Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER VII.

TRIAL OF THE QUEEN.

Remonstrances against the Mode of Proceeding.--Report of the Lords Committee.

-Bill of Penalties.Discussions respecting it. - Preliminary Questions.Opening of the Trial.- Evidence against the Queen.- Pleadings.-Evidence in Defence of the Queen.Pleadings.Debates in the House of Lords.- The Bill carried.-Withdrawn.

Every effort to adjust amicably the challenges the most complete investidifferences in the Royal House, and gation of her conduct; but she proto avert a full inquiry into this pain- tests, in the first place, against any seful subject, having thus proved abor- cret inquiry: and if the House of tive, nothing remained but to proceed Lords should, notwithstanding, perin the course which had been already sist in a proceeding so contrary to marked out. Before, however, the every principle of justice and of law, secret committee began its operation, she must in the next place declare, the Queen interposed a remonstrance that, even from such an unconstituagainst the mode of investigation em tional course, she can have nothing to ployed. She drew up a petition in the apprehend, unless it be instituted befollowing terms:

fore the arrival of those witnesses

whom she will summon immediately To the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, to expose the whole of the machinain Parliament Assembled. tions against her. She is anxious that

there should now be no delay what“ CAROLINE R.

ever in finishing the inquiry; and none “ The Queen, having been inform- shall be occasioned by her Majesty. ed that proceedings are about to be But the Queen cannot suppose that instituted against her in the House of the House of Lords will commit so Lords, feels it necessary to approach crying an injustice as to authorize a your Lordships as a petitioner and a secret examination of her conduct, in fellow-subject. She is advised that, the absence of herself and her coun• according to the forms of your Lord- sel, while her defence must obviously ships' House, no other mode of com- rest upon evidence, which for some munication is permitted.

weeks cannot reach this country. The “Now, as at all times, she declares instant that it arrives, she will entreat her perfect readiness to meet every the House of Lords to proceed in any charge affecting her honour ; and she way they may think consistent with

the ends of justice ; but in the mean dividual peer might have particular time, and before the first step is taken, and personal motives for declining to her Majesty desires to be heard by her present a petition. This was admitcounsel at your Lordships' bar, this ied, provided the motive were not day, upon the subject matter of this

taken from consideration of the place petition.”

where he sat. The Chancellor decla

red, that he would never hesitate to This petition was first tendered to present a petition from the highest or the Chancellor, who was requested to the lowest in the land, provided he present it to the House of Peers. The thought it consistent with his duty to application to a channel so hostile, the House. seems not much to be approved, since After these prolegomena, the peti. it would scarcely have any other ob tion was read, and it was agreed, that ject than the awkward situation in Mr Brougham should be heard in supwhich it placed that great function port of it. ary. Perhaps, however, the Chancellor Mr Brougham stated, that nothing rather committed himself when he de- could be farther from the intention of clined to do what is usually considered her Majesty, than to ask for delay, in as a duty incumbent on any member the accustomed and vulgar sense of of the House. The petition was, there that word. She asked for no delay of fore, on the 26th June, presented by the prosecution; she asked for no deLord Dacre, who, animadverting on lay of judgment, because she was conthe Chancellor's refusal, stated, that scious that she was innocent, and behe himself never had the slightest cause she knew that their Lordships communication with the Queen, but were just; but she asked for delay, was merely performing what he con- because she knew that all the forms of ceived a duty to a person under ac- law and justice would be set at defin cusation.—The Chancellor observed, ance if they refused to listen to her that having only three minutes to con- petition, and proceeded to try her on sider of the application, it had occur- the ex parte statements of her enemies. red to him, that he was the last per. What the charges themselves were son in the House by whom this pe- by what testimony they were supporttition ought to be presented; and he ed—who the base tools were who lent had found no precedent in the Jour themselves to procure, collect, and arnals for such a proceeding. . At the range them-how they were scraped same time, he declared to their lord together-by whose influence they ships, and was ready to declare in the were conjured up, he could not tell; face of the whole world, that he would but it was enough for him to know rather suffer death than admit any this, that be it creditable to the colabatement of the principle, that a per lector, or be it odious and disgraceful son accused is not therefore to be con to the collector and the witnesses, it sidered guilty.

