. Wm. Henry Lyttleton
hoped that the house would allow him to state the constitutional doctrine respecting the course of its proceedings, which was to be found in the records of parliament. He agreed that 666 the house could not pronounce final sentence. Upon reference however to a precedent that took place in the beginning of Charles I. (and it would be well for the ministers and the house to consider the occurrences of that unhappy period), he found the authority of the house accurately defined by a decision in the second year of that prince's reign, that the house was not competent to give definitive judgment, but that its privileges only extended to inquiry and presentation. In this definition of its authority he fully agreed. With respect to the question, whether they ought to proceed by Address or Resolution, he would prefer the former, as more respectful to the feelings of the sovereign, and more effective for the general purpose. He coincided in the sentiments that had been expressed, respecting the characters of princes—that their character was public property; that it was the character of the nation. True, it was so. The glory which they acquired reflected upon us; but whenever they dishonoured themselves, did not their disgrace redound upon us also? Such must be the feeling of every man with a drop of British blood in his veins. Thinking thus, he would rather have been spared the necessity of making the declaration he should now make. It was this, that the charges against the Duke of York were fully proved,—proved not perhaps in strictness of law or according to the rules of legal evidence; but sufficiently proved to satisfy the conscience and understanding of any plain, honourable man. The evidence, if not as good as could be wished—if not the very best, was yet the best that the nature of the transactions would admit. It was, besides, corroborated by other evidence, and by evidence of that kind, which, next to the confession of the person accused, was reckoned the best evidence: he meant the hand-writing of the Duke of York. To that evidence he could not refuse his assent. Combining all its parts—seeing how they supported and confirmed each other—it carried complete conviction to his mind. It was objected, that the evidence of many persons heard at the bar was not entitled to credit. It might be so. But were there not persons heard whose evidence was entitled to credit; and did not these corroborate the testimony of those of suspicious characters? But why not credit their evidence? Some of these persons ruined themselves by their evidence. They had no interest in coming forward; quite the contrary. Prevarication was not 667 an objection to evidence. In opposition to this evidence, sufficient, in his opinion, to establish everyone of the charges, there was nothing but inference, hypothesis, and assertion. Against these they had hypothesis and assertion to oppose; they had something better—written documents admitting important facts.—As to the merits of the Duke of York as Commander in Chief, he was not disposed to deny them, or to withhold his tribute of praise for the services which he was stated to have rendered the army; but mere evidence to character was good for nothing, except in mitigation of punishment.—He could not help noticing the subdued tone, in which gentlemen on the other side now spoke of the motives which induced his hon. friend to bring forward these Charges. When the subject was first mentioned, they endeavoured to raise a cry of Jacobinism. By this cry they hoped to pervert the feelings of the country, and prejudge the question. They were disappointed in this expectation. They shewed little judgment in attempting to revive this mad cry. The great magician, who first raised it, possessed commanding powers, and was able to give it effect, and keep it up; but persons who were not endowed with such great talents, were not competent to so mighty a work. No successor to this Prospero, no inferior magician, should attempt so dangerous a spell. He felt himself in some measure taunted into the Vote he should give on this question. The hon. members on the other side flung down the gauntlet, and absolutely defied him into a declaration of his opinion. They went the length of saying, that what he did, he did in compliance with popular opinion. He had a better opinion of his majesty's ministers than to suppose they were unanimous in their opinion on this point. He did not coincide in the opinion that the moment a member of that house became a servant of the crown, he became unworthy of credit. With the leave of the house, he would draw another precedent from former times. He should quote nothing that did not appear on their Journals. In i6S0 two Resolutions were passed by that house. The first ordered that a List of the Monies or Pensions paid to members of that house out of the fund appropriated to secret services should be laid before the house. The second provided that no Member of that House should accept any place under the crown, without the previous consent of 668 the house, and that if he should so offend, he should be expelled. Now he would not go the whole length of these resolutions, though he was prepared to say that there was much in them which he would wish to see adopted. He felt somewhat of the spirit of those times, and as far as parliament might be pensioned, its decision would not have much weight with him. He would not be terrified from stating these things by the fear of incurring the rebuke of a right hon. secretary (Mr. Canning) whom he did not see in his place. He should not be deterred from freely uttering his opinion by any dread of the right hon. gent.'s eloquence, even though he should exercise himself in raking up some obscure and scandalous anecdotes respecting his grandfather or great grandfather. Indeed, he thought it unworthy of that right hon. gentleman's talents and generosity to attack gentlemen in that manner, and to engage in a species of warfare, in which he must be conscious they should meet him upon unequal terms; since they had no weapons, with which to retort upon him, in the utter deficiency, as far as his researches into English History had gone, either of authentic facts, or even of traditionary rumours respecting his ancestors. It was his wish therefore to deprecate such unequal encounters, which he should not have anticipated or supposed possible, if recent experience had not proved the contrary, and made it a point of prudence to guard one's self against them.—With respect to the propriety of the present investigation, he contended that common fame was sufficient ground for proceeding in that house. He could quote several instances in which it had been so declared, and in which such declaration had been acted upon. He said, if inquiries had been instituted even on the grounds of common fame, surely no blame could attach to the honourable mover for having instituted this inquiry, on the foundation which he had for bringing it forward. He knew of the tumult which this inquiry had excited in the public mind. He hoped such an enquiry would not be instituted only to tend to the humiliation of the house; it would be a sad calamity, weaning the minds of the people from their Representatives, the consequences of which he reared would be tremendous. These consequences might occur when a suppression of them would be impossible. It was far from his wish unnecessarily to condemn the Duke of York: could it be possible to send forth his name unsullied to the 669 public, he would rejoice in it; he would even, to obtain such an end, vote against his conscience. But that was now impossible—the proofs were before the public, and the public would judge of them, no matter what might be the decision of that house. He had always wished for the removal of the Commander in Chief in the mildest way possible; but now, since this inquiry had been suffered to proceed as it had done, he hoped the house would not add their humiliation to his disgrace. If this should be the case, he trembled at the result—he knew the people would sink into gloomy and sullen despondency—they would have no confidence in their Representatives— they would say, "these are men whom we cannot trust—men, whom ministerial influence can induce lo varnish over any job." They would begin to ask themselves what security they could have against oppression when protected by such men; and this, perhaps, would be their mildest expostulation; they might have recourse to other means, which, he hoped to God, they would never be induced or compelled to adopt. He hoped, however, these melancholy anticipations were groundless, and that a British house of commons would prove itself worthy the epithet applied to the celestial font of Justice—that it "was no respecter of persons." (Hear! hear!)
§ Sir T. Turton
spoke at some length on the discontent which, in his opinion, a verdict of acquittal must excite throughout the country. He declared as his opinion, that the people believed the house was doing nothing, and meant to do nothing; at the same time, however, he was sure that the coolly-judging part of the community would be content with their decision, if they thought it was given from their conviction. It was with the utmost reluctance that he spoke one word against the son of his sovereign; to act as he was about to do, was to him a task the most painful, but a sense of duty notwithstanding impelled him forward; a sentiment paramount to every other feeling forced him solemnly to declare, that before God he really believed his royal highness could not be ignorant of the corruptions and abuses which had been proved lo exist. Those who knew him, knew how reluctant he was to speak thus, though they could not conceive the pain he felt in the discharge of his duty; but distressing as it was, "Fiat Justitia, ruat cœhim." Yet he envied those gentlemen who could lay their hands on their hearts, who could face 670 their constituents, and who, in that awful moment when all sublunary prospects fade from the eye of expiring mortality, could enjoy that serene composure which result* from the consciousness of having endeavoured, to the best of our ideas, to discharge the duties imposed upon us, after voting for the entire acquittal of his royal highness. Those who had defended the Duke, had spoken as if gentlemen were unacquainted with the most common expressions in the English language. The word 'connivance' had received in that house several very novel definitions; for his part, he could only understand the word 'connivance,' as implying a knowledge of the corruption without any endeavour to terminate it; and understanding the word as he did, he could not but believe his royal highness guilty of connivance; he, therefore, moved as an Amendment on the Amendment of the original Address:—.That all the words after "afforded," in the Resolution of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, should be left out, and the following words inserted in their room—" grounds for charging his royal "highness the Duke of York with having "knowledge of the Corruption which "has been disclosed by the evidence."
Mr. Hawkins Browne
argued in support of the motion of his right hon. friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and contended, that there was nothing in the evidence, which had been taken at the bar during the whole of this arduous investigation, that could in the slightest degree fix his royal highness the Duke of York, either with corruption, participation of corruption, or criminal connivance at corruption. (Loud coughing.)
rose, amidst loud calls for the question. He assured the house he would not detain them long; he did not see one thing to substantiate the charge of corruption: from the bottom of his heart he assured them, in the most solemn manner, that he did not believe his royal highness guilty of corruption. (Here the hon. gentleman was interrupted by loud and reiterated cries of "question! question!") The hon. gentleman concluded, as he had begun, with acquitting the Duke of York of corruption—an impression which he had derived from a most diligent and attentive examination of the vast mass of evidence before the house.
§ Mr. Brand
said, he had intended to have gone at some length into the evidence, but since he saw the evident disposition of 671 the house to come to the question, and as he was aware of the great length to which the debate had been already protracted, he would content himself with merely stating the general grounds on which he would give his vote—a vote which he gave with as much solemnity as if he had been bound by the obligation of an oath. He was now brought to the last stage of the business; he was compelled to come to a. distinct vole of Aye or No—Guilty or not Guilty, and he was sorry for it, but he would do his duty. Much had been said against the credibility of Mrs. Clarke because she was an accomplice; but he would ask in the presence of so many legal gentlemen, who could correctly answer, Was she not a witness on whom much greater reliance ought to be placed than on a King's evidence? Did she come to the bar covered over with such moral turpitude as the witness who could be subjected to indictment, if he did not give an acceptable testimony? In cases of life and death the evidence of an accomplice was admitted; the person who turned king's evidence was induced to do so by the prospect of saving his own life; and could any one believe, that anger in a woman like Mrs. Clarke would have as great an effect on her testimony as anxiety to preserve his existence must be supposed to have on the man who turned king's evidence? He would not bring forward any particular cases, but it was in his power to adduce instances where the right hon. gent, opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), had particularly enforced the propriety of resorting to king's evidence. Much had been said of the bias with which Mrs. Clarke had given her testimony— much of the motives which induced her to give it—much of the contradictions which appeared in it; he would, however, say, that he knew it to be the opinion of the bar in general, that the evidence of Mrs. Clarke was strong and conclusive. One objection raised against the evidence of Miss Taylor was, that it was a mere evidence of words. It had been ably argued, that such an evidence ought not to have been received, and the observations made would have been well applied where the witness was a principal; but they were out of their place when made on one only corroborative. In the case of Holloway and Haggerty, who were executed for the murder of Mr. Steele, the only evidence, which was not merely evidence of words, was that of an accomplice, one who had 672 participated in the murder. A Bow street officer deposed, that having been stationed near the place of their confinement, previous to their being brought to trial, he heard them say, that they had "drank the gin" at a certain time and place subsequent to the commission of the murder. It was represented, that it was of considerable importance to know whether they spoke of "the gin," or of "gin" in a general sense, as having drank some at a certain place, at an indefinite period, as in the one instance it was proved it might relate to the commission of the murder, in the other its connexion with the murder would be done away. On this head the officer was closely examined; he stated, that situated as he was, he could not distinctly hear, but he thought they said "the gin;" and on this evidence two men were executed. This was a case exactly in point—a case where the witness was an accomplice, a murderer, and where his evidence was supported by the mere testimony of words, and these not corroborated. Here the testimony was that of an accomplice, backed by a good witness, of words which were corroborated. If, then, it were said there were no grounds for entertaining this accusation, it would be against every decision in the courts of law; it would go to say, that every verdict was unjust, and every execution a murder. He had heard the popular feelings were high on this occasion, and he believed it; he was led to believe it from the habits of the people: they were, nurtured in strong and exalted notions of freedom—they were also exercised in discriminating—the Trial by Jury was to them a practical lesson by which they were taught to judge of the evidence in the present case, and come to a sound decision, as to the verdict that should be founded upon it. He would much rather have been allowed to meet the original Resolution with a direct negative, but since the Amendment had been proposed, however painful a duty it was to him, he would support it. He thanked the house sincerely for the indulgence with which they had honoured him, and hoped he had not abused it (hear! hear!)
