The Marquis of Tavistock
said, he rose in pursuance of his notice and of the wishes of many of his friends, to move a resolution expressive of the sense of that House, on the measures which had lately emanated from his majesty's government. Never had he felt so much the want of powers to embody his sentiments in language, and his perfect incapacity to do common justice to the subject which he had presumed to bring under the consideration of the House. It was, however, fortunate for him, that the discussions which that subject had already undergone in the House and throughout the country, 362 had rendered it so plain and so completely understood by the people at large, that nothing was wanting but a resolution of that House, expressive of the strong feeling of indignation which pervaded the community from one end of the island to the other, relative to the late proceedings against the Queen. When he recollected the resolutions, which, on the proposition of the hon. member for Bramber, the House had adopted—when he remembered, that they had declared, that the proceedings, which had not at that period commenced, would be "derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire"—when he recalled to his mind the apprehensions which that hon. member then entertained, and the hope which he then expressed, that those proceedings might turn out to be unnecessary, he was persuaded the House would agree with him, that all the fears of the hon. member had been more than verified. The dignity of the Crown had indeed suffered—the interests of the country had indeed been injured, to a degree greater than any one could have contemplated.
In the observations which he felt it his duty to submit to the House on the present occasion, it was his intention to abstain, as much as possible, from alluding, to the proceedings which had taken place in the other House of Parliament, and id confine himself to the consideration of that conduct on the part of his majesty's ministers, which, into whatever society he went, he heard invariably, unequivocally, and universally condemned. It would now be seen, how far the feelings of that House were in unison with those of the country at large. It would now be seen, whether the calculations of the advocates of parliamentary reform were fallacious; or whether their opinions were grounded on facts. He would not go so far back into the subject as to advert to the best days of our now unfortunate Queen, when she was secure from persecution, or if persecuted, when she was secure of a defender. He would not contrast the present conduct of her majesty's persecutors with their conduct in the days of her prosperity, when she had the happiness of enjoying, the protection of the Grown. All' those circumstances had long been before the public, and the public had long formed a very strong; opinion upon them. Nor, with reference to the act of striking her majesty's name out of 363 the Liturgy, as that subject had already been discussed and decided upon by the House, would he say any thing that might weaken the effect of the arguments urged by those with whom he coincided in opinion on the question, and more especially of the powerful and unanswerable speech of the hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Wetherell) on the other side of the House. He would just observe, however, that as he had always understood the golden rule of justice to be, that when a doubt existed in any case, it was the right of the accused individual to have the benefit of that doubt, he should always consider the omission of her majesty's name in the Liturgy as a pre-judgment, which was not only unjustifiably cruel towards her majesty herself, but pregnant, as it had since proved to be, with the most unqualified mischiefs to the country. It was a measure no less rash and impolitic than it was unjust and illegal; and, with respect to the decision to which the House had come upon the motion of his noble friend, he hailed it as the first bright omen of that reform which he had long been convinced must sooner or later take place. He sincerely hoped, that he should see their table covered with petitions for reform from every parish in the kingdom, and that the result would be, such a change in the representation as might make the House of Commons no longer the obedient instrument of the servants of the Crown, but render it the legitimate and invariable organ of public opinion.
He would pass on to the next manifestation of the hostility of his majesty's government to the Queen. He meant the production of the green bags. He would ask the noble lord opposite and his colleagues, whether, when they laid before the two houses of parliament those green bags, filled with the most degrading and obscene charges against her majesty, they did or did not believe, that the evidence was sufficient to substantiate the accusation? If they did not believe, that the evidence was sufficient, they were guilty of little less than treason to the king, to the Queen, and to the country. If they did believe, that the evidence was sufficient, they were, if possible, still more guilty: they had disregarded the honour of the Crown and the interests of the public; for they said in effect to the Queen, "We have in our possession, proof strong as holy writ, of a degrading intercourse having subsisted, and of a most licentious course 364 of conduct having been pursued by you; but, if you will do as we wish you—if you will consult our convenience, by staying abroad—we will give you 50,000l. a-year of the money of the people of England, to squander in a manner which we know will be dishonourable to the British Crown, and disgraceful to the British nation." In the course of the proceedings which had taken place in the other House of Parliament, the country had seen most extraordinary and disgusting things. It had seen the public accusers of the Queen of England sitting in judgment upon her; it had seen those, who had already stigmatised her as a criminal, sitting as judges and jurors in her cause; it had seen those who were deeply interested in her conviction, exerting themselves to obtain it. Was that becoming? Was that a tribunal before which any individual, under similar circumstances, would wish to be brought.
Without going over the whole of the anomalous proceedings which took place on that occasion—without adverting to all the means of indirect policy which were continually resorted to, it was impossible for him to refrain from expressing the disgust which the details, that day after day were elicited, excited, and his conviction of the irreparable injury to the morals of the country, which the circulation of those details must inevitably inflict. When, however, the bill of Pains and Penalties was withdrawn from the other House of Parliament, the country undoubtedly expected, that with the abandonment of the bill, which the prime minister felt himself compelled to move, the question, as one of hostility towards her majesty was set at rest for ever. But, now they were told, that her majesty was not to be restored to all those rights and privileges to which she was justly and legally entitled. The noble lord opposite talked of a "technical acquittal!" His majesty's ministers, having been compelled, by the strong expression of public sentiment, to withdraw the bill of Pains and Penalties, now presumed to act against her majesty, as if that bill had passed both Houses of Parliament, and had become a law. Of all the pernicious doctrines he had ever heard, that which justified the practice of attempting to whisper away the character of any one who had been tried and acquitted, appeared to him to be the most obnoxious and monstrous. What security could any individual in the country possess; if such 365 a doctrine were once to be tolerated? He protested most strongly, therefore, against this new principle of justice maintained by the noble lord, who, after the legal acquittal of her majesty, took upon him to say, that that acquittal was merely a technical acquittal, because the evidence had made an impression on his mind opposite to that which it had made on the minds of the nation. He trusted, that this novel doctrine would not be engrafted into our constitution; he trusted, that we should adhere tenaciously to the old English maxim, which presumed every accused person to be innocent until he was proved to be guilty. And, if there was any one individual to whom the benefit of that maxim ought more assuredly to be extended than to any other, it was the illustrious person whose conduct was in question. The noble lord, however, said, that her majesty was criminal, and in the same breath he proposed to give her 50,000l. a-year of the public money! Instead of making her any allowance, her majesty, if the charges preferred against her by the noble lord and his colleagues were well founded, ought to have been impeached.
But it was evident, that her majesty's prosecutors, having entirely failed in substantiating their allegations, were now busy in endeavouring to destroy her character by dark hints and unjust insinuations. The language now held by his majesty's ministers was very different from that which they held before the commencement of the proceedings against her majesty. The House was then told, either that the bill must pass, or that her majesty must enjoy all the rights and privileges which undoubtedly belonged to her as Queen Consort. It was now, however, asserted, that though the bill of Pains and Penalties had not passed, yet, that her majesty ought not to be re-instated in her rights. Was such temporising conduct—were such principles, varying and fluctuating from day to day to suit the circumstances of the time, worthy of statesmen? The time would come, however, when all these shifts would prove unavailing. The time would yet come when her majesty must be restored to the possession of that dignity, and of those rights of which she ought never, for a moment, to have been deprived. The charges which his majesty's ministers had ventured to prefer against their, royal mistress ought never to have 366 seen the light. In his conscience, he believed, that their conduct had been in direct violation of their own better judgment. They had dragged the most illustrious persons in the empire through the mire. They had done irreparable injury to some of our most valuable institutions. They had introduced political animosity even within the sacred walls of the church. Of this, he had witnessed instances in his own neighbourhood. For the sake of retaining office, his majesty's ministers had brought the constituted authorities and the church into jeopardy, and almost into contempt. For the sake of retaining office, they had made, what he feared was an irreparable breach between the prince and the people. And all this mighty mischief they had perpetrated without the slightest shadow of a pretence of necessity. If there was a man in the House who could conscientiously lay his hand on his heart and declare, that he believed there was any necessity for the proceedings which had been instituted against her majesty he should be very much astonished. Of this, he had no doubt, that the personal feelings of his majesty had been much misrepresented; and, indeed, one of the worst features of the whole transaction was, the abuse which had been made of his majesty's name. All kinds of whispers and hints had been resorted to by the advisers of the Crown, to get rid of their responsibility. Was that fair? Was it manly? Did they do their duty to their sovereign by thus endeavouring to shuffle off their constitutional responsibility from themselves? To all this, he supposed, they would make their accustomed reply—an overwhelming majority, in defiance of the declared and universal sense of the country, and in contradiction, as he firmly believed, to the private sentiments and conviction of almost every man in the House. If that should be the case, he wished the noble lord much joy of it. He should thenceforward feel very little inclination to give the noble, lord any trouble; seeing that the House of Commons, constituted as it at present was, considered the will of the noble lord to be every thing, and the sense of the people to be nothing.
He would trespass very little longer on the patience of the House. He would leave it to those who would follow him in the debate, and especially to his hon. friend, the member for Durham, who had 367 given him hopes, that he would second his motion, to do that justice to the subject of which he felt himself incapable, tie had endeavoured, as briefly as possible, to represent the gross injustice and impolicy of the proceedings against her majesty. Recollecting what had been predicted with respect to those proceedings, and how completely the prediction had been verified, he had endeavoured to impress the House with the necessity of immediate interference. He very readily assured the House, that his object was not merely to obtain an expression of their sense of the late proceedings against her majesty, but to drive the present ministers from power; not for the paltry and miserable object of putting his own friends in their places, but, because he hoped, that if there were a change of men there would be a change of measures. For any other purpose he had much rather see his friends where they were, than in situations which a long course of misgovernment had rendered very far indeed from enviable. As for himself, he had no personal object whatever in view; he felt so wholly unqualified and so utterly unfit for business, that he had long made a fixed determination not to accept of office under any administration. A seat in that House was valuable to him only as it enabled him to perform what he considered to be his duty to the public; and he would, with great willingness, retire into the ranks of private life, seeing, that in that House public opinion had less influence than perhaps in the legislative assembly of any nation in Europe.
He must apologise to the House for having troubled them at such length. Of this he could assure them, that warmly as he was attached to his friends around him, and great as was the deference which he was accustomed to pay to their judgment, if his motion were to prove successful.—if they were to come into power to-morrow, and if they were to attempt to remain in power, without endeavouring to do something which should put the principle of reform into action, he for one, would cease to support them. To the people it was a matter of indifference in what hands the government was placed, provided the freedom and happiness of the country at home, and its honour and character abroad were duly consulted; and provided, that a spirit of conciliation towards those who were at present justly discontented, and a spirit 368 of justice towards her who was now unjustly persecuted, were openly and unequivocally manifested. If a disloyal and disaffected disposition did actually prevail in the country, to whom was it attributable? When had it commenced? Who; did not recollect with what patience, and even cheerfulness, the people of England had long horn the oppressive burden imposed upon them? Their conduct in the circumstances in which they had been placed, could never be sufficiently admired. Their temper and forbearance under their various difficulties, could be surpassed only by the generosity which had stimulated them to step forward with one accord, in the protection of a defenceless woman. The noble lord had announced his intention of meeting the motion with a direct negative. The eyes of the whole nation were at that moment fixed upon the House of Commons. Justice was loudly demanded from them; and, if they wished to preserve even a remnant of character, they would not hesitate to grant it [hear, hear!]. The noble marquis concluded with moving:—That it appears to this House, that his majesty's ministers, in advising the measures which have led to the late proceedings against her majesty the Queen, were not justified by any political expediency or necessity; and that their conduct throughout the whole of those proceedings has been productive of consequences derogatory from the honour of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the country.
§ Mr. Lambton
said, he rose to second the motion—not only because he concurred in the sentiments so ably, so feelingly, and so eloquently expressed by his noble friend, but, because he thought it necessary, after what had taken place, to pursue measures of an entirely different character, by which alone the present ferment could be allayed, and those constitutional principles restored which had been violated by the noble lord in the very commencement, of those proceedings. The knowledge he had of his noble friend's independent principles—the knowledge he had of his hereditary love of freedom—would induce him to second any proposition made to the House by his noble friend, without stating his own sentiments' on the subject—secure, as he must always feel, that in following the course pursued by his noble friend, he never would be in danger of doing any thing injurious- 369 to the rights of the people, or detrimental to the just interests of the Crown. But, on this occasion, his constituents would perhaps complain if he did not repeat, in that House, the same sentiments which he had addressed to them when publicly assembled; and he could assure the House, that he would request their attention but for a very short time. It would be unnecessary for him to remind the House of the circumstances in which the late proceedings originated. It now appeared, that ministers, with the full knowledge of the matter submitted to the consideration of the secret committee, and also with the full opportunity of a personal examination of Majoochi, who had, as he himself admitted, visited at Carlton-house on the day of the late king's funeral—namely, on the 21st of February—(Hear, hear!)—it now, he repeated, appeared, that with all this knowledge on the part of ministers, and five days after Majoochi had appeared in Pall-mall, the noble lord opposite did not hesitate to declare in his place in parliament, that no "harshness or inattention" was in his contemplation; and, that no impediment should be thrown by his Majesty's government in the way of a suitable provision for that, "illustrious personage," the term then applied by the noble lord to her majesty. This declaration was made with the full knowledge of the facts since disclosed, and the opportunity of a personal examination of Majoochi. He meant to make no mistake either in dates or circumstances. He could assure his majesty's ministers, that he meant to canvass their acts fairly, and if, in doing so, he fell into error, he begged to assure them, that such error would be unintentional.
