Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

HOUSE OF COMMONS.

nothing, so far as the right hon. gent. was whatever. But such an intention as that concerned, should be suffered to interfere of poisoning the King's mind against a to prevent this business coming on first on gallant brother officer, never, in the slightMonday.

est degree, occurred to his mind. If the General Loft expressed his opinion that noble earl had incurred blame by makthe noble earl would be found not to have ing this communication to his Majesty, acted in any respect unbecoming his cha- without the consent or privity of his colracter.

leagues, he trusted that the House, under The Chancellor of the Exchequer acceded all the circumstances of the case, would to Mr. Whitbread's proposition, on which consider it a venial error. The noble earl the debate was adjourned till Monday. foresaw that some inquiry would take

place. He knew the moment the paper was in an official form, it would be deem

ed a public document; and, as such, Monday, March 5.

would be called for.--He wished it to re(The EARL or CHATHAM'S NARRATIVE main private for a short time, and not to ADJOURNED DEBATE.) Mr. Whitbread offer it officially before it became neces rose, and moved the order of the day, for sary to his defence. Although, therefore, resuming the adjourned debate, upon the he had delivered it to his Majesty on the Resolutions he had moved relative to the 15th of January, it was not made a public Narrative of the earl of Chatham. The document until the 14th of February ; bem motion was put from the chair, and the cause then the noble earl was aware that debate resumed.

he should be put on his defence: and General Craafurd begged leave to pre- therefore, when the noble earl stated in face what he had to say on the subject in his testimony that he had not delivered discussion, by declaring every sentiment his Narrative until the 14th of February, of party feeling and personal animosity to he meant only that it did not become, till be totally absent from his mind. Nothen, an official document; and therefore person in that House, or, in this country, he could not refer to it as a public docuhad ever seen him betray such feelings in ment before that date, as he had given it word or action; and if he were to profess in the first instance merely as a private himself biassed by any partial feeling of communication; and to divulge that cirfriendship towards the noble earl, whose cumstance would not have been consistent conduct was now under discussion, he with his oath as a privy councellor. If should shew himself but little dexterous in the House, therefore, considered the mothe task he had assumed. The noble eart tives which actuated the noble earl in this was accused of having delivered to his instance, they must extenuate his error, Majesty on the 15th of January, a Narra- and acquit him of every intention of casttive of his proceedings upon the late Ex-ing censure upon the gallant admiral, or pedition to the Scheldt, without having to prejudice the King's mind against him. previously communicated upon the sub- The House would likewise take into its ject with his colleagues. The noble earl consideration, the time when the Narrahad most distinctly disavowed the inten- tive was first delivered. Shortly after tion, that any opinion he had ever given the noble earl's arrival from the conti. should cast the most distant shade of cen- nent, he was aware that some inquiry

the character or conduct of the into the business of the Expedition must gallant admiral, who was his naval col. take place. This idea pressed upon his league on that Expedition. The Narrative mind; and he saw, that, unless some sahe presented, therefore, was a plain and tisfactory explanation was given, he must simple statement of the grounds for his be tried by a court martial. It was to defence, should inquiry be thought neces- give this explanation that he drew his sary; but whether he was right or wrong Narrative up, and to state what would be in delivering that paper (and the honour the grounds of his defence. If it were able general was willing to admit it might possible that he could have harboured the be an error), yet most confident he felt, views attributed to him, would he have that he never was actuated, in that in- kept it back from the time of his arrival stance, in the slightest degree by the mo- in October until the January following: tives ascribed to him. The noble lord Why did he deliver it then? Because considered the paper as applying merely Parliament was about to meet. If the to his own conduct, and nothing else noble earl had any intention to prejudice the King against the gallant admiral, , a statement containing heavy charges would he have chosen such a mode to ac- against a gallant admiral who had been complish bis purpose ? To suppose such a employed conjointly with him in that exthing would be to set down the noble earl pedition; and baving, contrary to all cone as little more than a mere driveller.--Had stitutional practice, and the whole course he not daily opportunities of personal of precedents, accompanied his statement communication with his Majesty and with a desire of secrecy, it was impossible could be not, therefore, have used any that the House of Commons could declare one of those opportunities for 'conveying such conduct not only not erroneous but his accusations verbally in a way which justifiable. It would be to hold out to all would leave no trace behind, instead of military men an encouragement to follow making his statement in a written Narra- the same practice. It would, in any such tive, which he knew must remain as a do- case, be open to them to give in any cument, and which he meant should some statement containing any charges against day become official. Any member of a other officers, with a request of secrecy, court martial, to which the noble eart and without communicating it to the conmight be eventually referred for trial, fidential servants of the crown, at least might have called for it. It must have those who were formerly considered conbeen moved for by Parliament in the case fidential servants; and then, if it was of any inquiry being instituted there. likely that the paper should be called for The hon. general felt that if he had not by that House, all they would have to do stated these bis opinions, he should not would be to demand the statement back, have done his duiy; and he hoped the and expunge such passages as contained House, upon maturely considering all the the most objectionable charges. This was circumstances, would, in its known justice a principle which he was persuaded that and liberality, fully acquit the noble ear! House would never sanction. of those motives ascribed to him by other But it had been argued that the state. gentlemen, from no other cause, he was ment was not official till the 14th of Fesure, than a different view of the subject. bruary, when lord Chatham bad given it

