Imatges de pàgina

the act, all ministers had chosen to exercise that responsibility in a different way from that which the noble earl now avowed. According to the statement, which he had in his hand, of what occurred on the accession of Queen Anne, of George I., George II., and George III., in general only a few days had passed, and in no instance had many weeks elapsed, before Parliament proceeded to the consideration. Parliament assembled on the 8th of March, on the accession of Queen Anne, and on the 9th proceeded to the consideration of the civil list. The accession of George I. took place on the 1st of August, and Parliament took the state of the civil list into consideration on the 5th. George II. ascended the throne on June 11, 1727, and on July 11th the consider ation of the civil list took place. In the case of his late Majesty, who succeeded to the throne on the 25th of October, 1760, the civil list was brought before Parliament on the 5th of November. Thus all precedents were against the noble earl, and he had assigned no sufficient reason for departing from the established course.

In the Commons, Mr Tierney observed:-In all former cases of exaltation to the throne, it had been judged proper to bring down a very different kind of message from the Sovereign, and to make some communication to Parliament indicative of his Majesty's feelings and intentions, and of the general policy to be adopted under a new reign. What, however, was the amount of the communication which the House had actually received? They were dryly told, that it was deemed convenient to postpone all public business, and that they therefore were to be turned about their business. No view was afforded of the principle upon which

the government of the country was in future to be carried on, or of the policy by which it would be directed. He was not apprized of any power by which the existing civil list could be applied to the purpose of a new reign. It appeared to him very strange that Parliament should be dissolved before any provision was made on so important a subject. He was satisfied that there was some reason for all this beyond what had been assigned, and that no minister would adopt such a proceeding for his mere amusement. The noble lord talked of the inconvenience which would be produced by keeping the country in its present state with reference to an approaching general election, and appeared to think the beginning of May an excellent time for entering upon public business. He had always been taught to believe the exact contrary, and his experience confirmed this belief. At such.. period of the year it was vain to expect a full attendance, and public business would become a dead letter. But the noble lord had even found out that it was convenient to have an election at the same time that the assizes were holding; and was it possible then to doubt that he must have some reasons, of which the House at present knew nothing? He was aware, however, that all opposition was useless, and that it was impossible to secure attention. The heads of honourable members were now all in the country, and filled with cockades, music, and returning officers. He was contending, however, for a constitutional principle, that the Crown ought to have no revenue independent of Parliament.

Lord Castlereagh vehemently denied the allegation of ministers having any intention or motive beyond what they had openly avowed. Mr Brougham, however, after decla

ring his acquiescence in any measure which increased the frequency of elections, roundly asserted:-No man could doubt what the real reason was, not for dissolving Parliament, but for postponing the consideration of the civil list. There was not a gentleman in the House who would not laugh at him, if he doubt ed that the short account of the matter, instead of going over the prolix statement of the noble lord, was merely this that it was deemed more convenient not to broach that question in the present Parliament, but to discuss it in the new; because was a more handy thing for ministers to propose it in the Parliament about to be formed, rather than to submit it to, and have it considered in that Parliament which was on its death-bed, and could not, at the utmost, exist longer than a few months.


Mr Macdonald, on the other hand, insisted, that such an uninterrupted series of precedents ought not to be passed over without some special reason assigned. Why was it that now, for the first time, it was not formally notified to Parliament that the civil list had expired? Could it be supposed, in this instance, that the House would not most cordially assent to any arrangement with the Crown?-that they would not at once agree to make such a provision as would be honourable for the people to grant, and worthy of the Crown to receive? There could be but one other reason for not bringing the subject forward. It was not connected with economy; but was this-that probably there might be something in the views and intentions of ministers that would not stand the test when a general election was approaching. Had the Parliament met at an uncommon or inconvenient period of the year? Did

their meeting at this moment interfere with the country gentlemen's Christmas? No such thing. It was a singular fact, that they had assembled at the very time which ministers themselves designated for the transaction of public business. Here they were met, according to law, with a much longer period before them than the transaction of the public business, in its regular course, required. He was very far from disputing the power and prerogatives of the Crown, if it even dissolved one Parliament this week, and another the week following. At the same time, he entirely agreed with his learned friend, that ministers were as much responsible for the advice they gave to the Crown on this, as for that which they offered on any other subject.

