§ The committee appointed to search the Lords' Journals, made its report, through Mr. Brogden. The report being read,
§ Lord Castlereagh moved, that the report do lie on the table. He should also move a further adjournment of the House to a period when it was probable the bill would one way or other, be disposed of in the Lords. When the House had last met, his idea was, that at the present time he should have had to propose an adjournment to some time between the 5th and 10th of November, and to accompany his motion with an order that the House be called over on that day, as he had thought it probable that by that time the bill would have come down, or been rejected. It did not now seem to him that there was the same prospect of an early decision, and he should therefore propose an adjournment to Thursday, the 23rd of November, and should move that the House be called over on that day, giving notice that in the event of the bill being by that time in a state to be brought down from the other House, he should enforce the call, but that if the bill was still pending there, or was rejected, the 784 call would be suspended, or abandoned ac cordingly.
Sir G. Noel
said, he had before compared the House to a pack of hounds, who were whipped in or out by the noble lord as by the hunter. So, it seemed, he still resolved to treat them. He objected to so long an adjournment. They should continue to meet, to attend to the affairs of the nation at this critical period. He would move, as an amendment, that the House, on its rising, adjourn to to-morrow.
§ Mr. Tierney
said, he quite agreed with the hon. baronet, that the adjournment proposed was very much too long, but he was not prepared to support the amendment for an adjournment only till to-morrow. It was very extraordinary that now, after the trial had proceeded so far, a proposal should be made to them for a longer adjournment than was proposed at the very commencement. The noble lord knew better than he did, what was going on; but when he saw that there had been printed nearly 900 pages of evidence, he thought he was not hasty in concluding, that the proceedings were advancing towards their termination. Yet the noble lord had now proposed an adjournment longer than on any former occasion. He had thought, on a former occasion, that time should be allowed to see what the Lords would do, not understanding that he was to be at all bound by their proceedings. But the present motion made them quite subservient to the proceedings of the Lords. As a spectator of their proceedings, he imagined, that they would close in a week. If there was a possibility of that kind, why should they adjourn for so long a period? If the noble lord could inform the House that the bill of Pains and Penalties would never be heard of more in this place, then he was ready to adjourn, not merely to the 23rd of November, but to the 23rd of January. The noble lord had said, that if the bill were thrown out by the Peers, the order for the call need not be enforced; but surely, even in that event, there would remain many matters to be discussed of a most serious character. The noble lord must forgive him for saying, that in the public mind there existed a general indignation against ministers for the pass to which they had brought the country. It would be no adequate satisfaction to the nation to be told hereafter, 785 that the Lords, in the exercise of their discretion, had thrown out the bill—that the nuisance had been got rid of, and that no man was now responsible for the condition to which the kingdom was reduced. He asserted, that ministers were deeply responsible—that nothing could or ought to screen them, not only from mere indignation, but from public punishment, if they failed in making out a clear, unequivocal case against her majesty, such as no man could doubt. If their case fell short of that, they had trifled with the public. On a former occasion he had said, that ministers must either betray the King or insult the Queen; but if they did not succeed in this desperate project, they would do both. One important question must arise respecting the body in which the whole case had originated—the Milan Commission—the conduct of which, at all events, must one day be investigated. He knew that ministers, by a side-wind, had endeavoured to inculcate a belief, that the Milan commission was totally independent of the King's servants—that it arose from another quarter. He did not believe it, and the less, on account of the dexterity they displayed in trying to shift the weight from their own shoulders. Its appointment had been, to all intents and purposes, the act of the government; and for its acts government was most deeply responsible. All he asked was, such a reasonable adjournment as should put the House in a situation not to lose time in investigating the subject; a fortnight from the present day seemed to him ample time; for, be it recollected, that independent of the Queen's trial, a great deal of public business remained to be performed. The last session, in consequence of the threatened inquiry, had been a mere blank as applied to public business. And were members to shut their eyes to all the exigencies of the public service because it seemed good to the noble lord and his friends? It might be very inconvenient to the right hon. gentlemen on the other side that the House of Commons should be sitting while particular transactions were in a course of investigation elsewhere; but was this to be set against the inconvenience the public must sustain? The assembling of the House a fortnight or three weeks hence might be a great advantage, even if it were unaccompanied by a call. The call might be fixed for the 23rd of November, but he would support an amendment, that the 786 adjournment be only for a fortnight. If it were otherwise, the House of Commons would stand before the country as almost the only body of men totally indifferent to the progress of the measure in the House of Lords, and adjourning to a distant day merely on the suspicion of the noble lord, that the further the Peers proceeded with the bill before them, the further they were from the end of their labours.
