The Earl of Winchilsea
My Lords, before the motion of the noble Viscount is put, I must pray your Lordships' indulgence for a few moments, while I offer some brief observations, in the hope of eliciting some information from the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, as to the principles which are to guide his Government with respect to our foreign, our colonial, and our domestic affairs. My Lords, under any circumstances under which the members of a Government thought it their duty to resign the high offices of trust which had been confided to them, into the hands of their Sovereign, I should be prepared to contend, that the people of this country had a constitutional right to expect an explanation and a statement of the grounds that led to such resignation. My Lords, I am equally prepared, when the same individuals return to the same offices which they had abandoned, to contend, that the country has a fair right to expect and to receive information as to what are the principles of that Government; because, my Lords, I am prepared to contend, that the public announcement of the abandonment of office, and of that resignation having been accepted by the Crown, put an end constitutionally to that government. I am, my Lords, also prepared to contend that, under the existing circumstances of this country—for at no time was change of Government so frequent as it had been of late years, which, I think, is much to be deplored—knowing that the evidence of the history of past ages, and the experience of our own times, have unfortunately taught us that continual and frequent changes lend to shake public confidence, 1157 to unsettle the public mind, and thereby to prejudice the interests of the people, as well as the authority of those who rule over them—I will ground my statement and my appeal to the noble Viscount, upon the declaration which he has himself made, as to the grounds on which he surrendered the offices which the noble Viscount and his colleagues' held, into the hands of the Sovereign; and for fear I should misstate any thing that fell from the noble Viscount on that occasion, I will read the words in which the noble Viscount made that declaration, and I will further state, that I did at the time think, and I still believe, that in expressing his sentiments on that occasion, the noble Viscount expressed those of the great mass of his fellow-countrymen, when he stated that he thought he was in a situation in which he could no longer hold the reins of Government, either with honour to himself, or with advantage to the throne, or to the general interests of this great country. What was the statement then made by the noble Viscount? He stated, thatIn consequence of the vote to which the House of Commons has come this morning, and which your Lordships may all see by the votes of that House of Parliament—a vote which, though not immediately fatal to the measure against which it was directed, yet, at the same time, is one which it must be obvious to all who are acquainted with Parliamentary proceedings is such, as that they must know that it is of such a nature or kind, as to render the final success of the measure totally impossible; and considering, my lords, the measure as of the highest possible importance, of the most paramount importance to the welfare of the great island to which it related, and to the working out of the great measure of negro emancipation, which was voted by both houses of Parliament with so much satisfaction, and for which such great sacrifices were made; considering, I say, this measure of the utmost, the most paramount, and indispensable importance for that great object; in considering, also, that the vote on this occasion is not only necessarily fatal to the ultimate success of that great measure, but that it also does with sufficient clearness and distinctness indicate a want of confidence on the part of a great proportion of that House of Parliament, as to render it absolutely impossible that, we should continue to administer the affairs of Her Majesty's Government, in a manner that can be useful or beneficial to the country, and which render it impossible that we can take measures of energy and importance that are absolutely required by the situation and circumstances of the country; but which, my Lords, if they 1158 are taken, allow me to say, that then there is no danger or peril whatever to be apprehended in any part of the conflicting and difficult matters of this country.My Lords, here I am prepared to rest my appeal to the noble Viscount, and to ask him, if the same principles which directed and guided the Government, which I maintain, was constitutionally extinct upon the resignation and the acceptance of the resignation of the noble Viscount and his colleagues by the Sovereign—to ask, my Lords, if the same principles guide, and influence, and direct the present Government, as directed the late Government, of which the noble Viscount was the head—which Government, I have a right to say, taking the noble Viscount's own declaration, has not the confidence of the other House, and consequently cannot carry on the business of the Government, either with benefit to the Sovereign, with interest to the country, or with that honour and dignity that becomes the Ministers of the Crown? It is, my Lords, impossible for any man, who takes a view of the situation of this country, whether as affecting our foreign relations—whether as affecting the fate of our colonies—or whether as affecting the internal state of the kingdom—without having just cause of fear and apprehension, that this country stands in the most imminent danger. My Lords, as respects our foreign alliances at the present time, compared to the state in which we were at the termination of the last war, I fear it will be found that many of our old alliances, which bound us to foreign countries, if not broken up, are so shaken, that those countries cannot be expected to be found fighting with England, if, unfortunately, we should be involved in foreign war. It is impossible to see the attitude that some of the powers of Europe are taking, without fearing that this country will soon be hurried into a war of which no man can conceive the consequences or the termination. But, my Lords, let me turn from our foreign affairs, and look to the state of our colonies. Let us look to the East and to the West—let us cast our eyes over the foreign possessions of the country—and I ask, will any man in this House, or out of the House, have the boldness to say that there is not just cause of fear and apprehension—that the spirit of rebellion and insubordination which has prevailed in a great part of our colonies, does not 1159 justify alarm and apprehension as to the security and maintenance of those colonies? If the Government of this country—for, my Lords, I know not what measures the noble Viscount alluded to when he made his declaration—whether they are measures affecting the colonies or the internal state of this country—for if we look to the internal state of this country, whether as relates to Ireland, where there is at this moment an organised state of rebellion and conspiracy to destroy the English connection—or if we look to that most fearful conspiracy that is going on in this country—a conspiracy which, I believe, your Lordships have little idea of its extent, or how long, or how fearfully that organization has worked for the last five years—I say, my Lords, if we look to all these things, and have a Minister of the Crown declaring, that he is not in a situation to carry out those measures of energy which are of the greatest importance as affecting the peace, the tranquillity, nay the very existence of this country—I ask your Lordships and the country whether I have not a right to expect at the hands of that Minister some declaration, some statement, when on the 7th of this month he made a declaration that he could no longer carry on the affairs of the Government with honour to the Crown, or with security to the interests and the welfare of the country? One of two things is clear: either there has been an abandonment of principle on the part of the Government, or on the part of some portion of its supporters; for the Government is, we know, supported by three distinct parties. There is one party which I hope—and, my Lords, I still cling to the hope as the only one in which I see the future safety of the country—the hope that, although I think that they are greatly mistaken in many of their political opinions, and the principles which they advocate—yet I hope and I believe that there is one large portion of the noble Viscount's supporters who are constitutionally attached to the institutions of the country. But, my Lords, there is another party, the members of which have openly declared, that they are bent on revolutionizing the country, and overturning the form of monarchial government under which England has been so happily governed, and which has given to the people of this country the greatest extent of civil and religious liberty that has ever blessed any nation, 1160 There is a certain portion of those to whom political power has been conceded belonging to the Roman Catholic church—and my Lords, I give them credit for it—for if I were a conscientious member of that church, I should feel bound to do the same—who use all their power, and exert themselves to the utmost, for the restoration, not only of religious, but civil power to that church. My Lords, I may be mistaken, but I think that the Chartists in England will be found hereafter to have been allowed to go too far. I believe there is an organised confederacy going on throughout this country to render the people of England disaffected, and to bring them into a state of revolution. My Lords, when such a spirit is showing itself, we ought to have a firm, constitutional, and united Government; but not supported, as the noble Viscount and his colleagues were supported, by men who advocate opinions and measures that must prove detrimental, not merely to the peace and tranquillity of this country, but to the peace of Europe. My Lords, I deeply regret the advice which was offered by the noble Viscount to his Sovereign upon a misunderstanding on the part of the Sovereign, which led, I will say, to the downfall, or rather which prevented the formation, of a Government which, I believe, would have discharged ably, honestly, and constitutionally, the duty of governing the affairs of this country. I say, again, that I have no party but my country, and the measures which I advocate have but one object, and that is the general welfare and happiness of the country to which I am most devotedly attached. But if our situation is such, that a Minister of the Crown comes one day and makes a declaration that he no longer possesses the confidence of the representatives of the people so as to carry into execution those measures which he thinks absolutely necessary for the welfare and security of the country. I do say, that the time has arrived when I may fairly and constitutionally, in the name of the people of England, call for an explanation from the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, and ask him to state why he is better prepared now, and better able to carry on the affairs of the Government, than he was a few days since.
