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incapable of the functions of royal- of reviving the animosities to which ty. Should the event take place, former discussions had given birth. such a bill as that proposed would After a reply from sir Francis remove many of the difficulties ex. Burdett to the objections to his perienced in the former instances, motion stated by the members of and enable the government to put ministry; in which he avowed that itself into a state of activity in a he should at all times prefer here. much shorter time. He should ditary power, to contingent and therefore vote in favour of the purely accidental power placed in motion.
the hands of a few ministers, supLord Castlereagh admitting that ported by such majorities as he parliament had a right to enter in- had seen in that House ; and urged to such considerations without a upon the House the great constimessage from the crown, thought tutional importance of the queshowever, that it would not be tion; a division took place, for the prudent for them to expose them- motion, 73 ; against it, 238: Maselves to a conflict with the crown jority, 165. on such a remote contingency. It In the parliamentary history of appeared to him, that the hon. ba- the last year, notice was taken of ronet's object was, to destroy the an effort made by some of the discretionary power of parliament members of opposition to engage upon the subject, and that he pre- the House of Commons in a dis. ferred the determination of the cussion respecting the situation of question on the hereditary princi- the princess of Wales, and in parple. Whichever way it was de- ticular, to elicit from Mr. Perceval termined, there was a balance of some information on a subject with inconveniences: but the reason which his former relations to that why it was better that it should princess, had rendered him well rest in the discretion of parliament acquainted. The attempt then was, that this body felt it to be its failed ; but in the present year the first duty to take care that the circumstances in which her royal royal power should be returned highness was placed became a undiminished into the hands of its prominent topic in the debates legitimate possessor, as soon as the of parliament, and interested the incapacity of exercising it was re- whole nation for a considerable pemoved; whereas upon the here- riod to an uncommon degree. A ditary principle, the royal power general account of the transactions being immediately and fully trans- on this subject will properly come ferred to the regent, there was not under our head of Domestic Octhe same security for its resump- currences ; but that part of them tion.
in which parliament was concernMr. Whitbread spoke in favour ed must necessarily occupy a place of the motion, as thinking it the in the narrative of the proceedmost proper time for a parliamen- ings of that body. tary arrangement on the subject, As early as February 24, the now that party heats were so much hon. CochraneJohnstone had given allayed, that there was no danger notice of an intention to submit a
motion to the House of Commons, be instituted of her whole conrelative to the proceedings ordered duct during her residence in this by his majesty to be instituted on country. (See State Papers). the subject of the princess of A pause ensued after the Speaker Wales. Nothing, however, had had read the letter, when, at length, been done in this matter, when, Mr. Whitbread rose, and said, that on March 2nd, the Speaker rose, he apprehended it was impossible and stated to the house that he had that such a communication from received on the preceding day, so high a quarter could be passed when seated in the chair of that over in silence. He had therefore House, a letter purporting to come waited till the noble lord opposite, from her royal highness the prin- a cabinet minister (lord Castlecess of Wales, which she desired reagh), bad, by taking his place, to have communicated to the given an intimation that it was not House. He did not, however, think his intention to make any propothat it came in a sufficiently au- sition on the subject. And seeing thenticated form for such commu- no other member disposed to pro. nication ; bur having since receive ceed in the business, he wished ed a letter from the princess, ac- to ask the noble lord whether it knowledging that yesterday's let. was his design to call the further ter was sent by her, he would, with attention of the House to her the permission of the House, now royal highness's letter. read it.
Lord Castlereagh replied, that In the paper then read, her
no person was more sensible than royal highness informs the Speak- himself of the importance and deer, that she has received from licacy of the subject, but that obLord Sidmouth a copy of a report serving a notice for a motion to be made to the Prince Regent by cer- made two days hence relative to tain members of the privy council, the princess of Wales, he did not to whom his royal highness bad think it necessary at present to referred the consideration of do- enter on a consideration of the cuments and evidence relative to transaction alluded to. her character and conduct that Mr. Whitbread then inquired if the
report is of a nature to convey the hon. member who had given aspersions upon her, under which, the notice was in the House; and from a regard to the illustrious finding that he was not, he obhouses with which she is connected served, that it might be expedient by blood and marriage, she can- when he came, to inquire of him not for a moment acquiesce-that whether his motion was founded not having been permitted to know
on any understanding with her upon what evidence these persons royal highness. If it were not, it proceeded, or whether they acted would be for the house to decide as a body to whom she can appeal on the propriety of taking her for redress, or only in their indivi- royal highness's communication dual capacity, she is compelled to into their most serious considera. throw herself
upon the wisdom and tion. Here the conversation ended. justice of parliament, and to desire On March 4th the avenues of that the fullest investigation may the House of Commons were Vol. LV.
