§ Lord Lyndhurst
My Lords, I am anxious to call your attention to the motion, of which I gave notice on a former night. It is with extreme reluctance, and with real diffidence, that I rise to address you on this occasion; but I am compelled to pursue this course: I am driven to it in consequence of the attack made upon me and my noble Friends around me, but more pointedly upon myself, by the noble Baron opposite (Lord Holland) on a former night. My Lords, the noble Baron has accused us of having misconducted ourselves in the discharge of our duty in this House. He has charged me, in particular, with having "mutilated" Bills laid on your Lordships' table by his Majesty's Government, or which have come up from the other House of Parliament. He has stated, in distinct terms, that the course which I have individually pursued has been calculated to alienate from your Lordships'. House the regard and the re- 1283 spect of the country. The terms that the noble Baron used were, I believe, even stronger than those which I have mentioned. The noble Baron said, our conduct was calculated to excite "disgust" in the country. Now, my Lords, if these charges had been confined to this House, I should have reposed under them in silence, because all that has passed, has passed in your presence; and I should not have feared, under such circumstances, your judgment with respect to my conduct. But it was obvious that these charges were intended to take a wider range, and to embrace a much more extensive sphere; and it is therefore that I have felt myself called upon to rise, for the purpose of entering on a vindication of my conduct, and, however unequal the contest may be between the noble Baron and myself, to justify to your Lordships and the country the part which I have taken in these proceedings.
My Lords, it does appear to me that those who sit on this side of the House have been most moderate and forbearing towards his Majesty's Government. We have made no motion for papers, none for inquiry; we have passed no resolutions of distrust or censure. We have not used the ordinary weapons of those usually engaged in opposition in this and the other House of Parliament, and which must be so familiar to the noble Lords opposite. Our conduct throughout' the Session has been entirely defensive. When a Bill has been laid on the table by any of his Majesty's Government, or when it has come up from the other House of Parliament, we have examined it with care, with industry, and attention. If we have found it vicious in principle, we have proposed its rejection; while, if it has occurred to us, on a careful investigation, that it might be so modelled as to answer the purposes for which it was intended, we have carefully directed our efforts and perseverance to the accomplishment of that object. I am justified, then, in saying, that during the whole of this Session, adverting to the course that we have pursued, our conduct has been purely defensive, and that we have exercised towards his Majesty's Government as much moderation and forbearance as was consistent with the duty which we owed to the country.
My Lords, it, is impossible to enter into a consideration, however general, of the 1284 subjects to which I am about to direct your attention, without referring to his Majesty's Speech at the commencement of the present Session, and without contrasting the brilliant anticipations contained in that speech, with the sad reality that has since occurred; a result as disproportioned in execution to the expectations that were held out, as the lofty position of the noble Viscount at that period, with what he will allow me to style his humble condition at the present moment. Gazing on these two pictures, one is tempted to apply to the noble Viscount that which was said of a predecessor of the noble Viscount in the high office of First Minister of the Crown, who in the careless confidence of his character, I cannot help thinking, bore some resemblance to his noble successor—His promises were, as he then was, mighty,His performance as he is now—nothing.My Lords, in referring to the Speech from the Throne, we shall find that one of the prominent subjects to which our attention was called, and with respect to which great expectations were entertained, was a Reform of the Law, and more particularly of the Court of Chancery. No sooner was that announcement made, than in the profession to which I formerly had the honour of belonging, as well as in the minds of the public, the most eager expectations were awakened. Week after week and month after month passed away, but those expectations were not gratified. At length, and after a long delay, a Bill was produced by my noble and learned Friend (the Lord Chancellor), which I have too great a respect for his understanding to suppose could be his own production. It must, I think, have been forced upon him by some other person, and hastily and unadvisedly adopted by him. I said this measure was produced; yes, it appeared for a moment, and in a moment it fell from my noble and learned Friend's arms, still-born, on your Lordships' table. The measure met with no support in this House—it met with no support from any party, or any section or fragment of any party, out of it. Neither Whig nor Tory, Radical nor Conservative, defended it; it met with no support from any portion of the public press, whether in the pay of Government, or espousing the party in opposition; no single voice in any quarter has been raised in its favour, Even the noble Lords who 1285 usually support the Government, appear by anticipation to have condemned it; for a more scanty attendance, considering the importance of the question, never has, I think, occurred during the present Session of Parliament. I pass, therefore, over this measure—Requiescat in pace— I will not disturb its ashes.
My Lords, the next great branch of this promised reform of the law, was the consolidation and reconstruction of the Ecclesiastical Courts: let us see what course his Majesty's Government have pursued on this important subject. My noble Friend, the noble Duke near me, when in office, issued a commission for the purpose of inquiring into this extensive subject. That Commission made a report, which was prepared, I believe, by Dr. Lushington—a report distinguished for the information and learning which it contained, and which led to the preparation of a Bill, handed by us to our successors in office. My noble and learned Friend was, from time to time, reminded of the importance of the subject, and called upon to adopt some legislative measure with respect to it. A Bill, indeed, had been introduced; but on some parts of the measure a difference of opinion existed; they were referred to the consideration of a Select Committee, who afterwards made a report which was laid upon your Lordships' table. From that time to the present the Bill has been allowed to slumber; not the slightest attempt has been made by the Ministers of the Crown to pursue this important measure. It would almost seem, from the course pursued with respect to this Bill, as if there had been a disposition to justify the expression of "the dormitory," supposed to have been applied in so courteous a spirit to your Lordships' House by an officer of the Crown, a learned gentleman of great talent and experience in his profession, in a manner not very consistent with his usual prudence and caution.
But upon this great topic of legal reform, let me remind your Lordships of another Bill, more fortunate than the new Chancery scheme, less neglected than the Ecclesiastical Court project—a Bill which has passed your Lordships' House—I mean the Stannaries' Court Bill. I will not, with respect to this measure, repeat any of those objections so ably and forcibly urged against it by my noble and learned Friend, the Master of the Rolls; but, my Lords, there is one clause, respecting the dependent condition of the Judge in that court, to which I must call your attention.
