§ The order of the day being read, for resuming the adjourned debate on the motion, made on the 7th instant, "That the Papers which were presented to the House be referred to a Select Committee,"
said, that in calling the attention of the House to the situation in which it was placed, after the proceedings which were had at the close of the last week, and particularly after what had occurred at the last meeting of the House, and considering also that the order of the day relative to his majesty's message stood for discussion that night, he must fairly own to the House what was his opinion of their present situation. After all the efforts which had been made, and to which, he trusted, the House would consider that his majesty's government had lent itself with the utmost readiness and anxiety, he thought that the House would now feel that every hope which could have entered into his mind at any time, and in whatever degree he might have ventured to entertain that hope (although he had always expressed himself with the utmost caution as to the final result) lie thought that the House must now consider that every effort which had been made on the part of his majesty's government, and, what was more, upon the part of parliament itself, with the view of effecting an adjustment of compromise, had 1340 been at length exhausted, and that they could look to the termination of this painful subject in no other light than in that of a judicial proceeding. He thought they would feel that it now only remained for them to put both parties, with as little delay as possible, in that situation which they must occupy, pending the course of a judicial inquiry. Any thing which he should now say would be offered upon this principle, and he should feel it his duty to mention every thing which he conceived it necessary to suggest in order to enable the House to come to its decision. He wished therefore very shortly to call their attention to what had been the mode of proceeding up to the present time; and to state what was now the precise and actual condition in which the proceeding before the House stood. When he should have briefly submitted these two points to the House, it would better understand the course to be pursued.
From the moment that his majesty's government felt that it would be their duty, in the event of her majesty's returning to this country, to communicate that information to the House which now laid upon its table, they framed the line of their proceedings upon what they considered the most parliamentary course, and the one most consonant to the principles of justice. If after having done this, his majesty's government had consented to adopt the measure which had been recently proposed by the hon. gentleman on the other side, it was from no disposition on their part to shrink from the responsibility of any other form of proceeding, or to evade the examination of these charges, if the House should decide that examination was the course to be ultimately pursued. The mode of proceeding adopted by his majesty's government did in fact proceed upon what he conceived to be the soundest principles of parliamentary practice. They acted under this feeling—that although they would be far from disposed to shrink from such an examination of the charges they had presented to the House, or from any measure which should bring those charges, at present upon the table, in a distinct and intelligible shape before them, supported by such evidence as they were in possession of; yet government did conceive that parliament would not think itself warranted (as it had never been its habit to do so) to receive charges of this nature, 1341 and more especially when they concerned a party of such illustrious rank as the queen of these realms, unless it was in possession of some evidence which should satisfy it, that there was sufficient to establish a prima facie case for inquiry or examination. It did appear to his majesty's government, that it was an act of too serious and responsible a nature to receive from any individual charges of this character, in order to bring them under the notice of parliament, unless they first of all enabled parliament to ascertain whether there were prima facie grounds for entertaining such charges. This was the same caution which parliament had always exercised, that house had always required of government, by some means (and, if necessary, by other means than a committee), to put it in possession, as far as possible, of all the facts out of which the charges grew; and the practice was, that no such measure as a measure of inquiry, or any other to which he had alluded, should be gone into, until such information had been given to the House. The object in proposing the appointment of a secret committee was, to bring the whole case in detail before the House: it was not to be considered as a judicial proceeding complete in itself; but merely as that species of ex porte inquiry which parliament might require before it received a grave charge against a personage so illustrious. He had no hesitation in avowing that one motive, and a powerful, motive with ministers in suggesting a secret committee was with a view to the possibility of averting a more extended and public investigation. They conceived that, as long as the subject was in a course of examination before both Houses of Parliament, a satisfactory arrangement would be more within reach than if the first step on the part of the Crown had been more decisive and direct. But during the late discussions the case had undergone an important alteration. The first adjournment had been proposed and agreed to, that an effort might be made to prevent the necessity of any proceeding at all, by some compromise of a nature satisfactory to the feelings and wishes of all parties. It was perfectly true, that in the earlier stages her majesty had been advised to protest against what had been called a secret inquiry; and in her first communication to the House, in the form of a message, she called upon it to take measures that her conduct might be exa- 1342 mined directly and openly, and that she should be informed of the nature of the charges against her, as well as of the evidence by which they were supported. Very recently also, in answer to the application of the House, to which he should afterwards again advert, her majesty had renewed her appeal to the justice of parliament, and more peremptorily, or at least in more solemn terms, had called herself "an accused and injured queen." It would not be forgotten, that on the first night of the discussion the subject was adjourned, in the hope of an amicable termination of existing differences; and although it failed in the first instance, the object of the intermediate postponements had been, if possible, to render needless any inquiry, whether secret or open. The opinion of the House had been carried up to her majesty, and no doubt many hon. gentlemen had persuaded themselves of a more favourable conclusion. Without attempting to cast blame upon any quarter, he might say, that something was fairly to be anticipated from the disposition professed by the queen to yield to the judgment of parliament. It had been thought that from the moment her majesty's legal character and dignity as queen were satisfactorily recognised—from the moment her rank and honour had ceased to be implicated—that all other matters would be secondary and subordinate, and that she would be willing to submit to the arbitration of one or more respectable individuals, regarding the questions of residence, patronage, and income. In favour of this supposition the House had given its solemn judgment; and if it were not confirmed by an unanimous vote, its opinion was expressed certainly in as authoritative a manner (authoritative he meant, as marking the strong sense of the great majority of the House upon the subject) as had perhaps ever been evinced to wards any branch of the illustrious family to which the queen belonged. It was not, he believed, saying too much, to state, that the records of the country might be searched in vain for any approach by the House to a member of that illustrious family, or to any individual connected with the throne, more calculated to conciliate the feelings. The House by its resolution of Thursday last, had taken upon itself the task of deciding on public grounds, and had professed its readiness, on behalf of the character and reputation of her majesty, to be responsible to pos- 1343 terity, for any concession which her majesty might make to its wishes. He did not mean to allude to her majesty's refusal in a tone of reproach; but the House would feel, that if on public considerations it had thought fit to claim from the Crown any concession of the views it had been advised by its responsible servants to entertain, with a regard to national interests as important as those referred to by his hon. friend on the previous night, the Crown could scarcely have hesitated as to the course it must pursue. If the king had been recommended to disregard the opinion of the House, so decisively expressed, would it not have demanded who was the minister that had suggested a course so opposite to the wishes of parliament, and so injurious to the dignity of the Crown, and to the best interests of the country? It was, however, one among the many occasions on which the excellency and beauty of our constitution might be held up to admiration, that while the Crown could not act in a manner so directly in the face of the House of Commons, her majesty, under the responsible character belonging to her advisers, was competent to reject the appeal of parliament. That the queen had been unfortunately ill advised—that she might repent, for the sake of the country as well as for herself, the advice she had followed—was a question he should be sorry to be understood to pronounce upon. Certain it was, that the most serious and solemn appeal ever made to a member of the Brunswick family had, in this instance, proved unavailing; and the House must feel that it had exhausted every thing in the way of the exertion of its influence and authority; and that the only course, consistent with its dignity and the principles on which it had acted, was now to consider how it could put in a train of judicial investigation those charges, an inquiry into which had made one of the greatest efforts in the history of parliament to avert. Her majesty, by her answer, had renewed her claim upon the House for a complete investigation of the case: the question was therefore materially altered; and it became imperative on the ministers of the Crown, if parliament would receive from them a direct proposition for exhibiting these charges in a shape in which her majesty could no longer doubt as to their nature, or the evidence sustaining them, as far as possible to comply with her majesty's appeal 1344 to British justice. It became the imperative duty of ministers, or at least of those to whom the appeal of the queen had been addressed, to make themselves the instruments of that direct proceeding which her majesty had claimed, as most likely, under the view she took of the subject, to accomplish the ends of justice.
Having thus stated the grounds of the original proceeding, and the actual situation in which the House was placed, he should endeavour to explain what course, in the view of ministers, would best meet her majesty's wishes. The House would, no doubt, have remarked one expression in her majesty's answer, which supposed the possibility that the decision to which she had come might produce a feeling of dissatisfaction, if not of resentment. But he was sure, that so far from there being any disposition in the House of Commons, on that account, to pursue a course unacceptable to her, or not calculated to give the queen the fullest benefit of the principles of eternal justice, it would, on that very account, be most anxious by its actions, to guard against the remotest suspicion of the kind. He was prepared on the present occasion to give notice of a motion, which he should found upon her majesty's answer to the resolution of Thursday last, although he was sure that the House could not expect him to enter into a description of its precise nature and object: it would have this distinct character—that it would be calculated to put her majesty, the House, and the country, in possession of the charges involved in the information upon the table. If it should please the House to entertain such a proceeding without going through the preliminary form of ascertaining whether a primá facie case existed, his motion would have this characteristic of the proceeding which her majesty called for, viz., that it would be a proceeding completely open in its character, and it would be, necessarily, the duty of those submitting such a case to follow it up by producing the evidence to support it. The only circumstance which would govern his proposition, with respect to the day on which, it was to be brought forward, was one which, from the very outset had influenced the conduct of ministers, and would have influenced it if the measures had taken, their original shape. He must so far advert to what had already passed, as to mention that government had felt, in the first instance, that a reference of the sub- 1345 ject to the consideration of the two Chambers of Parliament, who might possibly come to contradictory decisions, might introduce a considerable awkwardness; or, if the two committees agreed in the proposition that a prima facie case existed, a doubt might still remain as to the question from which branch of the legislature any ulterior proceeding should take its rise. Nothing could be more open to objection, nothing more embarrassing and prejudical to the best interests of justice, than that two proceedings of a judicial character should be conducted at the same time. Of course he did not mean to confound a prima facie inquiry with an investigation into merits; and he felt some pity for the intellects of those who did confound them. He thought that there could not be two opinions regarding two contemporaneous inquiries; and he hoped to have some of the cheerers on his side, when he said that nothing could be more absurd than to have a judicial proceeding conducted in both Houses at the same time [Hear, hear!].
If, then, both reports had concurred that ulterior measures were indispensable, the question would necessarily have arisen, where those measures were to originate? He hoped the House would not suppose, that, in what he was about to say, he was inclined to undervalue its capacity to discharge any of those judicial functions which at times formed most important branches of its duty but he had no hesitation in stating, as far as his judgment and that of government could have influenced the decision, that he should have recommended the House of Commons, after making its report, to wait a reasonable time, to ascertain what steps might be adopted in the other House of Parliament. If these steps appeared calculated to satisfy the ends of justice, they would originate with many advantages elsewhere, and upon no grounds more than that the House of Lords was a body in more judicial habits than the House of Commons; it would have been their function, also, to investigate the subject with more solemnity, and to submit all the evidence to the test of an oath. Government felt that it was a case of the most important nature; any charge affecting the queen of these realms was too important to be submitted exclusively to one chamber only; for this reason, the communication had been made, in the first instance, to both; and the mode in which the proceed- 1346 ing would ultimately reconcile itself was, that after the previous and preliminary investigation, it would be more advantageous that the House of Commons should wait for such a proceeding as the Lords might think it right to institute. He, therefore, wished it to be understood, that in fixing a day for his intended motion, he should name one sufficiently distant to enable that House to ascertain what proceeding should originate with the other branch of the legislature—sufficiently distant at least to give the House of Lords an opportunity of forming an opinion upon this most grave question. On the other hand he should be reluctant to appoint a period which should appear to postpone the case beyond the time justice and necessity required; or needlessly to defer an acquiescence in her majesty's appeal, contained in the first instance in her message, and reiterated in her answer. Weighing these two considerations, he should propose Thursday se'nnight, when he should be prepared to offer a motion to the House, founded in a great measure upon the answer of her majesty to the resolution of Thursday last. From that motion he should desist, if in the mean time the House of Lords commenced any judicial proceeding, which in its character must necessarily come under the view of the House of Commons. Having waited until the day he had mentioned, after all that had passed, after the broad avowal that the communication on the table contained matters of grave charge against the conduct and character of her majesty, even if it should turn out to be the decision of the House of Lords not to adopt any ulterior measure, he should owe it, as a debt of justice to the queen, to endeavour as far as possible to put these charges and the evidence in such a shape as would best tend to give her majesty the means of completely vindicating her character.
