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CHAP, ment ever inflicted upon him. "Forty days' tyranny!" CXLIV. expiaijne<l his opponent. "My Lords, tyranny is a harsh He is se- sound. I detest the very word because I hate the thing, vercly chas- But is this language to come from a noble and learned Lord, Lord Tem- whose glory it might and ought to be to have risen by steps Plc- which liberty threw in his way, and to have been honoured
as his country has honoured him, not for trampling her under foot, but for holding up her head. I have used my best endeavours to answer the argument of the " forty days " by argument founded on principles; I will now give the noble and learned lord one answer more, and it shall be argumentum ad hominem. That noble and learned Lord has said, I believe, on other occasions, and he has said well, the price of one hours English liberty none but an English jury could estimate, and juries under his guidance have put a very high value upon it, in the case of the meanest of our fellow subjects when opprest by the servants of the state. But "forty days' tyranny" over the nation by the crown! Who can endure the thought? My Lords, less than "forty days' tyranny" such as this country has felt in some times, would, I believe, bring your Lordships together without a summons, from your sick beds, faster than our great patriots themselves, to get a place or a pension, or both*, and for aught I know make the subject of your consultation that appeal to Heaven which has been spoken of. Once establish a dispensing power, and you cannot be sure of either liberty or law for forty minutes."^ Lord Mansfield, more calmly but not less forcibly, pointed out the fallacy and the dangerous consequences of the Chancellor's reasoning, and on this occasion gained a signal triumph over his rival . There can be no doubt that Lord Camden was confounding acts which the law says may be lawfully done in a case of necessity — with acts done in violation of the law for the public good, — and that his doctrines led inevitably to a power in the Crown to suspend or repeal all laws, without the previous or subsequent sanction of parliament. The doctrine has never since been contended for;
* Lord Camden was often taunted with his retired allowance, under the Dame of pension."
f Adolph. Hist. L 290.
and whenever ministers, for the safety of the state, have CHAP.
CX LI V
acted contrary to law, they have thrown themselves upon'
parliament, and asked for a bill of indemnity. *
The government, rendered unpopular by this exhibition, June, 1769. was soon entirely deprived of all assistance from Lord disappears. Chatham, who was unable to attend either the debates in the House of Lords, or the meetings of the Cabinet, and shut up in his house at Hayes, refused to correspond on business with his colleagues, or with the King. In a fit of national Passing of fatuity, which we can only explain by supposing that it was ^* ^° inflicted as a special visitation from Heaven for the sins of imported the people, — within a few months after the repeal of the r"c°.Amc" American Stamp Act, there was passed, without opposition, and almost without public observation, the fatal act imposing a duty on tea and other commodities when imported into the colonies, — which led to the non-consumption combination,— to the riots at Boston—to civil war—to the dismemberment of the empire. How Lord Camden should have suffered it
* "The opposition acknowledged the rectitude of the measure; but we were not to be justified on the ground on which the cabinet thought fit at first to take up the business, by supporting it as maintainable under the Salus Populi Suprema Lex, and we had the mortification, after two days' debate, to stoop to a Bill of Indemnity, which ought to have been proposed in the beginning. .... In the struggle for and against the necessity of passing the Indemnity Bill, it was curious to see Lord Mansfield bestriding the high horse of Liberty, while Lord Chatham and Lord Camden were arguing for the extension of prerogative beyond its true limits; and it was in these debates that the upright Chancellor, in the warmth of speaking, inadvertently made use of the expression,' that if it was a tyranny, it was only a tyranny of forty days.'" — Duke of Grafton's Journal.
"With regard to Lord Camden, the truth is, that he inadvertently overshot himself, as appears plainly by that unguarded mention of a tyranny of forty days, which I myself heard. Instead of asserting that the proclamation was legal, he should have said, 'My Lords, I know that the proclamation was illegal, but I advised it because it was indispensably necessary to save the kingdom from famine; and I submit myself to the justice and mercy of my country.' Such language as this would have been merely rational and consistent; — not unfit for a lawyer, and very worthy of a great man." — Pmi.o Junius, 15th Oct. 1771.
We are amazed at Lord Camden's " Fortv Davs' Tvrannv," but it is remarkable that there is hardly any public man who has not, at some time or other, indiscreetly used some expression which has passed into a by-word against him. I might mention Lord Melbourne's " heavy blow and great discouragement to the Church," Lord John Russell's "finality of the Reform Bill," and Lord Lyndhurst's "aliens in blood, language, and religion." I myself had the honour of having 50,000 copies of a speech, which I made in the House of Commons when Attorney General, printed and industriously distributed in every borough in England with freemen possessing the right of voting for members of parliament, because I very indiscreetly said (what was very true) that the "right of freemen to vote was the plague-tpot on our representative system."
cxuv to pa88 throu£n t'ie House of Lords in silence, I profess 'myself wholly at a loss to conjecture; it was not only im
politic, but, according to his doctrine, it was ultra vires parliamenti, and to be treated as a nullity; for to justify this by calling it "a commercial regulation," would only be rendering more contemptible his flimsy and fallacious distinction between a power to regulate commerce, and a power to impose a tax.*
Sept. 1767. After Parliament was prorogued, Lord Camden had very Towi'is- nearly been deprived of the Great Seal, when he had held it bends new little more than a year,—and for his fame as a minister there turn.TM'*'"'" ia great reason to regret his continuance in office. Lord His sudden Chatham's health was deemed irrecoverably gone, and Charles Townshend, with the concurrence of the King, had arranged a new administration, in which he himself was to have been First Lord of the Treasury, and Charles Yorke was to have been his Lord Chancellor, — when the plan was rendered abortive by his sudden and lamented death, in the flower of his age.
