period of his aufpicious and happy recovery. The prince of Wales repaired immediately to Windfor, where he was met by the lord chancellor, and they, in concert with the queen, took fuch measures relative to the domeftic affairs of the king as the neceffity of the cafe required. In the mean time all thofe, who by their rank and fituation in the ftate were required to take a part in fo new and unexpect ed an exigence, affembled in the capital; and an exprefs was difpatched to Mr. Fox, at this time in Italy, to haften his return.



The parliament had been prorogued to the 20th of November; and as the intended commition for a further prorogation had not been iffued by the king, its meeting took place upon that day, as a matter of courfe. The peers and the commons remained in their feparate chambers; and the chancellor in the upper, and Mr. Pitt in the lower houfe, having notified the cause of their affembling without the ufual notice and fummons, and ftated the impropriety of their proceeding under fuch circumftances to the difcuffion of any public bufinefs whatfoever, both houses refolved unanimoufly to adjourn for fifteen days. At the fame time Mr. Pitt took occafion to obferve, that as it would be indifpenfably neceffary, in cafe his majesty's illness fhould unhappily continue longer than the period of their adjournment, that the house fhould take into immediate confideration the means of fupplying, fo far as they were competent, the want of the royal prefence; it was incumbent upon them to infure a full attendance, in order to give every poflible weight and folemnity to their proceedings. For this pur

pofe it was ordered, that the house be called over on Thursday the 4th of December next, and that the fpeaker do fend letters requiring the attendance of every member. Orders to the fame effect were made by the lords.

In order to lay fome ground for the proceedings of the two houses of parliament, a council was held at Whitehall on the day preceding their meeting, to which all the privy councillors were fummoned. Of fifty-four who attended, twentyfour were of the party of oppofition. The phyficians who had attended his majefly during his illness were called before them and fworn; after which three questions, which had been previously debated and carried in the council, were put to them feverally. The firft was, "Whether "his majefty's indifpofition ren"dered him incapable of meeting "his parliament, and of attending "to any fort of public bufinefs?" To this they answered, "tainly he was incapable."-The fecond was, "What is your opinion "of the duration of his majesty's malady, and of the probability of a cure?" To this they answered, "That there was a great probability of his recovery, but that "it was impoffible to limit the « time."-The third queftion was, "Do you give this opinion from the "particular fymptoms of his ma"jefty's diforder, or from your ex

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"That cer

perience in complaints of a simi"lar nature?" To this their general anfwer was, "That it was "from experience, and having ob" ferved that the majority of those "who were afflicted with the fame "difeafe had recovered." On the 4th the two houses being affembled, the prefi[E] 3

Dec. 4.


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dent of the council informed the peers, that the king, by the continuance of his indifpofition, was rendered incapable of meeting his parliament, and that all the other functions of government were thereby fufpended. He then declared it to be his opinion, that in this difmembered ftate of the legislature, the right devolved on the two houses of parliament to make fuch provifion for fupplying the defect as fhould be adequate to the neceffity of the cafe; but that it was neceffary, before any ftep could be taken in fo delicate a bufinefs, that the deficiency fhould be fully ascertained: with this view he moved, that the minutes of the privy council should be read; which being done, the following Monday was appointed for taking it into confideration.

A motion to the fame effect being 'made by Mr. Pitt in the houfe of commons, Mr. Viner expreffed his doubt, whether, in a matter of such moment, and which would be attended with fuch important confequences, the houfe could proceed upon a report from the privy council without a further examination of the phyficians, either at their bar, or by a committee of their own. Mr. Pitt urged, in reply, the delicacy of the fubject to be difcuffed; and remarked further, that the examination before the council was taken upon oath, which the house had it not in their power to adminifter, Mr. Fox concurred in opinion with Mr. Viner; he felt the propriety of acting with all poffible delicacy; but if delicacy and their duty fhould happen to clash, the latter ought not to be facrificed to the former. A doubt was alfo ftated by the Speaker, whether, in the prefent defective ftate of parliament, he was

competent to iffue writs for new elections. This was determined in the affirmative, and the house immediately rofe.

Dec. 8th.

