said, that he begged again to call the attention of their Lordships to the subject which he mentioned yesterday. It was at all times painful for an individual to direct the attention of others to what might appear his own particular and individual concerns, but he was sure, that their Lordships would feel that he was wanting in what he owed to himself— that he had not a proper sense of what was due, either to the situation which he had the honour to fill, or to the House of which he was a member—if he could permit the attack which had been made upon him to pass without further observation than he had yet had an opportunity of bestowing upon it. He wished to have it expressly understood that he was not coining forward with apy complaint against a member of the other branch of the Legislature, or any publisher of a newspaper, but he only desired to claim for himself the privilege which belonged to any individual who conceived himself to be unjustly attacked,—that of vindicating himself, and stating his denial of the charge. He found the charge against him in a public newspaper, and it was stated to have been made in the other House of Parliament. The charge was this:—It was stated, that he had offered the situation of Assistant Barrister, or rather, that he had given a recommendation to Government to appoint a person to that office in consideration of electioneering services. That offer had, it was said, the effect of procuring Government thirty votes. That was the 286 first part of the charge. The second part was, that he, or some persons connected with him, had made offers of advancement in the Church to individuals, in consideration of their rendering electioneering services. He need not say to their Lordships that if he had been guilty of such— he would not call it misconduct, but such —gross abomination as that imputed to him, he should be unworthy to occupy a seat in that assembly, or to fill any situation of trust under the Government. He should not only be disabled as a public functionary, but disparaged as a gentleman, if he had been guilty for a moment of harbouring a thought of such conduct. He felt it necessary to recur to the charge against him, because it had not been lightly or cursorily stated,—it was not a matter growing out of any provocation on his part, uttered in the heat of debate, of advanced as a piece of gossip by an obscure individual. It was a charge which a newspaper stated to have been uttered by a gentleman, a representative of a county in Ireland. It was brought forward, not only as a ground of impeachment against him individually, but as an attack on the Government of the country, and as a particular instance of the unfairness of their conduct with respect to the measures which they had in contemplation. The charge against him was gross and untrue—it was a colourless falsehood. He treated it not only as a libel on himself individually, but as a part of the system which had been adopted by persons opposing the present measures of his Majesty's Government, and which evinced an utter disregard of truth and decency, and of the observance of the common courtesies of life. In the present infuriated state of public feeling, those courtesies appeared to be utterly overlooked. With respect to the charge against him, he had, in the first place, simply and clearly to give it his positive and absolute denial. To any person who knew him—to any one with whom he had the honour of being acquainted—such denial was, he trusted, totally unnecessary. He was yesterday utterly at a loss to conjecture what could be the grounds on which it had entered into the fancy of any individual to bring forward such a charge. The accusation was at first made, not doubtingly and with hesitation, but as a matter of positive charge, resting on the knowledge of the individual who advanced it. So much so, 287 that when the charge was made, the newspapers stated that it drew forth warm expressions of approbation of his imputed guilt from persons who, he thought, ought rather to have expressed some doubts on the subject. He was at the time ably vindicated by a right hon. Gentleman, in whose hands he would be content to leave his defence, were it not that no third person was so competent to speak to facts as himself. With respect to his interference in elections, he declared publicly in the face of their Lordships, and he defied any one to rise up and express a doubt of the truth of the fact which he now stated, that never since he had the honour of being appointed to a judicial situation had he in the slightest degree interfered with any election. His opinions were well-known with respect to the measure which Government had brought forward. He was anxious for the success of the friends of Government, and not unfrequently had been consulted with respect to particular elections; but he had uniformly, in every instance, declined to interfere. In more instances than one, individuals applied to him to know what he would wish them to do. His answer was, "My opinions are no secret, but you must form your own