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pregnancy in 1802, remained uncontra-
dy Douglas's deposition, who swore to the | the Throne, as required the interference of Parliament. He should not enter into any detailed inquiry as to the legality of the Privy Council acting as a tribunal in their proceedings on this subject; but he would state, that he was perfectly satisfied, that they were fully competent to inquire, whether there were, or were not, sufficient grounds of charge for putting the Princess of Wales on her defence. The present motion, however, did not go to the extent of settling the question, whether any such proceedings were, or were not, necessary. But he must say, that if the Commissioners were not competent to decide upon the charges against her Royal Highness of being pregnant in the year 1802, the House of Commons was certainly not the proper tribunal for deciding on such a question.If, on the other hand, no actual criminality was imputed to her Royal Highness, that House was equally an improper tribunal for deciding on that question. If, again, every shade in the conduct of the Princess of Wales, from the highest degree of guilt down to the lowest levity, were to be considered, that House was not, certainly, the place where such matters should be discussed. He must also observe, that if any unfortunate disputes or disunions existed between any members or branches of the Royal Family, any discussion in the House of Commons could serve only to increase alienation, to augment the evil, and to widen the breach. The only solid practical ground, therefore, on which Parliament could proceed, would be, that doubts attached to the succession to the Crown. But in the present case there was not the smallest doubt entertained upon that sub
MR. JOHN WHARTON seconded the motion.
LORD CASTLEREAGH rose and said, he felt that he should act most consistently with his duty in confining himself to explanation, with respect to parts of the Hon.ject. The Commissioners in 1806, from Member's speech, which would tend to their known character, and high legal quaguard the House against those false impres- lifications, were certainly fit persons to desions which it might otherwise excite. The cide upon that question; and they had demode of proceeding adopted by the Hon. cided, and no doubts remained on their Member was somewhat singular. His first minds that required the necessity of ParliaResolution was, in fact, even in his own mentary interposition. They did not make view of it, without any proof. His second a comparative inquiry into the weight of Resolution called for those very papers, as the evidence of Lady Douglas, as comparmatters of information, on which his first ed with, or contrasted to, that of other Resolution was founded; as if they were witnesses; but they decided, that they had matters of certain knowledge. He did not traced the whole history of the child so mean to urge it in the way of cavil against completely and satisfactorily, that no posthe proceeding, but surely if there were sible doubt could remain that it was not any grounds for the Resolutions, the second born of the Princess of Wales, but of anoshould have been the preliminary one; as ther woman, named Sophia Austin. Nor, the first, in its order, could by no possibi- indeed, did this decision rest only on their lity be adopted by the House. The only Report, for it was afterwards referred to object of the information called for, seem- other confidential servants of His Majesty, ed to be to persuade the House, that such who gave a solemn judgment, confirming serious doubts existed as to the succession to the Report of the first Commissioners. The
supposed doubt respecting the succession, which was to have the evidence reduced to was, therefore, rebutted by the authority writing, in order to submitting it to legal of the first Commissioners of the first Ca- consideration. Then his Royal Highness binet; and also by that of the subsequent felt it to be his duty to communicate the Cabinet, to whom the matter was referred, charges to his Royal Father, with whom, and who confirmed the same judgment. If and with whose Cabinet, and not with his any doubt found its way into the mind of Royal Highness himself, the whole affair Parliament, he would not deny, in the ab- had from that time remained. He could stract, that no case might exist, as to the really see no necessity for pursuing the subquestion of Succession, which it might be ject of this discussion any farther. It could the duty of Parliament to examine; but not be properly brought forward, except would the Honourable Gentleman say, that on the presumption that some doubts existafter all those authorities which he had stated relative to the succession to the Crown;
ed, it would be regular or rational for Parliament to interfere? Would not such interference rather serve to originate doubts, where no doubts existed; and give countenance to suspicions, contrary to the repeat ed declarations of all parties, that no case whatever had been made out, to require any such interference on the part of Parliament? The Hon. Gentleman himself had made his statement in such a manner as to shew that he entertained no doubts upon the subject: yet when neither he, nor any other Member, had any doubt respecting the legitimacy of the Succession, he called upon Parliament to legislate. It was perfectly true that there had been no prosecution entered into, of Lady Douglas: her evidence was taken by the Commissioners in the discharge of their duty; and the Hon. Gentleman should have stated in candour, that the first Cabinet recommended that no proceedings should be had, unless the Crown Lawyers deemed it advisable to prosecute Lady Douglas for perjury. A case was laid before them; and though they were satisfied as to the perjury, they, nevertheless, saw great difficulties in the way of establishing it by legal evidence, and, therefore, they did not advise prosecution. If he were so disposed, he might use some grounds of personal complaint against the Hon. Member, for he had transgressed the rules of his parliamentary duty, in stating that Mr. Perceval had prevailed upon the Cabinet to espouse the cause of the Princess of Wales. The Cabinet had acted deliberately and conscientiously in the busi-dressed a Letter to his Royal Highness, ness, and had advised that there were no containing his sentiments on the matter, reasons why her Royal Highness should not in December, 1805. After he gave that be admitted again to the presence of the opinion, his Royal Highness took every Sovereign, agreeably to the recommenda- possible means to ascertain what credit was tion of the former Cabinet, with whom, in- due to the parties, whose testimony had deed, it had originated. The Hon. Mem-been given. In the change of Administra ber had stated with a marked emphasis, tion which shortly followed, he had the that Lady Douglas's evidence was given by honour of being appointed Solicitor-Genecommand of his Royal Highness the Prince ral; and in March, 1806, he received Regent. In this matter, the Prince Re- His Majesty's commands to confer with gent followed the advice of Lord Thurlow, Lord Thurlow on this important business.