He had now nothing further to submit, than to state what he conceived the becoming course to be pursued on this occasion; and, under the new circumstances to which he now already referred, he did not feel it at all incumbent upon him to adhere to the recommendation be had first suggested, on laying the king's message on the table. At her majesty's call, he was prepared to take a course more consistent with her wishes. Whatever difficulty the House might have felt in the first instance (and he thought the House ought not, without great reluctance, to 1347 have permitted any minister to put so illustrious a personage under charge, without the production of prima facie evidence), it was, in a great measure, he should hope, entirely relieved from it, by the repeated claims for open inquiry on the part of the queen; and consistently with every principle of right at the instigation of the individual chiefly concerned, it might permit that, which could not otherwise be allowed without a preliminary investigation. The course he intended to suggest was this—that the debate on the king's message (the substance of which, in truth, was, that the House should proceed to decide on the manner in which it would investigate the matters on the table) should be further adjourned until the day immediately subsequent to that on which he proposed to bring forward his motion. The effect of such an arrangement would be this—that if the House concurred in his proposition—supposing the other branch of the legislature to have taken a direct proceeding in the mean time—it would supersede the necessity of instituting any inquiry here, either preliminary or direct. If the House of Lords, on the contrary, should fail to take a direct proceeding, he would bring forward his motion. With respect to the reception which he expected his proposition might receive from the other side of the House, he perceived that the right hon. gentleman opposite was communicating with his hon. and learned friend on the subject; perhaps something had previously passed between them. Certainly he had heard that objections were to be made; but he had never conceived that it was within the scope of the right hon. gentleman's mind to bring forward such an objection as that to which he now alluded. He had heard it insinuated that the House, in the mode in which it had approached her majesty, and in the wording of its resolution, had determined that the transactions, ipso facto, were buried in oblivion, and that no future steps, whether direct or preliminary, could be taken regarding the charges on the table. He alluded to the words at the close of the resolution, that such an inquiry was "derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire." True it was, that the House, by a majority of 391 to 124, had decided, that such an investigation was, if possible, to be avoided; but it had not determined that it ought not to 1348 be permitted at all. The course of his hon. friend's speech was, that his motion was the last means of conciliation; and that, if it did not succeed, there was no alternative but inquiry. His hon. friend wished to carry the resolution to the illustrious personage concerned, as the last resort to avert an investigation painful and detrimental; but not for the purpose of extinguishing all inquiry. He (lord Castlereagh) begged leave to say, that he drew exactly an opposite inference from the words which he had quoted from the resolutions. Gentlemen on the other side did not seem to acknowledge that his argument was well founded; but he was prepared to contend, that those words were not only highly proper in themselves, but, that they formed the justification of the reserve displayed by all parties; and particularly explained and illustrated the whole conduct of government, both prior and subsequent to the return of the queen. Ministers had always been satisfied in their minds and consciences that their most sacred duty to their sovereign and their country was never to bring this subject before parliament, or any other tribunal, if, by any management or effort on their part, consistent with honour and propriety, they could, avoid it. An individual of the illustrious rank of queen of these realms could not be placed in a situation of charge, without injury to the dignity of the Crown, and the best interests of the country, whatever might be the result. Every exertion of a prudential kind had, therefore, been employed to prevent the communication to parliament at all; but ministers were left without a choice by the precipitate return of the queen, to claim the full advantages of her rank. Every effort thus failed; every delicacy they had shown to supersede the necessity of disclosure, and to throw a veil over the transactions referred to in the papers on the table, had been disappointed. Even after the return of her majesty, when parliament was told that she was disposed to listen to their authoritative voice (and it was not too much for her majesty to consider the voice of parliament authoritative, and its exertions as likely to protect her honour and character as the arbitration of any private individual), his majesty's government had shown every disposition to accommodate.
If, after all these endeavours, her majesty were still determined to drive the ques- 1349 tion to a public inquiry, he trusted that neither in reason, nor in common sense, would any man attribute to his hon. friend who served his country so usefully, disinterestedly, and ably, so extravagant and untenable a proposition, as that the resolution he had proposed should at once put a stop to all future proceedings. He trusted, therefore, that no more would be heard of such quibbling reasoning. He was confident that the manly mind of the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Tierney) disavowed it. He trusted that the House was acquainted both with its situation and its duties; and that, however reluctantly the subject might be forced upon it, it would be determined to see the ends of justice accomplished. A calamity, indeed, had fallen upon the country—no honourable exertions had been able to avert it; and he hoped that parliament would now resume its ancient character for dignity and moderation, and that, in the course of the distressing examinations which now appeared inevitable, the voice of party would sleep, and the efforts of faction be suspended. The House, as the great council of the nation, ought to exhibit itself in its constitutional and dignified character; divested of all angry passions, and free from the influence of all personal interests. Most of all, he hoped that that tone of feeling would be absent, which, though it might belong to politics, could hot belong to justice. Upon all these grounds, he felt it his duty to give notice, that on Thursday se'nnight he would charge himself with bringing forward a specific motion, founded on her majesty's message, if, in the mean time, a proceeding of a judicial character should not have been commenced in the other House of Parliament. With a view not to embarrass the House on the question whether preliminary inquiry should or should not be undertaken, he intended to postpone the further debate on the king's message until Friday se'nnight. In making these propositions, he was influenced only by a desire to meet her majesty's claim for justice. The noble lord then moved, "That the debate be further adjourned till Friday se'nnight."
§ Mr. Brougham
said, he entirely, and from the bottom of his heart, concurred in the concluding observations of the noble lord; and he implored all sides of the House at that moment, at the commencement of an inquiry now inevitable, not to let the spirit or the voice of party inter- 1350 fere in their decision, not to let any shadow of factious or personal feeling throw itself across their path, lest it might interfere in any manner with the attainment of public justice. On the part of her majesty he had to express his infinite satisfaction—a satisfaction which was but the reflected image of her own—that at length justice was to be administered according to law, and on the principles of the constitution; that they were to hear no more of the dark, inquisitorial, unjust, and as he should say, illegal proceedings, which in the first instance they had been invited to adopt. There was at length an end of that species of inquiry which it was the tendency of the message, and of the bag, to cause to be instituted against the illustrious person to whom their contents applied. The claim of this illustrious princess from the first, was for an open investigation—her protestation was against an invisible tribunal. An open investigation would be at length afforded, but he begged to say that it was not to the noble lord—it was to the parliament, that in the name of her majesty he felt indebted for this act of justice. They pronounced with one loud unanimous voice that the show of inquiry first proposed by the noble lord should not take place. Having said thus much on the part of her majesty, he would now beg to make a few observations on what had fallen from the noble lord. Long as he had admired the talents of the noble lord, he never before had such an opportunity of seeing the great extent of those abilities—of the noble lord's subtilty and dexterity. It now appeared that it was not because his majesty's message and the bag had been delivered to them—it was not to meet the wishes of parliament—it was not in deference to the feelings of the nation—no, nor even for the purposes of public justice—no, nor even as a matter of great state necessity, that they were called on to go into this painful, distressing, and tedious investigation, but it was because her majesty in her answer to the address delivered on Saturday last had said that she defied all public investigation, that she dreaded only secret proceedings, and threw herself with confidence on parliament and the country for a trial according to the principles of the constitution. But was it on Saturday last that she had, for the first time, done so? Her majesty said from the beginning that she defied her enemies—that she only dread- 1351 ed a secret tribunal. He spoke before the parliament and the country, in the spirit of English law, and on the principles of the British constitution he condemned that secret tribunal which the noble lord had meditated. The night after the bag and the message had come down to that House, her majesty's message had been delivered to them. In that message her majesty informed the House of Commons that it was that day fourteen years since the first charges were brought forward against her majesty; that then, and upon every occasion during that long period, she had showed the utmost readiness to meet her accusers and to court the fullest inquiry into her conduct—that she now also desired an open investigation in which she might see the charges and the witnesses against her, a privilege not denied to the meanest subject in the realm.—Why then, he asked, did not the noble lord a fortnight ago comply with the wishes of her majesty? On Wednesday, the 7th of June, her majesty sent that message to parliament; she defied her opponents, she challenged inquiry, she demanded an investigation; the challenge was not accepted, the demand was not listened to. But now it appeared that all difficulties were removed. It was now discovered not to be quite right to proceed to the trial of a queen by a secret tribunal—that it was, in fact, a violation of justice, at the outset, to commence proceedings in that form. This scandalous investigation was to proceed publicly, because the noble lord said that the queen was anxious to put herself on trial; and he could not in gallantry or politeness refuse her.
Having said so much in order to show the dexterity, the subtilty, and tactique of the noble lord, he would now declare, in her majesty's name, that she felt happy in the prospect of public inquiry; she was happy that that inquiry, so long refused, was at last afforded—that inquiry she would fearlessly meet, and by that inquiry she would either stand or fall. Whatever the noble lord might suppose with reference to any communications which might have been made by his right hon. friend (Mr. Tierney) to his neighbours, he (Mr. Brougham) had only to say that his right hon. friend made no Communication to him his right hon. friend did not favour him with his sentiments on this subject; if all that had passed between them pith respect to this ques- 1352 tion, either in the House, or out of the House, were put together, it would not take up the space of three sentences, and even those of a nature neither important nor confidential. He stated this to show how little the spirit of party or of politics operated in this affair; and partly to save himself from the charge of any communication having been made to him. As to the course of proceeding chalked out by the noble lord, though it was not very distinct, still it enabled him (Mr. Brougham) to perceive that the proceeding must depend on proofs to be attained elsewhere. The noble lord had said, that her majesty was the first Brunswick who rejected the address of the House of Commons, He had also stated that that address was carried by a large majority—by 390 members; but he might have said, that the number in point of fact was much greater. From communications that he (Mr. Brougham) had had with several members among the minority of 124, he knew that they voted against the address on the sole ground of holding a different opinion with respect to her majesty's name being omitted in the Liturgy; so that instead of 390, it might be said that 500, certainly 450 members, were in favour of the address to avert inquiry. The address expressly stated, that those public discussions, whatever might be their result, could not but be distressing to her majesty's feelings, disappointing to the hopes of parliament, derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire. The noble lord had attempted to explain away the plain meaning of that vote. He said it was the last attempt at negotiation, and was agreed to with the understanding that, if her majesty refused, it would become necessary for the two Houses of Parliament to proceed on this inquiry.—Her majesty certainly had no objection to this inference; but the House ought to pause a moment, and examine the true force of such expressions. They had pronounced their opinion, that an inquiry—whether needless or necessary was not then the question—must be injurious, if not fatal. But what was the nature of the noble lord's conduct? To his astonishment, to the great astonishment of the House and the country, the noble lord was the first to concur in voting for the address to the queen. The noble lord brought down the message of the king; he brought down the green bag; he brought 1353 forward a motion of inquiry, and the very next day, instead of moving for a committee and following up the inquiry, he stepped aside, and gave his strenuous support to an address, which stated, that the inquiry he sought for would prove derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire. Whether the House was prepared to pronounce that a necessity existed for an inquiry was another question. All they knew of the necessity was this—it resolved itself into one point—one action only of her majesty's could be found fault with, and that was, that she came to England. From that arose the case of necessity—no other case was pretended. Because her majesty had arrived in this country, the House was about to proceed on an inquiry which they had declared to be derogatory from the dignity of the Crown and injurious to the best interests of the empire.
With respect to the conduct of the House of Commons, whether they acted wisely or unwisely in offering the advice they offered on that occasion, he would not stop to inquire. He would only add, and it was necessary to do so, not for the purpose of exculpation where no charge was brought, or of shrinking from a responsibility which he would rather court, but simply in justice to her majesty, to show how little she feared inquiry, to show how highly above all other considerations she prized her character and her honour, that before her majesty delivered her answer to the address of that House, all considerations on this subject, every fact that came within the knowledge of himself and of his hon. colleague, were humbly and respectfully submitted to her majesty. Every view of the state of the former negotiations, and above all, right before her eyes was placed the fact, and the conviction was never one moment absent from her majesty's mind, that a refusal on her part to the proposition of that House would lead to a full investigation of all the circumstances of this case. With all this information and these suggestions before her, her majesty, with a fearlessness, which, in the history of human action, nothing but conscious innocence ever inspired, expressed her deliberate, her unbiassed, and resolute determination to abide by the consequences of the step which she was taking. Out of that statement arose a few observations which he begged to submit to the House. He hoped the 1354 House would not be disposed to judge hastily or harshly because compliance had been refused with their request. In the first place, her majesty felt that she could not, with a just regard to her honour and her injured fame, accede to the wishes of the House; and surely the House would respect her feelings. The noble lord had said, that her majesty was the first Brunswick that refused to accede to an address of the House of Commons; she might have been the first of the Brunswicks that had done so, but it ought to be recollected that she was the first Brunswick, nay the first queen of England, nay the first queen in Christendom, who had been placed in a situation so peculiar and so distressing. Addresses to former queens were of a nature far different indeed from that presented to her majesty. Messages of congratulation or of condolence, and even communications of complaint, asking for the abandonment of a favourite measure, or the dismissal of a favourite servant, were very different from the late address presented by that House to the queen. Her majesty felt that that address called upon her to dismiss all regard for her own honour; that conviction with a man would necessarily prevent all negotiation, but the delicate sense of female honour, in a female too so illustrious, called on her emphatically to reject negotiation; she felt that she was called on to make a sacrifice of her own self-esteem—of her character, and of her honour. If she felt in danger the House would not—could not blame her for the part she took. He made these remarks in extenuation, if they could not be received as a complete vindication by those who heard him. The House were now at issue with her majesty—they were opposed to her—they were repulsed by her—they were offended by that illustrious person—in a few days they were nevertheless to become her judges. He would implore them to dismiss all party bias—all political feeling, in honour to themselves, and, as they regarded the call of justice, he called upon them to dismiss from their minds every feeling of prejudice against her majesty, and every recollection of any supposed offence.
