HC Deb 01 June 1814 vol 27 cc1039-42
The Methuen

rose, in consequence of a correspondence which had been laid before the public, to ask a right hon. gentleman (Mr. Bathurst) whom he saw in his place, which of his Majesty's ministers it was, who had advised his royal highness the Prince Regent to take those measures which had been taken to prevent the Princess of Wales from appearing at her Majesty's drawing room?

Mr. Bathurst

said, he was aware of the convenience of the practice which had been adopted of asking and answering questions in that House, by which means the necessity of making motions was frequently obviated; but as to the question which the hon. gentleman had put, he could only say, that it did not appear to him that the circumstances and character of the transaction warranted him in giving it any answer.

Mr. Methuen

then gave notice, that he should, on Friday next, bring forward a motion on the subject. The purport of his motion would be—That an humble Address be presented to the Prince Regent, to enquire who was the person that advised his Royal Highness to adopt the measures which had been taken to prevent her royal highness the Princess of Wales from appearing at her Majesty's drawing-room.

Mr. Ponsonby

rose to say a few words on a subject connected with that respecting which notice of a motion had been given. He was a friend, as much as any man, to the liberty of the press, and was not at all inclined, for personal or private considerations, to interfere with this liberty; but he should read, for the purpose of contradicting it, a statement which had recently been published. In a paper called the Morning Herald, of Friday, May the 27th, the following paragraph had appeared:—

"Several Opposition Councils have been assembled on the well-fomented variance between her M—and the Princess of W—, respecting the well-advised non-appearance of the latter at the next Drawing room at Buckingham House. The last of these councils was holden yesterday afternoon; when Mr. BR—M, as her Royal Highness's Advocate-General, laid before it copies of the Correspondence which had recently passed between the Illustrious Parties on this unfortunate subject. A debate immediately took place on the expediency of giving immediate publicity thereto. The majority contended, that it was too great a PARTY CARD to be shuffled away at so critical a moment unplayed. It was opposed, however, by the more temperate few, as an improper appeal to the public opinion on a domestic misunderstanding of such extreme personal delicacy. This rational argument, however, was soon over-ruled by an appeal to numbers; for, on a division taking place, we understand they stood thus:—

For publishing. Against publishing.
Earl of G—Y, Earl FITZ—M,
Earl of L—LE, Lord GR—LLE,
Lord H—L—D, Lord M—LT—ON,
Mr. T—RN—Y,

"Mr. BR—M, not being in parliament, did not divide, contenting himself with being Teller. A Resolution was then moved, "That her M—'s letter should, at all events, be published forthwith," which passed without a division. It remains, therefore, to be seen, whether even the Advocate-General will presume to outrage the public feeling by carrying so extraordinary a Restitution into effect."

The names (Mr. P. said) which were here introduced with dashes, it was impossible that any person could mistake. By Br—m, who was styled her Royal Highness's Advocate-General, was clearly meant Mr. Brougham. His (Mr. Ponsonby's) name was the last upon the list. Of this paragraph he must say, that a more impudent falsehood, a more unfounded lie, was never attempted to be palmed upon a British public. No such meeting was ever held—no such meeting was ever in contemplation. No council was ever held, or proposed, upon the subject, by him, or by those with whom he was in the habit of acting in that House; nor was there any man more ignorant than he was of the whole proceedings that took place upon the subject to which the paragraph referred. He would not say more now upon the matter; notice of a motion had been given; and when that motion was brought forward, he would state what his sentiments were; but though a friend to the just liberty of the press, he could not avoid complaining of this licentious abuse of it.

Mr. Whitbread

said, he could vouch, as his right hon. friend had done, that the publication which had been read was altogether false. He was exceedingly surprised that the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Bathurst), the only minister of the rank of cabinet counsellor in the House, should, though he had spoken, be virtually silent on the subject respecting which a question had been put. He (Mr. W.) could only infer from that silence a disavowal of the transaction; or that, the act being done, he or his colleagues were ashamed of the advice they had given. If the House did what it was its duty to do, it would extort that answer which had then been refused. As it was a matter of such urgent importance, he thought to-morrow should be preferred as the day for the discussion of the question; not only because it was the nearest day, but because it was that on which the insult was intended to be practised, not only on her royal highness the Princess of Wales, but on the King in his infirmity. He hoped, therefore, the hon. gentleman would bring forward his motion to-morrow.

Mr. Methuen

said, that he had fixed his motion for Friday on account of the Drawing-room to-morrow.

Mr. Whitbread—That is the very reason why it should then be brought forward.