§ Lord Archibald Hamilton
addressed 204 the house as follows:—Sir, in rising for the purpose of making the motion of which I gave notice for this day, I apprehend it is unnecessary to preface it with any observations as to its importance. I shall merely pursue that which I conceive to be the mode of conduct most conformable to the forms of the house. It is inconsistent, I believe, with those forms for me to make at first any motion of censure upon any member of this house; the most regular course, being to move previously that the Evidence, upon which a charge is grounded, should be read, so that upon that evidence certain Resolutions may be grafted; and the same argument that may be used to induce the house to hear that evidence read, may also induce it to adopt the subsequent Resolutions. In the first place, then, I shall observe, that I have no personal hostility to the noble lord, nor any feeling against him in any other capacity than that of his official character and public conduct. If, therefore, in the course of what I shall submit to this house, I shall be unfortunate enough to use any expression which shall at all appear of a different character than that which I ascribe to it, I trust, I shall be as willing to retract it as any other hon. member can be inclined to disapprove it.—There is one, and only one, point which I have to offer with regard to myself, in taking upon me to bring this business before the house. It may be in the recollection of many, at least it is in the recollection of those who have taken any notice of my public conduct, that I have been in the habit of standing as forward as any other member in pursuing delinquency of this nature, and I should feel it not less inconsistent with the duty I owe to this house, than with the maintenance of that character which I hope I possess, if I were to overlook the facts disclosed in the Evidence taken before the East India Committee.* It will be remembered that some years ago, my utmost endeavours were not wanting to produce the detection of that guilt with which Alexander Davison was connected, and that two years ago I was not less assiduous in a similar pursuit. In that, as in all other instances, I hope it will be admitted, that I have followed the same course of hostility to corruption; that whatever was due to the honour of this house, and the support of*The Report of the Committee will be found in the Appendix to the present volume.205 my own character, has ever been the object of my study; and that I have never allowed my opinions to be biassed, nor my judgment to be controuled by the influence or conduct of any person or party whatever.—Coming, now, to the point immediately before you, nothing appears to me more necessary than that you should consider it fully, and decide upon it independently, if you desire to perform the first duty that belongs to your office. If you desire to preserve the respect of the public; how can you do so unless you preserve your own purity? In this enlightened country, no body of men will be respected unless it prove itself respectable. Like any other corporate assembly you cannot enjoy respect unless you deserve it; you cannot maintain your authority unless your character is held in good estimation. Not long since you sent two individuals from your bar to prison. If you expect that judgment to be regarded; if you wish it to have the influence of example, you must take care of your individual and collective respectability, and what can be more material for that purpose than the enforcement of those laws and regulations which you have so repeatedly enacted to guard against any improper interference in the election of your members.—Against the noble lord to whom my motion refers, I assure the house that I do not mean to offer one word beyond what the Evidence contains; that I do not mean to make any charge against him, but what he makes against himself, nor to adduce any Evidence but that which the Committee received, and from his own lips, and upon that Evidence I shall ground my call on you for a vote of disapprobation. Perhaps it may be possible to offer some remarks on the case, tending to extenuate the delinquency of this culprit, as I must consider the noble lord, although I do not think such remarks easy to be produced or imagined. I apprehend there is no intention to deprecate or to interrupt the fair discussion of this question. Let me hope that the house, for its own honour, will repel such an attempt, if it be made. I trust that even from considerations of policy it will be forward to mark with appropriate reprehension a transaction which, if overlooked, cannot fail to bring disgrace upon itself. It is in Evidence, that in the year 1805, the noble lord received a letter from Mr. Reding, who was a perfect stranger to him; and, yet with this stranger, he, in consequence, had 206 a meeting, in which a direct proposition was made to assist him in procuring a seat.—Upon such a proposition, from the station of the noble lord, from the habits of his life, and from the sense of his duty, one should have thought that he would have shewn some symptoms of displeasure; that he would have taken means to ascertain the nature and extent of a conspiracy to pollute the purity of this house, to make a corrupt disposal of its seats, in order to bring the persons concerned to public exposure and infamy. Such was the course which the noble lord ought to have pursued. But, no; the noble lord gave a very gracious reception to Mr. Reding, and told him, that he did not want a seat himself, but that a friend did, to which friend he sent him, as appears in the following Extracts from the noble lord's Evidence:—"The object of Mr. Reding's letter was to say, that he thought he had the means of assisting me in coming into parliament. I told Mr. Reding that I did not want a seat in parliament for myself, but that a friend of mine did. I inclosed Mr. Reding's letter to lord Clancarty (the friend alluded to). I was induced to place a writership at lord Clancarty's disposal, and certainly the impression under which I did it was, that lord Clancarty's coming into parliament might be thereby facilitated. —The noble lord was then asked, if any thing passed as to a negociation for a writership? To which he answered, Nothing whatever. I told Mr. Reding I did not want a seat for myself, but that a friend of mine did. I asked him the name of the gentleman who proposed to vacate. This he declined till the terms were settled, with which having nothing to do, I inclosed his letter to lord Clancarty. It is impossible, Sir, for any person exercising an impartial judgment to consider this treating any otherwise than a direct willingness to agree to what was proposed. He inclosed a letter to lord Clancarty, and never saw Mr. Reding afterwards. The negociation with lord Clancarty appears from a subsequent question, in answer to which he says, I was induced to place a writer ship at lord Clancarty's disposal, in order that lord Clancarty's coming into parliament might be facilitated". Now, Sir, I think were I to go no farther, but immediately to propose a Resolution of censure upon the noble lord opposite, founded upon that paragraph in 207 his own evidence, it would be impossible for the house not to agree to it. In answer to the next question, he says, that he conceived lord Clancarty entitled to call upon him for a writership. With these facts in the view of the house, upon the noble lord's own confession, I would ask, is it possible to devise any just means of rescuing his conduct from reprobation? Upon the first part of the evidence alone, namely, that of countenancing the proposition of Reding, I should have thought the noble lord deserving of disapprobation; but when combined with the case of the Writership, I think it impossible for him to escape the censure of this house. I cannot indeed conceive any delinquency of this nature likely to attract the attention, much less to justify the punishment of this house, if such a flagrant case as this under consideration shall be allowed to pass uncensured. The noble lord's statement in his evidence, that the writership was to be disposed of, subject to certain qualifications; that the case before him had no relation to a pecuniary transaction, or that the nomination did not take place, cannot avail him upon this occasion, for his intention is obvious, and of that intention we are to judge. I now come to the evidence of lord Clancarty, which is equally important and forcible. From the situation which that noble lord held, and his connection with the object of my motion, I must take leave, although the whole of the Evidence lies on the table, to call the attention of the house to those parts of it which particularly relate to the case I have brought before you.—Lord Clancarty being asked, When he became acquainted with Reding? answers, 'In the month of 'October, 1805.' 'On what occasion did 'you first become acquainted with that 'person? With respect to obtaining a seat 'in parliament.—Did he hold out that he 'had a seat in parliament? He did.' Then follows a statement that the negociation broke off, because Reding required a Writership for the Seat, which lord Clancarty had not to dispose of. But it seems upon mentioning this circumstance to his friend, lord Castlereagh, he told him he should have a Writership to dispose of. Lord Clancarty being asked, 'Did lord Castlereagh offer you this 'appointment of a Writership, for the 'purpose of facilitating your being returned to parliament?—Answer. 'Certainly; it being always to be under- 208 'stood that the party was of sufficient 'respectability to be eligible,'&c.—The latter part of this answer has, in fact, no reference to the transaction before the house, from which not a particle of its unconstitutional character is removed by this or any of the other qualifications which appear in the evidence of either of the noble lords. I shall not detain the house further upon the evidence, than by reading a short passage from that of Reding, which will be quite sufficient to establish the charge in my view of the subject.—'What conversation had you with Mr. 'Davies upon that subject? The conversation I had with Mr. Davies was, a party 'wanted a sum of money, but the other 'party were to give a seat, and this money 'was to go into that sort of negociation. '—Was the sum of money to procure any 'appointment under the East India Company? Yes, in one shape, but the Seat 'was to be given to those who could get 'that appointment made.—Was a Writer ship to be procured by the sum of money 'so to be given? Not without getting a 'Seat, as a remuneration for the Writership; but it did not take place, &c.'—Now, connecting this part of Reding's evidence with the others, which relate to that witness's communications with the noble lord opposite, and with lord Clancarty, every man will be enabled to form his own conclusions.—But, Sir, I am now to introduce another person to your notice, who has been connected with this transaction, and I feel every reluctance in doing so, which can arise out of a just respect for rank. But it is necessary to the ends in view that the whole case should be exposed, and the person to whom I allude was no less than a peer of the realm. The house must be aware to whom I allude, and I am certain when they review the whole of the business, and those concerned in it, they cannot be surprised that I ask what can avail alt our legislative provisions—what can avail such Bills as that recently brought forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to prevent the improper disposal of Offices—what can avail our Resolutions at the commencement of every sessions, to prevent the interposition of peers in the election of the members of this house; or what can avail any further arrangements that may be devised upon this subject, if a transaction so flagrant in its nature as that to which your attention is now peculiarly directed, shall be suffered to pass with impunity?