opinions." When these persons offered to vote in a particular manner, his answer was, that he would not accept their offer, that they must vote according to their judgment, and that it was utterly unbecoming his situation to give any recommendation on the subject. With respect to his having offered to recommend a person to a judicial situation, it was utterly and absolutely false. He had never done anything approaching the shadow of that on which such a charge could be founded. When the individual who made the charge was called upon to give up his authority, he replied, "Oh, I don't know anything of it myself, but I was told so." He appealed to the candour of any noble Lord, and would ask, whether an individual had a right to charge another with an abominable crime, and, when he was asked for the grounds of his accusation, to say, "I have been told it." If such conduct should be pursued, no man's character would be safe. It was trifling with the first feelings of propriety—with the common decencies of society. A noble Marquis (Londonderry) had, since yesterday evening, made a communication to him, of which, as he did not understand it to 288 be confidential, he would avail himself. The person who made the charge against him said, that he had been told of the facts at the Kildare-street Club-house. Some one at this club-house told the hon. Baronet, that a person, whose name he supposed he was at liberty to mention— [The Marquis of Londonderry said no, he considered that communication had been made in confidence.] As the noble Marquis considered the communication private, his lips were sealed. Since he had the honour of a seat on the Bench, he had never had any communication with any individual on the subject of the appointment of an Assistant Barrister. No such situation had been vacant since he had had a seat on the Bench, and if there had been, he was not the person to whom an application would have been made on the subject in the first instance. But he never had had any communication on such a subject, and never had given any promise of recommendation. After the interdiction of the noble Marquis, he would not mention the name of the individual who had been referred to, but he might say that he had not the honour of knowing him except by seeing him in the Court of Chancery. He did not think that individual was a person likely to trouble himself to obtain any recommendation of the nature alluded to. So far with respect to himself: now with respect to the members of his family. It would be rather a hard thing that persons connected with him should not be allowed to exert themselves on the part of Government. He had sons grown to the age of manhood. They were all anxious to promote the success of Government in the late elections, and they exerted themselves to the utmost. He believed that they were exceedingly popular. They had lived in Dublin many years, doing acts of kindness to individuals within their sphere. This naturally gave them influence, and he believed that they materially contributed to the success of the candidates who supported the Government, and he should have been much ashamed of them if they had not done so. He would, however, say of his sons, that they were as incapable as any of their Lordships of doing anything mean or dishonourable, and they would have acted meanly and dishonourably if they had held forth to any individual a promise of promotion for the purpose of swaying his conduct. 289 He knew that they would have felt an invincible repugnance to do anything which they thought would be unpleasing to him; and they were well aware that nothing could be more contrary to his sentiments than to promise that his influence should be used in the way which had been represented. What was the duty of the hon. Baronet who had brought forward the charge? Did the hon. Baronet at this moment believe, that the gossip which he had heard in a private society was a foundation for asserting that he had been guilty? If the hon. Baronet believed so, and thought he had the means of establishing his guilt, then it was the hon. Baronet's duty to impeach him. Let him come forward and discharge his duty like a man. If he did not believe that he had any grounds for prosecuting the charge, if he had a particle of candour in his nature—
rose to order. The noble and learned Lord was deviating from the course which he originally pursued, and was now speaking of what had fallen from a Member of the House of Commons, instead of what had appeared in a newspaper.
The Duke of Buckingham
begged pardon of his noble and learned friend for delaying him for a moment from proceeding with his address. He appealed to the House whether there was a single individual who could think that there was the slightest ground for the imputation which had been thrown upon his noble and learned friend? There was not an individual in that House or the country, who thought him capable of the act which had been attributed to him. His noble and learned friend had denied the accusation, and surely it was better to stop there.
