§ Earl Grey
said, that he rose in consequence of the question that had been put to him on a former evening, relative to papers connected with Portugal, to inform the noble Marquis who put those questions, that the papers were in a state of forwardness, and that they should shortly be laid on the Table of the House. He had also to inform the noble Marquis, that he had inquired into the propriety of laying on the Table the opinion of the King's Advocate on the case on which that opinion was founded, respecting the abduction of the Portuguese fleet from the Tagus, and he had found, that the practice was, not to make such documents public; and though, in Lord Sidmouth's Administration, the opinions of the then Attorney and Solicitor General were produced in order to bear out a particular act of his Majesty's Government, it was not customary to consider communications between the Crown and its law advisers as otherwise than strictly confidential. Instead of its being the rule to submit those papers, 2 he believed the rule was the contrary, and he had only to refer to the remarkable case of Terceira, when the noble Duke lately at the head of his Majesty's Government refused to produce the law opinions on which he and his colleagues acted. When, therefore, the noble Marquis put the question for the production of those papers, he said, though personally he had no objection to lay them before the House, he was not at liberty to do so until he had communicated with the King's Advocate, and procured his consent. That learned person had declared, that he had no objection to have his opinion made public, provided the case on which he gave it was, at the same time laid open. As, therefore there was no difficulty on the part of the King's Advocate, the papers should be at once produced; but he begged the House to remark, that this indulgence was granted under particular circumstances, and that it should be looked upon as an exception from the general rule, and not as a precedent which was to be binding in future cases.
§ The Earl of Eldon
said, that the rule had been correctly stated by the noble Earl, and it was unquestionable that the opinions of the law officers of the Crown were altogether confidential between them and the existing Administration. He remembered the time when Sir Fletcher Norton's opinion was made public, and when that 3 learned person declared, that he would never give another opinion in writing. He agreed with the noble Earl both in the propriety of what he stated, and in the course he had pursued in this matter.
The Marquis of Londonderry
was grateful to the noble Earl for laying the opinion before their Lordships, and particularly for his intention to submit the case on which the opinion was founded; and he was the more grateful to him for this information, as there were many parts of his conduct respecting Portugal which he was any thing but satisfied with. He regretted that the noble Earl should still persevere in his unkindly policy towards that country, as the noble Earl ought to be convinced, as he was, by the united acknowledgment of the nobility, clergy, and people, that Miguel was entitled to the throne, and that it was full time for this country to acknowledge his right, and to re-establish its commercial relations with Portugal. And he still more regretted that, during the late Administration, the noble Earl near him, who now admitted the clearness of Don Miguel's right, had not then thought proper to advise his Majesty to recognise him. He was grateful, however, to the noble Earl for the production of these papers, for he hoped that a case would come out of them which would clear the character of the country from a most disgraceful and discreditable stain, which, in his opinion, it acquired by allowing the French fleet to carry off, as prizes, the whole of the Portuguese fleet, and to conduct them to the port of Brest, where they were probably to be re-manned, and to be sent back to Lisbon with the enemies of the existing government, to attempt to overthrow and destroy it, and establish another, in defiance of the wishes of the Portuguese people. He must repeat his thanks for the papers which were promised. When they were in their Lordships' possession, and all the particulars of the transaction fully known, it would be necessary to discuss the subject in all its bearings. And he begged to assure the noble Marquis (Lansdown), who had on a former occasion taunted him by saying, that he had better discuss the subject before the House had the papers, that he felt a deep interest in Portugal. He had served in that country, and he could not forget, nor ought the noble Duke opposite (Richmond) to forget, the fortitude, bravery, 4 and fidelity shewn by the Miguelite party; for it was this party, and not the Constitutionalists, who then rallied round the British flag, and effectually assisted to achieve the independence of their own country and the independence of Europe. It should never be forgotten which of the Portuguese parties it was who fought on the side of Great Britain. There was one question which he begged to put to the noble Earl before he sat down. He had stated the other night, that two line-of-battle ships had been sent to the Tagus, and this fact was now fully confirmed. He wished, therefore, to know if any fresh grievance or new ground of complaint was alleged against the Portuguese government? He asked this question because it was known that an insurrection had recently taken place in Portugal, and had been put down. He was prepared to account for this insurrection. If noble Lords would hear