Imatges de pÓgina

that, according to the course of law proceedings, an ex officio information could not be filed till November next. There was, therefore, no room as yet to complain of any neglect on his part. During the short period of his filling the situation of Attorney-General, he had acted upon the rule of never instituting a prosecution, except when he was satisfied in his own mind that he should be able to procure a conviction. By this rule he had guided his official conduct, and in every prosecution which he had commenced he had obtained a verdict. Although he strongly disapproved of the libellous publication which had been brought under their notice, he would say, that in point of virulence it would bear no comparison with many other publications, which, under the mask of advocating the Queen's cause, had no other end in view than to produce a revolution in the country. He had himself seen placarded in the public streets bills and papers of the most infamous description, put forth evidently for the direct purpose of influencing the due course of justice, and prejudging the merits of the case. The licentiousness of the press was carried to such an extreme, it went so far beyond all its former limits, that he feared the arm of the law was scarcely strong enough to repress it. It was, however, his duty to make the attempt. If, however, he were to institute a prosecution in every instance in which that proceeding would be justifiable, and would seem to be called for, his whole time would be occupied with the employment.

Mr Tierney and Lord Archibald Hamilton generally concurred in the views of Dr Lushington.

Mr Wetherell defended his conduct, in bringing the matter before the House, and observed, in reply to Lord Castlereagh, that he could not

be expected to animadvert on every libel that might be published. Having obtained the general and unequivocal opinion of the House, that the libel in question merited the severest animadversion, and inferring that it was the intention of the AttorneyGeneral to prosecute it, he was perfectly ready to withdraw his motion.

The motion was then withdrawn. The interval which now elapsed till the commencement of the trial, was filled by the uninterrupted transmission of addresses to the Queen, from the different towns and corporations of the kingdom, and from all those counties which had any thing of a popular character. In these addresses every species of flattery was profusely lavished upon her; while the whole train of proceedings before the House, and more particularly the Bill of Pains and Penalties, were loaded with execration. To these effusions her Majesty returned answers, which evidently did not emanate from any of her public and respectable advisers, and which were far from exalting her in the eyes of the soberminded and judicious part, even of her warmest friends. Her wrongs were set forth in the most exaggerated manner, and without any feeling of dignity or propriety; while the political sentiments expressed were calculated to meet the views only of the most violent among the advocates of radical reform. Atthe meetings abovementioned, however, the opposition was so faint, and was borne down by such overwhelming majorities, as plainly shewed the continued feeling in her favour among the great mass of the people, including many who were accustomed to support the measures of government. At the same time, the aristocracy, and especially the ladies, still held themselves strictly aloof. The houses of Leinster, of Bedford, and of Hamilton, were in

deed exceptions; even the females belonging to those great families waited upon the Queen, though it was observed, that their visits were not frequently repeated. With these exceptions, the ladies of the court at Brandenburgh-house were confined to those of the Queen's counsel, of Mr Hume, and of one or two more of the most violent among the popular orators. The regular Whig members of both Houses, with whatever zeal they advocated the cause of her Majesty, did not choose, or were not able, to introduce to her any of the female members of their families.

Notwithstanding so marked a reserve on the part of the nobility, the tide of popular feeling continued to run so strong, as to make it still surmised that ministers would even now withdraw the decisive step which they had taken. No measure, however, confirmatory of such an expectation, was ever adopted; and the time soon approached so near, with all the preparations going on uninterrupted, as to make it perfectly evident that the determination on the subject was immutable. In this crisis, her Majesty put forth a letter, addressed to the King, and couched in such terms, as only the most determined and the least wise of her advocates could admire or approve. The conduct of her husband was upbraided in a strain of furious and unmeasured invective, which any feel ing of her own dignity would have rendered impossible. The Houses of Parliament were as little spared, and their unfavourable verdict was anticipated, and braved in a manner which by no means bore peculiarly the stamp of conscious innocence. On the first topic, after branding the first investigation before the Privy Council, a tribunal at which perjury was not legally punishable, she adds,

"Great as my indignation naturally must have been at this shameful evasion of law and justice, that indignation was lost in pity for him who could lower his princely plumes to the dust, by giving his countenance and favour to the most conspicuous of those abandoned and notorious perjurers."

