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SIR,

I

1751. PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c. 349 ruction not only of the minor king, what was our constitution before a but of the royal family of which he house of commons was established, was descended. And as I think it and what it has been since the esta will in general be necessary, upon blishment of this house. Before the every future occasion, tho' not up- commons came regularly to have a on the present, to lay the regent un. share in the legiNative part of our der restraints, therefore, left what A government, the whole of it was we do now should be made a prece. lodged in the king and the great ba. dent, when it should not, I shall be rons or peers ; and these last have for agreeing to all the restraints con- not only before, but ever fince been tained in this bill; and consequently deemed the hereditary counsellors of I must be for retaining the words ob- the crown, Thus our constitution jected to by the Hon. gentleman food from the time of the conquest who spoke first upon this subject *. B to the reign of Edward I. for what

it was in the time of the Saxons, I The last Speech I shall give you upon shall not now take the pains to in

this Oscafion, was that made by M. quire ; and from this conftitution it Valerius Corvus, which was in is evident, that when a minority Substance thus :

happened, the government did not

devolve upon whoever could get Mir. Chairman,

C possession of the infant king, but

upon the great barons, or such as N any matter of law, I should be they fould appoint to exercise the nion of the two learned gentlemen, the king, and they alone had a right who spoke last in favour of this bill; to determine when that minority was but in matters that relate chiefly to or Mould be at an end; all which is our constitution, which, not only as D clearly manifested from the hittory a free citizen, but as a member of of the reign of Henry III. for the this house, I thought myself bound earl of Pembroke was established reto study, I hope, I may be allowed, gent by an assembly of the barons, without the imputation of presump- immediately after the death of king tion, to differ from them, and in

John ; upon the earl's death another deed, I totally differ from them, al

regency was immediately eltablished most in every thing they have said E by the same authority; and tho’the upon this occasion ; for I neither

young king was, at the age of 16, think this bill, or any such bill, ne. declared by the pope's bull to be of cessary at present, nor do I think full age, and impowered to take the there is such a defect in our constitu- government upon him, notwithstandțion as the learned gentleman who che great authority of the popes spoke last was pleased to frighten us at thac time, the barons would not with : And if there be any little de- F admit of it, nor allow him to take fect in our constitution, with respect the government into his own hands; to minorities, I do not think this and yet afterwards they declared him bill, or any such bill, at all proper of full age, tho' he was but in his for curing it.

20th year, and consequently not arAs what I have said, may to some rived at what was then deemed full gentlemen seem surprising, I must age by the common law of the king. beg leave to give my reasons for G dom. thele my surpriling opinions. With This, I say, Sir, was our constitua respect to the minority of our king, tion before the house of commons Sir, we, must distinguish between' was establihed; but after our parS--B

Laments Šu London Magazine for June laj, p, 249.

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kaments came to be regularly consti- the request of, or in compliment to tuted, and to consist of the represen- his queen, had heaped so many tatives of the commons, as well as honours upon her relations and fa. the great barons, our constitution vourites, and had thereby so much with respect to minorities was alter- raised the jealousy and envy of the ed. Upon the death of the king, old nobility, that he provided a leaving his successor a minor, the A powerful party for his brother the immediate government of the king. duke of Gloucester, to head against dom devolved, as before, upon the the queen, in case of his death begreat barons of peers, by virtue of fore his eldest son was of age ; and that hereditary right they have, of by his having put to death his brother being the king's counsellors, and the duke of Clarence, he had left they lodged it in fuch hands as they Gloucester without a rival for power. thought proper ; but then the regu. B At the same time, by refusing to do lation made by them was not final justice to the duke of Buckingham, or absolute : Ít lafted only until a the next most powerful man in the parliament could be assembled, and kingdom, he made him an inveteby that parliament it was to be con- rate, tho' secret enemy, and by that firmed or altered. Therefore I can- means laid a foundation for his joinnot admit, Sir, that with respect to ing in any schemes against his chilminorities, there was any such ter. C dren. The consequences of these rible defect in our conftitution, from imprudent steps he foresaw before the conquest down to the 8th year his death, and made a faint attempt of K. William III. when a new alte- to prevent them, but he died before sation was made in our conftitution, he could take any effectual measures; by enacting, That upon the demise of and, indeed, it was not easy to have the king, the parliament then in be- contrived any such. The most effectual ing, or the last preceding parlia. Dwould certainly have been, to have ment, should immediately meet, fit, done justice to the duke of Bukingand act. By our constitution there- ham before his death, and to have fore the care of our government has got the queen mother appointed sole always been sufficiently provided for regent by parliament, with the during a minority, tho' an ambitious whole fovereign power, during her man, supported by a rebellious party, , fon's minority for the more danger. might seize upon the government