him out, he would state the causes of this insurrection, according to his information, which was perhaps quite as good as any that could be derived from the British Consul at Lisbon. He understood that there were fresh complaints against the Consul. It was stated, that a Serjeant who had been engaged in the revolt, as well as another individual, who had run away, had recently arrived in this country. He wished to be informed if our Consul at Lisbon was authorised to give British passports to individuals so situated? For it was known that the Lisbon packet would not take on board passengers to this country without a British passport. He did not state these facts loosely. Perhaps they might not be included in any information received by the Foreign Secretary. He was nevertheless able, if an opportunity could be afforded him, to prove them by witnesses at their Lordships' bar. Having stated these facts, he now wished to know if any fresh grievance was alleged against the Portuguese government, and if it was such as made it necessary to despatch two line-of-battle ships to the Tagus? He was likewise anxious to know if the letter of Sir John Campbell had been laid before the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He had received a letter from that noble Lord, acknowledging that which he had sent him; and the last paragraph of the noble Lord's letter to him was such as to warrant one or two remarks. He would read the paragraph, and read also what he 5 had written in reply to it. The noble Secretary said, that it was not necessary for him to reply to the observations of Sir John Campbell, but in justice to Mr. Hoppner, he felt bound to say, that his Majesty's Government had no reason to believe, that the conduct of that gentleman, as his Majesty's Consul at Lisbon, had been other than proper. He would only say, that a letter had been sent to him, and another to Sir Herbert Taylor, by Sir John Campbell, who, as an honourable Officer, was anxious that his Majesty should know, and that the noble Lord at the head of his Government should know, how the national affairs were conducted at Lisbon. The letter addressed to Sir Herbert Taylor was sent back to Sir John Campbell, in order to receive some alterations which it was supposed might make it more agreeable to the noble Earl. This was six weeks ago, and when he found that his Majesty's Government would take no notice of his communication, it was clearly right on the part of the gallant Officer to send his communication to another Member of that House, and to request him to state, that he was ready to prove the allegations it contained. It could not be denied, that the letter had been received by his Majesty's Government, or why did the noble Duke ask him if his letter did not contain some statements respecting the persons in prison in Portugal, which it did not, and which could only have been suspected because the letter to Sir H. Taylor, intended for the information of his Majesty's Government, did contain such a statement? Then it was too much to accuse persons of putting papers into the hands of noble Lords on that side of the House for factious purposes, when a month before, the papers to the same effect had been communicated by the same party to Government. It was possible the Foreign Secretary might know nothing of the letter of Sir John Campbell. It was possible that the noble Earl might have sent him the customary red box, forgetting to put the letter into it, as it was possible that the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs might have received the letter, and, as in the case of another celebrated letter, might have forgotten to read it. All this was possible, but he knew that the honourable individual sent the letter to his Majesty's Government. Sir John Campbell felt deeply interested in the 6 welfare of Portugal; and finding that his communication obtained no attention from Government, he very naturally applied to a brother soldier, and requested him to bring the conduct of Mr. Hoppner under the notice of their Lordships. He would now state to their Lordships what he had written in reply to the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs:—"In reply to that part of your Lordship's letter in which you express the opinion that I am mistaken, and that his Majesty's Government have no reason to believe that the conduct of Mr. Hoppner has been other than proper, I can only say, that Sir John Campbell communicated the same statement which I transmitted to you to Sir Herbert Taylor, to be seen by Earl Grey, thus acting in unison with the advice subsequently given by the Duke of Richmond in the House of Lords. The letter was certainly received, for allusion was made to a passage in it respecting prisoners in the course of the debate. I am therefore convinced, that his Majesty's Government were cognizant of the facts stated in the letter I communicated to you, although your Lordship alone might probably have remained unacquainted with them." This was what he had thought fit to reply to the noble Secretary, for he should never permit, without contradiction, any Minister to say that he was mistaken, or to accuse him of stating what was not warranted. These were not the times in which men could be indifferent to such accusations. He begged leave, before he sat down, to repeat his questions, whether any fresh grievance was alleged against the government of Portugal, and whether his Majesty's Government were not aware of the facts slated in the letter of Sir John Campbell before he adverted to the authority of that Officer in the recent discussion?