§ Viscount Melbourne.
My Lords, the observations which the noble Earl has made, render it necessary for me to take up your 1161 Lordships' time, for a very short period, with the few remarks I have to make in consequence of those observations. I certainly entirely admit that the noble Earl, and the House in general, and the country also, have a perfect right to expect from me an explanation of those circumstances to which the noble Earl has adverted; but, my Lords, I think, considering the whole of the speech of the noble Earl, and considering the whole of the circumstances he has stated, that I have already given to your Lordships that explanation. I have already stated to your Lordships the grounds of my resignation; these grounds have been perfectly well understood, and completely apprehended, and most distinctly and accurately stated, by the noble Earl. I stated, also, very shortly, very plainly, and very distinctly, those circumstances which induced me to resume the situation which I hold—circumstances which have been already discussed in both Houses of Parliament, and to which I will not again advert, but circumstances which allow me to say in the continued existence of the state of things which caused my resignation, notwithstanding the continuance of the difficulties by which the Government was surrounded, yet circumstances of such a nature as made it impossible for me with a due regard to the interests of the country, which made it impossible for me as a man of honour, and a man of feeling, to act in any other manner than I have done. My Lords, this is the explanation which I have to give of the conduct which I have pursued, I am prepared to admit that the difficulties with which I had to contend, as far as I know, are still undiminished; sure I am, that they have not been diminished by any abandonment of principle on my side, and sure I am that the Government will not be conducted on other principles than those on which I understood it was originally formed, and on which it has been throughout conducted. Those principles are principles unquestionably of progressive reform, adopting every measure that is for the good and the advantage of the country; but, certainly I never have been, nor am I now for purchasing or obtaining support by bringing forward or supporting measures contrary to my opinions, or contrary to my conscience. That is what I understand to be the general principle on which the present Government is founded. I am not myself 1162 a very great friend to declarations of general principles on the part of Government. They are so extremely obvious, and in themselves so very universal, as in fact to be admitted and professed by every Government, and they have the disadvantage of being interpreted by every body according to his feelings, and according to his own wishes and opinions, and often produce subsequent difficulty and subsequent embarrassment, and subsequent disappointment. I am, therefore, perhaps lot a friend to such general statements, but at the same time I admit, upon an occasion like the present, that it is perfectly necessary. As the noble Earl has stated, that some declaration of this nature should be made, I think upon a former occasion stated that there were censures to which I was differently sensitive, but I think I am the most sensitive of all to the censure of having deceived any one, or of having given a notion that I professed opinions which I did not really hold and maintain. That cannot, I trust, be said of me. My opinion on most of those subjects and principles, the discussion of which agitates the public mind, are perfectly well known. They were perfectly well known in 1835, just as well known as they are at present. It is, therefore, not necessary for me to declare or repeat them on the present occasion. I can only say, that to all those measures of Reform which I conceive to be really measures of Reform, I am a warm and an anxious friend, but I am not prepared to adopt measures contrary to my feelings, contrary to my opinions, contrary to my conscience, for the sake of obtaining any support which they might obtain. The noble Earl has adverted to the difficulties with which this country is surrounded, both internally and externally. I do not mean to extenuate the difficulties that prevail even in this country. I do not mean to extenuate the danger that exists from the feeling of disorder and tumult that has been raised and is existing within the bosom of this country. I conceive that at the present time, at which I, like others, have not been an, inattentive observer of the feelings of the people, there is something of a nature that is new; there is a symptom at the present day, I know not whether more or less dangerous, that whereas in former times those designs were always glossed over with something of an intended measure of reform and remedy; in the present 1163 day there has been unquestionably at public meetings, and upon the part of persons of no small influence and no small power, open professions of an intention to plunder, violence, and bloodshed. I know not as I before said, whether this be more or less dangerous; I trust it is less dangerous, because if it be more dangerous I must suppose that this country is infected to its core, and that it is impossible almost to hope for salvation in any course of measures that can be adopted, I admit my Lords, that there are great difficulties also of a foreign and external nature—difficulties which have been adverted to by the noble Earl, and which necessarily call for your Lordships' serious attention and consideration. There are difficulties in many parts of the great and extended empire which has been committed to your Lordships' guidance, various parts of which are actuated by a discontented feeling, and the seeds of disorder must necessarily be expected to be germinated and to show themselves. A great change has lately taken place in the constitution of this country; yes, my Lords, a very great change has taken place of late years in the constitution of this country, a change which has excited very considerable alarm in the minds of many who have had great experience and great knowledge of public affairs. What, my Lords, was the opinion of one of the ablest and most experienced statesmen in Europe with respect to—those changes? Why, that they might do very well for times of peace—for times of tranquillity—for times when there is no great financial difficulty; but let difficulties arise, let us be involved in war, let us find the pressure of pecuniary difficulty, and we should see how our new constitution would work. My Lords, the remedy for that danger, if danger there be—must be found in the prudence, the wisdom, the firmness of Parliament; in the entire absence of party, and in the manner in which Parliament discharges its duty, I trust and hope that the expectations which I have referred to will be disappointed, and that those changes in our constitution will be found to act well at all times, and that we shall be prepared and ready to meet all exigencies and all difficulties; but unless there are wisdom and firmness on the part of Parliament, and on the part of the people, prudence and a due regard to common sense, unquestionably it will not 1164 be easy to obviate the difficulties in which in the opinion of some, the country is exposed. My Lords, I have stated the reasons why I have resumed the Government, and, in fact, I have, I believe, essentially and virtually answered the questions that have been put to me by the noble Earl. With respect to the result of what has taken place, I am anxious, undoubtedly for the great interests committed for the present to my charge—I am anxious for the sake of the country, but with respect to myself I am very little anxious. With respect to the country in general, I know not who are the persons best fitting for the exercise of power within it. It is represented by Bishop Burnet in a conversation which he had with King William, a man of the greatest prudence, and of a most impartial mind, that King William said, "I am considering the question between a republican and a monarchial government, and I do not know which is best. I think a great deal is to be said on both sides; I think a great deal may be said for one as well as the other, but though I cannot tell which is the best, I can tell which is the worst, and that is a monarchy, which has not the power to carry into effect those measures which are necessary." I am sure, my Lords, I do not know which is the best ministry, or which is the worst in itself considered; but this I do know, that unquestionably the worst ministry is that which does not possess sufficient of the confidence of Parliament and the country to take those measures which are necessary for the safety of the country, but f trust, that for the benefit of the country, if there is a deficiency in that respect, the wisdom and prudence of Parliament and of the country at large will remedy the defect.
