Imatges de pÓgina
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the land, and, above all, be perfectly master of the law of parliament. He must have a zealous attachment to the rights and privileges of the Commons of England, and a sufficient degree of ability and integrity to support, maintain, and defend them; he must be diligent without being percipitate, and firm and decisive without being arbitrary or rash; and that, which he considered as a speaker's most inportant duty, was his conducting himself with the stricteft impartiality on every occasion.

The late worthy speaker, his Lordship remarked, had, for nearly two Parliaments, gone through the duties of his high office, with great honour, great diligence, and great dignity; the office, he said, was a very laborious one, and required full

, health and vigour; the right honourable gentleman who last filled the chair, when he was first elected to that high situation, was in poffeffion of every qualification both of body and mind, which the duties of the office called for; but the House had, unhappily for the right honourable gentleman, and unhappily for the public, been witnesses in the course of the very last feffion, that the right honourable gentleipan's conftitution was much impaired. It would, therefore, neither be decent in him, nor would it become the House, to shew so little gratitude and respect to the right honourable gentleman for his many and acknowledged services, were he to propose, or they to adopt the proposition for the putting that gentleman again into a situation, the fatigue of which were too heavy a burthen to be imposed on him, considering his precarious state of health. For that reason, and from that consideration only, it was that he had turned his mind to another gentleman, and meant to conclude what he had to say with a motion, proposing that gentleman to fill the chair. His Lordship trusted that when he named Mr. Cornwall, all those who had fat in former Parliaments would think he named a gentleman possessed of those qualifications which were requisite for the due execution of the duties of the chair. Mr. Cornwall, before he came into that House, had done his country essential service, and acquired great personal honour by the very able and active share he took in the adjustment of some public accounts, submitted to the investigation of certain persons commiffioned for that purpose; Mr. Cornwall had also sat several years in Parliament, was well aquainted with the law of the land, the law of Parliament, and all the forms, orders, and rules of proceeding peculiar to that House; he therefore flattered himself that it would not be thought, that he made an improper motion, or a motion likely to challenge much ob. jection when he moved, “ That Mr. Cornwall be ele&ted Speaker."

Right Hon. Welborc Ellis rose to second the motion, and Right Hon. said, that although the noble Lord by so fully stating to the Wilb. Ellis House the duties of the office, the qualifications requisite for the person chosen to fill the chair, and the praises due to the late worthy speaker, had left him little to say, he could not, consistent with his respect to that right honourable gentleman, his duty to the House, and his regard for the gentleman who made the subject of the motion, content himself with merely seconding the motion. Mr. Ellis, after this exordium went into a discussion on the subject, under the three heads of, the nature and importance of the office itself, the compliments and thanks merited by Sir Fletcher Norton for his able discharge of it, while he held it, and the reasons for expecting that Mr. Cornwall would prove capable of filling it to the satisfaction of the House and to his own honour.

With regard to the first, he said it was an office of considerable dignity, and of great emolument; that the duties of it were laborious, and he that filled it must expect to be in some degree a sufferer, in proportion to the good the House and the public derived from the exercise of his talents and the constant employment of his mind. This fort of exchange of health and honour, he observed, no elevated situation was free from, and therefore, though he fincerely lamented, that the late speaker should last session have had occasion to complain of the impreffion made upon his constitution by the fatigues of his fituation, he could not but own, he considered it as a natural consequence, and as it was a proof that his country was the more indebted to the honourable gentleman for his services, he thought it neceffary, now an opportunity offered, to afford him the relief the House had in its power, by choosing another speaker. Considering the very crítical situation of public affairs, he said, there would undoubtedly be many debates in that House, and possibly there might arise much contention; the person to be elected speaker, ought therefore, exclusive of a competent share of knowledge of the common law, and the law of Parliament, to possess temper to allay heats, prudence to prevent irregularities, and spirit and firmness to repress the rising storms of passion and conteft. With this view it was that he looked upon Mr. Cornwall as a proper fucceffor to Sir Fletcher Norton ; nor could he give that gentleman better advice than to let the conduct of the late speaker be his model, if the House should honour him so far as to seat him in the chair.

Mr. Dunning expressed his astonishment, that the noble Mr. DuxLord near him (He sat on the treasury bench, next but one wing. to Lord North.] had not rilen, and saved him the trouble of proposing the late speaker to continue in the chair. He was,


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he said, exceedingly surprized, on coming down to the House, to hear that it was generally understood within those walls, that Mr. Cornwall was to be speaker. There was no gentleman for whom he had a higher regard, nor for whose abilities he had more respect; and if the chair had been in the fair and ordinary sense of the word, vacant, the proposition of Mr. Cornwall (as that gentleman, he trusted, well knew) would not have met with the finallest objection from him ; on the contrary, he would readily have given it his support, such as it was; but at a time, when, in fact and truth, there was no vacancy, when Sir Fletcher Norton, the late speaker, was in the House, and to all appearance as capable of executing the duties of the office, as much to the satisfacton of the Houfe, and as much to the honour of himtelf, as ever, (and no man could execute the duties of it more satisfactorily nor more honourably) it struck him as the most fingular of all measures, to confess, as the noble Lord who made the motion, and the honourable gentleman who seconded it, had done, that the late speaker was the properest and most able of all perfons to fill the chair with dignity, and in the very moment of making that confeffion, for the noble Lord and the honourable gentleman to propose another candidate. He had expected, when the bad health of Sir Fletcher Norton was talked of, and' urged as a ground for not continuing him in the-chair, that either the noble Lord, or the honourable gentleman who spoke last, would have stated to the House that Sir Fletcher Norton had formerly applied to them, declaring his desire to resign the chair, and assigning as a reason for his so doing, that his health was in that irnpaired state, in which the noble Lord and the honourable gentleman had both declared it to be, although every man in tbe House could see, that if appearances were to be relied on, or if assurances were to be believed, Sir Fletcher Norton was as well, as fully in health, and as fully capable of going through the duties of the office, as ever he had been since he was first chosen to fill the chair, which had received so much dignity froin its being occupied by a person perhaps qualified to fill it more to the general fatisfa&tion, with more accommodation to the business of Parliament, and more to his own honour, than any other member of that House. Mr. Dunning mentioned the happiness he had experienced in a long and intimate acquaintance with Sir Fletcher, and spoke of his character in terms of the warmest eulogy. He concluded his speech with moving, " that Sir Fletcher Norton be continued speaker."