§ Mr. Manners Sutton
did not approve of the hon. gent/s idea of passing a general ambiguous censure on the Duke, as the uninformed would apply the censure where it ought not to be applied; he would wish the house to consult its dignity, and not hastily blast an illustrious character by such 673 a procedure. He expressed his astonishment at the Amendment proposed by the hon. bart., since it went to stigmatize, generally, the character of his royal highness, and did not point out to what definite part of his conduct it referred. This general charge, too, was founded on testimony of the loosest nature; and he must say, that if greater latitude of examination was given in that house than in a court of law, jet here a stricter scrutiny into the character of the witnesses was requisite. He should not derogate from the duty he owed to the public, and he trusted, that the house would take care its character should not be blasted by a wrong decision upon such loose evidence; for the evidence at their bar must be loose compared with that in a court of Jaw. Here, all questions, whether bearing on the subject, or not, were put; there, none were put but what were strictly to the point; there too, they were examined upon oath; here, they were not. For his part, lie could say most conscientiously, that, in his mind, there existed no ground of belief, either of participation, connivance, or knowledge, on the part of his royal highness. He was perfectly aware that the public mind was strongly interested in the decision of the house; but he believed that the public were prepared to adopt that decision which he trusted the house would come to, if properly, distinctly, and fairly laid before them.
when he gave his vote, disclaimed being influenced by popular opinion; and to prove his sincerity in this respect, stated an instance where he, though representing a very large body, voted against their wishes, and yet was placed on the ensuing election high above his competitors. He supported the Amendment.
§ Mr. Fuller
rose and said, it was not his intention at so very late an hour to trespass much on the attention of the house, but he thought it his duty to address them because he had been badgered by letters of abuse, and such sort of things. (Hear, hear! and loud laughter.) It had been said that nothing had been done to inflame the minds of the country; he denied it; he knew they were inflamed, and he felt it his duty to the house to tell them, while he was able, that he had been used with severity; that he had received a number of anonymous letters, calling him a black-hearted fellow, and this thing, that thing, and t'other thing. (Loud laughing.) He spoke this to the 674 gentlemen opposite, who excited the populace to clamour; there was nothing worse; it was very bad. Once, when he spoke his sentiments upon this business, he thought one of them would have knocked him down (Laughing). Those gentlemen, when they found popular clamour was high against the Duke of York, then they took part against him, and began talking about corruption. Every shabby fellow would talk about corruption. He would never give his vote to criminate the Duke of York upon suspicion, which would make him run away as if he had a harpoon stuck in him (Loud laughing.). His royal highness was a great military character, arid under him the army of this country had flourished. They had talked about a threat of dissolution; why, it was not the dissolution at the last day; if there was a dissolution of parliament, he did not fear but his constituents would again elect him. He thought the house ought to take notice of the insults he had received; if such insults were thrown out to members of Parliament, it should be made a misdemeanour; and those who did not like England, damn' em, let them leave it. [On this last expression much confusion took place in the house, and it was followed by loud cries of "Order, order! Chair, chair!] Mr. Fuller said he had heard the expression given as a toast, and did not think it was disorderly; at all events, he did not mean it to be so. He should vote against the amendment.
began by begging the permission of the house, to state the motives that had influenced, and continued to influence his conduct, in these most important discussions. He was too sensible of the value of their time to obstrude himself for more than a few minutes upon their attention: he said, that without further preface, he had no hesitation in declaring, that from the most attentive consideration, he had been able to give to the evidence upon the table, in his opinion the accusation of personal corruption, or of criminal connivance in corrupt practices, had not been proved against the Commander in Chief.— He would state very shortly and distinctly the reasons upon which he had arrived at that conclusion.—He professed himself unable to rely upon the testimony of the principal evidence adduced in support of the accusation: he did not insist solely upon the circumstance of Mrs. Clarke appearing 675 as a discarded mistress, and acting in some degree under the impression of revenge and resentment, not merely upon her character as an accomplice, not on account merely of her having fallen into some contradictions, and not having discovered that rigid adherence to truth which is expected in a witness; not solely, which, however, was very important, that she had continued a scandalous traffic in places and commissions, after she had ceased to be under the protection of the Duke, and nearly to the very period at which she appeared at the bar; but a combination of all these concurrent circumstances rendered her testimony in the highest degree questionable and insecure. By very few persons her evidence had been upheld as uncontradictory, but by some it had been contended that though some were false, other parts were probably true. This certainly might exist, but he confessed his inability to separate these qualities in her evidence, he did not know by what tests it could be tried, he was unable to analyze the compound, or purify the metal from the dross and the impurities that were incorporated in its substance. But if corroborated by other testimony the might be different; he alluded to the of Miss Taylor, upon which the greatest stress had deservedly been laid; and in speaking of her he said that he was not one of those who insisted, that from her acquaintance and connexion with Mrs. Clarke she was undeserving of credit, nor was he one of those who were disposed to visit the sins of the parent on the head of the child: but from a review of the whole of her evidence he was justified in entertaining some doubt. It was to be observed that it turned upon the relation of a conversation, the force and point of which depended "upon the scrupulous and accurate recollection of a person whose memory seemed absorbed and concentrated in retaining a single circumstance, but which was absolved from its functions in all other points respecting dates and seasons, and which did not possess a trace of any thing connected with the renewal and revival of that identical conversation. He entertained therefore considerable doubt respecting the accuracy of her recollection in this particular instance. He would not say more upon the general nature of the evidence, but. agreed perfectly in the remarks that had been made on that bead by his right hon. friend (Mr. Windham), who in a speech, however criticized by some persons, had, in his opinion, united solid 676 and comprehensive reasoning with fancy, genius, and imagination. —With the impressions he had stated, he had given his negative to the two Addresses that had been proposed, and was prepared to support the Resolution moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He wished that he could stop there, or that he could follow him in the Address that he intended subsequently to move; but facts appeared resting upon substantiated proof, upon authenticated documents, upon the hand-writing of the Duke himself, to which the house could not shut its eyes, and upon which it must proceed to animadvert. He need not particularize the cases of Clavering, Tonyn, O'Meara, and some others: with this view of the subject he should certainly give his support to the resolution intended to be moved by the right hon. gent. (Mr. Bathurst) conceiving it not only the most moderate but the most reasonable and just course that could be pursued—he would not enlarge upon other topics which had been so amply discussed.—He concluded with saying, that he had the honour of representing a very considerable county, and a very numerous and respectable body of freeholders; he was afraid that many of them might disapprove the opinions he had given, and the line of conduct that he had adopted: but tho' he should regret most sincerely that disapprobation and difference of opinion, there was one species of disapprobation which he should feel even more severely, that of his own conscience. He trusted however that his constituents would give him credit for an upright and honourable discharge of public duty, and that upon so solemn an occasion as the present they would prefer even a difference of sentiment to a timid and undiscriminating acquiescence in opinions of which he could not approve, and in principles to which he was unable to assent.
Mr. Hanbury Tracey,
in rising to address the house, said, that he did so not through arrogance, or any desire to trespass much on the time of the house by prolonging a debate, which had been already so long protracted. He strongly deprecated what had gone abroad with respect to insinuations said to be made in the house, that the accusation was not so much directed against the Duke of York as Commander in Chief, as a branch of a foul Conspiracy against the illustrious family upon the throne. This was, he said, a false and mischievous assertion, and he trusted would be disregard- 677 ed by the country as such. So far from being liable to any such imputation, the hon. gentleman who brought forward the charges was, in his opinion, entitled to, not only the thanks of the house, but of the country. From the letters of capt. Sandon and gen. Clavering, which (as the hon. member termed it) were produced at the shrine of insulted honour, he could not hesitate in thinking that his royal highness must have been perfectly aware, that the persons for whom Mrs. Clarke made applications, were wholly unconnected with her in every other view than interested motives on her part.— It had been said by an hon. gentleman that the Commander in Chief was perfectly indifferent in pecuniary transactions. But what did the plain and unadulterated case of Kennett prove? Did it not demonstrate the contrary of indifference in those matters, when his royal highness could stoop to such a man as that for pecuniary resources? He was clearly of opinion that connivance must have existed on the part of the Commander in Chief.
