« ZurückWeiter »
of converting these practices to his own able Manager who opened the proemolument. But if what came out in evi- ceedings, had boldly thrown down the dence should amount to no more than that gauntlet, and affirmed, that such applisomething still remained unexplained in a cation was always a crime by law, which series of twenty-four years transactions, law was declared and sanctioned by the he hoped their Lordships would pause be- House of Commons. He, however, denied fore they pronounced the Noble Defendant the existence of the law, and if there were guilty of corruption, whose habits of life any such, it was incumbent upon then to were well known always to have exhibited shew it, as their Lordships knew very well, every proof of carelessness with regard to that no resolution of either House of Parliamoney matters.
ment, even supposing it to remain in full The Hon. Manager himself (Mr White force, could have the effect of a law. This bread), who opened these charges, with a opinion of his was far from being new, as manly candour and liberality, which aid it was one which, hy some of the first parhim the highest honour, declared, that he liamentary anthority, was declared over čo believed Viscount Melville to possess a and over again, in that very sanctuary of generous spirit in regard to money, incap- liberty (the House of Cominons) which his able of being influenced by the sordid prin- Learned Friend (Sir S. Romilly) seemed ciple of avarice." Such a declaration on to think violated by the declaration made the part of an accuser, when coupled with in it by Visc. Melville. All the arguments the known habits of his life, niust render it on the other side would have equally apincredible that he should, in this single in- plied to every former public accountant; stance, depart from his usual character, for but he was prepared to shew that it was an object he never was attached to. not then the law, was not now the law, Placed' as he was, in a situation, perhaps, and never was the law, that such applicaof all others, the most likely to elevate tions of the public money, was a high 'the mind, filling, as he did, some of crime and misdemeanour. He would even the most important offices of the State, be- go farther, and shew that the contrary was ing at the same time one of his Majesty's the law. and had been so declared by the Principal Secretaries of State, President of ancestors and relatives, not only of many the Board" of Controul over East India of their Lordships, but of one of the present ‘Affairs, Treasurer of the Navy, &c. it was Managers, and that too in the sanctuary not to be supposed that he could sink and
of liberty. let himself down into so degraded a being He then went into a detail of the numea as these charges would represent him to be, rous instances, in which public account. and that for an object that it was impos. ants had acknowledged that they applied sible he should ever be in want of; ror the public money to their own advantage, would their Lordships, he was convinced, and maintained that they had a right to do suffer it to operate to the defendant's dis- so, provided the public sustained no loss by advantage, if he could not, after the lapse it. He dwelt particularly on the case of of 22 years, produce witnesses to disprove the late Lord Holland, who, when called every article of charge; and after the prin- to account for a balance of no less than cipal witness was dead, whose testimony 450,000l. was so far from acknowledging would otherwise serve to acquit him.--As that he had no right to employ the balanto the first sum, the irregular application çes in his hands to his own advantage, that of which was charged against the Noble he maintained his right to do so, and that Viscount, it would be sufficient for him to he was ready to produce them, whenever say, that it'arošė at a period when there called upon, for the service for which they was no common por written law against it. were intended, any intermediate use he He might, in full confidence, resť there; might make of then being a matter of inbut he would not have the House to sup- difference to the public. What was still pose that he was flying from the charge, more to his purpose, that doctrine was as. or sheltering himself under the absence of sented to by the Minister of the day (the the act of Parliament which afterwards late Earl of Chatham), and these two great took place. So far from its being a crime, men, who never agreed in any other point, for a public accountant to make even the were of the same opinion upon this. The greatest temporary use of the public money resolution of the House of Commons ato his own advantage, he would shew their gainst such applications, passed on the 18th Lordships, there was no law, no condition, of June 1782, had never since been acted no, not even any express or implied obliga- upon, but at all events could not have the tion against it. It was true, that his Hon. and form of a law upon the subject. Amongst Learned Friend the Manager who 'sum- the instances he stated in support of his med up the evidence did not much ine, proposition, was one in which a motion sist upon this point; but the bonorita was made, in the House of Commons, to oblige the Receiver-General of the land put upon his defence, silence should be in. tax to pay in his balances to the bank, terpreted as a crime? As far as he under. when one of their Lordships now present,