and he trusted, that in what he had said, he had convinced the House that no such doubts did exist. Calling for further information, if agreed to, would only be the means of gratifying private curiosity, by making Parliament the instrument of procuring that gratification, that taste for calumny, which was so much the rage at the present moment. He should trust to the indulgence of the House, to explain farther in reply, in case other circumstances were touched upon, which might render farther explanations necessary: and he hoped that the House would not tolerate suspicions or doubts, where none whatever existed, by adopting the motion of the Hon. Gentleman.
SIR SAMUEL ROMILLY commenced by observing, that the Hon. Member (Mr. Cochrane Johnstone) had indulged himself in terms of such strong censure of the Administration of 1806, as to render it impossible for him to preserve silence. No man who knew them, would throw the slightest shade of disrespect or suspicion on the conduct of those four Noble Lords, who composed that Commission of Inquiry. With respect to himself, he had to say, that he was consalted by his Royal Highness, in his professional capacity, upon the subject; and was, he believed, se lected for that purpose, by the recommendation of the late Lord Thurlow, that he might give his opinion on this very delicate investigation. After having considered it with the utmost care and anxiety, he ad
was, therefore, of opinion, that the motion ought to be negatived.
MR. WHITBREAD observed, that the Hon. Member who had brought forward the present motion had stated his intention to him; and he had told him, that he thought his first Resolution could not be adopted. He, therefore, did not rise in support of it, for he concurred in much that had fallen from the Noble Lord opposite; and thought that, at this period at least, no such motion should be entertained by the House, as might render it the vehicle of communicating to the public at large, those matters which it was much better should be suppressed. He must, however, remind the Noble Lord of his expression of his readiness to make explanations, particularly with respect to the more recent parts of these transactions. If the House dismissed this subject without any farther explanations or proceedings, the Princess of Wales would, in his mind, be grossly injured. Her Royal Highness complained to the House, of vague, and ambiguous blame thrown upon her, and demanded explanation at least. By the common uncontradicted rumour, it appeared that she had addressed a letter to the King, impeaching the proceedings of
Lord Thurlow desired him to tell the Prince of Wales, that the information was of a nature much too important for his Roy. al Highness not to take some proper steps in consequence. This he communicated to the Prince of Wales, and in a short time afterwards, the facts as stated, were submitted to some of the King's Ministers. An authority was then issued under the King's Sign Manual to certain Members of the Privy Council, to take up the investigation of the whole of the case. Many meetings were held, and many witnesses were examined thereupon; and he (Sir S. Romilly) was the only other person present besides the Commissioners, at these examinations, which were conducted by the four Noble Lords mentioned, and he took down all the depositions. He must declare in the most solemn manner, that no inquiry was ever conducted with greater impartiality, nor was there ever evinced a more anxious desire to discharge justly a great public duty. With respect to the propriety of instituting proceedings against Lady Douglas, he should beg to state, that the objections to the institution of such proceedings, did not arise from any doubts of the right of the Commissioners to administer an oath, as some persons had insinuated, nor indeed from any doubt as to whether the four Noble Lords who were the Comthe facts sworn to were true or false, but missioners in 1806; and it should be refrom other circumstances. He was prepar-membered, that in so doing, she was uned to maintain, that the legality of the derstood to be acting under the advice of Commission, composed of certain Mem- Mr. Perceval. Lord Eldon, it was also bers of His Majesty's Privy Council, re- stated, approved of that letter. The same quired no other authority but the authority was said of Sir T. Plumer, now His Ma of the King, directing them to inquire into jesty's Attorney-General, who, being prethe circumstances of a charge of High sent, could contradict the assertion if it Treason and that it was not only their were untrue. He wished to know from right, but their duty to go into such inqui- the Noble Lord opposite, whether with ry. Ought a bill, for instance, to be sent the privity and knowledge of those persons, down, at once, to a Grand Jury of the and for the purpose of making Her Royal county of Middlesex, without any prelimi- Highness's innocence manifest to the nary proceedings? No man, he believed, world, a work was not printed, intended who was acquainted with the duty imposed to be published and circulated throughout upon the King's Privy Councillors, would England and Europe? When the Noble hazard such an assertion. It was their du-Lord talked of an appetite for slander and ty to inquire into all matters of a treasona- calumny, was he not aware that newspable