209 That attention, however, this transaction must have long occupied. I have not been the first to bring it before you: I have not put myself forward to make out a new case, but to call for your decision upon that which has been for some weeks the subject of general conversation, with which, indeed, the public are quite familiar, and naturally looking to this house for such a determination as it is intitled to expect—for such a decision as this house, if tenacious of its own reputation, should be prompt to pronounce. If such be not the result, how can the people regard your resolutions and enactments with proper deference; how can you, consistently, inflict punishment upon the lower classes, who often under the pressure of necessity engage in this infamous traffic, if you will overlook the glaring delinquency of three noble lords, one of whom was a peer of the realm, and the other two high officers in the state?—I do not affect to be ignorant of the various improper means by which several members contrive to find their way into this house. I beg pardon; perhaps I am inaccurate in alluding to this house, as it is at present constituted. But I may allude to former houses; and I cannot be altogether unaware of the gross malpractices by which several men procured their introduction to them. No man acquainted with the world can be quite ignorant upon this subject. But sure I am, that if any person were to urge the notoriety of such misconduct as any plea for the transaction to which my motion refers—if he were to attempt to defend upon such grounds, such a corrupt and unconstitutional practice, he would be only wasting his own time and that of the house. No individual, indeed, would venture to put forward such a defence, unless he were disposed to appreciate the conduct of men, not by the standard of the constitution, but by the existence and extent of its corruptions. I cannot suffer myself to suppose that such a feeling prevails in this house. If it does, I can of course have no reason to calculate upon the adoption of my motion.—I am not insensible of the situation in which an individual is placed, in the peculiar circumstance of being called upon to answer for that, which he must have known many to have done with impunity; but let it be remembered, that till now there was no detection, and that from a continuance of the impunity may follow much greater climes. Here, however, is a case brought 210 before the house, sustained by incontrovertible evidence; and it is impossible that any palliation, drawn from such sources as I have alluded to, can have any effect upon the decision. Sure I am that they cannot avail out of doors. But there is a peculiarity in this case which renders such palliatives still less available. For I must notice the variety of situations in which the noble lord should have felt himself particularly bound to resist, much more to abstain, from such odious traffic. The noble lord was concerned in assenting to the Resolutions which are usually passed against the proceedings which this traffic involves—he was also a party to the various legislative provisions enacted against them—he could not be ignorant of the numerous prohibitory statutes to be found on our books. He was also bound, as a member of the house, to protect its purity, and as a member of the government to uphold the dignity of that government. But he proved his indifference to the fame of government and to the independence and purity of the house—to the preservation of his own character, and to the prescription of the law of his country. If such a flagrant case can admit of aggravation, it is furnished by the offer of the noble lord with regard to the Writership. What! that the President of the Board which was specially instituted for the purpose of controlling and checking corruption in the management of the affairs of India, should himself become a principal minister of corruption! Here his corruption appeared two-fold; first, with regard to this house; and, secondly, with regard to the India Company; equally betraying in both, an indifference to character and to duty.—In one part of the noble lord's Evidence I find a statement, from which it appears, that a list of the situations in his disposal, and patronage at the India house, was laid before the Committee. Now I am at a loss to know what the noble lord's patronage was in that situation, or under what law or regulation he had any right to any patronage. I do not find that any such right is conferred upon him by the statute which created the Board over which he presided. How, then, did the noble lord obtain this patronage? Was it the result of compromise or usurpation? I should wish to have some information upon this head from the noble lord, or some one near him. I rather apprehend this patronage is an abuse, as it is not granted, nay is actually prohibited, as I have stated, by the act appointing the 211 Board of Controul. I require, however, no information to satisfy my mind, that however the patronage was originally obtained, it was attempted, in this instance, to dispose of it in a corrupt manner. For the noble lord was guilty of an infraction of the law prevailing at the India house, by the mode in which he would apply this Writership. It will not, I apprehend, be maintained, that the noble lord's disposition of patronage was not subject to the same rules and regulations which applied to the patronage of the Directors of the India house. It will not be pretended that the noble lord had any privilege or patent of exemption from these rules and regulations. If I am not correct in this supposition, I hope that some person on the other side will take the trouble to shew that there was some ground of distinction in this respect between the noble lord and the Directors; for if no such difference appears, then I must charge the noble lord with having directly violated the law for disposing of patronage at the India house, and what is worse, with having betrayed some other person into something little short of the breach of a solemn declaration upon oath. The following are the words of the declaration made by a Director upon recommending for a Writership: ' I do most solemnly declare that I 'have given the nomination to, 'and that I neither have received myself, 'nor am to receive, nor has any other per son, to the best of my knowledge or be lief, received, nor is to receive, any pe cuniary consideration, nor any thing con vertible in any mode into a pecuniary 'benefit on this account.' In page 7, of the Report of the Committee, it appears that the attention both of the legislature and of the East India Company had, at various periods, been attracted to abuses which were supposed to exist in the disposal of their patronage, in consequence of which, at the time when their charter was renewed, an oath was framed to be taken by each Director, within ten days after his election, containing, among other engagements, the following: 'I do swear that I 'will not, directly nor indirectly, accept 'or take any perquisite, emolument, fee, 'present, or reward, upon any account 'whatsoever, or any promise or engage ment for any, or in respect of tile appoint ment or nomination of any person or per sons to any place of office in the gift or 'appointment of the said Company, or of 'me as a Director thereof'—In the Bye 212 Laws of the East India Company, ch. 6, sect. 5, a penalty is imposed on every Director taking any reward on account of any appointment, in double the amount of such reward, two thirds of which are to go to the Company, and one-third to the informer; and such Director is rendered incapable of holding any place whatever under the Company. Now, sir, I contend, that the above regulations are as much in force against the patronage of the noble lord, as President of the Board of Controul, which, I insist, he had no right to dispose of, as they could possibly be in regard to the patronage of Directors. What, then, will the house think of this attack on its purity and disregard of its constitution and of its rules, when they see that the high and important office which the noble lord has held so long, has been made an instrument for the worst of purposes; and that, directly in the teeth of an act of parliament, as well as of a Bye Law of the East India Company? If, then, the noble lord had not the right of patronage vested in himself, as I believe, in what a situation would the delegate have been placed, through whom lord Clancarty's writership was to be obtained? I shall be glad to hear the noble lord's explanation upon this subject. My opinion is, that the noble lord's patronage is subject to the same regulation as that which affects the Directors: but I shall attend to what the noble lord has to say. If, however, he does not satisfy the house as to this point, it must serve only to aggravate the general indignation prevailing against him, and give to the whole tenor of his conduct in this transaction a still more objectionable character.—I have said before, that I should be sorry to mention names, if they could be avoided consistently with the duly I owe to the case, and which I have pledged myself to perform. I find, from the evidence of Reding, that the names of a number of persons are mentioned who were to participate of the money to be obtained from the sale of the Writership. Probably the noble lord was deceived. Let him say so. I do not mean to attach to him the suspicion that he believed the Writership was to be converted into a source of pecuniary profit. [Here lord Castlereagh indicated his contempt of such a charge.] I am happy to perceive the noble lord indignant at the mention of the transaction in this light, but he would have done well to have shewn this indignation before the evidence had been produced. But when we recol- 213 lect that he had been president of the Board of Controul for so many years; that lord Clancarty was a member of the same Board, and that Reding, a party to the transaction, had never excited that indignation till his refusal to discover the parties, I think those feelings of indignation have been very tardy in shewing themselves. I do not wish to be hard upon the noble lord opposite to me, but really I do think that merely reading the evidence must obtain the censure I shall move for: though I have deemed it more decorous and respectful to the house to preface my motion with the comments I have already made and have still to submit upon the transaction.—I am sorry to trespass upon the time of the house, but there are still points to which I must call its attention. The house will see in the evidence an allusion made by the noble lord to a note from Davis, respecting a Mrs. Groves, in the answer to which the noble lord expressed his desire, that Mr. Davis would detect and expose the persons who had dared to mention his name in such a transaction. Here there was an expression of disdain and indignation—but when did it happen? At what period and under what circumstances did it take place? In page 61, of the evidence, a Mr. George Davis is examined, and there appears to have been, at the time he alludes to, a negotiation set on foot for the procuring of a writership, which did not take effect; but there was some correspondence upon the subject, and the noble lord's name was mentioned. Mr. Davis is asked, 'From what reason do you sup'pose the negotiation broke off? He answers thus: 'This reason was explained 'by Mrs. Grove; that at that moment 'there was a change in administration, 'and that it was a Board of Controul ap pointment. I recollect Mr. Reding, or 'Reading, afterwards informed me, that 'there was no court subsequent to that mo ment, during the then administration, by 'which a nomination could properly take 'place.—Who was at the head of the 'Board of Controul at that time? I do not 'know.—Did she not mention by whom it 'was to be given to your friend? A noble 'viscount was mentioned to me.—Was 'not lord Castlereagh the person mention ed? He was.—Was lord Castlereagh the 'person to whom you wrote, communicat ing these circumstances? He was.—How 'long ago was that transaction? It was in 'the beginning of 1806; it was at the mo ment of the change of administration that 214 'she applied for it. When I wrote to his 'lordship, he requested me to call upon 'him at his office in Downing-street, and I 'did on that day.—Did you see him? No, 'he was at the council; and I received a 'note the next day, acknowledging the re'ceipt of it, and requesting that I would 'explain every thing, so that the party 'who had made use of his name should be 'detected, or something of that kind.—'Did he decline seeing you? No; so far 'from that, his servant delivered to me 'his compliments, and desired that I would 'call at his house in Downing-street, and, 'if he was not there, go to the house of 'commons.—You have not seen him? 'No, I have not.—And no appointment 'was made for seeing him in the note you 'received? No; but he requested I would 'lend my aid in order that the party who 'would be daring enough to make so im proper a use of his name (I think that 'was the expression) should be exposed.—'You could produce the note, if necessary? 'Yes, certainly.'
Now, Sir, the observation I make upon this evidence is, by asking, was that declaration of the noble lord's indignation on that occasion, a genuine, sincere, and honest declaration, or not? All this took place after the former negotiation had been begun, continued, and broken off; (Hear! hear!) and yet he affects upon this last occasion to be so indignant, that he desires the person's name to be mentioned, in order that he might be detected. Is it possible that, under such circumstances, this house can give him credit for those feelings? Can we suppose that he, who had been the guilty instrument in conducting negotiations of this nature formerly, was actuated by a sincere intention to expose and discountenance such a practice, otherwise than that he might thereby prevent his being exposed himself? (Hear! hear!). I have no doubt, that he would rather have exposed Mr. Reding, or Mr. Davis, than have incurred the danger of exposing himself; and that it was the fear of detection, rather than a wish for the discovery of guilt, that prompted the noble lord to that conduct. I stand here in the correction of the noble lord and his friends around him, as to whether I am doing him an injustice in this statement. It is for them to say, if I am in error; but I shall retract any part of this accusation, which the evidence does not warrant me in making. If it were improper for Mr. Davis, Mr. Reding, 215 or Mrs. Grove, to bring disrepute upon officers of government, who were they that were guilty of permitting that impropriety to exist? I contend that when the noble lord's jealousy and indignation appear to have been peculiarly excited, he had at that time done all in his power to effect a corrupt exchange of a writership for a seat in parliament; for I can never admit that his delicacy in this instance, could have proceeded from any other feeling than the fear of detection. If it were really improper to couple his name with such a transaction, I trust that when it appears to have been actually so coupled, I shall find a justification in the eyes of the noble lord, and those around him, for bringing forward such a transaction to public notice, as is similar to that of which the noble lord himself says, the authors ought to have been exposed. The noble lord must acknowledge that I am right, or he must shew that this transaction was not of the same kind with that other one. What could be meant by those terms, that the party making use of his name, should be detected and exposed? How were they to be exposed? If detected, I suppose the noble lord, or his learned law friends, would have immediately instituted a prosecution against the person making use of his name; and now I call upon this house to do that which we should have been doing against those individuals, had they been convicted; I call upon this house to inflict that same punishment upon the individual already convicted (Hear! hear!). If any such persons as those the noble lord wished to detect, had been convicted, punishment must have followed, although months and years might have elapsed before their guilt was discovered. But, so far from their conduct being corrupt or criminal, I contend, that, if, after the detection of this delinquency it should be suffered to escape with impunity, we should be intitled to conclude, that these unknown and obscure individuals had suffered an unmerited punishment. I have troubled the house at considerably greater length than I intended, but I think it will now appear that the importance of this question yields to none that can be brought before this house. The power, privileges, and immunities, attached to those in office, must not screen them from censure. We must show the public, that, we are inclined to pursue with impartial justice, any crime wherever it makes its appearance. I say it is a mockery of justice, to affect to cen- 216 sure persons comparatively inconsiderable, if we are to suffer a noble lord, filling the office of Secretary of State, (lord Castlereagh), another noble lord, a member of the Board of Controul, (lord Clancarty), and a third (marquis of Sligo), a peer of the realm, to do those acts with impunity, for which we would visit meaner delinquents with a severe measure of punishment. We have lately been informed, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought proper, in consequence of some advertisement in the papers, offering a situation for sale, to direct a sum of money to be lodged, as required by the advertisement, and has taken every step in his power, in order to entrap the poor unfortunate individual (Hear! hear!). Now, I would wish the house to reflect, if this trap of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so admirably contrived, had been also laid to ensnare those concerned in the transaction I have been describing, whether he would have been not a little surprised to have caught his noble friend who now sits near him, together with his two noble accomplices. That right hon. gent, ought to have laid his trap upon this occasion, as well as upon the other; for the first appearance of this writership was by advertisement in the public papers, and if he had only applied his trap a little sooner, he would have undoubtedly detected two of his colleagues and a peer of the realm in the illicit traffic. Supposing that right hon. gent. goes on with the prosecution of those whom, he says, he has already entrapped, and will be able to bring them to conviction; what will be the feelings of this house and of the public, if they shall find in it a case trivial comparatively to this one, if although flagrant it should escape