« AnteriorContinuar »
real punishment upon him; and that is, by an humble Address to our Sovereign, that he would be graciously pleased to remove fuch a one from his Councils. I therefore move your Lordships, “ Whether an humble Address should be presented to bis Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to remove the Right Honourable Sir Robert Walpole, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, First Commissioner for executing the office of Treasurer of the Exchequer, Chancellor and Under-Trea. furer of the Exchequer, and one of his Majesty's Most Ho. , nourable Privy Council, from his Majesty's presence and councils for ever?”
I believe, my Lords, it will not be questioned, that either House of Parliament may offer fuch advice to the Crown, by way of humble Address; I believe it will not be said, that it is unusual, or unprecedented; and therefore I shall not trouble your Lordships with calling to your remembrance, any of the precedents that may be found in the Journals of Parliament. I shall only take notice of the difference between the methods of proceeding by Impeachment, by Bill of Actainder, or Bill of Pains and Penalties; and this method of proceeding, by way of humble Address to the Crown. When we proceed by way of Impeachment, by Bill of Attainder, or by Bill of Pains and Penalties, some particular criminal tests must be alledged, and there must be fome sort of proofs of these facts. But when we proceed by way of Address to the King, that he would be graciously pleased to remove such a Minister from his Councils, a general view of that Minister's conduct, a general view of public affairs, inay afford just cause for such an Address, and common fame is a sufficient proof; for when no particular fact is infifted on, it is impossible to bring any particular proof. This, my Lords, is the difference; and the reason of this difference is very plain. When a man is to be punished, either in his perfon, his freedom, or estate, some crime or criminal neglest, ought to be not only alledged, but proved by a legal proof, or by strong presumptions : but as his not being employed in the King's
Councils .. Councils neither affects his person, his freedom, nor his estate, therefore weakness alone, or a general bad character, may be a good cause for removing him. A weak man is certainly, in any country, very unfit for being in the King's Councils; and, in a popular government, a man who has incurred the general odium of the people, ought not to be continued in the King's Councils ; because the unpopularity of the Minister may, at leaft, affect the Throne itself, and render the people disaffected to their Sovereign. · I must, therefore, defire your Lordships to take particular care to distinguish between the method of proceeding against a Minister by Impeachment; by Bill of Attainder, a Bill of Pains and Penalties, and the method of proceeding against a Minister by Address only; because, if you do not take care to fix this , distinction in your minds, you may expect from me what I do not intend to give, and what the nature of the inotion I have made, renders it not only unnecessary, but unfit for me to give. I am to move only for an humble Address to his Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to remove a Minister, I may say, the Minister, from his Councils; and therefore, it is both unneccffary and unfit for me, to charge that Minister with any particular crime, or to acquaint your Lordships that I have, or I am ready to produce particular proofs against him: if this were my 'intention, I should think it below my dignity, as a Member of this House, to content myself with moving for an humble Address; I should think it incumbent upon me directly to impeach, let the consequence be what it would. Therefore your Lordships are not to expect, that I am to accuse any Minifter of a particular crime, or that I am to tell you, that I am ready to bring proofs of what I alledge against him. If I can shew, that the affairs of Europe have been brought into the unlucky situation in which they are at present, by the conduct of this nation; or if I can shew, that the distressed condition in which our people now are, is wholly owing to our own conduct; either of these will be an argument that must, that ought at
least, least, to prevail with every Lord who is convinced, that this Minister has been the principal, if not the sole adviser of that conduct. If the people be generally dissatisfied with the conduct of our public affairs, and if that general dissatisfaction be wholly directed against any one man now in administration, as our government is still, I hope, a popular government, it is a fufficient cause for this House to let his Majesty know the character of his Minister, by an Address to remove him from his Councils. If there be any one of his Majesty's Ministers that has usurped, . or that even is generally thought to have usurped the sole power of directing all public affairs, and recommending to all public posts, honours, and employments, it is our duty, at least, to address his Majefty to remove such a Minister, because such a one is inconsistent with the constitution of our government.