Duke of Then followed the arrangement called the "Duke of Grafton's Qrafton's administration," in which he was recognised as
administra- ... -~ ...
tion. prime minister. Lord Chatham still retained the Privy
Seal, and was supposed to be a member of the cabinet, but he remained entirely sequestered from public business under circumstances which will never be fully explained.
Lord Camden did not concur in all the opinions of the First Lord of the Treasury, but greatly preferred him to the Duke of Bedford, Lord Shelburne, or any other Whig leader, and the closest friendship was established between them. To this we are indebted for the letters I am about to introduce, which will be found to throw a new light upon the state of parties, and the history of the country from this time, till the reins of government were placed in the hands of Lord North.
* Ten years afterwards, when the sowing of the wind was producing the whirlwind, Lord Camden being taunted with his sanctioning of the tax, he said. "I confess, as mere matter of supposition, the conjecture is plausibly supported, but the fact was entirely otherwise. I never did, nor ever will, give my consent to raising any tax in any form on the people of America for the purpose of raising a revenue to he under the disposal of the British parliament."—18 Pari. Hist. 122U. His confidential correspondence with the Duke of Grafton had not then commenced.
An important question soon arose, whether the Great Seal ^Lrv
of Ireland should be held by an Irish or an English lawyer? _
Lord Townshend was then Lord Lieutenant, and for the sake of popularity, being naturally desirous of having an Irishman, had brought over the Duke of Grafton to the same opinion. However, Lord Camden being consulted by him, wrote back the following answer: —
« Bath, Sept. 27. 1767.
"My dear Lord Duke, "I have since the receipt of your Grace's letter turned O- Eipedimy thoughts upon the subject of it with the most serious making an attention, and am displeased with myself for not agreeing Jjj^*h altogether with your Grace in conferring the Irish Seal upon chancellor an Irishman. I will readily confess that I am not a com- of Ireland? petent judge of this question, for want of knowing the true state of that country, the manner in which it has been governed of late years, the power and influence of the several connexions, and, above all, the importance of the Irish bar in the House of Commons there; and therefore it is very likely that your Grace may be much better enabled than myself to form a true judgment upon the utility and policy of complimenting the Irish with the high office. Your Grace, however, has a right to my poor opinion, such as it is; and indeed, my Lord, I am very loth to give up to the unreasonable demands of two of those barristers (however eminent) the last, as well as most important law office in that kingdom, which England hitherto has thought fit to reserve to herself. All the chiefs upon each bench were formerly named from hence; the Irish have acquired the King's Bench, and the late Lord Lieutenant, for the first time, made them a present of the Chief Baron; and there has not for many years been an instance of a puisne judge sent from this country; I believe Baron Mounteney was the last.
"Thus, by degrees, has this country surrendered up all the great offices of the law, except only the Common Pleas and the Great Seal; and I much doubt whether this country acquires any advantage by alLthese concessions.
"In the last session, Mr. Flood moved a general censure
CHAP, upon the characters and capacity of the Judges sent from
England, with a view, no doubt, of inflaming the people
against all these nominations, in hopes of extending their encroachments to a total exclusion of the English from the Irish bench; and now, such is the danger of precedent, they threaten general opposition (for so I understood from Lord Clare) if this favour is refused, and your Grace seems to think it will be an affront upon the next Council there.
"Jocelyn and Bowes, though both Englishmen, are honoured with the appellation of Irish for the present purpose, and are cited as precedents in their favour. I am very apprehensive, that if your Grace should indulge now the Irish in this demand (for I can call it by no other name), the precedent will bind England for ever; for national favours once conferred can never be resumed. Ireland has reason enough to be discontented with the mother country: the popular party are sure to distress the Castle to some degree every session, and the method has been hitherto to win over the leaders in the House of Commons by places, pensions, and honours, which has enabled the Lord Lieutenant for the time being to close his particular session with ease to himself; at the same time that it has ruined the King's affairs, and enraged the people. The next successor is involved in the same difficulties, and his convenience has been complimented by the like measures; till, at last, by this profusion of rewards, the Government has nothing to give, and is left beggared, and consequently unsupported. In such a state of things, would your Grace wish to pursue such a plan, and grant now, before the opening of the session, the highest post in the law to one member only of the House of Commons (for only one can have it), whose removal afterwards to make room for an Englishman (let his behaviour be ever so obnoxious) would be a most odious and unpopular measure in that country? An Englishman in the office is expected to remain an Englishman, and is permitted; an Irishman anglicised would never be endured. Indeed, my Lord, the very yielding, in my humble opinion, would be a weakening of government, and be more pernicious than the most troublesome session.