thanked the right hon. gentleman for the candour with which he had met the question. He would as fairly state the grounds upon which he differed with him. The calculation he had made was founded on nearly the same data as that of the right hon. gentleman. He was perfectly ready to admit, whatever might be the issue of the bill, that a great variety of questions might arise out of it requiring the serious attention of parliament; but he knew of no instance where a great public topic was ever passed over for want of a favourable opportunity of discussing it in either House. The right hon. gentleman would probably allow, that those questions, be they what they might, collateral or immediate, ought not to be introduced but with such an attendance of members as should give to the House all the gravity belonging to it. It was quite correct, to state, that he now proposed a longer adjournment than in an earlier stage of the proceeding; but for this obvious reason—that before he had looked simply at an adjournment, and now he combined with it the question of a call. He could not well give less than a fortnight or three weeks to the course of the case, as it was at present circumstanced in the House of Lords. He did not foresee, that in less than that time the Peers could have brought their proceedings to a close, allowing them a week or ten days for the evidence, and the remainder for the discussion of the different stages of the bill. Upon this point there could be no difference of opinion—that it was desirable to discuss the measure in a fuller House than would probably be obtained if merely a question of adjournment were expected. In naming the 23rd of November, he had selected a period which, after the supposed close of the business elsewhere, would give members at a distance due notice of the period when their presence would be required. Any intermediate adjournment would only give unnecessary trouble, es- 787 pecially if that adjournment were unconnected with a call. Upon the whole, it appeared to his lordship, that by far the more convenient arrangement was that which he had suggested.
§ Mr. Tierney
said, that even if the proceedings in the House of Lords were not to close sooner than three weeks, the utmost inconvenience that would occur to members, would be, in case the House now adjourned over for a fortnight, that they might possibly be detained in town for three or four days before any particular business would be entered on; but, on the other hand, if they were to adjourn to the 23rd of November, they would be exposed to much inconvenience, and her majesty to much injury. He could not comprehend any inconvenience, if the House were to adjourn to that day three weeks, to be then peremptorily called over; to adjourn for five weeks, would be to do that for which no fair reason had been assigned.
§ Sir W. De Crespigny
had no objection to the adjournment proposed, and trusted, that the reason for so long a separation was, a belief, on the part of ministers, that they would be enabled to get rid of a bill in toto, which had excited so much disgust throughout the nation.
§ Mr. Creevey
trusted, that his right hon. friend would forgive him for saying that he had met this question in rather a strange way. He little expected that he would have talked of the private convenience of members, instead of meeting the subject with some expression, on the part of the House, of an opinion that it never would permit the bill of Pains and Penalties to enter its doors. It was a most strange consideration, and at the same time a most melancholy one, that the House of Commons, that House which ought to be the guardians of the laws and the defenders of public liberty, were the only body in the nation who appeared insensible to the alarming consequences of this bill. He would ask them to look to the petition presented that night from Plymouth. From the language of that petition, the parliament might learn what was due to the laws and constitution of England from the common inhabitants of the sea-port town of Plymouth. On a former occasion, it was stated in that House, that if the bill should be ever attempted to be brought before them, the best way of proceeding would have been, to move an address to 788 his majesty to prorogue the parliament, and so get rid of the bill. There was only one thing which had since occurred to render it improper to address the throne. In the present progress of the trial, if trial it might be called—for the last two days it was certainly not the trial of the Queen, it was more a trial for conspiracy on the part of the government of this country—in this extraordinary state of the proceeding, he thought that they ought not to address the throne. The right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Wellesley Pole) seemed to smile with much self-complacency. He did not envy the composure which the right hon. gentleman affected. Had the right hon. gentleman attended the progress of the bill before the House of Lords? Had he attended to the evidence which had been given at the bar of that House? Did he understand the questions which had been referred to the Judges? Had he observed the arts that had been resorted to, and the technical question? which had been raised, to get rid of important disclosures? The right hon. gentleman certainly was at liberty to smile; but he might not perhaps have much cause to smile before the bill should be got rid of. This subject, important as it was, should not have been left to him. He regretted that it was not taken up by other bands: he regretted that the heads of the independent interest did not advocate the case. But however others might act, he would fearlessly perform his duty—a duty he owed not less to the liberties of his country, than to the insulted rights of human nature. The bill, not merely as it affected the Queen, but as it affected the nation, was a bill of a most infamous nature. Bills of pains and penalties were abhorrent to the constitution. In former times, bills of pains and penalties were only resorted to in cases of extreme necessity, in times of party conflict, and when the peace of the country was threatened by a rival claimant to the throne. In later times, the country had been disgraced by proceedings of