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A.D. 1713–14. DE FOE BROUGHT BEFORE HIM. 15
gratification to Swift's malignity. Well might the renegade Whig say that “transitions were natural, and frequent.”—The Chief Justice wisely took no notice of this libel; and the Scotch nobility would have acted a more dignified part if they had imitated his example, instead of whiningly going in a body to Queen Anne and insisting that a reward should be offered for the discovery of the author, because it likewise attacked them, saying that “their whole revenues before the union would have ill maintained a Welsh justice of peace, and that some of them had since gathered in England more money than ever any Scotchman who had not travelled could form an idea of.”" De Foe, who had celebrated Parker's elevation to the bench, had recently been gained over by the personal civilities of Queen Anne; and, being brought before him on a charge of libel, the Chief Justice is said to have expressed satisfaction “that so notorious a libeller was about to be punished for going against his old friends and principles.” This story is highly improbable; but the Chief Justice certainly somehow had offended the Journalist very deeply, for he was now violently vituperated in the “Review,” a periodical in which Daniel for a time assailed the Whigs under pretence of going beyond them in liberality. The Chief Justice was sworn of the Privy Council at the time when he was raised to the bench, and he was summoned to give his advice upon the Recorder's report of capital convictions at the Old Bailey. As he was not a member of the Cabinet, and he still avowedly adhered to the party opposed to the Government, we should have thought this the only occasion when he would have attended on being summoned; but I am perplexed by meeting in Swift's “Journal to Stella,” under date April 7, 1713, with the following entry: “At a council held to-night the Lord Chief Justice Parker, a Whig, spoke against the peace; so did Cholmondeley, another Whig, who is treasurer of the household.” I can only conjecture that a general meeting of the Privy Council had been held for formal business, when these two individuals, without being asked, took this opportunity to express their opinion on the great question of peace and war in the Queen's hearing." t This seems to have been the notion of had given a written order on the Exchequer. the Earl of Salisbury, who, to cure the ex- u Cholmondeley for this impertinence was travagance of James I., caused to be exposed immediately turned out of the household.— The last instance I have discovered of the interference of the Chief Justice of England as a magistrate of police was by Parker in Queen Anne's time, to counteract the plot that was going on shortly before her death to bring in her brother to succeed her. An information being laid before him as Chief Justice respecting the unlawful enlistment of soldiers, he granted a warrant, under which one Kelly was arrested a few days after at Deal, with five men he had enlisted, bearing a pass from the Earl of Middleton, Secretary of State to James III.,-whereupon Bolingbroke was reluctantly obliged to issue a proclamation offering a reward for the apprehension of the Pretender if he should land in England.” Under the Regency Bill the Chief Justice of the King's Bench had important functions to perform on a demise of the Crown, being one of the seven official Lords Justices who, together with those personally appointed by the successor, were to carry on the government till his arrival. Upon the summons of all Privy Councillors to attend, after the Queen with a dying hand had delivered the Treasurer's staff to the Duke of Shrewsbury, Chief Justice Parker immediately repaired to Kensington, and joined in the measures which were taken to secure the succession of the House of Hanover. When George I. landed at Greenwich, Chief Justice Parker was on the beach along with the other Lords Justices, and met with a very flattering reception from the new Sovereign, who had been told that he was a good Whig, and a warm friend to the Revolution settlement. He, who had started as an attorney's clerk in a small provincial town, and had got on by a vigorous intellect joined with stupendous application to business, now showed in a marvellous manner the versatility of his powers, by becoming a courtier and making himself personally agreeable to George I. and the German attendants who accompanied him, male and female. Whether, like Sir Robert Walpole, he conversed with the King in bad Latin, or how he made himself intelligible to the others, I have not been able to ascertain, but he certainly was early a great favourite with them, and they wished to give him the Great Seal,—probably from an expectation that a new Chancellor entirely of their own making would pass whatever grants to them they chose to ask. There were intrigues for this purpose on foot so early as the spring of 1715, although I cannot say that Parker was him
upon a table, in silver, for the King's inspec- Journ. April 8, 1713. Parker luckily held tion, a sum of money for which his Majesty “quamdiu se bene gesserit.”
A.D. 1716–17. OPPOSES THE SEPTENNIAL BILL. 17
self privy to them, and they gave rise to reports of Lord Cowper's speedy resignation. Subsequently an in- March 10, effectual attempt was made to induce him to exchange "* his office for that of President of the Council—from a pretended regard for his health, but from a real dislike of a Chancellor who had objected to improper grants of honours and money. Meanwhile Parker was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Parker, of Macclesfield, in the county of Chester; and, the better to enable him to support this dignity, a pension for life was bestowed upon him of 1200l. a year.
Being now legitimately restored to politics, he was very diligent in his attendance in the House of Lords, and took an active part in debate, although still we have to lament that we have hardly any remains of his oratory. His maiden speech as a Peer is said to have been against the Septennial Bill, which surprises us much, as the measure was supported by almost all Whigs and courtiers; but he had either been influenced by the grave objections to it on constitutional grounds, or had thought it convenient to show that he could make himself formidable. He called up Lord Cowper, from whose defence (as reported) it might be inferred that the Chief Justice had made a violent attack upon the King's Ministers, and had even reflected upon the severity exercised towards those engaged in the late rebellion."