1286 Against that clause my noble and learned Friend struggled with great force of argument and true constitutional principle, and my noble and learned Friend, the late Chief Justice of the Common Pleas (Lord Wynford) expressed in the strongest terms his disapprobation of it; but this opposition was all in vain. Let me call your Lordships' attention more particularly to this important subject. By the Act of Settlement, the independence of the Judges was fully and firmly established. What was the result? The effect was immediate. That subservience of the Judges to the Crown—that pliant obedience to the will of the Court, which had before in so many instances disgraced the Bench, and defiled the administration of justice—at once, and as if by a spell, disappeared. Justice has from that period flowed in a pure and unpolluted stream, and the Judges of the land have not only deserved, but enjoyed the love, esteem, and confidence of the country. Such has been the effect of that wise and salutary measure. My Lords, this principle was again re-asserted and confirmed upon the accession of his Majesty King George 3rd. It was by an Act passed in the first year of his reign declared, that the Judges should not, as before, be removeable on the demise of the Crown; and in his first speech to Parliament that monarch made the well-known declaration, that he looked upon the independence of the judges "as one of the best securities of the rights and liberties of his subjects, and as most conducive to the honour of the Crown." So sacred has this principle been considered, that, in no instance that occurs to me, has any new tribunal been established, or any old tribunal been reformed or extended, in this country, since that period, in which it has been infringed. This Bill—the Bill of a reforming and Whig Government, is, I believe, the first exception to the rule. But, my Lords, by whom were the arguments of my noble and learned Friends combated? Who was the great defender of this first infringement of so just a principle? Proh pudor! Would your Lordships have believed it, if you had not witnessed the scene? Will it be believed upon mere rumour in the other House of Parliament, or throughout that urban population, to which the noble Viscount told us on a former night, he looked as the firmest and best support of his Government? It was, my Lords, the noble Baron opposite (Lord Holland); he whom I have always been accustomed to regard 1287 as a sort of concentration of Whig liberty and constitutional principle; he it was that stepped forward to vindicate this clause, and to combat the arguments of my noble and learned Friends. True it is, that this part of his argument was delivered in a subdued tone of voice, not very audible in this part of the House—scarcely audible below the Bar, or above the Bar. But it was urged with vigour, with skill, with address, and all those aids so familiar to the noble Baron, and in which he so much excels, and which, had he lived in the clays of ancient Greece, would have entitled him to a high rank among the fraternity of "sophists" of that celebrated period. And in what case is this principle to be abandoned? In a case where the judge may be called upon to sit in judgment between the Duke of Cornwall, upon whom his appointment is in future to depend, and his tenants on the one side, and those who are interested in the mines and in the soil on the other. So much, then, as to this part of the speech from the Throne. There is, in the first place, so far as the Court of Chancery is concerned, a measure that has proved a miserable abortion. With respect to the Ecclesiastical Courts' Bill, a measure abandoned; and as to this last Bill, a violation of an important principle which for more than a century has been considered sacred.
My Lords, I now come to another prominent point in the speech from the Throne, but upon which I do not mean to detain you at any length. I allude to the Irish Corporation Bill. We have heard it asserted over and over again, that our ground of proceeding was founded upon the acknowledged abuses and corruptions in those corporations. My Lords, we have always stated, that we never did proceed upon any such assumption. We should not have been justified in so doing without hearing evidence at the Bar, for the purpose of examining into the truth of the charge; but we said—and that was the ground of our proceeding—we said, "These Corporations are in their character exclusive: they are administered by Protestants, and by Protestants alone; and on that ground we agree, that a change ought to be made." What was the change intended by the Bill? That they should be so constituted as to retain the same exclusive character, with this difference only, that as they are now exclusively in 1288 the hands of Protestants, they should henceforward be exclusively in the hands of Roman Catholics. There was to be a transfer of power from the one party to the other; and when we know in what manner the power so transferred would have been used, that it would have greatly added to the strength and confidence of the agitators of Ireland, we should, I should think, have disgracefully abandoned our duty if we had not vigorously opposed the measure of the noble Viscount. In doing so, however, we at the same time stated our willingness to put an end to the grievance complained of by dissolving the existing corporations, and proposed a measure for that purpose with the assent of the corporations themselves.
There is yet another measure which your Lordships ventured to mutilate—I shall leave your Lordships to consider whether our conduct, in this instance, was calculated to alienate or disgust the country. I allude to the Newspaper Stamps' Bill. After that measure was complete, two clauses were added, at the suggestion of the supporters of the Government, unnecessary in themselves, and of a character most arbitrary, inquisitorial, and vexatious; directly, too, at variance with what the Whig party, when in opposition, had formerly struggled against with great earnestness and zeal. When it was suggested, that these clauses would be struck out, in your Lordships' House, the supposition was met with taunts, as if you would not dare to venture upon such a proceeding. When it was afterwards proposed here to omit these clauses, we were assailed with a torrent of invective and passion from the noble Viscount. As soon, however, as this whirlwind had passed away, and reason and good-humour had in some degree returned, we found the noble Viscount prepared to adopt our suggestions, and to pursue the course which we had recommended; which, happily, was not followed by any of those awful consequences which had been predicted, and which the noble Viscount had painted with such a broad pencil and in such dark and gloomy colours. The noble Viscount was even facetious upon the occasion; he styled his new Bill an editio expurgata; thereby aptly and in the strongest manner marking his opinion of those offensive and scandalous passages which has been forced upon him by his supporters, and whom, by this allusion, he dragged through the 1289 mire, and held up as a spectacle to the scorn and derision of the country.
We were advised, my Lords, also, in the speech from the Throne, to adopt a measure for the settlement of the important question of Irish Tithes, for the purpose of restoring; "harmony and peace" (I think those were the expressions) to Ireland. My Lords, we acted in the spirit of that advice. We did mature a measure for the purpose of extinguishing the present system of tithes in that country. Not a single objection was or could be urged against any clause in that Bill. Nay more, we engrafted on it another salutary measure, for the purpose of removing the inequality which exists in some of the benefices of Ireland. That Bill, so important in its character, so well calculated to answer the purposes to which I have referred, was rejected by his Majesty's Government, because it did not contain the assertion of an abstract principle intended to be used at some future period for the purpose of plundering the Church of Ireland; and which, it was admitted in distinct terms by its advocates, could not for a long series of years be attended with any practical benefit.
The next subject to which I shall call your attention is the Bill for the appointment of Charitable Trustees. That Bill was rejected by your Lordships, and it was rejected on account of the viciousness of its principle. By that Bill the election of the trustees was so contrived as to render them necessarily political partisans: and we were of opinion—an opinion which I then entertained, and still continue to maintain—that nothing could be more objectionable than the administration of charities upon principles of this description. Nay more, my Lords, we objected to this Bill upon another ground, no less material than the former, and it was this, that a large proportion of the charities to which the Bill applied were charities founded, and declared by the deeds of the founders, to be intended for the benefit of members of the Established Church. Now, the Bill proposed a mode for selecting trustees which was calculated to place the management of those trusts in the hands of Dissenters. I do not mean, for a moment, to insinuate any thing against that class of persons; but I am sure that your Lordships must think, and the country, I am sure, will think with you, that nothing could be more inconsistent with a due de- 1290 sire to maintain the interests of the Established Church, than that charities of this description, and more particularly so as many of them are school foundations, should be administered by the description of persons to whom I have referred. If it were necessary to proceed further, I might add, that it has over and over again been publicly declared by the partisans of reform, that their object is to remodel those schools, disregarding the will of the founders, and to form them upon a plan and system of education, more congenial to their own views and opinions.
These are a few (and I state them merely as a sample) of those measures which the noble Baron has denounced, and upon which he appeals to the country. I join him in such appeal, and look to the issue with anticipated triumph. As a part of the great council of the nation, as representing its best interests, and as accountable to it for the manner in which we discharge our high duties, we accept his challenge. We have not slumbered at our post. Neither led astray by the allurements of pleasure, nor seduced by the love of ease or the softness of indolence; but vigilant, active, fearless, we have fought the battle of the Constitution, acting up to our high calling, and to the great duties which it has imposed upon us. We may have erred, but our aim at least has been just, and great, and noble, and corresponding to the position which I trust we shall long hold in the hearts of the nation.
