§ Mr. Wilberforce
rose, to make his promised motion. He said, be could assure the House, that notwithstanding he could not plead that he had been urged into this business against his wishes, he was fully sensible of the great task which he had undertaken. So aware, indeed, was he of the extreme importance of that task, that were at not from considerations of indispensable duty, he should almost be induced to shrink, from any further proceeding. He was cheered, however, by the hope, that kind support and indulgence from the House which he had 1214 already experienced; and still more by the persuasion that they had all one common feeling—that they were ail actuated by one universal desire, if possible, to bring the question in contemplation to such an issue as might avert the necessity for that fatal inquiry which he very much feared must follow the rejection of the motion which he was about to make. It was this last consideration which operated most powerfully on his own mind and feelings—it was this last consideration which he wished the House more particularly to bear in mind. He trusted, therefore, that if any deficiency should appear in his argument, or in his statement, that that deficiency might not lead the House to any conclusion other than that of preventing the fatal inquiry, which no man who thought on the subject as he did, could contemplate without anticipating from it the most serious evils, whether considered with reference to the interests of the country, or to the dignity of the Crown. He must also claim the indulgent forbearance of the House, if, in the course of his observations, any expression should drop from him which might appear inconsistent with that respect which constitutionally, and he would add, as a Christian, he bore towards the illustrious individuals more immediately concerned in this question. If there had been more time for him to array his words, or if the subject were not one in which any man was liable to be operated upon by the warmth of his feelings, he should be less solicitous on that head. As it was, he trusted that he should not say any thing which would bear an improper construction. If, however, that should unfortunately happen, he hoped it would be deemed unintentional, and that it would not be ascribed to any disposition to speak slightingly of individuals towards whom, as he had already observed, he necessarily cherished sentiments of the highest respect.
There was another preliminary observation which he begged to be permitted to make. The House must remember the peculiarity of the circumstances under which they were called upon to act, and the extraordinary nature of the case of which they had now to dispose. Undoubtedly it must be the wish of all, that whatever measures might be adopted, should be adopted with strict reference to the constitution and forms of parliament; yet, under the singular circumstances in which the question came be- 1215 fore the House, it might be found impossible to adhere strictly and theoretically to those constitutional principles which it was so desirable to uphold, and the value of which no person could be more ready than himself to acknowledge and recognize. He could not help borrowing, from the Papers which had been laid on the table by the noble lord communicating the conduct and particulars of the recent negotiations, an idea, which, in his opinion, did the greatest credit to the noble personages who suggested it to the hon. and learned gentlemen, her majesty's legal advisers; and he earnestly hoped that the House, in the prosecution of the present discussion, would proceed in a similar temper and spirit. He alluded to the understanding expressed early in the first conference, and which he believed would be found in the sixth page of the printed papers; in the following words: "That the persons named to frame an arrangement, although representing different interests, should consider themselves, in discharge of this duty, not as opposed to each other, but as acting in concert with a view to frame an arrangement, in compliance with the understood wish of parliament, which may avert the necessity of a public inquiry into the information laid before the two Houses." It was with that feeling—it was in that spirit, that he implored the House to approach the present discussion. He implored hon. members, not to consider themselves as representing different parties—not as supporters of the king, or as supporters of the queen—not as maintaining one interest, or another interest, but as engaged for the benefit of all. If they wished to discharge with fidelity the duty that had devolved upon them—if they wished to look back themselves with pleasure, and to be able to relate to their constituents with satisfaction the occurrences of that evening, they would proceed in the spirit so happily recommended in the admirable passage which he had just read; they would "consider themselves, not as opposed to each other, but as acting in concert with a view to frame an arrangement which might avert the necessity of a public inquiry into the information laid before the two Houses of Parliament."
Having premised so much, he now came to the consideration of the way in which the House had been brought into the situation in which it was then placed. Immediately upon the queen's arrival in 1216 this country, certain papers were laid by his majesty's government on the table of the House, the exact nature of which was yet happily unknown, but which were said to contain charges against her majesty, into which parliament were called upon to inquire. On the day when his (Mr. Wilberforce's) judgment, no less than his feelings, prompted him to request that the House would allow some interval before it commenced the inquiry—'that it would pause in order to give an opportunity, if possible, to avert the fatal effects which might result from the disclosure, he felt that in making the motion which he did make, he only anticipated by a second the universal disposition of the House. The consequence of the manifestation of that disposition was, that the required delay was granted. Since that period a communication had been made to the House of the substance of the conferences and negotiations that, in consequence of the proceeding of parliament, had taken place between his majesty's ministers and the law officers of her majesty. He must say, in strict justice to the individuals who had been engaged in those important conferences and negotiations, that it did not appear in the documents in which they were described, that the question had been in any degree angrily or petulantly considered; but, on the contrary, it was evident that the discussions had been conducted with the greatest temper, and with the moderation which must naturally be felt by those who had a common interest in such an adjustment of the existing differences, as might not be injurious to the credit and honour of any of the parties involved in them. He owned that his own hopes of a favourable result had been considerably raised by the appointment of the individuals who were appointed to carry on those discussions. He could not but feel an almost confident hope, that means would be found to avert the threatened evil. He did so, the more especially on this accounts—because he indulged a hope that that would take place which had actually occurred. He indulged a hope, that if the persons engaged in the negotiation should not exactly agree, they might nevertheless approach so nearly to an agreement, as to enable the House of Commons to do away the remaining minor differences, and perhaps to heal the breach, which, if not entirely closed, had been diminished and rendered less difficult of cure by the negotiation.
1217 He confessed that he could not but think that such was the state of the affair at the present moment. It was indeed perfectly natural that it should be so. It was not to be expected that the individuals who acted as agents for the parties, should be expected to go so far as that House might be disposed to do. It was not to be expected that those individuals would make concessions that might be liable to misconstructions, on the part of; the public, injurious to the interests of their principals. But that House might adopt measures, or recommend their adoption, without being exposed to any misconstruction. It was perfectly natural, therefore, that the House might be expected to go further in the way of concession than the individuals engaged in the negotiation could venture to proceed. He was sorry, however, to say, that at length the misfortune—and a very great misfortune he certainly considered it—was proclaimed, that the conferences had closed without any amicable arrangement. This was undoubtedly a very great misfortune. But, on the perusal of the documents which had been laid on the table, he must fairly say, that so far were they from having extinguished his hope of an ultimate accommodation, that they had increased his expectation that an event so desirable might be accomplished, provided the House would only coolly and calmly weigh all the circumstances of the case; and above all, provided they would reflect in what a situation things would be placed if the opposite alternative to his motion were adopted, and if the menaced inquiry were commenced and prosecuted to a termination.
He had considered a great deal in what way to proceed in order if possible to put an end to any such apprehension. There appeared to him two courses of proceeding, one or the other of which ought to be adopted. The first was one to which he however found that considerable difficulties were opposed. The second course was that which he had now to submit to the House. The motion which he had determined to submit to the House was framed in order, if possible, to put an end to the unhappy differences which prevailed between the two principal members of the royal family. In the first instance he had been very strongly induced to adopt the expedient of endeavouring to prevail upon that House to agree to an humble address or addresses which might 1218 have in view the appointment of something like an arbitration of those differences, and of effecting an amicable arrangement between the two illustrious parties. Upon very mature reflection, however, there appeared such extreme and insuperable difficulties, both constitutional and others, in executing that purpose, and so much uncertainty with reference to its ultimate effect even if it should be executed—that he found himself compelled to abandon that way of proceeding, as not being at least so much to be approved of as that which he would now venture to propose to them. He confessed, however, that the objection which was urged in the papers which had been presented to the House against arbitration, when it had been proposed by his honourable and learned friends the law-officers of the queen, did not appear to him to be really an insuperable obstacle; for he thought that though in ordinary cases it might not be proper for the king's ministers to submit his majesty's rights to arbitration, yet it would be a very different thing for them to do so when they had received the instructions of the House of Commons to that effect. It appeared to him, that the objection, whether a valid one or not in the former, would not be so in the latter case. On the whole, however, he had considered the adoption of this mode of proceeding to be fraught with so many difficulties, of an extreme and perhaps insuperable nature in themselves, and that in its issue there was so much uncertainty as to the result when it should be carried into execution, that he felt it better to adopt another mode of proceeding.
He would frankly confess that he had also in contemplation at the time another course, and that was an address to her majesty; requesting she would have the goodness to wave, to a certain extent, the points of difference, but the precise nature of his proposition, if the House would have the goodness to allow him previously to state the objects he had in view, would more fully appear from the wording of the motion which he held in his hand. He had been induced to adopt this measure from several considerations; bat be ought, perhaps, to take this opportunity of sincerely begging pardon of the Chair and of the House, for having yesterday most unwillingly trespassed on their indulgence by requesting the delay of a day. The necessity for that delay had 1219 been occasioned by his receiving yesterday a message from her majesty which required his utmost and immediate consideration. Her majesty's message was of a nature to call for some variation in his proceeding; and also required that be should very gravely reconsider all the modes of proceeding to be adopted, and the objects which he had in view. He wished that he could say (for he must here be candid), that any hope had been held out to him of her majesty's acquiescence in any of those objects. But it was due to himself to state, that that might have arisen from his not having had any opportunity of explaining to her majesty what objects he really had in view. Her majesty must have received any information about them in that uncertain way in which persons must sometimes receive information—on general report—and being thus uncertain, it had been possibly erroneous information. The course, however, that he had finally determined on, was that of moving the resolution he held in his hand, the object of which was, that her majesty might be prevailed upon, under all the circumstances of the case, to wave those minor differences that appeared, in a great degree, to be already done away with, and that her majesty would be content to wave what remained of those differences upon the ground and principle which he would now beg leave to explain.
Honourable gentlemen must remember that the two material points of difference between the illustrious parties in the conferences, the protocols of which were before them were the recognition of her majesty as queen of England, at foreign courts, and the restoration of her majesty's name to the Liturgy. It was universally acknowledged that, under all circumstances, the difficulty of conceding the first of these points to her majesty; would be a very great and perhaps an insuperable one, namely, the giving to her majesty that general acknowledgment at foreign courts, which should entitle her to appear there as queen of England, while she was not recognised in that character at our court. Now, without stating those circumstances which must present themselves at once to every man's mind, it would be enough for him to appeal to that which must be notorious; the difficulty of conceding such an acknowledgment must suggest itself to every individual who had ever turned his attention to these subjects; in short, to every one 1220 who was better acquainted with the observances of court "etiquette" than he himself was. But in answer to the suggestion of this difficulty, it was at last stated, that it was not so much for her personal gratification as for her majesty's honour and dignity that the request had been made. It was said, that if any one foreign court were pointed out where her majesty should be so received, that would have the effect of showing that her majesty was recognized as queen of England. Her majesty's legal advisers inquired "whether the same objection would exist to the public introduction of her majesty at some one court, where she might fix her residence, if she waved the claim of introduction at foreign courts generally." This proposition was at first objected to, but appeared to have been afterwards, upon more mature consideration, admitted; and he would say, that it gave him very sincere pleasure to find that the king's ministers, having re-considered the proposition, assured to her majesty "every suitable respect and attention within the particular state in which she might think fit to establish her residence (the Milanese or the Roman states having been previously suggested by her majesty's law-officers), but it must rest with the sovereign of such state what reception should be given to her majesty in that character." And this must of necessity be the case, as his majesty's ministers could not prescribe to any foreign prince what must be the sort of reception which he was to give to the queen; so that this point of difference might be considered as in some degree, if not entirely, got rid of.
The next difficulty was, that of the restoration of her majesty's name to the Liturgy and although he did not, after much reflection, ascribe, perhaps, so much importance to this point, as he had done at first, yet he was far from undervaluing it's weight. He could say, however, upon deliberation, that it did not strike him as affecting any religious view of the question; and he must add, that it had been a great relief to his mind, that it was divested of this consideration No person thought more highly than he did, of the mention of her majesty's name in the Liturgy. He did think there was some thing truly desirable in such an introduction, and especially when it occurred in that admirable form of worship, and 1221 those unalterable forms of prayer which so eminently distinguished the Protestant religion as practised in this country; but, yet more especially as it occurred in that beautiful form of supplication where all distinctions of men in some degree were forgotten, as if it were supposed that they all appeared before their Creator under that equal and common character, a just sense of which was the best preparation for their general destiny. He held it a high honour to be in any way connected with such a form of prayer; and he was of opinion that the introduction in it of the name of any individual was the best and surest way of causing due honour to be paid to the party which enjoyed so signal a distinction. He well remembered having heard, upon a recent occasion, the head of the Protestant church himself enlarging upon the subject of these prayers with an eloquence and a feeling in which, if he could have borrowed them from that eminent prelate, he (Mr. Wilberforce) would not have failed to enforce his own observations upon the attention of the House. He believed it had been the ancient usage and common rule of the Liturgy to pray for each of the royal personages, separately naming them; this, he admitted, had been the custom. But he did not think it could be contend ed that her majesty was in fact omitted in the prayer; for if in the prayer the words used were, "the king and all the royal family," her majesty must be considered, he, should apprehend, to be one of the royal family, and consequently to be in eluded. He wished hon. gentlemen would be as frank in one instance, as in another; as sincere in the expression of their concurrence with him, when their opinions agreed with his, as they had. just been unequivocal in testifying their dissent from him in his last observation. In this hope he would ask them, whether any one of them at church had ever heard "the royal family" mentioned without thinking of the queen? He granted, at the same time, that the omission of her name might be, as it had been, very reasonably objected to, because it was a very; powerful argument for the other side. It bad been usual, sometimes by name and sometimes not, to express individuals in the form of prayer; for instance, when the heir presumptive of the Crown was mentioned, the name of that illustrious individual was meant to be understood.—The duke of York did not suppose that 1222 he was excluded from the Liturgy because his name was not mentioned. And he conceived that it could not be considered that her majesty was excluded from the Liturgy because her name was not mentioned. He was strengthened in this opinion from the circumstance of this point being so treated on both sides—for during the conference between the king's servants and her majesty's law advisers, the insertion of her majesty's name in the Liturgy was not urged on the ground of religious scruple, but with a view to support her honour and dignity. Before he went further, he ought to state that this question of the Liturgy was not proposed at first, it was not at all agitated until the conferences took place; then it was that this question was first brought forward. When the parties had entered into a discussion on matters of minor difficult, after having, as they conceived, got over the strongest and most objectionable matters, then the Liturgy was mentioned. He did not mean to impute any the able counsellors who were her majesty's law advisers, to urge this and every other point, though perhaps as members of parliament they would have viewed the question differently. After a conference oh this head, he found the following passage in the papers;—"After further discussion on this point, it was agreed that the duke of Wellington and lord Castlereagh should report To the cabinet what had passed, and come prepared with their determination to the next conference. Her majesty's law officers then asked, whether, in the event of the above proposition not being adopted, any other proceeding could be suggested on the part of his majesty's government, which might render her majesty's residence abroad consistent with the recognition of her rights, and the vindication of her character, and they specially pointed at the official introduction of her majesty to foreign courts by the king's ministers abroad." From this passage he was justified in saying, that her majesty's anxiety to have her name inserted in the Liturgy was not from a religious scruple, but with a view to a recognition of her rights, and a vindication of her character. Her majesty's advisers, in thus pointing at her reception at foreign courts, evidently looked to that as an equivalent for the Liturgy.—Nor was this a suggestion thrown out at ran- 1223 dom, nor was it to be looked upon as a transient feeling, for it would be found by a reference to the printed papers, that her majesty's law officers proposed it a second time.
He meant to argue by these observations, that the objection was not on religious grounds; and he contended that it was not meant that her majesty should not be remembered in the prayers of her people—her name was certainly implied, although he acknowledged it was not the most respectful way. He declared that this conviction was a great relief to his mind. He was not actuated by feelings of partiality either on one side or the other on this delicate and vastly important question. He only desired most ardently to avoid the opening of that fatal Green Bag—[A laugh]. The manner in which his last observation had been received by the House, served to show that a ludicrous association once attached to a subject, would, however serious the evil, intrude at the most unseasonable moments. If when he had mentioned that there was a smile on his lips, he Could assure them there was a pang at his heart, when he contemplated the dangerous results to be expected from that inquiry into which they must proceed, if his motion were negatived. That part of the papers to which he last alluded, gave him however the greatest satisfaction, and afforded him the best hope as to the result of his motion. There was in it that which cheered and illuminated the dark shadows that had hitherto seemed to pervade this melancholy subject, and which called upon parliament to devise some equivalent for the omission of her majesty's name in the Liturgy, would answer the purpose of a "recognition of her majesty's rights, and a vindication of her character at foreign courts." He thought that the solemn assurance of parliament, that if her majesty did make that con cession, which they earnestly supplicated her to do, it would not be considered as in any way implying an acquiescence h the charges against her, but as a generous sacrifice of her majesty's feelings to die unanimous desire of parliament, would answer that end. What could be a more complete vindication of her majesty's character than such an assurance?
Here it was that he found the ground for his motion; and he conjured his hon. 1224 and learned friends and all the members of that House, to consider whether in this motion they had not found that very expedient—that very alternative which they were in search of. He begged all honourable members to consider maturely what would be the consequences of the rejection of his motion—that there was no alternative but an inquiry; it must be fairly confessed, too, that the restoration of her majesty's name to the Liturgy would not be a very intelligible mode of explaining and making known to countries where that Liturgy was not used, that her majesty was restored to her rights and dignities. To restore her majesty's name to the Liturgy would snot have the effect of clearing her majesty's character abroad. It might probably have that effect in Scotland; but on the continent it could not be supposed to produce the same feeling, because our Liturgy was as little known there as it was in China or Japan. For a short time, a few praise-worthy individuals had made the most zealous efforts to establish the Protestant form of worship at Rome for the benefit of our resident countrymen there, but it had not been permitted by the head of all authorities in that quarter. He put it to the legal advisers of her majesty, whether any stigma could attach to her honour in the eyes of foreign princes by a compliance with the expressed anxious desire and supplication of the parliament of the country. Here was the chief point to which he was anxious to draw the attention of the House—whether inasmuch as it might be fairly supposed that her majesty's object, and her just object, was, that she should be free from all stigma upon her character, when it should be said that it clearly appeared that in abandoning what she now claimed, she had yielded to the desire, or, to use her own word, to the authority of parliament, it would not, in truth, amount to a most honourable discharge, in the most forcible way, from any supposed imputation It was, highly to the praise of the queen that she had already shown so great a deference, for the opinion of parliament. Such a sympathy ought always to exist, and the more it was found in the breast of princes, the more it redounded to their honour. Those monarchs had ever been the most feared abroad, and beloved at home, who had most accommodated themselves to the avowed wishes of parliament. 1225 True it was that her majesty was not a native of this country, but he was sure, if he might use the expression, that there was enough English stuff in her composition, to induce her to make some sacrifices of feeling—not of character—for the sake of securing the good opinion of the vast majority of her subjects. If gentlemen would calmly consider the important advantages which would flow from an amicable termination of the existing differences, and the great the, inevitable evils, which must result from going into the proposed inquiry, they would feel how extremely desirable, it was, that they should avail themselves of this last opening for effecting an accommodation; and he, if this could be accomplished, should regard himself as the most fortunate man that had ever lived for the part, which he had taken towards producing so happy a change.
He wished gentlemen on both sides of the House to give their imaginations fair play, and exercise their judgment on this question, uninfluenced by any party feeling; and acting thus, he flattered himself that they would not be disposed to decide against the present motion merely because it might be open to some objections. They ought to remember, that they had but a choice of evils, and that if the proposition with which he should conclude were rejected, they must submit to all the incalculable evils of the inquiry. On a former might, an hon. and learned friend of his, with the utmost degree of force and impressiveness (perhaps greater than any other man possessed), had adverted to the amount and extent of those evils; but; the statement of them, eloquent as it was, was far below their reality. He would not attempt to specify them, because he felt quite incompetent to the task; nor would he attempt to force ideas upon the House from which they must turn away with disgust, and to which he still hoped neither the minds nor the imaginations of a single man, woman, or child in the country, would be exposed. If, on the ether hand, the motion he suggested were approved, and the proposition which it contained acceded1 to by the queen, no humiliation could attach to her for taking such a coarse. The nation would perceive, what her majesty must feel, that much had been given up to her, if some tiring was still withheld' which she had conceived ought to be conceded, and she would not be regarded as surrendering any 1226 rights at all involving her character and her honour, but as yielding what, without any unworthy compromise, she must feel free to give up in compliance with the expressed wish of that House. And here he was in fairness bound to state, that the courage, the magnanimity, which her majesty had displayed during these transactions, might well stand her in the stead of the points she might abandon. If, indeed, instead of boldly meeting and even courting investigation, she had withdrawn of shrunk from it, the case would be different; but as no man would dream of charging the duke of Wellington, after all his services, with cowardice, so no man, after the line of conduct the queen had pursued, would for a moment think of accusing her of hesitation or fear in daring the minutest inquiries. After the deference and respect she had already expressed for the opinion of parliament, no candid mind could put any interpretation but the best upon her compliance. On the contrary, her majesty, in his view, would only still more endear herself to the country by suppressing her own feelings, and yielding to the anxious and earnest wishes of the House of Commons.
