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made such immediate communications of them, as should clearly prove that it was so. But, no such accounts were produced, no such communications were made; and there were, besides, circumstances attending some of them, that proved they must have been received with a corrupt intention. As an instance of this, he should mention the present Mr. Hastings had received from Kelleram, which was attended with the most suspicious of all circumstances, namely, that this very person was at the time in treaty for a district of land belonging to the company, and no question could be entertained, but he gave the money in order to obtain a favourable bargain ; so that had this been done for the company, it was a most unjustifiable and impolitic method of managing their concerns; for in that case, it should have been negociated openly in the nature of a fine, and not privately as a bribe, in which latter light alone it ought to be considered.
Upon the whole, Mr. Pitt concluded with declaring, that the House could no otherwise consult their own honour, the duty which they owed their country, and the ends of public justice, than by sending up the impeachment to the House of Lords.
The original motion was carried,
May 15. 1787. Mr. Grey, after complaining to the House of certain abuses that prevailed in the Post Office, moved for a committee to be appointed to inquire into the same: when
MR. Pitt rose, declaring his intention not to detain the House long, and certainly not to oppose the motion of the honourable gentleman. A motion made for an inquiry into abuses stated to exist in a flagrant degree, and which an honourable gentleman declared himself impelled, by his duty as a member of parliament, and not by any private or personal views, to make, was such a one as he should at all times feel the strongest inclination to comply with, and from which nothing but evident and palpable impropriety could induce him to withhold his consent. But he expected that if the motion were to pass, the inquiry intended to be made might be proceeded upon immediately before the end of the session, and be pointed to the proper object of censure, if censure were, upon investigation, found to be deserved. The honourable gentleman had made heavy charges against a noble lord of high character and unsullied honour, and had thought proper also to extend his accusation to him, and it would be but a bad method of consulting either his own or the noble lord's reputation, to endeavour to shrink from an inquiry into the true grounds and merits of the accusation. The part which he had taken in the transaction relative to Mr. Lees, was one which he was always ready to submit to the judgment of the House. A memorial had been sent from the general post-office, signed by the two noble lords who then presided there, the Earl of Tankerville and Lord Carteret, stating that Mr. Lees would probably suffer an injury in his employment, to a very considerable amount, in consequence of the separation of the two establishments of the post-office-that of England and Ireland from each other. It also stated the annuity paid by Mr. Lees to Mr. Walcot, and by Mr. Walcot to Mr. Baron; and he, together with other lords of the treasury, as well in consideration of the actual loss sustained by Mr. Lees, as from the circumstance of that gentleman having done the business for a considerable time for a small salary in the prospect of an increase in his profits in future, did, upon inquiry into the amount of the loss, sign an order for an addition of 4001. to his salary. As to the charge made by the honourable gentleman, that he was inclined to wink at abuses in the post-office, or any other public establishment, it was a charge wholly unwarranted by fact, and unfounded by any reasonable presumption. So far was he from any backwardness for the reform in abuses in that office, that he had suggested a measure for the general reform of all those very abuses relative to shipping and other things which the honourable gentleman had mentioned, and that measure formed a part of the office reform bill. He then concluded, by reading the resolution which he had moved about three years ago on that subject.
Some expressions having fallen from Mr. Pitt in the course of the debate which Mr. Grey considered as reflecting injuriously upon the motives by which he was influenced in the present inquiry, the latter rose with great warmth to repel such insinuations, and affirmed that no man should dare to question the purity of the principles on which he acted.
To this Mr. Pitt answered :— The honourable gentleman arrogates too much to himself, if he conceives that I shall not take the liberty of calling his motives in question as often as his conduct shall warrant such a freedom. If the honourable gentleman chooses not to have his motives questioned, he must take care that his conduct is such as not to render it necessary.