without notice and without censure. There is one circumstance which I have omitted to notice, and which may appear to place one in an invidious situation. It is, that this evidence has lain a considerable while upon your table, which I mean to move should be read, and on which I am to ground a motion of censure against that noble lord, and yet no one of the committee who made that Report, has thought proper to make any observations upon the flagrant charge it contains, and there has appeared no actual intention of noticing the transaction itself. I own it did surprise me, that such evidence could have been laid upon the table, without any notice being taken of it; but however invidious it may appear, I own that I had 217 no sooner read it, than the flagrancy of the offence struck me, and feeling as I do every respect for that committee and that chairman, I could not refrain from doing what I conceived to be a public duty. It is however somewhat surprising that they should have done no more than state the facts; and, though I do not mean to make any insinuation against the conduct of the Committee, it is I think desirable that they should have accompanied that statement, with some recommendation to the house. What possible defence can be made by the noble lord, or his friends, I am truly at a loss to conceive for I know of nothing they can have to offer either in justification or extenuation of such an offence. It may be stated, that he has done no more than what others have done before him; and if so, I shall only say, that in all former transactions of this nature, a similar inquiry and a similar censure has taken place as that which I now ask for. I cannot agree with the sentiments of an hon. and learned gentleman opposite, when he stated that the evidence of an accomplice is to be rejected. In this case here is both a principal and an accomplice implicated, and I am prepared to argue that point, should it be set up. If I were now calling for the censure of the house upon a transaction, a system of corruption, which had at any time appeared of a justifiable nature, it might be incumbent upon me to urge further argument than I have done, but at present the question merely appears to be, has this offence been committed or not? This is the question which the house has in its power to determine from the evidence before it, and indeed I need no other assistance than what comes from the lips of the noble lord himself. I have refrained from casting any imputation upon the accused that the evidence does not fully warrant; and I shall be glad to hear what he has to offer in contradiction to that testimony which is already before us; and as I know it is usual for the house to permit persons accused to state any observations that may occur in their defence, as well as to permit the accuser to reply, I shall not, trespass at present more upon your patience, than to repeat my assurance that I have acted from no other motive than a conscientious discharge of my duty.—The noble lord then concluded his statement, by moving, "That so much of the Minutes of the Evidence contained in the Report which, upon the 23d day of March last, was made from 218 the Committee appointed to enquire into the existence of any corrupt practices in regard to the appointment and nomination of Writers or Cadets in the service of the East India Company, or any agreement, negotiation, or bargain, direct or indirect, for the sale thereof, as relates to the evidence given before the said Committee by-lord viscount Castlereagh, the earl of Clantarty, Mr. Reding, and Mr. Davis, might be read."—And the same being read;
rose and spoke as follows.—I certainly cannot help expressing my utmost regret that any action of mine should become the subject of parliamentary discussion. I am sure no person can feel more for the privileges and independence of this house, than I do; and certainly my culpability, if really guilty, must be greatly increased, from the situation I hold in his majesty's councils. If I have committed any error in the discharge of my public duty, I can assure the house, that it was not intentional on my part, and is rather to be attributed to accident than design. I thank the noble lord for the manner in which he has brought this question forward, and for the full and candid statement which he has made of his view of it, before he came to propose his final Resolutions. There is no extent to which the charge can be carried, which I do not wish to hear and to meet, and on this account I am gratified at the full explanation which has been given by the noble lord. I am the last man who will complain of his going too far in urging any charge against myself. I allow him to draw every inference he can from my own evidence, but there are some things which I have to say, that will be directly contrary to what has been stated by some of the witnesses. If gentlemen will judge my conduct, when separated from my political principles, I trust that no blame will attach to it. Here it may be necessary for me to state, and I solemnly declare, that, as a minister of the crown, I never applied my patronage to acquire any unjust influence in this house; and I am sure no person can contradict me. The patronage I had, and the manner in which I disposed of it, is before you, and it will be seen that I neither bestowed it upon the members, nor upon the electors, nor for any political purpose whatsoever. I also beg leave to state that it never once occurred to me as an original idea, to employ my patronage to obtain lord Clancarty's return. When I saw Mr. Reding, he told 219 me, that a person who wished to vacate his seat had a nephew, whom he wished to send to India as a writer, and that he had it in his power to favour lord Clancarty's election. I certainly regret very much that I ever had any connection with Reding; but I assure the house, that at that time I had no notion, that such a person existed in society as a trafficking broker for offices under government (A loud cry of hear! hear! in which lord Milton's voice was distinguishable). I beseech the noble lord to restrain his impatience; and again beg leave to assure the house, that I knew not that persons of that description were in existence. If any other member knew of it, I am surprised they never made it a subject of parliamentary enquiry before. When I recommended Mr. Reding to go and make his proposal to lord Clancarty, I perceived no impropriety in the case, as I considered it perfectly fair for one friend to serve another at an election. When I placed the Writership at lord Ciancarty's disposal, I had no other view than to serve my friend, and if I could do so, I had no hesitation to give a Writership to any respectable gentleman's son or nephew who could promote my views, particularly as I was myself to determine whether the party recommended was eligible. I certainly considered lord Clancarty to be a man of great abilities, and was or opinion, both on account of those abilities, and of the great quantity of business, for which that noble lord was peculiarly qualified, that if he had at that time a seat in parliament, the country would derive much benefit from his services. In my opinion, no turpitude attaches to the transaction, and if a pecuniary consideration could have formed any part of it, it was least of all to be expected to take place between a father and a son, or an uncle and a nephew. I do not deny but Mr. Reding meant to derive considerable advantage from the transaction, but I assure the house it never entered into my mind, nor I am confident into that of lord Clancarty. As I did not want the seat alluded to by Mr. Reding for myself, I sent his letter to lord Clancarty, and the only conversation he had with him, was his inquiring who was the person disposed to retire from parliament, and finding he could not get that information from him, he broke off the transaction. The negotiation never having been resumed, it was evident that the bartering of a writership for any corrupt consideration, was 220 as foreign from lord Clancarty's mind, as it was from mine. As to the case of Mr. Davis, the fact is, I never saw that person in my life; although it is said, he called upon me in Downing-street, in consequence of a message from my porter, in answer to his note. If my porter told him, as from me, to go to my office in Downing-street, I must have supposed him to be Mr. Davis, a member of this house; but when I found who he was, I wrote to him, that he could not do me a greater favour than to expose the whole transaction. This is all I know of Mr. Davis, and I never saw him in my life in Downing-street or elsewhere.—The noble lord has brought a particular charge of criminality against me, from the official situation which I held as President of the Board of Coutroul, alledging, that this criminality is particularly aggravated from this additional consideration, that I did make use of the influence which I possessed in consequence of that situation, to promote the election of a member of parliament. The appointment of the higher offices in India is vested, no doubt, in the Board of Controul, but with the inferior appointments this Board has officially no connection, as it was supposed by the legislature that the power of such appointments would devolve too great a share of influence on the Crown, and for that reason had the inferior patronage been broken down, and parcelled out among the directors. Of a Writership, therefore, I could not have officially disposed, as such an appointment was not within my official province. From the situation, however, which I held, I had no doubt a degree of influence, but that influence was not of an official nature, and rested entirely with the person legally authorized to recommend.—This influence was not of my creating; I found it existing when I succeeded to the office, and considered it merely as an act of grace and favour arising naturally perhaps from the situation, but a patronage by no means officially in the hands of the President of the Board of Controul. For that portion of influence, therefore, I cannot in justice be considered as responsible, not having exercised it in my official capacity. So far is this portion of patronage from being official, that it is often enjoyed by a person who has been once in office, even after he is no longer President, as a right hon. gent, opposite (Mr. Tierney), I have no doubt, has experienced. This at least I have found to be 221 the case even after my connection with the Board no longer existed. This influence may be easily accounted for from the habits of friendship, and the circumstance of having been so intimately connected with the Directors, and was not less official than that supposed to be enjoyed by the existing President of the Board. In either situation, I confess, it is a duty to make a proper use of this influence, enjoyed by the mere indulgence of individual Directors; but to the exercise of this influence there is no particular or extraordinary responsibility attached from the circumstance of being President of the Board of Controul.—Of whatever criminality, therefore, I may be accused on this occasion, any attempt to render it more aggravated, from considering it as connected with the exercise of my official duty, I must consider as unfair and ill founded. The Board of Directors do certainly make a declaration which binds them particularly in such cases; but it does not follow that other persons who make no such declaration are to be considered as having their errors aggravated by the breach of what they have not pledged themselves to observe. When called before the Committee, I thought it my duty to state what I knew. Had the disclosure been connected with my public or official duties, or had it related in any way to the conduct or policy of government, there might have been some room for hesitation; but the subject being merely of a personal nature, it would have been unpardonable in me to have hesitated for a moment. I have reason to regret the unfortunate circumstance of having my name connected with that of a man of such a character as Mr. Reding; but when he applied to me, I had no suspicion of the improper motives from which he acted, and was far from thinking that he was one of those who made a traffic in places. I here feel it to be my duty to state to the house the motives from which I entered into the transaction. I do most solemnly assure the house, that I had never for a single moment an idea that the appointment in my gift, and placed at lord Clancarty's disposal, could lead to any corrupt influence, either in that house or with individual electors. Although the person who was to retire from parliament had not been named, still the impression upon my mind was this, that he was not only a. man of high respectability, but one of those who were in the habit of voting with the go- 222 vernment. I considered him to be a man, who had had some favour to seek for a son or a nephew, and could never suppose, that the grant of such a favour could operate either to affect the independence of parliament, or to corrupt the purity of election; and, indeed, I would be the last man on earth who would grant any favour, which could have such an effect. But, even admitting, (what I am prepared to deny,) that it was corrupt to exercise the influence, which local considerations or legitimate official patronage gave to the members of the government, with a view to favour the election of a friend; still, in the opinion of very able men, in which I coincide, it is fortunate that places exists where such influence can be exercised, because they afford an opportunity to men of high talents and great learning, though not possessed of local influence, to get into parliament. Places of this description, which happily exist, open a facility of obtaining seats in this house to men, who cannot dedicate their whole time to the acquisition of popularity; men who from attention to the business of office, who from study and application to professional pursuits, are prevented from the exercise of those arts in which others have an opportunity of indulging: these places, I say, open a facility for such men to make their way into the house, who would necessarily be excluded if elections were all conducted upon popular principles, and confined, as in such a case they would be, to those only who could dedicate their time to the attainment of local influence and favour. The question then comes to this; was it proper to have appointed a person under the circumstances of this case to the situation proposed, subject to the qualifications I have mentioned, supposing the transaction, instead of existing only in the imagination, to have been carried into execution? Even the crime of treason requires an overt act to constitute the offence and maintain the charge; and surely it is not too much for me to expect to receive the benefit of such a principle. I consider it a duty imposed upon me as a minister not to accept of any defence which might be injurious to the public; I therefore will accept of none such; but can it be supposed for a moment, that I intended to influence elections corruptly by means of this appointment? Standing in my situation as minister of the crown, I had a right, I contend, to exercise that fair in- 223 fluence which my situation gave me, to support the government with which I was connected, of which I was a member. I had a right to give those who would support that government, upon independent principles, every assistance which my situation allowed, but not so as to interfere with the freedom of election by unduly influencing the conduct of individual voters. I am convinced, that no man in this house, nor any committee which may be appointed by this house, would or could say, that conduct, such as that imputed to me, went so far to the corruption of a vote, as to invalidate an election. The transaction itself, as it turned out, I cannot undoubtedly justify to the full extent, but I must be allowed to say, that no moral corruption has been proved against me. Indeed, if I could have had any corrupt views, this was a case, in which, of all others, I should not have acted upon them. It was a case, which, from its very nature, precluded secrecy. This is as plain as any thing I can say—as plain as that the marquis of Sligo had no seat in this house to dispose of—as plain as that he had not seen Mr. Reding at Downing street. It must be obvious, therefore, that, with any corrupt object in view, I should have avoided this case, which never once existed, which was merely imaginary, which was a perfect romance, as perfect a one as my playing cards with Mr. Reding, to which charge, if to any other, I could undertake to prove an alibi. For suppose lord Clancarty was returned to parliament, and it appeared that I had given the son, or nephew of the person through whom his seat may have been obtained, a writership, would not the transaction be instantly exposed? If I acted hastily upon this subject, it was not from any turpitude; it did not proceed from any dishonest or dishonourable motive, as is evident from the nature of the case, which could not be kept a secret. With respect to the case being never acted on, I disdain any defence drawn from that consideration; for if the corrupt intention is proved, it makes little difference whether it was executed, or not. But it is possible that in my communications with lord Clancarty, before the business could be accomplished, I might see reason to influence me to retract; it was competent to me to withdraw, if I saw cause for so doing; and if I received any intimation with respect to Reding's character, I must and would have retracted. I hope that no one will think 224 me mad enough to relinquish my public situation, my public character, and all that is dear to me as a man, for the purpose of serving a private friend, or procuring an addition of an individual to the party to which I belonged. I do not wish to disguise any thing: I do not wish to justify any thing upon principle, which might be inconsistent with the dignity of parliament. Having stripped the case of its aggravation, having stated that I was influenced by no interested or corrupt motive, that I do not think the individual would have been led to surrender up his principles, and, above all, that no elector was likely to be corrupted by the transaction, I have only to express my sincere regret that motives of private friendship, or a wish to have the assistance of competent persons in the government, should have led me into the adoption of any conduct that rendered an inquiry by this house necessary. The evidence is before you upon which you are to form your judgment, and whatever decision you may pronounce, I shall submit to it with deference.