It seemed that the noble lord would proceed on his motion as a measure of legislative proceeding. Whether it would be so or not, the motion of the noble lord must lead to an inquiry. At what time it would be meet to carry on that inquiry he would have yet to argue with the noble 1355 lord; but he begged thus early to put in his claim, and to state the grounds of delay on the part of her majesty. He was unwilling even to mention the word delay, from the fear of misconstruction; the queen was ready and anxious to proceed; she deprecated all delay, but there was one delay necessary, unavoidable, inevitable. The place of her majesty's late residence was three weeks journey from England, and it would take of course three weeks more to return, besides it would occupy a considerable time to find witnesses; the consequence of that would be, that if the House should go into an inquiry on Thursday se'nnight, whether openly or secretly, whether by motion or by bill, he cared not which, it would be highly injurious to her majesty, and subversive of justice. The inquiry against the queen was easy, it was merely to read over certain papers and examine half a dozen of witnesses—If it should be an open inquiry, the whole country would see it; if a secret committee, composed of from 21 to 17 members, he might say, in the words of the adage, "the more private the less likely to be kept." He would wish to know, whether, through hon. members, those particularly who had wives and daughters, who would be naturally filled with solicitude to know what was going forward, this secret proceeding was likely to be kept secret for three or four months? He believed that some part of the evidence would be likely to find its way through those orifices which commonly communicated interesting information. Though all might not be communicated, the venom would be sure to circulate. Let any man put himself in the situation of her majesty, or of any female relation of her majesty—of those who ought to be her natural protectors—and he would easily imagine the fatal effects to character which must ensue from such a state of things. It would at least be four months before her majesty could be prepared with her proofs. The claim which he put in was a claim of paramount justice; it was simply to enable her majesty to place immediately in position with the case against her the evidence for her acquittal. It was to guard against the prejudice which might arise from the long impression of a charge heard ex parte, and against the probability of its being divulged, that he made this, application on her part. Let it be recollected that her majesty did not seek to delay, no not for 1356 one hour, the ultimate result; all that she asked for was, that the two parts of the inquiry might go as nearly in point of time as possible—so that evidence might not be divulged—so that her counsel might have an opportunity of examining witnesses, and reducing to a regular shape the evidence, pro and con. He was anxious to avoid all delay; he asked for no delay of judgment, but that delay which was essential to the principles of substantial justice. In considering this appeal, he trusted that every gentleman would lay it to his heart, being convinced that the more it was considered, the deeper would be its impression. Before he concluded, he must again congratulate the House and the country, that the open inquiry which her majesty had never feared, but anxiously sought, was about to be instituted.
in offering himself to the notice of the House, was anxious to explain the motive of his conduct with respect to the question before it, and begged to be understood, in the vote he had given on the former night, to express no opinion whatever, as to the charges on the table; but without questioning the propriety of its decision, he could not concur in the resolution of the House, recommending to her majesty to make that concession which he could not, consistently with his own feelings, have made himself under the same circumstances.—If he thought that an inquiry into the charges would in any degree promote the honour or interests of the Crown, no individual could desire it more anxiously than himself; but it was from his conviction of the great arid inevitable injury that it threatened, and his perfect concurrence in the language of the resolution, that it must be derogatory to the honour of the Crown, and the dearest interests of the empire, that he considered it to be his bounden duty to oppose it. He considered such opposition to be still more the duty of those who voted for there-solution, who were bound not to express or act upon any opinion at variance with it. They had given her majesty credit for the justice of her feelings; and to persuade her to make the concession required, they assured her that it would not be considered as a wish on her part to avoid inquiry, or as proceeding from any motive whatever than a desire to comply with their wishes; but their bringing her to trial after this, would be a proof that 1357 they would not have given her credit for the motives they professed, if she had acceded to their wishes. How could the House consent to an inquiry in the face of all the inevitable evils to the Crown and the country, which they had predicted, and all which might be prevented by restoring her name to the Liturgy, its omission from which all parties had condemned as an unjustifiable act, and which he considered in other respects as a most improper act on the part of men who complained of the revolutionary principles, infidelity and disaffection to the Crown that were prevalent in the country. Surely that was not a moment to raise doubts or questions among the people as to the forms of our religion. He could not have believed that the hon. member for Br amber, who, of all persons, was looked up to as the great supporter of religion, could have countenanced, in his opinion, so unchristian-like a proceeding, that in a prayer which comprised all ranks and descriptions of persons, her majesty should be alone omitted; and he begged that hon. gentleman to consider the injury that the Crown would suffer in the country, from the nature of the observations that would be made upon it. With respect to the charges; whatever they might be, the country would not listen to them after the conduct of ministers. The speech, or rather the defence of the right hon. the president of the board of control, had influenced him more than that of the hon. and learned gentleman, her majesty's legal adviser, and had indeed convinced him of the necessity of stopping the inquiry—The speech of the hon. and learned gentleman, powerful as it was on the points to which it applied, was naturally received with caution, as partaking of the nature of the defence of an advocate; but the speech of the right hon. gentleman came from a person who, as minister of the Crown, had brought down the charges against her majesty. The right hon. gentleman described her majesty as the grace and ornament of every society, and had stated that he felt for her majesty the utmost esteem, and regard and affection. The right hon. gentleman had retained this opinion after the proceedings and evidence on the former investigation, up to the time, in short, of her going abroad, when the passions and effervescence, if he might so call it, of her youth had subsided, and when what the right hon. gentleman called "the unsuspecting generosity of her na- 1358 ture" must have been taught caution by experience. Either the right hon. gentleman must have grossly deceived himself and the House, or her majesty must be innocent. But he (col. P.) thought the right hon. gentleman could not be deceived himself, and had no motive to deceive the House. Though the right hon. gentleman denied that he was the accuser of the queen, he (col. P.) asserted that he was—that he was bound as a minister to substantiate the charge which he had brought forward. Unquestionably, the right hon. gentleman would have shown more consistency, if, instead of talking of his feelings, he had acted upon them.—If, instead of telling them of the sacrifice he would have made for her majesty, had not his sense of duty to his sovereign and his country prevented had, he had made the sacrifice, he would have done his duty more satisfactorily and intelligibly, not only to his sovereign and his country, but to her majesty and himself. But be (col. P.) was bound to receive his evidence, which was the more invaluable to her majesty, as coming from the individual so competent to form an opinion, and whose judgment was not to be disputed by those, who, like himself, had never seen her majesty, but had formed their opinion from the former evidence, in the face of which he had bestowed such unqualified praises upon her. With respect to that evidence, it had led him to form a different opinion of her majesty, which he had been at no pains to conceal, as he could not anticipate being placed in the situation of a judge upon her trial. He had felt, on the evidence which had formerly been published, that he could not, if the case of the king had been his own, have ever again lived with her majesty. But the right hon. gentleman, who had read the evidence also, had been enabled to reconcile that which appeared to him (col. P.) to be incompatible with the description he had given of her character, and from the opportunities he must have had of observing, his judgment could not be disputed, and her majesty would derive the greatest benefit from his admission. Looking to this, and all the difficulties in establishing the charges, which appeared to him to be invincible, whilst the Crown would be exposed to all the odium and injury that must attach to it under any result, the House were bound, by every consideration for its honour and interest, to resist this inquiry. If the pub- 1359 lie had demanded inquiry, it must have been acceded to; but it was just the reverse,—the whole country set their faces against it; and there was but one opinion as to the unmanly conduct of ministers, and those unnecessary insults which had driven her majesty to come over to this country, who would have remained abroad, had she been suffered to remain upon the only terms on which her life was worth holding, viz. not degraded, and as an outcast from society. In the case of the duke of York, the voice of the country had imposed investigation upon the House, but in the present they were decidedly against it. If the Crown could obtain a divorce by the result of this inquiry, he should consider it to be his duty to consent to it, but that was declared to be out of the question, and he could not agree to incur all the evils that must ensue, when the object could not be attained. It was solely, therefore, from motives of duty and attachment to the Crown, its honour and best interests, that he should continue to oppose all inquiry into this unhappy subject.
said, he lamented the absence of the hon. and learned gentleman, though he knew he was called away by his duties, in another character, in another place. The appointment of a secret committee had been proposed because the subject of inquiry was of a most delicate nature, and because many circumstances might otherwise be divulged which would defeat the end of that inquiry. His noble friend had, however, now superseded this form of proceeding, by undertaking himself to bring forward some specific proposition. The House would know how-to defend itself against any charge of inconsistency in now entering upon inquiry after the expressions contained in their recent vote. It appeared to him that nothing could be more unfounded than such a charge. With respect to the assertion that ministers possessed no evidence that could support their case, he would put it to the general feeling of mankind, whether it was possible that any set of men could place, in the shape of a charge, and, what was much more, bring before parliament, matters of little or no importance? The hon. and learned gentleman had talked of the prejudices which would be excited against her majesty. In every judicial inquiry there was some prejudice excited. Whether the investigation preliminary to the specific charge were public or 1360 private, prejudice must arise. If the preliminary investigation were public, the prejudice he imagined would be the greater; for her majesty would hardly be advised to make two defences, one in the preliminary, the other on the final trial. On this ground he had always thought a secret committee the preferable course.—Whether the oath of secrecy imposed in such cases was effectual, he would not pretend to say; but he trusted at least the information would not get abroad in the way hinted at by the hon. and learned gentleman, viz. through the wives and daughters of the members. The noble lord who now gave notice of a substantive motion could not be accused of precipitation, and unless the House was prepared to say, that what was understood by the queen as a declaration that the proceeding should go on in the case of her refusal, was a mere brutum fulmen, an empty threat, they could not now prevent the noble lord from going on. The charges could not now be withdrawn in the way of conciliation. After the business was introduced, it could be disposed of but by one of two ways—either by the king, who sent down the message, withdrawing the charge, on the ground that it could not be substantiated—that there was nothing in it that could be supported—or by the House addressing the Crown to take that step. But was it possible that the House, in a case so nearly connected with the honour and dignity of the Crown, would refrain from examining it, and, instead of proceeding to an investigation, would request of the party complaining to give it up? The hon. and learned gentleman had said, that all this arose from the circumstance of her majesty coming here; and certainly in one sense it did. But how did it become necessary that her majesty should make her appearance here? Her majesty was apprised, over and over again, that if she took such a step, a charge of the nature now exhibited would be made against her. If her majesty thought proper to come to this country after such a notice, no blame could be attached to ministers. As to the proof on which that charge rested, and all the circumstances with which it was connected, they could only be known and understood by those who had seen and weighed the evidence. The present was not the period of time when it was fit that that question should be brought under consideration. Indeed, it was pos- 1361 sible that the motion might not originate at all in this House; and it was evident that the defence must be taken up in the place where the proceedings originated. He believed the course had usually been, when the bill was brought in on the charge, that a day should be fixed, more or less distant, according to the necessity of the case, to give the accused party an opportunity of preparing for the defence. As soon as the prosecution closed, the case of the defendant began. There would now be no fear lest the secresy of a committee should be violated, since it was meant to proceed by bill, and there could be no substantiation of the charges, and of course no disapproval of them, until the bill was produced. He stated this, because he wished to show that no intention existed on the part of his majesty's ministers to take any hasty step that might be prejudicial to her majesty's cause.
