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C xxrv ^ward at Dunkirk, and of the equipment of a fleet, and the
''assembling of an army there, for the invasion of England.
No motion being made except that "the papers should lie on the table," the Ex-premier said he little expected that any thing would happen to make it necessary for him to offer his sentiments in that assembly, but that he felt he could not continue silent without a crime. "Little did I expect," said he, "that the common forms of decency would have been violated by this august assembly. It is with the greatest surprise and emotion that I see such a neglect of duty. When his Majesty has communicated to you intelligence of the highest importance, is he to receive no answer from the House? As such treatment, my Lords, has never been deserved by his Majesty, so it has never before been practised. And sure, my Lords, if his hereditary council should select for such an instance of disrespect a time of distraction and confusion, a time when the greatest power in Europe is setting up a Pretender to his throne, and when only the winds have hindered an attempt to invade his dominions,— it may give our enemies occasion to imagine and report that we have lost all veneration for the person of our Sovereign. It cannot be thought consistent with the wisdom of your Lordships to be employed in determining rights of private property, when so weighty a case as the title to the Crown ought to engross all your attention.* [Here he looked hard at the Chancellor.] At this instant the enemy may have set foot upon our coasts, — may be ravaging the country with fire and sword, and may be openly threatening us with extirpation or servitude. If this attempt succeed, we shall be ruled over by a viceroy of the French King, and your Lordships who sit in this House with a dignity envied by every class of nobility in the world, will be no better than the slaves of a slave to an ambitious and arbitrary tyrant. Permit me to rouse you from this lethargy. Let the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack submit to the sacrifice of postponing for a little while the calling in of counsel to argue
• On reference to the Journals it appears that one of the only three decrees of Lord Hardwicke ever appealed against was this day heard and affirmed. Countess of Warwick v. Earl of Cholmondeky.
about costs, while we show so much regard for the great, the Chap.
. . o ' cxxxiv universal, the national interest, as to concert a proper form'
of address to his Majesty, that he may not appear labouring
for our safety, while we neglect what is due to our Sovereign
and to ourselves." *
An apology being offered, on the ground that, after what had lately passed, no further declaration of their Lordships'^ sentiments upon the present state of affairs was deemed necessary, the Chancellor moved an address "to give his Majesty the strongest assurances that this House will, at the hazard of their lives and fortunes, stand by and support his Majesty against France, and any other power whatsoever, that shall presume to assist or countenance the Pretender, or any of his descendants or adherents, or to invade or commit any hostilities against his Majesty's kingdoms," — which was unanimously agreed to. The government, so little prepared for defence as not to have in all England an army of more than 7000 men, and only a few invalids in Scotland, escaped present danger by the dreadful storm which dispersed the French squadron, and wrecked many of their transports. "Flavit Deus Et Dissipantur." But it was ascertained that while 1743-44. there was in the country a powerful, zealous, and active party ^a*yj" for the Pretender, great indifference was manifested by mind, almost all other classes. "I apprehend," said old Horace Walpole, "that the people may perhaps look on and cry, Fight, dog, Fight, bear! if they do no worse."
Lord Hardwicke, much alarmed by the aspect of affairs, New law of had recourse to an expedient which I cannot think a very lreason,
* As this is probably the last time I shall have to mention Walpole, whom I Character have had occasion to introduce from time to time ever since the impeachment of of Walpole Lord Soraers, I may be allowed to observe, that after much unjust abuse heaped as a minisupon him, there seems now to be a great disposition to bestow upon him un- ter. qualified praise. He was probably the most dexterous party-leader we have ever had,—equally skilled to win royal favour, to govern the House of Commons, and to influence or be influenced by public opinion. He likewise well understood the material interests of the country, and, as far as was consistent with his own retention of power, he was desirous of pursuing them. But that he might run no personal risk, he would make no attempt to improve our institutions; he was regardless of distant dangers; he plunged into a war which he admitted to be unjust and impolitic, — and by his utter neglect of literature and literary men, in spite of the example set him by his immediate predecessors, Whig and Tory, he gave to official life in England that aristocratic feeling, and vulgar business-like tone which it has ever since retained.
the Duke of Bedford.