My Lords, many considerations well nigh dissuade me from taking any part in the discussion which has arisen; the part which I have always taken in common with my noble Friends near me, upon almost every occasion joining with them the habits of official intercourse which for four years prevailed between us, the long and sincere personal friendship which has attached me to them, and which still unites me with them, unbroken by the incidental circumstance of my having ceased to be in office with them, unimpaired by any political differences that have arisen within the last two 1165 years; but my devotion to what I deem the service of my country, my deep sense of those interests, which I firmly believe to be nearly touched by the present position of the administration, my anxiety to discharge my public duty, without regard to any personal hazards or feelings, have overcome those motives which would have imposed silence upon me, for those motives have been greatly increased by the singular peculiarity of our present position, which, though not adverted to by my noble Friend (Viscount Melbourne), formed the sole subject of the observations and statement of the noble Duke opposite, on the occasion to which my noble Friend has referred the noble Earl, as one in which he gave, as he flatters himself, a complete and satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon in the political world of which he is the subject, and on which the noble Earl is the commentator; but with that, a peculiarity has been mixed up, and studiously mixed up, by all my noble Friend's supporters out of doors, by all the Ministerial Members who have addressed their constituents, by all the most powerful of the Ministerial supporters in both parts of the empire, who have addressed large bodies of their fellow citizens, and all without exception tending to augment the difficulties, and to exacerbate the feelings of the people, as all those exertions and efforts to support and prop up a falling administration have uniformly centered, had their beginning, continuance, and ending, in one topic, and in one topic only; not a measure, not a principle, not an opinion; not anything that has been done in Parliament, not any course of measures or policy professed to be pursued henceforth in Parliament, but the name of the Sovereign of these realms has been put forward as their only argument; it has been brought out and tendered to the country in lieu of all explanation, and the private, individual, personal feelings of that illustrious Princess have been made the topic of every riotous meeting after meeting, of every still worse meeting of mobs, and of all the demagogues who have set to work to support a sinking administration. They have nothing to say of themselves; they have no measures to promise; they have no fence of their policy to make, but the cry of "The Queen! the Queen! the Queen!" The feelings of their Royal Mistress, the bedchamber quarrel with respect to promo- 1166 tion, and to sum up all in one word, and that fairly and impartially in the words of a friend of mine, but no kinsman; but of a friend of my noble Friend and his kinsman also, his private Secretary and nephew, who stated that Sir R. Peel's formation of a government was defeated by two ladies of the bedchamber. I know that those feelings are natural in men and women, and I know that an appeal to such feelings in this country is never made in vain, but I also know, that at this moment I feel deeply impressed, though not oppressed, when I think that the discharge of my public duty is trebly difficult to me without incurring the hazard of giving offence elsewhere in a high quarter; for that is the unfair, the unmanly nature of the question; and we are called upon to discuss great questions of State, to consult touching the affairs of the whole realm which is committed to the care of the Queen, and at the same time we are called upon to discuss them upon terms, for so the issue is put, which makes whoever doubts or dissents from Government, incur the hazard of being taken to make a personal, invidious, and offensive opposition to the Sovereign. As I know my own heart on this question, as one of those servants who are most devoted to her service, and who feels the most profound veneration for that illustrious Princess, because I entertain feelings of the deepest gratitude for those kind acts of condescension with which from her and her illustrious family I have uniformly, without the slightest interruption for one instant, I have ever been received; I know, because I do not feel anything that a man ought not at once openly and publicly avow upon this delicate and painful topic; and I also know, that there is so much justice, so much kindliness of feeling, so much inflexible can dour and integrity swaying the royal bosom, that my motives have no risk of being misconstrued, and that the mean and dastardly attempt to mix up this question, not indeed in the case of my noble Friend, but in the case of many of his supporters out of doors; I say I am absolutely certain, that as far as I am concerned that attempt will fail. Yes, that attempt will fail in the high quarter' towards which it was on the one hand pointed, and that it will fail in another—it will fail if it was meant to deter me as well as others from the discharge of a public constitutional duty. He en- 1167 tirely agreed with the noble Viscount that general avowals of principle made by men possessed of the powers of Government were not greatly to be commended. His noble Friend illustrated the position in his own practice; his avowal was in fact little better than nothing—a mere vague, fruitless, useless generality, and might be made by one man just as well as another. There was not a single word in it which he, although differing in some material points from his noble Friend, could not have altered—not one word which the noble Duke, or his noble and learned Friend opposite (Lord Lyndhurst), though differing still more from the noble Viscount, could not have re-echoed. What was the noble Viscount's profession of his principles? "I am a friend," said the noble Viscount, "to all progressive improvement;" who ever heard of any one getting up and saying, "I am a friend of all retrograde movement." "Then," said his noble Friend, "I am a friend of all safe measures of reformation, if you will only prove them to be such;" would not the noble Duke say the very same thing? "I am a friend of all measures of reformation which you can prove useful and safe." Then came the qualification, and each would just add the same qualification, which told them absolutely nothing—"I am against giving up my conscientious opinions on important questions in order to conciliate any support." Really he believed anything more safe or more simple than this kind of political placebo never was heard of being administered to a deliberative assembly. It happened, with respect to the great political questions that occupied men out of the House at the present day, that the noble Viscount had left them at the close of his statement precisely as they were at the commencement. The noble Earl opposite put a question to the noble Viscount and expressed a hope, that it would be satisfactorily answered. Now, he must say, that he never heard a question, that was more plain or more easily to be answered, if an answer was to be given, but he had never yet heard an answer that answered so little. The question was precisely where it was. As to the future conduct of the Government, it was left precisely in the same state of doubt in which it had been before his noble Friend addressed their Lordships. He now, however, came to a different ground—it was 1168 one, that had been adverted to by his noble Friend, who had spoken that night of the great difficulties with which the country was surrounded; his noble Friend had referred to their external relations, and to the difficulties that presented themselves at home in many of the manufacturing districts— to the difficulties they had to encounter in the colonies—in more colonies than one; but then he had said on the 7th of May, that though those difficulties were various, there were none of them which a vigorous Government might not conquer. His noble Friend had not that night disavowed this opinion, he had marked his observations, as he believed, that it was supposed, that he had disavowed them, but, he must say, that he did not think, that his noble Friend had differed in his statement that night, from the statement he had made on a former occasion. But then his noble Friend had expressed an opinion which his noble Friends and he, knew was entertained by men of very great weight, and of high authority as statesmen both at home and abroad. They had both thought and said this—he knew it perhaps better than his noble Friend, that their new constitution, as they called it, of 1831, might do very well for fair weather; but, that it might be a very different thing if a tempest had burst against the constitution, either in a foreign war, or in domestic convulsion, and above all, in a pecuniary convulsion; and something had been said by his noble Friend, which showed, that he was rather of that opinion himself. If such was the case, then he was of a different opinion. It was a matter of faith with him, that the new and the reformed constitution was as well fitted for the storm as the calm. Upon that subject he had long and deeply considered, as far as he could go deeply into a question, and the opinion at which he had arrived was this, that they might entertain no doubt, hesitation, apprehension, or alarm whatever. He said, that if it were good for the calm, it was yet better for the tempest. He said, that in smooth water, the vessel which was well trimmed, and well found, and well manned, and all her rigging tight, and all her timbers sound, by having with her the hearts of the people, and the goodwill of the constituents in the other House, and the good inclination of their fellow subjects in this House, was still better in the tempest, where the more stress was laid on 1169 the sails, for then