rose for the purpose of entering his protest against the motion of the noble lord, and, in doing so, he would shortly state the reasons that induced him to come to this determination. He protested against the motion, because the effect of such a vote would be to pledge the House, directly or indirectly, to an approval of the measures pursued by the noble lord, with a view to the projected inquiry. The sense of the whole country was distinctly and evidently opposed to such an inquiry, and the sentiments of the House, when the subject was mentioned on the first night, were shown to be distinctly and decidedly contrary to any investigation of this green-bag. The noble lord bad, he thought, drawn a very incorrect inference from the decision of that evening, as well as from the subsequent decision on the resolution of the hon. member for Bramber, for which he had voted in common with the majority of the House. When the noble lord made the original motion, he laid this green-bag on the table, and called on the House for immediate inquiry. The House, however, decided when an alternative was held forth that it ought to be adopted in preference. Why had not that alternative been properly followed up? Had not the whole country expressed a clear and decided opinion that the inquiry was not fit to be gone into? The country had adopted that opinion, for this plain reason, because it appeared that the inquiry, which was at first described to be of a criminal 1362 nature, was, at another period, admitted to relate to matters that were capable of an amicable arrangement. It was also on this obvious ground that the House had given an opinion that the inquiry should not be gone into. The proceeding was perfectly novel. There was, in fact, nothing like it in existence. Ministers thought proper to bring forward a direct criminal charge, and, almost at the same moment, they declared it to be capable of negotiation and amicable adjustment. The House felt the incompatibility and irregularity of these proceedings; and, in their decision, had acted clearly on the principle of justice, as far as related to the illustrious individual who had been brought before parliament. Up to the present moment the House had acted in a manner compatible with its own character and dignity, although it had been placed in a situation of extreme difficulty by the conduct of the noble lord. The noble lord had brought down a message from the Crown, in which the king stated, that he had, for the information of parliament, directed that evidence, relating to the particular matter alluded to in that communication, should be submitted to them, and on that evidence his majesty called on the House to express an opinion. Now, it would have been most difficult for the House to decide, that they would not grant the advice which his majesty called for; nor indeed could the House have been induced to refuse it, unless under circumstances of a very particular nature. When the House came to an understanding that the documents were of a criminatory nature against her majesty, and when the noble lord communicated to them that a negotiation had taken place, the failure of which led to this criminal charge, the House said, and wisely, "the meaning of the vote of adjournment this night is, to tell ministers that they must prosecute that negotiation, if the charge be of a nature to admit of an amicable arrangement; but we will not go on with a criminal inquiry." The House did, by that adjournment, free itself from the necessity of coming to a determination on the motion of the noble lord: the only intelligible meaning of the proceeding was, that if any alternative presented itself, such alternative should be acted upon. A negotiation took place, and it was said that considerable advances were made towards its successful conclusion; but there did still remain points of consider- 1363 able difficulty. The House, following up the principle of conciliation, then adopted the resolution of the hon. member for Bramber. He (Mr. Western) concluded, after a long and painful consideration, that that resolution was fit to be adopted, since, perhaps, her majesty might be induced to acquiesce in the advice which it contained. It was, however, impossible not to see that this was a point in which her majesty alone could determine—a point of so much difficulty and delicacy as rendered it necessary that it should be left to the impulse of her own feeling and judgment. No imputation could, therefore, attach to the rejection of a proposition which stood in such a peculiar situation. So far, the business was followed up with an earnest desire to conciliate.—But if the present motion were adopted, it went to sanction, altogether, a proceeding by inquiry, and must give rise to an idea that would imply the approbation of that Rouse to the proposition originally made by the noble lord—an approbation of that secret committee which the noble lord called on them to institute, in order to inquire into the evidence that had been laid on the table. He entreated the House not to make itself a party to these proceedings, nor to any measure that had been, or might be adopted in another place. The House was placed in a most difficult situation, out of which he hoped it would come in a manner consistent with its dignity, and satisfactory to the great body of the public. He knew the country, from one end to the other, was adverse to inquiry, and he trusted that the House would not commit itself, by adopting such a measure. The noble lord called on them to adjourn the question, in order that they might hear certain propositions which he would lay before them on Thursday se'might. Why,; he asked, should the House adjourn the debate till that day? The noble lord had abandoned the proposition and proceeding with which he originally began, and now having condemned his own former line of conduct, he called on the House to adjourn; and for what necessary purpose? For none whatsoever. Let the noble lord, if he pleased, come down on Thursday se'nnight, and make his new proposition-let him bring down his new bag-—let him take as much time as he thought fit to decide on his project; but let the members of that House wash their hands of it all,. With that view of the case, after 1364 having maturely considered the subject; after having on the first day voted for the adjournment, after having supported the motion of the hon. member for Bramber, which he thought was the most proper measure for the House to pursue, instead of refusing to give the advice called for; he felt himself compelled to protest against the proposition of the noble lord. He meant to take the sense of the House on the question; but whether he should effect his object by moving an adjournment of the debate till this day six months, or by some other way, he could scarcely determine. The specific motion was not, however, of so much importance as the object he contemplated. In what he had said, and in what he was about to do, the House, he was convinced, would feel that he had acted solely from a sense of what was due to its honour and character. He would conclude by moving, as an amendment to the motion of the noble lord, to leave out the words "Friday se'nnight", in order to add the words "this day six months" instead thereof.
§ Mr. S. Whitbread
said, he objected entirely to the measures that had been pursued by ministers since her majesty's arrival in this country, and more particularly to the motion brought forward this day; because it appeared to him, that ministers, by proposing measure after measure, and scheme after scheme, were endeavouring to delude the House into some sort of sanction of what they had done. In opposing the resolution of his hon. friend the other night, he did so, not because he would interpose any bar to an amicable adjustment of their differences, but because, when that resolution was put into plain words, it amounted to this, that the queen should be requested to submit to a gross insult, which must have the effect of degrading her for ever. With the same feeling he now begged leave to second the amendment which had just been moved, and which, he felt no doubt, would be approved of by the country.
§ Mr. Tierney
said, the noble lord appeared to be in a more awkward situation than that in which he had been placed on a former occasion. He came forward apparently with the assumption, that whatever he proposed for adoption would be agreed to. He hoped the noble lord would find himself mistaken on the present occasion, as the subject was one of the most important that could be conceiv- 1365 ed, and affected, most nearly, the honour, character, and dignity of that House. It was necessary, before he proceeded further, that he should correct a mistake into which the noble lord appeared to have fallen with respect to him. The noble lord deprecated the introduction of party feeling into the discussion of this question; but the noble lord would have carried that feeling into his (Mr. Tierney's) quarters, if it had not been for a casual shake of his head, which the noble lord bad utterly misunderstood, and which would warn him never to shake his head in the noble lord's presence again. He (Mr. Tierney) was at the time talking to an hon member on the subject of the former night's debate, but he was not saying a word about the resolution which had been proposed on that occasion. He happened to shake his head, just as the noble lord adverted to that resolution, when his lordship immediately turned round, and complimented him for having abandoned all that he had advanced on a former evening. But that shake of the head was not meant to imply any such change of opinion. What he formerly stated distinctly, and what he would now repeat, was, that the latter words in the resolution proposed by the hon. member for Bramber, were the most extraordinary that any minister, standing in the situation of the noble lord, ever agreed to: because that portion of the resolution declared, in clear terms, that the proposition brought down by the noble lord must lead to discussions, which, whatever might be Their ultimate result, could not but be distressing to her majesty's feelings, disappointing to the hopes of parliament derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire; Now, if these words, "derogatory from the dignity of the Crown" meant any thing, they could only, mean this, that, whatever charge was introduced, it must lead to discussions that must have the pernicious tendency thus described The noble lord now wished to make it appear, that the words meant nothing, or if any thing, that they only meant that the dignity of the Crown and the best interests of the empire were injured, because misconduct would be proved on one individual of the royal family, viz. the queen. The principle of this he denied. Nor was this the plain import of the words. Nor was this an after thought of his, for he had previously asked the hon. member for 1366 Bramber "Do you mean merely to allude to what may be adduced against her majesty, or do you fall in with what I call the threat, the mention of recrimination in the able speech of her majesty's law adviser?"—This information he (Mr. T.) had endeavoured to get, but he had not been successful. But he had then thought the words of the deepest importance, and he thought so still; and he was quite convinced, that if the noble lord had had more time to consider the resolution than he understood was afforded him, before it was moved, the good sense of the noble lord would have suggested to him some alteration. The words were as distinct as possible; the inquiry, it was said, be the result what it might, must produce consequences derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire. Was it possible that words could be stronger? It was an expression which absolutely defied parliament to go on with any inquiry. It was impossible to state in language more clear, decided, and significant, that the measure proposed by the noble lord must end in discussions "derogatory from the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire." He felt, at the same time, that those who voted for that resolution had determined, in their own minds, not to go on with the business. Ministers seemed to have taken care that the parties who voted for the resolution should not be brought to the test. The danger to the dignity of the House was to be avoided in this manner. The proceedings were to be commenced in another place; and if the ministers could dextrously get the lords to frame some measure, the House of Commons might save its consistency—for they might say they had done nothing—This certainly was one of the most important questions that was ever brought before parliament, as it related to the dignity and propriety of their proceedings. Hrs hon friend had ably stated the delicate situation in which the House was placed—a statement that was calculated to make the greater impression, backed as it was by that independence of character which belonged to him. He said, most properly, that the House ought to pause before they determined to adopt any measure. It was too much for the noble lord to come down, and without any notice, ask them, as a matter of course, to proceed in the manner proposed, and adjourn the debate for ten days, merely 1367 because the ministers had got themselves and the House and the Crown into a difficulty from which they did not see how to extricate themselves. By some this was considered very clever and ingenious. But it was, in fact, only making a haze, through which it was almost impossible for them to see their way—a practice frequently resorted to in debate, especially by the noble lord. After a lapse of three weeks, the noble lord told them on Saturday that the matter in debate must come to a conclusion this day. The noble lord was asked, whether he would give any information as to what he meant to do?—This he declined, and, he believed, for the best of all possible reasons, because he did not know himself what course he must pursue; he could not, at the moment, tell how he was to get off. Now the noble lord said, "Let the debate be adjourned to Friday se'nnight, because, on the preceding Thursday, I mean to make a motion quite different from any former proposition; but you must not be too sure that I will make it, because a motion may be submitted elsewhere on the subject, which may render mine unnecessary." So that, on these two contingencies, the resumption of the debate on the king's message commenced so long ago, was to depend. Would the House endure such treatment, without some explanation being offered on the part of the noble lord? The House, he felt, would degrade itself, if it did not plainly mark its sense of the course that had been pursued. Neither he nor his hon. friend knew well how to proceed, under all the circumstances of the case; but he conceived there ought to be an entry on the Journals of the House, explaining the reasons which caused such constant alterations and adjournments [Hear!].—He was extremely glad to find from the cheers of his hon. and learned friend (Mr. Wynn) that his hon. and learned friend, who was so perfectly conversant with parliamentary usage, was of the same opinion. The question was, would it be dignified and consistent with their former proceedings that they should wait for the Lords? The noble lord knew very well he bad no motion for Thursday se'nnight. His only object was to wait and see what the Lords would do, and instead of saying this plainly, he went to beat about the? bush, with an adjournment and a notice. Were they to be degraded in this manner? Were they to be compelled to keep at a 1368 certain distance from the proceedings in the House of Lords, in order to enable that House to adopt particular resolutions? He found from the newspapers, into which the business of the House of Lords, as well as of other places, found its way, that they were likely to illustrate a very homely proverb—"one good turn deserves another." For the three last weeks the Lords had been waiting for them; and he supposed they were to wait for the Lords during the three ensuing. There had been, however, a proposition of the most plain and intelligible nature, which he believed had been suggested by gentlemen who spoke on that side of the House, namely, that ministers should take the responsibility on themselves, and come down prepared with some tangible measure. But the noble lord said, "Do you think that ministers really want to get rid of their responsibility? I can assure you they do not." He must of course believe the statement, as he did every thing else asserted by the noble lord; but this he knew, that if ministers did not intend to shift off responsibility, their conduct was exceedingly like it. If they really wished to shift the responsibility from themselves, they could not take a better mode than that which they had adopted. The noble lord said, he brought down a message from the king, couched in the most temperate terms possible; and so in truth it was, for it meant nothing whatsoever. The noble lord also stated, that there were papers to support the charge against her majesty; and, observed the noble lord, "there are grounds of proceeding by impeachment, by divorce, and by some other mode; or the House of Commons may say, that which will be most satisfactory to me, that there is no ground for any charge." The House of Commons, it appeared, was called to decide on one of these four points, instead of his majesty's ministers; and he would ask, was not that taking the responsibility from them? Was that, he should be glad to know, the most dignified, manly, and honourable mode of proceeding? It was, on the contrary, the most indecorous towards parliament, and the most offensive towards her majesty, that could have been selected; The noble lord would not, on a former occasion, state whether the papers in the bag contained any serious evidence against her majesty; he seemed to entertain a doubt of the fact. But now his lordship 1369 declared that he could make out a clear charge against the queen. Why did he not do this a month ago, instead of adopting the course which was now forced upon him? He must have known then, if he were to be believed now, and did not mean to trifle and play with the House, what the contents of that bag were; or, if he did not know, he trifled and played with parliament, and was not now to be believed. The noble lord now came down with a statement that ministers would be able to support by evidence the charge against her majesty. Her majesty's legal advisers rejoiced in that statement, and her majesty Was no less pleased with it. He did not wonder at that circumstance, if she were conscious of her innocence, which he must believe her to be; for he must consider every individual to be innocent until really found guilty. He was, however, sorry for what had already happened, because he felt with his hon. friend that, in the present tone and temper of the country, the public mind would not be satisfied with these variable proceedings. The noble lord, however, thought it was all plain sailing; that there would be no difficulties to encounter. But let the House consider what had occurred on this occasion; and having done so, he would defy the wit of man to devise a scheme by which all persons connected with the inquiry could be more completely embarrassed. The whole of the difficulties arose from the want of good sense in his majesty's ministers in the formation of a proper plan, or else from want of resolution to carry it into effect from their want of firmness in representing the state of the case to his majesty, and in the want of firmness in submitting it to the House. The noble lord stated that, for many months back, the whole object of ministers was not to bring this question forward. He knew no reason why such a resolution should be taken. If the queen of England was really guilty, their duty to the king, to the country, and to themselves, ought to have impelled them to investigate a subject