§ Mr. Bankes
assured the house, that he would trespass but shortly upon its patience, and if he had not felt that the proposition of the hon. bart. had placed the house in a situation of great embarrassment, he should, seeing the disinclination of the house to attend to the discussion, have forborne to offer himself on the present occasion to its attention.— The worthy bart. instead of proceeding to give a direct negative to the Resolution of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, consistently with the tenor of his arguments, had, on the contrary, pursued a course, which precluded those who agreed in a part of the original Resolution, and differed from a part of it, from voting according to their conviction. He had to complain, therefore, that the Amendment of the worthy bart. had placed gentlemen who thought as he did, in a situation of such difficulty and distress, that they really knew not how to vote. (A laugh). There was nothing ridiculous in the observation. The hon. bart. disapproving of the Resolution, which stated that there was no ground to charge corruption upon the Duke of York, ought, to be consistent with himself, to have given it a negative: but, instead of that, he proposed as an Amendment the direct contrary Resolution. Let the house but reflect, in what a situation it would be placed by this proceeding. If they should negative the Amendment of the worthy bart., they would be necessarily obliged to 678 affirm the original Resolution (No! No! ). He insisted, that such would be the case, and to shew that he had not made the assertion lightly, appealed to the Chair, whether on mentioning his doubts to the Speaker, he had not the support of his authority for the statement he had made? The Amendment of the worthy bart. went to fix the Duke with both corruption and connivance; and considering the different opinions which were entertained on this subject, he must say the inconvenience of such an Amendment was extreme. He had clearly understood his right hon. friend to mean by his statement this night, but still more clearly by what he had said on a former night, that nothing further was to be done judicially or criminally by the house. But though the house was not to adopt any further judicial measures, nor to follow up the business criminally by bringing the party to a trial, did it follow that no other proceeding was to be adopted? For himself, he could not go the length of voting, that some sort of connivance, or at least a violent suspicion of the practices which were going on, was not chargeable on the Duke of York. The main objection which had been urged against his proposition on a former night was, that it was complex and ambiguous, at a time when it was urged by his right hon. friend, that the house was bound to come to a simple decision. His right hon. friend, however, had in his Resolution that night transgressed his own rule, and offered to the house a complex proposition. In the first part of that proposition he concurred, but he differed as to the second. He had heard his right hon. friend state, that he considered the smallest degree of connivance at corrupt practices and corruption to be the same. If so then, why had he made use of two words, which, in his apprehension, meant the same thing? Of corruption, and corrupt participation, he was ready to acquit the Duke of York; and it had been his intention, if not precluded by the course pursued by the hon. bart. to move an Amendment to his right hon. friend's Resolution, to omit the word "connivance", for the purpose of proposing afterwards another Resolution, stating that his royal highness was guilty of that sort of connivance which according to his view of the case, the evidence established. It was necessary that the house should know what vote it was to come to. There were two distinct parts in the Resolution of his right hon. friend, according to common sense 679 and sound logic. It must be obvious that there was a great difference between connivance and a participation in corruption. Connivance was defined by a great authority to be concealed or dissembled knowledge, which could not be the same as corruption, and consequently both were improperly confounded in the Resolution of his right hon. friend. He believed his right hon. friend to have been sincere, when he declared that the lowest species of connivance was as high an offence as any degree of personal corruption; but he must observe how dangerous such a confusion of moral distinctions, such an uudistinguishing estimate of the degrees of moral turpitude, would be to the interests of the community. Was not, he would ask, personal corruption a much more heinous and dangerous offence than that species of connivance, which amounted only to a dissembled knowledge of a corrupt practice that was going on? It was material for gentlemen, particularly his right hon. friend (Mr. Bathurst) who could not admit that corruption and that species of connivance were the same— it was material for them to consider whether, by their adopting large, comprehensive, and covering words, if they should afterwards wish to carry up some vote of censure to the throne, they were not sapping their own foundation, and taking away the very ground upon which they stood? If they should acquit the Duke of York of all corruption, and connivance at corruption, they would be precluded from following up that acquittal by any Resolution of censure.— It had been imputed to him on a former night, that he practised a parliamentary manœuvre; but that charge could, with more propriety, be applied to the proposition of his right hon. friend. It appeared that his right hon. friend persevered in the conclusion of the proceeding which he had stated in his first able speech upon the subject, and that he was disposed not to follow up his Resolution by any measure upon what he called the moral part of the question.—That part of the subject he had taken care to have introduced in the manner in which alone it ought to have been mentioned, in the amended Address which he had submitted to the house.— (Cries of Question, question!) The bare immorality of the case was not, however, in his mind, a ground for parliament to proceed upon. They possessed, in his opinion, considerable censorial powers; but notwithstanding that powers of that parricidal description belonged to parliament, it 680 was not bound to act upon them, unless some political consequence was to have resulted from the immorality to which such powers might be applied. It did not appear that any inconvenience in the discharge of the official duties of the Duke of York's department had resulted from the immoral connection which he had formed, though some of the appointments which had been solicited by his mistress had unquestionably been obtained. If the Resolution should be agreed to, there would remain no case upon which to address the Throne; and in order that gentlemen, who approved of one part of it, and could not vote for the other, might have an opportunity of moving their separation by an Amendment, he put it to the worthy baronet, whether it would not be desirable for him to withdraw his Amendment; but if the hon. baronet should still press his Amendment, he should certainly vote against it.
§ Sir Thomas Turton
observed, that the arguments of the hon. gent. who put it to him to withdraw his Amendment, had been directed against the complex nature of the original proposition. Not one of his observations applied to his motion, and, therefore he could not consent to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. Hibbert
wished to express his concurrence, in a great part of that which had fallen from the last speaker (Mr. Bankes) connivance at that which was criminal, could not but be also criminal; and yet personal corruption, or participation in corruption, were crimes of a deeper die than some of those degrees in which a connivance at the commission of them might exist. The vote they were called upon to give confounded all these offences; and while they were asked to acquit the Duke of York of personal corruption and participation, they were at the same time called upon to declare him innocent of any connivance, for so it was worded, at the practices which had been laid before the house. A refer-rence to such authority as that of our great interpreter, Dr. Johnson, seemed to him in this case to merit attention, and he could not but add to what had been already said on that authority, that the verb "to connive" is explained by the expressions, among others, of "to for bear, to pass uncensured." Now, the evidence was before them on the table; the interference and influence of Mrs. C. were fully proved, and who that admitted those facts could lay his hand upon his heart and declare that, in respect to her corrupt 681 practices, the D. of Y. did not "forbear" did not "pass them uncensured" To confine, then, in one proposition all these species of offence, was not the way to ascertain the true sense of the house upon the conduct of his royal highness.— He should have been glad, (had the patience of the house admitted it) to have so far explained a vote, the most important perhaps, the most reluctant certainly, which he ever gave, as merely to shew that he had profited by the caution of a right hon. and learned gent. the Master of the Rolls, and that giving it as he did upon full conviction, he had "come honestly by that conviction," but this he would not attempt to do in the present temper of the house.— He would however beg the house to be upon its guard against being led step by step into conclusions not in their contemplation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had recommended his proposition by assuring them that, even after voting it, they might address the throne either for the removal of his royal highness, or for his continuance in office. But should they, in a manner so decisive acquit his royal highness, not only of corrupt practices, but even of the remotest connivance at those practices, with what propriety or consistency could they then address the king for his removal? He must give his negative to the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as it now stood and should be glad if the amendment of the hon. baronet were drawn so as to admit of the distinction proposed by Mr. Bankes, but should the hon. baronet persist in his amendment he could not withhold his assent from it, believing it, as he did, to be made out by the evidence. [Here the cry of Question! was so general and loud as to drown the voice of the hon. member, who sat down in consequence.])
§ Lord H. Petty
rose, in consequence of the manner in which the last speaker had been treated, to call the house of commons to order. From the palpable indisposition which the house manifested to discharge its duty that night, he thought it would be useless to continue the discussion, and therefore moved, that the house do now adjourn. Upon the Question being put,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
expressed his hope that the house would not concur in the motion of the noble lord, though at the same time, after the protracted debates that had taken place, it was not surprising if some degree of impatience had been shewn to come to a decision.
§ The Speaker
observed, that it would become the house to consult its own dignity by a more decorous attention to the business under consideration.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
trusted, that after the diligence and ability with which the debate had been hitherto conducted, the house would not, at its close, shew to the country and to the world, that it would not persevere in the same temper which had been, up to that moment, observed in the discussion. The question then before the house was the most important branch, though not the whole of the case; but unless the house should entertain it with patience, they would not get out of the business with the same credit to which their past proceedings were entitled. The motion of the noble lord he must observe, had not arisen from any wish to interrupt the discussion; but had been forced upon him by the impatience of the house; he should not therefore propose to negative that motion, as he honed the noble lord would with draw it, and then he trusted that the house would pay that attention to the sentiments of gentlemen who might be disposed to take a part in the debate, which the importance of the subject merited.
§ Lord H. Petty
had no objection to withdraw his motion, if the house was disposed to attend with patience and temper to the discussion.
§ Mr. Whitbread
meant not to object to the withdrawing of the noble lord's motion, but to urge to the house the propriety, from personal consideration for the Speaker, of abstaining from any course by which the fatigues to which he was subjected might be increased.
The motion of adjournment was theft withdrawn.
§ Mr. Ellison
felt forcibly the importance of the duty which was cast upon him, as a senator, upon this most awful occasion. He was sorry to differ from those with whom he could not agree upon this question, but he had a bounden duty to perform and must perform it faithfully. He had bestowed all the attention he was able to command on the evidence which had been given at the bar of the house upon this subject. He had attended also, as well as he was able, to all the argument which had been urged on either side of it; and the result of the whole was, that, in his mind, his r. h. the Duke of York was indeed guilty; guilty of connivance in the shameful traffic of Mrs. Clarke in military 683 promotions. Much had been said about clamour out of doors on this subject, supposed to have been raised for the purpose of deterring members of the house of commons from giving their opinion freely on the great question now before them. He thought there was no foundation for that complaint, for he had no doubt that every member of that house would do his duty in it, independent of any other consideration than that of the performance of that duty: and here he must invoke the integrity of each individual member whom he now had the honour of addressing through the medium of the chair. He defied any man who heard him, to lay his hand upon his heart and say, after he had read the evidence given in this case, that the Duke of York was not guilty of connivance at the malpractices of Mrs. Clarke in military and other promotions, which she procured, and also tried to procure, through the medium of the influence which she had with the Commander in Chief. He was ready to admit that the evidence of Mrs. Clarke was in itself somewhat suspicious; but supported by other testimony, and connected with circumstances, it must bring conviction to the minds of all who heard it; and that the more remarkably, as her evidence was corroborated by little facts and minute circumstances, travelling up step by step, until the whole of the mass of her evidence was entirely confirmed. He had no hesitation in saying there was no court of justice in the kingdom, where there was a proclamation made of any gaol delivery, in which the evidence given by Mrs. Clarke at the bar of that house, corroborated as it was by documents and the testimony of others, would not be received, and would not be conclusive even in matter of life and death; and this he said with perfect confidence, notwithstanding the opinion given by a learned judge (Mr. Burton) early in the discussion of this subject, for whom no man in the kingdom had more respect than himself. But, he must be allowed to judge from facts, and he did not hesitate to declare, that unless the house of commons pronounced the Duke of York guilty of connivance at least, it would be a mockery of their proceedings. He felt himself bound to say this, and that the house could not avoid to say the same thing by its vote, unless they had a mind to be ridiculous in the face of the world. He felt no difficulty in considering himself as competent to judge of this question, as those 684 who affected superior sagacity; for he had had a good deal of experience in the investigation of evidence. He had the honour to be Chairman at a Quarter Sessions, and he must say, that the evidence given in this case against the Duke of York was as satisfactory as any he ever heard in any court of justice in his life. It was his duty to consider this subject, and he did consider it with the same scrupulous care and solemnity as if he were a juror upon his oath, totally divested of all party feelings or prejudice whatever. As to the argument, that if the Duke of York was convicted upon this occasion, the house would be setting a dangerous example for pulling down great men, he must answer, that as a member of the parliament of the British Empire, he knew nothing of great men, or of little men; he must do his duty to the people by declaring what in his conscience he believed to be true, without any regard to what the effect might be on any great man or men. He was not to be deterred from doing his duty from general observations that he was disgracing the illustrious House of Brunswick. He was ready to shed the last drop of his blood in support of the House of Brunswick in a good cause, but he must not be terrified by names. He was determined to support the throne of this realm, and he knew of no better way of supporting the throne than by censuring those whose misconduct abused the confidence put in them by the Sovereign upon that throne. Nor was he to be told that the people wished to pull down princes, because they were princes; the people wished to make princes behave as princes ought to behave. In that the people were right, and their demands as to the Duke of York were just. He must say that, taking the whole of the proceedings of the house of commons upon this subject into his consideration, there was a perfect conviction in his mind, that the Duke of York was privy to what was passing with Mrs. Clarke on the subject of military and other promotions, in which she used her influence with his royal highness, and that not in one instance or two, but that he was privy to the whole of it. The words of the Resolution of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, That after examining the evidence there was no ground for the house to charge his royal highness with 'personal corruption or any 'criminal connivance,' he could by no means assent to, because he felt that the assertion was not true; and as a public character he must say 685 that he thought the Duke of York ought to be dismissed from the office of Commander m Chief.
