Abbildungen der Seite

knowledgement of an indiscretion, which from the most praiseworthy motive (spontaneous homage which vice not unfrequently pays to virtue) he had previously concealed. The questions to which we allude ought not, in our opinion, to have been put, and ought not to have been answered. We should protest against them on moral grounds, as well as for their tendency to produce that selfcrimination which is repugnant to the mild spirit of British jurisprudence.

But, of all the examinations which have met our eye, the cross questions of Mr. Attorney-General appear to have been the most curious. They were urged with that suavity of manner, and that pleasing amenity of speech, which so peculiarly distinguish all his legal exertions. He seems, indeed, to have forgotten that he was a member of Parliament, and to have imagined himself in the Court of King's Bench. His questions, however, as is sometimes the case elsewhere, not only failed to produce the effect for which they were evidently put, but, unfortunately, injured the very cause which they were intended to serve. Indeed, the first serious facts stated to the House were extorted from a witness by a cross-examination of Mr. Attorney-General. It gave us pleasure, however, to see him once more in his place, as it sanctions the hope that his collegues in office will have no further reason to deplore the want of his powerful assistance, in the support of those political measures which the exigency of the times calls upon them to adopt.

Hitherto, we have not allowed ourselves to offer an opinion on the merits of the case; nor shall we be guilty of the indecorum of stating how far, in our apprehension, the charges have been made good, before the tribunal to which they have been submitted have. delivered their judgment upon them. We wait, we confess, with anxious solicitude, for the decision of the House, convinced, as we are, that on the impartiality and justice which it shall manifest on the present occasion, the degree of confidence which the public will be disposed to repose in it, and the estimation in which it will be bolden by all the respectable part of the community, will essentially depend.

On the moral part of the question, we conceive there cannot be. two opinions in the country. It is, indeed, most lamentable to see the son of the most virtuous prince of which Europe can boast, of a prince who discharges with conscientious scrupulosity all the duties

as little suited to

of a sovereign, a Christian, and a man, held up at the bar of the
public as a determined and systematic votary of vice! If neither
the admonitions of conscience, nor the dictates of self-interest - if
neither the positive precepts of a divine legislator, nor the awful
lessons which the desolation of a neighbouring country has supplied
can suffice to produce a moral reformation, and a corresponding
change of conduct, it is time that the effect of public censure
and of public shame should be tried. How long will princes be
tieaf to the voice of Reason, which instructs them, that to the pos-
session of their peculiar privileges which their birth confers, is
attached, as a moral condition, the discharge of peculiar duties?
How long will they be deaf to the accents of Truth, which declares
it to be their imperative duty to set an example of religious and moral
conduct to those whom Providence has placed lower in the scale
of society; and which informs them of the importance of rank to
shield them from the dreadful penalties of transgression. “Unto
whom much is given, of him much shall be required," is the
language of Hiin, who will weigh in the same balance the merits
of the prince and those of the peasant, and who will deal out to each
according to his deserts. With the private vices of a prince of
the bloud a public writer has no concern; they are matters which
should be left to his own conscience: but his public vices, from
the fatal influence of their example, are objects of public im-
portance, on which it becomes his duty to comment with all the
severity of truth; not for the low purpose of wounding the feelings
of the individual, but in order to produce à reformation in his
conduct, and to impress an important lesson on his mind--that while
virtue dignifies rank, rank only serves to make vice more conspicuous
and more odious. There is one other circumstance of an afilicting
nature, which has marked this disgraceful transaction. Not only
has not one of the six hundred and fifty members of which the House
of Commons is composed, felt it to be his duty to fix the seal of his
reprobation on the profligate immorality which has been esta-
blished, by evidence before them; but some of them have even
indicated a disposition to mirth and levity, whenever 'a perverse
mind could aitach an indelicate meaning to a question or an
as to that cooluess of mind which' ought invariably to stamp the
legislative character.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Without departing from that reserve which, in this stage of the business, the love of justice has induced us to prescribe to ourselves, we may venture to observe, that sufficient has been proved to render it highly improper for the object of this inquiry to be continued in the high situation which he at present enjoys. Putting the corruption alleged entirely out of the question, and not taking into the account his application to the heads of other departments in behalf of persons recommended to his protection by his mistress; we shall contend, that the mere circumstance of suffering the discharge of his official duty to be influenced by such recommendation, and of making such a polluted source the channel of military promotion, is, of itself, sufficient to demonstrate his unfitness for the office. At a period like the present, when our individual security and our national independence may rest on the excellence of our army, when it may become necessary to render us a nation of soldiers, it is a matter of vital importance, that the road to promotion should be fairly opened to every honourable candidate; and that money should not be allowed in the army, or elsewhere, to be an adequate substitute for merit.