His lordship withdrew on concluding his defence, and the Evidence being entered as read, lord A. Hamilton proposed the following Resolutions:—1st. "That it appears to this house, from the Evidence on the table, that lord viscount Castlereagh in the year 1805, he having just quitted the office of President of the Board of Controul, and being then a Privy Counsellor and Secretary of State, did place at the disposal of lord Clancarty, a member of the said Board, the nomination of a Writership to India, for the purpose of thereby procuring the said lord Clancarty a Seat in this honourable house. 2nd. That it was owing to a disagreement among other subordinate parties to the transaction, that this corrupt negotiation did not take effect.—3rd. That lord viscount Castlereagh has been by the said conduct guilty of a violation of his duty, of an abuse of his influence and authority as President of the Board of Controul, and also of an attack upon the purity and constitution of this house."
—Sir; when a man who has served the public in a high office for many years, is called upon to defend himself from charges such as those contained in the noble lord's Resolutions, it is a matter of great moment, and requiring much deliberation. In the course of the speech which the noble lord made, he 225 disavowed any intention of defending himself upon principle: I do not intend to defend him upon principle either, and am sorry that it is not in my power to do so. I am not inclined to weaken the impression made by the speech of my noble friend, by going at any length into the case, but I feel it necessary to refer briefly to the proceedings. It appears, that Mr. Reding, in his interview with lord Castlereagh, told him that he had the means of assisting him in coming into parliament. Lord Castlereagh informed Mr. Reding, that he did not want a seat himself, but conceiving that he made the offer as agent for a person willing to assist the government, he referred him to lord Clancarry, whom his lordship well knew, and who was his particular friend; in some time alter, he was told that the business was blown over, and that nothing was done. The simple fact is, that lord Castlereagh said that he could procure the situation of a writership, which he would apply to the purpose of facilitating that specific negotiation of bringing lord Clancarty into parliament, an intention to this moment unexecuted. Such is the plain case before the house; the whole guilt of which consists in lord Castlereagh's proposing to facilitate the election of his friend. The noble lord opposite said, that he was unwilling to press harder upon any man, than the evidence would bear him out; but it appears to me that the noble lord is forgetful of this declaration. I will allow it is the duly of every man not to dispose of his patronage improperly, but as lord Castlereagh had not any knowledge of the character of Reding, it cannot be inferred, that he meant to make an improper use of his patronage, by disposing of it to unworthy objects. I think it unfair to inlist the case of Davis on this occasion; because whatever might have been the object of Davis, lord Castlereagh was certainly no party to it.—Some observations have been made respecting the indignation manifested by the noble lord at having his name associated with such persons; and from what has fallen from the other side there appears a wish to represent the indignation as not fair and honest; but why should it be thought otherwise? If the noble lord did not feel indignant at it he would deserve all the punishment which my nobel friend appears so willing to hurl upon his head. It appears to me that in judging of the conduct of lord Castlereagh we are not to call in the assistance 226 of inference, but decide from the evidence before us. I have said that it was impossible to defend lord Castlereagh upon principle, I say so still, but I may maintain in perfect consistency with this opinion, that the Resolution of the noble lord goes to draw down a greater punishment than the offence deserves; there are degrees in offences: you would not punish a man for a bare intention with the same severity as for an actual commission: what is necessary to constitute the offence is here wanting. There was no malus animus; no corrupt design appears in the whole transaction. The noble lord acted not in his official capacity, but as an individual wishing to oblige his friend. He had officially no India patronage to bestow. What he gave in this way must have been given him by some of the Directors who had the nomination at the time. Officially he had committed no offence, and the degree of punishment ought to be proportioned to the degree of guilt. The necessary consequence of carrying these Resolutions will be the loss of office to the noble lord. I know it is sometimes asserted that dismissal from office is not to be considered a punishment. When the dismissal is occasioned by the pleasure of the sovereign, by a want of strength in the ministry, or the success and overbearance of some rival party, it is certain the dismissal cannot be considered as a punishment; but when charges of corruption are entertained, sanctioned, and registered, and the dismissal takes place in consequence of such charges, will any man say that the dismissal from office is not a punishment, and a severe one too? I will not trouble the house any longer upon this subject, but shall conclude with a hope that the house, in exercising its discretion, will be considerate, and in its anxiety to discharge a duty to the public, will not forget what it owes to an individual. On the grounds I have already stated, I shall move that the other orders of the day be now read.
§ Mr. C. W. Wynn.
Certainly, sir, after the speech which we have heard from the noble lord, I for one did not expect that he would have concluded it with such a motion; I for one did not expect that after he said the proposition of my noble friend was rather severe, he would attempt to substitute for it a proposal that it should be dismissed altogether; that when a Resolution was proposed by my noble friend grounded upon facts, the noble lord should propose to us to pass it by without notice 227 as a matter wholly unworthy of detaining us from more important business. I agree with my noble friend that a negociation upon a corrupt principle was intended to be carried into effect; I should be sorry that any man should think of confounding the intention with the execution, and attaching to them an equal criminality; but, if the intention is less criminal than the execution, are we therefore to conclude that entering into such a negociation is no offence whatever? I expected that the noble lord would have said he agreed as to the facts, but thought the expressions were too strong, and that he would have proposed some other form of Resolution, as a middle course, not liable to that objection. I will admit that many may have entered into, and continued the same system; that they may have been equally guilty with the noble lord, though they succeeded better in concealing their faults from the public; but, is that a reason why, when such a fact is brought to light, the house of commons should pass it over lightly? If they do, it will be in effect publishing to every person who may fill the same situation hereafter, that he may pursue the same traffic, that he may keep an open market in the same way. There might have been many persons guilty of such transactions who were either misled or acted from ignorance, and on that ground might merit some indulgence; but would this apology be pleaded by any member of that house? or would it be set up as an excuse for any member of his majesty's government? In a case like the present we have but one course to pursue; there is no option for our decision. Duty chalks out the line, and, however reluctantly, we must submit to its dictates. I know that there are many persons in this house who are disposed to maintain that the influence over electors is not injurious, and that little disadvantage results from the practice of bribery; this I know many of them to maintain in private conversation; but when a case of this kind is made out, they are bound in duty to obey the course prescribed by law, and by act of parliament; and with that, their private opinions ought not to interfere. I agree in the Resolution of 1779, which reprobates the interference of ministers of the crown at elections, and I shall propose that that Resolution be read before the house comes to a decision in this case. Many may differ in opinion upon this Resolution, they may be inclined to doubt its truth, but it being a Resolution of this 228 house renders it, in my opinion, imperative upon us. It may be said, that the East India Company ought to be grateful to those who would recommend proper men to fill the situations, and possessed of the qualifications that are required. I think it wholly impossible that out of 20 educated men 19 should not be fit for them; it therefore is not so great a compliment to supply the East India Company with these competent persons. Appointments under the Company are, by a Resolution of the Court of Directors, vitiated when obtained with undue influence, even though the holder should not have been privy. But was this a case, in which the noble lord vas ignorant of the disposal of his patronage? No, it was one in which he himself was about to dispose of his patronage for unworthy and unconstitutional purposes. He had not attempted to justify the transaction upon principle. That was better than if he had stood up unblushingly, and said, I have no money in my pocket, I have gained nothing by the transaction, and therefore I am innocent. It was a better and more modest way of proceeding, and may have some tendency to mitigate the punishment which the house may be inclined to adjudge to him. I wish that some censure may be adopted which shall vindicate the dignity of the house: not only the public now, but posterity will look to our decision upon this occasion, and be influenced by it. I remember a charge once brought against a Treasurer of the Navy, for having misapplied the public money, which had been granted for a particular service. I remember too, that the person charged in that instance, declared that no human power should compel him to disclose the manner in which that money had been applied. Yet that person (lord Melville) had been brought to trial. Here we have the evidence of one of our own body, confessing the fact charged, and shall we suffer it to pass unnoticed? Will any member state, that what appears upon the evidence in this case, if carried into effect, would not have been deserving of punishment? For nay part, I think expulsion the smallest that could be applied to it. I certainly am not for punishing the intention with the same severity; but then I am as far from agreeing that no notice should be taken of it. A case occurred some time ago, of a man attempting to murder another by striking him with a poker on the head; on the trial there was 229 some difficulty in ascertaining the extent of the crime, in order to proportion the punishment; the poker was not an instrument to cut with, but the intention was equally manifest as if it was, and equally punished. Upon the same ground, I think that the intention manifested and acknowledged by the noble lord, is sufficient to establish his criminality. Consider what an effect your compliance with the motion of the noble lord may produce upon the country hereafter; how natural will it be for subsequent parliaments to say, when called upon to punish a minister who has actually executed what the noble viscount only attempted, "in the parliament, of 1809, the attempt was considered too trifling to be noticed. Surely, then, the performance of it now is of no material consequence."—Something has been said with respect to aggravation, in this case. It has been said, that that patronage did not fall to the noble viscount by virtue of his own office, but was attached to some other department, distinct from his. I do not think that such interchanges ought to exist. This circumstance, however, does not appear to me to be any aggravation of the noble viscount's fault; but as certainly it is no extenuation of it. If that was admitted, it would open the door to numberless other abuses; for if a Chancellor of the Exchequer was to make a corrupt appointment in a public department, he might say, "I have nothing to do with that, it does not come immediately under my office, it was in the department of my friend the Secretary of State." This exchange, this borrowing of patronage for the purpose of influencing the return of members to parliament, ought to be prevented, and it is upon the strongest conviction of the necessity that I vote for the Resolutions proposed by my noble friend, because if the negociation failed, it was from other grounds, and not from want of inclinatien on the part of the noble lord.
§ Mr. Croker
claimed the attention of the house for a short time. He wished that, in considering the whole of the case now under discussion, they would, in the very first instance, reflect on the evidence of Mr. Reding, upon whose testimony the material part of it rested; which if they did in a dispassionate way, they would find that it was so irreconcilable to reason, truth, and common sense, that they could place no faith, no credence in it. When he was first interrogated before the Com- 230 mittee, his answers confounded themselves; at one lime he said the seat in parliament was to be obtained for a writership; but being closely pressed, he then declared that, it was only to be obtained for a pecuniary consideration, and that, too, was related in so confused a way, as to produce a very unfavourable impression upon the mind of all the Committee. It was, from beginning to end, one tissue of incomprehensibility, evasion, and equivocation.—But what had principally induced him to rise on this occasion was a wish to rescue the memory of a much valued and deceased friend from the imputation thrown upon it. That friend was the late marquis of Sligo, and he contended, that such a charge or imputation of corruption against a man who was in his grave ought not to be credited upon the evidence of such a person as Reding. He further endeavoured to shew, that the story told by Reding could not be true, because, in point of law, lord Clancarty as an Irish peer could not sit in the house for an Irish borough. The same remark applied to lord Hawarden, who was in a similar situation. He (Mr. Croker) had enjoyed the friendship and the confidence of the marquis of Sligo, and knew that he had no influence or interest, except in the counties of Mayo and Galway, and that such influence as he had depended solely on his rank and landed property. With regard to his noble friend who had just retired, he contended that the second Resolution of the noble lord against him was false in fact, for he had shewn that, there was an impossibility that the transaction could have been completed. He also affirmed, that the first Resolution was false in fact, though perhaps not in terms, because the patronage had not been conferred by the noble viscount as Secretary of State, but as President of the Board of Controul. The gentlemen from his side of the water were supposed to be rather deficient in their logic, but in the present instance the deficiency rested with the noble mover (a laugh.) He hoped the noble lord would excuse the gentlemen on the other side for laughing at him. Perhaps they only laughed at his logic (a loud laugh.) Disagreeing with the noble lord in his premises, he could not vote for his conclusion; for the premises being both false, he could not, consistently with reason, support a conclusion affirmatively derived from them. There really in this case existed no more than a parliamentary difficulty (a laugh.) The thing had be- 231 come familiar by custom, and when it was discovered could only be considered as a venial offence (Hear! hear!). This was what must be admitted on all sides. Without entering into detail, he would rest his vote on what his noble friend had himself stated. His conduct was not altogether justifiable, for he could not say that it was not wrong (a laugh.) He meant that his noble friend had successfully contended, that his offence was not of the darkest die, but that it was a middle sort of offence. He therefore wished that a middle course should be taken, as had been recommended by the hon. gent. who spoke last. He requested that every individual would do in this case what he would wish to be done in his own. At all events he could not agree in a direct vole of censure.