Sir Charles Merrick Burrell,
in allusion to the manner in which the Resolution was worded, stated it as his opinion that without some explanation, it might go forth to the public as conveying an insiduous censure upon the hon. gentleman who brought forward these charges against the Commander in Chief; and he therefore conceived it right to require a distinct avowal, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon that point. For, although inclined to vote for the Resolution, on account of the doubtful nature of many parts of the testimony, yet he would maintain, that sufficient matter existed on the face of the evidence to justify the bringing forward these charges; and it was his decided conviction, that in so doing the hon. gentleman had only done his duty by the house and by the country.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
observed, that he had altered the Resolution now before the house, for the purpose of meeting the ideas of some of his hon. friends, who were desirous to avoid any words which might tend to cast any reflection on the hon. gentleman who originally instituted this Inquiry; but after the present Resolution should be carried, if carried, there was nothing to hinder the house from coming to any Resolution it might think proper, declarative of its disapprobation of the influence of Mrs. Clarke with the Commander in Chief.
§ Mr. Home Sumner
should not vote for the Amendment of the hon. bart. as he was not prepared to go the length of stating, that there were grounds for charging personal corruption upon his royal highness. It had been his intention, if he could have obtained a hearing earlier, to have proposed as an Amendment, to separate the propositions of the Resolution respecting corruption and connivance. The situation in which they were placed was painful, but it would be some mitigation of that pain, if these two points were separated. He should with pleasure vote for the acquittal of the Duke of York of all personal corruption, though he could not of connivance. He thought that Mrs. Clarke had dealt out to the house many falsehoods, but she had also told them many grave truths; and upon these truths it was, that he could not think that the Duke of York was wholly ignorant of the corrupt practices which were passing.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
observed, that by putting 686 the question as it now stood, they must either vote for the Resolution of the right hon. gentleman, or for the Amendment made by the worthy baronet. There was no middle course they could steer, though it would be desirable to him and many of his friends to adopt a middle course, as they could not with any propriety or satisfaction to themselves vote for either separately. The hon. bart. appeared to him not to have sufficiently attended to what had fallen from his hon. friend (Mr. Bankes) relative to his Amendment, which he took that opportunity of conjuring him to withdraw. The hon. baronet's Amendment was calculated to give the public a false notion of the opinion of the house of commons. It was unfair, it was cruel to place gentlemen who might by an Amendment separate the original Resolution, so as to be able to vote for the part in which they concurred, and to negative that which they disapproved of, in such a situation that they could not vote according to their conviction. The motion of the hon. bart. placed him and those who thought with him in a very distressing situation, and he therefore conjured him again to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Lord H. Petty
thought that it was right for those, who felt it necessary to state the reasons upon which they voted, to do so before the house should proceed to the first division. Whatever differences of opinion might exist on other subjects, he was sure there could be in that house but one sentiment of attachment towards the illustrious family upon the throne, upon every principle of reason, every memory of the past, and every hope of liberty hereafter in these realms. It was with extreme anxiety therefore, that he dissented from the proposition of the right hon. gentleman: it was painful to him to be compelled to give a negative, where it would be most gratifying to him to give his support. It. was to explain the grounds upon which he was induced to give his negative to the proposition of the right hon. gentleman that he had risen. The proceeding upon the subject under consideration had been repeatedly described by the right hon. gentleman and others, but most erroneously, as a judicial proceeding. This was an opinion inconsistent with parliamentary usage, and not authorised by the forms, the practice, or the constitution of parliament. It was absolutely impossible for that house to resort to any juridical proceeding, or to bring this question to a 687 juridical decision. It was therefore with considerable sorrow that he had heard expressions fall from gentlemen, learned in the law; gentlemen who should inform, not perplex; who should enlighten, not confuse; favourable to a judicial course. He differed from that opinion, and if he was in error, it was the error of the constitution, which had not supplied the house with the same requisites or the same shackles as other courts of justice, which had not subjected their proceedings to the same consequences of a verdict, so that it might affect the life or property of a fellow subject. He had said thus much in order to bring the house to the consideration of this question with the same deliberate, cool, and considerate attention to the matter submitted to them, as belonged to a judge or a jury. But having said this, he would contend that his duty as a member of parliament was not to punish an individual, but to watch over and guard the public safety. In this view, he contended, that the object of the proceeding then before the house was not to punish the Duke of York, but to save and protect the public from the consequences of the abuses which the Puke of York might have permitted in his department, and which were the subject of inquiry. This was the ground of ins negative, because, looking to the whole of the proceedings, and considering the evidence which had been laid before them, he could lay his hand upon his heart and say, that, he could not find in that evidence any thing to warrant him in saying that the Duke of York had not connived at those abuses into which the house had been inquiring. As to the character of the evidence, he agreed with his learned friend (Mr. Burton) that it was loose; but loose as it was, it was capable of being sifted as well as any other evidence. That evidence, however, had been so supported as to intitle it to credit, and he confessed the manner in which it was supported appeared, to his mind, greatly to strengthen the whole mass; because, in every instance where it admitted of being supported by documents, it had received that support, and in no one instance had it been contradicted by a single document. He had listened with attention to the able and ingenious defence, which had been made by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but the parts which appeared so ingenious in themselves, when taken together, were contradictory to each other. 688 When the right hon. gentleman commented on the Note respecting major Tonyn's case, and argued against the credibility of Miss Taylor's evidence, he shewed his ingenuity in endeavouring to establish the fact of a conspiracy, and to shew that both were the contrivance of superior heads. Yet, at first, he did not consider the Note of much consequence, and contended that it might have been written by the Duke of York with very innocent intentions. But afterwards, when the right hon. gentleman wanted to establish the conspiracy, he endeavoured to shew that the Note was forged, and by shewing the means that in such an event would be placed within the reach of the conspirators, at the same time that so little use was made of them, established in his mind the strongest proof that the Note was not a forgery. He agreed with his right hon. friend as to the distinction which he took between different degrees of connivance, and was ready to contend, that corruption or deliberate connivance was not the same as blind connivance or resisted inquiry. This latter species of connivance was unquestionably not equally criminal, but still it was such as to require the removal of any public officer who might be guilty of it. Having stated that to be his opinion of connivance, how, he would ask, could he vote for the Resolution acquitting his royal highness both of personal corruption and connivance, when there was not a tittle of evidence that could bear him out as to the latter? Those who could pursue a contrary course might be said, in the language of a moral poet, toGulp down reasons whole and in a lump,And come to short conclusions at a jump.What would be the situation of the house if they should vote the Resolution of the right hon. gentleman? Why, this — that whilst they had a conviction of his connivance at abuses, the highest officer in the state would still continue, in his situation. (Hear! hear!) Was it right that his royal highness should continue as Commander in Chief, whilst it was proved that such practices had passed before him? If the Duke of York ever reflected at all, which he sincerely believed he never had done, he would have put a stop to such corrupt' practices. He would never have lent himself to such a case as Mrs. Clarke's recommendation of a Doctor of Divinity from Ireland, or committed himself with respect to general Clavering, or major Tonyn; 689 the thing was absolutely impossible. He agreed with his right honourable friend, that a blindness and an indisposition to make themselves acquainted with unpleasant truths were the characteristics of many men high in office, but that could never be admitted as a justification of a breach or neglect of duty in a public officer. He had thought, from what had fallen from the right hon. gent, opposite, that the only objection to the measure proposed from his side of the house, was, that it had not been sufficiently distinct; and after the transactions of the last night, he felt it impossible to give a vote for any motion that carried an equivocal meaning; but he thought, nay, he was convinced, that the house would do justice to itself, that it would assert its credit and its honour; and that was principally to be effected by dealing fairly with the public. The right hon. gent, now asserted, that there were no grounds for further proceedings, if his Resolution should be agreed to; but if there were no grounds for further proceedings, what was to become of the necessity the house was under, according to his argument, to come to a direct decision, Aye or No, Guilty or Not Guilty, unless it was meant that the house was only to be allowed to find for the acquittal I He was aware that the right hon. gent, had frequently changed his motions, not that he would impute to him the design of catching thereby a few more votes, but that it had arisen from accidental changes in his opinions. It was impossible for him to vote for the Resolution of the right hon. gent, and it would be improper for the house to vote any words of equivocal or ambiguous meaning. The public expected that they should do their duty fairly and openly, and the house, he was sure, would do itself credit by proving to the public that it performed its duty, plainly, honestly, and uprightly. He could not shut it out from the house, that to vote for the Resolution would preclude them from any proceeding, which would have the effect of securing the public from the future recurrence of such abuses. The right hon. gent. no doubt, might say, that there was another bead, that of improper influence, under which a Resolution of censure might afterwards be brought forward; but no such thing had been proposed by the right hon. gentleman. But if the right hon. gent, did not think that his royal highness had been guilty of corruption or connivance, the proceeding he proposed was one of the most 690 unjust description towards his royal high, ness. After the house of commons declared that Ins royal highness was not guilty of corruption, of participation, of connivance, or of improper influence, the proceeding of the right hon. gent. was to go onto brand his royal highness for a crime, of which that house could have no cognizance, unless it was connected with some great public inconvenience, or official delinquency. He had voted for the amendment of the hon. gent. (Mr. Bankes) on a former night, because this circumstance had been introduced into it in the only way in which it ought to be introduced: and he would never consent that it should be introduced in any other way. With regard to the vote he should give upon this question, he must say that on the score of corruption there was no ground of charge against his royal highness, but he could not express by his vote that there had been no connivance, because it had been clearly proved that an improper influence had been exercised. Neither should he vote for the Amendment of the hon. baronet. It was but justice, however, to the illustrious person who was the object of the vote he was to give that night, to state, that from ail the information he had been able to collect, the regulations made by the Duke of York had been highly beneficial to the army. The noble lord concluded by declaring, that he should negative the Resolution and the Amendment.
