Imatges de pÓgina

in making such ample offers of money and dignity, while they brought forward such charges. This, however, was their concern; he came to do his duty as a Peer of Parliament, unbiassed by any earthly consideration. When his noble friend asked, what State necessity existed for this measure, he would answer, this was the necessity-he was placed with this alternative before him, either to proceed in some way or other to investigate the charges brought against the Queen, or else to consent to raise her to the high dignity, and rank, and pre-eminence, which belonged to that exalted situation, while this imputation rested on her character unheard and unanswered. Before admitting the necessity, however, of the present bill, he would wish to be satisfied by the opinion of the judges, whether there did not exist grounds for laying an indictment for high treason, when the inquiry could be carried on in a more regular manner, and with greater advantages to the individual accused.

The Marquis of Lansdowne took nearly the same view of the subject. The Lord Chancellor and the Earl of Liverpool enforced those which they had formerly stated. The question proposed by Lord Grey was finally put, when the Chief Justice delivered the following opinion:

"The Judges have conferred together upon the question proposed to them by the House, whether, if a foreigner, owing no allegiance to the Crown of England, violates in a foreign country the wife of the King's eldest son, and she consents thereto, she commits high treason, within the meaning of the Act of the 25th Edward III.? And we are of opinion, that such an individual, under such circumstances, does not commit high treason, within the meaning of that


The House having now voted that counsel should be called in, the folding doors behind the bar were thrown open, and Messrs Brougham, Denman, Lushington, Williams, Tindal, and Wild, followed by Mr Vizard, appeared on behalf of her Majesty. A moment after, the Attorney and Solicitor-General, the King's Advocate, Dr Adam, and Mr Park, entered by the door commonly appropriated to strangers. They were attended by the Solicitor to the Treasury, and by Mr Powell, who attended the Milan commission.

The Duke of Hamilton having demanded by whom the Attorney-General had been instructed to appear, Lord Liverpool replied, that it was in consequence of an order received from the House. He had taken those steps which to him seemed best, for the purpose of obtaining information. had applied for information to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and with that, and such other information as had been obtained, he now appeared for the purpose of opening the case.


Mr Brougham rose, and urged that the time was now come, when he ought to be heard against the principle of the bill. He alluded to the case in 1692, of the Duchess of Norfolk, who had been heard on that ground over and over, both at the first and second reading; also to that of Knight and Burkett, in 1692; and of Lord Anglesea, in 1700.

Counsel being removed, the Earl of Liverpool suggested, that the regular course was first to receive the evidence, and then to hear counsel, both upon the principle of the bill, and upon the facts proved. The Chancellor expressed the same opinion; but Lord Lansdowne observing, that if the learned counsel preferred to argue at present on the principle of the bill, it might spare

the painful necessity of going at all into the evidence, the permission to do so was carried without a division.

Mr Brougham, accepting the permission, proceeded to argue against the principle of the bill. He objected, first, that it was a private law, introduced in a particular case for the punishment of an individual. It was a mode of proceeding known unhappily in the jurisprudence of all countries, but never resorted to in any country, nor in the worst of times, without producing a deep sense of its hateful consequences, and its utter repugnance to every sound principle of jurisprudence. Such laws had, in the earliest periods of Roman jurisprudence, been called privilegia, but privilegia odiosa. They were such, indeed, that governments, not the wisest or the best, had started back at the idea of plunging into such courses. Enactments of this nature, in the age following that in which they had served their temporary purpose, had been almost always rescinded. He would pass over the acts of that barbarous and detested prince, Henry VIII. The case of the Earl of Strafford was sufficient for his purpose. The bill reversing his attainder, branded it with such horror, that all proceedings relative to it were to be cancelled. The present bill, substituting for death deprivation of rank the most illustrious, removal from a station the most exalted, and the loss of privileges the most esteemed amongst women-ay, and what was yet dearer, the ruin of her character and happiness-belonged strictly and technically to that class of enactments, which their lordships' predecessors had thus characterized. The worst of those bills (not excepting even those relating to the wives of Harry VIII.) was, when compared with the present, a regular, consistent, and judicial proceeding. Im

