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its duty and betrayed its trust if it had not impeached them. The doctrines of those who maintained the pledge were contrary to every principle of the constitution. Lord Howick said, he introduced the Catholic Bill, conceiving it necessary to the interests of the empire ; that much pains had been taken to poison the royal mind; that on the Saturday before the pledge was required, Lord Eldon had an interview with His Majesty; and Lord Eldon and Lord Hawksbury were both sent for to Windsor. Mr. Plunkett (Attorney-General for Ireland) stated, that his Majesty was ill advised when he was led to believe that it was proper to demand such a pledge from his ministers. It had been attempted to excite a religious alarm: the Chancellor of the University of Dublin (the Duke of Cumberland) had endeavoured to procure a: petition there against the Roman Catholic Bill. When his first setter was not attended to, he wrote a second, in which he insinuated, in a manner too plain to be misunderstood, that the only way in which the University could recommend itself to his favour, was by presenting such a petition as he required. He (Mr. P.) regarded the situation of Ireland with great alarm; things might grow better or worse, but it was impossible they could remain as they were.
The House divided : for Mr. Osborne's amendment 258, against it 226; Majority for ministers 32.
LORDS COMMISSIONERS SPEECH.
LORD HOWICK MOVES AN AMENDMENT TO THE ADDRESS ON
OPENING OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT.
June 26. 1807.
THE Commons attended the Speaker this day in the House of
Lords, when the Session was opened by commission. The Lord Chancellor Eldon read His Majesty's Speech as follows:
My Lords and Gentlemen, “ We have it in command from His Majesty to state to you, that, having deemed it expedient to recur to the sense of his people, His Majesty, in conformity to his declared intention, has lost no time in causing the present Parliament to be assembled.
“ His Majesty has great satisfaction in acquainting you, that, since the events which led to the dissolution of the last Parliament, His Majesty has received, in numerous Addresses from his subjects, the warmest assurances of their affectionate attachment to his person and government, and of their firm resolution to support hím, in maintaining the just rights of his crown, and the true principles of the constitution ; and he commands us to express his entire confidence that he shall experience, in all your deliberations, a determination to afford him an equally loyal, zealous, and affectionate support, under all the arduous circumstances of the present time.
“ We are commanded by His Majesty to inform you, that His Majesty's endeavours have been most anxiously employed for the purpose of drawing closer the ties by which His Majesty is connected with the powers of the Continent ; of assisting the efforts of those powers against the ambition and oppression of France ; of forming such engagements as may ensure their continued cooperation; and of establishing that mutual confidence and concert, so essential, under any course of events, to the restoration of a solid and permanent peace in Europe.
" It would have afforded His Majesty the greatest pleasure to have been enabled to inform you, that the mediation undertaken by His Majesty, for the purpose of preserving peace between His Majesty's ally, the Emperor of Russia, and the Sublime Porte, had proved effectual for that important object; His Majesty deeply regrets the failure of that mediation, accompanied as it was by the disappointment of the efforts of His Majesty's squadron, in the sea of Marmora, and followed, as it has since been, by the losses which have been sustained by his gallant troops in Egypt.
“ His Majesty could not but lament the extension of hostilities in any quarter, which should create a diversion in the war, so favourable to the views of France; but lamenting it, especially in the instance of a power with which His Majesty has been so closely connected, and which has been so recently indebted for its protection against the encroachments of France, to the signal and successful interposition of His Majesty's arms.
“ His Majesty has directed us to acquaint you, that he has thought it right to adopt such measures as might best enable him, in concert with the Emperor of Russia, to take advantage of any favourable opportunity for bringing the hostilities, in which they are engaged against the Sublime Porte, to a conclusion, consistent with His Majesty's honour, and the interests of his ally.
« Gentlemen of the House of Commons, “ His Majesty has ordered the estimates of the current year to be laid before you; and he relies on the tried loyalty and zeal of his faithful Commons, to make such provisions for the public service, as well as for the further application of the sums which were granted in the last Parliament, as may appear to be necessary.
“ And His Majesty, bearing constantly in mind the necessity of a careful and economical administration of the pecuniary resources of the country, has directed us to express his hopes, that you will proceed, without delay, in the pursuit of those inquiries connected with the public economy, which engaged the attention of the last Parliament.
“ My Lords and Gentlemen, “ His Majesty commands us to state to you, that he is deeply impressed with the peculiar importance, at the present moment, of cherishing a spirit of union and harmony among his people : such a spirit will most effectually promote the prosperity of the country at home, will give vigour and efficacy to its councils, and its arms abroad; and can alone enable His Majesty, under the blessing of Providence, to carry on successfully the great contest in which he is engaged; or finally to conduct it to that termination which His Majesty's moderation and justice have ever led him to seek a peace, in which the honour and interests of his kingdom can be secure; and in which Europe and the world may hope for independence and repose."
Lord Newark rose, and after shortly alluding to the circumstances which led to the dismissal of the late ministry, and the dissolution of the last Parliament, concluded, by moving an Address to His Majesty, in accordance with the Speech. It was seconded by Mr. Hall, who condemned the conduct of the late administration, as tending to invade the just prerogatives of the Crown, and limit the exercise of royal authority. He conceived that the course pursued by His Majesty was firm and constitutional, such as the House and country had approved of.
