Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to Lord Kenyon, shew, either all the facts, or all the bearings of the case.

LORD KENYON'S ANSWERS AND MR. Pitt's LETTERS contain several important declarations.

Lord Kenyon, after conferring with Sir John Scott, then his Majesty's Attorney General, says explicitly, in the first of his Answers published in the collection :

1. That, “ so long as the King's supremacy, and the “ main fabrick of the Act of Uniformity, the doctrine,

discipline, and government of the Church of England “ are preserved as the national church, and the provision for its ministers kept as an appropriated fund, it seems “ that any ease given the sectaries would not militate “ against the Coronation Oath, or the Act of Union :"

2. And that, “ though the Test Act appears to be “ a very wise law, and in point of sound policy not to be

departed from ; yet that it seems that it might be repealed " or altered, without any breach of the Constitution, or « Act of Union :"

3. In his second Answer, he states it to be “ a general

maxim, that' the supreme power of a state cannot 66 limit itself.'

On the great question of Catholic Emancipation Mr. Pitt's Letters are invaluable. They abundantly demonstrate the opinions of that great man,

ist. That it was a salutary measure ; 2d. That it should be accompanied with certain securities; 3d. What he thought those securities should be ;

4th. That, accompanied with these, he deemed it the duty of the legislature to sanction the measure;

5th. And that he felt it to be his duty to quit his Majesty's service, when he saw him decidedly hostile to the measures proposed by him for the relief of the Roman Catholics.

[blocks in formation]

FEW

EW Parliamentary documents possess, in any point of

view, so much importance as THE SPEECH DELIVERED ON THE 25th OF LAST MONTH,* IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, BY His Royal HIGHNESS THE DUKE OF YORK, on presenting the petition of the Dean and Canons of Windsor against granting any further relief to his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects.

Lamenting, as they must do, that his Royal Highness is so adverse to their petitions, still, the Roman Catholics are grateful for his open avowal of his opinions, and of the reasons upon which they are grounded. It allows them free liberty to discuss them with the respect due to his exalted rank.

Availing himself of this circumstance, an humble individual of their number trusts that he may, without offence or impropriety, submit to his Royal Highness, some observations upon the following passage in his speech.

His Royal Highness states in it, that he “ wished to “ ask whether their lordships had considered the situation “ in which they might place the King; or whether they re“ collected the Oath which his Majesty had taken at the “ altar, to his people, upon his coronation ? He begged to “ read the words of the oath. I will, to the utmost of

my power, maintain the law of God, the true profession “ of the Gospel, and the Protestant Reformed Religion, *. established by law; and I will preserve unto the bishops “ and clergy of this realm, and to the churches committed “ to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by “ law do or shall appertain to them, or any of them.' -" Their Lordships,” continued his Royal Highness, “ must -“ remember, that ours is a Protestant King who knows “ no mental reservation, and whose situation is different “ from that of any other person in this country; that his

* 25 April 1825.

Royal Highness, and every other individual in this

country, could be released from his Oath by the au" thority of Parliament; but the King could not. The « Oath, as he had always understood, is a solemn ob

ligation, entered into by the person who took it, from “ which no act of his own could release him ; but the

King was the third part of the State, without whose

voluntary consent no act of the Legislature could be “ valid, and he could not relieve himself from the obli

gation of an Oath.”

With the utmost deference and respect to his Royal Highness, it is suggested to his consideration, that the expressions copied from his speech give rise to the following observations :

I. Is it not the bounden duty of the Sovereign of these realms to give his Royal assent to every bill presented to him by the two Houses of Parliament, which he himself believes to be conducive to the welfare of the empire?

In an ancient statute, (25 of Edw. III. stat. 6), this is unequivocally expressed. It is there said, that the right of the crown of England and the law of the realm, is “ such, that, upon the mischiefs and damages which “ happen to this realm, the King ought and is bound “ by his Oath, with the concord of the people in Parlia“ ment assembled, to make remedy and law." Does it not follow, that, if the two Houses of Parliament should present a bill to the Monarch, for the repeal of the laws remaining in force against the Roman Catholics, and the Sovereign should be of opinion that, not to i'epeal those laws, would bring mischief and damage to the realm, he would be constitutionally bound, in the words of the act, to make the remedy, by assenting to the bill of repeal ? Would not any Oath taken by the Monarch not to assent to such a bill be a nullity? Must not not every such Oath be necessarily understood to be accompanied by an implied condition that nothing contained in it should oblige him to act against the principles of the constitution, or the rights or welfare of his subjects, or to forbear from assenting to any bill which enacted, in his opinion, any measure for their good ?

II. No prospective act of the Legislature can discharge the King from the paramount duty thus imposed upon him, of giving his assent to a bill presented to him by the two Houses of Parliament, which he himself approves of and deems salutary.

In this, the highest authorities in the law agree.

We beg leave to call the attention of his Royal Highness to what is said by Sir William Blackstone of the omnipotence of Parliament; of its uncontrollable power in "making, restraining, abrogatiug, and repealing laws “ concerning matters of all possible denomination, eccle“ siastical or temporal.” He avers most explicitly, that “ Parliament can alter the established religion of the « land." This is the very strongest act of legislation that can be supposed. His Royal Highness must be sensible that a repeal of the few laws yet remaining in force against the Roman Catholics is immeasurably distant from it.

Lord Coke lays it down as a constitutional maxim, and a fundamental principle of law, that “acts against the “ power of Parliament bind not.”

In the 21st of Richard II. (Rot. Parl. 50. 52.), an Oath was taken by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and also by the proctors of the clergy and the knights in Parliament, that “they would not reverse, break, irritate, annul,

or repeal any of the judgments, establishments, statutes, or ordinances made, rendered or given in that Parliament. “ But our Lord the King," continues the record, “ having advised and deliberated with the prelacy and “ clergy of this realm, well understood that he could not “ bind his successors, Kings of England, by their Oath

or any other means, against the liberty of the Crown." Thus stood the ancient Constitution of England.

At the Revolution, the same principle was most directly recognized. It is well known to his Royal Highness, that doubts were, at that time, suggested upon the language of the then existing Coronation Oath ; that the Convention Parliament took into consideration the establishment of an Oath, which should remove those doubts; that a committee was appointed for this purpose; that the committee prepared the form of a new Oath; that their report upon it was received by the house ; that the bill was framed, and the Oath inserted in it; that the King was made to swear by it, that “ he would govern the people of the kingdom of

England, and all the dominions thereunto belonging, ac

cording to the statutes in Parliament agreed on, and the “ laws and customs of the same;" and that the Coronation Oath has continued in this form till the present time.

While this act was in the house, King William's council had in contemplation the act commonly called “ The Toleration “ Act," for the relief of the Protestant Dissenters, which was passed immediately afterwards. A doubt was suggested whether the King would not be prevented, by the proposed Oath, from giving his Royal Assent to the Toleration Act. The point was debated in the committee; a proviso was framed to remove the doubt, the proviso was debated, and every speaker declared it unnecessary and unconstitutional. “ It is,” said Sir Robert Sawyer," the first proviso of the “ nature that ever was in any bill; it seems to strike at the

legislative power.”—“ I am against the proviso,” said Mr. Ford : “ these words ' established by law' hinder not “ the King in passing any bill, in the case of Dissenters.”“ It is granted by all,” said Sir Joseph Tredenham," that

by law,' is meant what is in the Legislature's power." The consequence was, that the proviso was unanimously rejected. Might it not be respectfully suggested to his

6

« AnteriorContinuar »