If he lingered upon this point longer than some might deem necessary, it arose from a conviction, that he pleaded the case so weakly that he was unwilling to omit any thing that might produce the desired effect. He again most earnestly called on all parties to look at the situation in which the king and the queen—that House—and above all—the country—would be placed, if it became necessary to enter into the inquiry. Should the evils which he contemplated be unhappily realized—should the present motion be rejected, he hoped it would hereafter be remembered by those whom it might most nearly concern, that there was a time, when, by carrying this motion, an opening would have been made, by which an amicable arrangement might have been effected, as he conceived, without in any way degrading her majesty or any other party—when an accommodation might have been brought about by her majesty's partially giving up her own feelings to' the expressed wish of the House of Commons. If any defect appeared in his argument, he hoped his deficiencies would be supplied by the dreadful alternative before them; and O! might the consideration of the vast, the unknown evils, the contentions and the recriminations 1227 which would flow from the inquiry, induce the House, ere yet it was too late, and induce her majesty, to take that course which would avert proceedings so fatal to the interests of all parties, and so injurious to the dignity of the Crown and the tranquillity of the country. He Wished to add, it was his sincere desire that the king and queen, the parliament and the country, should feel that they had but one common cause to pursue, and that the interests of all parties were the same. He felt persuaded that the course which he was about to recommend to the House to pursue was, that which it would become them to take, and that the task which he would assign to them was that which could only be imposed on a dignified and important body—was the highest that they could be required to take upon themselves, as it called on them to act as a mediator between two personages of such exalted rank. He hoped the proposition with which he was about to conclude would meet with their approbation. If he should be so unfortunate as to fail, a result which he could not contemplate without the deepest pain, his consolation would be, that he had done all in his power to effect a termination of the existing differences in the royal family, by again calling on the House to consider the subject in the same spirit which had been manifested in every part of the late; conferences, and to avoid, if possible, the necessity of entering into that inquiry, the evils of which could never be over estimated, and which must be productive of the most injurious consequences to all parties concerned in them, as well as to the welfare and morals of the empire at large. Without detaining the House further, he would move the following resolution:—
"That this House has learned with unfeigned and deep regret, that the late endeavours to frame an arrangement which might avert the necessity of a public inquiry into the information laid before the two Houses of Parliament, have not led to that amicable adjustment of the existing differences in the royal family, which Was so anxiously desired by parliament and the nation:
"That this House is fully sensible of the objections which the queen might justly feel to taking upon herself the relinquishment of any points in which she may have conceived her own dignity and honour to be involved; yet feeling the 1228 inestimable importance of an amicable and final adjustment of the present unhappy differences, this House cannot forbear declaring its opinion, that when such large advances have been made towards that object, her majesty, by yielding to the earnest solicitude of the House of Commons, and forbearing to press farther the adoption of those propositions on which any material difference of opinion yet remains, would by no means be understood to indicate any wish to shrink from inquiry, but would only be deemed to afford a renewed proof of the desire which her majesty has been graciously pleased to express, to submit her own wishes to the authority of parliament; thereby entitling herself to the grateful acknowledgments of the House of Commons, and sparing this House the painful necessity of those public discussions which, whatever might be their ultimate result, could not but be distressing to her majesty's feelings, disappointing to the hopes of parliament, derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire."
Before he sat down he entreated the House to allow him to add one word more. He could almost wish for the first time that the eloquence of the hon. and learned gentleman near him were this night to be exerted, rather in his character of a member of parliament than in that of an advocate for the queen; for in the latter character he feared that he might consider it to be his duty to find objections to the course which he (Mr. Wilberforce) had recommended, that he would not seek to discover in the former capacity. He hoped the hon. and learned gentleman would dismiss any bias like that which he had supposed he might have. If the hon. and learned gentleman could feel himself at liberty for the moment to forget the peculiar situation in which he was placed, it might give a different aspect to his views. Yet, on reflection, he (Mr. Wilberforce) would withdraw this observation, and correct his error; because he was satisfied that all men even the queen's legal advisers, must concur with him in thinking that her majesty's true dignity and real honour could never be better promoted or supported than by preventing that fatal inquiry which it was the object of his motion to render unnecessary.
§ Mr. Stuart Wortley
seconded the motion, and was persuaded that the House and the country could not desire a better 1229 pledge than they had in the character of his hon. friend who had brought the question before the House, that it was dictated by a sincere desire to heal the differences known to exist in the royal family, and had nothing to do with party. If the motion were rejected, he thought no course was left open for them but to proceed (aware as they all professed to be of the evils which must follow) to enter upon 'the inquiry. They must then proceed to look into the information which had been laid before the House; and, for months to come, the country would be plunged into a state of agitation which every friend to it must sincerely deplore. Every man possessed of common sense and common feeling must dread the time when the offensive contents of the green bag should become the topic of conversation in his family. His hon. friend had rightly stated that the door was still open for accommodation. To him it seemed open for the last time, and he hoped that an agreement would now be come to, such as had been recommended in the course of the late negotiation; an agreement under which the queen would not be supposed to admit any thing with which she had been charged, nor the government to retract any thing that had been advanced on the part of the king. It was the opinion of those with whom this motion had originated, that they now pointed out a mode by which this most desirable object could be effected. In the consultations that had been had on the subject, they had endeavoured most anxiously to divest themselves of all party views, and the course now adopted had chiefly recommended itself as the means of avoiding a great and unquestionable evil. He had only to add, that entertaining this opinion of it and motion had his hearty concurrence, and he now begged to second it.
§ Mr. Brougham
took the liberty of presenting himself to the notice of the House thus early in the debate, partly because, from an indisposition tinder which he laboured, he feared he might not be able to deliver his sentiments at a later period; and partly because he wished to take the first opportunity of expressing, with that candour and frankness which the great importance of the question demanded, and, at the same time, with that sincere respect for his hon. friend which long intimacy and a concurrence in the esteem of the country (at least that part of it whose esteem was worth having) had pro- 1230 duced, his opinion upon the motion before the House. He could assure his hon. friend, that he felt some satisfaction in being able thus early to reject the compliment (if it were so to be considered) which he had been pleased to pay him (Mr. Brougham) in the conclusion of his speech, where he had asserted that, though he (Mr. Brougham) had the honour to hold the high situation of one of her majesty's legal advisers, he should nevertheless deem it inconsistent with his duty as a member of parliament to urge any argument or to support any proposition in his official capacity without coupling it with his judicial capacity in the House, or at least without merging the one in the other for the sake of arriving at a just and impartial determination. He (Mr. Brougham) should not have proceeded far in alluding to the various topics advanced by his hon. friend, without distinctly showing that it was his intention to argue no small portion of this great subject, not as one of the law-officers of the queen, but as one of the members of parliament.
In the first place, he wished to call the attention of the House, because it was most material to do so, to the right understanding of the position in which the unfortunate failure of this negotiation had left the illustrious parties. And here, to show in the outset that he was speaking with the impartiality of a judge, and without the bias of an advocate, he would at once assert his opinion (candour and justice demanded it, without reference even to his exertions as a negociator), that in this negotiation no little had been already gained by her majesty. In the first place, let it be observed, that it was now explicitly acknowledged, that the only basis on which her majesty could be called upon to treat, was that high ground of her unimpeachable, undisputed and unsuspected title of queen of this realm. Her majesty had made this her only sine qua non in the course of these transactions. In the course of the details it was true she had insisted on other points, but they were merely in the alternative; and the only proposition on which from the beginning she had been inflexible—to which she acknowledged no substitute, and contemplated the possibility of no equivalent—because no equivalent could for an instant be named—waB the unqualified recognition of her rights, of her rank, of her privileges as queen of England; and this recognition 1231 she had obtained before the conference was opened.
The next point gained was also one by no means immaterial. He did not mean to impute blame, or to divine improper motives; but, from whatever cause it arose, certain it was that her majesty had not arrived in this kingdom with the customary state and attendance—such state and attendance as were now offered to her majesty, should she think fit, or should it suit her majesty's convenience, or her plans of domestic arrangement, at any future time to revisit the continent. Should that event occur, she was now to be allowed all the pomp and circumstance usual on the voyages of the highest personages of the royal family. Some hon. gentlemen might hold this point but a trivial matter, and perhaps he himself did not very much over-rate its importance; but this was a case where little things became of great moment; and inasmuch as the omission of the ordinary forms of respect would be a degradation, the concession and observance of those forms was proportionally important in restoring her majesty to the situation she had a right to occupy.
In the third place, it would be remarked, that though the proposition tendered by her majesty was not conceded—though there was to be no absolute recognition and official presentment of her majesty at foreign courts by the representatives of her royal consort, yet still something approaching it—something flowing from the same principle (or it flowed from no source, and was built upon no foundation) had been granted, for steps were to be taken to ensure her majesty suitable respect and attention. It was not the old cold "concession of comfort and convenience," but of attention and respect; she was to be formally announced by the representative of her royal consort, the sovereign of this country, at the court where she might be pleased to take up her residence, and there to be treated with all the etiquette belonging to that court, and becoming her rank as queen of England—unquestionably so by the law of the land.
Last of all came that kind of ceremony, not In any view immaterial, which had been contemplated by the negociators as the possible winding up of all these proceedings, and which, strictly speaking, could not be asked on the one hand, or granted on the other, out of this House. 1232 He felt satisfied that no hon. gentleman would look upon it as indicating a want of respect for the negotiators for the privileges of parliament, when mention was made by them of no disinclination to propose to the House, on the part of government, a joint address to the king and queen, speaking of them together, and thanking them together, for the concessions they had made in compliance with the declared sense and wishes of parliament. Now would any gentleman think this an unimportant acquisition, who recollected that not four months ago it was impossible to obtain from ministers even the mention of the word queen? She was an "illustrious female"—"a high personage"—"an exalted lady"—"a character of great distinction whose interests were deeply implicated in the conversation," with he knew not how many more idle circumlocutions and studied periphrases. And all to do—what? To do nothing; or if to do something, only to do that which was now undone. The object, then, was, to avoid the mention of the very name of queen—the name of that queen whose rank, title, and rights were now not to be disputed. Nothing was now heard but—the queen—her majesty's rank—her majesty's dignity—her majesty's honour—her majesty's law advisers-—her majesty's rights, and so on. Now her majesty was to have yachts for the channel, frigates and ships of war for the Mediterranean, or to go to and froas she pleased—she was to be treated with every respect and attention at foreign courts; and finally she was to receive a congratulatory address jointly with the king from both Houses of Parliament. He knew that, upon this point, he was arguing against some of his hon. friends. He was battling with them as well as with their political opponents, who might assert, that all these concessions amounted, in fact, to nothing. If all the rest were trifles, was it nothing to obtain the acknowledgment of a queen, whose very existence had been doubted but a few months ago and was it nothing that those very ministers who. had refused to name her, were now willing to move a joint address to her and to her consort? How was it to be worded, but to both the king and queen, in the same terms—"We, yow majesty's most faithful subjects." Her majesty was no longer an "illustrious female" or an "exalted personage"—she was queen, and was to be 1233 addressed as queen by her parliament, which was to carry to the foot of her throne the expressions of its gratitude and attachment.
He mentioned these points in order to expound (if he might so say to those who were more acute than himself) to some of his hon. friends what had really been acquired; for some had maintained that it all amounted to nothing [Mr. Wilberforce signified his dissent]. His hon. friend moved in a more select circle of acquaintance than he (Mr. Brougham) perhaps had done of late, or he would nave been of a different opinion. He of course alluded only to a parliamentary circle. His hon. friend had not had occasion to talk to so many members, on this painful subject; he could not say with satisfaction, for it was painful to him to differ from those whose political conduct he admired—whose principles he had ever supported—and whose principles he would ever support at all hazard and at all expense—save the duty he owed to his client, and the more paramount duty he owed to his country; it was, he said, painful to meet and to differ from gentlemen whom he respected so much. If his hon. friend had been exposed to the buffets to which the legal advisers of her majesty were exposed—he would feel the difficulty of their situation; he would find to his astonishment, after reading the papers on the table, that men of close understanding, of acute penetration, men whose capacity to read could not be denied; men whose eyes could decipher any print, however small, he would find those individuals still asserting, in the face of the documents on the table, that the queen had gained nothing by the negotiation.
Upon what he had already said, he built first, the assertion that the law advisers of the queen had not abandoned their duty to their client. Next, having procured the recognition of the title of her majesty—having procured a declaration that hitherto there was no impeachment upon her honour, whatever might be the result of future proceedings, and however resolutely determined ministers might be to persevere in inquiry, and to open the green bag (for determined he understood they were, and it was far from the intention of the queen to resist that determination), yet, having gained thus much in favour of her rights and her innocence, and standing upon this rock and 1234 basis, he put it to the House, whether it did not become the station the queen had now acquired to stand still longer upon resistance, and to demand that some further step should be conceded? It had been said by his hon. friend that the question regarding the Liturgy had not originally been made an indispensable point—a sine qua non—that it formed no part of the communication made to her majesty's servants by order of the king, but arose during the conference. He could at once supersede this argument, or, if that were not sufficient, he could explain in a single sentence the apparent omission. It was contended that it was not a sine qua non Granted; at least it had been all along admitted to be such a sine qua non as admitted of an equivalent. First, the queen insisted that her dignity and honour should be recognized, and, these once secured, she had deemed all other matters of little comparative importance, and was willing that they should be submitted to arbitration. Among these was the question of residence, and, at the meetings of the persons appointed to confer, that point came early into discussion—it was in truth placed first in the enumeration. A doubt arose whether for private reasons—reasons which amounted to a matter of convenience, rendered almost necessary in consequence of those domestic differences which unhappily existed, and which, however lamentable, appeared beyond all human remedy—for her own accommodation, and to avoid the inconvenience that must constantly arise from the holding of two courts as well as to remove the queen from a situation on several accounts obviously disagreeable, her majesty might not think it expedient to reside for a time abroad—for a part of the year, or for the whole year, as might suit her convenience and pleasure. But it was asked whether such a step would not be liable to misconstruction—when evil charges had been preferred against her majesty, and when evidence had been flung upon the table of that House, in order to support those charges? When a message from the Crown had introduced this painful subject to the parliament, it was asked, whether her majesty's removing out of this country, especially when no investigation had taken place—when those charges had remained unretracted—when evidence had been tendered, and not looked at, to support those charges—and when her ma- 1235 jesty had not been able to tender counter evidence, though she had counter evidence in abundance—it was under these circumstances suggested, oh the part of her majesty, that something was necessary to be done in order to prevent misconstruction.
The first thing that suggested itself for this purpose was the restoration of her majesty's name to the Liturgy, and precisely in this mode the question found its way into the negotiation. The remarks which he had now offered, he thought it his duty to make as a party to those negotiations, the papers relating to which were on the table. Put he was not only an adviser of her majesty, he was a member of parliament, and in that character had a duty to perform. When his hon. friend brought the question of the Liturgy before him, he saw in it at once matter of great importance; and when he viewed it in the light of a step, to be taken with a view of bringing about an accommodation or compromise, its importance became greater in his eyes. From all that he himself knew, from all that he understood by communication with others, he might venture to say that a great majority of that House, and a strong, he might say an overwhelming majority of the people outside the doors of parliament, were satisfied that the restoration; of her majesty's name to the Liturgy would render the success of those negotiations certain, without the possibility of misconstruction, of shedding any thing like dishonour on the queen, and without the possibility of throwing dishonour on his majesty. The fact was so—he would undertake to prove it to those who might appear to doubt it—was this single difficulty done away, he could assure the House as solemnly as he could make any asseveration, that no other would present itself; he could assure them that it was the only remaining obstacle—that no other difficulty in the way of an arrangement existed. Let the word "Liturgy" be but once amicably pronounced, and every impediment would be removed. He had no more hesitation or doubt as to this, than he had in believing that he stood in that place, or that he was then addressing that chair.
Considering, then, that even in this light it was a subject of paramount importance, he must now take an argument respecting it upon another ground. Far was he, and always had been from wish- 1236 ing to make this a party-matter; he had, throughout the discussion, deprecated the interference of a factious spirit. It was now more than ever necessary to guard against an evil of this kind. Neither was it his desire to cast any peculiar blame on his majesty ministers (to whom he might he said to be habitually opposed in politics) for their conduct. He believed that deep regret was felt by the great majority of that House at the omission of her majesty's name in the church service and by how much the more the act ought riot to have been done, so much the easier would it be to undo it. It. might be regarded as a slip, as an illegality, as an oversight. It would therefore be rib impeachment of the Crown, scarcely an impeachment of the advisers of the Crown, to rescind an act hastily and unwisely done. If it were necessary to advert to the point of illegality as a questionable one—but he did not wish to fatigue the House by a law argument,—he should submit one or two plain observations oh that topic, which, at least to his mind, were completely satisfactory. It had been said by some that there was he right vested in the Crown to alter the Liturgy, but that such right belonged to a venerable body, whose claims were now only heard of, and which appeared to exist only by adjournment, called the Convocation, ouch alterations, it had been contended, ought always to be made by them, and' this argument was founded upon certain words in the preamble of the Act of Uniformity. Those words imported that the Book of Common Prayer had been framed find prepared by that reverend assembly. Now, he did not mean to lead the House Into a labyrinth of legal arid theological lore: he well knew that, some worthy men, and amongst others Dr. Johnson, had lamented that the Convocation was not in active being; but, known as It now actually was only by its name and Its adjournments, it was enough to say, that the Book of Common Prayer did not rest on the authority of the Convocation, but had been established by authority of parliament after it had been prepared and considered by the Convocation. It was the legislature which made it the canon of the devotions of the church, its standard and its rule. The act contained a saving clause, most cautiously worded, which reserved the right of altering; and to whom? not to the Convocation, not to 1237 the Crown, not to parliament, but to the proper legal authority. It enacted, that in all litanies, collects, or prayers relating to the king, queen, or their royal progeny—not that any changes should be mane by due legal authority, he such flnrig—but "that the names of the royal family be changed and altered from time to time, as may be fitting to the occasion." What must be understood as the fair intendment of these words? Did they not, upon every principle of ordinary construction, signify, that as George might Succeed to Anne, or Caroline to Charlotte, the names of the latter should be substituted for the farmer? He took his ground upon this simple and obvious interpretation; he was not desirous of strengthening it by any collateral reasoning, or arguments drawn from analogy, and questions in pari materia. Parliament, he thought, would concur with him in viewing the case in the same light, if it really wished to get free from the difficulty in which it had been placed. But if it chose rather to hug its fetters, and to remain entangled in its perplexities, then indeed it might be disposed to entertain give ear to overstrained and far. fetched constructions, such as ingenious and subtitle men had eyes at hand, and the House would certainly succeed, in continuing its present difficulties.
But there was yet another view in which this subject might be considered: he held at it was no answer to her majesty's claim to say as had been said by his hon. friend, that her majesty was prayed for Under the general words of "all the royal family. The difficulty considered as arising from scruples of conscience might indeed be removed by this consideration, but that he regarded as the smallest part of the difficulty; in this case. He could assure his bon. friend that it was far from his meaning to undervalue the conscientious and religious view of the subject. But the main question here was, hot whether the omission of her majesty's name was legal or illegal, not whether it could be justified as legal, by the clear or only by a forced construction of the statute; for, conceding these points, the utmost which they amounted to was, that it had been lawful to advise the king to do it, But it did not follow that it was therefore right to do it: the question as to its justice and constitutional propriety was yet to be.considered. He was now expressing himself in the language of the 1238 constitution, and he knew no other: he could admit nothing of a personal nature to mingle with his argument: wo, indeed, be to that man who should venture to introduce such allusions in that House! He only knew the king by his ministers in that House, and they, too, were bound to act in a constitutional spirit. What, then, was the tendency of the unfortunate act in question? He greatly feared that the healing words of his bon. friend would not repair the mischief. Could it indeed be maintained, that the erasure of her majesty's name from the prayers of the church cast no stigma and implied no suspicion? This, indeed, his hon. friend had not said: his hon. friend, for obvious reasons, lamented the proceeding. In a matter of this kind, every thing must be looked upon as degradation that was contrary to old and established usage. Had the crown in fact, he must again ask, the right to pursue this course? If queen after queen had been prayed for—if her present majesty, whilst princess of Wales and until the demise of the Crown, had herself been prayed for, could such an omission be passed over as a trifling or unimportant matter? But it seemed that the name of George 1st had been inserted singly in the Liturgy without that of his queen, and this was stated by way of showing that her majesty would sustain no dishonour by a similar circumstance, and was introduced for the purpose of bolstering up the argument that her majesty, would suffer as little in a secular as in religious point of view. Were he not however, averse to tread on the ashes of a departed queen, he could show that this reference contained the greatest possible aggravation bf the injury. Then it had been urged that the duke of York was not prayed for by name; but a duke of York, as heir-presumptive, had no title to be so prayed for and the rule respecting even an heir-apparent, was by no means so inflexible as with regard to a queen-consort. The queen he must remind the House, was not only the consort of the king, but the first subject of his realm. She was subject only to the monarch; she had high and peculiar privileges—he had almost said prerogatives. The king's prerogatives, indeed, were not imparted to her, but they sheltered, covered, and protected her. In other respects she enjoyed privileges above all other women. She was both in law and in fact the stock from which they were to 1239 look for the continuation of the royal line. It was not to their present majesties that he immediately applied this remark, but his argument, if just in one case, could not be controverted in another. The whole policy of the law was bent to guard and restrain a queen-consort in her royal capacity. With the view of averting civil wars, and preventing the evil of a disputed succession, the whole force of legislative enactments, and all the ingenuity of legal device, had been exerted. The object of the law was, not only that no spurious issue should bring this danger on the country, but that no suspicion should attach to the legitimacy of the succession. This cardinal principle was maintained and surrounded by the highest penalties. It was deemed necessary to preserve the royal line pure from the slightest taint. Let the House see and consider, then, what had been the conduct of his majesty's ministers. By their order in council omitting the name of her majesty, they had introduced and fixed a stigma in this very quarter; they had done what, under other circumstances, might have caused all the horrors of a disputed succession. The illustrious parties might have separated for a time, and have afterwards come into the same neighbourhood; or a reconciliation might take, place. It. was nothing to his argument to intimate that her majesty had now arrived at, that time of life, when a continuation of the royal line was not in the course of nature to be, expected, but at what age* he would ask, was, the king entitled to degrade his consort? Was there any distinction as to the age at which the king might expunge the name of his consort from the, Liturgy of the church of England? Or was the proceeding to be justified on the ground that her majesty was fifty-two, years old? Another queen might be only twenty-two. Suppose a different state of things to exist—suppose, for a moment, that the king queen were living together, and that the queen were great with child by, his majesty—(he was only speaking in the language of the law)—why then, according to the doctrine of some persons, the king, notwithstanding all the solemnities which, had passed, might, by this proceeding, affix the stigma of illegitimacy on the child a month after it was upon, these grounds that he viewed the order in council as illegal and unconstitutional; and he was sure that the sooner parliament set it right, the, better for the constitution, and for the country.