In February last, the noble lord openly declared, in parliament, that his majesty's government meant to place no impediment in the way of a suitable provision for her majesty; and indeed, the Queen herself seemed to give them some credit for this, when in her letter from Rome she notices and complains of the omission of her name in the Liturgy;* These sentiments of ministers were not only avowed in February, but the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answer to a question from a noble lord (A. Hamilton) on the 9th of May, also declared, that a suitable provi-*See Vol. 1, p. 1317.370 sion was necessary for her majesty.* It soon, however, turned out, that all these expressions of consideration for her majesty's establishment—all these manifestations of respect for her station, and kindness for her character—were dependent upon the Queen's staying away from England. The moment the omission of the Queen's name in the Liturgy compelled her majesty to announce her intention of coming over to England to assert her rights in person from that unprovoked and uncalled-for attack—from that moment all the promises of ministers became a dead letter. It was then that lord Hutchinson was deputed (by whom nobody knows, for the ministers have never disclosed that information) to convey to her majesty a proposition, which, on the one hand, levelled threats of the most serious import against the Queen if she ventured to touch the British shore; and, on the other, offered her a bribe of 50,000l. a year, without molestation or exposure, provided she resided any where upon the continent, and dropped the title of Queen, and name and style of any of the royal family of England. In this extraordinary and inconsistent offer, it would be seen, that there was no allusion to any alteration in her majesty's conduct during her future proposed residence abroad; no conditional clause, that the bribe or the provision should depend upon an abandonment of practices and habits which were calculated to compromise the dignity of the Crown, and affect the interests and morals of the country [Hear]. But the excuse alleged for this inconsistency was, the obligation they were under, to protect the dignity of the Crown, and the interests of morality—How then did they effect this? He entreated the House to mark this part of the conduct of ministers. They professed themselves to be, at that moment, in possession of evidence of the conduct of the Queen, when princess of Wales, on the Lake of Como, in 1814, which was of such a nature, that in 1820, it was derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the interests and morals of the country [Hear, hear!]. How did they propose to abate the evil to which they attributed so baneful an effect? Not by removing the Queen from the scene of her alleged misconduct—not by placing her at a distance from the alleged object of her imputed guilty attachment; but,*See Vol. 1, p. 242.371 by denouncing threats against her life if she removed into a country where it was impossible (assuming she were guilty) she could continue that improper career which was represented as furnishing so pestiferous an example, and by giving her a splendid bribe, on the express terms, that she should remain on the spot which, according to their representations, had been the scene of so much profligacy and indecorum, and where alone she could continue it unnoticed and unmolested [Hear, hear].
In reviewing the conduct of his majesty's ministers at that period towards her majesty, he could not help saying, that in his mind, nothing could exhibit a baser tissue of hypocrisy. If the information upon which his majesty's ministers acted, were worth any thing, and they thought the conduct of the Queen was so productive of immoral example, that it could not be passed over in silence, then, in common consistency they should have gone straight on with their charge, instead of making it the object of improper compromise. They never should have given way to motives of personal convenience—(although such motives were, he believed, to them every thing)—they should never have admitted the idea of any compromise from the moment the Queen avowed her determination to confront her accusers in England. They should have met her majesty's declaration of her determination to returns by the appointment of an open and fair trial according to the recognised principles of law and the constitution. This they should have done, if the case appeared to them according to their own showing, instead of having proposed a compromise, and offered bribe which must, if successful, have rendered vice and immorality triumphant, by supplying the best and most certain means of indulging both in shelter and in safety. The Queen, however, by her conduct, defeated those mean and hypocritical attempts. She landed in England in indignant defiance of them, and her journey from Dover to London was one continued scene of triumphant acclamations on the part of the people of England, whose morals and interests she was represented to have compromised. No voice from one end of the country to the other was raised for an inquiry into any conduct of the Queen—no petition was transmitted to either House of Parliament upon the subject—not a whisper was heard to insinuate the necessity of 372 that inquiry which his majesty's ministers deemed so indispensable to redeem the public morals of the country. To these attempts on the part of his majesty's ministers, the Queen opposed the most constant, consistent, and undaunted resistance; she throughout asserted her own character, and defied the hatred of her enemies.
It was impossible for him, in any view which he could take of this lamentable transaction, to justify the proceedings adopted by members; they were throughout senseless and inconsistent. Where was the state necessity upon which they declared they were compelled to act? Let them show it, and put it in any form to the test of consideration. The charges against the Queen, then, consisted of nothing but rumours. Ministers at the time knew, that their own depositions—those depositions upon which they were prepared to rest their cause, did not relate to any imputed misconduct of the Queen of later years. They pretended to have no evidence against her during the last three years of her residence abroad: her time of life for had any notion that the interest of the succession could be disturbed by any spurious issue; any idea of that kind was impossible. Ministers must have known all this, and it was quite impossible, but, that they must have been equally sensible, that any public attempt to degrade the Queen would call forth the opposition of the public, and necessarily lead to the agitation of the most irritating topics, at a moment when they ought to have been peculiarly avoided. That this must be the result could not have failed to be obvious to any reflecting mind; unless it could be supposed, that the people of England would abandon their wonted generosity of character, and would have deserted a forlorn and unprotected woman who was assailed and ready to be overwhelmed by powerful oppressors. He was therefore utterly at a loss to see in what manner ministers could press the plea of state expediency into their justification. State expediency, if it meant any thing, meant the necessity of pursuing a particular object which was for the public good by means consistent with the end in view, essential for the well-being of society, and calculated to unite the maintenance of the dignity of the Crown and the interests and honour of the people. Had ministers pursued any such state expediency in their late proceedings? 373 Had they consulted the dignity of the Crown, and the interests of the people? As to the mode of proceeding which they had adopted—the bill of Pains and Penalties—he did not go the length of denying, that such bills were actually unprecedented; he did not mean to say, that they might not be justified upon a paramount and imperative state necessity; but he would say, that nothing short of that paramount and imperative state necessity could justify such a proceeding. Upon no other ground than such a powerful state necessity could a bill of Pains and Penalties be supported. Such a proceeding was in its nature against the best principles of the constitution, which pronounced, that the legislative and judicial functions ought to be kept separate—that the offices of prosecutor, juror, and judge were incompatible [hear], and that a bill was not reconcileable with the principles of British law, the preamble of which declared the crime and then enacted the punishment.
He had endeavoured to prove, that no reasons of state necessity or even expediency called for any trial of the Queen; the only excuse, therefore, for the invasion of the constitution by that bill fell to the ground; and the measure remained exposed to all the odium of being uncalled-for by any principles of policy—but of being contrary to the dictates of justice, and instituted apparently from motives of a vindictive nature, because the Queen had returned to her adopted country from which no law had exiled her. Bad as was the principle of that bill, vindictive and unjustifiable as was its application, the circumstances which led to it and attended its progress were equally inconsistent and extraordinary. On the 7th of June two green bags were brought down to both Houses of Parliament. The House of Lords (he understood, for he could have no parliamentary knowledge of the fact) were so enraptured with their green bag, that they could hardly for a moment be induced to keep their hands from opening it. The House of Commons, however, had not the same anxious curiosity, and showed a distaste for investigating the contents of their bag; and the hon. member for Bramber (Mr. Wilberforce) introducted a motion upon the subject, and expressed, in very strong terms, his opinion upon the evil tendency of such an investigation; and, more especially, the great danger to the public 374 morals which was likely to arise from the exposure of such disgusting details. Proceedings being stayed upon the honourable member's motion, negotiations were immediately opended with her majesty the Queen. Ministers, on that occasion, offered an ample provision to the Queen, and the fullest recognition of her royal dignity in several of the privileges which it conferred; but the Queen again firmly and promptly rejected all compromise, and the negotiation in consequence of that rejection was eventually broken off. Then came the resolution, avowedly to prevent in that House the opening of the green bag. The hon. member (Mr. Wilberforce), in moving it, he well recollected, had used this expression—that if a smile were on his lips at the term, green bag, there was a pang in his heart while there was any prospect of its being opened. In the majority concurring in the honourable member's resolution on that memorable night, were to be found his majesty's ministers. So that it was the recorded parliamentary opinion of ministers, that this inquiry ought, if possible, to be stayed: they had already shown the strongest desire to stifle it, if the Queen could be prevailed upon to remain where she might continue at will the immoral conduct which they ascribed to her. It was a strange spectacle to behold the same ministers who had, in the first instance, issued a commission to obtain evidence against her majesty—who then offered to stifle all inquiry, provided her majesty would remain abroad, and who, on her majesty's despising their menaces, and bravely and nobly appealing to the people of England, instantly commenced a hostile proceeding againsther—in fifteen days from that last event, concur in a parliamentary resolution, that a continuance of that proceeding would be derogatory from the honour of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the country [Hear, hear!]. Was such weak and vacillating policy calculated to maintain the dignity of the country, to assert the principles of justice, or to preserve the tranquillity of the country? Directly the contrary.
Nothing could be more false than the plea, that the bill was called-for to uphold the morals of the country. So far from its having had any such effect, the proceed-ingsunder that bill had done more to relax the strict system of morals which had happily so long pervaded this country, and alienate from the people, the affection 375 which they were wont to bear to royalty, than any other measure which had occurred in modern times. It rudely tore that veil which hid the private actions of the monarch from the gaze of too scrutinizing eyes, which concealed from the public eye his participation in the frailties and weaknesses of their common nature, but which, when exposed subtract from the respect and veneration which form the chief ornaments and protection of royalty—that veil had been rudely torn oft, and the assumed records of past transactions were brought to light, which otherwise would have been suffered to sleep in oblivion. The print-shops were ransacked for emblems to call into public view the represented records of past anecdotes, which would have else mouldered in the obscurity in which they lay, were it not for the rude removal of that veil which had hitherto formed a part of the decent drapery of royalty. And if this recrimination, which the public appetite had called forth against a person whose name should ever be held sacred, was not adopted by that individual who was, from the malignant extent of her wrongs, of all others the best entitled to adopt it, that House should recollect, they owed it to the principle of her forbearance—to the forbearance of that lady, who was, nevertheless, the object of unmanly taunts, but who, if she had adopted the recrimination to which she might have resorted at that critical period, would, he verily believed, have involved this country in all the horrors of civil convulsion.
But, although the Queen had refrained from retorting recrimination, great moral injury had been inflicted by the exposure of the evidence for the prosecution. He would appeal to every honourable member who heard him, if it had not become the duty of every protector of a family to keep from their eyes the news-papers containing the disgusting details of the trial—details which disclosed obscenity, that, if it had not been thus forced into sight, could never have entered into the minds of any persons, except, indeed, those filthy beings who uttered it. Who were the witnesses upon whose faith ministers called for the condemnation of the Queen upon their own detestable story? Discarded servants, boatmen, chambermaids, waiters—all of them of the worst character. Impure as was the source from (which the evidence came, the defective and rotten static of its character formed 376 the most serious charge against ministers in the whole proceedings. Why not have examined into the characters of these witnesses? It might have been done as easily as to swallow their corrupt tales. At the period when this obscenity was alleged to have been committed, the Queen had respectable persons in her household. Why were they not examined as well as the others, if the inquiry were meant to be proper and complete? Was treachery on the part of some of her majesty's household to be the only recommendation capable of engaging the confidence of ministers? and was fidelity of character and respectability of station to be alone proscribed by them when truth was to be developed? The public were naturally disgusted at the nature and character of the evidence, and of the witnesses who gave it. They saw in the progress of the proceedings—and there he agreed with them—evident traces of a conspiracy to dethrone and degrade the Queen of England, by subornation and perjury. They saw in the acts of the Milan commision, the operation of a power, exercised, not for the elucidation of truth, but for the discovery of accusation. The public looked with great suspicion and distrust at the whole proceedings of that Milan commission; and every petition, from one end of England to the other, contained a call for that inquiry into its conduct, which, ere long, he hoped to see take place [Hear, hear!].
