§ The Chancel- 51 lor of the Exchequer moved, "That a Committee be appointed, to inspect the Journals of the House of Lords, with relation to the present state of any Proceedings had respecting the Bill intituled 'An Act' to deprive Her Majesty Caroline Amelia 'Elizabeth of the Title, Prerogatives, 'Rights, Privileges, and Exemptions of 'Queen Consort of this Realm, and to 'dissolve the Marriage between His 'Majesty and the said Caroline Amelia 'Elizabeth; and to make report thereof to the House."
§ Mr. Serjeant Onslow
observed, that, after all that had passed upon this subject, after the strong expressions used in debate regarding the nature of the pending proceeding, and the opinions so industriously circulated in all quarters, it was fit, for the honour and character of the House, as well as for the satisfaction of the country, that the inquiry should be conducted with the utmost possible solemnity. He submitted, therefore, whether it might not be expedient that a bill should be brought in, to enable the House of Commons to examine witnesses upon oath. He did not himself feel authorized to propose such a bill: a man so private and unknown as he was, could scarcely hope to have influence enough to carry it through; but he trusted that the executive government would take the subject into consideration.
§ Mr. Creevey
said, he was in doubt whether he rightly understood the hon. and learned gentleman. Within the last few days, reports had been circulated of an intended motion, on the part of persons who were to be looked upon as the prosecutors of the Queen, to induce the House to renounce the right it now enjoyed, and had always possessed since it had been a House of Commons, of examining witnesses at the bar. He was not sure, therefore, whether what the hon. and learned gentleman had proposed was not intended to sound the country on the subject, and whether the suggestion had not been made with the privity of ministers. [Mr. Serjeant Onslow said, across the floor, "On my honour, no."] He did not say that such was the design of the hon. and learned gentleman, but it might have that effect. If such a rumour were true, and if, after having degraded the King, the Queen, and the other House of Parliament, ministers proceeded to deprive the House of Commons of its undoubted and most valuable privilege of 52 examining witnesses, the degradation would indeed be complete. Then, indeed, would such a motion, if carried, operate as a proclamation for parliamentary reform; for what could the people think of a House of Commons, which, after for ages requiring that evidence should be given at the bar in every paltry divorce cause, even after verdicts and other proceedings in courts below, consented, in this greatest of all divorce causes, that no witnesses should be openly adduced? The more speedy the steps taken to pass here the odious measure now before the peers, the more rapidly and irrecoverably would the House of Commons become an object of endless derision and boundless contempt with the nation.
§ Mr. Serjeant Onslow
, in explanation, said, that he had been misapprehended. He perfectly agreed with the hon. gentleman, that were the House to forego its privilege of examining witnesses at the bar, in such a case as that in question, it would degrade itself for ever. He declared upon his honour, that he had never had any communication with his majesty's ministers, or with any other person, on the subject of the proposition, which he had ventured to suggest to the House, and which proposition, so far from being any abandonment of the privileges of the House, as to the examination of witnesses, was to enable the House to examine witnesses on oath.
, in the present stage of the proceedings, protested against any extension of the jurisdiction of the House of Commons. It would be to him a subject of the most solemn regret to see the power of examining witnesses on oath assumed by that House. Nothing could be more dangerous to the liberty of the subject, than to invest that House with any such inquisitorial authority. If such a proposition should actually be made, he did hope, therefore, that the hon. and learned member would, on consideration, vote against its reception, on the ground of its tyrannical and dangerous character.
said, he would not be deterred by the reflection that the subject might have fallen into abler hands, from saying a few words upon it. When he considered the fresh and increasing difficulties in which the House and the country were involved, he certainly had looked round with a hope that some hon. gentleman of more importance than himself, 53 would have risen to endeavour to stop in limine the proposition made by the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer, namely, to inquire what the other House of Parliament had done with reference to a proceeding, of which that House of Parliament (the House of Commons) had expressed its decided disapprobation, when it designated it as a proceeding derogatory to the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire. It was evident by what motion the present one was to be followed up. The right hon. gentleman, as soon as the report of the proposed committee should arrive, would, no doubt, immediately move an adjournment. It appeared to him, that although the King might, in his opinion, very advantageously to the country, prorogue parliament, yet, if parliament were to be made to adjourn from day to day at the will of ministers, to the great inconvenience of the members, and for no object whatever of public good, those who sat on his side of the House had better retire, and leave all the odium of the proceedings in progress and in contemplation, on the shoulders of the hon. gentlemen opposite. He particularly objected to the motion made by the right hon. gentleman to search the Lords' Journals, because the adoption of it would be, to record the opinion of the House of Commons, that what the House of Lords were doing was correct, and for the advantage of the country. His solemn opinion was, that so far were the late proceedings of the House of Lords from being advantageous to the country, that they were fraught with the most pernicious consequences—consequences, disgraceful to the honour, and destructive of the best interests of the nation. He could, therefore, by no means consent to any proposition which would even imply the approbation of the House of Commons of the proceedings of the House of Lords. Aware, as he was, that the forms of the House would not allow of any allusion to what was taking place elsewhere, yet, as those forms had been somewhat relaxed during the last discussion on this subject, he might, perhaps, be permitted briefly to advert to what had recently been doing in the House of Lords. With all proper respect, then, for the House of Lords, he must say, that he did not think the House of Commons owed them any deference, when they found the House of Lords acting in express contradiction to themselves (the 54 House of Commons). The House of Lords were proceeding with an inquiry which the House of Commons had rejected. The House of Lords had examined the filthy contents of the green bug, which the House of Commons, with disgust and scorn, had left unopened upon its table. Why, then, were their Journals to be looked into? Why were the Commons of England to regulate their conduct by following any steps which the Lords had disgraced themselves by taking? For one, he was astonished that any man of common sense and common knowledge could suppose for a moment that the bill of Pains and Penalties would be treated with any thing like impartiality in the House of Lords. He did not mean that the peers were worse than common men, but he did maintain that they were not better than common men, and that they must be influenced by those feelings in which all human beings participated. When they saw honour and advancement on the one side, and neglect and disgrace on the other, there could be no doubt which they must prefer. How fallible they were—how liable to the imperfections and frailties of humanity—was sufficiently established by their divisions. What had been the divisions in the House of Lords? Was it not——
§ The Speaker
interposed, and called the hon. gentleman to order. Some allusion, in such a case as the present, might, perhaps, be allowable, to what might have occurred in the other House of Parliament; but he put it to the good sense of the honourable gentleman, whether to enter into such details, as to the divisions which had taken place there, was not an infringement, not merely of the form, but of the substance of the rules of the House of Commons?
disclaimed any wish to violate the rules of parliament. He had thought himself justified in making the allusions which he had done on the present occasion. He meant to refer merely to what was perfectly notorious.
conceived, that if the hon. gentleman confined himself to a statement of the divisions he would be in order, as the House of Commons, having access to the Journals of the House of Lords, had a right to be informed on that subject.
proceeded. He had considered himself justified in alluding to what was not only notorious, but to what in fact had become matter of record in a 55 court of justice. The House of Lords was now acting rather in a judicial than in a legislative capacity; but he was willing to abstain, and to omit the observation he was about to make. His own impression—and he believed that in it he was by no means singular—was, that there was not the slightest chance of impartiality in the decision of the Lords. If so, was it not the duty of every honest man, of every member of parliament, to do his utmost to suppress this bill in limine? and with this view, on the former adjournment, he had seconded the motion of a noble lord. The same reasons still induced him to object to all farther proceeding in this measure in the other House of Parliament, and it seemed to him impossible that the nation, the King, or the illustrious party accused, could be benefitted by its farther prosecution. As to the nation, it had most unequivocally and decidedly pronounced its judgment against the bill. It was said, however, that the popular feeling was not deep—that the motion was only on the surface—and that it had been excited merely by those who were in the habit of rousing the popular feelings of the multitude. But might not the same answer be made upon every occasion where the national voice was raised? Was it not an excuse ready at all times to act in direct contradiction to the wishes of the country? But the motion was not on the surface; the feeling was deep and intense, and it sprang from a love of justice and a hatred of oppression; from sentiments that had always distinguished and done honour to the inhabitants of these kingdoms, and which it was the duty and interest of the government rather to cherish than to destroy. Next, could the King (if his name might be mentioned) be benefitted by perseverance in this measure? Unquestionably not: for it was now said, that the bill was not for the relief of his majesty, since only that part of it would pass which degraded the Queen, and not that part by which she was to be divorced. What, then, could be its possible object? Suppose the right hon. gentlemen opposite should be cursed with the accomplishment of their desires in this respect, in what situation would the illustrious parties be placed? The only result could be, that the Queen would be proved to be a strumpet, and the King—what he would not mention in that House! [Cheers]. Who, then, would be the gainers? for even ministers themselves must be severe suf- 56 ferers? Had the noble lord and his colleagues taken into consideration what must, in any case, be the event? Would they ever be able, with all their army, to carry their bill into execution? If they consulted the opinions and feelings of the lower orders, whom they were so much in the habit of despising, they would find that it would be impossible. But if, as the prime minister had stated, one part of the measure was to be rejected, why not throw it out altogether? Why was one clause to be kept for the sole purpose of degrading the King, the parliament, and the country, under pretence (and pretence only) of degrading the Queen? In God's name, therefore, let a stop be put to all such ruinous proceedings! What had already come out during the inquiry? Supposing it true, was it to the honour of the nation? And what well-wisher to the character of Great Britain in the eyes of foreign nations would not gladly witness the termination and abandonment of the whole measure? The degradation was not merely at home, but abroad—it was here, there, and every where; our ambassadors, our officers, and our lawyers, had become spies, eves-droppers, and suborners of perjury. And, at last, to complete the picture, the peers of England—the representatives of noble families, and the descendants of heroic ancestors—the pillars of the state—were sent to pry into foul-clothes' bags, and to pore over the contents of chamber utensils [Cheers], Was such the legitimate duty of a peer of parliament? Was this the mode in which the law-makers of the greatest country of the world should be employed? Was it fit that the Commons should follow such an example? Was this House, in solemn mockery, to sit down to the examination of charges rejected with disgust and detestation by the whole body of the people? He was not now speaking on behalf of the King, the Queen, or the nation; but, even if it were severe upon her majesty to stop at this moment, before the opening of her defence, he still should say "Stop, and reject this most infamous bill." At the same time he must say, that he did not think the Queen would suffer; it was very well for her learned counsel to implore a continuation, for he knew how every thing in the end would redound to the disgrace and confusion of her prosecutors; but enough had now been done to show that the preamble of the bill had not the slightest foundation, supported as 57 it had been by documents in the green-bag, unworthy to be submitted to any man of common sense, common decency, or common honesty [Hear, hear]. The national feeling was obvious from the precautions taken against it. The Lords had literally hedged and paled themselves in by a standing army; and in the same way the Commons, he supposed, would be required to put themselves in garrison, under the protection of the military, until, at last the sentence was verified—"obsessam curiam et clausum armis senatum." What a figure must England cut in the eyes of Europe, when her representatives should be obliged to fence themselves round with bristling bayonets, because there was no sympathy between them and the people! Under such circumstances, he considered that the best course would be that recently though unsuccessfully recommended by a noble lord (lord F. Osborne), namely, to address his majesty to prorogue parliament, and thereby get rid of the proceeding altogether. There was another question to be considered. Who was to pay for the expense of the proceeding? He did not suppose it would come from the pockets of the right hon. gentleman or the noble lord opposite. The people of England, then, were to pay for it. The people of England! Did they wish for the proceeding? By no means. They declared that it was most disgraceful and infamous, and that they wished it to be immediately stopped. Another reason just struck him against the continuance of the bill. It seemed that the House of Lords were acting as jury, judges, and even as prosecutors, for the attorney-general said that he appeared by order of their lordships. What justice could be expected from such a monstrous tribunal? What remained, then, for the House of Commons to do, but to put an end to the measure? In doing so, they would retract nothing; for they had already pronounced its condemnation. They would not, therefore, be disgraced. The noble lord opposite, indeed, might be disgraced; but as he had no reverence for the noble lord, that consideration would not at all affect him [a laugh]. All that the House of Commons had to do, was to go back to their original opinion, which was, that the proceeding could be productive only of disgrace and disaster. The noble lord had made a fair trial of what the investigation was likely to produce; and as it had completely failed, he 58 might as well give it up. The whole fabric had broken down under those who had heaped together the frail materials, and it was mere folly not to be taught by experience. He could not divine a reason why ministers should object to a prorogation, which would save them an immense quantity of trouble, anxiety, and disappointment. A great deal had been said, indeed, about not being intimidated by the people; but he could see no disgrace in being taught by experience—in withdrawing what was most detrimental—in being intimidated from doing what was wrong, unjust, and injurious. On these grounds he should move, as an amendment, "to leave out from the word 'that,' to the end of the question, in order to add the words, 'an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, praying that he will be graciously pleased to prorogue the parliament.'"