of such importance. How came they by the evidence? When was it that the Milan commission was sent out with the knowledge of government? There must, he would tell the noble lord, have been previously a serious charge brought against the queen, or ministers would be liable to a heavy responsibility for sending out that commission to inquire into her conduct. When did 1370 that commission return home? If they looked to the period, it would be found that the whole of this evidence had been nearly 12 months in the possession of ministers, notwithstanding all they had asserted about their high sense of the dignity of the monarch. When the queen travelled as an outcast—when she had been treated with neglect and unkindness—what became of the dignity of the monarch then? If she deserved this treatment, why did not ministers bring forward the charge at that time? For this simple reason—because it did not suit their purpose. But the late king died; the princess of Wales became queen, and her situation became matter of discussion in that House on the question of her allowance—a circumstance which he was unfortunate enough, in some degree, to have caused, What was done on that occasion? An endeavour was made by a kind of side-wind to get rid of the question without observation. They were called on to vote a sum of money for a quarter, on account of an illustrious personage, without any name being entered on the Journals. The grant to her majesty was to be Continued for one quarter, amongst all those that were voted to the royal family. Well, what course was taken by those who seemed to wish that this charge should not be gone into? He would defy any man, however ingenious to devise a measure better calculated to prevent an amicable arrangement from the first moment to the last. Ministers had all the obloquy of these proceedings on their own heads; for if there was a man under heaven more unwilling than another to wound or insult the feelings of a woman, that man was, he believed, the illustrious personage now on the throne. All the insults and affronts that had been experienced by her majesty came from ministers, and from ministers alone. Such acts were wholly contrary to the nature and disposition of his majesty. The queen wrote to know why her name was erased from the Liturgy, but she received no answer. Now the fair, and manly, and honourable course would have been to state, "there are heavy charges against your majesty, and till those are cleared up, your majesty's name cannot be inserted in the book of common prayer." Her majesty next asked for a yacht to convey her across the channel—she had no answer. She applied for a residence—she could not 1371 obtain even the civility of an answer from lord Liverpool; and when no attempts at conciliation had been made, they came to the House, and said "what a strange woman the queen is that she will come to England!" It was considered extraordinary, after such slights as these, that she should feel little disposition for conciliation. But the fact was, conciliation was not intended to be carried into effect until it was too late. At last, ministers, driven to a conciliatory course, came down to the House, and when the hon. member for Bramber made his motion, the noble lord, having hung back for about 10 minutes, said, "Oh, if the House think it proper, I will consent to adjourn the debate." After having thus consented to negociate, still the ministers made no proposal to the queen; and after the queen had expressed her willingness to hear any proposals, the earl of Liverpool referred her to a letter of the 15th April, which it happened that she had never before seen, though the substance had been submitted to her in another shape. He must be allowed to say that the manner in which that letter was drawn up was so very improper, that it would have been extraordinary, after it had been appealed to, that the negotiation should have ended amicably. Then came the manner of the negotiation. When he heard that commissioners were employed, whose labours were afterwards to be laid on the table, he felt great doubts whether any conciliation could be effected. It was said to the queen, "It is desired that you should remain abroad." Her answer was, "I have no objection, if my presence be offensive, to withdraw, and I will give you reasonable security that I will remain out of the country, provided that nothing is done to cast a stigma on my honour." This, however, would not answer for the earl of Liverpool. He must have a regular negotiation, worked up into the shape of what was called a protocol—a strange name for a document relating to a family quarrel; and the basis of that negotiation was, "that you, the queen of England, shall not reside here." It could scarcely be expected that a proposition so imperatively and peremptorily laid down could be acceded to. If there had been a sincere desire for conciliation, one confidential friend would have done more in an hour than the duke of Wellington, the earl of Liverpool, and my lord Castlereagh, with all their high-sounding diplomatic terms, 1372 could effect in an age. The queen was willing to retire upon one understanding, namely, that something should be done to enable her to return to and live on the continent, without any obvious imputation being cast on her character and conduct. Her learned counsel suggested the restoration of her name to the Liturgy on the one side, and on the other the sending of proper instructions to foreign ministers with respect to the treatment she was to receive; or, if neither of these points could be conceded, then, in order to leave as wide an opening for conciliation as possible, they proposed that an equivalent should be pointed out. So that, if the country were convulsed, and convulsed it would be if these differences were not settled, that deplorable state of things would arise from the inability or unwillingness of ministers to find out an equivalent to satisfy the scruples of a woman's honour. Why was this? Because, it seemed, the king could not retract. What a mockery was this! If they said, the Crown must not retract, then they might rest assured that the Crown would never retract. If such a principle as this were acted on, there would be an eternal war, since ministers frequently declared that they would sooner give up office than conclude a peace under particular circumstances. And how was war got rid of? By sending away the ministers who had declared it, and getting others in their situations—of which the termination of the American war, when lord North quitted office, was a striking example. All he meant to come to was this, that, with the present administration, conciliation was out of the question. It had been manfully stated by the noble lord opposite, "if the House think that the name of the queen should be restored to the Liturgy, some other ministers must make the alteration, for we will never do it." This was a plain declaration, and exemplified the principle which he had just laid down. Was there any person but his majesty's ministers that did not deplore this question of the Liturgy? The fact was, that the House could not please both the queen and the king's ministers. Would they, then, keep those ministers in office, or would they tranquillize the country? He used the word "tranquillize" advisedly, because he bad heard from all quarters that there was so strong a feeling in her majesty's favour throughout the country, that there was no chance of getting a fair 1373 trial against her. So strong was that feeling, that, were the case in the King's-bench, it would afford a sufficient ground for changing the venue from England. All this was done by his majesty's ministers, who made the queen appear to be oppressed, insulted, and degraded. When that was the case, it became an honourable and a proud feeling in the people, with such impression on their minds, to say, without reference to the charges, "we will stand by this woman, because she is an ill-used woman." If her majesty had been received here as queen, till it was decided by law that she was not queen—if they had lodged her in a royal palace, even if her head was to have been struck off the next week, because till it was struck off it was the head of the queen of England, the tone and temper which he now lamented would never have existed, and the veneration for the laws, which was always felt in this country when it was not seen that they were perverted, would have remained unabated. But when the people saw an attempt made to whisper away her character—when they saw the noble lord coming down with his green bag, which irritated them still more, and heard him declaring that he would bring no direct charge, but that there was something very dreadful in that bag, they became quite certain that some foul play was intended against the queen. The feeling of the country arising from all these circumstances was strong, and might show itself in an inconvenient manner. As the proceeding was now going on, it would not probably be at an end this day six months. The hon. and learned gentleman had observed that the evidence against the queen would be on the table for months before the defence could be entered upon. He wished he could see any way of avoiding this inconvenience. Even if no evidence were offered, was it nothing that a bill against the queen of England should be for months on the table, ere she could rebut it? Was that a state in which England should be left, when discontent and distress were so prevalent, when 11,000 additional troops had been embodied, and when they were erecting new barracks throughout the country? On the back of all this, to make "confusion worse confounded," ministers came down with their green bag, to inflame the minds of men still more. And as her majesty made such solemn appeals for open inquiry, why those secret proceedings—why, such steps 1374 as, according to his hon. and learned friend were as unnecessary as they were unjust? If, indeed, her majesty used unqualified language—as it now appeared her majesty's language was considered—from whom, he would ask, had she learnt such language? Who had used language in the name of her majesty to this effect—"Her majesty would hear of nothing but a full acquittal; her majesty would be satisfied with nothing short of his majesty's favour? Her majesty would acquiesce in nothing but being recognized at his majesty's court" With respect to her majesty's innocence, he should give no opinion, for he knew nothing upon the subject; but it was a principle he should act upon till the last day of his life, to believe every one innocent till guilt was proved. If the resolutions which had been carried by a majority in that House had not passed, there might still be room for negotiation; but the resolutions had passed, and they were now to expect scenes, disclosures, and investigations, from which he yet trusted they might be preserved. He might have learnt from his hon. and learned friend the merits of the question, if he had availed himself of his friendship, but be felt himself bound to refrain from inquiries of that nature. It was possible however still to avoid this evil, and to tranquillize the country. That could be done, however, only by a J change of administration, and, so help him God, the question would never be adjusted, nor tranquillity restored to the country till then. He declared to God that he made this observation with no view to office; but he must say that there appeared to him to be an insuperable difficulty in any negotiation with the present ministers of the Grown. Her majesty had found that she had been beset by spies on the continent, and since she had returned to this country she had found that those spies had been countenanced by the government at home. Was it possible for her to deal with such men? It was one great evil which must be felt in this case, that any public proceeding instituted by the present administration could not be regarded but of an unfair and unjust proceeding. From one end of England to the other there was but one opinion—that in the proceedings proposed to be instituted (and in such proceedings a great part of the evidence must necessarily be from foreigners) the greatest part was trick and chicanery. Was a proceeding so tainted 1375 in its origin likely to be fair in its course or satisfactory in its result? Did the noble lord think that this proceeding could be conducted to a conviction? If it could not, could any thing be conceived more mischievous than to institute an inquiry which necessarily occasioned so much danger, and so much positive injury? If the queen could not be irrefragably convicted of guilt and criminality, ministers must stand convicted of the highest guilt and criminality. On their own responsibility at least this proceeding must now be I brought before the House. As a member of parliament he pledged himself to keep his mind, according to the advice of the noble lord, as free as possible. But had I they, as members of that House, a right: to come into the proceeding, and give their opinion, when their own Journals; contained the declaration that the inquiry; was "derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire?" He did say, that if he chose, he should feel himself justified in refraining altogether from going into such a question. He felt that he might very fairly have supported such a motion, as two hon. friends of his had suggested, that an entry should be made on their Journals on the subject. After so many adjournments had taken place, he could not help thinking that a farther adjournment till Friday se'nnight, in order to wait for the proceedings of the Lords, was a measure in the highest degree derogatory to the dignity of the House.
§ Mr. R. Martin
differed from the conclusion to which the right hon gentleman had arrived, when he declared that guilt would be proved against ministers, if they failed to establish the charges against the queen If government were satisfied of her innocence, he thought they were still bound to proceed with the charges in justice to her majesty. The ministers in this case he regarded as merely acting the part of the clerk of the Crown—they presumed no guilt—they merely laid the charges before the House that they might be met and refuted, while they in effect said to the accused party, "God send you a good deliverance." That the charges must now be proceeded with was clear, from, what had fallen from the right hon. gentleman himself, as be had demanded trial for her if she were guilty—acquittal if innocent. Under these circumstances the Crown must proceed to make out its. case He was not surprised at such a 1376 proposition as the amendment, from gentlemen favouring the cause of reform, as they were not bound, according to their principles, to value the dignity and consistency of the House.—When it was proposed to adjourn the debate for six months, for the purpose of getting rid of it altogether, it seemed to be forgotten that this was a message from the king, the, consideration of which they had pledged themselves to go into immediately. He was never more astonished in his life (and he was a little hurt for the credit of the House on the occasion), at the little applause given to the affecting peroration of an hon. and learned gentleman, who had declared that he and his friends would never accept of office, if the present ministers went out of office on this question. He did hear from one gentleman who seemed nearly asleep, a faint and almost inarticulate expression of approbation. He now did not so much wonder at what he had then remarked, as it appeared that the other gentlemen on the opposite side of the House did not subscribe to the declaration to which he had alluded. He strongly disapproved of the proposition for adjourning the debate to that day six months, but would most cordially vote for the proposed adjournment to Friday se'nnight. It was evident, after what had passed, that the restoration of the queen's name to the Liturgy was not that which would satisfy the honour of her majesty. The late effort to settle the differences amicably having failed, he did not see that any new attempt of that sort should be made unless the House were to come to a vote like this—" Resolved-—That an humble address be presented to his majesty, praying his gracious consent that her majesty the queen's name may be introduced into the Liturgy, and at the same time to assure his majesty, that such condescension on his part cannot, in the opinion of this House, be understood to indicate any change of his majesty's opinion as to the conduct of his royal consort."
§ Lord Nugent
said, he agreed with the amendment of his hon. friend, because he did not think that the delay would, as an honourable member bad thought, put a stop to the proceedings altogether. He objected to. the delay proposed by the noble lord, because it was proposed upon grounds offensive to his majesty, highly offensive to the queen, and subversive of the principles of public justice. 1377 He would ask the noble lord, was it decorous to bring forward his motion at a time when both town and country were in a state of inflammation, and in which it must remain until the noble lord entered upon the investigation? Whatever might be his opinion of the question, as propounded by the noble lord, he agreed with the noble lord, that it was highly necessary to impress upon the House and the country the necessity of keeping their minds unbiassed and their feelings free to enter upon the investigation. He would however put the sincerity of these declarations of his majesty's ministers to the test. He would tell the House, so far from permitting the country to exercise their own unbiassed opinions on the subject, that, for the last ten days, that particular part of the press which was more immediately under the control of government, had teemed with paragraphs calculated to excite prejudices subversive of public justice. He had, with abhorrence, read paragraphs of this description in "The Courier" and "The Morning Post." One of these, a wretch—a slave—had dared to call the wife of our sovereign—a descendant of the House of Brunswick—and the queen of England, an alien. "England" it was said, "ought not to be involved in misery for an alien and unworthy object." Was it to be borne that this writer should treat with contempt a proceeding of such high importance, as that founded upon the message sent down to parliament by the king, or that he should presume to stigmatize her majesty as an alien? In The Morning Post, a paper which was supposed to be under the influence of government there was this atrocious passage—"And as the queen alone stands in the way of arrangement, we say she ought to yield to the universal good, we care not whether as a martyr or a criminal." He would say nothing on this atrocious and diabolical paragraph, but would leave it to those feelings of abhorrence which the reading of it must excite in the House. He would however call upon the king's ministers, if indeed they were anxious that a dispassionate judgment should be come to on the merits of this most important case,—if indeed they were anxious that the trial should be conducted with fairness and impartiality.—He called upon the noble lord, if he wished to do his duty to his sovereign and the public—he called on the right hon. gentleman opposite, by the affection and regard 1378 which he had expressed for the queen—and finally, he again called on the whole of his majesty's ministers from their love of their country, and from their love of justice, to say whether or not they would let this libel go without being prosecuted by the attorney-general. If they ordered it to be prosecuted they would do their duty; if they did not, he would use his own discretion in determining whether or not he should take any further steps on the subject. He should vote for the amendment of his hon. friend, because he did not think that the adjournment of fourteen days would be sufficient to attain the ends of public justice.