§ Mr. Boyle
(Solicitor General for Scotland) insisted that there was not only no proof of corrupt participation on the part of his royal highness, but no foundation whatever for imputing connivance. When he spoke of connivance, he meant of criminal connivance, as he could see none of those distinctions that had been drawn; and if the house differed with him on that head, and were of opinion that his royal highness had connived, gentlemen ought not to shut their eyes to the fact, but impeach the royal Duke at the bar of the house of lords. He would not admit that the cases of O'Meara, general Clavering, and major Tonyn, suggested proofs of that connivance, and, thinking so, he should vote for the motion of his right hon. friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he would insist was a clear and distinct proposition, and free from any supposed ambiguity.
§ Mr. Loveden
said, he was convinced that there was no evidence to justify a conclusion of corruption or connivance, and as such he should vote for the original motion; at 691 the same time, he did feel that an undue influence had been proved to have existed, disgraceful and injurious to the public service, and he did hope that some ulterior proceeding would take place upon it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose to reply to some observations that had fallen from a noble lord opposite to him (Petty). He began by observing, that lie should not wonder if the same impatience that had been previously expressed by the house, should be renewed against him; but he hoped he should be excused for pressing himself again upon the notice of the house, feeling that he could not chuse but reply, in explanation, to some remarks made by the noble lord to whom he had alluded. That noble lord had accused him of an intention to entrap the house by the motion lie had made, inasmuch as he had mixed considerations in that motion totally, distinct and separate. He did not, he said, expect to meet reproach for having conformed to that which he considered to be more consonant to the general feelings of the house. The hon. gent, too (Mr. Whit-bread) seemed to wish the alteration he had made, and he had done it partly at his request, and partly as it went to express more satisfactorily and clearly the sentiment he had from the commencement wished to convey. But the noble lord had said, as the motion went to acquit his royal highness, as well of connivance as corruption, it had placed him in a situation of great embarrassment and difficulty, and that he should be obliged to give a vote contrary to his feelings. Now if that noble lord would only attend to what he had to offer, he would see that the grounds of his objection to the motion as submitted, were no grounds at all, but had originated in a misunderstanding. The noble lord felt that he could not consistently say that there were no grounds for supposing his royal highness was not to a degree cognizant of those practices, which had been proved to exist. The motion did not call upon him to make that declaration, as it only said there were no grounds for charging his royal highness with corrupt participation and connivance. The noble lord too seemed to think, that if the word sufficient had been introduced, it would have qualified the term no grounds, and might have insured the votes of those gentlemen who thought with him. For his own part, he conceived that to be a distinction without a difference, as to say there were no grounds, meant that there were no 692 sufficient grounds whereon to charge the Duke, and he trusted the noble lord would feel himself released from the necessity of voting against his royal highness, after the explanation he had given. Here too was the objection of the noble lord consistent with the argument early used in the debate, namely, that the house should pronounce its opinion, aye or no, upon the guilt or innocence of the Duke? The motion, in his mind, was calculated to meet that idea with all possible distinctness, and as in courts of justice a jury would pronounce a verdict of not guilty, so were the house of commons called upon to say, that in their opinion there were no grounds for charging the Duke of York with corrupt participation and connivance. It was all the house could say upon the matter at issue. At the same time he would distinctly admit that gentlemen voting for that proposition were not precluded from opposing the Address, consequent upon that proposition, if not worded agreeably to their wishes. It would, therefore, be open for the noble lord to point out what other shades of offence there appeared in the proceedings before the house, and particularly that of undue influence, if he should be so disposed. Besides, the hon. gent, (the member for Berkshire) had stated, that, whatever might be the fate of the present motion, he would take the sense of the house upon the subject of undue influence. With regard to what had been said about connivance, as originating out of the cases of Dr. O'Meara, general Clavering, and major Tonyn: though it might be argued that his royal highness had permitted Mrs. Clarke to apply to him on their behalf, yet he would deny that there appeared a particle of evidence to prove that the Duke had the smallest knowledge of the corrupt dealing Mrs. Clarke was carrying on with those parties; and when the noble lord talked of the feelings of the illustrious personage, whose character and honour were so materially implicated, he would ask him if he saw the effect of finding his r. h. guilty of that connivance. In his mind, whether he was convicted of Corrupt participation or connivance, it was the same; even that connivance, which had been described as voluntary blindness, for considering the relationship in which the Duke stood to Mrs. Clarke at the time those practices were going on, it was impossible to suggest a more gross, base, or mean species of corruption. He would not thank the house for an acquittal of the corruption, without 693 the connivance, (a loud cry of hear! hear!) He considered the one as destructive to the Duke's character as the other; and au acquittal of the corruption, without the connivance, would neither be satisfactory to the honour of the Duke, nor useful to the public service at which he was at the head. He would repeat, that the house by agreeing to his motion was not precluded from expressing its sense of any undue influence supposed to have existed, nor prevented from observing upon any other offence the present investigation might be supposed to have brought to light. At the same time, if there were any who thought the Duke guilty of corruption or connivance, he did not ask their vote, as under that impression it would be a disgrace for their to give it. The house had to decide on a great public officer, and, he wished gentlemen to recollect that that officer was a prince of the blood, no further than to impress upon them the consequences of a vote destructive of his high character and honour, and the necessity there was that they should maturely weigh the importance of the issue before they came to a decision so momentous as the present.—He would only add to what he had already said, that the termination would be most happy, if the house could come to it consistently with its duty, should the Duke be permitted to retain his situation; he meant upon grounds of public advantage, as much as personal feeling. The house, he perceived, were inclined to agree most cordially, that there were no grounds for charging his royal highness with personal corruption, and yet that charge had been most distinctly made by Mrs. Clarke. In doing it, however, it was obvious, she sought the destruction of that illustrious personage, and her falsehood no one could mistake. It would be painful, he said, to the house, should an accusation so false and unfounded, and a motive so base and abhorrent, be crowned with success, and such it would we should the house decide that the Duke had connived at her practices, as it might carry with it a suggestion for his removal, an event as extensive as any that malice could wish or expect from the accusations in question. He would admit there were many things to be regretted in the disclosure made at the bar, and the great public inconvenience the proceedings had occasioned, and the effect these proceedings had had upon the public mind, were not amongst the least; and if there were no other ulterior points to be considered, those 694 would certainly call for the animadversion of the house. But be those ulterior views whatever they might, he would repeat, that the house would not preclude itself from entering upon such views by voting for the Resolution he had submitted to their consideration. The acquittal of the Duke upon the charge of corruption and connivance, would not touch the question of undue influence, or compromise any ulterior Resolutions the house might think necessary to adopt.
§ Mr. Whitbread.
—It is not my intention, Sir, in the present exhausted state of the house, to consume much time in the expression of the sentiments, which I feel myself imperiously called upon to deliver in consequence of what has fallen from the right lion, gentleman who has just spoken. But he has advanced certain positions, and made use of certain expressions in defence of the proceedings which he has suggested, which render my silence impossible. Sir, I put it to the right hon. gentleman, himself, in candour to say, whether he has adopted that mode of proceeding, which we had a right to expect. He set out, by charging us with "blinking" the question —with having proposed an Address that was not couched in terms sufficiently decisive.— To that imputation, answers have been given which appear to me so satisfactory, that it does not require any further notice. But, Sir, the right hon. gentleman has so constructed his Resolution, as to make him. justly liable to the charge he made against my hon. friend, which was unfounded, as it respected him, of having gone about to catch voles. Such course lie does not in himself seem to think very blameable—and he has fortunately stumbled on the expedient of involving two questions in a manner that, to him, appears to render it impossible they should be considered separately—and the house is, upon this principle, reduced to the necessity of voting an absolute condemnation or a general acquittal. "The distinction, says the right hon. gentleman, which has been so accurately drawn between personal corruption, and conuivance, I cannot comprehend, not withstanding the references which have been made to the celebrated work of our great lexicographer, with a view to illustrate it; and so far from thinking the guilt of connivance greatly inferior to that of personal corruption, solemnly declare, that I conceive such counivance more mean; more foul; and more base, than 695 direct and personal corruption;—and, if the Duke, being acquitted of all personal corruption, should be convicted of connivance only, all those consequences which have been anticipated Hi the event of his being convicted of personal corruption, would inevitably ensue". This is the position of the right hon. gentleman, from which I beg leave totally to differ. If, Sir, the Duke should be found guilty of connivance only—surely it may with great truth and propriety be said, he is not so mean; so foul; so base; or so low, as if convicted of personal corruption. His character is not irretrievable; he may by the correctness of his future conduct obliterate what is past, which in the other alternative it would be far more difficult to do. The right hon. gentleman calls upon us for fairness, but he at the same time puts us in a very unfair predicament. He tells us, that after voting for his proportion, we may come to an Address on the undue influence exercised over the Commander in Chief. This is one of the steps by which he means to arrive at the point, towards which all his endeavours tend; a declaration by this house, that the Duke of York is a fit person to continue in the command of the army. Such declaration, Sir, I cannot but deem extremely dangerous. A new ground has been taken by the right hon. gentleman: he also would now convert Mrs. Clarke into the accuser.— Would you, says the right hon. gentleman, yield up yourselves as the instruments of Mrs. Clarke, the accuser—whose object is to lay the Duke prostrate at her feet? Would you, by such conduct, vilify the house of commons I The right hon. gentleman in the large and able share which he bore in the first discussion, always treated Mrs. Clarke as the witness in support of the accusation. From another quarter, my hon. friend who brought forward this important question was represented as an "instrument in the "hands of an abandoned junta."—I beg, Sir, We may consider the evil tendency of the false insinuations which have been thrown out against that hon. member. In a popular government like ours they must be productive of the worst effects. It is the direct interest of the community that a public accuser should be cherished—unless individuals are encouraged and supported by the public voice, where shall We find a man who will have the courage to attack the corrupt offences of the great? If lie who renders so important a service to the public is branded with the contemptuous ap- 696 pellation of "an instrument in the hands of "an abandoned junta," and such conduct is not reprobated both by the house of commons and the people, where shall we find one who will undertake to drag forth the perpetrators of such foul offences to public view?—Let me ask the right hon. gentleman, whether the accuser of the Duke of York was even acquainted with Mrs. Clarke until long after he had meditated the bringing forward these charges? Does he disbelieve the noble lord (Folkestone), who in his place made that declaration? Of whom did that Junta consist?—Of persons divided in interest from each other—without any bond or motive of union—of persons who, by the indefatigable zeal and perseverance of my hon. friend, have been converted into instruments of public safety—from whom, important and beneficial effects even yet will be produced, unless all our proceedings are frustrated by the influence of the king's ministers, and the mistaken friends of the Duke of York.