But, my Lords, there are other measures to which I must call your attention, with a different view. A bill was brought in by the most reverend Prelate, upon the subject of Pluralities. It was by far the best measure which had ever been submitted to Parliament upon this delicate and difficult question. Many persons had before directed their attention to it, but had foiled in producing anything satisfactory as the result of their labours. The Bill was supported in this House by the Ministers of the Crown, as it was their duty to have done; it was supported and adopted by them, as it was their duty to do, in the other House of Parliament. It was allowed to proceed for a time, and through the earlier stages, but the moment at length arrived when a period was to be put to its progress. Certain supporters of the Government determined that it should proceed no further. Resistance, on the part of the Government, was at first attempted, 1291 but they soon gave way, and submitted to this dictation on the part of their supporters, and thereby sacrificed a measure, which they themselves had, by their conduct, and in terms, declared to be of great value to the interests of the Established Church, and of great importance to the interests of the country.
There was, my Lords, another measure, a bill framed under the direction of the Government, to carry into effect the Fourth Report of the Church Commissioners—a commission and report to which several Members of the Cabinet were parties. The report which I hold in my hand, I see, was signed by the noble Viscount; by the noble Marquess the President of the Council; it was signed by the noble Lord, the leader in the other House of Parliament, and other Members of the Cabinet. It recommended very extensive regulations and reforms in a part of the Church Establishment. The Bill founded on that report was brought into the other House of Parliament. It had scarcely appeared, when the party to whom I have already referred, compelled the noble Lord to stop his proceedings. A mutiny broke out in the camp, and he found it necessary to comply. A conference was announced—it was held somewhere in the neighbourhood of Downing-street, or of Whitehall. According to public rumour, it was not carried on in those well-bred whispers which sometimes mark the free conferences between the Lords and Commons. What was the result? It was insisted, in terms of a very decisive character, that Ministers must abandon their measure. They were compelled to yield; and the other Bill respecting the sees throughout England and, Wales, as we are told, nearly shared the same fate.
Here, then, is a second instance in which a measure of great importance to the interests of the Church and of the public, recommended, after a long inquiry, by the Ministers, prepared, brought forward, and supported by them, was abandoned, after a feeble resistance, at the dictation of that section of their supporters to whom I have referred. But this is not all. There is a third measure to which I beg for a moment to call your Lordships' attention, the Bill for the Registration of Voters. What is the history of that Bill? It originated in a Committee appointed by Government, and over which a Member of the Government presided. After long in- 1292 quiry and deliberation, they came to certain conclusions upon the subject; in consequence of which a Bill was prepared, under the direction of Government, and was brought into the other House of Parliament. Upon the back of that Bill I see the names of Lord John Russell, the Attorney-General, and the Solicitor-General. It was, therefore, emphatically a measure of Government, and I must say, with one or two exceptions, an extremely good Bill, and which ought to have been adopted, and been passed into a law. But what, my Lords, was the result? The party to whom I have already referred, opposed the progress of it; they remodelled most of its regulations, and though it appears that some resistance was made to these changes, they were at length acquiesced in, and the Bill thus changed, was brought up to your Lordships' House. I really thought that we were entitled to the gratitude of the noble Viscount for the course we thought it right to pursue. My noble Friend (Lord Wharncliffe) applied his vigorous and manly mind to the consideration of this Bill—he noticed the alterations which had been made in it, and determined at last to get rid of those interpolations, and to restore, as nearly as possible, the text of the noble Viscount's Bill to its original purity. Were we not justified, then, in considering ourselves entitled to the thanks of the noble Viscount, supporting as we did his own measure, prepared after so much consideration and care by the Government? Instead of this, to our infinite surprise, we were again visited with one of those tempests of invective and of passion so familiar to the noble Viscount, and so frequently directed against those noble Lords who sit on this side of the House. And what was the result? This Bill of the Government, their own measure, was abandoned by the noble Viscount, who, in a careless tone, stated across the table, that he should proceed no further with it,—and for what reason? obviously because it restored the Ministerial measure to its original purity. In a friendly whisper across the table the noble Viscount said, "I'll abandon my w Bill." He dreaded the opposition and resentment of that class of his supporters by whom in the other House of Parliament the Bill had been so completely altered and deformed.
And this, my Lords, is a Government! Was there ever, in the history of this country, a body of men who would have condescended so low as to attempt to 1293 carry on the Government under such circumstances. In this House they are utterly powerless—they can effect nothing. We on this side of the House are obliged to perform the duties of the Government for them. In the other House of Parliament, measures which they themselves have advised and prepared, and brought forward, involving, as they tell us, the most important interests of the country, they without scruple tamely abandon at the dictation of any section of their supporters. Yet, thus disgraced and trampled upon, they still condescend to hold the reins of Government.—Proud men, eminent statesmen, distinguished and high-minded rulers!
But is this description of their domestic policy countervailed by the splendour of their foreign administration!? Is the gloomy and wretched state of the one side of Downing-street relieved by the brilliant glories of the other? My Lords, this is a fruitful topic for consideration and discussion, but too extensive for the present occasion. I will imitate the prudence and reserve of my noble Friend, the noble Duke, and leave it to each of your Lordships to consider whether the measures and policy pursued by his Majesty's Government have been such as to ensure the confidence and command the respect of other nations. Whether they have been calculated to induce them to court or to shun our alliance—to lead them to regard us with feelings of favour, or of distrust and aversion. But, my Lords, it is impossible not to pause for a moment in considering their policy with respect to Spain. By their intervention, so much in opposition to their former principles,—by their measures with respect to this country, they have wasted between one and two millions sterling of the public treasure—and what have they obtained in return? Disappointment, defeat, and disgrace. They have compromised the honour of their Sovereign, and tarnished the reputation and character of their country. In looking at Spain, it is impossible not to recollect that it was the cradle of those brilliant exploits by which our late great and arduous struggle was so remarkably distinguished; and that it was in that land that those armies were formed, which achieved victory after victory, led on by the skill and conduct of the noble Duke, which raised the military glory of the country to a height scarcely ever attained at any former period of our history. It would seem as 1294 if some envious and malignant demon had determined to interfere to sully this reputation, and suggested, as a fit means, that miserable buccaneering expedition, patronized by the Government, so unworthy a great and powerful nation, and which has rendered us odious to Spain, and ridiculous and contemptible to the rest of the world. And yet the noble Viscount stands erect and confident amid these accumulated disasters and disgraces, and reversing the rule of the poet, is swelling and lofty in his tone and language, in proportion to the fallen and abject state of his fortunes, and the reeling and staggering condition of his government. In former times, amid such defeats, and unable to carry those measures which he considered essential and necessary, a Minister would have thought that he had only one course to pursue. These are antiquated notions—every thing has changed. This fastidious delicacy forms no part of the character of the noble Viscount. He has told us, and his acts correspond with his assertions, that notwithstanding the insubordination that prevails around him, in spite of the mutinous and sullen temper of his crew, he will stick to the vessel while a single plank remains afloat. Let me, however, as a friendly adviser of the noble Viscount, recommend him to get her as speedily as possible into still water.—Fortiter occupaPortum—Let the noble Lord look to the empty benches around him——nonne vides utNudum remigio latus,Vix durare carinaæPossint imperiosiusÆquor?After all, there is something in the efforts and exertions of the noble Viscount not altogether unamusing. It is impossible under any circumstances, not to respectThe brave man struggling in the storms of fate.May a part at least of what follows be averted—And greatly falling with a falling state.My consolation is, that whatever be the disposition of the noble Viscount, he has not sufficient strength, though his locks, I believe, are yet unshorn, to pull down the pillars of the building, and involve the whole in his ruin. I trust it will long survive his fall. The noble Lord concluded 1295 by moving for "A return of the number of public bills originated in this House during the present Session, distinguishing how many passed with, and how many without amendment, and how many were withdrawn or rejected, either here or in the House of Commons, distinguishing the number in each House; and also, return of the number of public bills originated during the present Session in the House of Commons, distinguishing how many passed with, and how many without, amendments, and how many were withdrawn or rejected either by the House of Commons or this House, distinguishing the number in each House."