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a regent may be in, the more power, as well as the person of our infant such regent Tould be invested with; king, contrary to the whole tenor and it would have been ridiculous to of our constitution, which was the have given the duke of Gloucester case upon the demise of Edward IV. any share in the government but and will be the case again, make what depended upon the regent ; for what laws you will to prevent it, as to grant favours or power to an amoften as any ambitious man has power F bitious man, is only enabling him to enough to carry his designs into ex- take what you do not grant. ecution,

Another effectual measure might The giving of such a man such a have been, Sir, it Edward had got power is not, Sir, to be prevented such a law passed in his last parliaby standing laws, which signify no- ment, , which was held but a year thing against a man who has power before his death, as we have now in enough to break them with impunity :G force : I mean that for the parliaIt can be prevented only by a prudent ment's meeting immediately upon the conduct in the preceding reign, and demise of the king ; for as the old proper regulations expresly made for and discontented nobility seem to that very purpose. Edward IV. at have had very little influence in that 5

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1751. PROCEEDINGS of the POLITICAL CLUB, &c. 353 parliament, it is probable, that if who gave the royal assent to the the fame parliament had met upon repeal of an act lavishly passed in that king's death, they would have

one of Henry VIII.'s parliaments, settled the regency upon the queen

by which the king's proclamation was dowager, and, would notwithitand

made of almost equal authority with ing the duke of Gloucester’s diflimu

an act of parliament : A law which lation, have taken proper measures A no king at full age would easily to prevent his being able to head have parted with; and for the repeal any faction with success against her ;

of which the nation will for ever stand but after he had got possession of indebted to that regent, tho' he met the throne, and had cut off all those

with a very ungrateful return. who could make any stand against These reasons, Sir, induce me to him, I do not wonder at his get- think, that the law now proposed is ting fach a parliament chosen as he В far from being so necessary as some delired ; for no man durft stand a gentlemen would make us believe, candidate in oppofition to him. nor do I think that any good ar

Therefore, Sir, what happened gument can be drawn from what the at that time must shew the wisdom learned gentleman who spoke laft of the law we have now in force, was pleased to suggest ; for faid he, for the parliament's meeting im- the parliament that meets upon the mediately upon the demise of the C king's demise may be prevented from king; and as we now have such a acting, or settling a regency, by those ftanding law, I do not think it ne

that get possession of the young king's cessary to settle a regency before the person, who in his name may proevent happens : On the contrary, I rogue or dissolve it as soon as it has think it would be better at all times met, by virtue of the words in the to leave it to the parliament which act, unless the same should be sooner is to meet upon the king's demise ;D prorogued or dissolved by the next heir because the true interest of the na- to the crown ; for those words suption would then stand fair to prevail, pose the next heir in a capacity to whereas, if settled during the life of act, which the next heir, when under the king, the intrigues of the cabinet age, is not. If the next heir should may get the better of the interest of be a prisoner in France, and he the nation. Another reason is, be. should send a French general here, cause it is impossible to judge be- E with orders to prorogue or diffolve fore-hand what may be most proper the parliament that had met upon to be done ; for the queston depends the demise of his ancestor, I believe, so much upon the circumstances of no member of parliament would things and perfons, that the least shew the least regard to such orders, change in either may make that

unless the general brought an army very improper or dangerous, which

with him sufficient to enforce them. a year or two before appeared to be F Juft so, if any bold enterpriser should the 'wisest settlement that could be attempt to prorogue or diffolve the made. And a third and most pun. parliament in the name of a minor gent reason is, because if the parlia- fucceffor, before they had settled ment Tould think any law neceffary, a regency, I believe, the parliament, in which they could not expect the instead of separating, would send concurrence of a king at full age, him to the Tower, unless he had an without risking a combustion, they G army fufficient and ready to support might then appoint such a regent as him ; and if he had, no law that would readily give the royal assent could be made either before or after to such a law; an instance of which the event, would be of any fignifiwe had in the duke of Somerset, cation. during the minority of Edward VI.

How

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However, Sir, to explain and en- methods might be found for guarding force the intention of that act, it against this danger, beside that of will be very easy, by a short bill, dividing the sovereign power ; -for to add a clause for providing, that that it is by this bill to be divided, in case the next heir to the crown cannot by any finefie be disputed: be under age, or otherwise not ca- Whilft ministers, or if you please, pable to act, the parliament so af. A the administration, which consists of Lembled fhall neither be prorogued the ministers, can be removed at nor dissolved by any person in the pleasure, they are but the servants king's name, until after they have of the crown ; but the moment you appointed a regency, to govern in make them irremoveable, and 'nothe king's name during that inca- thing to be done without their conpacity. And this, in my opinion, fent, you give them a share of the Sir, is the only general law we can B sovereign power, you make them make, in order to provide for all future partners with the sovereign, or the minorities; for (o talk of settling a person who represents the lovereign ; form of regency, or method of go- and as they have the greatest share, vernment, either by law or precedent, they will probably Toon become that is to suit all future ininorities, masters, is a vain undertaking : Every fu- . But, Sir, it is said, the regent is ture regency must be, as all past re- C to have in every thing a negative gencies have been, in some Mape or voice, and the sole disposal of all other, different from the former ; pofts and places not excepted in the and this is so evident, that I am apt bill. As to her negative voice, I to suspect the design's being made Thail presently thew, I have some use of only as a pretence for doing. reason to doubt of it; but suppose what ought not to be done ; for it to be so, in many cases somewithout any compliment to the mi-D thing must be done,' or confusion nisters who advised this bill, or to must ensue; and if she will not act those who had the framing of it, I as directed by the council of regency, believe, they have more penetration she cannot act at all, consequently than to iinagine, that they are mak- confusion must ensue. Sir, ministers ing a precedent, or can make a are answerable for concurring with precedent, fit to be followed by all the king in their several departments, future generations.