§ Mr. C. Wynn
said, that the hon. gent. seemed to have misunderstood him: he recommended no middle course. He had only said, that he expected the noble lord opposite would have recommended such a course; but for his part he did not mean to disapprove in any degree of that which his noble friend had adopted.
§ Lord Milton
observed, that he had felt great indignation at a particular part of the noble lord (Castlereagh's) speech, and indeed at the whole of it; but as to the manner of expressing that indignation, he was ready to apologize to the noble lord and the house.
§ Mr. W. Smith
could not help admiring the ingenuity with which the hon. gent. (Mr. Croker) contrived to turn the attention of the house from the main question to the marquis of Sligo, whose case had nothing to do with the subject under discussion. The hon. gent., he thought, would find some difficulty in reconciling some inconsistencies that appeared in his speech. He felt the greatest indignation at the imputation that had been cast upon the deceased marquis of Sligo, in associating him with such transactions, but he seemed to lose all his warmth, when he contemplated the charge made against the living. The hon. gent. ought to have taken a little more pains to defend the living, seeing what he had done for the dead. There existed in this case a degree of guilt, which was not to be passed over in the slight way proposed by the noble lord opposite (lord Binning,) nor in a slight way at all; and nothing short of adopting the Resolutions of his noble friend would satisfy the duty of the house. He held an opinion, directly contrary to that stated by 232 the noble lord in his defence; and thought this mode of disposing of seats in parliament was extremely improper, unconstitutional, and subversive of the best interests of the country. He was surprised that they who thought otherwise should bring forward such opinions now; for though they might think it proper that such practices should exist in secret, yet, in order to continue their existence in secret, they ought to visit them with due severity when they came before the house. To pass them over when thus exposed would be giving the severest stab to their own doctrines. Be the personal corruption here ever so little, (and he was not disposed to aggravate the case,) it was necessary to look at it as an official offence, and with a view to its effects on the country. The circumstance of the noble lord holding two official situations at the time was rather an aggravation of the offence. The patronage of the Directors ought not to be given away for such purposes as this; or, if it was, it would only be a reason why they should not possess that patronage. The meaning of the term "facilitating," in the evidence, meant nothing else than placing a writer-ship at the disposal of a member of the government, which, as had been openly avowed, was appropriated to the purpose of bringing a man into parliament.—With regard to the assertion that there was no view in this particular instance to the augmentation of the influence of government, if lord Clancarty had come into parliament, neither the noble lord, nor any body else, could have much doubt as to the side on which he would have voted. The one being President of the Board of Controul, and the other a member of that Board; the presumption was, that lord Clancarty would have voted for the government for the time being, of which he (lord Castlereagh) formed a part.—The defence did not go to maintain that all this was perfectly right; but it was said that there was no corruption of the electors in this case. But, the person, who was to give the seat, was supposed to have the command of it—a command of seats might be had in different ways, but the whole of them might be ultimately more or less resolvable into money. Burgage tenure and boroughs were as much a matter of bargain and sale as a cow or a horse. When an estate was sold, if any parliamentary interest belonged to it, this was always considered in the price. When members were to be returned, 233 friends of the proprietors were sometimes put in, but it more frequently happened that the seats were sold for 5,000l. or whatever sum they could bring. There were other boroughs where parties maintained their influence by continual corruption, and when an exchange of this sort took place, the parties must know that corruption must be the effect in procuring the seat. There were some who said that this corruption was necessary, in order to support the government; but, he had no hesitation in declaring it to be his opinion, that it ought not to be supported by such influence as this. This subject, he observed, was connected with the general question of a Reform in Parliament. He remembered in his early life to have heard of an observation of the great lord Chatham, "That if Parliament did not reform itself from within, it would be reformed with a vengeance from without." He hoped the latter alternative would never take place; but if such abuses as this were passed over unheeded, it was not to be concealed, that a Reform would be called for, in a manner which nobody would be more sorry to see than himself. It was necessary, for the preservation of the constitution, that such transactions as this should be animadverted upon with severity. That severity ought not, indeed, to go beyond the occasion, and the Resolutions of the noble lord did not go further than the occasion required. They were merely Resolutions of fact, though, perhaps, the fact in the second Resolution was incorrectly stated, and he would therefore agree to add some few words by way of Amendment, such as the following: "As far as appeared to the noble lord at the time;" for it was absolutely certain, that the exchange would have been completed, if the underlings had not dropped the negociation. If the hon. gent. (Mr. Croker) had concluded his speech by proposing some such Amendment as this, he would have been more consistent, or what, perhaps, he would like better, he would have been more logical. Great stress was laid on the transaction not being completed. He agreed, that if the affair had gone forward, the noble lord might have seen some circumstances to stop him, and this was entitled to weight; but setting moral guilt out of the question, the whole amounted to this, that the noble lord had, in his political capacity, as far as the negociation went, done all in his power to carry the object into effect, and, accord- 234 ing to the common expression, "no thanks to him that it had failed." If the patronage of the East India Company was thus to be commuted for seats in parliament by members of the government, upon what principle could they be prevented from applying the patronage of the government itself to the same purpose; If a writership was to be thus exchanged for a seat in parliament, why should not a surveyorship of the Customs be applied to the same object? If this open abuse was passed over slightly, it would be telling the whole house, and the country, that such transactions might be carried on with impunity, in direct violation of the spirit of the acts to prevent bribery at elections. Was the house gravely to tell the country, that he who corrupted one voter was to be punished, while he who corrupted the whole was to be allowed to escape? And yet the noble lord proposed to pass over this transaction altogether, and to come to the order of the day! For the curiosity of the thing, he should like to know what the order of the day was. It was, he understood, the third reading of the Irish Commissioners Fees Bill; and the house was to pass over this great constitutional question without doing any thing, in order to discuss the subject of Irish Fees. There never could be a better opportunity of declaring the sense of parliament on this species of abuse (coughing). He was aware that the case was so clear, that many might think he took up too much of the time of the house in discussing it; and he trusted that those who were so impatient would shew that they agreed with him by their votes, (Hear, hear! from the Opposition side).—The hon. gent. then adverted to the transactions of the noble lord in Ireland, and from his assertions of purity drew this inference, that in the minds of some men, even of correct private characters, the supposed value of the end might, by custom, sanction any means whatever. He recollected that Mr. Hastings made a defence at the bar of the house which astonished every one; and almost every allegation of which he afterwards disavowed, when it appeared that it was not his own, but the defence of some other gentleman, who had drawn it up for him. The defence of the noble lord that night was all his own. But political men ought To consider the means better, because improper means might turn out to be as mischievous in the long run, as if the ends had been 235 culpable.—The hon. gent. then adverted to the state of the public mind with respect to abuses, and observed, that if the house passed over such a transaction as this lightly, it would forfeit its character with the country. There were some who thought that the best way to stop the popular clamour, as it had been called, was by meeting it manfully and resolutely. This might be the case, if the stream ran in a wrong direction. But when the direction was right, those who thus opposed it would only be overwhelmed by the torrent. In adopting a middle course, the true way for gentlemen would be to agree to the Resolution of facts, and then propose, a modification if necessary, of any resolution of censure that might be offered. The house, in the discharge of its duty, could not do less than adopt the Resolutions of his noble friend.
§ Mr. Manners Sutton
admitted, that where it appeared that electors had been corrupted, punishment ought to follow. But here no voter had been corrupted, and the circumstance occurred four years ago. He put it to the house, therefore, whether they could conscientiously come to any resolution of seventy against the noble viscount, even upon the evidence before them? There was no practical injury that had arisen from the negociation—no acting upon it—no result—it died in embrio. No seat was obtained or lost through it; no corruption proceeded, no body was benefitted by it, nor was the state or the individual injured by it.—He hoped that political hostility would not prevail so far as to aggravate this case, and therefore asked the gentlemen on the other side whether, with a fair view to the independence of parliament, it was necessary to enter on the Journals such Resolutions as these? He agreed that the dignity and independence of the house ought to be its primary object, but that independence and dignity would be sufficiently consulted by the notice which had been taken of this transaction, and the most moderate way of proceeding would be to adopt the proposition of his noble friend, and go to the order of the day.
§ Mr. Grattan
said, that it seemed to be generally admitted that an offence had been committed: the offence, too, was of that sort, the principle of which went to affect that house in its privilege, and the country in its constitution; but then in this, as in every other offence, there were degrees, and the punishment should be 236 consonant to the degree. The noble viscount was on his trial, and the house was bound to go through that trial, with judicial temper rather than any spirit of prosecutionary violence; and it was upon this principle that he could not approve of going back to the political proceedings in which the noble viscount had such a share in effecting the measure of Union with Ireland. He could hardly think it fair to charge that noble lord upon one issue and to try him upon another. (Hear, hear! from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and others). He thought, therefore, that in entertaining the present charge they were to look to it only. And, in the first instance he must do justice to the noble lord; he liked the candid manner in which he had made his statement: his defence, such as it was, was frank and well judged, for there was throughout a decent respect for constitutional principles. This much he said in justice to the noble lord; but, then, what had the noble lord confessed?—that he had evaded a great principle of the constitution; but that he had not so evaded it with a view to attack the constitution, but with a view to accommodate a friend—an offence in either case; but, in either, the motives were so widely different, as to put a marked distinction between the offences in both; at the same time, the attack upon the constitution was direct, but then it did not, as it stood, seem to be one of a series—there did not appear any evidence of a system; it stood alone; and looking at it so, it did appear to him as if the noble viscount, at the time when he was guilty of that offence, was not aware of its extent. But still the offence called for the animadversion of that house—the purchasing of a Seat in that house was considered such an offence, that the bare mention of it was disorderly, at least to state it as a fact was so. The house, then, could not now pass over with an indifference, proofs of such an offence—an offence that went most against its dignity, by soiling the purity of that source which constituted its dignity—it was selling what was not to be sold, and buying what was not to be bought—it was making the legislative executive—and more than that, making the executive legislative, and making both undermine the government they were constituted to sustain. It was making all the parts conspire against one another, and break off from the common centre that made them strong in their common 237 union. An offence coming under the order of such offences, could not be overlooked by that house. But the offence of the noble lord was not single: he had offended not only as a minister of the country, but as a President of the Board of Controul; as a minister he ought not to have sought to purchase a Seat in that house—as a President of the Board of Controul he ought not to have proffered a Writership for that Seat.—Here, then, there was a complicated crime. Suppose even this abuse was not unusual, for that reason the house ought now to interpose and not allow a minister of the crown to employ public property (for offices were public property), in such a way for any private end whatever. It was idle to draw a distinction that made the offence worse, by making it more alarming. Government, it was said, had a right to use its patronage in its own support—then why not all patronage, civil, military, ecclesiastic—and for what was any government to be allowed the right of calling forth all its patronage on this specious principle of self-defence? Why, to model the parliament to the government—all this was to be done to new-model the parliament? The house had, upon a late instance, shewn a laudable jealousy of corrupt practices—how could they now reconcile that jealousy with a connivance at this principle? Were the ministers to be permitted that which would be criminal in any individual, and that, too, on the principle that their power might not be weakened—the power that perhaps gave the nerve to their abuses? This was to dread the streamlets of corruption, and at the same time to brave its inundation. This he applied merely to what was called government patronage; but as to the noble lord he had confessed his crime; it could not be passed over, though he (Mr. Grattan) acquitted him of the intention to the extent of which the crime was capable. The house had before it the whole of the case and defence. A Writership might have been given to facilitate a return to parliament. The noble lord had not denied that offence, but denied any intention of attacking the freedom of parliament. He thought that it was not possible that the house could refuse to affix upon such a transaction the reprobation due to it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that however he might expose himself to censure, he thought it would be not only a breach of public, but of private duty, did 238 he not rise to deliver his sentiments on a question that so nearly concerned a valued friend. He thought, from the first, that there would be no difference of opinion respecting the facts in the case, and the law applicable to those facts. But the question, he apprehended, before the house was, whether the case was such as required the judgment of the house. The functions of that house consisted not merely in their judicial capacity, but also in their capacity as prosecutors; and they were, therefore, competent to judge whether under all the circumstances of the case it was requisite or necessary that they should take any proceedings on this question, which might tend to their pronouncing a distinct judgment upon a transaction never completed, and at the distance of two parliaments back. He complimented the candid statement of the last speaker. He admitted his facts and his law, but doubted the necessity of proceeding upon either. He hoped the animadversions of that right hon. gent. would be sufficient, respecting what had been adverted to by another hon. member (Mr. W. Smith) who had alluded to measures connected with the Union, and who seemed desirous of bringing them to bear upon this question.