He doubted not, but, that the noble lord opposite would attempt to defend and justify his measures; not on their own intrinsic merit, but on the comparative demerits of those opposed to him in that House—that he would assert with that confidence, which peculiarly belonged to his character, that the late proceedings were infinitely more just towards the Queen, than those adopted in 1806—on that head he (Mr. Lambton) should not be unwilling to meet him in argument. But that was not the question—for, even supposing the noble Lord's assertion were correct, the people of England would not, nor could not concur in comprehending how one act of injustice could be brought to justify another. If the proceeding was in itself bad, it was quite enough to call for their unqualified condemnation of it, however often the evil might have been inflicted. In his review of these censurable proceedings, he should not trouble the House with any 377 reflections upon what had passed in the House of Lords; for ministers could not perhaps be held responsible for what had passed before that tribunal, however fortunately it happened to concur with their view of the subject. He should therefore overlook the treatment of the Queen, by the refusal to her of a list of witnesses—the rejection of her demand of a specification of charges—the abstraction of witnesses—the interference of German courts—and the other gross injuries which, to borrow for once the phraseology of the noble lord opposite, were the additional features of "this detestable case [Hear, hear]. If ministers were not responsible for these acts which so much aggravated the treatment of which the Queen had a right to complain, they could not shrink from the responsibility they had incurred by the late ungracious prorogation of parliament. For that act he held them deeply responsible. Was that the manner best suited to maintain the kingly dignity to the first parliament after his majesty's accession? Was that the way to repay the confidence of that parliament which had so liberally, perhaps profusely, furnished the Civil List? Was it by a cold and repulsive dismissal that the king was to be advised to acknowledge the first step of his parliament to administer to his state and dignity? Above all, was it constitutional, was it proper, that ministers should, upon the failure of their own plans, endeavour to make the sovereign a party personally identified in their proceeding and equally disappointed in its result? To represent the sovereign as directly participating in the personal feelings of his ministers was most unconstitutional—it was quite at variance with the spirit which ought to direct a British ministry. The constitution wisely provided, that the interposition of the sovereign should never appear to the public eye, except in the benignant exercise of a generous and humane feeling, of acts to grace and favour. It was wisely ordained, that, for the acts of severity which belonged to the due administration of justice, the ministers of the king should be held responsible, while for the extension of mercy he alone should be considered as the dispenser of that attribute. Why then had ministers, in their advice to the king, as well as their treatment of parliament, abandoned or rather reversed, this salutary doctrine of the constitution, which was so well calculated 378 to secure to the Crown the respect and affections of the people? Why was this step taken at a moment when the public voice calling for grace and favour to the Queen had penetrated the walls and influenced the decision of that very body which, for a variety of reasons, was considered less accessible than any other in the state to the influence of the popular voice? Why, then, at such a moment was the king advised to treat her majesty as if she had been guilty, when no branch of the legislature had yet legally pronounced that verdict against her? [Hear, hear.]
It was in vain to say, that the bill might be considered as carried in the other House. The ministers must stand or fall by their own measure: they had selected the proceeding by a bill of Pains and Penalties, and by the fate of that bill they must now abide. Indeed, one of them had said, during the former discussions in the House, that he saw no alternative between the inquiry into the conduct of her majesty, and her admission into the full enjoyment and exercise of her rights and privileges as Queen Consort. He now called upon that minister to admit her majesty to the rank which she claimed by right, now that the bill against her had entirely failed. Why not now restore the Queen's name to the Liturgy when the proceedings furnished no justification for its omission? The public saw, with deep regret, their churches rendered accessible to party spirit; and that the Queen's name was deemed unworthy that place in the Liturgy, to which the law and usage of the constitution, as well as the principles of justice, fully and unequivocally entitled it.
He begged pardon for trespassing so long upon the time of the House. He seldom troubled them; for it was rather his desire to explain his sentiments to his I constituents when he had an opportunity of meeting them, than to press them upon the unwilling attention of the House, where he knew they were addressed to an adverse majority. He could not however, on the present occasion, refrain from declaring his opinion, that the conduct of his majesty's ministers had been throughout indefensible—that the bill they had instituted against the Queen was in its principle unjust, inexpedient, and uncalled-for, and in its consequences most prejudicial and dangerous to the personal liberty of the subject and the general tranquillity of the state. These 379 sentiments he held in common with the great majority of the people of England—of that people who had, not like the framers of loyal addresses, gone into corners to arrange their proceedings in secrecy and darkness, but which secret and private addresses, by the way, much as they had been relied upon, said not one word against the Queen, nor one for his majesty's ministers. No; not a word having reference to either could be found in all these essays of loyalty and devotion and implicit and servile obedience [Hear]. The decision of this night would inform the people of England at which side that House meant to throw its weight—whether with the people and their constitution, or with the loyal addressers and their unknown advisers. As an advocate for reform, he perhaps might wish, that the decision to which they would shortly have to come were against the motion which he had now the honour of seconding, for then it would be a corroboration of the fact upon which he meant to found the necessity of a future motion of which he had given notice—a fact of which he had himself been long convinced, namely, that that House had not a proper sympathy with the public feeling of the country. But, when he looked at the injurious effect which must ultimately attend a rejection of the public petitions—when he reflected how surely such a vote would exasperate the already excited feelings of the country, and produce a feeling of desperation, arising from the certainty, that no relief could ever be expected from the justice and impartiality of parliament, which might lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences—he should most earnestly pray the House not to furnish a corroboration to his opinion of their want of sympathy with the people, but to accede to the just request of the country, and heal those wounds which had been inflicted by a course of impolicy and injustice.—The hon. gentleman, in conclusion, repeated his apology for having trespassed so long upon the attention of the House, and stated, that in laying before them the grounds of his opinion upon the public conduct of his majesty's ministers, he had carefully abstained from any personal attack, and urged the impolicy of their conduct upon the broad grounds of constitutional argument [Loud cheers from both sides of the House].
said, that neither he nor his colleagues could complain of the manner in which both the noble mover and the hon. seconder of the resolution had brought forward their attack upon the measures of his majesty's ministers. It was quite clear, that the object of the present motion was;—first, the removal of ministers, and then, as a necessary consequence, a reform in parliament. He must lament, that, in the invidious task which he had undertaken, he must necessarily discuss topics from which otherwise he should most anxiously refrain. He could assure the hon. gentleman who spoke last, that in defending the recent conduct of ministers, he had no intention of justifying it by any rule of comparison with any thing that had been done on a former occasion; for the circumstances might be totally different, and, as had been well said, one act of injustice (if there was one) could not justify the committal of a second. With reference to the conduct of her majesty, as it had been related by persons of respectability who had visited the continent, and which had been represented to have been carried to the utmost possible length of impropriety—was that a matter so unimportant as not to be worth the attention of government? Could any thing be more proper when such accounts were transmitted to this country, than to institute an inquiry into their nature—always supposing such inquiry to be properly conducted? [Hear, hear, from the Opposition benches.] He knew that the bulk of the people entertained a different opinion upon this question from that entertained by the higher classes of the community, whose means and opportunities enabled them to form a more accurate judgment upon facts. The Milan commission was composed of persons of great honour, and who were utterly free from any bias or motive which could unduly influence their opinion. Had this commission declared, that there was no foundation for the accusation, then of course it would have fallen to the ground; but when, on the contrary, it disclosed such a mass of information as, in any private case, would imperatively call for further investigation, he must contend, that ministers were bound to submit the case for ulterior inquiry. When her majesty declared her intention of coming to this country, as if there was no charge to be made against her, and assumed the 381 highest ground of innocence, claiming all the rights and privileges of Queen Consort, it was the first object, as it was the duty of ministers, to take every means of preventing an injury to the morality of the country; and in this they were sanctioned by the subsequent vote of that House. They endeavoured to prevent the investigation from coming on, by proposing to her majesty what, under all the circumstances of the case, they conceived to be a proper pecuniary allowance, provided she would consent to remain abroad; and, at the time this offer was made, his majesty's ministers certainly had reason to believe, that it would not be refused. Her majesty's setting foot on English ground was not in itself charged as an offence; but by that step she placed herself in a situation which compelled ministers, either to bring forward the charges, or to concede to her all the rights and privileges to which she would have been entitled if no ground of charge had existed. Ministers felt confident, that they had gone as far as they could to prevent the necessity of making the charges, but they were also confident, that they had then no alternative. With regard to the resolution of that House, which had pronounced that the investigation would be "derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire," he denied, that it expressed any opinion to the effect, that if her majesty refused to comply with the suggestion of the House, there should be no proceedings instituted at all: that he was sure, could not be the opinion of his hon. friend (Mr. Wilberforce) who moved the resolution, or of the large majority of the House who agreed to it. If it were laid down as a principle in legal and judicial proceedings, that no trial should take place which might be attended with injurious effects, there would be an end to the administration of justice; for there was scarcely any trial, particularly in criminal cases, that did not do some injury. In some instances, the very knowledge of the arts by which certain crimes are committed was attended with evil to the public. But, the question in such cases was, whether circumstances which might prove injurious to the interests of morality were to be disclosed, or whether the interests of justice were to be neglected? It was evident, that in a case of divorce, there was no power of selecting evidence: he 382 who sat as a judge must listen to all the evidence offered, and must go into disclosures, though they might be not only unpleasant and disgusting, but in some degree injurious to morality—The right hon. gentleman then proceeded to argue that the House of Commons had lent themselves, in the most honourable manner, to the arrangement proposed by ministers before the Queen's arrival in this country; since they had themselves proposed an amicable adjustment on the very same principles. He reviewed the terms proposed to her majesty during the negotiations that were conducted after her arrival in England, and contended, that she might have acceded to them without any compromise of her honour, as the green bag had not then been opened; ministers had only offered to do that which they expected parliament would have confirmed, and that, which by a vote of that House a few nights ago, had been more regularly done. It was necessary for him also to say, that when ministers had made that offer to her majesty, they had every reason to think, that it would not have been unacceptable. But, when that offer had been rejected, government still feeling unwilling to proceed to extremities, supported an address to her majesty, which the House in its wisdom and its moderation, agreed to. But the Queen rejected the advice of that House, and nothing remained but the proceeding by bill, which, under all the circumstances, he contended was as unobjectionable in its nature as any other proceeding that could be possibly adopted. The right hon. gentleman observed, as to the proceedings in the House of Lords, that the circumstance of the ministers of the Crown taking part in the votes on that bill, if it was a vice, was a vice inherent in all parliamentary proceedings, and was not chargeable on the proceeding by bill alone; that by waiting while the House of Lords appointed their secret committee, the House of Commons had recognised the propriety of proceeding, if at all, by bill, as it could not be imagined, that the House should wait until the House of Lords entered into the preliminary investigation, and that the Lords should then send the case down to the Commons for an impeachment to be commenced. The hon. gentleman opposite had said, that though the Queen had been tried and acquitted, she was still deprived of 383 her rights; but this he denied. By the failure of the bill she became entitled to the enjoyment of all her rights as Queen Consort, and every right she accordingly enjoyed; but there was a wide distinction between matters of favour and matters of right—a distinction which the hon. gentleman overlooked when he represented, that she had a title to the insertion of her name in the Liturgy. With respect to what had been said about the result of the proceedings in the other House, he must contend, that the third reading of the bill had nothing at all to do with an acquittal: the question of acquittal was decided in the first stage after the hearing of the evidence. He repeated, that in all bills of divorce the truth or falsehood of the allegations contained in the preamble was decided on the second reading. He contended, therefore, that the vote on the second reading of that bill did pronounce on the guilt of the party, as far as such a proceeding could be called a trial; but the subsequent stages of the measure referred only to the punishment to be annexed, and had nothing to do with the question of guilt or innocence. The hon. gentleman who spoke last, had said, that the abandonment of the bill amounted to an acquittal; but, how was this to be reconciled with the declaration, that it had been abandoned in consequence of the strength of public opinion? Did the gentlemen who stood forward as the friends and advocates of the Queen mean to say, that she had been acquitted on grounds of expediency, and in deference to public opinion, rather than on the ground of her own innocence? How happened it, that honourable gentlemen should call for the restoration of the Queen's name to the Liturgy as a mark of respect, not to call it of honour, merely on the ground of a supposed acquittal, while not one of them asserted his own conviction of her majesty's innocence? They seemed even to avoid the question as to the purity of the individual. He did not mean to say, that gentlemen might not be found, who would go as far as to maintain her innocence, but they were rather an exception to the general rule—the main body of thinking and well-informed persons certainly being persuaded by what had passed to arrive at a contrary conclusion—He now came to the question of the prorogation; and here he must say, that the clamour against it did not arise from the fact, that there 384 was no speech from the throne, because it began before it was known whether there was or was not to be a speech. The objection then being to the prorogation itself, he could only remark, that he knew of no precedent or rule by which ministers were to be governed on the subject, especially when there was no business pending before one branch of the legislature that would be interrupted by such an event. He now advanced to the object of the motion presented for their adoption—the removal of his majesty's ministers. If indeed they-had forfeited the confidence of the House by misconducting the business of the country, let it be shown by the vote that night. He called upon hon. gentlemen to look at the question with that degree of judicious candour which they were always wont to show: it was not whether every individual member, with regard to every particular act, would have adopted the same measures as government had done; the point for them to decide was, whether, upon a general view of the transactions of the last few months, they could say, that ministers had conducted themselves with impropriety or incompetence. If the House really thought, that his majesty's ministers had so acted as to forfeit its confidence and support, then in God's name let it pronounce that opinion decisively. But if, on the other hand, it was found, that they had consulted and upheld the true honour of the Crown, and that they had not been insensible either to the best interests of the country;—if it appeared, that they had been drawn on, step by step, in the late proceedings, owing entirely to the peculiarity of the circumstances which accompanied those proceedings, and not from any pertinacity of their own;—if it appeared, that they had been actuated by no feelings of private interest;—if, looking at the whole tenor of their conduct, the House was not disposed to attribute to it improper motives, then it was impossible, that it could, in honour and in honesty, consent to adopt the vote of censure, that night proposed, namely, that their measures had been "derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the country."
