Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

from him, what the law and the constitu- tleman had burst into a flame; he had tion had given him a right to take, without fallen out into a fury, and with a degree waiting for a declaration of either House of unpardonable violence, had accused of Parliament. It was not decent, there others of treason, because they ventured fore, to trifle with a prince, whose con- | to mention the rights of any part of the duct was marked with such meritorious royal family. The right hon. gentleman, forbearance, by instituting an inquiry into in such a casę, must not only have been precedents, that had nothing to do with aware of what people expected at their the case. It was the duty of the two hands, but of what he owed to the imHouses to restore the royal authority, and portance and delicacy of the subject, and that immediately; and he denied the right to his own high situation and character. hon. gentleman, acute as he was, to con- The right hon. gentleman had expressed tradict that assertion ; but if the two his hopes for a regency in a subject, ať Houses of Parliament took advantage of the very time that he was bringing forthe present calamitous state of the coun-ward a charge of treason. - When he try, to arrogate to themselves a power to could not convince any one by his arguwhich they had no right, they acted con- ments, he had endeavoured to intimidate trary to the spirit of the constitution, and all who had dared to mention only the would be guilty of treason.

rights of the royal family, and had * Mr. Pitt wished it to be known what threatened them with the lash of the law. the point was, upon which the right Where was the freedom of debate, where hon. gentleman and he were at issue. He was the privilege of parliament, if the asserted, that to make a provision for the rights of the Prince of Wales could not executive power of the government, during | be spoken of in that House, without their an interruption of the personal exercise of being liable to be charged with treason by the royal authority, by sickness, infirmity, one of the Prince's competitors ? Here or otherwise, did rest with the remaining there was a loud cry of order from the existing branches of the legislature. It treasury side of the House.] Mr. Burke was a matter entirely in their discretion; said, he would repeat and justify his words. what that discretion was, he should not The right hon. gentleman had expressly then discuss, but should only say, if | declared, that the Prince of Wales had no the right 'hon. gentleman's doctrine was more right to claim the exercise of the what he understood it to be, namely, that sovereign power, than any other individual the two Houses had no such discretion, subject; he was warranted, therefore, in but that his Royal Highness had a claim stating the right hon. gentleman as having to the exercise of the sovereign power, described himself as one of the Prince's wbich superseded the right of either House competitors. For his part, he was too to deliberate on the subject, there was an humble in situation to make such a renupessential difference between their respec- ciation of right to the crown himself, but tive arguments, and that difference con- he would venture to say, that none be. stituted the point upon which they were longing to the proudest and most exalted at issue.

