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January 16. 1789.
The House having, in pursuance of the order of the day, resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House, on the further consideration of the State of the Nation,
· MR. Pitt opened his remarks by expresssing concern at perceiving that the particular situation of the country called upon
Copy of Mr. Pitt's Letter to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, left at Carlton House, on Tuesday Night, the 30th of December.
“ Sır, “ The proceedings in parliament being now brought to a point, which will render it necessary to propose to the House of Commons the particular measures to be taken for supplying the defect of the personal exercise of the royal authority during the present interval, and Your Royal Highness having some time since signified your pleasure, that any communication on this subject should be in writing, I take the liberty of respectfully entreating your Royal Highness's permission to submit to your consideration the outlines of the plan which His Majesty's confidential servants humbly conceive (according to the best judgment which they are able to form) to be proper to be proposed in the present circumstances.
“ It is their humble opinion, that Your Royal Highness should be empowered to exercise the royal authority in the name and on the behalf of His Majesty during His Majesty's illness, and to do all acts which might legally be done by His Majesty; with provisions, nevertheless, that the care of His Majesty's royal person, and the management of His Majesty's household, and the direction and appointment of the officers and servants therein, should be in the Queen, under such regulations as may be thought necessary: That the power to be exercised by Your Royal Highness should not extend to the granting of the real or personal property of the King, (except as far as relates to the renewal of leases,) to the granting of any office in reversion, or to the granting, for any other term than during His Majesty's pleasure, of any pension, or any office whatever, except such as must by law be granted for life, or during good behaviour ; nor to the granting of any rank or dignity of the peerage of this realm to any person except His Majesty's issue, who shall have attained the age of twenty-one years.
“ These are the chief points which have occurred to His Majesty's servants. I beg leave to add, that their ideas are formed on the supposition that His Majesty's illness is only temporary, and may be of no long them to exercise a right that had devolved upon them in consequence of the melancholy situation of His Majesty, which rendered him incapable of exercising the royal authority. Upon the present distressful occasion, it behoved them to provide the
duration. It may be difficult to fix before-hand the precise period for which these provisions ought to last; but if unfortunately His Majesty's recovery should be protracted to a more distant period than there is reason at present to imagine, it will be open hereafter to the wisdom of parliament, to reconsider these provisions, whenever the circumstances appear to call for it.
“ If Your Royal Highness should be pleased to require any farther explanation on the subject, and should condescend to signify your orders, that I should have the honour of attending Your Royal Highness for that purpose, or to intimate any other mode in which your Royal Highness may wish to receive such explanation, I shall respectfully wait Your Royal Highness's commands.
“ Í have the honour to be,
« W. PITT." Downing Street, “ Tuesday Night, Dec. 30. 1788.”
Copy of the Paper delivered by the Prince of Wales to the Lord Chan
cellor, in reply to the Letter sent to His Royal Highness from Mr. Pitt. .“ The Prince of Wales learns from Mr. Pitt's letter, that the proceedings in parliament are now in a train which enables Mr. Pitt, according to the intimation in his former letter, to communicate to the Prince the outlines of the plan which His Majesty's confidential servants conceive to be proper to be proposed in the present circumstances.
“ Concerning the steps already taken by Mr. Pitt, the Prince is silent. Nothing done by the two Houses of parliament can be a proper subject of his animadversion; but when previously to any discussion in parliament, the outlines of a scheme of government are sent for his consideration, in which it is proposed that he shall be personally and principally concerned, and by which the royal authority and the public welfare may be deeply affected, the Prince would be unjustifiable, were he to withhold an explicit declaration of his sentiments. His silence
means of supplying the deficiency; but, in doing so, he trusted that it must be the wish of every gentleman, that they should proceed in the manner the best calculated to give general satisfaction, and the most likely to secure the approbation of the
might be construed into a previous approbation of a plan, the accomplishment of which every motive of duty to his father and sovereign, as well as of regard for the public interest, obliges him to consider as injurious to both.
* In the state of deep distress in which the Prince, and the whole Royal Family were involved, by the heavy calamity which has fallen upon the King, and at a moment when government, deprived of its chief energy and support, seemed peculiarly to need the cordial and united aid of all descriptions of good subjects, it was not expected by the Prince, that a plan should be offered to his consideration, by which government was to be rendered difficult, if not impracticable, in the hands of any person intended to represent the King's authority, much less in the hands of his eldest son -- the heir apparent of his kingdoms, and the person most bound to the maintenance of His Majesty's just prerogatives and authority, as well as most interested in the happiness, the prosperity, and the glory of the people.
“ The Prince forbears to remark on the several parts of the sketch of the plan laid before him; he apprehends it must have been formed with sufficient deliberation to preclude the probability of any argument of his producing an alteration of sentiment in the projectors of it. But he trusts, with confidence, to the wisdom and justice of parliament, when the whole of this subject, and the circumstances connected with it, shall come under their deliberation.