1240 But he was then told that her majesty ought to wave this point because an accommodation was desirable. His question, in answer to that observation was, why should not his majesty, or rather his majesty's ministers, wave, the point? They were the authors of the act: her majesty was only the sufferer by it. The concession must be degrading to her majesty; it could not be degrading to the other side. On the part of her majesty it was to surrender all, on the part of ministers it was. to surrender nothing. If the queen acquiesced, she must be degraded every Sunday in the eyes of every church congregation throughout, the land. His hon. friend had observed, that the circumstance would hardly find its way into foreign countries, or become known abroad. He (Mr. B.) did not care if it never crossed the channel—in his mind, the objection was not in the slightest degree diminished. What, was, it nothing to be degraded in every parish in England? Was it nothing to be degraded in every church and chapel in the king's dominions? Or was it nothing, on the other hand, that her majesty should be redeemed from a state of unmerited degradation, and be restored to a situation which she had done nothing to forfeit? If parliament would interfere? they would do so with the applause of the country they would perform an act highly expedient in policy, as well as exalted in the justice. He would show his hon. fried how highly the prayers of the church were valued in former times; and for this purpose, he would refer to those pure time of the constitution, as well as of the religion of the country, when the stock of the. reigning family was introduced; he would go back, to the incunabula gentis, to the surce of that pure blood, which he hoped might long continue to flow untainted through its proper channels, and, the purity of which, he trusted, the House would preserve even, from suspicion. At the beginning of the last century a great controversy, was maintained both in this country and, in Germany, whether the princess Sophia ought not come over here and establish herself during the life of queen Anne. This friends of the Hanoverian succession thought it expendient as they feared that the queen was privately favouring the Jacohites but and the other side the inconvenience of holding two courts and various other topies, were insisted on. This then was the case a disputed succession and it was 1241 at such a crisis that the electress of Hanover addressed a letter to the archbishop of Canterbury, which indicated the high value that she set upon being made the subject of public prayer in this country. She mentioned it as a circumstance almost equivalent to her coming over; and after stating the request which she wished to have communicated, and expressing her gratitude to the queen for the courtesies already shown to her, added, And I do especially remember that she ordered me to be prayed for in your churches." It was here estimated in the light of a security to a title of succession to the throne; and was it then strange that her present majesty should think it material to the recognition of her rank, and to the vindication of her honour? Was it unnatural that she should view it as intimately connected with the dignity of her situation?
He himself would not listen for an instant to the argument that the Crown would lower itself by the concession. Ministers had advised the act; Jet them now advise its revocation. The disgrace, when removed from the queen could not attach to the sovereign: if he thought it could, he should be the last man to advise it. Who was not anxious to protect the unsullied honour of the Crown of these realms? On no account whatever happen what might, would he cast the; slightest shade on that pure and spotless diadem. But his majesty acted by his advisers; and to them, if any opprobrium should attach, it was a minor consideration. That it was even contrary to the rules of the House to speak of the king in his individual capacity was well known, and yet the error, he was-apprehensive, would be found still lurking at the bottom of men's minds. If the resolution of the House and the votes of members should be swayed by these means, then would they be governed by considerations which they dared not avow, and would do an unconstitutional thing without being able to state their reasons. When kings, queens, and princes, were endowed with their high dignities, the individual merged in the political character, and ordinary rules were no longer applicable to them. They were, however, bound to pay respect to parliament, because their advisers were obliged also to defer. Upon the principle maintained on the other side, the king might go to war from personal pique against a neighbour; 1242 or, put the case of his having a sister dishonoured or defamed, he might refuse to make peace on the same account. In such a case, the best feelings of our nature would be all enlisted in his justification; but it would still be the duty of parliament to control those feelings, and to prevent the exercise of any imaginary right.
The present appeared to be a case in some degree similar to the one he had supposed; and why was this to stand out an exception Were they to open their ears to every rumour, or to every vague notion that the king's dignity might be insulted, and lose sight altogether of the queen's situation? It appeared to him to be an easy mode of extricating themselves from their difficulty, to carry up an humble address to the foot of the throne, representing the sentiments which they could not avoid entertaining on this painful subject; and praying the king to restore her majesty's name to the Liturgy. He was aware that he must have exhausted the attention of the House, but before he sat down he wished to say a word or two more. Why, it might naturally be asked, should his majesty's ministers be afraid of giving similar advice to their royal master? Circumstances were now very different indeed from those under which they had advised that step which it was now so desirable to retrace. Their majesties at that time were not only in a state of separation, but the queen was living abroad. Inquiries were talked of, and every divorce was threatened. Why, then, when circumstances were so different, did not ministers honourably retract, or rather recede from, the error which had been committed? Of what could they be apprehensive? He knew it was a tender topic. He would exhort them not to be alarmed at any consequences which might follow from an act of policy, justice, and (he would say) necessity. Let them not fear lest their sovereign should discountenance them for it. He was too just and patriotic and magnanimous not to know that it must be extorted from them by the commanding voice of parliament. Even if it should lead to a dismissal from their places, he would repeat, though he might incur the censure of his right hon. friend for doing so, that they need not dread that by manfully discharging their duty, or yielding to expediency, or complying with the wishes of that House, they would ultimately lose them. He 1243 should like to see the man who would step forward to succeed them in such a case. Where could be found the rash and presumptuous factionists, the headstrong and audacious politicians who Would venture to step into places from which others had been removed only for discharging an honest, a conscientious, and ah important duty—a duty the performance of which was called for by the voice of parliament, necessary for the honour of the throne, and desired by every honest and loyal heart in the Country. He knew that his right hon. friend (Mr. Tierney) had checked him, On a former occasion, when he introduced that topic; but lie did so from a misapprehension of the words that had been used by him; he did so, because he misunderstood the expression he had uttered. He had, on that occasion, expressed no fear that the breed of statesmen had become extinct in this country. He had not said, that, if ministers threw up their situations, men on that (the opposition) side of the House would not be found to take office His right hon. friend was anxious, over anxious he thought, prevent the House from imagining, that if the terests of the country and the commands "of the king called on the gentlemen Who sat round him, they would be backward in yielding to that call. He agreed with his right hon. friend, that if he had said what he supposed, he would have been against his duty was a memeber of that party to which he belonged; he would have stated that which was contrary to fact he would have advanced something which his own feeling his own feeling contradicted. To the fact he would have advanced something which his own feeling contradicted. But his proposition was entirely different from that attributed to him. He Would how apply it to this question, as he had had formerly done to another, when his right hon. friend reprehended him; and he Called on any man, if he Could, to deny its validity on the grounds on which he placed it not on the grounds oh which it might be placed by others, His proposition was, that no men would, in he event alluded to, take office, if they were required to refuse compliance with the wishes of parliament; and he should like to see the men who would accept of power, when they knew they must counter disunion.
He would fain hope that they were now hear the end of these painful preliminary discussions, and that any farther discus- 1244 sion Would be rather on the conditions of some amicable adjustment, settled on the terms on which alone her majesty could consent to it, on the ground mentioned in the papers on the table, viz. of the insertion of her name in the Liturgy, or of some equivalent, if any equivalent could be found by those who; rejected the equivalent which her majesty's law officers proposed. But he fervently hoped, that, at feast, this was the last time he should be placed under the painful necessity of addressing thehr1 on this preliminary business Let the House consider for a moment, how pressing the motives are which induce them finally to settle this discussion. They were going oh, day after they, and something else was going on; day after day, out of doors—much irritation, great disappointment, and a constant factious meddling with, and perversion of, the case, for the purpose of keeping up that irritation. He would not say that this had taken place; lie would say that it was going On every day and every hour. It was time that such a state of things should end; and he believed it was the general opinion, he hoped, a strong One, that these discussions should also terminate. He assured the House he never felt greater or more acute pam than he did in finding himself, by after day differing so much from friends whom he esteemed. His situation was, how ever a peremptory one. He owed a duty to those with whom he was pontically connected—a duty from which he would never shrink; he owed in common with all the members of that House, and every public man in the empire a duty to the throne; but he owed a paramount duty to the best interests of the country its honour, its morality, its prosperity! That duty was coupled with one it possible more sacred still—a duty which every professional man owed to the chent whom he was selected to serve; and he called on every man who heard him, setting in which so every side of the called on those friends form whom he differed on this occasion, many of whom he might have offended, to attend to him, when he said, that he owed it to himself as a professional adviser of her majesty not to listen to the clamour if it proceeded in opposition to that duty. He would never attempt to make the interest of that illustrious personage a vehicle for obtaining 1245 popularity; and he should despise himself, if he did not give her Majesty that advice which appeared best calculated to promote her real interest and honour and the real interest and tranquillity of the country although the advice, so. given should cause him to be execrated by any portion of the community. If he could for a moment yield up. his opinion from any dread of popularity, and give advice in opposition to his feelings and judgment, he should consider himself the meanest of traitors to served. As long as that advice was listened to, he would freely offer it careless of all popular or party, feeling, and anxious only, for her majesty's interest and the interest of the country. If there were any men who considered that a contrary course would be more judicious, he envied them not their, feellings£if there were any men who thought that an opposite line of conduct would be more respectable, he, desired none, of their respect; if there were any men, who thought; that any opposite course, would satisfy the people, he said, they libelled the people the respectable part of the, people. He disclaimed the false popularity that might be attained by such means: he had done nothing to deserve it. He would now sit down with saying, once again, that the advice he should give to her majority should be that which appeared to him to be most conducive to her own honour and tranquility of the country although it might meet with the disapprobation, in doors or put of doors of any bodies of men, however much on other subjects he might wish to have their support and concurrence.
assured the House that he felt considerable difficultyin rising to address them at that moment; and that but for paticular circumstances he shpi;d not have wished to intrude himself on the House before his hon. friend the member for Corfe Castle, who had risen at the same moment as himself. He was not so vain of his own powers as to hope that he could rivet the attention of gentlemen in the same degree that the hon. And learned member who had just addressed them had done. Indeed, the great difficulty he felt was occasioned by his being obliged to rise in opposition to the powerful impression which the speech of the hon. and learned gentleman had made on the house. He had made on the House. He had spoken on this as on other occasions, with all the talent 1246 and ingenuity which the House knew him to posses, and which always produced a very strong effect. The hon. and learned gentlement had said he was determined in treating this question to merge his character, as her majesty's advocate, in the superior character of a member of parliament, but that declaration was only one amongst many other parts of the hon. and learned gentlemen's address in which he displayed his usual ingenuity; for without losing any advantage which he might derive form his legal character, the hon. and learned gentleman had exerted his eloquence as a senator, to excite the strongest feelings in that assembly. As he perceived that the hon. and learned gentleman had quitted the House, and as from the nature of the remarks which he had to make, it was impossible for him to proceed in the absence of the hon. and learned gentleman, he would sit down for the present, and give was to his hon. friend the member for Corfe Castle.
§ Mr Tierney
said, that in consequence of indisposition, exertion, und the great heat of the. House, his horn and learned friend felt it necessary to withdraw for a short time. The debate need not, however, be interrupted on that account. If the noble lord did not wish to proceed at present, the hon. gentleman below him who rose, firs might deliver his sentiments. His hon. and learned friend would return, as soon as the slight indisposition he felt would permit.
§ Here there was a pause of some moments.
expressed his regret at the delay. From the view he had taken, of this question, he meant to have addressed the House in a later stage of the debate, which he might have done with propriety, because no proposition was submitted to there, but that of his hon. friend, which he did not mean to op pose. But the speech of the hon. and learned gentleman, which was delivered very early in the debate, rendered it. necessary that he should explain himself as soon as possible, on certain topics which the hon. and learned gentleman had introduced.
§ Mr. R. Martin
said, that, seeing the House at that moment perfectly unoccupied, he hoped it would not be deemed presumptuous in him to attempt to arrest 1247 their attention for a few moments. He wished to submit to the House one argument in answer to the hon. and learned gentleman who spoke last but one, and which he hoped would not be the less forcible, as coming from so humble an individual as himself. To all the reasoning of the hon. and learned member in favour of the insertion of her majesty's name in the Liturgy, he should oppose one argument, which he thought invincible, namely, that the insertion of her name, or even the proposition to that effect, would be a total departure from the agreement which had been concluded at the late negotiation. What was the agreement? This—that the king must not be understood to retract any thing, nor her majesty to admit any thing.—Such was the clear intelligible basis of negotiation to which the hon. and learned gentleman himself subscribed. If then the proposition for the insertion of her majesty's name were to be agreed to, and if the House were to press the carrying into effect of the same, would it not be in effect a retractation on the part of his majesty? Would it not be an admission of having acted wrong? Ought then the House to ask his majesty to do that which no one would call upon a private gentleman to do, namely, to subscribe himself a calumniator? Now the House should observe, that the principle upon which the hon. and learned gentleman proceeded was, that her majesty was calumniated, and that there was, no ground as to her personal merits for the exclusion of her name. But although he (Mr. Martin) was as anxious as any man, that every charge against her majesty should be proved unfounded; yet he could not consent to an act which would amount to a deviation from the spirit and letter of an agreement. Had the hon. and learned gentleman confined himself to the legal right of her majesty to have her name inserted in the Liturgy—his principle would have been reasonable.—But he did not do so, because such ft coarse would not have answered his purpose; for the hon. and learned gentleman well knew, that though he might have lifer name restored to the Liturgy in virtue of the decision of the twelve judges, still the question of her guilt or innocence would have remained the same, therefore the hon. and learned gentleman chose to solicit it, upon the ground that there was no cause for her majesty's exclusion, confident that the invertion of her name in the Liturgy under 1248 the present circumstances would be an admission of her innocence. He begged pardon for the intrusion, and as he saw the hon. and learned gentleman coming in, he should sit down.
§ Mr. Brougham having returned to his seat,
§ Lord Castlereagh rose and stated that he had not proceeded with his speech on account of the absence of the hon. and learned member.
§ Mr. Brougham
submitted to the House, that it was perfectly unprecedented for any one member to insist that another, who had a severe complaint in his chest, should be compelled to sit the whole evening in that House, and he protested against it. Since, however, the noble lord seemed to be so urgent, he, with the leave of the House, would retire to some part of the House where he would have the benefit of free air, which he stood at that moment much in need of—at the same time that he would be perfectly within hearing of the noble lord.
was willing to delay his observations to any period of the night that might best suit the convenience of the hon. and learned gentleman, to whom he intended the course which he had first adopted, as a mark of respect. The House must be aware, that from the nature of the relation in which they had been placed towards each other by the late proceedings, the line of argument employed by the hon. gentleman could only be met by him (lord Castlereagh), and in wishing to have his observations heard immediately by the hon. member, he was actuated by a desire to ascertain how much they understood each other. The House being cut off from the knowledge of many facts, could not possibly understand the effect of many of his (lord Castlereagh's) remarks, and therefore in the absence of the only hon. member to whom his remarks could be intelligible, he would have taken up the time of the House in vain.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, it only remained for him to remove the suspicion, that in withdrawing himself at the moment, he was intentionally guilty of any disrespect to the House.
acknowledged, that in the course of the negotiations, however he might have differed from the law advisers of her majesty as to the matter of negotiation, there could be but one opinion as" to the conciliatory tone in which 1249 the conferences were managed. In what he had now to say, he desired to depart as little as possible from the spirit of the hon. gentleman who had brought forward the motion, who seemed actuated by a sincere wish to prevent the necessity of the investigation which the House thought it desirable to avoid. He would now proceed, as briefly as possible, to state his view of the question; and, in doing so, he would endeavour to confine himself to the only proposition before the House. He would, in the first instance, just observe, that there were some parts of the speech of the hon. and learned gentleman, in the introduction of which he appeared to be actuated by the feelings of an advocate, particularly when he threw out insinuations relative to the object of the question that had been brought forward by his hon. friend. He would abstain, as far as he could, from pursuing a similar course; for he most anxiously desired that the House should discuss the proposition of his hon. friend on its own merits alone. There was no necessity for going into a detail of the question. The House had heard the statement of the hon. gentleman, who made the motion; they were also in possession of the negotiation that had taken place in their view; and, therefore, there was scarcely a part of the subject to which every honourable member was not able to address his mind.
The ground to which he meant chiefly to confine himself, was that branch of the argument, which the hon. and learned gentleman had founded, on the Liturgy. he hon. and learned gentleman had stated that there was one simple and plain concession which government might make consistently with their opinions, and with the dignity of the Crown, which would immediately remove every, obstacle to a satisfactory conclusion. This concession, he declared, they owed to the law; and he argued that if they had not committed a breach of the law, they had, at all events, adopted an erroneous construction of it. In arguing this question, he was perfectly ready to meet, the hon. and learned gentleman, on the ground that it rested on the responsibility of ministers. He was ready to take the question on the broadest grounds of personal responsibility; he fully admitted that the personal feelings of the sovereign should not be pleaded in bar to the advice which it was the duty of 1250 his ministers to give him; and if he could not show, by reference to the law, to the constitution, and to the practice, as illustrative of the law of the country, that ministers had taken a correct course, he was willing to abide by the consequence which that responsibility might entail on him. As to the question of law, if it were as clear as the hon. and learned gentleman stated it to be, he trusted that ministers knew their duty too well, and how much it was the disposition of the House to awaken them to a sense of that duty, wilfully to advise any act in contravention of it. The hon. and learned gentleman had argued, that his majesty's ministers bad nothing to do, but to substitute the name of the queen in the Liturgy, the identity of the individual, who was before mentioned in the Liturgy, as princess of Wales, being admitted. If the law were clear on this point, the argument of the hon. and learned gentleman would be correct. But he denied that it was, and he would contend, that there was not a single step taken by his majesty's ministers, with reference to advice, that would lead them to feel any embarrassment. As to the recognition of her majesty's title, he would say that it had been recognised. With respect to her majesty's legal rights, no doubt was ever entertained, on the part of his majesty's ministers, that she was, de jure, undoubted queen-consort of the realm. When the question of allowance was mentioned in the House by a right hon. gentleman opposite, he did distinctly state, that, when the arrangements of the royal family came under consideration, it would be his. duty to call their attention to a provision for her majesty, in the character of queen. He stated that to be the character in which the House would have to deal with her majesty in all the propositions that might be made on the subject. Whatever propositions were made to her majesty, when abroad, were laid before her in her character of queen. Her majesty had not been called on to surrender any of her legal rights as queen, but to forbear from the exercise of certain rights, which ministers were induced to recommend, that under the existing circumstances, she should not exercise.
It was necessary for his argument, on this subject, that he should state so much of the law with respect to the Liturgy. as governed his own judgment, and 1251 that of his majesty's ministers in the advice they had given. In the first place, he denied that the act of parliament was peremptory on this question. The words of the statute, which set forth "that it would be proper for the lawful authorities to alter the prayer with respect to the king, queen, and royal progeny, "did not impose on the council the necessity Of inserting the names of all the persons that came within those words. From the period of passing the act of uniformity down to the present day, a discretion had been exercised by the king in council, to include or exclude the names of individuals of the royal family. It was a fallacy, as the hon. mover had justly contended, to say that her majesty was not now prayed for. This could not be contended, unless it could be proved, that her majesty was not a member of the royal family. As a member of the royal family, she certainly was now prayed for in the Liturgy. Although he would not disguise that there were considerations on which the discretion of his majesty, to include or exclude names, had been exercised in this instance, yet he protested against the doctrine, that it was a conclusive stigma on a member of the royal family, unless his or her name were always continued in the Liturgy, if it Had once been inserted in it. If 'they looked into ancient periods, they would find instances in which this discretion had been exercised to the exclusion or admission of persons, not merely in the relation of queen, but in various other relations. Immediately after the Revolution the names of the princess Mary and the princess Anne had been introduced into the Liturgy. The queen dowager, as well as the queen, and the rest of the royal family, could be prayed for by name at the discretion of the king in council. There was no principle of selection—the power was arbitrary. The determination of the sovereign, could insert more or less names, for the subject was not regulated by any definite constitutional rule. The act specified the king, the queen, and the royal progeny. If the act was imperative to the letter, they, and they only, could be prayed for, and in those precise terms. But the prayers of the Liturgy had been offered up for individuals who were hot of the royal progeny. 1252 The princess Sophia had been prayed for by name, although it wife certainly when she became heir-presumptive to the throne. He Would not fatigue the House, by enumerating every instance of Variation, front the precise terms of the statute; but, he would again state, that harries were included in the Liturgy, or excluded according to circumstances, and as the king was advised by his council to make the introduction or exclusion. As to the mode of exercising this discretion, the council did not generally make the necessary alteration, but referred it to the arch bishop, who carried the representation made to him to the king's closet, and altered the Liturgy accordingly, with the approbation of the sovereign. They had the precedent of the alteration made on the death of George the 2nd, detailed fully by archbishop Seeker. The archbishop then continued the name of the duke of Cumberland, who bad been prayed for by name in the preceding reign, on which the king observed, that if the duke of Cumberland continued to be so prayed for, it might fee expected that his (the king's) brother, who stood in a nearer relation to the throne than the duke of Cumberland, should also be pray ed for by name. It was, therefore, thought most expedient to leave out the name of the duke. In this manner had the discretion of the sovereign been always acted upon. So far, therefore, as the law was concerned in this subject, the hon. and learned gentleman was trot borne out by the words of the statute in the construction of the law which he had contended for.