§ The amendment having been seconded, was put from the Chair.
§ Sir Robert Wilson
rose. He said, that the silence of ministers on the present occasion might be very dignified, but it would not satisfy the country. For himself, he would not forego the present opportunity of declaring, that should the bill of Pains and Penalties come into that House, there was no resistance—no obstacle—no impediment—which the wit of man could devise, or perseverance apply, that he would not make use of to stop its progress; not merely because the measure in its form was abominable, odious, and unconstitutional, but because he now conceived himself a competent judge of the merits of the whole proceeding. He had attended every day in the House of Lords—he had heard all the witnesses—he had listened to all that could be urged in their favour—he had observed the conduct of the judicial assembly, and he was prepared to assert on his oath—on his conscience before God—that these proceedings had originated in a foul and infamous conspiracy. These were hard terms, it was true; but it was his duty, on an occasion like this, to speak out, and not to allow the best interests of his country to suffer, lest he should give offence in any quarter. He could adduce proof, that the conspiracy originated, not at Milan, but at Hanover. Could any man doubt that when it was found that baron Ompteda, after having executed the instructions which he had received, to pick-locks, to forge keys, and to steal letters, and after 59 having, like a coward, refused to fight the gallant officer who challenged him, when he returned to Hanover, was covered with honours, and reinstated in the rank, and paid the arrears which he had forfeited in consequence of his conduct while Buonaparté was in that country? To the honour of the Hanoverian people, however, they shunned him as they would a pest. What could be said of the conduct of the minister at Stutgard, who violated the rules of hospitality, and who, at the moment of the departure of the princess of Wales from his house, rushed into her apartment, peeped into her bed-room, negotiated with her chamber-maid, and descended to other similar means of examinations? But, if the plot was hatched at Hanover, it grew and was perfected at Milan, which was made the rendezvous of all that was despicable, and nothing was refused that contributed in the slightest degree to blacken the reputation of her majesty: discarded servants were welcomed with avidity, and even the creation of testimony seemed to have been encouraged as long as it increased the slander and the infamy. To show the nature of the witnesses, and the manner in which they were rewarded and encouraged, he had in his possession a letter from the rev. Mr. Godfrey, regarding Sacchi, who, being hired as a courier, received from the princess of Wales seventy Napoleons a-year. It appeared that, while at Mr. Godfrey's, he was not looked upon nor treated as if he had been a menial servant, but as a gentleman of rank, for he had a servant of his own to attend him: besides, he was called by Mr. Godfrey by the name of Milani, which proved that he had so represented himself: the letter, besides, contained the following sentence:—"You wish to know on what terms I received him; the terms were 5l. per week for himself and his servant." Thus a menial servant, receiving in Italy seventy Napoleons a-year, coming to England as a witness against the Queen, was allowed an attendant of his own, and was able to pay 5l. per week, about 260l. a-year, for his board and lodging alone. Was not this very much like subornation of perjury? Then there was the master of a vessel, who received, as remuneration for his trouble, at the rate of 12,000 dollars a-year! A prince-cardinal in Home was allowed only 14,000 dollars a-year; and yet this captain of a polacre obtained at the rate of 12,000 dollars a-year for 60 his evidence. It had been said, in that House, by a right honourable gentleman, that either the King was betrayed, or the Queen insulted. He (sir Robert Wilson) would say both. The Queen had been insulted by the scandalous and ungentlemanly introduction into the charges against her majesty of the most obscene incidents, which had no connexion with the case. The King had been betrayed, for it was impossible that his majesty could have been aware of the nature and the sources of the evidence which was to be adduced on the occasion. He had stated his opinion thus openly, because he was an enemy to the whole proceeding. He had voted for accommodation, in the first instance, as best calculated to secure the interest of the people as well as of the King and Queen—because he recollected the former sufferings of the Queen—because he was scared at the gigantic power brought into action against her—because he knew the tenderness and delicacy of female reputation—because he knew how difficult it was to resist nature, resentment, and opportunity. But having now heard the charges, and the evidence brought forward in support of them, he should be the basest of men if he did not do all in his power to preserve the Queen from perjured witnesses and a partial tribunal. If he had a thousand lives, he would willingly sacrifice them all, rather than see innocence suffer and injustice triumph.
§ Dr. Phillimore
had long ago made up his mind not to say a single word on the merits of the subject, until the bill should come regularly before the House. What he now rose for, therefore, was, merely to make a few collateral and explanatory observations. The gallant general, and the honourable gentleman who preceded him, had violated the distinct understanding which existed on the subject, by entering into an ex-parte statement upon it [Hear, hear!]. He repeated, that the gallant general had, in direct violation of the understanding to which he alluded, dragged the House into an ex-parte statement of what had taken place in the other House of Parliament. The gallant general had done this most unnecessarily [Hear, hear!]. He appealed to all who had heard him, if the gallant general had not stated various details as to the competence of the witnesses, the conduct of the judicature, &c. Reluctant as he (Dr. Phillimore) was, to say any thing on the subject, he could not refrain from express 61 ing his firm and sincere conviction, that I whatever might be the result of the proceedings, the Queen would have justice done tier. He was persuaded that neither the House of Lords nor the House of Commons would denounce her majesty as guilty unless she was proved to be so. In saying this, he begged to guard himself from being undertsood to express any opinion on the merits of the case. He had not expressed any. He had not expressed any in the whole course of the proceedings. Whenever the bill should come down to that House, he would state his opinion upon it, and enter into the discussion of its policy. But he was convinced that justice would be done her majesty; and that he would not be falsely condemned.
said, he was desirous of an opportunity of stating, that his original opinion was in no respect changed by what had recently transpired in the House of Lords. All men, he thought, must now feel, that day after day new and increasing dangers were impending over the country by a perseverance in this measure, and that there was no safety but in retreat. For years ministers had pursued the same system of bringing into odium and contempt the institutions of the country. Their last effort was the bill now before parliament, and its introduction would be regretted, by all who loved their country, to the latest hour of their existence. Whether the bill should pass or not, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Sovereign, all would be degraded. He had heard the prime minister state in the other House of Parliament, that if it were wished by religious persons, the divorce clause in the bill would be abandoned. That would be to degrade both the parties. It would be to state, that although her majesty's conduct had been too infamous to justify her continuance in that rank, it had not been too infamous to justify her remaining the wife of the King of England [Hear, hear!]. The hon. and learned gentleman, who had just sat down, had said, that his gallant friend's statement was an ex-parte one; and he had been loudly cheered for that declaration by the gentlemen opposite. Yet what was the fact? The case against the Queen was closed; and if a man found nothing of guilt in it, it was the precise contrary of an ex-parte conclusion—it was an opinion formed on all the evidence that could be adduced against her. Since the days of the Star- 62 chamber—since the time when Bradshaw sat upon the life of his king—no proceeding as monstrously unjust as the present had been heard of. The evidence had been heard—it had been enforced in all its bearings, and then the case had beer, stopped—stopped after the beastly, the disgusting, the loathsome evidence which the attorney-general, to his own disgrace, had thought fit to produce, had been gone through with an odious particularity. Yet this testimony, bad as it was, did not come up to the charges, many of which the counsel for the prosecution had not attempted to prove, or even to ask a witness one question regarding them. Of the allegorical personage who employed the attorney-general the House knew nothing; who were his real clients was still kept a mystery; but, to their eternal disgrace, statements had been made at which the blood boiled even at the recollection, and which, till the moment he had listened to them, he did not believe that an English gentleman would have been compelled to hear.] All, however, was now over. The poison had effected its mischief. "Treason had done its worst." What her majesty's enemies could prove, they had proved; what evidence they had to bring forward, they had brought forward. On that evidence he, for one, was perfectly ready to express his conviction—a conviction that increased the more, the more he considered the subject. When ministers commenced their operations—when they arrayed all their strength—when they sent out a special commission of lawyers to ferret out all that her majesty had been doing for six years (and this was a particular injustice, since the conduct of only three of those years had been impeached), he did not believe it possible but that some misconduct would have been proved against her majesty; he did not believe it possible that men of the commonest understanding could have got into such a scrape as his majesty's ministers had got into. To be sure, her majesty's conduct was calculated to banish all notion of guilt even at the outset; the fearless way in which she laughed to scorn her accusers—the manner in which that heroic woman had set her foot upon the shore of England, and, above all, the decisive tone in which she rejected all attempts at mediation between her and her accusers, conclusively satisfied his mind at the time, of her complete innocence. He had, indeed, known persons die with 63 the expression of innocence upon their lips, against whom guilt was but too clearly proved; he had known them die with that declaration in their mouths, for the sake of their families, or some other purpose; but he had never known, and he challenged the memory of any other man, to say whether there had ever existed, a guilty person who rushed to trial instead of escaping from such an ordeal? Was there ever an instance of a guilty person seeking a trial who could have escaped from it? He defied any man to produce an instance of such an occurrence. The conduct of the Queen on the occasion to which he alluded had satisfied his mind of her complete innocence. He had kept that principle steadily in his mind, and it was impossible to reconcile it with the existence of guilt. His deliberate conviction, now that the prosecution had been gone through, was, that the whole was a foul and diabolical conspiracy against her majesty; he thought so early in the business, and now, at its close, that opinion was most strongly confirmed. Feeling the danger to which the country was exposed from further perseverance of any kind in such a bill as that in question; feeling that the present was the strongest instance within his memory, in which a single class, composed of the judges in the case, were in direct opposition to all the other classes of the community—knowing that both the army and navy concurred in opinion with the great majority of the people—aware that such was the opinion of the fleet and of the army—and, while the army was of its present size, it was their master [loud cries of "Hear, hear!"]—he repeated, that while the army was of the size it now was, it was their master—and, finally, seeing that, upon this particular question, these and other classes of the people held opinions directly in the teeth of power, and in the face of his majesty's government;—upon all these considerations, he could not help looking at this transaction as one of the most dangerous and most inauspicious ever embarked in by any government. The sooner it was retracted the better for the country. He knew it was irregular to allude to the other House of Parliament, as a house of parliament; but in this case it was a court of justice, and as such he should comment upon it as freely as he would upon the conduct of the Court of King's Bench, or the Court of Common Pleas. 64 He must say, therefore, with all deference to the House of Peers, that it appeared to him from the experience both of our own and of past times, that no court of judicature could possibly be so bad. It had been remarked, that, during the progress of this measure, frequent allusion had been made to the case of a celebrated English prelate—bishop Atterbury. He was very sure, that whoever would take the trouble of looking to bishop Atterbury's case would see that that was a complete party measure. All the Whigs went one way, and all the Tories the other, upon that occasion. The ends of justice were neglected, and it was altogether a proceeding which did no credit to times past, but was rather a lasting disgrace to the country. He believed that the present was the first time, and the first instance, in which there had ever been heard cheers in a court of justice; certainly no one ever attended at a trial in the Court of King's Bench and heard the judges cheer [Hear, hear!]. He might add, that this was the first time in a court of justice, in which counsel had been browbeaten and frequently interrupted by the judges, and attempted to be put down. It was true, that the spirit of the counsel resisted it; but it was not the less true that the attempt to browbeat and put down was made. This was also a singular instance of judges putting questions which were rejected as illegal. It might be said, indeed, that this latter circumstance was owing to the parties not being accustomed to judicial forms and accuracy; it might be so, but he was sure, that this was not a tribunal before which it was quite as safe to appear as before the twelve judges. He had, in a few words, shown what had been the effect of this proceeding before upwards of two hundred judges; let the House reflect what would be the effect of a similar proceeding before more than six hundred. A right honourable friend of his had once said, that the House of Commons had never entered into any inquiry, in the progress of which it had not disgraced itself. What the result of the pending inquiry would be, it was impossible exactly to foresee; but he was sure, that if the House knew their real interests and the real interests of the country, they would adopt the proposed Amendment, and get rid of the business altogether. With this firm conviction, he should vote for the Amendment.
