« ÖncekiDevam »
consider the state of the laws imposing civil disabilities on His Majesty's subjects professing the Catholic religion.”
The motion was opposed by Doctor Duigenan, Mr. William Bankes, Mr. Owen, Mr. Beresford, and Mr. Charles Adams. Their arguments were nearly the same as those so often before repeated, and so often answered. Doctor Duigenan spoke in his usual strain of unmitigated hostility ; the main argument against the concession to the Catholics, was, the King was Protestant; the constitution was Protestant; and that, from the nature of their religion, the Roman Catholics must desire to overturn the established religion, and if admitted into Parliament, they might obtain the power. The motion was supported by Sir J. Cox Hippesley, in a long and elaborate speech of much research, by Mr. Vernon, Lord Bin ning, Lord Milton, Colonel Lemon, and Mr. Maryatt. At two o'clock, the Chancellor of the Exchequer moved the question of adjournment; and on the 24th the debate was renewed. Sir William Scott rose to oppose the motion, and went at much length into the subject ; he was followed by Mr. C. Yorke, Mr. Leslie Foster, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Percival,) Lord Castlereagh, and Mr. Stuart Wortley: They urged the old arguments of Protestant king, and Protestant constitution, and the danger of admitting men who were hostile to the religion of the state ; they asserted, that the sense of the majority of the people was against the claim of the Catholics; they instanced the two petitions against them from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
The motion was supported by Mr. William Elliott, Mr. Brougham, Colonel Dillon, Mr. Shaw, Sir Samuel Romilly, Mr. William Smith, Mr. Herbert, Mr. Whitbread, Mr. G. Ponsonby, and Mr. Canning. The present moment, said Mr. Elliot, is peculiarly auspicious; the prince, to whose custody the interests of the Crown are now committed, has stood high in the confidence, the affection, and the expectations of the Irish people; whatever spirit of conciliation, therefore, is manifested at this time, will have augmented efficacy, by carrying with it the air of grace and bounty. Let us not then lose such a golden opportunity. That the right honourab gentleman (Mr. Percival) has the confidence of a majority of this House is manifested by its votes ; but I do sincerely believe, that no small portion of those who support his government, deeply lament the cloud of prejudice which hangs over his councils on this subject, and darkens the future prospects of the empire. Mr. Whitbread said, Who does not know the hopes and expectations that were held out to the Catholics by the Prince of Wales ? To him they looked as the polar star of their wishes; the day of his accession to the sovereign authority, they contemplated as the auspicious moment of their entire liberation from the re. maining links of those galling chains under which they had groaned through so many years of sorrow and degradation. No one can doubt
when this era arrived, the expectation of the Catholics was raised to the highest pitch; unhappily, nothing but the
most bitter disappointment has followed, a disappointment without ground or justification. The Catholics had a right to cherish the hopes which they entertained. The opinions of the Prince of Wales towards them, had been not only not concealed or disguised, but they had ever been most ostentatiously displayed; it would have been an affront to His Royal Highness not to have known that he was the protector of the Irish Catholics, and the favourer of their claims. From the Crown, and from the Crown alone, proceed the obstacles ; the Regent has but to will, and the thing is done; he has but to will, and he will again be the idol of Ireland; he has but to wait, and the time will be gone
for ever. Mr. Whitbread exclaimed, most indignantly, against the bigotry of the Dublin corporation, and Mr. Giffard; who had displayed such illiberality towards Major O‘Donoghue, an Irishman, who had fought under General Skerrett, at Tariffa, when with a regiment of Irishmen, he made a most gallant defence against the French, and who returned covered with wounds; they refused to grant him a sword, merely because he was a Catholic; yet notwithstanding all the violence and illiberality manifested towards the Catholics, I will say to them, have confidence in those who have stood by you; be patient, be firm, be moderate and your cause is gained.
The House divided on Mr. Grattan's motion : for the motion 215, against it 300; Majority 85. Tellers for the Ayes, Mr. Freemantle, and Mr. William Smith.
for the Noes, Mr. Long, and Mr. Wallace.
