Page images
PDF
EPUB

affairs: he thought then, and he thought so still, that the supply ought not to be withheld; but he thought also that it ought not to be voted unconditionally. Some measure ought necessarily to be adopted; such, for instance, as that which had been alluded to by the honourable gentleman who spoke last but one; upon the success of some such measure he was ready to vote the supply, relying, with the utmost confidence, that His Majesty would attend to the voice of his faithful Commons, and gratify those wishes with which their anxiety for the Constitution inspired them. The Chan- The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he would not enter into cellorof the any compromise ; he would not stipulate any condition for the Exchequer. paffing Qf tne fUpply, When any propositioh should be submitted to the House, it would be for the House to dispose of it as they should think proper; but he would never make a compromise on the subject. Mr.Fox. Mr. Fox replied, that he wanted no compromise; but he desired the right honourable gentleman would recollect, that he (Mr. Fox) was not pledged to vote for the supply; he thought it ought to be voted; but at the same time he thought the vote ought to be preceded with some other, without which he was of opinion the supply ought still to be postponed a little longer; and the more so, as this particular supply was not in its nature very pressing. The Hon. The Hon. Charles Marjham declared, that in voting last C. Mar- night for postponing the supply, he never entertained an idea fcam" of refusing it entirely; and therefore he felt himself not a little hurt by finding that the Chancellor of the Exchequer ascribed to him, and to the other very respectable and independent gentlemen who composed the majority on the question of last night, motives which they never felt. The right honourable gentleman said, the majority meant wholly to withhold the supply — with respect to him, the charge was not supported even by the shadow of truth; for he declared last night, and he now repeated it, that he meant only to postpone the vote, until the House should have considered what previous step ought to be adopted. He therefore advised the right honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer, not ta-take up slightly, opinions that were injurious to the characters of men who respected their characters. For his own part, he did not think he ought to consider himself in a better light than that of a Frenchman, who met in an aflembly with others, to register the edict's of a Sovereign or his Minister, since he was not to dare to exercise his freedom of acting, without bringing down upon himself the most illgrounded

grounded charges from the Minister of the Crown, which would make him appear in an odious point of view, as if he had refused the supply. The right honourable gentleman ought to recollect, that when he threw out such reflections against members, he must not expect to be looked upon in his private capacity of a member of that House, but as his Majesty's Minister, whose menaces are injurious to the cause of liberty and the freedom of debate.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied, that he did not take The Chantip his opinion lightly; he thought last night, and he thought "Hor of the so still, that to pass such a vote as the House passed last night, E"heHuvwas, under all circumstances, tantamount to a refusal of the supply; and it was not upon flight grounds he formed that 6pinion; and surely he had a right to deliver those sentiments which occurred to him on a transaction in Parliament, without giving the honourable member any reason to think himself in that assembly for the sole purpose of registering edicts of Kings or Ministers.

Mr. Fox with some warmth charged Mr. Pitt with having Mr. Fox. shewn the most sovereign contempt for the Constitution, and with having arrogantly and insultingly triced with the opinion of the House: in defiance of which he had dared to give such unconstitutional advice to his Majesty, as made him give such an answer to his Commons as none of his race ever gave before. ,

Mr. fVilberforce declared, that to him the yote of last night Mr.Wiiber. appeared in no other light, than in that of an attempt wholly force' to refuse the supply, and by that idea he had been guided in the vote he gave.

Mr. Honcywood_ said, that when he voted for postponing Mr.Honeythe supply, he never dreamt of withholding it entirely; he wood, looked only for a Ihort delay, until the. House should have time to consider what ought to be done ii\ so critical a situation of affairs as the present.

Mr. Powys hoped his character was so well known that it Mr. Powys. was not necessary for him to declare, that whatever he thought, he dared to fay, and whatever he said he dared to think; and therefore he flattered himself that it was not neceffary for him to assure the House, that when he said he meant only to delay, not to refuse the supply, he meant what he said. If he wished not to postpone merely, he would have done like a noble Lord (Lord Camelford) who a few years ago, distinctly and avowedly moved, that no supply should be granted.

Vol. XIII. Y T1*

The Chancellor of the Exchequer warned the House to beware of the confusion into which the nation would be plunged if the supplies should be withheld. Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox said, the confusion could be created only by the right honourable gentleman, by his obstinately resolving to remain in office. When Lord Camelford moved that the supplies be wholly denied, he by no. means intended to create confusion; but he had so high an opinion of the patriotism of the noble Lord in the blue ribband, of whom in other respects he thought very ill, that he knew the noble Lord would not throw the nation into confusion by staying in office, after the supplies should have been refused j but that he would have immediately quitted his situation and in a minute all would be peace again. It would be just so with the right honourable gentleman. Confusion could be created only by his remaining in office; and the moment he should retire from it, all would be harmony again. He concluded by moving, "that the sitting on the state of the nation be adjourned to Monday," on which day an answer might be expected to the address, which he hoped the House would vote to-morrow.