nature, before they referred them to pers had lately teemed with paragraphs the regular tribunals for trial. In the recent and extracts, the tendency of which was ease, for instance, of Margaret Nicholson, to libel the Princess of Wales? Was not the Privy Council found the woman to be the public mind in a state of agitation insane; and no proceedings whatever were on this subject, which it was highly exinstituted against her. Sir Samuel Romil-pedient to allay? Nobody doubted that Lady ly argued at some length, in proof of the Douglas was a perjured person; but though legal right of the Privy Council to act as a that was not doubted, she still remained a tribunal of investigation for the purpose competent witness: and, therefore, some specified, of which, he contended, no check ought to be put to the propagation of doubt could reasonably be entertained. He ambiguous reports. It appeared that her
her, and to receive her at once, in the manner due to her exalted rank and station in the community! But now, in 1813, was raked up the old evidence of 1806, by some of those very persons, in order to defame her, and punish her by additional restrictions! Ought she to submit to these imputations? Ought not that House to interfere? The Noble Lord, indeed, had observed, that any of her Royal Highness's legal advisers who chose to do so, might come forward in her behalf. There was a time when she did not want legal advisers,
Royal Highness, finding the intercourse between her and the young Princess was restricted more and more, addressed a letter to the Prince Regent, which was twice returned unopened. At length, it seems, it was read to his Royal Highness, and the cold answer returned was, that Ministers had received no commaands on the subject. That letter at last found its way into the public prints; and then his Royal Highness, not as the Head of his Family, but as Prince Regent, by the advice of Ministers, summoned a Privy Council to consult what he should do: and the extraordinary advice of this Privy Council to his Royal Highness was, not to refer to the present conduct of the Princess of Wales, but to the evidence of 1806 or 7! Was there ever advice so preposterous, and so cruel! The levities of her Royal Highness in 1806 were to be punished in 1813, more severely than was thought necessary in former years, by increased restrictions and restraints! Mr. W. then adverted to the opinion lately given by the legal advisers of the Prince Regent, which had but recently been made known, and which stated, that, according, to their experience, cases not of graver import might be sent to a jury. Here then, it would appear, there must be doubts as to the succession to the Throne! When the Noble Lord and his Colleagues framed their last Report, had they not all this before them? If so, let the House see what this Cabinet did, who, in 1807, pronounced a verdict of entire acquittal on the part of her Royal Highness, and who fast-nourable Gentleman, who is the mover of ened such serious imputations on her in this question, once gave in a petition,, 1813! By the advice of Lord Eldon and which he told me 135 Members had reMr. Perceval, as it was understood, the fused to present. This might have been Princess of Wales threatened publicity to the situation of the Princess of Wales.". the former proceedings, and then she was Mr. W. then moved as an amendment to re-admitted at Court. Her advisers must, the motion, that after the word that,' the at that period, have been fully persuaded following should be adopted: "An address, of her innocence, or they never would have to the Prince Regent, praying that a copy recommended her to risk such a publication of the Report to which her Royal Highto the world. Mr. W. then commented ness had referred, be laid before the on the various circumstances connected with House." the transactions of 1807, when an unanimous opinion was declared, that all the particulars of the Princess's conduct, to which any character or colour of criminality could be ascribed, were either satis factorily contradicted, or rested on evidence under such circumstances as to render it unworthy of credit. This was a complete verdict of not guilty. The King had been previously advised to receive her Royal Highness, with a reproof for her unguarded conduct; but those ministers advised no reproof, and called on His Majesty to restore
when Mr. Perceval, and Lord Eldon, and others, were her legal advisers! But one of them was now dead, and the others had become mute! He had declared last night, that if no one else did, he would stand up, not as her advocate, but for the cause of justice. She ought not to be the only person in this country, so famed for its humanity, without a friend, or a legal adviser. What recourse was left to her but an appeal to the justice of Parliament? Her request to the Prince Regent was similar to that of Anne Boleyne to Henry the VIIIth,- Prove me guilty, or admit me to be innocent!' "The Speaker of the House of Lords has twice returned her letter, as we hear, unopened. You, Sir, (addressing the Speaker) have, with great propriety, submitted the letter which you have received, to our consideration. Suppose you had refused to present her petition! It might have happened, Sir, that nobody else would have presented it. The Ho