expressed a hope, that the House would with patience hear the first observations of a member, who was alone induced, by the importance of the subject then under consideration, to offer 385 himself to its notice. It was not his intention to enter at large into the topics connected with that momentous question, but he should shortly state the reasons which would influence him upon that night to give his vote for the motion. He agreed with the right hon. member, that nothing but necessity could have justified the bringing forward such charges against the Queen, und that nothing but the interests of the morality of the country could be considered sufficient to exonerate from censure the promoters of that measure, It was, therefore, requisite to examine how the morality of the country was affected by the conduct of the princess of Wales. The accusations charged her majesty with having been guilty of crimes, not indeed so much in Italy, as in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. And how had they been established? How the morality of this country had been affected by the conduct of the Queen in Italy and in the Mediterranean, had been proved by the conduct of ministers after they had brought forward their charges—charges which they had brought forward from mere rumour. They had agreed to pronounce her majesty not guilty. But, said they, the Queen forced herself upon the country; she forced us to bring those charges forward. For himself, he thought otherwise; for he was of opinion, that the Queen had been forced to come to England—by proceedings the most personal and degrading which could be adopted against her, by the erasure of her name from the Liturgy, and by the refusal to recognise her rights as Queen, either in England or at foreign courts. Had her majesty not come to England, the consequence would be, that she would have been branded by all with guilt, that she would have been considered to have acknowledged the truth of those infamous charges, and that she would be necessitated to submit to all the infamy resulting from them. At the time when that line of conduct had been commenced by ministers, this country had been labouring under distress, which excited agitation and dissatisfaction amidst every class of the subjects of the Crown. The public had been in a ferment—and had the proceedings of ministers tended to allay the disturbances? He thought not. Had they not rather contributed to add fuel to this flame? There was, he was thoroughly persuaded, existing in the 386 country, a desperate faction, whose object was, the rum of the existing order of things, the destruction of the religion of the country, and the subversion of the constitution—whose means were, the deriding of every thing solemn, and lavishing abuse on every thing sacred. Was this the moment to have created gratuitous agitation, when this faction had already too much ground to work on—when they required not such a pinion to wing their shafts, a poison so subtle to be infused into the blood of the country—as to the form of proceeding by bill of Pains and Penalties, he thought it also objectionable. He knew it had been said by some great authorities, that there could be no impeachment in this case. Without pretending to more than an ordinary share of legal knowledge, he was convinced, that if any offence had been committed by the Queen, she might have been proceeded against by impeachment. Blackstone, after defining the cases in which peers might be impeached, declared that all other subjects might be impeached for any offence against the rights of the people or the interests of the state. The only ground on which it could be contended that the Queen might not be impeached must be, that she was not a subject, or that she had not committed an offence against the interests of the state.—As to the question whether the Queen was a subject, they had heard so much of it of late, that it was not necessary for him to say a word. It was just as clear that any offence that could be charged against the Queen was an offence against the interests of the state. The proceeding was not a civil action, but tended to a penal infliction; and even the divorce was always represented as a measure merely consequent on the infliction of substantive penalties. A bill of Pains and Penalties had been chosen in preference to impeachment. It was a measure which had been described by sir William Temple, in the case of sir John Fenwick, as ultimum remedium et pessimum—as a proceeding which was not to be chosen when any other mode was to be found. The mischief of the proceeding by bill was never better illustrated than in the case of the earl of Strafford. He was accused by the Commons of nigh treason; but when it was found that the Lords would not convict him, the Commons sent up a hill of Attainder, and the very House of Lords, which would, not 387 find him guilty on a legal charge, consented to pass that bill which inflicted the penalties of treason. Viewing, as he did the proceedings of the ministers, he should yet have considered them with more favour if they had not refused a specification of the criminal acts, by the withholding of which her majesty was subjected to inconvenience, from which she had been only in part relieved by the adjournment during the proceedings. The ministers talked rather lightly in that House of the opinion of the people. He was persuaded, that whatever confidence they had in that House, or in the aristocracy, the body of the people was against them. He formed this judgment, as well from careful observation in his own neighbourhood as from the meetings which had been held throughout the country. He knew that, at meetings of that description the I different parties solicited their friends to attend—that in fact they were packed by one party or the other; but it was a remarkable fact, that at scarce one of those meetings had any one been able to pack a majority in favour of the late measures. The ministers would be grossly deceived, I if they supposed that all those who signed j the addresses containing general expressions of loyalty, intended to support them in their late proceedings. He had signed a loyal address; and he knew, that at the late meeting of the county in which he resided (Shropshire), the gentlemen who signed the address wished it to be expressly stated by the members for Shropshire, if the subject were brought into question in the House of Commons, that they were decidedly hostile to the late measures of the ministry. Any thing which tended, as the proceedings had done, to separate the upper from the lower classes, was, at this moment, in the highest degree perilous. Could any one look round the political horizon, and not see that great and fearful changes were approaching? If they looked at the burthen of the debt alone, a debt of 850 millions, which had been raised on props which were taken away, there was ample cause for alarm. It might be said, that though those props were taken away, it rested on other and more solid ground. But how were they sure that it would rest on this new ground with safety? It had been raised during artificially high prices and we had now come back to the prices of twenty-five years ago. Were they prepared to continue to raise ways and 388 means for an effective increase on the debt of 40 or 50 per cent? It might be said that this was foreign to the subject; but he alluded to these difficulties, to show the view which he took of the situation of the country, and of the consequent necessity of an union and amalgamation of feeling among all classes, to harmonize in the measures which might be called for by our difficulties. As to the station the House of Commons now held in the opinion of the country, there was no doubt that it was looked upon with a certain degree of contempt; and he was afraid that the proceedings of the present session were likely to increase it. He entreated ministers to consider how essential it was to the well-being of the state, that the people should have confidence in the deliberations of the House, and that the heart of the House should beat in unison with the pulsation of the people. He did not allude to the clamour of a mob, but a vigorous, rational, and healthy pulsation. If this advantage were to be produced, it could only be done now by getting rid of a point of honour, a matter of mere form. He thought the Queen entitled to all the rights a Queen Consort ever possessed, as if no proceedings had been instituted against her. Law, justice, and policy, all required it. He would only say, in conclusion, that he had not felt or spoken as a party man: he had stepped forward solely from a conviction that the situation of the country at this moment was most alarming, and that it was absolutely necessary to conciliate the people.
began by complimenting the hon. member who had just sat down, both upon the matter and the manner of what he had delivered to the House. All parties must agree with him in thinking that nothing was more desirable than an union of interests. He had avoided taking a part in these unfortunate discussions; he had viewed them with disgust, and almost with shame. When he recollected the embarrasments of the country, the burdens it had to sustain, the extent of the agricultural distresses, coupled with a glance at the pending proceedings in the south of Europe, he could not help saying that it was matter of vexation and almost of shame, to think that this wise and understanding people should be dragged into these discussions to the neglect of matters of higher and 389 more lasting importance. When therefore a motion like the present was brought for the definitive determination of the House, it was impossible for him not to be anxious to state the reasons on which his vote would be founded. The hon. mover and seconder had brought forward a distinct accusation against ministers: it was a practical substantive resolution; and it was avowed on the other side, that it would be impossible for the servants of the Crown to continue in office, if a stigma were cast upon them by the adoption of the motion. The House, therefore, was called upon to decide on something not at all within its ordinary functions. Nobody who was in the least acquainted with the nature and usual exercise of the powers vested in that House, but must admit that such was the character of that act which they were required to perform by supporting this resolution; a resolution which lion, gentlemen could only assent to by assenting to one of two principles—either they must believe that there had been that excessive misconduct on the part of the ministers which made them unworthy any longer to assist in the councils of his majesty, or else that they had manifested those principles which might reasonably cause such a misconduct to be apprehended. The first question, then, to which he should apply himself was, had there been something of such gross error in their acts as rendered them not worthy to carry on the administration of public affairs? With regard to this point, he did protest that, after the best consideration he had been able to give to the subject, and not being satisfied with the transaction as it stood, being contented neither with the beginning, the continuation, nor the end of that transaction, he must yet, in justice to ministers declare, that he thought it extremely difficult for any body to say what would have been the wiser course to pursue. He would say, that it was peculiarly hard to charge persons in this way upon the failure of an event that had ended unfavourably, when, after that event had so ended, it was difficult to describe what better could have been done. Would it have been endured, after those rumours which had reached England from every quarter, not only from Milan and Naples, but from almost every traveller who came from those countries which her majesty had visited; would it have been proper to receive the Queen on her return hither, 390 as if she had come over with that character which the late queen possessed? Or was there any thing so degrading, or so improper, in the propositions that were made to her by the government, as that they deserved, in consequence, to be treated with extreme contempt, or that that government should be liable now to the censure of the House? Were these propositions in their nature so much worse than those which were offered to ministers on her part some months before? What reason had ministers to suppose that such offers as had been submitted to them, on her part, in the month of February, would be rejected by her, when they were made by themselves in the month of June? Had the Liturgy ever been spoken of at that time? Not a word was said about it. But he begged to say a word or two upon the subject of those propositions. Ministers had a communication with the law-adviser of her majesty, and that gentleman was empowered to make the offers which were first held out, with only this difference, that there was an increase of the sum originally proposed. It was not then said, that it was impossible for her majesty to consent to them. It was not then indignantly declared, that she must reject them. They were not then discovered to be so unworthy of her acceptance. But if they were so, how happened it that her law-adviser should have thought the communication of it one for him to be charged with, and that he did, in effect, go on with it? He would maintain, that, in the first place, his majesty's ministers did all in their power to prevent her majesty's coming into this country; and in so doing, did they do wrong? And here let him be allowed to ask, if the sub-sequent coming of her majesty into the country had not been attended with a multitude of evils? Himself and his hon. friend near him (Mr. Wilberforce) had done all in their power to prevent it.