Upon this question, my Lords, it fignifies nothing whether the general character the Minister has gained, or the misconduct he has been guilty of, has been owing to his weakness or his wickedness; for either is a fufficient cause for having him removed. But I must observe, that till he is removed, it cannot be made manifest by proper proofs, whether his misconduct, or his general bad character, be owing to his weakness or wickedness; for artful Ministers always acł by tools, and under agents, who, whilst their patron is in power, will never reveal the flagitious secrets committed by him to their charge: but as such men are seldom faithful any longer than it is their interest to be fo, remove the Minister once from the King's Councils, put it out of his power to reward the wicked fidelity of his associates . and tools, and the secret history of his dirty jobs will then begin to unfold itself, and may be made manifest by a legal proof. Suppose the King should be advised, by a favourite Minister, to keep up a constant friendship and alliance with the greatest rivals and most inveterate enemies of his country; and that he should, for this purpose, facrifice the interest, and forfeit the friendship of the most natural allies; whilst the Minister is in power, this may seem to proceed from his weakness, or from the ignorance he
has of the true interest of his country: but remove him from the person and councils of his Sovereign, and then it may appear to have proceeded from his wickedness: it may appear that he was corrupted by the enemies of his country, or that he knowingly and wickedly facrificed the interest of his country to some private view of his own. If he employed any one in transacting or receiving the bribe, if he was ever so free in conversation with his friends as to unfold the motives of his misconduct, or the reasons why he gave such wicked advice to his Sovereign, some of them, either from conscience or interest, may be induced to discover the secret, when it is fafe for them to do so; but whilst he continues solely to enjoy the ear of the Sovereign, it can never be any man's interest to accuse him, it will always be unsafe for a private man to do so; because the power of the Crown will be employed in blasting the credit, or preventing the effect of his evidence; and probably in making the punishment fall, not upon the guilty Minister, but upon the brave and honest accuser.
Earl of Carteret, Feb. 13, 1740."
I can by no means think that the complicated question now before us, is the proper, is the direct manner of taking the sense of the Committee. We have here the soft name of an humble Address to the Crown proposed, and for no other end but to lead Gentlemen into an approbation of the convention. But is this that full deliberate examination, which we were with defiances called upon to give ? Is this cursory blended disquisition of matters of such variety and extent, all we owe to ourselves and our country? When trade is at stake, it is your last intrenchment; you must defend it or perish : and whatever is to decide, that deserves the most distinct confideration, and the most direct and undisguised sense of Parliament. But how are we now proceeding? Upon an artificial ministerial queftion? Here is all the confidence, here is the conscious sense of the greatest service that ever was done to this country; to be
complicating questions, to be lumping fanction and approbation, like a Commissary's account, to be covering and taking fanctuary in the royal Name, inftead of meeting openly, and ftanding fairly the direct judgment and sentence of Parliament upon the several articles of this Convention.
Sir, you have been moved to vote an humble Address of Thanks to his Majesty for a measure, which (I will appeal to Gentlemen's conversation in the world) is odious throughout the kingdom: Such Thanks are only due to the fatal influence that framed it, as are due for that low, unallied condition abroad, which is now nrade a plea for this Convention. To what are Gentlemen reduced in support of it? Firft try a little to defend it upon its own merits ; if that is not tenable, throw out general terrors; the House of Bourbon is united, who knows the consequence of a war? Sir, Spain knows the confequence of a war in America; whoever gains, it must prove fatal to her : She knows it, and must therefore avoid it; but she knows England does not dare to make it. And what is a delay, which is all this magnified Convention is sometimes called to produce? Can it produce such conjunctures as those you loft, while you were giving kingdoms to Spain, and all to bring her back again to that great branch of the House of Bourbon, which is now thrown out to you with fo much terror ? If this union be formidable, are we to delay only till it becomes more formidable, by being carried farther into execucion, and more strongly. cemented ? But be it what it will, is this any longer a nation, or what is an English Parliament, if with more thips in your harbours than in all the navies of Europe, with above two millions of people in your American colonies, you will bear to hear of the expediency of receiving from Spain, an insecure, unsatisfactory, difhonorable Convention? Sir, I call it no more than it has been proved in this Debate; it carries fallacy or downright subjection in almost every line : It has been laid open and exposed in so many strong VOL. I. ... Prov. C