A few words pasted between Mr. Rolle and Mr. Erlkine, on an expression imputed to the latter in a former debate — After some conversation the motion pasted.

February 20.

Soon aster four o'clock the Speaker took the chair, and Mr. Powys. calling on Mr. Powys, that honourable member stood up and said, that he had to beg the indulgence of the House to a motion which he had already intimated, but imperfectly. He Was however now fully prepared to state it as distinctly as he had conceived it. The grounds, the objects, and the effects of such a proposition as he now thought proper to mention, claimed the attention of the House. The_pressure of public calamity and embarrassment, pointed to the motion he would suggest. He only begged he might have leave to put what construction upon his own words and acts he best knew suited the intentions and principles that gave rife to them. He came forward with the motion he was now to make, from a conviction that the Constitution was in danger. This was the idea which pressed upon his mind, and to which he owed his present feelings; and this, ap well as every other step he mould take, he would direct to the preservation of the dignity, the honour, the utility of the House of Commons. No man, when the right honourable gentleman stated the

answer answer of the Crown to the resolutions of the House, who' thought with him but were of opinion, that some step ought undoubtedly to be taken previous to stopping the supplies. Then what was the measure most eligible on that occasion; and which, while the Minister retains his situation without effect, the house was in some degree bound to adopt. Supposing the supplies had preceded this motion, what would have been the construction of that conduct?" You were told that his Majesty had not, after taking your resolutions into his most serious consideration, thought proper to dismiss his Ministers, and that his Ministers had not resigned." You, notwithstanding this intimation, voted the supplies. Was not that a most perfect and implicit acquiesence with a rejection of your own resolutions, and consequently of the honour of the House, so far as it is connected with these resolutions? In what situation then can you ever be which can justify your demurring when this did not? The only reason therefore which existed against this last deed, this ultimate resource of the House, was their confidence in the paternal care of Majesty, who felt for the public, and would undoubtedly not be wanting to relieve them. He wfas not one of thole who dared" construe his Majesty's demurring on the present delicate question, as a negative to the opinion thus solemnly stated and respectfully announced. He would not suffer himself to put such a sense on the Royal conduct, whatever might be the reason for the present apparent indecision in Administration, he was persuaded that on reconsidering their situation, they could not resist the strong and emphatical wishes of this House for their removal. This brought him to consider the effects of his motion — He did not mean it mould produce the ignominy or degradation of the right honourable gentleman. That it should put an end to his present situation, as inimical to the honour of Parliament, and the progress of public business, he sincerely and heartily wished. But he could see a very strong distinction between personal honour arising from the discharge of public duty, and that species of honour connected with such a situation as proved a bar to it. He hoped the right honourable gentleman would consider again and again before he finally determined on persisting in an opinion so diametrically opposite to that of the House of Commons. What were the supports to which he looked for countenance and efficiency? The confidence of the House of Lords was one. But how is that support announced ? Their address had not, in his opinion one word directly in his fa

Y %. vouf your. He considered it as a neutral manifesto, from which no party could derive any material advantage ; and it would be viewed by the public and posterity only as a simple pledge of their preference for the right honourable gentleman as opposed to those who preceded him in office. Perfiaps his chief dependance may be placed on a large body of the people, who were undoubtedly on his side. The question, however, was still to be asked, on what grounds? Why did they prefer him? Was there a member in the House so blind as not at once to comprehend the motives which influence most of those without doors, who were avowedly and decidedly for the present Ministry? They were attached to his personal virtues and accomplishments. The glory of his father's reign shed a lustre on the political conduct of the son, which charmed the people, and he hoped that charm would not easily be dissolved. But they could not ground their attachment on any thing he had yet achieved for the country. They were not in a situation to be able to decide on the present contest. It was too constitutional and abstracted to come within their mode of thinking. But the qualisications of the Minister, and the illustrious name he bore, were objects of their adoration.- It was a subject, however, which he ought to contemplate with much deliberation and impartiality, whether the people at large, or any very strong party of them, would long continue so very inattentive to their own rights, as to support him against their own representatives, their own interest, and that Constitution which is so peculiarly theirs. The objections which had been held out against that general and substantial union so desirable to the House and to their constituents, were three; the Receipt tax, the India bill, and the Coalition. In every one of these, concessions had been made in a manner which did insinite honour to the right honourable gentleman and his noble friend beneath him. The Receipt tax, he, for one, had ever thought a proper, a necessary, and by no means an oppressive one. The state of our sinance made it indispensable. He had voted for it in company with the right honourable gentleman and a Ministry whom in a great many other things he had opposed. But by a late decision of the House, the Minister had adopted it, and- therefore no obstacle whatever on that subject could now remain.

. Was it then the late India bill which retarded a measure of so much consequence to the public? That bill he had from

« PreviousContinue »