Having thus denied that the words of the Statute were imperative, and having contended that the practice had been against the construction put upon the statute by the hon. and learned gentleman, he would also go further, to show that there had been individuals, who were not farther removed from the sovereign than the illustrious person now referred to, whose names had not been included in the Liturgy. The queen of George 1st had not been prayed for by name. It was true there had been documents in the consistory court at Hanover which justified this exclusion. But the case showed the same exercise of discretion which was acted upon in this case, and in this case too that discretion was exercised upon distinct considerations. Prince George of Denmark had not been prayed for by 1253 name, although he was the consort of the queen. This was a case which justified to the full extent the discretion now exercised. He came now to the question, whether this discretion had been on the present occasion wisely and correctly exercised? The hon. and learned gentleman had asserted, that it had been exercised in contemplation of proceedings either by a public trial or by a communication to this House. He begged leave distinctly to protest against that construction. So far was this from having been in contemplation, he could say that the resolution and desire of his majesty's ministers had been, to exhaust every effort to avert what he always considered a public calamity. It was only on the return of the queen to this country that the necessity was felt of taking the painful step of adopting any proceedings against her; majesty. He had no hesitation in saying that in the advice which he had given to, his majesty respecting the Liturgy, he could not lose sight of the situation of the queen. He was always ready to make a distinction between charge and guilt, and the House would recollect that he had always made that distinction in the present case. He had never insinuated that, because there were charges, they were therefore necessarily true. But he roust argue the case as it had actually stood on the death of his late majesty. Information then had been given which did attribute to her majesty charges of the gravest nature. The course which was to be adopted in this situation was to be adopted in this situation was not be depend upon the conviction of the government; but, if information was laid before them, the question was, what course ought to be adopted till that information should be inquired into and rebutted? The point for the decision of government was, whether proceedings should afterwards be instituted or not; and, without presuming what might be the result, the point for decision had been, under the inevitable fact of possessing such information, what they were to decide as to their course. He had given that advice which he believed to be not inconsistent with his duty, and with the dignity of the Crown which always involved the interests of the country. If, under the prospect of proceedings which nothing could prevent but that the queen should not come to this country, he had advised to call for the prayers of the country for the illustrious individual by name—not to call for the 1254 prayers of the country for her as one of the royal family, but to present the individual for the prayers of the country, when perhaps it might soon afterwards become a duty to bring down information to parliament which might give a character to her of a different sort;—he had no hesitation in saying, that, while influenced by the considerations which he had mentioned, he would, as an honest man, and as a minister of the Crown, have sacrificed his existence rather than have given a different advice, and without any examination into the truth of the information. The hon. and learned gentleman was a little top kite in urging this point now upon the attention of the House. If it really were so important as he had now represented it, he must have been very supine, he must have been a feeble and inadequate defender of her majesty's honour and rights, if he had not, in the course of twenty-four hours after the change in the Liturgy had been made, called for the document to be laid before the House. What had been the language of the hon. and learned gentleman when the change had been made in the Liturgy? He had regarded and treated the questions connected with it as being as light as air, but stated the real consideration to be, what her majesty's legal rights were. The hon. and learned gentleman had then said, that de jure her majesty was as much queen as his majesty was king. Then he had regarded this point as neutral. The hon. and learned gentleman had not distinctly said so, but he put it to the hon. and learned gentleman, as a man of honour, whether, when he first heard of the change, his impression had not been such as he now stated? Upon what ground bad the House recommended the renewal of the negotiation? If the course taken by ministers was clearly illegal, not only the hop. and learned gentleman, but the House, must have been supine, if they had allowed her majesty to negociate when, she was suffering under an illegal apt.—The fact was, that it was not for the House, it was not for ministers, to prevent or resist the constitutional discretion of the sovereign. Yet it was impossible for his majesty's, ministers to enter upon the investigation of this condition without an inquiry into the whole subject. Why, then, had not this point been brought forward at the instant? It was too much to assert that the acts of ministers were the only obstacles that opposed themselves to 1255 the completion of an adjustment, in the expediency of which the whole country concurred, when it was apparent that the accusers themselves had not the spirit, or the judgment, to demand, in the first instance, the removal of these obstacles.—But it was characteristic of the whole of this proceeding, to forget, at every stage, not only the original basis, but the preceding step, of the negotiation.
The hon. and learned gentleman had spoken of ministers being base enough to act on certain principles; but he would say that he did not believe any ministers; could be found base enough to advise the retractation of the steps already taken. If his majesty's present ministers had been base enough to do so, this would not be the last night they would have heard of it. The negotiation had been resumed on the basis that that measure should not be disturbed, and the hon. and learned gentleman had not been ten minutes with him when he agreed that his majesty could not retract what had been done. Yet now the hon. and learned gentleman wished to bring the question back to the first principle. He now put it to the hon. and, learned gentleman, what advocate would have proceeded one step without insisting upon this proposition as the first and most essential, if he considered her majesty's honour not safe without being prayed for byname in the Liturgy? Whence had this new light broken in upon the hon. and learned gentleman, that, if her-majesty's name was not prominent in the Liturgy, her honour could not be safe? For the House would see that, if her name were inserted, she must have been prayed for above the duke of York. At least, why had not the hon. and learned gentleman corrected his former admissions, when he made a communication from St. Omer's; for then he had had an interview with her majesty? Yet in that communication he had put all on the want of respect to her majesty from the servants of the Grown abroad. The hon. and learned gentleman had come to this country, and taken his place in parliament, yet not a word of this point. It had been after all this that the hon. and learned gentleman had taken up this view of the question, and resolved to fight for it. The hon. and learned gentleman would forgive him for believing that this suggestion had come from another quarter, and that his own legal skill and propriety would never have thought of it. The queen bad never complained 1256 of this point when she had complained against secret investigation, although she mentioned the change in the Liturgy as one of the circumstances which had induced her to come to this country. This cardinal point, this stumbling-block, had not been thought of, till, by the merest accident, the word Liturgy was brought into view by the introduction of the word residence in the negotiation. If the hon. and learned gentleman had not mentioned Hits point to her majesty when be went to St. Omer's, to prevent the embarrassment of investigation, yet surely the most slumbering advocate must have been awakened to vigilance on the subject, when the negotiation was resumed with his majesty's ministers. But so much the reverse was it, that the hon. and learned gentleman had then said, that, as the queen's legal title was recognized, the interests of the country might be consulted by avoiding an investigation, the character and consequences of which must be so lamentable. If the king found relief from this arrangement—(and the House would not forget the calumny attempted to be cast upon his majesty, as if he now skulked from inquiry)—if the king found relief in point of position, the queen was entitled on her part to the construction of her conduct, that she bowed to public duty, and not that she shrunk from inquiry. The hon. and learned gentleman was too dextrous, too faithful, and too sincere an advocate to have omitted any point essential to the dignity and honour of her majesty. Yet he had never alluded to the Liturgy, when he had said that her majesty's honour and dignity being satisfied, every other question was secondary, and might be left to arbitration. If the Liturgy had been a sine qua non, the hon. and learned gentleman owed it to himself, to the country, to the government, and to his client, to have brought it forward; but it was not found in one of his points. If it had been brought forward, it would have terminated the negotiation at once. It was hard that this cardinal and essential point should have been kept back, and that ministers should thus have been entrapped into a negotiation. He did not believe that the hon. and learned gentleman had then had this point in his own mind, nor did he think that the hon. and learned gentleman could make the House believe that he had.
If persons could have been found to advise the Crown differently (and he did not believe that, if gentlemen opposite 1257 were to change places, they would give a different advice), the question was not now open for consideration. He had no hesitation in saying that he looked upon the position of the Crown as different after the papers had been laid upon the table. Whatever rumours had previously existed, they were only in the shape of rumours, and not in the shape of communication. His majesty's ministers could not then, as honest men, or in common sense, act otherwise than they had done till an inquiry took place. There had been no difficulty in point of law. If the law had required the introduction of the name into the Liturgy, it would have been a great relief from the most embarrassing question which any government ever felt. But when ministers were in possession of such information as the papers contained, they thought it their duty, through, fairness to the Crown, and in justice to the country, to allow her majesty all her legal rights, but to withhold matters of prerogative, and not to do any act calculated, to mislead the public as to the true nature of the ground on which the question, stood. He had on a former occasion expressed the distinction which he conceived to exist between the legal right of the queen and what the sovereign might think proper, with the advice of his ministers, to grant as favour. The queen then being, unfortunately, in a situation to be the object of such representations as he had mentioned, it had become impossible for ministers to mislead his majesty or the country by holding forth her name in a view which might upon inquiry be reversed. From that time, if the king were not called on to retract, it might be open to government to deal with her majesty, not as if the question had been proved, but by giving every facility, every personal attention, and every accommodation, that could contribute to the happiness and comfort of the illustrious individual, concerned. If the queen now complied with the wishes of parliament, it would be fair to view her conduct, not as a shrinking from inquiry, or a withdrawing of the pledge she gave in coming to this country; but as proceeding from a spirit of accommodation, and a desire to save the parliament and the country from an inquiry most, difficult and most perilous in itself, and most alarming in its consequences. They could not proceed into investigation without inconveniences and dangers that might prove fatal to the best interests of the country; 1258 yet, no other course remained, unless her majesty acceded to the proposed accommodation.
He hoped the House would see that nothing had been done by ministers but for the sake of averting consequences which all agreed in deprecating. They had had a painful duty. Notwithstanding that they had found it necessary to make a communication to parliament whenever her majesty came to England, yet they had not disclosed any temper pertinaciously to adhere to that course so as to preclude accommodation, or shown any disposition to create difficulty or failure in the negotiation. No inference could be drawn from their conduct but that they were disposed to concede any thing short of this retractation. They submitted their motives with all deference to parliament. They could have done this with more effect if the. House knew the information which they possessed, but, without an inquiry that was impossible. He agreed with the hon. and learned gentleman in the construction which he would put upon her majesty's conduct in complying with the wishes of parliament. In justice, in generosity, they owed it to the queen, especially after the course she had adopted, in coming to this country for inquiry, to put the most favourable construction upon her accommodation to their wishes. But, if the ministers of the Crown were to shrink from the position which they at present occupied, they might indeed disgrace themselves; but they would not at all relieve her majesty. Indeed, if parliament were to call upon them to retract the measures which they had taken; and if they, with the information which they possessed, were to accede to such call, they would deserve to be classed among the basest of the base. He had no objection to the motion proposed by his hon. friend, because it simply called upon the queen to listen to the advice of parliament, and did not at all affect the merits of her case; but he must protest against the manner in which it had been discussed by the hon and learned gentleman who had preceded him, because, even if her majesty's name were inserted in the Liturgy, it would not, in his opinion, make the slightest difference in her position. That hon. and learned gentleman was however the last man who ought to agitate that question; for if the system of tergiversation, which had recently been adopted, were to be continued; if, when one point 1259 was conceded, another point was in consequence of such concession to be more insisted upon, which had never been heard of before, the House might bid adieu to all hopes of any satisfactory negotiation. The course which ministers had pursued would have been correct under any circumstances, but was rendered still more correct by the peculiar circumstances of the present case. They had been willing to give up every thing, except the honour of the Crown, to relieve her majesty; they had not refused her any point which it was within their power consistently with their duty, to grant; and whatever might be the result of the present deliberations, he, for one did not feel inclined to recede a single inch from the counsels which he had given to the Crown upon this very delicate and important subject.
§ Lord Archibald Hamilton
declared, that he was under the necessity of waiting until the motion before the House was read, before he could comprehend the hon. mover's intention—before he could determine upon the course which it was his duty to pursue. In proposing the amendment which he felt it his right to submit to the consideration of the House, as well as in the observations with which he should preface it, he begged to be understood that he spoke from no authority bat his own; and that he was not acting, in any connection whatever, with the queen's legal advisers. He had not, indeed, decided, until he came to the House, in what terms to couch his motion. There was, perhaps, no person in that House who felt more alarm than himself at the consequences but too likely to result from a public investigation of the subject which gave rise to this discussion; and therefore he was among the most eager to deprecate such a course of proceeding. In bringing forward the proposition which he had in view, he had no other object in view than that of doing substantial justice between the two illustrious individuals who were parties to the present discussion, and of had more of the House a proposition which had more of the spirit of conciliation in it than that which had been offered to them by his hon. friend the member for Bramber. For, what was the nature of that hon. gentleman's proposition; and in what manner was it connected with the measures which had preceded it? He would inform them. His hon. friend came to the House, and he could assure his 1260 hon. friend, that, in the remarks which lie was going to make, he had no intention to disparage his many great and eminent virtues; but his hon. friend came to the House lamenting the unfortunate differences which existed between the two most illustrious personages in the country—lamenting the extent to which they had been carried—lamenting the improbability which appeared of bringing them to any amicable adjustment, and concluded, after all his lamentations, by proposing that the party which had previously been acknowledged to be the injured party should submit to still further injuries, and that the persons who inflicted those injuries, and who he did not hesitate to say were his majesty's ministers, should be empowered to ask her majesty, in the name of parliament, to give a permanent acquiescence to a scheme which, supposing it to afford her majesty, a partial and temporary relief, was certain at the same time to entail upon her a permanent and an indelible disgrace.
It would, no doubt, be in the recollection of many of those whom he was then addressing, that he had some time ago expressed his intention of submitting a motion to the consideration of the House, similar to the motion which he intended to submit to it that evening, regarding, the omission of her majesty's name in the Liturgy. It would also be in their recollection, that he had been prevented from so doing by the frequent representations, made to him from the treasury bench, of the extreme delicacy of the subject to which he was alluding. Eager, therefore, as he had been to bring it before the House, he had still always repressed his own eagerness, in deference to the wishes of others; but the forbearance which he had hitherto shown was now at last overcome, and the exigency of the case required that he should not continue to indulge in it any longer. There would have Been no occasion for him to remind the House pf the speech of his hon. and learned friend, which was too argumentative and eloquent to be easily forgotten, if it had not, been that the noble lord opposite had more than once alluded to one part in—he meant that part in which his hon. and learned friend had stated that the House would not, if it expressed an opinion that her majesty's name ought to be inserted in the Liturgy, be agreeing to a resolution disrespectful to his majesty, whatever it might be to his majesty's ministers. He 1261 (lord A. Hamilton) said so too; for the Constitution considered every act of the king to be the result of advice given to him by his ministers, and properly looked upon the ministers arid not upon the king, as responsible for it.
This rendered it unnecessary for him to to make any apology for the proposition which he was now going to bring forward, even though the noble lord had represented it, if not as derogatory to the honour and dignity of the Crown, at least as derogatory to the counsels which he and his colleagues declared that it would be injurious to retract. The ministers, it appeared, had advised the king, not indeed to strike out, but to omit, the name of her majesty in the Liturgy. This was stated to be not at all injurious to her majesty, because she was publicly prayed for under the words of "all the royal family." With all due deference to the hon. member with whom that observation originated, it appeared to him to be of the most futile and unsatisfactory nature. If her majesty was prayed for tinder the words of "all the royal family," so also was his majesty George the fourth; but if they persisted in keeping his majesty's name in the Liturgy, how did they reconcile to themselves the practice of omitting her majesty's? From the general character of his hon. friend, the member for Bramber, he should have supposed that he would have been the last man m the world to, represent the prayers of the public for the royal family as mere matter of court etiquette; he should, have supposed that he would also have been the last man in the world who would have treated them as matter of levity, or Who would have withheld them from any individual, if he had considered them as a matter of importance; and yet, unless he did consider them as mere matter of court etiquette, unless he did consider them as mere matter of levity, unless he did consider them as quite unimportant, he was guilty of great inconsistency in asking the queen to give tip her right to such prayers, and in thus demanding of parliament to make itself a patty to the infliction of fresh injuries upon her. He trusted that the House, would turn a deaf ear to such a demand, even though it was urged by his hon. friend, and hoped that they would rather sanction the principle of revoking what had been unjustly done than of persevering in acts of similar injustice.
He would call the attention of the 1262 House for a few moments to the form of the order of council by which the queen had been thus insulted. The noble lord opposite had not made any allusion to it, and therefore had not stated the case as it at present existed. It was, however, of great importance that the form of this order should be considered, as it was not fit to remain in force, even though no paramount question arose out of it, as at present, to the interest of the two illustrious contending parties. He had received letters from different gentlemen, in different parts of the country, and even from some clergymen, stating that the order in council was entirely ineffective, and adding, that in many parts of the kingdom, her majesty was publicly prayed for, even by name. He put it to the noble lord to say whether this was or was not the case, and, if it was, to state by what means either he, or the proper authorities in the church, could enforce obedience to this order where it was neglected? He took the terms of this order from the Gazette, and these terms were merely that the names of the prince and princess of Wales should be omitted in the Liturgy, and this omission was very natural, as no such persons as the prince and princess of Wales existed after the accession of his, present majesty. But the order did not contain any reference to the omission of the queen's name, much less did it prescribe any penalty upon those who thought proper to pray for her majesty. It did not command the clergy either to omit the name of the queen, or to pray for his most gracious majesty George the fourth. He therefore maintained that the clergy of the establishment had as great a right to pray for the queen as they had for the king, and would be perfectly justified in so doing [Hear.]
As this was not an unimportant pointy he would, with the permission of the House, read a few extracts from two out of the many letters which he had received upon this subject, though he should decline, for reasons that were obvious, to state the name or residence of the clergymen alluded to. It was stated in one of them, that "though most of the English clergy had complied with the order in council, and had refused to pray for her majesty, her majesty had still one adherent gifted with the sacred functions, who was determined to continue, to put up prayers for her welfare, until he was silenced by the proper authorities." The 1263 gentleman further added, "the clergyman of my parish gives us, every Sunday, the satisfaction of still hearing her majesty prayed for." He should only notice another paragraph in another letter, and that, principally, because it was written by a clergyman, who subscribed both his name and residence to his letter, though he (lord A. Hamilton) must decline to give either of them, for the same reasons as he had declined to give those of the other clergymen. The language of this clergyman was "Granting an order of the king in council to be lawful, still we are bound to pray for the welfare of the queen, until we receive express order to the contrary." He did not mention these circumstances as reasons why the ministers ought to agree to his proposition, but because he thought it extremely hard to have individuals placed in such awkward situations as compelled them to act, either according to an implied and not an avowed order, or according to the dictates of their own consciences in open opposition to it. This was a point which his hon. friend the member for Bramber, had entirely overlooked, and to which he therefore wished to call his particular attention.
There was also another point which he wished to press upon the notice of his hon. friend, and also upon the notice of the House, as it showed not only the haste, but also the spirit in which this order of council had been composed and issued. It was this:—his majesty's ministers had sent it down to Scotland, where they had no authority to send it—where there was no regular form of church service—where there was no Liturgy, but where, he was happy to state, it had been rightly and universally disobeyed. His majesty's ministers had issued it, he had before said, in extreme haste; but his hon. and learned friend had clearly proved, by a reference to the Statute book, that they had also issued it in opposition to the law of the land. He (lord A. Hamilton) must therefore repeat the three questions which he had previously put to the noble lord, and must again ask him, first, whether the order in council was in the terms which he had described? Secondly, how it was to be enforced? and, lastly, in case of non-compliance with it how the offence was to be punished? The noble lord had said, that the House were not acquainted with the contents of the green-bag now upon their table. He al- 1264 lowed it, and trusted that they never would become acquainted with them; yet, be that as it might, let the queen be innocent, or let her be guilty, he thought it incumbent upon the House to place her, and he therefore called upon them now to place her, in the Liturgy, from which she ought never to have been displaced, not even for a moment. His hon. friend had said; that if her majesty did not accede to this proposition, there was no alternative left to the. House but to proceed with the inquiry proposed by the ministers of the Crown. On this point he differed in opinion from his hon. friend, and thought that there were certainly other projects which might be adopted, even if the proposition which he had made were not acceded to by her majesty. He trusted the House would not agree to the resolution of his hon. friend, and he thought her majesty had far better place her entire interests, and her entire case in the hands of the House, than accept a proposition which would impose upon her the alternative of either rejecting the recommendations of the House, should the motion of the hon. gentleman be unfortunately carried, or of acquiescing in what would operate as a permanent disgrace to herself. It was impossible for her majesty, with that high sense of honour which always distinguished her, to acquiesce in the proposition. Strict justice required that his majesty's ministers should retrace their steps, and in this unfortunate instance, place her majesty in that situation in which she stood before she was accused. The real sum and substance of the proposition of his hon. friend near him was, that her majesty was called upon to abandon all her rights, that she was to receive nothing in the shape of an equivalent, but submit, without condition or qualification, to a proposition, the basis of which was an acknowledgment of permanent disgrace, and a submission to a residence abroad, which was likewise to be permanent, and which was not voluntary, but forced upon her. Her majesty, who was ready to meet and confute her accusers, and against whom all charges were ready to be abandoned, was called upon to submit to her own dishonour, and acquiesce in a proposition founded upon a relinquishment of all her rights and privileges. After so extensive a renunciation, he should be glad to be informed what would remain to her majesty? If the motion of his hon. friend were agreed to, she would surrender her- 1265 self bound, as it were, hand and foot; and if she were even convicted of the offences of which her enemies accused her, she could not be more completely disgraced than by such a voluntary acquiescence in her own degradation.
He would not trespass further upon the attention of the House, but he wished to state specifically, that the ground upon which he should, propose an amendment to the motion of his hon. friend was, that it was an act of justice to her majesty, and that as his majesty's ministers had by their previous conduct cast an unjust reproach upon the character of her majesty, they were bound in justice to retrace their steps. He should propose as an amendment to the resolution of his hon. friend, that all the words be omitted after the word "queen," down to the word "sparing" in order to insert the words, "must feel at the relinquishment of any points in which her dignity and honour are involved, and is of opinion, that the insertion of her majesty's name in the Liturgy would be under all the circumstances of the case, the most expedient and most effectual mode of, &c."