Notwithstanding the warmth of these debates, no attempt was made to divide either House against the motion, which went to present an address to his Majesty, approving of the intention expressed in his message to call a new Parliament, and engaging to make such arrangements as might be necessary for carrying on the public business till the session should commence.

Ministers now proceeded, without delay, to bring forward the arrangements which they judged necessary for the above purpose. Several votes of money were therefore proposed, of which the most important was one of £200,000 for the discharge of pensions, annuities, and other payments, which would have been chargeable on the consolidated fund and civil list, if the demise of his late Majesty had not taken place.

This gave occasion to introduce a subject already felt to be of extreme delicacy, though no one yet foresaw theportentous issues to which it would lead. Mr Hume had already broached

the question, and observed with derision, that ministers, amid their ostentatious professions of attachment to the House of Brunswick, had never made the slightest allusion to that illustrous person who now held the name and dignity of Queen. It was not his intention to find fault with the exercise of any power belonging to his Majesty for regulating the forms of the Church in the performance of divine service, although it was certain that very considerable difference of opinion was entertained upon that point, and that the late order had occasioned much surprise. He understood a proposition was to be submitted in the committee for a vote of credit to the amount of one fourth of the civil list. This, however, he apprehended would not suffice to provide an adequate establishment for the Queen, whose former allowance, as Princess of Wales, had ceased at the moment of his late Majesty's death. Was she then, the Queen of this country, to be left wandering in beggary through foreign lands, or would not Parliament rather make a provision for her support in a manner suitable to her rank and station? He submitted, there fore, to his Majesty's ministers, whether it would not be right to propose a distinct allowance, and must contend that they were bound both in justice and honour to disclose to the House all their views upon this subject.

Lord Castlereagh, while he declared his readiness to communicate any information which could be useful, conceived that he would best consult the feelings of the House and of the public, by declining to go into any detail on this topic. He only gave assurance, that the high person in question would experience no additional difficulty or personal

embarrassment in consequence of the event which had occurred.

Mr Tierney regretted that the subject had been introduced, but conceived it necessarily arose from the omission of the Queen's name in the church service. He would not grant to a person labouring under a heavy cloud of suspicion any portion of public money until that suspicion was removed. He could not suppress his conviction that somebody had been scandalously ill used-either the King had been betrayed, or the Queen had been insulted. He would not consult any feelings, nor yield to any supposed delicacy, which would impose silence upon him after what had taken place. It was time to speak out openly and honestly. He, as well as many others, had certainly heard rumours extremely injurious to the Queen's character-rumours which, if true, he had no hesitation in saying, proved her unworthy to sit upon the British throne. But it was impossible for him to act upon rumour, upon what might be mere idle calumny; this would be deemed gross injustice in the case of the humblest individual. It was, however, asserted, that a commission had been sent out for the purpose of collecting evidence on this subject. Was that true? and if so, did the noble lord imagine, that, with such evidence in his pocket, he was not bound to produce it to Parliament before he applied for a vote of money to the person whom it affected? If the rumours to which he alluded had any foundation, it was the duty of Parliament to take some steps in order to rescue his Majesty from the degradation of sharing his throne with such a partner. If they were false, there could be as little doubt that it was their duty to maintain her Majesty in all her rights and

dignities. He now called upon them in the name of justice, and in the name of the English monarchy, to give Parliament some information, and to submit the whole case to its inquiry. He pledged himself most solemnly, that, if a case should be made out against the Queen, he would second whatever measure might be requisite to set his Majesty's mind at rest. Should no case, on the contrary, be made out, it might and must be considered as a misfortune, that parties so connected, and in so elevated a station, could not live together; yet this, as unavoidable, must be borne. The Queen of this country, however, she must then be considered; and out of the mouths of the gentlemen opposite must that name proceed before he would consent to vote one shilling of the public money.


