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and to inflame the people against their friends by misrepresentation, which ic was much easier to forge and circulate than suppress. But he called on the honour of the House, on their regard for themselves, on their fidelity to their constituents, and above all, on their value for the Constitution, to hold on in the fair, the broad and beaten path of duty to their country, their consciences, and the trust committed to their honour as men, and virtue as citizens. This might be called an appeal to passion — He was not very anxious what censures of that kind he might wear—He knew not for one, when the feelings of mankind did not deserve to be roused and interested, if not on a question which involved whatever they esteemed most, and would part with last.
Mr. Cbanct'.hr Pitt said, that the right honourable gentle- Mr. CW man in his present conduct seemed to be inclined to declare "UatPi*t war with the other House of Parliament, and to load them with invective, which should bring upon them popular odium: and he seemed to be thus evidently solicitous of bringing on what he pretended the most to condemn, a quarrel between the two Houses. He trusted and believed, that the people had too much good fense, that they had too much veneration for a House which now, as well .as in many former instances, had interposed between the violence of the House of Commons and the Constitution, and had rescued the one from the intemperance'of the other. In the present, case, they had observed a resolution of this House with the jealousy which became their wisdom; and finding in it an ambiguity that alarmed them, they had declared their sense of its tendency with manliness, and at the fame time with respect. If they had construed the resolution wrong, if they had given to the words a meaning which they did not bear, that must be ascribed to its true cause, not to any captious disposition of that noble House — Not, as had been insinuated, to a desire of diminishing the importance or the confidence of the Commons, but to a laudible desire of guarding the sacred purity of our Constitution against the temporary heat, the phrenzy, the violence, or the forgetfulness of either of the other branches of the Legislature. He said he was not in the House at the time that the resolution, cpmplained of was passed. He confessed that he had always looked on that resolution as, at best, a hasty and inconsiderate measure, and conveyed at the same time in words of so much
a-mbiguity, as to justify the House in their acceptation of ir. It undoubtedly might be construed, from its letter, to assume a paramount powerto the discretionary authority vested by the act of Parliament in the Board of Treasury; for the resolution expresfly declared, that they were to accept of no more bills until the House of Commons should so direct. What was the meaning of these words, " until the House of Commons should so direct?" Their meaning was evidently that they should hold themselves subject to the injunction of that House, and should, in consequence of their interference and control, suspend the exercise of their discretionary powers. He turned his argument into a variety of shapes, and having argued it at considerable length, hs said the explanation suggested by his learned friend might possibly answer the wishes of moderate men; since by shewing that the House of Lords had mistaken the fense of the resolution, the censure of their opposite resolve would not remain. In his own mind the explanation of Mr. Dumlas was right; but as it did not seem to be the sense of the House, he would take a more gentle course, and by moving tlie previous question, would put the matter on a footing which gentlemen, he thought, could not so well object to. The matter would then stand thus:—The House, though they had passed the resolution, felt the force os the conviction they had received, and without entering into any explanation of their conduct, confessed its inconsiderate tendency, by refusing to take notice of the censure they had received. This was the moderate way of proceeding, and this was the means which he preferred, as he did not wish to imitate the right honourable gentleman, whose professions were all for peace, temper, and moderation, but whose measures were for the reverse. The right honourable gentleman was for ever talking about the moderation of his conduct, and forever charging him and his friends with all the heat and intemperance which occurred in that House; and yet, though that was for ever his language, it was never his practice. He declared himself to be a friend to order and concord. The great desire and object of his heart was unanimity, if it could be procured on public principles, and on grounds upon which men of honour could stand. In the mean lime he must observe again and again, that the present dilemma was not occasioned by his pride, by his obstinacy, or by his lust of power. He concluded with saying, that as no precise idea could be given to the phrase in the
rcsoresolution of the 24th of December, until the political dictionary of Mr. Eden came out, a dictionary which he dared to say would fix the language as well as the tenets of that House, he would, to put an end to prelent constructions, move the previous question.