stood the law of England, a person accused but then a Member of the other House, had the liberty of making whatever anwas not ashamed to stand up in his place, Śwer he thought proper, or if he so chose in that sanctuary of liberty, and oppose the to do, it was not incumbent on him to motion, on the ground that it would be a make any answer at all. The charge of hardship on the Receiver-General. Even the Managers against the Noble Viscount a Right Hon. Gentleman, whose name and was, that he had not told enough against virtues, he was sure, would always be con- himself, but he believed, that before this sidered with the highest respect in that
time silence was never held to be a crime House (he meant the late Mr Grenville,) in that or any Court whatever. If, then, when called upon for the balances of the it was shewn that silence was never before public money in his hands, required two deemed a crime, why was it held so now? months to pay them in, which was tanta- The reason was, that the Noble Drfen. mount to a confession, that he had been dint, in the dignity and manliness of his applying them otherwise than to the pub- nature, spurned at any accusation unwor. lic use, for which they were intended. If, thy of his character. The only proofs prothereíore, it were true that the Noble De- duced in support of his criminality, were fendunt, in this case, had been applying the suggestions of the Managers, and his any sums of the public moriey to his own own silence.
He candidly confessed, that use, it would be a sufficient defence for he felt himself bound by honour, and a him to say that they were always prompi. sense of public duty, not to disclose in what ly, fairly, and honourably paid, whenever manner he disposed of the money; and called upon for the public service; and as was he to suffer for being influenced by he had already shown, it was of little con- such principles ? was it to be deemed a sequence, whether he intermediately applied crime, if, conscious of being in the right, them for purposes of profit to himself, or he chose to carry his secret with him to left them deposited in the Bank, where the grave, and make himself responsible they could be advantageous or profitable for any consequences that may attend it?
With respect to the 10,000l. But, though the Noble Defendant consireferred to by Viscount Melville, in the dered himself bound by various ties to obHouse of Commons, it was a sum which serve this silence, sure the enlightened never was called for, never was warited, minds of their Lordships niust easily sugo and which he need not have said any gest circumstances, in which a high officer, thing about, if he thought proper. He seeing the country surrounded by numeinade no disposition of that money, until rous enemies, foreign and domestic, might his accounts were passed, and then he was find a necessity of applying a sum of money at liberty to transfer it to any other branch for a purpose different from that for which of the public service he thought proper, or
to no one.
it was appropriated by law. Was it diff 'where it might be most wanted. Upon cult to devise uses in which such an appithis subject, which had been emphatically cation would be meritorious, instead of cra dwelt upon; he must maintain that his minal ? The Managers alledged, that he Lordship was under no obligation, either made the application corruptly, but of tha! legal or moral, of telling in what manner they had not been able to produce a single he disposed of it :-It was quite sufficient for
tittie of evidence. him that to say the money had been paid. One of the Managers (Mr Whitbread) When called upon to make the disclosure, occupied some time in representing to their it must be remembered, that it was the Lordships the impressions which this transcall of an enemy, the call of an accuser, to action made upon his own mind. The convict himself of high crimes and misde- Hon. Gentleman, however, then went out
of his way, and assumed the character of a The Learned Gentleman then went into witness. He only stated, not the imprese a legal disquisition of the obligations impos- sion which it made upon an unbiassed ed by conditions and compacts; and con
niind, but upon the mind of an accuser, and tended, that even if any such obligation
therefore not entitled to all the weight did exist at any time, it must cease as soon which they might otherwise give to him. as the Noble Lord was out of office. Was The Hon. Manager must excuse him for it to be expected that he would make a saying, that in the Supreme Court of Judi candid disclosure at the monient he was cature, Whitbread the Manager, and Whitcalled upon to answer for crimes? If he' bread the witness, stood in very differest was, let men talk no more of the liberality characters. In opposition to those imprese of British justice. Was it ever held to be sions on the mind of the Hon. Manager, he a principle of law, that when a man was had to state that this charge had already
been clearly and positively disproved by that he should be unable to give any aca two witnesses; and if, after all the ingenui- count of these notes, yet, from the failure
