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it would be any invasion of our constitution should he turn such officers out of his service. I am far from applying this to any case that has lately happened; nor do I think that his present Majesty ever dismissed any one from his service on account of his behaviour in parliament, for he may have many other reasons for dismissing any officer, civil or military; and if an officer, who otherwise deserves to be dismissed, happens to have a seat in parliament, is he therefore dispunishable? But whatever reasons his Majesty may, at any time, have to make use of his prerogative to dismiss an officer from his service, I am convinced he will not allow any minister to advise him to make use of this prerogative for preventing a member's declaring his sentiments freely about any measure of government, provided he does it with that decency which is due to the Crown, and without any factious or seditious manner of expressing himself upon the subject under debate.”
So the opponents of Sir Robert Walpole must be Jacobites or Republicans;–and the Chancellor sanctions the doctrine of the Judges in the time of Charles I., that “Parliament men are not to be questioned before the Council for what they say in Parliament, provided it is said in a parliamentary way.” Sir Robert had a majority of 108 to 59,” and all the hope of upsetting him was from proceedings in the Lower House after the dissolution of Parliament, which was now impending.
These discussions had a powerful effect to weaken the minister out of doors; the elections went against him—particularly in Scotland, where it used to be supposed, by their “second sight,” they could see the shadow of a coming change; and when the House of Commons met, the appointment of “Chairman of Ways and Means” being carried against him, it was plainly seen that his official end was rapidly approaching. The old statesman made a gallant struggle; but the divisions on election petitions, then thought Feb.2, fair opportunities for a trial of party strength, con- *. tinuing to go with the opposition,” he saw that he must soon be in a minority on all questions, and his colleagues, and his own family, telling him that he could stand out no longer, he announced his determination to resign.
CONTINUATION OF THE LIFE OF LORD HARDWICKE TILL THE BREAKING OUT OF THE REBELLION OF 1745.
LORD HARDWICKE was for some time in a state of much anxiety. He dreaded that the termination of his official career had arrived, and he regretted that he had ever left the secure position of Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Whatever Newcastle's expectations might be, he certainly had not made terms with the opposition leaders, and the probability was that he and those most intimately connected with him must share Walpole's fate. Strange to say, the victors had formed no plan to improve the victory for which they had so eagerly fought, and which they had for some time anticipated. Meanwhile, the nation was in a state of unexampled ferment. All classes had been taught to look forward to the fall of Walpole as the cure for the evils of which they complained, and as the certain means of gaining their own favourite measure for reforming and governing the State. The counties and great cities sent instructions to their representatives all equally peremptory, but of very different import, some insisting that the Septennial Act should be repealed, and that parliaments should be triennial or annual, —some that all placemen, as well as pensioners, should be excluded from sitting in the House of Commons,—some that all offices should be in the gift of the House of Commons,— more, that Walpole's head should now answer for his misconduct, but most of all, that the decay of trade and other national calamities might be immediately remedied by an act to forbid the exportation of wool! The King and his private advisers, of whom the retiring minister, now Earl of Orford, was one, saw that the only chance of preserving the semblance of government or order in the country was to call in Pulteney, though personally so odious at Court that he had not been there for many years,' and to allow him, according to his own fancy, to form a new administration, of which it was of course
* His name had been struck out of the list of the Privy Council, and he had been denied the commission of the peace.
A.D. 1742. NEW ADMINISTRATION. 227
supposed that he would himself be the head. The Duke of Newcastle and Lord Hardwicke were appointed to be the bearers to him of the keys of the royal cabinet. They opened the conference by saying, that “the King, convinced that Sir Robert Walpole was no longer supported by a majority of the House of Commons, had commanded them to offer the places held by that minister to Mr. Pulteney, with the power of forming his own administration—on the sole condition that Sir Robert Walpole should not be prosecuted.” Pulteney refused this condition, saying, that “even if he himself had been inclined to agree to it, it might not be in his power to fulfil his engagement, the heads of parties being like the heads of snakes, carried on by their tails.” The confusion increasing, the Chancellor and the Duke, at a subsequent meeting, declared that they were commissioned by the King to repeat the former offers, without urging the condition of not prosecuting the fallen minister, and his Majesty only requested that if any prosecution was commenced against Sir Robert, Mr. Pulteney, if he did not choose to oppose it, would at least do nothing to inflame it. Pulteney answered, that “he was not a man of blood, and that, in all his expressions of pursuing the minister to destruction, he had meant only the destruction of his power, but not of his person; though he was free to own that he thought some parliamentary censure at least ought to be inflicted for so many years of mal-administration.” Then, to the infinite relief and delight of the messengers, he declared that “although he demanded an alteration of men and measures, and that the strong forts of government should be delivered into the hands of his party, viz., a majority in the cabinet, the nomination of the boards of Treasury and Admiralty, with the restoration of the office of Secretary of State for Scotland,-he did not require an entire sweep of all who held place under the Crown, and that he would beg the two noble Lords, who had so courteously borne to him the gracious pleasure of the King, to