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State of parties at the beginning of the year-Connection between
the Ministry and the Whigs—Prosecutions for Libel–Opening of the Session of Parliament- Amendment on the Address moved in the House of Lords by Earl Stanhope—The Address moved in the Commons by Lord Darlington— Amendment moved by Sir Edward Knatchbull-Resolutions moved as an Amendment by the Marquis of Blandford - Motion of Earl Stanhope, in the House of Lords, for an Inquiry by a Committee of the whole House into the state of the nation-A similar Inquiry moved for in the House of Commons.
? of parliament in the present the friendship was interested and year, the government found itself luke-warm. The whigs were willing in a new and unsafe position. By to lend the ministry such assistan unbounded use of its power, it ance as would save them from the had carried the great party ques- necessity of seeking a reconciliation tion of Catholic Emancipation; with the offended tories; but they but in so doing, it had lost the were not willing that even this confidence of a large body of its should be conceded, except as the most faithful and influential ad- means of gradually, at least, introherents, who, holding themselves to ducing themselves into an equal have been betrayed, had been con- share of power. They assented to verted into determined opponents. a coalition in parliament, but they Ministers, on the other hand, had expected, and their expectation gained the seeming support of their was neither unnatural nor unreaVol. LXXII.
sonable, that this should terminate country a measure contrary to its in a coalition in office. They had opinions, its interests, and its inno desire, therefore, to render the stitutions, but as politicians who, ministry independent: their policy to effect that purpose, had abanwas, to aid it with their counten- doned their tenets, betrayed and ance and their votes, so far as surprised their own confiding adwould be sufficient to keep it alive, herents, and introduced as a prinbut by no means to give it the ciple into the conduct of governrobustness and vigour of perfect ment, that every thing was to be health-as the quack takes care granted, which was demanded by that the infirmities of his patient any portion of the community, shall continue, till he himself shall with a sufficient quantity of clambe received as an essential part of our and threat. Betrveen them the family establishment. The and the whigs, the distance now duke of Wellington, again, was was at least not greater than bevery willing to use them as sup- tween them and the ministry; and porters: without their help he the whigs had never betrayed could not stand a single week; but them; and the unblushing disrehe was not disposed to receive them gard of the public voice of Enginto an equal share of his power. land and Scotland, which had been He still would have preferred a manifested in carrying through reconciliation with his old friends, the Catholic bill, had made, even and every hope of that nature among the opponents of that bill, would have been annihilated by an converts to the question of Parliaofficial coalition with the whigs. mentary Reform--almost the only He stood aloof, therefore, from a distinguishing legend that now remore intimate connection with the mained visible on the banners of latter, that he might keep open whiggery. His grace of Wellingthe door of reconciliation with ton, however, although he had the former ; and he flattered him. himself carried one public measure self, that as each of the two divie only by an open coalition with sions of his adversaries would be his political adversaries, and a unwilling to drive him, for the wreckless use of the power which preservation of his ministry, into that coalition gave him, seemed to the arms of the other, he might reckon it not within the range of conimand the occasional assistance probability, that a similar coalition of both to an extent sufficient to between these adversaries and his enable him to govern without former frienıls might be formed to placing himself in the power of carry another public measure, viz.
The tories, however, who his expulsion from power. His had been disgusted by the con- own conduct had at once furnished duet of ministers regarding the the motive to such an union, and Catholic bill, shewed no incli, removed one irreconcileable point nation again to trust the men who of difference between the parties had once betrayed them. They whose union he had to fear. The resisted Wellington, Peel, and party, of which Alr, Canning had their colleagues, not only as states- been the leader, and which, after men who had abused their power, his death, had acknowledged Mr, and coalesced with their political Huskisson as its head, would have antagonista, to force upon the supplied him both with intluence and with talent; but the expulsion the Lord Advocate of Scotland of Mr. Huskisson from the cabinet but that course was violated, and had been too ignominious to leave all other claims were disregarded, any hope of his return, unless the because it was desirable to conciliduke should stoop to make sub- ate the duke of Devonshire. The missions which neither his situa- security, however, thus obtained ation nor the obstinacy of his cha- was imperfect and unstable ; there racter seemed to allow.