crowded with a vast number of stone rose, and declared in the first persons anxious to hear the debates instance, that for the motion lie on this interesting subject, and the was about to submit, he had no gallery was instantly filled on open- authority from the princess of ing the door.
Many peers were Wales, and no communication also waiting below the bar as au- with any persons whatever, but ditors. A motion, however, was that the proceeding had originated unexpectedly made by Mr. Lygon, exclusively from hinself. He then member for Worcestershire, forex. stated that a commission had been cluding strangers, which of course granted by the king, in 1806, to was carried into effect. Mr. Ben- lords Spencer, Grenville, Erskine, net thereupon moved an adjourn- and Ellenborough, to examine into ment, which was negatived. Mr. certain allegations that had been Cochrane Johnstone then rose and preferred against the princess of said, that as the hon. gentleman Wales, whose report (which he opposite had thought proper to read) contained the most unqualiclear the gallery, he should not fied opinion, that the charge probring forward his motion that duced by sir John and lady Dounight, but should reserve to him. glas, relative to her having borne self the right of renewing it on any a child in 1802, was uiterly destifuture occasion. Mr. Lygon de- tute of foundation; but concluded clared, that whenever the hou. with some strictures made by the gentleman did renew his motion, commissioners on the levity of he should also again move for manners displayed by the princess clearing the gallery.
on certain occasions. He next read A conversation then ensued, in a paper, which he was ready to which Mr. Whitbread urged lord prove to have been dictated by lord Castlereagh for information re-Eldon, Mr. Perceval, and sit 'Thospecting the report of the privymas Plumer, though signed by the
. counsellors alluded to in her royal princess of Wales, being a protest highness's letter, which his lord- addressed to the king against the ship refused to give, as there was report just mentioned, strongly asno motion before the House. Mr. serting her innocence, and calling Whitbread then read the report as the charges of her accusers a foul published from a newspaper, and conspiracy, made ex parte, and afobserved that the public were ig- fording no appeal. Upon this panorant of all the circumstances per the hon. member observed, which had induced the council to that he fully concurred in its sentimake such a report ; and said, that ments on the subject of the comif no other member would submit mission, and insisted that the a motion to the House on her royal charge against the princess before highness's petition, he would do that tribunal was nothing short of so. Mr. C. Johnstone having then treason, and that if the commisgiven notice of his intention to sioners had power to acquit her of bring on his motion on the follow the crime charged, they had equal ing day, the House adjourned. power to convict her. He thought,
On March 5th, the gallery being however, they had no authority to first cleared, Mr. Cochrane johne give a judgment on the occasion.
