Page images
PDF
EPUB

beral basis : (and here he must, once for | negociation was accordingly set on foot, all, observe, that in speaking of the share in order to carry this desirable object into which his Royal Highness had in the effect. That negociation had unfortutransaction he considered him as acting | nately failed, and the wishes of the Prince by the advice of responsible persons.) A Regent, and the expectations of the coun

had the goodness to communicate to us the his Majesty's authority; and last year, Letter of his royal highness the Prince when his Royal Highness was pleased to Regent, on the subject of the arrangements require our advice respecting the formato be now made for the future administra tion of a new government. The reasons tion of the public affairs; and we take the which we then humbly submitted to him liberty of availing ourselves of your are strengthened by the encreasing dangracious permission, to address to your gers of the times; nor has there, down to Royal Highness in this form what has oc this moment, appeared even any approxi. curred to us in consequence of that com mation towards such an agreement of opi. munication.

nion on the public interests, as can alone The Prince Regent, after expressing to form a basis for the honourable union of your Royal Highness in that letter his sen parties previously opposed to each other. timents on various public matters, has, in Into the detail of these differences we the concluding paragraph, condescended are unwilling to enter; they embrace alto intimate his wish that “ some of those most all the leading features of the present « persons with whom the early habits of policy of the empire; but his Royal High“bis public life were formed, would ness has, himself, been pleased to advert " strengthen his Royal Highness's hands, to the late deliberations of parliament on « and constitute a part of his govern the affairs of Ireland. This is a subject, « ment;” and his Royal Highness is above all others, important in itself, and pleased to add, " that with such support, connected with the most pressing dangers, " aided by a vigorous and united adminis. Far from concurring in the sentiments “tration, formed on the most liberal basis, which his Majesty's ministers have, on that " he would look with additional confi.occasion, so recently expressed, we enter“ dence to a prosperous issue of the most tain opinions directly opposite : we are “ arduous contest in which Great Britain firmly persuaded of the necessity of a total " has ever been engaged.”

change in the present system of governOn the other parts of bis Royal High-ment in that country, and of the imme. ness's letter we do not presume to offer diate repeal of those civil disabilities under any observations ; but on the concluding which so large a portion of his Majesty's paragraph, in so far as we may venture to subjects still labour on account of their suppose ourselves included in the gracious religious opinions. To recommend to wish which it expresses, we owe it, in obe parliament this repeal, is the first advice dience and duty to bis Royal Highness, to which it would be our duty to offer to his explain ourselves with frankness and sin Royal Highness; nor could we, even for cerity.

the shortest time, make ourselves responWe beg leave most earnestly to assure sible for any farther delay in the proposal his Royal Highness, that no sacrifices, ex of a measure, without which we could encept those of honour and duty, could ap tertain no hope of rendering ourselves pear to us too great to be made, for the useful to his Royal Highness, or to our purpose of healing the divisions of our country. country, and uniting both its government. We have only therefore further to beg and its people. All personal exclusion your Royal Highness to lay before his we entirely disclaim : we rest on public royal highness the Prince Regent, the exmeasures; and it is on this ground alone pression of our humble duty, and the sinthat we must express, without reserve, the cere and respectful assurance of our earimpossibility of our uniting with the pre- nest wishes for whatever may best promote sent government. Our differences of opi- | the ease, honour, and advantage of his nion are too many and too important to Royal Highness's government, and the admit of such an union. His Royal High- success of his endeavours for the public ness will, we are confident, do us the jus- welfare. We have the honour to be, &c. tice to remember, that we have twice al.

(Signed)

GREY, ready acted on this impression; in 1809,

GRENVILLE. on the proposition then made to us under To his royal highness the Duke of York.

