Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

office, he necessarily went to the royal closet; that he knew of no secret influence, and that his own integrity would be his guardian against that danger : but the House might rest assured whenever he discovered any, he would not stay a moment longer in office. I will neither have the meanness, said Mr. Pitt, to act upon the advice of others, nor the hypocrisy to pretend, when the measures of an administration in which I have a share are deserving of censure, that they were measures not of my advising. If any former ministers take these charges to themselves, to them be the sting. Little did I think to be ever charged in this House with being the tool and abettor of secret influence. The novelty of the imputation only renders it the more contemptible. This is the only answer I shall ever deign to make on the subject, and I wish the House to bear it in their mind, and judge of my future conduct by my present declara. tion: the integrity of my own heart, and the probity of all my public, as well as my private principles, shall always be my sources of action, I will never condescend to be the instrument of any secret advisers whatever, nor in any one instance, while I have the honour to act as minister of the crown in this House, will I be responsible for measures not my own, or at least in which my heart and judgment do not cordially acquiesce.

With regard to the questions put to him as to the dissolution, it did not become him to comment on the words of a most gracious answer of the sovereign delivered from the throne; neither would he presume to compromise the royal prerogative, or bargain it away in the House of Commons. When his honourable friend *, in whose, hands he considered his honour to be as safe as his own, before the recess, in his name, and by his authority pledged himself to the House, that he (Mr. Pitt) would not advise a dissolution, such at that time had been his real sentiment; he could not at present say more, but he hoped, nevertheless, the House would now consent to receive and go into the consideration of his India bill.

# Mr. Dundas.

The motion for the order of the day was carried,

Ayes... ... ... 232

Noes......... 193, and the House went into the committee on the state of the nation; when several strong resolutions were passed, condemning as unconstitutional both the appointment, and the continuance in office, of His Majesty's ministers, who possessed not the confidence either of that House, or of the people.

The purport of the message from the King, which Mr. Pitt had to present, and which was afterwards read from the chair, was, “ to inform the House, that on account of the river Weser being frozen up, and its navigation rendered impassable, two regiments of Hessian troops had been obliged to be disembarked and distributed in barracks at Dover, Canterbury, Chatham, and Portsmouth : and that His Majesty had given especial directions that, as soon as the navigation of the Weser was open, the two regiments in question should be again embarked, and immediately sent home to Germany."

January 14. 1784. Mr. Pitt, in pursuance of the notice he had given, this day moved for leave to bring in a bill for the better regulation of the government in India.

He rose, he said, in performance of his engagement to the public and to the House, and to discharge that duty which was indispensable to him in the situation which he held. He was neither deterred by the circumstances of the time, nor the appearance of the agitation of that assembly, from rising to move for the introduction of a new bill for settling the government of India, because he knew it to be the most immediate concern of the country, and that which before all other things called for the consideration of parliament. He was aware that, in the present circumstances of the time, any proposition that came from him was not likely to be treated with much lenity; and indeed, from what he had heard, he might be permitted to apprehend, not likely to be treated by certain persons with impartiality or justice; for they had already excited a clamour against what they conceived to be his ideas, and had already condemned, without knowing, his system. They had taken up certain resolutions passed by the proprietors of East-India stock, and had said, that a system founded upon them must necessarily be defective, must necessarily be charged with more influence, accompanied with less energy, than the bill which had been rejected. He knew the triumph which he should afford to a certain description of men, when he informed the House, that the plan which he proposed to submit to parliament was chiefly founded on the resolutions of the proprietors of India-stock, and that his ideas in all the great points coincided with theirs. He anticipated in his mind the clamour which would take place on this discovery, and the vociferous acclamations of those gentlemen ranged behind the right honourable member *, whose signals they were always disposed to obey, and whose mandates they were always ready to execute. He perfectly understood the nature of their conduct : he knew well how capable they would be of deciding on the subject, from the notices they would receive, and how eagerly they would embrace the opinion which the right honourable gentleman would give them; but he was not to be intimidated from undertaking what he conceived to be for the interest of his country; and to the crime which was alleged against him, he pleaded guilty. He confessed himself to be so miserably weak and irresolute, as not to venture to introduce a bill into that House on the foundations of violence and intrenchment. He acknowledged himself to be so weak as to pay respect to the chartered rights of men, and that, in proposing a new system of government and regulation, he did not disdain to consult with those, who, having the greatest stake in the matter to be new-modelled, were likely to be the best capable of giving him advice. He acknowledged the enormous transgression of acting with their consent, rather than by violence; and that, in the bill which he proposed to move for, he had governed himself by the ideas of the proprietors of EastIndia stock, and by the sense and wisdom of those men who were most habituated to the consideration of the subject, as well as the most interested in it.

He gave to his opponents, with perfect cheerfulness, all the advantage which this view of the subject could confer. His plan

Mr. Fox.

was really founded on the resolutions which the House had seen in the public newspapers, and he acted in concurrence with the sentiments of the general proprietary. He had not dared to digest a bill without consultation, which was to violate chartered rights sanctified by parliamentary acts ; he had not ventured to conceive that any plan, which should erect in this country a system unknown to the constitution, would be ever embraced by any House of Commons; or that a scheme of new and uncontrollable influence in the hands of new and unconstitutional characters, would be suffered to have an establishment, since such a scheme must give the death-blow to our frame of government. He had taken notice of the objections started by the right honourable gentleman, before he had heard his plan, and accepted by his followers with the same haste and the same decency; he had heard him allege, that his plan was calculated to give as much or more influence to the crown than the bill which had been rejected; and that it was not calculated to produce the salutary consequences to this country, or to India, which his bill would have certainly done. These were the imputations which had been brought against it before it was known, and the House were now to enquire into the truth of the assertion. He wished to be tried by comparison. He challenged the trial by that test; and he trusted to the candour of the House, even eircumstanced as it now was; he trusted to their fairness and impartiality, that if they found the provisions of his bill as effectual, with less violence,- affording as vigorous a system of control, with less possibility of influence,- securing the possessions of the East to the public, without confiscating the property of the company, and beneficially changing the nature of this defective government without intrenching on the chartered rights of men, they would give him a manly, liberal, and successful support, without enquiring what party of men, or what side of the House, was to be maintained on the occasion. He trusted they would not approve his plan the less for being without violence, for being destitute of the rapidity, the grasping principle, the enormous influence, the inordinate ambition, the unconstitutional tendencies of the bill

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »