HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Monday, June 22.
[CHOICE OF A SPEAKER]
About two o'clock, the attendance of the commons, at the bar of the house of lords, was commanded in a message by the black rod. About 200 members, who had been previously, sworn in by the lord steward of the household, according to custom, in the Long Gallery, went up immediately, and having received his majesty's command, signified by the lord chancellor, to elect a Speaker, returned, and shortly after proceeded to the exercise of that privilege in the usual form.
Mr. Yorke rose
and addressing himself to Mr. Ley, the senior clerk, said, that the house was now called upon to exercise one of its most antient and valuable privileges, in electing, from among its members, a proper person to discharge the functions of its Speaker; functions always important to the maintenance of order and decorum within its own walls, and the execution of which was at the same time most essential, towards obtaining for the proceedings of the house, the respect and sanction of the community abroad. Some apology was perhaps necessary, for his presuming to offer himself to the house on this occasion, which implied an assumption, that the person whom he should recommend as the most fit and proper, to discharge the arduous duties annexed to the chair, should immediately appear to the house to possess in a pre-eminent degree
the assemblage of great qualities which was requisite for the office. He was aware, that there were many gentlemen in the house, who, by their abilities and conduct, and the authority annexed to their names and persons, were very capable of filling this important station with dignity and advantage. But there was something farther than mere personal qualifications which afforded not only a fair presumption, but even the assurance and full conviction, that the right hon. gent. he meant to propose was, even among the many other highly gifted persons whom he saw around him, the most worthy to fill the chair of the house in these times of difficulty. In addressing the house on this occasion, he had, in addition to the satisfaction of discharging a high public duty, a pride and pleasure in bearing his personal testimony to merits which he had long privately known, and which, the more he knew them, the more he esteemed and honoured, and the more he congratulated himself on his acquaintance with the person who possessed them in so eminent a degree. He anticipated, therefore, with peculiar satisfaction the testimony that he knew would be unanimously borne this day to every thing that he had said in behalf of his right hon. friend. It was a farther satisfaction to him, to think that the vote which the house would give on this occasion, would be distinct from all party prejudices and interests, the prevalence of which in that house, was on every occasion to be deplored; but the prevalence of which, at the present difficult and dangerous crisis, was particularly to be deprecated, as it might perhaps be pregnant with the ruin of these once flourishing, united, and happy countries. He was satisfied that, on the present occasion at least, no party feeling would find room among those he saw around him. This happy unanimity would enhance the pride and pleasure he felt on being permitted to address the house on this occasion; and he hailed the approaching unanimous election of his right hon. friend to the chair, as an omen of the future concord which he hoped to see prevail generally in the house. It was not necessary for him to descant on the qualifications requisite to fill the chair with propriety, as there were many gentlemen present who had repeatedly seen it filled in the most honourable manner. But, if he were called upon to give an instance of every thing that a Speaker of the house of commons ought to be, though the chair had, within his memory, been filled by many persons of very high and distin-
guished merit, he should not hesitate to name the right hon. Charles Abbot. (a general cry of hear! hear!) If he possessed more eloquence, he could with pleasure dwell on the merits by which this right hon. gent. was so eminently distinguished and recommended. He could dilate upon the independence of his character, his accurate knowledge of the laws of the country, his intimate acquaintance with the forms and the practice of the house of commons, and his love of the constitution. But all praise must fall short of the merits which the house knew so well, and estimated so highly. The services which Mr. Abbot had rendered as chairman of the committee of finance, and as chief secretary for Ireland, were, however, so deeply impressed upon his mind, that he could not restrain himself from making particular mention of them. As a member of the committee of finance he had had particular opportunities of observing the meritorious conduct of his right hon. friend as chairman of that committee; and he had also particular reason to know, how much cause Ireland had to regret his being called from his high station in that country, to fill the chair of that house. Mr. Abbot was, in one word, in every sense, one of the best servants of the public; and if every other servant of the public, at the present time, and in the times to come, performed his duty with the same fidelity, zeal, and diligence, the country would find in such service, the most effectual means of extricating itself from the difficulties with which it was now encompassed. He should trespass no farther on the house, but conclude with moving, That the right hon. Charles Abbot, be called to the chair of that house.
Mr. Bankes rose
and addressed the house thus:—Sir, I never rose with more satisfaction to second any motion than I now do that which has just been submitted to you; because I am sure I am speaking the unanimous sentiments of those I address, when I say, that I am persuaded nothing could conduce so much to the dignity of this house, and the general interests of the country, as the placing such a person as Mr. Abbot in that chair, which he has already repeatedly filled with so much honour. As I speak in the hearing of many of those members who formerly sat in this house, it may be thought, that, as to them, it is totally unnecessary to enlarge; but there are now many amongst us who had not formerly a seat here, and therefore I hope they will excuse me for telling them, that there is no
person who has exercised himself in the duties of that most important office, with more integrity, ability, candour, and fidelity, than the right. hon. gent. who has been nominated to their choice. He is a gentleman, who, to the most diligent research, adds the most profound knowledge of mankind, with great legal knowledge, extensive experience in history, and a great and accurate understanding in constitutional and parliamentary law. These are endowments which qualify him most abundantly to undertake that arduous and difficult situation to which we recommend him. The easy access which he gave to all who had occasion to consult him, is fresh in the recollection of many whom I address. To them, too, it is abundantly known, how usefully and honourably he filled the chair for several years. To myself it is a great gratification to feel, that in discharging what I conceive to be a great public duty, I am also obeying the call of a long and uninterrupted friendship. He was, sir, amongst the first of my friends in this world, and it is a great pleasure and satisfaction to me to find, in a great assembly of enlightened men, of great qualifications and parliamentary experience, that such a friend, whom I have known so long and so intimately, should be the person repeatedly deemed most fit to fill the situation of Speaker amongst us. I am sure that upon this occasion, as upon former ones, those who know his abilities, perseverance, and integrity, will again deem him most fit to resume it, and that those who have not known him so sufficiently as to have experienced his qualifications, will never have cause to regret their acquiescence in the opinion and choice of those who have. On these grounds I concur with my right hon. friend in every sentiment he has uttered, and beg leave to conclude with seconding the motion he has submitted to your consideration.
