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effectual ; and that the princesses were can be permitted to stand in the way thus placed in a situation in which it of a nation's anxiety upon a question would have been disreputable to the of such national importance. If any country if it had allowed them to re- man can satisfy the public upon this main. Some members of opposition topic, it is the right honourable genpleaded against the grant, the abstract tleman, (Mr Perceval.). They know and barren principles of economy; as
him to have been at one time the zeaif a pension of 36,0001. a-year to four lousadviser and devoted adherent to the princesses were too much for such a Princess of Wales. They believe him country as England to bestow-as if to have conscientiously undertaken her another question could possibly have defence to have written her vindicome before parliament to which this cation--to have published it. That principle of economy might not, with vindication is said to have involved in more justice, and with far more deli- it an attack upon her royal consort. cacy, have been applied.
It is known to have been an attack But the members of opposition who upon his royal highness, and the respoke on this subject, did not con- gent's first minister is known to have fine themselves within the usual limits been the author of it; and after he of debate; they endeavoured to mix had published it, after it had been with the question before the house read by one and by one hundred, it other topics with which it had no was bought up at an enormous exvery obvious connection ; and selected pence ; bought up by the private seone upon which they believed that cretary of the right honourable genthey might with more than ordinary tleman. I ask him now, Does he readvantage, press both the prince and tain his former opinions of the unex. his ministers. This was the first oc- ceptionable conduct of the Princess of casion on which they brought forward Wales ? I ask him, If he did not latethe differences subsisting betwixt the ly, in this house, solemnly record his Prince and Princess of Wales. Mr confirmation of that opinion; and if Whitbread has uniformly taken a con- it is now what it was the other night, spicuous part in the discussions con- I call upon him to explain, if he can, nected with this subject; and it may his apparent desertion of her just not be improper, therefore, to quote claims to that respect, notice, provithe words with which he introduced sion, and consideration due to her ? it to parliament. “ I have heard,” These are questions, which, as he va. said Mr Whitbread, “ that the queen lues his own consistency;---as he vais about to hold a drawing-room, of lues the character and claims of the course no hopes can now exist of his princess, and as he respects the prince majesty's recovery ; because if there his master, he is bound to answer.” were any, such a step, I
presume, But the House of Commons did not would not be resorted to; but in case give way to this mode of proceeding. that drawing-room is held, I would Men of all parties could perceive that wish to know, is there to be any the condition of the Princess of Wales public appearance of the Princess of had no immediate connection with the Wales? This is no private concern ; provision to be made for the princesses; the public have a right to demand for they knew, that less than; two why the acknowledged consort of months before, (while the regent had their regent do not appear in public not yet declared himself in favour of as such. No affectation of delicacy his minister,) although the legislature was then making ample provision for the princesses, which had been framed his royal highness, not a single murmur by the minister, was carried through respecting the state of the princess was its different stages, and received the heard.—The bill for the provision to sanction of the legislature.
Debate on the Constitution of the Ecclesiastical Courts. Sir William Scott's
Bill on this Subject. Measures adopted with reference to the State of the Currency. Lord Holland's Motion respecting ex officio Informations. Debates on Military Punishments. Mr Brand's Motion for a Reform in Parliament.
In England, where so much freedom which are necessary to ensure success, of discussion is indulged, both in and It is soon discovered, that plans of out of parliament, and where the peo- reform are not always brought forward ple are not influenced by a very super with a view to any solid advantage stitious veneration forancient establish- which may be derived from them, but ments, it may seem singular that from motives less generous and respect many obvious abuses should still exist, able from a wish to embarrass the and that the spirit of a wise and tem- administration, and to seize by vio. perate reform has not, long ago, re- lence
government. Grievan. moved all the grosser evils at least ces are selected, not with reference to which are inseparable from the insti. their true magnitude and importance, tutions of an early age. The causes, but with a view to the effect which however, which have, in many instan- noisy discussion
parces, retarded improvement, may be ty-politics of the day; and even when discovered without difficulty.. Those the subject of complaint is wisely chowho are invested with the higher of- sen, the manner in which it is urged fices of government, are, generally is commonly but little calculated to speaking, so much occupied with the raise those who support it in the scale discharge of their official duties, and of virtue and patriotism. The mithe defence of their conduct against nisters, feeling that their conduct is the attacks of their enemies, that it is unjustly assailed, and their characters seldom they have leisure to turn re- wantonly traduced, are naturally proformers, and project extensive improve- voked to resist measures by which ments. The task of reform, therefore, their enemies may seem to gain an un. is naturally abandoned to the mem. due advantage over them; and by an bers of opposition, who do not always obstinacy, which is rather to be parcome to the discharge of a duty so doned than approved, are apt to care delicate with the views and feelings ry their resistance farther than the acknowledged hazards of innovation contrived to accomplish their separawill justify. If a reasonable plan of tion. The clergy, always active and reform, in any of the departments of ambitious, continued their encroachstate, is proposed by their opponents, ments on the civil power, and, even in they will lend their whole influence the vigorous reign of Henry the Seto check, for the present, the triumph cond, had acquired such an ascendant, which would arise to their enemies that the pope ventured to deprive that from the success of their plans; and able prince of his right of nominating thus it happens, that many beneficial to vacant benefices. Such advantameasures are unwisely postponed ; that ges indeed did the clergy obtain over some are abandoned altogether, and Henry, that, before he could make that the interests of the country are
