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Mr. Hastings, as well as a libel upon the House to have been governed in their imHouse itself, upon his Majesty, and upon peachment of Mr. Hastings by so improper the whole legislature. With regard to the a motive, as a design to thwart the wishes reflections on himself, personally, and of the Sovereign. The House had not on his friends, who were members of the entertained any such design, nor was it Committee, he certainly did not, on that known, in modern history at least, that the account, stand forward to complain of the House had ever acted on so unbecoming a pamphlet. It likewise, in terms of great principle. licentiousness, made free with the right Mr. Fox next called the attention of hon. gentleman opposite him, but the right the House to the following quotation : 9 hon. gentleman, he was persuaded, would“ Will accusations built on such a baseless not expect it from him, that he should fabric, prepossess the public in favour of state that it was on that account that he the impeachment? What credit can we complained of it to the House ; undoubt- give to multiplied and accumulated charges, edly it was not. The true cause of his when we find that they originate from urging a complaint against the pamphlet misrepresentation and falsehood? The dewas, that it tended to degrade that House, cision of the House of Commons on the his Majesty, and the House of Lords, in Benares charge against Mr. Hastings is the eyes of the public, and to hold forth one of the most singular to be met with in the whole legislature as acting upon base the annals of parliament. The minister, and improper motives on a subject, in who was followed by the majority vindi. which, of all others, it behoved them to cated him in every thing he had done, and act on the purest principles, and with the found him blameable only for what he instrictest regard to impartial justice. That tended to do; justified every step of his the House of Commons had done so was conduct, and criminated his proposed inwell known, and that the other branches tention of converting the crimes of the of the legislature would govern themselves zemindar to the benefit of the state, by a by the same purity of motive, there could fine of fifty lacks of rupees. An impeachnot exist a doubt in any man's mind. The ment of error in judgment with regard to House ought not, therefore, to suffer it to the quantum of a fine, and for an intenbe insinuated from the press, pending the tion that never was executed, or ever proceeding, that the contrary was either known to the offending party, characterizes likely or probable.
a tribunal inquisition rather than a court Having thus generally stated the ground of parliament. The other charges are so of his complaint, Mr. Fox observed, that insignificant in themselves, or founded on he held the pamphlet of which he com- such gross misrepresentation, that they plained in his hand, and although he would not affect an obscure individual, would not aim at entertaining the House much less a public character. They are with reading such parts of the publication | merely added to swell the catalogue of as were more remarkable for their absur- accusations, as if the boldness of calamity dity of argument than for their libellous could ensure its success, and a multiplicity tendency, he would just read those pas- of charges an accumulation of crimes. sages that contained libellous reflections, Thirteen of them passed the House of of the nature he had already stated. He Commons not only without investigation, now read the following passage: “ Such but without being read; and the votes an exertion of public virtue (the impeach- were given without inquiry, argument, or ment of Mr. Hastings) if to public virtue conviction. A majority had determined it shall be referred, is indeed above all to impeach; opposite parties met each Greek, above all Roman fame,' and will other, and jostled in the dark, to perplex furnish a memorable example to future the political drama, and bring the hero times, that no station, however exalted ; to a tragic catastrophe. If to all the no abilities, however splendid; no ser-metaphysical misdemeanors which have vices, however beneficial or meritorious; been imputed to Mr. Hastings, he had that not even the smile of the Sovereign, added one real crime; had he thrown his nor the voice of the people, can protect a weight into the scale of opposition, and British subject from impeachment, and a violated the principles of duty and alle. public delinquent from punishment, if giance which he has ever maintained to found guilty.” Mr. Fox commented on his Sovereign, the same broad shield of 1 this extract, and said, it was beyond all patriotism which protected American dedoubt highly indecent to impute it to that linquents, would have covered the go.