—Sir, I never rose with more pleasure in this house, than I now feel in rising to express my concurrence in this motion. I have witnessed, in common with many others now present, the great talents, the industry, and becoming conduct of that right hon. gent., whose character and qualifications are now the subjects of discussion. He has formerly filled that chair in such a manner, that I think I should not be doing justice to my own feelings, if I did not say, that I do not know of any one individual so well qualified to fill that dignified and honourable situation, as that right hon. gent. In saying thus much of him I
may perhaps by some be thought to be going too far with my eulogium, and I acknowledge they might think so with some degree of justice, were I to have formed this opinion merely upon the basis of those qualifications which have been touched upon by the mover and seconder of the motion. I do not mean to infer, that there may not be several men now present in this house, who, from their abilities, extensive knowledge, and experience, are perhaps equally adequate to the important and arduous task of filling that office: but, sir, under the present circumstances in which that right hon. gent. stands, and in the present situation of affairs, I think there are other considerations and other qualities which ought to enter into our consideration. I am convinced, I say, from this more comprehensive view of the subject, that the house could not make a more judicious choice than in electing that gentleman. I perfectly concur in every thing that has been stated concerning him. I approve of the detail Which the two hon. gentlemen have given of his character, While I do this, however, I must also be allowed to state, that from such qualifications alone does not arise the governing motive of my acquiescence. What more immediately tends to induce me to support this nomination, is that spirit of firmness and independence, with which he has always executed the high trust committed to him, and this, too, upon every occasion, but more particularly upon a memorable one, the circumstances of which are yet fresh in your recollection. The situation in which he was placed was, indeed, singular; but it was such as may occur again. I allude to a transaction which took place in this house, at a time when many who are now here were not present; an occasion, when, upon a division taking place, on the proposition of an hon. friend of mine (Mr. Whitbread), the numbers of the members on both sides of the question were equal. Such was the predicament in which that right hon. gent. was placed, when occupying that chair, to which we are now proposing to recal him; a predicament, in which he had a remarkable opportunity of exercising that firmness of mind which is so becoming in all situations of life, but particularly in that to which he had been called by the unanimous concurrence of this house. He gave, as it were, a form and body to the wishes of the people, by converting the propositions which were then submitted to us into resolutions of this house; I mean those resolution
which preceded the impeachment of lord Melville. Sir, what induces me more particularly to allude to this fact is, the circumstance of my conviction, that this must be an inquiring parliament, otherwise we shall find that the people will be infinitely disappointed in the expectations they have formed of those they have sent to it as their representatives. Upon such grounds, therefore, I think, that the high trust and responsability of a Speaker of this house cannot be delegated into the hands of any man with greater propriety, or with greater safety, than into the hands of one, who has already executed that situation with firmness and independence. What he has already done, upon a former occasion, we surely have every reason to expect he would not hesitate to do upon a future occasion. The firmness, the impartiality, the spirited and dignified independence, which he has already shewn, should certainly induce us to believe that he would act so again, should another similar opportunity offer. This, therefore, is my governing principle for voting for the right hon. gent. If his conduct upon that day had been otherwise, I most unquestionably would have voted against him. I do not deny, but, on the contrary, I admit, that he possesses all the qualifications which have been enumerated; but I mean fairly and frankly to own, that this last one, which I have stated, is with me the chief inducement, the governing principle which actuates my vote in his favour. Lest it should be said that I am introducing party principles, and party prejudices, I shall abstain from making any further observations; but, while I give my most cordial assent to the motion now before you, I cannot conclude without observing, that if ever there was a parliament likely to create great warmth of discussion upon great political and party top
cs, it is the present parliament, which is now for the first day, assembled.
Mr. William Smith
gave his hearty concurrence to the motion, and had great satisfaction in seeing recalled to the chair a gentleman who had acquitted himself in such a manner in the public and private duties of the office, as to prove himself possessed of the best disposition as well as the most perfect ability to fill it in the most beneficial manner. The discharge of the public duties of the chair in the house was a matter that came under the observation of every member. He should, therefore, say nothing on that head, though he believed there was the most ample room for commendation; but,
in the private duties of the chair, he had more frequent opportunities than others to observe the punctuality of attendance, and the zealous endeavours to forward the business that came before him, by which the right hon. gent. now proposed established the strongest claim to the approbation and confidence of the house. It was unnecessary to add any thing to what had already been said; but he could not abstain from adverting to one expression which had fallen from the right hon. mover. The right hon. gent. expressed a wish, that all other discussions might be equally free from party motives as this. He could only say in answer, that if every proposition that should be introduced should be equally unexceptionable in its nature, no party interest should traverse it, at least so far as he was concerned. (An universal cry of chair; chair! Mr. Abbot, Mr. Abbot!)
then rose. He said, the proposition which his right hon. friend had submitted to the house as its first act, so far as it concerned the magnitude of the duties annexed to the chair, received his fullest concur
ence. The history and practice of parliament, at all periods, confirmed that opinion. But if it had been thus matter of grave and solemn deliberation, at all periods, into whose hands the high, important, difficult, and delicate duties of the chair should be entrusted, a just sense of the difficulties of the times in which we live, difficulties, which might be expected to increase instead of diminish, must make it matter of particularly serious consideration now. The partiality of his friends had ascribed to him a capacity for discharging those duties, which, gratefully as he acknowledged it as a mark of their kindness, filled him with fear when it led him to a comparison of the arduous nature of the task, with his humble ability to execute it. He had further only to add, that if the house, in the exercise of its first privilege, should think fit to call again into its service the qualifications it had experienced in him, they should be exerted with the utmost zeal and ability of which he was master. With this he submitted to the pleasure of the house. (An universal cry of chair! chair!)—Mr. Abbot was then conducted to the chair by the mover and seconder of the motion, and when seated therein for a short interval he again rose and addressed the house thus:—Since the house has been pleased to place me again in this chair, I desire from this place to return you my humblest thanks, and most grateful acknowledgments, for this additional proof of
your confidence and esteem. I have only now again to assure you, that while I have the honour of occupying it, I will constantly labour to deserve a continuance of your regard, by maintaining the dignity and authority of this house unimpaired, and by endeavouring to do so with fidelity and strict impartiality.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
availed himself of the usage of the house, to offer to the Speaker, not his congratulations, but the unanimous contratulations of the house of commons, and the unanimous congratulations of the public. The feelings of the friendship with which the Speaker had long honoured him, were alone sufficient to make him rejoice to see him again restored to a situation, which from every consideration, public and private, must be as desirable to him as it was honourable. But it was not so much from private considerations, as from a sense of the importance of the duties of the office, and of the peculiar qualifications to discharge them, that he exulted in the present appointment to the chair, to which the Speaker's former conduct in it gave additional lustre. The proper object of congratulation, was, not the Speaker, but the house, whose good fortune in providing so amply for the respectability, and utility of its presidency, could not be too highly estimated. On the first occasion on which the Speaker had been called to the chair, he had made the same modest comparison between the duties of the office and his sense of his own abilities to discharge them. To compare his feelings on that occasion, and on the present, was a thing that could scarcely be abstained from. The statement then offered of the arduous duties of the office, and of the incapacity, as the Speaker had been pleased to call it, of the individual to perform them, was then subject to the test of a severe criticism. There was fresh in the memory of the house the conduct of a predecessor in the chair, who in a time deeply marked with the violence of party conflicts, had so conducted himself as to acquire the unanimous approbation of men, who scarcely agreed in any thing else. Lord Sidmouth, the person to whom he alluded, was supposed to have possessed every quality which the idea of a perfect Speaker of the house of commons comprehended. It was enough to say, that on the comparison with him, the present Speaker was not found in any sense wanting. The dignity, authority, and utility of the character of the chair was as fully supported as at any former
period; and the respect which it was properly entitled to command, was not in any the slightest degree diminished. All that could be wished now, was the continuance of the conduct already experienced. The trial to which the Speaker was called was less unequal. All that was necessary to his honourable acquittal, was to persevere in doing as he had done. Nothing could be so gratifying, as to be called unanimously to a station so arduous and so exalted, after so full a trial. The silent assent of the house would have been perhaps sufficient to mark its according approbation. But, from the express and declared concurrence of persons, who were not in other instances likely to agree, the most unequivocal sanction of universal approbation was given. Thus, however, in the frequent changes of administration that had lately taken place, the minds of men might differ, as to those who might be best qualified to hold the reins of government in the country, there was no doubt any where that the chair of that house could by no other person be so well filled as by its present holder. Conscious that he must fall infinitely short of giving an adequate description either of his own feelings, or of those which the house entertained upon the present occasion, he should conclude with moving, that this house do now adjourn.—The question being put from the chair, the house adjourned accordingly.