The Attorney General
, notwithstanding the tone and temper which had distinguished the speeches of those hon. gentlemen on the other side who had addressed the House on this occasion, should not be tempted to follow the course which they had taken. For what did they do? They were aware that they were now discussing a proceeding which was pending in the other House; yet they came down to the House, and gave their opinions upon that proceeding, and endeavoured—(he must be permitted to say, at least, that such was calculated to be the effect of their speeches)—by statements of what had, and not only of what had, but of what had not passed in the other House, to inflame the minds of the people upon the subject. He, for one, would not follow the example which the honourable gentlemen had set; but he might be allowed to say a word or two respecting certain expressions which had fallen from an honourable member opposite, as directed against him, and as reflecting on the manner in which he, as attorney-general, had opened the case, and produced evidence to support it. It had been said that the course and conduct pursued by him had been disgraceful, Whatever hon. gentlemen might please to say, he should content himself with replying, that it would have been disgraceful in him if he had shrunk from that line of conduct which he had pursued. It would be seen hereafter whether the proceedings which had been taken against the Queen were or were not justified; but he could assure the House, that, in their present stage, he should consider himself infinitely more disgraced if the approbation of the honourable member had been bestowed on his conduct.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it had not been his intention to trouble the House on the present occasion, but feeling strongly on the question, he hoped he might be allowed to make some observations after what had been said. An honourable and learned gentleman had thought fit to complain of the conduct of the gallant officer, for bringing the subject before the House in the way he had done. He would ask, for what was the House now assembled? What was the purpose for which they had met? What was the object of the right honourable the chancellor of the exchequer's motion now before the House? The object and the purpose were known to every person, both in and out of parliament. Was his gallant friend to be blamed for speaking 66 of what had taken place in the other House of Parliament, and which was known to the whole country? Before the learned, gentleman complained of an ex-parte proceeding on the part of the gallant officer, he should have considered that it had been entirely upon ex-parte evidence that his majesty's ministers had proceeded in their treatment of the Queen. On ex parte evidence they had attempted to degrade her. He would ask, who had ordered the omission of her name in the Liturgy? Who had insulted her by the offer of a bribe to give up her constitutional rights? Who had refused her a ship to bring her to this country? Who had refused her a house to put her head into on her arrival? Who had refused her even a carriage? Such was the conduct of the ministers towards this injured and oppressed Queen! [Hear, hear!]. His learned friend would have done much better, and have acted more reasonably, if he had complained of that conduct every way ex-parte, which had been adopted towards her majesty. He could not, therefore, avoid saying, that the observations of the honourable and. learned gentleman upon the conduct of his gallant friend did appear most unwarranted, and, to say the least of them, were uncalled for, and to a great extent they appeared partial. From one who takes a great share in, or conducts the proceedings of a court of justice, he should rather have expected a leaning towards the Queen, who really had that cause of complaint which the learned gentleman was too hasty in charging to the other side. The learned gentleman had that night taken the part of the accuser against the accused—of the strong against the weak. He had expected to have seen him rather favourable towards the case of the accused party, opposed as that party was to all the terror and all the influence of power [Hear!]. He (Mr. Hume) did not hesitate to say, that he did believe, with the gallant general, that this was one of the foulest and most disgraceful conspiracies which was ever formed. When he saw the name of his majesty, the King, disgraced as it had been in the persons of his ambassadors in foreign countries—when he contemplated the measures that had been taken to forward this proceeding—he could not come to any other conclusion than that which he had just expressed. He could, however, by no means agree with his honourable friend (Mr. Hobhouse) in the amendment now proposed 67 by him, because he thought it would be a great injustice to her majesty to stop the trial now when the whole of the case against her was before the nation, it was due to her, that no such intervention should take place. The evidence had done its worst; yet there was a very general feeling, from one end of the country to the other, in favour of her innocence; in which he most solemnly concurred [Hear, hear!]. There might be persons who thought differently, and of those probably was the learned individual who had summed up the evidence for the prosecution. But he must observe, that that learned gentleman had thought fit to make statements and observations which the evidence did not warrant or bear him out in doing, any more than it did the opening statement of his honourable and learned colleague (the attorney-general). He concurred with his honourable friend (Mr. Bennet) that that honourable and learned gentleman had disgraced himself by the statements he had made in that speech. He meant no personal reflections, which were not at all necessary, beyond what the attorney-general's conduct in this affair obliged him to make. In his official situation, it was his duty not to have made any statement which he did not think could be substantiated by evidence. But his conduct had been very different. He would only state one instance, and ask the honourable and learned gentleman, why he had dared to accuse the Queen of an adulterous intercourse for six years, and not prove it for more than three [A laugh, and cries of Hear, hear!] Gentlemen on the other side might laugh; but he (Mr. Hume) had only stated their own case, at which they had laughed. He could not be supposed to have admitted that that charge had been proved, as he had set out by stating, that he disbelieved it. But the object of stating this to the House was, to show, that the attorney-general had disgraced himself by laying such an accusation against her majesty which applied to a period of six years, whilst he had not only not proved, but had not even attempted to prove his charge for a longer period than three years. The solicitor-general had, therefore, also disgraced himself in an extraordinary manner, by observing, when he summed up, that every thing which had been charged by the attorney-general in his opening speech had been distinctly proved by the evidence adduced; although this very im- 68 portant fact was staring them in the face! Was not this disgraceful conduct? He, therefore, entirely concurred in the opinion of his hon. friend, and he would repeat it, that he considered the official conduct of the hon. and learned gentleman disgraceful. He could not agree that the proceedings should now stop, although it was certain that, notwithstanding the numerous details and disgusting statements that had gone forth, and the moral poison which had deluged the country, the feelings of the nation towards her majesty, far from being damped, was manifestly increased. He must call the attention of the House to what had fallen from the noble lord (Castlereagh) at the last meeting of the House, as he (Mr. Hume) had particularly observed at the time and had afterwards applied his observations to account for the publication of such disgusting evidence. That noble lord then admitted "the extent of the public feeling and irritation at the mode of proceeding against the Queen," and he had added, "let the trial proceed, let the evidence go forth, and he was confident the public mind would be satisfied and tranquillized." Such were nearly, if not the exact words which the noble lord then used; and he would now ask any person who had witnessed the scenes which had lately taken place out of doors, he would ask the noble lord himself, whether the feelings of the public had been tranquillized? On the contrary had not the generous feelings of the English people risen in favour of her majesty, in the same proportion that infamous and incredible charges had been poured out against her? Her prosecutors had gone through their case—they had done their worst—they had exhausted all their power—and now, on this ex-parte case, he would say, that if he were a juror, he would, before God and his country, acquit her majesty of all the charges that had been brought against her. He the rather said this now, because, although he was the first person in this House to mention her majesty's name, he had been extremely cautious not to prejudge her case. He had carefully refrained from expressing an opinion one way or the other, until the prosecution had closed. He would candidly confess that he had (with his hon. friend) expected when ministers did venture to bring forward charges of so gross a nature against her majesty, that they would, at least have attempted to support them by the testimony of credible wit- 69 ncsses from Italy, and that they would have endeavoured to do so also, by English witnesses! He did, from the proceedings, expect that some damning facts as they might call them, would be brought against her. But what had been the result? It had been charged that this adulterous intercourse of the Queen had been of the most open and glaring kind—of the most public and notorious nature. If so, he would ask, on what authority these assertions rested, and why they had not been proved by respectable testimony? Why did they insult the country with such witnesses when they had other respectable Italians and Englishmen who were with the Queen to produce? and they ought to have been produced on the trial if such conduct had really taken place. The witnesses produced were not only of the lowest and basest classes, but ministers had recourse to the miserable subterfuge to have it believed, that they had been compelled by their respective governments to come to England to give evidence. Why had foreign governments been so officious in this affair? The reason might be easily supposed. He had no doubt on his mind but that the Queen would most satisfactorily refute all the falsehoods alleged against her—would clearly expose the foul conspiracy that had been formed against her life and her honour, provided that she had justice done her. He said, "if justice were done her;" for while, in the course of the pending proceedings it appeared in evidence that the ambassadors of England and foreign states were acting in the capacity of spies and agents, collecting every foul tale, and giving every facility in their power to the witnesses against the Queen, he knew, and it would be proved, that they were throwing obstacles in the way of the witnesses concerned for the Queen. He held in his hand a letter upon which he thought he could repose the utmost confidence, in which it was stated, that Mr. Henry who left this country admitted and recognized by his majesty's ministers as the express and accredited agent for examining and marshalling evidence for her majesty, in order to refute the specific facts charged, had been much impeded in his mission—that vexatious impediments as to passports and otherwise, had been thrown in the way of this officer, who was known to be acting for the Queen. This he believed to be the fact, and that it would be proved that four of the witnesses who had ten- 70 dered their evidence and agreed to come to England, had been, through the machinations of colonel Brown, prevented from coming, and had actually declared they would not come [Hear!]