As a question of law, they left the the only object of the information matter as they found it. He un- called for, seemed to be,to persuade derstood that sir John and lady the House that such serious doubts Douglas .persisted in their story; existed as to the succession to the but if it were notoriously false, throne as required the interference why were they not prosecuted ? of parliament. But if the commisHe went on to remark, that he sioners were not competent to dewas informed, no proceedings of cide upon the charge of her royal the late privy-council, except the highness's pregnancy in 1802, the report, had been transmitted to the House of Cominons was certainly princess; but he submitted, that not the proper tribunal for such a copies of all the examinations decision. It was equally improper should be given to her. The hon. to bring before it for discussion the member concluded with moving minor charges against the princess, two resolutions. The first of these, or any unfortunate differences consisting of several paragraphs, which might exist between any contained, in substance, a relation branches of the royal family. The of the commission of 1806, and a only solid practical ground on declaration against its legal power which parliament could proceed to pronounce a judgment in the would therefore be, that doubts case ; whence it was inferred, that attached to the succession of the nolegal decision had yet been made crown. But in the present case against the truth of the fact sworn not the smallest doubt was enterto, of her royal highness's being tained on that subject. The comdelivered of a male child in 1802; missioners of 1806 did not make and that in consequence, the house a comparative inquiry into the was called upon by a regard to the weight of lady Douglas's testimony security of the throne and the tran- compared with that of other witquillity of the state, to institute, nesses; but they asserted, that they while the witnesses are living on had traced the whole history of the both sides, an ample and impartial child in question, and fully estabinvestigation into all the facts ap- lished that it was the child of anpertaining to this subject. The se
other woman. Their report was cond resolution was for an address also solemnly confirmed by a subto the Prince Regent, to order a sequent cabinet. No prosecution copy of the above report to be laid had been instituted against lady before the House, with copies of a Douglas, because, the
case being number of written documents par- laid before the crown lawyers, altieularly specified.
though they were satisfied as to The motion was seconded by the perjury, they saw difficulties Mr. John Wharton.
in the way of establishing it by leLord Castlereagh then rose, and gal evidence. On the whole, he first remarked on the singularity thought tliat calling for further of the hon, mover's proceeding, information would only be to whose second resolution called for make the parliament' an instruthose very papers as matters of in- . ment for gratifying that taste for formation, on which his first reso- calumny, which was so much the lution was founded. He said, that rage at the present time:
Sir Sam. Romilly rose to give an to consult what to do, and their account of the proceedings of the advice was, not to refer to the precommissioners, of 1806, as far as sent conduct of the princess of he was concerned with them. He Wales, but to the evidence of 1806. stated that the measure was adopt. In the proceedings of that year, the ed, as he believed, on the sugges. witnesses against her are declared tion of lord Thurlow; and he tes- infamous, and their evidence untified as to the impartiality with worthy of credit as applied to the which the examinations, at which principal charge, yet the same is he was present, were conducted. considered as good when applied He gave some arguments in favour to levity of manners. It was conof the legality of such a commis- sidered as insufficient to deprive sion, and replied to the assertion, her of the honours of her rank, that if they could acquit, they must and of access to the king, and sohave an equal right to condemn, ciety with the princesses, yet is by instancing the case of Margaret pow raked up to remove her from Nicholson, whose insanity being ber child! Mr. Whitbread then ascertained before a committee of read the minute of council of 1807, the privy.council, she was never signed by lords Eldon and Castlebrought to trial for her attempt reagh, which doubted the legality on his majesty's life.
of the commission of 1806, yet, Mr. Whitbread said, that he did (said he) these noble lords go back not rise to support the first resolu- to the same proceedings of 1806 tion, concurring in much that had as their guide. He next read that fallen from the noble lord; but he part of the minute of 1807, which thought, if the House dismissed the not only acquits the princess of subject without further explana- every charge of criminality brought tions or proceedings, her royal against her by the Douglasses, but highness would be grossly injured. exculpates her from every hint of When the noble lord talked of the unguarded levity attributed to her appetite for calumny, was he ig.. by the commissioners of 1806. Do norant of the many newspaper pa. then (said he) lord Castlereagh or ragraphs, the tendency of which lord Eldon mean to escape from was, to libel the princess? It ap- their words? The princess of Wales pears (hesaid) that her royal high- threatened a publication of her ness, finding that the intercourse case, drawn up by Mr. Perceval, between her and the princess her lord Eldon, and sir Thomas Pludaughter, was more and more re- mer, if she was not received at stricted, addressed a letter to the court ; this they advised her to do, Prince Regent, which was thrice with what other feelings than that returned unopened. At length it she was innocent-immaculate ? was read to him, and the cold an- and is it to be endured, that this swer returned was, that ministers evidence is to be raked up in order had received no commands on the to condemn, defame, and punish? subject. That letter had at length Mr. Whitbread concluded a speech found its way to the public prints, of extraordinary energy, with movand then his r. highness, as Prince ing as an amendment to the moRegent, summoneda privy-council tion, that an address be presented