retain their respective situations of Chancellor and Secretary of State.” To their utter amazement, he added: “As the disposition of places is in my hands, I will accept none myself: I have so repeatedly declared my resolution on that point, that I will not now contradict myself.” He then named the Earl of Wilmington First Lord of the Treasury, Sandys Chancellor of the Exchequer, Carteret Secretary of State, and the Marquis of Tweeddale the new Secretary for Scotland; while for himself he required an earldom, and a seat in the cabinet. On this footing the new administration was patched up. The Chancellor had the sagacity to see that it could not last long, but exulted in reflecting that he had not only escaped a great peril, but that among such colleagues his personal influence must be greatly increased, and that future changes might be under his own control. Pulteney, become “Earl of Bath,” soon discovered the error he had committed, and, meeting in the House of Lords his former great rival, become “Earl of Orford,” exclaimed to him, “We are now the two most insignificant fellows in all England ' " He made an effort to regain his position, but he found that his reputation and his power had perished irrecoverably. The first occasion of the Chancellor coming forward in public, as the organ of the new administration, was in opposing the bill to indemnify witnesses who should give evidence upon the inquiry into the conduct of Sir Robert Walpole. The proceedings against him in the House of Commons had been immediately checked by the objection of those who were examined, that “they were not bound to criminate themselves; ” and a bill was introduced, in very general and sweeping terms, enacting “ that all persons who, being examined before either House of Parliament, or any committee of either House, respecting the charges against Robert Earl of Orford, should make any discoveries respecting his misapplication of public money, or his improper disposition of offices or other misconduct of the said Earl, while a minister of the Crown, should be freed and discharged from all forfeitures, penalties, punishments, disabilities, and incapacities, to which they might be liable for or by reason or means of any matter or thing which, being examined as aforesaid, they should faithfully and truly discover, disclose, and make known.” The bill rapidly passed the House of Commons, and, although not only the members of the late administration, but those now in office who had so often cried out for “Walpole's head,” disliked it, no show of opposition could there be offered to it: but when it came before the Upper House, Lord Hardwicke resolutely attacked it in the finest speech which distinguished his parliamentary career. Having shown how it violated all the rules of evidence established for the protection of innocence, and the danger of offering rewards for convictions, lately testified by a club of miscreants going about from assizes to assizes to invent crimes and to accuse the innocent
A.D. 1742. INQUIRY INTO WALPOLE'S CONDUCT. ' 229
for the sake of “blood-money,”—he pointed out the unprecedented atrocity of the measure in offering a reward for evidence to implicate a particular individual, without the proof or even assertion of any corpus delicti. In conclusion, he indignantly exclaimed:—
“The promoters of this bill, like the tyrant Nebuchadnezzar, require first to know ‘what was their dream ; and, secondly, what is the interpretation thereof.’" But, says a noble Lord,” “if we have not here a corpus delicti, we have what is sufficient for the purpose, a corpus SUSPICIONIs;’ a new expression and a new invention—the body of a shadow—and on this foundation he calls upon you to build his new superstructure of injustice In my opinion, my Lords, it is a bill calculated to make defence impossible, to deprive innocence of its guard, and to let loose oppression and injustice upon the world. It is a bill to dazzle the wicked with a prospect of security, and by impunity for one crime to incite them to the perpetration of another. It is a bill to confound the distinctions of right and wrong, to violate the essence of our constitution, to leave us without any rule for our actions, or any protection for our property, our lives, or our good fame. So iniquitous is the law, my Lords, that I would sooner suffer by it than vote for it.” 7
The bill was thrown out by a majority of 109 to 57. This decision, though made the subject of a violent protest in the Lords, and some inflammatory resolutions of the Commons, was approved of by the public, who began to think that the reports of the secret committees appointed to inquire into the misconduct of Sir Robert Walpole, disappointed all their expectations by disclosing nothing, because there was little to be dis
* Daniel, ch. ii.
* The Earl of Chesterfield.
y This pithy conclusion, which we know to be genuine, from the MS. notes of Archbishop Secker taken at the moment, is thus expanded and spoiled by Dr. Johnson:—“So clearly do I now see the danger and injustice of a law like this, that although I do not imagine myself endued with any peculiar degree of heroism, I believe that, if I were condemned to a choice so disagreeable, I should more willingly suffer by such a bill passed in my own case than consent to pass it in that of another.” A comparison of the two reports, however, will clearly prove that Johnson had either been present at the debate, or had been furnished with very full and accurate notes of the speeches.—12 Parl. Hist. 637–38, 643– 711. When Cave was examined at the bar of the House of Lords as to the Reports which appeared in the “Gentleman's Maga
zine,” he certainly lied by representing that he had prepared them himself from his own notes, -with the exception of some speeches sent to him by members. He said “he got into the House and heard them, and made use of a black lead pencil, and only took notes of Some remarkable passages, and from his memory he put them together himself.” Being asked “Whether he printed no speeches but such as were so put together by himself from his own notes,” he answered, “Sometimes he has had speeches sent him by very eminent persons; that he has had speeches sent him by the members themselves.” Being asked “If he ever had any person whom he kept in pay to make speeches for him?” he said “he never had.”–14 Parl. Hist. 60. This seems to have been an attempt to get at Johnson, whom he considered himself bound at all hazards to screen.