Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

is a breach of the privileges of that Mr. Johnstone thought that there could ..:: 2, for e peer, or a lord lieutenant of a not be a more serious question submitted ...diy, to interfere in the election of mem- to the house, as touching its own privileges,

serve in that house. The duke of than whether a secretary of the treasury rodos, on whose letter the resolution of should be allowed in his office, perhaps using

;?} was founded, was both a peer and a the seal of office, and sending his dispatch by livreutenant of the county; and he was official messengers, to write to all those un

1.2. Same time a lord of the bed-chamber. der the influence of government, and direct arivcircumstances which made it a breach them how they were to give their votes in

svilege for the noble duke to interfere, the election of members of that house, ... at all apply to the present case. The He would readily agree with the hon. and ! .ilion. gent. bad allowed that it would learned member, that the hon. secretary, Dr. 5 rectly fair for the hon. gent. to canvass as well as every other member of govern.

vends, tenants, and connections. Where ment, might lawfully exert theniselves for

s', was the line to be drawn? Would it the success of their friends in their indiBinoil that he might canvass his friend A. vidual capacity. But there was not, be

..t canvass his friend B. because he thought, a man in the house, nor in the couni. a place ? As it was not stated ibat any try, who could really believe, that it was

krewwould come forth before a commit merely in liis individual capacity that the nich had not already been stated to the secretary of the treasury acted, upon the :, he thought it would be contrary to late election for Hampshire. A letter to

dignity to refer frivolous matters to the barrack-master, to use bis influence in

C.11ai of such importance as their com- his department, could be hardly understood 1.18 of privileges. "He thought the issue as the mere canvass of an individual. The

fie examination must be an acquittal of letter had also in its direction, “On his Fi-47. secretary

majesty's service.” This added, if any inted Folkestone observed that the thing could be added, to the official characje ce gent. need not have entered into an ter of the letter wriiten by the secretary of

:?y for the hon. secretary, as he was the treasury. He was surprised that this Sirvion that the hon. secretary himself should be mentioned as a single case, for lie 1:54 ready urged, with some effect

, that believed that alnjost every member in that cho kiler was not within the law of parlia. house knew that this was no detached case.

! Yet he was still of opinion, that but that letiers nearly similar were written, tir, leiter, which was but a small part of by the same secretary of the Treasury to ir rievances stated in the petition, though almost every corner of the kingdom. He Hi chcd vot by itself substantiate a direct could bimself have produced a letter which

se against the hon. secretary, might, in he had seen (if he had been prepared for Eection with the other accusations this debate), which the same secretary of the 3.!!4 in the petition, be a very fit subject treasury sent to a poor voter io Yorkshire, ::!e laid before a committee, should the whose name he even did not know, and I think fit to adopt the motion. He that was in his public capacity. It never horised that the members of government could be said, that all these letters were Hivi n right to interfere in elections as pri- / written merely in bis individual capacity as Free istividuals; but he could consider the Mr. Fremantle.' The right hon. gent. (Mr. Hirtiom the secretary of the treasury to Tierney), once belonged to an administration

fo.rack-master-general, in this case, that did not exercise that sort of influence, is an official letter. It was under and who did not direct their secretaries of

as such by those whose conduct it the treasury to write such letters. Under 5.3.3 is influence. He was surprised that that administration, a parliament was chosen Mantlemen on the other side should not about four years ago, by the free choice of isto the motion, in consideration of their the voters; and it was, probably, because it linalonour, of the honour of the county was so chosen, that the present ministers

Cints, and of the house of commons. could not suffer it to exist any longer. derstood that much further grounds He called upon those who wished to pre

mination were to be brought forward; vent the undue influence of government particularly a letter from one of the from extending to every county, city, and i public boards, signed by the secre- borough in the county, to vote for going

On this ground be wished to go into into the committee.
dinillee.