§ Lord Milton
said, he could not but look upon the intended investigation as one pregnant with the most positive and absolute danger to the country. He thought, notwithstanding what had been hitherto done, that some means might be yet devised to spare the House and the country the pain which must necessarily arise from the disclosure of the alleged charges against her majesty. He said this the more because he did not think the House could be called upon to decide on charges except those of a public nature. He had listened attentively to the speech of the noble lord, and had expected that he would lay before the House such reasons as would justify them in instituting a public inquiry; but instead of that, he had been disappointed in seeing that the noble lord had not stated any thing in his speech to induce the House to advise such an investigation. The noble lord had spoken of the conflict between parties, but the noble lord did not propose that the inquiry should be entered upon on the ground of injury to public morals likely to ensue from the conduct of her majesty. From the silence of the noble lord on these points, he should be induced to suppose that the noble lord had proposed the inquiry upon private grounds, and not upon grounds of a public nature. If such were the motives which had induced the noble lord to call upon the House for a secret committee, he would implore the House to pause before they plunged the country into a state of danger which (after the humane, forcible, and philanthropic manner in which it had been pressed upon the House by the hon. member for Bramber), it would be absurd in him to describe. He would ask the House, whether it was wise or prudent, upon private grounds, to enter into 1379 an examination of documents, which the House had, by a previous resolution, thought unfit for investigation? He would call upon the House again to interpose their authority, and try if some means, different from those previously tried, could not be resorted to, to reconcile the unhappy differences, which were so deeply deplored by the House and the country at large. It did not appear to him that in order to effect this it was necessary for the House to retrace those steps into which it had been said they had been unfortunately drawn. The Crown was not called upon to retract, but his majesty's ministers, the advisers of the Crown, were called upon to retract. Did ministers never retract? What was it not retracting, first to demand a secret committee, and afterwards to come down to the House, and say they had thought of a proceeding more agreeable to public justice? He disagreed from those who thought that, in the proposition made this night by the noble lord any thing more agreeable to public justice could be found. He would, without meaning any disrespect to the noble lord, say, that ministers had on the present occasion "two strings to their bow;" they had the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and they thought if one did not act according to their expectations, the other would. Three weeks ago the ministers wished the House of Commons to enter into an investigation and now they wished them to wait the decision of the House of Lords. What was that but retracting their former opinions? Sensible of the injury which the country would sustain by this inquiry, and feeling that the House could not enter into an examination of these documents, without exciting irritations which the House, valuing the tranquillity of the country, would never wish to excite, he did not know how they could act better than by adopting the amendment. Notwithstanding the manner in which this question had been treated by the hon. member for Galway, he hoped that many gentlemen more able than himself, would successfully impress upon ministers the necessity of agreeing to the amendment. He would say, that the House of Commons ought to exercise all their influence in putting a stop to an investigation, the result of which it was impossible for any man to tell. He called upon the House to recollect the calamitous scenes which had taken place thirty years ago, on the 1380 other side of the channel, and asked them, whether they did not, in the present state of the country, see the image of that spirit which had generated those calamities? He would conclude, by imploring the House to cast a veil over every thing likely to bring such a spirit into operation.
said, he had felt it his duty to urge upon the House the necessity of catching at any thing which would be likely to adjust the present unhappy differences; but, unfortunately, the proposals of that House had been rejected, and they were now called upon to enter upon an inquiry. Differing, as he did, on many occasions, from those gentlemen who had spoken in opposition to the proposition of the noble lord, he nevertheless felt that the House would be guilty of great impropriety in agreeing to this adjournment. Let the House see how the case stood. A message, demanding the most solemn attention of the House, had been brought from the Crown, and the House had pledged itself to take that message into its immediate consideration. On the first day, the noble lord suggested the possibility of entering into some arrangement, and the House agreed to an adjournment for that purpose; but now the noble lord came and said, that he wished to bring the question before the House in another shape, and therefore requested an adjournment for that purpose. If ministers had brought down a message from the Crown, desiring the House to suspend their operations on the former message, the course to be pursued by the House would be clear; but, in the present case, he confessed he did not see how the House could suspend their operations, and allow the noble lord to bring the question under their consideration, in the way he had mentioned. If the secret committee had been appointed, and had not found that there was sufficient ground for inquiry, they might have felt it their duty to move for the censure of parliament, or perhaps they might have felt it their duty to impeach his majesty's ministers. He could not suppose that any man in his senses would come down to the House and prefer such serious charges, except on evidence which appeared, prima facie conclusive; but if on investigation it should be found that these accusations were unsupported by evidence, and that every possible means had not been taken by his majesty's ministers to satisfy themselves as to the truth of these charges, then he would say that ministers 1381 were answerable to parliament, in a criminal point of view, for their conduct. It might be said that any member might bring a charge which could not be afterwards supported by evidence. He knew that any member could do so, but he believed the House would not permit any person, upon a charge of such importance, and against so illustrious an individual, to lay papers upon their table without a prima facie ground for accusation. The noble lord had said they might proceed in three ways; first, by a bill of Pains and Penalties; secondly, by Impeachment; and thirdly, by Divorce. He doubted the power of the House of Lords to proceed upon this investigation before the House of Commons had, in some way or other, disposed of the contents of the bag upon the table. The proceedings must, according to the spirit of the constitution, originate in the House of Commons. As to proceeding by a bill of Pains and Penalties in the Lords, he did not know a single instance in which it had been resorted to. He did not see why the House should consent to a motion so inconsistent with the first statement of the noble lord, who had said on the first adjournment, that the question was to be taken up where they had then left off. He did not see that the House could take into consideration the motion for a fortnight's adjournment, because he thought they would act in a manner unbecoming the dignity of the House, by consenting to the adjournment without any sufficient reason recorded upon their Journals for such a proceeding.
§ Mr. Stuart Wortley
said, that as his noble colleague bad clearly shown that the House was not reduced to the alternative of either withdrawing its support from the present advisers of the Crown or of proceeding immediately with the proposed inquiry, he did not feel it necessary to offer those remarks upon that subject which he certainly should have offered had it not been for the observations of his noble colleague. He would, however, assure his noble friend that though he supported the present administration on most occasions, from a conviction that the policy which they pursued was calculated to promote the best interests of the nation, he was still of opinion, that if the present unfortunate differences could be brought to a happy termination by their removal, they ought most unquestionably to be removed from their present 1382 situations. In saying so, he did not mean to undervalue either their talents or their services, but merely to express an opinion, that if these differences could be adjusted, it was of little importance whether the House had to give its support to men of this or that political denomination. On the present occasion, however, he should certainly give his vote in support of the proposition which had emanated from his honourable friends upon the floor, because he deemed it to be the best adapted for the emergency of the case. He deemed it to be so, because the honour of the nation, the dignity of the House, the tranquillity of the public, and the character of the two illustrious individuals implicated in this transaction, rendered it necessary to institute an immediate investigation. What the nature of that investigation should be, he would not pretend to determine; he would only say, that, he would acquiesce in any proposal for investigation, which would procure an open trial for her majesty, and impartial justice for both parties. If her majesty thought it necessary to her defence that further time should be allowed her for the collection of witnesses, and made an appeal to that House, stating such necessity, he, for one, should feel inclined to give every possible consideration to such an appeal; but if the House did so too, they ought to take care not to grant any further delay than was absolutely necessary, lest it should be turned to an improper use, not indeed by her majesty or her legal advisers, but by those whom he would not designate more plainly.—His hon. friend, the member for Bramber, and himself, had been often taunted in the course of the evening with having put words into the address, stating that the inquiry now proposed would be "derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the nation;" and it had even been argued from those expressions, that the House ought to be hostile to every species of inquiry. He could assure the House, that such a meaning as had been atributed to those words had never been in the contemplation either of his hon. friend, the member for Bramber, or of himself. They had indeed viewed the inquiry as full of danger, and therefore had wished, if possible, to get rid of it; and for that purpose they had proposed a mediation, from which they had anticipated the most beneficial results. 1383 That mediation had been rejected, though the plan which it proposed was, in his opinion, as a gentleman and a man of honour, calculated to wipe away every stigma which had been cast upon the character of her majesty, and would have enabled her to travel abroad acknowledged and honoured as the queen of England. He did not blame her majesty for rejecting their mediation; by no means. She had full liberty to do so; on the contrary he admired, and no man of feeling could refrain from admiring, the magnanimity with which this illustrious female had acted, not only upon this, but upon all other occasions. Now, however, that their mediation had been rejected, he must be permitted to observe, that there was nothing in the words in which that offer of mediation had been couched which prevented him from voting for the inquiry proposed by his majesty's ministers. No one could doubt for a moment that an inquiry would be injurious to the best interests of the nation!—[Cries of Hear, from the Opposition, loud-lyre-echoed from the Ministerial benches.]—But, on the other hand, was there no evil in leaving these charges, as they were at present, uninvestigated? Indeed, would the country ever be satisfied if her majesty, who had been accused of such heinous offences, and against whom a green bag had been even exhibited, was dismissed without a complete declaration of her innocence? He thought not; and was therefore compelled, seeing as he did, that evil was likely to arise from whatever measures the House might adopt on this occasion, to acknowledge that it was reduced to a most awkward and distressing dilemma. He had now stated the reasons which induced him to give his vote as he should give it upon the present occasion. He should not give any opinion upon the technical objection which had been taken by the hon. gentleman opposite to him on the floor (Mr. Wynn), but should conclude by saying, that to put off this inquiry for six months, or, in other words, for ever, was a proceeding which could never satisfy the House, the country, or either of the illustrious individuals who were parties to it.