the rigging and the timbers, and the repairs which they had made, and the bold hands they had placed in her, would prove, when there was a necessity for their exertions, and when they were most wanted, that they would not shrink; and those repairs would become the more invaluable, because they were the more necessary when the storm began to beat against the bark of the constitution. He knew he did not share this opinion with a majority of their Lordships he feared he hardly shared it with his noble Friend himself. But, however that might be, he perceived by the ominous silence of those who surrounded him, that his noble Friends who used, in former times, when it served the purposes of the hour, now participated in the opinion, though they were then the great advocates and the leading assertors of reform doctrines. He was afraid, that that was the case. He hoped it was not so, and that he was, in entertaining the opinions he had expressed, not to stand almost solitary in that House, when he declared, that he looked for the safety of the country under the Reform Bill which they had passed five or six years ago. But let that be as it might, he stood undismayed—his position might be displeasing, but to him it was not new; he had frequently stood up alone in that House, when a measure was proposed in it, to oppose it. There were many occasions on which he was not supported that he believed others were now sorry they had not supported him at the time. There was, for instance, the Canada question, on which, if he had been supported, he believed matters would not have gone to their present length; but of that enough for the present. The opinion to which he steadily stood, was this, that if the Reform constitution was good for ordinary occasions, it was still better for such occasions as his noble Friend had adverted to; although, God forbid, that either should live to see the day in which the bitter calamities should occur, in which they must have the full experience of its efficacy. He felt, he must say, that an answer should be given to his noble Friend's observations, when he said, that there were difficulties existing abroad and at home, in the colonies and the mother country, which did require a Government that was deserving the name of a Government, which, in order to grapple with all these difficulties ought to have the confi- 1170 dence of the Houses of Parliament; and this brought him to the question, which had been put to him by his noble Friend. How did it happen, that his noble Friend in that House, and another noble Friend in the other House of Parliament, should have declared, that they had lost the confidence of Parliament, that they had lost the confidence of the other House of Parliament, and that as to this House, as they never had possessed, they could not lose it, and that they had no hopes of being supported in the country, or they should have had recourse to the usual expedient in such cases; but, having lost the confidence of all, they had the undoubted support of the Crown; and thus they determined, that for these reasons, and under these circumstances, they gave up the Government surrounded with difficulties both at home and abroad. This happened on the 7th of May, and then on the 13th of May, or it might be the 14th—upon that very day week, his noble Friend in the very same place came forward and stated, that notwithstanding all he had said the week before, he was about to resume the Government, and therefore meant to ask of the House to adjourn for ten or twelve days. Many thought, and he was amongst the number, that when in the middle of the Session, and when hardly any business had been done, and when it was so much out of the ordinary course, the Whitsun holidays generally lasting but for two days, and one day for the birth-day, that asking for so long an adjournment must betoken the intention of considering the constitution of the Government, or of altering its policy; and as they had lost the confidence of a great part of their supporters, they were about to occupy a week in taking measures to restore their confidence, or of appealing to the country. He no more doubted this, than that he heard the question put from the Woolsack. Their Lordships would never have consented to the adjournment, except it was with the supposition, that it was to afford time for making a new Government. Then there would be a good reason for it, as, in that case the necessity was urgent, but if after a Government had been made, if it continued as it was before the crisis took place, he did not see why there ought to have been the delay of ten or twelve days. The delay must have been either for the Government to alter the course of proceeding—perhaps to alter its constitution, or to 1171 enable its supporters out of doors to get up an outcry—to raise a clamour—to make an appeal to the ignorant mob, to make an appeal to that mob who were naturally not very knowing in those matters, and to urge and enforce such an appeal to them, by the grossest and most scandalous misrepresentations, and he could conceive that by such unworthy means an attempt would be made by those who could not gain the confidence of Parliament, to obtain at least, by delusion, the confidence of a part of the country. This was a very intelligible, though not a very creditable course of proceeding. It was not, he was sure, the intention of Government! They must have had some other object! But although that was not their intention, still that was the way in which the ten or twelve days had been so used by their supporters. Meetings were got up in all the corporate towns, and in the counties. There were meetings of all the corporations, beginning with the towns of Liverpool and ending with that of the common council of the day before. The battle had been fought throughout the land—it had been fought everywhere, and with various success. The noble Duke opposite, who knew more of these contests, might not say with various success; for he must say that he never knew a cry raised upon any public occasion which failed more signally than this. At Liverpool, a person arrived the same night on which the Government was restored, and he declared they were about to call upon their former supporters—that they were about to propose a new set of measures, and to throw overboard for ever the finality doctrine, and to look only to the progressive doctrine of reform. Upon this assertion they held a meeting at Liverpool, they voted an address, and at the same time they said to their informant, "if we are deceived, you shall see what you shall see." The person who said this was one of very great note, of very great ignorance, or of very great fancy. It was true that his hon. Friend had seen a deputation, but then he had given them no answer. Then, any thing more untrue than that on which the Liverpool address was founded there could not be. As to Yorkshire and other parts of the country, he had the authority of a noble Friend of his—a Whig, too, and a supporter of the present Government—who declared to him that "he never knew ouch a failure in the country." How had 1172 these attempts at excitement been made? The ten imes reported falsehoods, ten times distinctly contradicted, ten times amply and intelligibly exposed by statements, the real truth of which could not be controverted—all these falsehoods were brought forward—all truths were perverted, that they all might reproduce ten thousand shoots of lesser fabrications; and upon them were grafted slanders the most despicable, though the most ridiculous and contemptible, and which surpassed all the tricks of all former factious proceedings; and yet not the less indecent, because they depicted the malignant, false, and corrupt nature in those who would make them the subject of their discourse or in those who could patiently sit and listen to them. He deeply regretted that he had lived to see the day when a great name should be mixed up with such falsehoods; it showed him, for the second time. what he had once before told their Lordships, that common reason, and common sense, and common charity, were no longer to be found hereditary in families which in former periods of their history were illustrious for all that reason and sense, and charitable and kindly feeling, with which man's nature can be adorned; and which were combined with that genius and that spotless integrity which once made the name of Henry Grattan to shine with surprising brilliancy and lustre. But he should say no more of slanders, which might be ascribed to weak tempers and to weak minds. He should no further assail them; but there were others for whom, neither on account of past or of present time, did he feel any such sentiments of tenderness or pity. He warned his noble Friends who would not give up their conscientious opinions to win support from others, that they ought now, for their own sakes, plainly to express their disgust at these things; he warned them not to suppress their feelings with respect to such baseness from any fear of losing any of their supporters. Let them, he said, be well advised, that if they persisted in treating with such persons, they would themselves be deserted—that if they truckled to such persons, they would be themselves abandoned; that if they associated with such persons, they would be despised; that if they promoted them, they would be opposed; that if they contaminated the bench with them, they would be impeached. The honest and the manly course was 1173 open to them. He knew the difficulties of their situation; but then they ought to refuse from calumniators the hateful and foul offerings of their praises—they ought not to join hands with those whose contact must contaminate them—they should prefer hostility to support from certain quarters—and think an alliance more dangerous than the hostility of those whose fulsome flattery it was harder to bear than their foul abuse; for such was the feeling of the sensible and honest portion of the community, that the slaver was more pernicious than the tooth. Then he came again and he asked the question, after having dwelt upon