that nature in the memorable cases of bishop Atterbury, sir John Fenwick, and lord Strafford; but in the present case, they had a bill of Pains and Penalties where there was no public conflict, no treason; where there was no one to oppose or to put down but a woman, whose life had been a life of hardship and of suffering. That a bill of that kind should have but 789 few advocates, was natural in a country where the principles of liberty and of humanity were cherished. He believed in his heart, that there was but one human being in England who was for the bill. In other cases high treason had been alleged; but here adultery, or rather an adulterous intercourse, was charged. Adultery was not a crime known to the law of England; it was held to be a civil injury, for which reparation might be obtained, under certain circumstances. By the law of the land they could not prosecute the Queen or any other individual for adultery. It was not more than twenty years ago since a bill was brought in to make adultery a legal crime; but the legislature rejected the bill; and yet they now attempted to punish the Queen, on the imputation of an act which they had so recently refused to constitute a crime. He did not say, that the Queen was guilty—he believed her not to be guilty; but whether guilty or innocent, he never would entertain such a bill—he never would be a party to so odious a proceeding. He would say, as lord Dig by had said in the case of lord Strafford, "God keep me from giving judgment of death on any man, and of ruin to his innocent posterity upon a law made à posteriori;" adding, what he was ready to add on the present occasion, "let the mark be set on the door where the plague is, and then let him that will enter, die."* What he felt on this subject was felt by all; one sentiment pervaded all classes and all ages. As far as the bill had gone, it was impossible not to look at it, not only with abhorrence, but with absolute contempt. The House and the country recollected the manner in which the charges against her majesty had been brought forward. It would, indeed, be difficult to forget that odious part of this odious proceeding. The individual conduct of her majesty was held up to the horror of the world. She was charged with having carried on an adulterous intercourse in no fewer than three parts of the globe, and that atrocious allegation was attempted to be upheld by wretched and perjured evidence. But now what did the charge amount to? All the imputations so foully and so falsely cast upon the Queen had been exposed—had been triumphantly refuted—and the only ex-* See New Parliamentary History,790 cuse that remained to the supporters of the bill was, the fact of her majesty having reposed on the deck of a vessel, in the presence, it was said, of her attendant. This was really a thing of no moment—it ought not to have a feather's weight—it was easily explained [a laugh from the Ministerial side, and loud cheers from the Opposition]. So help him God, he thought the Queen as innocent of crime in this particular, and in all others, as the most spotless female the world had ever produced. He did not believe that there was one word of truth in all that the miserable Italians had been bribed and persuaded to swear. The next allegation, on account of which all England had been put in motion, was, that the conduct of the Queen had degraded the character of the country—that the morals of the nation were at stake—and a fastidious court—so pure in itself, and so anxious for the purity of all the rest of mankind—wished to drag the British parliament through the dirt and filth of this inquiry—to divorce and degrade the Queen—under the pretence that the national honour had been tainted and sullied by her deportment! Most fortunately for that national honour, not a single English witness had been called who did not swear that, so far from degrading the country, they had never seen in her conduct any thing in the slightest degree indecorous. But the fastidious court—the delicate and scrupulous court—the pure unblemished court—had found one ally, one poor solitary witness, who had sworn, that the refinement of his moral sense was such, that he had been induced to withdraw his innocent nephew from the contagious sight of the Queen of Great Britain. He hoped that her majesty, who had evinced some little courage in facing and daring her enemies, would have sufficient fortitude left, to bear up against the shock of this dreadful imputation, from a person at once so antediluvian in his morals, and so disinterested in his testimony [Hear, hear!]. A third point contained in the preamble was, that the Queen had violated her duty to the King. But what duty did she owe to one, who, under his own hand, had confessed that he had turned her out of doors? That she owed allegiance to the King as his subject was not to be disputed; but that she owed duty to the King, he most strenuously denied; nor would he be any party to try her for a supposed breach of it. 791 Yet this House was to be driven into the inquiry; but, without power to administer an oath—without Judges to assist it in point of law—with the public opinion, on the score of corruption and influence, most decidedly against it, he hoped it would never consent that in such an assembly the Queen should be put upon her trial. For himself, he felt a perfect horror at the bare notion of it; nor was his shame less that, while such a topic was presented, the private convenience of the members had that night been the only subject of discussion.
§ Mr. Tierney
said, that he felt as warmly as any man, the constitutional objections to bills of pains and penalties. The principal difference between him and his hon. friend who spoke last being, that he (Mr. T.) was able in some degree to restrain and keep down his feelings. Yet he knew nothing of the evidence as a member of parliament; but he could not approve of the summary mode in which it had been proposed to get rid of it by a prorogation of parliament. Had he been in the House when it was moved, he should have voted against it. He begged clearly to be understood that it was not because he did not express his opinion at present that he was to be supposed to feel less warmly than others upon this subject.