§ Earl Grey
said, that the noble Marquis seemed extremely indignant at the possibility of any one imputing a mistake to him, and he supposed, therefore, that he must congratulate the noble Marquis on being free from the common infirmities of nature, to which all other men were liable. He would, therefore, be cautious how he charged him with being mistaken, as it would appear that the noble Marquis was exempt from the common failings of man, and endowed with an excellence of understanding which few could arrogate to themselves. Whether the noble Marquis 7 was right or wrong in that intimation was no business of his, and all he had to say was, that he had no objection to answer his question. He would admit then, that he had seen the letter alluded to, but in the shape of a private communication from Sir Herbert Taylor. He begged, however, to have it understood, that he believed he had not seen it at the period of the debate in which he had been called upon to state his favourable opinions of Mr. Hoppner, so that the letter could not, as the noble Marquis suspected, have induced him to make those remarks, which were altogether drawn from him in justice to that respectable individual. If he had seen the letter previously to that debate, it would have made no difference in what he said; and he was prepared now to say, that the communication of Sir John Campbell had not in the slightest degree weakened his sense of the merits of Mr. Hoppner. There was nothing in the way of reproach towards that gentleman which had been offered, that affected his high opinion of him. He considered the communication as a private one from Sir Herbert Taylor, and he would frankly admit, that the tone and temper in which Sir John Campbell's letter was written, were such that he did not deem it necessary to submit it to his colleagues, and after perusing it himself he returned it to Sir Herbert Taylor. The letter was different, as far as his recollection went, from that "which had been read to the House. There were no specific charges in it, and there was a strong eulogium on the public administration and private virtues of Don Miguel. It was he who suggested to his noble friend (the Duke of Richmond) the question about the persons detained in prison, for he recollected that, after the enumeration of the virtues of Don Miguel, there was a passage which began, "perhaps it might be said, that there were 6,000 persons in prison on account of State accusations." For his part, he believed that 6,000 was not the one-half nor the one-third of those who were then languishing in confinement by order of the Portuguese government; but then the letter went on to ask, "were there not persons confined in the Castle of Ham for the same cause?" and concluded by reasoning of a similar nature, which the House would believe he did not much coincide in, and he therefore allowed the document to escape him without its 8 making any great impression on his mind, and it certainly did not counteract the information which he had received from quarters on which he placed a greater reliance. In the letter read by the noble Marquis, there were specific charges made against the conduct of Mr. Hoppner; but, as he did not believe that Sir John Campbell was present at each particular case, it was clear that he must have got his information from others, by whom he was purposely misled and misinformed. Be that as it might, the letter had been sent to Mr. Hoppner; and when his answer to it was received, the noble Marquis might, if he pleased, renew the subject. So much for this topic—and with regard to the question which the noble Marquis thought proper to put, relative to the sailing of two ships of the line; to that he had only to say, he believed, when orders were given by his Majesty's Government for the departure of ships of war, it was not customary for any person to inquire for what purpose they were sent, and he would, therefore, not give the noble Marquis the information he desired. If the noble Marquis repeated the question to-morrow, and if he continued to repeat it from day to day, all he could say was, that he should have no answer. The noble Marquis then inquired if any new grievance had occurred in Portugal? To that he answered in the affirmative; and not only were complaints made of the government of Don Miguel by the British Consul, but they were made by the Officers of the British ships in the Tagus; and not only by them, but by the merchants of Lisbon and Oporto. The noble Marquis doubted this, but he recommended him to look for better information than he had already proved he was in the habit of receiving, if he wished to support his character of never being mistaken. Notwithstanding those pretensions, it was possible that the noble Marquis might be in error, and he had a late instance which might convince him of the fact. The noble Marquis had then stated, that when the French ships were in the Tagus, they were delayed there for the purpose of forcing the Portuguese government to comply with stipulations of a nature favourable to French commerce; but, when our Minister at Paris was made acquainted with the statement, his answer was, that it was with the greatest surprise that he heard of it, for no such thing was contemplated or attempted. 9 This, to be sure, was a slight error, but it only showed that persons of the greatest power of mind were sometimes unable to distinguish truth from falsehood; and that the noble Marquis, although he was so irritated at its being supposed that he could be mistaken, was himself sometimes misled.