Right Hon. T. Townshend and Sir Fletcher Norton rose together, but the former continuing on his legs, he was heard first,



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Mr. Townshend began with apologizing for the seeming Mr. Townrudeness of his conduct in persevering in his endeavours to loenda be heard before Sir Fletcher Norton, declaring that as he meant to second the motion just made by his honourable and learned friend, he thought it more regular to do it, previous to the right honourable gentleman's dropping any thing on the subject, than afterwards. He then warmly expoftulated with the noble Lord who made the first motion, on the fingularity of it, and objected to Mr. Cornwall, as an improper person to fill the chair, were there any vacancy. He said he was, on the first view of the question then to be discussed, somewhat distressed for fear it might be considered as a personal one, and that, in consequence, any thing he might wish to offer, should be attributed to views very foreign from those with which he looked at the subject, and be deemed personal. He was happy, however, to find, that it would not be so considered, and as he meant to give no personal offence to any one, and least of all to the gentleman who was inade the object of the notion offered by the noble Lord, he would according to his custom speak out plainly and unreservedly. It had in former times, he observed, been always customary to see the chair of the House of Commons filled by men who were independent, and men who represented' either a large county, or some neighbouring borough. Mr, Onslow was no placeman. Mr. Cornwall held an office under the crown, disposable at the pleasure of the Crown, and Mr. Cornwall was the representative of one of the Cinque Ports, The Cinque Ports, he was free to own, had as much right to have their member speaker of the House of Commons, as any other place which sent members, but he could not disguise his feelings, and muft own he wished the person chosen speaker, was not a member for one of the Cinque Ports. The Cinque Ports, as the late elections had shewn, were not allowed a free choice of their representatives; these were objections which might appear slight aud trivial to other men, but they struck him very forcibly. The office of speaker ought to be filled by a person free from all influence of the Crown. It was the first duty of the speaker to guard the rights and privileges of the people, against the increased and increafing influence of the Crown. Was Mr. Cornwall, a placeman at pleasure, a pensioner, and representative of one of the Cinque Ports, a fit guardian for the privileges of the people? And after all, why was there to be a new speaker ? It was confessed, even by those who proposed Mr. Cornwall, that no man could discharge the duties of the chair iore satisfactorily, or with more dignity than Sir Fletcher Norton. Why then


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change him, and appoint a fucceffor? The noble Lord and
the hongurable gentleman who feconded the motion, had
both talked of bis ill state of health, and the latter had been
particularly diffuse in his praise; Good God! if Sir Flet-
cher Norton was so worthy, why dismiss him from the chair?
But there was another reason, a reason, which neither the
noble Lord, nor the honourable gentleman, though they had
both of them expreffed their wish that every speaker should
discharge his duty with iinpartiality, had thought proper to
hint at.

This lurking reason originated in Sir Fletcher Nor-
ton's having exercited that very impartiality, which was so
much enforced both by the noble motion-maker and the per-
fon who feconded it, it was this : Sir Fletcher Norton had
made a speech on a memorable occasion, which did him the
highest honour; a speech, which proved his impartiality, as
a speaker, his zeal for his country, his feeling for the na-
tional distretses under which Great Britain laboured. That
was the reason, that was the cause of the present attempt to
disgrace and insult the late speaker; and as it was unmanly
and illiberal, he trusted every member, young and old, those
who sat in the old Parliament, and those who were newly cho-
fen, would feel properly on the occasion, and join with him
in supporting the motion of his honourable and learned
friend, which he begged leave to second.

Sir Fletcher Norton laid, he had risen before, in order to fave the House the trouble and tell them that he came down with his mind made up to the business of the day, and with a full resolution not to go into the chair again on any confideration. When he was first cholen speaker, he said, he brought into the chair a hale constitution, and such poor abilities as heaven had been pleased to bestow upon him, were in their fullest vigour. The very great and increased duties of the office, had, as the House must have witnessed, impaired his constitution materially, and he feared, had weakened his intellects; his advanced years, as might naturally be supposed, not enabling him to resist the force of his disorder, but rather giving way to it. As a proof of what he had faid, the public business had, he observed, in the course of last session, been twice interrupted, solely on the account of his infirmities; he had then intimated a desire to resign, and his family knew that had the Parliainent lat another session, it was his refolution to ask leave of the House to quit the chair, and resign it to some more healthy successor. He therefore thanked his honourable and learned friend for the high opinion he entertained of him, and for the motion he had made to reinstate him, but he must beg leave to decline acceding to that pro


Sir Fletcher


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