sure upon

Mr. C. W. Wynn had never had the ho- in to the secretary of state by his Manour of any personal intimacy with the jesty's command, after having omitted, as noble lord to whose conduct the resolu- appeared from his own evidence, that part tions before the House applied. But which contained a particular opinion. He there were other considerations of feel- could not perceive the force of this obsering and near connection, which would vation, because he could not consider the render it much more pleasing to him 10 original statement in any other light than give a silent vote on this question. The as the official report of the proceedings of extreme importance of the subject, how the army under lord Chatham. He could ever, rendered it impossible for him to not conceive any thing which would ever justify the vote he meant to give to him- more satisfactorily prove the statement to self, without stating the reasons upon be official, than that it was given in to his which it was founded to the House." It Majesty with the signature, “ Chatham, was now, he must observe, allowed, even lieut. general.”-If it had been a private by the hon. general who had just sat down, communication, and not an official one, it that the conduct of lord Chatham had would have been signed in the ordinary been erroneous. No man who possessed manner, “ Chatham.” But there would any parliamentary information or consti- be an end of all responsibility of ministers, tutional knowledge could commit his cha- if the doctrine now set up were to be adracter by asserting the contrary. When mitted. All that any minister need do in this, then, was admitted on'all hands, was that case, to avoid responsibility, would the House of Commons, by not agreeing be to say, that any advice which he might to the resolutions of his hon. friend, to put have conveyed to his Sovereign, was a it upon their journals that such conduct private cominunication. He for his part was not erroneous ? For that would be the could not conceive how any paper preeffect of voting the previous question, sented to his Majesty respecting a public wbich he understood was to be moved by measure could be considered in any other the right bon. gentleman opposite. Lord light than as an official document. If it had Chatham, a cabinet minister, and also not been an official document till the 14th commander in chief of an important ex- of February, he would ask what act of pedition, having given in to his sovereign lord Chatham had made it official then? He had, it appeared, then tendered the its production. When they recollected Narrative to his Majesty in the same man- how they had come at the knowledge of ner as in the first instance. His Majesty, such a paper having been presented to his however, having reflected upon the busi- Majesty-when they weighed all the cir. ness, and recalling the examples of his cumstances of the case, and looked to the own uniform conduct, and the practice of conduct of lord Chatham-it was impossiall the constitutional monarchs who pre ble for them to be so insensible to what ceded him on the throne, directed the was due to their own character and dig. noble earl to give the Narrative is the re. nity, as to declare by their vote, that such gular way to the secretary of state. If his conduct was in the slightest degree justifi. Majesty had given the same directions in able. Upon these grounds, therefore, he the first instance, was any gentleman pre-should feel himself bound to vole for the pared to say that the paper would not resolutions. have been official: He felt it necessary, Mr. Stephen said the question really was, therefore, for the character and dignity of whether the House should now pronounce that House, to follow up the address of the the very serious opinion on the conduct of former night, by the adoption of the re- the earl of Chatham, which the resolutions solutions then, under consideration. They proposed, pending the inquiry at their could not have had the slightest suspicion bar. He for one had not heard, yet, any that such a paper existed, till it was moved argument to justify him in pronouncing for, and presented for their inspection. so very serious a censure on the conduct The House was now in possession of the of the noble earl. The House would not whole business, and was bound to prose-act consistently with itself, if it were to cute it to some satisfactory issue. They agree to the resolutions, and to suffer the were particularly called upon to adopt this matter to rest here. But, before he could be course, because they had been left to brought to concur in the severe censure themselves to sift the transaction as they now proposed to be passed on the noble