ty and talents which the Managers could of accounting for such a trifle, in the imlift employ, and these qualities in them, he be- mense transactions of four and twenty
lieved, never to have been exceeded by any years, and it not having been proved that set of Managers; if after all the most mi- the Noble Lord made any private profit of nute researches into the official documents his balances, nothing could be more unfair of the Noble Defendant, and even the me. or illiberal chan to draw fron such a failure morials presented to him; if, after ran- an inference of his guilt. Could it be exa sacking all his letters and correspondence; pected that a Minister of State, constantly if, after the most laborious investigation in- occupied in the most important public con, to his private accounts, and most intimate çerns, should direct much of his time in and confidential relations in life, they were prying into all the minuteness of accounts ? unable to trace out one shilling of the pub. Was it surprising that a nian engaged in so lic money applied to his own private use, many departments, connected with the pubit would be most unjust and unreasoriable lic expenditure, should have a running acpot to infer, that he was innocent of these count of 29581. 155. Id. at his banker's! in charges. He then came to consider the ad further corroboration of his innocence, it ditional articles exhibited by the Mana- appeared, that at a time when he was inforgers, after the Noble Lord had given in med of his having overdrawn his banker, his first answers, and said, that he did not he did not help himself out of the public want from them that candour of which purse, but repaid the same, by remittances they made so much profession, in giving from his own fortune, in Scoriand, though, him time to put in a supplementary an. at the same time, and for ten months after, swer to this article; the Hon. Managers he had in his possession public balances, unhad made confusion more confounded. called for, to the amount of 56,000l. As They had stated in general divers sums, at to the note, received by a draft from the divers times, on divers days, to charge bank, which had been paid to bankers in upon him the sum of 26,000l, but they ren- the city, where it had been sent in payment, dered it impossible for him to refer back of a bill, it by no means afforded any to those divers days, and had included, in thing like the inference that was drawn the time of their charge,' nine months fron it. They were not to enquire into of a period, when the Noble Lord was out such a circumstance there in the mannec of office.
that an eni on any occasion was resorted to After all, however, he would ask, what for the detection of a forgery. It surely. did the proof brought on the part of the signified nothing, whether he sent this Managers amount to? It, in fact, came to note, or any other that he might have taken nothing more than this—that Lord Melo out of his pocket, as the amount of it was ville, after the lapse of twenty-four years not found deficient in the passing of his acof active and official life, was not able to
There was no more obligation on account for every little item of the public the Noble Lord than on his predecessors, money that came into his hands. The Ma
not to keep the money where he pleased. nagers, after travelling over all the accounts The Hon. Managers also made it an agfrom the Bank to the Treasurer of the Na. gravation on the part of the Noble Lord, vy, and back again, had not, he contended, that he was the person who brought in the proved a single iota of their charges. All bill for regulating the office of a reasurer they could discover from their enquiries of the Navy into the House of Commons, was, that money had been applied from un- as if such a circumstance was to be conder the head of one public service to ano- sidered as a crime. It was no high crinie ther, so that all the time employed in these or misdemeanor in him to draw the money details was uselessly consumed. They shew- from the bank, and deposit it at his private ed that money had been transferred, but banker's or in his iron chest, whichever they had not proved that he made any pro- he might deem most convenient for public fit by the transfer. It was corruption and purposes, or for private security. He said, profligacy that constituted guilt, but that he was miserably deceived, if there was a could never even be inferred by the trans- clearer case ever argued, than that Lord fer of money from one place to another. Melville's conduct, in this respect, was not All the money they charged had been suf- against the law; and if it was, the acc ficiently and satisfactorily accounted for, should not be suffered to remain in forcer with the exception of two small sums, one moment, as it would be a law of the, which appeared to be placed to the Noble greatest cruelty, and oppression towards Lord's private account, at the bank of Mr, our seamen that ever was enacted. The Drummond; and supposing, which, how. noble Lord, he contended, could not, withever, he only did for the sake of argunent, out the greatest injustice and hardship, do
otherwise. The Minagers contended, that He said, that the impeachment did not the bank was the only place of deposit au- in any part of it proceed upon any omission thorised by the act; that he denied.