My Lords, an accidental and unlucky expression of mine in a speech upon the Stannaries Bill, being the peg upon which it appears, that the noble and learned Lord has thought proper to fasten his sarcastic, but elaborate and entertaining speech, and the noble and learned Lord having, in a subsequent portion of his speech, bestowed a very disproportionate share of his observations on the subject of that Bill, and on the part I lately took in the discussion upon it, I feel personally called upon to say a few words to your Lordships. Indeed, in another part of the noble and learned Lord's speech, he has reflected upon me. I will not, however, dwell on those parts of his remarks which were personal to myself, nor will I offer anything in objection to the motion that concluded the speech; a motion which had really little, or nothing to do with most of the subjects which the noble and learned Lord had previously discussed—neither will I trouble your Lordships with any remarks as to the stringency of the noble and learned Lord's observations, in reference to the conduct of the present Government. I confess, I was not prepared for the observations which have just been delivered by the noble and learned Lord. I certainly was not prepared for that which I must contend was one of the strangest proceedings I have ever yet known to be adopted in Parliament. I certainly was not prepared for an oration like this, in which the noble and learned Lord was to boast of his exploits during the past Session. Now, though I have been called by the noble and learned Lord something like a sophist, I shall not, I assure you, be the Æschines who will try to take off the edge of his speech. I will not say, that the noble and learned Lord's proceeding is irregular; it certainly is not 1296 illegal—I will not seek for any far-fetched phrase to designate a proceeding, which I feel to be sophistical in itself; but I will tell the noble Lord in plain and homely English (and I hope he will excuse me for using such a phrase) that I regard his as a "queer" proceeding, in point of taste and of logic. I think first in point of taste, because I am sure if any expression escaped from me, personal to the noble and learned Lord, or to others, I should have been at the time it escaped me, or now, most ready to recall it. I am ready to give credit to noble Lords, that in rejecting measures, they, in their consciences, believe they were following what is the right course in so doing. But, my Lords, I always thought until now, that when any noble Lord felt, or a majority of your Lordships felt, called upon in your consciences, and by your feelings, to take such view of the subject as to reject the petitions and the prayers of the people of this country, signified by the legal representatives, that, at least, that was a duty painful to you to perform, instead of its being, as it has now been made, a subject for triumph and exultation. This, however, it is, that the noble and learned Lord boasts of—it is upon this he founds his claim for favour—this is the ground for his exultation. Now, this seems to me, to be rather strange in point of taste, because I should have thought that as to the progeny of our sister House of Parliament, when we were obliged to dismiss them from our doors, we should at least do so with a sigh, instead of doing as the noble and learned Lord has done, adding insult, contempt, and contumely, to the rejection of their prayer. In point of logic, I must say, that I do not see any very great merit in rejecting measures. I shall not, as some have objected to it, use the word mutilation of measures; but it seems that when applied to the Commons, the noble and learned Lord had no objection to speak of the "mutilations" of the other House of Parliament; and this he did with regard to other measures, in which the House of Commons exercised a discretion at variance with the opinion of the noble and learned Lord. At the beginning of the Session, I ventured to compare the noble and learned Lord to Timotheus; but at present (and I hope it may not give offence) I must own that I made a mistake —he has become Alexander, and he has become so pleased with the sound of his own exploits, that he has gratified us with the speech we have just heard: 1297Sooth'd with the strain, the King grew vain;Fought all his battles o'er again:And thrice he routed all his foes; and thrice he slew the slain;But for what purpose is all this done? For the purpose of explaining away why it is that all the efforts of the noble and learned Lord have been of no avail—that ray noble Colleagues have been sustained by what they regard to be the opinion of the majority of the House of Commons. The noble and learned Lord seems to think this an antiquated notion. Is it an antiquated notion, that a Government, having the confidence of the people should regulate their conduct so as to deserve that confidence? Is this a new doctrine, or is it an antiquated opinion? At one time it did not appear to be so very antiquated to the noble and learned Lord. The noble and learned Lord says, that my noble Friend consults a section of those who support him in the other House of Parliament. My noble Friend has the confidence of the House of Commons, and of the people who sent them there. I, for one, then, shall advise him to adhere to his present station; and whatever may be the diffidence felt, whatever the distrust expressed, whatever the sarcasms resorted to by others, I am sure they will always reconcile my noble Friend to their endurance as long as he enjoys the confidence of the House of Commons; for while he has that confidence, he can defy, even if it be necessary, the contempt and the distrust entertained elsewhere. The time was, when even the noble and learned Lord would have admitted that in such a motion as this there was some force. But what is the advantage of all that has been done by the noble and learned Lord—of all that has been rejected by him? I remember to have heard of a learned gentleman, one who was much better known by his wit than logic—the biographer of Johnson—who was so elated at being admitted into the club of which Dr. Johnson was a member, that he was very much in the habit of boasting and exalting himself on this point, and, enlarging upon the great merits of the club, he used this figure of speech, which was not a little known for its singularity, that "such was the great wisdom and talents of the club, that those blackballed, who had wished to be members, would make the best society in all Europe," So it is in the opinion of the 1298 noble and learned Lord. This is, he thinks, an excellent branch of the Legislature for blackballing Bills, or, by altering and rejecting so many Bills, the noble and learned Lord appeared to suppose that all they had refused to sanction would form an excellent code for sny other senatorial body to adopt. Now, my Lords, we are to recollect that these Bills, for which such merit is now assumed in their being rejected, were, even according to the noble and learned Lord's own showing, not all bad Bills. The noble and learned Lord has admitted as to some of them, that as to the general objects they had in view, it was desirable, if not absolutely necessary, that they ought to be attained; and yet, what have noble Lords done? In their endeavours to improve, they have actually lost those Bills. This is, in my opinion, a subject of regret—it may have occurred in the discharge of an imperious duty; but it is one that noble Lords ought to consider painful and unpleasant to reflect upon. I cannot really follow the noble and learned Lord through the enumeration of his Bills; I cannot recal them all to my mind; but I must say one word of a Bill to which not many of your Lordships paid very great attention. I certainly felt anxious that you should pass it, and yet, I must say, in the recapitulation of the Bills, a very large portion of the noble and learned Lord's speech was occupied by it; that Bill is the Stannaries' Bill. Upon my word—the noble and learned Lord must forgive me for using the expression—but in the strange and excellent speech he has made, I must say that that part of it appeared to me to be ludicrous and burlesque in the extreme. Your Lordships would suppose that for a long time there had been a court held in Cornwall, of which the judge held his office during good behaviour, and was removable by the Crown, and that we, by some legerdemain, introduced a Bill, enacting that he should hold office only during pleasure. So far, now, is that from being the case, that we made the judge more independent than he had been heretofore. There is a court in Cornwall of which the judge holds office only during pleasure, and is removable by the Duke of Cornwall. I did not positively state that, though I knew it very well when the Bill was under discussion. If I am wrong, my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Falmouth) is able to correct me; but instead of making the judge more 1299 easily removed from his place, we made his place more certain. That Bill applied a great many restrictions upon his removal, and it is necessary by it to have the concurrence of the supreme authority before the judge or vice-warden can be removed. And yet, my Lords, it is upon this that we have had such beautiful declamation as to constitutional principles, as if we did not know the common meaning of constitutional principles. But, in connection with the Stannaries Bill, there was one insinuation by the noble and learned Lord, which, if founded in truth, was somewhat uncourteous. The noble Lord says, that I talked in a low—in so exceedingly low a tone, that I could not be heard below the bar. Now, my Lords, I do not know whether the situation which the noble and learned Lord