Imatges de pÓgina

the most distinct account of the pro- which they had adopted the present ceedings intended to be instituted

course of proceeding. In the abagainst her.

sence of this information, he would Mr Brougham insisted, that his state such observations as had ocMajesty's government would not only curred to him. It was well known have to perform the task, and to suc- that a similar message had been sent ceed in the task, of making out a to the other House, of which, for strong case against the Queen; but aught their lordships knew, an imthey would have another task to exe- peachment might be the consequence. cute, foremost in situation and para- They would then be called upon mount in importance, as regarded to act as judges; and he besought their own justification, they would them to consider, whether the course have to shew, satisfactorily to shew, now recommended did not involve to convince the House and the coun- something inconsistent with the extry, that it had become impossible ercise of such a function. Was the longer to postpone or to suppress the course proposed by the noble earl atdiscussion. Which way soever might tended with any advantage capable be the merits of the case was, in his of inducing their lordships to encoun. view, a matter of minor importance, ter this risk ? Certainly, if the referbecause, whatever might be the ence of the papers to a secret comQueen's case, the case of ministers

mittee would really have the effect of must be, that the landing of the Queen secrecy with respect to the public in England, that simple act, made all if that reference might be the means further forbearance absolutely impos- of preventing the public of England sible. Mr Brougham declared the from becoming parties to transactions statements published respecting what which it must be the wish of their had past at St Omer's to be in a great lordships, and every honest man, radegree garbled ; at the same time he ther to conceal in oblivion-he would admitted their truth in the main, by approve the course proposed by the declaring his astonishment by what noble lord. But did any man actualchannel they had reached the public, ly believe that the reference to a seand protesting his own innocence of cret committee would have such an any concern in their communication. effect ? Was the illustrious person

On the following day, the subject who was made the subject of inquiry; was brought fully into discussion, by to receive no notice of the evidence the motion made by ministers in both laid before the committee, and to have Houses, to refer the papers submit- no opportunity of rebutting it? Why, ted to them to a secret committee, then, were not their lordships in the which should be directed to inquire first instance informed of the view what proceedings, or whether any, it which his Majesty's government had would be proper to hold

them. taken of the case ? Were there not in He declined saying much at present, that house noble lords who had been and wished rather to hold himself in the advisers of the crown in this afreadiness to answer any objections fair? What additional information that might be raised.—The Marquis to that which these noble lords posof Lansdowne was the first member sessed, was it possible to convey in opposition who spoke on this delic through the medium of the commitcate subject. He complained that tee? His Majesty's Ministers had ministers should not have given any had every opportunity of forming an information as to the grounds on opinion, and must know all the cir


sent case.

cumstances of the case infinitely more ment. In all cases of High Treason, correctly than they could be known the female could be brought in only by the committee. All secrecy was as an accessory. In case of adultery in its nature an evil, but occasions committed with a foreigner, that fomight occur in which it was neces- reigner not being amenable to our sary. In no instance, however, did laws could not be guilty of high treathe usual practice in the appointment son. Where there was no principal, of secret committees apply to the pre- therefore, there could be no acces

Secret committees had sory. In all cases of bills of pains been appointed in cases of plots and and penalties since the Revolution, conspiracies, the proof of which de- he believed secret committees had pended on the evidence of persons been appointed. On these grounds whose names could not be revealed — he thought the course he had recomin cases when the investigation rela- mended was most decorous and reted to individuals, whom it was im- spectful to the Queen, and most suitportant to keep unapprized of the ed to the case. What it was proposed existence of any proceedings against to inquire was, whether any proceedthem-or in cases in which the inte- ing was proper, and, if any, of what rests of foreign states were concern- nature and to what extent; and he ed. But were any of these instances would ask, was not this more decoapplicable on the present occasion ? rous to the individual, than for a miWas it necessary to conceal the names, nister to come down at once with a characters, and situations of the wit- proposition? nesses in a case on which their lord. Lord Holland observed, that though ships might be ultimately called up- it had been given as the opinion of on to give judgment? Whatever pro- many lawyers, that the House of Compriety there might be in concealment, mons could not institute an impeachit could not be admitted in cases, the ment upon the present case; yet the result of which might be penal. Af- papers had been referred to that ter the report of the committee, the House which formed the Grand InHouse would not be placed in a bet- quest of the nation, and was at perter situation to judge than they would fect liberty to form its own opinion be on the statement of the noble lord

on the subject. He knew of no inopposite ; for the committee, it ap- stance in which penal proceedings peared, were to have no opportunity had been founded on facts contained of hearing any other evidence than in a message to both Houses. If a that which his Majesty's ministers bill of divorce, or of pains and pechose to lay before them, and could nalties, was wanted, the application not call for the defence of the party should have come to the House of accused.