E if what is done be wrong; but they What may be the reason, Sir, are not answerable for not concurfor thus precipitating a regency ring, let the measure be never fo scheme, before the event happens, right and necessary, because the king I do not know; but this I am sure can remove them : Since then you of, they have choíen the very worst are to make the regent's ministers form of a regency, when all cir- irremoveable, I think, you should cumstances directed them to chuse F make them answerable for refusing the best. What I call the best, Sir, is to concur. Whereas, for any thing that which comes nearest to our efta. in this bill, they may refuse their blished form of government, and concurrence to the most necessary confequently must be a sole regent measure, or grant it only upon their with tovereign power. This, I Ihall own conditions. I could suppose a grant, might be dangerous, if the cale where the regent mult act or the person to be appointed regent were G and her children be undone, and the presumptive heir of the crown, yet where if the does act with the or of such high rank as might encou- concurrence, and upon the condirage him to form proje is for placing tions prelicribed her by the council of bimself upon the cloudle ;. bui orang regency, the and her children muft

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1751. PROCEEDINGS of the PolitiCAL CLUB, &c. 353 be equally undone : Suppose an in- feffion from the beginning to the end vafion threatned and headed by a of the regency. And as to what pretender to the crown, and that the they are to take into their conöderacouncil of regency refuses to concur tion, I can find nothing in the act with her in fitting out a fleet and for restraining them from considering raising an army, for the could do upon whatever matters they please, neither without the concurrence of A or for confining them to those mat

the admiralty and treasury : I say, ters only that are laid before them fuppofe they should refuse, unless the by the regent : Nay, I do not find, grants to one of them, whom te that she has a right to be present at has just reason to suspect of having their deliberations; and by the clause a fecret design upon the crown, an for declaring what number shall be a absolute, uncontroulable, and irre- quorum, they seem to be impowered vocable commission to command in B to act, as well as deliberate, withouc chief our forces both by sea and her concurrence or consent ; for the land; in such a case, let her act bill fays, that any five of the said upon the condition prescribed, or council, being so assembled, shall be not act at all, she and her children sufficient to act as such council of rewould, probably, be undone. gency, and all acts to be done by a ma.

Then as to her sole disposal of jor part of the council fo assembled, places, it is plain she can dispose of C shall be deemed to be a&ts of the counnone of those, whose patent, commis- cil of regency; which words to me fion, or warrant must pass the great seem to Thew,, that the regent is not or privy seal, or where it must be in every thing to have a negative counterfigned by any of the great 'voice. officers, whom she cannot remove ; We know, Sir, how apt all courts and as to most others, they are usu- and councils are to ingrofs more pow. ally in the disposal of those great D er than what was at hrst designed for officers, whose department they be. them ; and tho' this council be calllong to ; consequently, she can have ed in the bill, a council to affift her the sole disposal of very few places royal highness in the adminiftration either of honour or profit.

of government, I am afraid, it will So much, Sir, for the power of be found to be a council to direct her the regent: And now as to the pow. royal highness in the administration er of the council of regency, it is E of government ; for if I were conlaid, they can never meet as a coun. fined not to do any thing of imporcity of regency but when called by tance, without the consent of two or the regent, nor take any thing un. three of my servants, I should from der their consideration but what is that moment look upon them, not proposed by her. As to their meet. as my servants, but my masters; be. ing, Sir, it would seem to me by cause, in order to obtain their consent their having a chief or head allign. F in matters of importante, it would ed them, that they can meet as of: be necessary for me to alk their conten as he pleases : The bill says, fent in the merest crifles; therefore, they hall meet when her royal high. if this bill should pass into a law; as ness shall please to direct ; but there it now stands, and we should fall unare no words to prevent their meet- der the misfortune of his majesty's ing without her direction, nor are death, during the nonage of "his there any words impowering her to fucceffor, the princess regent; so far put an end to their meeting ; fo that, as I can fee, has nothing to do, but when once they are met, they may fit to fubmit herself entirely to be goas long as they please, adjourn from verned by him, who may happen to day to day, and fo continue their get the lead in the corneil of segen

Augult, 1751,

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