Page images

not what men would give, but what would promote the prosperity of the country. He would endeavour to shew, in reply to the honourable gentleman, that the advantage in point of character, or readiness to sacrisice private opinion, did not lie so much on the other side as the honourable gentleman was desirous to have it thought. First, with respect to the noble Lord in the blue ribband, he had said that he could not serve with him in the same Cabinet: the noble Lord wishing to remove an obstacle to union, had iri a very handsome manner offered to take himself out of the way. Great praise was unquestionably due to the noble Lord for his conduct on that occasion; but this was a concession which he never called for on the part of the right honourable gentleman over against him: he never called upon him to give up the noble Lord: nay, he was sure the right honourable gentleman would have spurned at the idea of it. What merit therefore could be founded by the opposite party on the voluntary offer of the noble Lord? He never called for that offer; and therefore the party had no right to expect'that this voluntary act would be an inducement to him to make any concession on his part. With respect to the India bill, it had been said that the right honourable gentleman had conceded to him the objectionable part, rela* tive to patronage. But how could he tell that? He could hot tell it, until the bill should be produced and perused. He admitted, indeed, that enough had been said to open a treaty upon that head, but not to conclude upon it. As to the virtual resignation, he had already spoke so often on the subject, that it was unnecessary to say any more: he would therefore make an observation upon the construction that the opposite party wanted to have put upon the words, "an interview for the formation of a new Administration." -a» They wanted to be at liberty to consider this expression to mean a virtual resignation, while Ministers should be at liberty to consider it as meaning no such thing. This appeared to him so strange a way of acting, that he certainly refused to adopt it. The words "fair and equal terms" were next to be considered. When words of such plain and obvious meaning created, or rather seemed to create difficulties, he took it for granted, that those who excepted to them did not wish to meet upon such terms: if therefore they appeared desirous not to meet upon equal tarms, would any rnan think it adviscable that he ssiould consent to go into a Cabinet upon unequal terms, which, in other words, would 2 be be to form a Cabinet carrying in its bosom the seeds of division? This was a plain state of the^cale; and he trusted it would appear that his conduct in the negociation had been free from censure. Mr.Powys. Mr. Poivys rose with great warmth: he said the Minister had made use of the word "spy," a very dishonourable appellation to the person to whom it was applied; he desired, therefore, in order that he might have an opportunity of defending himself, that the right honourable gentleman would lay openly to his charge any thing that he might have done in the course of the negociation that could be deemed dishonourable, and such as would justify the right honourable gentleman in making use of the word "spy," in the manner in which he used it towards him. v The CJwn- The Chancellor of tht Exchequer replied, that he meant not, cellorofthe jn the most distant manner, to charge the honourable gentxchequer. tieman wjt}j having acted dishonourably during the negociation ; all he meant by the word "spy" was, that the honourable gentleman having served in both armies, knew, as well as a spy could, all the secrets of both. Mr. fox. Mr. Fox observed, that after what the right honourable gentleman had said of those who went over to the one fide of the House after having once voted with the other, no more persons would put themselves in the power of the right honourable gentleman to charge them with inconsistency; and should this be the cafe, he was sure the right honourable gentleman would have no reason to rejoice that his arguments should have been persuasive. But he wondered that the right honourable gentleman should have said that the honourable member who spoke last but one had changed sides without a cause. Did he not know that in reality the honourable member ceased to support him when the ground on which he formerly supported him was entirely changed? Did he not, therefore, know that questions entirely new .starting up, a man might espouse either side, without giving a candid reasoner the least ground for charging him with inconsistency ? - In the beginning of the contest the honourable gentleman did not think the honour of the House in the smallest degree involved; but he soon found, when affairs had taken a certain turn, that the very existence of a House of Commons, or, at least, its consequence in the constitution, was in question, and then he stood up an advocate son the Mouse, and for the constitution, even against a Minister for whom he had a predilection. But the honourable gentleman tleman seemed to triumph at having got something that approached near to a majority, to support him; however, if he would weigh well all circumstances, he would find but little cause to triumph; for, in fact, who were his supporters? Some indeed who might be called a chosen band, and who might be reckoned among his particular friends. But he should recollect, that a much greater number supported him merely b;caule he was a Minister: that this greater number was composed of persons who never voted with him before, and who were never yet known to vote against a Minister. The right honourable gentleman ought not therefore to trust much to men who never failed to support either the best or the worst Ministers this country ever saw. They were not attached to the right honourable gentleman, except merely because he was a Minister; and if to-morrow he should be dismissed from His Majesty's Co.uncil, they would be as strenuous against him as they were now strong advocates for hinv , They were in fact supporters of every Administration; they were tools of secret influence. Did the right honourable gentleman say he would not coalesce with the noble Lord on account of the American war? That would not deprive him of a single vote, though the majority of his supporters was composed of persons who had supported that war; and therefore he felt himself justifiable in saying, that if to-morrow the right honourable gentleman should happen to go out of office, he would himself be abandoned by the majority of those upon whom he now edunted as his friends. He begged leave to make a few observations on the subject, the conferences relative to an union. He admitted that the right honourable gentleman had not called upon him to give up his noble friend in the blue ribband: he knew that he would not, and could not give him up. The noble Lord was at the head of a party rsspectable from its numbers, more respectable after it was purged by desertions to the Mjnister. Such a man could noc be given up. But the noble Lord's own disinterestedness and magnanimity had prompted him to make a lacrisice, which his friends would not have recommended to him, but for which he deserved the most sincere thanks of his country. The noble Lord, however, great as was his consequence from the num-. ber of his friends, had coniented to retire from public business: did) he not then set au exampte to the right honourable gentleman i and did not the example of his noble friend call upon him to make some concession? None.however would