On Monday the 8th, Mr. Pitt, either convinced, upon further confideration, of the propriety of Mr. Viner's fuggeftion, or expecting that the probability of his majefty's recovery would become more apparent upon a fuller enquiry into the cafe, came forward to propofe, that a committee of twenty-one members fhould be appointed to examine all the phyficians who had attended the king during his illness. A like committee was appointed the fame day in the house of lords; and the members in both were chofen nearly in equal numbers from each fide of the house.

The report of the committee [fee State Papers, p. 287.] being brought up on the 10th, and ordered to be printed, Mr. Pitt moved, “that a "committee be appointed to exa"mine the journals of the house, " and report precedents of fuch

proceedings as may have been "had in cafes of the perfonal ex"ercife of the royal authority being "prevented or interrupted by in"fancy, fickness, infirmity, or other

wife, with a view to provide for the "fame." The motion being made, Mr. Fox rofe, and objected to it as nugatory, and productive of unneceffary and improper delay. He faid, the right honourable gentleman knew, that no precedent was to be found of the fufpenfion of the executive government, in which, at the fame time, there existed an heir apparent to the crown, of full age and capacity. For his own part, he was convinced, upon the matureft confideration of the principles and practice of the conftitu

tion, and of the analogy of the common law of the land, that whenever the fovereign, from fickness, infirmity, or other incapacity, was unable to exercife the functions of his high office, the heir apparent, being of full age and capacity, had as indifputable a claim to the exercife of the executive power, in the name and on behalf of the fovereign, during the continuance of fuch in capacity, as in cafe of his natural demife. At the fame time he acknowledged, that the two houses of parliament were alone competent to pronounce when the prince ought to take poffeffion of and exercise his right.

He thought it candid, he faid, entertaining this opinion, to come forward fairly, and avow it at that inftant; that the prince had not made this claim himself, he imputed to his known moderation, and to the peculiar delicacy of his fitua tion; but he thought this a ftrong reafon, amongst others, why they should not waste a moment unneceffarily, but proceed, with all becoming fpeed and diligence, to restore to the conftitution the fovereign power, and the functions of the royal authority.

The chancellor of the exchequer rofe, with some heat, to controvert the doctrine advanced by Mr. Fox; he declared it to be little lefs than treafon against the conftitution; and pledged himself to maintain, on the contrary, that the heir apparent had no more right, in the cafe alledged, to the exercife of the executive power, than any other fubject in the kingdom; and that it belonged to the two remaining branches of the legiflature, in behalf of the people, to make fuch provision for fupplying the tempo

rary deficiency as they might think moft proper, to preserve unimpaired the interefts of the fovereign, and the fafety and welfare of the nation. He added, that from the mode in which the right honourable gentleman had treated the fubject, a new question prefented itfelf, and that of much greater magnitude than the question originally before them; it was a question of their own rights: it was become a doubt, whether the houfe had on this important occafion any deliberative power at all. The motion he had made could therefore no longer be called nugatory, but was become abfolutely neceffary, in order to learn and afcertain their own rights.

Mr. Fox remarked, in reply, that the fovereignty of thefe kingdoms being hereditary, and no parliament exifting which could legally alter the fucceffion, nothing but a cafe of neceffity, which at prefent, he averred, did not exift, could juftify the two houfes in affuming to themselves the right of fetting afide the heir apparent from the regency, or putting the executive power into his hands with any limitations or restrictions impofed by their own authority.

Mr. Burke added fome farcastical remarks upon the doctrine of the chancellor of the exchequer. Were he to become an elector for the regency, as undoubtedly, he said, every member of the houfe would be, if the doctrine they had heard was received, he hoped he fhould be excused if he gave his vote for a prince whofe amiable difpofition was one of his many recommendations, in preference to a competitor who had threatened the affertors of the prince of Wales's right with the penalties of conftruc

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tive treafon. Being called to order for thefe expreffions, he infifted that he was not diforderly: the right honourable gentleman had afferted that the prince had no more right to the regency than any other fubject whatever; and if the house were of the fame opinion, who would answer for the event of the election?

Mr. Pitt concluded the converfation with complaining of the indecency of the expreffion that had been ufed; and asked, whether, when Mr. Somers afferted, in the convention of 1688, that no perfon had a right to the crown, it would have been thought decent for any member to have rifen and pronounced him a competitor with William III.

A committee of twenty-one, of whom nine were members of oppofition, was then appointed to fit with the ufual powers.

