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Mr. Sheridan observed, that when he considered to what an extent the subject before the House had occupied the attention of every one, both in and out of it, and the deep regret with which it has been considered, he was persuaded that one general sentiment of indignation and contempt must pervade the minds of all, at the conduct of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was not in the least surprised that his Honourable Friend should have proposed the measure he had submitted to the House. Had he not to done, he ihould have thought it his duty to have proposed an immediate vote of censure against Min sters, for their Thameful conduct, in having delayed so long to satisfy the demands of the seamen. The reason which the Minister offered as an apology for the delay which had taken place, was not to be endured under the circumstances of the time. The Minister now pretended to lay that he waited for an estimate of the expence which would attend this measure. Did he really believe tlat the public were to be so insulted ? He could have brought this estimate down to the House at the very hour after the King's Proclamation issued. He was ready enough to avoid all delay in granting the Imperial Loan, nay, to anxious was he upon that measure, that he would not wait for three days, although it was notorious that intelligence was expected to arrive which would put that Loan out of the question. He was ready enough also to use all duc diligence to stop the payment of the Bank, and to cause the King to come to town at an unusual hour, and in the most extraordinary way, in order to issue the Order in Council for that purpose ; yet, in an affair of such high importance to the country as the one under discussion, he could see nothing that demanded any extraordinary haste. Such excuses, such conduct on the part of a Minister, at such a critical and eventful crisis, was an insult upon the House---an insult upon the country. It was such shameful neglect, that he trusted the House would feel it, as he was sure the public felt it, with abhorrence. The Minister was absolutely without excuse for the delay that had taken place. He knew that the failors were dissatisfied. He now came forward with his unavailing regret that any disturbances had happened. He pretended that they arose from misunderstanding. Could there be any wonder at that misunderstanding? Had not the sailors a promise from the Admiralty, and was not that promise afterwards treated with apparent indiffe. sence by the King's Ministers? Did they not delay the measure which could alone give it fanétion? Had they, therefore, no reaion for doubting the fincerity of the Minister? It was true, indeed, that in most cases where money was to be called from the people, the Minister's promise was precisely the same thing as a Vote of the House of Commons; at least there was
season reason for thinking so, from former facts; but it was not wonderful that the sailors thought otherwise, for they judged more of what Parliament ought to be, than what it really was by its modern practice; and therefore, unless the Minister had lost his very superior intellects, it was impossible for him not to foresee the consequences that followed. He could not but foresee that, when the order was given for the feet to weigh anchor, jealousy would remain among the failors, and therefore he was, to all intents and purposes, answerable for the consequences that ensued. With respect to the notice given by his Honourable Friend, he trusted he would not press it this day. It was a subject which required serious deliberation on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his friends, in preparing a better defence than they possibly could do if the subject was brought forward immediately. Yet he thought what the House ought to claim was a precise and determinate answer from Ministers, with respect to the present state of the fleet, and what precautions had been adopted, in order to prevent the mischief which had already taken place from ipreading further. Be the claims of the failors what they may, what was now proposed to be granted to them was nothing more than justice. At the same time that he said this, he must not omit to state distinctly his decided disapprobation of the mode in which these demands were insisted upon. It was unfair and inconlistent with the brave, generous, and open character of Britilh seamen; nor had he a doubt but there had been a foul interference with them, and means of the basest nature used to induce them to take the steps which they had taken. If men Were opprefled, they ought to be relieved by their country.--But however juft their complaints were, they ought to complain in a regular way. If there were among them, as he believed there were, that advised the sailors to put their country into such peril as it stood in at this moment, for the mere purpose of having their objects carried, such men were the most base of traitors. It was imposible, it was not in the nature, not in the character of British seamen, that when the fleet of an enemy of their country was known to be at sea, preparing the invasion of their country, they should be induced to avoid their duty from confiderations of a personal nature ; such considerations had never exilted among that brave and meritorious description of men, the failors of Great Britain, and some foul means unknown to the House must have been used to exasperate them to such conduct. The country were to look to the Ministers for the great cause of all this; and we were now in a situation in which common meafures would not do, and therefore he should have to propose one of an uncommon kind.
