« PreviousContinue »
1907., statements, were sent to his Majesty at Windsor,
and received his most gracious perusal ; but no objection whatever was then made by his Majesty to the measure, to which they related. However, subsequently to this period, there certainly did arise a doubt, whether the measure had been distinctly understood in its fullest extent. It is only fair to say, that this doubt originated with some members of the cabinet. On its being started, I, and some others, with whom I had the honor to act, were most anxious, that it should be completely removed, before the introduction into Parliament. I have always considered, that a minister in Parliament acts in a double capacity; he acts as a minister, and hears as an individual member of Parliament. He may introduce or support a measure unconnected with government considerations. Such was the conduct of Mr. Pitt on the propositions
for reform, and for the abolition of the Slave - Trade; the latter of which has, thank God, been at
last effected, and is a measure which, if there were nothing else to distinguish the late government during the short period, that it had existed, will shed on it sufficient lustre. But when a member of administration introduces any measure as a measure of government, it is most clearly his duty to be previously convinced, that he has the concurTence of the cabinet, and the sanction of royal -authority. I should, indeed, have thought my. self reprehensible in the highest degree, and de. serving of all the foul reproacli, that has been so lavishly bestowed upon me, lad I introduced the
measures which I did introduce, without having , 1807. ascertained, that it had the concurrence of the the cabinet and the sanction of the King.
I have before stated, that a doubt sprung up Further with regard to the latter : it was therefore deter- of the disa that I (Lord Spencer being absent on account of patch. ill health) should write a dispatch to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, inclosing those clauses of the bill, in which the proposed measure was containeil, and restating, in conformity to the sentiments in the dispatch, which had been sent in answer to the communication of Mr. Elliott's conference, that every commission in the army was to be open to the Catholics. This dispatch I wrote with as much clearness, as it was in my power to do. With these clauses it went to the King on Monday. On Tuesday it returned from Windsor, without the slightest hint of objection on the part of his Majesty; and as I had been accustomed to do, on receiving the royal sanction, I immediately forwarded the dispatch to Ireland. In the mean time objections were stated, merely in point of form, to the mode of proceeding in this measure by clauses in the Mutiny Bill, and on a full reconsideration of the subject, it was thought better to introduce a separate bill. On Wednesday I attended the levee at St. Jaines’s, and had my usual audience of his Majesty. After that audience, his Majesty enquired, what business was going foravard that day in the House of Commons ? I replied, that the Munny Bill was to pass through one of its stages, and explained to his Majesty the
1807, reasons, which had induced me to embody the
clauses for allowing the Catholic's admission into the army and navy in a separate bill. His Majesty approved of the change, and then asked me, whether the bill were the same as the Irish bill of 1793? I stated in what the difference consisted; observing, that it had been fully detailed in the various dispatches previously submitted to his Ma: jesty's inspection. Here, Sir, I must acknowledge, that his Majesty did express a general dislike and (lisapprobation of the measure ; but not in such a manner, as to induce me to conclude, that the reJuctant assent originally given by his Majesty was withdrawn, and that I was not empowered to introduce the bill. What confirmed me in my opinion was, that my Lord Grenville had a subsequent audience with his Majesty, in which his Majesty clid not make a single observation on the bill. On Thursday or Friday (I do not recollect which) I introduced this bill into the House, During the whole of a week, although I had various communications with his Majesty on other subjects, liis Majesty did not make the slightest objection to this bill, nor was any intimation on the subject Jeceived from his Majesty, untill the Wednesday following ; at which time I was precluded from attending my duty in this House by a family calamity, when his Majesty stated decidedly his objectious to any extension of the provisions of the Irish act of 1793. · Froni that moment, we were convinceri, that his Majesty had misunderstood the subject; or rather, I was convinced, that I had
misunderstood his Majesty. Having unfortunate. 1807. ly introduced the measure into the House of Comil mons, in the belief, that I was sanctioned to do
so by the King, I immediately suspended any furEl ther proceedings on the bill, demanded an audience r of his Majesty on the following day, and convinc
ed him, that I had been misled, and that I had misunderstood those gracious expressions, which w he had used on the subject on a former occasion.
"From that moment it became the most anxious Royal obe consideration of ministers how to reconcile their Lord How public duty with their respect for the feelings ofick’s bill.
bis Majesty. We attempted to correct the bill; Fui but the objection of his Majesty was so extensive,
that we found it was impossible so to modify the in measure, as to remove that objection, and at the
same time leave it efficiently beneficial. In this situation we preferred abandoning the bill altogether. In doing this, Sir, I own, that I made a i most painful sacrifice of all personal feelings to my sense of public duty: but this is a sacrifice, which, however painful. I trust I shall never hesitate to make. We therefore offered to withdraw the bill. but at the same time, we felt the necessity of adding something to that offer. On a former occasion a desire had been intimated, that nothing of that kind should in future de pressed. Other intimations had been made of a similar nature. We, therefore, thought it right to reserve to ourselves the power of expressing our opinion, and of suggesting to his Majesty any future measure, that I might seem to us expedient, accompanied, how
1807. ever, with a respectful declaration, that all the
members of the cabinet were most eager to contribute every thing in their power to his Majesty's personal ease and comfort. This part of our proceeding, Sir, has been most shamefully misrepresented to the public. In falsely stating, that we wished to reserve to ourselves the right of pressing this subject on his Majesty in future, it has been omitted, that our only risk was to submit any measure to his Majesty's revision; it was omitted, that we assured bis Majesty of our earnest desire to regard his personal case and comfort. Sir, in what situation should we have been placed, had we not retained the right of expressing our sentiments? The bill introduced by us must be withdrawn. I certainly felt, that without exposing his Majesty's opinion, I might have assigned sufficient reasons for withdrawing the bill, on account of the opposition, which had been made to it; but, Sir, was it possible, consistently with mine honor, and consistently with my sense of duty to my colleagues, that I could refrain from declaring my own senti. ments upon it? Besides, in withdrawing this measore, we had actually to look to a Catholic petition, and to the pressing the general question with more eagerness than ever, on the consideration of Parliament. His Majesty in reply, expressed his satisfaction at the deference we had shewn him, but required us to withdraw the other part of our statement, and to give an assurance in writing, not only, that we would never again propose the measure in question, but also, that we would never