vernor of India from every hostile attack. / motion, to prosecute by the AttorneyHas attachment to principle, has loyalty general, was an improper way of proto the sovereign, become such a crime as ceeding; it might not be so improper to cancel the merit, and obliterate the in the case of the complaint he had stated. service of thirty years ?” On this occa- The former libel was of a peculiar, kind. sion Mr. Fox remarked, that Mr. Has- Excepting its being an improper intertings was represented as being prosecuted ference with the proceedings of that on account of his loyalty to his Sovereign ; House, and therefore a breach of pribut in what did that loyalty consist? vilege, it contained scarcely any thing at Could the man who had abused his autho- all libellous. In regard to the pamphlet rity, and disobeyed the orders of those from which he had read extracts, it was under whom he acted, be said to be loyal? of the most pernicious tendency, being a He would just read one more passage, gross attack on that House, on the House which showed, that the author was not of Lords, on his Majesty, and consequently only an advocate of Mr. Hastings, but of on the whole legislature. It was, theretyranny in general : " It is on this prin- fore, in the truest sense of the words, a ciple that the royal family of Stuart public libel, and for that reason a prosehave been fully vindicated by the retros. cution by the Attorney-general might be pect of history, and justified to the con- the most proper mode of proceeding to science of mankind.” Mr. Fox added, punish ; but, entertaining still the opinion that he was far from meaning to say, that that he did of the mode adopted by the the painphlet-writer's account of the right House last Friday, and which, in point of hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer's fact, he was warranted to consider as the speech was at all correct. He read the mode most approved of by the House, he passage merely to show the sort of con- would leave it to those who were likely to struction that the author had thought be in possession of the opinion of the proper to put upon the proceedings of that House, as to the mode of punishment House. Mr. Fox contended, that the most proper to be pursued, and would libeller, in this pamphlet, not only im- content himself with moving, “ That the puted to a particular party a degree of said pamphlet contains passages highly power and influence over that House, disrespectful to his Majesty and to this which the event of almost every day's House, and indecent observations reflectproceedings sufficiently manifested that ing upon the motives which induced this they did not possess, but held it out to House to prefer the impeachment against the world, that loyalty to the sovereign Warren Hastings, esq., late Governorwas a leading cause for that House to pro- general of Bengal.” Mr. Fox then deceed to impeachment. The imputation livered in the pamphlet to the Clerk at in the latter point was not only false, as an the table, who read its title as follows: imputation, but false in every other re. " A Review of the Principal Charges spect, because, if a man sent out to India, against Warren Hastings, esq. &c. printed clothed with authority, and extraordinary for John Stockdale, Piccadilly." powers, chose to debase that authority, Mr. Pitt said, that though it appeared 10 misdirect those powers, and by his con- that he was personally interested in the duct to sully the character and degrade pamphlet complained of, it really had not the dignity of the British nation, he not been noticed by him till the moment that only could not be said to have acted with the right hon. gentleman had stated its loyalty to his sovereign; but was in fact contents to the House. From what the the most disloyal subject that could pos- right hon. gentleman had read of the sibly be described.
I pamphlet, it seemed to him to be not only · Mr. Fox said, he was rather at a loss a libel, but a libel of a very heinous, though what motion to make, as to the mode he should imagine not of a very dangerous most proper for the House to adopt for nature. From the little he had heard, he tbe punishment of the libeller. His doubts had no doubt that the passages extracted remained in full force with respect to the by the right hon. gentleman were so libel. mode chosen by the House for the pu- lous that no context could rescue them nishment of the libellers complained of on from coming within that description, but the preceding Friday. He thought then, as it would not be right for the House as he had on that day declared it to be upon so slight a suggestion as a member his opinion, that the way proposed by the reading extracts, to ground a motion, howright hon. gentleman who had made the ever otherwise proper, he wished the right hon. gentleman would suffer the pamphlet tion, in which he did not yet perceive to remain on the table for a day, in order reasons that could induce him to cointhat gentlemen who might be desirous to cide. The pamphlet was said to contain know the contents before they voted, reflections on the King. The passage might read it, and forbear to make any | from which this charge was deduced, was, "other motion than- That the pamphlet if he understood rightly, in the fifth page. complained of be taken into consideration It ran thus : “ Such an exertion of public on some future day. With regard to the virtue" (the impeachment of Mr. Hastmode of prosecution, undoubtedly a pro- ings) “ if to public virtue it shall be resecution by the Attorney General would, ferred, is indeed • above all Greek, above in the present instance, be the proper all Roman fame,' and will furnish a me-, mode to be adopted, though he should on morable example to future times, that not that and every other occasion contend, station, however elevated; ino abilities, that the House had it in its power, at all however splendid; no services, however times to punish the breach of their privi. beneficial or meritorious; that not even Jeges by means of their own authority and the smile of the sovereign, nor the voice jurisdiction.