. He must not state what were the means supposed to have been employed for that purpose; but, after these facts, could any one talk of the impartiality observed in this case, when in every thing the most unjustifiable partiality was shown against her majesty? While it now become every one to wait the issue of these proceedings, he confessed that he did not think the House of Lords would find the Queen guilty. He was satisfied they would not do so, were they to judge only by the present evidence; but, above all, they would not do so, when her majesty's evidence should be brought to rebut the charges now made. When these proofs should be adduced, he felt confident that this House would never be troubled with the bill. Under these circumstances, he was against the amendment of his hon. friend; because he thought that her majesty ought to have an opportunity of rebutting the evidence now against her; and he hoped that her majesty's witnesses would be afforded every facility to come to England for that purpose. He would ask the noble lord (Castlereagh) whether any orders had been given, or measures taken, to retain in this country until the close of the trial those persons who had been produced as witnesses against the Queen? He understood that one of them, Rastelli, had been seen on his route to Italy, no doubt for the purpose of being employed to prevent such individuals as he might know from coming. He had been actively employed to collect evidence for the prosecution; and it was fair to infer, that his business now was to prevent evidence for the defence. If so, what justice had her majesty to expect? And here, by the way, he might be allowed to ask, who Rastelli was? He was a stable boy or helper originally, in the service of her royal highness; but, since his employment by the Milan commission, he had become a gentleman. So had all the witnesses hired against her. They had been cherished and had lived on the fat of the land [a laugh!]; whilst those disposed to speak in her favour had been discouraged and intimidated. When foreigners were given to understand, that they would give offence to the government if they should come to give evidence 71 in favour of the Queen, and would meet with such impediments as he complained of, could it be any wonder if they manifested an unwillingness to come? The prosecutors had money to give, had offices to promise; but the Queen had neither! He repeated and was convinced, that if justice were done her, every charge made against her would be refuted. He believed the whole of this conspiracy to be as foul as ever disgraced this country; and he hoped that it would terminate in the disgrace and confusion of its authors. He thought his majesty's ministers, and those who acted with them, the Bishops, should be cautious what they did in this case, under pretence of protecting the honour of the Crown and the morals of the country. Let them look at the conduct already pursued, and what its consequences might be.—Every honourable member, he thought, would agree with him, that the moral poison circulated by means of the evidence of these wretched Italians, greatly tended to demoralise the country—that that disgraceful and filthy evidence would do more injury to public morals than the misconduct of two queens three years ago in a foreign land could, on their own showing, have effected [Hear, hear!] So little, indeed, was known of her majesty, that no individual had been found to state one fact against her for the last three years! If, then, her misconduct had been so private, so little known, how would her example be pernicious? Where was the state necessity for such a proceeding? To talk of state necessity, therefore, in this case was clearly the vilest and most hypocritical cant in the world. The proceeding was, in fact, as unnecessary as it was disgraceful; and if justice should be done, it would be proved that the whole had originated in a foul conspiracy. He earnestly hoped that, in that event, measures would be taken to inquire into the magnitude of the offence, and that every person implicated would be brought before the House, and impeached for their conduct; but, above all, he thought ministers ought to be the first objects of impeachment [Hear, hear!]. Not that he thought his majesty's ministers were the original inventers or framers of that foul conspiracy; but because they had adopted and brought it forward to agitate the public mind at this present time—by which public misfortune, they had done more to disgrace majesty, and to degrade the dignity of the throne, than any thing 72 which had, in his recollection, been before effected. He would venture to say, that all the meetings termed "seditious," which had taken place of late years, and which his majesty s ministers had in many instances punished by death or transportation, had not done half the real harm and mischief which this measure of theirs had caused to the country whether he viewed it morally or politically. He repeated that this conspiracy should be strictly examined, and every part thoroughly sifted, if justice were to be done alike to the high and the low, which the laws prescribed, why should weavers be hanged for endangering the throne, whilst ministers escaped the same offence with impunity? [loud laughter]. He would repeat his conviction, that this proceeding would prove highly injurious to the cause of royalty, whilst it rendered us the laughing-stock of Europe! He believed that at this moment foreigners laughed at this country when they saw a single woman put at defiance the government, supported as it was by the Holy Alliance, and by all means good and bad in their power; whilst, on the other hand, her majesty was deprived of the means, and impeded in bringing over witnesses in her behalf [Lord Castlereagh signified his dissent]. He would, notwithstanding the dissent of the noble lord, assert, that difficulties had been thrown in the way of the Queen's witnesses, which had not occurred to her prosecutors, and that the same would be proved. The conduct of the ministers, sanctioned as it was by the bench of bishops (with one or two exceptions) deserved neither respect nor support. It was injurious alike to the honour of the monarchy, and to the cause of the church. They were well aware of the enormous expenses of the church establishment under the plea of public good; and he would not refrain from adding, that the millions which it cost were not necessary for the morals of the people. He would caution the gentlemen of the higher clergy, however, to take care how they took away the corner stone of such a fabric—how, by forfeiting the public respect, they meddled with the established religion of the country. The people of England might see that, as in Scotland, morality and religion might be promoted without the assistance of bishops—might be upheld without the great expenses of a church hierarchy.
They had heard in that House the 73 most vehement declamations against radicals as they were called; but his majesty's ministers were the most violent of radicals. Their innovations and dangerous attacks on the constitution and religion of the country were doing much more to disgrace the character of the bishops, to degrade that of the peers, and to endanger royalty. These were the ministers whom he thought in justice ought to be impeached; and if he possessed the requisite abilities, he should consider it his duty to bring them before the House. Facts which had come out in evidence proved to what shameful lengths this prosecution had been carried—proved the subornation of witnesses—proved the improper interference of colonel Brown, as well as our ambassadors at Venice and other courts. But, let us, however, wait until her majesty's witnesses give their evidence, and show in proper colours the nature and extent of these transactions. He was surprised that the bishops, whom the people were accustomed reverently to look up to as patterns and protectors of the public, morals, should not have dissented from a proceeding which would pull down the corner stone of that edifice on which their power principally rested—a proceeding which went to dissolve the most sacred of ties—a proceeding directly contrary to the laws of God and man—a proceeding not the Jess revolting to constitutional feelings, because the ministers had stated, that the clause for the divorce might be withdrawn.—Hemaintained, that the ministers had done much to degrade royalty, and to disgust a high-minded, and a generous-hearted people. But, nevertheless, he would intreat his honourable friend not to persevere in his amendment; because that motion, if successful, would deprive her majesty of the opportunity of rebutting the evidence against her. It was of the last importance to her, that the cause should be fully heard, and that every charge should be clearly refuted. He was convinced that her majesty's innocence would then be admitted by those who now thought her guilty, even by those very sceptical persons who thought they saw an adulterous intercourse in every motion of her majesty [A laugh]. He was anxious that those who had been led astray by party feelings should be convinced of their error, and recover their true British generosity—that they should remove every illiberal and injurious senti- 74 ment, and support the cause of an injured and innocent Queen. Deeming it unjust, under these considerations, to pause in this stage of the proceedings, he should content himself for the present, by expressing his determination to vote against the amendment.
