« VorigeDoorgaan »
Mr. Burke took this occasion to call the attention of the House to a very ingenious and forcible commentary on the speech of the King's ministers, as delivered from the throne; and, after using a great deal of laughable, mixed with a portion of serious, argument, he concluded with declaring, that he considered the speech as a compound of hypocrisy, self-condemnation, contradiction, and folly; and that, were it not that unanimity was so absolutely necessary at the present crisis, he would have moved an amendment to the address; which, even yet; he was hardly determined against doing.
MR. Pitt, in answer, observed, that the present was a moment for seriousness, and not for mirth. The gay flowers of a bril.
Treasurer of the Navy.
afterwards Lord Kenyon) John Lee, Esq.......
Principal Secretaries of State.
Lord Shelburne's Administration, which succeeded upon the death of the Marquis of Rockingham, consisted of Earl of Shelburne....... ....... First Lord of the Treasury. Hon. William Pitt................. Chancellor of the Exchequer. Lord Grantham.......... Thos. Townshend, Esq.......... Lord Thurlow......
Lord Chancellor. Lord Keppel........
First Lord of the Admiralty. Lord Camden
President of the Council.
Lord Privy Seal.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster,
(afterwards Lord Melville) * }Treasurer of the Navy.
Paymaster of the Forces. Lloyd Kenyon, Esq...............
. (afterwards Lord Kenyon) John Lee, Esq................
Solicitor-General. Earl Temple.......
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Hon. Wm. Wyndham Grenville
(afterwards Lord Grenville) Secretary to do.
liant and exuberant fancy were proper for their season, for hours of jollity and recreation. He should be happy to share in the delights of that fertile imagination which had so long been the wonder and pleasure of that house; but he could not consent to indulge himself in admiring “ the beautiful motes which people the sunbeam," when his mind was occupied with objects 80 serious and important as those now before the house, nor could he approve of the indiscretion of that wit, which so unseasonably ran away with the good sense and sober judgment of the honourable gentleman. He said he was as willing as any man to unbend his mind, and indulge in the recreation of the theatre; but it was only in the theatre, and in circles of amusement, that sober men would choose to give a loose to imagination, and abstract their minds from all business and reflection. He now rose, therefore, to bring back the house to sobriety and seriousness; and to tell them that this was neither a fit time, nor a proper subject for the exhibition of a gaudy fancy, or the wanton blandishments of theatrical enchantment: it was their duty and business to break the magician's wand, to dispel the cloud, beautiful as it was, which had been thrown over their heads, and consider solemnly and gravely the very perilous situation of the country, and by the force of their united wis. dom, abilities, and experience, endeavour to rescue the kingdom from its difficulties by the restoration of an honourable peace. The honourable gentleman had paid him many compli'ments, which he was sorry he could not either accept or thank him for, as they were accompanied with animadversions of such a nature, that only the elegance of the gentleman's genius could save them from being ridiculous. -All such playful exercises of the gentleman's talent for the gay and ludicrous, he should treat with the same neglect with which all sober men would treat them; and all compliments paid to him in such a style, he should never think himself bound to acknowledge. That his character of the speech, in regard to the matter and manner, would be admitted by the House, he could not believe, because he could not believe that they would consent to call that speech
a farrago of hypocrisies and absurdities, which they had unani. mously approved, and for which they had, nemine contradicente, agreed to present His Majesty with an address of thanks. That His Majesty's serious admonitions to his parliament should be branded with such epithets; that his feelings on so serious a subject as the dismemberment of his empire, should be outraged ; that his speech, delivered with all the sacredness of royalty, should be charged with mockery, hypocrisy, and even profaneness, were things which he did not expect to hear; and which nothing could justify but the circumstance of their being the overflowings of a mind, the richness of whose wit was unchecked for the time by its wisdom and consideration,
For his part, he was in a more serious mind. He would endeavour, therefore, to pursue a different language from what the honourable gentleman had chosen ; and, as he should not imitate him in style, neither would he resemble him in length.
