Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Mr. Rigby. Mr. Rigby faid, he did not rise to advert to any thing let

fall by the noble Lord who spoke last, because the queition was not now, how to dispose of the ministry; when the ministry were to be pulled down, and that was the confideratiof the Houfe, he did not doubt but the noble Lord would assist in the work, as indeed he was bound in honour to do. Nor did he rise to talk of the late speaker's good or ill health, as neither the one nor the other was, as far as he faw, a part

a of the present question. The House had a motion before them for the election of a speaker, to which office the motion recommended Mr. Cornwall, and to that motion he meant to speak. This, he said, was the very first debate in which he had heard it afierted, that there was any thing of insult, disgrace, or contempt to any man, in appointing a speaker, or that any gentleman was either to be called on, or expected to state his reasons why he recommended, or why he voted for this or that particular candidate. He had always understood that when a new Parliament was summoned, every individual member had a right to give his vote as he pleased for a new speaker, and he defied the most learned in the law to prove, that it was any part of the constitutional law of Parliament, that when a member was once elected to the chair of the House, he was to fit there just as long as he pleased, unless some charge of criminality could be made out against bin. He had fat in that House a great many years, having been sent to Parliament when he was only twenty-two years of age, and he had seen several speakers chosen, but never before heard such doctrines broached, as he had heard that day. With regard to the vote of thanks to Sir Fletcher Norton, read from the Journals of 1777, he had at that time expressed his disapprobation of it, and of the speech which occasioned it; he thought then that the speaker went too far, that he was not warranted to make such an address to the throne, and that it was flying in the King's face, and he thought the same now. [A cry, to Order, to Order! He in

] fifted upon it, he was not disorderly in what he had said, he had a righi to speak of the last Parliament. He could not, he said, but remark the particular epoch, when the late speaker became the great favourite of those who were this day so loud in his praise. It had been hinted at by a learned gentleman near him (Mr. Dunning] and more directly alluded to by his honourable friend opposite [Mr. Fox]. The epoch was no other than the period at which the late speaker joined those gentlemen, and voted, as they termed it, with The House of Commons. Let the gentlemen remember,

however,

1

however, that towards the close of the last feffion, the House of Commons altered its opinion and its decisions. A great deal had been said about the conduct of Sir Fletcher Norton, while speaker ; perhaps he did not perfectly coincide in all that had been urged on that topic; and for this, and other reasons not fit to be given in that House, was difposed to support the nomination of Mr. Cornwall, for whom he should certainly vote. Me observed, that only two maiters where urged against the appointment of Mr. Cornwall as objections, and those were, his representing a Cinque Fort, and his being a placeman. With regard to the latter, an honourable friend of his had mentioned Mr. Onflow, but he had forgot that Mr. Onslow was for some years Treasurer of the Navy, a much better place than that held by, Mr. Cornwall, and therefore more desirable! Why Mr. Onslow lost that place, was a matter which bis honourable friend would, perhaps, rather talk over with him in private. As to Mr. Cornwall's representing a Cinque Port, that was to him a very extraordinary objection indeed, and he believed it was the first time it had ever been brought forward in the shape of an objection. He had always understood that there was no local representation within those walls, and that gentlemen were to consider themselves in a different light while they were in the House. He, for instance, was chosen for the town of Tavistock, but while he was then speaking, he considered himself as the representative of the people of England, and this idea, he had always understood to be the true constitutional idea of the House of Commons. In this view therefore the baron of a Cinque Port, and the member for Old Sarum, was either of them as eligible to the chair as the member for the county of York. Grantham was the place which fent Sir John Cuft to Parliament, but it was never talked of as a plea of eligibility or ineligibility, when Sir John Cust was recommended to the chair. Why then start the objection now? The conduct of Sir Fletcher Norton had been loudly applauded, and yet it might not strike every gentleman as it did those who had been lo lavish in delivering its eulogy. One part of his conduct had often appeared to him extremely wrong, and that was, his relaxation of the rules of proceeding with the ordinary business of the House, and his want of strictness in observing order, and keeping gentlemen within due bounds. This he had spoken of to the Jate speaker more than once, and he hoped it would be a main object of Mr. Cornwall's attention to restore Parlia. ment to its dignity, by restoring a strict observance of all

[merged small][ocr errors]

the forms of the House. He remembered Mr. Onslow was, remarkable for an opposite conduct, and was said to have too much buckram in his manner, (to use a familiar phrase.) The younger part of the House complained, that he carried matters with rather too high a hand; the fact however was,

l the House had then more dignity, its proceedings were more grave and folemn, and people without doors treated it more respectfully than they had done fince Sir Fletcher Norton had filled the chair. He did not mean this as a severe censure on the late speaker, nor did he mean to set up

his understanding in competition with that of Sir Fletcher Norton; he should be a fool to attempt it; he only mentioned it, because he thought, though Mr. Onslow might be too pompous, the extreme opposite line of conduct was infinitely more liable to be attended with bad consequences. Sir Fletcher Norton's relaxation in the points he had mentioned, he was aware was ascribable to that large share of good humour and good nature, which all who knew him, knew he was pofleffed of, and to his having a more elevated turn of mind, than could descend to the observation of such minutia.