went to affect the character, and to Lords Grey, Holland, and Lans- impeach the conduct of her Majesty, downe insisted, that there was nothing for something that was alleged to have in the situation of the noble and learn- been done abroad. Now, it was known ed Lord which made any distinction to their Lordships, that her Majesty between him and other members of had resided for the last five years at a the House, or exempted him from any great distance from this country; that of the duties incumbent upon them. she had lived beyond the Alps and the

Lord Liverpool urged, that any in- Appenines, and that it was physically

impossible for her to procure the pro- fence. How unfair, that before this duction of a single document, the pre- time, the invisible tribunal-hebegged sence of a single witness, or even the pardon, the secret committee, should ta answer to a single letter, that might have pronounced sentence, her name I be necessary for the vindication of have been blackened all over Europe, her character, in less than five or six and an unfavourableimpression produweeks. Unless, therefore, the neces- ced for a great length of time. These sary time were allowed, her Majesty reasons, he urged, were conclusive ! could have no means of defence, and against any secret investigation, and ! might as well be condemned without for delaying the commencement of the formalities of trial. When an Eng- the trial in any shape, for the space lish woman was accused, no foreigner of two months. must be admitted as an evidence Mr Denman followed on the same against her-none whose principles side, and strongly urged similar arguhung on them by a loose tenurem ents. In what situation would her!! none who denied the obligation of an Majesty be placed, after the report oath ; she had an opportunity of of the secret committee? A committee knowing the witnesses against her, of fifteen of the most distinguished 2 and she could compel the attendance peers of that House, whose minds had of those who could give testimony in been impressed by the contents of this her favour. Her Majesty possessed bill, were to pause for a time on these 1 none of those advantages; she was impressions, and then to sit in judget discountenanced by all the authori- ment on her Majesty's character, hero ties, both at home and abroad ; she honour, and perhaps her life. How a had to meet all that bribery, all that was it possible for the most honourforce, all that malignity could col- able mind to divest itself of prejulect and array against her. He would dices so impressed ? In such cirask their Lordships if they could cumstances, how great was the likedoubt that her Majesty was consci- lihood of worthless characters fur-d ous of her innocence, and fearless of nishing such evidence as they might! the result, when, under such circum- deem to be acceptable? It was enough stances as these, she called on her to rouse suspicion, that the desire to ! law officers to go on, and demand. receive such testimony was known to ed no delay of the proceedings. It exist. There was a peculiar call in! was his duty, however, to guard her such circumstances, to allow every against the dangers into which she means of guarding against the dangers ! might be led by this intrepid consci- of subornation. ousness of innocence. It was impos- Mr Williams began on the same sible that the advocate could do his side, but was stopped by the Chancel ! duty without full communication with lor, who observed, that it was not cushis own witnesses, and without an op- tomary for more than two counsel to portunity of knowing the witnesses on be heard in support of a petition. the opposite side. He assumed, with This proceeding was followed next great humility, that their Lordships day by Earl Grey, with a motion for would at least allow her Majesty a doing away with the Secret Commitfew months to bring forward her wit. tee, and for proceeding by open innesses. He supposed that there was vestigation. It did not appear to him not an English tribunal-not even a that there were any precedents exact Milan tribunal that would deny an ly applicable to the present case; and, accused party some opportunity of de- if they were, they might have taken

