said, in accordance with the permission he had obtained from the courtesy of the noble Marquess, he was desirous of asking a question regarding a matter which had been for a long time the subject of negotiation between this Court and that of Hanover. He alluded to the long-protracted discussion on the subject of the jewels claimed by both parties. If this matter related exclusively to the illustrious parties interested, he need not say that a feeling of respect and propriety would lead him to abstain from all allusion to it; but, in point of fact, it had now become what might be called a State question, and, as such, it was possible that one day or other it might affect that perfect cordiality which, on every account it was so desirable to maintain between two countries so situated. Their Lordships must not think that he overrated the value and importance of this cordiality, when he reminded them that they had lately had a very remarkable proof of it, when the old English feelings and predilections of the Sovereign of Hanover induced him to en- 1236 deavour, at all hazards—and he must be allowed to tell their Lordships that some of them were very great—to resist the introduction into his dominions of a system of commercial restriction highly hostile and prejudicial to the interests and industry of his native land. It was not, then, as a matter of personal right that he brought this matter forward; but under the constitution of the country in which the King of Hanover lived, he was bound to assert the rights of his Crown, and of those who might succeed him; and the estates of his kingdom were equally bound to see that he did fulfil that duty. Into the question of law respecting rights it became him (Viscount Strangford) in no way to enter; he might say that he knew very little of law beyond that very generally known maxim—that nine points of it were comprised in the word possession. Looking at this as a public, and not as a private matter, he hoped he might, without indiscretion, venture to ask the noble Marquess in what state the question was, and whether there was any objection to the production of such communications as might have taken place between the two Governments respecting the Crown jewels of the late King?
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
certainly should not object to give the noble Viscount the information for which he asked, and that was to answer the question, in what state the matter stood, whilst he at the same time should most decidedly object to the production of any documents upon the subject. He must premise to the information he was about to give their Lordships, a remark that this was a question in which the public of this country was in no way directly interested, any further than it must be concerned and interested in anything that affected the personal interests and personal feelings of the illlustrious Person who sat on the Throne. The spirit of the case was this. It was pretty well known to many of their Lordships, as well as to the noble Viscount himself, that for many years this discussion had now been going on. After the decease of the late King of England, it appeared that a certain doubt arose respecting the right of property in a very considerable amount of jewels which had belonged to the Crown of Hanover, which had belonged to George III., and to her late Majesty Queen Charlotte. Great doubt arose, and it became a very complicated question to determine in whom the right of possession of all those jewels rested, that right 1237 being different with respect to different descriptions of those jewels, and it being extremely difficult to separate those questions which might affect the various rights of the House of Hanover in the first instance, of his late Majesty King George III., or of her late Majesty Queen Charlotte, to dispose of those jewels. Under these circumstances, certain proceedings were instituted in the courts of justice, more particularly touching the right to jewels held under Queen Charlotte's will, whilst a diplomatic correspondence was commenced with the Hanoverian Government with reference to those supposed to belong to the Crown of Hanover. But after a certain time those illustrious parties adopted a course he thought alike creditable to themselves and becoming the particular situation in which they were placed, both as respected the public and as respected their position towards each other. They determined, instead of having recourse to courts of justice, to request three of the most eminent lawyers in this country to become arbiters in the questions to whom those jewels belonged, and to whom they should be assigned, binding themselves, not by law, because by law they could not bind themselves, but binding themselves in honour to abide by that decision. Those three eminent lawyers, for some time, investigated this question, and in the summer of 1846 they came to a determination as to the nature of a report which they were to present relating to those questions. They had determined upon the substance of such a report; but at the very moment that report was about to be put into a formal shape, the Lord Chief Justice Tindal, who was one of those commissioners, died—the others being Lord Lyndhurst and Lord Langdale. This put a stop to the case. It had been subsequently proposed by the Court of Hanover that the two remaining commissioners