§ Mr. Wilmot,
after stating the position in which the House stood, desiring these differences to be arranged by conciliatory means, rather than by public discussion, took a view of the negotiations, in which he observed her majesty's legal advisers had contended for four distinct points of concession:—1st. the acknowledgment of the queen de facto; 2nd, the mode of her departure, if she left the country; 3rd, the instructions to diplomatic agents abroad; and 4th, an address from that House, which should be satisfactory to her honour. But when they had proceeded so long on these points, he was surprised, and he was sure the House could not fail to be surprised, at her majesty's legal advisers bringing in another argument of quite a different nature from the rest, and breaking off the treaty on account of that new claim. What they now contended to be so disgraceful and so essential, they had never before hinted at as inconsistent with her majesty's dignity; nor did it appear so to him. The necessity for the alteration in the Liturgy, was quite plain and obvious; and the omission of the queen's name was no degradation. That was the sense in which the House declared it viewed the matter, and wished 1266 it to be understood, and it would be advisable for the queen to receive it with that construction, as preserving as much as possible the honour of both parties. Much had been said of the act 13th of Charles 2nd, by which the names of the queen and the royal family were ordered to be inserted in the Liturgy. The omission of the name of her present majesty was nothing more than a compliance with established usage, for that act had left it discretionary in the council to decide whether the name of the queen and of the royal progeny was to be inserted or not. Nothing had been more frequently ridiculed than the introduction of so many names of the royal progeny into the Liturgy. Might it not therefore be presumed that the merely leaving out of a name could not be derogatory to the dignity of any of the royal family. If the House allowed that the act permitted the exercise of discretion on the part of the council, no blame could be attached to the omission of the queen's name. Ministers would have been pleased that the act should have compelled the insertion of the name of the queen. For himself he would say that he would not vote for the motion of the hon. member, if he thought that it would produce any improper consequences. Reference had been made, during the debate, to an unfortunate princess, the consort of George the first, but the analogy was not sufficient, for that affair, was now a matter of historical doubt, and all that was known of her was, that she bad lived in seclusion. He hoped that the House was convinced that no alteration in the Liturgy had produced the effect of haying made a charge against any of the royal family. Under these circumstances he hoped that the House would act so as to prevent the omission of the name of the queen from being a bar to the negotiation or to the regulations which had by it been nearly carried into effect. The House was, he trusted as he himself was, irresistibly impressed with the necessity of not following the example of the hon. and learned gentleman, who had not only at St. Omer's but on several subsequent occasions acted as if the point, on which so much stress was now laid, had not been deserving his consideration, and that they would by their proceedings prevent the exposure of those details, of which it could not but feel horror. He warmly approved of the conduct of the hon. gentleman who ever 1267 ready to be of service to his country, bad, by stepping forward on this occasion for a practical good, added to the character to which all his former conduct had raised him. On the omission in the Liturgy, he again impressed on the House, that it was not bound to suppose there was no other cause for the alteration than the existence of a charge against the queen. The House was justified in putting another explanation upon it, to satisfy her scruples, and he was sure that if it could have borne no other construction than that of disgrace, it would not have so long escaped the acuteness of her majesty's learned advisers.
§ Mr. Denman
said, that the observations which had fallen from the noble lord opposite had rendered it imperatively necessary for him to rise up in defence of the conduct of his hon. and learned friend and his own. With regard to the motion before the House, he thought be should ill discharge the duty which he owed to his illustrious client, were he to accede to the proposition of the hon. member for Bramber. He was by no means disposed to admit the refined distinctions which had been made between the duty which he owed to his client, and the duty which he was bound to perform as a member of parliament. It was impossible, indeed, to divest himself of those feelings of respect and duty which the confidence reposed in him by her majesty was calculated to inspire; but he saw not the smallest inconsistency in performing the duties of those separate capacities; for, he, would best defend the rights of the queen, who performed his duty best as an honest member of parliament. When, he considered upon what unequal terms the parties met, when he considered the power and influence with which the charges against her majesty had been brought forward, and the friendless and unprotected situation of her majesty, he thought there never was a case in which it became more imperiously the solemn duty of every honest man to stand forward as her advocate. He could not but allude to the situation in which he was himself most unexpectedly placed. He had never contemplated the possibility of being placed in the situation of a negociator upon so important an occasion, and no man could feel more strongly than himself his inadequacy to discharge its duties; but when he was told by the noble lord opposite, that his hon. and learned 1268 friend and himself had changed the basis upon which they professed to negociate; when the noble lord stated that his hon. and learned friend and himself had, in the course of the negotiations, brought forward demands in proportion as concessions were made—that they had shifted their ground, and had, according to the phrase of the noble lord, been guilty of tergiversation—he must repel the charge—he must deny the accusation, and dare the noble lord to the proof. So far was the noble lord from being correct in his assertions, that he would disprove them, he thought, to the noble lord's own satisfaction, by recalling facts and circumstances which must have dropped from his recollection, and by quoting language that he must have forgotten. He would show, that so far from changing their position, or shifting their ground, her majesty's legal advisers had kept to the last the ground and the attitude which they first assumed.
When the negociator on the part of government met his hon. and learned friend and himself, and the basis of the negotiation was laid in her majesty's residence abroad, subject to every kind of qualification and condition necessary for the maintenance of her dignity and the protection of her character, the necessity of some concession on the other side was immediately mentioned. It would he seen by looking at the record of the first conference, that her majesty's law-advisers, in stating her majesty's acquiescence in a proposition to reside abroad, had, added, "but then that pertain steps must be taken to remove the possibility of any inference being drawn from such compliance, and from the inquiry not being proceeded in, unfavourable to her majesty's honour, and inconsistent with that recognition which is the basis of these negotiations; and her majesty's advisers suggested with this view the restoration of her name to the Liturgy." Her majesty's advisers had certainly, listened to every proposition for an arrangement—to every suggestion of accommodation; but they never forgot the duty which they owed to their illustrious client, or the consideration that was due to the defence of her honour. Perhaps they had erred in listening too long; but they had never deserted the ground which they originally occupied. The noble, lord was therefore wrong in saying that they introduced a fourth condition. They allowed that her 1269 majesty had no insuperable objection to reside abroad, but they demanded in her name a recognition of her rights, and, as the best way of obtaining that recognition, they claimed the admission of her name into the Liturgy. He had himself taken only that inferior part in the negotiation which was due to the talents of his hon. and learned friend, but he happened to be the person who had insisted upon this principle; and to suggest the necessity of this or some equivalent concession. They debated the point with the noble lord then—and he (Mr. Denman) was how prepared again to debate it—that on a recognition of her rights, and an admission of her innocence, all ground for withholding her majesty's name as queen from the prayers of the nation was removed.
He would not go over the arguments which had been so forcibly urged by his hon. and learned friend, but he would say that the act if it had any meaning made it as imperative to mention the name of the queen as of be king in the Liturgy, by placing both on the same footing. The case was different with regard to the royal progeny, and there was no direction respecting the number to be prayed for by name. With regard to them, therefore, a discretion was allowed, but the insertion of the name of the queen was as much a matter of course as that of the king. Precedents of omitting the queen's name had been mentioned by the noble lord, but he (Mr. Denman) wondered that those quoted should be for a moment listened to; The noble lord had said, that the queen consort of George 1st had never been admitted info the Liturgy. Why?—she never was a queen. The acts obtained against her in the consistory court of Hanover amounted to a divorce. She lived afterwards under the title of the countess of Halle, and would never have been mentioned as likely to claim the rights of queen had not her cause been taken up by the prince of Wales in his disputes with his father, and made an engine to annoy the king.—Her death was announced in the Gazette as electress of Hanover. What parallel was there therefore between the situation of the wife of George 1st and that of her majesty? The former never was queen of England. She never was princess of Wales. She never was in the Liturgy, and never was, of course, erased from it. With regard to the precedent of the duke of Cumberland, 1270 he might say that it would be more honoured in the breach than the observance." It was well known to what the exclusion in that case was to be attributed; and that it originated in feelings which conferred no lustre on the royal family If there was any instance in which more than another political animosities and family dissensions should be forgotten, it surely was when we offered our prayers to the God of Mercies for that forgiveness of which we all stood in need, and which those would not need the least who were the persecutors on the present occasion But it was said that though her majesty was not mentioned by name, she was prayed for as included in the prayer for "all the royal family." Why, we prayed for all men, and when we supplicated heaven for "all who are desolate and oppressed," we might be said to include under that character the illustrious individual who was now excluded from the Liturg by name. It might as well be said that she was prayed for under any of these general descriptions as under that of the royal family. He hesitated not to declare the erasure of her majesty's name from the Liturgy as an illegal act. The right of the king to be prayed for by his people was not more indisputable than that of his consort queen Caroline. Her majesty's name was inserted as princess of Wales when his majesty was prayed for as prince of Wales. All that was allowed to the privy council on the death of the late king, and the consequent change in the situation of their majesties was, to change the name to answer the change of condition, but not to exclude the name of the queen any more than that of the king.
But it had been said that, if this claim was a legal one, the granting of it would be no concession, and therefore would be no recognition of innocence. To this opinion he could not subscribe. The insertion of her name might still be a concession. She claimed a right, because she had no power to enforce compliance with it—because the duty of making the change devolved on the Crown, and might be, as in this case, neglected. The noble lord, in a speech from which he (Mr. Denman) could not collect many: distinct propositions, and one sentence of which generally contradicted another, had admitted that ministers had advised the omission of her majesty's name, but that the act was the personal act of his majes- 1271 ty [No,no!]. Why, did not the noble lord say that it was done by the king in his closet? He (Mr. Denman) knew not in this country of a king in closet. He would therefore consider the erasure as the act of ministers, and would appeal to any member of the House, to any man of feeling or generosity in the country, whether in the circumstances it was wise, magnanimous, or just? It was an act of the grossest injustice to the illustrious person under accusation, for it was a contemptible quibble to say that it was no derogation; and the very fact of her being accused ought to have operated as a reason for placing her in the best position in which she might meet her defence. If she was to be accused, let her be accused as a queen, and as a queen let her rights be recognized. But the noble lord had said that the basis of the negotiation was, that the king's ministers should retract nothing; and that the restoration of the queen's name to the Liturgy would be a retractation. Was not the charge against the queen retracted? and was not the omission of her majesty's name in the Liturgy justified on the ground of this charge? Since, then, the charge was withdrawn, did not common consistency and common sense require that her majesty should be restored to that situation which she would have occupied if no charge had been made? There was, it seemed, an accusation—the accusation was pleaded to justify the omission—the accusation was retracted—why not retract the erasure? But, said the noble lord, we know the information in the green bag, and are best able to judge of the propriety of the punishment. Was then the green bag infallible? Were charges of guilt to be considered as proofs of guilt? and, when these charges were withdrawn, was the degradation to be continued? The noble lord would punish without a trial, and retract the charge without retracting the sentence of degradation. He would put it to his hon. friend whether he would press his motion in such circumstances? A charge had been made against her majesty which could not be supported; and as circumstances had compelled ministers to retract the charge, it was just that the king in council should submit to the consequences of making that unfounded charge, and retract the degradation. As to the course of proceeding pursued regarding the queen, though he had given no advice to 1272 her majesty till she arrived in this country, he could not hear his hon. and learned friend censured in his absence without repelling the charge.
The noble lord had asked why the proposition received by his hon. friend on the 15th of April had not been delivered to her majesty sooner? He would ask, in return, what had ministers been doing during the time that intervened between the king's death and the 15th of April? Two months and a half had elapsed, and nothing had been done by them in consequence of the event that had occurred. Was it fitting that her majesty should; have no notification of the death of the king, and of her accession by her new title, but by the degrading omission of her name in the Liturgy? The Milan board had made its report a year before the materials were prepared for the green bag, and was it possible to say that the erasure of her majesty's name in such circumstances was not intended as a stigma? If it was I done in compliance with personal feeling, ministers should have had the courage to refuse the responsibility of an act which they did not approve. But what were the charges on which this act was justified? They consisted of ex-parte state ments—of tales got from foreigners of whom the House knew nothing. The illustrious person accused had no opportunity of confronting her accusers. What right had any man to say that such charges amounted to any thing—that they involved any imputation? In proportion as the accusation was grave, should be the caution in entertaining it. What was her majesty's conduct in such circumstances? Did it evince any fear of the result? No. She came to face her enemies, and to dare them to the proof.
But the noble lord had intimated that; the public would be shocked if government were to retract. Good God! was the public, ever since it was a public, ever so shocked as it was at the proceedings which he called upon ministers to retract? [Cheers]. But the charges! Where were the charges? He could see no charges; they were no where to be found, but in the green bag. Let them be brought forward, and they should be met and refuted. He was afraid that if they proceeded in one instance against illustrious persons, they might not stop with one. These charges had been collected about a-year ago in the north of Italy. They had slept during that interval, till they were laid on 1273 the table, in the green bag. They were not brought forward when her majesty was abroad—they were not brought forward when she was at St. Omer's. No; the crime was her coming to England. If she had lived abroad either as princess of Wales, or as queen of England, she might have conducted herself as she pleased, and there would have been no accusation, She might have wandered over the continent, and exhibited the disgrace of England in the sight of foreigners. She might have behaved like the most degraded of human beings; she might have done all that the wretches who now accused her laid to her charge, and nothing would have been alleged against her. But her coming to England was a crime which demanded instant inquiry and punishment. Too much, he thought, had been said with a view to show that her majesty had varied the basis, and departed from the terms of the negotiation; and this charge was the less becoming, as it came from those who had themselves departed altogether from that basis. But the queen had made a concession when she expressed her willingness to reside abroad, if such was the wish of parliament and of the people. There were some observations relating to the conduct of the queen herself, upon which he could not forbear offering a few remarks. She had acted in some cases where she could not have taken any advice—he alluded particularly to the step she had taken in coming to this country. At least he did not know who her advisers were; but if she had any, and whoever they were, they certainly did not stand so much in need of apology as those who had advised the king to a step which no one had as yet defended. The motion of his honourable friend might be a truism. The queen, in waving the right, might be waving nothing; but if she; chose to pursue it who ought to give way—those who had done wrong in the first instance, or she who sought only to defend her honour and her character? He had heard with pain the threat thrown out by the noble lord opposite, that ministers would be acting basely if they voted for retractation. It was, he supposed, as much: as to say, that if the matter came to that, they must resign. The question was, then, whether, for fear of that resignation, an unjust and ungenerous ace was to be persevered in? The queen was ready to meet the charges against her. Of that readiness, and of 1274 her innocence, she had given the most decisive proof by her immediate appearance in England. This had been universally acknowledged; and, yet in the very same breath, she was praised for the boldness with which she had met her accusers, and advised to give up the rights for which she was contending. With reference to the transactions at St. Omer's, he thought—and he felt it most necessary to declare that opinion—he thought that the queen had been left without option—that she had at that time no choice but to subscribe to her own guilt, or at once to present herself in England. Whether it had been just to refuse her a yacht—to neglect her application for a residence—to leave her to find her way into the country in the manner in which she had been constrained to seek it—were questions of minor importance; but it was impossible not to contrast the reception of the queen in the year 1820 with her former reception in the year 1795. Far was it from him to condemn the sentiments with, which the people had received her; they, had done themselves immortal honour by giving her that reception to which an illustrious and a forlorn female, was entitled at their hands; but he looked at the conduct of other parties—of those who had driven her to seek this country in a hired packet—to travel in a hired carriage—and to seek refuge in the house of a private individual, and who now imputed these acts to her as faults. If any thing could have added force to the claims of, her high station, it was the consideration that she was soon to take the place of a person accused. So many discussions, were likely to arise upon this question, that he knew not whether he was justified in dwelling any longer on the subject, or even in giving a vote on the present occasion. There were circumstances which certainly rendered it desirable that her majesty should not reside in this country. If a decent and respectful message had been sent to her at Milan, that message would have met a decent and a respectful answer. Whether lord Hutchinson was the agent of the government or not, it was difficult to ascertain. Whether he had any written instructions or not from any party, they were at a loss to understand, but unquestionably to the proposals of which lord Hutchinson had been the bearer there could be no answer but rejection. Her 1275 majesty had taken the proper course for innocence to adopt. She had defied her accusers to the proof, while she ex pressed herself willing to withdraw an object of strife from the country, provided her residence out of the country was not construed into a proof or admission of guilt; an understanding which could only be secured by placing her in the full possession of those legal rights which belonged to her, unless forfeited by guilt. He felt the great importance of the case on which he addressed them. He also felt his own incapacity to do justice to that case; but he spoke his sentiments as a member of that House—as an humble counsel on her majesty's behalf; and he left it to the House, as men of honour and as gentlemen, whether they could in justice, in fairness, or in humanity, call upon the weaker party to make the concession which was demanded from her.
hoped the prediction of the hon. and learned gentleman who had just sat down, that if his hon. friend's motion were agreed to, there would be more discussion on the subject, would be falsified. It was in this hope he was induced to rise and support the motion, and from a wish that this interposition on the part of the House of Commons might settle those differences which, as yet could not be arranged either by letters lor.conferences,—He bad heard the hon. and learned gentleman with great pleasure, but one observation suggested, itself as arising put of his speech. He wondered the law advisers of the queen, had so long delayed to introduce the point of the Liturgy upon which the whole case seemed now to turn.—Why had not the House heard something before of the omission of her majesty's name? The hon. and learned gentleman said, that he had only recently become her majesty's adviser; but was not the hon. and learned gentleman in the last parliament, and had he not then opportunities enough of protesting against that measure which was new affirmed by Irim to be against law.—When the hon. and learned gentleman asserted that the omission of the queen's name, was made at the discretion of the privy council, the hon. gentleman must have forgotten the 13 and 14 of Charles Sad. A noble lord seemed to be under some mistake, when he spoke of certain ministers of the church persevering in praying to: the queen, upon conscientious 1276 grounds. He was at a loss to account for the scruples of these gentlemen. Their duty in this respect was partly defined by act of parliament, and with an instrument before their eyes, which left it in the discretion of the privy council and the king, whether or not the queen should be prayed for, it was a little too much for them to- set up their private opinions against it, whatever they might be. Their politics seemed to be as much interested as their consciences, and he wished that all churchmen meddled less with such matters. He hoped, however, they would soon be better advised, and thereby avoid the pains and penalties to which he imagined they would be subjected. He was not sorry that this debate had brought the parties to issue; it showed all that the queen was inclined to concede, and all that was expected by the ministers of the Crown. The hon. and- learned gentleman who spoke first seemed to have taken credit to himself for the accession of strength which her majesty's cause received since it had been debated in the first instance. For himself, he was not inclined to undervalue the case of the Crown on account of its concessions; on the contrary, he thought these were thrown out in order to dispose the other side to meet them halfway. In this sense he approved of them?—But he thought this part of the subject was unfairly dealt with by her majesty's friends, who insisted, that she was to make no concessions, who complained that every thing was asked from her, and that she was helpless and forlorn.—Her friends, instead of conceding any thing, demanded that she should be restored to every thing, and by that means, as they said, be put into a situation to be tried mote fairly. In what situation would ministers have been placed, if, with the charges against the queen which they had m their possession, they had suffered her name to remain in the Liturgy? He would ask any reasonable man how ministers could have vindicated themselves, either to the sovereign or to parliament, if they bad comedown to the House with the insertion of the queen's name in the Liturgy—the ink still wet in one hand, and the papers of accusation which they had received against her in the other? Of the contents of these papers he knew nothing; he hoped to know nothing of them; and as to their truth or falsehood would offer no opinion. The hon. and learned gentle- 1277 man had fallen into an error, when he conceived that the motion before the House supposed no ground for charge against the queen. The motion most certainly assumed no such thing. For his part he knew nothing of the charges against her majesty, and he was equally unwilling to go into that discussion; but he could distinctly say that the motion neither affirmed nor denied them.—It purported to put her majesty precisely in that situation in which she would have been, if she had not taken the imprudent step of coming to this country. This proceeding, which he deplored, was productive of agitation in the minds of the people; and it was with a view to stem the progress of discussion and irritation upon the subject, in and out of doors, that the motion was framed. He therefore gave it his warmest support; and he was of opinion, that the advisers of her majesty did no benefit to her cause, by thus pressing for inquiry. He should tike them better, if conciliation had been the word. To be sure, it was a proud feature in their case, that her majesty was ready, and challenged inquiry; but it was questionable how far this was politic at the present moment, and her friends seemed to be putting a bar in the way of conciliation by insisting on a certain point of mere etiquette as a sine, qua non. It was an argument used by the hon. and learned gentleman that because the queen was weak and unprotected, every thing was to be assumed in her favour. This was an ingenious way of getting rid of the charge, it was putting her in a condition with the House, as if every step they took towards her was doing her a wrong. He thought this was going too far; her majesty was by no means, that friendless being which she was represented, and in judging between two patties, the House? should not be entirely swayed by such a consideration. The most extraordinary argument, however, which had been addressed to the House, was, that the insertion of her majesty's name in the Liturgy was matter of absolute law. If the fact were so, it was useless to argue either upon the fitness or the necessity of that measure, because there would be no discretion either in the Crown or in ministers. There was no occasion to prove that the queen's name ought not to be omitted, if in law it could not be omitted. The hon. gentleman would refer for a moment to the printed papers before the House. The 1278 basis of the conferences had been, that the queen, on her part, should admit nothing approaching to criminality; and that the king, on his part, should not be understood to retract any thing. The queen, however, was now raising a point which had not been introduced before, and which had been considered in the discussion of Feb. 21st, as a matter of indifference. He was far from thinking the Crown ought to make farther concessions. Did the House think that this was a time when the Crown should be lowered in dignity, or treated with disrespect? Did they see no signs in these times which should make them cautious how they adopted a course of proceeding that might be attended with such consequences? Perhaps there were some to whom these considerations were matters of indifference, but to him it appeared of the utmost moment, in times of difficulty to uphold the dignity of the Crown.
said, he should state very shortly his reasons for the vote which he meant to give. In looking at the question, he thought the consideration of, how far the honour of one party would be committed, or how much the triumph of another would be magnified, should not be at all calculated. In this view, therefore, he saw no obstacle to ministers restoring the queen's name to the Liturgy. By the 13th and 14th of Charles 2nd, a particular form of prayer was pointed out to be used on all occasions, and he contended, that the clause which empowered the king and privy council to make the necessary alterations from time to time, referred only to the power of changing the name, as the title of any branch of the royal family might be altered, and did not extend to the power of exclusion all together. He believed there was no precedent to prove the queen of England had ever been left out of the Liturgy. Having shown that in a legal construction of the act ministers were not warranted in leaving out her majesty's name, he next came to consider what possible injury could ensue from supplying the omission? It would satisfy her majesty's scruples, without derogating from the dignity of the monarch. He did not blame ministers for leaving the queen's name out of the Liturgy, for they did not know but it might be their duty to prefer charges against her. So far he gave them credit; but if the time had now arrived at which either policy or other motives prevented the prosecution of those 1279 intended charges, her majesty's full rights and privileges should be allowed her. It was some time since his intention to have brought forward a motion on this subject, and whatever delay might have occurred, no fault was imputable to him for it. He never wished to argue any question as a party man, but on its own merits, and on the latter principle he would vote for the amendment of the noble lord.