the history of the last twelve days, and the failure of the attempt which had been made, he put the question of the noble Earl, which had not yet been answered. What was there now, on the 31st of May to show that the Ministers had more of the confidence of the House and the country than they had on the 7th of May, when they resigned? That was the question which was yet to be answered. He was most anxious to see an end to the finality doctrine, which had occasioned his opposition to the Government. He was anxious again to extend to them the right hand of fellowship, and to co-operate with them for he had never ceased to be their friend personally. He had that feeling, and it was that which induced him to hope that they really did mean to make such a change in their policy. He knew that supporters of theirs, at the meeting he referred to, had made a statement to that effect, and that Lord John Russell, the great supporter of the finality principle, was about to retire—never was there so foul a slander as that which thus referred to Lord John Russell; for if there were a stout Reformer in the cabinet, Lord John Russell was that Reformer. There was not one of the colleagues of Lord John Russell who did not participate in his opinions upon the finality principle. They were, he was sure, too manly to deny this. He knew the fact of his own knowledge—he first of all heard it from those who had it from themselves; besides, if these were not their opinions, they ought to have said so, and not to have let him over and over again charge them with agreeing with Lord John Russell, and never once giving an explanation. The fact, however, could not be denied, that the whole of the cabinet was of the same opinion with Lord John Russell, with re- 1174 spect to the finality principle. But then they might have abandoned that opinion; they might have reconsidered it. He hoped and prayed that they might abandon it, and he knew, and so did every noble Lord in that House know, that such was the strong feeling of Reformers, who had fought in the same ranks with them. Such was his and their hopes; but they had been dashed by the opinions and the generalities which they had heard that night. Nevertheless, he lived in hopes that they would be speedily brought to bear. It was on this account that he supposed that Ministers themselves would have been led to consider the basis on which their new Government was to be placed; for new it was to be called, on account of their former declaration, that they had lost the confidence of Parliament, and therefore were to stand upon a totally different foundation; and he was quite sure that it would be a constitutional one. This he supposed; for, from all he had ever heard or dreamt of, he never thought of any, and above all, a Whig Government, standing upon such a one as the present—namely, a bed-chamber question—a question of personal feeling towards the Sovereign; or that they should have resolutions calling upon them to stand by their Sovereign, and attacking others for attacking the Sovereign, and a rallying cry to defend their Sovereign. That was the ground for resuming office, upon which the Government now stood, and it was, too, upon that ground they appealed to the country for support. One of the first falsehoods in support of this plan, which was spread all over the country, had been this, that an attempt had been made by Sir Robert Peel, to deprive her Majesty of all her ladies of all kinds. He had seen this over and over again stated, and anything more false or more foul, had never been uttered or printed. There had been a misapprehension in the breast of the Sovereign, which his noble Friend had admitted; but what was the advantage of satisfactorily contradicting it in Parliament, when they saw a Ministerial Member declaring in public, that an attempt had been made to violate the sanctuary of the Sovereign, and to drive from her all her ladies? There was, too, another falsehood circulated, which was calculated to produce a deep impression in England. "Only think," it was said, "of those politicians (meaning their opponents) who want to take from 1175 the Queen the society of her earliest friends —those friends who were attached to her in childhood—who watched over her in her sickness—who cheered her, and made her happy in her hours of health, and who were her old and constant companions." Her gracious Majesty was now about nineteen years of age, or near twenty, and how many years did they suppose these old, and constant, and tender companions were known to her? Exactly one year—so that they were eighteen years unacquainted with her, and during all that time not one of them had approached her. Now if there had been one man, woman, or child, whose feelings had been excited by the statement of the alleged misconduct of noble Lords opposite, there had been one hundred, one thousand, aye, ten thousand amongst the younger persons especially, whose feelings had been excited by this appeal to the public, and by the statement of this outrage upon the feelings of a young lady, in taking from her her dearest friends, her youngest companions, and her oldest acquaintances. And yet it was all fancy, it was all a fabrication—and there was not a shadow of truth in it. There was no one who would stand up in that House, and declare that it was ever the intention to have removed any one who had associated with her Majesty for two years. But then it might be said in the removal of some, why not allow the lady of the noble Marquess, and the two sisters of a noble Friend of his, the Secretary for Ireland, why not suffer them to remain? They might have remained: all that was stipulated for was, the power of removing them. Another doctrine had, upon this subject, been broached, which was quite new, unheard-of, and monstrous; but the object of which was perfectly obvious. It was said, that it would be a natural arrangement, to have one set of men in office, and another set of women in office also. And this doctrine was reserved for the year 1839—it was reserved, too, for the Whigs, who, in 1812, had maintained an opposite opinion, and who had refused to come into office, because lords of the bedchamber were to be retained by the Sovereign. This was certainly an extraordinary position; but it threw a new light upon the formation of a Government —that when Ministers say they resigned, it meant only, that the husbands were to resign, and the wives would not act in conformity with them, for they would not resign—that the half was to go 1176 out, and the "better half" to remain in, and that in a Government coming down and saying "we only are in office until our successors are appointed," was to mean that "we are only out of office until our wives and sisters prevent those who might be our successors from forming a Government." It was really a painful thing to be called upon to discuss a subject with which ladies were mixed up; but it had become a state question; the ladies of the bedchamber had been converted into a political engine, they had been made the pivot upon which the Ministry was to turn. A ministry was no longer to be formed as the wisdom of Parliament should require, since the ladies of the bedchamber might stand in the way of those in whom the Parliament might confide. Those ladies had ceased to be the mere companions of the Sovereign's private life, they had become an engine of the state, they had actually become statesmen, though not clothed in male attire, and stood between the wishes of Parliament and the granting of those wishes. If it had not been for this part of the case, he should have felt it his duty to maintain that silence upon the present occasion which he had willingly observed when the original discussion took place. But the question was a constitutional one; there were grave matters mixed up with it: it had great constitutional bearings, and was connected with many and serious consequences. Entertaining a much stronger opinion than King William did in favour of our ancient monarchy, contrasted with other forms of Government, he would willingly be relieved from the necessity of comparing them. This, however, he would say of our constitution, that it was a perfectly justifiable ground for a Government in office to remain in office if that Government held opinions consistently with the opinions of Parliament. But if the two Houses differed, it was equally justifiable and constitutional to remove a Government upon the ground of not having the confidence of both Houses of Parliament. The remedy was an appeal to the people. If the House of Lords differed from the House of Commons, and that the Sovereign, not remaining as a cipher—a doctrine for which no one had a greater contempt than he had, for the Sovereign by remaining a cipher, in his opinion, ceased to be a monarch —but in the exercise of that discretion and high prerogative with which the Crown was invested, agreed with the 1177 House of Commons and differed from the House of Lords—if that difference was upon a trifling matter, the Government could proceed; if it was upon an important matter, the course was equally plain, because the constitution had chalked it out, namely, to dissolve the House of Commons, and if upon a new election it was clearly shown that a decided majority adhered to the Commons and differed from the Lords, then would he say, that according to the constitution of the country the Lords must give way to the Crown and the people, otherwise the monarchy could not be called a limited monarchy. That, however, was not the position in which they were now in. There was no difference between the two Houses of Parliament. Neither had confidence in his noble Friend's Government. Both desired a change, by both was his noble Friend abandoned, or of one at least had his noble Friend lost the confidence, and of the other he never had any to lose. His noble Friend's Government had not lost the confidence of the Sovereign; that was all; but upon what ground he should like to know was it that that confidence seemed of so much more value on Monday the 14th of May, than it did on Monday the 7th