selects is for the purpose of being heard, at least the noble and learned Lord appears to be aware, that persons may, in some places in this House, be heard to more advantage than in others. I wish, my Lords, I had the same command of my voice and of my passions that he has. Such as I am, I am now known to your Lordships for forty years, and I ask you whether you ever knew of my arranging my voice very artificially, or with a view to be heard by this man, and not to be heard by that? Mark, now, the inconsistency of the noble and learned Lord. He describes me, he compliments me, as the concentration of Whig liberty and constitutional principles; and when he ascribes to me, I will not say Conservative principles—when he says that I dropped my voice upon that occasion—the noble Lord, who is so. Conservative, who is such a stickler for liberty, what did he do? You would suppose, from the compliments he has paid to my noble and learned Friend's (Lord Langdale's)great abilities in opposing that Bill, that the noble and learned Lord at least had seconded him—that he had stood up for the judge—and yet not one word was said by the noble and learned Lord on that occasion. He did not merely let his voice fall, but he did not let a word be heard. No; he has reserved it all for this occasion, to exalt the glory of this House, and to show the dangers of attending to the wishes of the people of England. There was a time when the people of England were not to be distinguished from the House of Commons—the notion was repudiated that any distinction could be made between them. It is almost unne- 1300 cessary to say, that it was the Tories that would recognise no such distinction. "What!" they were accustomed to say, "do you talk to us of the people of England? we have the House of Commons; in them we recognise the people of England;—they are them. "What has happened since then? That the people of England speak a little more the voice of the people of England. Now, it appears they are the section of a party; and the noble and learned Lord, with that high degree of stern virtue that belongs to him, declares that he would feel himself degraded from the high elevation of consistency that has always marked his inflexible nature as a statesman; he who feels that he has never changed his opinions; he who never could bend before the authority of the day—he it is who declares he would not brook the interference of a majority of the House of Commons; that he would leave office; that he would spurn it with contempt, sooner than be governed by such cobblers and low people. These are the high notions that the noble and learned Lord has of the duties of a statesman. I do not follow the noble and learned Lord in his aspiring notions, and for what good purpose could I do so? Since, however, the noble and learned Lord has expressed his deep compassion for the situation in which I and my Colleagues are placed, I hope the noble and learned Lord will think that I do not take an improper liberty with him if I give to him a little wholesome admonition. Ever admiring, as I sincerely do, his abilities, and acknowledging the beauty and talent of his speech, yet I cannot compliment him upon his judgment. I do not understand why he made such a speech—it has always appeared to me to be conceit to put ourselves in the situation of others, and then say they ought to do so and so; but yet I cannot help thinking that the noble and learned Lord does not appear to understand the situation in which he is placed, or he would not have addressed us on a topic which, if in his situation, I should rather have deprecated. I certainly should not unnecessarily do so, for it was not necessary for him to say all he has said. In the present feverish state of the public mind respecting the relative positions of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, I must say that I do not think it was wise or prudent in the noble and learned Lord, thus unnecessarily, and without being forced to it by any 1301 public measure of importance, to come down prepared with an elaborate and deliberate attack upon the House of Commons, coupled with a retrospective glance in justification of the conduct of this House in those points in which it has differed from the other branch of the Legislature. This is a course of proceeding which I cannot but deprecate. I have always been ready to admit that the noble Lord possessed talents of a high degree, and was no mean legal authority with the nation, though the weight of that authority must, I suspect, be somewhat diminished by such a course as he has adopted this evening—conduct which is rather aggravated than palliated by the high abilities which the noble and learned Lord is known to possess. With regard to the expression of the word "disgust," which the noble and learned Lord finds fault in me for, I beg very briefly to declare, that I did not mean that it should be taken in the light the noble and learned Lord seemed to think, nor did I wish that it should be felt so by him. But the noble and learned Lord should be aware, and should admit, that there are certain proceedings of this nature which are not nearly so severely felt if done in one way, to what they would be if accompanied by a different demonstration of feeling, and done in a different manner. Though I may regret the rejection of any particular Bill which your Lordships may have refused to pass, I regret more particularly the animus in which that was done, the manner, and the arguments by which your Lordships' proceedings in rejecting it have been accompanied. The number of Bills which your Lordships have been the means of throwing out, and the sort of hawk's eye with which you have pounced upon them—pouncing, as it were, upon minor articles in their construction, regardless of the great merit which pervaded their general nature; this is the course which I condemn, and which I think no really wise senators would have adopted. With regard to subjects touched upon in the latter part of the noble and learned Lord's speech, I do not think that the noble and learned Lord has succeeded in proving its relevancy or exact connection with the subject matter of the motion with which he concluded his address. In this part of his speech the noble and learned Lord touched, very briefly, to be sure, upon the foreign policy of the present Government. Now, it may be very easy 1302 to turn up one's eyes, and say the honour of the Crown is falling, the nation is brought into disgrace; but I would ask the noble and learned Lord to look at the actual position of affairs, let him turn his eyes to the east and to the west, where he will find, in the connexion which this country now holds there, ample proof that the weight of authority and respect amongst nations which England once, as he declares, possessed, is not entirely gone from her. The noble and learned Lord alluded particularly to Spain—a melancholy subject I admit. There are others, perhaps, in this House who may be better able to bestow praises upon the noble Duke so intimately connected by his former exploits with that unhappy country, or bestow them with more discretion, with more nicety of expression, than I am; but I deny that there is any one who can more heartily utter the tribute of admiration so justly due to him than myself. Now, what did the noble Duke do when he came into the Foreign-office some months back? Did he vary in any one point from the policy which had been adopted by his predecessors in office? Did he attempt to alter in any one particular the position in which he then found this country with regard to other powers? In regard to Portugal, to be sure, I recollect that the noble Duke commented upon proceedings then in course, in reference to that country, and said that Portugal had been too much divided from this country already, and that there must be no more division between them. I would ask the noble Duke and the House to compare the position of Portugal with regard to this country, in the time of my Lord Grey's Government, with its present position. I may be told, "Oh yes, but this was not all your doing." True, it was not all our doing, but in every considerable point it was our doing; and exactly the same line of policy are we now attempting to carry into effect with regard to Spain. When we took office we were told, that if we kept peace for three months it would be a matter of astonishment. Why, we have now kept peace for six years. I must say, that there appears to me to be some proofs in existence, that neither the influence nor the interest of this country have lost ground within the last two years. There is a strong desire on the part of all foreign powers to keep peace with us; and to be able to say, "the world is tranquil and 1303 we are in no apprehension of danger," is, in my opinion, the best proof that our foreign policy has not been entirely mismanaged. I have now to apologise for having occupied so much of the time of the House, and for having said so much of myself; but after what fell from the noble and learned Lord, in allusion to my conduct, I felt that I could not properly allow the matter to pass over without observation.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
explained, that in reference to what the noble Baron had said in the course of his speech on the score of his (Lord Lyndhurst's) neglect of duty in not having taken a more prominent part in the discussion on the Stannaries Bill, the fact was this—that his noble and learned Friend on the other side of the House having made a very elaborate and learned speech upon the subject, and having been followed by his noble and learned Friend near him, the subject appeared to him to be fully exhausted, and not to stand in need of any observations from himself.
