HC Deb 06 March 1843 vol 67 cc299-300
The Earl of Leicester

regretted that the first time he had (he honour of addressing the House, it should be on an occasion on which he felt himself called on to defend his character from certain observations which had been made by a noble and learned Lord, and late a Lord Chancellor of this country [" Order."]

The Speaker:

It is against the rules of the House for any hon. Member to allude directly to the debates which have taken place in the House of Lords.

The Earl of Leicester

was anxious to observe the rules of the House; he would therefore say, that he had found it stated in one of the public journals of the country that a noble and learned Lord had observed, that The present Lord Townshend was seventy years of age — he was in feeble health — and if he died without his marriage being dissolved, the consequence would be, that the son of Mr. John Margetts, the brewer of Huntingdon, who, first as Mr. John Margetts, jun., then as Lord John Townshend, and now as the Earl of Leicester, would be the root and stirps of a family imposed with an audacity wholly unparalleled in the history of fraud and deceit. Now, he should not have risen to take notice of these words, were it not that, as a Member of the House, he thought it was right that he should set himself free from those charges, for the purpose of giving satisfaction to the House, and he thought that if he did not do so, he should be unworthy of a seat in that House. It was not his wish, nor was it his intention on that occasion to enter into the merits of the question now so pain fully in dispute. He would only allude to the motives which he must say, had been most infamously and scandalously attributed to him by a certain noble and learned Lord, for the purpose of setting himself clear of them by some positive denial on his. part. It was most extraordinary that the noble. Lord should come down to the other House of Parliament and make such statements. [" Order, order."] It was extraordinary that any individual— and especially an individual who had been formerly the keeper of the Royal conscience — should act as the noble Lord to whom he referred had acted, and should give decided opinions, upon ex parte statements, without his having any means in his power of proving his assertions. He wished the noble Lord had not given him the painful necessity of rising on the present occasion; he wished that the noble Lord had had the patience to wait till he had heard what could be said pro and con upon the subject, because, of course, what the noble Lord said, must have a prodigious effect on the judgment of the country, considering the situation which the noble Lord had held. It must have an immense effect upon society at large. It had entered into his (the Earl of Leicester's) fancy, though he could hardly believe it — nevertheless it had appeared to him, that there had been something of a partizan or party character in the observation which the noble Lord had made. He was sorry that the noble Lord had made these remarks; but it was well known that the noble Lord was very much in the habit of tarnishing and throwing observations of a painful and aspersing character upon individuals. It appeared to him that private character was of too sacred a nature to be aspersed lightly by any party. He might add, that before he had come into the House, it had occurred to him that he should be better consulting, and more sincerely, his own dignity and character, if he were to take no notice of the observations in question, and if he were to allow such remarks to find their own level, as such observations in the course of time always did. He took this opportunity of imploring the House and the country not to form an opinion on ex parte statements. He ex-expressed his deep sense at the mannered which both that House and the public press had abstained under the present partial view of the ease, from giving utterance to any opinion on a subject that was so peculiarly personal to himself. The noble Lord concluded by beseeching the House and the country to suspend their judgments until all the evidence of the case was properly before them.

Question again put.