LORD CASTLEREAGH was sorry to trouble the House a second time, but trusted to their indulgence. He could assure the Hon. Gentleman who spoke last, that he was glad to find the question in his hands, as he had met it in a manly manner, and had put it on the true grounds, of an attack on the Ministers of the day. He denied that the opinions of the Members of the Privy Council who signed the minute were binding on all the Ministers of the day, who were not then consulted; or that he, as a Minister, could be viewed as any
party to the advice of Mr. Perceval, in his professional capacity. He disclaimed any knowledge of the circulation of paragraphs reflecting on her Royal Highness. He wished she had still such advisers as Mr. Perceval; then such a letter would have neither been written nor published. As to the letter being returned unopened, it was an unfortunate circumstance attached to the separation of the Prince and Princess, that all correspondence had been at an end, lest it might aggravate the existing misunderstanding. That was not the first letter which had been so returned. The restrictions on the intercourse between the Princess and her daughter was not of that vindictive nature, which might be called punishment. The alteration in the visits from once a week to once a fortnight, was made when the young Princess went to Windsor, to prevent the interruption of her education by too frequent visits to town, and was not intended to be continued when she should return to London to reside. All the circumstances of this part of the case, he did not feel justified in submitting. They had appeared, however, sufficient to men of as honourable minds as the Hon. Gentleman. He must say, that the publication of the letter was such an appeal to the country against the Prince Regent, and such an appeal to the daughter against the father, as to render every change in the plan impossible. Of all the passages in it, he most disapproved of that canting one about Confirmation. There was no restraint on the intercourse between the Princess of Wales, and the Rev. Bishop of Exeter: and if she had communicated with that Prelate, she must have known that the King, from religious motives, had enjoined that her confirmation should not take place till she attained the age of 18. His Royal Highness had condescended to advise with his servants in his anxiety to discharge every part of his important trusts with the greatest attention to the public welfare. He should resist, therefore, the production of the documents, since no parliamentary ground could be alleged for it.
SIR THOMAS PLUMER having been per-aware, that his own conduct, at those pesonally alluded to, hoped for a short indul- riods, when those accusations were going gence. He did not know whether he was on against -, would not accused of once being her Royal Highness's and he thought that the RF legal adviser: whether it was for the ad- ought not to be insensible to the events vice he then gave; or for his now having which had taken place on the Continent. ceased to be one of her Royal Highness's legal advisers. In 1806, he waited on her at her request, and gave his professional advice. Had he done wrong in that? He should not disclose that evidence; but he
MR. W. SMITH thought, that if a sister of his were treated as the Princess of Wales had been, he should feel extremely sore. He regretted much that he could not see very clearly how redress was to be af
had, in that advice, the satisfaction of being joined by Mr. Perceval, who was not then in the Cabinet, but a professional man. All he should say was, that he never discovered any just foundation for the charges made against the Princess. Certainly he was not one of her advisers now. The situation he held would probably have precluded him from that: but he had not been applied to, and he presumed her Royal Highness employed those in whom she had more confidence.
THE HON. MR. BRAND admitted the competency of the Privy Council in the case they had before them; but contended, that their report exposed the affairs of the country to much difficulty and danger. He made various animadversions on the speech of the Noble Lord, and concluded by observing, that if they refused to entertain the application of the Princess, they refused justice to the first subject in the country.
MR. STUART WORTLEY said, he felt warmly on the subject as a man of honour. He could not vote either for the original motion, or for the amendment: but yet he did not think that the Noble Lord had given a satisfactory answer to either of them. He was extremely averse to seeing the Royal Family dragged, year after year, before the House of Commons. He thought the Noble Lords, the Commissioners, went further, in the first instance, than the case seemed to require; and that they should have confined themselves to the criminal charge alone, with a view to the possible proceedings on which their advice was taken. The first report of some of the present Ministers advised the King to receive the Princess; and now this last Report raked up old documents, on which they had acquitted her Royal Highness before. If the Prince Regent had said, "As your hus band, and as the father of your child, I choose to restrict you to visiting her once in a week," the public might have been satisfied with an arrangement which it was his right to make, if he thought fit. however, should have been