observed, that he did not think the explanation of the noble and learned Lord to be quite conclusive on this point; for that if the noble and learned Lord had said all he had said tonight on the subject of this Bill, when the Bill was going into Committee on the report, or on the third reading—which he was very glad the noble and learned Lord had not done—yet, if the noble and learned Lord had done so, he thought the Bill would have been thrown out, and the evil consequences of it averted.
§ Viscount Melbourne
It is impossible for me not to admit, with my noble Friend who has just sat down, the great powers of eloquence possessed by the noble and learned Lord opposite; his dexterity in sarcasm, and his clearness in argument, cannot be denied; and if the noble and learned Lord can be satisfied with a compliment confined strictly to his abilities, I am ready to render that homage to him. But, my Lords, ability is not everything; propriety of conduct—the veracundia— should also be combined with the ingenium to make a great man and a statesman, and not a man—duri frontis, perditœ audaciœ! The noble and learned Lord has referred, in the course of his speech, to many matters in history, and has quoted Shakspeare, and quoted the particulars of a great number of statesmen of former times, to 1304 whom the noble and learned Lord is pleased to say that I bear some resemblance. I beg, in return, to refer him to what was once said by the Earl of Bristol of another great statesman of former times (the Earl of Strafford), to whom the noble Lord might, I think, be not inapplicably compared; and of whom it was said that "The malignity of his practices was hugely aggravated by his vast talents, whereof God had given him the use, but the Devil the application." It is impossible to avoid remarking on this strange speech of the noble and learned Lord, that it is itself full of strong invective and attack, and in the course of which he accuses me of making use of invective and attack, also, in the course of my addresses to the House; it is impossible also, I think, to avoid contrasting the impotence of the motion with which the noble and learned Lord concluded, with the pompous and threatening language with which that motion was preluded. Would not the House, on hearing the speech of the noble and learned Lord, have been prepared to hear him conclude by moving an address to the Crown, expressive of want of confidence in the present Ministers, with a call for their immediate dismissal? The House might have expected to hear something little short of a criminal charge to wind up the speech of the noble and learned Lord; and after all their expectations, what must the House think of the noble Lord when he concludes his speech with a miserable motion for returns, which, from the numerous details entered upon by him in the course of his address, he appears scarcely to stand in need of. The noble and learned Lord entered upon a long and laboured defence of the way in which he and his party had acted in reference to various measures during the present Session. Now I cannot help thinking that the very trouble the noble and learned Lord seems to have taken on this score betrays a little uneasiness with regard to the light in which his conduct, and the conduct of his party may be viewed by others. The noble and learned Lord seems to think that there is an advantage in having the last word, but I apprehend, also, that in many cases the first word is a very great thing. Now we have had the first word already, and the application and effect of it are now in course of taking place, so that I should not fear to go to trial before any jury in the country, even 1305 though they had heard the speech of the noble and learned Lord, and that speech had been suffered to remain without answer and without explanation in my defence. The noble Lord takes credit to himself and his party for having behaved with the greatest meekness and leniency towards me and my Colleagues throughout the course of the present Session; they have moved for no papers to embarrass the Government, they have brought on no votes of censure against us. Now let me ask, why was it that noble Lords took up this meek and patient line of conduct? Was it because they were not willing to take upon themselves the Government of the country if the present Ministers were removed? or was it that they approved of our measures, and were willing to retain us in office? But if they did not approve of our measures—if they did not approve of the line of conduct we have been pursuing—why, let me ask, did they not make a motion of censure upon us, but that they distrusted, in fact, not us, but their power in the country? The noble and learned Lord boasts that he and his Friends are ready to appeal to the people. Then, in heaven's name, why do they not do so? Why do they not take some steps towards an appeal of this kind, as by an address to the Crown for our removal? That would be a course of conduct which would very speedily operate as an appeal to the people's feelings, such as the noble and learned Lord seems so anxiously to desire, the result of which would be to convince him, that the country at large has no participation in the opinions professed by himself and his party. Indeed all the noble Lords on the opposite side of the House seem to have silently acknowledged this melancholy truth, for although the speech of the noble and learned Lord was of a nature calculated to create a very great and deep impression on the minds of those who heard him, I could not but observe that the cheers with which he was greeted, by those who surrounded him, were faint and feeble in the extreme. For noble Lords know full well, that if they pledged themselves to the truth of all that fell from the noble and learned Lord, they would not be doing their duty if they suffered the administration of the affairs of the country, to remain in the hands of his Majesty's present Government, during the period which must, in all probability, elapse between this and the next Session 1306 of Parliament. It certainly appears to me very inconsistent in the noble and learned Lord to talk in the way he has done, when he knows all the time, that he and his Friends have not the support of the country, and, that, on that very account, they dare not take means to place themselves in the offices of Government, even though they might feel otherwise disposed to do so. It will not be expected of me to go through the retrospect of all that has occurred in the course of the present Session—if I were to do so, it is not probable that I should bring afresh to conviction any of your Lordship's minds in regard to those proceedings, and for myself, I can only say, that after such a retrospect, I should still remain of opinion, that the measures which we have espoused have been good and proper ones—measures of which the country stood in need—and that the arguments, by which they were supported were founded upon a firm basis of truth. The noble and learned Lord took the trouble to go through the King's Speech, delivered at the commencement of the Session, and observed upon it, that the promises which it held out were mighty, but that the works were nothing. It should be recollected, however, that the promises were what I had the power of making, but that their performance I could not command—your Lordships it was who interfered and prevented me from carrying those works into effect. If your Lordships had not interfered in the way you have done, and that, upon grounds which I could hardly have supposed any one would have adopted, and in which I must say you stood entirely alone, many of the measures proposed to be carried into effect would not have been impeded in their progress. You have thrown out the Registration of Voters Bill, though it had previously been agreed to, by those of your party in the House of Commons, [Lord Lyndhurst: No no!] I say it was agreed to by your party in the other House in its main features. Then there was the Post Office Bill, and the Roman Catholic Marriages Bill, which were hardly opposed by anybody in the House of Commons. You bring yourselves then into this dilemma. One of these two things is undoubtedly true—either that the Gentlemen of your party in the House of Commons, did not oppose these measures because they feared the unpopularity which would result to them for so 1307 doing, and chose rather to leave the task to you in this House—most improper conduct if it be so—which, however, I will not enter upon further; or that those whom you consider your friends in the House of Commons differ with you in respect to your opposition to these measures—in which case you must admit yourselves to stand awhile unsupported by your friends, in and out of Parliament, in the line of conduct which you have taken up in rejecting measures, which every body but yourselves, consider in the highest degree important and advantageous to the country. And this, I must candidly say, is a position in which I would not wish to see you stand with regard to the country. I have been accused of entertaining a desire to hold up to contempt the House of Lords, and to break in upon its constitutional powers in the State; this is not the case. I know too well the assistance and the services which such a branch of the Constitution is capable of rendering