of the people, can protect a British subMr. Fox acceded to the propriety of ject from impeachment, and a public desuffering the pamphlet to remain on the linquent from punishment, if found guilty." table for the perusal of the House before This did not strike him as conveying any any motion was made respecting it, other imputation against the King. The pasthan "that the said complaint be taken into sage supposed, that the King might have consideration to-morrow;" which he moved formerly shown some mark of condescenaccordingly, and which was agreed to. sion or favour to Mr. Hastings; but it did
not appear to him, that it stated any such Feb. 15. The order of the day being to be shown by his Majesty now. He read,
was happy to observe the mode in which Mr. Fox rose to call the attention of the the right hon. gentleman meant to proseHouse to the pamphlet which had yester- cute this business ; 'not by exerting the day been the subject of their conversa. powers of the House, but by directing a tion. So much of it had then been men-proceeding before regular and known tritioned, that he would not now trouble bunals, for a crime known and defined by them with a repetition of the exception- the common law; and he felt pleasure in able paragraphs. With respect to the thinking, that objections, which had been mode of prosecution, though he had on a made a few days ago to this mode, as derecent occasion dissented from he ma- grading to the dignity, and absolutely jority, yet in the present instance the of- surrendering up the privileges of the fence was of such a nature, that he should | House, were only temporary effusions from not oppose their adopting a similar motion the impression of the moment, and had to that moved by a right hon. gentleman given place to more just sentiments on against the printers of the morning papers. the subject. He then moved, “ That the said pamphlet / Mr. For declared, that his opinion was contains passages highly disrespectful to unaltered. He still thought, that where his Majesty and to this House, and inde. they were the only party concerned, they cent observations reflecting upon the mo. | ought not to trust their honour out of tives which induced this House to prefer their own hands; but in this case, the the Impeachment against Warren Hast- presiding power of the Crown, the judicial ings, esq."
authority of the Lords, as well as their Mr. Pilt said, that from the cursory own most important functions, were held view he had taken of the pamphlet, he out to public contempt; for he must still had no doubt of its containing matter maintain that the King was reflected on. sufficiently libellous to warrant the inter- | The passage quoted was, undoubtedly, ference of the House ; yet he saw nothing that on which he founded this opinion, so peculiarly heinous, as to warrant the and if ever there was an inuendo to be singling out the publication in question clearly made out, that in question certainly from the general mass : but, nevertheless, was one. But there was another passage he was very glad to find the motion which must prove incontrovertibly the in. brought forward, and with the authority tention. Its purport was, that, “ For the and weight of abilities that supported it. future, when any officer should return There was, however, one part of the mo- home from a situation of responsibility,
his only hope must be in joining a power- charge, that there was a difference of opiful faction; for his services, let them be nion concerning it in the House; for no ever so high, or his loyalty, ever so exem- jury would fix guilt upon doubtful words plary, would be insufficient for his secu- when the prisoner told them, that his acTity." This must put the meaning of the cusers themselves were not satisfied of the first passage out of doubt. The right criminality of his meaning. hon. gentleman had supposed, that the Mr. Pitt insisted, from the grammatical time past was alluded to, when the word structure of the sentence, that it carried
smile' was used. He, for his part, con- | no reflection on the King. Many of the ceived, that when any one was spoken of nominative cases, or sentences, which as possessing his Majesty's favour, his stood for such, to the verb, would admit present favour was meant, not his past. of only a past construction. For instance, He himself had once, for a little while, the "his elevated situation,” as there was honour to possess some part of his Ma- nothing elevated in his situation now :jesty's favour; a noble friend of his, the “ his abilities," the voice of the noble lord in the blue ribband, whose ab- people,” meaning the reputation he was sence he believed, every one regretted, said to have possessed in India. So that had possessed a much larger share, and for if the “ smile of the Sovereign," receive a a much longer time; yet he believed no present construction, it must differ, in reperson would talk of the King's favour ference of time, from the preceding nomiprotecting them now. He conceived, native case; and it was easy to prove, therefore, the sentence to mean, an undue that “ cannot” referred to all the preinterference of the King for the prevent. ceding members of the sentence. Thereing of justice ; though couched in the fore, if one of the nominative cases differed form of a panegyric on the House as if in sense from the others, it introduced a designed to convey directly the contrary. grammatical confusion, with which there
Mr. Pitt said, that could he be con- was no occasion to charge the author. vinced of the passages fairly carrying Though it was not every libel that was such a construction, he would readily join grammar, yet it was very hard to make a in voting the resolution ; but neither did man write bad grammar, in order to prove the passage itself, nor the other which his book a libel. was brought into comparison with it, sup-1 Mr. Fox answered, that, in like manner, port, in his opinion, the inference at- it was not every libel that was sense; and tempted to be drawn. In proportion as though he would not maintain, that the that inuendo, if supported, would aggra- present was so, yet the sentence certainly vate the charge, so, if not supported, appeared sense, till the right hon. gentlewould it tend to weaken it. He there man had made nonsense of it. True, Mr. fore moved as an amendment, That the Hastings had been in a high situation; words to his Majesty, and' be left out. he had shown abilities; he had been in
Mr. Adam apprehended the question to possession of popular applause, of royal be, whether the inuendo, as stated in the smiles. But did the writer of this libel motion, could be well laid in an indict- mean to argue entirely from claims which ment. He was of opinion it could. He were past? Did he mean to say that Mr. then argued to this effect, that from the Hastings no longer possessed the favour of time at which the pamphlet was published, the people, that their voice was silent, or pending the trial of Mr. Hastings, it that his popularity no longer existed ? No! could bave no reference back to the time it was plain, on the contrary, that it was of his arrival, when po prosecution being meant to confine the popularity and the commenced, the supposition of the royal royal favour to the present moment, and favour, as manifested at that time, must only to lament that they had not their be totally inconsequential and futile. effect in exempting Mr. Hastings from Then, admitting for argument's sake, the punishment. words to be equivocal, he reasoned from "Mr. Sheridan argued also, that the alluthe purview of the pamphlet, that its de sion was obviously directed to the present sign was to asperse, with a view of serving | situation of Mr. Hastings, as the comMr. Hastings, the prosecution of the plaint was, that the proceedings had been House of Commons, and weaken the conducted in a mode which precluded the hands of justice.
