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venture to assert the principle which the
war against France on the principle proclaimed by the noble earl. Whenever the day of investigation arrives, I shall be prepared to meet the noble earl on this ground; and to maintain that the principle to which he alludes was never avowed, and never acted upon during the whole of the war with revolutionary
Earl Darnley declared, that he should not have voted for the Address of the 7th of April, had he been aware of the existence of a Treaty which pledged this country and our Allies to an offensive war against France. If his Majesty's ministers did not choose to bring the subject under their lordships consideration, he thought it would be the duty of some of his noble friends near him, to ascertain by motion, the opinion of their lordships on the prin ciple upon which the noble earl had avowed that it was the intention of his Majesty's Government to prosecute the war.
The order was then discharged.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Thursday, April 27.
COMMITTEE ON GRAND JURY PRESENTMENTS.] Mr. Cooper having moved, "That the entry in the votes of the House of yesterday, of the appointment of a select committee to examine the copies of the Grand Jury Presentments of Ireland, which were presented to the House upon the 5th day of this instant April, and to report the same, with their observations thereupon, to the House," might be read; and the same being read, the hon. member next moved, That the number of the said committee be twenty-one.
Sir John Newport was well convinced that the present was a subject worthy of a serious and careful examination, but thought that it was brought forward in a mode not calculated to obtain the ob
Marquis Wellesley said :-I beg, my lords, to be allowed to say a few words, in consequence of what has fallen from my noble friend, as to the inconvenience of discussing this subject at the present moment. It was never my intention to debate the general policy of the Treaty this evening. My sole object was to procure that which I have obtained-the explanation given by the noble earl on the two points touched upon by my noble friend. With respect to the first of these points which my noble friend thought with my self bore a most odious construction, I am satisfied to find, by the explanation of theject in contemplation. The Government noble earl, that it is not in the contempla- should not interfere with it, nor should tion of his 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 expected 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 disclaim 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
object would be best obtained if there were a considerable number of English members in the Committee, who could feel no immediate or private interests in the inquiry.
Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald agreed perfectly with the right hon. baronet, in his sentiments respecting the measure; but would not have troubled the House with the expression of that feeling, were he not desirous at the same time to state, that the measure should not be considered as one merely ministerial. He thought a number of English members should be introduced, for the purpose of amalgamating the different parts of the representation.
The Speaker having read the list of the members proposed to form the committee, Sir J. Newport observed, that there were only four English members; whereas he thought no less than eight should be nominated, for the purpose of insuring an attendance. All those now mentioned were professional gentlemen, who could not be expected to attend punctually. He hoped, therefore, the list would be amended.
discussions of this great question of faith and justice, have hitherto of necessity been almost entirely confined to one side. When my hon. friend moved for papers on this subject, the reasoning was only on this side of the House. The gentlemen on the opposite side professedly abstained from discussion of the merits of the case, because they alleged that discussion was then premature, and that disclosure of the documents necessary to form a right judgment would, at that period, have been injurious to the public interest. In what that danger consisted, or how such a disclosure would have been more inconvenient on the 22nd of February than on the 27th of April, they will doubtless this day explain. I have in vain examined the Papers for an explanation of it. It was a serious assertion, made on their ministerial responsibility, and absolutely requires to be satisfactorily established. After the return of the noble lord from Vienna, the discussion was again confined to one side, by the singular course which he thought fit to adopt. When my hon. friend (Mr. Whitbread) gave notice of a motion for all papers respecting those arrangements at Vienna which had been substantially completed, the noble lord did not intimate any intention of acceding to the motion. He suffered it to proceed as if it were to be adversely debated; and, instead of granting the papers so as that they might be in possession of every member a sufficient time for careful perusal and attentive consideration, he brought out upon us in the middle of his speech a number of documents, which had been familiar to him for six months, but of which no private member of the House could have known the existence. It was impossible for us to discuss a great mass of papers of which we had heard extracts once read in the heat and hurry of debate. For the moment we were silenced by this ingenious stratagem; the House was taken by surprise. They were betrayed into
premature applause of that of which it was absolutely impossible that they should be competent judges.
It was a proceeding which tended (I say nothing of intention) to obtain tumultuary approbation by partial statement, and by the undue effect of a first impression on a numerous assembly to prejudge the final determination of this grave question of policy and national
* Mr. Lambton. See vol. 29, p. 928.
honour. It might be thought to imply a very unreasonable distrust in the noble lord of his own talents, if it were not much more naturally imputable to his well-grounded doubts of the justice of his cause. Once more, then, by these devices of parliamentary tactics, the argument was confined to one side.
