Графични страници
PDF файл
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

defect iu the record, that the judgment must be stayed; in which case he must be discharged, and he becomes a freeman upon this prosecution as much as if he had never been convicted. I dare say your Grace will see, upon this short representation, that till judgment is finally pronounced again9t Mr. W. by the Court, no man has a right to pronounce him guilty. This appears to me a real difficulty attending the measure, which yesterday we thought so clear. For how can the House expel a member, either as an outlaw or a convict, while the suit is pending, whereas he may turn out at last to be neither the one nor the other. I am afraid, considering the necessary delay in courts of law, it will be impossible for the King's Bench to give judgment before the Parliament meets, and therefore it deserves the most serious consideration whether the proposed measure should be pursued while the obstacle stands in the way.

"I have the honour," &c.

The motion for the expulsion was accordingly deferred till, the outlawry being reversed, sentence of imprisonment for a year and ten months was pronounced on Wilkes, and he insulted Parliament by a virulent bbel, which, at the bar of the lower House, he avowed and boasted of. His expulsion was then carried, and a new writ was ordered to elect another representative for Middlesex. This proceeding, though impolitic, cannot be considered unlawful or unconstitutional; for there might be a presumption that his .constituents would not have elected a person guilty of such misconduct, and it might be fair to give them an opportunity of determining whether they would still have him for their representative.

I am glad to think that the subsequent proceedings respecting the Middlesex election were not sanctioned by Lord Camden; for I believe that all mankind are now agreed that the House of Commons acted illegally and unconstitutionally in again expelling Mr. Wilkes for a supposed offence committed before his re-election, — in declaring him disqualified to serve in parliament, — and in seating Mr. Lutterell as representative for Middlesex, although he had only a small minority of the electors in his favour. The Chancellor is by no means exempted from blame for consenting to belong to AP.

an administration which overruled his opinion upon such ques-'

tions. Although we may account for his continuing in office while he could be considered as having Lord Chatham for a colleague, it does astonish us exceedingly that he still condescended to hold the Great Seal after his great chief had resigned, and was at open enmity with the government. But he was placed in a most painful situation; Lord Chatham was still unable to appear in parliament, and there was no statesman with whom he thought he could better co-operate for the public good than the present head of the Treasury.

The three following letters to the Duke of Grafton explain the removal of Lord Shelburne from the government, the consequent resignation of Mr. Pitt, and Lord Camden's perplexity:

"29th Sept. 1768.

"I understand your Grace's plan is fixt, and I saw plainly Lord Cara.

the last time I was in town that Lord S 's removal was dun to the

determined. What can I say to it, my dear Lord? It is Grafton, on

unlucky. the removal

"The administration, since Lord Chatham's illness, is almost shelburne. entirely altered, without being changed, and I find myself surrounded with persons to whom I am scarce known, and with whom I have no connection. Lord Chatham is at Hayes, brooding over his own suspicions and discontents. His return to business almost desperate, inaccessible to every body, but under a persuasion (as I have some reason to conjecture) that he is given up and abandoned. This measure, for aught I know, may fix his opinion, and bring him to a resolution of resigning. If that should happen, I should be under the greatest difficulty.

"I am truly, my dear Lord, distressed. I have seen so much of courts that I am heartily tired of my employment, and should be happy to retire upon a scanty income if an honourable opportunity offered to justify my retreat to the King and your Grace — but that step I will never take without your consent, till I find I have not the King's favour and your confidence, unless I should be forced by something more compelling than the Earl of S 'a removal.

CXLIP "^ter though your Grace is so good as to relieve me

'_ from any opinion on the subject, yet the case being stated as

it is, that either your Grace or the Earl must quit, my opinion is clear, in a moment, that your Grace must remain.

"I am," &c.

Same to same on the

"14th Oct. 1768.

'My concern upon the intelligence contained in your resignation Grace's letter is inexpressible, and though I was apprehensive Chatham *nat Lord Shelburne's dismission would make a deep impression upon Lord Chatham's mind, yet I did not expect this sudden resignation. I will still live in hope that his Majesty's letter may produce an alteration, because there is a possibility, though at the same time I do not natter myself with any sanguine expectations. Your Grace and I feel for each other. To me I fear the blow is fatal, yet I shall come to no determination. If I can find out what is fit for me to do in this most distressed situation, that I must do; but the difficulty lies in forming a true judgment. Whatever my decision may be, I will never resign my active endeavours to support the King's service, or my unchangeable attachment to your Grace. This most unfortunate event will throw the King's affairs into a state of utter distraction. Perhaps order may spring up out of this confusion. I do assure your Grace that my mind is at present in too great an agitation to be soon settled, and therefore I do not give myself leave to form any opinion concerning my own conduct: I shall wait with impatience to hear the conclusion, and am, with the truest zeal and attachment," &c.