In His Majesty's speech there was nothing that called for the ludicrous treatment the honourable gentleman had been pleased to bestow upon it. The language was plain, intelligible, sincere, and adapted to the occasion, and the address then under consideration was equally expressed with propriety. In order, therefore, that His Majesty's ministers might yet know what part of it was liable to objection, he begged it might be discussed in a manner suitable to the subject. He had the day before addressed himself to grave and independent men, with a view to find if there really appeared cause of objection to any part of it; that His Majesty's ministers might have an opportunity of openly elearing up any doubts that might be entertained, and of convincing that House, that their intentions were founded in a zealous endeavour to promote the publie good, and that in a manner the most unexceptionable. With regard to the construction put upon various passages by the honourable gentleman who spoke last, they were, upon the face of them, such as could not be maintained for a moment, by fair and serious argument. After defending that part of the speech in which His Majesty deprecates the evils that might follow such a dismemberment of the
empire as the recognition of the independence of America creates, he said, the honourable gentleman, among other interpolations and misconstructions of the text, (for it was evident he had tortured the text repeatedly for the sake of furnishing an opportunity to pursue an inapplicable comment) had chosen to connect the paragraph expressive of the readiness shewn by the subjects of the city of London in the general defence, with the mention of the proof of public spirit that had been given by some particular persons; two matters as distinct and separate as could possibly be. Was that House, was any man, a stranger to the zeal of certain descriptions of persons in the metropolis, who, when the government, by a vigorous effort, was sending all the fleets of this country from our own coasts, to the relief of Gibraltar, offered to embody themselves for the defence of the city ? Had that fact any natural analogy to the offer of money to build ships with for the use of the public ? Was there an idea entertained by any one member of that House, that there was the smallest degree of intention in His Majesty's ministers to apply the voluntary proofs of public spirit in private individuals, to an unconstitutional or a dangerous purpose ? To what end then attempt, by arguments so ill suited and uncalled for, to endeavour to damp the ardour of the country, and repress its spirit in a moment when it was most necessary to be excited ? The honourable gentleman had ridiculed the calling forth of the temper, wisdom, and disinterestedness of parliament. Would any serious man attempt to maintain, that the exigency of the times did not render every possible exertion of the temper, wisdom, and disinterestedness of parliament necessary ? and, that being allowed, would it be contended that it was an insult to parliament to endeavour to arouse its attention, and that the admonition, so gravely and solemnly given from the throne, was either unseasonable or indiscreet ? The serious part, therefore, of what had fallen from the honourable gentleman, he considered as illogical and ill-founded : the trifling part, as the redundancy of an over-luxuriant imagination, which, in the hour of cool reflection, the honourable gentleman, he was convinced, would confess to have been ill-timed and improper.
With regard to the honourable gentleman's question of the sincerity and reality of the explanation of the provisional articles, which he had just given, he knew not whether the honourable gentleman meant to insinuate that he would be guilty of equivocation, when he solemnly stood up as a minister in that house, and gave an explicit answer to a question explicitly put to him; but he trusted to his hitherto unimpeached character, that the House would not in candour suspect him to be capable of any such base and scandalous duplicity, till they had proof of his guilt; when they believed he was guilty, he should expect their detestation; but if the honourable gentleman now meant to impute any such charge to him, he should only say, that the imputation had, if it might be permitted to a young man to say so to one so much older than himself, his scorn and his contempt. If he had deceived the House in this instance, he desired to be considered no longer fit to be trusted in any degree. He pledged himself on his honour, that he would never sacrifice his veracity, nor be a party to a fraud, for any poor and inadequate advantages which he could reap from his continuance in a station, for which he did not think himself qualified.
The Address was afterwards agreed to.
February 17. 1783.
Debate on the Preliminary Articles of Peace with France and Spain, and
the Provisional Treaty with America,
The address approving of the treaties was moved by Mr. Thomas Pitt; upon which an amendment was proposed by Lord John Cavendish, omitting the expressions which pledged the House to the approval of the treaties, and promising that the House would proceed to take the same into their serious consideration.
Mr. Pitt spoke in answer to the various arguments that had been adduced against the motion for the address to the throne.