—And here he could not but repel the insinuation made by the noble lord who moved the Resolutions, that his noble friend might have taken money for his patronage. [Here lord A. Hamilton signified his dissent.] Well then, he was glad to perceive that the noble lord did not mean such an insinuation; and he had no doubt that the noble lord, in his reply, would take an opportunity to explain what he had said upon that note. If the noble lord did not mean to insinuate something of that kind, why else refer to the case of Davis, as contained in another part of the evidence? This referred to the testimony of that man, that a Mrs. Grove had made use of lady Castlereagh's name as concerned in the sale of writerships. This was communicated by Davis in a letter at the time when the committee was appointed, and his evident object was, that he should be put out of the way; and yet no sooner was the letter written to his noble friend, than he answers it with indignation, requiring Davis to state all that he knew of the circumstance; and his noble friend, besides, immediately submitted the whole affair to the East India Committee, which was then sitting. There could be no doubt, then, of his noble friend's sincerity upon this point, 239 and there was nothing to warrant the inference which the noble mover meant to convey. For his part, he felt most strongly that any charge of this kind was totally unfounded, and was confident that the house would be of a similar opinion. He felt also confident, that, even if the house thought it necessary to pass a censure on the conduct of his noble friend, yet, under all the circumstances, they must feel regret in doing so; and even when they censured his political conduct, they must yet do the justice of freeing his moral character from ail imputation, and in which case he would still be justified in calling him his friend. With regard to the noble lord's propositions, he should say, that the firs was true in words, though false in effect, and that the 2nd was both verbally and virtually unfounded. The first Resolution did not state the conduct of his noble friend, as accompanied with those qualifications which attended it. It was quite evident that the Writership was not placed at the disposal of lord Clancarty for the purpose of general barter or sale. He felt quite confident, that if the house agreed to entertain the Resolutions at all, they must be considerably amended; for it was evident that the negociation did not fail from the conduct of the subordinate agents, since the fact was, that Reding had no seat whatever to dispose of, and that, lord Sligo had also none. These two propositions of the noble lord he could not assent to. Yet still even upon the face of the transaction itself, and such as it was upon the evidence, he was prepared to admit that the act itself was offensive in its nature, and in itself not an unfit subject for parliamentary opinion. Even this was acknowledged by the noble lord himself, that the transaction was not justifiable.—The right hon. gent. then proceeded to expose the conduct and views of Mr. Reding in the use he made of the name of the Marquis of Sligo. He objected to any attempt at aggravation, on the ground of any particular office held by the noble lord. It was a question of abuse of patronage, and was not altered by the circumstance of a particular place held, whether of President of the Bond of Controul, or of Secretary of State. In either case, the patronage was a trust to be exercised. It had been stated correctly, that the punishment should be appropriate to the offence. The censure contained in these Resolutions would convey a slur upon the character of the noble lord, the effect of which the house would see and 240 contemplate. If the house was prepared to pass such a sentence (and he did not know in what milder terms it could be conveyed), they must see that it must end in the removal of the noble lord from his official situation. Thus it would be made as severe a punishment as could be inflicted, even had the imputed offence been actually committed. Lord Castlereagh never appeared in the transaction, but in a moment's conversation, until the close. His lordship indeed stated, that the person to be appointed must be a proper person, one who was sufficiently qualified for the situation. The affair could not have been completed, without giving his lordship full time to review the whole and to make every proper enquiry. There were shades of offence, and the present was by no means of that nature as to call for that sort of censure which would amount to political extinction in that house. Let the house consider dispassionately whether it was that sort of case that called upon them to institute any proceedings, or to record any censure. It had been compared to bribery. How would the case stand in that respect, if a charge were made where there was no bribery committed; and which had occurred two parliaments ago? Could the house, in such a case, think it necessary to pronounce, a judgment on the transaction? The noble lord (A. Hamilton) had spoken of his (Mr. Perceval's) trap, and wondered what he would have said had he caught his colleague. He could only say that he should have been very much surprised: but, yet let the noble lord recollect that he had laid his trap so widely, that if his colleagues had been guilty, assuredly he would have caught them.—The house had been called upon to record this censure and to consider the means of making themselves respected. He thought, however, that the house was most likely to create a due respect for itself, not by endeavouring to promulgate its laws by punishments, but by enactments: not by taking up a case marked by so many circumstances of limitation and mitigation, as the present must unquestionably appear to be. There was no privilege violated; there was no seat obtained. All rested, at the most, in the mere intention and nothing in fact, and yet the greatest severity was to be inflicted. It was far, indeed, beyond what the nature of the case could require.—The right hon. gent. concluded, by expressing his wish to proceed to the order 241 of the clay, not on account of its peculiar importance, but because he thought that, upon a fair and impartial consideration of the present question, it did not require any further investigation or proceeding on the part of the house of commons.
was disposed strongly, upon a case of this delicacy and importance, to exercise all those feelings of generosity which it was calculated to excite; and if he should fall into error in the course he was about to pursue, it would be error on the side of lenity rather than severity. It had been stated by the right hon. (the Chancellor of the Exchequer,) that the fact urged against the noble viscount was merely a parliamentary offence; whilst the hon. gent. under the gallery, (Mr. Manners Sutton,) had declared that the only way in which the house could do its duty to the public would be by passing an adequate judgment upon that fact; and yet both gentlemen proposed that no judgment should be come to upon the subject, but that the house should pass to the other orders of the day. He was sincerely disposed to take the mildest course that the nature of the case would admit of. The right hon. gent. had said that the Resolutions of the noble lord would go to inflict as heavy a punishment as could be imposed, if the offence had been committed with the most criminal intention. But might not the noble lord have proposed to follow up his Resolutions with a motion for the expulsion of the noble lord, or for an address to his majesty for his removal from his presence and councils for ever? The question was then, whether with the fact so fully admitted, that house could, consistently with its duty, pass the matter wholly by? In his opinion that was impossible. In proposing to dispose of the Writership in the manner stated in the evidence, the noble lord had not been simply guilty of an abuse of his patronage as a servant of the crown; he had been guilty of a violation of the East India act to a peculiar degree, by doing that, which it was the object of that act to prevent, in applying India patronage for purposes of parliamentary influence. His conduct was not only an offence, but a perversion of the duties of an office created to prevent such perversion. It had been said, that the first Resolution was false in sense, and the second false in sense and in fact; but if the whole of that were to be admitted, what argument would it afford for passing to the orders 242 of the day? It would be rather an argument for the amendment of the wording of the Resolutions.—He had been engaged in a long course of political hostility to the noble lord, and more particularly relating to the measure of the Union; but he trusted that on this occasion he had repressed every hostile feeling, and was only actuated by a sense of what he thought due to the character and purity of the house of commons. He meant not to allude to any clamour which might be excited among the people; popular clamour ought never to be mentioned when the character and honour of an individual were at stake; but nevertheless the house were bound to give their verdict upon their honour; and he felt himself justified in saying that the noble lord had been guilty of a parliamentary offence, which in its effects and example could not fail to prove highly pernicious, in as much as the character of parliament, both now and at all times, must depend upon the purity and independence of its members.
§ Mr. Bankes,
as Chairman of the Committee, felt it necessary for him to say a few words upon the question, in consequence of some allusions which had been made to the conduct of the Committee. The noble lord who brought forward this subject, had, towards the close of his speech, made an observation expressive of surprise that the Committee had not mentioned this case in their Report, nor accompanied the Evidence upon it and other Cases with any remarks; and appeared to think that the question ought to have been taken up by the Chairman, or some other member of the Committee, rather than be left to the house at large to take up. But in his wish to promote his own object, the noble lord forgot what the Committee had been appointed to do, and the instructions under which that Committee acted. This case was not within the purview of the Committee, which was confined to the Abuses of East India patronage as connected with the conduct of the Directors: and to effect that object, he as chairman of the Committee was obliged to come to the house for fresh and more extensive powers. The same cause prevented the Committee from reporting upon other transactions which had been brought before them, though the evidence had been printed, and given rise to much surprise on the part of many persons whose names were inserted in the evidence. The Committee, when it found that no corrup- 243 tion was to be traced to any Director or other party, closed the case there, and did not think themselves authorized to go into the private parts of such cases; and, as they could not suppress any part of the evidence, hence it was that the names he alluded to appeared in the minutes. It was matter of sincere regret, that in times like the present, there should be in this country a busy and active class of men, who took every opportunity to vilify every thing that was high, and to degrade all that wa3 eminent in rank in the country. He was sorry to see that this Report had been used for that purpose. He had seen the evidence garbled, maliciously garbled, with a view to vilify the members of the royal family. He had seen the evidence of Mr. Fuller respecting a negociation for a Writership, which was said to be expected to be procured through the Duke of Cambridge, given so far as it could tend to make an impression, as if that royal personage had been concerned in these transactions, but leaving out altogether the declaration of Mr. Fuller, that he was thoroughly convinced his royal highness knew nothing of the circumstance.—The hon. gent. then proceeded to observe upon a similar mutilation of the evidence in a case in which the first subject in the realm was said to be concerned, and expressed his opinion that the house ought to set a strong mark upon this attempt to degrade and vilify all that was eminent in the state. The hon. member then commented upon the circumstances, under which the names of two members of that house, and of the marquis of Sligo, had been introduced into the Minutes; and accounted for the insertion of their names on the ground, that, though it appeared they had not been parties to any improper transaction, yet, as their names had been mentioned in the course of the progress of the inquiry, the Committee did not consider themselves at liberty to omit any part of the Evidence. It would be most agreeable to him if he could either agree to the Resolutions of the noble lord, or be contented with the course proposed on the other side. He thought the punishment which the former would inflict was inadequate to the offence, and greatly disproportioned to the case; and the latter would not be sufficient for the dignity of that house, if they should pass to the other orders of the day from a charge where the facts were proved upon such incontrovertible evidence. He agreed with the whole of the speech of 244 his right hon. friend, and contended that upon every principle of law a distinction should be taken between an offence existing only in intention and an offence actually completed. If the first Resolution, therefore, should be amended by the introduction of the proper qualifications, it should have his support, and then he should propose to add a Resolution, "That it was the duty of that house to be jealous of its independence, but at the same time that if appeared that the said negociation rested merely in intention, and had not been completed; and that, therefore, that house did not think it necessary to direct any penal proceedings." This was what struck him as the most eligible course to be pursued, and he should therefore move this Resolution, if the noble lord should agree to an Amendment in his first Resolution, but to the second and third Resolutions he could not agree.