of May? Upon what ground was it that that continued, but not increased confidence, enabled the present Government to carry on the business of the country in the face of the two Houses of Parliament? That was a question which remained to be answered. Was it come to this, that the Parliament and the country was bound to yield to the caprice of the Ministers? It was not the caprice of Parliament, Parliament could have no caprice; it was "the wisdom" of Parliament. Then it might be the caprice of the Sovereign. He knew it was not. He had the honour of knowing that illustrious individual from her earliest childhood, and he unhesitatingly asserted that there never was a person having less of caprice than that illustrious Princess. Now, if they supposed the Sovereign to say, "I don't care for the House of Lords, I don't care for the House of Commons, I don't care for the country, not a jot, and I insist upon keeping in my Ministers, because I will not part with those two ladies of my bedchamber," then their Lordships would be supposing that position of things which they were now gravely told was the case by the existing Government. That was their case, that was their 1178 representation, stripped of all those exaggerations and falsehoods which had been grafted upon it—the real unmingled and unadulterated statement of the constitutional principles and the constitutional conduct which his noble Friend had to lay before Parliament that evening. This was new, this was portentous, this was strange and uncouth language to address to Parliament. He had thought they belonged to a country in which the Government by the Crown and the wisdom of Parliament were everything, and the personal feelings of the Sovereign absolutely not to be named at the same time, to be named certainly in connexion with personal matters, to be named upon all things which belonged to mere individual topics, to be kindly treated, to be most respectfully venerated, to be touched with a most tender, cautious, and thrilling hand, but never to be allowed to interfere with the sober judgment of Parliament, to countervail the highest interests of the state, to regulate or guide the Government, or to sway the state affairs of this realm. That was the language of the constitution. If it was not, then he would say that they did not live under a limited, but under an absolute, monarchy; that they had an absolute monarchy clothed in the form of a representative government, which had become a mere pageant, and an useless and insulting mockery. He little thought he should have been obliged, in this advanced period of our history, to argue this question, and argue it, too, with Whigs, with the kinsmen, the descendants, the representatives of the Ministers, or rather of those who, because they would not subscribe to this creed, refused to be the Ministers of 1812. He little thought he should have lived to hear it said by the Whigs of 1839, "Let us rally round the Queen; never mind the House of Commons; never mind measures; throw principles to the wind; abandon opinions; leave pledges unredeemed; quarrel with your supporters in both Houses of Parliament, but for God's sake rally round the Throne; the Princess who fills it deserves to be the object of your reverence and respect, and whatever pleases the Princess let it be the law of the land." He was old enough to recollect that in the reign of George 3rd, who had swayed the sceptre of these realms with undiminished popularity, or rather with a popularity which increased with his years, he (Lord 1179 Brougham) had regarded with the greatest contempt the principle of those noble Lords opposite, which showed itself in the constant attempts to cover their failures by appeals to the "good old King." If they were at an election, and no man suffered more from elections at that period than he did, the usual cry was, "Oh, never mind the Catholic question, never mind reform, go for the good old King, who is broken down with sickness, who is labouring under a load of years, and who has reigned over you for half a century." "This is his jubilee year." The Walcheren expedition and the jubilee coincided in time, but the "good old King" was the stalking-horse for all failures. But it was not the Whigs who did that; for if there was one thing more than another of which the Whigs then expressed their abhorrence, it was of that appeal to the "good old King," which they condemned and ridiculed as hypocritical, because they knew what was meant by "my good old King;" they knew very well that it meant "my good old pension," and "my excellent old place." That "God save the King" meant" God save my pension;" and that "give me a long-lived king," meant "give me a long-lived Minister, who will give me a better pension and a larger place than I now have." Such were almost the words of Mr. Tierney on one occasion, when a Speaker in the other House was talking of nothing but the "good old King," It was during the discussions on the regency, and Mr. Tierney remarked "I dare say, if the Prince of Wales was on the Throne, we should have nothing but ' the good young Prince.' And if, unhappily, anything should befal that illustrious personage, so that the Princess Charlottee should succeed, we should hear equally repeated 'the good interesting young Princess."' Little did he then think that the day would come when he should hear almost those very words, not from the unconstitutional, place-loving, place-hunting, King-loving Tories—the absolute-monarchy-loving Tories, who thought that the public was made for the King, and not the King for the public; but from the Whigs themselves, the colleagues, successors, and kindred of his noble Friend, the former head of the Government, and of the other distinguished chiefs of the party. It might be thought, but most erroneously that ridicule on this subject 1180 was inconsistent with argument. But jest and ridicule only could be effective to show the grossness and glaring nature of the inconsistency which had been exhibited in this matter. It was a most serious and important topic, and he would continue a minute or two longer upon it. What was the consequence of the present state of things. The Government had resumed office—not because they had regained the confidence of Parliament, but because the Queen would not change two ladies of her bedchamber. They said, "let the Government stand by the Queen, though without the confidence of Parliament." Would standing by the Queen get back the confidence of Parliament? He did not believe a word of it. Was there the slightest difference in the state of parties, persons, and measures, which had dictated the withdrawal of that confidence. He said no. The attempt to pass a falsehood upon the public had signally failed. He believed, indeed, that it had succeeded a little more than the noble Duke supposed it had; for he seemed to think that the conflict on this point had been carried on not dubio marte, but with the utter repulse and discomfiture of those who attempted to propagate the falsehood. But in its main purpose it had failed. The truth was known. The proceedings in Parliament had opened the eyes of all men to the fact that a change of measures was the only alternative—that nothing but a change of measures could win back to the Government the support they had lost. But where was the Government? where was the state? what became of the sum of affairs while the Government was trying to fish for support—while they were baiting their hooks. The Jamaica Bill, which was said to be a most important measure, was brought forward. The Government staked their existence upon it. They were not able to carry it, and therefore, they conceived they had lost the confidence of the House of Commons. They thought that measure one of paramount necessity. Was it less necessary now? They had not changed their opinion. They had given up their measure, but they retained the same opinion. His hon. Friend in the other House who brought forward the new measure had, as he was informed, said that he retained the same opinion that the other was the right measure. It' the other was the right measure, this was the wrong 1181 measure; if it was not right to adopt this, it was wrong to abandon the other. Oh! but that was altered. The Jamaica policy was to be new-fashioned—principles were to be given up, and measures abandoned, and all was to be completely changed, because of—two ladies of the bedchamber. If the case was ludicrous, it was not his fault. He was stating the case of the Government in their own language—they said they would not adopt a measure or join in a vote contrary to their conscience—they would not adopt a Jamaica Bill contrary to their principles. But they gave up the right measures contrary to their opinions and conscientious convictions. And why? Not because their opinions had changed, or conscience seared, or their minds favoured with any new light since the 7th of May, but because of a squabble in the bedchamber—about the appointment of two ladies. Canada was a most important matter. It was referred to in the speech at the beginning of the session, and they had heard something since of measures on the subject, but not much. They had received a message from the Crown, recommending as a matter of necessity, attention to the affairs of Canada on a basis pointed out. He had put a question on this subject to his noble Friend the other night, and the answer —a not very satisfactory one—which he received was, that measures were preparing, and would be produced, unless circumstances occurred to prevent their being brought forward. Did not every man who had eyes to see what those circumstances were—not the circumstances of Canada, not the merits of the case, nothing in the measure itself, but—the ladies of the bedchamber. It was a question of court intrigue, how the Government would be best able to weather the storm, and if they thought they could whether the storm better by leaving out Canada than by taking it up, they would leave it out. There were other measures of great importance. Ireland for instance, called for attention, [A noble Earl—the