he make. The expression "equal terms," was delusive; and the Committee would be able to fee that it was not an expression that held out a prospect of conciliation, but seemed to indicate an intention not to coalesce with sincerity for the interests of the empire, but to form a balanced arrangement that should contract that part of the Ministry that should go into the Cabinet from that side of the house. For the proposition that the arrangement should be made *' with attention to principles of equity and fairness," had been rejected. Why? Because the "fair and equal terms," on which they insisted, were directly the contrary. The Sosici- The Sd>c'tor General said, with some heat, that the right wtGtnerai. honourable gentleman was not entitled to throw out a general imputation on those members who supported the present Minister. He believed that they were men as free from corruption, and as pure in their sentiments, as any body of men that ever existed. The right honourable gentleman, when be charged them with indiscriminate corruption, certainly deviated from that candour which he professed to practise. Mr. Arden said he was equally entitled to fay of those who supported him in his measures, that they might be carried to any length on the principle on which they went. They might have voted the Minister and his friends corrupt as well as unconstitutional, and he dared to fay they would have done so.

Jlr.Tox. Mr. Fox explained. He had not thrown out any indiscriminate charge against the supporters of the present Minister. Nothing could be more discriminate than what he • had said; for the assertion was, that those who had support, ed the American war, and now supported the Minister, were not men who either had supported him, or who would at any time support him, or any other man when out of office. The Hon. The honourable Charles Marjhatn said, that Mr. Arden's c.»,arsliam charge was, that those who had voted with Mr. Fox in the late measures would have gone almost any lengths, and have voted the Ministers corrupt as well as unconstitutional. He knew not what he had seen in his conduct to make him imagine that he or others, who had no object in attending that House but the honest discharge of their duty, and the welfare of the kingdom, were capable of acting contrary to their feelings." The right honourable gentleman had said, that those who had taken an active part in the late negociations had enjoyed, under the character of Ambassadors, all the advantages of spies. Was it then to be charged on those

gentlemen gentlemen who had stepped in, and ardently strove to put an end to the violence and enmities of the time, that they were spies? He, for his own part, stood forward without any personal, paltry, interested motive. His wishes and aims were public; but he knew that it was an office not only unpleasant but hazardous; he was to subject his character to the slanders of party, but he prepared himself for the sacrisice. In all his conduct he endeavoured to maintain the most even line of proceeding. He acted as no spy; he made no 'scruple of declaring his private opinion, that it did not appear to him that there was in the Minister the fame conciliatory spirit that there was in the Duke of Portland. He adverted to the letter from his Grace, which had made the subject of the right honorable gentleman's charge against the meetirtg. It was true that they had omitted a paragraph of that letter in communicating it to Mr. Pitt, from the conciliatory principle; and this was the act of the body. He had the original letter in his pocket, and he would then read it to the House. . ,

[This letter, which was written to the gentlemen at the St. Alban's Tavern, in consequence of the resolution of that body, on the difference of the word "equal," we have already stated to the public. It gives to that respectable body of gentlemen the Duke's reasons for desiring the explanation of the term. It had been so particularly insisted upon, and had made so conspicuous a part of every thing that had lately come from the Minister, that it was thought highly requisite to desire to know what he meant by it. This the Minister peremptorily refused. It appeared by the whole of the business that it was the design of the Ministers to establish the projected arrangements on the basis of equal numbers throughout; so that, under the colour of a nominal equality, there should be a perpetual struggle and contention of strength in the Cabinet, instead of there being a system of considence and unanimity every where. To such an Administration the Duke must object. It was npt a system that could be benesicial to the country, or which could lead to the end which they professed to have in view. To a system of perfect equality he had no objection. To such a system as could introduce considence and unanimity into their measures he was a most hearty friend j but hesdid not perceive in Mr. Pitt any indications of a conciliatory disposition.]

This letter, Mr. Marsham said, was communicated to the meeting: they had endeavoured to procure from Mr,

Vol. XIII. Pp Pitt

« PreviousContinue »