said, that after the turn which the debate had taken, he should not find it necessary to trouble the House with many words. But there were some situations in which discussions were brought forward upon grounds so little reasonable, and arguments adduced so foreign to the business properly before the House, and which, in his own mind, he might feel, could never have any influence in it, that he found it impossible not to offer some observations, however repugnant to his feelings it might be to be thus dragged into a debate of this kind. He was quite sure that the good sense of the House must be disgusted at finding that they were now occupied upon a debate on a proceeding still pending in the other House; that the character of that House, and with it every thing connected with one of the most important measures ever agitated there, were thus unnecessarily dragged into a discussion; and that, in the judicial spirit in which an hon. member on the other side of the House had spoken, his impartiality and his penetration appeared to be summed up in this charge—that one of her majesty's counsel had been shamefully browbeaten by the House of Lords! This might furnish the House, he thought, with a true measure of the temper in which all the other observations they had heard had been made. So far from having any effect, indeed, with hon. gentlemen, or any way degrading the illustrious assembly in question, they could only serve to show that there were persons in the country of minds and views so perverted as to prompt them to attack the high character of an assembly which their attack could not reach. He had been very much surprised to hear the hon. member for Westminster assume (which he had no right to assume), that that House had already decided that it would not make any inquiry into the subject before them. That was a point which had never been decided. He (lord Castlereagh) certainly had proposed to bring the question to an issue; but hon. gentlemen would remember the steps which it had been at length agreed to take. Fore- 75 seeing that this inquiry would take the shape of a legislative proceeding in the upper House, and afterwards come down there for their decision, the motion by which the matter had been so far disposed of had been submitted and agreed to. So far from the House having settled the question, this was, if he mistook not, the third adjournment upon it which they had adopted, being deterred from further proceeding in it, by the necessity of the measure coming down to them from the other House. And on the subject of the bill eventually so coming down from the upper House, the hon. and gallant general (sir It. Wilson) would allow him to say, that it was not his resolution of throwing every possible obstacle in its way which could prevent or retard the coming down. The gallant general had told them what he would do: he would, of course, conduct himself as he thought fit; but perhaps he would permit him to observe, that by such predetermined opposition he would not much raise his character in the opinion of the country or the House. But the fact was, he could not prevent the House of Peers from sending down the bill to them; and if that House, as it was competent for them to do, chose to send it, they (the House of Commons) must dispose of it in one way or the other. The gallant general, in the prosecution of his endeavours, might oppose the first reading, for instance; but neither he, nor any of the judicious assistants by whom he appeared to be aided, could prevent the bill from regularly coming down. He thought it would not be very consistent in them, if they should endeavour to get rid of the bill without any inquiry or discussion at all; and he submitted to the House, that unless they were prepared to run counter to all their proceedings, and to act in an unusual and hasty manner, the very limited attendance of the House—which had happened of course, in the contemplation of an immediate adjournment—was a reason why they should not now proceed upon a question whether or no they should get rid of the measure altogether. With respect to the interests of the Queen herself, none of her legal advisers were in their places; although there was an hon. gentleman (Mr. Hume) who spoke in the tone, if not of a legal, at least of a political, adviser of her majesty. That hon. member spoke in the first person plural, and had said, "we" thought this, and 76 "we" did that, and "we" felt, and "we" must consider—from whence he inferred that he was politically an adviser [A laugh]. As to the delicacy and disgust of an hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Bennet) and the gallant general, he would beg to know how they supposed the charges had been got up? He was, however, glad to hear the hon. member express his repugnance to get rid of the question by that subterfuge, of which the gallant officer and the honourable member for Westminster would avail themselves—they would put down all inquiry on the plea of delicacy. If the hon. gentlemen's minds could bear nothing but broad statements of facts, and if nothing short of proof of the actual crime could satisfy them, he, for his part, could think nothing more easy than to have fabricated such a fact, if those who deposed to the charges intended to depose falsely. Did the honourable gentlemen think that those disgusting details were the mere creation of the attorney-general? If there was a conspiracy fabricated by individuals—if a conspiracy existed, how easy and natural would it have been for those who sustained it to effect their object, as far as the honourable member's reasoning went, by fabricating the fact at once, instead of going into long and disgusting details? Was his hon. and learned friend, the attorney-general, to be required to draw out a picture himself, which might suit the honourable gentleman? He could only assure those who had leapt so rapidly to a conclusion in this case, that he feared they would not as yet be able to carry conviction with equal facility to the minds of others. If the hon. gentleman, by so conducting himself, and so inveighing against his majesty's government, meant to protect the interests of the Queen, he really thought, that he was not adding one iota to her defence, nor adding one feather to the weight of her testimony. He must be actuated either by an erroneous idea of serving her majesty, or by a feeling which he (lord Castlereagh) could not, for a moment, impute to him (as he could impute no motive but a just one)—a wish to inflame the public mind. Every thing which had been said was only an additional reason for going on with the inquiry. If her majesty was innocent, her innocence ought to be sifted to the bottom; and if the whole were a conspiracy, he assured the House no man would be more anxious to get at the fact than 77 himself. But it was not by quashing the proceedings that either of these objects would be attained. Whatever might be the result, whatever decision the evidence might call for, he was confident that there was too much manly feeling in that House to shrink from the investigation on which parliament had entered, or to shrink from discharging their duty from any considerations of delicacy, or any representations of the temper of the country. If there was a conspiracy, that was an additional reason for proceeding with the investigation, and sifting the subject thoroughly. If there was a conspiracy, in the name of God, let it be sifted to the bottom by full investigation of the evidence. If his majesty's ministers had been deceived, they had been as anxious as the hon. gentleman to avert the consequences of this painful measure; and if his majesty's ministers had been deceived by persons from various parts of Europe speaking to various circumstances—and a better selection could not have been made for the investigation of truth—if his majesty's ministers had been deceived, and if this was a conspiracy, the hon. gentleman would not say that his majesty's ministers ought to have of themselves put a negative upon the information and charges without an investigation. But if this was a conspiracy, it was a conspiracy without example; and that was an additional motive for proceeding with the investigation; and whatever the hon. member might think, the course pursued was that which justice required. The gallant general, who had spoken rather as if he considered this a military question, and not a judicial inquiry, had produced letters by which he endeavoured to traduce the characters of witnesses in the other House, forgetting that the inquiry in that House had not terminated, and that the facts alleged could be there judicially inquired into. Why had he not handed the letter to the hon. and learned gentleman who conducted the Queen's defence, so that the circumstances might be inquired into on oath? What could he have intended by making a garbled statement to the House of circumstances which might have been regularly inquired into in the other House, or which might hereafter be investigated here? The gallant general had distinctly charged, that this was a Hanoverian conspiracy; and, by way of proof, repeated the often-told tale of baron Ompteda having broken into the house of the illustrious person, 78 and having attempted, by most unjustifiable violence and outrage, to get possession of the illustrious person's papers. He (lord Castlereagh) had thought it his duty to make inquiry, and had applied to count Munster, a man of the highest feelings of honour, who assured him that there was no ground to give countenance to the charge, and that he believed no such thing ever occurred. Several letters, too, had been received by him, which spoke of baron Ompteda in terms of the highest respect. As to the mode of calling him to account which had been alluded to, whatever might be thought of that as a mode of ascertaining truth, baron Ompteda had lent himself in the most willing manner to the proposition of that kind which had been made to him, and had waited a whole fortnight for his antagonist. But he would put it to hon. members whether any thing could be more unfair than thus placing the characters of individuals in issue, who had no opportunity afforded them of vindicating their conduct.—Another subject, to which the attention of the House had been called, he must also advert to. He felt how foreign it was to the question before the House—he was sorry to fatigue the attention of the House by travelling so far out of the proper course—but the digression was very reluctant on his part The hon. member who spoke last had insinuated, that there was a disposition to obstruct and embarrass the Queen's means of defence. From this it was clear that the hon. member was not one of the legal advisers of her majesty, because if he were, he would say, "We are satisfied with all that the government has done—his majesty's government has done every thing that we desired—they have done all that we wished—they desired us only to mention the words, as they wished to gratify us in every possible wish." It was clear the hon. member was not in the legal council of her majesty, whatever he might be in her council out of doors. He (lord C.), it was true, had reason to know and to lament, that at first some obstruction did arise from official forms; but that was no sooner known, than every step was taken that could, be taken, to facilitate the objects of the Queen. But the inconvenience which her majesty's agents might have suffered abroad were not exclusive. His majesty's ministers, too, might complain of the official delays of foreign countries, and of the personal 79 inconvenience which followed. Most important documents, connected with the present case, they thought might have been produced at Milan, but they found that it was first necessary to get an order from Vienna. It was also found that the order from Vienna must be previously inspected by the proper agent; and though the time was extremely pressing, and the bill was actually pending before the other House, those documents were sent back to Milan to be certified; and, in consequence of the delay which took place, they did not arrive in London until several days after the case had been closed. They came, of course, too late. They could not however be expedited, notwithstanding the pressing applications of colonel Brown and of lord Stewart. He troubled the House with this detail, in order that the House might not suppose that all the delay, or obstruction, or inconvenience, was on one side. They were obliged to submit to the delay which had occurred, because they could not expect that official forms, so long acted on by the Austrian government, would be laid aside on this occasion. The Austrian government had acted with the same equal spirit to both sides. The moment the communication had been made to him of the obstruction which occurred, he set himself to remove it. Dr. Lushington was the hon. gentleman to whom he made the proposition, and he executed simply and entirely the wish of the Queen's counsel.—On the question itself he had nothing to say. The House had already three times given their opinion, and no human mind could doubt that honour and justice required that parliament should proceed to investigate the charges which placed the Queen in the painful situation in which she was at present placed. If he had net forgotten the gallant general's language, and the words of the hon. member near him (Mr. Bennet), at moments when ministers were anxious to avoid this investigation, the honourable members were loud in their taunts. Why not produce specific charges, they asked—Why not state distinct charges? Why not bring forward their accusation? The hon. gentlemen on the other side cried out, but very inopportunely, on this subject; for when ministers wished for inquiry, the hon. gentlemen opposed it: when ministers were not for inquiry, then nothing was to be beard from the gentlemen opposite but inquiry. As to the feeling out of doors, 80 he felt as painfully as any member the deep sensation created by the details of this investigation. He knew the generous feelings of the people of this country; he knew that their feelings were alive to such a case, and particularly when the sex was implicated which they all Felt most anxious about, and most desirous to honour. But he hoped he did not regard this feeling with unbecoming dismay. He was confident that this anxious and important question, after investigating all the circumstances in which it was involved, would be so settled as to satisfy the feeling of the country. He felt confident that it was impossible that injustice could be done, when the investigation was openly conducted in the face of the two Houses of Parliament, in the face of the country, and in the face of all Europe. He wished honourable members had prevented themselves from speaking upon the subject in the tone in which some had indulged, and had suspended their judgment till the whole of the evidence should be before them, whatever the effect of that evidence might be. The members of that House, at least, ought to come to no conclusion upon the charge, or the evidence in support of the charge, till they had heard her majesty's defence. The honourable member had not, he was satisfied, intended to produce such an effect; but their language that night would have the effect of encouraging, a party—not numerous he trusted—who fastened on this, as on every public calamity—whether a mutiny in the fleet, the evils of a long-protracted war, or the distresses of the country—with the hope of making it the means of effecting their base and wicked object; namely, the subversion of the laws and constitution of the country. There was much of generous delusion in the country (which he respected) wound up with this question. If honourable members wished the elements of this delusion to be dissolved,—let them not follow the course which they had taken that night: for, in the effect of their language, they were countenancing, co-operating, and assisting, in the most mischievous designs, by the tone of intimidation and of precipitation which they adopted, and which would admit no honest and sound discretion to the consideration of the subject. Such a tone was calculated to give countenance abroad to the most mischievous spirit. He trusted, however, that nothing which had fallen 81 from the other side would prevent the House from taking that temperate course Which justice required, if the bill should come down to them. Whatever warm feelings members might have expressed that night, they would, he was confident, feel their error when they should come to consider the subject judicially. The House, he was sure, would discharge its duty, as on all difficult questions it had done, with an enlarged view of the case, and a determination to promote the great ends of justice.
said, he should not assert that the whole of the proceedings against the Queen originated in a foul conspiracy; nor did he rise to insult the nice honour of the attorney-general by making any comments on the speeches of the counsel; but he felt himself called upon to give the reasons why he supported the motion of the honourable member for Westminster. He had formerly had the pleasure (and he could sincerely say it was a pleasure) to vote with the noble lord Castlereagh, in the majority which declared, on the 22nd of June last, that the proceedings against the Queen, whatever the result of them might be, could not be otherwise than derogatory from the honour of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the country. He, therefore, now, in accordance with that resolution, and for the sake of maintaining his own consistency in what he conceived to be a correct opinion, should vote for the motion of the hon. member for Westminster. The noble lord had talked of the fear of public clamour, and had dealt out his monitions to that side of the House, in a very general and unwarrantable way. The noble lord should have confined his admonitions to those who needed them. He meant to do his duty, as fearlessly and as regardlessly of public clamour, as the noble lord; he would perform his duty to his constituents as honestly as the noble lord; but there necessarily was, in the judgment of every man, a public feeling that should have some weight with parliament, and it was manifest to every one that that opinion was now decidedly against the proceedings in the case of the Queen, and it was equally clear, that it was, in a great measure, founded on that vote in which he had concurred, and which he now wished the House to maintain. He had thus stated his reasons for the vote which he should give; he should have been able to avoid that necessity, 82 but he was not able to avoid it without shrinking from the discharge of his duty. He should vote for the amendment of the honourable member for Westminster, on the ground of consistency; and, on the same ground, in every stage of the proceeding, he should vote against pressing the measure forward. A noble lord, in another place, had talked of the relinquishment of the divorce part of the bill, and he had professed that his majesty had no feeling whatever respecting the measure. Would any one say that the nation had a feeling in its favour? The noble lord had left that party in the measure—the nation—out of the question. He (Mr. M.) thought the interest of the nation was that which they had principally to look to; and he could not therefore agree with the hon. member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), that the bill should be pressed forward in order to enable the Queen to clear herself. The guilt or the innocence of the Queen was of no importance compared with the evil which was inflicted on the nation by the proceeding.