Up- or inattention of Lord Melville, but the on such a construction, the law could never charge was of a much higher and more be carried into effect. If there was only criminal kind; not what he omitted to do, rool. to be paid to three or four different but what he actually and personally did. persons, in warrant expencea, nothing could It stated, that he was acquainted with the be more embarrasing, than to send each of frauds, and for corrupt purposes confedethem with a draught upon the Bank. rated and participated with Mr Trotter,
Would it be practicable to pay such sums and by that means committed a gross breach as 3s. or less, to a sailor, when he came to of duty. The sixth article occasioned the demand it, by a check upon the Bank. The Learned Counsel to solicit the peculiar nosailor may say, he did not know his way to tice of their Lordships, because the sub. the Bank; and if he did, he must, froni his ject of the books was so intermixed with ignorance of such transactions, be exposed the release, and because it was stated in so to innumerable impositions. A sailor's wife irregular a manner. First, the books of acor mother also, when applying for a pit count were mentioned; then was introduce tance of a few shillings, niust hy the same ed the subject of the release ; again the interpretation be sent to receive their trifles books were heard of, as if the release were at the Bank of England. He begged their intimately connected with them, and the Lordships to consider, how such minute ac. consequent destruction of all the papers. counts, occurring every moment, could pos- In the eighth article was the most singular sibly be kept by the Bank of England ? But and novel allegation, that Lord Viscount there was one observation, which must be Melville did ohtain and receive a decisive of the question. By an act of Par- 22,000l. or some other large sum or sums liament, passed some time ago, all draughts of money, from Mr Trotter; and for the for money, under the amount of twenty purpose of more effectually concealing the shillings, were declared to be illegal, and said advances of money, the books, ac. therefore the Paymaster of the Navy was counts, vouchers, &c. were burnt and deprecluded from the possibility of paying sums stroyed. The framers of this article had of a few shillings by drafts, and therefore not even taken the pains to alledge, that Inust always be supplied with ready money these sums were drawn from the public to answer these demands immediately. money ; so that, for any thing that appearThe Noble Lord, he maintained, carried ed to the contrary, this might be a loan the act into execution in every point of from one friend to another; and what policy, justice, and convenience. The ne- high crime and misdemeanour such a transcessity for the act was, that before it, large action might constitute, it was for the inbalances of money were left for payment in genuity of the Learned Managers to exthe hands of inferior clerks, having only plain. small salaries, and it was not always easy The ninth, and concluding article, to to get these balances out of their hands. which the Learned Counsel had occasion On these, and a variety of other grounds, to advert (having already considered the which he argued at considerable length, he first and tenth collectively, assigned two submitted to their Lordships, that the motives for the concurrence of Lord Alel. Noble Defendant was not guilty of any ville in the use of the public money; first
, breach or violation of the law.
because Mr Trotter wouid act as his prie The Lord Chancellor then informed Mr vate agent without salary; and, secondly, Plomer, that the Lords, being desirous to because he might receive advances for his hear, with attention, all he had to alledge convenience, from time to time. These adin behalf of the defendant, and perceiving vances, the Hon. Managers contended, were that he was then nearly exhausted, by the to the an:ount of from 10 to 20,00cl. and strenuous exertions he had made, would, for were drawn from a mixed fund, composed the present, adjourn the proceedings. partly of private, and partly of public nio.
Mr Plomer had then been about three ney. This general view of the articles the hours and a half upon his legs. was consistent with the plan pursued by the Twelfth Day;---May 14.