§ Mr. Scarlett
begged pardon of the House for rising at the present moment; but, after the call which had been made by his hon. friend, he deemed it incumbent upon every man to declare his unbiassed sentiments. He would not enter into a discussion upon the merits of the evidence; but he begged to state, that he, for one, would never, upon any public grounds yet promulgated, give his consent to this bill of Pains and Penalties. With respect to the measure before the House, it was so far connected with the proceedings in the House of Lords, as to entitle him to observe somewhat on those proceedings. They had before them a report, stating, that certain questions had been put to the learned Judges. Until he had heard that report read, he was altogether ignorant of its import. The import of those questions, if he understood them rightly, was, whether the House of Lords were entitled to inquire whether any undue and improper means had been employed to collect evidence against her majesty? He could only say, that if he had been of counsel for the prosecution against the meanest subject in the realm, 792 and had been told, that the defendant possessed the power of proving, that some of the testimony against him, had been obtained by corrupt practices, though he could not perhaps bring it home directly to the prosecutor, he should think that he did no honour to his client, if he interposed an objection to its production. He would feel that such an objection on his part would be an attempt to interrupt the clear current of justice—he would feel that he was disgracing the prosecutor, and betraying the trust reposed in him, if he were, on such a point, to object to any form of inquiry, however ample, or however strict [Cheers]. If such would be, as they certainly would be, his sentiments on a case of a private nature, how much more strongly should he feel in a case where the government stood as the prosecutor, and where the prosecution was conducted, before one branch of the legislature, and by the public officers of the Crown! If the bill of Pains and Penalties ever reached that House, he should consider it as a disgrace if it was entertained for a moment; and he would say, that if the promoters of that bill had intended to bring into contempt all those institutions which had hitherto been held most sacred and most dear, they could not have done it more effectually, than by the measure which they had resorted to. God forbid, that he should say that any particular individuals entertained those views—it would not be parliamentary to say so; but he would repeat it, if they had formed a criminal design to bring this once happy country to the brink of destruction, to bring into contempt institutions that had been hitherto respected, they could not have taken a better mode to accomplish their object. Who could doubt now, that the question was between the Queen of England on the one side, and his majesty's ministers on the other? He, for one, never approved of the introduction of the sacred name of the King in the discussions upon this business. He could never bear to hear the name of majesty used with this irreverence. This measure must not be called the measure of the King. Against such language he must raise his loudest protest: it was, like all other public acts, the measure of ministers, and as such it must be judged. Before he concluded, he begged to enter his protest against the conduct of those who urged technical objections, in order to exclude inquiry into that most vital 793 point, namely, whether undue influence had been exerted, and bribes offered to witnesses, to swear against her majesty. He hoped that such objections would never be tolerated. The House of Lords were not bound to listen to an objection which went to say, that the accused shall not have the liberty of inquiring into the character of the witnesses against her; she shall not have the liberty of asking whether those witnesses were bribed to swear against her. The proceeding before the House of Lords, was less a judicial than a legislative proceeding; and their lordships unquestionably had the right, without being shackled for a moment by the objections of counsel, to enter into a minute inquiry as to the conduct and motives of the witnesses—a proceeding which justice required, and which the country expected. He was not insensible, he participated fully in that general and universal feeling which pervaded the country on this subject. Never was the country more agitated than at the present moment, and never was the conduct of the people more honourable to the character of the nation.
§ Mr. W. Courtenay
said, he felt as much impressed as any man with the impropriety of being drawn into any discussion upon this subject at this premature period; but he could not in silence hear one set of gentlemen arrogate to themselves all purity of principle, and deny it to those with whom they differed upon political topics. Let them pause, and see whether, in the case in which they were involved, there were any ground for all this reprobation so unsparingly heaped upon their course. What was the course of that proceeding? Reports of a most degrading nature respecting the princess of Wales [A laugh]. If gentlemen who opposed his views refused to listen to any thing at variance with their own preconceived opinions, then there was an end to all freedom, or, indeed, utility of debate. [Hear, hear!] Reports of a most degrading nature respecting the conduct of the princess of Wales had reached this country; and, putting out of view all the statements of Italian witnesses, it was said, that an English lady of high rank and character, had been obliged to withdraw herself out of the Queen's society in Italy. These statements called for inquiry, and the step taken was the natural and proper one. A commission—that much abused commission—was sent out in consequence. Steps 794 were taken by it to investigate the truth of these reports. Persons had been sent out intrusted with this commission, and he wished particularly to mention one of them, Mr. Cooke, whose name had been the subject of abuse as unfounded as it was ever undeserved by any man. Mr. Cooke, who was the object of abuse so liberally bestowed on him, had the super-intendance of these inquiries. If ministers had any sinister object to pursue by this inquiry, as had been insinuated, was it likely they would have selected as their agent a gentleman who could never be made a subservient tool, whose situation placed him above all suspicion—a man who had long been engaged in the active pursuits of a profession, from the duties of which he was recently compelled by ill health to retire? Mr. Cooke had nothing to gain by being the tool of any set of men: his competent means rendered him superior to such an imputation. Mr. Cooke had passed his life in the same profession as one of the hon. gentlemen who had been foremost in abuse, and had not hesitated to make him the object of his unbridled invective (Mr.Creevey) had originally embarked, until he quitted it for the more seducing field of politics: and he would now say, that that gentleman might be well contented to barter such fame as had followed his political career, for the unsullied purity and high reputation of Mr. Cooke's professional life. The real question was, did the circumstances justify ministers in recommending this inquiry. One gentleman (Mr. Creevey) had taken much pains to state, in the course of his argument, that adultery was no crime by the law of the land, and that such offence, if proved, was no ground for any proceedings against the Queen. Was this a course of argument which would be adopted by the country? Would the sober and honest feeling of the people really go along with the hon. gentleman, in concluding that it was of no consequence whether the Queen of England was or was not justly accused by report, of adultery, because it was not a crime punishable by law? Would there have been no impropriety in permitting a person to remain queen consort of this realm, to whose court their wives and daughters were to be introduced, if she remained the object of so much degrading insinuation? But it was said, that technical obstacles should not have been interposed before that tribunal. Gracious God! what a 795 mode of reasoning was that! Were the Lords immediately to adopt any course prescribed upon every vague insinuation, however groundless—upon every rumour, however unsupported? Surely that was too much to expect from any tribunal. It was said that the Italian witnesses were suborned, were perjured. If this observation were true, it must be taken in a general sense; and he believed there were some of those who did not hesitate to make the insinuation for partial purposes, who would shrink from admitting its general application. He was also one of those who could not suffer it to be nightly re-echoed by the gentlemen opposite, that the universal sense of the country was consonant to their view of this grave and serious subject [Loud cries of Hear! from the Opposition-benches]. Notwithstanding that cheer, he would repeat his assertion, that the tide of popular feeling was on the turn, and that the people were coming to a more sober and rational view of the subject. The result of the pending investigation he should not anticipate; but, be it what it might, he was satisfied, that the people of the country would eventually feel that the investigation itself was unavoidable, and necessary for the honour and dignity of the nation.