Dec. 11. fame motion was made The day following the in the house of lords by the prefident of the council, and carried without a divifion. His lordship condemned the doctrine advanced by Mr. Fox in the house of commons, which he stated to be, that on the event of his majesty's incapacity, the prince of Wales had an immediate right to affume the exercife of the fovereign power. This he declared was treaforable to the conftitution; and he afferted, on the contrary, that the right and duty of fupplying the prefent deficiency of the fovereign power belonged folely and entirely to the two remaining branches of the legislature.

Lord Loughborough defended Mr. Fox's pofition, both as being more analogous to the law of the land and the spirit of the conftitution, and as fteering clear of the

many embarraffments and dangers which might arife from the oppofite doctrine. He infifted upon the political abfurdity of having an hereditary fucceffion to the monarchy, and an elective regency. He asked, whether the two houfes would not thereby in effect affume the whole government to themselves, as fuch a regent might be fo elected, as would neceffarily become the mere slave of the electors? He put the case of the two houses in Ireland affuming the fame right, and electing a different perfon to be their regent. He reminded the house, that by the common law the prince of Wales had many rights and privileges peculiar to himself, and which belonged to no common fubject. He was therein described to be one and the fame with the king, and it was as much high treafon to compass or imagine his death as that of the king It would fcarcely, he said, be denied, that if the prefent unfortunate emergency had happened during an intermiffion of parliament, that the prince of Wales would have been warranted in issuing writs, and fummoning the parliament to meet. At the fame time he held, with Mr. Fox, that the exercise of this right, under the prefent circumflances, ought to wait the declaration of his majefty's incapacity by the two houfes of parliament.

The lords Stormont and Portchefter argued on the fame fide with lord Loughborough; and were oppofed by the chancellor and earl Stanhope, the former of whom contented himself with declaring, that the doctrine advanced was to him at least entirely new.

On the 12th the report Dec. 12. was brought up from the committee, and ordered to be print


ed; and Mr. Pitt then moved, that the houfe fhould on Thurfday next refolve itself into a committee of the whole house, to take into confideration the ftate of the nation.

Upon this occafion Mr. Fox rose to defend himself against the mifreprefentations which, he alledged, had been given of his fentiments relative to the regency. He had been made to affert that the prince of Wales had a right to affume the royal authority, upon the interruption of its exercife in confequence of the king's illnefs and incapacity. He believed, he said, that he had never used the word affume; what he undoubtedly meant, and what he was ftill ready to maintain, was, that the claim, as of right, was in the prince, but that the adjudication of the poffeffion was in the two houfes of parliament. Their right of election he pofitively denied, and he conceived there was a clear diftinction between that, and the right of adjudication. Thus in contefted returns of members of that houfe, the right of adjudication belonged to their committee above ftairs, but the right of the perfon declared duly returned to his feat in parliament was derived from another authority, the right of election in his conftituents. He was glad, however, to find that even they who denied the strict right, admitted that the prince had an irrefifcible claim to the regency; and as they agreed in fubftance, he thought they ought in prudence to waive the difcuffion of new and equivocal diftinctions. Mr. Fox concluded with expreffing his hopes that the chancellor of the exchequer would give the house fome information refpecting the nature

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of the propofitions he meant to lay before the committee upon the state of the nation. For his own part,. he faid, he should not hesitate then to declare what in his opinion they ought to be, namely, a declaration or address to the prince, ftating the fact of his majesty's prefent incapacity, and invefting his royal highnefs, during fuch incapacity, with the full exercife of all the royal powers, in the fame manner and to the fame extent as they might be exercifed by his majesty had his health enabled him to dif charge the functions of the fovereign authority.

Mr. Pitt followed Mr Fox, and after admitting the explanation given by the latter, declared that he was ready to meet him on the ground, upon which, after mature deliberation, he had thought fit to place the queflion in difpute between them. The right honourable gentleman now afferted, that the prince of Wales had a right to exercife the royal authority, under the prefent circumftances of the country, but that it was a right not in poffeffion, until the prince could exercile it on, what he called, the adjudication of parliament. He, on his part, denied that the prince of Wales had any right whatever, and upon that point the right honourable gentleman and he were still at issue; an iffue that, in his opinion, must be decided, before they could proceed one ftep farther in the great and important confiderations to be difcuffed and determined. An expreffion, he remarked, had alfo been used, tending to infinuate that this right of adjudication, under the prefent or fimilar circumflances, could only take place upon

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