She afterwards says,-" The me lancholy event which deprived the nation of the active exertions of its virtuous King, bereft me of friend and protector, and of all hope of future tranquillity and safety. To calumniate your innocent wife was now the shortest road to Royal favour; and to betray her, was to lay the sure foundation of boundless riches and titles of honour. Before claims like these, talent, virtue, long services, your own personal friendships, your Royal engagements, promises, and pledges, written as well as verba', melted into air. Your Cabinet was founded on this basis. You took to your councils men, of whose persons, as 'well as whose principles, you had invariably expressed the strongest dislike. The interest of the nation, and even your own feelings, in all other respects, were sacrificed to the gratification of your desire to aggravate my sufferings, and ensure my humiliation. You took to your councils and your bosom men whom you hated, whose abandonment of, and whose readiness to sacrifice me were their only merits, and whose power has been exercised in a manner, and has been attended with consequences, worthy of its origin. From this unprincipled and unnatural union have sprung the manifold evils which this nation has now to endure, and which present a mass of misery and of degradation, accompanied with acts of tyranny and cruelty, rather than have seen which inflicted on his industri

ous, faithful, and brave people, your Royal father would have perished at the head of that people."

The letter concluded-" You have cast upon me every slur to which the female character is liable. Instead of loving, honouring, and cherishing me, agreeably to your solemn vow, you have pursued me with hatred and scorn, and with all the means of destruction. You wrested from me my child, and with her my only comfort and consolation. You sent me sorrowing through the world, and even in my sorrows pursued me with unrelenting persecution. Having left me nothing but my innocence, you would now, by a mockery of justice, deprive me even of the reputation of possessing that. The poisoned bowl and the poniard are means more manly than perjured witnesses and partial tribunals; and they are less cruel, inasmuch as life is less valuable than honour. If my life would have satisfied your Majesty, you should have had it on the sole condition of giving me a place in the same tomb with my child; but, since you would send me dishonoured to the grave, I will resist the attempt with all the means that it shall please God to give me."

On the subject of the two Houses, her Majesty observed,-" Your Majesty's ministers have advised this prosecution; they are responsible for the advice they give; they are liable to punishment if they fail to make good their charges; and not only are they part of my judges, but it is they who have brought in the bill; and it is too notorious that they have always a majority in the House; so that, without any other, here is ample proof that the House will decide in favour of the bill, and, of course, against me.

"But further, there are reasons for your ministers having a majority

in this case, and which reasons do not apply to common cases. Your Majesty is the plaintiff; to you it belongs to appoint and to elevate Peers. Many of the present Peers have been raised to that dignity by yourself, and almost the whole can be, at your will and pleasure, further elevated. The far greater part of the Peers hold, by themselves and their families, offices, pensions, and other emoluments, solely at the will and pleasure of your Majesty, and these, of course, your Majesty can take away whenever you please. There are more than four-fifths of the Peers in this situation, and there are many of them who might thus be deprived of the far better part of their incomes.

"If, contrary to all expectation, there should be found, in some Peers, likely to amount to a majority, a disposition to reject the bill, some of these Peers may be ordered away to their ships, regiments, governments, and other duties; and, which is an equally alarming power, new Peers may be created for the purpose, and give their vote in the decision. That your Majesty's ministers would advise these measures, if found necessary, to render their prosecution successful, there can be very little doubt; seeing that they have hitherto stopped at nothing, however unjust or odious.

"To regard such a body as a Court of Justice, would be to calumniate that sacred name; and for me to suppress an expression of my opinion on the subject, would be tacitly to lend myself to my own destruction, as well as to an imposition upon the nation and the world.

"In the House of Commons I can discover no better grounds of security. The power of your Majesty's ministers is the same in both Houses; and your Majesty is well acquainted

with the fact, that a majority of this House is composed of persons placed in it by the Peers, and by your Majesty's Treasury."

This letter, as was to be expected, obtained no notice, and produced no change of purpose in the quarter to which it was addressed. An extraordinary ferment and agitation accompanied the approach of the long pending and dreaded, but now inevitable inquiry. Notwithstanding the lateness of the season, London was crowded to excess. The attendance on the House of Lords was unexampled. The nobility and dignified clergy, from the remotest extremities of the three kingdoms, many of whom had never been accustomed to attend on legislative deliberations, were summoned by the imperative call of the House. The expectation was increased by the announced intention of the Queen to take her seat in the House of Lords, and listen to its proceedings. No step, we must say, could tend more directly to strengthen every the most unfavourable impression which could have been received from other quarters. The female, who could sit in the midst of four hundred of the other sex, to listen to those things which she must have foreseen would be said, must surely have been encircled with the as triplex. The occasion, however, afforded the opportunity for a triumphal display of that popular enthusiasm in her favour, which was now in its zenith. On the morning of the fated day, the whole population of the metropolis was poured forth in one collected mass. In contemplation of this muster, all the streets leading to the House had been secured by strong palisades, as well as guarded by detachments of troops. These precautions were proved not to be superfluous, by the prodigious crowds who

