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CHAP, might be abused, but it was necessary for the public good; 11 ' and there was no pretence for saying that it had been abused
A D 1780. i n the present instance, as there was nothing to distinguish the removals, which formed the subject of the present debate, from a continued stream of precedents since the Revolution down to the present day." * Lord The Lord President was the organ of the government in
Gordon's tne House of Lords respecting the proceedings to be taken riots. in consequence of Lord George Gordon's riots. On the Peril of the 2d of June, 1780, their Lordships, in approaching WestPeers, minster Hall, were in serious danger from the violence of the mob, and it was with the utmost difficulty, and after much ill usage, that they could force their way through Palace Yard. On their assembling in their own chamber, we are told by an eye-witness that "it is hardly possible to conceive a more grotesque appearance than the House exhibited. Some of their Lordships with their hair about their shoulders; others smothered with dirt; most of them as pale as the ghost in Hamlet, and all of them standing up in their several places, and speaking at the same instant; one Lord proposing to send for the guards; another for the justices or civil magistrates; many crying out, Adjourn! adjourn! while the skies resounded with huzzas, shoutings, hootings, and hissings in Palace Yard. This scene of unprecedented alarm continued above half au hour." News was then brought that Lord Boston had been dragged from his coach, and was undergoing the most cruel ill usage from the rabble, who detained him a prisoner. Courage of Lord Bathurst showed great courage, and rose from the Lord Ba- ministerial benches to implore order, and to make a regular
thurst. . 1 1 =,
motion,—but he could not procure a hearing. Lord Townshend offered to be one that would go in a body to the rescue of their brother peer. The Duke of Richmond, however, as a piece of pleasantry—somewhat ill-timed—suggested that if they went as a house, the mace ought to be carried before the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, who (the Bishops being excused) should go at their head, followed by the Lord President of the Council, the next in rank who could fight.—Lord Mansfield then acting as Speaker in the absence
* 21 Pari. Hist. 225.
of the Lord Chancellor, declared his readiness to do his duty. Chap.
Just at that moment, Lord Boston entered with hair all'
dishevelled, and his clothes almost covered with hair powder A D- 1780. and mud, occasioned by the ill-treatment he had experienced. After some further tumultuous discussion, Lord Bathurst moved an adjournment, which was carried. The House gradually thinned, most of the Lords having either retired to the coffee-houses, or gone off in hackney-carriages, while others walked home under favour of the dusk of the evening —leaving Lord Mansfield, in the seventy-sixth year of his age, alone and unprotected, save by the officers of the House and his own servants.
Next day, "Earl Bathurst called the attention of the June 3. House to the great fall from dignity which their Lord- Hufspeech ships had suffered the preceding day, in consequence of on this octhe gross insults and violence offered to many of their Lord- caMOnships' persons by the rioters and unruly mob which had assembled in the streets, and not only interrupted the members of that House in their way to it, and prevented many from coming to do their duty in parliament, but had obliged others, after a compulsory adjournment, to steal away, like guilty things, to save themselves from being sacrificed to lawless fury. Their Lordships had witnessed the insults and violence offered to the persons of several of their Lordships; but others had been still greater sufferers; in particular, a right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Lincoln) had been stopped in the street,—had been forced out of his coach,—the wheels of which were taken off,—and having sought refuge in a private house, had been followed by the mob, and had been obliged to make his escape in disguise. Before their Lordships proceeded to any other business, it behoved them to do something for the recovery of their dignity, by bringing the offenders to justice." He concluded by moving an address to his Majesty, praying "that he would give immediate directions for prosecuting in the most effectual manner, the authors, abettors, and instruments of the outrages committed yesterday in Palace Yard and places adjacent." After a debate, in which the government was severely blamed for negligence, in not taking proper measures
Chap, to secure the peace of the metropolis, the motion was agreed CLIV- to. He afterwards moved that the Judges should prepare * D. 1781. a bill "to indemnify sheriffs and gaolers for the escape of prisoners during the late tumults," as these officers of the law were now liable for very heavy fines and punishments, without having been guilty of any negligence. The bill was brought in, and passed without opposition.* Jan. 25. Lord Bathurst's last considerable effort on the stage of Hu speech public life, appears to have been one of his best. In the against fac- debate respecting the rupture with Holland, in answer to a position. violent attack on ministers by the Duke of Richmond, he said "that measures in support of the dignity of the Crown, the rights of Parliament, and the national safety, were arraigned in the most indecent terms, and when all other means of defeating them failed, then noble Lords predicted national ruin, which they said was brought about by ministerial corruption. This he would never allow to pass by in silence, it being evidently the language of disappointed ambition. All their Lordships who supported the Government were involved in the general accusation. Was it possible to sit in the House, day after day, without feeling the strongest emotions of well-founded indignation? The noble Lords to whom his Majesty had intrusted the direction of his affairs, were basely and unjustly vilified—their characters scandalously and indecently traduced — charged with being wicked at one time, and incapable at another, according as it corresponded with the views, or answered the purposes of their accusers—as having entered into a conspiracy against the liberties of their country, and leagued for its destruction. He had for a long series of years served his Sovereign in various capacities, and he could lay his hand upon his heart, and with truth affirm, that he had ever acted for the good of his country according to the best of his abilities; and that there was nothing the Crown had to bestow which could induce him to give a vote contrary to his conscience. He had enough to put him above the poor temptations of patronage and emolument, and he believed there was not a single noble
* 21 Pari. Mist. 672—698.