This speech of Mr Tierney involved admissions which were ceedingly inconvenient and disagreeable to the friends of her Majesty. Mr Brougham, whom his situation rendered her natural defender, rose, stating, that he differed entirely from his right honourable friend in the view which he had taken of this unfortunate subject; and it was quite new to him to learn that any Parliamentary recognition, and much less any mode of speaking in Parliament, or that any ceremonial of the church was at all essential to make out the title of a Queen, or to vindicate the rights appertaining to that character. According to his understanding of the constitution, she who was the wedded wife of a King regnant, was eo ipso, Queen-consort; and her claim to that title was as indisputable as that of the King himself. It was not the less so because she was prayed for in no liturgy; or because her name appeared in no order of council; or because no addresses

either of condolence or congratulation were presented to her. As little could she be affected by the noble. lord preferring to call her a high personage, rather than to describe her by the title to which she had succeeded. Mr B. therefore conceived there was nothing to prevent the advance of money to her Majesty upon the civil list, even though her name should not be introduced. He must, at the same time, state distinctly, that he was wholly unacquainted with any grounds of suspicion. He refused his ears to all such rumours; as long as she was the King's consort, he knew and should treat her only in the character of Queen-consort. He was wholly ignorant of any inquiries that had been instituted; he listened not to their reported results; nor would he suffer his mind to receive any sinister impressions. But if a charge should ever be brought forward, he would' deal with it as became an honest member of Parliament; and he would endeavour to do justice between the parties most concerned; though, God knew, they were not the only parties that were concerned. Until that moment, big with importance, with unspeakable importance to the parties, with an importance of which those who were ignorant of the case could form no conception-until, he repeated, that moment should arrive, his lips were sealed. The House might, however, in justice, recollect -in justice to her whose character had been so freely dealt with on one side, and whose name even had been suppressed on the other, and without forming any premature opinionthat, throughout the whole period of her past tribulation, she had never been slow either to meet or to repel accusation. It was not, therefore, too much to give credit to her now, for having the same alacrity in under

taking, and the same facility in making good, her defence. Never was there a question in which temper and moderation were so indispensable; the voice of party ought to be extinct for no man could calculate the consequences which might follow.

Notwithstanding this, when the vote came under discussion, Mr Tierney demanded how, under this vote, provision could be made for the Queen. The Chancellor of the Exchequer observed:-If the demise of his late Majesty had not taken place, an annuity, under the act of Parliament, would have been payable as to the Princess of Wales; and the resolution now before the House will undoubtedly empower the Treasury still to continue that payment to the individual.

Mr Tierney. In the first place, I totally deny the power to grant this annuity; because the grant depended on the life of the King. It stood on a particular footing; it had reference to the continuance of the King's life, and was not attached to the particular person whose rank would be affected by that event. Besides, who is to receive this annuity? There is now no such person as the Princess of Wales. If they intended to grant to her Majesty that which had previously been conferred on the Princess of Wales, words to that effect ought to be introduced; and if the right honourable gentleman advances one penny, under the authority of that resolution, for the service adverted to, he will be guilty of a great offence against the House of Commons. The Chancellor, however, insisted in reply: An alteration of station cannot divest the individual of a local and personal interest in the grant; and therefore the annuity will be payable to the individual, under the authority

of the House, although her political situation may be changed.—But Mr Tierney retorted: She has ceased to be Princess of Wales; there is no such person. How, then, I ask, can this resolution grant an annuity to an individual not originally in the contemplation of Parliament? I know the right honourable gentleman must not mention the word Queen. I am quite aware of that. I should be very glad to hear the right honourable gentleman use the word, and I should be still better pleased if I could get him to record it on the journals.

The two honourable members thus continued to reassert their respective positions, while Mr Hume urged: What reason is there, I wish to know, for not stating specifically, that the annuity formerly granted to the Princess of Wales shall in future be paid to her Majesty the Queen? By such a statement the objection of the right honourable gentleman will at once be obviated. Mr Lushington endeavoured to shew, that this, in point of form, would render necessary the insertion of the names of all the other persons concerned; and after all this skirmishing, no opposition was finally made to the vote.

On another ground, these votes were the subject of a pretty serious discussion in the Upper House. Lord Lauderdale contended, (February 24) that the granting of sums by the Commons, which could not be appropriated, nor consequently come before their Lordships during the present Parliament, was a manifest breach of their privileges; and, unless noticed in some shape or other, would form a most pernicious precedent. He perfectly well knew, that when sums were voted in a committee of supply, it was the practice to apply certain portions of the money so voted to particular purposes; but then, this was

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