I have felt great impatience to bring the question to a final hearing as soon as every member possessed that full information, in which alone I well knew that my strength must consist. The production of the Papers has occasioned some delay; but it has been attended also with some advantage to me, which I ought to confess. It has given me the opportunity of hearing, in another place, a most perspicuous and forcible statement of the defence of the Ministers; † a statement which, without disparagement to the talents of the noble lord, I may venture to consider as containing the whole strength of their case. After listening to that able statement, after much reflection for two months, after the most anxious examination of the Papers before us; I feel myself compelled to adhere to my original opinion; to bring before the House the forcible transfer of the Genoese territory to the foreign master, whom the Genoese people most hate,-a transfer stipulated by British ministers, and executed by British troops, as an act by which the pledged faith of this nation has been forfeited, the rules of justice have been violated, the fundamental principles of European policy have been shaken, and the odious claims of conquest stretched to an extent unwarranted by a single precedent in the good times of Europe. On the examination of these charges, I entreat gentlemen to enter with that disposition which becomes a solemn and judicial determination of a question which affects the honour of their country, certainly without forgetting that justice which is due to the King's ministers, whose character it does most deeply import.
I shall not introduce into this discussion any of the practical questions which have arisen out of recent and terrible events. They may, like other events in history, supply argument or illustration;
but I shall in substance argue the case as if I were again speaking on the 22nd of February; without any other change than a tone probably more subdued than would have been natural during that short moment of secure and almost triumphant tranquillity.
For this transaction, and for our share in all the great measures of the Congress of Vienna, the noble lord has told us that he is pre-eminently responsible.' I know not in what foreign school he may have learnt such principles or phrases; but however much his colleagues may have resigned their discretion to him, I trust that Parliament will not suffer him to relieve them from any part of their responsibility. I shall not now inquire on what principle of constitutional law the whole late conduct of continental negociations by the noble lord could be justified. A Secretary of State has travelled over Europe with the crown and sceptre of Great Britain, exercising the royal prerogatives without the possibility of access to the Crown to give advice and to receive commands, and concluding his country by irrevocable acts, without communication with the other responsible advisers of the King. I shall not now examine into the nature of what our ancestors would have termed an accroachment' of royal power, an offence described indeed with dangerous laxity in ancient times, but as an exercise of supreme power in any other mode than by the forms, and under the responsibility prescribed by law undoubtedly tending to the subversion of the fundamental principles of the British monarchy.
* Copies of the Papers relating to Genoa will be found at p. 387 of the present volume.
+ By Earl Bathurst.
In all the preliminary discussions of this subject, the noble lord has naturally laboured to excite prejudice against his opponents. He has made a liberal use of the common-places of every administration, against every opposition; and he has assailed us chiefly through my hon. friend (Mr. Whitbread), with language more acrimonious and contumelious than is very consistent with his recommendations of decorum and moderation. He speaks of our foul calumnies,' though calumniators do not call out as we did for inquiry and for trial. He tells us, "that our discussions inflame nations more than they correct governments;"-a pleasant antithesis, which I have no doubt contains the opinion entertained of all popular dis cussion by the sovereigns and ministers of absolute monarchies, under whom he has
lately studied constitutional principles. In- | deed, Sir, I do not wonder that on his return to this House, be should have been provoked into some forgetfulness of his usual moderation; after long familiarity with the smooth and soft manners of diplomatists, it is natural that he should recoil from the turbulent freedom of a popular assembly. But let him remember, that to the uncourtly and fearless turbulence of this House, Great Britain owes a greatness and power so much above her natural resources, and that rank among nations, which gave him ascendancy and authority in the deliberations of assembled Europe. Sic fortis Etruria crevit. By that plainness and roughness of speech which wounded the nerves of courtiers, this House has forced kings and ministers to respect public liberty at home, and to observe public faith abroad. He complains, that this should be the first place where the faith of this country is impugned; I rejoice that it is. It is because the first approaches towards breach of faith are sure of being attacked here, that there is so little ground for specious attack on our faith in other places. It is the nature and essence of the House of Commons to be jealous and suspicious, even to excess, of the manner in which the conduct of the Executive Government may affect that dearest of national interests-the character of the nation for justice and faith. What is destroyed by the slightest speck, can never be sincerely regarded, unless it be watched with jealous vigilance. In questions of policy, where inconvenience is the worst consequence of error, and where much deference may be reasonably paid to superior information, there is much room for confidence beforehand, and for indulgence afterwards; but confidence respecting a point of honour is a disregard of honour. Never, certainly, was there an occasion when these principles became of more urgent application than during the deliberations of the Congress of Vienna. Disposing, as they did, of rights and interests more momentous than were ever before placed at the disposal of a human assembly, is it fit that no channel should be left open by which they might learn the opinion of the public respecting their counsels, and the feelings which their measures excited from Norway to Andalusia? Were these princes and ministers really desirous, in a situation of tremendous responsibility, to bereave themselves of the guidance, and release their
judgment from the control which would arise from some knowledge of the general sentiments of mankind? Were they so infatuated by absolute power, as to wish that they might never hear the public judgment till their system was unalterably established, and the knowledge could no longer be useful? It seems so. There was only one assembly in Europe from whose free discussions they might learn the opinions of independent men; only one in which the grievances of men and nations might be published with some effect. The House of Commons was the only body which represented, in some sort, the public opinion of Europe; and the discussions which might have conveyed that opinion to the Sovereigns at Vienna, seem, from the language of the noble lord, to be odious and alarming to them ;-even in that case we have one consolation. Those who hate advice most, always need it most. If our language was odious, it must, in the very same propor tion, have been necessary; and notwithstanding all the abuse thrown upon it, may have been partly effectual: denial, at least, proves nothing:-we are very sure that if we had prevented any evil, we should only have been the more abused.