Sir Francis Burdett,
at that hour of the night, and after the very able speech of the noble lord who had opened the debate, as well as the able speeches of many gentlemen below him upon the floor, did not mean to trespass at any length upon the attention of the house. At the same time, the question was in itself of such importance, and so much had been said in extenuation of the case, founded upon the admission of the noble lord, and some observations which had fallen from the hon. gent. who had just sat down were such, that he was induced to trespass a short time upon the indulgence of the house, even at that late hour. If it had not been for the general gravity of that hon. gent., and the serious manner in which he had produced these observations to the house, he should have supposed that there had been something ludicrous in his statement, from the effect it appeared to have produced upon the faces of the right hon. gentlemen opposite.—With respect to the question before the house, he could not see any objection to the original Resolutions proposed by the noble lord. As to the objections which had been taken to the second Resolution, that it was not founded in fact, he must observe, that though it was not exactly made out by the evidence, yet it would be very easy to amend it; because the fact was, that the negociation had actually failed, in consequence of the interior agents not having been able to accomplish what they had undertaken. Did the noble lord perceive the impropriety of his conduct, and stop short in his pro- 245 gress to its accomplishment? No such thing; the offence, as far as he was to act, was intentionally committed, and he had no plea of extenuation, because it ultimately failed from the inefficiency of minor agents.—It had been argued, that if the noble lord had been aware of the character of Reding, or had an opportunity of again turning his attention to the transaction, it could never have taken place. But it would, indeed, have been surprising if the noble lord should not have broken off the business in the event of his having discovered the character of a man who was endeavouring to trick him. The hon. gent. who had just sat down had thought proper to make an allusion to a set of persons, what persons he could not tell, who were busy and ever active in decrying all the rank, and running down all that was eminent in the state. It was with regret he heard such an accusation proceed against any description of the British people from that hon. member. He had often heard complaints made in that house against calumniators and libellers, but highly as he valued the privileges of parliament, he knew of no privilege that would entitle any member to calumniate any class of his majesty's subjects. He knew of no right, that any gentlemen could claim to utter misrepresentations against whole classes of the people of England, especially when so much mischief was likely to result from such calumnies going forth to the public. It was peculiarly hard that such a course should be adopted; it was particularly so at a moment, too, when, (as he must be permitted to state, even within the walls of that house), the character of parliament did not stand as high in the country as it ought. Under such circumstances, he thought it unfortunate, for that house, as well as injurious to the British public, to calumniate any class of the people of England, by whom, as far as his observation enabled him to judge, such calumnies were wholly unmerited.—Having made these observations, he would leave it to the house to judge how unfair it was to deal out insinuations against whole classes of the people, or whether it would not have been more candid and manly to name the persons at whom such observations were applied. He was convinced upon the result of all that he had an opportunity of observing, that there was no set of men in this country disaffected to the government; and to make an assertion that there was, would 246 be as injurious to the people, as it would be dangerous to the security of the throne, and hostile to the constitution and the interests of the country. He had attended particularly to every thing that had been said by the noble lord in his defence, or rather in his confession, and whatever difference of opinion might appear to exist in the house as to the degree of his guilt, it appeared to him to be an aggravated case. It appeared to him to be an abuse of die patronage of a minister with a view to make an attack upon the independence of parliament. If a minister were proved guilty of such an offence, was the house not to say that he was so guilty? It was not now a question of punishment; or if the removal of the noble lord from office was to be considered a punishment, this was the first time that he ever heard of its being a punishment to be out of office. The noble lord had said that his object was, in disposing of this writership, to procure support for government, that is, for the administration, because that was the way in which he confounded the government with the administration. But as the noble lord had given them to understand that he would still think that a justifiable mode of disposing of his patronage, it was the duty of that house to guard against such abuses. The patronage of the state was the property of the public, and ought to be fairly and impartially distributed amongst the people. If ministers had attended more to this principle, and less to the practice of exclusively promoting their particular connections, there would have been a benefit to the public service, and certainly less disgust existing out of doors at the manner in which this patronage had been hitherto disposed of. The noble lord had complained in some measure, that he had been convicted solely upon his own evidence; but he would leave it to the house to decide whether there could have been stronger evidence produced? Yet whilst the noble lord rested so much on the circumstance that his conviction was not supported by any evidence but his own admission, he had still endeavoured to maintain that there had been nothing blameable in the transaction, as he wished only to bring his friend into parliament, that he might have his assistance in their common department. That statement was sufficient alone to shew that these Resolutions ought to be passed. If the noble lord could pervert his official patronage for the pur- 247 pose of bringing a friend into parliament, that was, in his mind, a heavy offence, such, he was convinced, as that house would consider no other heavier. The right hon. gent. had complained that the hon. gent. on the floor (Mr. W. Smith) Lad made an allusion to the transactions in which the noble lord had been concerned at the time of the Union. He could not see any hardship in such an allusion, when the noble lord and his friends had laid so much stress upon the purity of his motives. It was natural, in answer to such a defence, to refer to transactions that would shew that such purity of motives could not easily be imputed to that noble lord. It might be urged against him as a want of candour, but he could not conceal that he did not give the noble lord much credit for purity of motives. He should still continue to watch with that jaundiced or jealous eye, which had been sometimes imputed to him, all the conduct of that noble lord; and having caught him in one instance tripping, he should therefore jealously observe his future measures.—It had been contended, that the offence, in this instance, was not as heinous as the taking a bribe at an election: but the house would never by its vote upon the present question, sanction the opinion, that it was ready always to punish the petty offenders in retail, at the same time that it passed over this wholesale trade in corruption without animadversion. The noble lord had stated, that if the transaction had proceeded, he would have taken care that none but a proper person should be appointed. But the law does not allow any man, however proper, to be promoted for a bribe. Yet, had not the noble lord pointed out the particular political principles which his proper person was to entertain? Had he not described the connections, and mentioned the support that was to be expected from him and them? Would the connection of any gentleman, who, in the performance of his duty in that house, should oppose the noble lord, have been a proper person, according to his idea of such a one, as he should deem a fit object of his patronage? It was this gross partiality in the selection of objects, and the still grosser motives that guided the selection, that he looked upon as the most dangerous circumstances in giving to any minister the unlimited disposal of the patronage they possessed. Every thing, therefore, shewed how necessary it was to pass the Resolutions of 248 the noble lord.—Some gentlemen had taken occasion, and very properly taken occasion in this discussion, to make some observations upon the necessity of a Parliamentary Reform. His own opinion upon that subject was well known, and he was convinced that nothing could tend more to shew the necessity of such a measure, than if that house should pass from these Resolutions to the orders of the day. In supporting the Resolutions, therefore, he was certainly most disinterested; because he was most sincerely a friend to reform. He should be happy to see reform brought forward by his majesty's ministers, because in such hands it would be productive of as much good, as would spring of mischief from the blind resistance to practical reform proceeding from any other quarter. He would particularly, therefore, rejoice to see his majesty's ministers bring forward a plan of reform, which would come with grace from them, and be received with gratitude by the people. The opinion of the necessity of a reform in parliament was at present so general, the only difference prevailing upon the subject being only as to the precise plan, that some reform must necessarily take place. This was particularly desirable at this time, when committees of that house were every day bringing to light abuses that were concealed from view; when the weight of the taxes were only to be equalled by the severity of their collection; when what was granted liberally was expended prodigally; and when there appeared no disposition to retrench or to limit unnecessary expenditure. Under such circumstances, a reform was essentially necessary, and at such a moment he regretted that any gentleman of such respectability as the hon. gent. (Mr. Bankes) and who had rendered such important services, too, in the various committees of that house, should have spoken of a class of the people of this country, in such a manner, that, with all his respect for him, he must say, he had grossly misrepresented them—The hon. gent. said, that the noble lord ought not to be punished, because the offence had not been completed. But, the question was not then a question of punishment. All that was proposed was, to guard against his majesty's ministers future conduct; it was only proposed to provide, that similar effects should not in future arise from similar causes: and the more especially, as it had been that night admitted and argued on the other 249 side of the house, that the corrupt abuse of patronage in support of administration was not blamable. It behoved that house to shew to the public that it was not inattentive to its interests; and to guard its own character from the imputation that whilst it punished petty offenders in detail, it was reluctant to inflict the same punishment upon an offending minister. Was not the Plymouth Tinman's case in the recollection of the house; and with such an example before their eyes, could they hesitate to vote the Resolutions against the noble lord? Complaints had been vented against the press; but if men of rank would do their duty, they might bid defiance to the press. It was not their rank, but their vices that provoked the animadversions of the press; which would ever be ready to pay the tribute of its admirations to their virtues. In this thinking, this rational, this reflecting country, they had but to do their duty, and they would ensure the approbation of their countrymen. If any plan of reform should be proposed, he besought the house to entertain it with temper, and abstain from all imputation of disaffection to those who might propose it. He should not detain the house longer, but should most certainly vote for the Resolutions of the noble lord.
§ Mr. Johnstone
said, he came to join in the discussion biassed in favour of the question; but he did not see that the noble lord, whose conduct became the subject of investigation, deserved all the displace and dishonour which had been attached to him. He preferred a moderate course of proceeding towards the noble lord. He agreed with the mild maxim of Hume, that the most moderate measures were the most wise.
§ Mr. H. Lascelles
said, the crime imputed to the noble lord was not dissimilar to a political offence committed by the late Mr. Pitt, for which parliament granted him an indemnity. He could not vote for the Resolutions, as they imposed a censure disproportioned to the crime. Still he was of opinion that the transaction was of such a nature as not to be passed over with total impunity.
§ Mr. Windham
felt it necessary to explain his reasons for the vote he should give, or rather for the vote he should not give. Neither the original Resolutions, nor the motion made by a noble lord on the other side, were such as to induce him to give his support to either. He could 250 not agree that they should pass to the order of the day, as it would expose them to misconstruction. On the other hand, the Resolutions of his noble friend were too strong and disproportioned to the offence. Two courses lay open; either to vote for neither, or to vote against both. The most regular way would be to oppose the motion for the order of the day, for the purpose of pursuing the medium course that was proposed. The house, in giving their decision, were called upon, in his opinion, to distinguish between the act and the offender. Should they pass to the order of the day, he feared it would be regarded as an implied approbation of the principle. He would admit that any attack on the privileges of that house, or the freedom and purity of elections, was a very fair and fit object for parliamentary cognizance. He would be glad to know how far the principle was to be carried? Whether it was to apply to any man influencing or endeavouring to influence a vote, or procure a seat under certain circumstances, or whether it was meant to limit it to ministers? He feared his noble friend had taken his principle too wide. If be meant that it should be declared criminal in any man to endeavour to obtain a seat in that house under those circumstances with which they were all acquainted, that would embrace much more than this motion. There was not a place in the kingdom that sent members to parliament to which, with perhaps the exception of Old Sarum, it would not apply. When they were called upon to condemn so violently the noble lord, they would do well to ask themselves whether they would hesitate for the purpose of securing an election to recommend a friend to government. From the evidence, it did not appear that the offence imputed to the noble lord was even inchoate in intention. It was certainly incumbent on the house to give an opinion on the transaction, but not too strong an opinion of the man. It certainly was not the intention of the noble lord, from what he could collect, to put a person in this place to answer an improper purpose. An hon. member (Mr. Bankes) had been accused of calumniating classes of the people, and he had been called upon to name those who under the mask of reform were endeavouring to subvert the constitution. Now, though there might be no difficulty in naming individuals, there might be a great deal in naming classes. But it was notorious that there 251 were many hundreds, and he feared thousands and tens of thousands who speculated upon a change. Some of these might be influenced by worthy motives; he had no doubt there were; others with different views, who wished to throw all into confusion, and take their chance, as it is called. Some were hostile to this; some to that. Others were so extravagant, that they were only doubtful where to begin, and what to do. But he trusted that whatever government was in the country, would be strong and firm enough to resist. The moment a single brick was taken out of the building on this principle, the entire ruin of the edifice must follow. Such reform would inevitably germinate in revolution. As to parliamentary reform, he never saw any change that was proposed which had either common sense or practicability to recommend it.
§ Mr. Whitbread
moved that the Resolution passed by the house in 1779 be read. That Resolution declared it to be a high crime and misdemeanor in his majesty's ministers or servants under the crown, to interfere in the election of members of parliament. Such interference was evidently an infringement of the liberty of the subject, and dangerous to the free constitution of this country. He called on any man in the house to lay his hand on his heart, and declare whether the offence with which the noble lord was charged did not come under that Resolution. If it did, was it possible to pass to the order of the day, after the confession which they heard from the noble lord, after his pathetic appeal to their feelings, after he threw himself, in fact, upon their mercy? He certainly had not much prejudice in favour of the political opinions of that noble lord; but there was something in his manner of leaving the house that almost wholly disarmed him. He had attended closely to the speech of his noble friend who had made the motion, and listened to it throughout with feelings of approbation; but he must say, that the manner in which his noble friend's propositions had been treated was calculated to produce a very unfavourable impression on the public mind. The offence was one of a very serious nature, and the house had not to enquire whether it had been committed. The fact of the negociation was admitted by the noble viscount; but thought he had unequivocally confessed his fault, still it was the duty of the house to express their opinion upon his conduct.
