« ПредишнаНапред »
CXLvi ^ate^ to remove. I will not say that an improper or corrupt
'influence has ever in any instance operated on any of
your Lordships. My regard for the purity and dignity of this assembly forbids me to entertain such a suspicion. Nevertheless, I most heartily concur in the resolution of my noble and learned friend, which we must not allow to remain a dead letter, but make the foundation of practical improvement. I can hardly believe that the noble and learned Lord was serious in denying the existence of all public corruption. Thank God! as far as my means and poor capacity could be exerted, I have uniformly set my face against it. I can assure your Lordships that the hope of assisting to remove this cause of our national misfortunes constituted one of the prime inducements for my taking a part in the administration. My colleagues in office, who entered into the King's councils along with me, I am sure are animated by a firm and unanimous resolution to reform all abuses, to promote public economy, and to give their Sovereign and the nation such proofs of their sincerity, as must put it out of the power of any set of men to deprive them of their only means of solid support. The noble and learned Lord has tried to compel your Lordships to reject this bill, because you rejected a similar bill two years before. He seeks to deprive you of the exercise of your understanding, and to deprive the public of all advantage from the removal of prejudice and the advancement of knowledge. The bill is different in some of its provisions, and your Lordships are considering it under altered circumstances. This bill is part of a general plan of reform. To effectuate so great a work my friends have been invited by the public voice to take office. If this bill be thrown out, there is an end of the present administration; they would be no more. Having failed in our expectations, we being unable to carry the measures which while in opposition we recommended to those in power, the nation would regard us with indignation if we continued to draw our salaries while we arc under the dictation of those whom we despise. Corrupt and incapable as the last ministers were, I am free to confess, my Lords, that in that case it would be much better that they should be restored to power. They may possibly CHAP, amend; but by remaining in office without the confidence of' parliament and under the necessity of abandoning our objects, we should become daily more degraded and more contemptible, and we should not only ruin our own characters, but extinguish all confidence in public men, essentially injure the country, and take away all hope of better times."
Thurlow continued a most vexatious opposition to the bill in the committee, — denouncing it as "a jumble of contradictions ;" but Lord Camden left the farther defence of it to the two new law Lords, Lord Ashburton and Lord Grantley, and they fleshed their maiden swords in various rencounters with the "blatant beast " who tried to tread them down. In some of the divisions the ministerial majority was not more than two. The bill was carried, but the administration was much shaken by this sample of the manner in which it was to be thwarted by the " King's friends." *
Lord Camden's next speech in the House of Lords was in May 17.
■ • • • n 1782
support of the bill to declare the legislative independence of Bill "to deIreland, which had become necessary from the determined clare the efforts of the Irish " Volunteers," in consequence of moderate 'ndependand reasonable concessions being long denied to the sister j"^jofIre" kingdom. This measure was prudent under existing circumstances, with a civil war raging, and foreign enemies multiplying around us; but any prudent statesman might have foreseen that it could not permanently be the basis of the connection between the two islands. The parliament of Ireland and the parliament of Great Britain being equally supreme and independent, they must ere long differ on questions of vital importance, without an arbiter to reconcile them; and if, from any calamity, the power of the Crown should be in abeyance, every tie which bound them together would be severed. Lord Loughborough urged, "that when there was no check upon the Irish parliament but the mere Veto upon bills, and the government of each country was to move in perfect equality, his Majesty would not be King in Ireland in any different manner from that in which he might be sovereign of any other separate territory. The contiguity
* 22 Pari. Hist. 1356—1382.
of position might preserve a more constant intercourse between the subjects of both, and the communion of rights unite them more closely to each other; but it was a possible case, that their interests might be supposed to be conflicting, and what then was to prevent their separation?"
Lord Camden, not being able to solve these difficulties, and not venturing to hint at the remedy of a legislative union, regretted " that any debate had arisen on the subject; saying, that unanimity would have given the best chance of efficiency to a measure that must pass." He spoke much of the virtues of the Irish, and the hardships they had suffered. "The right of binding Ireland by a British statute could not be exercised. Why then should the right be claimed? His noble and learned friend had not suggested any other practicable course than to agree to this bill. There was no difficulty in renouncing our right of judicature; so far it was a matter entirely for the consideration of the Irish; and as they now had a House of Lords consisting of men of great wisdom, knowledge, and integrity, assisted by their Judges, supposed to be well qualified to advise in matter of law, they were quite right in wishing to decide their own law suits at home. With regard to legislation there was more difficulty; but the present demand from the parliament of Ireland only echoed the voice of a brave, a generous, and an armed people; and he dreaded what might ensue if its justice or expediency were questioned."* The bill was very properly passed, with little more discussion; but, within seven years, upon the mental malady of George III. — according to the doctrine which prevailed, that it lay with the two Houses of Parliament to supply the deficiency—there might have been a choice of two different regents for the two islands; and, in point of fact, the two islands were about to appoint the same regent by very different means, and with very different powers.