§ Mr. Creevey
said, that he also should state why he agreed with the honourable member for Westminster, in the amendment which he had moved. He could not agree that the proceedings which were now carrying on in the other House did not form a fit subject for discussion at that moment. He had known no public question that had ever arisen, of greater importance than whether the bill pending against her majesty should be allowed to proceed? and he knew no other mode of bringing that question into discussion, and getting an opinion on it than by such, a motion as that of the honourable member for Westminster. On a former occasion, when the noble lord, the member for Cambridgeshire had made a similar proposition, he had determined to support it; but the counsel for the Queen had said, that it would be a great hardship if she were not allowed to go into her defence, and he had consequently withdrawn his support from that motion. But the fact was, as it now appeared, that though the whole of the case against the Queen was gone through, the injuries she had suffered were so great, that the evidence against her went, in the opinion of the public, for nothing. The people had seen the Queen charged With a crime that was no crime by law; menaced with an act which was at once to make the 83 crime, and to pronounce the judgment on it; they had seen her negotiated with and threatened alternately; they had seen her formerly turned out of her house; they had seen her almost compelled to leave this country; they had seen her, when abroad, followed by spies, all her actions watched, attacked by a confederacy of all the powers of Europe [Lord Castlereagh dissented]. The noble lord might shake his head at this, but he (Mr. C.) had attended to the evidence as far as it had gone in the House of Lords; he had heard from the mouths of the witnesses, that such and such ministers and ambassadors had requested them, and had threatened to use force to induce them to come here. He had seen the way in which the resources of England had been lavished on the witnesses; and he felt convinced, that the same powers that were set in motion to bring hither evidence against the Queen, would be employed to keep back the witnesses in her favour. Such were the calamities which were heaped on an individual—and that individual a woman—and that woman too, a queen—a princess of the house of Brunswick. These things could not be known without arousing the warmest and most lasting indignation. The fact was, political questions were comparatively matter of a day, but violations of the principles of justice were never forgotten. Why, but for this, was it, that now, at the distance of nearly two hundred years, the name of Hampden, a plain country gentleman, who had defended his property against the arbitrary orders of the court, was still famous among Englishmen? Why was it but for the villainy and corruption of the judges who had sanctioned the proceedings, that he was in the mouths of every one who could read the English language? That was a proceeding against a private man. Did the noble lord think that these proceedings against the Queen of England, would excite a feeling less intense or less durable. Did he think that it was nothing to set the aristocracy against the middle and lower classes of the nation? He was not one of those who thought lightly of the aristocracy; they were identified with all that had been gained for liberty in this country; and he wished to see them continue to be thus identified; but he was sorry to say, that as far as they had gone, they injured themselves in public esteem, and he believed the aristocracy to be in the wrong, and the great body of the 84 people in the right. Would not the noble lord rather keep the aristocracy and the people united, than separate them, as they were separated on the present question? The bill degraded, as it went on, every institution in the country. It professed to degrade the Queen. It had already degraded the House of Lords. The peers of England had been, day after day, sitting, to hear evidence which every master of a family would hide carefully from his sons or daughters. Had not the noble lord, too, seen in the published accounts of the evidence, the notices of the cheers of the judges when any thing came out which seemed to promote the case against the Queen [Lord Castlereagh intimated his dissent]. He (Mr. C.) had heard these cheers with his own ears. He had been a witness of that frightful exhibition. He had heard the counsel reprimanding the judges [Hear, hear! from a member on the ministerial side]. He did not know what the honourable member meant; but he would ask whether it was not a reprimand, and whether it must not have been felt as a degradation to that assembly, when the counsel for the Queen asked what was the meaning of those acclamations? Did he not think that such an event was sincerely to be deplored? This was a real degradation to the aristocracy. Then came the intimation that the divorce clause was to be given up. This intimation was given at a time when it was apprehended that recrimination, which was inseparable from the measure, in whatever way it was urged, might be resorted to. The honourable member for Shrewsbury had justly observed, that whatever had been said of the king in the House, or still more strongly out of the House, did not degrade the king half as much as this attempt to withdraw the divorce clause. The next establishment that was to be degraded was the House of Commons. If the bill, by any misfortune, should come to them, in what situation would they be? They were a jury of six hundred, without the power of administering an oath. He did not complain of this, but such was the law. The only authority to whom they could appeal would be that of the worthy chairman of the committee of ways and means. During the time he had attended the House of Lords, he had seen the judges retire two or three times a day to instruct the House, in which there were four learned persons who had filled the office of lord chancellor. What could 85 they do in that House without the assistance of any judges, and without any legal authority other than that of the worthy chairman? He hoped that this difficulty would be never brought home to them; and he felt not only justified, but anxious to vote with the honourable member for Westminster, for an address to prorogue the parliament. To put a stop to this calamitous inquiry was the only mode of preventing every thing dignified in the state from being degraded; it was the only mode of preserving the administration of justice unviolated; above all, it was the only mode of harmonizing the higher, the middle, and the lower orders of society.
§ Mr. Peter Moore
said, he should state his reasons for supporting the amendment, as well on account of the importance of the subject, as because, from his having attended a great number of public meetings, he had a better opportunity than many members of knowing what the public opinion was. He now lamented, that the motion of the noble lord the member for Cambridgeshire (lord F. Osborne) on a former occasion, had not been carried into effect. The objection that was then made to the motion was, that as the evidence had begun, it was fit it should be carried through. He had not thought that argument conclusive, and he should vote for the amendment of the honourable member for Westminster on the present occasion; and in doing so, he should be acting in unison with his constituents, who had had a meeting on the subject, and had instructed him to resist ever step of this inquiry. The noble lord's objection appeared the least of all objections on the subject. The noble lord had contended, that public justice required that an inquiry of this nefarious character (for it was nefarious) should be further continued. But a day of reckoning would come, and it was not far distant. He had given the subject every possible consideration—he had looked at every pretence on which it had been brought forward—he had weighed all the evidence and his solemn conviction was, that this was as dark and foul a conspiracy as had ever been formed, and that his majesty's ministers were at the bottom of it. He would not mince it. He repeated, that it was as foul a conspiracy as had ever been formed, and that his majesty's ministers were at the bottom of it. He had reflected on the state of the public mind; and there was but one opinion as to the necessity of rescuing the 86 public and his majesty from the hands of his ministers, and saving the monarchy; for the monarchy was hazarded. He gave no opinion of the guilt or innocence of her majesty. On that subject there should be no doubt, after the ship-loads and cart-loads of evidence which had been imported. But his great objection was, on the ground of the public interests, and to rescue the monarchy from danger. Ministers had dragged the monarch to the chin in dirt and filth. For what purpose? What! but to get themselves out of the foul conspiracy? It was on the principle of justice that he resisted the proceedings; and so said the majority of the House, which had voted that the proceedings, terminate in whatever way they might, could not fail to be derogatory from the honour of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the country. But the ministers had, in spite of that vote, proceeded to derogate from the honour of the Crown, and to injure the best interests of the country. The country was persuaded, that till their affairs were out of the hands of those men, there was no security for persons, or property, or laws, or constitution. What was the judicatory in this case—who was the prosecutor As in 1806, there was a child without a father, so there was now a counsel who could not tell who employed him. Who had draw a up the bill? If a public officer—why did he not come forward and avow himself? The attorney-general said, that he acted under the House of Lords; but he did not know how they could give any direction till an accusation was preferred. There was, however, but one opinion prevailing throughout the country, and that was, that all further prosecution of this inquiry ought to be immediately put down. Every day it was hazarding the affections of the people to their government; every day it was giving rise to other questions of a no less dangerous nature. It was asked in many places whether, if a Queen could be set aside by a proceeding of this kind, persons of equal or higher rank might not also become the object of a similar measure? It was inferred that the bench of bishops, that the House of Lords itself, might, if circumstances should so happen, be treated with as little respect. Was it wise thus to open the way to discussions which could not be advantageous, and to force names and institutions which ought to be 87 held sacred upon public attention in this I point of view? For his own part, he believed the inquiry had been gone into, and that the bill itself had been introduced, only as an indemnity to ministers for the conduct which they had previously observed towards the Queen in leaving her name out of the Liturgy. It was with this view that the other House had been led into its present extraordinary situation; it was for this purpose they had assumed the office and character of political judges. Now, what was the true meaning and definition of a political judge? In other courts judges were bound by their particular oaths, and by established forms of proceeding, and nothing was considered more detestable than what was called a political judge. Amongst the political judges of the Queen, however, were some even of her accusers; and the person who presided at the tribunal, and who gave a tone and direction to the whole Court, was the first minister of the Crown. If the large assemblies—if the man thousands in this metropolis—who had expressed their opinions on this subject, were not all in error—if their unanimous voice did proclaim the truth, as he in his conscience believed it did, then not only was the Queen on innocent woman, but the charges against her had originated in a foul conspiracy. He sincerely regretted that the House had not interposed at an earlier stage, so as to stop the prosecution effectually, or at least to prevent its going to the outrageous and disgusting length to which it had been carried. The ministers of the Crown had so degraded their sovereign, that if recrimination were now resorted to, his majesty, upon the ordinary rules and principles of such proceedings, might be cited as a witness, to put in his answer to charges against himself. He had received a letter only two days ago from a man of high character and professional talents, now in the course of his travels, and who represented the general sentiment of the country where he then was, to be, that England was degrading the laurels which she had acquired by so many victories, and that the sun of her glory was about to set forever [A laugh!]. He could assure the House, that this was the letter of an eminent man, well known in the circles in which he moved, and the pride of the profession to which he belonged. He believed he had now said enough to point 88 out the danger to which the constitution, the bench of bishops, and all the constituted authorities of the realm, were exposed, by a proceeding which the House would have done well to stop when at an earlier period a noble friend of his had made a motion to that effect.