HOUSE OF LORDS.
Friday, June 26.
[THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS' SPEECH]
—This day at three o'clock, his grace the archbishop of Canterbury, the lord chancellor, the earl of Aylesford, and earl Dartmouth, being robed, took their seats on the bench in front of the thione, and Mr. Quarme, yeoman usher of the black rod; was then dispatched to order the attendance of the commons, who forthwith, with the Speaker at their head, appeared at the bar. The royal commission, authorising certain peers therein named or any three or more of them, to open the parliament, was then read. After which, the Lord Chancellor delivered the following speech to both houses:
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"We have it in command from his majesty to state to you, that having deemed it expedient to recur to the sense of his people, his majesty, in conformity to his declared intention, has lost in time in causing the present parliament to be assembled ߞ His majesty has great satisfaction in acquainting you, that, since the events which led to the dissolution of the last parliament, his majesty has received, in numerous addresses from his subjects, the warmest assurances of their affectionate attachment to his person and government, and of their firm resolution to support him, in maintaining the just rights of his crown, and the true principles of the constitution; and he commands us to express his entire confidence that he shall experience in all your deliberations a determination to afford him an equally loyal, zealous, and affectionate support , under all the arduous circumstances of the present time. —We are commanded by his majesty to inform you, that his majesty's endeavours have been most anxiously employed for the purpose of drawing closer the ties by which his majesty is connected with the powers of the continent; of assisting the efforts of those powers against the ambition and oppression of France; of forming such engagements as may ensure their continued co-operation and of establishing that mutual confidence and concert, so essential, under any course of events, to the restoration of a solid and permanent
peace in Europe. —It would have afforded his majesty the greatest pleasure to have been enabled to inform you, that the mediation undertaken by his majesty, for the purpose of preserving peace between his majesty's ally, the emperor of Russia, and the Sublime Porte, had proved effectual for that important object; his majesty deeply regrets the failure of that mediation, accompanied as it was by the disappointment of the efforts of his majesty's squadron, in the sea of Marmora, and followed, as it has since been, by the losses which have been sustained by his gallant troops in Egypt. —His majesty could not but lament the extension of hostilities in any quarter, which should create a diversion in the war, so favourable to the views of France; but lamenting it, especially in the instance of a power with which his majesty has been so closely connected, and which has been so recently indebted for its protection against the incroachments of France, to the signal and successful interposition of his majesty's arms. —His majesty has directed us to acquaint you, that he has thought it right to adopt such measures as might best enable him, in concert with the emperor of Russia, to take advantage of any favourable opportunity of bringing the hostilities in which they are engaged against the Sublime Porte, to a conclusion, consistent with his majesty's honour, and the interests of his Ally.
"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
His majesty has ordered the estimates of the current year to be laid before you, and he relies on the tried loyalty and zeal of his faithful commons to make such provisions for the public service, as well as for the further application of the sums which were granted in the last parliament, as may appear to be necessary. —And his majesty, bearing constantly in mind the necessity of a careful and economical administration of the pecuniary resources of the country, has directed us to express his hopes, that you, will proceed, without delay, in the pursuit of those inquiries, connected with the public economy, which engaged the attention of the last parliament.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"His majesty commands us to state to you, that he is deeply impressed with the peculiar importance, at the present moment, of cherishing a spirit of union and harmony among his people: such a spirit will most effectually promote the prosperity of the country at home, will give vigour and efficacy to its councils, and its arms abroad;
and can alone enable his majesty, under the blessing of providence, to carry on successfully the great contest in which he is engaged, or finally to conduct it to that termination which his majesty's moderation and justice have ever led him to seek, peace—in which the honour and interests of his kingdom can be secure, and in which Europe and the world may hope for independence and repose.'
The commmons then withdrew, and the lords adjourned for a short time to unrobe. Having again assembled, his Majesty's Speech was read by the lord chancellor, and afterwards by the clerk at the table.
