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effected one of two objects: they made out either that the principle was erroneous and unfounded, or that ministers were inconsistent in their application and use of it.
Such is a brief sketch of the leading doctrines broached by the two great parties in parliament, on the great and difficult question respecting the powers which, consistent with the spirit of the British constitution, ought to be vested in a Regent. But there was a third party in parliament, more formidable for the boldness with which they promulgated and defended their opinions, and for the weight and influence which they possessed with a great portion of the people, than for their numerical strength, who, though they in general coincided with the opposition in their main view of the question, yet placed it in other points of light in which the regular opponents of ministry either durst not or were not disposed to consider it. The party alluded to, was that of which Sir Francis Burdett was regarded as the head and the leader :-this party did not hesitate nor scruple to maintain in the most open and undisguised manner, that ministers, by suffering government to go on so long stripped of the royal authority, and virtually of the person of the Sovereign, had given a practical proof of the truth of the assertions made by the most violent republicans, and particularly by their champion Thomas Paine, that the royal authority was not necessary either to the well-being or existence of government; and they added, that if the Regent actually did assume and carry on the executive power without all the prerogatives which the constitution had given to the Sovereign, that would be a glaring and practical proof, that more prerogatives than were necessary to the well-being of the state had been lodged with the Sovereign, and a sufficient reason to deprive him of the future possession of them. So far the doctrines and opinions held by this party were such as might have been expected from them, and in perfect consistence with their fundamental principles, and with their former professions and conduct. But when they proceeded to intermix high expectations of the Prince Regent, and to declare that from bim they expected a line of conduct that would, to use their own
language, restore the constitution to its original purity and force, it was scarcely possible not to entertain a suspicion that they hoped, by expressing expectations they did not entertain, to draw the Prince over to their party, and to extract that by flattery from him which they did not look for from principle or inclination.
Having thus given a concise exposition of the leading principles of the several parties in parliament on this momentous business, we shall now proceed to lay before our readers an epitome of those proceedings in parliament, which terminated in the establishment of the Prince of Wales as Regent of these realms.
After several adjournments, the House of Commons met on the 20th of December, when the House having resolved itself into a committee of the whole on the state of the nation, the following resolutions were moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
*1. That it is the opinion of this House, That his Majesty is prevented by indisposition from coming to his parliament, and from attending to public business, and that the personal exercise of the royal authority is thereby for the present interrupted.
“2. That it is the opinion of this House, That it is the right and duty of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons of Great Britain now assembled, and lawfully, fully and freely representing all the estates of the people of this realm, to provide the means of supplying the defect of the personal exercise of the royal authority, arising from his Majesty's said indisposition, in such a manner as the exigency of the case may appear to require.
"3. Resolved, That for this purpose, and for maintaining entire the constitutional authority of the king, it is necessary that the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons of Great Britain, should determine on the means whereby the royal assent may be given in parliament to such bill as may be passed by the two Houses of Parliament respecting the exercise of the powers and authorities of the crown, in the name and on
the behalf of the King, during the continuance of his Majesty's present indisposition.'
On the reading of the third resolution, an amendment was moved by Mr. Ponsonby to the following effect :
• That a humble address be presented to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, requesting that his Royal Highness will be pleased to take upon him during the indisposition of the King, and no longer, the government of this realm; and administer the same in the name and in the behalf of his Majesty, under the style and title of Regent of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.'
This amendment was lost by a majority of 112, but it had the special tendency of exposing the views of the Prince's party, as it was supported by those members who were known to stand the highest in the confidence and favour of bis Royal Highness; and, further, it had the untoward effect of arousing the vigilance of the ministerial party in regard to the support of the restrictions, which were shortly to be submitted to the consideration of parliament.
