« PreviousContinue »
from the first reprobated in the most decisive terms. He had not to the present moment altered his opinion one tittle on the subject. But surely that part of the House, who had viewed it in the same light with him, would allow the case to be greatly changed for the better, since, as he understood, the poison of that bill was to be done away. The strongest exceptions to it with him and many other gentlemen was the vast patronage it entrusted in > hands, which they deemed not sufficiently authorised by the Constitution. He would beg leave, however, for one, to consider the right honourable author of that measure as solemnly and repeatedly pledged to the House, that the offensive mode of placing such unbounded patronage should be completely removed. He was happy that the measure was to be accommodated by the House, and. that the principle of a strong efficient government at home was the whole of what was desired. The coalition was one very, insurmountable obstacle to the union in contemplation. But had,not the noble Lord in the blue ribband cut out the tongue of that monster—so that it could not henceforth bite its master? And this was such a monster as the right honourable gentleman would find some difficulty in subduing, unless by condescending to meet the requisitions of the House. The noble Lord, however, had greatly and generously offered not to stand in the way of any such general coalescence, as the public at this juncture so importunately demanded; and by that'manly action his Lordship had secured many new without losing one old friend. He then adverted to the addresses of the people, on which he thought little ought to be said — But the principle on which such of them as were really voluntary originated, he thought was equivocal. That many of the people were alarmed at the India bill, he owned to be a fact — But when that bill received a new form, he trusted it would be accompanied with the public confidence. He expressed great . surprise that nothing had yet been heard of in the House . concerning such taxes as the exigencies of the Treasury demanded. Were Ministers afraid that doing their duty might shake their popularity? But while he was speaking another of His Majesty's servants might be proposing some financial scheme of that kind in another place. Possibly the budget might be opening there. He hoped, however, the House of Commons would have something to say on the subject, and that some opportunity would be offered them to object, v
- ~ From
From the most impartial attention which he was able to give to the public, the offices of the executive government appeared to him substantially vacated, and all the functions of that operative part in the constitution for some weeks past to have been fast asleep. What had Ministers done? What could they do? He mentioned several very pressing
i circumstances in the affairs of the country, which rendered, in his opinion, their present inactivity highly culpable: and he appealed to the House, and to mankind, whether any man could retain a situation, with any degree of propriety, which involved in it so ma^iy public and palpable disadvantages. The right honourable gentleman had himself acknowledged that his continuance in office could only prevent certain mischief. How was he to interpret that language? Was this country reduced to the necessity of supporting a Minister who could do nothing, merely because without him nothing was to be expected but evil? Did he apprehend, after the country had been told in so decided a manner, that the India bill would not again be brought in with that which had been before considered as its sting, that the attempt which had been so generally reprobated could be henceforth renounced? He was one who considered the real prerogatives of the Crown as no right of the people. The rights of all the separate branches of the Legislature were, as.he understood the subject, separate and distinct; and he would venture to assert, that
. there was not a wish on his side of the House to confound them. No monopoly of power was intended; and let those, said he, who declined a proper participation of it, be responsible in God's name for the consequences which might be the result of such a conduct. He wished the right honourable gentleman would regard this consideration with coolness and temper. He was ready, for his own part, to sacrisice every prospect and possibility of populalarity to his duty, and would willingly become the martyr to his political character. If the standard of unlimited submission was to be held up in that house against the standard of independence, he knew to which of the two standards he belonged. He knew where and how his duty and conscience directed him to act. What had the House heard concerning their willingness to negociate or come to terms, which could produce the least considence in their readiness to act a part which it was obvious the people desired? Personal etiquette. Beyond this one satisfactory idea from the right honourable gentleman had not transpired. And what now was the whole dispute f It was reduced in his mind to the mere quibble of two grammarians. The one was willing to act with an equal, the other would bear none. Should snch a disgraceful altercation as this continue, he would move leave of the House to bring in a. bill for banishing both. The whole point he had in view was to make the fense of this House still more completely obvious to the Royal mind, and to express that considence in Majesty whkh it became them to indulge. Without therefore troubling the House any longer, he would content himself with moving this simple proposition—" That this House, impressed with the most dutiful sense of His Majesty's paternal regard for the welfare of his people, relies on His Majesty's royal wisdom, that he will take such measures as may tend to give effect to the wishes of his faithful Commons, which have already been most humbly represented to His Majesty.*'
Mr. Husley seconded the motion.