The Marquis of Londonderry
, when he rose to ask a question relative to the public affairs of the country, had no idea that the noble Earl would turn his answer into a personal attack, and he assured the noble Earl, that neither in the eyes of the House nor the country was it consistent with his character and acknowledged talent to indulge in personal allusions, where nothing of the kind had been attempted against him. However, on this occasion he would pass by any observation of that nature in silence; begging the noble Earl to believe that he wished to avoid every thing like personality. While he admitted, however, that he was quite unequal to cope in argument with the noble Earl, he would not be prevented by any remarks, whether personal or otherwise, from discharging his duty as a Member of the House, and of pursuing his inquiries into the conduct of his Majesty's Government. The noble Earl charged him with pressing on a debate before all the papers were laid before the House; but surely the noble Earl could not complain of his unwillingness to receive information, as it must be in the recollection of the House, that he had frequently expressed a strong desire to have the whole case laid open. In the absence of that information he had applied to sources of his own, and he felt that his communications were worthy of credit, however much the noble Earl might undervalue them. With regard to the perfect silence which the noble Earl threatened, he had nothing further to say, than that he would continue to pursue that course which was dictated to him by his conviction, whether he was favoured or not by the notice of the noble Earl. The noble Earl might appear indifferent to the questions that had been put from that side of the House, and to the observations that he and his noble friends near him had made on the policy and conduct of the noble Earl; but he would ask the noble Earl, if the question, which had been put, and the comments that had been made, had not materially changed the course of the negotiatio which his Majesty's Government 10 had been lately pursuing? He would ask the noble Earl, if the observations which had proceeded from that side of the House had not given a tone to his negotiations which never would have been given if he and his noble friends had not stated boldly what the opinions of the country were? Indeed, it was evident to all that the noble Earl had been moved by those hints, and that he was now coming round from his confidence in French magnanimity. He hoped, therefore, as the advice from that side of the House had opened the eyes of the noble Earl to the conduct of France respecting Belgium, he would take advantage of their opinions, and be warned in time of the fate of Portugal. He hoped to see the noble Earl act as if he were aware of what French intrigue was driving at, and not be made a party to a wild attempt to impose a constitution on a people who detested it, and to place Don Pedro on a throne to which he had no right. With these few observations he would conclude, regretting that he had trespassed so long on the time and patience of the House.
§ Earl Grey
was not aware of any personality that he had uttered, and he thought that the noble Marquis had no right to complain, as nothing like a personal attack was intended. But he begged leave to ask the noble Marquis, who seemed so sensitive on this point, if he were not aware of the terms that he himself used; and if he forgot, when he spoke of the conduct of his Majesty's Government on the affairs of the Tagus, that he had called it disgraceful, dishonest, and discreditable to the character of the country? The noble Marquis must be aware, that if he used these expressions they must be replied to, and the more he avoided using them the better; otherwise it would be impossible to carry on the debates of the House, at least so far as he was concerned. The noble Marquis said, that great advantage had arisen to the conduct of the foreign policy of the country by the interlocutory debates which he and other noble Lords near him were in the habit of so often provoking and he called on his Majesty's Government, as they had been saved by following his advice respecting Belgium, to take warning now by his foreboding, and to rescue Portugal from her fate. That the noble Marquis was an able and discreet counsellor he was not disposed to deny, but, judging from the counsel he had of 11 late so repeatedly given, which, if followed, would have had no better effect than that of plunging the country into war, he begged leave to decline attending to him for the future, as he could assure the noble Marquis he had not been influenced by his advice during the past. The noble Marquis had spared no opportunity of using offensive epithets against the French government, and of taunting him with placing his confidence in its assertions. The noble Marquis had embraced every opportunity of inflaming both nations against each other, and, as far as was in his power, of leading them into war. He must, therefore, decline to be influenced by opinions which would be attended with that result. But, as the noble Marquis had said that his Majesty's Government was indebted to his counsel for the settlement of Belgium, it was fit that he should assure him that its conduct had not in the least been influenced by what the noble Marquis had said on any one occasion. The conduct of himself and his colleagues had been guided by different views, and they had steadily pursued their course, uninfluenced by the advice, the charges, or the vituperation of the noble Lord. They had gone on as if he had not spoken. He had no objection to let the noble Marquis congratulate himself upon being the dictator or director of the foreign policy of the country, but he would assure the noble Marquis, that he would pursue the line of his duty as he thought fit, and that he would not be deterred by anything the noble Marquis might say from following the policy which seemed to him wisest and most just. He would further tell the noble Marquis, that there was something in his tone and manner, and his apparent indifference to the continuance of peace and the misery of war, which would induce him, if he found himself agreeing with the noble Marquis, to pause and to reconsider the grounds of his opinions before he ventured to act upon them. More than this he would not say at that time, and he would conclude by repeating, however much the noble Marquis might flatter himself with having advised and directed the present Administration, that anything he had said had had no effect whatever on the minds of the Ministers.