try had been disappointed. It was from deterioration which had taken place in our the period of the failure of this negocia- domestic circumstances? Were their lordtion that he dated the commencement of ships aware of the state of the diurnal press those alarming symptoms to which he had of London, and, he might add of the proadverted, and the glaring deterioration in vincial press ? - Did they not know that our domestic situation which threatened it was formed into two distinct and oppothe integrity of the empire. What were site parties ? and were not their lordships those portentous features of the present doomed every day, as had on a former time which foreboded so much calamity ? occasion been remarked by a noble earl “I wish to God, Maynooth college had near him, (Grosvenor,) to read on the one never existed !” had been, in another side, of an overweening, overbearing, place, the expressions of a confidential proud, ambitious aristocracy, that strove servant of the crown. What was this but to domineer over the throne itself; and, evincing a decided hostility to the reli-l on the other, the most virulent and scurgion and political rights of a great portion rilous attacks, even upon the Prince Reof the population of these dominions i gent in person? Were they aware of the What was it but the proof of a malus effect which these things must have upon animus with regard to them, swaying the the country at large; and could they be councils of the crown? The natural ten indifferent to the effect, under the present dency of such an imprudent and impolitic circumstances of the nation and the world, declaration must be, to produce a spirit of such a mischievous application of that of irritation and hostility, which would great engine of public opinion, the press? sooner or later shew itself in the most These were not all the symptoms that alarming colours. A right hon. gentleman, seemed to characterise the eventful period a member of the other House of Parlia- to which he had referred. The Prince ment, (whose moderation in all matters con. Regent himself, (speaking of bis Royal nected with religion, whose talents and Highness in the sense which he had be. whose integrity did honour to his country fore stated, as acting at the suggestion of and to the empire) had received a petition responsible advisers), even the Prince from the Roman Catholics of Ireland to be himself was not exempt from his share in presented to the House of Commons, and these alarming transactions. They had had given notice of a motion for its being heard, for instance, of the highest honours, taken into consideration on the 14th of of the most distinguished situations, being next month. The votes on the table in- offered to various individuals, and refused formed them that a call of the House was upon the ground, that acceptance would to take place on the 13th of April,--a call be contrary to the honour of those persons, not proposed by the right hon. gentleman who found it impossible for them to do who was to move the consideration of the any thing to assist, or give countenance to petition, but by that minister of the crown, the system upon which the government who was understood to be the bar to all was conducted. It was rumoured, that all conciliation. What must be the effect of the bent, aim, and force of the government, this apparently deep-rooted hostility to was inflexible hostility to the liberal printheir cause on the minds of the Catholics : | ciples which alone could ensure conciliaWhat must be the consequence of such a tion and union. This, however, was only system, if continued ? It was not among the rumour; but what was certainly true was, least alarming of these fearful symptoms, that on the 13th of February, the Prince

that some of the clergy, as he understood, Regent, in a manner that did honour to i taking the hint perhaps from those in au. the high situation which he held, and with

thority, had, in a manner very inconsistent a sincerity and good faith well becoming indeed with the principles of their reli- his character, expressed his wishes, that at gion, made themselves the instruments of the present critical moment no measure discord and disunion, and perverted even should be adopted which could excite the the pulpit itself to the worst purposes of smallest suspicion that he intended to bigotry and faction. Already had there | abandon his allies, or cease to give them appeared a disposition, fomented, probably the same liberal assistance as formerly. by the tone of the government, to raise that Yet, subsequent to this declaration, it was execrable cry, which, to the disgrace of the well known, that his Royal Higbness had country, had more than once marked the been obliged to accept the resignation of epoch of the present generation. But were a noble marquis, who had in some measure these the only symptoms that evinced the identified himself with the cause of our allies. He hoped the noble marquis, whom precaution. If the construction which he he saw in his place, would in the course put upon that letter, and which it was of this debate explain the reasons which certainly capable of bearing, was the core had induced him to resign, at a moment rect one ; he flattered himself that hopes when his services, with a view to the war might still be indulged of fulfilling the in the peninsula, were so very essential. wishes of his Royal Highness, and fornring But he could not repeat, too often, that, an administration adequate to the difficulsubsequent to the wish expressed by his ties of the times. Whether his construcRoyal Highness, with regard to the cause tion was the true one, the noble earl near of our allies, bis Royal Highness had re- him (Grey) would inform their lordships. ceived the resignation of the noble mar- But it might possibly be said, that he was quis, who for two years and a half had | not authorised to refer to these documents, conducted the whole diplomatic corres- as they did not come in an official shape pondence with the peninsula ; and, before before the House ; and the unusual aspethat period, bad acted as the minister of rity of tone and manner of the noble this country in Spain with so much honour Secretary of State on a former occasion, to himself, and so much advantage to the when he put a question to hiin relative to nation. No correspondence that had ever one of these letters, was such as to justify been laid on their lordships' table, had some apprehension that such an objection ever excited more general applause. The might be made. Yet, he maintained that noble marquis, too, was no less a person | any paper of public notoriety, and espethan the brother of lord Wellington him cially one bearing the signature of the