The Earl of Mansfield rose
to move the address. At a crisis like the present, he wished it had fallen to the lot of some noble lord more able and experienced than himself, to move an address to his majesty, he felt himself incompetent to the task and hoped to meet with the indulgence of the house. He did not come forward upon this occasion with any party views, and whilst he disdained to be the servile tool of any administration, so, on the other hand, he was equally inimical to a systematic opposition to the measures of government, whether those measures were injurious or conducive to the public good. Some parts, however, of his majesty's speech, had struck his mind very forcibly, and upon those he would briefly deliver his opinion. The circumstances which occurred respecting the proposed concessions to the Catholics, and the differences which on that occasion took place between his majesty and his late ministers, rendered it impossible, that those ministers could remain in office, and rendered an appeal to the people absolutely necessary. He rejoiced at the effect of that appeal, he rejoiced that addresses had poured in from every quarter of the country, evincing the most zealous and steady loyalty and attachment to his majesty's government, and to the constitution of the country, and whilst he regretted that any of those addresses should convey a censure upon many eminent characters, he should have still more regretted if no such addresses had been presented. It was greatly to be lamented that a subject should have been agitated, which of all others was the most likely to inflame and irritate men's ,minds; he hoped that that irritation would now he allayed and that union and concert would invigorate the hands of government, and strengthen the country. In alluding to one topic mentioned in his,majesty's speech; namely, the unfortunate events which had
taken place in the Sea of Marmora, and in Egypt, he did not wish to cast censure any where until those documents were before the house, which could enable it to decide; with propriety. He trusted, however, that in the mean time no attempt would be made to throw the blame upon the officers employed on those services. The events were most unfortunate; but he trusted they would only prove an additional incentive to our gallant soldiers and seamen, to efface their memory by splendid victories and brilliant achievements. He trusted, also, that the measure since adopted would have the desired effect, of inducing the Porte to adopt those measures which were consistent with her real interests. There was another topic in his majesty's speech to which he wished to advert, although it was rather addressed to the house of commons than to their lordships, inasmuch as it formed an additional argument for the address which he should move; he alluded to the wish expressed by his majesty, that they should proceed in those enquiries respecting the economy of the public money, which they had commenced in the last parliament. This was an additional incitement for their lordships to express to his majesty their loyalty and attachment, whilst it proved that there was not the slightest wish that those inquiries should be dropped, which had been interrupted by the dissolution of parliament. It was his most ardent wish that upon such an occasion, engaged as we were in war, carrying on a contest in which all the energies of the country were required to be exerted, and when, as in the present case, the speech from the throne was temperate and conciliatory, that there should be an unanimous vote. If that, however, in the present state of parties, and under the present differences of opinion, was not to be expected, he trusted that they would he at least unanimous in expressing their cordial, zealous, and loyal attachment to his majesty, whose mild and benignant government, and whose unerring discretion in the exercise of his royal prerogatives called loudly for that tribute to his numerous virtues. His lordship concluded by moving an address to his majesty, which, as usual, was nearly an echo to his majesty's speech. —The proposed address having been read by the lord chancellor,
Lord Rolle rose
to second it. His lordship declared, that he came forward uninfluenced by any party considerations, and solely from motives of loyalty and attachment to his majesty. He condemned the conduct
of the late ministers towards his majesty, and deprecated an attempt to embitter the latter days of their sovereign by exciting agitation, and the most irritable feelings throughout the country. He declined entering into any consideration of the unfortunate events in the Sea of Marmora and Egypt, the necessary documents not being before the house; he could not help, however, deeply regretting that such circumstances should have occurred. He highly approved of that, part of his majesty's speech, which desired that the inquiries into the public expenditure should be resumed, and agreed with the noble earl, that it was an additional incitement for expressing their attachment to his majesty, which he hoped would be expressed unanimously.
Earl Fortescue rose
for the purpose of moving an amendment, when he considered the manner in which the last parliament was dissolved, and the speech which had been now put into the mouth of his majesty, his lordship said he could not avoid expressing his greatest surprize at the conduct of his majesty's ministers. The last parlialiament, beyond any other, had teemed, with measures of the greatest importance to the country, many of which were interrupted by its sudden and abrupt dissolution—a dissolution which had also been productive of the greatest inconvenience and distress to numerous individuals, from the interruption given to a great number of private bills. It had been urged by the supporters of the present ministers, that this inconvenience might be easily remedied by taking up those bills at the stages where they were left; but this operated to establish a principle pregnant with the utmost danger to the country, and he did not believe that the noble and learned lord upon the woolsack would defend the principle of resorting upon such an occasion, to a suspension of their standing orders. He could not forget the solemn mockery with which the Scots Judges were ordered to attend at the bar of the house, when it must be well known to his majesty's ministers that the bar would be, as it was, closed against them by the king's commissioners coming to the house to prorogue the parliament. Viewing all the circumstances under which the last parliament was dissolved, he could only consider that dissolution as a strong and arbitrary measure—a measure to which those ministers alone were entitled to resort who possessed the confidence of the country. What pretensions had the present ministers to the
confidence of the country? they had already been tried in the public balance and had been proved wanting. They had only received the accession of a gentleman, certainly highly respectable, who had quitted his own profession to embark in politics, and who had since chiefly distinguished himself by fulminating anathemas, not only against Catholics, but against all descriptions of meeting-houses, nay, even against Synagogues; in short, against every person who would not sign the test of the infallibility of the present administration. After the parliament was dissolved the most Jacobinical means were resorted to, to inflame and irritate the country, a cry of "no popery" was set up, commencing with an address to the electors of Northampton, bursting into open riot at Bristol and Liverpool, and extending over the whole country the most irritating and inflammatory influence. It was, indeed, fortunate that the horrors which were witnessed in the metropolis in the year 1780, had not been revived; but no exertions seemed to have been spared to produce that irritation, which only fell short of the same horrible results. The noble earl who had moved, and the noble lord who had seconded the address, had spoken much of their attachment to his majesty. He did not mean to dispute their attachment; but he trusted they would not claim a monopoly of loyalty and attachment to his majesty. He revered his sovereign as much as these noble lords could do; nor would he be outdone in that affection and attachment which were due to his majesty's public and private virtues. He could not, however, suffer himself to be blinded by that attachment into a neglect or compromise of the principles of the constitution; and when he saw these principles violated by the conduct of the king's ministers, he would endeavour to do his duty as a lord of parliament, by delivering those sentiments which, in his judgment, the occasion called for. It had been said that numerous addresses had manifested the sense of the people, but was it to be contended, that because addresses had been procured from chapters and corporations, that therefore they spoke the sense of the people. Considering the subject in these points of view, and upon the grounds which he had stated, he felt it his duty to move an amendment, which, if carried, it would then be for the consideration of the house as to the manner in which it should be incorporated. The following amendment was moved by his lordship: —"That by a long
