Page images

venture to assert the principle which the war against France on the principle pronoble earl now says has been long arowed claimed by the noble earl. Whenever and acted upon, because he knew that the day of investigation arrives, I shall with all his great powers, he should be be prepared to meet the noble earl on unable to justify it in the face of the this ground; and to maintain that the country. No such principle has, in fact, principle to which he alludes was never ever been before recognized. Your lord- avowed, and never acted upon during ships are now told, for the first time, that the whole of the war with revolutionary we are about to make war for the exter. | France, mination of the Goveroment of France, Earl Darnley declared, that he should as a government; and that until that be not bave voted for the Address of the 7th effected, we are not to expect peace. of April, bad he been aware of the existAgainst that determination, my lords, Ience of a Treaty which pledged this protest. I think it most unjust and most country and our Allies to an offensive war unwise. I think that in its consequences against France. If bis Majesty's ministers it threatens the interest, the safety, nay, did not choose to bring the subject under the existence of this country. I would their lordships consideration, he thought wish by every possible means to avert it would be the duty of some of his doble such an evil. The noble earl, it is true, friends near him, to ascertain by motion, declares his readiness to meet any discus- the opinion of their lordships on the princ sion which may be instituted on this side ciple upon which the noble earl' had of the House, of the merits of the Treaty; avowed that it was the intention of his but I maintain that neither I nor any of Majesty's Government to prosecute the my noble friends near me should be placed war. in the situation of being compelled to The order was then discharged. make a motion on the subject. We have a right to expect that his Majesty's mi.

HOUSE OF COMMONS. nisters should bring the question before your lordships, that they should explain

Thursday, April 27. the principle on which they have pro

COMMITTEE ON GRAND JURY PRESENT. ceeded, and originate the investigation of Ments.] Mr. Cooper · having moved, the principle of a measure to which they " That the entry in the votes of the House have been parties.

of yesterday, of the appointment of a Marquis Wellesley said :-] beg, my select committee to examine the copies lords, to be allowed to say a few words, of the Grand Jury Presentments of Irein consequence of what has fallen from land, wbich were presented to the House my noble friend, as to the inconvenience upon the 5th day of this instant April, of discussing this subject at the present and to report the same, with their obser. moment. It was never my intention to vations thereupon, to the House," might be debate the general policy of the Treaty this read; and the same being read, the hon. evening. My sole object was to procure member next inoved, That the number of that which I have obtained the expla. the said committee be nation given by the noble earl on the two Sir John Newport was well convinced points touched upon by my noble friend. that the present was a subject worthy of With respect to the first of these points a serious and careful examination, but which my noble friend thought with my thought that it was brought forward in self bore a most odious construction, I am a mode not calculated to obtain the obsatisfied to find, by the explanation of the ject in contemplation. The Government noble earl, that it is not in the contempla- should not interfere with it, nor should tion of bis Majesty's Government, or of the Committee consist exclusively of Irish the Allied Powers, to proceed in the spirit members. He feared that prejudices of the Declaration of the 13th of March ; might insensibly operate to counteract the although I am much surprised at the advantages expecied to result from the strange contradiction which that state proposed measure. The sums raised were ment conveys. As to the other point, it very considerable, and pressed heavily on will come more fitly before your lord- a particular class of the community ; it was ships whenever the general discussion a land-tax to a very considerable amount, shall take place. But I may be permitted and all disposed of by the several juries. to go so far as to diselaim ever having On this account he thought that it should been a party to a prosecution of the late be anxiously considered, and that the

[ocr errors]

object would be best obtained if there , discussions of this great question of faith were a considerable number of English and justice, have hitherto of necessity been members in the Committee, who could almost entirely confined to one side. When feel no immediate or private interests in my hon. friend * moved for papers on this the inquiry.

subject, the reasoning was only on this Mr. Vesey Füzgerald agreed perfectly side of the House. The gentlemen on the with the right hon. baronet, in his senti opposite side professedly abstained from ments respecting the measure; but would discussion of the merits of the case, benot have troubled the House with the ex. cause they alleged that discussion was pression of that feeling, were he not de- then premature, and that disclosure of sirous at the same time to state, that the the documents necessary to form a right measure should not be considered as one judgment would, at that period, have been merely ministerial. He thought a number injurious to the public interest. In what of English members should be introduced, that danger consisted, or how such a dis. for the purpose of amalgamating the dif- closure would have been more inconveferent parts of the representation. nient on the 22nd of February than on

The Speaker having read the list of the the 27th of April, they will doubtless members proposed to form the committee, this day explain. I have in vain examined