said, that he had meant to have complimented the hon. and learned gentleman, on the bold and manly course he had set out with taking, in defiance of popular feeling; but he found, in the progress of the hon. and learned gentleman's speech, that he must abandon this intention; for it seemed that, so far from having this boldness, he had happily and judiciously selected the favourable moment when he was to have the tide of popular feeling with him. For his own part, he must say, that, in the discharge of his public duty, he did not presume to know on which side of a question the tide of popular feeling ran. He always felt it to be his duty to take the course which his own judgment and sense of principle suggested, as becoming a representative of the people in parliament. But if he were to judge of the current of popular feeling on the question now in agitation, he should say that, so far from the tide being about to turn in favour of the opinion of the hon. and learned gentlemen opposite, the universal feeling was decidedly hostile to the pending investigation, and more particularly at the present time; and that, so far from 796 thinking it either proper or necessary, the people looked upon it as a violation of the best institutions of the country, as an out-rage upon the laws of the land, and felt that the House of Lords had embarked in a course in which they could derive no aid from either human or divine law. The public feeling upon this occasion, was, indeed, as it in general would be found when fairly collected, honourable to the morals and character of the middling and humbler classes, from whom it emanated. They looked at the situation of their Queen with a right feeling; they bore in mind that when she was cast loose upon the world, without guide or protector, she had the permission and. assurance, as far as it could be given (though he knew that any such permission was nugatory), that no advantage would be taken of her conduct, as in the case of ah ordinary woman [Cries of No, from the Ministerial benches]. He repeated, that she had received such an assurance that her conduct would not be looked at, as if she stood in the ordinary relations of a female in private life. Those who, after giving such an assurance, could collect together and act upon reports, be they what they might, could, he thought, derive little consolation from reflection. That commission (the Milan) would for ever remain a blot in the annals of the country. It was not the best advice a minister could give his sovereign, after such a communication had been made to a lady, to beset her with systematic watchfulness, even if it could be done by less censurable means than those which had been resorted to. Was it decent, was it manly, to pry into, to watch, to sift the domestic concerns of a deserted and disconsolate woman; and then afterwards to arrange and embody evidence so procured into a grave and formal charge, to be legislated upon in a tribunal in a form and manner which, he repeated, could derive no sanction from any human or divine law? Whoever advised the monarch to embark in such an inquiry did an injury to that monarchy, which, if he revered, he must for ever lament the longest day he lived. Never was the public sense so generally and unequivocally manifested as upon this occasion. It was impossible to observe it without admiring the general character of the people. He had, during the adjournments, week after week, refrained front I expressing any opinion upon the case now under inquiry. The ultimate issue of 797 guilt or innocence would have no weight with him, feeling, as he did, the roost invincible repugnance to entertaining such a question—a question which nothing upon earth could not one moment induce him to entertain. A good reason truly, that because the Lords had adopted a course which the House of Commons rejected, that therefore the House of Commons should desert its sense of duty, and adopt theirs Far different was the conclusion which he should recommend. The House of Commons should take credit to itself for anticipating those objections with which both Houses at that moment felt themselves embarrassed. The noble lord opposite complained of an attempt to degrade the House of Lords. Let the noble lord reflect on the course he was now pursuing. The House of Lords was the last court of appeal in this country. Its functions that House had ever discharged with unsuspected credit, and great reputation. Assisted by the co-operation of the lord chancellor, and the presence of the Judges, they were peculiarly competent to discharge the trust with all its befitting solemnities. Now, however, by the bill of Pains and Penalties originating there, the House of Commons was converted into a court of appeal, without any one of those solemnities—without the power of administering an oath—without the presence of the judges, to whom, on any legal difficulty, they could apply for their opinions. Six hundred and fifty-eight gentlemen were to sit to try the Queen (a mockery of trial) without one of those advantages which the House, whose proceedings they had to review, possessed. We were to have, in addition, the five gentlemen who conducted the prosecution and defence, also transformed into judges, and their puppets, or subordinates (he spoke the words without offence) conducting the cause at that bar. The noble lord talked of upholding the institutions of the country, and in the same breath recommended a proceeding which made the House of Commons a court of appeal from the House of Lords. He talked of guarding the two House of Parliament from imputation, and still so inverted the course of justice, as to convert the paid advocates of the parties into dernier judges on the decision of the House of Peers. Was that the way to try the Queen of England? Nothing, he was confident, induced ministers to take that unnecessary and unconstitutional course, but the affection 798 they bore, not to the institutions of the country, but to their places. It was considered by them altogether as a question of office; and what a sorry policy! If the noble lord and his colleagues had had the boldness to lose sight of their emoluments even for the shortest period—had they on such manly grounds surrendered office, who would have dared to become their successors? In his conscience he believed the whole mischief had arisen from the ambition of one man in this country, who calculated on being a chancellor, and of another, a chancellor, who wished to retain his office. It was our misfortune to have a vice-chancellor, who wanted to be promoted, and at the same time a lord chancellor who was determined not to retire till he had completed his million [Hear, hear!]