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, he only wished to add one word, which was to repeat what he had said before, and to recommend to the noble Earl to avoid personality, 12 and not to impute vanity or presumption to him or to any other person who ventured to arraign the conduct of his Government. He never indulged in personality, and had attacked, not the noble Earl himself, but the conduct of his Government, and the foreign policy by which he had hitherto guided his Administration. He therefore felt, that the personality which the noble Earl indulged in was inapplicable to him, and unworthy of the station which the noble Earl held in the country. He would, however, repeat, that the noble Earl, in the change of his policy in the Belgian affair, had followed the suggestion which came from that side of the House, and had listened to the advice of the four Powers against France. He had fallen back upon the principles of the quadruple alliance, and felt, at length, the propriety of checking the aggrandisement of France. It was evident that he did so in rescuing Belgium from the clutches of that country, and he only regretted that the Ministers of Prussia and Austria, who had influenced him so strongly on that point, had not urged him with the same success to render justice to Portugal.
The Lord Chancellor
thought, with the noble Marquis that this was a most unfit mode of their Lordships passing their time, and he agreed with that noble Lord that it was most idle for the House to occupy itself in what he called interlocutory discussion. The noble Marquis found out that to-night, but he discovered it long ago, and he had not waited for the 14th of September, in the 2nd year of the reign of King William 4th, to learn how many good hours might thus be uselessly consumed. That knowledge had been acquired by him almost the very first day that he was made a Member of that House, and ever since he became acquainted with a certain person to whom he could not more distinctly allude. He would not have said a word on this occasion were he not called on to render justice to an absent, and, as he considered, a very ill-used friend. He always understood, both in this and in the other House of Parliament, when any person was absent, whether friend, enemy, or neutral, that it was but seemly to abstain from making strong accusations against him. This was not the first time, however, that his Majesty's Consul at Lisbon had been attacked in his absence, and he thought it was rather strange that the noble Marquis should be 13 the person to press these charges, as Mr. Hoppner was first advanced by his own relation. But it was evident, that notwithstanding the fact that one so dear to him had selected Mr. Hoppner as worthy of the public confidence, the noble Marquis had suffered his mind to be influenced, to be imposed upon, and to be deluded. It was evident that the noble Marquis, however honestly he meant, was deluded by artful parties, and knowing nothing personally of those transactions, he was made the dupe or agent of persons who induced him to speak of Mr. Hoppner in terms which were pretty much the same as Don Miguel himself would speak of that individual. No one would question the honour of Sir John Campbell, but it should be recollected that that gallant Officer was in the way of being acted upon by strong prejudices, and his situation in the country rendered him liable to be affected by them; and as there was no doubt that he was full of Miguelite prejudices, he had communicated them to the noble Marquis, who had swallowed them up and absorbed them into his system. The noble Marquis, therefore, only saw one side of the question, and he viewed with jaundiced eye every thing that concerned that country, or the conduct of his Majesty's Government towards it. For his own part, judging of the letter of Sir John Campbell, and the discretion in which it was conceived, and the language in which it was expressed—nay, of the manner in which it was directed, he thought it was but prudent to pause before he gave a full assent to all that it contained. From it, however, he learned, that Sir John Campbell was angry with Mr. Hoppner, because Mr. Hoppner was angry with Don Miguel, and because that gentleman had taken steps—mind you, in the discharge of his duty—to protect his own countrymen from the attacks which were made or threatened against them. Sir John Campbell admitted, that there were probably 6,000 persons shut up in prisons, and then he innocently asked, whose fault was that? And was it not clear that they had acted in the same manner as the Prince de Polignac and the other French ministers, who were shut up in the fortress of Ham? Sir John Campbell totally forgot to say, that the latter were accused, tried, convicted, and that their imprisonment was the consequence of their crime and a legal sentence, pronounced by the tribunals of 14 the country. Sir John Campbell spoke of 6,000 persons only; if he had named 30,000 he would have been nearer the mark—all of whom were untried, unconvicted, not sentenced—many of whom were taken out of their beds in the dead of the night, and more of whom were arrested in mid-day, without naming the offence of which they were accused. He should not be surprised if ninety-nine out of every hundred were languishing in Don Miguel's dungeons without a regular accusation, trial, or sentence. Were these the attractions which won the regards of Sir John Campbell and the noble Marquis, and by which they were able to account for the love they bore to Don Miguel? He really could not account for the desire which the noble Marquis, and an hon. Baronet in the other House of Parliament, on all occasions evinced to support Don Miguel; and the soreness which they exhibited when the conduct of that personage was arraigned; he himself knew what party was. He—"had given suck (to faction), and knewHow tender 'tis to love the babe;"—but he wouldHave plucked the nipple from its gums And dashed the brains out,sooner than he would