But Lord Parker warmly supported the Government, when, after long delays, the Earl of Oxford's impeachment June 24, at last came to a hearing. Lord Harcourt having *. moved, on the dexterous suggestion of Walpole, that evidence should not be received respecting “high crimes and misdemeanors” till the articles charging “high treason " were disposed of, our law Lord answered, “that in all courts of judicature it is the usual and constant method to go through all the evidence before judgment be given upon any part of the accusation : that though the House of Peers be the supreme court of the kingdom, yet it has ever a regard to the rules of equity, and even to the forms observed in the courts below—which rules and forms required that the trial should be conducted as the Commons proposed—and thus only could the conduct of the prisoner be satisfactorily investigated and justice done between him and the country.” He concluded with the following unfeeling sentiment—little foreseeing that he himself was one day to stand disgracefully at the same bar as a convicted culprit: “As for the noble Earl appearing at the bar in the abject condition of a traitor, it is but a piece of formality which does him no manner of hurt, and to which persons of the highest rank have ever submitted to clear their innocence.”” But the opinion had become very general that the prosecution was oppressive, and many of Oxford's former opponents supported the motion which put an end to it." Nothing ingratiated Lord Parker with the King so much as A.D. 1711– the opinion which he himself gave, and in which he 1718. prevailed on a great majority of the Judges to concur, respecting the power of the reigning Sovereign over his grandchildren. There was now such open enmity between his Majesty and the Prince of Wales that Lord Carteret declared prophetically, “This family will quarrel from generation to generation.”" The Prince's numerous children were all in England except Frederick, the eldest, left behind in Hanover; and the King, to annoy his son, asserted the power by his prerogative to direct their education, and prospectively to dispose of them in marriage. The Prince contra maintained that, by the law of nature and by the law of the land, this power belonged exclusively to himself as their father and the heir apparent to the Crown. Lord Chancellor Cowper would not take upon himself to decide the question, and wrote a letter to Lord Parker signifying the King's pleasure that all the Judges should meet and give him their opinion, “Whether the education and the care of the persons of his Majesty's grandchildren, now in England, and of Prince Frederick, eldest son of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, when his Majesty shall think fit to cause him to come into England, and the ordering the place of their abode, and appointing their governors, governesses, and other instructors, attendants, and servants, and the care and approbation of their marriages, when grown up, do belong of right to his Majesty as King of this realm ?” The truth was, that as no King of England had lived to have grandchildren in the male line since the time of Edward III., when the Black Prince was allowed to have the care of his son Richard, and as no institutional writer had discussed the subject, the Judges had no materials for giving a judicial opinion upon the first branch of the question; and with respect to the second, although the
y 7 Parl. Hist. 305, 306. WOL. VI. C
* 7 Parl. Hist. 486. accounts for the dislike of the first to the * Ante, vol. v., p. 312. second George: “Jamais le Père n'avoit pu b “There have been four Princes of Wales souffrir ce fils, parcequ'il ne le croyait point
since the death of Anne, and all the four have a lui.”—Mem. xxviii. 197. But the prevailgone into bitter opposition.”— Lord Mahon, ing opinion now is, that Sophia of Zell was i. 314. The scandalous St. Simon thus ever a true wife.
A.D. 1718. KING’S AUTHORITY OVER HIS GRANDCHILDREN. 19
reigning Sovereign had exercised a control over the marriages of the royal family, and the contracting of a marriage with any of the blood royal without his consent was considered a contempt of the Crown, such marriages were undoubtedly valid in law, and the only mode of punishing those concerned in them was by a prosecution in the Star Chamber, so that when this Court was abolished, the alleged prerogative was without any means of vindication or redress. However, Lord Parker, having assembled all the Judges at his chambers in Serjeants' Inn, read the Lord Chancellor's letter to them, and intimated his own opinion strongly to be that the whole of the question was to be answered absolutely in the affirmative. He was able to bring forward nothing in support of the grandfather's right to have the care of his grandchildren, except that “the law of God and law of nature are rather with the grandfather.” But he showed by various instances, beginning with the match made by Henry III. between his sister Joan, without asking her consent, and Alexander King of Scots, that the Kings of England had assumed to themselves, and had generally been allowed to exercise, the right of disposing in marriage of those who, being of the blood royal, were in the succession to the throne. He prevailed upon nine of the Judges to agree with him; but two, Baron Price, and Baron Eyre, the Prince of Wales's Chancellor, differed—returning for answer, that though the approbation of the marriages of the royal family belonged to the King, there was no instance where a marriage had been treated by the King for any of the royal family without the consent of the father, and that the case of the Prince of Wales was no exception to the general rule by which the father has a right to the custody and education of his children. George I. was exceedingly delighted with having so large a majority of the Judges in his favour, and he ordered their opinions to be recorded in the Books of the Privy Council, as a warrant for the authority which he was resolved to maintain. He attributed this triumph over his son mainly to the exertions of Lord Chief Justice Parker, which may possibly account for the transfer of the Great Seal which so speedily followed."
• 15 St. Tr. 1195. Things remained on necessary; but the provisions of that Act this footing till the year 1772, when the Royal have produced serious evils, and will require Marriage Act passed, 12 Geo. 3, c. 11. Some modification. legislation on the subject was probably