Mr. Bathurst saw no reason to go into a 3 committee of privileges, when there were public nature, which were ever in the no facts touching privilege to be authenti- mouths of the men comprising the present cated. The facts in this case were clear, government of the country. He, for his and the construction was obvious. If any part, could not be brought to think that the gentleman thought there was foundation for reason assigned was at all a satisfactory one, a motion of censure, he might bring it for- for to be told that the present administration ward. The house of commons would hard were in every instance acting in direct inly go into a committee of privileges to fish consistency with their professions when out out grievances now unknown. The fact of power, would have produced in his mind stated in the petition was all the house could sensations very opposite to those of surprike. attend to. It was extremely improper to No; of all other emotions, surprise was that introduce the name of the comptroller of from which he was at that moment most free. the navy, or of any other person, without a What had been the conduct of ministers specific foundation. Mr. Fremantle had upon that night he had long since learned to declared that he had written the letter mere- anticipate from what had been their conduct ly in his individual capacity, and there was upon all occasions that involved the sincerino reason to presume the contrary. The ty of their former professions, in the bold petition stated, that the petitioners believed and unblushing contradiction of their pracMr. Fremantle had no property in the coun- tice. He therefore was prepared to receive ty of Hants, but it now appeared he had; that fresh instance of their good faith and and thus far the petition proceeded on consistency, as completely of a piece with grounds. It was an unfair exaggeration to all their other proceedings; for however they state that it had been argued by his hon. might, night after night, uniformly pursue friend (Mr. Tierney), that because the that conduct which when out of office they county of Hants had been often violated, as uniformly decried, they had been, since it was not entitled to redress. His right they came into office, at least consistent in hon. friend, while remarking upon the ex- their systematic perseverance in contradicttraordinary zeal shewn on this occasion by ing, both in their language and their measome hon. gentlemen on the other side, had sures, all the mighty professions and highcontended that there was no violation in the fying theories which in so great a measure present case. The right hon. gent. (Mr. characterized that deceased body of refore Canning) had declared, he did not mean What, for instance, had been the to impute any guilt, but merely inferred language upon the former night when that ground for suspicion. Some persons were petition was presented ? No less than mu. always disposed to put the worst construc- tual congratulation was given and exchanged tion. He hoped the house would not do by the gentlemen upon the opposite side; so. He thought it no disgrace to the peti- they were rejoiced, forsooth! that the period tion not to go into a committee upon it. of triumph and inquiry had at length arrived; No two cases could be more distinct than that investigation the most strict would the present and that of the duke of Chandos, end in acquittal the most honourable; that who was lord lieutenant of the county, and the poison of calumny which had been so a peer of parliament. The facts, and the generally and insiduously circulated would construction in this case were clear, and, be checked in its dissemination, and that its therefore, there was nothing for which to propagators would be justly exposed to the go into the committee.

vengeance due from injured innocence and Mr. Perceval began by observing, that he honour, to the latent promoters of malevohad heard in the courseof the debate a general lent aspersions, and wanton acccusations. expression of surprise : one set of gentlemen Such was the language of the other side a were surprised at the manner in which this few nights since, and what had it becn charge had been brought forward : another theu ? No longer courting inquiry ; no at the charge itself. A noble lord, who had longer vaunting their anticipated triumphs of just sat down, had freely expressed his sur tried and approved innocence over groundprise at the strange reception this petition had less calumny, but evading past protestations, met with from his majesty's ministers in that shrinking from the investigation called for, house; and the noble lord was surprised at and to which they had pledged themselves; such a reception, because the noble lord one night congratulating the country upon thought such a line of conduct inconsistent the prospect of immediate inquiry, and the with those professions in favour of free and next generously threatening to punish and liberal inquiry into all alledged abuses of a to disgrace the very man who had given

mers.

[ocr errors]

them this so much desired opportunity of sible not to infer a generality of charges, inquiry by presenting that petition, and as in the terms with which the charge praying that that house would admit them against the honourable gentleman was introto prove upon incontrovertible evidence the duced “among other instauces,” and also truth of the alledged charges mpon which that the same undue influence had been that petition rested. He confidently put resorted to “ in various departments”: did it to ministers, if they could have the cou- these words warrant the strange assertion rage to ask a house of commons to pass a that the committee was to go into inquiry vote of censure on the man who had been upor one fuct only? But even of this fact instrumental in bringing about an inquiry the document was attempted to be quesupon a great question involving the privi- tioned. What was this document !--Aletleges of that house? He put it boldly to ter from the secretary of the treasury to those gentlemen, whether they would be lieutenant-general Hewitt, at the head of tempted to proceed to such a length, as not the barrack department. It had been said only to resist inquiry, but to punish the pro- that the lion. secretary was a freeholder, moters of that investigation which the gen- but did it appear that the general was a tlemen theniselves a few nights since tieeholder ? From the formal manner of thought so necessary to the great ends of the note too, it was evident that if the two general justice, to the assertion of the rights gentlemen were at all acquainted, it must of the country, to this vindication of the brave been in the slightest degree; and yet impeached and questioned character of the the oloject of this letter was to solicit no government, and to the due maintenance less an obligation than the general's influof the dignity of the house of commons ? ence and support on an ensuing election. Was it, he asked, treating the country, or He begged the general to use his influence. the privileges of that house, or their own and with whom ?—-110t with bis tenants; involved character, with common decency, not with his friends, but with those immeto meet a grave and solemn charge with diately in his department-with major Dasuch a ludicrous mixture of levity and fear, vies and others in the barrack department. flying from all the most serious arguments Would it not, then, be a mockery to conand a statement of the most weighty tacts, tend any longer that such a letter was wereto the miserable refuge of a joke, or to the ly an innocent communication between two as frivolous attempt or justifying criminality inocent freeholders? But, if the interpreby affected recrimination ? When he heard tation of this letter was still to be a quesgentlemen say that they did not wish to tion, he would have recourse to the usual recriminate (because for the very best rea- mode of determining the interpretation in sons that they could not), aod yet do so by such cases the manner in which the Eninsinuation, lie could not think highly either glisi was understool by the Englishıman to of their candour or their logic. As to the to whom that English was addressed. And gentlemen concerned, he was glad to see how did general Hewitt interpret this anithat it had not been taken up in any per- bigudis enigma? In such a manner as sonal way by gentlemen on either side. prompted him to act up to its true spirit, He did not think it at all went to affect the by promoting the intluence he had been