Sir J. Newport observed, that there were the Papers for an explanation of it. It only four English members; whereas he was a serious assertion, made on their mithought no less than eigbt should be nisterial responsibility, and absolutely renominaled, for the purpose of insuring quires to be satisfactorily established. an attendance. All those now mentioned After the return of the noble lord from were professional gentlemen, who could Vienna, the discussion was again confined not be expected to attend punctually. to one side, by the singular course which He hoped, therefore, the list would be he thought fit to adopt. When my hon. amended.

friend (Mr. Whitbread) gave notice of a Mr. Cooper had no objection to gratify motion for all papers respecting those the desire of the worthy baronet.

arrangements at Vienna which had been · Mr. Wrottesley said, he had heard the substantially completed, the noble lord question agitated on a former evening; did not intimate any intention of acand as far as he could judge, the present ceding to the motion. He suffered it to committee would not effect the purpose proceed as if it were to be adversely dedesigned.

bated; and, instead of granting the papers Colonel Barry thought county members so as that they might be in possession of should preponderate in the formation of every member a sufficient time for carethe Committee.

ful perusal and attentive consideration, be · They were then proceeding to nomi- brought out upon us in the middle of his nate some other members, but it was at speech a number of documents, wbich bad length agreed, “ That so much of the said been familiar to him for six months, but order be discharged as relates to the names of which no private member of the House of the members appointed to be of the could have known the existence. It was said Committee.”

impossible for us to discuss a great mass

of papers of which we had heard extracts MOTION RELATING TO The Transfer once read in the heat and hurry of debate. OF GENOA.] In pursuance of the notice For the moment we were silenced by this he had given,

iugenious stratagem; the House was taken Sir James Mackintosh rose and spoke in by surprise. They were betrayed into substance as follows:

premature applause of that of which it was

absolutely impossible that they should be Mr. Speaker ;-I now rise, pursuant to competent judges. my notice, to discharge the most arduous,

a proceeding which tended and certainly the most painful public (I say nothing of intention) to obtain duty wbich I have ever felt myself called cumultuary approbation by partial stateto perform. I have to bring before the ment, and by the undue effect of a first House, probably for its final considera impression on a numerous assembly to tion, the case of Genoa, which, in various prejudge the final determination of this forms of proceeding and stages of progress, grave question of policy and national has already occupied a considerable degree of our attention. All these previous * Mr. Lambton. See vol. 29, p. 928.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

It was



honour. It might be thought to imply bot I shall in substance argue the case as a very unreasonable distrust in the noble if I were again speaking on the 22nd of lord of his own talents, if it were not February ; without any other change much more naturally imputable to his than a tove probably more subdued than well-grounded doubts of the justice of his would have been natural during that

Once more, then, by these de- short moment of secure and almost triumvices of parliamentary tactics, the argu- phant tranquillity. ment was confined to one side.

For this transaction, and for our share I have felt great impatience to bring in all the great measures of the Congress the question to a final hearing as soon as of Vienna, the noble lord has told us that every member possessed that full infor- he is' pre-eminently responsible.' I know mation, in which alone I well knew that not in what foreign school be may have my strength must consist. The produc- learnt such principles or phrases; but tion of the Papers * bas occasioned some however much his colleagues may have delay; but it has been attended also with resigned their discretion to him, I trust some advantage to me, which I ought to that Parliament will not suffer him to confess. It has given me the opportunity

relieve them from any part of their responof hearing, in another place, a most per sibility. I shall not now inquire on what spicuous and forcible statement of the principle of constitutional law the whole defence of the Ministers; † a statement late conduct of continental negociations which, without disparagement to the by the noble lord could be justified. A talents of the noble lord, I may venture Secretary of State has travelled over to consider as containing the whole Europe with the crown and sceptre of strength of their case. After listening to Great Britain, exercising the royal prerothat able statement, after much reflection gatives without the possibility of access for two months, after the most anxious to the Crown to give advice and to reexamination of the Papers before us; I ceive commands, and concluding his feel myself compelled to adhere to my country by irrevocable acts, without comoriginal opinion; to bring before the munication with the other responsible adHouse the forcible transfer of the Genoese visers of the King. I shall not now exaterritory to the foreign master, whom the mine into the nature of what our ancestors Genoese people most hate,-a transfer would have termed an accroachment of stipulated by British ministers, and exe royal power, an offence described indeed cuted by British troops, as an act by with dangerous laxity in ancient times, which the pledged faith of this nation has but as an exercise of supreme power in been forfeited, the rules of justice have any orber mode than by the forms, and been piolated, the fundamental prin- | under the responsibility prescribed by law ciples of European policy have been undoubtedly tending to the subversion of sbaken, and the odious claims of con. the fundamental principles of the British quest stretched to an extent unwarranted monarchy. by a single precedent in the good times In all the preliminary discussions of of Europe. On the examination of these this subject, the noble lord has naturally charges, I entreat gentlemen to enter with laboured to excite prejudice against his that disposition which becomes a solemn opponents. He has made a liberal use and judicial determination of a question of the common places of every adminiswhich affects the honour of their country, ?ration, against every opposition; and he certainly without forgetting that justice has assailed us chiefly through my hon. which is due to the King's ministers, friend (Mr. Whitbread), with language whose character it does most deeply more acrimonious and contumelious than import.