experience of his majesty's virtues, we well know it to be his majesty's invariable wish, that all his prerogatives should be exercised solely for the advantage of his people. That our dutiful attachment to his majesty's person and government, obliges us therefore most humbly to lay before him the manifest misconduct of his ministers, in having advised the dissolution of the late parliament, in the midst of its first session, and within a few months after his majesty had been pleased to assemble it for the dispatch of the urgent business of the nation. —That this measure, advised by his majesty's ministers, at a time when there existed no difference between any of the branches of the legislature, nor any sufficient anise for an appeal to his majesty's people, was justified by no public necessity or advantage. That by the interruption of all private business then depending in parliament, it has been productive of great and needless inconvenience and expense, thereby wantonly adding to the heavy burdens which the necessities of the times require. That it has retarded many useful laws for the internal improvement of the kingdom, and for the encouragement and extension of its agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. And that it has either suspended or wholly defeated, many most important public measures, and protracted much of the most weighty business of parliament, to a season of the year when its prosecution must be attended with the greatest public and private inconvenience. And that we feel ourselves bound still further to submit to his majesty, that all these mischiefs are greatly aggravated by the groundless and injurious pretences on which his majesty's ministers have publicly rested their evil advices; pretences affording no justification for the measure, but calculated only to excite the most dangerous animosities among his majesty's faithful subjects, at a period when their united, effects were more than ever necessary for the security of the empire, and when to promote the utmost harmony and co operation amongst them would have been the first object of faithful and provident ministers. —The amendment being read,
said, he was sorry to find himself compelled to differ from the noble lord who had just sat down, and for whom, as a friend, he had the highest esteem. His noble friend had directed a considerable portion of his argument against the late dissolution of parliament. He did not wish to go at length into the circumstances which
led to that dissolution, the question having been so often argued. It was clear, however, to his mind, that the late ministers; placed themselves in that situation which rendered their continuance in office impossible, without an anomaly in the constitution before unheard of; namely, that of ministers remaining in office with opinions directly hostile to those of their sovereign. To dissolve the parliament was his majesty's undoubted, prerogative, for the exercise of which his confidential advisers were responsible. This principle was the same for whatever period the parliament had sat, and no preference could be given in the argument with respect to a parliament which had sat five sessions over one which had sat only two sessions, or to a parliament which had sat four sessions, over one which had sat only one session. He meant only to apply this to the dissolution of parliament resorted to by the late ministers. For the dissolution resorted to by the present ministers, there were urgent reasons of necessity. The friends of the late administration were sufficiently numerous in the other house to embarrass the operations of government, although not strong enough to bring themselves again into power. It, therefore, became necessary to appeal to the people, and this was rendered the more necessary by the irritation and difference of opinion which had been excited by the uncalled-for agitation of a question, calculated in an eminent degree to produce all those effects. Where, however, was the necessity for the dissolution resorted to by the late ministers in October last? the country was at that time quiet, there was no material difference of opinion upon any public topic, nothing in fact that could create the least necessity for a dissolution. It had been urged, that the rupture of the negociation with France was a sufficient ground for the measure. If this were so, then the rupture of every negociation in which the country had been engaged, would have been a sufficient ground for a similar measure; this, however, had never before been pretended. The arguments, therefore, of his noble friend, went much more against the dissolution resorted to by the late administration, than that to which the present ministers had had recourse. It had been said, that the cry of "no popery" had been raised by the present ministers, in order to raise a prejudice in their favour. He admitted that such a cry had existed in several places amongst the people; but, he denied that it had been raised by his majesty's ministers
It were absurd to suppose that such a ridiculous cry could have been set up by his majesty's ministers, and the state of the elections abundantly proved that it had not been. If ministers had wished to raise such a cry, surely it would have been easy to find persons who would have been instrumental to such a purpose in Yorkshire, in Middlesex, and in other places. His noble friend had passed over in silence, the events which had taken place before Constantinople and in Egypt. He did not wish to discuss now the unfortunate results of those expeditions; but he could not help calling to the recollection of their lordships, the triumphant tone in which a noble lord (Kinnaird) of considerable talents, whom he regretted was not now a member of that house, spoke when a rumour reached this country, that the Turkish government had acceded to the terms proposed. That noble lord spoke of the Turkish empire being at the feet of Britain, and asked to whose wisdoms and to whose policy we were indebted for so glorious an event? He would now ask to whose wisdom and to whose policy we were indebted for the unfortunate consequences of those expeditions? He could not conceive any occasion on which unanimity was more desirable than the present, and in that house more peculiarly, where it had not been the practice to move amendments to addresses, for he found that in the course of 25 years there were only three instances, namely, in 1801, in 1794, and 1795, where amendments were moved. He thought that a period like the present was one, when they should least of all deviate from the practice of the house, more peculiarly when the united energies of the country were required to combat an enemy, who had owed his successes more to the divisions amongst his opponents than to the skill or valour of his troops.
said, he felt some difficulty upon the present occasion, not in answering the arguments of noble lords on the other side, but, after what he had heard, in doing it with that decorum which he owed to their lordships. If the arguments of the noble lord who had just sat down, were to be adopted as the rule of conduct in that house, then all freedom of debate was at an end, and their lordships would have nothing to do but to re-echo every speech which the ministers for the time being chose to put in to the mouth of his majesty. Such doctrines were the most dangerous and unconstitutional he had ever heard. Be objected also most strongly, to the introduction of
the king's name, and the king's opinions, into a debate in that house, as they bad been upon this occasion. A noble lord (Rolle) had talked of embittering the latter days of his majesty. Gracious God! my lords, is it to be endured, that debates in this house are to be thus attempted to be influenced? if these opinions are to prevail, there is an end of the liberties of the people. What may be the consequences? My noble friend (lord Grenville) may, on this principle, say, with respect to the expedition to Constantinople and to Egypt, that it was the king's will; that it was the king's opinion that such an expedition should be sent. If such a principle is to be allowed, it is impossible to say where it can stop, until it has destroyed the privileges of this house and of parliament, and sapped and undermined the constitution itself. The noble lord has spoken of its being the practice of this house not to move amendments to addresses. During the few years I have been in parliament, it has been my misfortune (as probably the noble lord would call it) to be the greater part of that time in opposition; and, if my memory does not greatly deceive me, there are several more instances of amendments being moved to addresses than those quoted by the noble lord. But in what way, my lords, can this argument of the noble lord operate against the constitutional privilege of this house, to offer those sentiments to the throne which we conceive to be called for by our duty to our country? The noble lord, in speaking of dissolutions of parliament, has only stated that which was obvious, namely, that it is the king's undoubted prerogative to dissolve the parliament, and that his ministers are responsible for the exercise of that prerogative. The noble lord then went on to argue as to there being no preference between dissolving parliaments at different periods of their existence; but will it he contended for a moment that there is no difference between dissolving a parliament that has sat five years, and one which has sat only so many months? If the principle is good for any thing, it goes to this, that a parliament ought not to be dissolved at all, but be allowed to sit its full seven years; for the. same arguments which the noble lord has applied against the dissolution resorted to by the late ministers when the parliament had sat four years, would apply to a parliament that had sat six years, and are decidedly against the dissolution of the last parliament, which the noble lord has nevertheless defended.