families, those who enjoyed the highest - Mr. Burke said, that he could not but dignities, and were loaded with the most reflect with astonishment on the style and splendid titles and honours, would dare to manner in which the right hon. gentleman hope for a chance of the regency, or to had debated the question; and con- state themselves as having an equal right tended, that if ever there was a question to claim it with the Prince of Wales. He which peculiarly called for temper and must own he trembled when he considered moderation, it was that to which the pre- that he stood before that prince, who held sent argument referred. The question the lash of vindictive law over the heads did not point merely to an affliction of of those who dared to question the subbodily infirmity, to an illness affecting the ject. The right hon. gentleman had talked meapest and most perishable part of the of the discretion of that and of the other buman frame, but to the most humiliating House of Parliament: let him remember of all human calamities which had fallen that the first step of discretion was coolupon the highest situation. In that moment, ness of temper, and let him show his own when it peculiarly behoved every one of discretion before he recommended discrethem to keep himself cool, and preserve tion to others. Before he gave his electhe little share of reason with which Hea- tive vote, for he might possibly be made sen had blessed him, the right hon. gen. an elector against his will, the prince opposite to him, Mr. Burke said, ought not fore, was he still ready to maintain, ihat to measure people of low and timid dispo- it was little less than treason to the con. sitions by his own aspiring greatness of stitution to assert, that the Prince of soul. He had read in some old law book, Wales had a claim to the exercise of the that nothing was so dreadful as when a sovereign power, during the interruption subject was convicted of treason, without of the personal authority of his Majesty knowing what he had done that was trea- by infirmity and in his life-time; and to sonable. Let the right hon. gentleman this asseveration should he adhere, berecollect the 25th of Edward 3, and not be cause he considered such a claim as super80 eager to hurl his constructive treasons seding the deliberative power and discreon the heads of those who differed from tion of the two existing branches of the him respecting the Regency. He had legislature. And, when he had said the ever understood, that our constitution Prince of Wales had no more right to urge was framed with so much circumspec- such a claim than any other individual tion and forethought, that it wisely subject, he appealed to the House upon the provided for every possible exigency, and decency with which the right hon. gentlethat the exercise of the sovereign execu- man had charged him with placing himself tive power could never be vacanta He as the competitor of his Royal Highness. put the case, that if he supposed that At that period of our history, when the there might be a right in the Prince of constitution was settled on that foundation Wales (in whose patent of creation as on which it now existed, when Mr. Somers Prince of Wales, he was declared and and other great men declared, that no considered to be one and the same with 1 person had a right to the crown indethe King) to succeed his father in the ex-pendent of the consent of the two Houses, ereise of the royal prerogative, and should would it have been thought either fair or proceed upon that supposition to urge a decent for any member of either House suit in the Court of Chancery, or any to have pronounced Mr. Somers a perother court, should be be liable to be consonal competitor of William 3? victed of high crime and misdemeanor for The question was then put and agreed such an assertion? In that case, he con- | to, and the following members were named ceived the charge of treason would not be as a Committee; viz. The Chancellor of the made upon a sudden ; but, if urged at all, Exchequer, Mr. Welbore Ellis, the Master it would be urged without any attempt at of the Rolls, Mr. F. Montagu, Attorneyintimidation, any look of fury, or any general, Mr. Vyner, Mr. Duodas, Mr. voice of harshness. And yet, perhaps, | Powys, Solicitor-general, Mr. Sheridan, the charge was thrown out merely to ad | Mr. Hussey, Lord Advocate of Scotland, vise in the first plaeo, that the Prince of marquis, of Graham, lord Belgrave, sir Wales had no more right than any other Grey Cooper, Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. person; and all his hitherto conceived Wyndham, Mr. Yorke, Earl Gower, Mr. notions of the meaning of a loud and most W. W. Grenville, and Mr. Burke. vehement tone of voice was possibly wrong; since it might mean nothing more Dec. 12. Mr. Welbore Ellis appeared than to make the expression which it ac. at the bar, with the report of the Comcompanied clearly understood! Be that mittee appointed “ to examine, search for, as it might, if he were to give an elective and report precedents of such proceedings, vote, it should be in favour of that Prince, as may have been had in case of the perwhose amiable disposition was one of his sonal exercise of the royal authority being many recommendations, and not in favour prevented, or interrupted, by infancy, of a prince, who charged the assertors of sickness, infirmity, or otherwise, with a the right and claim of the Prince of Wales | view to provide for the same.” He was with constructive treason.

ordered to bring up the Report, the title of Mr. Pitt replied, that if the right hon, which being read, Mr. Pitt moved, " That gentleman who had condescended to be the said Report do lie on the table.' the advocate and the specimen of modera. This having been agreed to, it was ordered tion, had found any warmth in his manner to be printed. [For a copy of the Reof speaking before, which led him to think port, see Commons Journals, vol. 44.*] that he had not considered what he said, he was ready to repeat it with all possible

* References to the EXTRACTS from the coolness, and knew not one word that he

Rolls of PARLIAMENT, and other Papers, would retract. Upon this ground, there read at the Committee appointed to ex

