HL Deb 09 March 1804 vol 1 cc807-9

Shortly after the meeting took place, and previously to the temporary adjournment of the House, for the purpose of affording time to the lords commissioners to robe,

Farl Fitztwilliam

rose, and addressed a va- riety of observations to the House relative to the state of his Majesty's health, with a reference to the important proceeding then about to take place. He observed, he had reason for entertaining doubts that the state of the Sovereign's health was such as to militate, in some degree, against the exercise of that very important part of the royal functions, which, he understood, was about to be acted upon. He spoke from an authority on which he thought he could rely. In endeavouring to illustrate the first position, he lordship made a variety of observations upon the reports made by the royal physicians at different times, and argued from the general tenor of such as he alluded to, that the Sovereign was not in a state of actual convalescence: the reports seemed, in his idea, rather calculated to flatter the expectations of the public, nor were any hopes of a speedy recovery held out. In the course of his observations, his lordship alluded to the bulletin of this day. As the subject struck his mind, upon every thing he had observed or could collect, he was led to entertain doubts which induced him to call upon the noble lord upon the woolsack for farther information relative to the very important point in question.

The Lord Chancellor

in answer to what had fallen from the noble earl, observed, that for any proposition coming from such a quarter, he entertained the highest respect; indeed upon such a very important topic, observations coming from any individual peer in that House, were entitled to the most serious attention. With respect to the doubts entertained by the noble earl, he could assure his lordship and the House, that in every thing connected with so grave, important, and momentous an occasion as that in question, he had proceeded with all that delicacy, deliberation, and caution which such an occasion evidently required; he had proceeded on the occasion even with fear and trembling; to speak more specifically to the point, he observed, that not satisfied with the reports and assurances of the medical attendants of his Majesty on so important an occasion, he thought it proper and necessary to have a personal interview with the Sovereign, and at which due discussion took place as to the bills which were offered for the royal assent, and which was fully expressed. He would sooner suffer his right band to be severed from his body, than in such an instance he would agree to act upon light or superficial grounds. He thought it his bounden and indispensable duty, and which he trusted he always had, and always should conscientiously discharge, to proceed in the manner he had stated: and he had no hesitation to aver, that the result of all I that took place upon the occasion, fully and amply justified him, in announcing his Majesty's assent to the bills specified in the royal commission. He knew and felt with gratitude his obligations to I he best of Sovereigns, and to whose person he, bore the warmest affection. But he could most conscientiously say, that no considerations whatever, even those to which he had alluded, should ever induce him to break that sacred covenant he had made with himself, not to suffer any thing to warp his judgment, or to bias him from that rule of strict duty and rectitude which he was determined to follow. He entertained no doubts of the noble earl's having come forward upon a sense of duty, and that he was actuated by nothing personal to himself upon the occasion. He was fully aware of the high degree of responsibility under which he stood; and with reference to which he acted upon the occasion.

The lords commissioners then retired to robe, and when they had taken their seats in the front of the throne, the Commons were sent for, and appearing at the bar, the royal assent was declared in the usual form to the Irish Bank Restriction Bill, the two Mutiny Bills, the Seed Corn Exportation, the Greenland Whale Fishery, the London port, the Scotch Bankrupt Laws, and the Duke of York's Estate Bills, and to a few private bills. After the Commons had retired, their Lordships forwarded the bills which remained upon the table, chiefly of a private or local description, after which the House adjourned till Monday.