After hearing the defence set up by the noble lord for the late dissolution, I am surprised when a noble secretary of state (lord Hawkesbury) so eloquently declaimed against the dissolution of the preceding parliament, that the noble lord did not then rise to answer his arguments. The noble lord has, however, had recourse to a sort of argumentum ad hominem
, in attacking the dissolution resorted to by the last ministers, but his argument decidedly makes against the point he intended to prove. The noble lord states, that at the time of that dissolution there was no irritation of the public mind, no material difference of opinion. Why, then, was not that the moment for an appeal to the people? The noble lord then states, that at the time of the last dissolution there was great irritability and collision of opinion. Is it not then clear, that that was a most improper period for a dissolution of parliament, when, instead of a cool and dispassionate appeal to the people, it could only be an appeal to their inflamed prejudices and passions? But my lords, is there no difference between dissolving parliament in the recess, and in the midst of a session? The opinion of one of the greatest men this country boasts, I mean, lord Somers, was, that to dissolve parliament in the midst of a session, was, if not absolutely, at least almost, illegal, and I will not allow for a moment that a prorogation for a day, followed by a dissolution, can make the slightest difference. It is a mere evasion. The noble lord having used an argumentum ad hominem
, I may also be allowed the same kind of argument, and I call upon the noble duke now at the head of his majesty's counsels to take into his hand the speech now put into the mouth of his majesty, the speech delivered from the throne in the year 1784, and the amendment then moved in the other house of parliament, by Mr. Burke, which had the entire concurrence of the noble duke. If the noble duke can devote his attention to the subject, he will find those constitutional principles most ably and eloquently enforced in that amendment, which have now been so flagrantly violated. We were told in the speech put into the mouth of the king on the prorogation of the last parliament, that that was the most convenient time for putting a period to the business of parliament. It is impossible for me to apply that expression to this assertion of the ministers which it deserves. The most convenient time! when business of the utmost importance was interrupted, when
there was no appropriation of the public money! And, my lords, I should wish to know whether the public money has not been, in consequence, illegally appropriated. My lords, these measures tend to make this house a cypher in the constitution. The great opulence which centers in this house contributes largely to the supplies, and the only hold we have upon them is the appropriation act. Supplies are not now raised as they formerly were; and the arguments which formerly justified resisting the supplies will not now justify them. Ministers have the supplies in their hands from the nature of the taxes; and if they can appropriate them, too, without coming to parliament, what security have we that parliaments will be assembled at all? My lords, these daily growing infringements of the constitution demand our most serious and earnest attention. I, who think the influence of the crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished, am a friend to frequent appeals to the people, but not by means of dissolutions. Let parliaments, instead of septennial, he triennial, or I would not object to their being annual; let there be stated earlier periods for a recurrence to the sense of the people; but if parliament is to be threatened with dissolution—and I maintain that the entrance of that misguided monarch, Charles I. into the house of commons*
was not a more outrageous violation of the constitution, than the threat used by a right hon. secretary of state, (Mr. Canning) in the late house of commons—then parliament becomes subjected to the will of the crown, as many would then weigh in the balance a seat which they may instantly lose, and a seat for six years, which will necessarily have an undue influence upon votes. The only objection I have to the late house of commons is, that they did not adopt those strong and energetic measures which such a threat imperiously called for. —With respect to the events which have happened in the Mediterranean and in Egypt, those with whom .I had the honour to act, as well as myself, are anxious that every inquiry should be instituted which can tend to elucidate the circumstances which led to those events; but when I look at that part of the speech from the throne which refers to these events, I cannot help observing that the penman of this speech, in his eagerness to censure the late ministers, has put into his majesty's mouth a strong
*See Cobbett's Parliamentary History of England, vol. 2. p. 1009.
condemnation of his majesty's government. I also find in the same speech a desire that union and harmony may prevail. This recommendation of ministers, under the circumstances in which it is made, brings to my recollection a story which is almost too ludicrous for this house. but which is so extremely applicable that I cannot refrain from relating it. Two persons in another part of the united kingdom having been at a fair, where less of that amusement had taken place than frequently prevails at fairs in that country, were displeased on their return that there had not been enough of what they called "rowing;" after consulting together a little, one of them said to the other, I will tell you a sure way of having a row, let us go back to the fair and preach up "peace and good order." The noble lord has denied that ministers have raised any cry of "no popery," but, my lords, look at the address of the new chancellor of the exchequer to the electors of Northampton; look also at those newspapers which are understood to be in the interest of government. My lords, in one of these papers it was observed immediately after the prorogation of parliament, that it was hoped the cry of "no popery" which had issued from the throne would be re-echoed in every quarter of the country. The noble lord has cast the cry upon the shoulders of the people; but the people in general have too much good sense to be duped by such a cry, and the ministers with all their efforts have failed in their experiment. Let me however, pay that tribute to the right reverend prelates who sit in this house, to which they are entitled, for that firmness and moderation, which, amidst the cry to which I have alluded, have uniformly marked their conduct. There is another part of the speech, my lords, against which I protest, as most unconstitutional. We are told that the Addresses to which my noble friend (earl Fortescue) alluded, as addresses from chapters and corporations, we are told that these addresses have expressed the sense of the people. Thus, after an appeal to the people, the new parliament are to be told at the outset, we do not want you to express the sense of the people, it has been already expressed by chapters and corporations, and riotous meetings. My lords, I feel myself called upon by every motive of public duty to support this amendment. We have heard this night of systematic opposition; but if ministers come into power upon unconstitutional principles, it is childish and absurd to talk of any other opposition than
that of an united body, firmly acting upon the principles of the constitution, and determined to resist by every constitutional means those who have no other title to power than faction and intrigue.
observed, that the great object of censure from the other side of the house, was the dissolution of parliament, the legality of which the noble lord (Holland) had questioned But this dissolution was not without good reasons; reasons which did not exist when the former dissolution in October last had taken place. Measures of the greatest moment, brought forward by the late ministers, had been passed by the parliament which was then dissolved, and these also incompatible, in some degree, with former measures agreed to by the same parliament. Ministers had not then to fear any very formidable opposition, nor any factious Tavern Meetings, to concert schemes to obstruct the operations of government; yet they dissolved that parliament. But before the late dissolution it was suspected that the noble lords on the other side, and their friends, would not shew an equal degree of moderation, and as far as experience had yet gone, the suspicion appeared to have been well-founded, and a dissolution became advisable. What was the ground of the dissolution in October? Was it the failure of the negotiation? Disgraceful and ridiculous as the conduct of that negotiation had been throughout, yet it was not perhaps so bad as people apprehended it was, when they saw that the expedient of a dissolution was resorted to. The noble lord then proceeded to compare the dissolution of 1784 with the late one. The dissolution of 1784 was founded on the best reasons of any he had heard of, except the last. The circumstances were, in a great measure, similar. The house of commons had then passed a measure pregnant with danger to the constitution, and when the king in consequence, thought proper to change his ministers. The junction of parties, formerly hostile to each other, enabled them to overpower the government. An appeal to the people then became necessary. Though in the late parliament the ministers had a majority, yet the opposite party had a number sufficient to embarrass the operations of government. A dissolution therefore became advisable. The cases were nearly similar, with this exception, however, that they on the other side who approved of the dissolution of 1784, censured the last. The cry of private influence had then been set up, and the noble
lord on the opposite side (Grenville) had considered that cry as ridiculous then, though he had now joined in it. But the noble lord now acted with different persons, and "evil communications Corrupt good man"ners." Then a dangerous measure had been passed by the commons, now an attack had been made on the personal conduct of the king. A great deal had been said about setting up the cry of "No Popery," but they themselves had set up that cry, The present ministry had nothing to do with it. The noble lord then detailed the proceedings respecting what had been called the Roman Catholic Measure, and contended that by that the late ministers had raised the cry which they now wished to shift from themselves to the present ministers. A noble lord (Holland) said, that it was an amomaly in the constitution that the king could think at all. Now the late ministers had declared their wishes to his majesty to explain their conduct, because they had seen a paragraph in a newspaper which they did not like. By this means they wished to lay the blame op his majesty, but at the same time they must, as faithful counsellors, have advised him not to comply with their request, because it was an anomaly in the constitution, that he should think at all. How could the noble lords reconcile this contradiction? He declared that he was unable to meet with such another attempt to bring blame directly upon the Sovereign in the whole history of the country. The noble lords on the opposite side also objected to the introduction of the allusions to the failure in the sea of Marmora and Egypt. But if we did meet with reverses, were these to be passed over in silence? If objects were undertaken without means, and if we were to be baffled by the weakest of enemies, were these things to be suffered to pass over like a morning Cloud? No, surely. The speech stated the facts, and they were facts worthy of notice. The noble lord concluded, by declaring his warm concurrence in the address.