is very consistent with his recommendaI shall not introduce into this discus. tions of decorum and moderation. He sion any of the practical questions which speaks of our · foul calumnies,' though have arisen out of recent and terrible calumniators do not call out as we did for events. They may, like other events in inquiry and for trial. He tells us, “ that bistory, supply argument or illustration ; our discussions inflame nations more than

they correct governments;"-a pleasant * Copies of the Papers relating to antithesis, which I have no doubt contains Genoa will be found at p. 387 of the pre- the opinion entertained of all popular dissent volume.

cussion by the sovereigns and ministers of # By Earl Bathurst.

absolute monarchies, under whom he has

lately studied constitutional principles. In- judgment from the control which would deed, Sir, I do not wonder that on his return arise from some knowledge of the general to this House, he should have been provoked sentiments of mankind; Were they so into some forgetfulness of his usual mode infatuated by absolute power, as to wish ration; after long familiarity with the that they might never hear the public smooth and soft manners of diplomatists, judgment till their system was unalterably it is natural that he should recoil from the established, and the knowledge could no turbulent freedom of a popular assembly. longer be useful It seems so. There But let him remember, that to the un was only one assembly in Europe from courtly and fearless turbulence of this whose free discussions they might learn House, Great Britain owes a greatness and the opinions of independent men; only one puwer so much above her natural re- in which the grievances of men and sources, and that rank among nations, nations might be published with some which gave him ascendancy and authority effect. The House of Commons was the in the deliberations of assembled Europe. only body which represented, in some Sic fortis Etruria crevit. By that plain- sort, the public opinion of Europe; and ness and roughness of speech which the discussions which mighi bare conwounded the nerves of courtiers, this veyed that opinion to the Sovereigns at House has forced kings and ministers to Vienna, seem, from the language of the respect public liberty at home, and to noble lord, to be odious and alarming to observe public faith abroad. He com them ;-even in that case we have one plains, that this should be the first place consolation. Those who bate advice most, where the faith of this country is im- always need it most. If our language was pugned ;-I rejoice that it is. It is be- odious, it must, in the very same propor. cause the first approaches towards breach tion, have been necessary; and notwithof faith are sure of being attacked here, standing all the abuse thrown upon it, may that there is so little ground for specious have been partly effectual: denial, at least, attack on our faith in other places. It is proves nothing:--we are very sure that if the nature and essence of the House of we had prevented any evil, we should Commons to be jealous and suspicious, even only have been the more abused. to excess, of the manner in which the I do not regret the obloquy with conduct of the Executive Government may which we have been loaded during the

1 affect that dearest of national interests the present session; it is a proof that we are character of the nation for justice and following, though with unequal steps, faith. What is destroyed by the slightest be great men who have filled the same speck, can never be sincerely regarded, benches before us. It was their lot to unless it be watched with jealous vigilance. devote themselves lo a life of toilsome, In questions of policy, where inconveni. thankless, and often unpopular opposition, ence is the worst consequence of error, with no stronger allurement to ambition and where much deference may be rea than a chance of a few months of office sonably paid to superior information, there in half a century, and with no other is. is much room for confidence beforehand, ducement to virtue than the faint hope of and for indulgence afterwards; but confi- limiting and mitigating evil; always cerdence respecting a point of honour is a tain that the merit would never be acknow. disregard of honour. Never, certainly, ledged, and generally obliged to seek for was there an occasion when these princi- the best proof of their services in the scur. ples became of more urgent application rility with which they were reviled. To ihan during the deliberations of the Con represent them as partisans of a foreign gress of Vienna. Disposing, as they did, nation, for whom they demanded justice, of rights and interests more momentous was always one of the most effectual than were ever before placed at the disa modesofexciting a vulgar prejudice against posal of a human assembly, is it fit that them. When Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox ex. no channel should be left open by which horted Great Britain to be wise in relation they might learn the opinion of the public to America, and just towards Ireland, they respecting their counsels, and the feelings were called Americans and Irishmen. which their measures excited from Nor. But they considered it as the greatest of way to Andalusia? Were these princes and all human calamities to be unjust. They ministers really desirous, in a situation of thought it worse to inflict tban to suffer tremendous responsibility, to bereave them wrong; and they rightly thought them. selves of the guidance, and release their selves then most really Englishmen, when

