« AnteriorContinuar »
be summoned. I have entered into these particulars, in order to explain to you the nature of the body, whence the Report, which I am here about to insert, proceeded. You will see, that the Report itself states, that the persons who made it were specially summoned for the purpose of taking the Princess's Letter into their consideration, and of making a report to the Regent thereon.
Report, &c. to His Royal Highness the
The following Members of His Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council, viz. – His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, —The Right Hon. the Lord High Chancellor, His Grace the Archbishop of York, —His Grace the Lord Primate of Ireland, —The Lord President of the Council,The Lord Privy Seal,—The Earl of Buckinghamshire, — The Earl Bathurst,--The Earl of Liverpool,—The Earl of Mulgrave, —The Viscount Melville,_The Viscount Sidmouth,--The Viscount Castlereagh, The Right Hon. the Lord Bishop of London,--The Right Hon. Lord Ellenborough, Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench,--The Right Hon. the Speaker of the House of Commons,—The Right Hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Right Hon. the Chancellor of the Duchy, —His Honour the Master of the Rolls, The Right Hon. the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas,”—The Right Hon. the Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer, The Right Hon. the Judge of the High Court of Admiralty, The Right Hon. the Dean of the Arches, Having been summoned by command of your Royal Highness, on the 19th of February, to meet at the office of Viscount Sidmouth, Secretary of State for the Hôme Department, a communication was made by his Lordship to the Lords then present, in the following terms: —
My Lords—I have it in command from His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, to acquaint your Lordships, that a copy of a
- Letter from the Princess of Wales to the
Prince Regent having appeared in a public paper, which Letter refers to the proceed; ings that took place in an inquiry instituted by command of His Majesty, in the year 1806, and contains, among other matters, certain animadversions upon the manner in __--—-# The Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas was prevented by indisposition from attending, during any part of these proceedings.
which the Prince Regent has exercised his undoubted right of regulating the conduct and education of his daughter the Princess Charlotte ; and His Royal Highness having taken into his consideration the said Letter so published, and adverting to the directions heretofore given by His Majesty, that the documents relating to the said Inquiry should be sealed up, and deposited in the office of His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State; in order that His Majesty's Government should possess the means of resorting to them if necessary; His Royal Highness has been pleased to direct, that the said Letter of the Princess of Wales, and the whole of the said documents, together with the copies of other letters and papers, of which a schedule is annexed, should be referred to your Lordships, being Members of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, for your consideration; and that you should report to His Royal Highness your opinion, whether, under all the circumstances of the case, it be fit and proper that the intercourse between the Princess of Wales and her daughter, the Princess Charlotte, should continue to be subject to regulations and restrictions: Their Lordships adjourned their Meetings to Tuesday the 23d February; and the intermediate days having been employed in perusing the documents referred to them, by command of your Royal Highness, they proceeded on that and the following day to the further consideration of the said documents, and have agreed to report to your Royal Highness as follows:— In obedience to the commands of your Royal Highness, we have taken into our most serious consideration the Letter from Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales to your Royal Highness, which has appeared in the public papers, and has been referred to us by your Royal Highness, in which Letter the Princess of Wales, amongst other matters, complains that the intercourse, between Her Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte, has been subjected to certain restrictions. We have also taken into our most serious consideration, together with the other papers referred to us by your Royal Highness, all the documents relative, to the Inquiry instituted in 1806, by command of His Majesty, into the truth of certain representations, respecting the conduct of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, which appear to have been pressed upon the attention of your Royal
Highness, in consequence of the advice of Lord Thurlow, and upon grounds of public duty, by whom they were transmitted to His Majesty's consideration. And your Royal Highness having been graciously pleased to command us to report our opimions to your Royal Highness, whether, under all the circumstances of the case, it be fit and proper, that the intercourse between the Princess of Wales and her daughter, the Princess Charlotte, should continue to be subject to regulation and restraint. We beg leave humbly to report to your Royal Highness, that after a full examination of all the documents before us,
