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any expression of limitation or qualisication, not to exercise this prerogative; the answer on which the resolution moved hy the right hon. gentleman was founded, did not bind the King to any thing more than not to prevent the meeting of Parliament after the recess; and though gentlemen might he inclined to construe that answer literally, they ought not to be very forward in putting a construction upon the answer beyond what the words would obviously support, there weie gentlemen on the other side of the house, who did not always think that the construction was such as was now attempted to be put upon it, for they argued from the beginning that the answer bound the King to nothing more than barely not to prevent the meeting of Parliament after the recess. It -was rather an indelicate and an unusual Way of proceeding, to put constructions, by way of resolutions, on the King's words, when the House might pursue the old parliamentary mode of addresses. As to the resolution then before the House, the principal objection he had to it was, that it bound the King down to that unlimited and unqualisied pro* mile, that in no possible or imaginable situation of affairs he would resort. to his prerogative, and prorogue or dissolve Parliament; a promise which he, for one, would never advise his Majesty to make. However, he was ready to own that something had happened since his Majesty had given that answer, which had greatly altered the situation of affairs. Resolutions hsd been carried in that House, of such a nature, as would causa a dissolution, under these circumstances, unadviseable. But exclusive of these, gentlemen might recollect, that the answer mentioned the necessity of providing for the government of India, the public credit, and other important concerns; and as nothing decisive had been done to any one of these great objects, it was more reasonable to suppose that his Majesty would not think proper to dissolve his Parliament before it had adopted any measures relative to the great points for which it had been assembled. However, he was sure that notwithstanding the forced construction which gentlemen were now desirous to put upon his Majesty's words, thev did not seem at sirst to conceive that they were at all expressive of the meaning which they were pow going to give them; for however gentlemen .might accommodate their sentiments to the turn of circumstances, he would ap-r peal to the feelings of the House, to the honour of the gentlemen who supported the resolution, whether this appeared to be their opinion on the sirst production of the answer?
The measures they adopted to prevent a dissolution, the tenor
_ r of their speeches, the anxiety they shewed in the apprehension of its taking place, plainly evinced the contrary: what recent event then could be supposed to have induced them to adopt this different opinion, and make it the basis of so indefinite a resolution? When the answer recommended the consideration of certain objects, did gentlemen imagine that whatever circumstances might intervene, while they were in contemplation, his Majesty meant to restrain himself from the exercise of his prerogative? In pursuance of the considerations proposed in the address to the Throne, a bill was submitted to their Consideration, free from those exceptionable properties of a former bill, and calculated to meet the wishes of all parties, and to be acceptable to the other branches of the Legislature. But that spirit of opposition, which applies more to men than to measures, caused it to be rejected. What then was likely to be the fate of the bill which the honourable gentleman opposite him (Mr. Fox) intended to introduce, retaining the fame spirit, the same principles as the former, though perhaps altered in a few clauses? Surely he did not imagine the Upper House possefled such a pliability of disposition, such a mutability in sentiment, as to approve at once what they so lately condemned. He then remarked, that gentlemen laid hold of the words "convenient speed," to illustrate the propriety of their interpretation: he acknowledged that affairs were so critically situated, so greatly embarrassed, that no time should be lost in arranging and disposing them in order. But the proceedings of the House for some time past, promised little in the way of expedition: personal objects seamed more to,direct their operations; there was a delicacy in the subject, wherein the highest person in. the state was so immediately concerned, which was obvious to every one, and he was sorry to find so little attended to. The resolution, on the whole, was precipitate and indefinite, such as neither the structure of the words, nor the design of the answer, could give a sanction to an opinion, that his Majesty had engaged himself to suspen4 the exercise of his prerogative, while any one measure, that any member should propose relative to the great points recommended from the Throne, remained unsettled: however, the very distracted state of the country at the present juncture, had, in his opinion, rendered such a measure totally inexpedient, and he, in his ministerial capacity, could make this declaration, "that he would not advise his Majesty to prevent the proceedings of this House, either by prorogation or dissolution."
