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entered into a war against Spain, in order to vindicate and secure the trade of my subjects. By their advice, also, and in conformity with my engagements I undertook the support of the Empress Queen of Hungary, and the just rights of Austria,” and mentioned that overtures of peace had come from France, and that a congress had been appointed to meet at Aix-la-Chapelle. On opening the next sessions, November, 29th, 1748, the king announced "that a treaty had been definitively signed by all parties.” This statement gave rise to an animated discussion on the address; Mr. Robert Nugent protesting that “ he could not give his assent to inserting any words in the address which might imply the most distant approbation of the treaty of peace which had been concluded, because neither he, nor any gentleman in the house could as yet have any knowledge of that treaty, and because, for all the knowledge he had of it, it was the worst of all the bad treaties England had ever made.” In both Houses it was contended that better terms might have been obtained, at earlier periods, than had actually been obtained and in the House of Lords two motions were made for papers and returns relating to previous negociations, which were respectively lost on divisions by 288 against 138, and 181 against 120 votes.
NOTEWORTHY STRUGGLES UNDER GEORGE III.
UNDER George III. the struggle between parliamentary authority and prerogative still continued, the advocates of the former showing a face and
earnestness, which could only be justified or accounted for on a supposition that they had a conscientious belief in the justness of their cause.
During the eventful period of the American War of Independence, Parliament repeatedly, and in spite of the Court, interposed its opinion, fearlessly addressing the crown against further pursuing that unnatural contest. In 1782, General Conway made his famous motion against the further prosecution of the war, as "weakening the country against its European enemies, and postponing the blessings of peace and tranquillity,” which the Attorney General Wallace endeavoured to evade by moving as an amendment," that a bill should be prepared enabling" (let the sticklers for prerogative mark that word !) “ enabling His Majesty to conclude a truce with America, and to enter into a negociation on this ground.” But the original motion was carried by a majority of 19 (234 against 215), and the king in reply to the address was obliged to promise that “ in pursuance of the advice of the House of Commons, he would assuredly take measures for the restoration of harmony between Great Britain and her revolted colonies," and for establishing a gene
But General Conway, not satisfied with his first triumph, on the 4th March moved“ That this House would consider as enemies to the king and country all who should advise, or by any means attempt the further prosecution of offensive war for the purpose of reducing the revolted colonies by force;" and, the ministers not venturing to divide the House
upon the motion, it was carried. So much for prerogative when firmly resisted.
In December of the same year, the king in his speech from the throne, announced that“ of his own inclination, and in conformity with the sense of his Parliament and people," he had signed a preliminary treaty of peace. The preliminary Treaties of Versailles were signed on 30th November, 1872; they were laid before the Houses of Parliament on the 27th January, 1783, when they were read at length. On the motion of the minister, they were ordered for consideration in both houses on the 17th February. In the Lords the address approving the treaties was carried by a majority 72 against 59 votes. In the Commons, Lord John Cavendish objected to the passage in the address in which it was stated “that the House had taken the treaties into its most serious consideration,” as being untrue, and leading practically to an abandonment of the consultative authority of parliament, and moved as an amendment, “ that they would proceed to consider the said treaties with that serious and full attention which a subject of so much importance to the present and future interests of His Majesty's dominions deserved,” and that “meantime they would hold the fullest confidence that His Majesty would concert with his Parliament such measures as might be expedient for extending the commerce of His Majesty's subjects.” A hot debate ensued, which lasted till half-past seven on the following morning, when the amendment was carried by a majority of 224, against 208. Lord John
Cavendish followed up his advantage by moving on the 21st February a series of substantive resolutions condematory of the Articles of the Treaties as being not such as the country had a right to expect; which resolutions were carried by a majority of 207 against 190 votes. The consequence was the resignation of Lord Shelbourne's ministry, and an interregnum which lasted till the beginning of April.
A long interval followed before the signing of the definitive Treaties of Versailles, which took place on September 3rd, 1783. They were laid before Parliament at the opening of the session, on the 11th December following; when the Earl of Scarborough, in moving the address in the House of Lords, thus referred to the subject :-"The Definitive Articles of pacification have been negociated on the ground of a preliminary treaty digested and formed by an administration which expired on the conclusion of that business. The present ministers naturally felt themselves embarrassed; the preliminaries were such as no good man could approve of; but the national faith was pledged. Under these circumstances the Definitive Treaty has been brought to a conclusion; it is a superstructure which has been raised on a basis laid by men who have ceased to exist as the ministers of the crown."
Does not this read like very mockery ? The country saddled with a bad treaty, and having its sole revenge in the dismissal of the Ministers who concocted it! A new Ministry compelled to carry out the bad work of their predecessors, which they had already emphatically condemned! The theory of the “responsibility” of Ministers is cast into ridicule by such a lame and impotent conclusion as that arrived at in the instance before us.
But is it indeed true, that the fact of the preliminaries of a treaty being once agreed upon, forecloses the whole case in all its details, leaving no possibility of modifying anything in the definitive treaty ? Common sense,—and that ought to be a guide, when no duly established principle exists to the contrary, points to an opposite conclusion. The doctrines of the acknowledged authorities, living almost within our own time, tend also the same way
Martens in his 'Précis des Droits des Gens,' lays down the principle that a preliminary treaty may be signed “to serve as the basis of a definitive treaty of peace,” but leaving many points of detail open to discussion and arrangement before concluding the latter. The Comte de Garden also, writing in the Encyclopédie des Gens du Monde,' whilst adhering to the conventionally accepted doctrine that, “from the earliest times in morarchies, the right of ratifying treaties has been regarded as an exclusive prerogative of the throne," goes on to say that “since the new era of representative governments, a system has been established which consists in counter-balancing that power by the legitimate influence which belongs to other powers,
the affairs of the country. One word in an address moved by the Chamber, the refusal of supplies, the impeachment of ministers, are amongst the efficacious means of causing negociations repugnant to the will of the nation to be