filled every avenue through which the Queen was expected to proceed to the House. At her appearance, and during her progress, the air was rent with peals of acclamation from this vast multitude, which must have reached not only the place of judgment, but another mansion, where they would be still less welcome. No violence or obstruction was, however, experienced, though, at the coming out of the House, which was celebrated by equally loud demonstrations of joy, the populace proved their giddy versatility by insults offered to the Duke of Wellington and the Marquis of Anglesea. These heroes, once the object of such just admiration, were suddenly converted into objects of hatred, by their suspected enmity to the present idol of popular favour.

In the crowded meeting of the Peerage, which now took place, only those were exempted from the call of the House who could plead indisposition-absence from the kingdomthe being above the age of 70—and the being Roman Catholics. The Duke of Sussex obtained indulgence, by pleading the ties of consanguinity which existed between him and the parties. The Duke of York, however, observed, that with stronger claims than perhaps any other individual, he would not suffer any private feelings to deter him from doing his duty. Petitions against the bill were presented from the Common Council, and from the county of Middlesex; but the latter having been signed by Mr Sheriff Parkins, was received only as the petition of that individual.

The Duke of Leinster, in conformity to the determination formerly announced, to oppose the proceeding at every stage, now moved, that the order of the House respecting it be

rescinded. The question was immediately put, when the noble Duke's motion was negatived by 206 to 41. The Earl of Carnarvon now rose, and stated his reasons for opposing the bill. He conceived that it was one which could only be justified by the most pressing necessity, and that no such necessity existed. Bills of pains and penalties had all the effects of ex post facto laws: They were intended to punish those by an indirect method, who could not be convicted by due course of law: They were meant to supply defects of evidence; but he would ever contend that an attempt so to supply a defect of evidence, was opposed to every principle of public justice. The last instance, that of Sir John Fenwick, had been carried finally by a very small majority-only of seven, in the House of Lords. The conduct-the votes, he would say, of the House of Commons-the conduct of ministers themselves, who were the accusers on this occasion, shewed, that so far from any danger being apprehended from keeping this question back, they would willingly embrace any mode by which they could possibly get out of this scrape. No public danger to the succession, or otherwise, could be stated as the ground of this. Her Majesty, in consequence of causes which could only be accounted for by a reference to human infirmity, had been placed in such a state, that even supposing the charges true, it would have been much better not to have made them public. It would have been well, he thought, if ministers had suffered the Alps and the Appenines, the boundaries of distant realms, and the wide extent of seas and oceans, to throw a veil over those events which they had so eagerly brought forward. What they had done tended only to disturb the pub

lic peace-to injure the feelings of the country-to disgust every individual in the empire-and to excite that irritation of mind, which could not exist without endangering the safety of the state. The charge itself appeared to him vague. The conferring distinction on an individual of humble birth, could not, in England especially, be considered as either unprecedented or criminal. Only a distinct and definite proof of criminal intercourse could be received. He conceived, on the whole, that no motive existed of sufficient weight, to justify so extraordinary a proceeding.

Earl Grey felt peculiar pain in delivering his sentiments on this occasion, and in having voted against the motion of his noble friend. He did not conceive, however, that the House could, with any propriety, contradict their former proceedings, without some reason assigned. He must maintain this principle, supported on the ground of Parliamentary law, and bottomed on the constitution of the country, that on all occasions, when a great State necessity, or a matter of great State expediency, existed, Parliament were vested with extraordinary powers; and it became their duty to exercise those extraordinary powers, in order to procure that remedy, commensurate with such State necessity or expediency, which no proceeding in a court of law could afford. He agreed, that no advantage could be derived from the inquiry; and if no measure had been yet proposed to them-if he had been a confidential adviser of the Crown, and consulted as to the expediency or policy of introducing such a bill-in that case all his noble friend had stated would have had great weight, and must have been considered as matter of deep importance. He could not see the consistency of ministers,

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