Mr. Fox profesied himself entirely easy as to a dissolution, Mr. tot. after this declaration of the honourable gentleman; had he condescended to have expressed himself so a fortnight ago, he would have saved the Parliament and the people much trouble and much anxiety. The right honourable gentleman had at length thought proper to relax in some degree from that absolute silence, that sullen reserve the House so lately experienced from him; but has he, pursued Mr. Fox, discharged every duty of respect? Has he acquitted himself with due decency to this House? or has he not pursued the very , reverse of such a conduct, in continuing in his situation as Minister in positive and direct contempt of a solemn resolution of this honourable House? That this House has a right to address and advise his Majesty in the choice of his Ministers, as well as other subjects of importance, is a point on which no person will venture to dispute, though his Majesty has certainly, by the frame of the constitution, the right of chusing his own Ministers, a prerogative which he may exercise at his discretion; but that a member of this House shall, in defiance of its solemn vote, delivered after full discussion, after a long debate, and the maturest deliberation, presume to continue in so obnoxious a situation, is such an insult to the honour, the sense, and the judgment of Parliament, as must not be overlooked. Can it be expected that the business of the, nation can be conducted with effect, can proceed at all during the administration of men who want that indispensable requisite to every Ministry, the confidence of the people? Are we to be told that the opinions, the most solemn resolutions of this House, are to be considered as trifles in the eye of one of its own members? or will the gentleman openly avow what his conduct so sufficiently manifests, that he considers himself superior to this House? That a situation he stole into by intrigue, private whispers, and springing the mine of secret influence, shall support him against the positive answer of the House of Commons? Shall he think to erect the banner of secret influence here, in opposition to public confidence? or that he can continue, what I am obliged now to call him, the unconstitutional Minister of the Crown, against the voice of Parliament and the spirit of the, constitution? Then, indeed, would there be an end to the excellence of that system, which we vaunt as the utmost effort of legislative perfection; then could we no longer boast of that happy equilibrium on which our liberties depended; and our Constitution, from being the envy and admiiation, Would become the mockery and scorn of all Europe: these I are
are circumstances too glaring to be doubted. This is a situation too grievous to be tolerated; we have, said he, hitherto acted .on the calmest, on the mildest principles; but however unwilling to adopt strong and violent measures, we ought not to be less determined, nor are those with whom 1 have the honour to act. Why, then, will the gentleman persevere to fnock, to insult the dignity and the honour of Parliament? Why' will he always persist in forcing to disagreeable extremities? I would not this night, nor for some time, perhaps, move any resolution on this subject. I mould be sorry to recur to means which would wear any other than a conciliatory aspect, or should tend to dissolve those bands of union 1 and harmony between the legislative and executive power, so necessary to carry into effect the various operations of policy and government. After very ably and accurately discussing Mr. Pitt's allegations, and shewing the impoffibility of any business being effectually or successfully conducted under an Administration formed on the principles of the present, and lying under the censure of the House, he concluded by very earnestly entreating gentlemen to consider the circumstances in question, and acting with coolness and deliberation, but still preserving sirmness and resolution. ;. . The Chan- The- Chancellor of the Exchequer replied, that he had not Exchequer6 toucned on the subject to which the honourable gentleman directed the principal part of his attention, not expecting'it would be introduced into the debate. He had reserved himself for the Committee on the state of the nation, when he intended to say something on that head. However he thought it his duty to reply, in order to state the reasons of his continuance in office. He observed, that he came into office to fulsil the duty he owed His Majesty, whose considence he had not forfeited by any attempt to introduce any new power unknown to the constitution; and though he always would pay the most profound respect to the decisions of that honourable House, he did not know but he might incur the censure of the right honourable gentleman opposite him, by observing, that as the constitution vested in HLs Majesty the power of chusing his own Ministers, deciding on the propriety of that choice, did not fail properly within the province of the House of Commons: he was sorry to sind the determinations of that House had not lately been marked with all the attention that one might have imagined they would have paid to this constitutional doctrine. It was certainly severe to condemn the conduct of an Administration before the charges against them were proved and established. In this instance he could not
r but but consider himself very much aggrieved: untried, uri-connected, he lay under the censure of a resolution of the House; but he had at least the consolation to reflect, that in proportion as he and his colleagues were more tried, and -more known, in the fame proportion were they more approved, and more established in the favour and confidence of the House, and of the people, with whom they every ,day rose in ,esteem and approbation. The reduction of ■that great majority whereby the gentlemen in opposition -carried their first .question, into the trifling one their last -resolutions passed by, 1 must .convince them of the^decline -of their.caufe; the charge of his considering himself supe■riot to the House, ,he said, could have no other foundation than absurdity, except indeed to think differently from a majority of that House, might bear that construction'; and if ib, it was an imputation to which that honourable member had frequently been subject. He considered the resolutions of the honourable House by no means binding on the'principles of an individual; the very bulwark of 6Ur constitution was freedom of acting, and freedbm of speakings the -control then os Parliament could not affect the free principles of acting, whereby liberty, is to be prized. Were he disposed to act as the gentlemen:jvcu»ld .wifli him to do, his -duty would prevent him. For what purpose should the.preisent arrangement give way? The answer was obvious, to ytnake room for ;tbe introduction;of a set,of people, who were lately dismissed for a conduct which lost them the xbnfidence^of theaV.Sovereigrajjas well as that.of the people. To look around them, and view the consequences of -a resignation, he could fee .nothing that would not deter ihim from so .ruinous a conduct; where could another arrangement be found, more likely to give satisfaction? This •led him to advert to a wish very generally and very warmly ^expressed, of forming an union which might give stability to Government, and reconcile all parties: to such a measure he professed himself by no means an enemy, provided it could be established on such a broad and liberal basis as 'would meet the wishes of that respectable and independent fot.of men, by whose support and countenance he had all along been honoured; but.in accomplishing this object, he said, all personal prejudices and ^private views, pride and punctilio, should be laid aside, and a stable government and solid union be alone sought for. The honourable gentleman, in treating oil this subject, had insisted, as a prelimiVql. XHI. ■' )C ■ nary,