in explanation, said, that, what he had stated was, that the mention of the failures was evidently introduced as a censure on the late government, and therefore made his majesty censure his own acts. He had not deprecated but courted inquiry into whole conduct of the late ministry. He had only said, that the present censure was premature and inconsistent.
said, that the observations of his noble friend (lord Holland) had called to his recollection the part which he himself
had acted in the year 1784 along with the noble duke opposite (Portland). He called upon the noble duke to reconcile his present conduct with what it had been at that period. Under the auspices of that noble duke he had drawn up an address to the king against the dissolution, and had assisted in carrying it to the foot of the throne. That address stated that the dissolution of parliament merely at the pleasure of every minister would be attended with the most dangerous consequences; that it was fitting that ministers should yield to parliaments, and not parliaments to them; that ministers would, by holding threats of a dissolution over the commons, afford them the strongest inducements to abandon the interests of their constituents, and that a mortal blow would thus be given to the popular branch of the constitution. How Could the noble duke reconcile his present conduct with these sentiments? The noble lord on the other side (Mulgrave) had said, that he and his friends had not set up the cry of "no popery," and that the dissolution was the consequence of a personal attack on the king. He desired that the speech respecting the dissolution should be read (this was accordingly read by the Clerk at the table). He now appealed to the honour of the house, to the English language, and to common sense, whether the cry of no popery did not run through the whole speech, and whether, as appeared from that, the pretended danger to the church, and not the explanation of ministers, was not the alleged cause of the dissolution? The late ministers had been grossly calumniated: they had been accused of disrespect to their sovereign, whom no man more deeply revered than he did, and of an attempt to deceive him. Under these circumstances, they had requested permission to state the facts as they really, were, not for the purposes of discussion, but merely to bring before parliament the true state of the case; and to clear themselves from a most foul and groundless calumny. The noble lord said, that they had abandoned a measure which they had stated to he indispensible to the security of Ireland. But there was surely some difference between What was highly expedient and what was essentially necessary. They had consented to give up the measure for the present, in deference to the feelings of his majesty, being convinced, however, of its expediency, and reserving the liberty of submitting to the king, for his decision, the same question, if it should
appear to them, at a future period, to be absolutely necessary. But could this proceeding be the ground for dissolving the parliament? Were parliaments then to suffer for the conduct of ministers? What had the late house of commons done that it should be dissolved? In 1784, the house had passed a measure which was considered as obnoxious; but what had the late house of commons done? It had certainly not passed the Catholic bill, though the ministers had proposed it. Upon what principle, then, was it charged with the acts of ministers? The previous dissolution, in October, had taken place when parliament was not sitting, and when no public business was interrupted. It was a material object to have greater unanimity in times of great danger and difficulty, and the dissolution answered that purpose. How then, could the cases, he said, be parallel? Were parliaments then to be dissolved, always, whenever the king thought proper to change his ministers? If this was the case, if the threats of secretaries of state were to be held out in terrorem
, and if parliaments were to suffer for the conduct of ministers, it was much to be feared that the consequences to the constitution would be of the most alarming nature. He was afraid it would be thought that the crown, from the greatness of the expenditure, and the consequent increase of offices, had too much influence in the choosing of the members, and that the constitution would be considered as degenerating fast into an absolute monarchy. He dreaded lest the house of commons might be placed in a situation where the representatives would find the strongest temptations to abandon the cause of their constituents, and become little better them appendages to the ministers of the crown.—The noble lord declared his firm conviction of the truth of christianity, and of its benignant and civilizing influence, although it had often been wrested to the worst of purposes. Of the melancholy effects of stirring up religious clamours, history afforded abundant instances. Was it, then, amidst the prevalence of a fanatical and unfounded cry, that parliament ought to have been dissolved? Ought advantages to have been taken of the agitations produced by an appeal to the worst and most violent passions of a misguided people? He did not observe his noble and learned friend, the chief justice of the king's bench (lord Ellenborough) in his place. But if he were in the house, he would have appealed to him, whether it was not the prac-
tice in his court to put off the hearing of a common cause, when the public mind was strongly agitated about the circumstances. How much more, then, was it necessary to have allowed the passions of the people to cool, before they should be called on to decide on a measure of this magnitude? There was a very marked distinction between the dissolution or 1784 and the last one. The last house of commons had done no one act that could call for it; it had not even expressed any bad opinions of the present ministers; except, indeed, its having passed a resolution against granting offices in reversion, or offices for life that had been usually held during pleasure, could be considered as such. His noble friend (lord Holland) had told a ludicrous story about a method for having a row. He also recollected a story that was somewhat in point. A person wishing to have a quarrel came up to another who was standing with his back to the fire and feeling very comfortable, and said, "You lie, sir;" "truly," said the other, "I did not speak." "No matter," said the quarrelling gentleman, "you lie, sir." So the last parliament stood with its back to the fire; it did nothing offensive, and yet it was dissolved. But if parliaments were to look with apprehension to ministers instead of ministers having a proper respect to parliament, then the house of commons was destroyed, and there was an end of the constitution. If, when the people Were so much burthened with taxes which they cheerfully paid when convinced that the public service required them, if in these circumstances they should be compelled to believe that they had no security in their representatives, what would be the consequences. Convinced that they had no safeguard against the exactions of ministers, no security for the proper application of the revenue, they had begin to think that their burthens were heavier than the public service required, and having no remedy for the grievance, they might be apt to become desperate. This was the origin of revolutions, and was a state of things which ought to be carefully avoided. It was ridiculous and unconstitutional to set the addresses of corporations and meetings against the opinion of the house of commons, which was the proper organ to convey the sense of the people to the crown. If these addresses were favourable, then they were held up as the sense of the people; if unfavourable, they were said to be seditious, and trials for such addresses might be recollected. If the ad-
dresses were not favourable, then the grapes were sour, and they could not eat them. He concluded by declaring his assent to the amendment.