Chap, wise one; — he resolved to render more stringent the laws
• against high treason—instead of trying, by reforms, to make
the government more popular. Accordingly he caused a bill to be introduced in the House of Commons to attaint the sons of the Pretender, if they should land, or attempt to land in Great Britain or Ireland; and when the bill came up to the Lords, he added clauses to make it high treason to correspond with the sons of the Pretender, and to postpone till their death the mitigation of the English law of treason, agreed to on the Union with Scotland, by which, after the death of the Pretender, corruption of blood in all cases of treason was to be done away with, so that innocent children might not be punished for the crime of their parents. Opposed by These clauses were most strenuously opposed, particularly by John Duke of Bedford, who made a very fine speech against them, in which he alluded, with much pathos, to the fate of his grandfather, Lord Russell; and observed, that if it had not been for the circumstance of his great-grandfather still surviving at that time, all the property of his family would have been confiscated, and his name would have been extinct. Lord Hardwicke, in answer, delivered an elaborate speech, which, however, was a mere repetition of a very ingenious pamphlet lately written by his son, the Honourable Charles Yorke, entitled, "Considerations on the Law of Treason." * His most difficult point was to reconcile the postponement of the stipulated mitigation to the compact entered into with Scotland, whereby the English law of treason was admitted into that country, on an express condition which was to be now violated, and he was obliged to resort to such quibbles as, that " it was not then foreseen that the Pretender would have sons;" that "as he was in a green old age, and likely to live as long as them, the postponement
* I have myself known several instances of a pamphlet being converted into a speech. One of the most remarkable of these was in a debate on the Catholic question, when there appearing a great coincidence of sentiment and language between a speech delivered by Sir John Copley and a pampblet recently published by the present Bishop of Exeter, — the old song was very happily quoted:
"Good Sirs, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale,
was inconsiderableand that, "if they had sons a further CHAP.
postponement would be unnecessary, as, in a few years, the title of the reigning family would be universally recognised."* The Chancellor had large majorities, but I doubt whether he added to the security of the existing government by any of his enactments. The general feeling upon the subject was impolicy
. of the new
expressed by the oit repeated exclamation, law.
"See, Hardwicke's quibbles voted into law !" J
Cameron, of Lochiel, cared little for acts of parliament, when he said, "I will share the fate of my Prince whatever it be, and so shall every man over whom nature or fortune has given me any power!" The dread of attainder had no influence on the movements of Charles Edward, and if he had been captured he must have been treated as a prisoner of war, for the voice of the whole world would have been raised against the meditated deed of executing him as a traitor. And the very fact of James III., being then a healthy man, little turned of fifty, showed that, by the proposed violation of the compact respecting the law of treason, odium was wantonly brought upon the reigning dynasty.
During the session of parliament, which began on the 24th of November, 1744, and was closed on the 2d of May, 1745, there was the lull before the tempest; no business of any importance seems to have been transacted, and there has not been handed down to us the fragment of any debate in the House of Lords from the opening of it till the prorogation. J The King, as usual, then went abroad, and Lord Hardwicke, as a Lord Justice, was left at the head of the regency.
In a most difficult situation was he placed. First came the May n,
* 13 Pari. Hist. 704—854.
f "What help from Jekyll's opiates canst thou draw?
Or Hardwicke's quibbles voted into law?"
Pope's Fragment, 1740.
} It is a curious fact, that towards the middle of the last century, the public interest in parliamentary proceedings, instead of increasing, seems almost entirely to have died away; for the prohibition against publishing debates would have bad little effect if there had been any demand for them. Of the laborious and useful compilation, entitled "The Parliamentary History," there is only one volume between 1743 and 1747 ; one between 1747 and 1753; and one between 1753 and 1765. After Dr. Johnson ceased to report for the " Gentleman's Magazine," it contains few debates worth reading; and the " London Magazine," which rivalled it, falls off in the same proportion.
VOL. V. H
Breaking out of the Rebellion.
King's return from abroad.
news of the battle of Fontenoy, which not being connected with his administration of the government, and bringing no disgrace on the national character, though unfortunate, did not probably give him much concern: but in the course of a few weeks he was thrown into deep consternation by hearing of the landing of Prince Charles Edward in the Highlands of Scotland, —of his erecting the royal standard in Glenfinnan, with the motto Tandem Triumphans, — of the gathering of the Highland clans around him,—of his march to Edinburgh, — of his enthusiastic reception in that metropolis, — of his festivals in Holyrood House, — of his victory over Cope at Prestonpans,—of the flight of the English troops to Berwick, —and of the preparations of the rebel army to cross the border. No blame was to be imputed to the Lords of the regency. A requisition was sent to the Dutch for the six thousand auxiliaries they were bound by treaty to furnish in case of invasion; several regiments were recalled from Flanders; the militia of the northern counties was called out; Marshall Wade was directed to collect at Newcastle all the troops of every sort that could be mustered; and all suspected persons were taken up and confined in prison by virtue of a suspension of the Habeas Corpus act. But there was an entire apathy in the public mind, and the "fight-dog—fight-bear" prophecy seemed about to be fulfilled. Thus writes a colleague of Lord Hardwicke well affected to the government, and not of a desponding turn of mind. "England, Wade says, and I believe, is for the first comer; and if you can tell whether the six thousand Dutch, and ten battalions of English, or five thousand French or Spaniards will be here first, you know our fate." * "The French are not come, God be thanked! But had five thousand landed in any part of this island a week ago, I verily believe the entire conquest of it would not have cost them a battle." t
The King returned in a hurry from Hanover, on the 31st of August, but although thereby Lord Hardwicke's personal responsibility was relieved, his anxiety was rather increased; for his Majesty could not be made aware of his danger, and it was considered contrary to court etiquette to
* Henry Fox to Sir C. H. Williams.
f Same to same.