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for the protection of Holland. Holland was now leagued with our Enemy. They had commenced hoftilities for the ristoration of Monarchy in France. They had been obliged to treat with the very authors of the death of the King. Was there one of their menaces accomplished, or one of their predictions fulfilled ? They threatened to march to Paris. Now they were in anxiety for the safety of this kingdom. They announced the finances of France to be completely ruined. How, he asked, are our own ? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. He then took a view of their domestic system. They had extended the Excise Laws they had erected all over the kingdom. They had imposed restrictions upon the liberty of the press. They had tongue-tied the people. They had disorganised the navy. They were hazarding the dismemberment of the empire. In these circumstances he called upon the Representatives of the People to address his Majesty to remove the authors of such a destructive, oppressive, and ruinous system. “If you wish,” said he, “ for a secure, permanent, and honourable peace, address the King to dismiss his Ministers. If you wiih to repair the shattered finances of the country, and to prop the tottering edifice of public credit, address the King to dismiss his Ministers. Would you prevent the dismemberment of the empire, address the King to dismiss his Ministers. Would you restore the pristine purity and splendor of the Constitution, I repeat the expression, and with it I conclude, address the King to dismiss his Ministers.”
Sir Gilbert Heathcote deprecated the consequences of a dislolution of Parliament at the present moment, when unanimity ought so much to be cultivated. At present the country ought to rally round the Constitution and the Executive Power, and if Ministers have been culpable, call them to account after the war. He was, therefore, against the Motion.
Mr. Dent was against the Motion. He wished nothing had been laid of the seamen. He, as well as many others, thought that much mischief had arisen from speeches in that House. He asked where other Ministers were to be got, and who they were ?
Mr. Jefferys (of Coventry) said, that he was representative of a considerable manufacturing town, and he acted agreeably to the instructions of his constituents in supporting the Motion. He should answer the question---where other Ministers were to be obtained, by asking, where there could be worse?
Mr. Sturt said, that if any moment was favourable to the removal of Ministers it was the present; nor could any measure be more conducive to the speedy attainment of peace. For what has been the conduct of those Ministers? Have they not wantonly plunged the country in a war, the grounds of which they have 8 R2
been continually thifting ; while they seduced the nation by pretended overtures of peace, in order to pick their pockets to enable them to prosecute the war. How did they pları the aboininable expedition of Quiberon, at the bare mention of which British honour must blush, and the heart of British sensibility must bleed? Did they not enlift the prisoners taken on the ift of June, who were notoriously and enthusiastically attached to Republicanism? And for what service did they enlift them? For the re-establishment of Monarchy in France.--Could any conduct be more ridiculous and absurd? Can such inen be held in too much contempt? At St. Domingo have they not sacrificed millions of money, and the flower of the British Army? And at home have they not occafioned the most dreadful, the must alarming calamity that ever befel this country---he meant the late disturbances among the seamen--by oppoling or delaying to satisfy the fair and just claims of these our gallant protectors?
Thele disturbances were as yet far from being wholly appealed. (A loud cry of Order:) But Mr. Sturt said, that no cry of Order, as long as he was not disorderly, and pronounced fuch by the Chair, should deter him from delivering his sentiments. What he advanced he held from authority, and he was now ready to prove it at the Bar of the House. Of all these accumulated calamities, in his mind, the present Administration were the caule ; and it was impossible that his Majesty could chuse worse, or who could bring the nation to a lower state of degradati n and distress. So satisfied was he that they were the caule of the unhappy disturbances in the fleet, that if no Member took up the subject, he himself would move an inquiry into it. Indveed it were endless were he to enter into all the proofs they had in every instance exhibited of gross ignorance and glaring incapacity. We are laughed at in every country in Europe for having so long entrusted the conduct of affairs to such weak and incapable hands. But the time will come when they will be brought to a serious account ; when the people will exact from t'em indemnity for the past, and security for the future : for if they continue much longer in office, they must, seduce the country to such a fituation, that h.s Majesty, wholly unfolicited, mult turn them out, or the people will turn them out of their own accord." For his part, from whoever came in, he would expect a Reform in Parliament, the want of which was the cause of all our calamities, and without which all their proceedings would be but a farce. Mr. Sturt concluded by laying, that he never gave à vote with more pleasure than in the present question: for on its' success, in his mind, depended the fafety, the very existence of the country: . ; ': Mris.
Mr. Pierprint alluded to the obfervations made respecting the instructions given to the Representatives by their Constituents, He had the honour of representing four thousand, over whom he professed to have no other influence than that of his family having represented them for several centuries. With respect to payıng obedience to them, it was a delicate subject to speak upon, and he therefore declined saying what were his sentiments. He thould give his vote aga ust the Motion, as he rather conceived his Majesty's Ministers had been unfortunate. He refera ed to the Sedition Birls, and said, had be belonged to the last Parliament, he thould have voted in favour of them, and he trusted when the stake he held in the country was confidedered no one would suspect him of giving his vote against its interefts.
Mr. Burdon thought that the decision of the present Motion was materially connected with the character of the country, and having a tendency to divide the country, he lamented that it had been brought forward.