If he was told that by proposing it, he encroached on Executive Government, he should answer that Executive Government had encroached upon the representative part already so much as to make this measure absolutely necessary. He thought that the Sailors had such a distrust in the promises of the Executive Go. vernment, and perhaps they might not have sufficient faith in the pledge of that House. They had evidently shewn they had no faith in those who had hitherto negotiated with them--if accounts were true, as he was afraid they were---for it appeared by them that when the town was lulled yesterday into a sanguine hope that the disturbances were over, and that the London had failed down to Saint Helen's, and that Admiral Colpoys was gone with her, the Delegates went on fhore to view the dead bodies of those who fell in the southe. If this be tiue, as he feared it was, he would ask what was to be done with the Fleet? What measure was to be taken? Had any been taken to prevent future mischief? Any thing to prevent the most horrid of all calamities? He believed none. This was a signal instance, and a fresh one, of the deplorable incapacity of the prefent Minister in this critical conjuncture. By their criminal and murderous delay, had they brought on this dreadful evil. It was at their door ihould be laid the blood that had been shed upon this occafion. And yet, after all this, the Right Honourable Gentleman came to the House, and asked for confidence, as if nothing was the matter. He gave no answer to any question put to him, but desired the House to pass the whole matter by in dilence. He said, he really did not wish to give way to his feelings, and therefore, he thould endeavour to restrain himself. What would be the effect if the House followed the example set before them by the Minister? A fullen silence was to be ob. served. What would the inference be which the Sailors would draw from this? Why that the Parliament had passed this measure unwillingly, because an advantage had been taken of it, and in which they were not fincere, and which they would therefore abandon as soon as they had an opportunity of doing fo. He hoped, therefore, that it would be expressed as the general sentiments of the House that they did give and grant this as the real right of the British Navy; but if it was given in that fullen silent manner which the Minister proposed, it would not be giving to the failors the security they desire. It was a curious thing to lie the Minister, whole negligence brought on this evil, holding in his own hand the helm of the vessel, which, by bis piloting had been steering among the rocks, tell the sailors, « holl your tongues, let not a word be spoken; I will bring you safe through all your dangers, and, as a proof that I will do so, I am the person who brought you into them.” His own inca
pacity was the ground on which he called for future confidence. He thought, therefore, that if the other House was sitting, that the House of Commons ought to send it a message to desire their immediate concurrence to the appointment of a Committee, confisting of a small number of the Members of each House. It could not be a question on which any party feelings could operate; on this question there could be but one feeling; he should therefore propose that a joint Committee be appointed---to have power to send for persons and papers---to sit from time to time, and to adjourn from place to place as accasion might require, and there could be no difficulty as to the spot where they ought to be, and that they should proceed without any adjournment above eight hours from time to time, and commence without delay.” He felt that this was the only measure by which we could extricate ourselves from this horrid calamity.
Mr. Whitbread said, that he had no difficulty on his own account to bring his Motion forward immediately after this mea. lure was disposed of, but on the suggestion of his Honourable Friend, he was content to postpone it until the next day,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, it was perfectly indifferent to him when the Honourable Gentleman brought forward his Motion, except as far as it would interfere with that business, of which he had given notice, and with respect to which he wished for as little delay as possible. But a question had been stated by another Honourable Gentleman (Mr. Sheridan) which, if he understood it, was not only more important than any quertion could be which related to himself, but more important even than that which was now before the House. The Hon. Gentleman had told the House, he intended to move for a joint Committee of both Houses, for the purpose of proceeding to the spot where the disturbances existed, in order to inquire into, and redrets them. Such a proposition, he could understand in no other light, than as one, the object of which was, that of making the two Houses of Parliament supersede the Executive Government, and of introducing a complete revolution in the Constitution. He faid, the Honourable Gentleman (Mr. Sheridan) appeared to him to have seized the present moment of distress and difficulty, in order to effect a change in the fundamental principles of the Constitution of the country. He trusted, if he really meant to make a Motion such as he had proposed, that he would more fully explain himself than he had done; but he was persuaded the appointment of such a joint Committee would supersede the Executive Government! It was not a measure adapted merely for superseding his Majesty's advisers, but it tended to the introduction of a new order of things, and a complete alteration in the functions of the Executive Government, and the Constitution
of the country. He then moved, “ That a Message should be 6 sent to the Lords, to desire that they would continue fitting for « fome time.”
The Speaker was about to put the Motion, when
Mr. Fox faid, that the Motion of his Honourable Friend, whenever it should be made, would have his warm support, if it even went to supersede the Executive Government, for the Executive Government, as it was at preferit conducted, was an insult to the country. It was too weak to perform any of its functions ; it had not the command of the army or navy.
Mr. Baker called to order. He thought that nothing could be more out of order nor more dangerous than what he had just heard--To say that the army was not under the control of the Executive Government was inconsistent with the fact. Whatever was the state of the navy, about which there were doubts as to the accounts, the arıny was hitherto obedient; he did not know what such language as this might excite in the army; for his part he thought what he had just heard disorderly, as well as dangerous, and upon that ground he called to order.
Mr. Fox proceeded, and stated that the Executive Government as being deficient in their power over the army and navy, by which he did not mean to say that they had not control over the army alone, but they had not the control and command over both army and navy. Now then he would say that they have not the control and command of the navy; and then he would say that the House of Commons must be insane if it did not interpose to supply the weakness of such an Executive Government. He was not to be deterred from the performance of his duty upon a suggestion that they were to preserve the rules of order in cheir debates. They were to take care of the public safety ---consistently with forms no doubt, provided forms did not interfere with the substance---but to take care of the public safety at all events ; that could not be taken care of unless the House of Commons controlled the present Executive Government. The Minister said, that the motion of which his Honourable Friend had given notice, would supersede the Executive Government. He would answer, that if that Executive Governa ment, exercising all the functions and prerogatives which have hitherto belonged to it, are found inadequate to its duty; if Ministers had betrayed their trust, or had given proofs of their incapacity to perform their office with fafety to the state, it was the duty of the House of Commons to supply the deficiency. If they were Ministers of a character the reverse of what they are, the House ought to interfere in the present critical situation of affairs. The present Ministers were not fit to remain in power in any view of the subject, for it was manifest that they had no