said, that having given notice of his intention to move the Order of the Day at five o'clock for going into Committee on the Registration of Voters' Bill (Ireland), he should have risen for that purpose, but that he understood the noble Lord opposite would have to make an announcement to the House upon a subject, with reference to which there could be no feeling but one of entire unanimity upon all sides of the House. It was extremely desirable that such a subject should not be mixed up with any party feeling; and he therefore abstained, for the present, from moving the order of the day.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, that the noble Lord had accurately anticipated his intention, which was to move an Address to her Majesty on the late atrocious and treasonable attempt. As on some previous occasions there had been a joint Address of both Houses of Parliament, he thought it desirable in this instance also to take a course in which both Houses would at once agree—a course which he held to be preferable to proposing a separate address. It was the intention of the noble Viscount, the First Lord of the Treasury, to ask the consent of the other House of Parliament to an Address to her Majesty, and, if that Address were adopted, they should take measures to present to her Majesty a joint Address accordingly.
§ Messengers from the Lords desired a present conference with the House of Commons. A conference was accordingly held, and after a short time,
§ Lord J. Russell
appeared at the bar, and said—"I have to report to this House, that the manager of the conference on the part of their Lordships was his Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, and that the subject of the conference was to acquaint this House that their Lordships, in consequence of a most atrocious and treasonable attempt on her Majesty's person, had taken that attempt into consideration, and agreed to an Address thereon, 1047 to which Address their Lordships desire the concurrence of this House."
§ Address read.
§ Lord J. Russell
again rose. I can expect but one universal feeling of indignation and horror [loud cheers from all sides] at the attempt recently made upon the life of her Majesty—but one universal feeling of congratulation to ourselves and to her Majesty, and to her Royal Consort, that they have escaped the danger with which they were threatened, and but one unanimous desire to concur with the House of Lords in carrying these our humble sentiments to the foot of the Throne. I have to state to the House, that yesterday afternoon, as her Majesty was proceeding from the palace, immediately after leaving it, this most atrocious and treasonable attempt was made by the firing of a pistol, and after the lapse of about half a minute by the discharge of a second pistol, her Majesty and Prince Albert being then in the carriage, and proceeding on their usual drive. Most fortunately this attempt was not attended by any result dangerous to the person of her Majesty, of her royal consort, Prince Albert, or of any individual whatever. Her Majesty immediately afterwards proceeded on to the House of her august mother, in order to relieve her mind from the anxiety into which it might have been thrown by the circulation of reports, more alarming than the reality; and she then proceeded on her return, showing herself in her usual manner to her subjects, and affording a proof at once of her safety and of the kindness and fortitude of her character. With respect to the individual who has committed this most treasonable offence, this certainly is not the time upon which it would be right for me to say anything. Examinations have taken place, and those examinations have resulted in a charge against one individual, who will have to take his trial according to those laws of his country which give to every person the benefit of a fair trial, whatever may be his offence, and against whomsoever it may be committed. I shall only proceed to say, that we can but concur in the resolutions and Address which have been agreed to by the Lords, and that I am sure this House will most readily and most thankfully join with the other House of Parliament in expressing both our joy at her Majesty's happy preservation from so great a danger, and like- 1048 wise in offering up our earnest prayer to Almighty God that he will preserve to us the blessings which we enjoy under her Majesty's just and mild Government, and continue to watch over a life so justly dear to us. I beg to move that this House do concur with the Lords in the address to which they have agreed.
§ Sir R. Peel
Sir, this is one of those occasions on which it is impossible not to feel that language is a very imperfect medium for conveying the sentiments to which events give rise. I therefore shall content myself, in seconding the noble Lord's motion, with expressing, on the part of those with whom I have the satisfaction of acting in public life, our unanimous concurrence in the sentiments which the noble Lord has expressed of horror and indignation at this atrocious crime, of heartfelt congratulation at her Majesty's escape, and of a wish to join in an earnest prayer that that same protection which has warded from her Majesty the danger with which she was threatened, may continue to defend her from all future dangers.
said, that on this distressing occasion he was sure it would afford the highest gratification not only to the House, but to the public generally, to receive from the noble Lord the assurance, which he hoped and trusted the noble Lord would be enabled to give, that her Majesty's health had not materially suffered by the excitement and agitation which must necessarily have been, more or less, created in her Majesty's mind by this outrageous, shocking, and diabolical attempt at assassination. Perhaps his noble Friend would also be kind enough to inform the House whether evidence had been adduced at the Home-office criminatory of any other parties, in order to satisfy the public mind on this point.
§ Lord J. Russell
had no hesitation in answering that, as to the first question, he had had the honour of an audience of her Majesty two hours before, when he had received from her Majesty's own lips the assurance that her health had not suffered. As to the second question, the hon. Gentleman would himself see that it was not a proper one to answer.
§ Mr. Plumptre
said, there was a deep feeling in his mind, which he trusted would be responded to by the country, that there ought to be some public expression of thankfulness to that God to whom 1049 we owed the preservation of her Majesty's life. He would suggest that a form of thanksgiving should be prepared to be used generally throughout the country.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, if he declined saying anything on that subject at present, he begged the hon. Gentleman would not suppose it was because he did not feel deeply the importance and value of his suggestion.
§ Motion agreed to nem. con., and Lord J. Russell appointed to carry a Message to the Lords to acquaint them with the concurrence of the Commons. It was ordered that the whole House do tomorrow wait on her Majesty with the Address.