should choose a third, and proceed to make a decision. An objection, and a sound objection, was taken, that this would involve a reconsideration of the whole case, and of all the arguments and proceedings which had been held. It was then proposed by Her Majesty's Government, in the name of Her Majesty, to the Court of Hanover, that, it being notorious that the three commissioners had been unanimous in their opinion with respect to one description of those jewels, namely, those which had been in the possession, and were supposed to have belonged, to her late Majesty Queen Char- 1238 lotte, the two commissioners being enabled to state distinctly what had been the opinion of the three, including the opinion of the eminent person deceased, this should be acted upon and adopted as a decision of the commissioners, and with this it was proposed to have a fresh inquiry with respect to the other branch which then remained to be investigated. That proposition was not agreeable to the Court of Hanover. That was the proposition, however, made by Her Majesty's Government in the name of Her Majesty, and which at this moment had been again placed under the consideration of the Court of Hanover. That their Lordships might be enabled to take a correct view of this subject, he hoped he might be permitted to read the declaration made by the two surviving commissioners, after the loss of their colleague, containing the unanimous opinion of those commissioners on the question:—With respect to the jewels which Queen Charlotte found on her arrival in England—as represented by her Majesty—we are all of opinion on the evidence adduced, and have decided that there is no sufficient proof of title in her Majesty to authorize us to report that she had a right to dispose of them by will. This part of the case we considered as decided. With regard to the other class of jewels, those bequeathed by the German will of King George the Second, we have not come to any decision. The subject gave occasion for considerable discussion at our last conference; and before we had an opportunity of again meeting, the sudden death of Chief Justice Tindal, our colleague, occurred, and no further proceedings have since taken place on the commission. It is possible, after the decision respecting this second class of jewels, that there might have still remained some points, as to the identity of certain of the jewels requiring further consideration.This was the decision of the commissioners, which was unanimous as to one particular class of jewels, namely, those bequeathed by her late Majesty Queen Charlotte. As to the second class, it had been Her Majesty's wish that a fresh communication should be made with respect to putting the matter in the course of inquiry, he meant as to those jewels of minor amount which belonged to the House of Hanover, and were bequeathed by George II. He had now put their Lordships in possession of all the facts; but he would again remind them that the subject was one in which Parliament and the public of this country had no concern. He had not thought it right to withhold the information the noble Lord desired: but having stated the facts exactly as they now stood, he considered the more proper course now would be to abstain from anything like in- 1239 terference in the matter on the part of Parliament, and inclined to the hope that their Lordships would not do anything which might influence arrangements for a just and equitable decision which should should receive the consent of all parties.
would just say, in justice to the King of Hanover, that he did not think the Court of Hanover called upon to take this judgment of the commissioners as if it were an award made, when, in fact, the award had not been made. Till an arbitration was over, no one could tell but there might be a change of opinion in the arbitrators; and the decision of the second point might in this case have influenced that upon the first. The best course would be to appoint a third person in the place of Chief Justice Tindal, and let him take the statement of the two surviving arbitrators, and form his opiniou.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
did not at all mean to say that the King of Hanover was bound to give way, but only that the proposition was made to him; it was quite open to him in honour either to to accede to it or decline it.
was sure the noble Marquess so meant, that the Court of Hanover was not bound, even morally or in candour.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
remarked that the noble Viscount had referred to the saying, "that possession is nine points of the law." If it was meant to insinuate that any use was likely to be made by Her Majesty of the fact of possession, that insinuation was utterly unfounded. The history of the proceeding, the gratuitous offer to refer the whole to three persons selected for the purpose, and approved by both parties, with the entire determination, of course, of abiding by their opinion—these things negatived the existence of any intention of abiding by the fact of possession. A reference had been adopted for the purpose of really ascertaining what were the rights of the parties, and of acting upon the determination arrived at by the individuals selected. The noble Viscount might be perfectly satisfied that the maxim alluded to did not apply to this case.
§ House adjourned.