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vancement of it to his having been bred in those principles which had placed his illustrious house on the throne, and to his known reverence and regard for those principles, as the true fundamentals of our glorious constitution, in the maintenance of which his family had flourished with so much prosperity and happiness, as Sovereigns of the British empire. Hence it was, that His Royal Highness chose rather to wait the decision of parliament, with a patient and due dcference to the constitution, than to urge a claim, that, he trusted, a majority of that House, and of the people at large admitted ; and which, he was persuaded, could not be reasonably disputed. But, ought he to wait unnecessarily ? Ought His Royal Highness to wait while precedents were searched for, when it was known that none that bore upon the case which so nearly concerned him, existed ? Take it for granted, the House agreed to the motion, and proceeded by their committee to search for precedents. What precedents did the wording of the motion point to? It spoke in general and indefinite language. Possibly it might mean parliamentary precedents, referring to such contingencies as the present. If that were its meaning, such words as Parliamentary precedents' ' ought to have been expressed in it. Mr. Fox remarked, that he should not oppose the motion, but he thought it his duty to say, that it was incumbent on the House to lose no time in restoring the third estate. His Royal Highness, he was convinced, must exercise the Royal prerogative during, and only during, His Majesty's illness. With regard to the examination of the physicians, he would not take up the time of the House with com. menting on the particular answers and opinions of each. However the physicians might have delivered opinions, that might in the minds of some men, impress one turn
of idea, and, in the minds of others, a very different turn of idea, three points were, he thought, undeniable inferences from the whole of their examinations, in which he had assisted above stairs. These three points formed the result, and must be the substratum on which that House would necessarily raise the superstructure, whatever it might be, that they should deem it expedient to erect. He took the three points to be these :
“ ist, That His Majesty was incapable of meeting his parliament, or proceedir.g to business.
2dly, That there was a great prospect, and a strong probability, of his recovery.
" 3dly, But that with respect to the point of time when that recovery would take place, they were left in absolute doubt and uncertainty.”
Upon this occasion, Mr. Fox said, “that he could not avoid expressing his hopes that the House would agree with him, that these three points formed the true, fair, uncolored result of the examination of His Majesty's physicians.” He recapitulated the general heads of his speech; and, after repeating his willingness to accede to every proposition that was consistent with the due solemnity of their proceedings, upon so serious an occasion, and declaring that he did not imputė any desire to create delay, or unnecessarily avoid dispatch, to the right honorable gentleman who spoke last, added, “ that he certainly would not resist the motion, although he had thought it incumbent on him to give his opinion on the subject freely and unreservedly."
Mr. Pitt answered, “ that he must take liberty to observe, that the right honorable gentleman had thrown out an idea which, whatever he might generally have thought of him, as to his penetration and discernment, as to his acquaintance with the laws and general history of the country, and as to his knowledge of the theory of the cona stitution (however he might repeatedly have found occasion to differ with him in respect to his measures and opinions in practice under it) he defied all his ingenuity to support, upon any analogy of constitutional prece. dent, or to reconcile to the spirit and genius of the constitution itself. The doctrine advanced by the right honorable gentleman was itself, if
additional reason were necessary,
the strongest and most unanswerable for appointing the committee he had moved for, that could possibly be given. If a claim of right was intimated (even though not formally) on the part of the Prince of WALES, to assume the government, it became of the utmost consequence to ascertain, from precedent and history, whether this claim was founded; which if it were, precluded the House from the possibility of all deliberation on the subject. In the mean time, he maintained, that it would appear, from every precedent, and from every page of our history, that to assert such a right in the Prince of WALES, or any one else, independent of the decision of the two Houses of Parliament, was little less than " treason to the constitution of the country." He said, « he did not mean then to enter into the discussion of that great and important point ; because a fit occasion for discussing it would soon afford both the right honorable gentleman and himself an ample opportunity of stating their sentiments upon it. In the mean time, he pledged himself to this assertion, that in the case of the interruption of the personal exercise of the Royal authority, without any previous lawful provision having been made for carrying on the government, it belonged to the other branches of the legislature, on the part of the nation at large, the body they represented, to provide, according to their discretion, for the temporary exercise of the
Royal authority, in the name, and on the belmalf of the Sovereign, in such manner as they should think requisite; and that, unless by their decision, the Prince of WALES had no right (speaking of strict right) to assume the government, more than any other individual subject of the country. What Parliament ought to determine, was a question of discretion. However strong the arguments might be on that ground, in favor of the Prince of Wales, which he would not enter into at present, it did not affect the question of right; because, neither the whole, nor any part, of the Royal authority could belong to him in the present circumstances, unless conferred by the Houses of Parliament.
“ As to the right honorable gentleman's repeated enforcement of the Prince of Wales's claim, he admitted that it was a claim entitled to most serious consideration; and thence, must take the liberty of arguing, that it was the more necessary to learn how the House had acted in cases of similar exigency, and what had been the opinion of parliament on such occasions. He would not allow that no precedent analogous to an interruption of the personal exercise of the Royal authority could be found, although there might possibly not exist a precedent of an Heir Apparent in a state of majority during such an occurrence; and in that case, he contended, that it devolved on the remaining branches of the legislature, on the part of the people of England, to exercise their discretion in providing a substitute.”
Mr. Pitt contended, “ that in the mode in which the right honorable gentleman had treated the subject, a new question presented itself, and that of greater magnitude even than the question which was originally before them, as matter of necessary deliberation. The question now was, the question of their own rights, and it was become a doubt, according to the right honourable
a genıleman's opinion, whether that House had, on this important occasion, a deliberative power. He wished, for the present, to waive the discussion of that momentous consideration ; but he declared that he would, at a fit opportunity, state his reasons for advising what step parliament ought to take in the present critical si, tuation of the country, contenting himself with giving his contradiction to the right honourable gentleman's bold assertion, and pledging himself to maintain the op. posite ground against a doctrine so irreconcilable to the spirit and genius of the constitution. If the report of the committee had not proved the necessity of the motion he had made, the right honourable gentleman had furnished the House with so strong an argument for inquiry, that if any doubt had existed, that doubt must vanish. Let it not, then, be imputed to him, that he offered the motion, with a view to create delay; indeed, the right honourable gentleman had not made any such imputation. In fact, no imputation of that sort could be supported, since no longer time had been spent, after the first day of their meeting, than was absolutely necessary to ensure as full an attendance as the solemnity and seriousness of the occasion required; since that time, every day had been spent in ascertaining the state of His Majesty's health, and now the necessity of the case was proved, it behoved them to meet it on the surest grounds, Let them proceed, therefore, to learn and ascertain their own rights ; let every man in that House, and every man in the nation, who might hear any report of what had passed in the House that day, consider, that on their fu, ture proceedings depended their own interests, and the interest and honor of a Sovereign, deservedly the idol of his people. Let not the House, therefore, rashly anni.