The right hon. secretary for foreign affairs, launching one of those bruta fulmina with which he is in the habit of treating this house, has told us that, so far from considering the day on which my hon. friend shall triumph over the Duke of York, if such shall be the case, as a day of exultation to the country, he shall view it as a day of sorrow and regret; and that if a vote of thanks shall be proposed to my hon. friend, if single, he will oppose it. As to the first, the right hon. gentleman possibly cannot enter into the enlarged views of my hon. friend. He can see nothing but personal opposition and personal triumph. It is not over the Duke of York that my hon. friend seeks victory, but over the corrupt practices which have prevailed through the weakness of the Duke of York. Him he wishes to preserve for amendment, not to exclude him, as his friends would do, from all hope. As to the second, the right hon. gent, however magnanimous, is perfectly secure. The house cannot think of voting its thanks to a member for bringing forward a proposition which it has rejected. If it had been accepted, no man would have proposed thanks to a member of the house of commons for the bare performance of his duly, however arduous that duty might be. The right hon. gent. I say, is safe; lie will not be in a minority this time. Another right hon. gentleman and friend of mine on this side of the house (Mr. Windham), has commented severely on the manner in which my hon. 697 friend obtained possession of certain letters which have been the subject of frequent examinations. These letters he alledges to have been obtained by force or collusion, and I was, I confess, not a little surprized to hear from my right hon. friend the very broad assertion, that under all the circumstances which had been made known to us, be would, if he were constrained to make his election between the two cases—rather be placed in the state of accusation hi which his r. h. now stands, than in the situation of my hon. friend, as having forcibly possessed himself of these documents. —[Here Mr. Windham said that his expression had been mistaken.] Sir, I sincerely rejoice to be informed of my mistake, and do most cheerfully bow to the correction of my right hon. friend. I say, Sir, I rejoice to I find that my statement is erroneous, for it did seem to me to be inconsistent with his judgment and liberality. But, as this sentiment has, if I am not again incorrect, come from another quarter of the house, I will ask, whether there is not something between the extreme of violence; and that manner and extent of force with which those letters were obtained I and whether, without any collusion, it was not possible that the papers might be taken against the inclination of Mrs. Clarke expressed at the time, and yet without the degree of force attributed, or such degree of force as would have made her endeavour by legal means to recover them, as she is said in another case of the seizure of her papers, to have done. Let gentlemen at the same time recollect, that violence on the part of my hon. friend was by no means necessary to enable him to obtain papers; they would have been put into his possession through the interposition of this house Surely, Sir, no gentleman can upon reflection think this conduct reprehensible, who knows the manner in which papers and letters of high political importance have been purloined—transcribed—and replaced without the slightest suspicion, under the direction of diplomatists of the first character and reputation. The instances in which these things ate known to have happened are very numerous. Do we forget the complaint made by the court of Prussia against a British minister for the forcible seizure of letters. Need I mention the remarkable case of the illustrious Dr. Franklin, who got possession of certain letters, and respecting the manner of obtaining them, although he avowed the fact, he constantly refused to make any disclosure. With what 698 obloquy he was assailed, with what abuse he was stigmatized, as a man who ought to have been driven from society! Yet, Sir, this homo trium literarum, as he was contemptuously called before the privy council, never shewed any sign of remorse or regret for this extraordinary action of his life. It has not sullied his fame. He lived to attain the summit of prosperity and honour, to ratify with his own hand the independence of his country. His memory has received from his fellow citizens a grateful tribute of applause, in the pregnant motto which they have applied to his medal. "Eripuit fulmen cœlis, sceptrumque tyrannis." Let my hon. friend console himself!
The truth is, that the manner in which these letters were obtained from Mrs. Clarke, is absolutely immaterial to the case, and no one, I am sure, who knows my hon. friend, will impute to him an impropriety of conduct. It is again said, that the rank, station, and character of the Duke of York, all conduce to destroy the very idea, and possibility even of connivance. Sir, when a man speaks to his mistress on the subject of his pecuniary distresses; consults with her on the means of relief; employs her as his agent to obtain loans of money, as in the instances of Comprie; through Town, the drawing master, of Jew King, of colonel Grant, and others; when he endeavours to obtain relief by a corrupt use of his influence, as in the case of Kennett, can I be called upon to admit, that there is no ground to suspect him of connivance, when corruption is positively-proved upon her whom he trusted and employed? Sir, in my mind, there is proof of connivance; and if my vote is demanded, to acquit him of all corruption, it is not in my power to give it. When we say there is substantial proof of the charges, and that there is just ground to advise his majesty to dismiss the Commander in Chief, from his high office, we are called upon to move impeachment. I have no hesitation in saying, that there are very strong and obvious prudential reasons against an impeachment. I would neither propose it, nor vote for it. A great deal, Sir, has been said by the right hon. gent, on the subject of morality. Unless the errors of princes affect the public weal, I should no more feel disposed to inquire into them, than I would into the errors of private men. But, Sir, the appeal made to our consciences, the call upon us to examine ourselves before we proceed to the condemnation of the 699 Duke of York, has no true foundation in morals. Are juries, impannelled to try whether a prisoner is or is not guilty of an offence charged, to be put upon their trials previously to their entering upon their functions, to find out whether each member of it is free from the offence imputed to the person arraigned? To talk so is a mere mockery of our understanding. Human society could not proceed in that manner. Is A. B. guilty or not guilty I that is the question to be decided: the verdict is to be returned upon the evidence. I wish these scenes had not been made public; I fear a spectre has been carried into many private families, such as never before was presented to their imaginations. That old attachments will be loosened, and habitual respect diminished. Sir, the right hon. gent, intended to call upon the house to vote a grave moral lecture to the Commander in Chief, and yet the right hon. gent, would, after having so exposed him, retain him in his command. Hypocrisy is always odious; the hypocrisy of a government is most detestable. Would he, who knows that a proclamation against vice and immorality, is publicly read at every Quarter Sessions of the peace throughout the kingdom, for the benefit and improvement of all his majesty's liege subjects, wherein the king declares his determination to discountenance and punish all offenders, and calls upon all his commanders by sea and land to further his gracious intention under pain of his high displeasure; would the right hon. gentleman, I say, who certainly knows of the existence of such a proclamation, if others of his majesty's ministers do not, would he, after voting for his own address, recommend the King to continue the Duke of York in his office? With what emotions shall we hear the clerk of the peace gabble over the proclamation I have mentioned, at our next Sessions, if the Duke of York shall continue to have the chief command by land I That the Commander in Chief is dear to the army I have never been disposed to deny: but, the mode which has been adopted to shew his military merits, has been, in my opinion, as injudicious as every other step taken by his defenders. A right hon. Secretary, on a former night, gravely asked us, what we should say to a jury, who, having tried a man upon a charge, should acquit him of the offence laid in the indictment, but declare him guilty of some other offence, not under their cognizance: wishing us 700 to believe, that such was the conduct the house of commons was called upon to adopt. I will touch upon the fallacy of that statement presently, but I may be allowed to retort upon him, and those who cheered him so loudly, by asking what they would say to a jury who, upon corruption alledged, should find guilty, but return, at the same time, that the man was an excellent soldier I The Duke of York is accused of corruption. General officers are then called to character, and we are told that he is an excellent Commander in Chief.—Sir, the Duke of Marlborough never fought a battle which he did not win; he never besieged a town which he did not take; and he was the ablest negotiator of the age in which he lived. We look back with pride to the days of his glory. Yet, Sir, the Duke of Marlborough was instantaneously deprived of all offices on the exhibition of charges against him respecting his official conduct. Thus far, Sir, I have viewed the question in a light which is understood by the whole house, and by the whole country; but it may become necessary to go much further than the mere removal of the Commander in Chief. Is it true, that there has been a meeting of general officers, at which the Secretary at War was present, and at which an Address was proposed to be presented to the Commander in Chief, couched in terms of affection and approbation!!! (hear! hear! hear!.) Is it, I demand of the Secretary at War, (who can correct me if I am misinformed) true, that such a meeting was held, at which it was intended to address the Duke of York to express the high opinion entertained of his services and merits? (hear! hear! hear!) If there is no foundation for my question, I desire to be stopped. It is, I fear, not less true than dangerous. To what does this lead I In the moment of deliberation, are the commons of England to be subject to the interference of the officers of the army I (hear! hear!) Is the character which was given of the Duke of York in this house the ground-work of this proceeding? hear! hear! hear!) I have heard, by report, that the Address was waved, but for the present only, till these proceedings are over (hear! hear! hear!). Sir, general officers ought to know that they owe obedience to the state, and that they have no more right to assume the functions of a deliberative body, than the privates of the army or navy (hear! 701 hear! hear!) Shall we henceforth be compelled to hold our deliberations under terror of the bayonet? (A violent tumult arose in every part of the house, which lasted some minutes). The house of commons must, on these grounds, if true, immediately proceed to an Address. Sir, some novel proceedings of the army and navy of this country, are brought to my mind by the fearful circumstance I have just stated, which appear to me highly reprehensible. I mean the custom lately introduced of inferior officers sitting in judgment upon, and rewarding the merits of their superiors: it has a dangerous tendency. I would instance the piece of plate presented to sir Arthur Wellesley by the officers who served under him at the battle of Vimiera. I know that a gallant friend of mine, who has claim to so large a share of the laurels won on that day, and who has spoken so ably and manfully on this question, (gen. Ferguson) was a party to that proceeding; and I believe the officer to whom the present was made, to be a soldier of the most distinguished merit, nevertheless I cannot refrain from expressing my disapprobation of the proceeding altogether. The establishment of the fund at Lloyd's, although I was heedlessly in the outset of it a subscriber, is, I think, very objectionable. The crown ought to be the only source of honour to the army or navy; from this house alone ought to flow all pecuniary reward or relief. We have had an example where the opinion of the presiding committee at Lloyd's has clashed with the sentence of a court-martial. Sir Home Popham was presented with a sword at Lloyd's for the very deed for which he was censured by the tribunal before which he was arraigned. Sir, these things ought not to be tolerated. And when officers in the army sit in judgment on the Duke of York, at the very moment that we are deliberating on the charges brought against him, it is high time this house should set its face against ail such proceedings. We may address his Majesty to dismiss the Duke of York from the office of Commander in Chief. A body of general officers will, at the same time it appears, address the Duke of York in terms of regard and approbation; thus a contention will arise between the army and the house of commons (hear! hear! hear!). Is there a man in this house, who can be insensible to the con-sequences? Again, if I am incorrect, I request to be set right by the Secretary at 702 War; for, on a topic so momentous, I should be particularly sorry to have made an erroneous statement. He is silent; then the story I have heard is well founded (hear! hear!). The right hon. gent. (Mr. Canning) last night, in the abundant vigour of his imagination, thought proper to draw a comparison between an hon. gent, of this house, the member for Yorkshire, (Mr. Wilberforce) and Robespierre; even to attribute to him a desire of dealing by the Duke of York with that refinement of cruelty which existed only in the caricatures given of the savage condemnations passed in the reign of that merciless tyrant. He says that the hon. member would pass sentence upon the Duke of York, because he is "soupÇonnè d'être suspecté." No man in the world, I think, would have drawn the parallel, but the right hon. Secretary. No one but himself could so egregiously have misapprehended the arguments of the hon. member. The right hon. Secretary, in the course of a debate which took place a short time since on a very different subject, was pleased to suppose that I had read him a lecture upon taste, for the purpose of informing me and the house, that he had no very high opinion of my taste. I was not conscious of having presumed so much with so acknowledged a proficient; but I think I may venture to say that the taste of the comparison I have named was exquisitely bad; and that in the course of the same speech, which had its brilliant passages no doubt, he introduced an allusion which would have sullied the lustre of the finest oration that ever was delivered. I refer, Sir, to his intemperate and injudicious reference to the vulgar story relating to the manner in which the ancestor of the noble lord (lord Folkestone), obtained the peerage, which is borne with so much dignity in the family of which he is the heir. I could not but rejoice in the striking contrast exhibited by my noble friend, in the calm, manly, and dignified reply which he made to the observations of the right hon. gent.: observations so inconsistent with all propriety, that I am persuaded the right hon. gent, cannot recall them to his recollection without feelings of regret.