Sir Francis Burdett
said, it was not his intention to go over any of those topics which had been urged by other hon. members with much greater ability than he possessed. It was his wish to approach this question with an unprejudiced mind; and. while he claimed justice for that party which stood most in need of justice, he was anxious not to say any thing that might be construed into a want of respect for the Crown on this very painful occasion. The hon. member for Bramber had, in his opinion, taken a very erroneous view of the question. That hon. member had declared that the House must either agree to his proposition, or to some other conciliatory resolution of a similar nature, or else go into the immediate consideration of the contents of the green bag. He dissented entirely from the hon. member for Bramber. So far was he from thinking that the House was reduced to such a dilemma, that it did not appear to him that there was any possibility, after all that had been said, even by his majesty's ministers themselves, that the House, consistently with a regard to its own character, to the dignity of the Crown, to the respect due to the family on the throne, and above all to the interests of the public, ever could consent that the green bag should be opened.
Much had been said on the subject of the omission of her majesty's name in the Liturgy. Whether or not the king had a legal right to order that omission was a question of inferior importance. The noble, lord opposite had at one time declared that the omission was not intended as an indignity; but soon after he contended, that it was impossible not to omit her majesty's name in consequence of the evidence contained in the green bag;—evidence which, from all that he (sir F. Burdett) could hear, reflected infamy only on those who had lent an ear to it. On this vile and ex-parte evidence her majesty's name had been omitted in the Liturgy; and then the noble lord wondered 1280 that the queen, whose very name he had until of late not even ventured to pronounce, complained of such conduct. The noble lord, after admitting that what had been done was done to stigmatize her majesty, expressed his surprise that her majesty should come to this country to face her enemies, and that she would not yield that point—a point of honour, and which therefore she had better give up any thing than surrender. It appeared to him that die deeply culpable persons in this affair were his majesty's ministers, who had held out to her majesty a threat with one hand and a bribe with the other. That threat was one which, for aught her majesty knew, affected her life; for she could not be supposed acquainted with those nice technicalities of the law of which ministers were well aware, and which secured her from being prosecuted as a principal in treason. Under those circumstances, however, her majesty, like a woman of spirit and honour, above all money-dealing considerations (for ministers were prodigal enough to offer her every pecuniary temptation)—her majesty, in a manner so magnanimous that it must tend to raise her in the estimation of all men—in a manner which, however poisoned any one's mind might be against her must (in the language of the hon. mover) tend to establish as strong a presumption of her innocence as the duke of Wellington had established of his valour—came over to this country, not supposing that she would here meet with a single supporter, and under imputations and circumstances that would have broken the heart of a woman of less spirit and fortitude.
The noble lord said that he had offered no bribe to her majesty. What did the noble lord mean by a bribe? Father Foigard in the Beaux Stratagem, when Gipsey puts it to him as a point of conscience, whether if she takes money for 'doing an act required of her, it will not look like a bribe? tells her, that if she takes it before she does that for which it is to be given, it will be logicé a bribe; but that if she postpones taking it until after the performance of the condition, that will make all the difference, for then it will be only a remuneration. To which Gipsey, unlike her majesty, replies, "she will take it logicé" In like manner ministers seemed to regard their offer of public money to the queen, in case her majesty agreed not to take it until she had complied with the terms proposed to 1281 her, not as logicé a bribe, but only as a remuneration. Her majesty, however, rejected the offer with disdain, and answered the threat held out to her in case she came to England by instantly coming. Immediately on her arrival the king's ministers, to make good their threat, advised his majesty to send a message, accompanied with a green bag, to both Houses of Parliament. If ministers, under all the circumstances of the case, had made up their minds' to advise the king to pursue such a course—if dire necessity, on account of public interests, compelled, and therefore justified—and that alone could justify such a step being taken,—the same necessity rendered it equally impossible to retract, vestigia nulla retrorsum. There was no longer any room for pause or doubt—to pause was to betray; to doubt was to incur guilt. It was a career only to be entered like Dante's Hell, when all hope was abandoned. To hesitate was to confess an alternative; and where an alternative exists, there exists no necessity, and therefore no justification.
When all the events of the life of this unfortunate and high-minded lady were considered—when the circumstances which attended her first coming to this country were recollected—when it was remembered bow she had been exposed, provoked, and irritated, by every description of insult and injury—deprived of her natural protectors—cut off from all the endearments of conjugal affection—bereft of all the benefits of that control so beneficial to women in wedded life—not permitted to hold communion with her own family—having all those feelings weakened or destroyed on which the moral sense so mainly depended—driven to despair and goaded almost to madness by this accumulation of miseries—if, under all these circumstances, her conduct had been such as was alleged against her, there was even then no man, possessed of generous feelings, who would not shed a tear over her misfortunes, or who would not shrink from pursuing her with the sword of vengeance, under the cloak of justice.
With regard to the king, he should speak with that respect for his majesty, which his situation demanded, and which he ever wished to entertain, and this he would venture, if it was not presumption, to say, that as far as he could form an opinion from the slight opportunities afforded him of personal knowledge of the king, he 1282 firmly believed that no man was by nature more unwarped and unperverted, more incapable of pursuing a vindictive and unfeeling line of conduct, which under the advice of his ministers, upon this occasion, he appeared to have held; advice, little calculated to sustain the dignity of his Crown, or to secure the affections of his subjects. Led as his majesty had no doubt been by his ministers, for his majesty, as well as for his unfortunate queen, there was a variety of excuses. Who could tell what tales had been poured into his majesty's ear? Who could tell what base pickthanks, and go-betweens had augmented every vile story, culled from sources as vile as those were who sought them. Who could tell how the king's judgment had been misled—how his feelings had been inflamed—how his passions had been awakened by such artifices. Under these circumstances, no wonder, if, his reason obscured, and his vindictive feelings stimulated by those whose duty it was to guard him against such pernicious excitements, his majesty should have appeared to act as he had done.
But ministers! What excuse had they? what apology could they make for their conduct? what was there to deprive them of the calmness and discrimination of their judgment? If they saw base and infamous individuals surrounding his majesty, and endeavouring to poison his mind against his unhappy wife, they were bound by their oaths to give his majesty the advice which resulted from their cool and deliberate consideration. If they had failed to do so—if, instead of doing so, they had yielded to the artificially wickedly excited feelings of his majesty on the subject, they had proved themselves the worst of traitors. At any rate, it was clear that in any case they had not given his majesty wise, sound, faithful, or constitutional advice. If they had thought fit to advise his majesty to send down to parliament the royal message, and the green bag which accompanied it, they were bound to make up their minds to proceed with the consideration of the subject, in all its parts, without delay, whether the queen staid abroad or not. Whatever conduct she might have thought fit to pursue, their duty was to protect the interest of the public; and if on public grounds, as now pretended, the step was taken, in should have been followed by a steady and undeviating course. How different their conduct, they told the 1283 queen, that if she staid abroad she might disgrace herself, she might disgrace her husband, she might disgrace the country as much as she pleased. The public interest might, in that case shift for itself. They would even furnish her with the means of waste, profligacy, and riot. "Do not by your presence embarrass us," said the noble lord, "and, as honest men, we shall not think it necessary to bring down the green bag, but will moreover supply the means out of the exhausted pockets of the people, of supporting with splendor your disgraceful imperious and vicious, career. He hoped that, under these circumstances, the good sense of the House, and their common feelings of propriety and decency, would induce them to declare to ministers its determination, that their foul green bag should never be opened. On the very first night of debate on this subject—the moment that ministers paused and hesitated, and allowed that that which nothing but imperious necessity could have justified in submitting to the consideration of parliament was nevertherless a subject of negotiation—from that moment there was an end to their whole case, nothing remained.
The hon. member for Bramber, had declared—he (sir F. Burdett) did not know whether that hon. member was in the secrets of ministers or not—but the hon. member had declared, that the green bag contained such a disgusting collection of all abominable things, such horror, that if parliament allowed it to be opened, there was not a decent family in the country but would be shocked, or afraid to take up a newspaper, lest they should be encountered by the pernicious accounts which were there described—that it was so replete with tales of slander, with matter of crimination and recrimination, that it would pour forth such a deluge of filth and obscenity, as would be sufficient to pollute if not to destroy the morals of the country. He must confess that this description of the contents of the green bag, any more than permission to diffuse its impurity through the kingdom, did not appear to him the best possible means of supporting the dignity of the Crown, or of raising in the estimation of the people the character of the king, queen, or royal family, nor the most likely way of aiding the opinion of the hon. member for Corfe Castle, who had so strenuously urged the necessity of supporting, particularly at the present mo- 1284 ment, the dignity of the royal family. But on the contrary, to him it appeared, that no person the most hostile to royalty, or the most disposed to bring into contempt regal government, could pursue a course better adapted to his purpose, and on which he might more confidently rely, and reasonably entertain little fear of the result. Yet such was the course which ministers had thought fit to adopt.
He would not, however, allow himself to believe in the accuracy of the statement made by the hon. member for Bamber, either with respect to crimination or recrimination. He believed, indeed, that the contents of the green bag were as false as they were filthy, and could every other man in the kingdom be made to believe so too, it were well for the royal family. But, whether false or true, it had been conceded by ministers in their support of the resolutions of the hon. member for Bramber, that it was not an unavoidable necessity, and, if not unavoidable, not a necessity that it should be opened. He had already observed, that if ministers could be justified for having laid that green bag on the table, they could not be justified in having listened for one moment to any proposition suspending the examination of its contents. Whether those contents were true or false, did not signify one straw in this view of the subject. Undoubtedly great mischief might result from investigating the contents of the green bag. But, whether true or false, those contents ought not to be investigated, because it could not be stated that any public interest was connected with the investigation. Ministers had shown, by their own conduct, that no public interest was connected with the investigation. This they had made manifest by their willingness to treat. He had a right, therefore, to assume that as a fact. He had a right to assume that all the filth contained in the green bag was raked together for the purpose of being held out in terrorem, to facilitate the attainment of the object which ministers had in contemplation—to keep the queen out of England. Therefore, supposing, for the sake of argument, every thing contained in this green bag (which, like Pandora's box, was fraught with every evil, without the alleviation of any, hope at the bottom) were true—supposing ministers knew that every tittle of its contents were true—what ought they to have said? "We are sorry to hear it. Let us throw a veil 1285 over these circumstances, since no public interest requires their developement; and since it must be contrary to the public interest to promulgate stories reflecting directly on the character of a branch, and injurious to the whole, of the royal family." Such would have been the conduct of discreet and upright ministers, instead of threatening to publish a heap of trash, which according to their own description of it, would make every modest woman in the country blush to read; and this to be inflicted on the country, unless the queen consented to give up her right to have her name inserted in the Liturgy!
The only way in which, under such circumstances, ministers could with propriety act, would be to adopt the noble lord's amendment. By doing so, they would show that they retracted. The queen cared for nothing else. She had no eye to pecuniary advantages. She would then say to them, "I have saved my honour, and you may keep your money in your pockets." But no. Ministers were not disposed to do any such tiling. They were quite ready to grant her majesty money out of the pockets of the people; but then she must not live in England. On this, however, they might depend—that she would never consent to leave with disgrace a country in which she had been received with so much respect. Better would it be for her majesty that she should lose twenty lives, than give up one point of her honour. He was at a loss to conceive why ministers stuck so closely to this object. He really believed that the noble lord was sincere when he said that the prosecution of it gave him much pain. But what was the only course which an honest minister ought to have adopted under such circumstances? Would it not have been true wisdom and their duty to have expostulated with the king, and to have said—"If your majesty thinks it expedient to proceed in this business, it is my duty to tell you that I cannot consider it for your interest or your honour. I cannot aid in carrying into effect your majesty's purpose; therefore, if your majesty has unalterably determined on such a course, I beg leave to tender my resignation?" Had ministers been honest men, such was the course they would have adopted, instead of allowing his majesty to enter, with their consent, on a career more dangerous than any which had been pursued by any ting of England since the Revo- 1286 lution of 1688—a career calculated to bring hatred and contempt on the whole system of government, and which is, as they themselves agree, "derogatory to the interests of the Crown, and injurious to the interests of the public." At least, it might have been expected, that ministers should have shown something of the firmness and constancy which her majesty had manifested. After having screwed up their minds to advise the king to institute such a proceeding, they should equally have screwed up their minds to go through with it. They should have risked their heads upon the issue. No consideration should have induced them to admit of a moment's delay. Necessity, the tyrant's plea, was theirs; it allowed of no compromise. They had commenced a course which might bear the inscription on Dante's hell: "Who enters here leaves hope behind."
The difficulty now, however, appeared to be how to get rid of the green bag, which had been so precipitately produced. This was similar to the difficulty experienced in the duke of Buckingham's "Rehearsal" in getting some of the performers off the stage, who had very easily got on it; till at last, out of all patience, the manager says—"Go off kneeling, or any how—only get off. Ministers had tied the bag round the necks of the House, and did not well know how to remove it. In vain did they come down and talk of their honour and consistency, when it was evident from the disposition they evinced to compromise the matter, that the green bag ought never to have made its appearance. He owned that he felt some difficulty—some parliamentary difficulty—himself about the question. The fact was, that this was altogether an extraordinary proceeding. It was first understood that the hon. member for Bramber intended to propose an address to the king and queen jointly. For his part, as his majesty's minister's stomachs had been brought down to recognise this illustrious lady's right to the title of queen, he did not see why they should object to the re-instatement of her name in the Liturgy, which was a trifle compared with their full and complete recognition of her majesty's rank and title; especially as the noble lord asserted, that the omission was not intended to degrade her majesty, although he afterwards allowed that it was not accidental, and therefore that it was put on her as an insult. Still he (sir F. Burdett) admitted, 1287 that there was a technical difficulty in the affair. The House had got into an unparliamentary course. The object of the hon. member for Bramber's motion, was to pay respect and homage to the queen. Was it too much, then, to ask his majesty's ministers, who supported the hon. member in his object, not to continue to affix any stigma on her majesty? To pay respect and homage to the queen was incompatible with retaining the green bag on the table. Either the green bag or the hon. gentleman's motion must be withdrawn. How any man could support the green bag with one hand, and the hon. gentleman's motion with the other, was, he owned beyond his comprehension. He should certainly vote for the noble lord's amendment. But, if that should be rejected, he should not oppose the hon. member's resolution; not because he entirely approved of it, but because something would be gained, by its adoption.
But the hon. member for Bramber had not stated what was to be done with the resolution in the event of its adoption by the House. How was it to get out of their walls? How was this resolution,—which first supposed guilt, and presently declared that there was no guilt, and which, in this respect like all the other proceedings on the subject, was not analogous to any parliamentary measure that had ever before been adopted—how was this resolution to reach her majesty? The hon. gentleman, had, perhaps not made up his mind on the subject, and would require a day's delay for consideration. What was to be done with it? Was the Speaker to be instructed to accompany his majesty's ministers, and to go up with it to the queen to No. 22 Portman-street, where he believed her majesty now resided? In what way the resolution was to be disposed of he knew not; but he would take no technical objection to it; for it was a harmless measure, and at all events another acknowledgment of her majesty's right to the rank and title of queen, and pro tanto evidence against the green bag.
But there was another consideration which it was somewhat worth the while of the House to attend to—its own dignity. Suppose her majesty should not receive the resolution; or, suppose receiving it, she should not comply with the wish expressed in it. The fact was, that her majesty could not comply with that wish. That her majesty was anxious to do all that the House of Commons might justly 1288 require of her she had sufficiently manifested. By coming to this country she had put her fortunes—she had put, for aught she knew, her life into their hands. She had shown her respect for the House of Commons, and her generous confidence in the people of England; trusting only to her innocence and her courage. But, anxious as she was to do all that was due from her to the House of Commons and to the king, she might nevertheless exclaim in the words of the gallant Douglas:To the liege lord of my dear native landI owe a subject's homage; yet even himAnd his high arbitration I'd regret.Within my bosom dwells another lord—HONOUR—sole judge and umpire, of itself!Her honour the queen must defend; and yet it was her honour which the House called upon her to relinquish. Take her allowance; take any thing from her but her honour, that she could not part with; And for what purpose was the House required to ask of her majesty the sacrifice of her honour? To enable ministers to slink off with their green bag—what to do with it he knew not. According td the description which had been given of it, it was unfit for the House to keep—it was unfit for the country to become ac quainted with—he hardly knew how to name any place, for which a thing des cribed as being so filthy was fit.
There were so few points of this interesting question which bad not already been noticed in the debate, that he ought to apologize to the House for trespassing so long upon its patience. He wished, however, to state explicitly the reasons by which he supported his vote, and to ex plain clearly his particular view of the question. He begged also to protest against being hung on one or other of the horns of the hon. member for Bramber's dilemma, and to deny that he must either support the motion or consent to an inquiry into the foul contents of the green bag. He might reject the motion and the green bag top, by adopting the amendment; or he might reject both without any amendment. There was no necessity in the case'—no necessary connection between rejecting the one and adopting the other. As to opening the green bag, to that he would never consent. He protested against it in the name of the king; he protested against such a step in the name of the queen—he protested against such a step in the name of the parliament—he 1289 protested against such a step in the name of the country. For even were the charges true which that green bag contained—even were they not such a collection of sordid filth as had been represented, and which he in his conscience believed them to be, still they ought never to have been brought to that House. Ministers must necessarily be much better acquainted with the merits of the case than that House could be. Ministers must have a great deal of knowledge upon the subject which no one else could possess, which even the green bag itself could not contain, and which rendered it highly improper that any proceeding should be founded on the green bag alone. He would go further and say, that if ministers had had a ease as free from, as it was replete with, objection, they would have ruined the fairest case by the foulness of the process. If ministers gave credit to their description of the contents of the green bag—if they thought that those contents afforded a fair ground for prosecution, they were, by acquiescing in the resolution proposed by the hon. member for Bramber, guilty of an offence, or of that which, in an ordinary case, would be a legal offence, for their conduct would be tantamount to "compounding of crime." To compound felony, that is, to make a compromise with the offender, though to get back your own property, was an offence by statute; but here were ministers prepared to compound high treason—to compound an offence which, according to their own statement, involved the dearest interests of the country, which dearest interests, however, they were willing enough to sacrifice, and the public purse into the bargain, provided the offender would agree to their terms?. Had the queen been a woman of less nerve and resolution—had she not possessed ten times the nerve and resolution of the king's ministers—she would have accepted the proffered compromise; aye, and that too without a shadow of guilt, or being justly liable to any unfavourable imputation upon her character. Well might she have shrunk, however innocent, from such an odious and unfair prosecution. In many instances, the experience of common life exhibited the success with which extortion was practised upon the timid. There were many wretches who lived by alarming honourable persons with false and infamous accusations. He himself had known a man, as honest as ever lived, 1290 and as innocent as a child, who had been thus laid under contribution because he had not the courage to face the imputations by which his unsullied name was threatened. This detestable conduct of the basest miscreants was the model which the king's ministers had descended to copy on the present occasion. It would have been no wonder, therefore, if the queen had, as she well might and blamelessly, have shrunk from the contamination of such an accusation as that with which she was menaced. She, however, disdained all compromise, and, with a truly magnanimous spirit, exclaimed, "Proceed. Wreak on me your vengeance. Wreak on me your malice. Bespatter me with the vile filth you have collected from the vilest of sources. I will endure it all, sooner than be a party to compromise my own honour, and proudly retort in defiance your charges upon yourself. You have either listened to false and scandalous stories, to which you ought to have turned a deaf ear, or you have entered into a wicked, malicious, and unnatural conspiracy, against my life and honour, and for which you will deserve to die. In either case, I scorn and defy you."
This was the fair interpretation of the queen's conduct. She seeks no commiseration, great as have been her afflictions. She asks no forbearance, much as she is entitled to it. She demands simply justice. The king does the same: both stand prepared for the event. If sycophants have been busy about the king, have perverted his honourable feelings and warped his natural disposition;—if they have been instrumental in blinding him to a duo regard of his own dignity and that of his family, as well as to his own and the public interests, he (sir F. Burdett) would say, as a member of parliament, that it became the duty of the House to interfere, and by interposing its advice, to put a stop to such dangerous proceedings. The king demanded inquiry. The queen declared her anxiety to meet the charges preferred against her. Both parties were armed for the combat. They were animated by mutual hostility; without reflection, that neither could inflict a wound on the other, which would not recoil upon himself. And that the probable issue was mutual destruction, and the inevitable result mischief to each other, and injury to the public. Parliament, therefore, would not allow of such a contest. Its duty impelled it to interpose.