Honourable and Learned Manager who
summoned up the case for the prosecution; M1 Plomer this day resumed the defence. and he adopted this, because the applicaHaving on the preceding day considered tion of his defence to the arguments of that three of the articles, he now took a rapid Hon. and Learned. Manager, would be view of the remaining seven, distinguishing, more easily understood, and because the as he proceeded, the nature and the extent nature of the allegations themselves seemof each of them, and applying to them the ed to point out this method as the most known principle of law.
perspicuous ; for the whole contents of
these articles related to the same subject; He shewed that the Noble Defendant, in ' first, they respected the means of applying the generosity of his nature, had refused the public money and the particular uses; even the stipendiary emoluments of office, then they adverted to the defendant's know. instead of indulging that eager desire of ledge of such application to a corrupt pur. gain, which had been so falsely attributed pose; and then they concluded with the fact, to him in these charges. Was the alle. that all vestiges of proof were destroyed. gation of corruption supported by the evi
The Learned Counsel hoped, that in dence ? This was the enquiry which was this short outline, he had at least stated the of most importance to the honour of the charges fairly; and he admitted that the defendant. How was it supported? Was subject was of the greatest magnitude and it by the testimony of Mr Trotter? He importance. What he principally lament- deposed in the must positive terms, not oned was, that some of the transactions were ly that Lord Melville was wholly ignoat so remote a date, as to be beyond the or- rant of any advantage drawn from the dinary reach of the human memory, and public monies, but that he was not even the witness to them had descended into acquainted with any benefit Mr Trotter the grave. A part of the charges were of himself derived from that source. a more modern date, were more capable this deficiency of evidence to be supplied of having light thrown upon them, and by the hypothetical arguments of the Hon. they had the advantage of a living witness, and Learned Manager ? There was nowho was himself a party, and who, during thing left to support the charge but his two days, had undergone examination be ingenuity, and however successful it might fore their Lordships.
be on many other occasions, it could 1100 The question before the Court was not, maintain these serious charges before their whether Lord Melville had placed an in- Lordships. When the immense variety discreet confidence in Mr Trotter, but of the items of his accounts, and when sums whether he was guilty of those crimes; of such vast magnitude were contemplayet, who was this Mr Trotter against ted, instead of being surprised at the insulawhom the public clamour had been raised? ted transactions which were selected, their In the year 1786, or at the latter end of the Lordships would be astonished that more preceding ye # just after the death of Mr numerous matters were not alledged to Douglas, Mr Trotter was introduced to constitute new crimes, during the long Lord Melville, to whom he had before period that his Lordship was engaged in been personally known. He was a gentie- his official duties. The present charges man, stated to be not only of creditable, might be considered as but of opulent connections, and the brother Rari nantes in gurgite vasto, of a partner in the firm of Mess. Coutts and he trusted that they would be sunk and Co. He was a man acknowledged for ever in the abyss. by the Hon. Manager, independently of The Learned Counsel concluded with a these transactions, to be in all parts of his solemn appeal to the justice of their Lordcharacter, whether private or public, free ships. They had a great and important from all imputation. Besides, he was in duty to discharge, and they would fulfil it high estimation in the office, his probity in a way honourable to themselves, and had been repeatedly tried, he had a ready satisfactory to their country. The Noble and comprehensive mind, and was peculiar. Defendant had, during a period of this cy ly fitted for his situation, from a facility in years, been actively engaged in the public arithmetical computation, in which his as. functions of life, and the greater part of sistance was very material to' his Noble this period had held very ostensible and Employer. Whatever objection might be dignified situations in the set vice of the made on the part of the defendant to this state. He was now in the evening of life : witness, none could be suggested on the he would soon descend into the valley of contrary side ; for there never was a wit- the shadow of death, and appear before an ness produced in a Court of Justice who nother tribunal. He had the fullest relihad more cogent motives to establish the ance on the justice and wisdom of the guilt of the accused.
Court before which he had appeared : tu The Learned Counsel next took a com- its decision he should bow with perfect re. prehensive retrospect of all the principal signation, and in the consciousness of his transactions, and connected them with the own integrity he should await its sentence history of his Lordship’s political life. with composure.
[To be concluded in our next.] August 1806.