I do not regret the obloquy with which we have been loaded during the present session; it is a proof that we are following, though with unequal steps, the great men who have filled the same benches before us. It was their lot to devote themselves to a life of toilsome, thankless, and often unpopular opposition, with no stronger allurement to ambition than a chance of a few months of office in half a century, and with no other inducement to virtue than the faint hope of limiting and mitigating evil; always certain that the merit would never be acknow. ledged, and generally obliged to seek for the best proof of their services in the scurrility with which they were reviled. To represent them as partisans of a foreign nation, for whom they demanded justice, was always one of the most effectual modes of exciting a vulgar prejudice against them. When Mr, Burke and Mr. Fox exhorted Great Britain to be wise in relation to America, and just towards Ireland, they were called Americans and Irishmen. But they considered it as the greatest of all human calamities to be unjust. They thought it worse to inflict than to suffer wrong; and they rightly thought themselves then most really Englishmen, when
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 these more fortufirmly 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, partly 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 principle that it proved the ardour of his attach- of the constitution, that Parliament is the 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 been acted on by Parliament in the best times; it has been reverenced by the Crown in the worst. A short time before the Revolution, it marked a struggle for the establishment of liberty;-a short time after the Revolution, it proved the secure enjoyment of liberty. The House of Commons did not suffer Charles 2. to betray his honour and his country, without constitutional warning to choose a better course. Their first aid to William 3, was counsel relating to war;† when, under the influence of other counsels, the House rather thwarted than aided their great deliverer; even the party hostile to liberty, carried the Rights of Parliament, as a political counsel, to their utmost constitutional limit when they censured the Treaty of Partition, as " passed under the Great Seal of England during the meeting of Parliament, and without the advice of the same." During the War of the Succession, both Houses repeatedly counselled the Crown on the conduct of war, on negociation with allies, and even on the terms of peace with the enemy. But what needs any farther enumeration? Did not the vote of this House put an end to the American war?
The noble lord has charged us with a more than usual interference in the functions of the monarchy, and with the course of foreign negociations. He has not indeed denied the right of this House to interfere. He will not venture to deny, "that this House is not only an accuser of competence to criminate, but a council of weight and wisdom to advise." He incautiously, indeed, said that there was a necessary collision between the powers of this House and the prerogatives of the Crown. It would have been more constitutional to have said that there was a liability to collision, and that the deference of each for the other produced mutual concession, compromise, and cooperation, instead of collision. It has been, in fact, by the exercise of the great parliamentary function of counsel, that in the best times of our history the House of Commons has suspended the exercise of its extreme powers. Respect for its opinion has rendered the exertion of its authority needless. It is not true, that the interposition of the advice of Parliament respecting the conduct of negociation, the conduct of war, or the terms of peace, has been more frequent of late than in former times: the contrary is the truth. From the earliest periods of Parliament, and during the most glorious reigns in our history, the counsel of the House of Commons has been proffered and accepted on the highest questions of peace and war. The interposition was necessarily even more frequent and more rough in these early times, when the boundaries of authority were undefined, when the principal occupation of Parliament was a struggle to assert and fortify their rights, and when (VOL. XXX.)
* Com. Add. 15 March 1677; 29 March 1677; 25 May 1677; "To refuse supply till his Majesty's Alliances are known." 30 December 1680.
† 24 April 1689, advising a declaration of war.
21 March 1701.
27 Nov. 1705; 22 Dec. 1707; both Houses, " that no peace can be safe while any part of the Spanish monarchy is under the Bourbons." 3 Mar. 1709; 18 Feb. 1710. (3 M)