« PreviousContinue »
the learned adviser of the Crown, and asked why? When it was first thought of to make that person a Secretary of State, those who had held such strong language of “ Kill them, or they will kill you,” and who had declared “ We had passed the Rubicon” before
person knew we were seriously at war with America, had not acted in conformity with their high sounding tone, and made their actions accompany their words ? Why they had not behaved like men of integrity, gone to the Sovereign and advised him honestly and wisely to employ those men only as instruments in the planning, direction, conduct, and execution of an attempt of such infinite importance as the recovery of America, who were the most unexceptionable in every respect, both here and in America, and the most likely to prove successful instruments in the greatest work this nation ever took in hand ? In appointing the noble Lord to the secretary of stateship and entrusting him with the management of the war, they in a manner began the war with the greatest insult to America that could possibly have been devised.
The House then divided, when there appeared
For the motion, 28,
Notwithstanding this decision, the Marquis of Carmarthen again brought the subject forward on the 18th inst.
He began by saying, that no gentleman could be more anxious to preserve the prerogative of the crown than himself: yet he must entreat their Lordships to consider, that the honour and purity of the House were all that served to convey to the world in general, that idea of weight, importance, and dignity, which they had hitherto held, and which he humbly hoped, their Lordships would ever continue to preserve in the eyes
of all mankind. From the noble Lord who was the object of the motion, he was ready to acknowledge he had received civilities while he was himself about the court, in a particular situation, although he had never lived with him on terms of very great intimacy. He should now proceed to state a motion, tending to censure those of his Majesty's ministers, who had so far forgot their necessary respect for the dignity of that House, and all consideration of what was due to the military and to the public opinion, as to advise his Majesty to confer a Peerage and a seat in that House, on a person labouring under so severe a stigma as that contained in the sentence of the Court-Martial and the orders issued thereupon, which now stood in full force
against the unfortunate nobleman in question. His Lordship said he took the matter up entirely upon the sentence of the Court-Martial, the notoriety of which, and of the orders that were at this moment inserted in every orderlybook of every regiment of the army in Great Britain, warranted him in proceeding to consider both the one and the other as authentic. Had we no farther use for the military, that so shameful an instance of relaxation of all military discipline and the abandonment of all example was to be put in practice in the face of the whole world ? Was not the very opposite the fact ? Surrounded on all sides by enemies, dangerously powerful and numerous as they were, did their Lordships in their consciences think it politic or expedient, just at this moment, to set so alarming a precedent of the relaxation of all military discipline to the whole army? Did they imagine our officers would serve better for the remainder of the war, from such a measure ? He could not for his part help expressing his astonishment at the noble Lord's own conduct in accepting the honour of a Peerage, consider. ing the particular circumstances that he stood in at the moment of his being called up to that dignity. His Lordship said he would trouble the House no farther just then, but would
pro. ceed to make his motion:
“ That it was highly reprehensible in any person to advise the crown to exercise its indisputable right of creating a Peer, in favour of a person labouring under the heavy censure of the sentence of a Court-Martial and public orders given out in consequence thereof.”
The Earl of Abingdon.-“ My Lords, the noble Lord in my eye [Shelburne] who is so fully informed on every subject, and who never speaks without giving new lights to your Lord. ships, having led me to consider the subject of the original rights of this House, I rise just to state to your Lordships what my sense of the matter is. I cannot help conceiving, that although there is not a right of election, there is and must be a right of exclusion vested in this House, when the admission of any Peer happens to be against the sense of your Lordships ; and my judgment of this arises, not only from the idea that this House is possessed of original rights, as independent of the crown, but as of the people. It is true that the crown is the fountain of honour, and that the creation of Peers is the sole prerogative of the crown, because it is not in the Lords or Commons to do; as therefore no Peer can be introduced into this House without the will of the crown, so, of course, the creation of Peers may be said to be the sole prerogative of the crown : but at the
same time, as every prerogative is given for the benefit of those over whom it is to be exercised, so when the exercise of it is against the sense of those for whose benefit it is intended, its operation by the very reason of the thing must cease and determine. Your Lordships perceive that this is matter of speculation only, and I wish it had continued so: but we are now taught, that speculation and practice are not always the cause and effect of each other. Against every thing that has been said, against common sense, against common decency; in the face of all public virtue, and in encouragement of every private vice, we find a man foisted in upon us, and with the reward of nobility made one of ourselves. How, my Lords, the majority of the House will feel this, I know not. Lords, as they have long since felt every thing else, that they are ready to sell their birthright for a mess of porridge. For myself, only, I can speak, and for myself I do assure your Lordships, that I consider this admission of Lord George Germain to the Peerage, to be no less than an insufferable indignity to this House, than an outrageous insult to the people at large. It is an indignity to this House, because it is connecting us with one, whom every soldier as a man of honour is forbid to associate with. It is an insult to the people at large, for, what has he
I fear, my