Lords only; if judicial proceedings The Earl of Liverpool observed, were contemplated, these could be inthat having recommended the refer- stituted by the Commons alone. By ence to a committee, as the fittest appointing a committee to inquire course of proceeding, he could, with and to decide, before they knew what no propriety, anticipate the decision would be referred to them for their of that committee. 'He could assure judgment in their judicial capacity, the House, however, on the highest they placed themselves in a situation authority, that there was no chance either of being a tainted tribunal, or of the affair coming from the Lower of refusing justice altogether. This House in the form of an impeach. was an objection to the motion now recommended, which he could urge would declare, either that there were on constitutional grounds ; but the grounds of accusation, or not. If the influence of this objection was great- former, the House would know how ly strengthened on his mind by a re- to deal with it; and if the latter, no collection of the mode in which se- injustice could be done. What, therecret committees had lately been ap- fore, could accrue from the appointpointed, the manner in which they ment of the committee ? Good God! had conducted themselves, the mea- could their lordships be said to be sures they recommended, and the un- deciding against individuals, because fortunate associations connected with they stood forward to protect them them. He would not examine the from the result of disclosures, where laws which had been enacted on the there had not been found grounds of suggestion of such committees, but trial ? He entirely agreed with Lord he could not forget that their acts Liverpool as to the legal character of had been of such a nature that a green the supposed crime, which, from bebag and a secret committee were con- ing committed abroad, could not be sidered by the public as the prelude amenable to the ordinary course of to the most monstrous displays of in- justice. In a case like the present, justice, harshness, and tyranny. It Parliament must interfere, or there could not be denied that there exists would be no interference whatever. ed great sensitiveness and irritability The Earl of Donoughmore, who in the public mind on the question had usually opposed the measures of now before the House, and it would ministry, gave them his entire supbe unfortunate if these feelings should port in the present question. The be increased by seeing a mode of pro- noble lords who had argued the quesceeding adopted, so odious and ob- tion upon his side of the house, apnoxious, as that by a secret commit- peared to have forgotten the nature tee. He therefore conjured their lord of the proceeding, the merits of which ships, as they valued their own cha- they were discussing. Those noble racter and estimation with the coun. lords seemed to regard the proceedtry, not to adopt such a mode of pro- ing as one which was to criminate, ceeding.

and even finally condemn, the illusThe Lord Chancellor, after stating trious person to whose conduct it was that he never had so painful a duty applied: but was it not most clear to discharge as now, defended the ap- that the proceeding amounted simply pointment of a committee of inquiry, to this—to an inquiry on the part of which appeared to him the step best that House, conducted by a secret calculated to prevent injustice. The committee, conducted in the manner objection of his noble friend (Lord most decorous, most delicate, and Holland) to the appointment of a most respectful, both towards the committee, did not appear to him well parties concerned, and towards the founded. There might be judicial public, and conducted in the manner proceedings at the instance of the most peculiarly calculated to allay Commons, after the committee had that irritation of which such frequent reported on the papers before the mention had been made ? House, as the secret committee could, Lords Lansdowne and Holland sein that case, be regarded only in the verally explained, after which the relight of a grand jury, đeciding that ference to a committee was carried watter of accusation existed. The without a division. committee, on examining the papers, The same day was marked in the House of Commons by a more ani- principles of justice. She relies with mated and interesting debate. It was full confidence upon the integrity of opened by a communication from the the House of Commons for defeating Queen herself, which was read by Mr the only attempt she has any reason Brougham, and was conceived in the to fear. following terms:

The Queen cannot forbear to

add, that even before any proceed“ The Queen thinks it necessary ings were resolved upon, she had been to inform the House of Commons, treated in a manner too well calculathat she has been induced to return to ted to prejudge her case. The omisEngland in consequence of the mea- sion of her name in the liturgy; the sures pursued against her honour and withholding the means of conveyance her peace for some time by secret usually afforded to all the branches of agents abroad, and lately sanctioned the Royal Family; the refusal even of by the conduct of the Government at an answer to her application for a home. In adopting this course, her place of residence in the royal manMajesty has had no other purposesions; and the studied slight, both of whatsoever but the defence of her English ministers abroad, and of the character, and the maintenance of agents of all foreign powers over those just rights which have devolved whom the English Government had upon her by the death of that revered any influence—must be viewed as Monarch, in whose high honour and measures designed to prejudice the unshaken affection she had always world against her, and could only found her surest support.