royal interference, and as the writer sup· Mr. Dundas observed, that it was a suf. | posed, prevented any such interposition in ficient reason to relinquish this part of the favour of the delinquent.
- The Solicitor General thought it neces- Lord Rawdon introduced his motion sary to say, that he should give no opinion with some prefatory observations on the on this occasion, as, from his official situa late promotion of captains to flags, by tion, he might be the instrument of the which several whom he described as House in the future prosecution.
officers of indisputable merit had been The question being put, that the words i passed by. This neglect, he contended, proposed to be left out stand part of the was contrary to the established practice of question, the House divided.
the service, and was without a precedent. Tellers.
He said, it was not his intention to im
pute improper motives to any one. Lord Maitland Yeas
. . ? 66 "He had therefore framed his motion so, Mr. Courtenay.
that he hoped it would be found perfectly 5 Colonel Phipps · · } 132 inoffensive and unobjectionable. The Noes Mr. Burges ..
subject of it was, beyond a doubt, of the So it passed in the negative. The utmost importance to the naval service of amended question was then put, and this country; and when he examined the agreed to.
list, and saw how many brave and deseryMr. Fox declared, that he still enter- ing officers had been overlooked in that tained the opinion, that unless in cases ' promotion, he felt himself called upon to of public libel, or of a libel on the Govern- stand forward as their advocate, and he ment at large, or legislature collectively, trusted that their lordships would give he did not think it becoming in that their support to the motion which he House to resort to the crown lawyers, as should have the honour to propose, partithe instruments of prosecuting libels affect- cularly as it did not point at any particular ing themselves, interfering with their pro. mode of redress, but left it totally to the ceedings, or implicating a breach of their wisdom of his Majesty to grant such relief privileges. He then moved, “ that an as the exigency of the case might appear humble Address be presented to his Man to him to demand. Notwithstanding that jesty, humbly desiring his Majesty, That he lamented the situation of those officers, he will be graciously pleased to give directions to his Attorney-general to prose- ficers to the rank of admirals in the navy, cute the author or authors, the printer or according to the seniority of such officers upon printers, and the publisher or publishers, the list of captains, regard only had to their of the said pamphlet, in order that they being duly qualified for the rank to which may be brought to condign punishment they should be promoted. By a subsequent for the same."
order of 1747, the Lords of the Admiralty are The motion was agreed to nem. con.* authorized to superannuate such captains of
| long and meritorious service as shall be disDebate in the Lords on the late Promo
abled from serving as admirals, by age or in
firmity, under the title of Admirals upon the tion of Flag Officers.]t Feb. 20. The
| Superannuated List, or, as it is commonly order of the day being read,
called, the List of Yellow Admirals. In the
promotion made by the Board of Admiralty * On the 9th of December 1789, the trial on the 15th of September 1787, in which 16 of Mr. Stockdale for the said libel came on captains were promoted to the flag, upwards in the Court of King's-bench, before lord of 40 captains had been passed over, the Kenyon. After a trial of three hours, the greatest part of whom had the offer made jury withdrew for about two hours, when they them of being put upon the superannuated returned into court with a verdict, finding list; but, conceiving themselves entitled, the defendant not guilty. Mr. Stockdale's from their past, and their capacity for future defence was entrusted to Mr. Erskine, who service, to the rank of acting Admirals, they upon this occasion is acknowledged to have refused the retreat that was offered them, and delivered one of the most able and eloquent had endeavoured, but without success, to obspeeches that was ever heard in a court of tain their re-establishment from the Board of justice. See the speeches of the hon. Thomas Admiralty. This partial promotion had ocErskine (now lord Erskine) when at the bar, casioned a great and general disgust, and eson subjects connected with the liberty of the pecially amongst the officers of the navy, who press, and against constructive treason, Vol. 2, were alarmed to find that the expectations of p. 205.
reward for the longest and most meritorious By an order of council, dated in the year service were to be dependent upon the caprice 1718, and addressed to the Lords Commis- of the First Lord of the Admiralty; and it sioners of the Board of Admiralty, they are was therefore thought a proper subject for directed to proceed, in the promotion of of parliamentary animadversion.