place in times, when considerations of entitle them to respect, and secure equity had little influence. The pro- their perfect independence. Possessposition made to them was, that they ing these high advantages, they were should now proceed to examine in- bound to take the greater care how formation of a nature totally ex parte, they brought the character of their proin a case directly affecting the charac- ceedings into question. Secret comter and honour of the Queen. This mittees had of late been too common examination was to take place without in this House, and their very name affording her any means of explana- stamped a suspicion on any proceedtion on the charges made against her ing connected with them. Were he a -any opportunity of examining wit- member, he would not hear the paper nesses, or of saying any thing in her of accusation read, he would insist own defence. Upon such a partial upon seeing and hearing the witness examination their Lordships were to himself. The committee was entirely make a report with a view to some composed of ministers of the crown, proceeding in that House. Be that and of persons devoted to them; and proceeding what it may, her Majesty the report would be entirely their rewould inevitably be placed in a disad port. Was there any secret charm in vantageous situation with respect to the committee-room of that House, it, from the weight of their Lordships' which was to inspire them with that report, in the first place, against her. energy, wisdom, and justice, which Notwithstanding all his respect for the they could not find in their cabinet ? noble and learned Lord, he could not The only mode of extricating them be satisfied as to those subtile distinc from the straits in which they had intions, by which he endeavoured to volved themselves, was by a fair, open, prove that the Queen could not be ar- and impartial inquiry. This might be raigned as guilty of high treason. At all done either by judicial proceeding, by events, the House of Commons might bill, or by a mixture of both modes. impeach her as having acted in a man. The conduct of ministers during the ner unworthy of her high station. whole of these proceedings, had been That illustrious person came before most extraordinary, weak, and unjusthem in a character in which he be tifiable; and by their imbecility andvalieved no Queen of England had ever "cillation, they had brought the question before appeared. She is a petition to an issue, which they could not purer ; she prays for a prompt inqui- sue without danger, or retract without ry, desirous that no delay may take disgrace. It was now twelve months place, but begs that she might not, by since they had the report of their coma previous proceeding, have the accu- ' mission in their hands, upon which sations against her sent forth into the they ought either to have acquitted world, not as the charges of her accu- the Queen, or commenced proceedsers, but as those of that House. He ings, which might by this time have was far from wishing their Lordships been terminated. They entered into to yield to any factious clamours; yet negociations, in which they coupled surely they ought to pay some regard the menace of proving criminal to the character which their proceed charges, with the offer of an arrangeings would have in the eye of the pub- ment wholly inconsistent with them. lic. Their Lordships occupied a high They now sought to divest themstation in the country, distinguished selves of their official accountability, by a long line of ancestors, possessing and to throw upon committees of Parwealth, rank, and everything that could liament their duties and responsibilis ty. At a season of great public dis- colleagues for the last eight years. tress and danger, at a moment of He was willing that their counsels great peril to the peace and tranquil. and acts should be compared to the lity of the country, they had shown counsels and acts of the administra. themselves unfit for the emergency, tion with which the noble Earl had and called upon their Lordships for been connected. The wish of minidirection. When the tempest arose sters to avoid proceedings against the when the winds raged—when the Queen, and to prevent her coming to waves beat high, the vessel of the this country, was approved of, he was state was left by them, without com- sure, by nine-tenths of the nation. pass or rudder, to the mercy of the Was there any alternative, then, when storm. The concessions which they she arrived, between allowing ber all had made to her Majesty, and the the honours and privileges of her panegyrics which some of them pass- rank, or placing her in a state of aced upon her, were totally inconsist cusation. He was conscious of none ent with the charges which they ad. of that vacillation, of which the noble vanced. Her Majesty was accused Earl had accused ministers. They the charges were in the bag—a com- had laid the papers on the table, and mittee had been proposed—and yet moved the appointment of a committhey paused, and agreed not to open tee. A strong sense had been exthe bag, but to address her Majesty, pressed in the other House, that an with all respect and submission, to attempt at negociation should be surrender some of her rights, that in- made; and with this ministers had quiry might be prevented. Lord Gray gladly complied; but they did not concluded with moving to discharge know of the motion to this effect an the order for the meeting of the secret hour before it was made.-Lord Licommittee. He knew nothing of the verpool insisted that the Chancellor accusation against her Majesty-no- was perfectly correct in his opinion, thing of the witnesses by which it was that the Queen could not be chargesupported—nothing of the evidence able with high treason. She could be by which it could be repelled. But brought in only as an accessary; and on this principle he stood, that there where, as in the case of a foreigner, should be no secret investigation, there was no principal, there could be that there should be no inquiry that no accessary. A legislative proceedwas acknowledged to be derogatory ing was the only course that could be from the dignity of the Crown, and adopted ; and the House of Lords, injurious to the best interests of the from being accustomed to examine empire.

witnesses upon oath, as well as from The Earl of Liverpool had been other considerations,seemed the quarmuch surprised to hear the Noble ter from which it should originate. Earl, after disclaiming any intention The next question was, whether there to make this a party question, con- should be any preliminary inquiry. clude with one of the most inflamma. He could find no precedent of a Bill tory party attacks that had ever been of Pains and Penalties, without some made within the walls of Parliament. such inquiry ; and, if there was one, He was prepared to appeal from the it was surely prejudicing the cause judgment of the noble Lord to the less that it should be secret, than that country, to Parliament, and to poste- it should be public. This was an acrity, and to be tried by them for the casation against the first subject in conduct pursued by himself and his the realm, and the case could not be

« PreviousContinue »