have let his party beguile him to bePleased with a rattle—tickled with a straw,and descend to the praise of Don Miguel. He could abstain from speaking of Don Miguel at all; but if he did say any thing, he would speak of him in the words of one who knew how to paint a tyrant to the life:—"Tyrannus, quo neque tætrius, neque fædius, nee dis hominibusque invisius animal ullum cogitari potest: qui, quanquam figura est hominis, morum tamen immanitate vastissimas vincit belluas." Praise him, indeed, or any one of his caste! No, that was beyond his power. He never could descend to that, though he gave way to the bitterest feelings that ever were engendered by faction or sprung from party. With regard to the charge of using personalities, which the noble Marquis made against his noble friend, it appeared to him very odd that the noble Marquis should be so unconscious of the pain which he himself inflicted, and so much alive to that which he experienced. Not that he thought the noble Earl had shown any thing like a proper sense of the castigation of the noble Marquis; he had 15 not evinced enough for the order of debate, or as much as such cutting words in decency called on him to do. The noble Earl could not be so patient under the rod, and it was but fitting that he should chafe a little, and not take in such good part the bitter things which were levelled against him. Considering the severity of the noble Marquis, and that he had said nothing more than that the noble Earl's Administration had disgraced the Sovereign and the country, it was wonderful to find him so patient, and, he would add, forgiving—
The Lord Chancellor
The noble Marquis said, "quite true." He supposed that was by way of making his charge less disagreeable. The noble Marquis then proceeded to say, that all the wise measures of late pursued by his Majesty's Government had been forced upon them by his advice, and that all the good that had accrued to them had been received at his hands. It might be true, but he did not know until now to what mighty spirit they had been indebted.Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa, per artusMens agitat molem, et magno si corpore miscet.He was not aware until now, that it was the noble Marquis who bade the spirit speak which agitated their minds and impelled their measures. The noble Marquis did not seem, however, to be informed of what the real effect of all that he had been saying was. He would be surprised to be told, that it was a more serious thing than he could imagine; and he could bear testimony to all the remonstrances which the noble Earl offered to him in that course, but in vain. Night after night was the noble Marquis at his post, making speeches against France. Now he (the Lord Chancellor) did not say that England should truckle to France, but he said, we should keep peace with France, for if there was not peace with her, there was nothing but war for the world. When France was peaceably and amicably disposed, he said let England enter into every kindly feeling, though it be with France. He said, with France, and with France above all others, because she was our nearest and greatest neighbour—and she had more power than any other State to disturb the repose of Europe. What he now stated was on something better than surmise—he spoke from the authority he had officially 16 acquired within the last three months; and he cautioned the House against the perilous consequences of these constant and unjust charges. Was there a Minister to be attacked, he was accused of a leaning towards France; was the Government in mass to be denounced, it was because it sought an alliance with France. If there was one thing for which, in the estimation of the people, a Minister of this country would deserve to lose his head, it would be the needless plunging into a war with France, and involving in one common hostility Europe and the world. That was not known in France—it was not known in the Paris circles—it was not known amongst many, even very well-informed people—it was not known amongst their Statesmen; but they knew the noble Marquis, and, as a prophet was more honoured in another country than in his own, they attended to what he said. They did not know that the noble Marquis was not a person of the greatest weight, influence, and consideration of any one in the House—they knew, however, that he was an important member of an important party—the leading member of the Opposition of this country, and they consequently said, "There is a great war party in England—all the high Tory party, with the noble Marquis at their head, are bent on breaking the peace." The consequence of this was, that many best well-wishers of this country in Europe were at this moment trembling for the peace of Europe in consequence of these repeated attacks. He would not at present bring forward his private opinion; but he had no hesitation in saying, that if these attacks were persisted in, he should use arguments which would convince their Lordships, that he had rather understated than exaggerated the case. "I shall not (continued the noble and learned Lord) have regretted having troubled your Lordships on the present occasion, if what I am about to add shall reach France, and the friends and well-wishers of this country, and the friends and well-wishers of peace in that great nation (for they are the same persons, and one and the same party—they who wish well to England, France, and the peace of Europe, are one and the same); if the contradiction which I now give in the face of your Lordships and the country shall reach them, and carry comfort to their bosoms, I shall not regret having troubled your Lordships. I solemnly and in my conscience 17 believe, that the breaking the peace of Europe will, over England, Ireland, and Scotland, be the most hated act that any Government could be guilty of; that it would draw down universal, loud, and unsparing execrations on the Government; and I do in my conscience believe, that those execrations would not be more loud, universal, and unsparing, than, according to the soundest view of the interests of this country, and the honour of the Crown which I serve, and which I think I more faithfully serve the more I give utterance to these opinions, they would be merited by the advisers of so insane and criminal a course."