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

they most laboured to dissuade England it was sometimes as important to establish from tyranny. Afterwards, when Mr. the legality of a power by exercise, as to Burke, with equal disinterestedness as I exercise it well,-than in ihese more fortu. firmly believe, and certainly with suffi- nate periods of defined and acknowledged cient zeal, supported the administration of right, when a mild and indirect intimaMr. Pitt and the war against the Revolu. tion of the opinion of Parliament ought to tion, he did not restrain the freedom which preclude the necessity of resorting to those belonged to his generous character; speak- awful powers, with which they are wisely ing of that very alliance on which all his armed. But though these interpositions hopes were founded, he spoke of it as I of Parliament were more frequent in might speak (if I had his power of lan ancient times, partly from the necessity guage) of the Congress at Vienna: "there of asserting contested right, and more can be no tie of honour in a society for rare in recent periods, parıly from the pillage.” He was perhaps blamed for more submissive character of the House, indecorum, but no one ever made any they are wanting at no time in number other conclusion from his language, than enough to establish the grand priociple that it proved the ardour of his attach of the constitution, that Parliament is ihe ment to that cause which he could not first counsel of the King, in war as well endure to see dishonoured.

as in peace. This great principle has The noble lord has charged us with a been acted on by Parliament in the best more than usual interference in the functimes; it has been reverenced by the tions of the monarchy, and with the course Crown in the worst. A short time before of foreign negociations. He has not in the Revolution, it marked a struggle for deed denied the right of this House to in the establishment of liberty ;-a short time terfere. He will not venture to deny, after the Revolution, it proved the secure " that this House is not only an accuser enjoyment of liberty. The House of Comof competence to criminate, but a council mons did not suffer Charles 2. to betray his of weight and wisdom to advise." He in honour and his country, without constitucautiously, indeed, said that there was a tional warning to choose a better course.* necessary collision between the powers of Their first aid to William 3, was counsel this House and the prerogatives of the relating to war;t when, under the influ. Crown. It would have been more con- ence of other counsels, the House rather stitutional to have said that there was a thwarted than aided their great deliverer ; liability to collision, and that the defe- even the parly hostile to liberty, carried rence of each for the other produced the Rights of Parliament, as a political mutual concession, compromise,' and co- counsel, to their utmost constitutional limit operation, instead of collision. It has when they censured the Treaty of Parti. been, in fact, by the exercise of the great tion, as “ passed under the Great Seal of parliamentary function of counsel, that in England during the meeting of Parliathe best times of our history the House of ment, and without the advice of the same.”I Commons has suspended the exercise of During the War of the Succession, both its extreme powers. Respect for its opi. Houses repeatedly counselled the Crown nion has rendered the exertion of its on the conduct of war,ll on negociation authority needless. It is not true, that the with allies, and even on the terms of peace interposition of the advice of Parliament with the enemy. But what needs any respecting the conduct of negociation, che farther enumeration? Did not the vote of conduct of war, or the terms of peace, has this House put an end to the American been more frequent of sale ihan in former war ? times: the contrary is the truth. From the earliest periods of Parliament, and * Com. Add. 15 March 1677 ; 29 during the most glorious reigns in our bis- March 1677; 25 May 1677 ; " To refuse lory, the counsel of the House of Com- supply till his Majesty's Alliances are mons has been proffered and accepted on known.” 30 December 1680. the bighest questions of peace and war. + 24 April 1689, advising a declara. The inter position was necessarily evention of war. more frequent and more rough in these 21 March 1701. early times,—when the boundariesof autho. # 27 Nov. 1705; 22 Dec. 1707; both rity were undefined, when the principal | Houses, " that no peace can be safe while occupation of Parliament was a struggle any part of the Spanish monarchy is under to assert and fortify their rights, and when the Bourbons.” 3 Mar. 1709; 18 Feb. 1710. (VOL. XXX. )

(3 M)

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »