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I will not become a mere nominal minister of his creation - it is because I disdain to become the puppet of that right honourable gentleman, that I will not resign: neither shall his contemptuous expressions provoke me to resignation : my own honour and reputation I never will resign. That I am now standing on the rotten ground of secret influence, I will not allow; nor yet will I quit this ground, in order to put myself, as the right honourable gentleman calls it, under his protection, in order to accept of my nomination at his hands, and in order to become a poor self. condemned, helpless, unprofitable minister in his train-á minister, perhaps some way serviceable to that right honour. able gentleman, but totally unserviceable to my king and to my country. If I have, indeed, submitted to become the puppet and minion of the crown, why should that right honourable gentleman condescer.d to receive me into his band? It seems, however, that I have too much of the personal confidence of my sovereign, and that I must resign, in order to return into administration, having only an equal share of it with others. But the right honourable gentleman knows that my appointment would, in that case, be only as a “ piece of parchment." Admit that I have more than my share of the king's confidence, yet how is my being out of office two days to make any diminution of that confidence? The -right honourable gentleman, therefore, every moment, contradicts his own principles, and he knows that if I were first to resign, in the forlorn hope of returning as an efficient minister into administration, I should become the mere sport and ridicule of my opponents; nay and forfeit also the good opinion of those, by whose independent support I am now honoured; for when I shall have sacrificed my reputation for that support which I am told shall arise to me from that right honourable gentleman's protection, when I shall have bartered my honour for his great connections, what shall I become but the slave of his connections ? The sport and tool of a party ? for a while, perhaps, the minister appointed by that party, but no longer useful to my country, or myself independent.
The right honourable gentleman tells you, Sir, that he means not to stop the supplies again to night, but that he shall only postpone them occasionally. He has stopped them once, because the King did not listen to the voice of his Commons, he now ceases to stop them though the same cause does not cease to exist. Now, Sir, what is all this, but a mere useless bravado? a brayado calculated to alarm the country, but totally ineffectual for the object for which it was intended. I grant, indeed, with him, that if all the money, destined to pay the public creditors is voted, one great part of the mischief is avoided. But, Sir, let not this House think it a small thing to stop the money for all public services; let us not think that, while, such prodigious sums of money flow into the public coffers, without being suffered to flow out again, the circulation of wealth in the country will not be stopped, nor the public credit affected. It has been said indeed, " how is it possible that parliament should trust public money in the hands of those, in whom they have ex., pressly declared they cannot confide ?” Is there any thing then in my character so fagitious; am I, the chief minister of the treasury, so suspected of alienating the public money to my own, or to any sinister purposes, that I am not to be trusted with the ordinary issues ? [a cry of “ No! No!"] Why, then, Sir, if they renounce the imputation, let them renounce the argument.
By what I am now going to say, perhaps I may subject myself to the invidious imputation of being the minister and friend of prerogative; but, Sir, notwithstanding those terms of obloquy with which I am assailed, I will not shrink from avowing myself the friend of the king's just prerogative. Prerogative, Sir, has been justly called a part of the rights of the people, and sure I am it is a part of their rights, which the people were never more disposed to defend, of which they never were more jealous than at this hour. Grant only this, that this House has a negative in the appointment of ministers, and you transplant the executive power into this House. Sir, I shall call upon gentlemen to speak out ;! let them not come to resolution after resolution, without stating the grounds on which they act; for there is nothing more dangerous
among mixed powers, than that one branch of the legislature should attack another by means of hints and auxiliary arguments, urged only in debate, without daring to avow the direct grounds on which they go; and without stating in plain terms on the face of their resolutions, what are their motives, and what are their principles which lead them to come to such resolutions. Above all, Sir, let this House beware of suffering any individual to involve his own cause, and to interweave his own interests in the resolutions of the House of Commons. The dignity of the House is for ever appealed to : let us beware that it is not the dignity of any set of men : let us beware that personal prejudices have no share in deciding these great constitutional questions. The right honourable gentleman is possessed of those enchanting arts whereby he can give grace to deformity; he holds before your eyes a beautiful and delusive image ; he pushes it forward to your observation ; but as sure as you embrace it, the pleasing vision will vanish, and this fair phantom of liberty will be succeeded by anarchy, confusion, and ruin to the constitution. For in truth, Sir, if the constitutional independence of the crown is thus reduced to the very verge of annihilation, where is the boasted equipoise of the constitution? Where is that balance among the three branches of the legislature which Cour ancestors have measured out to each with so much preci. sion? Where is the independence - nay, where is even the safety of any one prerogative of the crown, or even of the crown itself, if its prerogative of naming ministers is to be usurped by this House, or if, (which is precisely the same thing) its nomination of them is to be negatived by us without stating any one ground of distrust in the men, and without suffering our. selves to have any experience of their measures ? Dreadful therefore, as the conflict is, my conscience, my duty, my fixed regard for the constitution of our ancestors, maintain me still in this arduous situation. It is not any proud contempt, or defiance of the constitutional resolutions of this House ; it is no personal point of honour; much less is it any lust of power that makes me still cling to office; the situation of the times requires of me, and I will add, the country calls aloud to me that I should defend this castle; and I am determined, therefare, I will defend it. The question was carried,
Noes............177 An Address to the King in the words of the resolution was then moved by Mr. Fox, and, after a second division, was carried, and ordered to be presented to the Throne by the whole House.