—Returning to the propositions in question, they were told, however, that the ambassador never delivered his credentials. They were informed, that the contents of that communication were not opened to her majesty; and that her majesty did not know, until some months after this, what her own confidential adviser was charged with. That hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Brougham) had some months ago declared that he would explain himself upon 391 this extraordinary matter, whenever a proper opportunity should occur. He would venture to ask, whether that opportunity did not now present itself; whether the time was not now arrived, when that singular legation, that unexplained sort of parapresbeia should be unfolded and defined? Under all the circumstances he had stated, he did think it a little too hard on his majesty's advisers, to suppose that they had acted, from the first, without any reasonable presumption that they were likely to succeed in proving that case which they were desirous of bringing under the notice of parliament. He knew that there had been a question, and one which had been much canvassed, whether ministers had adopted the most advisable mode of proceeding; whether they should have proceeded, as they had done, by a bill of Pains and Penalties, or by impeachment. But as this matter had never come before the House of Commons, it was not necessary for him here to consider it. He could only say, that if it had not been for the strength of some objections, which, at the time the question was discussed in another place, were stated by some noble lords, he should rather have held that impeachment was the better and more correct course of the two. Certain it was, however, that it could not be necessary for him to enter upon the subject; and he did not know but that there might be some grave reasons for the proceeding by bill. It was quite evident that the people, at present, were ready to receive every thing which was favourable to the Queen, or that was aimed against his majesty's ministers; and, therefore, he was pleased with the candid avowal which had been made by an hon. gentleman, that, though he disliked bills of Pains and Penalties, he would not say they were in all cases improper or unjust. But it had been said, why was not the Queen tried by the constitutional and recognised tribunal of a jury of the country? Why, really, it was hardly possible to suppose that such a question could be seriously propounded: she had been tried by her peers, and they were her legal and proper judges. Notwithstanding what a learned doctor (Lushington) had chosen to declare, that he would rather be tried by a jury of twelve convicted felons, it was obvious that her majesty had been cited before those who formed the legal tribunal before which 392 she should appear. How, indeed, was it possible for the Queen to be tried by any other jury than by the House of Lords? On the whole, he (Mr. Bankes), without stating that he was satisfied with all that had been done by ministers was not so dissatisfied as to concur in the proposition of the noble mover [Hear, hear]. That resolution tended to nothing short of a direct and absolute change of administration. And here he would beg leave to observe, that himself and his honourable friends near him had as little inclination as any set of men in that House, to support a mere party measure; and he could assure the noble marquis, and the hon. gentleman who spoke after him, that it made as little difference to him as to other gentlemen, what individuals formed the administration of the country. As long as he had the honour of a seat in that House, so long he should be always ready to support them, while they appeared to him to act compatible with the great interests of the country. Referring to what had been said by hon. gentlemen, of the talents for office displayed on either side of that House, it was a fortunate thing that in this country more individuals were to be found who were fitted by education, reflection, and political habits, to take a share in its political government, than in any other kingdom or state in the world; indeed, than in all Europe put together. But this universality of fitness must be limited to the political knowledge of those who were so capable; and the choice of the sovereign who might happen to be on the throne, could fall, of necessity, but upon a very few. Besides great talents, they must have a large share of practical knowledge; there must be, in short, a coincidence of talent and of fitness belonging to them. Nay more, there must be also a coincidence of public opinion in their favour, without which, the choice of the sovereign would be vain. His majesty's ministers he thought possessed these qualifications in a great degree; and if they were to exclude one party they must raise the other. A right hon. friend of his, lately, in his place, had avowed, with that openness and manliness which every public man ought to avow his opinions, that he was not ashamed to seek by every honourable and becoming method, those employments of the state, wherein he might be most serviceable, To the fairness and frankness 393 of this declaration, he was most willing to subscribe. There was always, unfortunately, in this country, a vile slander attaching to persons in office, as unfounded as it was illiberal. But, notwithstanding that species of detraction, the country, happily, was always much obliged to those who undertook office, and executed its duties well. Adverting to what had been said by the hon. gentleman who spoke last, he would affirm, that there was a dangerous faction in this country, endeavouring to extend itself by all the means it could command, and catching hold of every principle of ruin, by which it might succeed in involving the kingdom in a general conflagration. He was sorry to say, that many gentlemen of that party to which he had been alluding appeared to him to have been giving vastly too great a countenance to this faction. When he heard of public meetings being called, and found that those were the gentlemen who acted with them, and spoke at them, he was constrained to say, that though, perhaps, there was not a principle of union, yet there was a sort of cooperation between them which alarmed him extremely. Those honourable gentlemen would excuse him, if, thinking so highly as he did of their integrity and their honour, that connexion did alarm him. He recollected, that during the last two months of the reign of their late lamented King, there were two bills brought in and passed: the one related to seditious meetings; the other, to some further restraints to be put upon the press. On that occasion, he found the same gentlemen now sitting near him the active opponents of both measures. They said, that the first bill went to impose restraints on public liberty and free discussion, such as the times did not call for, and such us were contrary to the genius of the constitution and the spirit of the age: and with regard to the public press, they argued, that if any further restraint were to be imposed upon its exercise, it would be reduced to a state that could not be endured in a free country; and in pursuance of these opinions, lie understood that a proposition was speedily intended to lie submitted for the repeal of the act relative to the press. The hon. gentleman went on to state his entire dissent from the views thus taken by those members. What they called the liberty of the press he called its licentiousness, and he thought it was one of the most terrible evils of the country. He 394 thought it was the root of all those evils of which she now complained. The Opposition, he stated, were not only pledged to the repeal of those bills, but to a reform in parliament. It was true that they were not agreed about the details, but they were certainly pledged to what they called an effective reform. He did not believe they entertained the Doctrine of annual parliaments, universal suffrage, and other wild and visionary notions, which floated in the eccentric imaginations of foolish men; but they were pledged to a reform which the present circumstances of the country could not with safety allow, and he therefore viewed it with unqualified apprehension. Another question to which they were pledged was Catholic Emancipation. At present government was divided on that question, and our Ecclesiastical Establishment was kept alive against one party by the support of the other; but if the Cabinet was once united upon that subject, as it would be if the Opposition came into power, that ruinous measure which he deprecated would inevitably pass.—The hon. member then proceeded to remark, that the Opposition were bound to a complete change of the system of government. He also adverted to the conduct of both parties during the French war, and said, that the Opposition despaired of the resources of the country, while their antagonists exerted their power and influence, and, under their auspices, a most brilliant war had been put an end to by a peace more glorious than any which the country had enjoyed for four centuries. He concluded by expressing his firm reliance upon the Councils of his majesty's government, and reiterating his opinion, that in the dangerous circumstances of the country no administration could be found so well entitled to his support as the one at present existing.
§ Sir James Mackintosh
said, he was called on by the extraordinary speech of the hon. member to offer a few words. The hon. member had, indeed, said little on the motion, of which he told them he disapproved; but whatever he did say upon it, after having made that declaration, was in its support; for he very candidly staled, that in the proceedings, which it went to condemn, he could not agree, as to either their beginning, conduct, or termination. Yet he had given a vote in contradiction to that sentiment, and opposed the resolution by his practice, while he upheld it by his observations. He would not en- 395 quire into the cause which induced the hon. gentleman to act in such direct' violation of the laws of Solon, as to take I neutral ground, while, according to his own account, the common-wealth was in danger. He would not enquire whether Government had been acting in such a way for the last forty years as to leave his impartiality no hope but from supporting the other side of the House; but lie thought that in any republic short of Utopia, a public man might be found in that time, who was capable of conducting the national affairs so as to deserve the confidence of impartial men. The impartiality of the hon. member was indeed so great, that he always made a boast of it. But what was the proof! Why, unqualified panegyric on one party, and perpetual exclusion to the other. That panegyric ought to be heard with peculiar pleasure by the noble lord opposite. His ear was not much accustomed of late to eulogy. He and his friends had heard so little of it for some time, that he was not surprised that they hailed it on the present occasion with expressions of wild and genuine rapture [hear, hear!]. The hon. member had taken a great latitude in his view of the question. He had thought proper to go into the French war, and he must follow him there. The gentlemen whom he had so severely reprimanded for despairing of their country, did not vote for the war and, having so voted, then refuse the sup-plies. They did not betray Government into that war by their promised support, and afterwards withhold the necessary aids. He congratulated the noble lord opposite on the glorious peace, the honour of which belonged to him. As to the brilliant war, that was achieved by our gallant officers and invincible troops; but the glorious peace, that was exclusively the work of the noble lord, and he could not but congratulate him upon it—that peace which had so consolidated the interests of Europe, and placed them on a basis not to be shaken [a laugh]. Such it was described a short time ago, but such it was no longer. He would not make any observations upon the discord, animosity, and heart-burnings, which were now embroiling all Europe, or upon those scenes of armed preparation, which menaced independent States with the-subversion of their liberties. Those affairs of the Continent it was not his intention then to dwell upon; but he merely wished to point out the real character of this glo- 396 rious peace, and the result of the negotiations of the noble lord, which had confederated the European powers in so amicable, so disinterested, and so generous an alliance. But this state of things had recently called upon the noble lord for a disclosure of the acts and principles on which that alliance was founded. He had felt himself compelled to make that disclosure, and to declare, that the conduct of our magnanimous Allies was contrary to public right, and to the law of nations, and calculated to destroy the very essence of independent States. However he chose to qualify this declaration in the conclusion, such was the sum and substance of his remarks, and thus out of the mouth of their associate was the Holy Alliance condemned [hear, hear!]. Thus was the conduct of the Sovereigns reprobated, and the policy of the great Congress denounced by one of its own members, who was said to have established perpetual harmony, and consolidated by a glorious peace that repose of Europe, which was not to be disturbed, and which was one great cause why government continued to have the support of the impartial member. Now, he would say something to another point! The hon. gentleman had generously allowed, that there were many persons besides ministers in whom that House and the country might have confidence; but having laid down that doctrine, he gave proofs that he confined his liberality to one side of the House, and though heal lowed the qualification of the candidates for office on the Opposition Benches, he could never agree to their eligibility. He thought that they had the talents and capacity to be competitors for office, but could never allow any real competition. He would give a most liberal range to expectancy for power; but would, at the same time, have a perpetual dictatorship, and would support ministers at all hazards, although he could not approve of their conduct either in the beginning, the middle, or the end. He could not, for any liberality of theory, give up his practice of exclusion, and therefore he negatived the motion in fact, to which he virtually assented [a laugh]. He was also apprehensive, lest his friends near him on the Opposition benches might redeem the pledges which they had given to the people, and he objected to them strongly, for the countenance which they gave to public meetings, and their opposition to the bill for the sup- 397 pression of such Assemblies as he chose to call seditious. But he would ask, what was there amiss in all this, where was the matter of well-founded imputation? When had it become a crime for members of Parliament to appear before the people;—to face their constituents—to reclaim them if misled, or to teach them confidence if right? As to the noble lord, and those who rallied under his banners when he gave the signal, he would ask him and his friends, if it was by declaring war, that the people, if mistaken, were to be reclaimed, or was it not rather by listening to and redressing their grievances if real, by kindly shewing them their error, if imaginary, by doing justice where there was injury, and passing no condemnation without reason Was it because the majority of the House of Commons had declared war against the people of England. [Cheers from the ministerial benches, and some cries of "order."] He would not say that this had been decidedly done, but such was the tendency of the late majority to which he alluded.
rose to order. He wished to ask whether it was parliamentary to say that a majority of that House, on any question had declared war against the people of England?
§ The Speaker.
There can be but one opinion upon the words used by the hon. and learned gentleman;—and I am certain that the hon. and learned gentleman himself will admit that the words are most disorderly.