It; and yet, in the present critical state Prince Regent, was a document for their of the war, he had thought it bis duty to lordships to proceed upon. He did not resign, though the Prince had before ex- think, that out of the whole kingdom the pressed his wish to give every support to | House of Lords ought to be the only room our allies. Such was the general view of in which such a document could not be the situation of the country, since the ex- made the subject of discussion. It was, piration of the restrictions upon the Re- however, sufficient for his purpose, that on gent. Our domestic policy of exclusion the 13th of February a wish had been ex. appeared to have assumed a more decided pressed by his Royal Highness to form an shape, and the brightening prospects | Administration on a broad and liberal which appeared to be opening to us, had basis. That wish had unfortunately not given way to a deeper gloom. He had been gratified. But the wish which existed adverted to the difficulties under which then, no doubt still continued; and the the nation had to struggle, and the very object of his motion was, if possible, to inadequate composition of the present give effect to the declared desire of his government to meet these difficulties; and Royal Highness : provided nothing ocfrom all this it followed, as a necessary | curred in the debate which should change consequence, that some change in the his opinion as to the construction to be frame of that government should, if possi- / put on the answer to the Prince's letter, ble, be effected. Now he would ask, he should still cherish a strong hope of whether such a change was really hope being able to secure the accomplishment less? And here he must advert to a of so desirable an object. He would now printed letter bearing the signature of a draw the attention of the House to those noble earl near him (lord Grey), and of a parts of the noble lords' letter, which noble baron (lord Grenville), whose ab-had been particularly dwelt upon, and sence their lordships must deeply regret, which he believed, had been misapboth from sympathy with the noble family prehended. The noble lords, having which had lately experienced the domes. assigned the reasons of their refusal, say tic calamity that occasioned that absence, It is on this ground alone that we must as also on account of the delicacy of the express, without reserve, the impossibility situation in which the noble lord was of our uniting with the present governplaced. He, however, would endeavour ment." Now, he would ask, what had to avoid every thing that could possibly been understood by this expression of the appear to be inconsistent with a due re. | noble lords ? Why, that they insisted on gard to the circumstances in which the forming the government themselves that noble lord at present unfortunately stood; they would hear of no persons, but of their and he had no doubt his noble friends who own selection, and of their own principles were to follow him, would adopt the same and that they would not sit in the cabinet with those who were the confiden- , might certainly disapprove of the circumtial advisers of the Prince Regent. This stances of the war; but it was not to be was the interpretation which had been conceived, that they would abandon it given of that part of their answer. Yet, without due examination. Of course, without meaning to state what the feeling their conduct in this point would be of the noble lords really was on this sub strongly influenced by the larger informject, it appeared to him, that in saying they ation on the circumstances, objects, and would not consent to unite with the pre- | means of the contest, which office might sent government that they could not as- give them, and to which they could not sist an administration, whose proceedings now have access. It was not to be supthey disapproved it did not follow that posed that they would proceed in this dithey would not act with them, provided, of rection, without communicating with the course, they were not placed in such situa- distinguished person who was now at the tions as would prevent them from carrying head of the British force in the peninsula, into effect those measures which they a man who deserved every attention and thought most conducive to the general in every praise, who was at once the great geterest. In the next paragraph the noble neral and the great statesman, whose phylords observe, “ Into the detail of those sical courage was equalled only by the differences we are unwilling to enter; moral fortitude which he manifested in opthey embrace almost all the leading fea- posing those who, not being perfectly actures of the present policy of the em quainted with the situation of the peninsula, pire." The principles of policy here were desirous of withdrawing from the conalluded to, were, the conduct to be pur- test there. It was presumed, that, on their sued with regard to America,—the Bul- admission into the Prince's cabinet, the lion question,--the war in the peninsula, British forces would be recalled: but was —and the treatment of the Catholics. this a just presumption? He had never Could it be fairly supposed, that it was heard it from the noble lords. It might the intention of the noble lords, if they be their determination ; but, until he had should come into office, to concede the it from their own lips, he could not believe whole matter in controversy with America? | | it. The last point was the state of Ireland, Could it be fairly supposed that they were | With respect to the disallowance of the prepared to sacrifice the maritime rights | claims of a large portion of his majesty's of the country, and lay our naval grandeur subjects, on this some difficulty arose. and independence at the foot of America ? | It was less easy to define the limit of the It might be so, but he would not believe objects which the noble lords might have it, till he heard it from themselves; he in contemplation. The difference bewould not believe any British statesman tween them and administration was more capable of such a thought; nor could he wide than on the other points. The allow himself for a moment to attribute noble lords observed in their letter, “ We such intentions to the noble lords. The are firmly persuaded of the necessity of a next question was, that of the bullion. total change in the present system of that What was the nature of the difference | country, and of the immediate repeal of here? It might be said, that the noble those civil disabilities under which so lords would immediately open the Bank, large a portion of his Majesty's subjects and compel cash payments. It was no still labour, on account of their religious doubt probable, that they would make opinions. To recommend to parliament the situation of the currency a matter of this repeal, is the first advice which it serious consideration, and that they would would be our duty to offer to his Royal act upon the system of restoring the cash Highness.” In this part, more than any payments to the country, when a favour other, the general interpretation seemed able opportunity occurred for doing so. to be warranted by the construction of the But was it to be said, that they would force words. The view he entertained of this such a measure forward before its time, subject was certainly different. His idea that they would urge it without pre. of the most suitable proceeding in bring. paration, — without regard to circum- ing about this great measure of redemp