hon. gentleman's personind character; he officially commissioned to promote ; and in · did the best he could to reconinend him his letter, how bad the general spoken of

self to the government under which he the honourable secretary? Not as a freeacted; and there was no doubt ibat he had, holder--not as a private gentleman having in that instance particularly, recommended certain weight and certain connections in the himself to the noble lord at the head of the county: but merely as secretary of the treatreasury; and he was sure that that noble sury—as an officer of the goverument comlord would not in the least degree think municating the will of the government, in the bon. gent. a worse secretary on account order thereby to influence the decision of an of his zeal and activity in that instance. entire department, comprehending in itself no As to the objection of there being but a small proportion of the interests and feelings single fact upon which the motion for going of the county in queston. If the house reinto a committee rested, he thought it ajected this petition, notwithstanding the sufficient answer to refer to the allegations strong grounds upon which it was supported, in the petition itself, and particularly the what would be the consequence? What a form of words, from which it was impos- proud precedent will ministers have to

was

boast of in this precious sample of their whom he acted, with having deserted those treasury correspondence! Then may they principles which 'regulated their conduct fix a treasurer in every county, in every when they sat on the other side of the town, in every borough, then may each house. In answer to this, he would beg to member circulate through his respective remind that ho:1. and learned gent., that in barrack department, the decree of the go. the course of the many years to which he vernment against the subject's birthright; referred, there never had been a single inprovided only that they keep within the stance of such an individual and private cautious limits of their precious precedent; personal opposition brought before the provided only they do not pronounce house. And would that hon, and learned actual menace; provided only they do not gent. be so bold as to say, that during the convey, through the medium of an inno- course of those 20 years there was no intercent freeholder's letter, a bribe taken froin ference of persons connected with adminithe public money: provided they keep stration in election affairs; or would the within such limits they were safe; the pre- bon. and learned gent. contend that he cedent of that night would hear them out, | (lord II.) and all the friends with whom he and they would again find a louse of com- then acied, were so dull of intellect, and mons who would countenance them in that inatters were then so skilfully conductthe breach of that house's privileges, and ed, that they could not discover the influin the violation of the subjeci's constituțion-ence that was at that time made use of? al rights, provided only that in the act of Whenever the authority of office such breach and violation, the forms of glaringly or imperatively exercised over any discreetness and decorum prescribed in tlie one in matters of election, it was the duty present precedent, be observed. The hou. of every independent member of parliament and learned gent. concluded with an earnest to expose it, but they had uniformly ah. advice to ininisters to depart from that line stained from calling the attention of the of conduct which no talents could ultimate-house to tlie conduct of any individual in Jy rescue from the indignant animadversion such cases. Would gentlemen, lowever, of the country; friends might be for the say, that during that time there was never time partial, but rectitude of in!ention, any interference of a minister, of a secreintegrity of principle, and consistency of tary of state, or of a secretary of the conduct, were the best, perhaps the only treasury? He did not mean to justify bimmeans of permanently securing that power, self, or those connected with himn, merely which he hoped they would endeavour to by a declaration that others did the like;. maintain by better means than those by but it was fit that the attention of the which they had succeeded in acquiring it. house should be called to the quarter