to the State, and I know full well that the State stands in need of all the honest service which it can command. It is not me, then, whom your Lordships have to accuse, but your own conduct only, if you find your power and influence with the people on the decline. If it should ever happen that you should hold office again, and should find yourselves bringing forward those very measures which you are now rejecting as you have done before, it will be much less easy for you to explain that conduct to the satisfaction of the public mind, and your own consciences, than it is for me to stand up erect under the load which the noble and learned Lord says I have pressing me down. The noble and learned Lord says the Court of Chancery Bill was a miserable abortion; but we should call to mind that he had himself brought in a Bill on the subject which he had not succeeded in carrying into force. With regard to the Stannaries Courts Bill, I really think with my noble Friend near me, that the conduct of the noble and learned Lord, is hardly borne out in not having taken this scheme also under his faithful care as he had done others, and prevented its passing into a law. I certainly am at a loss to conceive how he will justify it to himself, to have suffered to pass into a law a Bill which he considered, as he says, in the highest degree objectionable. With respect to the Irish Corporations and the Irish 1308 Church, I shall not repeat all the arguments that have been urged on those subjects, I shall only declare that I still adhere to the same opinions in respect to them which I have all along entertained. With regard to the Stamp Duties upon Newspapers Bill I must say that I was very much surprised at the rejection of certain clauses in it, considering the parties by whom that was done, and considering their former opinions, and the general sentiments still said to be entertained by them in regard to the press. For my own part, I must admit that I was not very eager about these clauses. I think, however, that it would tend very materially to raise the character of the press of this country if it were known who were the persons who conducted it. In saying this I do not wish to say anything which could be considered disrespectful towards anybody; but I certainly repeat my opinion that the press might be every day raised to a higher standard, as regarded fairness and truth, if the conductors of it were fairly known to the public, and I think that these clauses were very well calculated to bring about this desirable object. Upon this ground, therefore, I cannot but regret that they were rejected by this House. As to the conduct of the House of Commons in setting aside the Bill in which those omissions had been made, and the passing another Bill without those clauses, I can only say, that in so doing the House of Commons showed themselves to be not so regardless of the wants and desires of the public as your Lordships, under similar circumstances, have sometimes proved yourselves to be. The noble and learned Lord referred also to the Bills for the Reform of the Church, which the lateness of the Session, and I candidly admit it, the opposition which sprung up against them at that late period, rendered it impossible to carry through this Session. I still consider these to be very valuable measures, and calculated to be of the most important benefit to the country. But is there anything so very new or unusual in the fact of a Minister being obliged to defer till another Session measures which he was anxious to carry without further delay? It would be easy to procure many examples as precedents to the present case, in which Ministers had been obliged to delay their intentions, and defer a measure which they considered of great importance until a future time. There is the Act of Union 1309 itself, for instance, which circumstances at the time obliged the Minister to defer. Now, with regard to the matters of foreign policy, which the noble Lord touched upon, but in a manner which evidently showed that he had no intention to enter upon nor to provoke a public discussion upon the subject—I must say that I think the noble and learned Lord would have better consulted the interests and the dignity of the country—which he expressed himself so anxious to promote—if he had abstained from declaring in the abrupt manner which he did, his opinion that the character of the country was lowered throughout Europe, and her power and influence come to nought; terms and assertions, it is true, which, are but too often used in the heat of debate, and with very little signification or importance of meaning—but which ought not, I think, to be brought forward on an occasion like the present so lightly, and so totally unsupported by anything like argument. The very fact of the mediation which is now going on through the medium of this country, between France and the American States, certainly goes a little way to show that there is no diminution in power, no want of authority, on the part of this country in regard to foreign nations, but that she is still held in. the high light which she has so long deservedly occupied. I can only say, that if the noble and learned Lord still adheres to the opinions which he has expressed upon this subject, he will be deserting his duty to his country if he does not take some more decisive and efficient steps in this matter. In conclusion—as to holding office, I have only to say, that I conscientiously believe that the well-being of the country requires that I should hold it—and hold it I will—till I am removed.
§ The Duke of Wellington
Accustomed as my noble and learned Friend has been of late to hear hard language levelled against himself and others with whom he acts in this House, I certainly was not surprised to hear him, in moving for these papers, take the opportunity of replying to the sarcasms which have been so often used on the other side of the House, and of defending the conduct of himself and his friends from the charges which have been so repeatedly made against him and noble Lords with whom he generally acts. The noble Baron who recently spoke, and the noble Viscount who has just sat down, 1310 appeared totally to have forgotten the harsh terms which had been used by them towards my noble and learned Friend; and seemed also not to bear in mind what was the object of the present motion, and what the tenor of my noble and learned Friend's observations were, as connected with the returns he moved for. The object of my noble and learned Friend's motion is to show the state of legislation at present going on in this country, as relates respectively to the Houses of Lords and Commons. In the course of his speech, my noble and learned Friend took occasion to defend the conduct adopted by himself and his friends in respect to certain measures which had not passed into laws, and also as to certain measures which had passed, comparing them with the announcements which had been made of them in the speech delivered by his Majesty from the Throne on the opening of the Session. My noble and learned Friend has, with great ability, shown the fate of those measures which have been brought forward by his Majesty's Ministers in pursuance of the announcements in his Majesty's speech, and he had also shown that measures therein announced have not been carried into effect; he also showed what the fate of those measures had been, not only in this but in the other House of Parliament, in which we are given to understand that the influence of his Majesty's Government is paramount. That was purely the object of my noble and learned Friend's speech, and for that he has been taunted by the sarcasms of the noble Viscount. From my own experience, I must take the liberty of observing, that I consider the conduct pursued by noble Lords on this side of the House throughout the present Session to have been marked with the utmost moderation. For myself, I think I am correct in stating, that since the Address to the Throne, in answer to the King's Speech, with the exception only of one occasion, when I requested the noble Viscount to postpone the Corporations (Ireland) Bill till after the Easter holidays, I never entered the House until after Easter. Since that period I have certainly taken part in the proceedings that have been going forward in the House, and I have felt it my duty to oppose some of the measures of Government; but I think I shall he borne out when I say that I have accompanied the vote which I have given with observations expressed in terms of great moderation, I 1311 have acted on all occasions to the best of my opinion, and in a way which I thought most calculated to be beneficial to the country. The noble Viscount has been pleased to taunt us for not having addressed the King with a view to obtain his and his colleagues' removal from the situations which they hold. If the noble Viscount would look at the manner in which they were appointed to office, if he would look at the whole history of the last twelvemonths, I think he would find sufficient reason for our not having adopted that course of proceeding. The noble Viscount knows very well on what ground he stands, and, knowing that, it would have been just as well in him if he had avoided his taunts against us for not having asked the King to remove him from office. I