The sagacious proprietor of an opposition paper has ascribed, we have heard, the persecution of the commander-in-chief to the artifice of the chancellor of the exchequer, who has found, forsooth, that same impracticability of supporting his administration without the aid of military patronage, which, he admits, his patrons, “ All the Talents," experienced. This wonderful discovery is like many . others proceeding from the same quarter. No rational being, however, who has attended to Mr. Perceval's conduct, during the inquiry, will give a moment's credit to so incredible a tale.

We cannot dismiss this subject without declaring our opinion, that the extraordinary manner in which the annuity to Mrs. Clarke was granted by the Duke of York, at the period of the cessation of their adulterous intercourse, forms a very strong feature of the case. It was made conditiona! --that is, dependent on the lady's correcto ness of conduct. Why was not some explanation of this condition requested of the Duke's agent in the business? What was meant by correctness of conduct in one who, as the Duke knew, had no other means of subsistence than what the prostitution of her person, afforded? It will scarcely be contended, that it was expected she could live on this allowance, after having been supported in a life

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

of luxury and dissipation. No, no, the object of the condition could not be mistaken; the power of witholding the annuity might be held in terrorem, and -but we are ashamed of pointing out an inference which a school-boy might draw, though the House of Commons has not drawn it.

We had written thus far, when the discussions in the Committee, on the 20th of February, met our eye: we have no room for animadversion


them. We can only enter our solemn protest against the practice of the House, respecting evidence to identify hand-writing, being adopted as a precedent. We scarcely know any irregularity which could lead, particularly in criminal prosecutions, to such dreadful consequences. On the general principle of the thing, we concur, most cordially, in all the observations of Mr. Whitbrearl, Lord Folkestone, and Mr. William Smith, in opposition to every lawyer in the House. »

In regard to another part of the same discussion, as the question still remains for decision, we shall not offer a single comment; but shall merely observe, that, according to our conception of the import of terms, prevarication means caril, shuffling; and contradiction siguifies the opposition of falsehood to truth. Which of the trvo is the most criminal, it must be left to the members of the House to decide.

We shall close our present remarks upon this singular inquiry with a statement, which justice to the object of it requires to be made. Much greater abuses prevailed in the army department before the appointment of the Duke of York to the office of commander-in-chief; and it is certain that his Royal Highness has corrected many of them, and bas introduced many regulations highly conducive to the good of the service. But having stated this, it is equally our duty to observe, that the case on which the House of Commons is now called upon to decide, is a casę, not of comparative but of positive guilt.

The length to which these observations have extended preclude the possibility of entering upon any view of foreign politics; and as to other objects of domestic policy, there is but one which calls for particular attention we mean Lord Grenville's motion for the repeal of the orders in council; and we are, fortunately, spared thie trouble of commenting on the subject, as our readers, by a reference to our last Appendix, will there find, in the able speech

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

of Mr. Pickering, a full and satisfactory answer to all the arguments, and a complete confutation of all the facts, which were urged by his lordship, and by every other peer, who took a part in the debate.

Feb. 21, 1909.

.Duke of

Feb. 22.-P. S. The Morning Post of this day having fallen into our hands after the preceding article was forwarded to the Printers, we cannot refrain from directing the indignation of our readers to a laboured article which it contains, under the head York: The Inquiry into his Conduct.A more gross and puerile attempt to mislead the public, to misrepresent facts, and to pervert truth, never disgraced the prostituted annals of “THE FASHIONABLE WORLD.Had we time or room for an analysis of this foul abortion of party, we could easily demonstrate its fallacy, its folly, its falsehood, and its profligacy. Mrs. Clarke, we are told, is not to be credited in any court: why then, we might ask, was she examined by the House of Commons, since it must have been known, from the very nature of the transactions referred to in the charges against the commander-in-chief, that the proof of them must depend chiefly upon her testimony? But where did this stupid declaimer learn that a woman of the town is not a competent witness?

If he had taken the trouble to gain that information of which he, evidently, stands so much in need, he would have known, that such evidence is admitted every sessions in our criminal courts, and that on such evidence many culprits have, most deservedly, suffered the sentence of the law. And yet he has the effrontery to assert, that “ If such a testimony could be received, the life of every honest man is in the hands of every villain." We know not which most to admire, his law or his logic.

Major Tonyn's case is discussed, most cavalieriy, in a singie sentence, as totally unsupported. It is, no doubt, very convenient to sink the note about which so much has been said, though the weight of evidence is most decidedly in favour of its authenticity; and though, if it be authentic, it is perfectly conclusive on the question.

This man as easily gets rid of the fair, full, and satisfactory evidence of Dowler; and apparently for no other reason but Dowler's unwillingness unnecessarily to proclaim his own inpropriety of conduct to the world.

« ZurückWeiter »