Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

a state exceedingly fallacious. He had asked, “ what indignation and censure was due to the individual who dared to have thus trifled with truth, with decency, and with the dignity of the House?” What then shall be said of a minister, who yentures to rise up in his place, and impose on the House a statement every way absurd and erroneous ?

On these, and many other accounts, Mr. Pitt was clearly for deferring the debate. This position he argued very elaborately; and said, as it was perfectly reasonable to allow the House time to enquire into and examine the truth of the papers then on the table, the falsehood of which ought not to be taken for granted upon the bare assertions of the secretary of state, so introduced and made as they had been, he should hope there could be no objection to adjourning the debate for a single day, and should therefore reserve his sentiments upon the principle of the bill for the present, and move “ that the debate be adjourned till to-morrow (Friday) morning.” Mr. Pitt's motion of adjournment was negatived,

Ayes............ 120
Noes...........

..... 229. The original question was then carried. *

* On the 18th of December at twelve o'clock at night a special messenger delivered to the two secretaries of state a message from His Majesty, intimating that he had no further occasion for their services, and desiring them to render up the seals of their offices ; — at the same time mentioning, that it was the royal pleasure that they should be delivered to him by the under secretaries, as a personal interview would be disagreeable. Early the next morning letters of dismission signed, “ Temple,” were sent to the other members of the cabinet. Earl Temple, who was appointed secretary of state, resigned two days after - and the following arrangement was at length completed: Right Hon. William Pitt..... {

First Lord of the Treasury, and

Chancellor of the Exchequer. Marquis of Carmarthen........ Secretary of State for the Foreign

Department. Lord Sidney ...................

Secretary of State for the Home

Department. VOL. I.

January 12. 1784. Mr. Pitt and the other re-elected members having taken the usual oaths and their seats, Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt rose at the same time, and the friends of both gentlemen were very loud in procuring for each the preference of being heard. — The Speaker decided, that Mr. Fox was in possession of the House, as he had been up, and was interrupted by the Swearing in of the re-elected members. Mr. Pitt spoke to order, and declared that he knew not that Mr. Fox was in possession of the House; 'but he thought it requisite for him to say, that the reason for his rising was to present to the House a message from His Majesty, conceiving, as he did, that the House would be disposed to hear that in preference to other matter.

The Speaker then, from the chair, announcing that Mr. Fox, having begun his speech, was clearly in possession of the House, and was en. titled to go on,

Mr. Fox said, that nobody would believe that he was inclined to prevent the right honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer from presenting a message from His Majesty ; but having risen to move for the order of the day, and the right honourable gentleman having it in his power to Earl Gower (succeeded by

}

President of the Council.
Lord Camden)
Duke of Rutland (succeeded

Lord Privy Seal.
by Earl Gower)
Earl Howe......... .... First Lord of the Admiralty.
Lord Thurlow............ ...Lord Chancellor.

The above composed the Cabinet.
Duke of Richmond..............Master-General of the Ordnance.
Lloyd Kenyon, Esq. (after.

Attorney-General

.
wards Lord Kenyon)
Richard Pepper Arden, Esq.

Solicitor-General.
(afterwards Lord Alvanley)
Right Hon. Wm. Wyndham
Grenville (afterwards Lord 1
Grenville)

Joint Paymasters of the Forces.
Lord Mulgrave......
Henry Dundas, Esq..........

(afterwards Lord Melville) }Treasurer of the Navy.
Sir George Yonge, Bart....... Seeretary at War.
George Rose, Secretaries of the Treasury

. Duke of Rutland............... Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Thomas Orde, Esq............. Secretary to do.

present the message after the business of the day as well as before, and knowing at the same time, from the nature of the message, that there would be no injury in waiting, he wished that the House should go into the committee on the state of the nation, where a motion of the most immediate consequence to the House would be made, and which, in his mind, ought to precede all other business. He therefore begged leave to move the order of the day.