§ Sir J. Mackintosh
resumed. He bowed with the greatest deference to the opinion of the chair, but this was the first time, in his recollection, when any member was called to order for words which he had already explained. Uninfluenced, then, by what had just occurred, he would say, that a majority of that House, in hostility to the declared wishes of the people of England, was an evil; and that that evil would be increased if a greater number of members were of the same opinion with the majority; and still worse, if there were none left who could agree with the sentiments of the people. But the hon. gentleman had given the best possible answer to one part of his argument, with respect to the attendance of gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House at public meetings. He had spoken of incendiaries. Why, should the hon. gentleman say that all public meetings were to be left to the influence or direction of 398 incendiaries, if there were any such attending them? Was it not natural that the Opposition should wish to gain the confidence of the people, and to assent with them in those principles in which they concurred? Was there no example of the attendance of public men at meetings of the people in other times; He believed the hon. member for Corfe-castle was one of those who had opposed the American war. He must then remember, that at that time, Sir George Savile, the Marquis of Rockingham, lord Temple, and several other distinguished public characters who had opposed themselves to that war, had joined in meetings of the people. Why, then, was that to be objected to members in the present day, which had at all times been the practice of public men? The hon. member for Corfe Castle contended, that the repeal of the acts passed eighteen mouths ago, against seditious meetings, and for the restriction of the press, would be a measure pregnant with the most dangerous consequences; and that any effective reform must, under existing circumstances, throw the country into confusion. Now, certainly, those measures, the repeal of which the hon. gentleman contemplated with so much alarm, were not liable to the reproach of being effective; on the contrary, they had been perfectly ineffective. As to the Bill for restraining Seditious meetings, they had seen meetings since its enactment much more numerous than any which it was intended to restrain; it was, in fact, for all the objects which the Government had in view, a dead letter, and answered no other purpose, than that of exasperating, instead of restraining; of alienating the people from the legislature, instead of enforcing obedience to the laws. Then with respect to the Bill for restraining the press, the hon. gentleman declared that the present state of the liberty of the press deserved the name of licentiousness: fettered and restrained as the press had been, the hon. gentleman still thought it licentious, and that it required to be still further purged and corrected by the ministers, for whose continuance in power he was contending. It was clear, then, that these laws had been ineffective; for if they had been otherwise, the Loyal Addresses did not contain one word of truth, when they declared that the country was never so deluged with treason and blasphemy, as it had been since the period of passing the Bill for restraining the press 399 Never was there a law which deserved better to Le panegyrised by these favourers of ineffective measures.—The next topic on which the hon. gentleman had animadverted, was that of an effective Reform in Parliament. Some horror had been expressed at the term "radical", and, at various other terms, but this was the first time that he had ever heard any man, who professed to be an advocate for any kind of Reform, express his horror of an effective reform: for the only reform which the hon. gentleman could tolerate was an ineffective reform, and the necessary inference from this was, that be viewed an effective reform as a measure pregnant with danger to the country. All the admirers of extensive and extravagant reform would be glad of the authority of the hon. gentleman, who considered every moderate reform as ineffectual. They who regarded all moderate reform as little better than a mere mock reform, had not only the sanction of the venerable advocate of that system, but they might now quote the authority of the hon. member for Corfe Castle, who opposed all reform within the pale of the constitution, which was injurious to no existing interests or institutions, and who, for some reasons, whether of a local or general nature he knew not, considered all such reform as illusory and ineffective.—He had long been of opinion, however, that most of the enemies of parliamentary reform entertained sentiments not very dissimilar to those of the hon. gentleman. They dreaded all moderate and reasonable reformers, in proportion as the arguments of such reformers were most irrefragable, and their plans most practicable and capable of being carried into effect.—Having made these observations upon the party speech of the impartial member, he should proceed to offer a few remarks on the question before the House. If his majesty's government could be shewn to have been guilty of a breach of law and a violation of justice, it was clear that they might be impeached for a high crime and misdemeanor. He would say nothing of the bill of Pains and Penalties, partly because that part of the subject had been so ably discussed by an hon. gentleman with sub distinguished ability, and partly because his objections to the conduct of ministers lay much deeper; for he was absolutely hostile to all proceedings against her majesty. He 400 held, that the king's ministers had instituted an unnecessary proceeding against her majesty, and that by so doing they had subjected the country to the greatest calamities, and exposed it to still greater danger; evils and daggers which would all be greatly aggravated if the House of Commons refused to concur with the unanimous opinion of the people, and to pronounce that censure upon their conduct which almost every man in the country had already pronounced. The right hon. gentleman opposite, the president of the board of control, in the absence of one of the greatest ornaments of that House, his predecessor in office, attempted to shew the necessity of instituting the proceedings against her majesty. He contended, that her majesty's coming to this country had driven government to the necessity of choosing whether they would or would not recognise her as Queen Consort. He was ready to admit this; but where, he would ask, was the necessity which compelled them to adopt one branch of the alternative, namely, to refuse the recognition of her majesty as Queen Consort, and to accuse her as they did? There was not the shadow of a public necessity for this course, though he admitted that there was a ministerial necessity for it. They could not have kept their offices and places without coming to some compromise, without agreeing to prosecute the Queen if she should come to this country. This might be a very good reason for the hon. member for Corfe Castle, who thought the services of these gentlemen indispensable to the country, and would, no doubt in his opinion, be a sufficient answer to every charge which might be brought against ministers for every species of misconduct. If the country were really reduced to that degraded state, that it could only be saved by one set of men, then he (Sir James) granted that no charge could be brought against them, for any misconduct, however gross. But this was really one of the most convenient doctrines ever laid down by an impartial member of parliament—it was a discovery in political science which would immortalise his name; it not only supplied the present ministers, but would supply all future ministers, with an answer to all accusations; for there never would be wanting ministers, who would be ready to contend that their continuance in office was absolutely 401 essential to the interests of the country. The original commencement of the proceedings could only be justified by a paramount and over-ruling necessity, and he confessed, that he had heard nothing like an argument to show that necessity. The noble lord opposite and his colleagues, had not acted without warning, for his hon. and learned friend (Mr. Brougham) had warned them at the commencement, that they were bound not only to make out the charges against the Queen, but to make out the necessity of bringing them forward. It was the duty of ministers to determine whether it were advisable to prosecute or not to prosecute, and in the event of not prosecuting, to abstain from every thing like insult or irritation, and to grant those rights, which, when the matter was not to be brought to a judicial issue, they had no longer any right to withhold. He did not complain of parts of the conduct of his majesty's ministers; it was not to an error here, or an error there, that he objected; he found error in the commencement, error in the whole progress, and error in the termination of the proceedings. He repeated, that a proceed-ding, attended with the most fatal effects to the country, had been commenced without necessity. He would ask the hon. and learned gentlemen opposite, whether they were not bound, even in instituting proceedings against the meanest individual, against the most obscure libeller, to take care that they had a reasonable assurance of success? The responsibility, weighty even in such a case as this, became ten thousand times greater, in proportion to the magnitude and importance of the proceedings against the Queen. Ministers were bound to take care that they had a reasonable assurance of success, before they instituted such a prosecution. They were bound to calculate all the possible contingencies; to make allowances for the possible bad character of the witnesses, for those variations and contradictions inseparable from the very nature of the case, and for the temper and peculiar situation of the people of this country, before they proceeded to take a single step. Nothing could be more fatal than change and vacillation, but change and vacillation had characterised their proceedings from the beginning to the end.—It had been urged, that the negotiation with the Queen had been 402 sanctioned by the concurrence of this House; but it should be recollected, that ministers alone were in possession of the evidence. They knew all the weakness of the evidence and the character of the witnesses; but the House was placed in a very different situation. It was the ministers of the Crown who first committed an illegal outrage against the Queen, and then threatened her with prosecution if she returned to this country. It was the ministers of the Crown who had produced all that embarrassment and difficulty in which his hon. friend, the member for Bramber, found himself involved, by first committing the honour of the Throne by the message of the 6th June, and then inducing that House to throw itself at the feet of the first subject in the realm, and entreat that subject not to be tried. They first dishonoured the Crown, and then dishonoured that House in attempting to extricate the Crown. Disgrace and dishonour had been the-own upon every authority of the state—upon every institution of the country, merely to extricate ministers, who were the authors of our disgrace. They had no right to blame her majesty for not accepting their proposition; they were not the constitutional advisers of her majesty, and if any member of that House entertained the slightest bias against her majesty in consequence of that decision, I which she had an undoubted right to form, he would be guilty of the grossest injustice. With respect to the majority of 27 or 28 peers, who voted for the second reading of the bill, he had looked into all the divisions on bills of Pains and Penalties and impeachments for the last century and a half, and, with the exception of the deplorable case of sir J. Fenwick, a case much too lamentable to be cited as a precedent, there was not one in which the minority in favour of the accused was so large as in the case of the Queen. In sir J. Fenwick's case, indeed, I the majority was two to one; but, in I the disgraceful sentence on lord Strafford, the majority was five to two; whereas in I the case of her majesty, the majority was not equivalent to a fair majority of a j common jury. Even supposing that a' considerable part of the majority were influenced by motives of expediency, it; was still disgraceful to the supreme authority of the state; it was a wound inflicted upon the laws and constitution of; the country to bring forward a case 403 which was found to command a less majority than any similar proceeding in our history.—The effects of this proceeding were, in every point of view, both with reference to present and future interests, most deeply to be deplored. The loyal addressers complained of licentiousness—but who had given occasion for that licentiousness? The prosecutors of the Queen. Who had secured popularity and impunity for that licentiousness? The prosecutors of the Queen. Who had done all that in them lay to promote public disorder, and weaken the securities of government, by turning the purest feelings of the heart, and the best sentiments of our nature, against the laws and constituted authorities of the country? The prosecutors of the Queen. Those proceedings might be perfectly reconcilable with the temporary interests of ministers, but they teemed with the most fatal consequences to the honour, the happiness, and the security of the country, and could not be contemplated without alarm, if tried by any principles but those of the member for Corfe Castle, the partial partisan of a perpetual administration [Hear, hear!]. The ministers who had prosecuted the Queen had, in effect, waged a war against the existing institutions of the country. They had left a legacy to all those who might hereafter seek to destroy them. They had furnished a great magazine, to which every man might hereafter resort who wished to decry and revile the monarchy; they had not only culled and simplified all the arguments—they had not only collected and embodied all the common places which had ever been urged against monarchical institutions but they had decorated them with all those circumstances, they had given them that attractive and amusing form, which were best calculated to gratify the depraved appetites of those who resorted to them. They had invaded the sanctuary of monarchy, they had torn aside the veil, and exposed all its frailties and infirmities—they had thrown open all that was most sacred, to the vulgar gaze, and made those, who ought to be the objects of our veneration and respect, the theme of obloquy and derision. By thus exposing the domestic misfortunes of the king and Queen, the noble lord and his colleagues had agitated the whole country, and exposed a mighty empire to the danger of u civil war. They had placed the throne 404 itself in a more insecure and precarious situation; and it would require a long course of wise policy, and vigorous, though moderate and constitutional measures, entirely to efface the consequences of this most impolitic proceeding.—He had little more to add upon the subject. The noble lord opposite might be assured, that his words, however warm, had proceed-ded more from sorrow than from anger. He felt the utmost sorrow, that they had passed from a season of peace to a season, he would say, of peril. The greatest breach had been made, by the last division in that House, that had occurred in his memory—a breach between the people and that House. He was afraid that the division of that night would widen that breach; and he greatly feared that' it would soon become impossible to prevent the most deplorable consequences. The House of Commons had supported ministers in the late proceedings by a majority of three to two—the people had opposed them by a majority of twenty to one. This was a contrast which filled him with alarm. He wished to see a treaty of glorious peace between this House and their Constituents—a happy alliance between the people and the House of Commons; I and, if that glorious treaty and that happy alliance took place, the consequence would be, the deliverance of Europe from the state of chaos and confusion with which it was threatened. If it should prove otherwise, all he could say was, that he had done his duty, and he believed that; the consequences would be most fatal to the peace and prosperity of the country. I—The hon. gentleman sat down amidst the cheers of the House.
said, that, having been absent on every former occasion on which this subject was before the House, and having now heard the particularly severe terms which the hon. and learned gentleman had applied to the last decision of that House, he felt himself called upon to justify the vote he should give. Having been prevented from attending when the last decision of the House had been given,; and having intended, if he could haves, been present, to take that line which had I been so severely animadverted on, he would first state the grounds on which he concurred with that majority of whom the hon. and learned gentleman had said, in the warmth and heat of debate, that they had declared war against the people. The words had been satisfactorily explained-by 405 the hon. and learned gentleman to mean only, that the tendency of that vote was hostile to the interests of the people. In that sense they were unobjectionable; and although he had himself felt assured that such had been the meaning attached to them, he was exceedingly happy to hear them so explained by the hon. and learned gentleman. In the situation in which he now stood, he was called on to declare the honest and independent opinion which he had formed, and in doing so, he was utterly ignorant whether others concurred with him in that opinion; he was regardless what impression his opinion might make this recommendation, however, his opinion had, that he laid his hand on his heart, and said, that he had formed it without reference to personal or party considerations; that it was the result of the deliberate exercise of his judgment, and that it had no other view but the import and justice of the question. He was one of those who could not concur in the propriety of having originally omitted the name of the Queen in the Liturgy; and on this ground—that he saw no inconsistency in inserting, or rather continuing, her majesty's name in the Liturgy, and at the same time boldly coming forward with a charge of the highest nature. Yet he could not have concurred in the motion of the noble lord (A. Hamilton), because it was of an intricate and indistinct character, and because it would have prejudged the question now before the House. It was also an ill-timed motion; because it ought to have been brought forward last session, if at all. The offence, if offence it was, had been committed on the 29th of January last year: why, then, delay a motion respecting it till the 20th of January this year? He could not have concurred in it on another ground. It would have been grossly inconsistent in the House to agree in such a motion, after having last year concurred in a decision to which the noble lord had moved an amendment, which, in substance, was the same as the motion of this session. He would further have voted against the noble lord's motion, because it was calculated to redress no wrong, because it was no object for the Queen to have such a declaration from that House, and because it merely expressed an opinion adverse to the government. If it should be said that the consequence of agreeing to such a motion would be the insertion of the Queen's name in the Liturgy, he would 406 say, "Let us have a motion directly for that object." "Let us know what we do." Such an important question as the insertion of her majesty's name was not to be carried as a corollary to a motion. If, then, that motion contemplated any other result than the one which it professed, for that reason he would have objected to it—But, of the present motion he thought very differently. He thanked the noble I lord who made it, and the hon. gentlemen who supported it, for the fairness of the; motion and the manly sentiments with which it had been supported. They had disclaimed any intention to effect by this motion a change of administration, while: they fairly admitted that the consequence I of a censure of the conduct of ministers in the terms of the motion might be the removal of ministers, and a change of government. He would not enter into any examination of the necessary or probable consequences of the motion. He cared I not what the consequences might be, whether a change of government or a reform of parliament: if ministers had acted in the late proceedings either from vindictive feelings, as alleged by a noble lord on a former night, or in order, according to the charge of the hon. and learned gentleman (sir J. Mackintosh) to perpetuate their power, he would concur in the motion. He would infinitely prefer a change of government, parliamentary reform, or Catholic emancipation, to supporting in office men who could have acted from such base and corrupt motives, and could have adopted proceedings which all so lamented and deplored from a mere desire of continuing in office. He dismissed, therefore, every other consideration, and would give his vote on the issue which alone they were to try—that was, Did the conduct of ministers, in the whole of their proceedings against the Queen, call for the grave and serious censure of the House? If their motives were good, though blame might be attached to particular parts of their conduct, he would be justified in giving, I as he meant to do, a direct negative to I the motion. The case had been so unprecedented; there had been so little light from any other case to direct or guide; the illustrious person against whom the proceedings had been adopted possessed no ordinary mind and character, and acted upon no ordinary feelings;—the House of Commons, reviewing those circumstances, standing on the vantage ground to which the progress of events 407 had now carried them, and seeing distinctly whence every current set in, and every wind blew, would not hastily censure the first commencement and the early progress of the navigation. The only fair mode of judging was, to place themselves in the situation in which ministers had been then placed. The House were, in order to judge fairly, to recollect the period to which what is now present was future, and what is now clear was covered in obscurity. He now declared his general concurrence in the proceedings with his majesty's ministers. It was not in the commencement, in the course, or the termination that he differed from them. But he differed in many cases from ministers. He had already said, that he lamented that her majesty's name had been excluded from the Liturgy. He had with regret heard it stated, that a palace was not to be provided for the Queen; he had read with regret the answer to her majesty's demand of a ship of war. Those were circumstances which made a deep impression, not on enlightened minds, but on the great body of the people: they were unimportant and insignificant in themselves, but they were circumstances which, connected with a rank so distinguished, produced the strongest effect on the minds of the people. It was from the consideration of the influence of such little circumstances that lord Bacon had remarked that "you sooner perceive how the wind blows by throwing up a straw than a stone." From the refusal of the circumstances of accommodation to which he had alluded, an impression had prevailed that the Queen was the object of persecution. It was an unjust and erroneous impression; but the circumstances he had mentioned had materially contributed to produce it.