1291 What did ministers mean? What possible good could they do by degrading their queen? What benefit could the public derive from it? Whereas the attempt, whether successful or not, was a public misfortune. The question might soon take a different turn. Soon might ministers be called upon to answer for the manner in which, as privy counsellors, they had acceded to a measure as declared by the House of Commons, and assented to by themselves, "derogatory to the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the public." It might then, perhaps, be discovered, that they had sacrificed both to their own mean selfish views. The conduct of the king might be apologized, at least accounted for, and would so far appear capable of justification—that it had been consistent and uniform throughout. Besides, who can tell how many excusable causes may be with truth alleged in defence of the king? Who can tell how his ear has been poisoned by base pick-thanks and officious tale-bearers, administering with servile flattery to a distempered mind—who would not be very nice in inquiring into the truth of accusations, when they found accusations greedily devoured by a diseased appetite, to satisfy which promoted their own interested speculations. Fatal and strong impressions appear to have been made, and unbecoming irritation excited in the breast of the king. Under these impressions he had acted, with consistency at least, if not with cool consideration. His majesty had invariably declared his determination to have the matter brought to the lamentable crisis at which it had at length arrived to this consummation so undevoutly to be wished. In effecting this, he had been actuated by the angry passions, and had acted like an angry man, whose judgment was obscured and reason overcome; and the failings of human nature may be offered as an excuse. But for ministers there was no such apology. Their conduct could admit of no palliation. Their acquiescence was dishonest, and they must be aware of it. For even if the charges against the queen were true, it was the duty of ministers to have exerted every means in their power to prevent an exposure, and to have endeavoured to cast a veil over misconduct, the greatest evil of which—and the only evil as far as the public were concerned—was the placing it. before the eye of the public. And nothing less than 1292 imperious necessity—some great and important interest of the community could render a different course in any way excusable. Had such been the case, they should have produced their charges at once, in an open, fair, constitutional, and legal manner. Compromise in such a case was treason. What! compromise the interests of the country, the dignity of the Crown, and their own duty to both! Impossible. And yet, upon their own showing, such had been their conduct. How different the conduct of the calumniated people! The people, who were perpetually in that House reproached with a fondness for seeing their superiors in rank vilified and degraded.—But the people—the much abused, long-suffering, ill-treated, good natured people of England did, on the present, as on all former occasions, falsify the statements of their hireling accusers, and prove by their actions, how greatly their disposition was mistaken or belied. He thanked God that the people, in spite of all their inflictions, still retained, with undiminished ardour, their ancient love of justice and fair dealing. This was their characteristic feature still as in former times. And this it was that made him still not despair of his country.
They had evinced a sensibility—a regard and attachment to the queen under her present distressing situation, which, except for that, nothing else could probably exist. Had the queen not been treated with contumely and injustice, and had she not shown under so severe a trial, such magnanimity and courage; had she but met with decent treatment and fair play, she might have traversed the whole kingdom, in any or every direction, without any such manifestation in her favour, beyond the common respect due to her rank, which would, however, have been trifling, unless also thought due to her character. But when they saw her stand in need of protection—when they considered her sex, her misfortunes, her unworthy treatment, the power and malignity of her enemies—then the generosity of their nature was called forth—then vows were made in her favour, and services attempted to be rendered. Does this show a disposition in the people to run down high-titled dignity—to disregard the claims of birth and station—a sordid inclination to take advantage of and trample upon their superiors in rank. And by so acting, and so endeavouring, 1293 and so hoping that the queen of England should not be disgraced, are they or the ministers best supporting the dignity of the Crown and the interest of the Crow ad the interest of the family on the throne?
It might, moreover, be safely asserted, that had ministers not heaped upon the queen's head insult upon insult—had they not exposed her to galling contempt even From their diplomatic understrappers—had they not studiously tormented her, and exposed her to every indignity wherever she went, they would probably never have been driven to their present state of embarrassment. Now I beg to ask them, putting every other consideration aside, where was the discretion, the common sense—where the policy of this? What end could it answer, thus to provoke, and at least one may say, to compel the queen to come over to this country, and having done so, to try to enter into treaty to offer apology, accommodation, and the money of the people to get her out again, and finally upon her refusal, to resort to a foul accusation"? If she could remain abroad) without being charged with crimes, why; not at home? But no: somehow or other she must be got rid of—as if she could not breath without danger of infection, the same atmosphere with ourselves. Yet this ministers had brought upon themselves. For had she not been thus persecuted, she would probably have remained abroad, and never have given them the least trouble.
But why surround her with spies? Why employ pick-thanks and picklocks to filch out secrets which, when discovered, had better been buried in oblivion; to rake up filth for the sole intelligible purpose of doing a mischief to the queen, though at the risk of derogating from the dignity of the Crown, and, what is far more important, contaminating and polluting the morals of the country? If it were true the queen had led, or was leading, so abandoned a life, why not allow her to remain where she was? Why not allow vice to lay hid in obscurity? There was neither common sense nor common honesty either in draging it forth unnecessarily to light—toshock public delicacy and moral feeling, or in offering the people's money to feed and pamper its depravity—nor in making such charges and showing a willingness to retract. Ministers had given up one point after another. They had at length acknowledged her. There remained then nothing but to restore the queen's name 1294 to the Liturgy, from which they had no right to exclude it. It was by law directed to be inserted as much as the king's. This absurd and illegal exclusion they would not relinquish. They still upheld this subject of contention. They still preserved this point of etiquette, and allowed this apple of discord to remain to "fright the Isle from its propriety," and to put a stop to the whole business of the nation, which was absolutely at a stand, and must so continue until we come to an end of these unfortunate discussions. The first error of ministers was, their base compliance with wishes which they ought to have controlled. Anxious to avoid the responsibility which they had incurred, they came down to the House of Commons for advice, in order, if possible, to drag the House into the mine with themselves. That step once taken, it was impossible to retread it. Alarmed at what they had done, when they were put to the test, and when nothing on earth ought to have induced them to change their determination, they hesitated, and expressed a disposition to compromise. How different this from the energy and decision of the queen! She was, indeed, a most unfortunate lady. Things the most opposite in nature seem to unite and to conspire against her. Part of the administration profess hostility to her for her vices; another part (although the noble lord and his right hon. colleague were sitting at that moment like sworn brothers—together "cheek-by-jowl"), yet the one supported the proceedings against her for her vices, the other for her great and good qualifications. So that, poor lady, her virtues were but as holy traitors to her. The right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Canning) had expatiated on her amiable disposition, her fascinating manners, on the kindness and generosity of her heart. He talked even of his "ardent affection" for her majesty; but of that "ardent affection," and admiration, and devotion, the right hon. gentleman had certainly given the strangest proof that ever was offered by man of his affection for woman. He proved his sincerity by joining the band of her calumniators and persecutors. The right hon. gentleman must of course be acquainted with all the infamous charges which had been crammed into the green bag; and yet, after having been a party to laying that bag on the table, he came 1295 down to the House, and affected to talk of her majesty as "the life, grace, and ornament of polished society." According to the right hon. gentleman her majesty's very virtues rendered it unsafe for ministers to allow her to remain in England "Faction", said the right hon. gentleman had "marked her for its own." This coming from such a quarter is not a little curious, not the least curious, of the many curious circumstances attending this very curious affair. For pray mark! The only faction that had acted in this unprincipled manner—the only faction that had endeavoured to make use of the queen as an instrument to work its selfish purposes with—was the faction of the right hon. gentleman himself. His faction, with the late Mr. Perceval at the head of it, had indeed made use of her majesty, then princess of Wales, with great dexterity and effect: and so far, indeed, the apprehension that the same instrument might be used against him was perfectly natural; he well might lodge a fear that an instrument so effectual in the bands of himself and friends, might possibly be wielded by other hands against him and them with similar success. At that period her majesty, then princess of Wales, was the instrument which they employed, and powerfully employed, against the prince her husband, now king. And who could tell whether the alienated mind of the king at this time, was not to be attributed to the use then made by an unprincipled faction of the situation of the then princess of Wales? Who could tell whether these present deplorable difficulties and dangers were not the necessary, certain natural consequences of the factious proceedings of the right hon. gentleman and his colleagues at that time; at that time too, the princess of Wales was equally unfortunate as the queen now; for that faction, after having made use of her as their instrument, having thereby obtained its selfish and base ends, having thus basely made use of her royal highness, as basely deserted her? The right hon. gentleman, therefore, was excusable in his jealousy of the advantages to be obtained by faction, by adopting similar means for similar ends. It was natural be should be apprehensive others might follow so successful, not illustrious, an example. And this would account for his great anxiety, notwithstanding his ardent affection for her majesty, and on 1296 account of her admirable virtues some how or other to get rid of her. But, however desirable and natural it might be for the right hon. gentleman to be relieved from the fear he entertained of her majesty on account of her virtues, yet the mode of effecting it was such as he still must wonder at the right hon. gentleman's being able, great as his talents wire, to reconcile to his feelings. If it had been proposed to her majesty, and she could have been induced to leave the country upon charges retracted, and character unstained, accompanied with all becoming ceremony, and all the honours of war, it would have been different. That the right hon. gentleman should have been willing to co-operate for such a purpose he could understand; but to be aiding and abetting the endeavours of those whose object is, to drive her majesty from England, and to send her to the continent covered with the filthy contents of the green bag, or blushed by the threat of its being cast upon her unless she departed, was surely a line of conduct irreconcilable with every notion that can be entertained of any person filling the station in society of the right hon. gentleman.
But that which most astonished him was, that ministers appeared to be so little acquainted with or so totally regardless of the feelings of the people, to know so little the tone, temper, disposition, and habits of the country. They ought to know, that if they had any charges to bring against her majesty which would bear the test of examination that this was not the way in which they could be produced with any chance of obtaining credit with the public—they ought to know that if her majesty were dyed in guilt as deep as scarlet.—as deep as her enemies have ventured to represent her, the people of England would believe her white and spotless as snow. No gentleman, even if he thought his wife guilty, would suffer her to be treated as the queen had been. He conscientiously believed that the only difficulty in which ministers now found themselves involved was as to the way of escaping with the green bag; but as that was their affair, and not his, he left them to get out of the matter as well as they could. His principal object in addressing the House had been to protest against the existence of the dilemma de scribed by the hon. member for Bramber—that the House roust either consent to his motion, or open the green bag. From 1297 the mouth of that bag it was the interest of all parties that the seal should never be taken.—[The hon. baronet sat down, amidst loud cheers from all parts of the House.]
§ Mr. Canning
began by declaring that, however much provoked by the speech which had been just delivered, he should abstain on the present occasion from entering into the lists with the hon. baronet, more out of respect to the real subject matter of the debate, which he thought ought not to be mixed with topics of personal vituperation and party invective, than (as he hoped the House would do him the justice to acknowledge) from any habitual indisposition to accept a challenge in debate when charged with want of principle, or with inconsistency of practice. He felt it his duty to recall the attention of the House to the much more interesting considerations involved in the motion before them.
The object of that motion was, to endeavour to avert an inquiry which, however loudly it appeared to be demanded by some of the parties interested in it, was as loudly deprecated by the great body of that House, and by the great body of the country. What might have been the conduct of his majesty's ministers in bringing forward the papers which contained the charges that were to be made the ground of inquiry—what had been the principle of their proceedings—whether they had been actuated by base motives—by personal hostility to the queen herself, or by a wish to steal a vote from the House of Commons which might confirm them in royal favour and enable them to retain their places—all these were questions which the House were now informed they would have an opportunity, at no very distant period, of discussing. Come those questions when they might, his majesty's ministers, whether as a body or individually would be fully prepared to meet them; and if, upon the present occasion, they postponed their own justification to the discussion of topics of greater importance, they did but make the same sort of sacrifice which was exacted from the other more illustrious parties in this case, when they were required to submit their private grievances and feelings to the pressing sense of public duty. He trusted, therefore, that he should easily obtain credit from the House when he declared that it was not from any want of readiness to meet the 1298 charges and insinuations which had been preferred—nor from the nature of the topics that had been employed in preferring them, nor from the vehemence with which those topics had been argued—nor from any exaggerated feeling of respect for the quarter whence they proceeded—that he should decline at the present time entering into the justification of his colleagues and himself. Whatever might be the fate of that night's question, ample opportunities for such justification would occur; and whenever they did so, he should be quite ready to meet with arms, he hoped, of as keen temper as any that had been or could be wielded against him, with denial, and defiance, with vindication and retort, the most boisterous accuser, or the loudest cheerer who had raised his voice on the present occasion. But lie felt it to be now his duty—a duty paramount to all party or personal considerations—to endeavour to recall the attention of the House from the vague and useless excursion into which they had been led away, to the question immediately before the House; and to urge them to direct their whole and undivided attention to a proposition, on the result of which so many individuals concurred in considering the peace, happiness, and moral feeling of the people of this country to be mainly concerned.
He knew it would be said, "If that be the feeling which you acknowledge to be generally entertained with respect to the result of an inquiry, in God's name why is the inquiry called for?" His answer was, that his majesty's ministers were forced into it. He would tell the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Tierney) who had followed him in debate the other evening, and whom therefore he was not at liberty at the time to answer, what he meant by saying that his majesty's ministers were forced into the step which they had taken. "Who forced you?" was the question of the right hon. gentleman. He (Mr. C.) answered—Those weak and dangerous advisers who, in an ill-fated hour, had induced her majesty to return to this country. And why so? Was it because her majesty's person was odious to individuals, or the government? Was her arrival in England a crime? and was the measure adopted upon her arrival, adopted as a punishment? No. But by coming over to England, the queen had at once brought to issue a question, the discussion of which the government would gladly 1299 have avoided. And what was that question? Why, no other than this—What was the precise situation in the kingdom which her majesty was to occupy? Why—where was the difficulty? The difficulty lay in the charges now upon the table; not in the production of them, but in their existence. In alluding to these charges, he meant to say no more than that they were charges: he meant not to utter a single syllable from which any inference might be drawn as to his opinion of the validity or amount of those charges. But, such as they were, they were brought within the knowledge and under the eye of his majesty's government. It was one thing to have exercised a discretion—and he would term it a sound discretion—in determining that so long as the question of her majesty's claim to be received into all the privileges of her high station was not brought practically to issue, none of the transactions, the rumours, the calumnies (if you please) which the hon. baronet had so lavishly recapitulated, and dwelt and commented upon with so disgusting a minuteness, should induce his majesty's government to originate the agitation of that question. Such had been the determination of ministers, and upon that determination they had acted as long as they were enabled to do so. But, it should be recollected, that his majesty's government were not the only parties upon whom the agitation of this question depended. It was in the power of the illustrious personage herself to bring it to issue by demanding inquiry. She did so; and after that his majesty's government had no choice. There could be no desire—desire how could he let slip such a word, or how suppose it could be imagined by the most perverse and malignant of human imaginations, that there should be in the mind, he would not say of any honourable man, but of any being with the feelings of man, any desire but that inquiry should be avoided? If any choice had been left to his majesty's ministers, any chance of forbearance which they had not tried, any hope of compromise which they had not explored and exhausted, he should have considered their conduct most unwarrantable. But in this respect he could say boldly for his colleagues what he had said for himself, that every personal and private feeling conspired with their sense means of abstaining from any proceeding in this case. But 1300 they had no escape. The sounder advice of her majesty's acknowledged legal advisers was overborne;—that illustrious personage was persuaded to return to this country, and his majesty's ministers were left without an option.
The hon. baronet had thought proper to describe the language in which he (Mr. Canning) had spoken of that illustrious personage on a recent occasion as extravagant, and as inconsistent, with his conduct. If that language had procured him any credit with the House for sincerity, he hoped he might be believed, when in the same spirit of sincerity, he professed that he thought it in no degree inconsistent with the strongest feelings (if the hon. baronet would permit him to use that expression) the strongest private feelings of admiration and regard for any individual, whose conduct might, whether justly or not, have become subject to suspicion—for any person holding public situation, and having public duties to discharge, to determine that he would use every effort to prevent any proceedings tending to bring that conduct into question, unless a step should be taken on the part of the suspected individual, which would render such proceedings inevitable,—and yet to be unable to resist the consequences of such a step once taken. Unfortunately, most unfortunately, in this case, such a step had been taken! Would to God, he could have dissuaded it! But, once taken, there was no alternative: the suspicions which before might have been left uninvestigated, must now be, and God grant they might be, disproved! To the courage which her majesty had evinced in coming back to this country, with a full knowledge of what the consequences must be of such a step, he did full justice. Happy if that display of courage should prove the prelude to complete vindication!
With respect to the conduct of the negotiation at St. Omer's, it was not his in tent ion to impute blame to any one. A time might arrive when a minute explanation of all the circumstances of that transaction might become necessary: at present he would merely repeat the declaration which he had previously made, that the honourable and learned gentleman opposite (Mr. Brougham) was the bearer of the only proposition which was intended to be conveyed to her majesty. There had been an intimation confided to the noble lord, by whom the hon. and learned gentleman had been accompanied, that her majesty's 1301 coming over to this country would at once terminate all negotiation. This intimation had been so confided to the noble lord at the suggestion of the hon. and learned gentleman himself; and on this fair ground, that if it were attached to the proposition of which the hon. and learned gentleman was the bearer, it would have too much the air of a menace. The noble lord had not even been furnished with a copy of the memorandum of the official proposition; of which the hon. and learned gentleman was exclusively in possession. The noble lord was charged with the intimation which he had described, only to be used should the queen express her determination to return to England. This he had said in the way of explanation upon a point which had been much misunderstood. If there were other points connected with the subject, upon which any explanation was required, he should be equally ready to give it.
But the interest of the negotiation at St. Omer's was now swallowed up in the greater importance of that which had recently been carried on in London. Amidst all the details of that last negotiation which had been now laid before the House, was there the slightest ground for any charge against his majesty's ministers of having evinced any disposition to lend themselves to widen the unfortunate differences, or to conduct themselves towards the queen with any other feelings than those of moderation and forbearance? It had been observed, indeed, that the terms proposed to be granted to her majesty, did not include every object of her wishes. To be sure they did not. Who ever heard or thought before, that a compromise implied a triumph. Did not the very word compromise imply the contrary? Was it not always understood, that in effecting a compromise, the persons deputed on each side were virtually empowered to make a reasonable deduction from the claims of the one party and of the other, with the view of obtaining an adjustment, fair in the opinion of the umpires, although not completely satisfactory to the wishes of either of the parties? As to the proposition for restoring her majesty's name to the liturgy, it was one which could not be assented to by his majesty's government, as might have been inferred from the basis on which it had originally been proposed to treat,—namely, that the accused party "should not be required to 1302 admit, nor the accusing party to retract any thing." This basis had been laid down in the hope, that by thus saving the point of honour on both sides, an arrangement might at length be effected, satisfactory to both parties in point of form, and in substance satisfactory, if not to them, to the House of Commons. That House had constituted itself the umpire between the parties; and it was for that House, and not for the partizans of either conflicting party, to judge whether the arrangement proposed was such as ought to bind both parties, and whether it was not the more satisfactory and the more just, precisely because it did not give a triumph to either.