ould, and had come at the circumstances lord, he must examine a little more into merely through the examinations at their the nature of the charge and the premises bar. Lord Chatham might, if he had on which it was built. He did not observe thought proper, have required permission that the statement contained in the report to correct his former evidence: he might was charged as being false or insidious. have, in that case, admitted, that he had He did not hear it characterized as conpreviously conveyed to his Majesty a taining express or implied reflections on paper, which paper he had afterwards re- the other commanders; or that it was an quested back for the purpose of oinitting a attempt to poison the king's mind. But particular part; and that the paper before the motion was founded on the mere abihe House was the same as the original stract fact, that the noble lord did present paper, with the exception of that omission. a paper to his Majesty, desiring at the same Had this been done, it might have pre time that it might be kept secret; and, on sented the case in a far different light: this foundation, it was assumed that the but no, the noble lord left the matter to noble lord, a cabinet counsellor, had viotake its course. Was such conduct, he lated that sacred system, the British conwould ask, justifiable or not? The House stitution. If it had been said, that by prewould recollect the circumstances of an senting the paper in question, the noble inquiry which took place respecting the lord had intended to prejudice his Majesty disposal of a seat in parliament so late as as to the conduct of the other command. last session, In that instance the noble ers employed in the service, then he should lord (Castlereagb), whose share in the have said that the truth or falsehood of the transaction was under discussion, had can charge should have been inquired into; didly admitted that his conduct had been and then too, he should have had an unincautious; and it may have been to that answerable objection to state to the present admission that it was owing that no fur- motion--the House had not yet finished ther proceeding was taken by the House the evidence. upon the subject. The House bad, on a That the naval commander on the late former night, considered it so alarming Expedition instead of censure or insinua. that a private paper should be given in to tion of any kind, was justly entitled to the his Majesty, without the privity of his thanks of his country, he (Mr. S.) enter. other confidential advisers, that an address tained not a doubt. He could not, howwas voted to his Majesty with a view to ever, sitting in judgment on lord Chatham, feel bimself entitled to take that for grant | been lately said, but he was sure, gentle. ed, and to find, without proof, that such men on the other side would not say that was the fact. But, if the principle was so those who were guilty of such dangerous laid down, that the mere presenting a practices, were, on that account, to have paper, and requesting that it might be their conduct stigmatised in the manner kept secret, was a violation of the consti- now contended for.-He, therefore, for tution, he must deny that it was any vio- these reasons, was desirous of not being lation of the constitution. In what law or pressed to give a definitive voie on the charter, in what dictum even of any subject as it now stood; and, as the pretheorist could it be shewn to have been sent motion went to pass a high censure laid down, that to present a paper to the on a British subject, without any previous king, and to require secrecy concerning investigation into the justice or injustice it, was a violation of the constitution (Cries of it, it called on, he must vote in the neof hear, hear!) From the acclamations of gative. gentlemen opposite, he presumed he should But there was another question of very shortly be obliged to take shame to him- material importance, and it was this ; self for his ignorance in this respect. He though the motion proposed might at one should bow with submission to such autho- time or other be proper to be adopted, rity when he saw it, but at present, he whether this was the time? In his opinion, could only repeat again his former asser. the noble lord had been hardly dealt with, tion. In the practice of this country, and and had much to complain of, in having in the progress of its constitution, he ven- been made the object of unfounded cla. tured to assert, that no such principle had mour, unjust prejudice and unbounded ca. been countenanced, and it was only from lumny. So natural had it become for the our written law and from established pre- people of this country to think that no cedent that we could judge upon such a blame could attach to our navy, that it question. He did not stand there to de. was almost now a matter of course to at. fend the 'noble lord from error. He ad tribute failure, when it did occur, to the mitted, with other gentlemen who had al- army or its commander, and to exculpaie ready spoken on this occasion, that the the navy from any share in the cause of noble lord had acted erroneously and un- the failure. He himself was one of those becoming!y. He would even go farther, who had been infected with this malady, and would admit, that the noble lord would and he was one of those, in particular, have acted in a way more befitting him who, in his own mind, did not do justice self, and more properly with respect to to the noble lord. He confessed he had that House, if he had at first declared what not had leisure to read all the evidence; had passed.