his peace with the church, he was sacrificed amid the struggles of faction. forced to sign certain articles; by It is impossible to acquit either par- one of which it was conceded, that a ty of blame; but perhaps those who layman, breaking the peace with an give the provocation-who are the ecclesiastic, should be tried by the first to betray narrow views, and to bishop; and by another, that no ecexhibit the unnatural union of gene- clesiastic should be amenable to the rous plans with selfish principles, are temporal powers. Their influence ineven more culpable than their oppo- creased in succeeding reigns; and in nents, who yield to feelings of resent- that of John, rose to such a pitch, ment that even the wisest and best that the king himself was forced to of men cannot always restrains. It is surrender his crown into the hands of painful, however, to reflect, that from a priest, and accept it as a grant such causes measures of great public from the ecclesiastical power. The utility may often miscarry; and it is clergy had not, however, been allownot less honourable to the parties more ed to make these encroachments with. immediately concerned, than it is con- out complaint or resistance on the soling to all who really love their part of the legislature and the people. country, when instances are found, in In the reigns of Edwards First and which truth and sense have triumphed Third, and Richard Second, seveover every obstacle, and men of all ral statutes were passed, for abridg. parties have united in a salutary im- ing their power ; but they still contiprovement on the laws of their country. nued to gain strength, until, in the
An example of this kind was af. reign of Henry the Seventh, in conforded during the present session of sequence of a dispute betwixt parliaparliament, in the measure which was ment and the ecclesiastical jurisdicadopted for improving the inferior tions, an act was passed to make the ecclesiastical courts of England. The clergy responsible to the civil courts. history of the jurisdiction of these This innovation was violently resisted courts is very curious, and serves by some eminent individuals of their to explain the anomalies which till order : But Henry VIII. in conlately existed in their practice. Be- sequence of transactions which are fore the Norman conquest, the eccle- well known, having taken up a deep siastical and temporal powers were grudge against the clergy, united his united; but William the First, either influence to that of the parliament, and from a wish to imitate the institutions the temporal courts at last prevailed. of his own country, or to get rid, in A commission was appointed about certain cases, of the trial by jury, this time to enquire into the abuses which had crept into the ecclesiastical severity ; but the punishment itself courts; but it does not appear that its was extremely objectionable as an proceedings were attended with any abuse of a religious ceremony; and practical advantages. A similar fate there could be no difficulty in finding attended commissions which were ap- a substitute for it, more efficacious pointed in several succeeding reigns; and less oppressive.
and less oppressive. It was declared, and nothing was effected towards im- in the House of Commons, by one of proving the constitution of these the greatest lawyers of this or any courts until the acts 26th Geo. II. other age or country, who himself and 27th Geo. III. were passed. Their presides in the highest of the English constitutional canons were still nomi- ecclesiastical courts, to be the general nally the same as they had been du wish of all who were connected with ring the reign of Henry the Eighth ; them, to have this barbarous and abalthough it would be absurd to deny surd custom abolished. that the spirit of their proceedings had The attention of Lord Folkestone been softened by the improvements of was attracted to this subject, by the modern times, and that they had par- case of Mary Ann Dix, a poor woticipated to a large extent in the pro- man, who had committed some offence gress of refinement and civilization. falling under the jurisdiction of one Many of the persons who now preside of the inferior ecclesiastical courts, for in them are men of the very highest which she had been excommunicated talents, and the most spotless charac- and imprisoned. For this unfortunate ter; but still there existed some absur- woman his lordship presented a petidities in the constitution of the eccle- tion to the House of Commons, in siastical courts, which it was important which the circumstances of her case to correct or remove.
were very fully stated; but unfortu. The punishment of excommunica- nately, his lordship, in the course of tion, the only one which can be a- the discussion, did not confine himself warded by the ecclesiastical courts, to those points in the practice of the and which, by the 5th of Queen Eli- courts which were really deserving of zabeth, may
be followed up by impri- censure, but entered on a wide field of sonment, affords the most striking in- groundless accusation. He proposed stance of the faults in their constitu. that a committee should be appointed tion. The
consequences of a sentence to institụte an enquiry far more extenof excommunication, according to the sive and embarrassing than the occastrict principles of the ecclesiasticalsion demanded. He complained not law, are extremely serious : The offen- only of the punishment of excommuder is cut off from all civil rights; he nication, but of the heavy costs which is looked on as a heathen and pub- were incurred in the ecclesiastical lican; he can succeed to no inherit- courts--a complaint which might, ance, and can bring no action ; he with as much justice, have been urged cannot be a juror or witness in a court against any other court in the kingof law; and if he die, he is not en- dom, and the statement of which could titled to Christian burial. This punish- hardly be attended with any beneficial ment, although generally awarded in results, thus hastily brought forward, cases of defamation, was however in- without notice or preparation. He curred only by the contumacy of the spoke, in general terms, of enormous offender, who, by submitting to a slight abuses which existed in the practice of penance, might have avoided such these courts, although he was able, out