Mr. Eden rose next: he said, that he did not mean to op- Mr. Eden, pose a motion,. which, as far as it went, he entirely approved. But, in his opinion, it ought to go one step farther; for which reason he intended to move an amendment; and as he wished, if possible, to have the support of the right honourable gentleman who moved the original question, he begged leave to say a few words on the subject. The honourable gentleman had very truly said that the present Administration had not power to go on with the public business, and that Government had been virtually vacated for many weeks past: this was undoubtedly true; for during the three or four last days of the existence of the late Ministry, and for the last n^ne weeks, the business of the nation had been at a stand. Since the present Minister got into power, he had sound himself in eight minorities, on questions, any one of which would have been sufficient to have overturned an Administration in former days; and in one majority, which was on the Receipt tax, on which , '» occasion, however, the Minister did not think proper to fay one word in savour of the question for which he voted: probably he was so transported with joy at sinding himself supported by so considerable a majority, that his joy deprived him of his speech,..and it was probably for that reason that he did not venture to speak for the Receipt tax, though he was pleased to vote for it. The popularity of 1 * the
the Minister had often been mentioned; and the various addresses from different parts of the kingdom were adduced as prooss of the existence of it i but he was of opinion that it was no easy matter to collect the fense of the people from addresses: it was not thought a very difficult matter to procure them on any subject. Gentlemen might recollect the different opinions relative to the addresses that were presented on the American war, and the' petitions on the1 subject of the reduction of the influence of the Crown. In the one case, the enemies to the prosecution of that war, would not admit the addresses as prooss of its popularity: in the other, those who resisted the petitions contended that they contained the fense of those only who signed them, and not of the counties or towns at large, from which they were presented. But if it mould be contended that the sense of the people was to be collected from addresses, and farther that the people were always thoroughly acquainted with the subject on which they sent up addresses, he would state to the House a very curious fact that happened about a century ago : — When King Charles II. towards the close of his reign, formed the plan of rendering future Parliaments subservient to the will of the Crown, he could not think of a better way than by new modelling the different corporations in the kingdom, in such a manner that the Court would always have at its disposition the magistrates and electors of the cities and boroughs: to this end he formed the design of getting all the charters into his hands, in order that he might grant new charters, with such provisions and such restrictions as should answer his purposes. With this view he ordered his Attorney General to proceed by ^uo warranto against the different corporations, and to begin .with that of London. One might imagine that this produced a convulsion in the nation; but the reverse was the truth; for addresses were poured into the Court from all quarters, thanking His Majesty for his regard for, and attention to the Constitution; the Gazettes of 1682 and 1683 were silled with addresses; and what was not a little remarkable, the very sirst address that was presented was from the county of Berks, in which the Court, being then at Windsor, resided, as it does mostly in the present reign. If the people were deluded on one occasion, so far as to thank His Majesty for one of the most unconstitutional acts that could well be devised, and even to think this act to proceed from a loyje of the comtitution,
why ■why might it not be possible that, in the present day, another popular delusion ssiould ^produce addresses to thank the Crown for the dismission of Ministers, who were acting for the constitution, and promising to support their successors in office, who, on account of the means by which they got int6 power, ought to be dreaded by every man to whom the preservation of the constitution was an object. The continuance of these Ministers in office was certainly attended with unspeakable prejudice to the nation, for all business was completely at a stand: he ventured on a former day to call them nominal Ministers; and the right honourable gentleman, who made the motion then before the House, supported that opinion, when he said that the functions of Administration had been vacated for some weeksi With respect to the coalition, which had been called a monster, he ssiould be sorry it was extinct; he wished the right honourable gentleman, instead of being able to destroy it, was under its protection; he advised him, on a former day, either to resign, or to tell the House that he set their resolutions at defiance. By either step, the country would be a gainer; because if he resigned, a strong government might be formed; and if he avowed that he set the House of Commons at defiance, the House might possibly then take such steps as would effect his removal. The withholding a supply was a privilege which he thought was still in that House, and whkh might still be exercised for the benefit of the people. To this privilege no mart who loved his country would ever resort without the most pressing necessity; but if such a necessity ssiould ever occur* no true lover of his country would wissi to fee this privilege lie dormant. If the wissies of the House were to be gratified by the Crown, and the constitution secured, no man would think of withholding the supplies: but unless some such motion as that which was now under consideration was passed, he, for one, would not vote this night sot the Ordnance supply. But to come to the point to which this amendment was directed, he reminded the House thar two resolutions had been voted by the House, and laid before the King: one, that the arduous and-critical situation of affairs required the exertions of an efficient,, extended, and united Administration: the other, that the continuance of the present Ministers in office was an'obstacle to the formation of such an Administration: the House therefore ought, in consistency, to look for the removal of the MiVol. XIII. 3 * nisters,