said:—Mr. Speaker; I fear, Sir, that, as almost every topic has been exhausted and every argument used which may appear material to those who advocate the opinions which I venture to 1384 entertain on this momentous subject, it may be requisite for me to offer more apologies to the House than might have been called for if I had risen earlier in the debate. I cannot, however, as an independent member of parliament, reconcile to myself the giving a silent vote on a question so materially involving the interests and the honour of the nation; and, in the first place, I beg leave to say, that the honourable member for Essex only anticipated that amendment which, had he not brought it forward, I should have ventured to propose to the House; for I perfectly agree with him, that it becomes this House to take some opportunity of showing their signal disapprobation of the proceedings by which the king's ministers have obtruded the private differences of the royal family upon the public; and, without any adequate motive or excuse, have, in times of the greatest difficulty, added to the embarrassments of the state. I cannot but remark, Sir, that the effort now making by his majesty's ministers is no, so much to continue their attack on the queen as to find some means of withdrawing from the animadversion and attention of the House the share which they have had and the part which they have played in this disgraceful transaction; and I think it due to my own character for candour and for fair and open dealing to state most distinctly, that, for my part, I see no other delinquents in the whole of this affair than themselves. With this conviction I should not do ray duty to my constituents nor to myself, were I not to call upon the House to affix some stigma upon those who have advised the Crown to originate a measure which they have been forced to relinquish, and which not only this House but the whole country now unite to condemn. The proposition of the hon. member for Essex will, if carried, sufficiently mark the opinion of the House on the conduct of ministers: it will therefore have my hearty support. I feel it the more necessary to rise on the present occasion, because I cannot say that I entirely agree with any gentleman who has spoken on this occasion; at least, not since the rejection of the resolutions voted the other evening. Sir, I have given all the consideration in my power to the papers laid before the House, and although the resolutions voted by so immense a majority told her majesty that the king's ministers had made large concessions in their conferences, I shall very 1385 roundly declare, that not only I see no large concessions in those conferences, but I see no concessions at all. I should be glad if any gentleman would point out to me what concessions of the slightest importance were offered—what advantages would have been gained by the queen, had she acceded to the wishes of the House upon the offers made by the king's ministers in their negotiations. In the first place, I shall remark, that the king's ministers, in spite of the expressed wish of this House, that the differences in the royal family should be accommodated, made no step towards that object as it was their duty to do. The queen had rejected the proposition made at St. Omer's; it was, therefore, the king's ministers who were to make another proposition, and not the queen who was to come forward the first. Yet, after a delay of two days, the queen found that she must come forward, or the ministers would remain for ever silent. Was this any thing like concession on the part of the king's ministers? And when the negotiations commenced, what did the king's ministers inform the queen was to be the basis, the sine quâ non, of all accommodation? Why, they proposed no other basis than that to be found in the former offer of the 15th of April, which, in fact, had been the only authorized offer made at St. Omer's. I would beg honourable gentlemen to look at that memorandum, and to ask themselves, whether it is possible that the queen could have consented to such a basis without an entire compromise of her character and a total abandonment of her cause. On that basis she was to engage solemnly to live all the days of her life an exile from the country of which she was, and must continue to be, the queen, until degraded for some proved offence. The gentlemen opposite have told us that there was no renunciation of her title as queen. I deny that position. There was a renunciation of the exercise of all, or any of her rights; and the sole condition on which she was to be allowed even food and raiment, and a roof above her head, was that she should preserve a perpetual silence as to her real rank and character; and should never set foot on those shores where that rank and character might and must be naturally called into play. Could the queen, then, have put her hand to such a condition without an acknowledgment of crime on her part? Such a condition was the most severe of all penalties 1386 short of imprisonment or death. Could she consent to sign her submission to such penalties without signing her avowal of some offence for which such penalties were inflicted? I repeat, that the king's ministers throughout the late negotiations no where appear to have retracted the basis of accommodation contained in the memorandum of the 15th of April. I repeat, that on that basis it was impossible for the queen to treat, without a resignation of all her rights, and of all her character, not only as a queen, but as a woman. She could, therefore, do nothing but what she has done, by refusing to listen to the advice of this House when it proposed so unworthy a compromise. Whatever the House may now think, or honourable gentlemen may now say, on this rejection, I am convinced that the public opinion will pronounce it to be of the same magnanimous character as the rejection of the propositions made at St. Omer's. Indeed, they were almost if not quite the same propositions. Honourable gentlemen opposite have very much changed their tone as to the rejection of the propositions at St. Omer's; and doubt not they will change their tone OB the rejection of the resolutions. Even the noble lord, who at first described the coming over of her majesty as "highly criminal" no longer uses that phrase; and his right hon. colleague has characterized that step as truly magnanimous, and a presumptive proof of innocence. In fact, nothing could be more magnanimous—the queen of England, after a long and incessant persecution, hastens homewards to assert her rights—when on the shores of the ocean attempts are made to arrest her progress. She is offered a bribe—she is insulted with a menace—she spurns the bribe—she despises the menace, and she hastens forward at once to negociate with her enemies in their very capital. No wonder that the people of England should applaud and admire such noble conduct; no wonder that the right hon. gentleman should be charmed with traits under which he recognized the object of his former, his continued, admiration. But if this conduct was such as reluctant enemies themselves must praise, I see not how the same tribute should be withheld from similar perseverance. I will contend again and again, that the propositions at the late conferences were not a whit more advantageous to the queen, than those offered at St. Omer's. I defy any one to show what her 1387 majesty would have gained by coming to: this country, if obliged to leave it under the conditions imposed at the late conferences. To be sure, she would have gained one point, namely, that having arrived in a skiff, she would have departed in a frigate. Oh, yes, certainly—and I have no doubt that if she would but have consented to leave England, the whole fleet would have been at her command, and if fair words could raise favourable winds, the noble lord opposite would have pronounced a panegyrick upon the illustrious exile. With the exception of this idle honour, I assert that the queen would have gained no single point by braving the host of her adversaries, and asserting, as she has done, her own rights in her own country. And had she consented to depart, stript of her just and lofty pretensions, without a name, without a character, without the possibility of returning, what would have been her fate abroad? Who shall say that her life would have been safe? The machinations which have been directed against her fame and against her Crown, might take another aim, and be pointed at her very existence. The step between the deposition and the death of sovereigns has usually been short.
I shall never cease to assert, that the queen could not accept the proposal made to her by this House: as little shall I conceal my opinion that the ministers throughout the whole of this affair have acted unworthily. The right hon. gentleman (Mr. Canning) the other night deprecated directing the attention of the House to the conduct of ministers rather than to the investigation of the point in debate. But in spite of the modesty which would shun the public gaze, I must take leave to observe that the conduct of the king's ministers forms the prominent feature in the whole of this transaction, and more particularly comes under discussion on the present motion. The manner in which this accusation has been made condemns not the accused but the accuser. We have before heard of green- bags and secret committees. We have before been initiated in this sort of proceeding. Formerly, indeed, it was some of the humblest of our fellow subjects who were to be the victims of such extraordinary prosecutions. Now, the first subject of the realm is to be treated with the same disregard to all the principles of British jurisprudence. The ministers were formerly obliged to 1388 come down to parliament for an indemnity in consequence of acting on green bag witnesses—let them look to it, lest they should be called to the bar of the nation to account for their conduct upon this occasion.
If, Sir, we are to substitute these strange parliamentary proceedings for the common law of the land, I would ask, who will be safe? Is there any man so powerful as not to dread the establishment of such a precedent? Will not this mode of procedure leave the property, the liberty, and the life of every individual at the mercy of the government of the day? I ask, if the king himself will be safe? Under the present borough domination it is very possible that he himself may become obnoxious to those who rule this House, and if the queen's accusers are to present sealed bags to secret committees, what will prevent a similar procedure against the present or a future king? Sir, we are told that this bag may not contain charges of actual crime, but of moral delinquencies, and improprieties of manner. The lives of sovereigns should not be scrutinized so nearly. If they are, I know not where the example may stop. Suppose that at some future period this country should be governed by a prince, not an absolute tyrant nor a subverter of the laws of the land, but steeped to the lips in sloth and voluptuousness, neglectful of his duty, of his character, of his honour, of the interests of the people and of the dignity of the Crown. It would be as easy to institute a sort of Milan commission in the palace at London, as in a villa in Lombardy. It would be as easy to beset with spies the table of a king as the toilette of a queen. With such a precedent as that before us, another age may, then, hear of a king deposed by a parliamentary committee for frivolous tastes, unkingly manners, and a general incapacity for the duties of royalty. I entreat the House to consider whether it does not become them to record their indignation of an attempt to introduce into this country mock forms of justice totally subversive of the principles of every constitution which is pretended to be free. We have, Sir, this green bag still upon the table. I know not that the noble lord proposed any scheme by which it may be removed. I know not that any gentleman has yet proposed such a scheme; and yet there it ought not to remain to the disgrace of 1389 this House, and for the scorn and laughter of the whole country.
Indeed I must observe, that the propositions of the member for Bramber (Mr. Wilberforce), whatever they did for the queen or for the House, did little for the ministers, and I think the ministers might fairly have said to that gentleman as the earl of Leicester in the "Critic" says to Mr. Puff, "But, sir, you have not settled how we are to get off here," to which the learned member might perhaps answer with the dramatist, "You could not go off kneeling, could you? Egad, it would have a fine effect if you could—exeunt praying." Sir; the ministers are upon their knees like the statesmen in the farce, and I see not how they are to come off except it be upon their knees. I trust, however, that this House will not be without one member who shall propose the removal of this filthy bag. Perhaps, indeed, that desirable event may be implied by agreeing to the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Essex; if so, I shall only be the more satisfied at having given my humble support to his proposition.
§ Mr. Denman
said, that the only object of the queen was, to obtain an open public inquiry; that that was what her majesty distinctly applied for in her first communication to that House; and that that also was what she looked for in those terms of her answer to the resolutions of the House, where she spoke of an appeal to the public justice of the country. With respect to the motions before the House, as he and his colleague, in their address to the other House of Parliament that day had offered to submit the case of the queen to any mode of public inquiry which parliament might think proper to institute, he and his colleague felt it most becoming not to vote upon the present occasion. They were not, he begged it to be understood, at all adverse to inquiry; their only objection being to any secret investigation or private tribunal. But he could not help observing the new and singular grounds which were this night urged on the other side for prosecuting the proposed inquiry. The inquiry was, it seemed, now to be persisted in, not because her majesty had rejected the propositions made to her at St. Omer's, not because she had ventured to come to this country, not because the correspondence which had taken place respecting her in France had been published in the several journals, a, proceed- 1390 ing, by the way, of which no one had any right to complain but his learned friend. It was not, he repeated, upon any of these grounds that the queen was now to be prosecuted. It was not in consequence of any offence which her majesty was accused of having given to any one of the three estates of the realm. But in deference truly to the four gentlemen appointed to communicate the resolutions of that House to her majesty. In order to satisfy those gentlemen, it appeared that an inquiry was to be pursued, which the majority of that House, including those gentlemen themselves, had distinctly denounced to be derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire. But really he was at a loss to imagine what outraged feeling, what wounded pride, what offended dignity could result from the rejected mediation of this fourth estate, as it seemed, in the realm, that should urge that House to call for inquiry, after so positively and so recently deciding against its propriety and policy. While, however, he made these observations, he wished it to be distinctly understood, that as the advocate of the queen, he had no apprehension whatever of the opening of the green-bag, but from an impression of the consequences to which it would lead, and from a conviction of the malignant falsehoods which it contained according to general rumour; for rumour was busy in propagating about the country the contents of this vile composition. If her majesty's legal advisers asked for delay, they had only asked for it in order that no unfair impression might be made upon the minds of any honourable members by ex-parte statements; for what explanation could be satisfactory after the poison which that bag contained had been circulated for six months in the minds of six-and-thirty individuals, to whose inspection it would be submitted? On their report a bill would be introduced to parliament, to which, if passed, no doubt could be entertained that the royal assent would be given.
stated, that if his motion was acceded to, it was his intention to follow it up with addresses to the king, and to her majesty also, the purpose of which would be, to promote a final and amicable adjustment upon this subject.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
expressed his regret that the advice of the House of Commons had been rejected, because he was convinced that if it had been followed, her 1391 majesty's honour would have stood assured in the page of history. Before that vote was tendered, much had been already conceded to the queen in the course of this transaction. In the course of the negotiation it appeared that only two points remained unadjusted, the acknowledgment of the queen at foreign courts and the restoration of her name to the Liturgy. The first was removed by the offer to nominate her majesty as queen to the court at which she might wish to reside; and then all that impeded the final arrangement was the restoration of her name to the Liturgy. Whether the name ought to have been taken out was not to the point; for the basis of the negotiation was, that the one side was not to retract, nor the other to admit any thing. So far did the legal advisers of the queen adopt this principle, that they offered to receive an equivalent for the concession demanded, and he would ask if the House of Commons had fallen so low that its assurance of the construction put upon her majesty's yielding this matter of feeling was not a sufficient ground to satisfy all she could have desired? It was on that ground he had voted for the proceeding, and he was sorry their hopes had been dashed to the ground. As for the course now before them he retained every opinion he had ever expressed as to the dreadful consequences which must result if this inquiry were prosecuted; it would be injurious to the morals of the country, and derogatory to the honour of the Crown. But had they no alternative? Could they act so inconsistently with common sense, as, because their mediation was rejected to turn completely round and put an end at once to all investigation? He had never thought a secret committee an advisable mode; but were they, on that account, to treat the king's message with the disrespect of a six months adjournment.—The question was involved in difficulty, and the House and the country would be deeply indebted to whoever could devise a method of avoiding the threatened disclosures. But, if the case must be inquired into, that would be better done in the lords, which was a court of justice, than in that House. Yet even there it would be long, painful, and disgusting; and what it his mind aggravated the evil was, that parliament was not altogether clear in the affair. We married our kings and queens contrary to the law of God 1392 and of nature. He felt this deeply, and this was the evil, the fruits of which he was now anxious to avoid. He could not but think that ministers were hardly used in being reproached for giving way to the wish for mediation so universally expressed. In thus yielding, they had not only the sense of the House, but of the country with them; and he must say that if gentlemen on the other side had favoured the course of conciliation with their votes, so that unanimity might have been stamped on the recommendation, it might have had a very desirable and happy effect, where they now lamented a disappointment. All that he should add was, that justice must be done; and as far as was consistent with that, the public morals must be guarded. With respect to the queen, he was strongly impressed with a feeling for her situation as connected with her early life; and what he had wished done he considered to be fully as desirable for her sake as for that of any other person whatever.