—lie now proposed to argue the question at issue on the grounds on which the hon. and learned gentleman who had last spoken had argued it. The hon. and learned gentleman had said, that he could get no answer to the question "Where was the necessity for the proceedings against the Queen?" He was ready to contend that there was no case so clear as the absolute necessity of the proceedings. It had been impossible to allow the Queen under the charges under which she laboured, to ascend the throne without a communication to parliament. If every privilege had been granted to the Queen—if she had been placed on the throne—he did not believe 408 that inquiry would have been ultimately avoided: he believed that at this moment they would be discussing the question whether the government ought or ought not to be impeached for withholding the charges which they knew against the Queen. "Where was the evil," it was asked," of avoiding all proceedings?" What! was it no evil to place on the throne of England imputed adultery and guilt? Those charges which had been brought forward had, at the period now referred to, been in the possession of government. Would it be no light thing to place at the head of a female society distinguished for the decencies which formed the charm of female society, a Queen charged with adultery? He spoke only of the charges; he would not refer to the details given in evidence in the other House: of those details he had formed his opinion—he could not help forming an opinion—and in this question he could not help making reference to those proceedings. He admitted the claim which the Queen had, in consequence of having escaped conviction. When he said escaped, he did not mean to say any thing further, than that the investigation had not terminated in the conviction of the Queen. He was the last person in the world to withhold from one of her majesty's illustrious rank, and from an afflicted female, the benefits of an acquittal. But it was impossible for him to come to any decision satisfactory to his own mind or just to ministers, who were now accused, without a reference to the circumstances which had been disclosed. Was it his fault? It might be the fault of no one; but it was the consequence of the motion which was now before the House.—Not only, then, was he convinced that there had been a necessity for inquiry, but he felt assured that inquiry must have been the consequence of attempts to evade it. The hon. and learned gentleman who had argued this question with so much ability had asked whether we saw no evil in the advantages given by such proceedings to a vile and degraded faction, and in embodying so much abuse and reproach upon illustrious and royal station? But, did he think that the faction whose intent it was to bring into ridicule, disgrace, and infamy every institution in the country—did he think that that faction would not have turned against the Queen, if not recommended to them by a prosecution, and embodied all the insinuations and 409 charges which could be collected against her? Would they who had seized her arm in order to shake the throne—would they not have propagated, applied, and circulated every degrading insinuation, and asked whether the throne was not disgraced by such a person? He begged not to be misunderstood: he meant only a Queen labouring under such charges. The consequence of attempting to evade inquiry into those charges would have been a motion of impeachment in that House, on the ground that it was impossible for the House to refuse deliberation and inquiry in such a case. If the member for Knaresborough (Mr. Tierney) were in such a case to move an impeachment, it would be in perfect consistency with what he had stated in that House, on the first day of the last session. On the 21st of February last year, when a member had mentioned the Queen's name the member for Knaresborough had said, that he would not vote one farthing to a person under such a cloud. Was it possible that the government could have escaped censure if they had neglected inquiry on that occasion? The right hon. gentleman had said, that he would not be satisfied unless ministers should pledge themselves to institute an inquiry next session. Was it possible that the right hon. gentleman could have suffered the Queen to ascend the throne without an inquiry into the conduct of government? The government had charges against the Queen; if, for the sake of argument, he were to admit that it had been wrong to send out a commission to Milan, still the commission had been sent out, and there the charges were in the hands of ministers. Was it possible for them to avoid an inquiry into the truth of those charges? In his opinion, to have done so would have been the grossest dereliction of their duty. Ministers having fully considered the case, and the Queen having refused the mediation of the House of Commons, it became utterly impossible to avoid an inquiry. If the Queen assumed the appearance of complete and unequivocal innocence, as she must have done, the government must have allowed her the triumph of innocence, or have instituted a prosecution against her. If she assumed complete innocence, which she did when she refused the mediation of that House, would not ministers, with the impression which they had on their minds, have been guilty of the grossest 410 dereliction of their duty, if they had allowed her to ascend the throne with the triumph of innocence?—That, then, being allowed, the only question was, what course of proceedings should be adopted. It was but a choice of evils, and to him a bill of Pains and Penalties appeared the most likely on the whole to promote the ends of justice [Much cheering from the Opposition], If those cheers meant that a bill of Pains and Penalties ought not to have been the course, he would say, that if the former part of his argument were allowed, it was not only the best but the only mode of proceeding. His right hon. friend had shown that the Queen could be proceeded against only in parliament. The only modes, therefore, were a bill of Pains and Penalties or an impeachment. The tenor of his education had not qualified him for discussing this view of the subject; but he would state his opinion, and he had taken some pains to form a correct one. Was it conceded to hi in that there were but the two courses open, of proceeding by a bill of Pains and Penalties, and a proceeding by Impeachment? Supposing an Impeachment, what, he asked, would be the consequence? First, a reference must have been had to a committee of that House; next, the Queen must have been unavoidably exposed to all the hardships of an ex-parte statement; and, lastly, that House would be called u| on to pronounce a direct aye or no on every article of charge. In the unavoidable interval of time that must occur between the ex-parte statement of that House and the final trial, the Queen would have continued exposed to misrepresentation and misinterpretation. He wished it also to be considered, whether there did not exist great doubts of any conviction being obtained, on technical grounds, where an alleged adultery on the part of the Queen was committed with a person owing no allegiance to the sovereign of the country? If there existed grounds for such a doubt, and that on a point of technicality, acquittal must be the result of impeachment; was the great moral offence of adultery to be suffered to escape with impunity, because it was no offence against the law? Besides, was it to be credited, that an individual, sitting in trial on a bill of Pains and Penalties, would not feel himself in honour and in conscience bound to extend to the accused the same benefits as would 411 be derived from the proceeding by impeachment? But even were the verdict of guilty established by an impeachment, it was impossible that it should not be followed by some separate measure, such as a bill of Pains and Penalties. Then he would ask, would a single inconvenience have been avoided by selecting previously the course of impeachment? If ever there was a case of a bill of Pains and Penalties strikingly exempt from injustice it was the adoption of it in the late proceeding against her majesty. If ever a state necessity called for the departure from the ordinary rules which govern the administration of justice, it was where a Queen, about to be invested with those dignities which befitted her high rank and station, was charged with a grave moral offence; it was to prevent adultery and high treason from being installed on the throne of this country. It had been asked, where was the necessity of the proceeding? Was there any chance of an heir to the throne—any fears of a disputed succession? Besides it was said, if offences had been committed, they were committed, not in England, but on the Mediterranean Sea. He could lay no stress on such considerations; if they were committed at all, or if there were good grounds of suspicion, he contended that they furnished grounds for inquiry, and, it' guilt was established, for preventing the exaltation of the Queen to that august station which, as a Queen Consort, she would otherwise enjoy, presiding as she would then over the female society of the country, its example, its grace, and its honour.—He could not recognise in the proposition made at St. Omer's, or in the subsequent acquiescence of his majesty's ministers in the motion of the hon. member for Bramber, any proof of the bitter and vindictive feelings against the Queen, with which they were charged by the supporters of the present motion. On the contrary, he recognised in such conduct a disposition to make great personal sacrifices, even a sacrifice of their own consistency [a laugh]—he repeated, their own consistency, for the purpose of preventing the necessity of a course which they felt must be attended with painful disclosure and great public agitation. In place, then, of bitter feelings against the Queen, they were ready to make every sacrifice that was not inconsistent with their own honour. It might be asked, whether the proposition at St. 412 Omer's was a wise or an unwise course? Though he might not, because it failed, consider it unwise, it might, however, be considered unfortunate. A different character attached to measures, undertaken with great prospect of success, and subsequently considered through the medium of failure. If that offer had been accepted, it would have been a wise measure; and, arguing on the probable effect of human motives, that acceptance might have been fully expected; but because it failed, and because he was instructed by the subsequent evils—and made wise by experience, was he therefore justified in turning round and. blaming the government? And did not such censure come rather with an ill grace from those who deprecated the agitation of the subject at all? One would have supposed, that the more forcibly they felt the evils of such agitation, the less disposed they should be to visit with censure the government for endeavouring to preventthem.—There remained one other topic, on which he was anxious to offer a few observations. He had never, on any previous subject, heard so many admonitions and warnings delivered to that House—he might say, menaces, against its persisting in the line of conduct in which it had commenced. They were told to direct their consideration to the extent and influence of public opinion on this subject. He trusted that that House, notwithstanding all these warnings, would regulate its decisions by it own honest conviction. Nothing would so fatally disqualify them from filling the character of legislators and statesmen, as that they should stand shivering in every fitful breeze of popular feeling, and not discharge their obligations to the country by a just and necessary reference to the intrinsic merits of the question itself. If they studiously looked to the subject, they would feel it difficult to define what was meant by the phrase of popular opinion—the more they canvassed its character, they would find it fickle, inconstant, and ungrateful—fickle and inconstant, because what was now termed the public voice, would be in the course of three months wholly different—ungrateful, because if they allowed themselves to consult its will—founded as it was on passion, and not on reason—their very, acquiescence would be hereafter quoted as an accusation against them. When he disregarded public opinion, it was that 413 character of it which the advisers of the Queen, in the answers to addresses, were so studious to conciliate. In alluding to those answers, let it not be supposed that lie was not willing to make every allowance for the situation of the Queen. It was; not of her, but of those advisers, who were not under the influence of such feelings, that he complained. He deprecated their conduct as not less injurious to her majesty than it was to the country. But whatever might be the extent of that public voice, thus excited, he trusted that parliament would never so far forget its duties, as to adjust its judgment to the model of their passions, but would form its opinion on a sound, deliberate, and honest conviction of the real merits of the question.
§ Lord Nugent
observed, that aware of the great influence of ministers in that House, it was easy to anticipate the fate of his noble friend's motion. With that view before him, he still looked with one feeling of melancholy satisfaction to the motion, inasmuch as it would enable the people to perceive, by the division, who were, and who were not, their faithful representatives. After the language he had heard uttered in that House against her majesty—language which would not have been tolerated, which would not have been dared to be used, in speaking of any other woman in the country who enjoyed the protection of a husband, a father, or a brother, he could not allow himself to give a silent vote, but must declare on his honour, his full belief of the Queen's being innocent of every charge against her as supported by the evidence. He said supported by the evidence, for he had no other means than the evidence produced, of forming an opinion. There was one part of the charge against ministers to which no gentleman on the other side attempted to reply: namely, why this opportunity of discussing the subject was delayed so long; why parliament was not sooner assembled for the purpose? During the last session a gallant friend of his (Sir R. Fergusson) proposed an inquiry into the Milan commission. The noble lord opposite said, that was not the time, but pledged himself that it should be done at the earliest possible opportunity. The noble lord also said, that in the event of the charges not being substantiated, her majesty should be restored to all her privileges undiminished. How had those 414 pledges been redeemed to her majesty, the House, and the country? By adjournments after adjournments—by a prorogation under circumstances of the most offensive kind—and now by a speech from the throne, not noticing distinctly any provision, but recommending an arrangement to the House. The provision was accordingly proposed; but under circumstances which rendered it impossible that her majesty could accept of it—circumstances which might degrade the Crown and parliament, but could not degrade her. They were now called upon to recognise the justice of a sentence which the court refused to pronounce. The House could not forget the almost prophetic warning of her majesty's attorney-general, when he stated, that if those unfortunate proceedings were once commenced, no one could know to what they might lead. Every person must now feel the justice and truth of the warning. The right hon. gentleman who spoke last contended, that the mode of trial adopted was the most advantageous to the Queen that could be pursued. For his part, he had no doubt that impeachment would have been preferable. The great advantage of impeachment was, that if once acquitted, her majesty could never again be arraigned. With respect to a bill of Pains and Penalties, though the charge might fail from want of sufficient evidence, from the gross perjury of witnesses, or the utter improbability of the charges, still if other circumstances arose that promised success on a new trial, there was nothing to preclude ministers from having recourse to it. He would appeal to any hon. gentleman opposite, whether he really believed that ministers adopted this mode of proceeding from a conviction, that it would be most favourable to the Queen? Discomfited as ministers were, what was their language now? It might be introduced in one sentence. In the words of the hon. member for Surrey, they looked upon the Queen as a person convicted, but not brought up for judgment. His only answer should be a direct negative. She was not convicted, but she was brought up for judgment, and suffered all the penalties ministers could inflict on her. They attempted to degrade her by omitting her name in the Liturgy, and by holding her up as a convicted person. The hon. member for Surrey contended, that public justice had been done, for that 415 her majesty was declared guilty. Public opinion had served her majesty as a shield. The public voice declared her innocent in their numerous addresses, and indeed had fixed at the same time an everlasting stigma on her prosecutors. What reparation could be made for the violent assaults on her character, not only in that House, but out of doors? He would not now allude to the wretched libellers who assailed her reputation in so shameless a manner. He wished to call the attention of the House to a pamphlet lately published, since her majesty's acquittal. This pamphlet asserted, as an inference from the evidence, that her majesty was guilty. The person who printed it dared to affix to the publication no less a name than that of the lord Chancellor. It was entitled a speech delivered by him on the occasion of the Queen's trial. Now, if this speech were written after it was delivered, as it appeared to have been, it was a most extraordinary proceeding; as it could not have been forgotten by the learned lord, that speeches so written when containing libellous matter, had frequently been subjected to punishment; and a publication containing more libellous matter than appeared in this speech could scarcely be found. Such a speech, indeed, was peculiarly calculated to vitiate public justice, and to fix a stigma upon the character of the Queen; while the abandonment of the prosecution against her majesty involved at least her virtual acquittal.—The noble lord concluded with expressing his conviction, that the motion of his noble friend should be adopted.