Mr. Pitt said, that most probably it | House will, on Tuesday next, resolve it. would be necessary to allow a convenient self into a Committee of the whole House, time for the House to consider the con- to take into consideration the state of the tents of the Report, and examine and nation." weigh their application and force, before Mr. Fox remarked, that, two particular they came to any proceeding upon it; purposes were his motives for rising óh that as it was his earnest wish to use the present occasion ; and these he felt it every possible dispatch consistent with the incumbent upon him to lose no time in due solemnity of the case, he should move laying before the House, the more espethat the House would, on an early day, in cially as they had reference to what had the course of the ensuing week, resolve passed upon the subject that did then enitself into a Committee, “ to take into con gage, and had for some days past engaged sideration the state of the nation," to their most serious attention. The first which Committee he should refer the Re- purpose was what he never rose for be. port that had been just presented, and fore, since he had been a member of that also the examinations of his Majesty's House. No member was more indifferent physicians. Tuesday, he hoped, would to newspaper paragraphs, reports, and be a day agreeable to the House for the representations, than he was; he scarcely Committee whom he had named to sit, ever looked into any of their accounts of aod with a view the better to enable gen- what he said in that House, without find. tlemen to make themselves masters of the ing some part of his speech misrepre. contents of the Report, he took that op- sented; but he had thought it beneath portunity of informing the House, that all him to take any notice of it himself, trust. the precedents contained in the Report ing, that if he had expressed himself were either taken from the rolls of parlia. clearly, the candour of that House, and ment, the statute books of the realm, or the recollection of those who heard him, their own journals. A schedule of the would do bim justice. What he rose then whole, with references, was annexed to to complain of was, a very different matter. the Report, which, he hoped, might be There had, he said, been representations, ready for separate delivery so early as the or rather misrepresentations, not in newsnext morning, and such gentlemen as had papers, not in pamphlets, not in coffeethe books in their possession, might there- houses, but there had been misrepresenta. by be enabled to refer to them immedi- tions of what he had said in that House ately, and proceed to an inquiry into the on Wednesday last, publicly made, before doctrines contained in that Report, with a certain august assembly, by a grave perout waiting for the delivery of the printed son, in high authority, and of dignifred copy. Mr. Pitt now moved, " That this rank. He desired the world to judge him

and his opinions, from the sense of those amine and report precedents of such opinions, and his meaning as explained at proceedings as may have been had in

the time. There were different sorts of the case of the personal exercise of the

misrepresentations; there might be some Royal Authority being prevented or in

wilful and intentional misrepresentations, terrupted by infancy, sickness, infirmity,

others arising rather from levity, caprice, or otherwise, with a view to provide a remedy for the same; on Thursday, the

and wantonness, than mischievous design; 11th of December.

and, again, another description of mis

representations arising from the miscon4, 5, 6 Edw. 3, vol. 2, p. 52, two first pa

ception of honest minds, made by persons ragraphs; 1.R. 2, vol. , p. 5, S. 15 to 27, both inclusive; 1 H. 6, vol. 4, p. 169, s. 1,

who were themselves mistaken and acted 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, & 24 to 33, both inclu

upon that mistake. Under which of these sive; 2 H. 6, vol. 4, p. 201, s. 15; 3 H. 6, descriptions of misrepresentation he had vol. 5, p. 406, S. 5; 5 H. 6, vol. 5, p. 407, fallen, he would not take upon him to de. 8. 6, p. 409, s. 7; 6 H. 6, vol. 4, p. 326, s. 24, termine; possibly he might have not ex

8 H. 6, vol. 4, p. 336, s. 13; 10 H. 6, pressed his meaniog clearly, though he vol. 5, p. 433, s. 16; 13 H. 6, vol. 5, p. 438, thought he had spoken in a manner so S. 22; 32 H. 6, vol. 5, p. 238, s. 22, 23, 24,

explicit, that no man could misunderstand & 30 to 40, both inclusive; 33 H. 6, vol. 5,

| him; he was sure it arose, not from any p. 284, s. 20 to 39, both inclusive ; 34 H. 6, vol. 5, p. 453, s. 41, 42, 43; 34 H. 6, vol. 5,

contempt of his auditors, that he had not p. 289, s. 40, 41; 34 H. 6, vol. 5, p. 321,

rendered himself more intelligible, but S. 50; 25 H. 8, c. 22, s. 11; 1 & 2 Philip & | merely from the want of power and caMary, c. 10; 24 G. 2, c. 24 ; 5 G. 3, c. 27. pacity to convey to their minds, what so