said, that he had found it necessary to address their Lordships in his own vindication. To those who knew him, any vindication was unnecessary; but there was something in the nature of calumny so subtle, that individuals of the best-constituted minds could not always resist its influence. It would be said, that a charge had been made by an hon. Gentleman, and there must at least be some kind of foundation for it. It was under this impression that he had taken that public opportunity of vindicating himself. He had no motion to make, no charge to bring forward, against any Member of the 290 House of Commons; but he would state that any person who had anywhere made such a statement as that which was contained in the newspapers, had stated that which was absolutely destitute of the slightest approach to the colour of truth. He had some right to complain. The conduct natural to an ingenuous and plain-dealing man, when he heard a statement to the prejudice of another person of hitherto unspotted character, was, to feel a disinclination to believe it,—at all events he would not make himself the vehicle for circulating the slander, unless he had ascertained that there was some ground for it. If he found that there was serious ground for the accusation, he ought to bring it forward. If not, he ought to come forward and declare that he had been in error. He was led to believe, from what fell from the noble Marquis last night, that he might have received some communication, but he had hitherto obtained no explanation on the subject. He did not complain of the hon. Baronet on this account. The hon. Baronet had a right to act as he pleased; but, on the other hand, he (Lord Plunkett) was not bound to follow the slander through all its details, and to discover who had been the original author of it. All that he was bound to do was, as he had done, to declare on his honour as a gentleman and a peer, that in every particular, from beginning to end, the accusation was nothing but falsehood, slander, and calumny, of the most odious description. Having said thus much, he would let the matter rest where it was.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, that nothing but a desire to defend his friend, the hon. Baronet, and to explain the course of his conduct, could have induced him to trouble their Lordships on this occasion, as he feared he must do at some length. He could not help thinking that the noble and learned Lord had exhibited an extraordinary degree of susceptibility on the subject. If the noble and learned Lord had carefully read the public journals, he would have found that an explanation was called for from the hon. Baronet; upon which he stated, most distinctly, that he brought no charge against the Lord Chancellor of Ireland; and that those who supposed that he did, had wholly misunderstood him. All the journals bore him out in asserting that that explanation was given. His hon. friend 291 stated, that he had heard the charge made, but he would not give up the name of the individual, lest the vengeance of the Government which the country was at present blessed with should fall on his head. The noble and learned Lord, notwithstanding his hon. friend said that he made no accusation against him, came down to the House, and said, that the statement was scandalous, false, libellous, and so forth. He would admit, that the noble and learned Lord might, in his conscience, know that there was no ground for the charge; but the question was, whether his hon. friend believed that he had grounds for what he stated. He had a high opinion of the honour of his friend, and without disparagement to the noble and learned Lord, he would say, that he thought as highly of his hon. friend as he did of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland or any Lord Chancellor.
§ The Earl of Eldon
, as a ci-devant Lord Chancellor, begged to observe, that the discussion then going on was as disorderly as anything he ever remembered. The noble and learned Lord had done justice to his character, which indeed required no justification. The charges brought, were of very trifling importance compared with those he (Lord Eldon) had formerly had to bear.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, he would not press the defence of his friend further. His friend had brought no charge against the noble and learned Lord, but merely stated what had been told him, which he had a right to do. He was sure his friend had grounds to place confidence in what was told him. The noble and learned Lord must be aware, that though an individual might know a thing, it would be very difficult to bring forward persons to prove it. He was sure, that his friend would not have stated anything which had not been told him by other persons, and in his explanation he denied that he intended to make any charge against the noble and learned Lord.
said, that nothing was more natural than that the noble and learned Lord should take the opportunity of stating most positively his denial of the accusation which had been brought against him, and he was sure that no one who had witnessed the public conduct of the noble Lord, could have the slightest doubt that what he had stated was the truth. It must be recollected, however, that the 292 noble Lord and the person from whom the accusation proceeded, stood in different situations. The noble Lord knew that what was stated was untrue of his own knowledge. It was impossible that the person from whom the accusation proceeded, could know any thing from his own knowledge; he only spoke from the information of others. He must, however, admit, that he did not think it consistent with the duty of any man to state facts which affected the character of others without the most strict inquiry beforehand. And he thought further, that after the declaration of the noble Lord, it was the bounden duty of the person from whom those charges proceeded, to investigate the matter, and after investigation, distinctly to state whether he did or did not adhere to the charges. If he should find that there were grounds for the charges, he was bound as a gentleman and a Member of Parliament, to bring them forward. Nothing less would satisfy public justice. He had to express his regret that the noble Lord should have characterized the report which proceeded from a Member of the House of Commons as part of a system of misrepresentation directed against the Government by those in opposition to it. He must say, not only for himself—for what concerned him was of little importance—but for all those opposed to the Government, and he thought justly opposed to it, in that House, that they had resorted to no misrepresentation whatever for the purpose of effecting any party object. Although he was very unwilling to adopt any strong expression, he would state confidently, that whoever asserted that those opposed to Government resorted to a system of misrepresentation in the words of the noble and learned Lord, asserted a colourless falsehood.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, that the noble Baron was not warranted in prescribing the course of conduct which his friend ought to pursue. His friend was as good a judge of what he ought to do as the noble Baron, and perhaps a better.
§ Here the conversation ended.