Mr. Pitt now rose:

He was by no means anxious, he said, to prevent the House from going into the committee on the state of the nation, or to keep the right honourable gentleman from the possession of the House, to the gaining of which such art and such accommodation had been used. He could not be at all surprised that those men, who before the recess had been so clamorous and so petulant, and who had gone such strange lengths, at a time when those persons, who unquestionably ought to be present at the discussion of all important questions, were necessarily absent, should now have proceeded in the same way, and taken the advantage of absence to bring on a measure, by which he, as the minister of the crown, should be prevented from delivering a message from His Majesty. It was not his desire to prevent gentlemen from saying any thing that they might imagine would support that clamour which they had endeavoured so insidiously to raise in the country, any thing that would support that petulance which they had shewn before the recess, that unjustifiable violence and those unprecedented steps which they had taken, for the purpose of inflaming the country, and exciting jealousies, for which there was no real foundation. He was happy to see the House met again, that now the ministers of the crown might be able to face the assertions, the insinuations, that were thrown out; for nothing in the shape of a charge had been brought forward, nothing had even been attempted to be proved : now they would have it in their power to meet the enquiries and the propositions that might be agitated in the committee on the state of the nation; and he assured the House, that he should not shrink from any question, charge, or insinuation, which the gentlemen on the other side might chuse to bring against him.

At the same time, however, that he cheerfully expressed his readiness to go into the committee on the state of the nation, he thought it right that this committee should be delayed for some short time, and he trusted the reasons which he should give would be satisfactory to the House. It had pleased His Majesty to command his services, at a time, when, however he might feel himself unqualified for the high station of the minister, he could not think himself justified in conscience to decline. The circumstances of the country were peculiar and distressing. The EastIndia bill, brought in by the right honourable gentleman, a bill so violent in its form as to give just reason for alarm to every thinking man, had been, by what powerful management it was not for him to say, hurried through that House. That bill established a species of influence unknown to the constitution of this country; and he was one of a most respectable minority, who thought, that if it had passed into a law, the independence of that House, the equilibrium between the three estates of the realm, and the beautiful frame of our government, were at an end. That bill passed this House; but at the same time it was the idea of all men, even of those who objected to that bill as unfit to be passed, that some bill was essentially necessary; and he had pledged himself if it was withdrawn or thrown out, to propose one less violent in its principles, and, as he thought, more adequate to its purposes. Would any man object to his moving for leave to bring in that bill? Would not all sides of the House acknowledge, that the first object to be embraced was the India business? It was for this question that the House was impatient. They had thought proper to present an address to the throne, testifying their extreme anxiety to go upon this important pursuit, which they stated to be so urgent as to make them dread any interruption whatever. Was it possible then that they should think of interrupting the business? Was it possible that they should think of preventing the introduction of a new bill, which was the only way of coming fairly to the business? Whatever serious enquiry into the state of the nation might be meditated afterwards, he should think it is duty most attentively and cheer., fully to accompany. In the mean time he begged the House to consider, that this was the first day when the new ministers had met them in parliament. That ministry was formed, was called by His Majesty into office, chiefly on the ground of the India bill. Their first duty was to frame a system for the government of India. They had not opposed the last bill by cavilling; they had not objected to it from envy to the parents of it. They had opposed it, because they thought that its objects might be accomplished in a safer way. This was the point on which they were at issue. They had now to prove that they had not lightly disturbed the government of the country; that they had not set up a captious opposition, an opposition to men merely ; but that they opposed a most violent measure ; and having overthrown it, they thought it their first duty to substitute a more moderate, a more constitutional scheme in its place.

He spoke again of the clamour which had been excited, and said he was ready to meet it all. He had objected to the last bill, because it created a new and enormous influence by vesting in certain nominees of the ministers, all the patronage of the East. He stated all his great objections to Mr. Fox's bill, and said, that he was now called upon by his duty, to bring in a new bill; and if the House, by agreeing with him to postpone the order of the day, would allow him to move for leave to bring in his bill, he would state all the outlines of his system, as shortly and precisely as he could. He trusted that he should not be prevented, because the right honourable gentleman had forestalled the House, by rising at a time when those persons were absent, whose duty it was to conduct official business; and he hoped the House in general would agree with him in voting against the order of the day.

Before the debate closed, Mr. Pırt again rose, and applied to a variety of matters that had been urged against him, as well on the ground of secret influence, as on the principles on which he had come into administration.

He declared he came up no back stairs; that when he was sent for by his sovereign to know whether he would accept of

« VorigeDoorgaan »