. He said this in no disparagement of that noble and learned character. No man more respected his private qualities; he was fully sensible of them, enjoying, as he did, the happiness of having him as his nearest neighbour. He was, indeed, a most excellent sporting country gentleman [A laugh]; but speaking of him as a politician, he had been instrumental in producing as much public mischief as any man he ever knew. He (Mr. Calcraft) was one of those politicians who, in general, looked to the bright side of the question; and he felt a firm assurance that the country would, by its own strength and character, surmount its present embarrassment, but he also felt, that if the King's ministers had manifested but the courage to render justice to that country, all the present confusion and irritation of feeling would have been spared. With all their calculations they were, he knew, taken in. They proceeded from the beginning under the impression that the Queen never would come to England-"She will never come," was their hope and their conviction. She did, however, approach so near as to create alarm, and their famed negotiation at St. Omer's was the result. Still, though so near, "she will never come," was the impression; till at last some unlucky colleague was so indiscreet as to give, in some quarter, an undertaking that if she did come she would be proceeded against. The noble lord opposite knew well that was the fact—He did not expect to extract confession from him; but if he could construe his smiling into an admission, he felt convinced that he was right. For, recollect how happy the noble lord was, to 799 be stopped from that proceeding by the resolution of the House of Commons—a resolution which he (Mr. Calcraft) most sincerely supported, and whose failure he, with equal earnestness, regretted. That effort having unhappily failed, the next object was, to address themselves. to that more ductile body, who were supposed always to look more favourably to the Crown, even than that unreformed House of Commons, whose inclinations even that way he was as disposed as much as any man to check. At the beck of the House of Lords were the Commons of England to be kept meeting and adjourning from week to week and day to day. What was the meaning of all these adjournments? And why, he would ask, now that the proceedings must, in the House of Lords, be approaching their termination, was the protracted adjournment for five weeks proposed? The noble lord opposite could, if he pleased, give the answer—he well knew the bill of Pains and Penalties would never reach the House of Commons. It was because he was prepared for this re-suit, that he asked for that long adjournment. The noble lord speculated on the effect of time—on the probability that the public irritation would diminish—that people's minds, cheered by the result, would grow quiet, and that by postponing the time for that House again meeting, the discomfiture of the ministers would not be met by that excitement, which it would probably experience, were that House assembled when such discomfiture was first ascertained. In making these observations he indulged no wish at that moment to comment on the character of the Milan commission. Of one of its leading members, he should only say, that it was a subject of regret that he (Mr. Cooke) should undertake an office, so incompatible with his character and prospects of promotion. At the proper period he should not shrink from stating his opinion on its acts as a commission. As to the bill itself, he did believe it would never reach them, but should it offer itself at their doors, he should do every thing in his power to keep it out of that House. Entertaining these feelings, he should have regretted, that the present debate had gone off with the tone that marked its commencement, as such a silence would have afforded a melancholy illustration of the little effect of public opinion on that assembly, and how very imperfectly the people of England were represented in that House.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose for the purpose of recalling the attention of the House to the subject actually before it, which was nothing more nor less than what was the proper period to which they should adjourn. He hoped he might be allowed to do justice to one of his colleagues who had been attacked by the hon. gentleman opposite; and he would appeal to the knowledge of every person, whether his noble and learned colleague had ever been swayed by any private or improper motive, and whether the most unimpeachable integrity had not regulated his conduct for a period of forty years. The question upon which they had now to decide was, whether it was consistent with their duty, and consistent with justice, that they should now take a short adjournment, or extend it to a period of five weeks. The hon. gentleman opposite had stated, that he did not apprehend that the proceedings would be closed in a shorter period than three weeks. It was expedient therefore to decide, whether it was better to adjourn to that period by which it was calculated the proceedings might be finished, or by extending the period of adjournment a little further, to make themselves almost certain, that when they next met they should meet with a reasonable probability of proceeding at once to the consideration of the subject. He apprehended that the interests of the public would be best consulted by adopting the proposition of his noble friend, and he felt certain, that if it should fall to their lot to take into consideration the question now occupying the other House of parliament, that they would do it with the same impartiality, and to the satisfaction of the public.