Soon afterwards came the disruption of the Whig government, by the death of the Marquis of Rockingham, and the of Lord Shejburne to succeed him. Lord
* 23 Pari. Hist. 44. See Lord Camden's Letter on this subject, 13th Aug. 1784, post.
Camden was of opinion, (and I must say with due deference CHAP, to such names as Fox, Burke, and Lord John Cavendish,)
was rightly of opinion that there was no sufficient ground for pomtment ministers to throw up their employments in a crisis of such of Lord danger to the state. The new premier was not generally „ pr;mc popular; but he was of liberal principles, he was of good minister. abilities, he was a magnificent patron of learning and genius; and the Rockinghams, though personally disliking him, had been sitting with him in the same cabinet. A denial of the right of the King, under these circumstances, to prefer him, was something very much like an entire extinction of the royal authority by a political junto. Lord Camden, there- Lord Camfore, retained his office of President of the Council till he was dTM re,ains
ejected by the formation of the "Coalition Ministry." He Feb. nss. was much grieved to be separated from political friends to whom he was sincerely attached,—and chagrined to be brought into closer contact with Lord Thurlow, whose consequence in the cabinet was much enhanced; but he earnestly superintended the negotiations for peace, and laboured to bring them to a favourable issue.*
Soon after the formation of Lord Shelburne's government, Dissensions it was in great danger from internal dissensions. The Duke 'sMburne's of Grafton had been induced by Lord Camden to join it, and Cabinet, to accept the Privy Seal. Probably forming an exaggerated notion of his own importance, from his superior rank and the political station he had once filled, he thought himself slighted, and thus disclosed his griefs to his old friend:
"I begin to feel now what I have thought often before — July 28. that a Lord Privy Seal, who is not known and understood to be confidentially trusted and consulted by the principal minister, cuts but a silly figure at a cabinet. If he is wholly silent, and tacitly comes in to all that is brought there, he
* While the negotiations for peace were going on, it would appear that the President of the Council was confidentially consulted respecting the different articles. There was now, as there had been at antecedent periods, a disposition to restore Gibraltar to Spain; but this he strenuously resisted. "With Lord Camden," says the Duke of Grafton, " I had much conversation; he appeared to me to lean now considerably to the opinion that Gibraltar is of more consequence to this kingdom, and that the views of its ministers ought in future to look to the possession of it as an object of more value than at first imagined; as likewise that the cession of it, even on good terms, would be grating to the feelings of the nation."—Journal, 1782.
Cxlvi Decome8 insignificant — as he is deemed officious and trouble
'_ some if his opinions urge him to take a more active part than
his office appears to call from him. I have too much warmth and zeal in my disposition not to be drawn into the latter; and my spirit revolting at the former, I find that I must make my retreat if my suspicions should be realised, and that the Earl of Shelburne circumscribed his confidence towards me within the bounds of great civility and appearance of communication." After at great length stating the means with which he had connected himself with Lord Shelburne, and his supposed ill usage, he says, "I had once resolved from a dislike to suspense, to have told you all I thought and felt on the subject; but it is knowing too little of mankind to think that opinions or real confidence can be forced. You may as well force love, and I was and think I shall remain silent However, it has eased my mind in some degree to have opened my design to your Lordship. We have moved so much on the same principle, that I cannot help wishing to hear what you say about me. My case is particular: recollect the situation I have been in, and that, thank God! I have nothing I want, and nothing I fear from any minister; and, above all, that my domestic peace and happiness ought to be most the object of my wishes and pursuits, and then say, my dear Lord, if I am not right." Aug. I. Thus Lord Camden replied: "I have seen and observed
with infinite concern that Lord S. has by no means treated your Grace with that confidence I expected, after you had so earnestly laboured to support his new administration, not only by taking so important a post in it yourself, but by keeping others steady who were wavering at that critical moment. I am myself an instance and a proof of your Grace's endeavours, for your persuasion had more force with me than any other motive to remain in my present office. I was therefore disappointed, seeing the Earl of S. so negligent in his attention to your Grace; as if, when his administration was settled, he had no farther occasion for those to whom he was indebted for the credit of his situation. Your Grace's real importance demanded the openest communication, and your