§ Mr. Ellice
said, he was under the necessity of differing from his honourable colleague on the subject of the proposed amendment. If he could think it consistent with any principle of justice, or if he could persuade himself that it would have the effect of limiting the calamitous consequences which every day became more apparent, he should readily sacrifice his own opinion to that of his honourable friend. But as he did not think it likely that the amendment would be carried, he must frankly say, that he saw no reason to concur with it. The evidence against the illustrious person in question had gone forth to the public, accompanied by the statement, summing up, and comments of the law-officers of the Crown. To him it appeared that it would be gross injustice not to allow her majesty the opportunity of rebutting it, and of proving what had been asserted, that the charges were the offspring of a foul conspiracy. Upon these grounds, he felt obliged to vote against the proposition for now putting an end to the inquiry, although it would give him extreme satisfaction to support any motion that could stop the further proceedings, if that measure was not at the same time an act of injustice towards the illustrious person accused. He would also state his determination, if the bill should unfortunately come down to that House, to oppose the first reading of it, on the principle, that bills of such a description ought never to be entertained, except in cases where the were essential to the public safety.
§ Sir M. W. Ridley
expressed his concurrence in the views stated by his honourable friend who had just set down; but he rose for the purpose of putting a question to his majesty's ministers, which in his opinion was of importance both to the character and dignity of the government. He had observed in a report of what had passed at a recent meeting held at the Crown and Anchor, that an honourable baronet (sir G. Noel), who presided on that occasion, had read a letter from a worthy alderman (Wood), in which it was said that the defence of the Queen had been left short by the want of pecu- 89 niary assistance from government. Such a representation was, he trusted, erroneous; but, if correct, his majesty's ministers must, he was persuaded, incur the heaviest displeasure of that House. He wished also to inquire whether there was any objection to lay before the House the amount of the sums advanced for the purposes of her majesty's defence, and he availed himself of that opportunity to observe, that the noble lord had fully vindicated administration from one charge which had been brought against it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, he was perfectly prepared to give the honourable baronet a distinct official answer to the question which he had put. He could assure him, in the first place, that every sum for which application had been made by the Queen's legal advisers had been advanced, with an intimation from the Treasury, that if any further sums were deemed necessary they would be cheerfully furnished, subject only to such an account as the legal advisers of the Queen should be able to render.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
replied, that the whole amount of what had been advanced was 20,000l. The sum of 10,000l. was advanced before the proceeding commenced, and a second sum of the same amount about three weeks since.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that no further time had elapsed than was strictly in accordance with the forms of office.
§ Mr. S. C. Whitbread
wished to state, in a very few words, the reasons which induced him to support a motion which had for its object an immediate abandonment of the proceedings against her majesty. In his opinion, the calamitous consequences which they had a tendency to produce, and were really producing, became more obvious every day. He had never indeed been able to discover what beneficial end was to be answered by them. It was said, that the subject had been taken up out of a regard to public morals; but who would say that public morals would not have been more respected by a suppression of the inquiry, 90 than by blazoning its details throughout the country? But, if the interests of morality formed the chief object of this proceeding, he hoped their search would not be limited to the conduct or manners of the Queen. The Queen was, indeed, the first subject, and it was proposed to make her a great example; but perhaps there were persons as high, or even higher, whose example might be yet more important. The evils of proceeding further with the bill of Pains and Penalties were inevitable; the advantage none. He should only add, by way of notice, that as the House had received information with regard to the sums advanced for the defence, he should, as soon as the present question was disposed of, move for an account of the expenses incurred in the prosecution.
§ Mr. Lennard
felt it his duty to protest against the doctrine of the noble lord that it was improper for this House to interfere with the proceedings of the House of Lords. He was surprised to hear such an opinion expressed by any member of the House of Commons. If there was one right better established than another, it was the right, he should rather call it the duty, of the House of Commons to check and to control the House of Lords, when it was assuming to itself any dangerous or unconstitutional power. This was a right repeatedly exercised by this House. In the time of Charles the Second, when the House of Lords attempted to exercise, in the case of Skinner against the East India Company,* an original jurisdiction, the House of Commons interfered, and checked this dangerous assumption of power. He thought, therefore, that the honourable member for Westminster was perfectly justified in the motion he made. He could not, however, support the motion. Agreeing with the member for Middlesex, that the proceedings against the Queen were injurious to the interests of morality, he still thought that, as the poison had been sent forth—as treason had done its worst—that the Queen should be allowed to apply an antidote to that poison: it would be unjust to deprive her of this right; and the more so after the declaration made by her attorney-general, at the last meeting of the House, when a similar motion was made, that the trial must then* See New Parliamentary History, Vol. 4, p. 422.91 go on—that it was too late to recede. But, if gentlemen thought the Queen stood acquitted by the evidence brought against her, still there was another party—the country. It was right that the counsel of the Queen should have an opportunity of showing what was the character of the witnesses brought against her; for if it should appear that they were the dregs of Italy, that they were perfectly unworthy of credit, then the ministers would have incurred a heavy responsibility. The country was looking at the present trial as the trial, not of the Queen merely, but of the ministers. In voting against the motion of the honourable member for Westminster, he did not conceive that, at a future time, he should be precluded from opposing the bill at the very threshold of the House.
Sir Gerard Noel
declared that he could not reconcile it to his feelings to give quite a silent vote upon this question. He believed that the bill under consideration was altogether without a precedent since the period of the Revolution. The House of Lords had never since that period assumed the kind of jurisdiction which they were now exercising. He had heard with much pleasure the sentiments expressed by many honourable members, and was confirmed in his resolution of opposing the bill in all its stages.
Mr. Alderman Heygate
said, he was originally of the opinion expressed in the resolution of the House of the 22nd of June last, that the discussion of this affair of the Queen must, in any result, be injurious to the best interests of all the parties. Every thing had since concurred to strengthen this opinion, and to show the impolicy of suspending the business of a great country, on account of the conduct of an individual, and a subject, however exalted in rank. It would not, however, now be fair to stop the proceedings until both sides had been heard in the House of Peers. When that had taken place would be the proper time to pause and consider what course it was best to pursue. In the mean time the honourable alderman deprecated the unconstitutional language used on behalf of the Queen, to induce the army to interfere in political questions—language which, in former times, would have called forth the notice of all who valued the constitution. He called upon every one professing to love freedom to pause before be used, or countenanced even by his 92 silence, such language, and to reflect that the army which might one day be used in behalf of what he thought right, might be turned on the next in favour of despotism. As there was no evil out of which some good might not be extracted, he trusted that what he had alluded to (without intending in the least to doubt the loyalty and fidelity of the British army), coupled with the late military revolutions on the continent, would induce the government to reduce the excessive standing army, and to trust in time of peace to a more constitutional force. By so doing they would indeed strengthen the throne by satisfying the rational and thinking part of the country.
Mr. Keith Douglas
observed, that the consternation and dismay which had been represented as now prevailing were, in in his opinion, to be ascribed rather to the influence of the press than to the extent of our military establishments. He took a view of our danger somewhat different from that entertained by the worthy alderman who preceded him. Every one who wished well to the prosperity of the country must lament to see the public press so mischievously, so ably, and so successfully labouring, in a way that was not adequately resisted, to inflame discontent, and to increase public alarm. He thought it would be improper for parliament to separate without an understanding that his majesty's ministers had some measures in contemplation for correcting the licence of the press [A loud cry of "Hear hear!" from the Opposition benches]. He might be imperfectly expressing what he meant, but he did see in the evil of which he complained a danger truly alarming. It was far from his wish that the liberties of the country should be curtailed; but the question was, whether some remedy ought not to be applied to a great evil? The case of the Queen was one subject of consideration; but it was brought into connexion with various others, by the journals and publications of the day. The press had assumed a new character; it was conducted with unusual ability, and was incessantly employed in propagating its doctrines. The consequences were evident; they found addresses presented of a new description, coming from large bodies not before accustomed to assemble together for such a purpose. As an instance, he might refer to the address lately carried up to the Queen by a great 93 number of seamen. The metropolis was upon that occasion thrown into considerable bustle and alarm; but scenes of the same kind were perpetually occurring, and if multitudes were thus frequently brought together, they must be liable to the contagion of bad passions. A meeting was advertised for next Monday, at which probably many thousands would be present; and what he contended for was, that these circumstances were of a nature to excite and perpetuate alarm. To say the least, they were productive of great inconvenience; and he felt it his duty to state the evil, although he might not perceive the best means of redressing it. In his opinion, the government of the country should come forward and assure parliament and the country, that as far as it was in their power—as far as they were in possession of legitimate means—they would exert them for the prevention and suppression of tumult. The well-disposed part of the public might then, perhaps, be relieved from the apprehension of the mischief spreading any further, or of its endangering our institutions.
wished to make only three remarks. Did the hon. gentleman who spoke last consider that his majesty's ministers had not duly exercised the power entrusted to them, or did he wish them to produce a new edition of the late acts for regulating the press? If there was any danger in what was now going forward, the House of Lords had not shown any apprehension of it; the had imposed no restriction on the publication of the entire proceedings, and had suffered evidence to go forth to the world, which must necessarily have the effect of casting a slur upon the Queen's character. That House would do well to cherish the liberty of the press, and not allow it to be cut down in a by-way. If it was conducted with superior industry and talent, that was an additional reason for pardoning its occasional licence.
observed, that although as a young member he felt diffident in pressing the House to a division, yet the question appeared to him to be so important, that he was placed under the necessity of exercising his right.
§ The House then divided—For the amendment, 12; against it 66. Majority for the original motion, 54.
|List of the Minority.|
|Bennet, H. G.||Bernal, R.|
|Coke, T. W.||Osborne, Lord F.|
|Creevey, Thos.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Hughes, Colonel||Whitbread, S.|
|Maberly, J. sen.||TELLERS.|
|Martin, John||Hobhouse, J. C.|
|Moore, P.||Wilson, Sir. R.|
|Noel, Sir G.|
§ Sir Robert Wilson
, seeing the noble lord opposite in his place, was extremely anxious to ask him a question of some importance, to which he hoped the noble lord would have no objection to return an answer. In doing this, it was necessary for him to state to the noble lord, that a man of the name of Krous had been employed by the Milan commission, as an extra courier (not as the courier of the government), and had, in that capacity, been frequently sent from Milan, on different matters connected with the business of the commission. In proceeding to England, it was understood that this person was arrested in Paris, on the charge of having forged Bank of England notes in his possession to the amount of 310l. The notes were sent to England to be, examined, and they proved to be forged. When he was apprehended, he was asked, whether he had attempted, when going to England, to pass those notes in Paris? To this interrogatory he made no answer. To a second question he stated that he had received the notes from a person at Milan. An officer of the police was in consequence dispatched, to inquire whether the notes were really given to him by any person in Milan; he being committed to prison till the return of the officer. Now, the question he would ask was this:—It had been confidently stated, that sir Charles Stewart had made repeated and earnest demands to the French government for the release of the individual so charged, and that he was in consequence released; although the police officer, when he returned, stated, that he could not find the person from whom Krous said he had received the notes: he wished therefore to know, whether such an application had been, made by sir Charles Stewart, and whether the British government knew of the transaction?
said, though he was not able to answer the gallant general's question to its fullest extent, he was happy in having an opportunity of stating what he knew of this business—a statement which he conceived to be due to the individual mentioned. Under the circumstances of the case, his answer 95 must necessarily be a general one; but be would give the gallant general more detailed information on the subject, if he thought proper hereafter to call the attention of the House to it. He regretted that an opportunity had not occurred in a former debate of giving to the House the explanation he was about to offer. The individual in question was a person who had long been employed in the king's service, when the transaction of different missions required it. Of late, he had been very frequently employed in conveying dispatches from Milan. On one of these journies he was detained in Paris, in consequence of his having notes which were represented to be forged. Sir Charles Stewart did, in consequence, make those representations which he was obliged to make, under the peculiar circumstances of the case. This led to an investigation of the affair; and, as the individual was again employed in the service of government, it would appear that be had been completely justified. The French government withdrew all proceedings against him; and, if he were correctly informed, no stain or suspicion rested on his character. He was glad that the question was asked, because the explanation would set Mr. Krous right with the world. If the gallant general could point out to him any mode 03' which farther information could be obtained, be would accede to it; and, in justice to Mr. Krous, he would agree that the circumstance should be investigated. He believed that nothing could be adduced detrimental to his character.