we are of opinion, that under all the cir- |
cumstances of the case, it is highly fit and proper, with a view to the welfare of Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte, in which are equally involved the happiness ef your Royal Highness in your parental and royal character, and the most important interests of the State, that the intercourse between Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales and Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte, should continue to be subject to regulation and restraint. We humbly trust that we may be permitted, without being thought to exceed the limits of the duty imposed on us, respectfully to express the just sense we entertain of the motives by which your Royal Highness has been actuated in the postponement of the confirmation of Her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte, as it appears, by a statement under the hand of Her Majesty the Queen, that your Royal Highness has conformed in this respect to the declared will of His Majesty, who had been pleased to direct, that such ceremony should not take place till Her Royal Highness should have completed her 18th year. We also humbly trust that we may be further permitted to notice some expressions in the Letter of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, which may possibly be construed as implying a charge of too serious a nature to be passed over without observation. We refer to the words—“suborned traducers.” As this expression, from the manner in which it is introduced, may, perhaps, be liable to misconstruction (however impossible it may be to suppose that it can have been so intended), to have reference to some part of the conduct of your Royal Highness, we feel it our bounden duty not to omit this opportunity of declaring that the documents laid before us afford the most ample proof, that there is not the
(A true copy) SIDMOUTH. Such was the report, made to the Prince Regent upon this occasion. The Princess, in her Letter, inserted in the postscript to my last, states that a copy of this report had been, transmitted to her by Lord Śidmouth. Now, we must, I think, take it for granted, that this report was intended to be an answer to the Princess's Letter of complaint respecting her exclusion from her daughter; for, if it were not intended to be such, why was a copy of it sent to her? If it had been intended solely for the purpose of satisfying the Prince, that he had acted rightly in insisting upon such exclusion; then, it would have been sufficient to lay the report before him ; and if the intention had been to settle any doubt in his mind as to the propriety of the exclusion ; in that case, also the report would naturally have been confined to the perusal of the Prince and of his advisers and friends. . If intended as an answer to the Letter of the Princess, it would, of course, be communicated to her; and, if it failed to convince her that she was wrong, or to silence her complaints, there it was ready for the justification of the Prince in the eyes of the nation and of the world. . . Assuming, therefore, as we safely may, that this report ought to be considered as the best answer that could be given to the complaint of Her Royal Highness, let us now, my friend, inquire a little how far it ought to be considered as a satisfactory
anoyer, - * Royal Highness says, that she was, for a while, permitted to see her daughter only once a week; that she is at present (that is to say, at the time of writing her Letter) permitted to see her only once in two weeks, and that she has reason to apprehend that even that degree of intercourse
is about to be further contracted. She
then proceeeds to remark that, though forbearance had hitherto marked her conduct, though she had thus far consoled herself in her retirement with the consciousness of her innocence, she could now, no longer
remain silent; that her love for her child
and for her own honour called upon her to complain. Her reasoning was this : if, it becomes notorious to the whole world, as it very soon must, that I am not permitted to see my daughter; that the Queen and my husband's sisters are not only permitted to be with her as often as they please, but that, she even lives amongst them, and is brought up under their eye; if this fact become notorious to the whole world, what must that world think of me? Her conclusion is, that, if she continued to endure this without complaint, the world must think that the motive for her silence could be nothing less than the fear of an inquiry into her conduct and an exposure of some sort of guilt of which she was conThis was her reasoning upon the subject, and you will not, I am sure, hesitate to say, that her reasoning was undeniably just. Therefore, said she, I claim permission to see my child, as other mothers see their children, seeing that l have done no act that ought to deprive me of that right of nature; and, she adds, if there be any doubt upon this point, after the full and clear acquittal which was pronounced in my favour against the calumnies which my perjured and suborned traducers had raised against me; if there remain any doubt as to this point, let there be a fresh inquiry or let me not be treated as a guilty woman, as a mother unworthy of being permitted to have an intercourse with her daughter.