252 It was not sufficient to say that a corrupt purpose had not been carried into effect: that formed no excuse in other cases. Had not a Mr. Hamlin been prosecuted for offering a bribe to lord Sidmouth? and was not the unfortunate Mr. Beazly suffering for a similar proceeding towards the duke of Portland? Why, then, is it said that the noble viscount, who offered to exchange a Writership for a seat in that house, should escape all punishment? The house were told that they ought, in this case, to take a middle course, by which it appeared to be meant that nothing at all should be done. A learned gentleman (Mr. Croker), had talked about the sanction of precedent, as if it were a common practice to barter Writerships for seats in parliament. But no precedent of the existence of such abuses as those which had been proved to prevail, could excuse the house for not punishing offenders, when the cases were brought under their notice. The regret expressed by the noble viscount had also been urged as an inducement to the house not to pass a vote of censure on him. This, however, was a very weak argument in his favour. Did a judge, when trying a starving wretch for stealing, tell the jury to put themselves in his place, and to allow his temptation and contrition to be an excuse for his crime? When such practices were thus alluded to, and brought within the knowledge of parliament, it was impossible they could abstain from passing a marked censure on them. In this instance it was impossible not to adopt this noble friend's Resolution, or one of the same tenor. They had before them "confitentem reum." The noble lord acknowledged the justice of the accusation brought against him. Lord Castlereagh acknowledged that he placed a Writership at the disposal of his friend, to enable him to obtain a Seat in parliament; lord Clancarty acknowledges the fact; the Chancellor of the Exchequer admits that it is a great political offence, and how, after these admissions, was it possible to pass to the order of the day? What, under these circumstances, were they to do? Why, save the character of the house: for if they did not, the house was gone! A bill of indemnity it was supposed might cover this, as well as other cases of the same sort. But it would be curious to see how a bill in the present case could be worded. Would it declare that because lord Castlereagh had confessed that he had been guilty, he was therefore indemnified.
253 An hon. gent. has alluded to some recent public meetings, which, he says, have passed Resolutions tending to degrade persons of rank, and public men of every description. He, however, had seen no Resolutions of the kind to which the hon. gent. had alluded; on the contrary, be found the people attached to the sovereign and the constitution; but it did not follow that that attachment should induce them to approve of all the abuses which had crept into the administration of the constitution. His right hon. friend had exclaimed against the activity of the enemies of the constitution. He did not believe there was any considerable body of men in this country who wished to subvert it. The people collectively were attached to the crown, they were attached to the person of the reigning monarch, and nothing but the egregious misconduct of his ministers, or those about him, could alter that attachment. He had once endeavoured to impress upon the house the necessity of a reform in the representation of the country, but from various circumstances into which it was not necessary to enter, the public mind was then diverted from that question to other objects. The converts to parliamentary reform were now, however, numerous in every part of the country, and if the motion which his noble friend had submitted to the house should be negatived, it was easy to predict that they would become still more numerous. His right hon. friend (Mr. Windham), had alluded to the state of the question of reform twenty years ago, but he begged of him also to reflect on the events which had occurred in Europe since that period; events which might be fairly ascribed to a pertinacious resistance of all reform. This unyielding spirit of opposition to reform had been the principal cause of the ruin of the continent. States had fallen, when a trifling concession might have preserved them. The states of Brabant, his right hon. friend would allow, might most probably have been preserved to Austria, had a more liberal policy been pursued by the cabinet of Vienna. With respect to what had been said of the various plans of reform, it was surely absurd to make that an argument for no reform at all. If his right hon. friend should again become a reformer, he was confident, that with his fertile imagination and sceptical doubts, he would be the last man in the country to know when or where to begin. He would tell his right hon. friend, however, that the necessity of re- 254 form was every day becoming greater; that the house must take up the question, and that if they must reform deeply, it was because they did not reform sooner.
Mr. Secretary Canning
agreed with what had fallen from an hon. gent. on the other side of the house, that the character of the house was more to be attended to than the character of any individual whatsoever. He perceived, however, that every gent. who had spoken, entertained a due sense of the manner in which his noble friend had conducted his defence, and did not wish to press any severe sentence upon him. They might then take into their consideration, that the intention of the noble lord was never carried into execution, and that it certainly would have been retracted, if the noble lord had afterwards come to learn the character of the person, and the circumstances of the offer. No man could say the noble lord had conducted himself with contumacious contempt. He had expressed as much humility as he could, consistently with his own honour and the dignity of the house. Every liberal person would acknowledge, that there was a manner of recanting an error which became a man, and the noble lord had a claim on that ground to the good opinion of the house. He, therefore, in voting for the orders of the day, by no means thought the house thereby would pronounce that the case submitted to them was not of very serious importance, but that the voting for the other orders of the day was, according to parliamentary usage, a way of shewing that the house had taken the case into ifs consideration, and that having weighed all the circumstances, they did not think it necessary to come to any criminating Resolutions. In order, however, to express this opinion more clearly and unmistakeably, he would rather wish that instead of the orders of the day, a Resolution should be substituted, declaring that the house saw no reason for a criminating resolution.—Mr. Secretary Canning concluded, by stating, that when the present question was disposed of, he should submit to the house the following Resolution: "That it is the duty of this house to maintain a jealous guard over the purity and independence of parliament; but that this house duly weighing the Evidence before it, and all the circumstances of the case, and considering that the intention referred to in that Evidence was not carried into effect, this house does not think it necessary to come to a criminatory Resolution upon the same."
§ Sir C. Price
spoke for some time, but there was such a general cry of question! question! that we could not collect his sentiments.
§ Mr. Tierney
said it was not his intention to offer himself to the house; but the Resolution of the right hon. Secretary had put the noble lord's case on a new footing. After debating the question several hours, the right hon. Secretary had brought forward the same Resolution proposed by an hon. member (Mr. Bankes.) The hon. gent. had perhaps over-heard some conversation, and finding the orders of the day would not do, because that motion could not be carried, he had brought forward his Resolution. He wished rather to be lenient than severe towards lord Castlereagh; but when so much had been said about the great candour of his defence, he must observe that in his defence he had only repeated what he had said before the Committee; and it must be recollected that the fact had been fully proved against lord Castlereagh in the Committee by the evidence of lord Clancarty and others, before lord Castlereagh had himself been examined. He did not see that it was any mitigation to say that lord Castlereagh had been so particular about the fitness of the person recommended, as those writerships were always given to boys, and the son of a chimney-sweeper might be just as fit as the son of a nobleman, if he had interest to get a recommendation. As the fact was not only clearly proved, but confessed, he could not see how the house could avoid expressing its displeasure. When the house ordered Mr. Davison to be prosecuted for a lesser offence, with respect to corrupt influence at elections, he could not see how, with any shadow of impartial justice, they could come to such a resolution as was proposed by the right hon. secretary.
§ Lord A. Hamilton,
in his reply, denied that he meant to impute to lord Castlereagh any knowledge of pecuniary advantage to be gained by the business.
At half past, two o'clock the house divided on the original motion.—Ayes, 167. Noes, 210.—Majority 49 against it.
The gallery was not re-opened to strangers, and the house shortly afterwards divided on Mr. Canning's Amendment.—Ayes, 214. Noes, 167.—Majority 47.
§ Mr. C. Wynn
then proposed, that there should be added to Mr. Canning's Amendment words to this effect—"That the house was confirmed in its opinion, that it 256 was unnecessary to proceed further in the case, from the openness which the noble lord had displayed, and the regret which he had expressed for his conduct." This, however, was negatived without a division.—Strangers were not again admitted, but we understand that Mr. Madocks stated his anxiety to assure the house, that it was his intention at no very distant day to submit to that house the motion of which he had given notice previous to the Easter recess relative to the great question of Parliamentary Reform.
|List of the Minority.|
|Abercromby, hon. J.||Folkes, sir Martin|
|Adams, C.||Folkestone, visc.|
|Agar, E. F.||Forbes, viscount|
|Allan, Alex.||Gascoyne, Isaac|
|Akhorp, visc.||Gell, Philip|
|Antonie, W. L.||Goddard, Thomas|
|Babington, Thos.||Godfrey, Thomas|
|Baker, J. (Canterb.)||Gooch, T. S.|
|Barham, J. F.||Gordon, Wm.|
|Bastard, J. P.||Gower, lord G. L.|
|Beach, M. H.||Grattan, rt. hon. H.|
|Bernard, Scrope||Greenhill, Robt.|
|Bernard, Thos.||Grenfell, Pascoe|
|Bewicke, C.||Grey, hon. Booth|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Giles, D.|
|Blachford, B. P.||Halsey, Joseph|
|Blackburne, J.||Hammet, John|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Hibbert, Geo.|
|Bouverie, hon. B.||Hippisley, sir J.|
|Bradshaw, hon. C.||Holmes, W.|
|Brand, hon. T.||Horner, F.|
|Brogden, J.||Horrocks, S.|
|Burdett, sir Francis||Howard, hon. W.|
|Burrell, sir C.||Howard, H.|
|Byng, Geo.||Howorth, Humph.|
|Calcraft, John||Hughes, W. L.|
|Calvert, N.||Hurst, R.|
|Cartwright, W. R.||Hussey, Wm.|
|Cavendish, Id. G.||Hutchinson, hon. C.|
|Cavendish, Wm.||Jekyll, Joseph|
|Clements, hon. J.||Keck, G. A. L.|
|Cochrane, lord||Knapp, G.|
|Cochrane, hon G. A.||Lambe, hon. W.|
|Coke, T. W.||Lambton, R. J.|
|Colburne, N. W. R.||Lungton, W. G.|
|Combe, H. C.||Leach, John|
|Cooke, Bryan||Lemon, sir Wm.|
|Cowper, E. Sing||Lemon, John|
|Creevey, Thomas||Leycester, H.|
|Curwen, J. C.||Lloyd, J. M.|
|Davenport, D.||Lloyd, sir E.|
|Dugdale, S. D.||Longman, Geo.|
|Dundas, Charles||Loveden, E. L.|
|Dundas, hon. C. L.||Lubbock. sir John|
|Dundas, hon. L.||Lushington, S. R.|
|Estcourt, Thos.||Lyttelton, hon. W.|
|Ferguson, R. C.||M' Donald, James|
|Fitzgerald, Id. H.||Madocks, W. A.|
|Fitzpatrick, rt. hon. R.||Mahon, hon. S.|
|Foley, hon. A.||Markham, J.|
|Foley, Thomas||Marryat, J.|
|Martin, H.||Robarts, Abraham|
|Maule, hon. W.||Romilly, sir S.|
|Maxwell, W.||Saville, A.|
|Milbanke, sir R.||Scudamore, R. P.|
|Miller, sir T.||Sharpe, R.|
|Milner, sir W.||Shaw, Robert|
|Milton, lord||Shelley, T.|
|Montgomery, H. C.||Shipley, W.|
|Moore, Peter||Simeon, J.|
|Mordaunt, sir C.||St. Aubyn, sir John|
|Mosley, sir Ows.||Stewart, James|
|Mostyn, sir Thos.||Symonds, T. P.|
|North, D.||Talbot, R. W.|
|Neville, hon. R.||Taylor, C.|
|Newport, rt. hon. sir J.||Taylor, M. A.|
|O'Callaghan, James||Tempest, sir H. V.|
|Oglander, sir Win.||Temple, earl|
|Ossulston, lord||Templetown, visc.|
|Palk, sir L.||Thornton, H.|
|Parnell, H.||Tierney, rt. hon. Geo.|
|Patten, Peter||Townshend, hon. W.A.|
|Peirse, Henry||Tracey, C. H.|
|Percy, earl||Tremayne, J. H.|
|Petty, lord H.||Vaughan, sir R. W.|
|Piggott, sir Arthur||Walpole, hon. G.|
|Pollington, lord||Wardle, G. L.|
|Ponsonby, rt. hon. G.||Western, C. C.|
|Porchester, lord||Wharton, J.|
|Price, Richard||Whitbread, S.|
|Prittie, hon. F. A.||Wynne, C. W.|
|Richardson, W.||Hamilton, lord A.|
|Ridley, sir M.||Smith, W. (Norwich)|