Chartists]. He must relieve the noble Earl opposite of any apprehension of any connexion between the Chartists and the Ribbonmen. He had sat many weeks on the Irish Committee, and he could assure the noble Earl that he might repose on the most perfect comfort on this head, for he never knew of a more dreamy and baseless notion than that of a connexion 1182 between the Chartists and the Ribbonmen. He did not mean to say, that the Chartists were to be despised, or that Ribbonism did not exist, or that it ought to be despised. Far from it. But there was no connection whatever between them. If there was any relation, it was of opposition and hostility. Besides these things, there was the state of our colonial and foreign policy, which required a certain activity, a certain vigour on the part of the Government, and, therefore, a certain strength. Was the Government, now stronger to negociate with the Legislature of the island of Jamaica, after having been driven from the Jamaica Bill? Rather the contrary. Was it a temptation to slacken opposition to the second measure, that the opposition to the first had been successful? Was the self-stultification of the Government in announcing, that they had lost the confidence of Parliament likely to overawe the Colonial Assembly? He, humble individual as he was, and not knowing the whole mystery of Court intrigue, should think not. Then, with respect to foreign affairs, and this was a part of the subject which gave him the deepest concern; it was the first time in the history of this country, at all events, since the revolution of 1688, that it had ever been avowed—publicly and openly avowed—and by the liberal and constitutional party too, the Whig party, the framers of the constitution of 1688, that the Crown was everything and the Parliament and the people nothing. When he (Lord Brougham) said, in his place on the 20th of December, 1837, on the question of the civil list, that he was very averse to the unconstitutional use of the Queen's name, which had recently come into vogue by Whig lips, his noble Friend used some very remarkable expressions at that time. He said, as to the provision for the Crown, that he hoped he should never see the day when the resources of the Crown and its substantive and independent power, as a separate part of the monarchy, should be put forward against, or brought into any contact or collision with the other constitutional estates of the realm. But had not the Crown been recently so thrust forward? Was it not the society of the Queen as an individual, the ladies of the bedchamber of the Queen as the individual which from beginning to ending had caused these great changes in the conduct of the late 1183 Government, and of the present presumed Government? This was the first time, that England had ever proclaimed to Europe that she was to be governed on such principles—the first time, that her statesmen had professed that the opinions of Parliament were to go for nothing, provided they retained the confidence of the Queen. Was this likely to raise the confidence of foreign countries in representative governments, or make them feel more respect for ours? Would they not know, that this must have an end? Would they not feel well assured—would not any honest man, who applied his mind to the matter, feel well assured, that this could last but for a very short time? The cry had not succeeded—it had been put down. Truth had made way, and the Parliament must prevail, if the Government did not change its course and conciliate its former friends; and foreign nations, with whom we had to negociate, must see every man in England could tell them, that this state of things must have an end, and Parliament must prevail in the struggle. If his noble Friend, the Secretary for the Foreign Department, were there, he would ask him what chance he had of a successful issue in his negotiations with any one power, while his Government was standing in these unparalleled circumstances—while it was so infirm, so tottering, and he would add, so rotten—for rotten must be the foundation of a Government which stood on such a basis. One word more with respect to what he took to be the most melancholy, and not the least interesting part of the question. He grieved deeply, that her Majesty should be placed in this position. It was not the fault of Parliament. Parliament had spoken its opinion fairly. And considering how inexperienced a person she of necessity was, it could be imputed to no fault of her own. She had reigned barely two years. But those who were about her, were bound to inform her of the solemn responsibility thrown upon her by the ancient and established principles of the constitution. There should be no force. Her feelings should be treated with all imaginable tenderness. Even where she might be wrong every conceivable excuse should be made, and even when difficulties arose, all reverence and tenderness, and the most profound respect and veneration of the most devoted courtier should be shown; but duty remained towering above all other 1184 and pettier considerations—the duty of men, of statesmen, of ministers, of sworn advisers—a duty the more imperative upon those who had been the first advisers and councillors of her earliest youth and more imperative still upon those to whom she had ever proved a most confiding and most gracious mistress. What was that duty? To tell her, that the constitution knew of no divisum imperium—no opposition of ladies of the bedchamber; that changes in those places—which ought to be carefully avoided if possible, and never to be resorted to one hair's breadth beyond what the individual case required—might yet be just as much necessary as changes in the husbands and brothers of those ladies themselves. He hoped, that such advice had been tendered he trusted, that such information had been afforded. But of one thing he was sure, that if, for want of due consideration, for want of appropriate councillors, for lack of requisite information, that most illustrious, most amiable, and most upright Princess should be brought prematurely, and at the beginning of her reign, into collision with the wisdom of Parliament—or the will, for that was the wisdom, of Parliament—Parliament having no caprice—and if the public affairs, the ardua regni should take any detriment from that collision, and the Crown fail, as fail it must, a bad service would have been rendered by bad councillors, bad friends, bad flatterers, and worthless parasites—if there were any such who had done so, and he denied the possibility of believing, that there could be such; it could not be his noble Friend. He knew it was out of the question; he did not tender such advice; but whoever, had done it, had rendered a bad, pernicious, and all but fatal service, to a confiding, amiable, and upright Princess. Then they should see the misery of a reign in which, having commenced with a personal conflict, always to be avoided even by a Sovereign under the weight of years—a Sovereign who had laid the country under old obligations by services rendered—but how much more to be avoided in the case of a Princess, who had just stepped upon the Throne, and had had no time to confer great benefits on her people—then, he said, would have been begun a reign under the most inauspicious of all circumstances; a coldness—he would anticipate no worse, for that was bad enough—a coldness and alienation between 1185 the Princess and the people—between the Crown and the Commons and Peers of the realm. He knew that his noble Friend who led the Government in that House, and his noble Friend who led it in the other House, were the very last men in all England to be anxious about retaining office. He knew it personally from their character, their habits, and from positive knowledge of the subject, that they would make no sacrifice of principle—no sacrifice of honour to retain their places. They were above mean and paltry motives, and felt in their position only the responsibility, the duty, and the difficulty, which belonged to it. But there were others who might counsel them—lovers of place wishing to keep place, or only hungering and thirsting to get place: whose appetencies had been sharpened by possession, or those to whose desire distance made it seem more sweet, and who had not tasted the bitters with which the possession of office is always mingled. If his noble Friends were above taking counsel from such advisers as these, he dreaded not the honest, wise, and well-considered opinions of his noble Friends themselves. The consequence of all this was, and it was this that gave him the anxiety with which he had all along viewed this question, and with which he now addressed their Lordships—that the principle of the monarchy had been put to a severe trial. Let them be assured of that, and let it not be tried more than it was prudent to try it. Let them not stretch it, lest peradventure it might crack. His noble Friend, who introduced this subject, had spoken of a conspiracy against the monarchy, and of those who would pull it down. He considered the country not exposed to imminent risk of revolution, and the destruction of the present regal Government. There might be some who entertained such views, but he believed they were few in number, not very respectable in force, and, he was confident, not very respectable in point of capacity, with very few exceptions. But if there were such a party, and if he were apprehensive of an assault on the monarchy from that party, he could not look upon it with any feeling but the most serious affright, alarm, and dismay, in thinking that the battle was about to be fought, after such an unwise, unprecedented, and reckless course as had been taken, in resting the Government upon a bed-chamber quarrel, and bringing the 1186 personal feelings of the Monarch into collision with the wishes, the will, and the wisdom of Parliament. God avert this omen! but upon his mind he had more explanations; the alarm would be great. [The noble and learned Lord sat down amid loud and continued cheers from the Opposition benches.]
§ The Duke of Wellington.