Such was the complaint of the Princess of Wales, and what sort of an answer does the report give to this complaint 2, Does it deny the allegations with regard to the prohibition of an intercourse, with her daughter? Does it deny, that the natural conclusion to be drawn from that prohibition is injurious to the mother's reputation? Does it deny, the clear and complete acquittal of the Princess with regard to the charges that had been brought against her? Does it deny, that she was traduced by persons perjured, and suborned ? No: it denies none of these; it evades all these points; it touches upon no one of them; except, indeed, that of the perjured and suborned traducers, and, as to that, it only says that the Prince himself was not the suborner, and that he had no know
ledge of a subornation having been resorted to ; an assertion, by the bye, which the Princess's Letter does not appear to have called for, seeing that it does not charge the Prince with that base and detestable act. To me it appears, therefore, that this report contains no answer at all to the Letter of the Princess. It says, indeed, that the Prince has laid the Documents relating to the inquiry of 1806, and also other documents and evidence before the privy council ; but it does not say what other documents or what other evidence these were ; and it does not intimate to her that her challengeto a fresh inquiry has been, or is to be accepted. It informs her, that, after examining all these documents and this evidence, the intercourse between the Princess and her daughter ought to continue to be subject to regulation and restraint; but it does not say what sort of regulation ; it does not mark out what degree of restraint; it does not say whether it ought to be a week, or a fortnight, or any greater or less period, that ought to form the interval of the visits between the mother and her child. Again, therefore, I say, that, as to the main point, and, indeed, as to all the main points, in the Letter of Her Royal Highness, this Report contains no answer at all. - Yet, without containing an answer to the Letter, without clearly denying any of its allegations, and without attempting to controvert any part of its reasoning, the Report does seem, as Her Royal Highness says, to cast an aspersion upon her. For, it gives, as the grounds of the opinion that the intercourse between her and her daughter ought to be subject to restraint; it gives, as the grounds of this opinion, a conclusion drawn from a perusal of the documents and evidence produced to the Privy Council, relating to the conduct of
ithe mother; the inevitable inserence to
be drawn from which is, that the conduct of the mother, according to those documents and the evidence, appeared to be not what it ought to have been, and such as justified, if not called for, that regulation and restraint which was recommended. This is so clear, that I will not suppose it possible for any man to entertain a doubt upon the subject. If the Report, without saying any thing about documents or evidence, had said, that it was right, that the mother should be restricted in her visits to her daughter; if it had said this, without giving any reason for it, without assigning any cause, the Princess might, still have had reason to complain of the hardship; but she would have had no ground whereon to found a new complaint of an aspersion upon her character. The Report, on the contrary, by bringing forward the documents of 1806, and also other documents and evidence as the cause of the restraint, certainly called for that reply which the Princess gave in her Letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons. She there calls for the interference of Parliament; she says that she has not been permitted to know who have been her accusers; that she has not been allowed to be heard in her defence; and that, while she is told in this Report, that certain documents and evidence have formed the ground of an opinion that her intercourse with her child ought to be subject to regulation and restraint, she is not suffered to know what those documents and that evidence are. Therefore, she throws herself on the wisdom and justice of Parliament; she earnestly desires a full investigation of her conduct during the whole period of her residence in this country; she says, she fears no scrutiny however strict, provided ... it be conducted by impartial judges, and in a fair and open manuer, according to law; and she concludes with expressing a wish, which evéry just man in the world will say ought to be complied with : namely, that she may be TREATED AS INNOCENT, or PROVED TO BE GUILTY. When this letter was read to the House of Commons the ministers were asked, whether they meant to propose the adoption of any proceeding upon it, or to enter into any explanations. This they declined upon the ground, that as a motion was speedily to be proposed by Mr. Cochrane Johnstone, relative to the Princess, it would be best to defer all discussion upon the subject till that motion should be made. The motion was made, in two days afterwards, and a very long debate took place; but, the moment Mr. Cochrane Johnstone rose to make his motion, another motion was made for putting out all persons in the gallery and shutting the doors. This measure might be very proper; but I wish you to observe, that Mr. Cochrane Johnstone expressed his disapprobation of it. He, at any rate, did not wish to keep secret any thing that might transpire; any thing that might be said by any body. Indeed, as will be seen srom his resolutions, a copy of which I am now about to insert, he, like the Princess herself, wished to
* * *
Ma. C. Johnstone's Resolutions.
