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doubtedly exerted his utmost to paint his conduct in the worst light; but still he was willing to stand forth in his own vindication. Nothing could be imputed to him for which he had any reason to be ashamed. His heart, his principles, his hands were pure: and while he enjoyed the conscious satisfaction of his own mind, no language of the right honourable gentleman, no clamour, no artifice of party, no unfounded imputations, should affect him. Hehad already stated his conduct fairly and explicitly to the House. He hoped it was not necessary to repeat his former declarations. By these reasons he wished to abide, and he trusted the House would not dissent from him in presuming that the motives which he assigned for whatever might seem peculiar in his situation, were not frivolous, bụt satisfactory.
February 20. 1784.
Mr. Powys, after adverting to certain resolutions passed by the House for the removal of His Majesty's ministers, which, however, His Majesty had not thought proper to comply with, moved, “ That this House, impressed with the most dutiful sense of His Majesty's paternal regard for the welfare of his people, relies on His Majesty's royal wisdom, that he will take such measures as may tend to give effect to the wishes of his faithful Commons, which have already been most humbly represented to His Majesty." To which was afterwards added, on the suggestion of Mr. Eden,“ by removing any obstacle to forming such an administration as the House has declared to be requisite in the present critical and arduous situation of affairs.”
Mr. Pitt rose the moment Mr. Fox sat down, and spoke in substance as follows:
The right honourable gentleman *, Sir, has gone through so vast an expanse of matter, he has embarked the House in so wide an ocean of politics, that it is impossible for me to follow him through the whole course of his speech. I beg leave, however, while both the House and myself are fresh in the recollection of it, to press upon them again what the right honourable gentleman
* Mr. Fox.
himself, at the close of his speech, has this day at last been driven to confess, though I had long laboured, and, as I began to fear, had laboured in vain, to convince him of it; namely, that if the right honourable gentleman and the noble lord in the blue ribbon should regain their situation, should expel all His Majesty's present ministers, and resume their old measures, their restoration would not ensure the restoration of peace, of happiness, and of content to this distracted country. The right honourable gentleman now confesses it; and yet, Sir, he ought also to confess, and to know and feel, that his present measures do most directly tend to the reestablishment of that coalition, to the certain exclusion of His Majesty's present ministers, and to that very calamity which he himself now begins to dread, and with the dread of which, I had so strenuously endeavoured to inspire the House. Procrastination is now become his plan. I wish not to be understood as calling out for violent measures : but this I will say, that merely to temporise is no man's duty at the present moment. If, therefore, every violence is intended against this administration, let us not keep the country in suspense, but let us advance like men to the issue of this contest; the present question is weak and feeble, compared with those which have gone before it ; and I dare say, therefore, every gentleman must expect that it will be without effect.
The right honourable gentleman, Sir, has appeared to-night in a character perfectly new to him, but which he has supported (as, indeed, he supports every one of his characters) with wonderful dexterity; he is to-night the champion of the majority of this House against the voice of the people. Imposture was the word used by his learned friend; the right honourable gentleman improves upon the idea, and tells you that imposture was a word used merely by way of civility; it is by way of complimenting the people of England, that the right honourable gentleman says their opinions are founded in imposture; and then, by way of libelling these addresses, and of libelling this reign, he recals to your mind the addresses offered in the infamous reign of King Charles the Second, affecting to furnish the House with a case somewhat in
point, and warning them not to trust at all to the most unanimous addresses of the people of England, by summarily mentioning those which were offered to that monarch, requesting the crown to take into its hands and protection the several charters of this country. Sir, I beg these allusions may not pass off unexplained: the case was this — After many cruel and scandalous decisions in the courts against chartered companies, in a fit of desperation, the several corporations offered their charters to the crown, as the only protection against this tyranny: and shall I hear this cited by way of libelling addresses of the people at this time? I believe, in truth, Sir, the right honourable gentleman is surprised and exasperated at the manly spirit of the people in these times, who will not wait till their charters are prostituted to the purposes of ministers, and then seek relief by yielding them to the crown; but who boldly resist the violation in the first instance, and who are as hardy in their resistance, as the right honourable gentleman has been in his attack.