March 1. 1784. The order of the day being read for taking into consideration His Majesty's answer to the Address of the House for the removal of ministers, Mr. Fox, after expressing his dissatisfaction at the language that had been used from the Throne, concluded with moving,
“ That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, most humbly to represent to His Majesty the satisfaction his faithful Commons derive from the late most gracious assurances they have received, that His Majesty concurs with them in opinion, that it concerns the honour of his crown and the welfare of his people, that the public affairs should be conducted by a firm, efficient, extended, united administration, entitled to the confidence of his people, and such as may have a tendency to put an end to the unhappy divisions and distractions of this country. To acknowledge His Majesty's paternal goodness, in his late most gracious endeavours to give effect to the object of our late dutiful representation to His
* His Majesty in his answer, after assuring the House of his earnest desire to put an end to the divisions and distractions of the country, proceeds thus:
" I shall be always desirous of taking every step most conducive to such an object : but I cannot see that it would in any degree be advanced by the dismission of those at present in my service.
" I observe, at the same time, that there is no charge or complaint sug. gested against my present ministers, nor is any one or more of them specifically objected to; and numbers of my subjects have expressed to me in the warmest manner their satisfaction at the late changes I have made in my councils. Under these circumstances, I trust my faithful Commons will not wish that the essential offices of executive government shall be vacated, until I see a prospect that such a plan of union as I have called for, and they pointed out, may be carried into effect.”
Majesty. To lament that the failure of these His Majesty's most gracious endeavours should be considered as a final bar to the accomplishment of so salutary and desirable a purpose; and to express our concern and disappointment, that His Majesty has not been advised to take
further step towards uniting in the public service those whose joint efforts have recently appeared to His Majesty most capable of producing so happy an effect. That this House, with all humility, claims it as its right, and on every proper occasion feels it to be their bounden duty, to advise His Majesty touching the exercise of any branch of his royal prerogative. That we submit it to His Majesty's royal consideration, that the continuance of an administration, which does not possess the confidence of the representatives of the people, must be injurious to the public service., That this House can have no interest distinct and separate from that of their constituents, and that they therefore feel themselves called upon to repeat those loyal and dutiful assurances they have already expressed of their reliance on His Majesty's paternal regard for the welfare of his people, that His Majesty would graciously enable them to execute those important trusts which the constitution has vested in them, with honour to themselves and advantage to the public, by the confirmation of a new administration appointed under circumstances which may tend to conciliate the minds of his faithful Commons, and give energy and stability to His Majesty's councils. That as His Majesty's faithful Commons, upon the maturest deliberations, cannot but consider the continuance of the present ministers as an unwarrantable obstacle to His Majesty's most gracious purpose, to comply with their wishes in the formation of such an administration as His Majesty, in concurrence with the unanimous resolutions of this House, seems to think requisite in the present exigencies of the country, they feel themselves bound to remain firm in the wish expressed to His Majesty in their late humble address, and do therefore find themselves obliged again to beseech His Majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to lay the foundation of a strong and stable government, by the previous removal of his present ministers."
Mr. Pitt declared that he wished to avoid, as much as possible, all those repetitions of argument which had become so frequent, and had mingled themselves of late so much in the progress of debate. He wished to confine himself to what he considered the point in question, and to deliver his sentiments on this subject with as much conciseness as lay in his power, that those who speak might not be deprived of an opportunity of giving their opinions, and that those who hear might not be tired by a fatigung and disagreeable reiteration of beaten themes