peachment applied to all cases not cognizable by the ordinary jurisdictions: There could be no reason against impeachment, therefore, except that the evidence was so lame and defective, that no House of Commons could be expected to pass a vote upon it. In impeachment, her Majesty would have had a specification of the charges, and all the advantages of a real judicial proceeding. He would not say that the present measure might not be carried on in the spirit of justice, but in every other respect it was as unlike a just mea sure, as any to be found recorded in the annals of Parliament. He would ask, where was that impelling and overruling necessity (he did not say motive, for that might be guessed) which alone could prescribe and justify this measure? Was the succession or its purity endangered, or was there even a possibility of its being put in jeopardy? If this question had been brought forward while his illustrious client was only Princess of Wales, divorce could have been obtained only on the ordinary terms, and would consequently have been impossible. Her enemies had waited till the question was not between man and wife, but between King and Queen. On this ground, however, he could not but implore their Lordships to pause. "I put out of view," said Mr Brougham," at present the question of recrimination: I raised it for the purpose of my argument, and I shall pursue it no further. I should be most deeply, and I may say with perfect truth, unfeignedly afflicted, if, in the progress of this ill-omened question, the necessity were imposed upon me of mentioning it again; and


should act directly in the teeth of the instructions of this illustrious woman-(pointing to the Queen, who sat immediately below him.) I should disobey her solemn commands, if I

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again used even the word recrimination, without being driven to it by an absolute and over-ruling compulsion. That argument, and every thing resulting from it, I willingly postpone till the day of necessity; and, in the same way, I dismiss, for the present, all other questions respecting the conduct or connexions of any parties previous to marriage. These I say not one word about; they are dangerous and tremendous questions, the consequences of discussing which, at the present moment, I will not even trust myself to describe. At present, I hold them to be needless to the safety of my client; but when the necessity arrives, an advocate knows but one duty, and, cost what it may, he must discharge it." Was the mere bestowing of favours upon a person, who had been in a menial situation, so fatal to the honour and dignity of the Crown? He appealed to the justice of the House, to the heads of the church ranged before him, if adultery was to be considered a crime only in woman-if the fame of the country was more tarnished by it when proved against a lady, than when confessed by a prince. "It is with the utmost pain that I make this statement: It is wrung from me by hard compulsion; for there is not a man who acknowledges, with a deeper sense of gratitude than I do, all the obligations which this country and Europe owes to that illustrious individual. I say it not-God forbid I should-to visit harshly upon him any of the failings of our common nature, much less to alter in one iota my recorded sense of the baseness of that conspiracy, by which those failings were dragged before the public. I bring it forward, because it is in truth an answer to this case. Why was no bill of degradation brought in in 1809, after the resolution of the House of Commons, and a


full confession on behalf of the party accused, that he had been guilty of most immoral and unbecoming conduct?" Mr B. called upon the other side to produce an instance in which a marriage had been dissolved, without the husband having come forward to complain. Marriage had been justly described by Sir William Scott, as the parent, not the child of civil society-as a religious as well as a civil contract. vil contract. The Attorney-General would not allow that the King was his client. He made his appearance at the bar, as counsel for nobody. Ministers had acted in such a way as to make it impossible to believe that they credited the preamble to the bill. They had done every thing to forward the Queen's departure out of the country, and to encourage her stay. They had never given her the least hint as to the reports said to be circulated about her conduct-had never said, "Return; this is dangerous-the country suffers-the Crown is dishonoured the Royal Family degraded, by these calumnious reports." To the last moment she was warned not to come back. She was to be pensioned, largely pensioned, for not coming home. She was to enjoy the rank she had degraded, and the privileges she had forfeited. She was to have an income to enable her to be wicked on a larger scale; all levity, all indiscretion,-even "adulterous intercourse" was to be pardoned on one condition; and that condition was, that she should continue abroad, before the eyes of foreigners who envied and hated us. She was to be the degrading spectacle of the Queen of this country, without one of the virtues that ought to belong to her sex and condition. With these facts before him, he must have a mind capable of swallowing the most monstrous improbabilities,


who could lend himself for one moment to the belief, that ministers gave credit to the preamble of the bill.


they had offered. The preamble to the bill appeared to him equally irreconcileable to the alleged facts of the He did not wish to treat the subject with levity, yet it appeared to him that they had been rehearsing the School for Scandal-that they had been performing a solemn farce. Had Malvolio really intrigued with his mistress? or had the other servants quarrelled with the steward, and determined to seek revenge? A trial her Majesty had challenged; but she regarded the bill as no trial-as a proceeding calculated only to bewilder and betray, and as to the justice of which the public would have a right to entertain strong suspicions. Mr Denman referred in the same tone as Mr Brougham, to the disgraceful case of Lord Strafford. When he commenced his address, his royal client had not entered the House, and therefore he now, in her presence, once more appealed to their lordships to avert this public mischief-miscalled a trial. Her Majesty was departing from no principle in making this appeal: she still challenged a trial, but a fair trial; she was not satisfied that her accuser should send sealed bags of papers to the most distinguished of her judges, or that the final sentence should be pronounced by himself. Was this a bill of divorce, or was it not; and was divorce ever granted, except when the complaining party was free from blame? Let their Lordships, then, suppose the case of a young and accomplished woman coming to these shores from a foreign country, with prospects of splendour almost unparalleled; that on her arrival, instead of meeting an affectionate husband, she found an alienated mind: that the solemnities of marriage did not prevent his being still surrounded by mistresses; that the birth of a child, instead of affording a pledge of mutual regard, became the signal