We are accustomed to see the right hon. gent, aim at victory in debate at any ex-pence; but I confess that even from him, I should not have expected so striking an indecorum. I should not have expected that any Secretary of State of his present majesty, for the purpose of pointing a 703 sarcasm, would have raked up the ashes of George the Second, to powder his eloquence withal. I should not have expected that a defender of royalty, an alarmist about the dangerous machinations to bring all sovereigns into contempt, for any temporary purpose would have unveiled the weaknesses of a monarch justly dear to his people, or have stained his memory with a doubtful tale. The descendants of those who lived under George the Second, will not forget the pitch of prosperity to which this country rose during his glorious reign. The right hon. gent, may have forgotten, but England has not, that the monarch who selected the ancestor of the noble lord as an hereditary counselor of the crown, also selected the great lord Chatham to direct the councils of this country. The people of England will recollect the unparalleled glories of that period. They will rebuke the right hon. gent., and think the attack might well have been spared, especially from such a quarter. Sir, it is vehemently asserted, that if the guilt of connivance is fixed upon the Duke of York, his character is for ever ruined. A right hon. gent, the member for Cambridgeshire, has been so indiscreet, as to talk of a Bill of Exclusion as the consequence of such a vote. It is dangerous to deliver such an opinion, for sure I am that of the whole mass of the people, nine hundred and ninety out of every thousand, believe in his guilt to that extent: but they do not therefore call for a Bill of Exclusion. It is not we who believe the evidence, but the professed friends of the Duke of York who would so blast all his future hopes; It is they, who in the midst of life, would force him through that gate of despair over which is written "Lasciate ogni speranza." The people do not require that such irrevocable doom should be passed upon him. They are an enlightened people; they can appreciate the degree of guilt, and with just discrimination will apportion the punishment. It was an acute and forcible observation made by my hon. friend (Mr. Brand) and must have made great impression upon the house, "That the people of this country are in the frequent habit of serving on juries; and consequently are familiar with the nature of evidence;" more so, perhaps, than many; members of parliament, who do not attend upon such duties. So that, in fact, as the whole of the evidence is word for word before the public, that public may be deemed to be at least as well quali- 704 fied to draw a correct conclusion from it as the members of this house. But, Sir, I feel the most implicit confidence in the good sense and solid judgment of the people of England, who will never be driven to violent measures, if this house will faithfully and courageously, without measuring its conduct by the rank of the accused, execute its duty. If ministers and the friends of the Duke of York will cease to act with that want of judgment which they have hitherto so eminently displayed, if they will let matters take their due and natural course, a reasonable hope remains, that in time, the Duke may regain much of that confidence which he certainly at the present moment does not possess. Sir, when Louis the Eleventh ascended the throne of France, the very first measure of his reign was to announce, that the affronts which had been offered to the Duke of Orleans would not be remembered by the king of France. And if in the dispensations of Providence, the Duke of York shall ever be called to the throne of these realms, the people of England will follow so generous an example; they will forget in the person of the monarch, the faults of the Duke of York. I deprecate the effect likely to be produced by the opinions delivered by the right hon. gentleman, to whom I have before alluded. Let him take care not to push matters to extremities. When he shall have raised it, will he be able to ride in the whirlwind or direct the storm? Every eye is anxiously and keenly fixed on our proceedings. From us, justice is expected. If we disregard the public interest, in a case of more importance than has existed since the period of the Revolution, it is not possible for human foresight to conjecture the extent of the evils with which this land may be afflicted. By going to the limit which the justice of the case requires, and the voice of the public demands, by voting an Address for the removal of his royal highness the Duke of York, we shall cast oil on the troubled waves, and allay the tempest. An honourable gentleman, who always speaks with sufficient power (Mr. Fuller) has loudly complained of the anonymous letters with which he has been so greatly tormented. The hon. gentleman is certainly averse to controul at any time; and we way reasonably infer that he does not feel himself qualified to endure with more than common patience, those teazing admonitions, to which every public man is necessarily subjected. Every; man, 705 in this house, who takes any active share in its debates, knows the nature of these things. For my part, I have bushels of letters, such as those complained of by the lion, gentleman, some of them beginning "Honoured Sir;" others with "You great rogue;" just as the humour or purpose of the different writers might happen to dictate: such things are not to be regarded. Sir, we are warned against yielding to the popular impulse. If it were unjust, it ought to be resisted. It is founded in justice, and therefore must be respected. No man would guard more scrupulously than myself against any encroachments, tending to the establishment of a democracy, a form of government which I abhor; violent, uncomfortable, ungrateful, cruel, unjust, only to be surpassed in wickedness by a savage, rooted, and confirmed despotism. The end of the career of him who as an orator stood unrivalled in the history of the world, till the late period of eloquence in this house, "who wielded at will that fierce democracy and thundered over Greece," does not much tend to excite one's veneration for public characters formed in a democratic state. I have in view, and my ideas have at no time extended beyond it, a rational, temperate, and gradual reform. I think it may be rationally believed that at no time was it ever more imperiously called for than the present. We are told not to indulge in visionary prospects. Is the necessity of reform visionary? Are not the army, the church, the state, all in situations which loudly, and imperiously, demand instant reform? If we contemplate the task with firmness and resolution, if we undertake it with sincerity, and in that spirit with which it ought to be prosecuted, the country will be gradually drawn back to the state from which it has incontrovertibly been declining; and the day on which this reformation is commenced by voting an address to his Majesty for the removal of the Duke of York from the head of the army, may be turned into the most triumphant day that England has ever seen. Sir, the right honourable Secretary, (whose speech had great merit; although it was susceptible of one improvement, for it might have been contrived to touch, however slightly, on the question in debate,) thought proper, to designate an hon. friend of mine by the title of "landed grandee." Sir, my learned friend, Mr. Adam, in enumerating the different forms by which, according to their different situations, it is customary in 706 speaking, to describe members of this house, did not mention the term "landed grandee." It was invented for the occasion, and I do not apprehend that it was intended as a compliment. I am not aware that the situation of the right hon. gent, justifies him in the selection of sarcastic appellations. He has however described a class of gentlemen who used formerly to be called, country gentlemen. And it is remarkable, that the speeches on one side of this great question, have been principally delivered by these "landed grandees" of the house. From the different professions which are to be found amongst the members of the house of commons, with very few exceptions, besides the striking one of my gallant friend (gen. Ferguson) we have had no assistance. I am, however, most certain that the high and sincere estimation in which my hon. friend (Mr. Coke) who was so designated by the right hon. gent., is universally held, is not inferior to that of any man, in any rank or condition of life. I will not, I cannot be angry with the right hon. gentleman for the opportunity which he has thus afforded me of expressing my high respect and unfeigned regard for my hon. friend, who has so just a sense of the real foundation on which his grandeur rests, that he will never exchange his revered name for any title it is in the power of his majesty to confer. I may here venture, to express an opinion which I have long entertained, that nothing is more prejudicial to the real interest of the kingdom, than the frequent transfer of these "landed grandees" into the higher house of parliament, in which they instantly lose all their grandeur; and the constitution its most powerful supporters. It has been at times objected to me that I wished to be made a lord. Sir, I have neither wish for, nor pretensions to such an honour. I could have no consequence but as a commoner. If advancement to honours without the achievement of any act to deserve them were viewed by all persons as it is by me, we should not have had any increase in the number of those whom it is now our duty to speak of as worthy baronets in this house. It was well said by a sovereign, who had, at his request, raised a merchant of great eminence to the rank of noble, that after his elevation he could no longer treat him with the marks of regard and attention, of which he had before been lavish towards him. He had honoured him as the first of one class of citizens, as the lowest of another class he 707 could no longer behave towards him with the same consideration. Sir, I will detain you no longer; although the question has been involved in great difficulties by the number of Amendments which have been proposed: but I hope we shall be able at last to come to such decision as will preclude the possibility of the Duke of York's continuing at the head of the army.
The Secretary at War
thought himself called upon to say a few words respecting the meeting of general officers to which the hon. gent, had alluded. There was some foundation for the statement of the hon. gent, but it was only this, that there existed in this town a club of military gentlemen, of which he was an unworthy member. That club had lately met; and at the meeting, some conversation had arisen respecting the conduct of the Duke of York as commander in chief. The conversation turned upon the services rendered by his royal highness to the army; and the members of the club thought themselves bound in gratitude to testify to his royal highness the high sense they enterlained of the eminent advantages which the army had derived from his able administration of the military affairs of the country. These sentiments they bad resolved to express to his royal highness in the form of an Address, but their proceedings in this respect had no reference whatever to the circumstances of the present moment, or to what was now passing in that house, nor was it ever intended that the Address should have been presented till after the proceedings in that house should have closed.
§ Sir T. Turton
thought it necessary that some Amendment should be proposed, of the nature of that moved, and he must therefore persist in it.
Mr. Secretary Canning
was of opinion that the authority of that house should be maintained; and that if any meeting of general officers, such as that described by the lion. gent, had taken place, it could not be approved of; on the contrary, by adopting improper means, it could only tend to place the cause of the Duke of York in a bad light, and counteract that which it was no doubt their real intention to promote.
§ General Phipps
said he was a member of the military club which had been alluded to, but he had never heard any thing of their intention to address the Commander in Chief till that instant.
§ Mr. Cotes
disliked the distinction which some gentlemen seemed disposed to draw 708 between the different descriptions of persons who were members of that house. He was one of those who were described as country gentlemen. He hoped that the country members would continue to maintain the character of independence, but in so stating he was by no means prepared to say that other descriptions of gentlemen in that house were not equally independent.