§ Lord Milton
said, he apprehended that the right hon. the member for the university of Oxford had failed in establishing a case for the ministers. That right hon. gentleman had warned the House not to regard the public opinion, as it was adverse to the character of those whom he supported; but to justify his warning, the right hon. gentleman had described another authority, which he thought proper to call public opinion. It would be, however, for the common sense and candour of parliament and the country to form an estimate upon the comparison of the right horn gentleman, between the secretly managed effusions of private meetings, and the open unqualified declarations, petitions, and addresses of the, numerous public meetings which had taken place throughout the country.
416 But was it to be seriously doubted, which party really spoke the public opinion? The right hon. gentleman himself, indeed, appeared in the course of his speech mainly to concur with that very public opinion which he affected to deprecate; for, although he expressed his intention to vote on this occasion for ministers, he professed to disapprove of every part of their conduct with respect to the Queen, except only their preference of proceeding by a bill of Pains and Penalties rather than by an impeachment. The right hon. gentleman distinctly disapproved of the omission of her majesty's name in the Liturgy, mitigating this disapprobation, however, by observing, that it was rather an unfortunate than a censurable proceeding. The right hon. gentleman had observed, that it was unfair in the gentlemen on his side of the House, standing on the 'vantage ground of experience, to condemn ministers for a decision which referred not to the past, but to the future. This censure, however, on the part of the right hon. gentleman, was not quite just; for it must be recollected, that ministers were at the outset in possession of the evidence upon which they were to proceed. They were aware of the persons who were to deliver that evidence, and they had ample opportunity of inquiring into the character of those persons. Therefore the argument of the right hon. gentleman, however it might otherwise be sound, must completely fail with regard to the decision and conduct of ministers in the case of the Queen. The right hon. gentleman had asked, if the Queen had been guilty of adultery, what would have been thought of ministers if they had, notwithstanding, allowed her to mount the throne of England? He (Lord M.) was, of course, ready to admit, that if her majesty had been proved guilty she would have been unworthy of such a station. But then it was the imperious duty of ministers, before they preferred the charge, to have ascertained whether they were able to produce the proof. Some persons were heard to say, that the Lords, in assenting to the second and third reading of the bill of Pains and Penalties, had pronounced a verdict against her majesty. But he would appeal to any one acquainted with parliamentary-usage, whether a vote for the second reading of such a bill implied any conviction of the party accused; and it was to be remembered, that all the vote" 417 of the other House terminated in the total renunciation of the bill. Therefore he maintained, that the votes of their lordships on any stage of the Bill, could not be quoted as evidence of her majesty's guilt. Upon the question of her majesty's guilt or innocence, for himself, he would declare, that he entertained a very decided opinion, different, he was aware, from that which was expressed by many with whom he occasionally communicated in the higher walks of life, and upon that opinion he had acted. The declaration of this opinion might be unpopular in that House, but still, he should have no hesitation in saying, that he thought the Queen not guilty of the charges preferred against her. He was ready to confess, that before the charges against her majesty were investigated, he thought her guilty, but this opinion had been totally changed by that investigation. Indeed, if that change had not taken place, no earthly consideration could have induced him to appear in her majesty's presence, or to take the part which he had done. Ministers had professed, that their conduct with respect to the Queen proceeded from a solicitude for public morals. But, if morality depended upon the late investigation, he felt, that he would have been among the last to oppose it; for he was most anxious for the preservation of morality, especially with a view to example among the highest individuals in the state—in the court of the sovereign, and among the ladies who accasionally mixed in that circle. But, with respect to the question before the House, he thought, the gravamen of the charge against ministers, was their introduction of the divorce clause in the bill of Pains and Penalties. They knew, that it was impossible, to pass such a clause consistently with the grounds upon which divorces were generally granted; that such a clause could not, indeed, be acceded to without a most serious dilapidation of morality; for nothing could tend more to relax the sacred and indissoluble tie of matrimony than the adoption of such a measure. Yet ministers persisted in pressing it, until they found it could not be carried; and then they abandoned it, not so much from a consideration of justice as of expediency.—The noble lord, after animadverting upon the grounds stated by the right hon. member for Oxford, for preferring a proceeding against the Queen rather by bill of Pains and Penalties than by 418 impeachment, observed, that the main ground of this preference, namely, that the party accused would be fully informed of the charges and the witnesses to sustain them, before the case was referred to the final tribunal of decision, applied to the one mode of proceeding as well as to the other, concluded with emphatically repeating, that the gravamen of the charge against ministers, consisted in their introduction of the clause of Divorce into the bill of Pains and Penalties.
§ Mr. Horace Twiss
said, that as the scrutiny to which the conduct of members had been subjected throughout all the discussions relating to the Queen, though abundantly minute, had been by no means proportionally accurate, and as he had voted on the recent occasions with that majority whose conduct was so severely impeached, he ventured to address the House, for the first time, in explanation of the reasons which would determine his present vote. Upon any question which had been personal to the Queen, he should have been unwilling to take an active part against her; but, when the motion was not against the Queen b\it against the government—when her friends were advancing from defensive to offensive warfare—[Interruption from the Opposition].—This was the first time he had troubled the House, and as he understood, that some indulgence was usual under such circumstances, he should presume to construe those demonstrations as friendly. He had been about to observe, that the present question being free from those difficulties which belonged to such as were personal to the Queen, an opinion might be expressed without any thing invidious to that illustrious person. With respect then to the exclusion from the Liturgy, it had not been magnified into so severe a hardship by the Queen herself, who at first seemed comparatively indifferent about it, but by certain distinguished persons in Opposition. They, before she herself took the objection, had suggested and propagated this promising topic of complaint: and the spark had then been formed into a flame by the formidable ventilation of the anti-ministerial press. [The hon. gentleman was again interrupted by the disapprobation of some members opposite, of which he complained, as being not less ungenerous on a first address, than it was derogatory on all other occasions.] 419 In the communications and negotiations which followed her majesty's arrival, suggestions had indeed been thrown out for the restoration of her name to the Liturgy, but, the earliest requisition to that effect by her negociators, made as it was for the first time after six days of treaty, was accompanied with an admission from them, that "it had not before been included by name among the heads to be discussed." Even then so little earnestness was expressed upon the subject, that in the very same conference, almost in the same breath, they suggested something else as a substitute in the event of its refusal. And two days afterwards her negociators being desired to state distinctly whether the insertion in the Liturgy was a sine qua non, answered, that either the restoration of her name, or an equivalent, was a sine qua non. So that this sine qua non of restoration to the Liturgy, which was supposed to have been throughout, so undeviatingly insisted on for the Queen, which was represented as the one, original, continuing cause of all, and which was made the pretence for distracting this great country, turned out at last to be a sine qua non beginning in an afterthought, and ending in an alternative: in all probability the first instance ever recorded of an alternative sine quâ non [hear!]. What, he would ask, would have been the language of Opposition, if, under the suspicions, just or unjust, which prevailed before and at the Queen's arrival, the ministers had stood calmly by, admiring her resolution, and paying her the full allowance of her late majesty? He would impute nothing to any party within the House; but, out of it he was sure they would have seen, staring as the main item in every inflammatory list of sinecures and pensions, the annuity which the apathy of ministers would then have been charged with saddling on the country without a due investigation into the deserts of the royal annuitant [cheering]. The noble lord near him (Castlereagh) had been blamed for volunteering a negotiation. It must be in every body's recollection, that the noble lord, when this sort of compromise was first proposed by the hon. member for Bramber (Mr. Wilberforce), had long hesitated to make the attempt: it was pot till member after member had risen And conjured him to try its effect, that he had at last yielded, expressing even then, his own conviction of its inutility, 420 and now the House were asked to turn round upon the noble lord, and make it a crime in him, that he consented to that, which they themselves, on behalf of the British people, had suggested, advised, and almost demanded of him. The next subject of blame was the Milan commission. If government sent out military agents, and those agents succeeded in their missions, the gentlemen opposite said, that the merit belonged to the agents and not to the ministers: but, if ministers sent out civil agents, and those agents were guilty of an oversight, the gentlemen opposite represented the errors of the agent as the errors of the government. This was not, in his opinion, fair conduct [Hear]. But they likewise said, that these civil agents had not sufficiently sifted the evidence which they had sent over into this country. Might he be permitted to say, in behalf of those who were not present to defend themselves, that, as many of the witnesses whom they had examined, had refused to come over to. England, they had lost many links in the chain of evidence which they had prepared against her majesty, and that the country, therefore, was not able to form a just estimate of their conduct? Much reliance had been placed on the concluding language of the address to the Queen, as expressing the opinion of the House on the unfitness of the proceedings, but he thought, on the contrary, that the language of the address she wed, that the proceedings were regarded by the House as necessary, unless prevented by the Queen's compliance: for the words of the request to her were, to spare this House the painful necessity of those discussions. The House would hardly bear to be told, that when they presented the alternative of compromise on her part, or discussion on theirs, they meant merely to hold out a threat which, if she possessed the fortitude to disregard, they would want the spirit to enforce. Then, what had happened since that address to change the principle on which the House had acted in voting it? Take the acquittal in the amplest sense, surely it did not follow, that the prosecutor must be guilty whenever the defendant is not? If so, the danger of committing offences would be speedily outweighed by the much greater danger of attempting to punish or prevent them: and the next question for the House would be rather a difficult one—how they should constitu- 421 tionally deal with that committee of the other House, which, on the same evidence, had recommended the same prosecution? That man only could consistently hold, that ministers ought never to have prosecuted, who would take upon him to say, that had he seen the evidence for the prosecution before it was contradicted, that is, in the only shape in which any prosecutor could ever see it, he could have pronounced the charges, on that ex-parte view, to be wholly unfounded; for, after the address to the Queen, which intimated that her compliance alone could save the necessity of the proceeding, it is too late to argue, that no grounds whatever could have justified so agitating an inquiry. And as to the Queen herself, the case was materially changed by her refusal to comply with the proposal of the House, and by her demand of a trial. She then became the challenging party; and though it was just to give her credit for magnanimity and bravery in facing accusation, it was not just at the same time to inflame the passions of the country against her accusers by denouncing them as oppressors who had barbarously dragged a helpless and reluctant victim to the stake.—The hon. gentleman then proceeded to argue that this was not a case in which impeachment could have been preferred, that process being, he said, confined to the cases of persons guilty of a breach of allegiance to the Crown, or of a political abuse of any public employment, trust, or franchise, and their accessories; and that a bill was therefore then necessary, because the only course. He concluded by contending with respect to the tranquillisation of the country, that the best remedy would be, for gentlemen opposite to discontinue such attempts as the present; he was convinced, that the middling classes who were mostly hostile to the late proceeding, were equally adverse to this renewal of the heats which that proceeding had engendered. The bill had been consigned to its death; it was now sought to sacrifice the ministers upon its grave. He was satisfied, that the majority of the country had no such wish: and that public opinion which had been represented by a noble lord (Nugent) to have served her majesty as a shield, would not be found equally available for a sword. [Hear, hear.]
§ The debate was then, upon the motion of Mr. Bennet, adjourned till to-morrow,