Lord Howick opposed the Address. He conceived that the dissolution of Parliament, in the midst of a session, was an ill-judged measure. It had produced public and private inconvenience; it had stopped great national measures in their progress; it had occasioned a proceeding most unconstitutional, leaving the sums voted for public service unappropriated, as no act for that purpose. had passed prior to the dissolution; it had caused disunion, and spread religious discord throughout the country; the influence of the Crown had been exercised in a most unconstitutional manner during the election; the forfeiture of an individual's estate had been threatened, unless he and his tenants would support government; they had endeavoured to infuse into the minds of the people of England violent animosity against the Irish Catholics. He earnestly requested His Majesty's ministers to attend to the advice of an honourable gentleman, unfortunately no longer a member of Parliament, the late Attorney-general for Ireland (Mr. Plunkett), and to make Ireland the first and the last object of their thoughts. If any charges were to be made against the late ministers, they should be brought forward openly. It was said, that their measures, with regard to the Catholics of Ireland, was the commencement of an attack on the Protestant religion ; this he absolutely denied. The measures they had proposed, were consonant to the spirit of the constitution, and went to strengthen the empire. The opposite party had artfully raised a religious cry: Nottingham (the place for which Mr. Percival, Chancellor of the Exchequer, was returned) resounded with it; he (Lord Howick) was, therefore, an enemy to an administration that was engendered in court intrigue, that was discordant in itself, and that did not possess the confidence of the people. He moved the following amendment:
“ That, by a long experience of His Majesty's virtues, we well know it to be His Majesty's invariable wish, that all his prerogatives should be exercised solely for the advantage of his people. That our dutiful attachment to His Majesty's person and govern
ment, obliges us therefore most humbly to lay before him the manifest misconduct of his ministers, in having advised the dissolution of the late Parliament, in the midst of its first session, and within a few months after His Majesty had been pleased to assemble it for the dispatch of the urgent business of the nation.
“ That this measure, advised by His Majesty's ministers, at a time when there existed no difference between any of the branches of the legislature, nor any sufficient cause for an appeal to His Majesty's people, was justified by no public necessity or advantage. That, by the interruption of all private business then depending in Parliament, it has been productive of great and needIess inconvenience and expense, thereby wantonly adding to the heavy burdens which the necessities of the times require.
“ That it has retarded many useful laws for the internal.improvement of the kingdom, and for the encouragement and extension of its agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. And that it has either suspended or wholly defeated, many most important public measures, and protracted much of the most weighty business of Parliament, to a season of the year when its prosecution must be attended with the greatest public and private inconvenience. And that we feel ourselves bound still further to submit to His Majesty, that all these mischiefs are greatly aggravated by the groundless and injurious pretences on which His Majesty's ministers have publicly rested this their evil advice; pretences affording no justification for the measure, but calculated only to excite the most dangerous animosities among His Majesty's faithful subjects, at a period when their united efforts were more than ever necessary for the security of the empire, and when to promote the utmost harmony and co-operation amongst them would have been the first object of faithful and provident ministers."
This was opposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Percival), Mr. Brown, Sir Henry Mildmay, General Crauford, Mr. Robert Dundas, Sir Arthur Wellesley, and Mr. Croker. It was supported by Mr. Windham, Mr. Ward, Mr. Whitbread, Lord Temple, Lord Henry Petty, Mr. W. Smith, and Sir John Newport,
Mr. GRATTAN rose and spoke to the following effect :Mr. Speaker, I shall consider the present question in two points, both as it regards the Catholics of Ireland, and as it affects his Majesty's late ministers. In speaking of their conduct, I cannot suppress the feelings I entertained for them while in office; neither can I be silent on the circumstances which led to, and attended their dismissal. I approved of that ministry, because they preferred their principles to their places. I approve of them, because they constitutionally refused to be restricted by an unconstitutional pledge. I approve of them, because they were sincere in their wish to create national strength, by national unanimity. I approve of them, because they endeavoured to unite the people, and
dissolve a party; and I most approve of them, because they wisely ceased to prosecute the justified claims of the Irish Catholics, when they were convinced the prosecution was highly inexpedient. I say his Majesty's late ministers acted wisely in introducing a measure, which, in its origin, appeared highly practicable, and in withdrawing it when they were satisfied it was for the time impracticable. They proposed it with a view to conciliate, and they abstained from precipitately pressing it when they were unfortunately disappointed in that expectation. It is an idle dilemma to say if the bill was expedient, Why not introduce it ? and being expedient, why abandon it? I say, if highly expedient, why not bring it forward, and if encountered, why not withdraw it? With a view to concord it was moved, with a view to concord it was surrendered, (here there was a laugh from the ministerial benches.) The honourable gentlemen on the opposite side might laugh, but I contend that the true view of legislation and policy
- a policy the most honest, is not to push even a good principle too far, when there is no opportunity of effecting the object, and where the evils arising from the failure must materially detract from the benefits of even ultimate success. In Ireland, I think their administration good ;--- the opening the ports for Irish corn; the taking off the house-tax from the lower orders; the discontinuance of the martial law bill; the commission for enquiring into the education funds, with a view to establish a foundation for the general education of the Irish, and restoring to their proper use the funds granted for that purpose; the adoption of the principle of abolishing tithes, and paying the clergy in another manner, a measure more home and germain to the interest and composure of Ireland than any other conceiveable suggestion ; their attention to the feelings, as well as the interest of the country in the appointment of its principal officers; their control of that proceeding, so as to keep clear of the views of plunder and revenge; their progress to reform the magistracy; their communication of the patronage of the Crown, and the full benefits of the existing laws to those of the Catholic persuasion; the extinction of a tyrannic ascendency; their abhorrence of religious divisions, and their rapid progress to communicate the same; their proceeding in all the charges without a view to a vindictive principle, either affecting the religion or the politics of the country, without a view to flatter any party, or to plunder any individual, but to serve the community; their virtue in not attempting to practise the arts of division in the Catholic body, who