The House then loudly called for the question, and a division immediately took place :--
Against the Motion,
Majority - - - - 183
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Monday, May 22. The Report of the Committee on the Billffor guaranteeing the re-payment of the shares of the Imperial Loan, was taken into consideration, and agreed to.
Read a third time and passed, the Weights and Measures Bill.
Mr. Wilberforce moved for leave to bring in a Bill to enable persons profesing the Roman Catholic religion, to serve as officers in the Supplemental Militia and Provisional Cavalry.---Ordered. Adjourned.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Tuesday, May 23. Cambricks, Liverpool Pilots, Dividends Guarantee, and Tonthill and Harrold Inclosure Bills were read a third time and paffed.
THE TREASON AND SEDITION BILLS. Mr. Fox..." I shall not have occasion, Sir, to detain the House for any considerable length of time in ftating the reasons that in- , duce me to call the attention of the House to the two memorable
Acts of the last Parliament, a Motion for the repeal of wbich I intimated before the holidays ; nor will it be necessary for me to say much in answer to the misrepresentations that have been made on account of my having delayed the Motion so long.
The circumstances that have recently occurred, particularly the measure of the stoppage of payment at the Bank, so totally engrossed the public attention, and engaged the time of this House, that I did not think it right to bring forward this discussion, and instead of deferring it by adjournments from week to week, I derectly and openly annouced it for the present period. I have never been one moment doubtful as to the propriety of the two obnoxious Bills, which at the time they were passed, I conceived to be most portentous to the country. Every re. flection that I have made upon the subject, and all the experience that we have had since they were passed, have served to corroborate my original feeling, and I now rise to move for the direct repeal of those two laws. With respect to one of the two, that which came to us from the House of Lords, under the title of ' A Bill for the better preservation of his Majesty's Person and Government against treasonable practices,' I shall make but one or two observations, though every part of it continues to excite my heartfelt abhorrence. The first great objection to that Act is, that it extends unnecessarily the Statutes of treasons, and carries them to a length by no means consistent with sound policy as to their avowed object of the King's safety, nor consistent with the tranquillity and constitution of the realm. The memorable statute of Edward III. was found to be sufficient to prevent the crime of treason, and experience has taught us, that all the strained and forced construce tions that have been put on that statute, have served rather to lower than to highten, its force. Its operation has proved that the life of the King is sufficiently guarded, and every extension of it beyond that great and national object has only served to take away the reverence which its simplicity excited in the hearts of a loyal and a liberal people. That fimplicity impressed upon the mind a sanction which it was impossible to derive from intricate and nice constructions. The people saw, in its noble and generous frame, security for themselves; by the reverence in which it held the sacred person of their King, they saw that for the security of his person even the imagination of his death was provided against, and the law was so clearly defined, so short and simple, that no danger to the well meaning could be created by its operation. . This is not the first instance in which attempts have been made to make levying war a substantive Act of attempting the King's death; but all the instances upon record in which the extenli
the real mor confiftenticy as to their to a length
Cilicity implerive fromble and Senich it berity of his and the
on the Treason Laws to forced and doubtful constructions, has utterly failed of producing the effect which such laws ought ever to have on the minds of the people. We have found extensions in the Laws of Treason in the reign of Elizabeth, a reign certainly of great brilliancy and glory, but one also in which the alarms respecting popery, then newly abolished, made fuch extensions surely more necessary than at the present moment, and were the occasion of a code of laws being adopted, which no man can justify, but upon the particular crisis that existed then, after the abolition of one religion, and the introduction of another. In subsequent periods of our history, the same measures were adopted.
“ In the reign of Charles the Second, similar provisions were recurred to; but whoever looks at those provisions, will see that they were taken on this ground, that the conduct of the Government was such, as to provoke Treason on the part of the subject. Upon the former Debates upon this topic I mentioned some of those provisions. One of them made it highly penal to say that Charles the Second was a Papist. Why was it made penal ? Because the assertion was true. If Charles had not known himself to have been a Papist, no law would have been passed upon the subject. But no law would, in the present day, be thought necessary for the preservation of the character of his Majesty King George III. against the charge of his being a Roman Catholic, because any such charge would be too contemptible for notice. His Majesty's well-known character is his best protection against such an imputation, and the 'very enacting of such a law would betray a consciousnels that there was ground for the imputation. The laws of Charles II. were made in this spirit, they were received by the people, and have been received by posterity in this spirit, and such laws can never have any other effect than to excite fimilar suspicions, and to weaken the Government which they professed to support.
" The other part of the Bill is productive of the most serious consequences; I mean that part where all publications of libels, on a second conviction, enable the Judges to go far beyond what they have ever been allowed to go before. If we look back to the history of former times, and see what opinions and writings have been deemed to be libels---if we consider that Juries, the "best of all establishments, are still liable to the imperfections that attend all human institutions---if we consider too, that in times of alarm Juries have been fwayed, possibly overswayed, in many instances by the Courts---if we look back, I say, to our history and see what have been adjudged to be libels, and how many more would have been declared to be so, if the Govern