But, says the right honourable gentleman, how should the people understand the India bill? Do they know all the abuses in India? True, Sir, the people may not have read all your voluminous reports, neither, perhaps, have one half of the members of this House read them: but, Sir, they know that no abuses in India— that the very loss of India — that the annihilation of India, could not compensate for the ruin of this constitution. The plain sense of this country could see that objection to the India bill, which I could never persuade the right honourable gentleman to advert to: they could see, that it raised up a new power in this constitution, that it stripped at once the crown of its prerogative, and the people of their chartered rights, and that it created that right honourable gentleman to be the dictator of his King and his country.
But, Sir, the right honourable gentleman ventures still to deny that the addresses have sufficiently marked what is the opinion of the people; and then he talks of battles at Reading, of battles at Hackney, and battles at Westminster. At Reading, Sir, I understand, there was no battle; the county addressed unanimously against the opinion and in the face of its members, although the honourable member * assures you how he exerted his oratory to deprecate the address. As for Hackney, I behold over against me a most valiant chieftain who is just returned from that field of Mars, whose brow, indeed, is not, as before, adorned with the smile of victory, but from whose mouth I doubt not we shall hear a faithful, although, alas ! Sir, a most lamentable history of that unfortunate Aight and defeat. Whether at Westminster it is sufficient proof of victory to say, “ The people would not even hear me:" whether that right honourable gentleman, who once could charm the multitude into dumb admiration of his eloquence, and
into silent gratitude for his exertions in the cause of freedom, and · of his country; whether he, the champion of the people, once emphatically named “ the man of the people,” is now content with the execrations of those multitudes, who once, perhaps, too much adored him; whether, in short, Sir, the sonorous voice of my noble friend was a host itself, or whether it might not have become a host by being joined to the voices of the host around him; all these are points I will not decide: but sure I am, that the right honourable gentleman will not persuade me that the voice of the people is with him, if Westminster is his only example. There is one thing the right honourable gentleman proves merely by strong affirmations, to which, therefore, I can only oppose affirmations as strong on my part : he says his late majorities have been composed of men the most independent in their principles, respectable in their situations, and honourable for their connections; I can only affirm as roundly in answer, that the minority is by no means inferior to them, in point either of principles, of respectability, or of independence. Having thus disposed of the people, and of the minority in the House of Commons, large as it certainly is, the right honourable gentleman proceeds next to dispose of the majority in the House of Lords, and he denies that they were respectable. Sir, if the right honourable gentleman will trouble himself with this kind of calculation, I am not afraid to match the
majority there against the minority, either on the score of independence, of property, of long hereditary honours, of knowledge of the law and the constitution, or on the score of any thing that can give respectand dignity to peerage. And, Mr. Speaker, when I look near me, [looking at Mr. Pratt] when I see near whom I am now standing, I am not afraid to place in the front of that battle, (for at that battle the noble peer whom I allude to was not afraid to buckle on his old armour, and march forth, as if inspired with his youthful vigour, to the charge) I say, Sir, I am not afraid to place foremost at the head and in the very front of that battle, that noble and illustrious peer (Lord Camden ) venerable as he is for his years, venerable for his abilities, adored and venerated through this country on account of his attachment to this glorious constitution, high in rank and honour, and possessing, as he does, in these tumultuous times, an equanimity and dignity of mind that render him infinitely superior to that wretched party spirit, with which the world may fancy us to be infected. —
But, Sir, I am carried away too far; my warm admiration of the subject has hurried me into expressions, perhaps, not perfectly becoming the strictness of this debate. The point which I should particularly speak to, and the great subject of contention between us, is, whether I shall resign, in order afterwards to return into office; and the example of the noble lord in the blue ribbon is held out for my imitation: for he, it is said, is willing to sacrifice his personal pretensions for the sake of unanimity. Good God! Mr. Speaker, can any thing that I have said, subject me to be branded with the imputation of preferring my personal situation, to the public happiness? Sir, I have declared again and again, only prove to me that there is any reasonable hope, shew me but the most distant prospect, that my resignation will at all contri- · bute to restore peace and happiness to the country, and I will instantly resign. But, Sir, I declare at the same time, I will not be induced to resign as a preliminary to negociation. I will not abandon this situation, in order to throw myself upon the mercy of that right honourable gentleman. He calls me now a mere nominal minister, the mere puppet of secret influence. Sir, it is because