Mr Brougham's speech being concluded, Mr Denman obtained permission to delay his address to the House till next day. He expressed strongly his sense of the importance of his office-an office which, in the present hour of trial and of difficulty, he prized far more highly than the proudest favours which royalty could confer in the moment of prosperity. The committee had not acted in any degree as a grand jury; they had merely found that there was room for solemn inquiry, but had not pronounced any opinion upon the facts, nor recommended the proceeding by bill. The charge of a degrading intimacy was one too vague to become the object of legislative or judicial investigation. The familiarity and openness of manners, which was generally graceful and engaging, might appear blameable to persons of a reserved and austere character. Anne Boleyn, whose innocence was generally acknowledged, had been remarked by Hume as having a certain gaiety, and even levity of manner, which exposed her to the malice of her enemies. A remarkable instance of familiarity with persons of low station, occurred when the illustrious party was Prince of Wales, during which period a note was once delivered to him, commencing in this way-" Sam Spriggs, of the Cocoa-tree, sends his compliments to his Royal Highness." The Prince, on afterwards meeting with MrSpriggs, observed to him, "This may be very well between you and me, Sam; but, for God's sake, do not play these tricks with our high fellows; it would never do with Norfolk or Arundel." The learned Counsel then urged the inconsistency of the charges made by ministers with the proposals which

of aggravated insult, and was shortly followed by her expulsion from the husband's roof. That, even then, spies were placed over her to report or to fabricate stories of her conduct. If, after all these circumstances, an ex parte inquiry took place and terminated in a complete acquittal; and, in consequence of that acquittal, she was restored to society and to the embraces of a father by whom she was never deserted; if, subsequently, she had been induced to go abroad, and the same machinations were renewed against her, in the hope that what had failed in England might succeed in Italy, and the charges, which had before been blown to atoms by argument and ridicule, might at length avail, if not to convict, at least to blacken, to degrade, and to destroy; in a case like this, where the husband has thus shewn himself indifferent to the honour and happiness of his wife-where he has abdicated all those duties which alone gave him the rights of a husband-would their lordships listen for one moment to his case? It appeared, that this question might at some distant period lead to a disputed succession. If his Majesty should again marry, and a child, the fruit of that marriage, be born, there might yet remain in moral and religious minds a doubt as to the validity of that marriage, and whether its offspring had a just title to the crown. Mr Denman then referred, in the same tone as his precursor, to certain proceedings in 1809, relative to an illustrious person, the heir-apparent to the throne. So, with regard to the other Royal Dukes of the same illustrious family, the same objection might perhaps be addressed to them, if their conduct for six whole years were to be examined with a view of detecting scandalous freedoms or adulterous intercourse. If by the in

troduction of a measure like that before their lordships, one peer could uncrown the Queen, another peer might uncrown the King; and he would say further, that the public opinion, which, after all, must dispose of crowns, and sceptres, and kingdoms, would receive the same bias with equal facility. It was very remarkable, but their lordships would well remember, that the origin of the French Revolution was marked by calumnies and libels against the French Queen-imputations against that unfortunate woman, which were coupled with slanders and insinuations against all that was pure, and noble, and honourable, in France. Their lordships would recollect that eventful and gloomy period, when the unhallowed hands of desperate men were raised against insulted royalty-a period at which, as had been well observed by an elegant writer (Mr Burke), all the beautiful delicacy of the female character was violated and despised-a period at which that modest sensitiveness, that sacred purity, which impose upon man "all those moral obligations which the heart owns, and which the understanding ratifies, were lost in the licentious profligacy of the day; when it had become a common observation, that " a king was but a man-a queen was but a woman-a woman was but an animal, and that animal not of the highest order." The greatness of the female character consisted in throwing from it, to an immeasurable distance, that species of impertinence and intrusion which would presume to violate, by unwarranted inquiries, the sanctity of domestic privacy; and upon these grounds alone he might rest his only and general defence, if it were necessary, of the Queen, against a measure intended to exclude from the throne her who ought to adorn it—who came

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