FORMATION OF A NEW ADMINISTRATION.
MR. STUART WORTLEY'S MOTION RESPECTING THE FAILURE OF
THE NEGOCIATIONS FOR FORMING A NEW ADMINISTRATION.
June 11. 1812.
IN consequence of the assassination of the Chancellor of the
Exchequer (Mr. Percival) on the 11th of May, it became necessary to seek for a successor ; and, at the Prince Regent's desire, it was sought to strengthen the administration by extending its basis. Applications were therefore made to the Marquis of Wel. lesley and Mr. Canning, and a negociation took place between them and the Earl of Liverpool, for the purpose of inducing them to form part of the administration. It broke off, however, on account of the Catholic question. Lord Wellesley and Mr. Canning being of opinion that the system pursued towards Ireland should be altered, and that the war in the Peninsula should be prosecuted with greater vigour. In consequence of this, on the 21st of May, Mr. Stuart Wortley moved, “ An address to the Prince Regent, praying him to take such measures as would enable him, under the present circumstances of the country, to form a strong and efficient administration.” The motion was seconded by Lord Milton, and was supported by Mr.J. W. Ward, Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Walpole, Mr. Herbert, Mr. Canning, and Sir John Newport. It was opposed by Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Ryder (Secretary), Lord Castlereagh, and Mr. Eyre, who moved “the previous question;" upon which the House divided : Ayes 170, Noes 174. Mr. Wortley's motion was then carried. Mr. Wortley then moved, “ That the address should be presented by such of the members as were of the council.” Ayes 174, Noes 176. At length it was agreed that the mover and seconder should present the address. Another negociation was then commenced towards the end of May, at the desire of the Prince Regent, through the medium of Lord Wel. lesley, with Lords Grey and Grenville. This likewise broke off owing to a disagreement in the mode proposed for forming the cabinet ; and in the beginning of June another negociation was commenced, at the desire of the Prince Regent, through the medium of Lord Moira, with Lords Grey and Grenville; and this too proved unsuccessful, in consequence of a difference of opinion respecting the appointment to the great offices of the court, connected with the political administration. The former administration was then continued.
Mr. Stuart Wortley brought forward his motion again, and stated, that three weeks had elapsed and nothing effectual had been done to form an administration : as to the negociation between Lord Wellesley and Lords Grey and Grenville, it could and ought to have come to nothing, for it could not have led to the formation of an efficient administration, and must have produced disunion and confusion. The negociation between Lord Moira and Lords Grey and Grenville ought to have terminated differently; that the regulation of the offices of the household should not have stood in the way of a favourable termination ; the more so, as the chief objects of those two noble individuals had in a great measure been complied with. He moved, “ That an humble address be presented to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, to thank His Royal Highness for his most gracious answer to the address of this House on the 21st of May last, to lament that his endeavours towards the formation of an administration upon a more extended basis have not been successful, and to express our earnest hopes, that His Royal Highness will avail himself of every opportunity that may occur of acquiring additional strength to His Royal Highness's government.” A long debate ensued, in which the principal speakers were, Mr. Vansittart, Mr. W. Tighe, Mr. Matthew Montague, Lord Folkstone, Lord Milton, Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Elliott, Mr. Canning, Mr. Ponsonby, Mr. Tierney, Lord Yarmouth, Lord Robert Seymour, Mr. Davies Giddy, and Sir Thomas Turton. The dangers of the country, the necessity of repealing the orders in council, and the great distress in England, were urged in favour of the motion. On the other hand, the address, it was said, went to restrain the free exercise of the prerogative, and affected the right which the Prince Regent had to choose his own ministers.
Mr. Elliott said, if Lords Grey and Grenville had accepted the proposed terms, they would have surrendered the necessary influence which must ever belong to ministers, the powers
of government would have been divided, and set against each other.'