but, with all the attention he had been But admitting all this, he could not go able to bestow upon it, he was free to de. the length of saying that the noble lord clare that he did not sce a single line which had violated the constitution. It was not gave countenance to, or rather, wbich did because a thing had a dangerous tendency, not completely answer the public calumny that it was to be visited in the way the and clamour with which the noble lord present motion suggested. Luxury was had been loaded. He (Mr. Stephen) was dangerous to the constitution : (a laugh, an utter stranger to the noble lord; he and cries of hear, hear!) but it would had never been in his company in his life. ratber be going too far to contend, that He looked to him only as a British officer; hecause a man chose to give a grand and and he begged his pardon as he felt sorrow voluptuous entertainment, he should be for having entertained the opinion whicta come the object of severe censure as guilty he certainly did at one time entertain, preof an offence against the constitution. He judicial to the conduct of the noble lord could mention other things which were in the late Expedition. He was satisfied, still more dangerous ---Party spirit-fac. from the evidence, not only that there tious combination! (repeated cries of hear, was no ground for the censure re-echoed hear! from the Opposition bench.) He by various Journals against the noble lord, knew he had touched the spring, by which but that he did all that could be done; gentlemen opposite to him were most even that he had the merit of saving the easily moved, which vibrated with most army of which he had the command, seeelasticity in their bosons. These were ing that he had already done all that could infinitely more dangerous than the influ- be effected. He believed he might even ence of the crown, of which so much had say, that lord Wellington, and ibat was no light praise to any general, of whose | when making his defence, and tell him, gallantry and enterprize he had as high an “We will punish you even for the deopinion as he could have of any man, if | fence you wished to make. It is a libel.” he had been at the head of the army, could -In any court to do so, he had no hesinot have accomplished more; and that he tation in saying would be unjust. Yet would also have ceased to attempt what those who supported the present motion was impossible to be accomplished. The seemed to think it quite fair to tell the prosecutor in the Inquiry had closed his noble lord in the first instance, that he had case, so he felt himself entitled to state done something which disqualified him this as bis opinion, and that he could not from holding his situation, and afterwards go the length of these motions. He could that they would inquire into the merits of not admit presumptions to weighi against his case. He maintained that there was no the noble lord who certainly had some such urgency in the business as to call for hereditary claims to a patient hearing in the immediate adoption of the Resolutions. that House. He had also dispensed with Not only was the charge made against the bis privilege, and come to the bar of that noble lord, not a violation of the ConstituHouse to be examined, thereby clearly tion, but to say so, while verbal communishewing that he had no wish for conceal- cations might be made without detection, ment of any part of his conduct.

unless by the evidence of the Sovereign When the existence of the Narrative himself, would be to hold, that one avenue was first discovered, he would appeal to for such communication may be upen, the House whether it was not supposed while another may not. This would in. that it contained some vile and dark' insi- deed be to treat the noble lord harshly. nuation against another officer, which He did not ask indulgence for that no. was now ascertained not to be the fact. ble person because he was the son of one, The paper had been undoubtedly pre- and the brother of another William Pitt. sented in a manner not perfectly regular, He did not appeal to the Catosand Brutuses and now it was wished not to wait till the on the other side. But when he heard inquiry was concluded, but to cut the the tones of the noble lord at the bar of matter short; what would be the result of that House, and observed his features, adopting the resolutions if not to stop the they recalled strongly to his mind the recourse of the inquiry? (Cries of hear, collection of the latter illustrious man hear! from the Opposition bench.) He now mouldering in the tomb. He had rewas quite accustomed to be answered by ceived no favours from the late Mr. Pitt. these O. P. arguments on the other side. He was scarcely known to him. There (Hear! hear!) He hoped they should be were gentlemen in that House, however, spared the O. P. dance. (Hear! hear!) The who stood in a very different situation. last night he had occasion to address the He called on them to assist him. He House, gentlemen on the other side were called on them to see that the son of grudging them the interval eren of a lord Chatham and the brother of Mr. Pitt single day from the inquiry, urging it on should at least have justice done him. as if nothing else was of any moment. He was not one of those, who thought But so soon as they found that they were that the merits of an illustrious father likely to be disappointed in the expecta. should excuse the offences or even the tions they had derived from it finding that faults of the son; but at the same time he the expectations they had so confidently would not pluck stones from the monuexpressed, of making it the means of ac- ment of the father to bruise the head of the complishing their grand aim--the turu- son; it was intended, he thought, to use ing out of ministers, were to be disap- the noble lord in this manner on the prepointed, then they introduced this episode, sent occasion, when certain passages were calculated to hurry on at least in part the ori- quoted from the speeches of the illustrious ginally intended catastrophe. If they were father in support of the heavy charges to be disappointed of turning out all the mi- against the son. The error into which nisters, as they once expected, they hoped the noble lord had fallen was in a great ebat by this motion they might at least get measure to be pardoned, when he found quit of one of them. Now for two days that instead of being wreaibed with laurels had they been employed in this attempt. he was loaded with calumny, though in They wished to carry the point now, and his anxiety to vindicate himself in the pot to allow him time for the noble lord's eyes of bis royal master be had forgot the defence. They turned round on him even mode and tbe manner. Let it not be fore

« AnteriorContinuar »