Abbildungen der Seite

imagined, that this prosecution brought disgrace and ignominy on a profession, which, when it was dig pified by truth and intergrity, was the source of the greatest honor to its members, as well as of the greatest good to the community. He knew that the bar of England, distinguished as it was for purity and honor, felt becoming indignation at the enormities committed by the person whom he now arraigned. Participating in their feelings, and equally solicitous for the vindication of the bar, he felt it so much the more his duty, by the condign prosecution of this unworthy man, to justify a profession to which he had once the honor to belong."

Sir GILBERT next observed " that he had taken pains to arrange and prepare for the inspection of the House, the whole subject matter of the complaint, which he intended to make against Sir ELIJAH, and it was detailed in papers which he held in his hand. He thought it more advisable for him to give in this complaint in writing and to move that the papers should be submitted to a committee, than to trust to any brief and imperfect statement which he might be able, as a part of his speech, to make from them. The weight of the charges depended so much on the detail of the functions of the court, and of the evident motives by which Sir ELIJAH was influenced, and they were in their connection so related and dependent on each other, that much of their strength would be lost by the few extracts that might be made by him; nor was it necessary in that stage to instance, the particular enormities which constituted the foundation of the charges. The House had been so long accustomed to hear and to speak on these topics, that they were not new to them; and it was by no means his wish to influence

[ocr errors][merged small]

to your justice, therefore, I commit the culprit: deal with

him as he deserves."

A majority of eighteen, however, did not think that there was ground for Sir ELIJAH's impeachment.




SOON after the prorogation of parliament in July 1788, the King, who had been for some time rather indisposed, was advised by his physicians to try the waters of Cheltenham; and though, during his visit and residence there, his health appeared greatly established, yet on his return to Windsor, late in the summer, his illness returned with new and alarming symptoms. By the end of October, it could no longer be concealed, that the malady of the King was of a nature peculiarly afflictive and dreadful. A mental derangement had taken place, which rendered him totally incapable of public business. Parliament having met on the 10th of November according to their prorogation, the state of the King's health was formally notified to them, and an adjournment of fourteen days was recommended, at the end of which term, if the King's illness should unhappily continue, it would be incumbent on them to enter on the immediate consideration of the state of public affairs. Upon the re-assembling of parliament, on the 4th of December, a report of the board of Privy Council was presented to the two Houses, containing an exact examination of the Royal Physicians; and it was properly suggested, that, considering the extreme delicacy of the subject, and the dignity of the person concerned, parliament would do well

to rest satisfied without any more direct and express information, especially as the examinations of counsel had been taken upon oath, which the House of Commons. had no power to administer. Doubts, however, having been started by Mr. Fox and his party whether parliament could in this momentous case dispense with that sort of evidence on which they had been accustomed to proceed, a committee of twenty-one persons in each House was appointed to examine and report the sentiments of the Royal Physicians. This report being laid upon the table of the House of Commons, on the 10th of December, Mr. PITT moved for the appointment of another committee, to inspect the journals for precedents of such proceedings as had been adopted in former instances, when the Sovereign authority was suspended by sickness, infirmity, or any other cause. Mr. Fox op. posed the motion, on the ground of its being a total loss of time. "What "What were they going to search for? Not precedents upon their journals, not parliamentary precedents, but precedents in the history of England. He would be bold to say, nay they all knew, that the doing so would prove a loss of time, for, there existed no precedent whatever, that could bear upon the present case. The circumstance to be provided for did not depend upon their deliberations as a House of Parliament, that it rested elsewhere. There was then a person in the kingdom different from any other person that any existing precedents could refer to, an Heir Apparent of full age and capacity to exercise the Royal power. It behoved them therefore not to waste a moment unnecessarily, but to proceed with all becoming speed and all becoming diligence to restore the Sovereign power, and the exercise of the Royal authority. When the unfortunate situation of His Majesty was first made known to that House,


[ocr errors]

by a presentation of the minute of the Privy Council, some gentlemen had expressed a doubt whether the House could make such a paper a ground of parliamentary proceedings. Mr. Fox reminded the House that he had gone farther, and declared he thought the report of the Privy Council was not an authentic document, nor such as that House could make the ground of its proceedings. That defect had now been remedied, and the House was, in consequence of the regular examination which his Majesty's physicians had undergone before a committee of their own, in possession of the true state of the King's health. That being known to the House, and through them to the nation at large, he contended that it was then, and then only, the precise point of time for the House to decide, and that not a single moment ought to be lost. In his firm opinion, his Royal Highness the Prince of WALES had as clear, as express a right to assume the reins of government, and exercise the power of sovereignty, during the continuance of the illness and incapacity with which it had pleased God to afflict His Majesty, as in the case of His Majesty's having undergone a natural and perfect demise; and as to this right, which he conceived the Prince of WALES had, he was not himself to judge when he was entitled to exercise it; but the two Houses of Parliament, as the organs of the nation, were alone qualified to pronounce when the Prince ought to take possession of, and exercise, his right. He thought it candid, entertaining this opinion, to come forward fairly, and avow it at that instant; and, therefore, under such an idea, he conceived that as short a time as possible ought to intervene between the Prince of WALES's assuming the sovereignty, and the present moment. justified the Prince's not making this his indubitable claim himself, by imputing his desire of waiving the open ad



« ZurückWeiter »