“ He observes, therefore, only generally on the heads communicated by Mr. Pitt — and it is with deep regret the Prince makes the observation, that he sees, in the contents of that paper, a project for producing weakness, disorder, and insecurity in every branch of the administration of affairs. A project for dividing the Royal Family from each other, for separating the court from the state; and therefore, hy disjoining government from its natural and accustomed support, a scheme for disconnecting the authority to command service, from the power of animating it by reward; and for allotting to the Prince all the invidious duties of government, without the means of softening them to the public, by any one act of grace, favour, or benignity.
“ The Prince's feelings on contemplating this plan, are also rendered still more painful to him, by observing that it is not founded on any general principle, but is calcalated to infuse jealousies and suspicions (wholly groundless, he trusts) in that quarter, whose confidence it will ever be the first pride of his life to merit and obtain.
people, which, he had the happiness to know, had generally attended every step which they had hitherto taken. He sincerely wished that every measure which he should have the honour to propose, might be fully discussed, and fairly decided upon; that
“ With regard to the motive and object of the limitations and restrictions proposed, the Prince can have but little to observe. No light or information is offered him by His Majesty's ministers on these points. They have informed him what the powers are which they mean to refuse him, not why they are withheld.
« The Prince, however, holding as he does, that it is an undoubted and fundamental principle of this constitution, that the powers and prerogatives of the crown are vested there, as a trust for the benefit of the people; and that they are sacred only as they are necessary to the preservation of that poise and balance of the constitution, which experience has proved to be the true security of the liberty of the subject must be allowed to observe, that the plea of public utility ought to be strong, manifest and urgent, which calls for the extinction or suspension of any one of those essential rights in the supreme power, or its representative; or which can justify the Prince in consenting, that, in his person, an experiment shall be made to ascertain with how small a portion of the kingly power the executive government of this country may be carried on..
“ The Prince has only to add, that if security for His Majesty's repossessing his rightful government, whenever it shall please Providence, in bounty to the country, to remove the calamity with which he is afflicted, be any part of the object of this plan, the Prince has only to be convinced that any measure is necessary, or even conducive, to that end, to be the first to urge it as the preliminary and paramount consideration of any settlement in which he would consent to share.
“ If attention to what it is presumed might be His Majesty's feelings and wishes on the happy day of his recovery, be the object, it is with the truest sincerity the Prince expresses his firm conviction, that no event would be more repugnant to the feelings of his royal father, than the knowledge that the government of his son and representative had exhibited the sovereign power of the realm in a state of degradation, of curtailed authority, and diminished energy, a state, hurtful in practice to the prosperity and good government of his people, and injurious in its precedent to the security of the monarch, and the rights of his family
“ Upon that part of the plan which regards the King's real and personal property, the Prince feels himself compelled to remark, that it was not necessary for Mr. Pitt, nor proper, to suggest to the Prince the restraint he proposes against the Prince's granting away the King's real the nature of the case, the general principles on which they ought to proceed, and the application of those principles, might be clearly and distinctly pointed out. In so doing, they would be best enabled to meet the emergency which called upon them, and to provide for the defect of the personal exercise of the royal authority.
The business of the committee lay in a very narrow compass, notwithstanding the voluminous reports on the table. In the report last delivered, there was abundant matter of confirmation to him of the propriety and prudence of those measures which he was, as the committee were aware, prepared to have proposed to them nearly ten days ago. But, though there was much material information in that report, there was no difference, in his opinion, in the ground of what he had to offer, as, on the former day, as well as on the present, the committee had more information before them than was sufficient to bear out all that
and personal property. The Prince does not conceive, that, during the King's life, he is, by law, entitled to make any such grant; and he is sure, that he has never shewn the smallest inclination to possess any such power. But it remains with Mr. Pitt to consider the eventual interests of the Royal Family, and to provide a proper and natural security against the mismanagement of them by others.
“ The Prince has discharged an indispensable duty, in thus giving his free opinion on the plan submitted to his consideration.
“ His conviction of the evils which may arise to the King's interests, to the peace and happiness of the Royal Family, and to the safety and welfare of the nation, from the government of the country remaining longer in its present maimed and debilitated state, outweighs, in the Prince's mind, every other consideration, and will determine bim to undertake the painful trust imposed upon him by the present melancholy necessity (which of all the King's subjects he deplores the most) in full confidence, that the affection and loyalty to the King, the experienced attachment to the house of Brunswick, and the generosity which has always distinguished this nation, will carry him through the many difficulties, inseparable from this most critical situation, with comfort to himself, with honour to the King, and with advantage to the public.
« G. P." “ Carlton House, " January 2, 1789."