Having agreed in the outset of the negotiation, that no admission on the one hand or retractation on the other should be required, how happened it that the legal advisers of her majesty did nevertheless, in the very first conference, and to the great astonishment of those to whom his majesty's interests were confided, require that the king should retract a public act, which, had it been considered by them (as it was now attempted to be represented) as a bar to all treaty, ought to have been mentioned as such in the first instance? Now, it seemed, this—being the only point not gained, was the only point thought at all desirable;—and the basis being laid down, that there should be no retractation, and this being in truth the only act done, it was now found to be indispensable that this act should be retracted. Thus, no sooner was the first conference held, than the basis so solemnly settled in the previous notes, was set aside by the queen's legal advisers, and the acknowledgment was required of a principle directly in contradiction to that basis. "Nothing shall be required to be retracted," said the basis:—"retract, or we will treat no more," said her majesty's legal advisers. Was that fair? Was that consistent? Would his majesty's ministers have been justified in conceding a point, upon the assumed and understood settlement of which the whole negotiation had proceeded? As to the charge so often refuted, but again revived of their having offended the queen by an offer of money,—could so shallow a sophistry any longer deceive any one who did not wish to be deceived? Was not her majesty entitled by law to a settlement of 50,000l. on the death of the prince of Wales? Had not a 1303 bill been introduced into that House in 1814 to give her majesty this exact allowance of 50,000l. a year? But the question in the late negotiation with regard to the queen's income did not originate with government. It was introduced by her majesty's legal advisers themselves, who stated that the points to be settled were residence, patronage, and income. If those points had been alluded to specially, it was their own specification. In the first oral conference, however, it came out that that which was to be preferred to residence, patronage, or income, was the introduction of her majesty's name in the Liturgy.—Exaggeration was undoubtedly a favourite figure in that House, but, he confessed, he never recollected an instance in which it had been carried to so great a height as in describing the importance to her majesty of restoring her name to the Liturgy. He never recollected such an attempt to press sacred topics to the aid of topics merely human before. If, however, the matter was of such importance, not merely in a worldly but in a religious sense, what was to be thought of those negotiators for the queen who, when coolly enumerating the objects most essential to be settled in negotiation, lost sight altogether of this half-divine consideration, or at least postponed it to the purely mortal considerations of residence, patronage, and income?—nay, when they did at length introduce this awful, heavenly point of exclusion from the ceremonial of the church into discussion, did they even talk of it as essential and indispensable? as that, without which nothing earthly was worth having, and for which nothing earthly could compensate? No thing like it. They introduced it at last as a matter for commutation for an equivalent. They were equally ready to take it in kind, or in value. The privilege in question (if the House was to credit the glowing representations of to-night), was nothing less than that of ascending on the orisons of millions to the presence of the great Creator. But this celestial privilege admitted, it seemed, of compensation; nay, not only compensation, but, irreverent as it might seem, of an equivalent! And what was this equivalent? Ludicrous as it might sound,—the introduction of her majesty to any one petty court In Germany; to the court of any one of the Landgraves, or Margraves, or Rhingraves; whose territory extended three miles on each side of the turnpike road, 1304 and whose quota to the military defence of the Germanic body was two whiskered grenadiers, one corporal, and a fraction of a drummer! an introduction, such as this, to the drawing room of Kniphausen, Sonderhausen, or Hohenzollern-Hech-ingen—would be, in the recorded opinion of her majesty's legal advisers, an equivalent—for what was in the same breath represented as a spiritual right, a celestial aspiration of the highest order!—It was surely unnecessary to dwell longer on so palpable an inconsistency. It must be unnecessary to detain the House with commenting on the grossness of this attempt to impose upon their best feelings. The plain truth was, that this point of the omission of her majesty's name in the Liturgy, had been seized upon only because it was the single act which had been done, and the single act therefore that could be retracted. It was of little importance in itself; but it was of much importance as calculated to inflict humiliation in the concession of it, and to give triumph in the attainment. Therefore it had been insisted on. That concession he, for one, could not advise. If the House thought that the name of the queen ought at once to be inserted in the Liturgy, they would pronounce their opinion accordingly; but if it were required that his majesty should be advised to retract his decision in that respect, other advisers must be found than himself and those by whom he was surrounded. And this opinion he would be willing to maintain simply on the ground already stated, that the basis of the negotiation excluded retractation; and that it was one, therefore, which the negotiators had no right to require.—But be denied that in the substance of the omission there was any thing of the nature apprehended. If, indeed, other names had been inserted in the "prayer for the royal family"—if the name of the duke of York, for instance, the heir presumptive, had been inserted, then indeed there might have been something disparaging in the omission. But from the absence of all specification, there was no such inference to be drawn. It was, as he had before described it,—and as it had been justly described by others whom he could name, before it was thought expedient to exaggerate the matter into such importance,—a measure purely neutral. Nor could there be any doubt as to the competency of the authority by which it bad been 1305 ordained. When it was shown that the late duke of Cumberland in one reign was included in the Liturgy, and was excluded from it in the next, was it not clear that the admission or exclusion was not a matter of law, but simply one of discretion? The power of George 1st to exclude his queen from the Liturgy had never been questioned; although her son, afterwards George 2nd, unquestionably believed his mother to be an innocent and injured woman. He did not, however, adduce this precedent to prove that her present majesty ought also to be excluded; but only to prove, beyond the possibility of contradiction, that it was a question, not of law, but of discretion. Nothing, indeed, could be less consistent than the course taken by the hon. gentlemen opposite on this question, who at the same time that they insisted upon the insertion of her majesty's name in the Liturgy as a matter of law and strict right, were willing to take it as a concession. If, as those hon. gentlemen contended, the omission was illegal, the abandonment of it could not be called a concession; and in exact proportion as her majesty was entitled to be prayed for, without any reference to conduct, the concession of that privilege became valueless for the vindication of her character. Upon the whole he protested that if it had been referred to him as an arbitrator, to settle the points in dispute with an even hand between the illustrious parties concerned, he knew not what settlement he could have awarded more equitable than that proposed—a settlement which, as he had already stated, could not, from the very nature of the transaction, be exclusively favourable to one side only, but which if in any degree partial, inclined (as it was proper that it should do) in favour of the weaker side.
The House were now to consider, whether they would proceed in the direct course that was opened to them by his hon. friend, or turn aside, and adopt the amendment proposed by the noble lord. It was not the province of those who sat around him to recommend either course. To whatever result the House might arrive, they should submit with deference to its decision. But he thought that, whatever might be the vote of the night, no renewal of the negotiations would be advisable. His majesty's government had entered on those negotiations with the sincerest disposition to bring them to a 1306 satisfactory issue; but having been broken off, those negotiations could not now be renewed but under the greatest disadvantage. Indeed, the course which the present debate had taken, rendered it idle to talk of renewed negotiations. The hon. and learned advocates for the queen might think the course which they had pursued, and the manner in which they had enforced their arguments, calculated to benefit their illustrious client. If so, he did not blame them, although certainly what had fallen from them was not likely to facilitate adjustment. With respect to others, who had been more violent, he really did not think that any thing which they had said would produce an impression on the mind of any man who had wisdom and self command enough to view a subject so deeply interesting as the present in a calm and dispassionate manner. As to the furious declamation of the hon. baronet in particular, he did not believe that it would have the slightest effect on the youngest member of the House. He was sure, that neither he nor his noble and right hon. friends, had thrown any impediments in the way of an amicable arrangement; but he conjured the House, if they thought that a period had arrived in which negotiation ought to terminate, to put an end to it, by some decisive expression of their opinion. He was anxious to render his free homage to his hon. friend the member for Bramber for his good intentions. His hon. friend had been as usual labouring in his praiseworthy vocation. It had been his hon. friend's noble object, not to exasperate, not to inflame animosities, not to put the parties in a position from which neither could retire with honour: his objects were of a higher, and holier nature—the healing of differences, the cessation of angry discussions, and, where reconciliation was unfortunately unattainable, at least oblivion and peace.
On a former occasion, an hon. gentleman had said something of the baseness of ministers in allowing his majesty to be at all visible in an affair in which they ought to be the sole actors. On a question of so delicate a nature—connected intimately and necessarily with the personal feelings and peace of mind of his majesty—it was difficult, and indeed impossible to speak without occasional reference to the monarch in his individual character; much as it was to be desired, on all constitutional principles, that the person of 1307 the sovereign should be kept out of sight in their debates, and his acts only canvassed through the responsibility of his ministers. But let that principle be fairly and generously acted upon. If blame should be thought to attach to any quarter; if the arrangement which had been wished for and recommended by the House of Commons, should be supposed to remain unaccomplished only in consequence of some culpable act or omission on the part of the Crown; by ministers alone let the responsibility of such act or such omission be incurred: but let the king stand clear. In a case so full of difficulty, and so much calculated to distract the understanding as well as to distress the feelings, it would be idle to pretend that not a word had been written or spoken amiss; but on a review of all that had passed, the ministers had the consolation of believing that they had not been wanting in duty to their sovereign on the one hand, nor on the other hand in consideration for the illustrious female, now approaching to that awful trial, which she braved with courage, and had demanded with a voice not to be resisted. But whatever might be the judgment of the House with respect to the conduct of ministers, let not the House forget that magnanimity with which the king had acceded to every sacrifice required of him. The proposition of his hon. friend, the member for Bramber, afforded another gleam of hope. The success of that proposition depended not upon his majesty or his ministers. But the ministers, he could answer for them would hail that success with joy:—and when the day of congratulation and acknowledgment arrived, the House would convey to his majesty the expression of their gratitude for the willingness which he has shown in subduing his own personal feelings, in consideration for the wishes of the House of Commons, and for the peace, and happiness, and morals of his people.
§ Mr. Tierney
observed, that as the better part of valour was discretion, the right hon. gentleman had thought fit to postpone his defence of ministers till the effect of the hon. baronet's speech had worn away. The right hon. gentleman had said, that ministers were not afraid to meet either boisterous accusers or clamorous cheers; but never had so golden an opportunity of vindication as the present been neglected. If a speech which could not fail to excite the interest of 1308 every man in that House by the purity of its diction, and convince his understanding by the depth of its reasonings, appeared to the right hon. gentleman vague and empty declamation, he should either have treated it as a subject unworthy of serious consideration, or, if he felt its beauty and acknowledged its power, replied to it while fresh in their recollections. But the very fact proved that the speech was unanswerable; it was an admission, that ministers had fully accomplished what the hon. baronet asserted, namely, that they had placed themselves in a most degraded situation. He owned he felt no compassion for ministers after the speech of the hon. baronet, but he confessed he did at the conclusion of the speech of the right hon. gentleman. At that late hour it was not his intention to follow the right hon. gentleman through the various topics to which he had alluded, and some of which he had discussed in the course of his speech. With respect to the present motion, it was utterly out of his power to vote for it; and he said so with sincere regret, because he perceived that the evident impression of the House was in favour of it; and he felt-also that any person who opposed it subjected himself to the imputation of throwing obstacles in the way. There was no man in that House more desirous of effecting conciliation than himself, but he did not think that the course pursued by his hon. friend was calculated to attain that object. The right hon. gentleman had brought a charge against those who, in an earnest wish to forward the views of the queen, had induced her to come to England; but that event had produced a most important change, not in the opinions of the mob, but in the conduct of ministers; for had her majesty continued abroad and not braved the storm, the concessions already obtained would never have been made. The history of the civilized world could produce nothing like the conduct of the king's advisers: simply because her majesty had reached Dover they had brought down two messages to parliament; and though they all now professed their wishes to conciliate, it was singular that they had made no earlier attempts, instead of resorting to the empty, bullying, blustering threats about the contents of a green bag. They did not dream of conciliating until they were driven to it by parliament; and as to future inquiry and exposures, it was mo- 1309 rally certain, after the vote of to-night, that it never could be commenced. After some further remarks upon the tenderness of government upon this subject, Mr. Tierney proceeded to the question of the Liturgy, arguing that the words of the statute were plain and express. The right hon. gentleman had asserted that it was an after-thought of the negociators; but their only object in introducing it had been that something might be done to enable the queen to return to the continent salvo honore; and for his own part he (Mr. T.) did not think the proposition to restore her name unreasonable. He made this no party question, but he should be glad to know what result was expected from this resolution, supposing it were adopted. He would ask his hon. and learned friend whether he could give any assurance that her majesty would consent to be regulated by this resolution; but his hon. and learned friend, he must allow, stood in a situation which would perhaps induce him to withhold an answer. [Mr. Brougham here intimated that he would give no information.] Since he could not get the information he wanted in this quarter, he would ask a question of the hon. mover of the resolution. It appeared, from the letter of the queen, that he had informed her majesty that this resolution was likely to be favourably received by the House. But he could also give an assurance that a similar resolution would be favourably entertained by the House of Lords. He thought the best thing that could be done would be to adjourn in order to ascertain her majesty's disposition on the subject. He had, however, no doubt, from the speech which they had heard from his hon. and learned friend that her majesty would reject the proposal. There was, however, from this day, in his opinion, an end to the threatened inquiry, whether the resolution passed or not. One of the most extraordinary things in this extraordinary case was, that ministers should vote for the present motion. The resolution proposes to thank her majesty fur preventing those discussions, which, whatever might be their ultimate result, could not but be distressing to her majesty's feelings—disappointing to the hopes of parliament—derogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the empire. Thus ministers, by supporting this resolution, expressly acknowledged, that the proceeding they had instituted was something de- 1310 rogatory from the dignity of the Crown, and injurious to the best interests of the country. It was, after this, quite impossible that they could go on. Now, was it their green bag that contained this mischievous matter, or the other green bag with which they were threatened in the speech of his hon. and learned friend? It was somewhat singular that the gentlemen on the other side, in speaking of this case, always used the term "differences." There might be differences in royal families as well as in others; but did they call a charge which might amount to treason, a mere family difference? In order that time might be had to ascertain her majesty's determination, he again urged the House to adjourn to to-morrow [Here there was a loud cry of No, no!]. But if it was the opinion of the House that there should be no adjournment, he was content; he should be saved the trouble of returning to the subject to-morrow.
§ Mr. Brougham,
in explanation, observed, that the noble lord had misunderstood what he had stated on a former occasion respecting the Liturgy. A question had been started as to her majesty's title of queen. He had then stated, that havingher name in the Liturgy, or receiving addresses, were trifles light as air; for queen she was, and queen she must be. It was in this way, in comparison with her general rights, that he spoke lightly of the omission of her name in the Liturgy, and not at all with regard to that proceeding considered in itself. He much regretted the ground on which ministers had now placed the omission of her majesty's name. With regard to the return of her majesty, it was true he had advised her to suspend her journey until a courier could have been sent to London and return. Whether that advice was right or wrong, he trusted the House and the country would suspend their opinion until he could explain the grounds on which it was given. He never advised her majesty to refrain altogether from coming to this country. Had the negotiation on the return of the courier failed, it would then have been for him to consider what further advice he ought to have given. Much had been said about her majesty's advisers. He confidently believed that the only adviser of the step her majesty had taken in coming to this country was herself. It was a step which reflected infinite honour on his illustrious client. It could not have come so well from her legal advisers as it did 1311 from herself, because in her it evinced fearlessness of danger, arising from conscious innocence. It was true that he had made no communication to her majesty but through lord Hutchinson; but it was not true that the memorandum of the 15th of April was given to him for the purpose of transmission to her majesty. It was to be given to her personally, and he had no opportunity of complying with that condition by going to Italy.—His professional duties, and the necessity of attending to the interests of his illustrious client in that House, where the subject might at any time have been brought up, prevented him from going abroad. When he went to France he had not had an opportunity of laying this memorandum before her majesty, but nobody who was not actually on the spot could form any idea of the strange and unaccountable accidents by which he was prevented from calling her majesty's attention to this document previously to the delivery of lord Hutchinson's communication. He had only to add, that he retained the same opinions which he had expressed at an earlier part of the debate, and that he did not, as at present advised, and under the existing circumstances, think that her majesty could safely give up the point in question.
then rose, but the impatience of the House long prevented him from being heard. He observed, that if he had rightly understood the hon. and learned gentleman, he had said, that he was ignorant of the capacity in which lord Hutchinson appeared at St. Omer's.
§ Mr. Brougham
here interrupted the hon. member, in order to explain that what he had said was, that he had only recently learned that lord Hutchinson had received no instructions.
declared, that although this might be the case, he was confident that when all the circumstances were disclosed, they would reflect additional lustre on the already high and proud reputation of his noble relative. Both he and his noble relation were perfectly willing to join in those humane and honourable feelings which had been expressed with so much eloquence that night. Lord Hutchinson had placed himself in a most painful situation, with the view of preventing a great public mischief, and if the queen had not been most wretchedly advised, he would have succeeded in that object.—This would, he was satisfied, fully appear 1312 hereafter. When his noble relative left England he had reason to believe that the queen was prepared to receive propositions, and when the learned gentleman wrote at St. Omer's to lord Hutchinson to ask for a proposition, it was conceived that his object was merely to gain time. Lord Hutchinson said he wished to wait in the first instance for the arrival of a courier from Paris, but the queen would allow only a few hours. The noble lord, knowing that the chief object was, to prevent the queen's coming to England, made himself the channel of communication, and wrote the letter about which so many observations had been made. It was not surprising, that, in the anxiety of the moment, and taking upon himself an unexpected task, in so hurried a manner, this communication should have been inaccurate. The hon. gentleman concluded by intimating that although he should vote both against the motion and the amendment, he was as averse as any man to a proceeding by a secret committee, and he thought also, that the conduct of ministers in this affair was highly censurable.
§ Mr. Denman
assured the hon. gentleman he had not the slightest intention of offering a single observation reflecting upon the deservedly eminent character of his noble relative.
§ Mr. Brougham
was hardly more surprised at the late declaration that the noble lord had acted without the authority of his majesty's ministers, than at the address of his hon. friend who had just sat down. So far from imputing dishonourable conduct to the noble lord, he had put in the same claim for him that he had for himself, and had voluntarily offered to vindicate his conduct. Whether such vindication could have rendered that of the hon. gentleman superfluous, it would not be for him to determine.
§ Sir Thomas Acland
supported the motion, and expressed his opinion that the original omission of the queen's name from the Liturgy was most useless and improper.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
replied. In allusion to the charge or insinuation that he had any understanding with ministers in bringing this question forward, he solemnly disclaimed it, and conceived that his long political life might have secured him against such a suspicion. He had carefully looked for any means by which he could effect his purpose—that of adjusting this unhappy 1313 difference; and he called on the House to look to his proposition as the very expedient which his learned friend was anxious to discover—as that which would be a substitute for introducing her majesty's name in the Liturgy. Was this House, he would ask, so low, so much degraded in the opinion of gentlemen in general (he excepted the hon. baronet who was reported to have said at a recent meeting, that the present parliament was more infamous than the last), that they would not believe that the declared opinion of this House, on the subject in dispute, would have more weight with her majesty than the introduction to any court whatsoever? She carried about with her an English heart, and she had evidently an English spirit. Was it then to be supposed that she would not agree to an alternative which would be so beneficial to the peace of the country.
in explanation, said, that his hon. friend had expatiated more strongly on his reasoning than any thing which he had stated would warrant. He had repeatedly declared, that the decision on the Liturgy had been taken by ministers, in contemplation of the charges of which they were at that time in possession. But he never had said that ministers came to that decision for the purpose of fixing a stigma on the royal personage. He had stated that they agreed in the measure for the purpose of avoiding a stigma [A laugh.] It was quite astonishing to see how eager gentlemen opposite were to arrive at their favourite conclusion, which was, to prevent all accommodation; but they could neither deceive the House nor the country [Order, order.] It was impossible not to be thrown out of one's natural bias of temper under such circumstances. He admitted that if the name of the duke of York had been placed in the Liturgy, and that of the queen excluded, it would have been a stigma. But, in the way in which it was done, it was that species of neutral measure which could not be considered a stigma. He did not mean to say that it placed her majesty in the same situation as if she had been specifically included in the prayer, or that it was a situation in which ministers, if those grave charges had not been preferred against her, would have found themselves justified in placing her. But, having heard those charges, they could not act otherwise than they had done, without placing themselves in 1314 a situation of being a contrast to themselves, by departing from the course their duty pointed out.
§ The question "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the question," was then put and agreed to. The main question being then put, the House divided: Ayes, 391; Noes, 124. The Speaker said, that from the precedents in the Journals, it appeared, that when an address was voted to any of the royal family, it was customary, if any of their officers were members of that House, for the address to be conveyed by them. Mr. Brougham objected to be one of those who went up with the resolutions to her majesty, as it might so happen, that he might hereafter feel it his duty, as one of her majesty's advisers, to advise her not to act upon those resolutions. Mr. Denman declined waiting on her majesty with the resolutions, for the same reason. But he trusted, that however they might be conveyed, it would be in the most respectful manner. It was then ordered that the said resolution be laid before her majesty, and that Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Stuart Wortley, sir Thomas Acland, and Mr. Bankes, do attend her majesty therewith. At five o'clock in the morning, the House adjourned.
|List of the Minority.|
|Althorp, viscount||Coussmaker, G.|
|Allen, John H.||Crompton, Saml.|
|Anson, sir G.||Claughton, Thos.|
|Anson, hon. G.||Creevey, Thos.|
|Aubrey, sir John||Denison, Wm.|
|Barham, J. F.||Denman, Thos.|
|Barham, John||Duncannon, vise.|
|Baring, Alex.||Ebrington, viscount|
|Barrett, S. M.||Ellice, E.|
|Beaumont, T. P.||Farrand, R.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Fox, G. Lane|
|Benyon, Ben.||Fergusson, sir R.|
|Bernal, Ralph||Fitzgerald, lord W.|
|Birch, Jos.||Fitzroy, lord C.|
|Bright, H.||Fitzroy, lord J.|
|Brougham, H.||Folkestone, vise.|
|Browne, Dom.||Graham, Sandford|
|Burdett, sir F.||Graham, J. R. G.|
|Bury, vise.||Griffiths, J. W.|
|Byng, George||Guise, sir W.|
|Calcraft, J. H.||Grenfell, Pascoe|
|Calvert, C.||Gurney, R. H.|
|Campbell, hon. J.||Glenarchy, lord|
|Carew, R. S.||Howard, hon. W.|
|Carter, John||Hamilton, lord A.|
|Cavendish, lord G.||Harvey, D. W.|
|Clifton, vise.||Heathcote, G.|
|Coke, T. W.||Hill, lord A.|
|Coke,T. W. jun.||Hobhouse, J. C.|
|Colborne,N.R.||Honywood, W. P.|
|Hornby, E.||Power, Rd.|
|Hughes, W. L.||Price, Rt.|
|Hughes, col.||Prittie, hon. F. A.|
|Hume, Jos.||Pym, Francis|
|Hurst, R.||Rickford, Wm.|
|Hutchinson, hon. C.||Ricardo, David|
|Haldimand, Wm.||Robarts, Abr.|
|James, Wm.||Robarts, George|
|Kennedy, T. F.||Robinson, sir G.|
|Lennard, T.||Rowley, sir W.|
|Lamb, hon. W.||Russell, G.|
|Lambton, J. G.||Stanley, lord|
|Lemon, sir W.||Smith, hon. Robt.|
|Lloyd, sir Ed.||Scarlett, James|
|Lloyd, J. M.||Seudamore, R.|
|Macdonald, J.||Sefton, earl|
|Mackintosh, sir J.||Stewart, Wm.|
|Martin, John||Stuart, lord J.|
|Mildmay, P. St J.||Sykes, Dan.|
|Monck, J. B.||Taylor, M. A.|
|Moore, Peter||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Mahon, hon. S.||Warre, J. A.|
|Nugent, lord||Webbe, E.|
|Ord, Wm.||Wharton, John|
|Osborne, lord F.||Whitbread, W. H.|
|Ossulston, vise.||Whitbread, Sam.|
|Palmer, col.||Wilkins, Walter|
|Palmer, C. F.||Williams, W.|
|Pares, Thos.||Wilson, sir Robert|
|Pelham, hon. C. A.||Winnington, sir T.|
|Peirse, Henry||Wood, alderman|
|Philips, George||Wyvill, M.|