Mr. Grey immediately replied, that he should never act in that House upon any principle which did not appear to him to be honourable; and while he was conscious that his conduct was governed by the unerring principles of honour, if any person chose to impute dishonourable prin. ciples to him, he had those means in his power, to which it would then be proper to resort.
Mr. Pitt and Mr. Sheridan rising together, the latter obtained a hear. ing first, and endeavoured to appease the heat that had arisen, by observing, that he believed his honourable friend had misunderstood the words of the chancellor of the exchequer.
Mr. Pitt declared, that he had not before spoken with heat, nor should there be any heat in what he was going to say. He then deliberately repeated the argument of his former speech, and added, that with respect to any means to which the honourable gentleman might wish to resort, it would be for himself to determine whether they were proper or not.
The question was afterwards put and agreed to.
December 10. 1788.
MR. Pitt, after having brought up the report of the physicians touching the state of His Majesty's health, which was ordered to lie on the table, proceeded to observe –
That the paper from the privy-council, which had been already placed upon the table, as well as the more regular examinations of which the House had just heard the contents, afforded them sufficient information, both with regard to the melancholy subject which had occasioned them to assemble, and the opinions of the physicians; and must, at the same time, naturally fill their minds with a reasonable hope, that a happier moment would arrive than the present, although the faculty, who had been consulted, were still unable to declare the precise point of time of its arrival. Gratified, however, as the House might be in that expectation, yet the uncertainty by which its completion might be protracted, rendered it their indispensable duty to proceed, notwithstanding their regret for the occasion, with every degree of dispatch, and in the most respectful manner to take those intermediate steps which the unfortunate exigency of the moment required, in order to provide for the present serious situation of affairs, with a view to guard the liberties of the people from danger, and secure the safety of the country; that His Majesty might have the gratification of knowing, when the happy moment of his recovery should arrive, that the people whom he had loved and protected, had suffered as little as possible by his illness. The point to be agitated, on this occasion, involved in it whatever was dear to the interests of the country; it involved in it what. ever was valuable to the people, whatever was important in the fundamental principles of our free constitution. The steps to be taken as preliminaries, therefore, to the discussion of this truly interesting subject, were such as he could not conceive likely to create any difference of opinion. That the House might have the advantage of the wisdom of their ancestors to guide their proceedings, and act upon the fullest information, he should move for the appointment of a committee to examine into, search for, and report precedents, from which report they would be enabled to see, what had been the steps taken in former moments of difficulty and danger, whence they might proceed with the greater security in providing for the present melancholy circumstances of the country.
In conclusion, after dilating at some extent upon the necessity of this mode, Mr. Pitt said, he would not detain the House by enlarging upon the subject any longer, but as, on the one hand, it would serve to throw all the light upon it that precedent and history could afford; so, on the other, as he conceived the report of such a committee as he had mentioned might be made in the course of the present week, it could very little contribute to retard the dispatch that was so desirable, and must prove of no material inconvenience. With a view, therefore, to give their proceedings every necessary solemnity, and regulate them by every possible degree of caution, he should move,
“ That a committee be appointed to examine and report precedents of such proceedings as may have been had, in case of the personal exercise of the royal authority being prevented or interrupted, by infancy, sickness, infirmity, or otherwise, with a view to provide for the same."
Mr. Fox, although he did not resist the motion, considered it as productive of unnecessary delay, when it was the duty of the House to provide with all possible dispatch for the exigency of the present moment. He had no hesitation, he said, in declaring it as his decided opinion, that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales had as clear, as express a right to assume the reins of government, and exercise the powers of sovereignty during the continuance of the illness and incapacity with which it had pleased God to afflict His Majesty, as in the case of His Majesty's having undergone a natural and perfect demise.
To this latter assertion Mr. Pitt answered,
That he must take the liberty to observe, that the right honourable gentleman had thrown out an idea which, whatever he might have generally thought of him, as to his penetration and discernment, as to his acquaintance with the laws and general history of the country, and as to his knowledge of the theory of