observed, that the king's speech, instead of being previously read at the Cockpit as formerly, was now read at private meetings, so that noble lords could not be prepared, and therefore he thought it might not be improper to adjourn for twenty-four hours, in order to have time to consider the speech. He adverted to the conduct of the ministers since they came into power. Their first act was to have recourse to the assistance of lord Melville, notwithstanding the resolutions on the Journals of the house of commons. But that and other things dwindled almost to nothing in comparison with the unconstitutional act of dissolving the parliament. The present momentous crisis required a firm, an able, and an efficient ministry. Whether the present ministers came under that description, parliament must determine. But he thought they afforded but an unfavourable specimen of their future conduct, by shrinking from the responsibility of having advised the dismissal of the late ministers. It was a constitutional maxim, founded in wisdom, that the king could do no wrong; for if he could, what scenes of bloodshed must ensue before he could be brought to do justice. The parliament, he said, had done nothing that could require a dissolution. The reason alledged for it was, the expediency of taking the sense of the people. That, he contended, was the late ministers, and instanced the great county of York. His lordship then adverted to the accusations against the late ministers, for opposing the government. One would think, he observed, on hearing these, that this was some despotic government. The king had his prerogative, but the houses of lords and commons had their prerogative also; and there seldom had been an occasion on which it was more requisite for them to exercise it than the present.
observed, that if he had hopes before that unanimity would prevail on this occasion, he must now own he was afraid he was disappointed. But he did feel that unanimity was so important to the interests of the country in the present situation of affairs, that unless the address expressed opinions in which he could not concur, or contained unfounded accusations, he should feel himself bound in duty to support it. But, if noble lords really thought that
the dissolution of the last parliament was ill advised, he perfectly agreed that this was the most proper occasion for them to express hat opinion. He would go farther; something had been said here, and a great deal out of doors, about the impropriety of giving notice, that a division would certainly take place on the address. That clamour, he had no hesitation to say, was unfounded. If it had been stated that amendments were to be proposed in certain passages before the speech was fully determined on, and before the precise nature of it could be known, that indeed would have been indecent. But having in contemplation such an amendment as this, they might safely say beforehand that a division would certainly take place, because they might be assured that minister would not censure their own act. He thought it due to the noble lords, therefore, to state the impression made on his mind by this circumstance. He again stated, that he most strongly felt the necessity of unanimity. Their lordships were now in a different situation from what they were before, when it was matter of complaint, that an abstract proposition was brought forward, the effect of which, if assented to, would have been to annul the prerogative of the king, in the choice of his ministers. The fact of the advice had been there assumed, and censure was to proceed upon that. But the dissolution was an act of government, and the fact of the advice was certain. The only question, therefore, was, whether it was blameable? He had before stated his deep regret at the change of the ministry, and that regret he still retained; but that having been unavoidable, he thought the dissolution, in the state of parties, to be unavoidable also, and therefore warrantable and justifiable. He could not, therefore, say with the amendment, that the ministers, were guilty of manifest misconduct in this particular.—Much had been said about the agitations which had been produced in the country. He trusted he need not state that he would join in no party cry, that had deception and intolerance for its object. When he came into administration, in 1801, under circumstances not dissimilar, he had raised no cry about the church being in danger. Parliament was not dissolved till the year after, and not a word was said about danger to the church. The fact was, that the late events had peculiarly interested the feelings of the people. If the cry was raised for the purpose of making a stalking horse of the danger to the church, it was undoubtedly cen-
surable. But that had been disclaimed, and he hoped, that the negation was well-founded. But much of the cry arose from an attachment to the established church, and an opinion that no further concessions ought to be made. Wherever that motive prevailed, he respected the cry, and he thought that it had afforded additional security to the established church, which, notwithstanding what a noble lord (Holland) had said, he thought intimately connected with the constitution. —There was no distinction in principle, he said, between the dissolutions of April and October. As to the inconvenience to the public business, the same thing had taken place in 1784, and as he had concurred in that, he could not on this account disapprove of the last dissolution. He hoped the present ministers would establish their efficiency. The crisis was momentous. He hoped they would recollect that we were at war against the most formidable enemy that had ever threatened this country, the destruction of which he was meditating, no less on the banks of the Vistula, than if he were on the banks of the Seine. He hoped ministers were sensible of our peril, that government was fully impressed with the danger, and had prepared measures to meet it. He would judge of them, not only by their measures, but by the weight they would have both at borne and abroad. If they were deficient in any of these essential requisites, they were unfit for the crisis, and ought not to continue in office. He would do to them as he would wish others to do by him. He would judge them by their conduct. His party was the country and his king, and he felt it his duty, under all the circumstances, to resist the amendment.
The Earl of Selkirk
declared his concurrence in the observations made by the noble viscount who had just sat down, and thought that the late dissolution of parliament could not be reprobated on any principle that would not equally apply to that of last year. The inconvenience arising from a dissolution must be balanced by the strength of the reasons which required it. The noble and learned lord (Erskine) in comparing the present case with that of 1784, had alleged that there was no ground for the late dissolution, because the house of commons had not, in the late case, come to issue with the government on any particular question; but a very large proportion of the house had concurred in the expression of principles subversive of the constitutional prerogatives of the crown. Principles had been laid down
and supported by very great numbers, which, would reduce to an empty name the prerogative of the king in choosing his own ministers. It had been alleged, that an unconstitutional pledge had been demanded of ministers, and that, without inquiring who had really been the advisers, their successors were to be held as responsible for that demand. The necessary consequence from this doctrine was, that no other ministry could possibly accept of office constitutionally, which was as much as to say, that the king could not legally dismiss the ministers he actually had. This was a doctrine that went to subvert the constitution, and distinguished those who held it from all former oppositions. When a set of ministers bad by their conduct proved themselves unfit for their situations, a systematic opposition was justifiable; but the doctrines that had been maintained in the last parliament would equally justify an opposition against the best ministers as against the worst. When so great a proportion of the house maintained so violent a doctrine, he thought that even though they did not absolutely amount to a majority, a case had occurred that fairly might justify an appeal to the people. But though he thus considered the dissolution as justifiable, and should therefore vote against the amendment that had been proposed to the address, he could not extend this to an approbation of government in the conduct of the elections, and particularly in the cry of "no popery" that had been encouraged, for though ministers now disclaimed it, yet circumstances were such, that it scented impossible for any reasonable and impartial man to doubt with whom the cry had originated; and he thought that their conduct in this respect deserved the reprobation of the, house and of the country.
The Earl of Rosslyn
declared, that after the manner in which all arguments, and every attempt at argument, had been already answered; after the luminous speech which their lordships had heard from his noble and learned friend (lord Erskine), it Would be impossible for him to add any thing further upon the s