§ Mr. Whitbread
rose, in conformity with the notice he had given in the early part of the evening, to move, that an account of the sums expended in the prosecution of the Queen be laid on the table, from the earliest period of the six years, when the proceedings were first instituted, down to the present time. At any other period he would have given the notice usual on such occasions; but the peculiar circumstances under which the House had assembled prevented him from adopting that course. Besides, he conceived that not the least opposition could be made to the motion. He was induced to call for this account, in consequence of many reports that had gone abroad, as well as of many statements which had come out in the course of the evidence (with all of which they were acquainted), from which it appeared that some of the witnesses ac- 96 knowledged that they had received very large sums of money. It was well known to gentlemen, that an account of all monies allotted for the use of the Queen in the course of the present proceedings had been granted elsewhere; and it was, he thought, necessary, that the amount of sums furnished to the other side should also be produced. Indeed, it appeared to him that his majesty's ministers must feel obliged to any person who afforded them an opportunity of removing any portion of the odium which was connected with this filthy proceeding. Many reports, they all knew, had gone abroad as to the immense sums that had been spent in the prosecution of this object; and he wished to know, by means of the account for which he should move, what expense had been incurred by the Milan commission. He thought that the whole of the circumstances connected with this case, in whatever point they were viewed, reflected any thing but honour on this country. He should not trespass farther on their attention, but move, "That there be laid before this House, an account of all sums expended from the period of her majesty's departure from England, in the year 1814, up to the present time, with respect to the proceedings carried on against the Queen of England; including all sums paid to his majesty's ministers at foreign courts, and all sums paid to the commission at Milan."
said, if the hon. gentleman had intimated to the House that he merely wished for a statement of the general amount of the public expenditure connected with this matter, although he (lord C.) might consider it not prudent to call for such an account, still he felt that it was one which might have been granted; but certainly, the motion, as it now stood, was extremely unsatisfactory, because the hon. member had not called on the House for a short statement of the expenses incurred by the whole of the proceedings, both those that were necessary in supporting the bill, and those that were called for in opposing it. The hon. gentleman had called for a detailed account, on one aide, for the purpose of examining adversely, and criminally, if he pleased, any part of that expenditure which he thought proper. Now, to whatever point the House might hereafter deem it necessary to extend its inquiries, he thought that the present was not a moment for the introduction of an exami- 97 nation of this subject. He could assure the hon. gentleman that there was no disposition on the part of his majesty's government to withhold proper information from the House. In fairness to his majesty's government he must say, that they were ready to grant any information that could be considered just and reasonable. With respect to the auditing of the account, such an audit, with reference either to the expenditure incurred for or against the Queen, could not take place in that House, on any known and recognised principle. He could, however, assure the hon. member, that there was no part of the expenditure in support of the bill, including even that of the Milan commission, which should not undergo precisely the same description of audit as would be applied to her majesty's expenses. That expenditure ought unquestionably to receive a proper audit, and ministers were ready to submit it to an audit exactly the same as that to which the expenses incurred by the proceedings against the bill would be subjected. But they did not think that that audit should take place in the House of Commons, nor did they contemplate the present as a fit moment for entertaining the subject, when the proceedings were in progress, and the vouchers were not in a proper situation for being audited. He should, therefore, move the previous question.
§ Mr. Whitbread
said, he had stated that he was induced to make this motion in J consequence of an account that had been applied for in another House, relative to the expenses incurred on the part of the Queen, which they all knew must be a mere trifle when compared with the sum expended in support of the bill. If this were not a proper and convenient time to ask for an account of the sums issued in supporting the bill, he could not imagine how it could be a proper and convenient time for granting an account of the expense incurred in defending the Queen.
said, he had no objection to laying the gross amount of the expenditure on the table of the House; but he believed it was not the intention of the hon. member to enter into the question of the general expenditure, but, as he understood him, to examine the expenditure in detail, and to object to some part of it. He would not press the previous question, but move for an account of the gross expenditure, as far as the same can be made up.
wished to ask the noble lord from what fund these sums of money had been drawn. The noble lord had said, on a former occasion, that the duke of Cornwall had a right to inquire into the conduct of his wife. Now, if he had a right to inquire into the conduct of the duchess of Cornwall, he (Mr. B.) conceived he had also a right to pay the expenses. He hoped the right hon. gentleman, or the noble lord would inform the House from what fund, whether large or small, the expenses of this inquiry were to be paid?
said, that the expenses which had been incurred abroad were properly charged out of the secret-service money; but from the moment the investigation assumed the character of a public inquiry, it would be charged among the civil contingencies. His majesty's ministers were prepared to submit all the items charged out of the secret-service money to the same audit as every other part of the expenditure.
§ Mr. Hume
said, it was fresh in his recollection, when the vote for secret-service money was last before that House, that he put a question to the noble lord, having at that time in his mind the expenditure of the Milan commission. He had stated the great amount of the vote demanded, and the answer he had received, to the best of his remembrance, was this—the noble lord had said that the House must be aware that, during a long war, expenses would be incurred, chargeable on the secret-service money, which would not end at the termination of hostilities, but must be provided for during some time after. From this answer, he did not think that any part of the secret service money could be intended for the Milan commission; because the question was expressly put, in order to ascertain whether it was possible for his majesty's government, consistently with their oath, to take sums out of that fund for such a service? Now, however, to his utter astonishment, he found that they did make use of apart of that money, notwithstanding their oath, to effect this dirty purpose.
said, if he recollected rightly, the hon. member had asked him a question as to the gross amount of such secret-service money for the year. He had observed, "Why, as you are now at peace, is there a necessity to call on parliament for so large a sum on account of secret services?" and he (lord C.) 99 had stated in answer, that though the country was at peace, charges had grown out of the latter part of the war, which it was necessary to provide for. Now, with respect to the sum paid out of the secret-service money on account of the Milan commission, the hon. member would find it by no means so large as he imagined. The sum distributed over the two years prior to the public proceedings in this case, was either 9,000l. or 10,000l.; and be did not know from what fund it could be more properly supplied than from the secret-service money. It was necessary to carry on the inquiry abroad, and the proceeding was one which, from its peculiar character, rendered the expense the more fit to be defrayed in that manner, in order to avoid publicity; and to give effect to the inquiry, the secret-service money appeared to him to be precisely the fund out of which the expense should come.
said, he was desirous to know, as the noble lord had stated that one part of the proceeding was to be defrayed out of the secret-service money, from what fund his majesty's ministers intended to pay the residue of the expense? There had been no grant made by parliament, and be knew not from what fund he could take that money.
said, that after the period had elapsed when the expenses had ceased to be defrayed from the secret-service money, bills had been drawn by the commission abroad, and answered by the foreign office. They would of course be sanctioned by the Treasury.
replied, that this was a most dangerous mode of proceeding, and contrary to the usage of that House. If ministers had a right to take 1,000l. in that way, by the same rule they might issue 1,000,000l., or any sum they pleased. The answer of the noble lord was not therefore a satisfactory one. The more proper and constitutional mode of proceeding would be, to take a vote of that House for whatever sum they might find necessary.
§ Mr. Huskisson
observed, that the proceeding in this case was of the same nature as what took place with respect to the army extraordinancs. They consisted of items which had not been foreseen, and could not therefore be made matter of estimate in the first instance. The mode pursued was, to take a vote for a certain sum; and, in the next session of parlia- 100 ment, the items under that head were laid before the House. In this instance, he thought that the expenses incurred might as properly be paid out of the civil contingencies, as matters that were connected with the defence of the kingdom. As to the law expenses, there might, but he could not speak positively on the subject, be another fund from which they might be defrayed; because a large sum had been voted to defray law expenses of a public nature.
§ Mr. Creevey
said, there was a difference between the explanation by the noble lord and that which had been offered by the right hon. gentleman. The former had pointed to the secret-service money as the fund from whence the expenses were to be defrayed; while, the latter spoke of the civil contingencies. Be that, however, as it might, it was clear that, if the money were to be granted out of any public fund, ministers ought to come with some proposition to parliament on the subject. He was sure that the noble lord's construction of the act by which the secret-service money was regulated was not correct. If it were, if ministers could take such sums of money as those that had been mentioned, from that fund, under the plea that this proceeding came within the meaning of secret service, the most dangerous consequences might follow. If, when his majesty chose to follow his wife abroad, and to make efforts to procure evidence against her, such a proceeding, could be supposed to come under the act, as one, the expenses of which should be defrayed out of the secret-service money, it was time that the act should be revised, and that some means should be devised by parliament to prevent such an abuse of that fund. With respect to his hon. friend's motion, of course, he would only be able to procure the gross amount of the expenditure. But here he might be allowed to observe that, if the bill did not come to this House, it would then be a mere private business; there would be no claim whatever on that House to make good the expense. What then would ministers do? The only course left them would be, to apply to the king's private purse—a course which, he believed, they would not very readily pursue.
wished to know, at what precise period the noble lord deemed the proceeding to be one to which secret-service money was no longer applicable.
said, the proceeding became of a public nature from the time the message was sent down to both Houses of Parliament. The sums taken from the fund for secret service would be laid before parliament in the same manner as the expenses incurred for the defence of her majesty.
said, it had the full knowledge and approbation of his majesty's ministers from the beginning. It was adopted in order to prepare for carrying on the proceeding in its present form, if the charges were gravely supported; and, on the other hand to set the matter at rest if they were found to rest on no solid foundation.
Sir Gerard Noel
said, his decided opinion was, that the House would act criminally, if it consented to burthen the public with one shilling of the expense.
said, he was ready to agree to a motion for an account of the expenses incurred on both sides in the proceeding now pending against the Queen, as far as the same could be made out.
§ Mr. Whitbread
accordingly withdrew his motion, and the motion suggested by lord Castlereagh was put and agreed to.