, in explanation, denied, that he had said a word in disparagement of the integrity of the noble and learned lord alluded to. As a Judge he believed him honest to the back-bone.
said, he was one of those who did not wish to confine the question to the mere motion of adjournment, and keep the merits of the great question wholly out of sight. Such might be the policy of the noble lord, who had left that consideration wholly out of his view; indeed, it was to be judged of, from the manner in which the speech of the only honourable gentleman who ventured to open his mouth on the subject was received. He thanked his hon. friend (Mr. Creevey) for the tone he had as- 801 sumed in the discussion, strongly expressive as it was of that abhorrence at the proceeding which was felt so universally out of doors, and which he fancied ministers would find was strongly felt in that House. As nothing had been said in answer to that speech, he should limit himself to saying, that in every objection urged against the bill he fully concurred, and that at the proper time he would be ready to resist its introduction into that House. The hon. and learned gentleman who was that night the only advocate of the bill of Pains and Penalties, had undertaken to prove, that it was the only measure that could, under such circumstances, be adopted, and that the Milan commission was a necessary preliminary, in consequence of the reports injurious to her majesty, that prevailed throughout the continent. Putting aside the consideration, that these reports originated in a conspiracy, he (lord F.) contended, that the only fair proceeding that could be adopted, was directly the reverse of the Milan commission. For what was the consequence of the Milan commission, and of the means taken to inquire into those reports The consequence was, not to prevent the mischief, not to punish the crime, not to remove the disgrace, but to invite false testimony, and to publish our shame to the whole of Europe. This was the plan adopted to protect the honour of the Crown, to secure the reputation of the country, and to do justice to the honour of the Queen! And, as if to render all the machinery necessary, the Queen was advised, through the medium of a right hon. gentleman who acted for ministers, to leave the country. [No, no]. He repeated, that her majesty was advised to leave the country by a right hon. gentleman who had since delivered his sentiments of respect towards her in that House—a gentleman who, from those sentiments, might have been supposed one of her majesty's defenders—a gentleman who was not now here, and who had gone from his duty God knew where. That minister had removed himself from the opportunity either of defending or of abusing her; but his colleagues were responsible for ever having allowed the wife of the heir-apparent of the throne to quit England. But having sent her away, they became doubly responsible in not calling her back, when they heard the degrading reports that were circulated throughout Europe against her. Instead of that 802 course, they issued their Milan commission, to give an increased publicity to these calumnies, and to give a validity and extent to that degradation to which the throne of England was exposed. As if any thing were still wanting to complete the disgraceful spectacle, she was offered 50,000l a year, in order to enable her, if those aspersions were justified, to still further degrade the dignity and honour of the British Crown. It was now at length formally announced, that the ministers of the Crown were the parties in support of the bill of Pains and Penalties. After that tardy avowal, it was not too much to expect, that the noble lord opposite would have favoured that House with his opinions on the probable result, without at once calling upon it to dance attendance on the Lords from week to week. Surely the noble lord might have informed them whether it was likely the bill would come at all to that House, or in what shape, or whether it would be altered. From all that desirable information the noble lord had abstained, and limited himself merely to the proposition of an adjournment for five weeks, making the call of the House to depend on the decision of the House of Lords against her majesty. One would have thought, that whatever might be the nature of that decision, whether it announced the guilt or innocence of the Queen, that call would have been enforced. The noble lord, it would be recollected, had, on a former occasion, declared, that if these proceedings were the result of a conspiracy against the Queen, no man would be more active or zealous to investigate that conspiracy than he would be. Then why should not the call of the House take place in that event, as well as on a decision unfavourable to her majesty? For his part, he contended, that the call should then be enforced, in order that the fullest inquiry might take place as to the time and place where tin's villainy was concocted, and to scrutinize the conduct of those ministers who had so unadvisedly thrown the whole kingdom into a state of irritation, and our best interests into jeopardy. If the noble lord would not redeem his pledge, he trusted others would be found determined to discharge that duty; and to give effect to that opinion, which, if not within that House, prevailed so universally on the other side of those walls, in execration of the course they were now pursuing.