have been justified by trial and con“Upon her arrival, the Queen is viction." surprised to find that a message has been sent down to Parliament, requi- The message being read, Lord Casring its attention to written docu- tlereagh entered into an elaborate etments; and she learns with still greater posé of all the views and principles astonishment, that there is an inten- upon which Government had acted in tion of proposing that these should be this critical proceeding. The House referred to a select committee. It is would readily perceive the great pain this day fourteen years since the first of that duty which devolved on him in charges were brought forward against introducing to their notice one of the her Majesty. Then, and upon every most delicate, anxious, and momenoccasion during that long period, she tous public questions that ever was has shewn the utmost readiness to agitated. Generally speaking, Parmeet her accusers, and to court the liament, in replying to a royal mesfullest inquiry into her conduct. She sage, had a direct and simple course now also desires an open investiga- to follow; but he was sure that enough tion, in which she may see both the of temper had been disclosed within charges and the witnesses against her these walls—and he might appeal to -a privilege not denied to the mean- the declaration of the learned gentleest subject of the realm. In the face man himself,(Mr Brougham) whether of the Sovereign, the Parliament, and there had not been enough of exagthe country, she solemnly protests geration and partial representation against the formation of a select tri- without doors-to call on him so far bunal to examine documents, private- to travel beyond the real necessity of ly prepared by her adversaries, as a the case, as to offer such explanations proceeding unknown to the law of the as would make the circumstances of land, and a flagrant violation of all the which the House were to judge ge. nerally understood. His Majesty's Brougham and Mr Denman, the ministers came down to the House Queen's confidential advisers, as memneither as persecutors nor prosecu- bers of it. He conceived, that by, so tors—no part of their conduct, he doing, he would place these gentlewas sure, warranted such a charge. men in a very awkward and unHis Majesty threw himself on the pleasant situation. Lord Castlereagh great council of the land, in a case could not help remarking on the opwhich nearly interested the nation as posite line which prevailed among well as himself-called on them to some members on the opposite side. look to the case, and to tender him Mr Tierney had, on a former occasuch advice as they would think best sion, urged, that no step should be suited to the situation in which the taken with regard to the Queen, till country now stood. There appeared the charges against her had been fulto him no doubt as to the properly investigated, and till either her course to be pursued; and he could guilt or her innocence were fully estaassure the House, that no vote which blished. Mr Brougham, on the conany one might give, would fetter his trary, denounced ministers as having decision as to ulterior proceedings, precipitated such an investigation ; or even as to whether there should and declared, that they could not be be any proceedings at all. But at the justified in the eyes of the country, same time, he should mislead the till they had shewn themselves to House and on that point he depre- have made every possible sacrifice in cated the idea of the learned gentle- order to avert it. He conceived man (Mr Brougham) deceiving him- the honourable and learned gentleself—if he disguised that in these man would bear him out in the ascommunications there was matter that sertion-that, after the transactions gravely and deeply implicated the il- which had occurred within the last lustrious personage to whose conduct forty-eight hours, little could be exthe documents referred. He was pected from any further negociation astonished that the Queen's advisers with the illustrious personage. He should have impressed her with the himself could bear testimony, and had belief that any guilt could attach to in fact borne testimony, how little her her, or even to the lowest individual Majesty was under the advice of those in the land, without a public hearing who should be considered as her leof the whole merits of the case, with- gal advisers. The publication of the out a full examination of evidence, papers, which the honourable and such as was in all cases admitted in a learned gentleman complained of, as court of justice, and without a full having been sent before the public power of cross-examining that evi- partly untrue, and garbled, incorrect, dence, so as to afford every opportu- and imperfect, was a proof that her nity of proving or disproving the Majesty had not been swayed by the charge imputed.

advice of those who were her constiThe first question before the House, tutional advisers, but had taken other, related to the course of proceeding and he would add, criminal advice, best calculated for securing justice and appealed to the lowest order of to all parties concerned. He pro- the people. (Hear, hear, from the miposed a committee, appointed not nisterial benches.) He would ask for by ballot, but by nomination. He what purpose had those communicawould wish an impartial commit- tions been made, and what was the tee, yet he would not propose Mr use made of them ? He regretted

« AnteriorContinua »