Lord North reprobated the supposed ambiguity of the re- Ld. North, solution on. which the right honourable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) had grounded most of his reasoning. He was at a loss how to answer most of those arguments, which, in his opinion, were merely a fort of philological exercitations, ■which no ingenuity of man could render so precise as utterly to exclude all quibble and sophistry; and unless words were understood in their common acceptation, there would be no end to misconceiving their meaning. He thought, however, ► that we ought to regard their primary and usual sense as the safest, and least liable to misconstruction; and taking these observations for granted, he challenged any man to fix any imputation of ambiguity on the resolution in question. Hi9 Lordship then considered the subject in a great variety of lights, and was extremely facetious in many parts of his speech. He did not like explanations where there was nothing to explain; and always suspected some other meaning than was avowed, where the words of the commentary were so ambiguous. He took occasion to mention the people at large— He said, he believed they were as yet ignorant of the state of the question between the two Houses, and between this House and the Minister; but he was sure the time was not far off, when their constituents would perceive who were their friends; it was not in riature that they should be enemies to their natural guardians. If prerogative should prevail over privilege and the Constitution, the House of Commons might be enslaved; but in that cafe, the people must be enslaved also. A free House of Commons would have free fellow subjects; but a House of Commons, deprived of all energy and vigour, could exist only in a country lost to every fense of liberty. The people would soon see by whom jt was their interest to be represented ; by their own members elected by themselves, or by their hereditary members, named by another; by knights, citizens, and burgesses, or by a noble proxy!
M. Powys declared himself an enemy to the amendment Mr. Powj». suggested by the learned gentleman, because it could be called nothing better than a concession to the Lords; and he was an enemy to the previous question, because the House
Vot. Xill. T Wm
was called ttpon to speak out in defence of its privileges, which had been invaded.
Sir George Howard vindicated his noble relation (the Earl of Effingham) from the charge of inconsistency.
Lord Galway called gentlemen at the bar to order.
The House divided at one o'clock, when there appeared for the previous queston 156, against it 187 — majority against the Minister's question 31.
Lord Beauchamp's resolutions were then all put, and carried without a division, and the House adjourned.
Mr. Chan- Mr. Chancellor Pitt and Mr. Fox rose together, which occellor Pitt. ca£one(i a moment's contention in the House, but the latter giving way, the former stated that he only desired to say very shortly what the situation of Ministers was previous to the question now to be agitated. He then declared that his Majesty had not yet, in compliance with the resolutions of the House, thought proper to dismiss his present Ministers; and that his Majesty's Ministers had not resigned. This much he thought necessary to fay, prior to any discussion on the subject of supplies. Mr, Fox. Mr. Fox heard the declaration of the right honourable gentleman (Mr. Pitt) with the greatest astonishment and concern. It was, in his opinion, such language as this House had never heard since the Revolution, or, however, he might say from the Accession. What was it but a flat and peremptory negative to the sentiments and wishes of his Majesty's faithful Commons, who, ardently and solicitously desirous of the public welfare, and the honour of every branch of the British Legislature, had taken the most cautious and delicate means in their power, not only of preventing every thing like a breach, but even of closing the wound when made? In what situation then did the House of Commons stand'? To what a degree of insignificance were the representatives of the people, and the people themselves, reduced by this expedient? Could it be said that they had any longer the least influence in the constitution of the country? He would answer boldly and to the point. In his opinion the matter was nearly at a crisis. Was not this the first answer of the sort that ever had been received by the House from a Prince of the Brunswick line? A Prince who was born and bred among a people who had long adored his per
onal and domestic virtues, to whom all the nation looked with pleasure and considence, whose ancestors had laid them under the highest obligations, and from the qualities and virtues of whose progeny they had the most sanguine expectations; that he should have been the sirst to treat their humble and respectful representation with so little ceremony as a direct negative; language would not bear him out in stating the sentiments which a conduct so new and extraordinary undoubtedly impressed on his mind. Would any member of the House pretend to say, that the present had any parallel in the history of the country, except in such timesas one would wish, during the present contest, if possible, to forget? Was there not then actually existing, a variance between the House of Commons and the other branches of the Legislature? Was the message now delivered of a pacisic or conciliating tendency? Ought not every species of conduct, as things were now circumstanced, to have been as soft and accommodating as possible? Was it friendly to the liberties of this country, the constitutional importance of the people, or the consequence of their representatives in Parliament, to have answered their wishes in a manner so very unsatisfactory? Gentlemen in private life regarded each other with so much respect and delicacy, as never, but in cases which could admit of no palliative, to contradict each others desires. It was this mutual deference and complaisance which constituted the beauty and the satisfaction, as well as utility, of social intercourse: and the powers which entered into the Constitution of this country were actuated and kept alive by the constant and happy application of this great principle. Harmony rendered all the branches of the British Legislature one, and rendered its operations effectual and consistent. But he would ask what tendency his Majesty's message, as now very deeply and generally impressing the House, had to produce that harmony, that unanimity, that cordiality, and union, which constituted the vital spring of the British Government, Had not a majority of the House of Commons^ almost from time immemorial, governed this country? Was it not a considence in the House of Commons that gave energy and effect to every Administration? Was it not the countenance and concurrence of the House of Commons which gave popularity and stability to the Throne? Was it not in clashing with this radical and primary principle that so many calamities had happened in some of the reigns prior to the . Ta Revolution?