Lord who had supported the measures asserted to be carried Chap. by the mere force of corruption, who did not act from motives
equally honourable and conscientious as himself. But it was A- D. '781. plain whence all this arose — a wicked ambition — a lust of power—a thirst after the emoluments of office—from corruption—and the worst species of corruption, for it was incurable — a corruption of the heart. Measures were opposed because they were said to be the King's measures; ministers were traduced merely because they were ministers; the object of the opposition was to storm the Government, reckless of consequences—but what grieved him more than private persecution or public accusation, the dearest interests of the country were sacrificed in the conflict. He trusted, however, that the good sense of the nation would see that such conduct flowed from party rage—the result of political despair and factious disappointment."
The Duke of Richmond retaliated, alluding to the time Retort when Lord Bathurst was in opposition. "The noble and i"y°t"ie learned Lord speaks from long experience. His early n<Ac of ^ struggle was tedious and mortifying—full of disappointment, and clouded with despair. No man is a better judge of the various operations of the human mind under such circumstances. So he concludes that a wicked, corroding ambition, whetted and inflamed by unavailing attempts, and ending in a state of political despair, is accompanied with malice and personal enmity, and 'that worst species of corruption — a corrupt heart.' But the noble and learned Earl is a Tory; he was then in opposition to the Whigs. Whoever opposes his friends, whether in or out of place, must act from factious motives and a corrupt heart." Lord Bathurst did not reply, nor afterwards venture to stand forward as the champion of the Court.*
We next find him, while carrying through a Government June 2o
bill for imposing a stamp on almanacks, engaged in an alter- i„ carrying
cation with Thurlow, the Chancellor, who seems always to through a
have thought that he had a privilege to oppose the measures meni bin,
of every government with which he was connected, and to he is sa'
• 21 Pari. Hist. 1013.
March 19. 1782. Lord Bathurst resigns.
assail any of his colleagues. The Chancellor complained bitterly of the manner in which the bill was worded, saying, that " several clauses were contradictory and unintelligible."
The Lord President tried to explain and defend them.
Lord Chancellor. "I am very sorry to say that the explanation of my noble and learned friend affords no satisfactory answer to my objections. Indeed, I am so dull of apprehension as to be unable to understand him. I do suspect, my Lords, that the framer of the first clause accidentally omitted the word 'not,' and that he really meant to forbid the doing of the very thing which is here commanded. * It appears to me a gross mistake, and I must beg your Lordships 'noV to give your sanction to nonsense."—Lord President. "The proposed amendment of the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack would defeat the whole object of the bill, which is sufficiently plain to those who are willing to discover it." — The Lord Chancellor attacked other clauses, but met with no support, and Lord Bathurst succeeded in carrying his bill without any amendment. t
Such conflicts shook an administration now tottering to its fall. Lord North, personally, had been for some time eager to withdraw, but was prevailed upon to retain office from the King's insuperable dislike to the opposition leaders, and his threat to abandon England and the English crown rather than consent to the independence of America. At last the Government was in a minority in one House, and on a motion, of which notice had been given by Lord Shelburne, was threatened with the same fate in the other. To avert the coming storm, Lord North announced that "his Majesty's ministers were no more."
Lord Bathurst, always downright and sincere, did not, like Thurlow, intrigue to continue in office with those to whom he had been opposed on all the most important principles on which the state was to be governed, and instantly resigned with his chief, intending now to enjoy the repose of private
* This reminds one of the proposal—for the purpose of making precept and faith square with practice, — to take " not" from the Comma Ntimfnts , and to put it into the Creed.
t 22 X'arl. Hist. 538—548.