"Bath, 16th Oct. 1768.

Same to "Your Grace's intelligence does not surprise me: I ex<foubt!ng° Pected it, and predetermined my own journey to London whether he before I had the honour of your Grace's letter. Unfortuwould re- nately one of my children is so ill that I must wait a day or rign- two before I set out, in order to see what turn her distemper

will take. I propose, however, to be in town on Wednesday

next, or Thursday at the latest.

"Nothing could give me so much satisfaction as to join

with your Grace in one line of conduct, and yet I see plainly

that our situations are different, and the same honour due to CHAP.

. • ■ CXLIV

the King and regard to the public operating upon two minds

equally aiming at the same end, may possibly draw us different ways; but I dare say your Grace will believe me, in all events and circumstances, what I really am,

"With all respect and unfeigned attachment," &c.

On his return to London, he heard such an account of Lord CamLord Chatham as to convince him that the country was for in'offi^*"'" ever deprived of the services of this illustrious patriot, and under the

. , , Duke of

agreeing to support the present government, he prevailed on Grafton. Mr. Dunning to follow his example. *

The dispute with the colonies was now assuming a most Dispute alarming aspect, the act so heedlessly passed to impose a duty Ame" on goods imported into America having produced the discontent and the resistance which might have been expected from it. Lord Camden's views upon the subject were most liberal and enlightened, and if he had been listened to, he would have saved the empire from civil war and dismemberment. In the prospect of the meeting of parliament, having been consulted by the Prime Minister respecting the King's Speech, he thus replied: —

"As to North America, before a speech can be sketched Bath, Oct. upon the subject, it is necessary to know what measures the Lord^CamKing's ministers intend to pursue, for the speech and the den to the address must mark the outlines of these measures. Graftorf

"I was a long time in hopes that Massachusets Bay would "comhave been the only disobedient colony. It would have been ing"concino difficult matter to have dealt with them if the others had liationsat still and remained passive; but I am deceived in that expectation, for it is now manifest that the whole continent will unite and make it common cause. We are drifted by I know not what fatality upon Mr. Grenville's ground. We are pressed on the one hand by the declaratory law, and on the other by the colonies' resolute denial of parliamentary authority. The issue is now joined upon the right which, in my apprehension, is the most untoward that could have been

* Note to the Duke of Grafton, dated 4th Nov. "I sat late in Court, and have just dined. Mr. Dunning stays in his office at my request."

CHAP, started — fatal to Great Britain if she miscarries — unprofit

C XL IV - > •

able if she succeeds. For if it is (as I believe your Grace thinks with me it is) inexpedient to tax the colonies, as we all maintained when the Stamp Act was repealed,— after both sides are half ruined in the contest, we shall at last establish a right which ought never to be exerted.

"If the Americans are able to practise so much self-denial as to subsist only for one twelve-month without British commodities, I do very much fear that they will carry their point without striking a blow. Patience and perseverance in this one measure will ruin us; and I am the more apt to dread this event, because it seems to me that the colonies are more sober, and consequently more determined, in the present opposition than they were upon the Stamp Act. For except only the riots at Boston, I see nothing like active rebellion in the other provinces. If this should happen, the merchants and manufacturers here at home will be clamorous, and half our own people will be added to the American party.

"Your Grace will ask, upon this representation of things, what is to be done f Indeed, my dear Lord, I do not know what is best to advise. The parliament, I presume, cannot repeal the act in question, because that would admit the American principle to be right and their own doctrine erroneous. Therefore I conclude the parliament will not repeal, consequently must execute the law, and this of course must be the language of the Speech.

"The method how to execute it is the next consideration, and here I am as much at a loss. There is no pretence for violence any where but at Boston. That is the ring-leading province, and if any country is to be chastised, the punishment ought to be levelled there. I have been sometimes thinking, that if the act was repealed in favour of the other provinces, excepting Massachuset's Bay, and there executed with proper rigour, such a measure might be successful. But I am aware that no man, perhaps, but myself, could be brought to relish such a concession, as almost every body else holds the declaratory law to be a sound fundamental one, never to be departed from.

"I submit to the declaratory law, and have thought it

« ПредишнаНапред »