inces, - without any precaution that tion, was, that the proposal of consideramight render it regular and secure? As to tion should come from administration, the peninsula, the noble lords were boldly that the House should then sanction a recharged with a resolution to withdraw our solution for taking the question into consiassistance from the Spanish cause. They | deration at a future time, and, finally,

sta

that every thing relating to the manage- hoped they would suffer it to go to the “ ment and detail of the question, should be Prince Regent, and let his consideration do left to the executive government, by whom the rest. He trusted that there was now no a specific plan should be laid before the man who would call the administration, legislature. By this means, all the grace as it stood on the 13th of February, of originating the measure would attach to an administration upon a sufficient basis, the crown, to which, in truth, it ought to After the proposition which had been made belong. It would pledge parliament to at that period, he believed that there nothing but the mere consideration of the was not a single person who would stand question, and leave the arrangement and up in his place and maintain that it was detail where it should be left, with the then a sufficient administration : and if not executive government; and, whatever | sufficient then, what was it now, when the was proposed by them, parliament, in the great talents and great weight of the noble course of the next session, might reject or marquis (Wellesley) had been withdrawn adopt. But still in the letter of the noble from the government? The only topic on lords there certainly was nothing to give which he could anticipate objection was, the idea, that they would at once recom- that as his motion touched upon ministers, mend the total abolition of Catholic re | it was to be considered as an opposition straints, without delay, or regularity, or motion. For the honour of truth, and in consideration. He would not deny, that the name of the best interests of the coun-' the words might bear such an interpreta- try, he deprecated this consideration. It tion : but from their former declarations, I was not an opposition motion. It had - from every former means of expressing arisen with himself, and without any comtheir sentiments, it might be not unjust-munication to the noble lords who had ly conceived, that they would proceed in been alluded to. It bore no hostility to this momentous affair, with all the neces- administration, for many of whose memsary prudence; that they would suffer a bers he felt the most perfect respect, and : certain period to elapse before the grant- he denied their right to impute party or log of full remission; and that they would factious motives to him. Did they mean grant nothing without providing for the to impute them to his Royal Highness the security of the existing establishments. Prince Regent, when on the 13th of FeThis was the fair construction of the policy bruary he expressed a wish for an admiwhich they were likely to adopt; and if nistration differently constituted ? If they this construction were justified by what did, how could they, as men of honour, their lordships might hear in the course of retain their situations? And if they did the debate, was it not to be desired that not, what right had they to attribute such every strength that the country was capa. motives to him, for expressing the same ble of affording, should be applied to the desire now, which his royal highness had porposes of conducting it through the dif- formerly done? What had happened, ficulties .of its present situation? Was it since the 13th of February, to cause a not most desirable, that this country, and change of opinion? What had been gained, what remained of independent Europe, and what had been lost? Was there any should be gratified by seeing an adminis. thing in that loss or in that gain, which tration combined of all the wisdom, expe- , rendered unnecessary now the alteration rience, and authority that was to be found proposed at that time? The motion was among us, formed to preserve domestic founded on the deep sense he entertained tranquillity, and to command the respect of the alarming evils which threatened of foreign powers? He might be thought the safety of the nation which were a great ignoramus in politics, to expect every day more and more developing that no opposition would be offered to themselves and the imperative necessity a motion which did not proceed from of obtaining an efficient administration administration. He deprecated being capable of averting them. He framed overpowered by the eloquence of noble the motion, neither for nor against any set: lords on the side of ministers: his motion of men, party, or faction, whatever; he was certainly not one which proceeded made it for the sake of the country at from them; but it was consistent with large, and, in their name, he entreated for the principles of the constitution, and it a favourable reception. His lordship conformable to it's practice in the best then moved periods of our history, and therefore, un-1 “ That an humble Address be presented usual as the hope was in modern times, he to his royal highness the Prince Regent, (VOL. XXII.)

T (E)

« PreviousContinue »