§ Mr. Scarlett
considered the question now before the House as one of the first importance to the nation. He presumed that the hon. gentleman who had preceded him thought so too; but he certainly was at a loss to know, whether his hon. friend intended to support or oppose the amendment. He imagined that it must be his intention to support it; for, deprecating as his hon. friend had justly done, a secret inquiry, as prejudicial to the national character and honour, he took it for granted that his hon. friend would vote for a motion which would probably preclude any inquiry at all. The real question, in fact, was, whether a secret committee was to be instituted, or whether it was to be abandoned altogether? As he could not concur in the idea of a secret committee at any stage of the proceedings, he thought it his duty to give his support to any motion which tended to render it unnecessary. Now, the amendment of his hon. friend went directly to do away with the green bag and to prevent any exposure of its contents. He called upon the House to recollect the feeling which they had expressed when the first mention of these proceedings had been made to them. Such being, then their opinion, he asked what had since occurred to change it? An adjournment had been agreed to to give an opportunity for a reconciliation, which reconciliation had unfortunately not taken place. Though he 1393 regretted its failure, he certainly thought that the House had acted ungenerously in requiring the queen to make concessions, which she could not make without detracting from her own honour. It was in his opinion an unmanly, ungenerous, and harsh proceeding for an English House of Commons to compel the weaker party alone to make concessions, and to say, "in case of your refusal we will come against you with all our weight." For his part, he had supposed that when the House agreed to an adjournment, they thereby intended to read a severe lesson to his majesty's ministers for having endeavoured to compel the queen to do that which she did not consider compatible with her honour. He would not admit that the consistency of ministers on this question at all involved the dignity of the Crown. In refusing to agree to the proposition of the House, he thought the queen had acted perfectly right; and it was most ungenerous on the part of ministers, as soon as that refusal had been notified, instantly to turn round and assert that this measure altered the state of the question. It did not alter the state of the question; or if it did, he contended that it was altered in favour of the queen. Either ministers had a good case against the queen, or they had not a good case, or they had that which they considered a doubtful case. If they had such a case as justified the king in making the proposal which had been made to parliament, then it was their duty to have come down to the House with some specific measure. The proper advisers of the king were the members of the privy council; and could it be endured that ministers should desire his majesty to place in the hands of 21 members of that House, the guidance of his conscience and of his honour? Upon what principle was it asked that a committee of that House should take upon itself the responsibility of confidentially advising the Crown upon a question which might perhaps involve the country in all the horrors of a revolution? He did most sincerely hope that there was no member in that House who would place himself in so perilous a situation. If, on the other hand, ministers had no case to offer, then the baseness of their conduct towards the queen could only be equalled by their treachery to the interests of the king. If, take the third view, they had a doubtful case, how had they dared to come down to the House upon 1394 such a case? How did they dare, when the happiness of the king, the honour of the queen, and the safety of the country were at stake—how did they dare, under such circumstances, to ask advice from 21 unknown members of that House? Were men who could so conduct them-; selves fit to sit as ministers of a great nation? Were these times in which to moot such a question unless from absolute necessity? Were these times to set the people of England considering what degree of immorality would be sufficient to dethrone a queen? The subject before the House was a subject of delicacy. Ministers might have been placed in circumstances of difficulty; but he did contend, that if the king had refused to take that advice which ministers had thought it their duty to give, it was the duty of those ministers, under such circumstances, to resign. No set of men would have undertaken the task which they had thought it prudent to decline. Individually, there were many persons in his majesty's council for whom he had the highest respect, and even attachment; but if any gentleman had concurred in a measure which he disapproved, to avoid the necessity of resigning his place, that gentleman, he would say, whoever he might be, had acted ungenerously towards his sovereign, and unconstitutionally by his country. He repeated, that ministers must have against the queen either a good case, a bad case, or a doubtful case. If a good case, they wanted no advice; if a bad case, they had betrayed the king and dishonoured the queen; if doubtful, it was presumption to come and ask the House of Commons whether they had a case or not. But, in any view, the conduct of ministers had been reprehensible. People firmly believed that the question was not a question between the king and the queen, but between the queen and the ministers. In no stage of the proceedings would he ever vote for the appointment of the select committee. The matter belonged to ministers, and let ministers take charge of it. Let them have the whole praise, or the whole blame. He did trust that the House would not interfere; that they would not assist ministers in accomplishing the disgrace of the king, and the ruin of the nation. Let them be left to do that work themselves. He did not wish to abridge the functions of the House of Commons; but he would tell the members of that House, that they were the 1395 representatives of the people; and that by persisting in opposition to the feeling of the people, they lowered and lost their own dignity. He would say that the House of Commons had no right to constitute itself the executive government of the country; and that, by accepting functions which did not belong to them, they forfeited their popularity and their estimation. But for the last ten years, not a measure of importance had been proposed, without ministers coming down to that assembly, and saying—"do take tin's matter off oar hands." It had been said that the arrival of the queen in England had forced ministers to the course which they had taken. Would any gentleman lay his hand upon his heart and say that her majesty's arrival had furnished any cause which did not before exist? Then, how had these proceedings been suddenly forced upon ministers? Either they ought to have taken them up twelve months sooner, or they ought to have avoided them altogether. This was no party question. It was a question which involved the ruin or the safety of England [Cheers]. He was wrong; there were those in the House who did make it a party question; but it was those who were then cheering him, and who, by that cheering, manifested their own internal sentiments. Those gentlemen did make it a party question—a question whether they should support the minister at the hazard of raising a revolution in the country [Loud cheers from the opposition.] But in no such light was the question viewed by him, or by the gentlemen who sat upon the benches near him; and those on the other side were miserably mistaken, if they thought that their places were objects of envy to any of the persons by whom he was surrounded. The hon. and learned gentleman concluded by declaring, that he thought it most unfit that a committee should be appointed to advise his majesty's ministers; that all hope of the appointment of such a committee could not too soon be cut off; and that he should assuredly support the amendment.
§ Mr. W. Smith
rose amidst general cries of question! As soon as the noise had in some degree subsided, the hon. member expressed his concurrence in the sentiment laid down by his hon. and learned friend, that this question was not a party question. He had voted for the address proposed by his hon. friend last week, because he was willing to adopt any mea- 1396 sure that had a probability of averting the consequences of a secret inquiry. Those hopes had unfortunately been disappointed; bat he thought that no one Could charge him with inconsistency in voting, on the present occasion, for art adjournment of six months. He was willing to seize any means to avert the catastrophe which he most dreaded—the opening of the green bag. He should, therefore, cordially concur in the amendment of his hon. friend.
began by observing, that if revolutions were generally preceded by infatuated counsels, so were they also generally preceded by inflammatory harangues; and this was the only observation he thought it necessary to make on the speech of the hon. and learned gentleman who had spoken last but one. The attempt of the House to mediate, had terminated like most attempts to interfere between man arid wife, in total failure. He expected this result from the language of the Address, which did not appear to him to be framed with that candour and consistency which ought ever to characterise the proceedings of the House of Commons. It set out with stating, that "the House were fully sensible of the objections which the queen might justly feel to taking upon herself the relinquishment of any points in which she might consider her honour and dignity involved;" and yet afterwards called upon her to relinquish all those points, to wave the recognition of her title at foreign courts, to remain with her name expunged from the Liturgy, and, in this degraded state, to banish herself for life. We first express ourselves as if we considered her innocent, and then desire her to act as if she were guilty Could we expect herd believe our assurance, that "her so doing would by no means be understood to indicate any wish to shrink from inquiry, but only be deemed to afford a new proof of her desire to submit her own wishes to the authority of parliament?" This language appeared to him as a sort of pious fraud; and he considered the Address as entitling the hon. member for Bramber, to much more credit for the goodness of his intentions than the soundness of his judgment. He had declared that his object was, to word it so as to conciliate all parties; and probably had permitted one side to alter one sentence and the other to alter another, till the whole became a heterogeneous and 1397 contradictory composition. For his own part, neither approving of the Address nor of the amendment, he had left the House before the division, without voting for either. The rejection of the Address by the queen, had brought the, House back to the consideration of the, king's message, with mingled feelings pf disappointment and mortification.—Anew embarrassment arose put of the language of this Address; for it declared that "the ultimate result of the investigation, could not but be derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire." Admitting, this to be true, it. was still a question of com. parson; the House had only a choice of difficulties, and if it should appear, as he believed was the case, that not proceeding in the investigation would be still more derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and still more injurious to the best interests of the empire, then they were still bound to go on. The hon. member for Bramber had talked of the "fatal effects" of the inquiry; an expression which he repeatedly used, and illustrated by various gesticulations, by turning up his eyes, making, corresponding movements with the palms of his hands, and by significant shrugs of his shoulders; but never once attempted to prove in argument. The hon. member for York did indeed state, that if the green-bag were opened, and its contents published, none of our wives and daughters could venture to read a newspaper without contamination, but this he must beg leave to doubt, as it rested only upon assertion. On the contrary, he believed that much more was at present reported, than ever would be confirmed by the contents of the green-bag. Rumour was busy, with her hundred tongues; and, as usual booth invented and exaggerated; and all the slanderous tales now in circulation, would be put down, when the real truth was made known. Delicacy, at all events, was but a minor virtue; and must not supersede the cardinal virtues of justice and truth. Justice could not be done between the parties till the truth was ascertained; and, therefore, investigation appeared to had absolutely necessary: It was almost impossible to keep the mind free from bias, on a subject which was the theme of constant conversation. We were, told that the queen ought to he considered innocent, till she was proved guilty; and this, was certainly the. privilege of every British subject: 1398 but, on the other hand, if it were admitted to the full extent, would lead to the conclusion that the king had brought charges against the queen for which there was no foundation; and this would be doing him the same injustice as was protested against on the part of the queen. The agitation which was kept up in the public mind, while this affair was pending, was a sufficient reason for bringing it to a termination. Before he sat down, he wished to observe, that he was as averse as any gentleman who heard him, to the appointment of a secret committee; but the mode of proceeding was a distinct question; the subject now before the House was whether any proceedings should be held upon the king's message, or whether the House should refuse to act upon it altogether. He would have preferred taking it into immediate consideration, for he thought that any farther delay in proceeding upon it would be highly disrespectful to his majesty; but of two evils he would choose the least, and therefore vote for the original motion in preference to the amendment.
§ Mr. Brougham,
in a brief explanation, said, that all the delay wanted on the part of the queen was, a sufficient time to produce evidence to disprove the accusations against her. The import of the words in the negotiation which settled the basis on the ground that the one side should retract, and the other side admit nothing, had, he conceived, been mistaken. It had been, assumed that they meant that there should be no concession on either side; but if that had been their meaning, it would have been quite ridiculous for the commissioners to have met five times afterwards to endeavour to settle terms. All that they implied was, that neither of the parties should concede any thing inconsistent with their honour, but that the queen might concede, or the king, or ministers retract or concede any other points on which they might otherwise be disposed to insist.
§ The question being put, "That the words 'Friday seven-night' stand part of the question," the House divided: Ayes, 195; Noes, 100. The main question was then put and carried.
|List of the Minority.|
|Aubrey, sir John||Barrett, A.|
|Althorp,; viscount||Bright, Henry.|
|Abercromby, hon.||Bernal, H.|
|Allan. J. H.||Byng, George|
|Benett, J.||Guise, sir W.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Grenfell, Pascoe|
|Barham, J. F.||Graham, Sandford|
|Boughey, sir J. F.||Graham, J. R. G.|
|Benyon, Benj.||Gordon, Robt.|
|Beaumont, T. P.||Gaskell, B.|
|Bury, lord||Griffiths, J. W.|
|Calcraft, J.||Hurst, Robt.|
|Calcraft, J. jun.||Hume, J.|
|Creevey, Thos.||Haldimand, W.|
|Crespigny, sir W. De||Hill, lord A.|
|Cockburn, Ridley||Harbord, hon. E.|
|Calvert, C.||Harvey, D. W.|
|Cavendish, lord G.||Heron, sir R.|
|Coke, T.W. jun.||Honywood, W. P.|
|Carter, John||Hobhouse, J. C.|
|Clifton, viscount||Jervoise, G. P.|
|Chamberlayne, W.||Kennedy, T. F.|
|Davies, J. H.||Lemon, sir W.|
|Ebrington, viscount||Langston, J. H.|
|Ellice, E.||Lloyd, sir W.|
|Folkestone, visc.||Lushington, Steph.|
|Fergusson, sir R.||Lennard, J. B.|
|Gurney, R. H.||Martin, J.|
|Glenarchy, lord||Mackintosh, sir J.|
|Macdonald, J.||Robarts, A. W.|
|Moore, Abraham||Robarts, G.|
|Moore, Peter||Ricardo, D.|
|Milton, lord||Russell, lord W.|
|Monck, J. B.||Russell, lord John|
|Mostyn, sir T.||Smith, Wm.|
|Marjoribanks, E.||Sefton, earl|
|Newport, rt. hon.sir J.||Scudamore, R.|
|Noel, sir G.||Scarlett, James|
|Ossulston, lord||Sykes, Dan.|
|O'Callaghan, T.||Tavistock, marq.|
|Pares, Thos.||Tynte, Chas.|
|Pryse, P.||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Pryce, R.||Taylor, M. A.|
|Pelham, hon. C. A.||Townshend, lord C.|
|Philips, George||Wilson, sir Robt.|
|Philips, Geo. jun.||Wood, alderman|
|Palmer, C. F.||Webbe, Ed.|
|Power, Rich.||Whitbread, S. C.|
|Parnell, sir H.||Wyvill, G.|
|Proby, hon. G. L.||Western, C. C.|
|Ramsay, sir A.||Nugent, lord|
|Rumbold, C. E.|