On the same day, in the House of Peers, the question of the resolutions was agitated in a cursory way, owing to some questions put by Lord Holland, respecting the course intended to be pursued by the existing administration ; but it was not until the 27th, that the resolutions were formally moved by the Earl of Liverpool, and which drew from the Duke of Sussex one of the most virulent speeches against ministers which had ever been pronounced upon the subject. It arose in support of the following amendment to the third resolution moved by Lord Holland.
That his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, being of mature age, be requested to take upon himself the exercise of the powers and authorities of the crown, in the name and on the behalf of the King, during the continuance of his Majesty's present indisposition, and no longer.'
• That an address, founded on this resolution, be presented to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, requesting him to take upon himself the government aforesaid ; and that it be at the same time, and in the same manner, communicated to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, that it is further the opinion of this committee, that it will be expedient to abstain from the exercise of all such powers as the immediate exigencies of the state shall not call into action, until parliament shall have passed a bill or bi!ls for the future care of his Majesty's royal person, during his Majesty's present indisposition, and the securing to his Majesty, whenever it shall please Divine Providence to restore his health, the resumption of his royal authority.
Our limits will not allow us to give verbatim the manly speech of his Royal Highness, but the following detached parts will fully exhibit its genuine tone and temper.
• My Lords, if I understand anything of the constitution of my country, the ministers of the Sovereign are a set of men whom the King calls to his councils, and therefore are they styled his confidential servants. They are to take the pleasure of their Sovereign, to advise him vpon all matters wherein the welfare and interests of his people are concerned, to the best of their knowledge and judgment, for which they are responsible to parliament. In consequence of their representations, his Majesty commands them how to act; and for the execution of these royal commands, they are equally amenable to the grand tribunal of the empire.
Now, then, my Lords, are we to allow ourselves to be persuaded, dare those ministers assert, that they have acted as they would have advised their royal master, whom they have not seen for these last eight weeks, with whom they have had ņo personal communication, who has no free will of his own, and who is separated from all the tenderest ties of nature ? My Lords, if these late courageous ministers have acted, they have usurped a power which they have no right to exercise. If they have been frightened—if they have hesitated—if they have stumbled, and not acted, why then, my Lords, they are equally treasonable for allowing the magistracy of royalty to be suspended for such a length of time; which is a situation the constitution can never know, and, of course, can never acknowledge. It is a shock the most dreadful, the most deadly, the constitution has ever received since the period of the Revolution.
• My Lords, the Sovereign is a sole corporation ; he never dies; he enjoys a political immortality. In attempting, therefore, the destruction of this grand constitutional principle, these late ministers of his Majesty have committed a regicide act against the magistracy of royalty.
• My Lords, 1 hear of restrictions in the regency. I say my Lords, these restrictions cannot, must not be. If
If you feel the necessity of a regent, he must have full powers, and not be the very mummery or mockery of royalty; which is the system ministers are anxious to adopt. He must be, my Lords, an efficient magistrate, with those prerogatives which the common law of England assigns to a king, and which the people of the United Kingdom have a right to demand. The law has frequently provided a remedy of a regency for the infancy of our kings. So if a king should fall into such an unfortunate situation as assimilates bim to that position, then the estates of the realm may, upon the parity of the case, seek the remedy provided for an infant, and lodge the power in a regent. And as, in the weakness of infancy, a prince regent has always, in law, had the same power with the king, who has not, or, from misfortunes, cannot have a will, therefore, the Regent's will is the same as the King's will, and consequently the power ought, and must be the same—but with this security, that, in the exercise of his important functions, the right of the Sovereign is owned by the Regent to remain in the King, and that he becomes the crown guardian of those rights.
Feeling as I do at this moment, my Lords, I cannot conclude otherwise than by imploring your Lordships to pay your most serious attention to a subject in wbich the vital parts of our constitution are concerned, and in quoting the words of a late learned Lord who filled the woolsack at the former and similar momentous period of 1788—“ May God forget me, if I forget my King !"--and to which pious and fervent ejaculation I must further add with equal devotion—May God