§ Mr. Wellesley Pole
said, he should not 803 have uttered a word, if it were not for the line of argument taken up by the hon. gentlemen opposite; but when he considered the opinions which they had given, that whether the Queen was or was not guilty of the charges, was a matter of indifference—[No, no! we spoke of the mode of proceeding, from the opposite benches]. He misunderstood them, then, because he took them to have said, that whether the Queen was or was not guilty, they would equally feel it their duty to oppose the bill. He thought the House should proceed in the course proposed by the noble lord, because he thought the time had not yet arrived when the House must give an opinion on the subject; and he had always felt, that the proper time for investigation would be when the bill should come down from the Lords; he felt that a time would arrive when his majesty's ministers must answer for their conduct, and he had, until that time should come, determined to abstain from offering any opinion. An hon. member opposite had said, that, with the exception of one hon. and learned gentleman no one had attempted to defend the course of proceeding adopted by ministers; but he would tell that hon. member, that when the time should come, the members of the administration would be as ready and as bold in defending their proceedings, as the gentlemen opposite were in pronouncing their opinion, and in attempting to vilify the conduct of administration. As the question now stood, he did not see that they ought on the one hand to go into the merits of the case, or on the other hand, endeavour, by provoking discussion, to inflame the public mind and to vilify the conduct of ministers. He would say boldly, that his majesty's ministers would not have acted as honest Englishmen, or as honest ministers of the Crown, by recommending any course different from the present. He stated this boldly, and he challenged any man to deny that his hon. and noble friends whom he had the honour to call his colleagues possessed as strong an attachment to the Crown and the country, as any men. It was easy for gentlemen on the other side to assert without proof, and to treat ministers as persons unworthy of the confidence of the country; and he was not surprised at hearing one of them say, that a person whom he had but a minute before described as the vilest creature, was an honest judge to the back-bone. That 804 gentleman had forgotten that he had said, there existed one chancellor, who would sooner destroy the country than give up his office; and that gentleman's memory might be equally deficient, when he made assertions respecting other gentlemen, similar to those which he had made respecting lord Eldon, who, if he possessed such feelings as those imputed to him, was a wretch whom no honest man ought to sit in the same room with. He thought persons in high rank and in high stations, were as likely to possess as nice feelings and as nice a sense of honour as the hon. member opposite. The hon. gentleman had rather ludicrously described the House of Commons as a court of appeal from the House of Lords; but if the House were placed in such a situation, what were all the bills of divorce which came down from the other House? Was this the first time that a bill of divorce came down to the House of Commons, after the House of Lords had passed an opinion upon it? He stated this, because these gentlemen, forgetting constitutional principles, treated as a novelty that which was the known and regular course of proceeding. He begged leave to say, that he offered no opinion upon the merits of the bill, until the question should be brought regularly before them, because he thought such an opinion would be unwarrantable and indecent, before the result of the proceedings in the House of Lords was known. He agreed with the noble lord who had proposed the adjournment, that by voting for it no hon. member would be pledged to the merits of the bill.
said:—Sir; my sentiments having been so frequently declared on the subject, I should not now trouble the House, were it not for an observation which fell from the right hon. gentleman who has just sat down. That gentleman seems to think it exceedingly absurd and inconsistent, that the hon. member below me should describe the lord chancellor as being a respectable judge, although he cannot approve of him as a statesman. This criticism was so much applauded by the gentlemen opposite, that I rise to remind them, that there is nothing anomalous whatever in such a character, and that to consider such an inconsistency as unnatural, shows a most lamentable ignorance of human nature. Many names might be mentioned of judges, who, in causes between private individuals, have observed a strict impartiality, but have been notoriously profli- 805 gate on all political questions. What is it that Dryden tells us of the man whom he describes as the wickedest, the most factious, and good for nothing statesman that ever lived? The House will recollect the lines which end thus:In Israel's court ne'er sat an AbdethinWith more discerning eyes or hands more clean.And yet the hon. gentlemen cheered the notable discovery respecting the inconsistency of the two characters—as if such a poet as Dryden, and such a politician as Shaftesbury had never lived. Sir, I repeat, this shows a gross ignorance of human nature and of the history of many political judges who have sat upon the English bench—I should now sit down, were it not that I wish to ask the noble secretary of state for foreign affairs a question.—The prime minister gave his promise to the other House of Parliament, that the witnesses who deposed against the Queen, should be forthcoming, at least during the trial. It seems, however, that the same minister when he gave the assurance, forgot to issue his directions to the only office through which it was possible that any of those witnesses could obtain the means of evasion. Accordingly, one witness has through that office been furnished with the means of leaving this country. It is almost useless to observe what kind of justice is dealt out to the Queen by this act of government. Here we have the Admiralty records ransacked in order to contradict the assertion of Carrington, a witness for the Queen, who is again placed at the bar, in order to be confuted by those records. And when the Queen's counsel wish to confront one of the witnesses against her majesty with a witness for the Queen, it is at once discovered, that, in spite of all the solemn assurances of the prime minister, the said witness has left the country. The mischief to the Queen maybe irreparable, but I, at least, wish to know whether the noble lord opposite will give his honour that no other witness shall receive passports at his office. Nor am I contented with hearing it said by the prime minister in the other House, that the witness shall be forthcoming during the trial. No; it is necessary they should be detained long enough to give a reasonable time for prosecuting them for perjury, if perjury they have committed, which, in one case, I may say, I know has been done. Not that I have any anxiety for her majesty.
806 The trial, as it now proceeds, is, as observed, not the trial of the Queen, but the trial of the Queen's prosecutors. Unless I am much mistaken the time is not far distant when those prosecutors will be called to answer for their conduct, not at the bar of this House, but at the bar of the nation, and God send them a good deliverance!
§ The Amendment was withdrawn. The main question was then agreed to, and the House adjourned to the 23rd of November.