My Lords, I certainly do not rise to reply, or make any comment upon the very able speech which has been just made by the noble and learned Lord. Still less am I disposed to interrupt the good temper of the House by any observations which I might desire to make upon matters personal to myself. I can assure your Lordships that upon those personal matters I feel at the present moment exactly as I did when I addressed your Lordships a short time ago. I think I have even more reason to be totally indifferent on the subject of the reports referred to by the noble and learned Lord, since these reports have produced no effect whatever on the country. I believe that no credit has been given to them anywhere, and I have every reason to think that I am not mistaken on the subject. I must say, that from the commencement of these transactions, I have totally and entirely acquitted the noble Viscount opposite of having had any concern in circulating those reports. On the day previous to that on which I addressed your Lordships, before it had been stated in another place that the illustrious person referred to had acted from a misapprehension of the circumstances, the noble Viscount stated that himself. But, my Lords, at the very time I addressed your Lordships, I had in my pocket an address from a relation of the noble Viscount to his constituents—I fully believe without the knowledge of the noble Viscount—but containing such language, that either the writer must have been misinformed, or have stated what he did without information. At all events, I felt confident that the noble Viscount had not given the information. I will go further, and say, I feel so confident in the force of truth, that even if the noble Viscount had given such information I should have felt the same contempt for the reports that I did feel at the moment I addressed your Lordships on the former occasion. I must fairly say, that I entirely acquit the noble Viscount of having made such a communication. As to other matters adverted to by the noble and learned Lord, I must confess that I am one of those who never 1187 thought that the Government had, on the 7th of this month, any very good reason for resigning their offices. That was my opinion at the time, and it has been my opinion ever since; and the more I have reflected on the subject, the more convinced I am that my judgment was not very erroneous. In fact, my Lords, they could not carry, they found, that one question in Parliament relating to Jamaica. Why, my Lords, no man will tell me that there were not many measures that could be substituted for that measure. The noble and learned Lord says yes, they have found a measure, but not a good one; the former was the right, and this was wrong. [Lord Brougham observed, that he said, "If the former was right, the present was wrong."] I must say I felt at that time, that although they could not carry that measure, they might carry measures which might have been substituted for it. I confess I never saw any reason why the Government should retire, and I must add, after the discussion in another place on this subject, that those who undertook to carry on the Government felt extreme difficulty cast upon them. I think, as I have said, that another measure might have been substituted by the noble Viscount's Government, but that was a matter for them to consider, and not for me. I give your Lordships what was my impression at the moment the Government retired, and it is an opinion which has been confirmed by reflection upon what has passed since. On the other part of the subject, and upon what the noble Viscount has stated in answer to my noble Friend, I have but little to say. I am in the habit, at times, in my place in this House, of giving my opinions and sentiments to the noble Viscount. I earnestly recommend him to persevere in the intentions which he has announced in the course of the discussion this night. Let him honestly perform his duty in the Government of the country. He has failed in carrying one measure which he proposed to Parliament in a former Session. Let him persevere in the performance of his duty, not only in Parliament, but out of it, and let him trust to the good sense of Parliament and the country for his support. And although certainly I have the misfortune of differing from him on many subjects, I think I may venture to tell him that he will not find Parliament fail him if he will honestly and sincerely perform his duty.
The Marquess of Normanby
said, that after the manner in which himself and a lady, a near relative of his, had been personally alluded to by the noble and learned Lord, he felt it necessary to make a few observations to their Lordships. The noble and learned Lord had talked of misrepresentation and slander elsewhere, but certainly he must confess he had never heard anything more like misrepresentation than what had been stated to the House by the noble and learned Lord that evening, supposing, indeed, that the noble and learned Lord had not used the expression in question in a moment of inadvertency. The noble and learned Lord had directly referred to certain ladies, attendants on the Queen, as agents in the transaction, and had described Ministers as having only resigned their places to give their wives and sisters at court an opportunity of effectually preventing the formation of another ministry.
said, that he had not for a moment imputed to these ladies that they had been agents in the transaction. He had merely referred to them in the way of argument.
The Marquess of Normanby
said, he bad distinctly understood the noble and learned Lord as charging these ladies with having acted as agents in the transaction, and as speaking of what had actually taken place. [Hear, hear!]. He (the Marquess of Normanby) had passed unnoticed what had been stated on this subject elsewhere, in the shape of anonymous attack, but after what had been said by the noble and learned Lord, he felt it his duty, however painful, however delicate, however difficult the task, to offer a few words in explanation of how it happened that Lady Normanby's name had been mixed up with the circumstance. On the day on which the resignation of Ministers took place, he had a conversation with his noble Friend, near him, the noble Marquess (Tavistock) on the subject of the ladies of her Majesty's household; and while fully concurring with his noble Friend that there could be no doubt of the full right of her Majesty to retain these ladies, he remembered that he had stated he felt it might be very possible that his connection with the Government might place Lady Normanby in a different position from the other ladies, and he added, that if any intimation of this kind was made to him he should act upon it. Accordingly, when he heard of the difficulties 1189 stated to be in the way of the formation of a new Ministry, which was not till the meeting at his noble Friend's house on Thursday evening, he that very night communicated to Lady Normanby his feeling that it was advisable that she should resign her situation, and Lady Normanby tendered her resignation on the following morning. The note in which he conveyed this suggestion gave Lady Norman by the first intimation of this alleged difficulty. He readily conceived that it might be very convenient for those who had taken the line adopted by the noble and learned Lord on this occasion to mix up the question of the ladies of the court with the principle for which he and his friends had solely contended, the power of her Majesty to retain about her that portion of the household of which an attempt had been, for the first time, made to dispossess the Sovereign. This was the principle, however, for which he and his noble Friends near him had contended, and which they had felt bound to support. It had been his intention to have made a remark only on that part of the noble and learned Lord's speech which personally referred to himself and Lady Normanby; but, as he was on his legs, he could not help alluding to what the noble and learned Lord seemed to consider the unfortunate events arising out of her Majesty's conduct. The noble and learned Lord, in stating that a Government had been formed which had not the support of Parliament, seemed to regret that an opportunity had been lost of forming a "strong" Government, which should possess the confidence of Parliament. He thought that the answer of the noble Duke opposite would satisfy the country on this point; but, if it were necessary to have a more direct and distinct authority, this was to be found in what Sir Robert Peel had said in the other House. Sir R. Peel had avowed all the difficulties of his position; he had detailed measure after measure, and the different points of national affairs, in which he saw insuperable difficulties before him, and the result of Sir Robert Peel's statements and arguments was a distinct admission that he had a majority of the House of Commons against him: and had nothing happened since the occasion on which that admission was made? Had there been no trial of strength since? Had there been no means afforded since of manifesting on which side the strength of the House lay? Within the last few days there had been afforded 1190 a clear indication that Sir Robert Peel and his friends could not command a majority, that they, at least, were in a minority. Respecting the question of Jamaica, to which the noble and learned Lord had referred, on that subject he had always felt strongly; he had considered from the first that the experiment of negro emancipation would not be fairly carried out in the transition from one state of society to another without a temporary suspension of the constitution. He had, therefore, most entirely concurred with his noble Colleague in thinking that the virtual failure of the Jamaica Bill was an indication to which Government should attend. But though he still adhered to this opinion, though he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who brought forward the motion in the House of Commons last night, that the measure which Government was obliged to surrender was the best, under all the circumstances of the case, yet on resuming the Government they had been able to provide for the great object of protecting the negro. He would only further trespass on the House on this occasion, knowing the critical hour at which he was attempting to detain the House, and therefore postponing for the present much he should otherwise have wished to have said. He should only, therefore, wish to make one remark on an observation of the noble and learned Lord, wherein the noble and learned Lord had seemed to wish it to go forth to the country that he was the only person of Lord Grey's government who adhered to the principles of the Reform Act. If the noble and learned Lord was so anxious to carry out the principles of that great measure, he would seem to be adopting rather an extraordinary mode of effecting this object, when he was endeavouring to the utmost of his power to restore a Tory Government.
explained, that he had not entertained the remotest idea of alluding to anything that had been done by the very amiable personage whose name had been introduced by the noble Marquess. His argument was, that women of the bedchamber would now become important political agents, and would be mixed up in political transactions of every description. His allusion was to consequences and not to past occurrences. He perfectly believed, that nothing of the description which was rumoured had taken place, and, he had taken occasion to contradict those rumours whenever he had 1191 heard them. He was not surprised at the tone of the observations which had fallen from the noble Duke opposite, after the Conservative declarations of the noble Viscount. Much stress had been laid upon the majority on the late occasion of electing a Speaker in the other House. Now, he could state that no fewer than nine of those who had voted for the right hon. Gentleman who now filled the Chair had distinctly declared, that they had voted against Mr. Goulburn in consequence of his conduct with reference to the Catholic question, and other matters; and that they would have voted differently from the way in which they had done, had they supposed the vote to be one of confidence in her Majesty's present Ministers. He was desirous to see an honest and a firm liberal Government. The noble Viscount was, he believed, deficient in the latter quality; and the next best thing to a strong liberal Government would, in his mind, be a good liberal Opposition.
§ Question of adjournment carried.