LINEATUR MISS

forcibly impressed his own'; be that as it persons, whom they thought most fit to remight, what had been understood to be present them in parliament, they made his meaning, or what had been misrepre- their election of their representative; but sented to have been his expression and when they sat in a committee above stairs, sentiment, when speaking as a member of to try whether A. or B. was entitled to a parliament, ought not to have been treated seat as representative of such or such a as it had been; as if public proceedings, borough, they sat, as judges, and their reof a grave and solemn nature, ought to be port was an adjudication of the right of A. grounded on so unsubstantial a founda- or B. If gentlemen would do him the tion. The first point, from which he must honour to recollect his manner of treating exculpate himself was, the supposition of this subject, on the preceding day, they having spoken from the authority of any would, he hoped, in justice admit, that person whatever, much less from the au- the meaning which he had now explained, thority of his royal highness the Prince of was precisely that which his words, on a Wales. He had spoken merely of him- former occasion, had then been calculated self, and delivered his opinion, as an indi- to convey, and that he neither talked of vidual member of parliament. In that the usurpation of the two Houses, nor private capacity, and without the Prince suggested a single idea to warrant the im. of Wales's authority, he had freely deli- puting to him any intention of that sort, vered his opinion, and the opinion he had or any thing like it. Let it be recollected stated and meant to state, was, that from where he was speaking, and to whom he the moment that the two Houses of Par. was addressing himself; to the House of liament declared the King unable to exer- Commons, one of the constituent parts of cise the royal sovereignty, from that mo- the very court that was to make the adju. ment a right to exercise the royal au- dication of the Prince's right. Let it be thority attached to the Prince of Wales. recollected likewise, whether the rest of But he must state what that right was that his argument, both in his speech and his so attached; and he would trust to the re- reply, did not go expressly to the nature collection of gentlemen, whether he had not of the Prince's right, as he had now deiso explained it, when he had last occasion fined it. He had, in terms the most ex. to speak upon the subject. A new term plicit and unequivocal, asserted it as his had been put into his mouth in another opinion, that when that and the other place, which he had not used; it had. House of parliament declared his Majesty been said, that he had declared, “ that incapable of exercising the royal authority, the Prince of Wales had a right to assume that was the precise period of time when the royal authority, upon the interrup- the prince's right attached, and when that tion of its personal exercise, in conse House ought not to delay in restoring the quence of the King's illness and inca- royal authority. Had he not said, that pacity." What he meant was this : he the same principles that made the Crown conceived the exercise of the royal au- hereditary, made the executive power, thority to be the right, under such circum- and the government of the country, herestances, of the Prince of Wales; but he had ditary likewise ? Upon that ground it was, spoken of it as a right, and not the pos- that he had argued as he had done, and session. Before the Prince could exercise this he conceived to be the nature of the that right, he must appeal to the court Prince of Wales's right. Having thus, as competent to decide, whether it belonged he hoped, clearly explained his meaning, to him or not, or must wait till that court, he was free to acknowledge, that greater on the part of itself, made such declara- differences of opinion prevailed respecting tion. That court was composed of the the right of the Prince of Wales to exertwo Houses of parliament, while they cise the royal authority, under the cir. were sitting; the Prince had the right, cumstances so often stated, than he could but the adjudication of that right belonged have expected, but much of that diffeto the two Houses. The more clearly to rence of opinion, he found, arose from understand this, it was necessary to ex. some nice, logical, and legal distinctions, plain the precise meaning of the word taken between the term right, and claim: election, and to contrast it with the term distinctions more equivocal, in his mind, adjudication. That House could legislate than solid and substantial, and which were and provide such measures, as it deemed rested on arguments and principles, which advisable for the public interest: when he confessed his understanding was too they individually gave their votes for such dull to comprehend. One idea which he

