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poral, deceased, without the permission of their heirs and exe- CHAP, cutors."* The reckless perversion of privilege to the punish
ment of private injuries which marked the eighteenth cen- DanKer of
tury, is very much to be condemned; but perhaps the other abusing and . ... .... . ot abandon
extreme into which we are inclined to run may be more \ng privi_
injurious—a refusal to enforce privilege in cases where it is le8eessentially necessary to enable the two Houses of Parliament to exercise the legislative and inquisitorial functions vested in them for the public good.
Parliament being called together in November to vote ^"j1^3^ supplies for the Spanish war, the Chancellor had a very wickes troublesome session. Walpole's enemies now complained of attack on.
..... ... tne opposi
the manner in which the war had been commenced, and the tion Peers, manner in which it had been conducted, and they were particularly fierce against a passage in the King's speech respecting "the heats and animosities prevailing throughout the kingdom," which was construed into a reflection on "his Majesty's opposition," who declared themselves to be the only true friends of loyalty and order. Newcastle, Hervey, Cholmondely, and Devonshire were no match in debate for Carteret, Chesterfield, Bedford, Sandwich, and Argyle, and the Chancellor was frequently obliged to leave the woolsack, and to talk on subjects with which he was by no means familiar. In the debate on the address, the defence of the government rested chiefly upon his shoulders, and he contended with some success that his Majesty, as the father of his people, had a right to exhort all classes to cultivate mutual love and harmony — insinuating at the same time pretty broadly, that the noble Lords, whom no measures would content which they did not themselves originate and guide as ministers, were ready, for their own selfish ends, to endanger the internal tranquillity of the country and the national honour.f
But they had their revenge of him soon after, when the Feb. 23. government having by inadvertence sent a message to the "^^'mmic House of Commons, respecting supplies for carrying on cessful vinthe war, without any similar message being sent to the thTgovern
* Standing Orders, No. 113. f 11 Parl- Hist , H. 60. 79.
ment from the charge of slighting the House of Lords,
And the unskilful conduct of the war.'
April 29. 1740. Prorogation.
House of Lords, and the omission being there taken up as a breach of privilege, the Chancellor, in a very elaborate speech, contended that "the message was in the nature of an estimate which was exclusively to be submitted to the lower House:" but he was unmercifully dealt with by Chesterfield and Carteret, who ridiculed with much pleasantry this piece of special-pleading sophistry. The ministers did not venture on an attempt directly to negative the vote of censure moved upon them — but carried the previous question. *
The Chancellor was again "turned out for a day's sport," when he had to defend the manner in which Admiral Vernon's expedition had been equipped for the attack on Porto Bello, and the whole conduct of the war. The Duke of Argyle characterised his speech as "a toying with words," and the learned Lord does seem to have treated the subject as if he had been in the Court of Chancery overruling objections to the master's report. The minority rose to 40 against 62.
At last came the delightful task of declaring in the King's name that Parliament was prorogued. Still the Chancellor had not the calm which he expected; for the King being gone to Germany, there were violent altercations among the Lords of the regency, and it was with the greatest difficulty that he could prevent Walpole and Newcastle from coming to an open rupture.
In the ensuing session of Parliament, he was called upon repeatedly to speak respecting the conduct of the war, the amount of the forces to be kept on foot, the reinforcements supplied to Admiral Vernon, and the instructions sent to Admiral Haddock f; but I do not think that his speeches, from the briefs delivered to him on these subjects, are of any interest, and I at once proceed to a great crisis in his history — the dismissal of Sir Robert.
Horace Walpole imputes treachery to him on this occasion, and considers that the ruin of the minister was brought about by his two colleagues, the Chancellor and the Duke of New
* 11 Pari. Hist. 449—480.
f 11 Pari. Hist. 615. 629. 700. 756. 760. 773. 813. 901. 918. 1000. 1016. 1027.
castle. After describing their supposed attempt to turn CHAP,
"Ch' i' ho dc. traditor' sempre sospetto,
However, as far as Hardwicke is concerned, the statement is Vindication
* » Ten last Years of George II.," p. 139. 1 Essays, ii. 131.
VOL. V. 0
CHAP, his own brain, it now appears, by comparing them with con
'temporary notes, particularly Archbishop Seeker's, that they
contain accurately the sentiments, and often the very words, of the different speakers, so that they must have been prepared from genuine information, or (what is more probable still) from the notes or recollection of the compiler, who may have been actually present when they were delivered. On HU speech this memorable occasion Lord Hardwicke spoke in answer to of Walpole tne Duke of Argyle, who had gone over the whole of the foreign and domestic policy of the government, pointing out how the autocrat had engrossed all the power of the state into his own hands, and, acting tyrannically at home and feebly abroad, had sacrificed the constitution and the national honour to his own personal aggrandisement. We care little now about the treaty of Hanover, the treaty of Vienna, or the conduct of the Spanish war; and I will not even quote the Chancellor's ingenious comparison between a campaign and "an equity suit, in which the client takes great delight till the solicitor brings in his bill." He seems to have been most happy on the vague charge, much dwelt upon, of Sir Robert having made himself "sole minister." This he likened to the old common-law high treason, called "accroachment," or assumption of the royal authority, for which, till treasons were defined by the statute of Edward III., every great man obnoxious to the ruling faction was prosecuted and beheaded. The weakest part of his case was Sir Robert's (practice, which would not now be endured,) of cashiering military officers who were in parliament—from generals down to cornets—if they voted against the government*: "I shall grant, my Lords, that it is a right maxim for the King not to notice a gentleman's behaviour in parliament with respect to the distribution of those favours which the Crown has to bestow. But even this maxim may admit of some exceptions. We know there is in this kingdom a party of professed Jacobites; we know there is, likewise, a party of professed republicans. I do not say there are any of either of these parties now in parliament; but if they
* e. g. The Duke of Bolton and Lord Cobham deprived of their regiments, and Cornet Pitt dismissed from the Blues.
should get into parliament, if they should there pursue CHAP. Jacobite or republican schemes, I believe it will not be said CXXXI1that the King ought to wink at such conduct, or that 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 thiey 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 Dec- 8
. . . 1741.
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 New Pariichange ; and when the House of Commons met, the appoint- *TM d"';'^^ ment of" Chairman of Ways and Means" being carried against of the him, it was plainly seen that his official end was rapidly ap- Scotspreaching. The old statesman made a gallant struggle; but the divisions on election,-petitions then thought fair opportu
• 12 Pari. Hist. 1047—1223.