Much had been thrown out about the influence of the crown, and the secret reasons for moving to elect a new speaker. To him, who was an old member of that House, all that had been said on that head made not the smallest im. pression. It might have its effect on younger men, and those who had just entered those walls, but he had so often heard the fame sort of language from different sets of men on different occasions, that it was thrown away upon him; and as to the mighty fecret, the true cause of moving for a new speaker by one side of the House, and supporting the old speaker by the other, it was reducible to a very simple fact, and when put into plain English, and stripped of the dress of eloquence, and the ornaments of oratory, was no more than this : " We'll vote for you, if you'll be for us." As to the idea of places and placemen, that language would ever be held, while parties continued, but he thould hear it with great indifference, till he was told that no persons were feeking for places. He voted for ministry, and so did others, because he and they thought well of them, at least they knew not where to look for better men to put in their situations; but whenever an administration could be found out, capable of restoring unanimity to the country, he, for one, would most chearfully give up his place to the support of such an administration.

Mr,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Mr. Fox said, that side of the House did not call the hon- Mr. Foxo ourable gentleman to order for speaking of the last Parliamert, but for using the King's name; that he hoped the young members would now fee, that what the newspapers and the country faid, was true, that the King's name was on every occasion used as a shel:er and a screen for ministers. · With regard to the last Parliament, most certainly, he, for one, was disposed to speak worse of it than the honourable gentleman probably would do; he held it in detestation, and he hopeď every man in England would do the same. Mr. Fox dwelt for some time on the King's name being brought forward on all occasions, indecently, and said, it was now fo hackneyed, that it was heard of at elections. Having pursuled this idea, he very ingeniously turned whai Mr. Rigby had said respecting Sir Fletcher Norton's having too elevated a mind to attend to the minutiæ of Parliamentary business, against Mr. Cornwall, arguing that the honourable gentleman had recommended Mr. Cornwall to the House, because he was inferior in understanding to the last speaker.

Sir Edward Astly said, he should vote for the late speaker, Sir Edward because he had acquitted himself in the most fair and impar. Afley. tial manner.

The House divided,
For Lord George. Germain's motion

203 For Mr. Dunning's motion

134 November 1. The King about two o'clock went to the House of Peers, and being seated on the throne, the Commons were sent for. When they came up to the bar, Mr. Cornwall, their new elected speaker, addressed the throne in a short speech, in which he said, that, in consequence of his Majesty's royal indulgence, the Commons had proceeded to the exercise of their ancient and undoubted right, the election of a speaker; that their choice had fallen upon him. He could not refrain from expressing the apprehensions of his mind, that his abilities were not adequate to the discharge of that weighty and important truft; and therefore he must intreat bis Majesty, that he would give his commands to the Commons to proceed to another election.

The Lord Chancellor said, he had received the commands The Lord of his Majesty, to express the confidence which his Majesty Chancellora had of his abilities, knowledge and integrity. He highly approved of the able choice of a speaker which the Commons VOL. XVIII.

D

had

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

had made; and it was his Majesty's pleasure that he fhould

take upon him the high and important trust. Mr. Corn- Mr. Cornwall theii, in an humble manner, declared, that wall. the best manner which he conceived he could take to make

his acknowledgments of the high sense which he had of the honour which his Majesty had been pleased to confer upon him, by the confidence and approbation expressed by his Chancellor, would be the most zealous and iteady exertion of his abilities, weak as they were, and the trueft integrity of heart, in the discharge of the employment,

He must intreat for himself, that his Majesty would be pleased to put the most favourable construction on all his words and actions, and honour him with his royal forgiveness for the frailties and errors of his natnre. And he muit claim for the House of Commons, in which he was to prefide, the continuance of all their ancient rights, privileges and iminunities; particularly, that the Persons of the members, their estates, and servants, should be free from arrest and molestation; that they should enjoy freedom of debate;

and have ready access to his Majesty's person. The Lord The Lord Chancellor replied, that he was commanded by Chancellor. his Majesty to declare, that tho' he has small occasion to re

quest the royal indulgence on account of his abilities, yet his Majesty gave him his royal assurance of the most favourable interpretation of his conduct'; that his Majesty likewise gave his assurance to preserve and confirm, in the most full and ample manner, all the ancient privileges, rights and immulnities of the House of Commons; and particularly, that the perfons of the members, their estates and servants, should be free from arrest and malestation, that they should enjoy protection and freedom of speech in their debates; that they should have free access to his person; and that he should always put the most favourable construction on all their proceedings.

This business being finished, his Majesty delivered his speech from the throne to both Houses.

After which the Commons returned to their own House, the mace being carried before the speaker (which it had not been before), and the members took their places. The speaker said to the House, that his Majesty had peen pleased to approve of their choice of hiin as their speaker, and that he had laid claim by petition to all the ancient privileges rights and immunities of the House, particularly, that the persons of the members, their estates, and fervants, should be free from arrest and molestation; that they should enjoy

freedom

2

« AnteriorContinua »