Lord Howick remarked that the hon. and from which these complaints proceeded. learned gent. with the most studious atten-Llowever, it was said that a person might tion, and with the utmost exertion of liiş not speak to a person who was not in othce ingenuity, conld not find any means of for his vote and interest. What, if a man fairly censuring his majesty's government. had a particular friend, a near relation, or If, bowever, he had not been able to bring a perso:1 with whom he was acquainted by their conduct collectively as an administra- means of their both being in offices under tion before the house, and before the public, the crown, he was not to be spoken to? a he nevertheless had found some opportunity man was to apply for support, or the firof attacking them in the person of a gentle therance of his friend's interest to every man connected with his majesty's govern man in England but those with whom he ment, and in so doing, he had made one of the was acquainted; he was to be allowed to most declamatory speeches that hadever been apply to every one that could not, or would heard within the walls of that house; he had not be of service to him, but if he came outdone all his former outdoings, he might near the door of his friend or those who be said to have out-Heroded Herod himself. were likely to assist him lie nuust cry, He had repeated' what had been upwards “ Procul, 0! procul este, profani!" He of twenty times before repeated in that must not presume to use his influence, or ask house-a charge than which, from the for any friendship there. Now, he recol generality of its nature, none was more easi- lected that on a former occasion, a leiter ly inade, nor more difficult to be refuted; was written on the business of an election at he had charged himn and the persons with Canterbury; he had a copy of it in his pocket, signed George Rose. Here be was supposed to be friendly to government. read the letter. That letter called upon The petition itself was another proof of the Mr. Smith, who was in the barrack depart- very little influence that was made use of by ment, to use his influence with Mr. Baldock, those who were friendly to his majesty's goa contractor for the ordnance office, in verument, and of the very great exertions that favour of a particular candidate. We were made on the opposite side; it was signmight adopt some forms of regulation, but ed by two persons who, he was informed, it was impossible entirely to prevent people were servants to the hon. baronet, by anoin office, any more than out of office, from ther who was secretary to the militia, where soliciting a friend to support another friend lord Bolton was lord lieutenant, another sig. of their own at an election. There was ano- nature was that of a person who was clerk to ther instance in which the same gentleman the collectors of taxes, and who was now was concerned a Westminster election, soliciting the situation of surveyor from where it was stated that two accounts were that terrible government which bore down kept, one for the treasury, and another for every thing with its authority. It was idle lord Hood; but of these two instances no to talk of a committee to inquire, for the notice was taken in parliament. There facts were clear before the house, and all was another instance, however, where the that remained was, for the house to declare same gentleman was also concerned, con- by its vote that night, whether they would cerning which a motion was made in that pronounce their censure on the conduct house, that was for a committee to inquire which had been so proved, or whether they into abuses, as far as related to the mitiga- would dismiss the accusation as one that tion of penalties or suspension of a prose-was unworthy of being entertained by that cution under the excise laws, in consequence house. The learned gent. opposite (Mr. of what had been done at an election for Perceval) had said that there were many Westminster; but this motion was lost, and other cases where the influence of governthose members of the present parliament ment had been made use of; but it might who had then a seat in that house, and fairly be said, • ab uno disce omnes," and, voted against the motion, could hardly as no doubt, the gentlemen on the other think the present a censurable case. But side did not direct their organ to bring forhere a gentleman, a member of that house, ward his weakest case first, the house might who was also in office, had not only a friend, fairly infer that the others, if any, were not but a near relation, who was a candidate such as would be likely to be productiue of for a seat in that house, and he wrote to very dangerous consequences to the liberanother friend simply in a friendly way, ties of England. When a motion was made with the word “ private," written on the (that of Mr. Biddulph) for inquiry into the letter also, to endeavour to forward the in- extent of salaries and emoluments in various terest of bis relation. This was the very public offices, a motion which was certainly head and front of bis offending. Great not of a nature that was likely to strengthstress, however, had been laid on the ex- en or be favourable to any administration, pression, that the travelling expences could it was, however, thought to be one that not be allowed, as it could not be introdu- might tend to the advantage of the publie, ced into any public account. Now, he would and accordingly it was most cheerfully acdesire to know, how it was possible for the ceded to, and most zealously, as well as most conscientious and scrupulous servant most ably supported by his noble friend of the public to make a more candid, or a flord H. Petty). But neither his majesty's more honest declaration ? Perhaps this ma- ministers nor the house, he trusted, would jor Davies had thought that the letters did suffer themselves to be led away by any not go far enough, and the expences might groundless accusations that might be brought have been hinted at with a view to entrap before them. the gentleman who was spoken of. That Mr. Rose said, that he had come down to gentleman had himself spoken more ably the house with a determination not to say a than he could upon the subject; but it was word upon the question ; but after the perto be observed, that he had never interpos- sonal attack that had been made upon his ed the weight of his official influence, and conduct, it was impossible for him to remain so powerful was the influence on the other altogether silent. . As to the letter read by side, that it was proved by the hop. baronet the noble lord, and addressed by him to a himself, that a person in an official situation person who had offered his services in favour had been sent out of the way, because he of the member he would recommend, there

« AnteriorContinuar »