28

had learnt was, that several persons ad- of proposition it was, that the right hon. mitted that the Prince of Wales had an gentleman meant to bring forward on irresistible claim, which the parliament | Tuesday Dext, in order that they might could not reject or refusé, whenever it turn it in their minds, and come prepared was made, without forfeiting their duty to to discuss it, with some knowledge of its the constitution. To that idea, he, for propriety and expediency. He wished the one, had no objection; because he knew right hon. gentleman not to regard him as 00 difference between an irresistible claim, hostile on the present occasion. He knew and an inherent right. In another place, it was so usual for the House to see the the right of the Prince of Wales had been right hon. gentleman and himself acting in deeply investigated, and that by inquirers an hostile point of view towards each every way equal to the discussion, who all other, that it was difficult to consider gave their sanction and authority to his opi- them in any other light; but, what he nion. If the Prince of Wales had done him now suggested, he suggested on grounds the honour to have asked his advice how to of general convenience, devoid of any proceed, he should have told him, as parlia- party consideration whatever. If the ment was sitting, that he thought his royal right hon. gentleman did not feel the prohighness might have sent a message to position that he had made as he did, he either, or to both Houses, stating his claim, could only lament that he did not. He and calling upon them to decide upon it. did hope, however, that the right hon. But, as he had said on a former day, his gentleman would not think it unfit to give royal highness's forbearance was such, i the House some general outline of what that he would send his claim to neither he meant to state to the Committee on House of Parliament; but would wait Tuesday, that gentlemen might not be patiently, and with due deference, being puzzled with the novelty of the proposiconscious that the two Houses ought to tion, and embarrassed how to vote. He acknowledge the justice of that claim, and was inclined to hope, that, as to essential thereby restore the royal authority.--Mr. / points the difference between the right hon. Fox declared, that he could not help gentleman and himself was extremely mi. thinking, that the conduct of his royal nute; an advantage, therefore, would result highness deserved the commendation he from a communication of the intended had bestowed on it, and was entitled to proposition; the opinions of weighty men universal applause. For his own part, he upon it might be ascertained, and thence could assert, that he had entertained san. it might be seen whether arrangements guine hopes, that in the adjustment of a might not be made to reconcile difference business of so delicate and important a on small points, in order that the question, nature, men of every description would whatever it might be, might be carried with have concurred in one leading and essen- unanimity. What some conceived a right tial circumstance, and have allowed, that in the Prince of Wales, others might deem let there exist what doubt there might, of at the disposal of the two Houses of parthe Prince of Wales's right to exercise liament; but that was a difference of opinion the royal authority under the present cir of no material import to the main considera. cumstances of the country, there could be tion of the act they were to do, and which none of the propriety of investing him they must proceed to do in some shape or with the sole administration of the govern. other. When the thing itself was decided, it ment, and with the unlimited exercise of would remain to determine by what mode all the regal functions. He had not yet to notify it. He conceived there could be abandoned these hopes altogether. The but two regular methods; one by a declaright bon. gentleman had named an early ration, the other by an address, or perhaps day for the House to resolve itself into a both conjointly by the two Houses. He Committee of the whole House to take knew not whether the right hon. gentleinto consideration the state of the nation; man was willing to communicate the outhe did not mean by an early day, a day line of what he meant to state to the comtoo early. He had before declared, that mittee next Tuesday; but he had no diffiafter the authentication of the King's in- culty to declare urreservedly what his capacity, the House ought not to lose any own opinion was upon the subject. His time in restoring the royal authority; but, opinion was that the Prince of Wales surely, it could not prove a matter of in- | ought to be declared regent, and capable diterence whether the House should or of exercising all the regal powers, in the should not, be enabled to know what sort same manner and to the same extent, as [VOL. XXVII.]

1 [3 A]

« ZurückWeiter »