Lord Yarmouth, and Lord Robert Seymour declared, that it was the intention of the officers of the household to have resigned, if Lords Grey and Grenville had accepted office; that this was well known, and had been communicated to a right honourable member, a friend of that party, (it was supposed Lord Yarmouth alluded to Mr. Sheridan,) but that the object in making that demand respecting the household was, to humiliate the Prince. Mr. Ponsonby denied this in toto, saying, that the changes demanded were not new, unusual, or extravagant, and were but what had taken place on all such occasions; that the proposal for Lords Grey and Grenville to nominate 4 if the cabinet were to consist of 12, and 5 if of 13, went to establish a divided and counteracting body, and was wholly impracticable and inadmissible ; and that the intention of the members of the household to resign, had never been communicated to the parties; that he (Mr. Ponsonby) now heard it for the first time. Mr. Canning observed, that the Prince had been asked by Lord Moira, if he was willing, · (in case he, Lord Moira, advised him) to part with his household. To which the Prince replied, that he was. Upon which Lord Moira said, “ Your Royal Highness shall not part with one of them;" Lord Moira, in his opinion, had acted rightly. Mr. Tierney conceived, that Lord Moira had broken off the negotiation ; for, had he communicated all the sentiments expressed by the Prince, the obstacles would have been removed. Lord Castlereagh objected to the address ; he stated that the present administration (of which he was a member) was continued; and that, as to the Catholic question, he felt himself perfectly at liberty to take any course which his judgment might dictate, and he was ready to go into any discussion on that subject, which could lead to a practical result.
Lord Folkstone proposed an amendment, relating to reform and economy. Lord Milton also moved an amendment, “ To assure His Royal Highness of their determination to support, with undiminished zeal, such measures as may appear calculated to ensure prosperity at home, and respect abroad; but, at the same time, humbly to represent that, consistently with the duty they owe to their sovereign and their constituents, they can no longer defer the expression of their earnest entreaties, that His Royal Highness would form, without delay, such an administration as might be entitled to the support of Parliament, and the confidence of the nation."
Mr. GRATTAN said, that he merely wished to express the opinion he entertained of the conduct which had been observed by the noble lords (Grey and Grenville), whose names
had been so often introduced into the discussion. Men of independent principles alone, and of very conspicuous political talents, ought to form the administration of the country; but it might very frequently fall to their lot, to restrain their desire of holding office, unless they could do so with advantage to the country. Those noble lords had a part to perform which required the utmost consideration; for they had to evince their readiness to make every exertion for the service of the country, and to balance the acquisition of power against the abandonment of principle. The refusal of office, was a crime which few were guilty of; it was not to be frequently found in the annals of the country. But it should be recollected, that when gentlemen accepted of office, they did so with a view to serve the country, as well as to exalt their own reputation; and to enable them to do this, it must be rendered evident, that they had the confidence of the sovereign; for if they were to be controlled in the adminstration, it would be better that they should not accept of it.
A minister must possess the confidence of the sovereign and the Parliament; but if he was excluded from the one or the other, he was no longer such a minister as was recognized by the constitution. If the two noble lords in question were of opinion that the appointment of the household was necessary to the strength of the government; if they thought, that the existence of two cabinets, the one responsible and the other not responsible, was not consistent with the well-being of the state, then had they acted wisely, honourably, and disinterestedly, in not taking power without the confidence necessary to enforce it.
He did not now enquire whether the objections or opinions of the noble lords were well founded; but he maintained this, that if they conceived an undue influence to exist, they had acted rightly in declining office.
He lamented most sincerely, that such had been the result of the late negotiations, from a conviction of the great talents and integrity of those noble lords, and of the good conse quences which were likely to result from their acceptance of office; but he could not condemn a resolution founded upon principle.
Whatever might be the opinions entertained upon the topics, which were treated as the basis of the negotiations, he thought that if there remained a possibility of concord, it were better that those differences should not be animadverted
It appeared to him, that all the noble persons engaged in the negotiation, Lords. Grey, Grenville, Wellesley, and