The Marquis of Londonderry
would not be deterred by all the eloquence and all the power of language possessed by the noble and learned Lord from doing his duty. He did think that the efforts of the noble and learned Lord had failed, when he ventured forth, with all his power and all his extraordinary language, to heap on the Prince who was now reigning over Portugal all the abuse which he seemed to think him deserving of. That individual had not been proved to be guilty, and he ought to be considered innocent until he was so proved. He did not stand up to defend Don Miguel, but when there were statements on one side and on the other, he did object to the condemnation of that individual until both sides were examined. Of this there could be no doubt, that Don Miguel was the acknowledged King of Portugal, however noble Lords might quarrel with his title. He did not pretend to be such a scholar as the noble and learned Lord; he could not quote with so much facility as the noble and learned Lord did. He could only compare the noble and learned Lord to Cæsar,He doth bestride this narrow worldLike a Colossus, and we petty menWalk under his huge legs and peep aboutTo find ourselves dishonourable graves.Should they not endeavour, then, to put him down, who did all he could to get them under by the extraordinary lash of his eloquence? He believed that the noble and learned Lord was brought to that House for the purpose of assisting those who, when questioned, wished to be silent. No sooner was a question asked, than the noble and learned Lord started up, and took his position on the Opposition side of the House, for the purpose of—
§ Lord Holland rose to order. The assertion of the noble Marquis, that the noble and learned Lord was sent to that House for some certain purpose, was extremely irregular. It would be well if the noble Marquis would check the profusion and ardour of his eloquence, which led him into assertions that were not at all reconcileable with order.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, no man felt a greater wish to pay personal respect to every member of that House than he did. But he must say, that courtesy was not always observed towards him. He well recollected the observation made by the noble and learned Lord about braying his head in a mortar. Had the noble Baron called the noble and learned Lord to order on that occasion, he thought that he would have been justified in doing so. But did any noble Lord imagine, that when the noble and learned Lord had attacked him as he had done, he would not attempt to answer it? With respect to the remark which had been made on him, he would say, that he thought it would be a great blessing to the Constitution if the noble and learned Lord would allow himself to be brayed in a mortar first? He would ask of any noble Lord, whether the whole course of the noble and learned Lord's speech was not decidedly personal? He should say little more at present, but he would take other opportunities to answer what had been said by the noble and learned Lord as to our relations with Portugal and France. He had never, although the noble and learned Lord had asserted it, wished for a war with France. Let the noble and learned Lord prove the contrary, by any thing which he had said or done in that House. But he would assert, that the Government of this country, in the negotiations which had been carried on up to this time, had shown a truckling spirit—a fear of supporting this country's old ally, on account of our situation with France. He had alluded to the conduct of France, in robbing Portugal of her fleet, as a circumstance the most disgraceful that had ever been permitted by any Administration of this country; and that he would prove, when the proper time arrived. He could assure the noble and learned Lord, that he would not return to these personal attacks, unless the noble Lord provoked him, by endeavouring to put him down. He felt no desire to make personal attacks; 19 but at the same time he was little disposed to put up with them.
§ The matter terminated here.