would take the liberty to recommend the noble Viscount to consider himself not as the Minister of a democratic body in another place, but as the Minister of a Sovereign in a limited monarchy, in a country, great in point of extent, great in its possessions, and in the various interests which it comprises; and that, considering these circumstances, he should, in future, concoct such measures as he has reason to think may pass with the approval and suit the general interests of all, meet the goodwill of all, and not of one particular party, in one particular place only. If the noble Viscount will but follow that course for some little time, he will find no difficulty in conducting the business of the Government in this House, but will find every facility afforded him in forwarding measures of the above description. I would beg the noble Viscount to recollect one fact, in regard to the Church of England, whether in England or in Ireland. Let him recollect that the avowed policy followed by this country during the last 300 years, has been to retain inviolable that Church Establishment; we are called here to consult particularly for the good of the Church, and if the noble Viscount brings forward any measures relating to that subject, let him recollect that all measures of such a kind must be discussed by us with that particular object in view. This is not only the old policy of this House of 300 years standing, but it is that upon which we acted no longer than eight or nine years ago, when we had occasion to review the safeguards and general landmarks whereby the Church Establishment of this country was defended. With regard to foreign policy, I have my- 1312 self staid away from the House frequently in the course of the present Session, in order purposely to avoid entering into discussion upon that subject, and upon the present occasion, I shall not enter very largely upon it. The noble Lord opposite says, that when I came into office, I followed the course which I found in existence adopted by my predecessors. My Lords, when I entered office I found a treaty in existence. I know that it has not always been the practice of Ministers to carry into execution treaties thus forced on them, but I considered that on this occasion it was my duty to do so. I went further—I took the first step towards at least humanising the proceedings in that country, if not ultimately of bringing the parties to a reconciliation. I felt desirous of doing this, not only for the sake of unanimity, but also on account of the great interest I felt in a country where I had served so long. I deeply lament that his Majesty's present Ministers should have entered upon an active interference in the hostilities which still unfortunately are carried on in Spain. I will not now speak further upon any of the measures which have been proposed, because it is my sincere wish not to involve the House in discussions which can answer no useful purpose, and which can indeed produce nothing but mischief. I merely rose to justify my noble and learned Friend for proposing the present motion, and having done so I shall no longer detain the House.
§ The Lord Chancellor
said, it was quite impossible that two speeches could be more different in tone and temper than those of the noble Duke and the noble and learned Baron. They differed toto cœlo. He was surprised that so much time had elapsed before any noble Lord rose to support the noble and learned Baron's proposition; and he was equally surprised at the tone which had been adopted by the noble Duke; because, though it was quite consistent with the temperance always manifested by that noble Duke, yet it was entirely different from the tone of the noble and learned Lord who had proposed the motion; and when the noble Duke said he rose to support the noble and learned Baron, he must confess that he thought it one of the few instances in which success had not attended that noble Duke's efforts. The noble and learned Baron had thought proper to say that, looking at the whole 1313 foreign and domestic policy of his Majesty's Ministers, he considered that they had disgraced themselves in the eyes of the country; yet the noble Duke expressly said, that he did not wish to see those Ministers removed from their office: the noble Duke could not, therefore, concur in the opinion previously expressed by the noble and learned Baron. The present discussion was not one in which he should have taken any part, had it not been that the noble and learned Baron opposite, in the course of his attack, had thought proper particularly to advert to three measures with which he had been connected. If the noble and learned Lord had wished fairly to complain of the conduct of his Majesty's Ministers, he should have moved for the papers first, and then have brought forward his charges; but the noble and learned Lord, he apprehended, found it far more convenient to make the attack before obtaining the information. In the first place, the noble Lord fell foul of the Stannaries Bill, which he was pleased to describe as an unconstitutional measure— upon what ground, he was altogether at a loss to comprehend. The object of that Bill simply was, to make more independent a judge—the vice-warden—who had hitherto been removeable at pleasure: an improvement which certainly appeared to be anything but unconstitutional. Another measure which had met with the noble and learned Baron's hostility was that which had been introduced for the purpose of effecting a very important, a long and universally called for, object—the better administration of the Court of Chancery; combined with which measure was another, also loudly called for—to improve the judicial legislation of their Lordships. To another most important and desirable measure which had also been thrown out by their Lordships, the Abolition of Imprisonment for Debt Bill, the objection set up to it by the noble and learned Lord and his friends was, the alleged late period of the Session at which it was introduced. Yet this Bill, so generally called for by the people, was introduced before the end of June, and surely there still remained enough weeks of the Session wherein fully to discuss its provisions. No Bill of the present session had occupied more than one or two nights in Committee; yet the noble and learned Lord induced his Friends to re-echo his assertion, that six weeks and upwards was not sufficient to do justice to 1314 the Imprisonment for Debt Abolition Bill. This, however, was not the class of objection which had been taken to the Court of Chancery Bill, which was honoured so far as to be considered upon its merits, or demerits. He (the Lord Chancellor) should not, of course, think of taking up the time of the House by going into any statement as to the nature and objects of that Bill. It was sufficient to say, that it was a measure which provided a remedy—an easy, if not a complete one—for the crying evils which so many of his Majesty's subjects daily experienced from the present system of administration of the Court of Chancery. Of these evils no one was better aware than the noble and learned Lord; and he was equally surprised and grieved to find that that noble and learned Lord, instead of coming forward to aid by his advice the great work of remedying them, had altogether opposed the Bill, which was intended to supply, at least to some considerable extent, that long-desired remedy; —so far from anticipating that noble and learned Lord's hostility, he had fully expected his zealous co-operation. So with the other measure, which was designed to facilitate and improve the administration of justice in their Lordships' House. It had never been denied, even by the most hardy, that such an improvement was what the public had a right to expect, and what it became their Lordships to accede to. It was no doubt difficult to fix upon the right remedy, and to carry it out in all its details; but although probably the remedy proposed might not have been the most complete, yet it at least went to secure, as far as possible, the object in view, without interfering with the known and acknowledged principles in which it was deemed dangerous to make an alteration. It might not perhaps have been the best plan, but it was at any rate a safe one. It was to be regretted that what was defective in that plan, the noble and learned Baron had not lent the aid of his talents to rectify—a course which would have been much more satisfactory to the country than his rejection of the measure altogether. The last measure which the noble and learned Lord had described as involving in disgrace the Minister who brought it forward and had not carried it through, was the Bill for the consolidation of the ecclesiastical courts—an important measure, and also one surrounded with many difficulties. Now, in reference to this measure, 1315 it was generally understood that it was absolutely essential as a preliminary to this Bill, that both the Bill for the better discipline of the Church, and also the "Executors" and "Wills" Bills should have passed the House, and neither of these Bills were passed. He considered this statement as a sufficient exoneration for him from the charge of not going through with the Bills which he had undertaken. Having made these observations, he would no longer detain the House.
§ Motion agreed to