was no amalgamation of the parConsidered in itself, too, the ties; it seemed rather to be matter ministry was altogether without of individual arrangement. The the means of making any com- great body of the opposition were manding figure in the house of willing to try whether they could Commons. With the exception of make the minister so sensible of Mr. Secretary Peel, who tried to his dependence, as to compel him fill the post of leader in that House, to admit them; but they were there was no man fitted to fight not prepared to be duped his their battles in debate with any crude scheme of governing by ditolerable degree of talent and viding, or to weaken the peculiar vigour~no one that held any high sources of their noisy influence by place in public opinion, either for sharing, as a party, the unpopuoratory or information. Every larity of his measures. disposition was shewn, therefore, While the Catholic bill was pendto form such an alliance with the ing, the press had given birth to whigs, as might, on all occasions, much vehement and angry discusmoderate their opposition, and on sion. The boldest amoug the opponsome, might bring over their voices entsof the measure was a papercallto the side of ministers. The mar- ed the Morning Journal, edited by a quis of Cleveland, a great borough, Mr.Alexander, and conducted, howproprietor of that party, under ever it might transgress the bounds whose patronage Mr. Brougham of even allowable invective, with had long sat, lent them his aid, very considerable talent. The part and his son, lord Darlington, un- which ministers had taken in regard dertook to move the address. The to emancipation laid them most duke of Devonshire was another peculiarly open to attack, and the influential personage on the same Morning Journal assailed them side ; and Mr. James Abercromby without mercy. The consequence long sat for one of his boroughs. was, that sir James Scarlett, the The office of Chief Baron of the Attorney-general, resolved to crush Court of Exchequer in Scotland the paper by ex officio informations. having become vacant, by the re- No fewer than three inforinations signation of sir Samuel Shephard, were filed, besides an indictment Mr. Abercromby, who had been which was preferred by the duke once a member of the English of Wellington. The first applicaChancery Bar, but had never been tion of Mr. Attorney was for an in any considerable practice, and information at the instance of the had for some years quitted his Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst, on profession, was promoted to the account of an article which was empty seat. In the usual course alleged to mean, although he was of otheial preferment, this office not pointed out in it by name, title, should have been bestowed on or rank, that he had procured the
office of Solicitor-general for Mr. cerned, neither the Lords nor the Sugden in return for a loan of Commons had found any cause to 30,0001. A rule having been complain of their privileges being granted, calling on Mr. Alex- attacked; but what they thought ander, and the other proprietors of might be overlooked in a period of the paper, to show cause against unexampled excitement, roused the information, Mr. Alexander the wrath of the more jealous put in an affidavit, in which he Attorney-general in their behalf. denied that the Lord Chancellor The fourth prosecution was an inwas the person alluded to. Most dictment at the instance of the people did not think favourably of duke of Wellington, for a libel on this affidavit, and the Court grant- his grace. It charged him with ed the information; but the Attor- despicable cant and affected money-general seemed to be more deration-with a want of “
“mercy, apprehensive of it, for, so soon as compassion, and of those he had thus ascertained what was kindly and tendersympathies which to be the defence of Mr. Alexander, distinguish the heart of a the information at the instance of from that of a proud dictator and the Chancellor was abandoned, and tyrant.” It imputed to him, in an ex officio information was filed, relation to the Catholic question, charging that the libel applied to that he had been guilty of the some member in his Majesty's grossest treachery to his country, government. By this substitution or else the most arrant cowardice, the prosecutor likewise gained the or treachery, cowardice, and artifice advantage of being entitled to reply. united.” This libel had appeared A second ex officio information was as a letter addressed to the editor filed, for a libel on the king and of the Journal, and was a genuine his government, that is, on the duke letter. So soon as it was known of Wellington and his colleagues. that it was to be prosecuted, the The libellous matter was contain- author, who was domestic chaped in an article which described lain to the duke of Cumberland, his grace as an ambitious, unprin- wrote to the duke of Wellington, cipled, and dangerous minister, avowing the letter. Yet the author keeping his majesty under degrad- was passed over, and the printer ing and unconstitutional control, was selected for prosecution. and his majesty as a king who All the cases were tried together. could be so controlled. A third On the first information, the deinformation was filed for a libel fendants were found guilty. On “tending to degrade the king, and the second the verdict was We to bring his government into con- find the defendants guilty of a libel tempt, and to inflame the minds of on his Majesty, but not guilty of his majesty's subjects against both a libel on his Majesty's ministers. Houses of Parliament." In so far We also beg to state itisouropinion, as the king and his government was that the article in question was concerned, the libel consisted of the written under feelings of very same kind of matter that formed great excitation, occasioned by the the subject of the second inform- unprecedented agitation of the ation, and it was in truth a second time. We therefore most earnestprosecution for the same offence. ly beg leave to recommend all the In as far as parliament was con- defendants to the merciful consi
deration of the Court." Notwith- allies described it, had conducted standing this verdict, the third in- them, gave severe blow to formation was pressed, and a ver- the public character of sir James dict of guilty obtained. On the Scarlett. We shall afterwards indictment at the instance of the see the discussions to which they duke of Wellington, the verdict gave rise in parliament. Coincidwas likewise, guilty. The defend- ing, as the last act of the performants were called up for judgment ance did, with the opening of the on the 4th of February, the day session, it was set down as another of the meeting of Parliament. The great addition to the sins of Attorney-general did not ministers, who, making little or no for judgment on the second inform- allowance, for vehement discussion, ation ; but he did move for it on which their own conduct had the third, which, in so far as the provoked, had employed all the king and his government
terrors of accumulated state proconcerned, contained the very secutions against those who had same matter. Mr. Gutch, one of spoken of them in language no the proprietors, was discharged on doubt of immoderate severity, but his own recognizance. Another which, nevertheless, a Jury had was ordered to enter into his own pronounced to be no libel. recognizance to appear when called On the 4th of February the on, and to find sureties in 1001. Session of Parliament was opened each for his good behaviour for by Commission. The King's Speech three years. A third proprietor, was in the following terms: who was included only in the My Lords and Gentlemen, indictment, was fined in 100l., and “ We are commanded by His ordered to be imprisoned till the Majesty to inform you, that his fine was paid. Alexander, the Majesty receives from all foreign editor, was punished with more Powers the strongest assurances of severity. The sentence on him their desire to mantain and culwas, that, for each of the three tivate the most friendly relations libels, he should be imprisoned in with this country. Newgate for four calendar months “ His Majesty has seen with -the second period of imprisonment satisfaction, that the war between to commence from the conclusion Russia and the Ottoman Porte of the first, and the third from the has been brought to a conclusion. expiration of the second ; that, for The efforts of his Majesty to each offence, he should pay to the accomplish the main objects of the king a fine of 100l.; and that he treaty of the 6th of July, 1827, should give security for his good have been unremitted. behaviour during
"His Majesty having recently himself in 5001., and two sureties concerted with his Allies measures in 250l. each, and be imprisoned for the pacification and final until such fines should be paid, settlement of Greece, trusts that he and such security given.
shall be enabled, at an early period, These prosecutions were received to communicate to you the parwith universal dislike by all parties ticulars of this arrangement, with in the country; and the temper, in such information as may explain which the whig Attorney-general, the course which his Majesty has under “a tory ministry governing pursued throughout the progress on whig principles," as its new of these important transactions,