§ The house now became clamorous for the question, and strangers were ordered to withdraw, when a division took place on Sir Thomas Turton's Amendment:—
|Majority against the Amendment—||199|
|Last of the Minority|
|ON THE MOTION OF SIR THOMAS TURTON.|
|Adams, Charles||Howorth, Humph.|
|Althorpe, viscount||Hughes, W. Lewis|
|Antonie, W. Lee||Hume, W. Hoare|
|Astell, Wm.||Hurst, Robert|
|Aslley, sir Jacob||Hutchinson, hon. C.|
|Babington, Thomas||Jackson, John (Dover)|
|Bagenell, Walter||Jackson, John (South-|
|Baling, Thomas||Jacob, William [amp.)|
|Baring, Alexander||Kemp, Thomas|
|Bestard, J. Pollex.||Kensington, lord|
|Biddulph, R. Myddleton||Knapp, George|
|Bradshaw, hon. A. C.||Lemon, sir William.|
|Brand, hon. T. (Teller)||Lemon, John|
|Brogden, James||Lester, Benjamin L.|
|Browne, Ant.||Latouche, John|
|Byng, George||Latouche, Robert|
|Calcraft, John||Lamb, hon. William|
|Combe, Harvey C.||Lambton, R. John|
|Cooke, Bryan||Langton, W. Gore|
|Craig, James||Lefevre, C. Shaw|
|Creevey, Thomas||Lloyd, sir Edw. Pryce|
|Curwen, J. Christian||Lloyd, James M.|
|Cuthbert, J. Ramsey||Lloyd, Hardress|
|Daly, right lion". D. B.||Lubbock, sir John|
|Dickenson, William||Longman, George|
|Ellison, Richard||Lyttleton, hon. W. H.|
|Fane, John||M'Donald, James.|
|Fellowes, hon. N.||Madocks, William Alex,|
|Ferguson, R. C.||Mahon, lord|
|Fitzgerald, right hon. M.||Markham, John|
|Foley, hon. Andrew||Martin, Henry|
|Foley, Thomas||Maule, hon. William|
|Folkestone, lord||Maxwell, William|
|Folkes, sir Martin B.||Miller, sir Thomas|
|Goddard, Thomas||Mills, William|
|Gordon, William||Mildmay, sir H.|
|Cower, earl||Milner, sir William M.|
|Greenhill, Robert||Moore, Peter|
|Grenfell, Pascoe||Morris, Robert|
|Giles, Daniel||Mostyn, sir Thomas|
|Hall, sir James||Mosley, sir Oswald|
|Halsey, Joseph||Newport, rt. hon. sir J.|
|Hamilton, lord Arch.||Noel, Charles N.|
|Hibbert, George||North, Dudley|
|Honywood, W.||Ord, William|
|Horner, Francis||Parnell, Henry|
|Horrocks, Samuel||Palmer, Charles|
|Howard, hon. W.||Peirse, Henry|
|Howard, Henry||Pelham, hon. C. A.|
|Pochin, Charles||Taylor, William|
|Porcher, J. Dupre||Talbot, R. Wogan|
|Portman, E. Berkeley||Taylor, C. William|
|Prittie, hon. F. A.||Tempest, sir H. Vane|
|Pym, Francis||Thomas, George White|
|Romilly, sir Samuel||Thompson, Thomas|
|Saint Aubin, sir John||Turton, sir Thos. (Teller)|
|Scudamore, Rich. Phil.||Thornton, Samuel|
|Sebright, sir John S.||Tighe, William|
|Sharp, Richard||Townshend, lord John|
|Shelley, Henry||Tracey, C. Hanbury|
|Shelley, Timothy||Turner, J. F.|
|Shipley, William||Vaughan, hon. John|
|Smith, Henry||Walsh, Benjamin|
|Smith, Samuel||Wardle, Gwyllym Lloyd|
|Smith, John||Western, C. Callis|
|Smith, George||Wharton, John|
|Staniforth, John||Whitbread, Samuel|
|Stanley, lord||Wilkins, Walter|
|Stuart, hon. M. G. J.||Winnington, sir T. E.|
|Symonds, Tho. Powell|
§ By the death of lady Dorothy Fitzwilliam, which happened on Thursday se'nnight, lord Milton and the three brothers, Dundas. were prevented from attending and voting in support of sir Thomas Turton's motion.
§ After the first division, the gallery continued to be closed against strangers. It was understood, however, that the question being put on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Resolution, lord Porchester expressed his intention of giving it a negative, on the ground of his being compelled to do so, in consequence of the course of proceeding which had been adopted, it being his wish to produce another motion in its place.
§ Mr. H. Thornton
explained the ground of his vote, (which would also be against the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Resolution) to be a similar wish to negative that Resolution, with a view of substituting another, in which one part of the Resolution which should have been negatived would be introduced. He wished gentlemen to understand, that in voting against the Resolution of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they in fact gave themselves the only opportunity which they could have of amending it. They might, by a new Resolution, acquit the Duke of personal corruption, and leave out the part which acquitted him of connivance.
|The House then divided. For the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Motion||278|
|List of the Minority|
|ON THE RESOLUTION OF THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER.|
|Adams, Charles||Agar, Eman. Felix|
|Abercromby, hon. Jas.||Althorpe, viscount|
|Anstruther, sir J.||Jacob, William|
|Antonie, W. Lee||Jackson, J.|
|Astell, William||Keck, Geo. Ant. Lee|
|Astley, sir Jacob||Kemp, Thomas|
|Aubrey, sir John||Kensington, lord|
|Babington, Thomas||King, sir J. Dashwood|
|Bagenell, Walter||Knapp, George|
|Baker, John||Knox, hon. Thomas|
|Baring, Alexander||Lamb, hon. William|
|Baring, Thomas||Lambton, Ralph John|
|Bastard, John Pollexf.||Langton, W. Gore|
|Bewicke, Calverley||Latouche, David|
|Biddulph, R. Mydd.||Latouche, Robert|
|Blackburne, John||Lester, Benjamin L.|
|Blackburne, J. Ireland||Lefevre, C. Shaw|
|Bouverie, hon. Barthol.||Lemon, John|
|Bowyer, sir George||Lemon, sir William|
|Brand, hon. Thomas||Lethbridge, T. Buckler|
|Bradshaw, hon. Aug. C.||Lloyd, James M.|
|Brogden, James||Lloyd, Hardress|
|Browne, Ant.||Lloyd, sir Edw. Pryce|
|Byng, George||Longman, George|
|Calcraft, John||Lygon, hon. W. Branch.|
|Calvert, Nicolson||Lyttleton, hon. W. H.|
|Cocks, James||M'Donald, James,|
|Coke, Daniel Parker||Madocks, William Alex.|
|Colburne, N. W. Ridley||Mahon, hon. S.|
|Combe, Harvey C.||Mahon, lord|
|Cooke, Bryan||Markham, John|
|Cowper, Ed. Synge||Maryatt, Jos.|
|Graig, James||Martin, Henry|
|Creevey, Thomas||Maule, hon. William|
|Curwen, John C.||Maxwell, William|
|Cuthbert, James R.||Mildmay, sir H.|
|Daly, right hon. D. B.||Miller, sir T.|
|Dickenson, William||Mills, Charles|
|Drake, T. D. T.||Mills, William|
|Elliot, right hon. Wm.||Milner, sir William M.|
|Ellison, Richard||Milnes, Robert P.|
|Fane, John||Moore, Peter|
|Fellowes, hon. Newton||Morris, Robert|
|Ferguson, R. C.||Mosley, sir Oswald|
|Fitzgerald, right hon. M.||Mostyn, sir Thomas|
|Foley, hon. Andrew||Nevill, hon. Richard|
|Foley, Thomas||Newport, rt. hon. sir J.|
|Folkes, sir Martin B.||Noel, Charles N.|
|Folkestone, lord||North, Dudley|
|Frankland, William||O'Hara, Charles|
|Goddard, Thomas||Ord, William|
|Gordon, William||Ossulston, lord|
|Gower, earl||Palmer, Charles|
|Grant, Charles||Parnell, Henry|
|Grattan, right hon. H.||Peele, sir Robert|
|Greenhill, Robert||Pelrse, Henry|
|Greenough, G. Bellas||Pelham, hon. Charles A.|
|Grenfell, Pascoe||Petty, lord Henry|
|Giles, Daniel||Pochin, Charles|
|Hall, sir James||Pole, sir Charles Morris|
|Halsey, Joseph||Ponsonby, right hon. G.|
|Hamilton, lord Arch.||Ponsonby, hon. Fred.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Porcher, J. Dupre|
|Hibbert, George||Porchester, lord|
|Hobhouse, Benjamin||Portman, Ed. Berkeley|
|Holmes, William||Prittie, hon. F. A.|
|Honywood, William||Pym, Francis|
|Horner, Francis||Ridley, sir Matt. White|
|Horrocks, Samuel||Romilly, sir Samuel|
|Howard, hon. W.||Russell, lord William|
|Howard, Henry||Saint Aubin, sir John|
|Howorth, Humph.||Salusbury, sir Robert|
|Hughes, W. Lewis||Saville, Albany|
|Hume, W. Hoare||Scudamore, Rich. Phil.|
|Hurst, Robert||Sebright, sir John S.|
|Hutchinson, hon. C.||Sharp, Richard|
|Shaw, Charles||Thornton, Samuel|
|Shelley, Henry||Tierney, rt. hon. George|
|Shelley, Timothy||Tighe, William|
|Shipley, William||Townshend, lord John|
|Simeon, John||Tracey, C. Hanbury|
|Smith, Henry||Tremayne, J. Hearle|
|Smith, Samuel||Turner, J. F.|
|Smith, John||Turton, sir Thomas|
|Smith, George||Vaughan, sir R. W.|
|Smith, William||Ward, hon. John W.|
|Sneyd, Nath.||Wardle, Gwyllym Lloyd|
|Staniforth, John||Warrender, sir G.|
|Stanley, lord||Western, C. Callis|
|Stuart, hon. M. G. J.||Wharton, John|
|Sumner, G. H.||Whittle, Francis|
|Symonds, Tho. Powell||Whithread, Samuel|
|Talbot, R, Wogan||Whitmore, Thomas|
|Taylor, Chas. William||Wilberforce, William|
|Taylor, William||Wilkins, Walter|
|Tempest, sir H. Vane||Willoughby, Henry|
|Temple, earl||Windham, rt. hon. Wm.|
|Thellusson, G. Woodford||Winnington, sir T. Ed.|
|Thomas, Geo. White||Wynne, C. Watkin W.|
|Thompson, Thomas||Wynne, sir W. Williams|
§ Lord Milton and the three honourable Mr. Dundases were still absent on account of the death of a near relation. Mr. T. W. Coke and Mr. Owen Williams, were obliged to go into the country.
§ On the second division, while the members were in the lobby, the Chancellor of the Exchequer addressed them as follows;—"Give me leave, gentlemen, to inform you, that after this motion is disposed of, there will be another question on which you may divide, and I hope, therefore, no gentleman will go away." Strangers were still excluded from the gallery, but we understand that a warm debate took place on the question, whether Mr. Bathurst's Resolution should be immediately proceeded on.
expressed a disposition to postpone it till Monday, on account of the lateness of the hour, and the impatience of the house; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer urged the adjournment of it. Mr. Whitbread, Mr. Tierney, and others, insisted that the motion of Mr. Bathurst ought at least to be made, and that the house might then adjourn; by which means it would be made manifest on the Journals that the house had not come to a conclusion on the general subject. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had already moved the Order of the Day, refused to withdraw his motion, and observed that as he should propose a call of the house on Monday, it would sufficiently appear that the deliberations on the subject had not come to a conclusion.
intimated, that a certain event might possibly take place before the house should meet again; and that 712 in that case it would be for ever disgraced as it might express no further opinion on the subject* After some further discussion, it was understood that Mr. Bathurst's motion was to have the precedence on Monday.
§ Adjourned at Five o'clock on Saturday morning till Monday.