I.—Resolved, That, from the disputes touching the succession to the throne, bitter public animosities, tumultuous contentions, long and bloody civil wars, have, at various periods of the history of this kingdom, arisen, causing great misery to the good people thereof, grief and affliction to the Royal Family, and in some cases exclusion of the rightful Heir. That, therefore, loyalty and affection towards the Sovereign, and a just regard to the happiness of the people, call upon every subject of this realm, and upon this House more especially, to neglect nothing within their power to prevent the recurrence of similar calamities from a similar cause.--That it has been stated to this House by a Member thereof, who has offered to prove the same by witnesses, at the bar of this House, that, in the year 1806, a Commission was issued under His Majesty's Royal Sign Manual, authorizing and directing the then Lord Chancellor, Erskine, Earl Spencer, the then Secretary of State for the Home Department, Lord Grenville, the then First Lord of the Treasury, and the then and present Lord Chief Justice, Ellenborough, to inquire into the truth of certain written declarations, communicated to His Majesty by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, touching the conduct of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales. That the said Commissioners, in pursuance of the said authority and direction, did enter into an examination of several witnesses, and that they delivered to His Majesty a report of such examination, and also of their judgment of the several parts alleged against Her Royal Highness, which Report, signed by the four Commissioners aforesaid, and dated on the 14th of July, 1806, was accompanied with copies of the declarations, examinations, depositions, and other documents on which it was founded. That it has been stated to this House, in manner asoresaid, that the said written accusations against Her Royal Highness expressly asserted, “That Her Royal Highness had been pregnant in the year 1802, in consequence of an illicit intercourse, and that she had in the same year been secretly delivered of a male child, which child had ever since that period been brought up by Her Royal Highness in her own house, and under her immediate inspection. That
the Report further stated, that the Commissioners ‘first examined on oath the principal
informants, Sir John Douglas and Charlotte his wife, who both positively swore, the former to his having observed the fact of the pregnancy of Her Royal Highness, and the other to all the important particulars contained in her former declaration, and before referred to,” and that the Report added, ‘ that the examinations are annexed to the Report, and are circumstantial and positive. That the Commissioners, after the above statements, proceeded in their said Report to state to His Majesty that they thought it their duty to examine other witnesses as to the facts in question, and that they stated, as the result of such farther examination, .* their perfect conviction that there is no foundation whatever for believing that the child now with the Princess is the child of Her Royal Highness, or that she was delivered of any child in 1802, or that she was pregnant in that year,’ and that the Commissioners added, “That this was their clear and unanimous judgment, formed upon full deliberation, and pronounced without hesitation, on the result of the whole inquiry.—That the Noble Lords composing the Commission aforesaid had not, and could not, in that capacity, have any legal power to pronounce a judgment or decision in the case; that the matter of charge submitted to them as a subject of inquiry amounted to a charge of high treason, a crime known to the laws, and, therefore, triable only in a known Court of Justice; that if, as Justices of the Peace, (a character belonging to them as Privy Councillors), they were competent to receive informations and take examinations regarding the conduct of Her Royal Highness, they had no legal power in that capacity, nor in any other capacity that could be given to them, to pronounce an acquittal or a condemnation upon the charge referred to them; for that, to admit them to have been competent to acquit, is to admit them competent to have found guilty, and this would be to admit their competence to have sent Her Royal Highness to an ignominious death, in virtue of a decision founded on selected ex parte evidence, taken before a secret tribuual. That the whole Report, as far as it relates to the judgment of the Commissioners, (if the making of it be not an unlawful act), is, at least, of no legal validity, and, in the eye of the law, leaves the question of the guilt or innocence of Her Royal Highness where the Commissioners first found it; that the depositions and examinations upon oath (supposing the Commis
sioners to have taken them in their capacity of Justices of the Peace) possess a legal character; but that no legal decision has yet been made upon any of the important facts stated in these depositions and examinations, and that it has not yet been legally decided that the fact positively sworn to, of Her Royal Highness having been delivered of a male child in the year 1802, is not true. That in any claim to the succession to the Throne, which, by possibility, at least, may hereafter be set up, by any aspiring personage possessed of great power, the circumstantial and positive evidence of Sir John Douglas, and of Charlotte his wife, if again called for, would still retain all its legal character and weight, while it might happen, that the evidence on the other side might, from death or other causes, be found deficient; and that there can be no doubt that if it should hereafter be made to appear, that the facts sworn to by Lady Douglas are true, and if the identity of the male child so born should be proved, he would be the legal heir to the throne, notwithstanding any assertions, or any proofs, relating to the alleged illicit intercourse of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales. That, therefore, the honour of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, the sacred right of the Princess Charlotte of Wales, the safety of the throne, and the tranquillity of the country, do all unite, in a most imperious call on this House, to institute now, while the witnesses on both sides are still living, and while all the charges are capable of being clearly established, or clearly disproved, an ample and impartial investigation of all the allegations, facts, and circumstances appertaining to this most important subject of inquiry. II.-Resolved, That an humble address be presented to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, requesting that His Royal Highness will be graciously pleased to order, that a copy of a Report made to His Majesty on the 14th day of July, 1806, by the then Lord Chancellor, Erskine, Earl Spencer, Lord Grenville, and Lord Chief Justice Ellenborough, touching the conduct of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, be laid before the House, together with the copies of the following written documents annexed to the Report, namely, The Narrative of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, dated the 27th of December, 1805. Two written Declarations, or Examinations, of Sarah Lampert; one dated Chel